Als vierde spreker in de open college-serie over de kredietcrisis gaf prof.dr. Robert Lensink van de Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde vandaag een lezing. Hij sprak over de effecten van de kredietcrisis op ontwikkelingslanden en op emerging markets, zoals de Aziatische. Met name Afrika zal volgens de hoogleraar harde klappen krijgen.
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The credit crisis is not only causing major economic problems in the Western world. Developing countries will also be faced with major setbacks. Robert Lensink, professor of Finance and Financial Markets at the University of Groningen thinks that these countries must not be forgotten when tackling the crisis.
Lensink has noticed that hardly anything is ever said about the effects the crisis is having on poor countries. ‘If anything’s said it’s always about “emerging economies” like China, but only because their economic situation could have an effect on us.’ Nevertheless, Lensink expects the credit crisis to hit the third world hard – and particularly Africa and Southern Asia. ‘It’s sometimes said that Africa, for example, will hardly feel the effects of the crisis because its banks are not part of the international banking world. But that’s only half of the story. Because the banks there mainly deal in microfinance in the countryside, they won’t immediately collapse, but the crisis will definitely have a major impact. Emigrants, for example, will not be able to send as much money home as they used to. And that’s an enormous source of finance.’
Lensink thinks that the international community must prevent developing countries falling victim to a crisis for which they are definitely not to blame. ‘That’s why we have to keep sending development aid. I’m afraid that certain politicians will embrace the crisis as a chance to stop this aid. That would be a grave mistake. Of course things go wrong with the giving of aid, but it’s completely exaggerated to say that development aid does not do any good. I think it’s really striking that no-one blinks at the EUR 20 billion that Minister Bos has made available to the financial sector, a really insignificant amount in that world, but there’s constant discussion about the EUR 4 billion spent on development aid.’
Lensink nevertheless emphasizes that he fully supports Bos’s rescue plan. ‘It was a good idea to nationalize Fortis. This crisis has to be tackled because if the global economy collapses poor countries will also be affected. If we don’t act now the growth of the global economy will fall from four to zero percent. Roughly speaking, that will also mean four percent more poverty. In many African countries, more than half of the population lives under the poverty line. Without economic growth they will never be able to change that situation.’
Keeping up development aid is not the only important thing if you want to protect poor countries from the crisis. According to Lensink, trade between poor and rich countries must also be maintained. ‘We must not introduce protectionist policies. Money has to be invested in export credits for poor countries. The West has to follow an expansive financial policy. Although that may mean larger budgetary deficits, the demand for goods will remain the same.’ In addition, major investors need to be stimulated to invest money in microcredit funds. ‘That type of investment appears to be much less risky, although they do generate less return. But if there’s anything that this crisis has taught us it’s that you’re better off investing in funds with a greater chance of repayment.’
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should not be too reticent about loans to developing countries. ‘For years the IMF would only lend money to poor countries under very strict conditions. What is noticeable is how easily companies are able to borrow money at the moment, without those strict conditions.’ In Lensink’s opinion, poor countries who get into difficulties due to the crisis should be able to borrow money without extreme conditions. ‘It’s an unfortunate comparison, but this year the total amount paid out in financial bonuses on Wall Street was USD 70 billion. Seventy billion dollars! Straight into the pockets of the people who caused this crisis. That is sixty percent of the total amount of development aid in the world. That is weird.’
Robert Lensink (1962) studied Economics in Groningen and gained his PhD there in 1993 with a thesis entitled External finance & development, which charted the financial streams to developing countries. In 2002 he was appointed professor of Finance and Financial Markets at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Groningen. He is currently researching the micro behaviour of companies. He is concentrating in particular on the degree to which the investment behaviour of companies is hindered by the imperfections of the financial markets.
Prof. Robert Lensink.
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