Do We Face a Global Capital Shortage?
36 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: October 1995
A severe global capital squeeze and a big increase in global real interest rates (which some fear) are unlikely if industrial countries continue fiscal consolidation - especially the reform of social security systems. Without such consolidation, global real interest rates could rise well above already high recent levels (about 4 percent), with adverse consequences for all countries.
Qureshi assesses the medium- to long-term outlook for global demand and supply of capital. He reaches the following conclusions: - The demand for investment funds in developing countries will remain strong, but most increased demand will likely be met by domestic savings. Investment's share in GDP will probably rise in these countries, but so will savings' share, so their net claim on industrial countries' savings is likely to remain small. Of course, savings will not rise automatically. It is essential that policies, institutions, and the economic environment be conducive to saving. - Financial liberalization and integration of international capital markets will continue to give developing countries as a group improved access to private foreign capital. But whether specific countries attract and sustain such inflows will depend on their economic prospects and policies, including conditions that promote domestic saving and investment (to both attract foreign capital and help limit it to sustainable levels). Investment needs in developing countries are great, but effective demand for foreign capital will remain limited by the countries' perceived creditworthiness and viability. Despite the sharp rise in aggregate private capital flows to developing countries in the 1990s, only a dozen or so of them receive significant amounts of private capital. - Most low-income countries will continue to depend mainly on official capital for some time. But official capital will likely be increasingly scarce, so these countries must intensify their domestic resource mobilization and accelerate the policy reform needed to attract private investment. - The critical factor in alleviating pressure on global interest rates will be progress on fiscal consolidation in industrial countries, especially the reform of social security systems. Net capital flows from industrial to developing countries are much smaller than the budget deficits in industrial countries. In 1994, for example, lowering the industrial countries' budget deficit by about 20 percent would have freed up enough money to finance the entire net capital flow to developing countries. - International capital markets will tend to remain tight in the coming decade, but a severe global capital squeeze and a big increase in global real interest rates (which some fear) are unlikely if industrial countries continue fiscal consolidation. Without such consolidation, global real interest rates could rise well above already high recent levels of about 4 percent, with adverse consequences for all countries.
This paper - a product of the International Economic Analysis and Prospects Division, International Economics Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to analyze major trends and issues in the global economic outlook and their implications for developing countries.
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