There are clear signs of a liquidity crunch in the asset markets right now, and the question I keep hearing is, Is this 2008 all over again?
No, it’s worse. Much worse.
In 2008 there was a lot more faith and optimism upon which to draw. But both have been squandered to significant degrees by feckless regulators and authorities who failed to properly address any of the root causes of the first crisis even as they slathered layer after layer of thin-air money over many of the symptoms.
Anyone who has paid attention knows that those "magic potions" proved to be anything but. Not only are the root causes still with us (too much debt, vast regional financial imbalances, and high energy prices), but they have actually grown worse the entire time.
As always, we have no idea exactly what is going to happen and when, but we can track the various stresses and strains, noting that more and wider fingers of instability increase the risk of a major event. Heading into 2012, there's enough data to warrant maintaining an extremely cautious stance regarding holding onto one's wealth and increasing one's preparations towards resilience.
Here’s the evidence:
- Oil prices higher now than in 2009
- Derivatives up more than $100 trillion since 2009
- Government debts exploding
- Weak GDP growth
- Europe in trouble
- Small investors leaving the market
- China hitting a wall
One of the most important things we need to track is simply untrackable, and that is market perception. When faith in a faith-based money system vanishes, the game is pretty much over.
If you have been reading my work (or anyone else's) with a decent macro view, you likely lost your faith in the system a while ago and marvel that it can continue along for another moment, let alone all the years it has been creaking towards its eventual date with reality. But along it creaks, day after day, week after week, and month after month, threatening to wear down the observant and vigilant before finally letting go.
2012 promises to be an interesting year, with more than $10 trillion in funding and rollover financing required to keep the developed world floating along. But where will that funding come from? The lesson from defunct economies is “not internally!” And if China’s recent slowdowns and projections of an even more lackluster 2012 come true, then we might also scratch a few external sources off the list as well. (more)