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Global Economic Crisis Reaches A Dangerous Turning Point

March 1st, 2009 Comments off
As the emerging macroeconomic data on the evolving Global Economic Crisis continues to grow ever more dire, the major economic actors are fast approaching a point of no return. A synchronized global recession is clearly underway, manifesting all the characteristics of a developing worldwide economic depression. Unless policy makers adopt decisive, properly conceived and coordinated responses, a point of no return will be passed. Thus far, however, the major political figures on the world stage do not give much reason to be optimistic about the future of our globalized economy. Historians may look back on this period, the first months of 2009, as the turning point that sent the whole world into an irreversible, dramatic and enduring economic depression.

There are apparent to me several signposts that clearly point to a downward spiral of accelerating velocity. One of these signposts involves the worsening statistics chronicling the effects of the Global Economic Crisis. Japan’s Q4 of 2008 growth figures show GDP contraction of 12.7%, with every indication that this measure of economic deconstruction will grow even more dire in Q1 of 2009. We already have figures indicating that in January, Japan’s exports declined by almost half from a year ago.

America’s tottering economy is receding so severely, the statisticians cannot keep track of the staggering rates of decline. The Commerce Department had to revise the Q4 of 2008 GDP figures from negative 3.8% to more than 6% GDP contraction. Unemployment numbers are swelling at an alarming rate, while the public and private debt ratios are entering into astrophysical red shift territory, so rapid is their spread from any realistic possibility of fully servicing them.

Beyond the fiscal doomsday being portrayed by the macroeconomic data, there is the looming banking apocalypse that is now gripping almost every economy on the globe, major and minor. In both the U.S. and U.K., almost the entire banking sector is insolvent, being kept on life support by massive infusions of government IOUs that are being backed by what amounts to an intergenerational commitment from the taxpayers. The banks of the European Union have on their balance sheets, according to a leaked secret European Commission document, $24 trillion of toxic assets. Iceland is already bankrupt, with Eastern Europe about to follow down the path of national insolvency.

All the dire news I just chronicled cannot be viewed in isolation, but must be seen as a devastating continuum, in which the negative news emerging from one economy impacts another, creating a destructive chain reaction that is close to achieving the point of irreversible criticality. And with the global economic order about to undergo nuclear fission, the policy makers are reacting in thoughtless panic and hysteria, stampeding into a rush of Keynesian irrational excess. Despite the fact that unsustainable debt was a principal driver of the Global Economic Crisis, the sovereigns of the world are replicating the worst habits of the consumer and private sector. Staggering levels of deficit spending are being enacted into policies, unmindful of the inability of the global financial world to absorb and sustain such stratospheric levels of unfunded spending. Neither are the policy makers cognizant of the inconvenient fact that with so many economic actors swamping the global credit markets to fund levels of deficit spending that defy the human imagination, it is inevitable that interest rates will rise to crippling levels, choking off private capital. In their frantic efforts to rescue the global economy and bailout irresponsible financial institutions and ineptly run conglomerates at any price, the politicians are planting the seeds of a bitter harvest for all.

The world is facing the equivalent of a world war, with the Global Economic Crisis playing the role of the Axis. It is humanity’s misfortune that instead of Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt to lead and inspire us, we are left with the likes of Timothy Geithner and Nicholas Sarkozy. It may be our fate to be led down the path of economic perdition, with the highway to hell being paved with mediocrity and ineptitude.