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Whatever happened to that “imminent” banking crisis?

Whatever happened to that “imminent” banking crisis?

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In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, many of us in the hedge fund industry expected continuing fallouts from the unresolved imbalances that were papered over with monetary and fiscal stimuli by governments and central banks. These measures failed to address, let alone resolve the systemic causes of the crisis. One of their consequences was a further weakening of large western banks, particularly the European ones. A new banking crisis was widely anticipated. Last June, Alasdair Macleod wrote that the “Next significant event therefore will almost certainly be the failure of a G-SIB if not in America, then elsewhere.”  [G-SIB = global systemically important bank]. In my recollection, Deutsche Bank for one, has been on a death watch at least since 2016, but the list of banks that should have collapsed already is long and full of household names.

Indeed, things looked very bleak when the Coronavirus pandemic struck and they deteriorated sharply from there. Yet, the banking system is limping along and no crisis has yet materialized. How to explain this? Last September I gave an interview on Renegade Inc. and went out on a limb with a hypothesis that only dawned on me about that time. Namely, I grew up in former Yugoslavia in the socialist regime under a one party system (Communist party, of course). The world I grew up in was pretty much one chronic crisis of stagflation which ultimately led to hyperinflation. My ‘eureka!’ moment happened when I realized that in spite of that state of affairs, we never had a banking crisis! No major bank failed and we had no bank runs at any point.

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