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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In a world of financial jitters and tense global markets, members of the Group of Thirty, made up of senior representatives from the world's financial institutions, meeting Monday for only the second time in Israel, had some well-considered advice for the helmsmen of the world's financial policies.
Although the G30 does not issue statements as a group, allowing each of its members to express their own opinion, the tone of many of the representatives indicated confidence that the world's economic structure will be able to cope with the turbulence the markets are currently experiencing.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who hosted the conference, said the effects of the current surge in oil and food prices were putting significant inflationary pressures on Israel's economy. But like most economies around the world, he said, the current prices did not mark a real readjustment of prices. He said the effects of the oil and food markets would be mitigated by a response in supply, and that energy and food prices would not have a devastating effect on economies, especially in the US, because, unlike the subprime phenomenon, these are markets that are less intertwined with mainstays of the financial world.
Group of Thirty Chairman Jacob Frenkel, a former governor of the Bank of Israel, compared the effect of oil prices today to the oil crisis of the 1970s, when world economies entered into a period of severe economic hardship. Today, he said, the flexibility of world economies, buttressed by sound monetary policies, are keeping economies in good condition despite the runs on the commodity markets.
The effect of globalization and the strength of developing markets have kept the economy in the US from falling below zero-percent growth rates, Frenkel said, as exports, particularly to emerging markets, have compensated for the effects of the subprime crisis.
Frenkel also had words for those who feel the Bank of Israel should step in to alleviate the pressure that the strong shekel is putting on exports.
"The concept of a conflict between economic growth and inflation is a mistaken one," he said. "Price stability is the key to economic growth."
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner said the world is in a much better position to deal with the effects of tumult in global markets, in part due to the "pragmatic and innovative cooperation among central banks."
Geithner, one of the orchestraters of the Bear Stearns bailout, said intervention may have created a moral hazard by encouraging risky lending. "We have to find a better balance between market discipline and government supervision," he said.