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As the world economy anxiously awaits the Federal Reserve’s announcement this afternoon about how much longer it will keep the interest rates it controls near zero, the release yesterday of a new official report on global growth prospects is especially well timed. The latest global economic assessment from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) valuably reminds the world’s leaders and publics alike that the main economic challenge of our time is not quickening the slow pace of recovery from the financial crisis and Great Recession. Instead, it’s generating the kind of robust growth that won’t almost inevitably trigger another crisis.

The OECD, an organization of the world’s high income countries (and some middle-income countries, like Mexico), raised its projections for overall global growth, and for growth in most major countries and regions, from those in its previous forecast in November. (Most of the main old and new numbers were conveniently presented in this Financial Times piece.) But the OECD also warned that too much of this improvement stems from the same forces that during the last decade inflated asset bubbles around the world that eventually burst disastrously.

In addition to lower oil prices, OECD chief economist Catherine L. Mann contended, monetary easing has “brought the world economy to a turning point, with the potential for the acceleration of growth that has been needed in many countries.” But she also specified that “excessive reliance on monetary policy alone [like the massive easing implemented by the Federal Reserve since the crisis broke out] is building-up financial risks, while not yet reviving business investment.”

As the United States and the rest of the world should have learned since the dark days of 2007-2009, no challenge is easier for governments to meet than creating the illusion of growth temporarily. They can simply promote borrowing and spending that have nothing to do with genuine wealth creation and the rising incomes it produces.

Actually, I’ve been surprised at how long easy money from the Fed and other leading central banks has kept the world economy afloat in the last few years. But this extraordinary official subsidization of economic activity is showing big signs of the same dangerous consequences produced by wildly excessive credit creation before 2007-8. It’s spurred a flood of capital into ever more dubious schemes from investors desperate for decent returns but also fully confident that governments will protect them from any risk. After all, if resources can be created at will by monetary authorities, and losses will be covered, why not throw caution to the wind? Why spend lots of time trying to figure out how to use them carefully or productively?  Why not take full advantage of what economists call “moral hazard”?

Ironically, and encouragingly, these worries about oceans of capital being invested without significant market disciplines seem to be shared by what has so far been the world’s biggest credit pusher – the Federal Reserve, or at least many of its leaders. At least as of this morning, that’s why it’s been widely reported that Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues will start preparing markets and the rest of the world for the likelihood that they’ll raise the federal funds rate sooner rather than later – if only by a little. That also appears to be mainly why, for all the boosterism surrounding the U.S. economy throughout the current recovery – including President Obama’s claim that the nation has “turned the page” – American investors are reacting to even a modest rate hike so bearishly. They recognize that artificial legs have been the only legs that asset prices and the underlying real U.S. economy have been showing.

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