Ron Insana: Global Economic Environment Resembles Troubled 1937

Friday, 05 Sep 2014 08:09 AM

By Dan Weil

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The current global economic climate shares a lot in common with the years leading up to World War II, and that's not a good thing, says CNBC contributor Ron Insana.

"Like today, in 1937, the U.S. and the rest of the world were five years removed from the first leg of the Great Depression and beginning to find renewed confidence in the pace of global economic growth, or, in some cases, ignore instances in which economic activity left something to be desired," he writes in a commentary for CNBC.

"The combination of tighter monetary and fiscal policies [that resulted] proved ruinous, both at home and abroad."

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Insana is now more worried about Europe, Japan and China than the United States. "It appears that the rest of the world seems almost eager to repeat the policy errors of the past, both economic and geopolitical," he writes.

For example, Japan already has implemented a sales tax increase, which counters "the beneficial policies of its central bank," Insana notes. And the European Central Bank "remains dangerously behind the curve in fighting deflation."

"From Moscow to Madrid, the geopolitical and economic issues are thorny, maybe the thorniest we have seen since the period prior to the onset of the calamities of the late 1930s and '40s," he writes.

"Mark Twain famously noted that history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes. Let's hope the iambic pentameter to which the world is listening to now can be re-written before it becomes too repetitious for comfort."

Some economists were unimpressed with the interest rate cuts and quantitative easing announced by the European Central Bank Thursday.

"At the margin, [the rate cuts] may have some small positive effect on bank lending and activity and perhaps give the euro another downward nudge," Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, tells Reuters.

"But these moves are no substitute for the much more powerful policy action which looks increasingly necessary to prevent a renewed recession."

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