1 April 2008

Global Systemic crisis continues

ccording to LEAP/E2020, the end of the third quarter of 2008 will be marked by a new tipping point in the unfolding of the global systemic crisis. At that time indeed, the cumulated impact of the various sequences of the crisis (see table below) will reach its maximum strength and affect decisively the very heart of the systems concerned, on the frontline of which the United States, epicentre of the current crisis. In the United States, this new tipping point will translate into a collapse of the real economy, final socio-economic stage of the serial bursting of the housing and financial bubbles (1) and of the pursuance of the US dollar fall. The collapse of US real economy means the virtual freeze of the American economic machinery: private and public bankruptcies in large numbers, companies and public services closing down massively (2),...

A revealing harbinger: from March 2008 onward, the US government will stop a service publishing its economic indicators due to budget restrictions (3). Those who read the GEAB N°2 (02/2006) and included Alert certainly keep in mind our anticipation which connected the upcoming fall of the US dollar with the US Fed's decision to cease publishing the M3 indicator. This new decision is another clear sign that US leaders are now anticipating a very bleak economic outlook for their country.

Time perspective of the seven sequences of the impact phase of the global systemic crisis as anticipated since mid-2007 - Source LEAP/E2020, GEAB N°18 (10/2007)
In this 22nd issue of the GEAB, LEAP/E2020's experts try in particular to anticipate very specifically what will come out of the collapse of the US real economy for the United States themselves and for the other regions of the world. Meanwhile our team presents five sets of strategic and operational recommendations helping to protect oneself from the upcoming deterioration of the global systemic crisis.

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the publication of our famous “Global systemic crisis Alert” which toured the world in February 2006 (4), LEAP/E2020 wishes to remind that we are now resolutely stepping into an era with no historical precedent. Our researchers insisted on that many times in the last two years: any comparison with the previous crises of our modern economy would be fallacious. It is neither a “remake” of the 1929 crisis nor a repetition of the 1970s oil crises or 1987 stock market crisis. It is truly a global systemic crisis, that is to say a crisis affecting the entire planet and questioning the very foundations of the international system upon which the world was organised in the last decades.

According to LEAP/E2020, it is also instructive to observe that, two years after the release of this « Alert » which at the time generated both the interest of millions of readers worldwide and the condescending irony of most « experts » and « managers » of the economic and financial spheres, everyone is now convinced that a crisis is truly happening, that it is really global, and for most people already that it could indeed be systemic. However, it is always a repeated astonishment for our team to see the degree of incapacity of these same experts and managers in understanding the specific nature of the phenomenon currently unfolding. According to them, this crisis would only be a usual crisis but bigger. As a matter of fact that's how the financial media reflect the dominant interpretations of the ongoing crisis. According to our team, this approach is not only intellectually lazy (5), it is also morally guilty, because it has for a main consequence to prevent their readers (whether they are simple citizens, private investors or public or private organisation managers) from preparing for the upcoming shocks (6).

For this reason, in opposition to all what can be read in the mainstream media always eager to conceal the truth and serve the interests of those who rule them, LEAP/E2020 wishes to remind that it is first and foremost in the United States that the systemic crisis is taking an unprecedented shape (the « Very Great US Depression » as our team decided to call it in January 2007 (7)) because it is around this country, and this country alone, that the world got progressively organised after the second World War. The various issues of the GEAB extensively described this situation. In short, it appears to be useful to make clear that neither Europe nor Asia have a negative saving rate, a full-scale housing crisis throwing millions of citizens out of their homes, a free-falling currency, abysmal public and trade deficits, an economic recession and, on top of all this, a number of costly wars to finance.

Neither Asia nor Europe (or more precisely ‘nor the Eurozone') will suffer the roughest, the most sustainable and the most negative impact of the ongoing crisis; but the United States will, as well as all the countries/economies strongly linked to the US (what our experts have decided to call “the American risk”) (8). A “decoupling” is indeed taking place between the US economy and the other large regions of the world. But “decoupling” does not mean “independence” and it is clear that, as anticipated by LEAP/E2020 for many months, Asia and Europe will be affected by the crisis. But « decoupling » entails that the evolution of the US economy and of the other large regions of the world are no longer synchronised, that Asia and Europe are now moving along courses no longer determined by the US economy.

The global systemic crisis is in fact the beginning of an economic « decoupling » between the US and the rest of the world, knowing that the non « decoupled » economies will be dragged down the US negative spiral.

US Self-Employment in a Steep Downturn - Source Bureau of Labor Statistics / Merril Lynch (shaded region represents period of US recession)
The cases of the housing (2006) and financial (2007) bubble-bursting are eloquent. Indeed, the large majority of operators (non-specialised in the concerned sector) discovered that « the party was over » a long time after the trend had reversed. During the entire reversal period (which usually lasts between 6 to 12 months at most), dominant stances kept repeating them that nothing was changing and that emerging worries had no reason to be; and later, that the problems would remain confined to the sector concerned and to the US only. All those who, in the US and elsewhere, listened to these arguments are bitterly regretful now that they are stuck with unmarketable houses (or about to be foreclosed) or now that they see the value of their assets crumble day after day (9).

Concerning stock markets, our team has anticipated since October 2007 that international stocks would plummet by 20 to 60 percent according to the region in the course of the year 2008. Today, we must re-evaluate our anticipations as we estimate that losses will be even greater than that. Indeed, on the one hand, stock markets have already lost between 10 and 20 percent since the beginning of the year (10), and, on the other hand, the collapse of the real economy in the US by the end of Summer 2008 will drag down all stock markets. According to LEAP/E2020, international stock markets will probably drop by 50 percent in average compared to 2007 (including in the emerging countries) (11).

This sort of re-evaluation is typical of the work of anticipation carried by LEAP/E2020. Month after month we try to distinguish which trends are growing and which are relenting in order to improve the accuracy of our evaluations. We do not strive to “be right” (12), not to “sell” or “promote” anything. We seek simply and without prejudice to describe in advance the consequences of the heavy trends at play in this 21st-century world, and to share with our readers what we think are the proper means to protect oneself from the most negative effects.

In this 22nd issue of the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin, with the alert we sound about a collapse of US real economy from September 2008 onward, we are trying again to warn those concerned that this major event will generate many very severe socio-political troubles in the United States (13) whose economy is truly on a tumbling course (14), a situation extremely likely to entail very heavy consequences for the financial and monetary markets, and for the world's economy. We have not yet reached the heart of the crisis. According to LEAP/E2020, we will be there in the second semester of 2008.


(1) A very instructive film was recently nominated at the Sundance Film Festival: I.O.U.S.A., directed by Patrick Creadon. As it follows the journey of David Walker, US Comptroller General (and therefore responsible for controlling federal public spending), during a series of conferences on the state of public expenditures throughout the country, this film shows the very direct impact of the current crisis on American citizens and the United States. The release of this film illustrates the fact that, in just a few months time, this crisis left the mere circles of experts and boardrooms of financial institutions to enter into the daily life of the US citizens.

(2) In the past few days, the complete collapse of Municipal bonds (or « Munis ») illustrates the fact that the crisis is spreading to all the sectors of the US society. This collapse will freeze all public investment projects scheduled by local authorities in the US. It is one of the first big victims of the implosion of « bonds insurers » announced by LEAP/E2020 in the GEAB N°19. It also demonstrates the fact that large banks are now incapable of playing their role of financers of the country's economic activity. Sources: Financial Times, 02/13/2008 & Bloomberg, 02/14/2008

(3) Source: EconomicIndicators.Gov, Economics & Statistics Administration, US Department of Commerce

(4) See GEAB N°2, 02/15/2006

(5) The first reason that may prevent those « experts » to conceive the « unconceivable », is not a matter of intelligence but a « commercial » problem. Indeed it would compel them to review most of their intellectual principles (their work hypotheses) and their business base (their « clients » would not appreciate to learn that they were on the wrong track all these years).

(6) On this subject, it is worth noticing the very straightforward speech made by the head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, who recently warned his fellow citizens that the current crisis would downgrade significantly their living standards. Unfortunately, no US leader, including among the Democrats, is able to produce such a speech, knowing that their fellow citizens are hit even harder than the British. Source: The Telegraph, 02/14/2008.

(7) See GEAB N°11, 01/15/2007.

(8) In this 22nd issue of the GEAB, the LEAP/E2020 team gives a set of recommendations helping investors to assess themselves the « American risk » of a country, sector or investment.

(9) The same goes for all those who chose to listen to similar arguments telling them, along the years 2006 and 2007, that it was impossible for the EURUSD exchange rate to go above 1.30, then 1.40, and now 1.50… while waiting 1.70 at the end of the year 2008.

(10) Only « dream merchants » can still imagine that stock markets could improve by the end of the year, while the crisis is speeding up.

(11) It is worth reminding that in January 2008, in just a month, global stock markets saw USD 5,200 billion-worth go up in smoke. Source: China Daily News, 02/10/2008

(12) Even if our anticipations undeniably proved to be right in the past two years concerning the global systemic crisis.

(13) See ‘Sequence 6 : 2nd quarter 2007 – 4th quarter 2009 : « Very Great Depression » in the US, social unrest and growing influence of the army on public management, GEAB N°18, 10/15/2007

(14) Predictions about the failure of dozens of US banks in the coming two years illustrate the scope of upcoming difficulties. Source: Reuters, 02/01/2008

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