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The worst economic collapse ever?

The worst economic collapse ever?

Country after country has reported extremely dark economic numbers. The gigantic jobless claims, 6.6 million from the U.S. last week, are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, the service sector PMIshave been simply ghastly across the globe. We are now in a crisis of epic proportions.

But, how massive can the crisis eventually get? Since our inception, in 2012, we have contemplated three scenarios as a part of our quarterly forecasts. While we have not referred to them in each report, we have repeated them periodically. They are:  the optimistic, the most probable and the pessimistic.

But at this point our main worry is the approaching realization of the pessimistic, or the worst, scenario.  It’s likelihood, while still low, is increasing fast in our estimate.

Underpinning its severity is not the virus, but the fragility of the global economy.

Breeding chaos:  failed clean-ups and bad policies

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was considered a Black Swan event to many. However, it was no such thing. It was a massive failure of hedging and diversification within the global banking system, most notably in the U.S., and a number of prominent analysts saw it coming. See our blog, 10 years from Lehman. And nothing has been fixed, for an insight view on that crisis.

While banks were wound down and recapitalized in the U.S. after the GFC, an equivalent restructuring did not happen in Europe. Stricken European banks were left to linger in a state of permanent financial distress. 

“Outright Monetary Transactions” or “OMT”, negative interest rates, and ECB’s QE program all aggravated the predicament of European banks.  The failure to resolve the 2008 crisis ‘zombified’ the European banking sector, a situation which persists today. (See Q-Review 3/2019 for a detailed account).

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