Global Economic Dilemma: Too Much of Almost Everything

Glut of Capital and Labor Challenge Policy Makers.
Global oversupply extends beyond commodities, elevating deflation risk.

The global economy is awash as never before in commodities like oil, cotton and iron ore, but also with capital and labor—a glut that presents several challenges as policy makers struggle to stoke demand.

The current state of plenty is confounding on many fronts. The surfeit of commodities depresses prices and stokes concerns of deflation. Global wealth—estimated by Credit Suisse at around $263 trillion, more than double the $117 trillion in 2000—represents a vast supply of savings and capital, helping to hold down interest rates, undermining the power of monetary policy. And the surplus of workers depresses wages.

Meanwhile, public indebtedness in the U.S., Japan and Europe limits governments’ capacity to fuel growth through public expenditure. That leaves central banks to supply economies with as much liquidity as possible, even though recent rounds of easing haven’t returned these economies anywhere close to their previous growth paths.

Global Economic Dilemma: Too Much of Almost Everything

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