Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Growth vs. Stability

I have a conjecture. Like most conjectures in finance, it isn't susceptible to proof. Indeed, were people to act as if it were true, it might well change the system enough that it was no longer the case. Anyway, here it is:
There is a tradeoff between growth and financial instability. The system can be worse than the limit - more unstable or slower growing - but it cannot be better.
One of the reasons I think that something like this might be true is that a supply of cheap credit allows faster growth, but at the cost of instability when there is a downturn. A recent article in the FT supports this. As you might expect, securitisation - the primary cheap credit channel - has come to a grindng halt in many areas.As the FT says:
...the freeze in securitisation markets has led to a dramatic shortage of lending power – a “credit crunch”. Thus the policy question now is whether there is any way to restart or replace this securitisation “motor” to stop the economy slowing further.
This implies of course that faster growth is necessarily a good thing. If the conjecture is correct, then shouldn't we have a discussion about its consequences rather than going broke for growth again?

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