Over the years I’ve heard the cries of “Economic Collapse Ahead!” more times then I care to remember. I’m sure you have as well. Ever since the crash of 2007-2008, it seems like nearly every internet voice has claimed at one time or another, that we are headed for an apocalyptic market correction (and just around the corner too!). This of course, is not without merit.
You’d be a fool to think that we’re on a sustainable course. It has come down to a matter of simple arithmetic. From federal and municipal debt, to stock market and housing speculation; from personal credit to student loan debt, we’re in heaps of trouble. We can project how much society as a whole will earn in the future, deduct how much we owe, and how much we will owe, and see that none of this will ever be paid for. At this point there is a 100% probability that the system will crash. The only question left to ask is, when?
And therein lies the problem. Those of us who have been calling it like it is, and speaking of this in terms of inevitability, must look like “chicken little’s” by now. Most people view the world through a very short term window. It’s been six years since the crash of 2008, and the average person will have tuned out the warnings by now. They don’t understand this one fundamental rule when it comes to predicting economics and geopolitical events-it is shockingly easy to predict the fall of any given system. It’s near impossible to predict when it will fall.
In addition, there is another outcome that many of us have failed to recognize. What if the system doesn’t fail so decisively? What if there isn’t a dramatic collapse like we saw during the Great Depression? While there have been many economic bubbles throughout history, and we are no doubt in a pretty serious bubble as we speak, the nature of this debt cycle is fundamentally different than in past decades.
Recently, strategists for Deutsche Bank released a startling study in regards to government debt. They decided to investigate whether or not the bond market is currently in a bubble. What they found was, unlike previous eras, the past 20 years has seen no lag between economic booms and busts:
It has long been our view that over the last couple of decades the global economy has rolled from bubble to bubble with excesses never fully being allowed to unravel. Instead aggressive policy responses have encouraged them to roll into new bubbles.
This has arguably kept the modern financial system as we know it a going concern. Clearly there have always been bubbles formed through history but has there been a period like the last 20 years where the bursting of one bubble has consistently led directly to the formation of the next?