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Prepare for the Repricing of Risk Globally

Prepare for the Repricing of Risk Globally

There are no more “saves” available for the next market meltdown.

The past 24 years can be viewed as an era in which risk declined due to the dynamics of globalization and financialization.

The ascent of China as “workshop of the world” generated a deflationary wave of lower prices for products (due to lower labor costs and lower quality components) that blunted the inflationary impact of the global economies adding $150 trillion in debt since 2000. Global debt, public and private, now tops $315 trillion, 333% of global GDP.

Absent the deflationary impact of globalization, this vast increase in money sloshing around would have sparked inflation. Absent the vast expansion of money via financialization, the expansion of production and consumption enabled by globalization could not have occurred.

At the same time, central banks coordinated policies to steadily reduce interest rates, reaching effectively zero or negative rates (when adjusted for inflation) in 2009 and beyond. This reduction of rates far below historic norms enabled creditors to borrow more even as their debt service costs fell.

Financialization vastly increased leverage and the commodification of credit/debt, enabling emerging-market nations and enterprises and consumers globally to increase their borrowing/spending.

Globalization generated incentives for nations and their central banks to “play nice” and cooperate with other governments and banks to spur profitable (and happily deflationary) trade. These coordinated efforts enabled the global economy to avoid the potentially fatal disruptions of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008-09.

Despite localized droughts and extreme weather, global food production increased by expanding land in production and intensifying agricultural methods.

All of these risk-reducing trends are reversing or reaching diminishing returns.

Extreme weather events are increasing, leading to massive losses by insurers, a trend described in As Insurers Around the U.S. Bleed Cash From Climate Shocks, Homeowners Lose (New York Times)(seechart below):

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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