About Ulrich VolzUlrich Volz is director of the SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance and a reader in economics at SOAS University of London, a senior research fellow at the German Development Institute, and honorary professor of economics at the University of Leipzig.
Current account surpluses have persisted in a number of Asian and European economies throughout the global financial crisis and thereafter. Along with Germany, Japan has a decades-long history of recording current account surpluses. Due to rapid improvements in the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, Japan has almost continuously recorded trade surpluses since the mid-1960s, and as a result, record current account surpluses (Shirakawa 2011).
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have led to an unprecedented economic contraction and turbulence in financial markets, which initially caused the largest ever outflows of portfolio capital from emerging market economies (EMEs). Globally, governments have responded to the crisis with substantial fiscal stimulus packages. In addition, central banks around the world have eased monetary policies, with many EME central banks also implementing quantitative easing (QE) measures for the first time.
Climate change can have a material impact on sovereign risk through direct and indirect effects on public finances. In addition, climate change raises the cost of capital in climate vulnerable countries and threatens debt sustainability. Governments must climate-proof their economies and public finances or potentially face an ever-worsening spiral of climate vulnerability and unsustainable debt burdens.
COVID-19 highlights the need to strengthen environmental risk management and scale-up sustainable finance and investment across Asia
Like the rest of the world, Asia has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. While some countries have been able to contain the spread of the virus relatively well, the disruption of supply chains, sharp decline in global demand, and the large-scale withdrawal of capital have led to severe economic contractions across the region.
Financial development and stability in the People’s Republic of China: Evaluating the policy challenges
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has come a long way in developing its financial system, and it has done so at a speed that has been breathtaking. The country’s “big four” banks are now the four largest banks in the world by assets, while another 14 PRC banks make it into the top 100 largest banks. The PRC last year surpassed the euro area to become the world’s largest banking system by assets, and PRC banks are now major sources of dollar-denominated lending, not least as part of the country’s One Belt One Road initiative.
By Ulrich Volz. Posted August 8, 2018
To place the Asian economies onto a sustainable development pathway requires an unprecedented shift in investment away from industries relying intensively on greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, and natural resources toward more resource-efficient technologies and business models. The finance sector will have to play a central role in this green transformation. Important aspects of green finance are sustainable investment and banking, where investment and lending decisions are taken based on environmental screening and risk assessment to meet sustainability standards, as well as insurance services that cover environmental and climate risk.
For a number of years, the central banks of the major advanced economies have pursued historically unprecedented ultra-low interest rate policies and negative interest rate policies. Facing the zero lower bound problem, they have also implemented various asset purchase programs, known as “quantitative easing,” with the aim of reducing long-term interest rates. There has been growing evidence that advanced countries’ unconventional monetary policies (UMPs) have caused significant spillovers to the financial markets of emerging market economies (EMEs).
By Ulrich Volz. Posted February 3, 2015
Many Asian countries have set ambitious targets for climate change mitigation. Governments all over the region are devising green growth strategies, aiming to reconcile economic growth with low carbon emissions as well as trying to limit other forms of environmental degradation such as soil, water, and air pollution. What is needed is no less than a “green transformation” to put green growth at the heart of development (OECD 2013). To achieve such a green transformation, large investments will be needed in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, smart transportation networks, and many other areas that will help the shift toward sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
By Ulrich Volz. Posted March 29, 2012
The current European crisis has highlighted the policy mistakes that were made in the process of European financial and monetary integration. It has exposed major deficits in the eurozone’s institutional framework, including insufficient macroeconomic policy coordination and the lack of a crisis response mechanism (which then had to be negotiated in the midst of crisis). One of the major failures that led to the current European predicament was that national and European policymakers allowed the build-up of huge macroeconomic imbalances within the eurozone. Wages and prices in southern “periphery” countries (with Ireland being an honorary member of the south) rose much more quickly than in the northern “core” countries such as Germany. The resulting loss of economic competitiveness of the periphery countries has led to a growth crisis that fed into a sovereign debt crisis after government finances were severely strained during the global financial crisis.
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