Markets are realising that the five-and-a-half year recovery since the financial crisis may already be over, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Combined tightening by the United States and China has done its worst. Global liquidity is evaporating.
What looked liked a gentle tap on the brakes by the two monetary superpowers has proved too much for a fragile world economy, still locked in “secular stagnation”. The latest investor survey by Bank of America shows that fund managers no longer believe the European Central Bank will step into the breach with quantitative easing of its own, at least on a worthwhile scale.
Markets are suddenly prey to the disturbing thought that the five-and-a-half year expansion since the Lehman crisis may already be over, before Europe has regained its prior level of output. That is the chief reason why the price of Brent crude has crashed by 25pc since June. It is why yields on 10-year US Treasuries have fallen to 1.96pc, and why German Bunds are pricing in perma-slump at historic lows of 0.81pc this week.
We will find out soon whether or not this a replay of 1937 when the authorities drained stimulus too early, and set off the second leg of the Great Depression.
The world is one financial downturn, one major terrorist attack or one regional war away from collapse. 9/11 happened when the U.S. was on the brink of another economic bubble whereas the downturn of 2008 was a bubble created during the Clinton years in which it was only a matter of time before it popped.
As matters stand, the next recession will push the Western economic system over the edge into deflation
Half the world economy is one accident away from a deflation trap. The International Monetary Fund says the probability may now be as high as 20pc.
It is a remarkable state of affairs that the G2 monetary superpowers – the US and China – should both be tightening into such a 20pc risk, though no doubt they have concluded that asset bubbles are becoming an even bigger danger. Continue reading
Italy is likely to need an EU rescue within six months as the country slides into deeper economic crisis and a credit crunch spreads to large companies, a top Italian bank has warned privately.
Mediobanca, Italy’s second biggest bank, said its “index of solvency risk” for Italy was already flashing warning signs as the worldwide bond rout continued into a second week, pushing up borrowing costs.
“Time is running out fast,” said Mediobanca’s top analyst, Antonio Guglielmi, in a confidential client note. “The Italian macro situation has not improved over the last quarter, rather the contrary. Some 160 large corporates in Italy are now in special crisis administration.” Continue reading