We have seen several explanations for the financial crisis and its lingering effects depressing our global economy in its aftermath. Some are plain stupid, such as greed for some reason suddenly overwhelmed people working within finance, as if people in finance were not greedy before 2007. Others try to explain it through “liberalisation” which is almost just as nonsensical as government regulators never liberalised anything, but rather allowed fraud, in polite company called fractional reserve banking, to grow unrestrained. Some point to excess savings in exporting countries as the culprit behind our misery. Excess saving forces less frugal countries reluctantly to run deficits, or so the argument goes.
While some theories are pure folly, others are partial right, but none seem to grasp the fundamental factor that pulled and keep pulling the world into such unsustainable constellations witnessed in global finance, trade and capital allocation.
Whenever we try to explain the reasons behind the crisis, such as the build-up in non-productive and counterproductive debt (see here, here and here for more details) people ask us why did this happened now, and not earlier? It is a fair question that we have thought about and believe have one simple answer. Bottom line, the world economy is running on a system with no natural correcting mechanisms.
As we are never tired of pointing out, the Soviet Union only had one recession, the one in 1989. The system was stable, until it was not. A system that does not correct internal imbalances grows just like a parasitic cancer, eventually killing its host. If unsustainable capital allocations are allowed to continue unchecked, the pool of real savings will at some point be depleted. At that point recession hits because the structure of production is too capital intensive relative to the level of real saving available.
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