John Robb: Collapse of the Western Financial “System”

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John Robb

Here’s a scenario from William Buiter (the chief economist at Citi) on what could happen if the EU collapses:

Disorderly sovereign defaults and eurozone exits by all five periphery states would drag down not just the European banking system but also the north Atlantic financial system and the internationally exposed parts of the rest of the global banking system. The resulting financial crisis would trigger a global depression that would last for years, with GDP likely falling by more than 10 per cent and unemployment in the West reaching 20 per cent or more. Emerging markets would be dragged down too.

I have a couple of additions to William’s scenario:

  • We are seeing crisis and depression scenarios like this with regularity now.  They are all presented as being on the cusp of occurring.  It should be very clear to everyone by now, that something fundamental is wrong with the global system and the crisis de jour is just its symptom.  Nobody “in charge” seems to be able to diagnose the real problems with our system.
  • The solutions being proposed are either a) more confidence (through bailouts) and b) more confidence (through more deficit spending).  In other words:  the problem is merely psychological and all you and I need to do is take some anti-depressants to eradicate any lingering pessimism (why worry, let’s party!).  In short: there aren’t any real solutions being offered.
  • None of the bad actors that profit from the behavior that led us into this crisis, either in government or in the financial sector, are held to account.  The moral hazard here is so vast, it can (and likely will) swallow the current economic system.

WIM:  What does it Mean?

It’s very simple.  It is almost a certainty that a global economic depression is on its way and there is absolutely nothing you or I can do to stop it (a ballot box solution now would be as effective as replacing the Captain of the Titanic after the ship hit the iceberg).  So, what can you and I do?  We can take control of our environment.  Our objective is to build or buy access to a community that has the resilience to not only help us survive a global depression, but thrive during it.  A resilient community that:

  • Negates the impact of inevitable supply disruptions, rationing, and price spikes.
  • Protects you from the political violence that will erupt (mobs and police states).
  • Has a functional local economy that has the potential to network with other functional local economies.