Richard Koo: How Excessive Corporate Debt Could Thwart Future Economic Growth

Richard Koo, chief economist at Nomura Research Institute, returns to Real Vision to update his framework on how key economic variables such cash, liquidity, savings, and debt have been impacted by the global recession. In this interview with Real Vision managing editor Ed Harrison, Koo applies to the current situation his noted theory of a “balance sheet recession” in which liquidity is ample, but the private sector nevertheless remains focused on paying down debt. Koo and Harrison analyze the interplay between the economic shutdown and economic growth. Lastly, Koo shares his views about quantitative easing, negative interest rates, central bank digital currencies, and ongoing efforts by central banks to stem the damage wreaked by the pandemic. Filmed on January 29, 2021.

Key learnings: Koo thinks that the unprecedented interventions of central banks were necessary to meet the once-in-a-lifetime crisis of COVID-19. Like many, Koo expects that economic growth will pick up once pent-up demand is unleashed. However, after this spurt of economic activity, Koo thinks that the overhang of debt could cause a significant balance sheet recession that is contractionary and deflationary.

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