Building new foundations for sustainable growth

26 June 2011

Interrelated imbalances made pre-crisis growth in several advanced countries unsustainable. Rapidly increasing debt and asset prices resulted in bloated housing and financial sectors. The boom also masked serious longterm fiscal vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, could trigger the next crisis. We should make no mistake here: the market turbulence surrounding the fiscal crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal would pale beside the devastation that would follow a loss of investor confidence in the sovereign debt of a major economy.

Addressing overindebtedness, private as well as public, is the key to building a solid foundation for high, balanced real growth and a stable financial system. That means both driving up private saving and taking substantial action now to reduce deficits in the countries that were at the core of the crisis.

The lessons of the crisis apply to emerging market economies, too. And those where debt is fuelling huge gains in property prices and consumption are running the risk of building up the imbalances that now plague the advanced economies.