Hossein Askari is professor of international business and international affairs at George Washington University.
Noureddine Krichene is an economist at the International Monetary Fund and a former advisor, Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah.
The view around the world of the banking crisis and Paulson’s bailout proposal appears to be much less as panicky as closer to home, if at all, and more of recognition of the realities of the situation with a general attitude of encircling and isolating a cancer to keep it localized.
and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
With the creation of the so called Mortgage and Financial Institutions Trust (MFI), the unfolding financial crisis, considered by many to be the worst in over 60 years, has become ever-more dangerous.
While such an institution has not existed in any country, the MFI could prove to be disastrous for US public finance, economic growth, the dollar, relations with major foreign holders of dollars, the global financial system, and could ignite the worst inflation in the economic history of the United States and reverse globalization to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
The initial cost of the MFI, put at US$700 billion, could easily escalate to trillions of dollars. At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office had previously projected a record fiscal deficit of US$500 billion for 2009. The MFI will further blow up the deficit to an unprecedented level, exceeding US$1.4 trillion. US debt, jumping with the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to 86% of GDP, has moved to an unsustainable level.
The financing of previous large fiscal deficits under the George W Bush Administration has already caused external deficits (current account) to widen to 5-7% of GDP, turned national savings negative, sent the dollar plummeting, and ignited rapid inflation, particularly in food, energy, and housing prices. Further financing of extraordinary large fiscal deficits, as required by the MFI, can only disrupt economic stability both in the US and world-wide. It will only further undermine the dollar, exacerbate widening external deficits, soaring energy and food prices, and rising unemployment.