The pandemic-induced global slump is just part of a 20-year financial crisis | Larry Elliott


Every year since 1978 the world’s central bankers have gathered to chew the fat at Jackson Hole in the Grand Tetons. This year’s star attraction is the most influential central banker of them all – Jerome Powell – and financial markets will hang on every word from the chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

Powell won’t reveal much and for good reason: he doesn’t have all that much to say. He is worried about inflation but there are also signs the US economy is slowing as coronavirus infection rates rise. The pace of recovery is moderating in the UK, Germany, China and pretty much everywhere else as well. There are shortages of materials and labour. In a world of lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions, it is proving harder to sustain a model built around frictionless movement of people, parts and finance. Global supply chains are under pressure.

It is too easy to dismiss these problems as temporary headwinds that will blow themselves out…

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