The financial world is experiencing increasing financial volatility with far more frequent financial booms and busts. Dr Peter Jonson is a former Chief Economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia and a lifelong economic thinker and writer.
In Great Crises of Capitalism, Peter summarises four hundred years of capitalist progress, including the costly setbacks from major wars and repeated episodes of financial instability. Such episodes are occurring with greater frequency, and this presents great dangers and also great opportunities for governments, for professional investors and managers of people’s individual or family financial nest eggs.
The concluding chapters include messages for governments, central banks and individual or family investors. Booms are not all bad, as big and often exciting projects are undertaken when people’s confidence is high, while most of the crooks and incompetents get found out in the busts. Peter Jonson says it would be futile, as well as counterproductive, to strangle the golden goose that is capitalism by more and more constricting regulations. Sensible policies can however be devised to reduce the damaging froth and bubble. Beyond that point, companies and individuals, even governments, need robust strategies to benefit from the booms, avoid the worst of the busts and then go shopping for bargains.
The final chapter discusses future crises of capitalism. Peter Jonson believes that the biggest threat to capitalism is instability caused by policy swings: expansion/recovery/asset inflation/goods inflation/policy-tightens/economy-falls back, etc. Such outcomes would destabilise the beliefs of the econocrats in major countries, as well as their political masters, making policies even worse, and greatly damage economic performance. But we also need policies to counter geopolitical risks, epidemics and shortage of clean water and other resources as the global population approaches 9 billion people.
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