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equity markets are falling everywhere, leading to negative wealth effects on consumption and capital spending. Borrowing costs are rising for highly indebted sovereigns, credit rationing is undermining small and medium-size companies, and falling commodity prices are reducing exporting countries’ income. Increasing risk aversion is leading economic agents to adopt a wait-and-see stance that makes the slowdown partly self-fulfilling.
Compared to 2008-2009, when policymakers had ample space to act, monetary and fiscal authorities are running out of policy bullets (or, more cynically, policy rabbits to pull out of their hats). Monetary policy is constrained by the proximity to zero interest rates and repeated rounds of quantitative easing. Indeed, economies and markets no longer face liquidity problems, but rather credit and insolvency crises. Meanwhile, unsustainable budget deficits and public debt in most advanced economies have severely limited the scope for further fiscal stimulus.