Exchange Rate Disorder

NEW YORK – Two troubling features of the ongoing economic recovery are the depressed nature of world trade and the early revival of international global payment imbalances. Estimates by the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations indicate that the volume of international trade in 2010 will still be 7% to 8% below its 2008 peak, while many or most countries, including industrial nations, are seeking to boost their current accounts.

Indeed, if we believe the IMF’s projections, the world economy’s accumulated current-account surpluses would increase by almost $1 trillion between 2009 and 2012! This is, of course, impossible, as surpluses and deficits must be in balance for the world economy as a whole. It simply reflects the recessionary (or deflationary) force of weak global demand hanging over the world economy.