The current economic crisis, commonly referred to as the Global Financial Crisis, continues to affect billions of people in the world. With various leaders engaging all their efforts to salvage the situation, it is doubtless that the crisis has significantly impacted the world economy negatively. It has arguably been considered by analysts as the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression that was experienced in 1930s1.
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This crisis started during late 2000s with recent years having been proven to be tough for most countries, especially within the Euro zone. Due to the inter-connectivity of world economies, these effects have spread to every part of the world including Asia, America and Africa, forcing the adoption and implementation of mitigation strategies by several countries2.
The need to deal with the current economic crisis was principally necessitated by negative effects, which stemmed from the dwindling financial situation in most countries around the world3.
At the peak of the crisis, large financial institutions collapsed as the rate of unemployment rose to unimaginable levels in the world history. Although every sector of the economy has been affected by the crisis, it is believed that the housing market suffered adversely, resulting into foreclosures and forceful eviction since most people were not able to clear their mortgages4.
This essay explores major regulatory responses towards the current financial crisis by various states in the world. In this analysis, four countries including Greece, Germany, France and China will be discussed, focusing on paths that have been taken by these states to deal with the crisis since 2008.
Economic Crisis in China
China is one of the fast-growing economies of the world that continues to attract global attention and interests. Nevertheless, China has had to cope with hard economic times even as other states battle this economic menace. In understanding China’s response towards the current economic crisis, it is essential to note that the economy of China fully depends on flows from international trade and investments5.
Due to its exponential growth, it overtook the United States in 2007, in terms of merchandise exportation, coming second after the European Union. With most of its efforts geared towards trade, approximately 30% of the country’s GDP has always been drawn from exports. Research indicates that nearly eighty million Chinese are employed in the export sector, making it one of the leading sources of employment in the country6.
The growing nature of China’s economy attracts enormous Foreign Direct Investors, making it the leading FDI recipient among third-world countries and the third on global ranking. This exposure to foreign trade and exports has exposed China to the current economic crisis, since it has adversely affected the country’s export markets.
According to economic analysts in China, the crisis mainly affected industries, which widely relied on Foreign Development Investors. The country registered low economic growth rate in 2009, attaining an increment of 6.1% quarterly, a figure that was seen to be the lowest in more than ten years.
Having been cited by the International Monetary Fund as the leading contributor towards the world economy in 2007, the onset of the financial crisis meant economic disaster to the state.
Like many other countries, China took several regulatory measures to deal with the effects of the current economic crisis in late 2000s. In September 2008, it was reported by the Chinese Premier that the main reason for the measures that were taken by the country was to maintain the stability of the economy by preventing possible fluctuations as witnessed in other countries7.
This target was to bear significant boost to the world economy due to its dependency on Chinese economy.
In general, the country opted to reduce interest rates charged on bank loans in order to boost the banking industry which remains vulnerable to the negative effects of the crisis.
In addition, most of the regulatory options adopted by China aim at stimulating the economy, subsidizing and restructuring of certain industries, enhancing consumer expenditure and boosting of rural income among farmers8. In general, China’s response towards the financial crisis can be viewed from three perspectives, namely, political, economic and social.
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China’s Political response
As a way of ensuring economic stability, China’s political hardliners have constantly called for the re-adoption of a centrally-monitored economy that was supported by Mao in 1949 after the birth of People’s Republic of China. On the other hand, this has been seen as an extreme possibility in finding a realistic solution to the looming crisis9.
Many moderators proposed the slowing down of market reforms in the country in order to realize market-oriented environment that would augment economic growth. This was also received with criticism as it was to limit business opportunities and expansion doors to foreign investors.
Another regulatory response witnessed in China since 2008 has been the support for total nationalism towards the country’s economy. This attitude has been presented as an indigenous innovation policy, which promotes local technology by rooting for local purchases10.
With China having huge public works projects, the economy has been stabilized by increased local production even though this may have affected foreign trade due to its economic dependence. The relationship between China and the United States has also played part in dealing with the current economic crisis.
While China had admired the US, resentment and hardened attitudes have been seen as means of guarding the country’s economy that remains at the risk of being manipulated by external forces. The two countries differed on some political issues like China’s relationship with Taiwan, with which the US had signed some military treaties, a move that has been seen by Chinese leadership as a way of exerting pressure on China11.
At the onset of the crisis in 2008, China introduced $586 billion in form of a package that was aimed at stabilizing the economy. Among other things, the money was to facilitate the creation of more jobs and to provide capital that was necessary to boost domestic spending in the country. All these factors targeted the realization of a 2 or 3 points economic growth in GDP12.
The economic package also included strategies geared towards the protection of China’s top industries like ship building, automobiles, machinery, steel, textile and information technology among others. Together with this package, China considered offering of subsidies to business players through government grants, tax reduction, tax rebates, and capital support for foreign investments.
Since the onset of the crisis, China has considered many monetary strategies to overcome the effects of the global meltdown. For instance, the stimulus package introduced in the banking sector aimed at encouraging more banks to lend more money through loosening of banking control policies.
As a way of implementing this, the People’s Republic of China has cut down quotas and interest charged in order to allow banks to lend money to individuals and companies13. Additionally, most state-owned enterprises have fully benefited from this by receiving favorable rates on borrowed loans. China’s lending response contradicts countries like the United States, which were adamant in endorsing such recommendations.
In averting the effects of the crisis, China has continually implemented several social programs in different sectors including but not limited to insurance, healthcare and pension through its famous stimulus package14.
In the year 2009, the government of China ratified an expenditure of $126 billion that was to be implemented in the following year towards the creation of a universal healthcare scheme for the people of China. The scheme’s main target was to cover most of the population by 2011.
Moreover, several steps have been adopted to promote rural income to close the gap between income earned in rural and urban areas. The practical aspect of this has been the offering of rebates amounting to 13% to people in local areas for the acquisition of household appliances.
Development projects have also targeted rural areas to promote education, healthcare, transport and other forms of infrastructure15. Through these programs, the government of China has continuously promoted high expenditure on fuel to enhance substantive economic growth, thus taming the effects of the current economic crisis.
Chinese Legal Response
Besides fiscal and monetary steps that were taken by the Chinese government to tame the impact of the current economic crisis that rocked world economies since 2008, other steps have been taken. These include the formulation and implementation of laws and regulations, aimed at guarding the country’s financial markets from both internal and external forces.
For instance, the Chinese government issued a directive that would undermine foreign suppliers while promoting local companies and manufactures. This limited the possibility of Western companies from winning contracts in certain sectors of Chinese economy like wind power constructions16.
Under these protective laws, the Chinese government also promotes high consumption in rural areas. Under this, households from countryside can acquire some items like electronic appliances at a subsidized cost.
It is important to mention that China suffers similar challenges, which face its counterparts and business partners like European Union nations and the United States. As result, the government and other regulatory agencies merge efforts in ensuring that they adopt more workable and realistic policies in taming the effects of the crisis. These joint efforts have been manifested in various ways.
For instance, Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA) and the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII) demonstrated this spirit when they held a common meeting to deliberate the control of China’s financial market and its regulation in October 201117. The forum was attended by several economic experts from various sectors, locally and internationally.
During the meeting, a wide range of issues were discussed including the impact of restructuring regulatory frameworks and policies in outside markets like the EU and the United States.
Additionally, the impact of such adjustments to the Chinese economy was discussed in order to ascertain the inter-market relationships. Furthermore, opportunities and challenges facing several Chinese institutions were tabled and synthesized. Some of the institutions included but not limited to the Renminbi offshore market and the New Basel Capital Accord.
The purpose of the accord is to promote the integrity of capital in Chinese financial market coupled with subsidiaries by abolishing double gearing. The meeting further discussed strategies in management of expected financial risks within the market in order to avert severe effects. The core target for NAFMII was to establish a link between China and the foreign market for easy accessibility to these trading centers.
Moreover, China has adopted a joint-combat approach in which all the regulatory agencies in the country work towards realizing a stable Chinese financial market. Some of these agencies that have merged efforts include China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), China Banking Regulatory Commission CBRC) and China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC)18.
All these agencies work in collaboration with the People’s Bank of China in achieving a common goal. It is important to mention that CBRC was established in the year 2003 before the People’s Bank of China was tasked with supervising the banking industry in the country. As a result, several trends are applied in implementing these reforms through development of prudential policies.
It is believed that the good Chinese performance towards the crisis is attributed to combined efforts. As a result, quantifiable growth rate of up to 9.5% was realized during the first quarter of 2011 and last quarter of 2010. The unemployment rate was also manageable as the country registered a low of 5% in 2010.
The country has also adjusted its financial trends. Since the year 2010, the People’s Bank of China has raised interest rates and the conditions for deposit reserves as a way of responding to high Renminbi deposits.
Additionally, the China Banking Regulatory Commission has moved to define the capital adequacy ratio for commercial banks. This includes 5%, 6% and 8% for core tier 1 capital adequacy ratio, tier 1 capital adequacy ratio and general capital adequacy ratio respectively19.
Greece’s Economic Crisis
Greece is arguably one of the most hit countries by the current financial crisis. This has seen several leaders come together to salvage the country through policies and bailouts. In understanding these regulatory responses from Euro zone members and other countries like the United States, it is important to note that Greece has experienced an avalanche of events that have finally exposed its economy to its worst experiences20.
From a historical background, this situation has been precipitated by a series of cases including the failure by the government to honor its debt obligations. From a general point of view, financial crises are known to promote economic downturns, huge government deficits, reduced national revenues and attraction of other countries into the default.
While analysts had projected that a sovereign debt crisis was likely to hit the economy of Greece due to its debt status, others believe that the country is already experiencing this crisis21. In May 2010, the country received a historic package when the International Monetary Fund endorsed $145 billion as a way of taming the crisis and preventing contagion of its effects to other countries in the zone like Spain, Ireland and Portugal.
To safeguard these countries from the crisis, IMF further announced $636 billion as financial assistance for vulnerable countries22. Besides these international efforts, the country has also had its own regulatory responses including fiscal austerity and structural improvement options to enhance economic competitiveness.
In managing the crisis via this channel, political leaders like Papandreou have played a significant role. While in office, his government adopted strategies that were aimed at lowering the country’s deficit from 13.6% in 2009 to an approximated figure of 3% by 201423.
As such, the government believed that the measures were enough to restore the trust of investors and rescue the economy by 2010 without involving international intervention. However, this was not the case, forcing the government to request for financial assistance from the European Union and the IMF. In response to the call, the two bodies advised Greece to execute additional measures in order to realize the intended results.
Importantly, Papandreou’s plan targeted reduction of public expenditure and ultimate enhancement of revenue growth. The government established mechanisms to realize these goals, including a major crack-down on those who evaded the payment of tax and social security contribution.
In order to cut public spending, the government of Greece targeted the civil service through a number of measures, which were highly criticized by a section of its leaders and citizens. They included reduction of pension benefits, wages, freezing of the hiring process and minimizing overall bonuses to all civil servants.
All these measures were undertaken in the year 2010. Besides freezing of the recruitment process, the government established a 5:1 retirement/hiring ratio in the public sector in 2011.
With regard to boosting its national revenue, Greece adopted an action plan that saw the average tax rates shoot from 19% to 23% across the country. Additionally, higher taxes are being levied on certain products like petroleum, liquor, tobacco and other luxury items. According to analysts, the measures target to improve the GDP of the state by 1.8%24.
Although these regulatory responses appeared workable, Euro zone members expressed their concern based on foreseen impact.
While it was possible to increase the revenue through tax adjustment and regulation of the civil service, the risk of unemployment continues to haunt the country, threatening it to land into a serious crisis25. Critically, the challenge with these measures is that they are at odds with each other, i.e. cutting down government deficits and stimulating the economy during a critical meltdown.
In ensuring economic stability, long-term structural reforms have continually been emphasized. For instance, leaders proposed thorough reforms touching on healthcare and pension schemes together with serious scrutiny and management of public administration26.
Other reforms have also been stepped up to promote employment, expansion and development of the private sector and full support of technology, innovation and research.
It is believed that the target on the pension scheme was based on the fact that it was considered as the most appealing and generous system in the Euro zone27. Through these regulatory approaches, a crack-down on tax evasion was inevitable and an increase of the retirement age from 61 to 63 years.
Reforms in the public service included the reduction of local administrators and Greek municipalities to 370 among other structural reforms28. Despite these programs, the situation in Greece did not respond positively, forcing full intervention of the international community, which continues to endorse huge bailout packages for the nation’s economy.
Germany’s Response to economic crisis
Like many other countries within the Euro zone, Germany has had to endure the effects of the economic crisis, which is believed to have widely endangered the European economy. Due to the looming impact of the financial situation, Germany joined other countries in erecting preventive measures in order to avert possible effects29.
Unlike other programs adopted by Greece, China and other nations, Germany adopted a scheme based on legal provisions for the execution of measures aimed at promoting financial stability within the market.
Most of these regulatory measures were established in the year 2008, a time when the crisis was gaining momentum in several states around the globe. The measures included but not limited to guarantees, nationalization, and recapitalization.
Under the German Stabilization Act, the government endorsed a rescue package amounting to €500 billion. This was meant to boost various financial institutions in the country, insurance companies and pension funds together with all other financial entities in dealing with the economic crisis.
The act became operational immediately, and it was later cleared by the European Commission since it did not contravene any of the EU aid rules30. The clearance by the European Union was essential in guarding against discrimination and allowed the legal arm of German government to deal with the matter.
Mechanism of the Act
The focal point of the act in terms its operation was the creation of the Stabilization Fund whose main aim has remained above liquidity short falls and ensuring that capital resources of financial institutions are strong. How does this act assist stressed financial institutions in the country?
According to the projections made, based on the act, the fund is expected to offer financial guarantees up to the end of 201231. To achieve this target, the act also allows the financing of recommended entities through laid-out procedures like purchase of equity stakes within these institutions, against existing capital contributions from financiers.
It is important to note that recapitalization measures are solely based on the same legal framework depending on how the state may choose to act. This is provided by Germany’s Financial Market Stabilization Authority concerning SoFFin. According to the provisions of the act, a total of €80 billion is recognized as the maximum amount for acquisition of risks and total recapitalization.
Moreover, eligibility for these benefits requires that a given entity has to be in the category of solvent financial institutions32. From this analysis, it is evident that Germany mainly responded to the current economic crisis by adopting a legal approach.
France’s Response to economic crisis
Like Germany, France responded to the current financial crisis from a legal perspective. Its regulatory measures are well enshrined in article 6 of the Finance Law. The law was adopted in October 2008, as a way of dealing with looming effects of the crisis in the Euro zone as well as in other parts of the world33.
This rescue plan is believed to take the inter alia form, which simply entails refinancing procedures mainly based on guarantees given by the state with regard to existing debt securities that are offered by loaning institutions mandated to carry out the roles of a financier.
Additionally, loans can be acquired through these financing companies under set rules and regulation that govern repayment terms and interest rates. Recapitalization is also seen as one of the ways in which the government of France has continued to maintain the stability of its economy.
The law became operational in October 2008 and operates under the Ministry of Economy. One of its roles in mitigating the impact of the current economic crisis is offering state guarantees, mainly to French debt securities through a financier that is established to provide loans to credit firms in the country.
In its operating mode, the ministry gives state guarantees in rare cases, which demand urgent solutions. Importantly, the law recognizes a total of € 360 billion as the maximum amount for every state guarantee as enshrined in section 6. Besides this, French securities argue that this figure ought not to exceed € 265 billion34.
The Rescue of Dexia is also recognized for its role in dealing with the current economic crisis. This is found in a legal framework treaty between France, Belgium and Luxembourg, concluded in October 200835.
According to the agreement, the three states endorsed offering of guarantees jointly as Dexia financing group, amounting to € 150 billion. Accordingly, France, Belgium and Luxembourg contribute 36.5%, 60.5% and 3% respectively. Furthermore, the Ministry of Economy is authorized by the French law to grant these state guarantees.
This scheme is principally administered by a different company referred to as SPPE, owned by the government of France. It therefore follows that the state guarantee is also granted by the ministry of economy.
Eligible institutions mainly include financial firms, comprising of credit institutions and other entities that are monitored, say, portfolio management companies. Loans are also used in taming the country’s economy, with SFFF being the sole provider. These loans are granted at an interest rate of 4%36.
Due to the effects caused by this financial crisis that engulfed most economies in the late 2000s, several efforts have been witnessed by different states. Regardless of the nature of approach, the sole purpose of these strategies remains taming of the crisis and preventing its severity.
The above discussed countries adopted varying regulatory measures in lowering the impact of the crises. It is however clear that all these measures aim at stabilizing financial markets and promoting economic growth.
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Wang, M. (2008). China in the Wake of Asia’s Financial Crisis. UK: Taylor & Francis.
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1 Petrovic, A., & Tutsch, R. (2009). National Rescue Measures in Response to the current financial crisis.
2 Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff, This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 4.
3 Taylor, B. (2008). The Financial Crisis and the Policy Responses: An Empirical Analysis of What Went Wrong.
4 Global Economics Crisis Resource Center, Global Economic Crisis: Impact on Economic, Stamford, Connecticut, U.S: Cengage Learning, 2009, p. 1.
5 Saw, Swee, Managing Economic Crisis in East Asia, NYC: Institute of Southeast Asian, 2010, p. 80.
6 Yu Yongding, The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on the Chinese Economy and China’s Policy Responses, Penang, Malaysia: Third World Network, 2010, p. 12.
7 Daniel Chow, “China’s response to the global financial crisis: implications for U.S.-China economic relations” in Global Business Law Review, 47(2010), p. 68.
8 Mengkui Wang, China in the Wake of Asia’s Financial Crisis, UK: Taylor & Francis, 2008, p. 68.
9 Daniel Chow, “China’s response to the global financial crisis: implications for U.S.-China economic relations” in Global Business Law Review, 47(2010), p. 68.
11 Ibid., p. 69
12 Ibid., p. 71
13 Nancy Birdsall & Francis Fukuyama, New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis, Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press, 2011, p. 111.
14 Panagiotis Petrakis, The Greek Economy and the Crisis: Challenges and Responses, New York, NY: Springer, 2011, p. 13.
15 Daniel Chow, “China’s response to the global financial crisis: implications for U.S.-China economic relations” in Global Business Law Review, 47(2010), p. 68.
16 The World Bank, The World Bank Group’s Response to the Global Economic Crisis: Phase I, Washington, DC: World Bank Publications, 2011, p. 72.
17 Mr. China. (2011). Analyzing China Banking Industry and New Regulatory Policies.
20 Paolo Savona, John Kirton & Chiara Oldani, Global Financial Crisis: Global Impact and Solutions. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2011, p. 89.
21 Panagiotis Petrakis, The Greek Economy and the Crisis: Challenges and Responses, New York, NY: Springer, 2011, p. 13.
22 Paolo Savona, John Kirton & Chiara Oldani, Global Financial Crisis: Global Impact and Solutions. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2011, p. 90.
23 Petrakis, 2011, p. 13
24 Panagiotis Petrakis, The Greek Economy and the Crisis: Challenges and Responses, New York, NY: Springer, 2011, p. 13.
25 Paolo Savona, John Kirton & Chiara Oldani, Global Financial Crisis: Global Impact and Solutions. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2011, p. 90.
26 Nelson, R., Belkin., & Mix, D. (2011) Greece’s Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications.
28 Paolo Savona, John Kirton & Chiara Oldani, Global Financial Crisis: Global Impact and Solutions. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2011, p. 90.
29 Jackson, J. (2009). The Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by the European Union.
31 The World Bank, The World Bank Group’s Response to the Global Economic Crisis: Phase I, Washington, DC: World Bank Publications, 2011, p. 72.
32 Benton Gup, The Financial and Economic Crises: An International Perspective, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010, p. 39.
33 James Jackson, Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by the European Union, Darby, PA: DIANE Publishing, 2010, p. 26.
34 James Jackson, Financial Crisis: Impact on and Response by the European Union, Darby, PA: DIANE Publishing, 2010, p. 26.
35 OECED, OECD Economic Surveys: France 2009, NY: OECD Publishing, 2009, p. 20.
36 Yingbin Xiao, French Banks Amid the Global Financial Crisis, Washington, D.C: International Monetary Fund, 2009, p. 15.