The global economy may be deteriorating even faster than it did during the Great Depression, Paul Volcker, a top adviser to President Barack Obama, said on Friday.
Volcker noted that industrial production around the world was declining even more rapidly than in the United States, which is itself under severe strain.
“I don’t remember any time, maybe even in the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast, quite so uniformly around the world,” Volcker told a luncheon of economists and investors at Columbia University.
Given the extent of the damage, financial regulations must be improved and enhanced to prevent future debacles, although policy-makers must be cautious not disrupt things further while the turmoil is ongoing.
Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve famed for breaking the back of inflation in the early 1980s, mocked the argument that “financial innovation,” a code word for risky securities, brought any great benefits to society. For most people, he said, the advent of the ATM machine was more crucial than any asset-backed bond.
“There is little correlation between sophistication of a banking system and productivity growth,” he said.