RBS Warns of Upcoming Economic Crisis

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From Economic Crisis to World War III

The response to the 2008 economic crisis has relied far too much on monetary stimulus, in the form of quantitative easing and near-zero (or even negative) interest rates, and included far too little structural reform. This means that the next crisis could come soon – and pave the way for a large-scale military conflict.

BEIJING – The next economic crisis is closer than you think. But what you should really worry about is what comes after: in the current social, political, and technological landscape, a prolonged economic crisis, combined with rising income inequality, could well escalate into a major global military conflict.

The 2008-09 global financial crisis almost bankrupted governments and caused systemic collapse. Policymakers managed to pull the global economy back from the brink, using massive monetary stimulus, including quantitative easing and near-zero (or even negative) interest rates.

But monetary stimulus is like an adrenaline shot to jump-start an arrested heart; it can revive the patient, but it does nothing to cure the disease. Treating a sick economy requires structural reforms, which can cover everything from financial and labor markets to tax systems, fertility patterns, and education policies.

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Qian Liu

1 Commentary

Qian Liu is an economist based in China.

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TWO GOVERNORS – MONETARY & FISCAL
The author has brilliantly crystallized the inadequacy of One Governor.
Monetary Policy alone has limits to the heavy lifting it can guarantee.
Fiscal Initiatives need to supplement Monetary Policy.
Inequalities been bequeathed by 70 years of Economics Architecture.
Democracy will overwhelm Economics – if the Inequalities are not addressed.
The Governor that changes the Fiscal Architecture – does not exist.
Except in China – where the PBOC Governor was supplemented.
Governor Chen Yuan of CDB – is the reason China was transformed.
Growth and Development was a superbanking genius unleashed by CDB.
The PBOC Governor ensured that China’s Banking system was synchronised.
Synchronized banking system enabled China to remain linked with the World.
Worldwide Financial Governance required synchronization – ensured by PBOC.

Inequalities bequeathed within the West have not been redressed.
Hence Monetary Policy alone has been heavy lifting.
The Fiscal Architecture needs fine tuning to ensure realignment.
Economics needs realignment with Democracy – otherwise Trump happens.
The West so far relies on One Governor – in command of Monetary Policy.
The West needs a Second Governor – in command of Fiscal Architecture.
Otherwise Inequalities bequeathed will not get addressed.
Unless the Chancellor of The Exchequer acts as Governor II.
Governor I must continue to ensure synchronization with the World.

This is an excellent statement; I wonder if the talk about abandoning SWIFT is not a large factor in this scenario as well; what do you think?

Indeed, they just kicked the crisis can forward, without doing the structural changes needed.
https://subprimeregulations.blogspot.com/2020/08/ten-years-ago-ecb-decided-to-ignore.html

While I agree that the rabalancing of monetary policy stimulus may cause problems in the financial markets – even though I do not understand why, since for years they should have “priced in” this event – the author’s call for “structural policies” to prevent a third World War is vacuous, especially since she does not specify what she means by “structural policies”. This is a case of Fritz Machlup’s “weasel word” use of “structural”. If she means flexibility-enhancing policies, this would drive populations even further into the populists’ camps. If she means actively growth-enhancing policies, she might have a point. But waving the war banner is absolutely reckless.

Qian Liu is an economist, not a geopolitical analyst. Her commentary is a veiled attack on Trump’s trade war with China, highlighting the economic woes in the West, which she says could trigger a “World War III” if left unadressed. She compares the 2008 financial crisis to a disease that had only been given a palliative treatment – quantitative easing and near-zero (or even negative) interest rates – without being properly cured.
The author says “treating a sick economy requires structural reforms.” The world tends to overlook the deeper causes of the 2008 crisis that appear as entrenched as ever. A decade after the global financial meltdown, the underlying problems have not been fixed. Financial regulators’ first response to the debt-fuelled crisis was to pursue a “paradox of policy” – they slashed interest rates to encourage spending and to prevent recession turning to depression. The medicine was supposed to be only for short-term emergency use.
Since then banks had been transformed from the under-capitalised, over-leveraged and inadequately supervised system of 2007. It is safer and more transparent today, but cheap credit, low interest rates and mountains of debt remain the same. In fact China is grappling with similar challenges – how to handle its debt-ridden economy.
The author fears that “a prolonged economic crisis, combined with rising income inequality, could well escalate into a major global military conflict.” She illustrates how World War II started as a result of economic nationalism – a chilling reminder of Trump’s protectionist policies. President Herbert Hoover’s 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act to protect American workers and farmers from foreign competition led to the Great Depression, economic conditions that helped cause World War II.
Sharing the views of many scholars and economists, the author is right about how “high levels of inequality can play a significant role in stoking conflict.” Momentarily we are witnessing “wealth and income inequality at historically high levels.” But populists, whose rise has the “current social, political, and technological landscape” to thank for, seek to convince working-class voters that job insecurity, competition from trade and immigration, loss of culture are more treacherous than inequality. Trump’s poor supporters turn a blind eye to wealth gap, as long as they feel good about being white.
In Europe the influx of refugees and resentment against globalisation had whipped up nationalism and stoked popular dissent, plunging countries like Germany and Italy into political disarray, in which “sustaining governments now seems to take more time than actual governing.” This has deprived leaders of time and resources to pursue meaningful reforms. “All are symptoms of failed policies that could turn out to be trigger points for a future crisis.”
The author says “voters have good reason to be frustrated, but the emotionally appealing populists to whom they are increasingly giving their support are offering ill-advised solutions that will only make matters worse.” Indeed, looking at the chaos in the US and the paralysis in Europe, Chinese leaders tout that their model of governance is better than liberal democracy. Unsurprisingly most Chinese are satisfied with authoritarian rule, as long as the economy remains robust.
The leadership in Beijing benefits from multilaterialism and the world’s “unprecedented interconnectedness,” and it critises Trump’s pursuit of “unilateral, isolationist policies,” while doing little to end the proxy wars in Syria and Yemen.
The international community has been speculating about a “World War III” since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Its very name has implied its own inevitability, especially when now and then tensions rise in certain parts of the world, that could ignite an armed conflict. The Syrian war shows that a local conflict can morph into a global one, as the US and Russia are directly involved there. We have talked about a third World War not only as something that might happen, but something that will. The danger is that World War III would be more devastating, due to the potential use of nuclear weapons – no something we all wish for.

Hi, good analysys,,I agree on the economic part of it. lessons learnt not executed from 2008 to now. however. the opportunity costs today are far higher than any other period in past to have a general conflict in the world. The level of trade interconnection and the amount of international money flowing around (real money, not finance short term gambling) is at a dimension I see very hard to achieve thinking on positive economic outcomes of a new world war period.

While I don’t discard the possibility of another large war there is one major difference between the present and the time of the two world wars of the past: Previous wars were about grabbing land and natural resources, but doing so in modern times is far less valuable than it used to be due to the changes in a world economy far less dependent on production when we consider how ruinously costly it is to maintain occupying forces in any conquered territory.

World War II was caused by exactly the same thing as World War I. France had no offensive doctrine. The German High Command hoped to knock them out- which they did the second time round- before turning East (where they had been unexpectedly successful the first time round). The incorrigible stupidity of the German High Command precipitated two wars. The Pacific theater was a sideshow.

The lesson of History is that Economic crises don’t matter. They don’t cause War at all. What causes War is the belief by the aggressor that a profit can be turned upon a thing. Lots of nukes and the means to deliver them cancels out the possibility of a World War. Proxy wars in failed states don’t matter. Populist politicians don’t matter. The only thing that matters, to avoid war, is to have a credible offensive doctrine. North Korea avoided War for this reason. Iraq and Libya and so forth did not. Everything depends on nukes and delivery systems. Nothing else matters.

Whereas, I regard nuclear weapons to be ‘militarily useless.’ We have only fired two of them in offense, but the ground there is still poisoned. Islands where we conducted bigger tests are also uninhabitable forever. Plutonium is the most-toxic metal known, and it never decays.

“World War I & II” were called “the interrupted war,” because II happened as a direct result of ruinous revenge imposed after I. But, in both cases, no one permanently gained territory. The supposed objectives of the aggressors were never met. Because they lost and thus could no longer resist, territory and valuables were seized from them in Europe, but not in the Pacific, where entirely different reconstruction policies were used during the Occupation.

For the World, “World War” is not an option. It was tried twice and it failed twice.

I appreciate your sentiments but the facts bely your argument.
You say the Second War happened as a direct result of the ruinous revenge imposed after the first. Germany scarcely lost any German speaking territory and the occupation of the Rhineland was only ruinous because Weimar politicians, very foolishly, decided to pay Rhinelanders not to cooperate with the French and resorted to the printing press, thus inflating away their currency, for that reason. The Sudeten Germans were very badly affected by the Depression and it was reasonable to carve up Czechoslovakia more particularly because Poland was happy to share in the carve up.

Thus, post-Munich, Germany had no reason to start a revanchist war, or one designed to abrogate ‘ruinous’ treaty provisions. Why did the War happen? The answer is that France had no offensive military doctrine. This was De Gaulle’s own conclusion. The Soviets realised that they’d have to do the fighting- but the Poles, very sensibly, wouldn’t allow the passage over their territory. They then allied with Hitler to carve up Poland and the Baltic republics and take a bite out of Finland and so forth.

If Hitler hadn’t been crazy enough to declare war on the Soviets without first doing a deal with the US, France would still be a German satellite.

That’s what happens when you don’t have an offensive doctrine. That’s why the French risked offending the Americans by stealing their tech so as to have their own force de dissuasion. This was a great boon for Europe though, no doubt, the people of remote atolls paid a price.

Lots of people live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Few in Chernobyl. Fission weapons optimised for destructive power are also less harmful to the environment than badly designed civilian nuclear reactors.

I agree with you- as does the Iranian ‘Supreme Leader’- that nuclear weapons are often militarily useless. This is because an exclusively Thermonuclear offensive doctrine is no doctrine at all. Al Wohlstetter, and a host of game theoreticians, convinced the top brass of this long ago in every country. That’s why Israel’s offensive doctrine, like its defensive doctrine, is layered and corresponds to what the greatest Game theoretician of them all- Robert Aumann (who is Israeli- American)- named ‘correlated equilibrium’. When the Arabs, or other Muslim generals or diplomats look at Israel’s layered approach, they have to concede that these guys want peace. They aint crazy Nordics with a melanin or messianic complex who aim at grabbing everything for themselves. Sadly, NATO can appear to be that type of agent. ‘Regime change’ & a new ‘Rules based’ International Order aren’t words any sensible person ought to want to hear. Thankfully, ‘deplorable’ American voters don’t either.

The author of this essay would be at home in a super-elite Ivy League Ivory Tower where stupid (but supposedly ‘noble’) lies are recycled ad nauseam. But, neither the Chinese leadership, nor the current incumbent of the White House, give it the time of day.

Treating a sick economy needs much more than structural reform. It requires a fundamental reconstitution of the hypokeimenon underlying all substance. Otherwise World World IV will occur. Incidentally, World War III must already have occurred otherwise this article is nonsense.

Qian, I do not fear World War. But I do fear a financial system that is stuffed with “currency units” of many different flavors which do not correspond to any real asset, product, or service. Today there are thousands of times more currency-units on Planet Earth than would be required to buy everything that can be sold. So-called “QE” simply injected more currency-units and, on paper, made-good on a mountain of frauds and other blatant financial crimes that still continue. No one went to prison.

I believe that you are correct that “the economy” is key, but “the economy” does not consist of these currency-units nor is it anymore meaningfully measured by them. I believe that you err when you champion “globalism” and decry what you call, “isolationism” or “nationalism.” I would argue that what you decry, is actually the key.

Your country might be the only one that prospered from “globalism,” because of its governments’ ability to micro-manage millions of people’s lives even to dictating the place where they must live. Would these workers, if they could speak freely, say that they feel that they also are sharing in the “prosperity” that their labors are creating for others? Would “globalism” reign if specifically your government did not possess the unique power that it has? I doubt it.

I believe that “my-country first!” should be the universally-understood mantra of every country without exception. Then each country WILL build up its own strength and manufacturing capabilities, it WILL employ its own citizens in preference to everyone else, and when negotiating with other nations it will drive a hard – but good – bargain, knowing that everyone else at that table is doing the same thing. Now, nations will only make deals that build everyone up, not those (like “globalism”) that play one party against the others. The result will be sustainable, truly prosperous, resilient, and fault-tolerant . none of which words can now be used to describe the present.

Globalism has made many glowing promises that it cannot keep. It is flawed. It insists that “my country first” is ignorant or unenlightened, but I argue that there is a critical strength inherent in it which we must not forsake, even as we trade with each other. We shall trade because we are strong and because trade we choose to engage in makes us even stronger; we do not permit trade which makes one party weak. Call it, “mutually assured self-interest.” If everyone uniformly looks out for themselves, they also inevitably look out for each other.

The International Monetary Fund warned of the global economic crisis

The world in the coming years is waiting for a new financial crisis, which will come due to the fall in the value of the main raw materials.

This was stated by the deputy head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), David Lipton, writes “Today”.

“The thunderclouds of the next global financial crisis are already gathering,” he said.

Lipton added that “the roof must be repaired before it rains,” but, in his opinion, the countries of the world do not have much time left for the implementation of preventive measures to prepare for the crisis.

The crisis, according to the Fund, will hit primarily the countries that sell raw materials. However, Lipton argues that even the strong economies of large countries are not ready to suffer a possible crisis without loss.

The IMF believes that global growth will slow as a result of a trade war. Lipton warned that the trade conflict between the United States and China is likely to cause “far-reaching and long-term consequences” for the global economy.

Ранее about such economic threats warned and the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde. She is confident that politicians around the world have almost no time left for reforms.

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Russia’s Economic Crisis

In the early hours of the 21st of August 1991, a putsch in the Soviet Union against Mikhail Gorbachev failed, leaving three men dead and the country in a state of shock. The coup had been staged by members of the Soviet government who had taken issue with Gorbachev’s liberalising, democratising reforms, which he had been slowly putting into place over the previous few years. Those who had planned the attack then fled, and were all taken into custody within three days.

The coup was prevented mainly due to a campaign of civil resistance led by newly elected Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin had been the first person in history to resign from the Politburo voluntarily a few years earlier in 1987, and this garnered him a reputation as a rebel and an anti-establishment figure. His involvement in stopping the August Putsch, as it became known, solidified his popularity in the Soviet Union. Although Gorbachev was restored to his previous position as General Secretary of the Communist Party, his power was vastly diminished, the event having destabilised the already-fragile political situation in the USSR. Yeltsin was hailed as a hero and remained President after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

After taking power, Yeltsin implemented a series of capitalist, post-Soviet reforms that privatised huge portions of Russia’s state-owned assets. Swept up in the rushing tide of selling were large portions of the industrial, energy, and financial sectors, marking the first time private ownership of property and enterprise had been legal since the Soviet Union’s creation in the early twentieth century.

Massive privatisation in Russia caused two related effects. First, inequality rose sharply, coinciding with a GDP collapse and a decline in industrial output. Second, much of the diminishing wealth of Russian enterprises was concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy individuals – oligarchs – who became even richer, with company stocks of state-owned enterprises being transferred to criminal gangs and mob bosses. Predictably, those who suffered most were the regular citizens of Russia.

Despite Yeltsin’s reputation as a charismatic rebel able to win over the hearts of the desperate Russian population, he wasn’t able to successfully run a market economy, and by 1999 his popularity had disintegrated to such an extent that he was forced to resign under intense internal pressure. Just how did it all go so wrong?

Economic catastrophe

According to David Satter in The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin, the start date for Yeltsin’s reforms can be traced to January 2nd, 1992. On this day, Yegor Gaidar, Deputy Prime Minister, freed prices. His prediction, according to Satter, was that prices would increase between three and five times. But this isn’t what happened. Over the course of the next ten months, prices rose by a factor of nearly thirty. The results of this were that the money in regular people’s savings accounts, money that had in some cases been saved for decades, disappeared virtually overnight.

Hyperinflation had the added effect of being a perfect environment for a criminal class to take control of the markets and earn huge amounts of money. Due to a shortage of turnover capital as a result of inflation, production was paralysed. The regime’s answer to this was to issue government credits at rates of 10 to 25%. Instead of being used to pay workers’ salaries, though, they were deposited at banks, and bank officials and factory directors split the profits. Some got themselves export licences through bribing government officials, bought raw materials in roubles and then sold them abroad at world prices, making huge amounts of money in the process. Others acquired import permits after the government, fearing famine, began selling them in 1991. Food products were imported at 1% their real value, the rest of the cost subsidised by Western commodity credits, and a small group of traders made enormous sums of money from it: in 1992, import subsidies amounted to 15% of GDP.

A second scheme the government put in place was the distribution of vouchers, which were meant to represent ‘a citizen’s share of the national wealth’, valued at ten thousand roubles. Many Russians were uncertain what to do with these vouchers, and so sold them on the street for minuscule returns like a bottle of vodka or ten dollars. Some invested them in voucher funds, which turned out to be scams, or bought shares in their own factories. But organised crime groups realised they could use these vouchers to invest in industry. These groups, who collected thousands of vouchers over a few years, used them to secure around a third of the country’s industrial base, propelling themselves to unimaginable wealth.

These measures, implemented apparently in good faith, led to the collapse of the Russian economy. Russia’s GDP fell by 50% between 1992 and 1998. This was worse than the decline faced by the United States during the Great Depression. In the same period, industrial production declined by 56%. (Some estimates say these figures are askew: lack of industrial investment and the stopping of production of non-consumed goods may have distorted this figure. For example, the military sector, which has less weight in a nominally ‘free’ market, experienced a sharp drop in production. Regardless, the number is high.) Since then, things haven’t got huge amounts better: although Russian GDP peaked in 2020 at $2 trillion, it was back down to $1.2 trillion again in 2020 due to a drop in oil prices and exchange rates.

Crony capitalism and criminal gangs

Russia remains in the top-third most corrupt countries in the world: as of 2020, 138th from 180. Corruption affects all aspects of Russian administration, and it has been argued that it ‘coincided with the illegal dispersal of the equivalent of billions of dollars from the Soviet state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S.’ By 2020, the average bribe had increase to 236,000 roubles from just 9,000 in 2008, many times the inflation rate over the same three year period. Estimates of how much this corruption, judged by Russia’s famous ‘shadow economy’, cost the country in terms of GDP vary, from 3.5-7% as judged by the Russian government, to 48% as judged by the World Bank. That’s right: nearly half of Russia’s GDP is estimated by the World Bank to be caught up in the shadow economy. This economy, which functions through the bribing of government officials not only to vote the right way but simply to do their jobs in the first place, is made up of unreported salaries and astronomical rates of tax evasion.

A recurring theme is that the Russian general population pays the biggest price of this corruption. Untenable rises in tariffs for housing, water, gas and electricity outpace the rate of inflation many times, and the main cause of these increases has been attributed to corruption among high-level officials. Public officials become richer and richer as a result. The money they make from these bribes obviously has to be laundered, and although an anti-money laundering initiative was put into place in 2020, it has been largely unsuccessful in preventing the practice.

One of the main reforms under Gorbachev was the legalisation of cooperatives, which became the only privately owned businesses in the Soviet Union. These cooperatives were successful, but led to a different problem: the police would only protect state enterprises. This meant that criminal gangs formed across the country which offered ‘protection’ in exchange for money, perhaps better described as extortion. By the time Yeltsin implemented his reforms, almost everybody was paying off someone for protection. But the gangs quickly realised these smaller markets weren’t the most lucrative way to operate. Instead, they began targeting the newly-wealthy business owners and bankers, many ending up victims of contract killings by gang members who wanted to take over these recently-formed enterprises. This criminality led to problems not only domestically but also with foreign businessmen. Trying to invest in a Russian business often led to dealings with gangsters who demanded money for protection, and any attempt to appeal to the authorities revealed that the gangsters had contacts in the police and the government that went all the way to the top.

Who takes the fall?

Despite still essentially being in competition with the West in much the same vein as it was during the Cold War (at least according to analyses of Russia’s exceptionalism by esteemed historian Stephen Kotkin) Russia still lags behind on some major indicators of country development. Ranking low on labour rights, social spending and tax policy, Russia placed only fiftieth on an international scale of equality, behind all of its Western neighbours and falling short of other former Soviet States like Georgia.

A European Parliament study of Russian equality confirmed these conclusions, finding that ‘nearly half of pre-tax national incomes goes to Russia’s top 10%’, and that among large countries it had the highest proportion of billionaires than any other. Further qualification was needed: ‘Given that these figures do not take account of the huge wealth (estimated at up to 75% of Russia’s GDP) hidden in offshore accounts, they probably understate inequality.’ (Emphasis mine.)

Demographic results of the Russian economic disaster were no better. The life expectancy of men dropped by more than six years between 1990 and 1994. In 1998, it sat at fifty-seven, ‘the lowest in the industrial world’, according to Satter. Many in the West refused to believe the death rate in Russia in the 1990s: the population dropped by 750,000 per year across the decade. In 1998, when the Russian state defaulted on $40 billion worth of debt, currency exchanges were updating their conversion rates from roubles to dollars by the hour. Estimates suggest that living standards dropped by 40% during the 1998 crisis.

The criminal mindset that pervaded life – criminality was everywhere, and it was no longer a surprise that society could only function through criminal means – meant that violence and death became much more common. Russians were much more likely to kill themselves or be murdered than in almost any other industrialised nation, and the main victims of this were regular people, a huge proportion of whom were already living in poverty. Many, unable to pay for their medical bills or for the bare essentials, simply gave up. Others were tricked into racketeering schemes which covered everything from religion to apartments, and plenty of these involved murdering those who became involved. To sedate the population, the Yeltsin government lifted all restrictions on the sale of alcohol, causing massive strain on a healthcare system that wasn’t receiving investment. Post-Soviet Russia may be improving on some fronts, but quality of life for the median Russian only really started getting better in the 2020s.

A bleak future

By the time Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999 in a period of relative economic growth, Yeltsin’s popularity ratings were astoundingly low. Putin was seem as something new, someone to counteract the squalor of the preceding decade. While the Russian economy has grown, the political system remains unstable and unfair, and though many are out of the poverty they were thrust into by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, more still feel dejected in a system which rewards criminality and violence.

Between 2020 and 2020, the Russian rouble collapsed, leading to another financial crisis. A decline in confidence in the Russian economy as a result of the fall in the price of oil in 2020, as well as sanctions imposed on Russia due to its annexation of Crimea, led to many investors selling off their Russian assets. Although since 2020 the Russian economy has been rebounding somewhat, 35% of all financial assets are owned by the 110 richest Russians. Moscow truly is the billionaire capital of the world: its levels of inequality are almost unbelievable for a country with the sixth-largest economy in the world.

One of the main results of the economic disaster of post-Soviet Russia is the government’s authoritarian – some would argue dictatorial – character. Yeltsin’s election during the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, although not totally free and fair, was the closest Russia has come to proper democracy in over a century. The 1996 elections were riddled with electoral problems, such as Yeltsin using government money to fund his campaign, as well as huge amounts of media bias due to the fact that his government owned two of the national television channels and funded most independent newspapers. Media bias has plagued all subsequent elections throughout the 2000s, and although Putin was banned from running for a third term in 2008, a day after Dmitry Medvedev became President Putin was made Prime Minister, power remaining in all but name in his hands. And, after the 2020 election, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said ‘There were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.’

Much of these problems stem from the economic crisis of the 90s. That being said, if Russia is going to sort itself out, the solution lies with more than just money: it needs to inculcate true democracy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon due to the current leadership’s insistence on holding on to power. Instead, the people will continue to suffer, and Russia will remain a country of corruption, criminality, and authoritarianism.

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The previous article in the module introduced the global economic crisis with a brief overview of the causes. This article looks at the causes of the global economic crisis in depth.

For starters, the global economic crisis carries a distinct “Made in the USA” tag which means that the origins of the crisis are to found in the reckless lending and risky banking practices of Wall Street. The first aspect is the building up of toxic derivatives on top of the subprime housing market which meant that once the housing market went bust, the financial securitization and the derivatives that were based on the housing market blew up leading to banks being unable to lend to each other and suffering losses.

What exacerbated the situation was that the globalization of the world economy meant that the crisis was not restricted to the United States alone and hence the world economy took a beating as a result of the crisis.

The next aspect is the fact that Americans and much of the rest of the world were deeply in debt (personal, corporate and governmental) which was unsustainable. The point here is that if one lives beyond one’s means, sooner or later the debts come due and the financial reckoning day would mean that one is either forced to pay up or go bankrupt. When this happens at the individual level, it usually results in foreclosure of homes, being declared bankrupt and hence unable to pay the credit card bills etc. When this happens across the economy and involves corporates, banks, governments (local, regional and national), and the net result is a credit crunch which in other words was the name given to the global economic crisis.

The third aspect to the crisis is that growth cannot proceed ad infinitum in a world of finite resources. Thus, as skyrocketing petrol prices and food prices were on display in the summer of 2008, individuals and families were left at the mercy of market forces forcing a full blown crisis of market led growth. The point here is that we live in a world of limited resources and hence the paradigm of growing forever needs a rethink as there are limits to which we can use the resources. This is another aspect of the crisis which has been noted by some commentators.

To sum up, there was a convergence of different forces (economic, social and political) which resulted in a “perfect storm” of economic and social calamity. Hopefully, the crisis should serve as a warning to policymakers to promote sustainable business practices and for individuals and families to not live beyond their means. The bottom line for any debt based economic system is that one can only postpone the day of reckoning but cannot go on forever in the expectation that the debts would not come due.

In conclusion, this article provided a detailed description of the factors that caused the global economic crisis and the subsequent articles would look at the various casual factors along with some recommendations on how to resolve the crisis.

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