The 1979 film The China Syndrome took its name from the darkly humorous notion that a nuclear reactor meltdown in the U.S. would burn straight through the Earth to China. (wikipedia: The China Syndrome)
In today’s world, the financial meltdown in China has burned straight through the global financial system to the U.S. financial markets. The mainstream financial media is delighted to promote the many links between the U.S. and Chinese economies when the two economies are feeding each other’s expansion in a tightly coupled virtuous cycle.
But once China’s slowdown starts impacting the American economy, the mainstream financial media trundles out the usual pundit suspects to declare that the U.S. and Chinese economies are decoupled, so a meltdown in China will have little impact on America–and vice versa.
Various experts also assure us that China’s vast stash of foreign reserves and U.S. Treasuries will enable it to quickly smooth over any spot of bother in its currency (RMB/yuan) resulting from capital flight out of China.
None of these rationalizations change the fact that China is integral to the global financial markets, and so its slowdown and capital flight are toppling carry trade and other risk-off financial dominoes.
Now that trillions of yuan of phantom wealth are disappearing in China, those immense capital flows into Western assets are drying up. A staggering percentage of China’s household wealth is tied up in illiquid and overvalued real estate. The wealth that is yet to be lost as China’s markets transmit the reality that the fuel of financialization has been consumed and the resulting losses will be in the trillions of dollars, not yuan.
As the economy weakens, the momentum is to the downside. Everything that worked in the boost phase–every investor and leader was a genius and could do no wrong–reverses: nothing works any more. Investors lose every bet and leaders’ efforts to reverse the decline are ham-handed failures.
This decline is inevitable in fast-expanding economies that play fast and loose with credit/debt and leverage. All the phantom wealth piled up in China’s boost phase is now melting down, and the China Syndrome will trigger a meltdown in global phantom assets.
Full article: The China Syndrome: The Coming Global Financial Meltdown (Family Security Matters)