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Posts Tagged ‘global economic crisis’

Greek Euro Exit Expectations Growing

September 3rd, 2012 Comments off

 

Chatter about the inevitability of Greece exiting from the European Monetary Union-the euro-continues to gather momentum. A recent Financial Times poll indicated that a majority of Germans expect Greece to abandon the euro, and prefer such an outcome in lieu of continued bailouts of Athens that are largely funded by German taxpayers.

In the United States, major companies are preparing for the impact of a Greek exit from the euro, as reported in The New York Times.  In fact, major corporations globally are assessing the likelihood that Greece will exit-or be “kicked out” of the euro. It is also said that “the market” has priced in the impact of a Greek exit.

The problem with planning for a Greek euro exit or the market supposedly pricing in such a monetary development is that such a move will be unprecedented, and cannot be properly analyzed or accounted for in advance. For one thing, a Greek euro exit is only the first domino, and may open he way for the other PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain) to sequentially exit the euro after Athens departs from the monetary union. In short, we are sailing into unchartered territory, as the global economic crisis and Eurozone debt crisis enters a new, and potentially far more dangerous state.

 

                 

 

 

 

WALL STREET KILLS--A CHILLING NOVEL ABOUT WALL STREET GREED GONE MAD

 To view the official trailer YouTube video for “Wall Street Kills,” click image below:

In a world dominated by high finance, how far would Wall Street go in search of profits? In Sheldon Filger’s terrifying novel about money, sex and murder, Wall Street has no limits. “Wall Street Kills” is the ultimate thriller about greed gone mad. Read “Wall Street Kills” and blow your mind.

 

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Global Economic Crisis 2012

January 3rd, 2012 Comments off

All signs point to 2012 witnessing an acceleration of the negative economic and fiscal metrics that plagued advanced and major emerging economies in 2011. In particular, the Eurozone debt crisis, which dramatically worsened in 2011, shows no sign of abating in 2012. A clear indication of this is that Eurozone cheerleaders President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, in New Year’s messages, warned that things with respect to the Eurozone crisis will be even more dire in 2012.

A sign of how  bad things look in Europe is the latest PMI data on European manufacturing, which was continuing to contract towards the tail end of 2011. This all points to a recession. In fact, there is now a clear consensus among economists that the Eurozone will enter a double-dip recession in 2012, if it in fact has not already done so. Clearly, nations such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal are currently in a recession so deep, it meets the definition of a full-blown economic depression.

And what about the United States? With 2012 a presidential election year in America, expect the Obama administration to spin economic data seven ways to Sunday in an effort to make things look more rosy. Thus, an unprecedented reduction in the total size of the American work force is twisted into a lowering of the unemployment rate.  But such gimmicks will probably become totally inoperative, once the impact of the looming Eurozone recession and banking crisis migrates to American shores.

In 2009, in my book , “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015: Recession Into Depression,” I forecasted that the massive transfer of private debt into public debt by sovereigns as a synchronized response to the global financial and economic crisis unleashed in 2008 by the collapse of Lehman Brothers would fail to resolve the crisis, and would lay the seeds for an even more virulent global economic crisis by 2012. With a global sovereign debt crisis now an established reality, and the Eurozone teetering while America has had its previous AAA credit rating downgraded by at least one major ratings agency, neither a continuation of failed policies  nor gimmickry by politicians and central banks will bring an end to the global economic crisis in 2012. Instead of a return to economic growth, the most optimistic forecast one could make is stagnation which, at a time of structural mega-deficits and ballooning national debts, is a guarantee  of further long-term economic misery for a great many of the planet’s inhabitants.

 

                 

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Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker Urgently Warns Against “Planned” Inflation

September 19th, 2011 Comments off

 

In an Op-Ed  piece in The New York Times, Paul Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve during 1979- 1987, issued an eloquent warning against economic policymakers deliberately increasing the inflation rate as a way of dealing with escalating economic and fiscal problems that have defied all other policy measures. Volcker’s Op-Ed, entitled, “A Little Inflation Can Be a Dangerous Thing,” warrants serious reading by all concerned with the global economic crisis. Paul Volcker knows what he is talking about; it was he as Fed Chairman during the Reagan administration who squeezed high inflation out of the U.S. economy through a draconian process of high interest rates.

 

Here are extracts of what Volcker wrote in his Op-Ed piece:

 

There is great and understandable disappointment about high unemployment and the absence of a robust economy, and even concern about the possibility of a renewed downturn. There is also a sense of desperation that both monetary and fiscal policy have almost exhausted their potential, given the size of the fiscal deficits and the already extremely low level of interest rates.

“So now we are beginning to hear murmurings about the possible invigorating effects of ‘just a little inflation.’ Perhaps 4 or 5 percent a year would be just the thing to deal with the overhang of debt and encourage the ‘animal spirits’ of business, or so the argument goes… Some mathematical models spawned in academic seminars might support this scenario. But all of our economic history says it won’t work that way. I thought we learned that lesson in the 1970s. That’s when the word stagflation was invented to describe a truly ugly combination of rising inflation and stunted growth… At a time when foreign countries own trillions of our dollars, when we are dependent on borrowing still more abroad, and when the whole world counts on the dollar’s maintaining its purchasing power, taking on the risks of deliberately promoting inflation would be simply irresponsible.”

In particular, due to the global sovereign debt crisis, economists and policymakers are discussing behind closed doors the desirability of a 5-6 percent annual inflation rate as a way of reducing the burden of national debts in advanced economies. As if the experience of Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe wasn’t enough to show the irrationality of such an approach, Paul Volcker again reminds us of the futility of engineering deliberate inflation as a policy “cure” for our economic woes. One can only hope that the former Fed Chairman’s clear warning is heeded.

                 

 

 

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Sovereign Debt Crisis Warning Issued By European Commission President

August 4th, 2011 Comments off

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, has hit the panic button. As the Eurozone debt crisis worsened, he remained among the most optimistic of EU officials, repeating his faith in the ability of the myriad of rescue packages to prevent further contagion from affecting larger European economies. But no longer.

Barroso has issued a clear warning to the policymakers in Europe that has a strong note of dire panic. He no longer pretends that the debt-financed rescue stratagems cobbled together by the inept politicians of the European Community are safeguarding larger economies such as Spain and Italy being exposed to the rapidly metastasizing debt crisis.  He admits with brutal frankness that the markets “remain to be convinced that we are taking appropriate steps to resolve the crisis.”

The panicky communication from the European Commission president has sparked a wave of frantic selling among stock markets across the globe, while leading gold to ascend to  ever higher prices. Is the handwriting on the wall? It is becoming ever more obvious, even to the formerly sanguine politicians, that the global economic crisis never ended, and that its current phase, the sovereign debt crisis, is getting more dangerous, while the inept policymakers run out of options.

 

 

Global Economic Crisis Much Worse Now Than Two Years Ago, Warns Nassim Taleb

June 11th, 2010 Comments off

In an interview with CNBC, the bestselling author of  “The Black Swan,” Nassim Taleb, described the current economic environment as being significantly deteriorated from 2008, when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. In his gloomy assessment of the global economic crisis, Taleb said, “We had less debt cumulatively (two years ago), and more people employed. Today, we have more risk in the system, and a smaller tax base.”

According to Nassim Taleb, the core economic and financial problem afflicting major economies is a saturation of debt, both public and private. The current Eurozone and UK debt crisis is a manifestation of the age of austerity that lies before us. The United States and UK share the debt crisis afflicting Eurozone economies, however policymakers are still addicted to deficits even in the current critical economic environment. Taleb warned that a debt crisis could not be countered by taking on even more debt, a policy response he compared with giving more alcoholic beverage to an alcoholic.

Nassim Taleb also pointed out that toxic assets on bank balance sheets were as severe a problem now as two years ago. While acknowledging that governments have used taxpayer money to take some toxic assets off bank balance sheets, he pointed out that further degradation of remaining bank assets due to deteriorating economic metrics meant that banks were as fragile today as they were in 2008.

Double Dip Recession is on the Global Economic Menu

June 9th, 2010 Comments off

Ever since the monetary spigots and fiscal deficit pump primers were set on overload in the wake of the global recession that erupted following the Wall Street calamities of 2008, many economists have warned about the danger of a double dip recession. In other words,  the underlying weakness of the advanced economies most impacted by the recession  is so severe, an anaemic recovery may be shortly followed by a quick return to economic contraction. This is in fact what is increasingly likely to occur.

After incurring a flood tide of debt to cover the losses of the private banking sector, many advanced economies doubled down their bets by unleashing another torrent of debt for economic stimulus activity. The Keynesian policymakers assumed that the massive dose of public debt would quickly restore economic growth, thus ending the global economic crisis.

What has in fact  happened is that unprecedented levels of massive growth in the public debt has, at best, bought a feeble, anaemic and jobless “recovery,” with many economists calling for additional deficits for more stimulus spending. However, the bond markets have begun to react to the increasingly unsustainable levels of public debt. Thus, in short order we saw the Greek debt crisis evolve into the European debt crisis. Sovereigns that once boasted of their deficit spending are now in a panic, desperately trying to find ways of shrinking their structural deficits. The UK is joining with major Eurozone countries such as Germany in warning their citizens that austere times lie ahead, as governments reverse direction and begin to cut spending. These sombre voices are being echoed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20, as those officials, largely American, who are still calling for more deficit spending are now being drowned out by increasingly desperate European sovereigns, who have caught the scent of public default and national insolvency, and the apocalyptic economic repercussions that would ensue.

Now, what happens to a weak and artificial recovery from the worst economic recession since World War II when the fiscal deficits which alone underpin this so-called recovery are sharply curtailed? The answer is clear except to the politicians; double dip recession lies ahead, which will likely transform the global economic crisis into a full-blown synchronized depression.

China’s Exports Plunge

August 12th, 2009 Comments off

The world’s third largest economy is sending worrying signals to those whose best hopes for an end to the Global Economic Crisis reside with China. Though Chinese growth projections seems spectacular in a recessionary world, with estimates ranging from 8% to above 9%, there is both more and less to these numbers than meets the eye.

The superstructure underlying China’s impressive growth rate over the past decade and more has been exports, especially to the American consumer, with facilitation from credit flows emanating from Beijing. In a situation where the central government is priming the stimulus pump, growth is being artificially created to a large extent, since domestic demand cannot compensate for China’s ravaged export markets. Factories may still be manufacturing export goods, however, the inventories are surging while shipments abroad are contracting. That appears to be the message revealed in new figures on China’s economic performance.

According to China’s  customs bureau, exports in July declined a staggering  23% from a year ago. This number is apocalyptic, yet on paper China’s GDP keeps soaring. How can an export driven mega-economy experience significant growth simultaneously with its core export sector undergoing a free fall contraction? By flooding the economy with liquidity through  monetary easing, it would appear. However, this is not a recipe for long-term, sustained growth. This policy will only succeed if there is a rapid turnaround in China’s export trade. That is a dim prospect, in light of the continuing decline in employment numbers in most of China’s key export markets, especially the United States and the Eurozone.

Another  revealing statistic to emerge from Beijing involves lending. The first 6 months of 2009 involved a floodtide of easy credit saturating  the Chinese economy. However, in July new loans declined by a massive three quarters from the prior month. It seems policymakers in China are getting more concerned about  the prospect that overly-loose credit will fuel an asset bubble in Chinese equities and real estate, while leading to an increase in loan defaults in the future.

Taken together, we see China engaged in a a series of massive interventions and policy actions in response to the Global Economic Crisis that are not dissimilar from other major economies. These steps are predicated on the hope that massive pump priming will keep the economy from imploding until there is a global recovery, enabling China’s export trade to resume its upward trajectory.

In my view, despite the rosy growth projections, the underlying fundamentals of China’s economy are based on fragile assumptions. If demand for China’s export goods from overseas consumers remains far under peak demand levels for a sustained period, Beijing will confront this reality: the nation’s massive export manufacturing infrastructure cannot indefinitely employ workers who fabricate products that pile up on the docks of China’s major ports. That is the nightmare scenario China’s leadership circles pray never unfolds.

 

For More Information on “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015” please go to the homepage of our website, http://www.globaleconomiccrisis.com 

 

 

U.S. Treasury Sweating Bullets Over Financing Swelling Deficits

July 30th, 2009 Comments off
A Treasury auction earlier in the week for two-year debt drew a lacklustre response, setting the stage for what followed a couple of days later, when an auction for five-year debt was conducted. To say that the results were below expectation would be a severe understatement. To convey the importance of what occurred , take the words of William O’Donnell, who heads  U.S. Treasury strategy at RBS Securities in Greenwich Connecticut: “It was just a horrendous result, it was the weakest bid-to-cover since September 2008, and by my numbers it was the biggest tail since February 1993. It was just a very, very weak result.”
The auction sold $39 billion in 5-year debt at yields far above what had been anticipated, in the process sinking the value of Treasury bonds. This occurrence is a harbinger of the growing fiscal dangers that are now a full component of the ongoing Global Economic Crisis.

The warning is crystal clear. Before the onset of the current financial and economic crisis, the U.S. had structural deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, however, the fiscally toxic combination of Wall Street bailouts and economic stimulus programs requiring massive public borrowing have created the unprecedented phenomenon of multi-trillion dollar deficits, equal to 15% or more of the entire United States GDP. If would be bad enough if only the U.S. was engaged in such staggeringly high levels of public borrowing. However, virtually every major economy on the globe, including China and Japan, America’s two largest creditors, are also engaging in large deficit-financed stimulus programs. At a time when the U.S. requirement for credit is ballooning, its traditional sources of such largesse are under fiscal pressures of their own. Only by elevating yields on its Treasury bills will the United States be able to attract interest in its ever-expanding menu of Treasury auctions.

Raising yields on Treasuries will greatly increase the cost of public borrowing, thus adding to the fiscal imbalance confronting Washington. The growing unease regarding the size of the U.S. deficit by both sovereign wealth funds and private investors, and the real possibility that Washington will lose its coveted AAA status, has implications beyond Treasury yields. Policy decisions that address the nation’s fiscal imbalance may become essential in order to maintain interest in purchasing U.S. public debt instruments. This would mean budget cuts and tax increases, which would greatly increase the likelihood of a double-dip recession.

Given the track record of the U.S. political establishment, I suspect that they will delay a serious  deliberation on the fast-developing fiscal crisis confronting the public finances of the federal budget until it is too late to avoid the most critical consequences. What the recent Treasury auction demonstrated is that Washington may be fast approaching a situation where  insufficient demand exists to satisfy the government’s appetite for borrowed money. What happens then? The most likely result would be monetization of the debt by the Federal Reserve. In effect, the Fed would conjure money out of thin air, and use this newly printed stack of greenbacks to purchase Treasuries that are left behind by global investors and sovereign wealth funds. Should that unhappy day arrive, you can lay the U.S. dollar to rest, for it will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

 

 

For More Information on “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015” please go to the homepage of our website, http://www.globaleconomiccrisis.com 

 

 

Commercial Real Estate Crash Would Cripple U.S. Banks

July 15th, 2009 Comments off

“Commercial real estate is the next shoe to drop.”

James Helsel, Treasurer of the U.S. National Association of Realtors

 
Pennsylvania realtor and U.S. National Association of Realtors official James Helsel joined with other concerned parties in meeting with a congressional committee last week, conveying a collective message that was saturated with gloom and doom. A commercial real estate implosion has been predicted for months by many observers, including this writer. There is now mounting evidence that this sector of the economy is indeed in the grips of a severe contraction, with all indicators pointing to an accelerating price deflation spiral over a period that may extend to several years.

It has all happened before. In the early 1990s speculators drove the valuations on commercial space far beyond the bounds of prudence. When reality caught up, the worst crash in real estate prices ensued. It now seems increasingly clear that this early 90`s disaster is about to be eclipsed by the commercial real estate crash of the current Global Economic Crisis. In fact, commercial real estate prices have already fallen from their 2007 peak valuation by a greater figure than that which has crippled the U.S. residential housing market. As with the housing market, the commercial real estate contraction will adversely affect the balance sheets of the nation’s banks. However, the dynamics of that impact will be qualitatively different.

The subprime debacle in the housing market overwhelmingly impacted the largest U.S. banks and financial institutions. With commercial real estate, however, the pyramid becomes inverted. The bulk of the exposure to commercial real estate mortgages is held by financial institutions of small to medium size. Deutsche Bank real estate analyst Richard Parkus told the same congressional committee addressed by James Helsel that the four largest American banks have an average exposure of 2 percent to commercial real estate on their balance sheets. In contrast, the banking institutions that ranked between 30 to 100 in order of size had on average a 12 percent exposure to commercial real estate mortgages. What these figures suggest is that a massive collapse in the U.S. commercial real estate market will cripple a large number of regional and community banks, in comparison to a few “too large to fail“  institutions stricken by the subprime housing disaster.

Though publicly quiet on this gathering storm, behind the scenes the economic policymakers in the Obama administration are deeply worried by this growing danger of a wider banking crisis brought on by a massive collapse in commercial real estate. The Federal Reserve is also in a state of high anxiety, for the same reasons. By June of this year, there were already 5,315 commercial properties in default, a figure that is more than double the number of commercial real estate defaults in all of 2008.

 

 

For More Information on “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015” please go to the homepage of our website, http://www.globaleconomiccrisis.com

 

 

Many loans initiated when the prices of commercial properties were at their peak will be coming due over the next 3 years, including $400 billion by the end of 2009, and nearly $2 trillion by 2012. With unemployment skyrocketing, real disposable income shrinking and nearly 7% of income now being saved by the chastened American consumer, it is a foregone conclusion that a greater proportion of these loans will become non-performing. In the current economic climate, there are simply no options available in terms of refinancing and securitization. As with housing, a glut of foreclosed commercial properties will further depress prices, creating a vicious concentric circle of financial doom.

Ultimately, the coming collapse in the U.S. commercial real estate market is not only inevitable; it is round two of the banking crisis. Having barely escaped alive from the consequences of the subprime housing collapse due to trillions of dollars in taxpayer aid and quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, combined with Timothy Geithner’s stage-managed “Stress Test,“ it is difficult to see an escape route for the American banking sector once the ravages of the commercial real estate storm have hit with gale force. That must be what the Obama administration and the Fed are frantically consulting on behind the scenes, hoping against hope that they have a TARP 2 ready in time. In the final analysis, a very large number of small to medium sized banks in trouble can pose just as great a systemic risk to the global financial system as was the case with a small number of banking giants. What happens to the concept of “too big to fail“  in that scenario?

California Economy Confronts Fiscal Armageddon

June 26th, 2009 Comments off
“Our wallet is empty,
our bank is closed, and
our credit is dried up.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

 

 

 

When he unseated the Democratic Governor of America’s most populous state six years ago in a recall election, Republican challenger Schwarzenegger lambasted incumbent Gray Davis as a typical “tax and spend” liberal. In his thick Austrian accent, Arnold Schwarzenegger promised a new dawn of uninhibited free enterprise growth, facilitated by fiscal responsibility on the part of state government combined with a low rate of taxation. Well, another political promise bites the dust. However, Governor Schwarzenegger demonstrated uncharacteristic candor when he addressed a joint session of the California legislature and accurately outlined the brutal reality underlying California’s dire fiscal crisis.

California is financially bankrupt. The state coffers are bone dry, confronting a $24.3 billion budgetary deficit. This appalling number is likely to grow worse, as the state’s official unemployment rate, currently at 11.5%, is projected to exceed 12% by the end of the year. Already, California is experiencing its worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Factoring in discouraged and underemployed workers, the actual unemployment rate in California exceeds 20%. Amid this melancholy economic stew, the state’s legislature is mired in partisan political paralysis. With state government a triumph of ineptitude over responsibility, it appears that desperation is the only remaining option for America’s largest state. In this case, desperation means asking the U.S. taxpayers for a Federal bailout.

For the present, the Obama administration has been resistant to being the banker of last resort for the state of California. The reasoning is cogent in the extreme; if the U.S. government bails out California’s state government, a precedent will be created whereby every deficit-ridden state, county and municipal governmental authority in the U.S. will come crawling to Washington D.C. with hat in hand. However, political realities often override sound economic calculations. California’s powerful congressional delegation will undoubtedly impose severe pressure on President Barack Obama, forcing him to ignore the danger of precedent and add California to the already long list of corporate wards of the U.S. ship of state.

If California were an independent country, its $1.8 trillion GDP would rank as the sixth largest in the world. It is the leading center of high technology and manufacturing in the United States, and it is no exaggeration to state that California’s economic fortunes are interlinked with the remainder of the United States. Unfortunately, all the indicators for California’s economy are pointing south with abandon. The University of California at Santa Barbara recently released its highly regarded state economic forecast. According to the director of the center that publishes the UCSB forecast, economist Bill Watkins, “California’s economy continues its descent into the depth of its most serious recession since World War II…It is possible that when this is over this recession will meet the technical definition of a depression in California.”

If California is headed towards a devastating economic depression, how can America avoid a similar destination? In the meantime, political incompetence continues to reign in Sacramento, while the rating agencies brace for a major downgrade in California bonds.

With the financial and corporate sector having been proven wanting in responding to the Global Economic Crisis, it has been left to the politicians to rescue the global economy from a second Great Depression. What is now occurring in the political corridors of power in California reveals the entrenched limitations of what elected officials are capable of doing amid the unfolding economic disaster. In the final analysis, it may be that California will face the inevitability of defaulting on its debt, or as with the U.S. government bailout of the auto industry, some form of structured bankruptcy.

Could this be what the United States as a whole is in store for, once its wallet and credit are as dried up as in the forlorn state of California?

 

 

For More Information on “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015” please go to the homepage of our website, http://www.globaleconomiccrisis.com