Now on to the articles. First up is Guillermo Calvo who argues the build up of foreign exchange by emerging markets for self insurance purposes--a key piece to the saving glut story--only makes sense through 2002. After that it is loose U.S. monetary policy (in conjunction with lax financial regulation) that fueled the global liquidity glut and other economic imbalances that lead to the current crisis:
A starting point is that the 1997/8 Asian/Russian crises showed emerging economies the advantage of holding a large stock of international reserves to protect their domesticCalvo's cutoff date of 2002 makes a lot sense. By 2003 U.S. domestic demand was soaring and absorbing more output than was being produced in the United States. This excess domestic demand was fueled by U.S. monetary policy and was more the cause rather than the consequence of the funding coming from Asia.
financial systemwithout IMF cooperation. This self-insurance motive is supported by recent empirical research, though starting in 2002 emerging economies’ reserve accumulation appears to be triggered by other factors.2 I suspect that a prominent factor was fear of currency appreciation due to: (a) the Fed’s easy-money policy following the dot-com crisis, and (b) the sense that the self-insurance motive had run its course, which could result in a major dollar devaluation vis-à-vis emerging economies’ currencies.
Along these same lines Sebastian Becker of Deutsche Banks makes the following case:
[I]t might well be the case that excess savings in emerging markets and the resulting re-investment pressure on developed economies’ asset markets contributed to the pronounced fall in US long-term interest rates between 2000 and 2004. Nevertheless, a simple graphical depiction of the US Fed funds rate and selected US long-term market interest rates (as e.g. 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgage rates) rather suggests that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy stance was the major driver behind low US market interest rates. [See the figure below-DB] Correlation analysis confirms that US mortgage rates and US Treasury yields have both been strongly positively correlated with the official policy rate since the early 1990s. Although global imbalances and the corresponding rise in world FX reserves are likely to have contributed to very favourable liquidity conditions prior to the crisis, the savings-glut hypothesis does not seem to tell the full story. Instead, what really caused global excess liquidity might have been the combination of very accommodative monetary policies in advanced economies between 2002-2005 coupled with fixed or managed floating exchange rate regimes in major emerging market economies such as China or Russia. Consequently, emerging markets implicitly imported at that time the very accommodative MP stance of the advanced economies. (Click on Figure to Enlarge):
The entire Becker piece is worth reading and is a follow-up to another interesting article he did on global liquidity in 2007.
Finally, let's turn to Scott Sumner for how the Fed could use its monetary superpower status in a productive manner going forward:
If the Fed adopted a much more expansionary monetary policy, and if the PBOC kept its policy stance the same, then world monetary policy would become more expansionary, and world aggregate demand would increase. That would help everyone.The Fed abused its monetary superpower status in the past by creating a global liquidity glut that in turn fueled a global nominal spending spree. Now the Fed has a chance to redeem itself by stabilizing global nominal spending and preventing the emergence of global deflationary forces.