Angel Gurría and Frédéric Oudéa discussing the financial crisis

OECD Observer Business brief

©Societe Generale

Earlier in 2012 Frédéric Oudéa, Chairman and CEO, Societe Generale Group, met OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría to discuss the global economy, the business scene and the financial crisis. Here is an extract from their conversation. 

How would you analyse the latest financial crisis?

Angel Gurría
: You talk of the “latest” financial crisis, but in reality, we haven’t overcome the one that began five years ago with the subprime mortgage crisis, which then spread to the markets and later the entire economy, affecting economic growth and unemployment, particularly for young people, which is a real tragedy. The responsibility for the crisis, which nobody really saw coming, should be borne by all of us.

But it has had at least one positive effect: it has encouraged people to act more wisely. It has encouraged governments to be more careful about their public finances, and regulators to take their role more seriously, while individuals get themselves less into debt. As for the banks, even though they were an easy target, everyone now knows that without them, recovery would not be possible. We need to feed savings back into the economy. This is extremely important, and to achieve it, we need to rely on a stable and efficient banking system. The crisis particularly highlighted the importance of liquidity to irrigate the system. At the end of the day, the financial crisis cost us dearly, but we have collectively learned a great deal.

Frédéric Oudéa: For the past five years, we have indeed been living through a financial crisis, and the tremor which occurred in summer 2011 was an aftershock of the original earthquake. I share Angel Gurría’s lucid and optimistic view. The economies of developed countries are going through a serious crisis, having relied too heavily on debt. The banks which supplied the debt are, in a way, the symptom of the imbalance which has now appeared. We assume our share of the responsibility for the crisis, but we are also part of the solution.

Let’s look at the economy from an international perspective. One of the key issues for the future of the world’s economy is shifting savings towards areas requiring finance. Countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia will have to invest hundreds of billions of dollars every year in infrastructure, and they won’t be able to do it alone. I cannot see who can help them more than the banks and financial markets. Working out how to finance growth effectively and securely for those who save and helping the world’s economy create wealth are the real objectives, which take us beyond the euro zone crisis.

English translation and copyright by Societe Generale 2012. For the full conversation, see “Economy and Strategy: Viewpoints”, in Activity and Sustainable Development Report 2011-2012, Societe Generale, France. 

Sponsored by Société Générale. 


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©OECD Observer No 293, Q4 2012

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