Recently, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, announced the possibility of a new global financial crisis. However, Ms Lagarde did not elaborate on the grounds for such an assumption. But I believe she has reason to talk about it even based on general considerations.
As we know, economic crises come in cycles, and now the ten-year period is ending after the previous crisis. Cycles of modern day crises, on average, last about ten years. The material base of the economic cycle are periods of renewal of fixed capital.
Today, the world has entered a period of revolutionary change in the means of production. A large-scale robotization of production processes began with the withdrawal of a large number of workers from the production sector. Substantially new technologies of production processes have emerged: 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc. We can already talk about a total transition to the "digital economy" and even to the "digital society." According to Joseph Schumpeter (an Austrian and American economist), in the process of creative destruction in the course of the fourt industrial revolution, the low-productive and hopelessly outdated enterprises of the previous industrial era will perish. Countries that have failed to switch to an innovative development path are facing a severe and prolonged crisis in the process of withering away of the old production mode. Ukraine is unfortunately among these countries.
The winners will be those who invested in the development of education and science, who are able to invest in innovative development, who have managed to attract the best "brains" from around the world, and avoided the mass drainage of their experts and youth abroad. That’s because in new conditions, human capital has become the main productive capital.
Due to the specifics of the IMF operations, Lagarde pays special attention to the financial aspects of the future crisis. Among those, of course, first of all, are the problems of balancing world trade (for many countries it’s the chronic negative balance of the current account of the balance of payments).
Secondly, the precondition for a serious crisis is the accumulation of huge external and internal debts, including in a number of leading countries such as the U.S., Italy, Spain, etc.
Third, due to the weakening of the U.S. economy, a serious threat is the likely crisis of the world monetary- and financial system based on the U.S. dollar. It is no coincidence that the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, won the election voicing the slogan "Make America great again" and proclaimed a transition to a policy of protectionism, the new industrialization of the United States, and the introduction of restrictions on access to the U.S. markets for major competitors, such as China and Germany.
The European Union is going through a serious crisis, linked with mistakes made in the process of its creation, and needs reforming. Brexit marked the beginning of the EU disintegration. The collapse of the Eurozone is also almost inevitable, because it is impossible to level the balance of payments of most EU member states in terms of using a single currency. The crisis of the Euro currency and the Eurozone may be one of the most serious factors in the development of the global financial crisis. The crisis of the EU, in turn, is associated with other crises: the influx of Muslim refugees into Europe, the growing contradictions between European countries, etc.
Meanwhile, China and India, South Korea, Japan and other Asian powers are gaining economic momentum.
The further development of the economic and financial crisis is already leading and will further lead to increased political instability around the world, the disintegration of old alliances and the emergence of new ones, to the geopolitical shifts, numerous regional conflicts, the largest of which is the one between Ukraine and Russia.
Political instability and military-political conflicts around the globe, in turn, cannot but affect the deepening of the global economic and financial crisis because of the policy of application of mutual economic sanctions, wars for redistribution of energy sources and other natural resources and their transit routes, destabilization of the economies of entire countries and regions ...
So, in predicting a new economic and financial crisis, Christine Lagarde is unlikely to be wrong.
Viktor Suslov is an Honored Economist of Ukraine, former Minister of Economy.