The pursuit of austerity measures and deficit cuts is pushing the world economy toward disaster in a misguided attempt to please global financial markets, the annual report of the United Nations economic thinktank UNCTAD said on Tuesday.
The report, entitled “Post-crisis policy challenges in the world economy,” savaged U.S. and European economic policies and called for wage increases, stricter regulation of financial markets, including a return to a system of managed exchange rates, and a conscious break with market-led thinking.
“The message here is very pragmatic: we need to reverse our course quickly,” said UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Panitchpakdi.
Supachai, a former head of the World Trade Organization, said the policy response to the crisis, with an emphasis on fiscal tightening, was misconceived and inept.
The report’s lead author Heiner Flassbeck said the global economic situation was extremely dangerous and, without more stimulus, a decade of stagnation was the best-case scenario.
The current policies were a disaster, said Flassbeck, head of the globalization and development strategies division at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, and a former deputy finance minister in Germany.
“If interests rates everywhere are zero, and if governments stick to the policy of not only keeping fiscal deficits where they are but retrenching, cutting public expenditure, then we will end up in permanent recession,” he said.