The hair-on-fire headline reads, in full: “Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control.” But here’s the thing — the headline does not appear in a hair-on-fire, Chicken-Little website such as (one might slanderously call) Zero Hedge, David Stockman’s Contra Corner, Wolf Street or (dare I append this name to the list of Titans?) The Daily Impact. It appears on the website of one of the world’s top mainstream newspapers, Britain’s The Daily Telegraph. And here’s the subhead: “China currency devaluation signals endgame leaving equity markets free to collapse under the weight of impossible expectations.”
Worried yet? Don’t be. It’s way too late.
One of the hair-on-fire websites (first clue: it’s name is The Economic Collapse Blog) lists 23 — count them, 23 — countries whose stock markets are crashing right now. The largest of them, of course, is China, whose markets have been imploding for two months. For most of that time the mainstream media has been murmuring assurances to the rest of us — it’s over, it’s stable now, it’s contained, it won’t affect us — while things got worse, faster, over a wider area.
As the Telegraph article points out, it was China that saved the world after the 2008-9 crash, by expanding its economy ruthlessly, with borrowed and imaginary money (that is, money imagined into existence by the central bank). They built high-rise apartment buildings, whole cities of them, in which no one lives. They built freeways on which no one drives — they poured more concrete in three years than the United States has poured in its entire history. Now, mired in debt that is coming due, its currency devalued, its stock market crashing, China teeters on the brink of unimaginable catastrophe.
The seizures afflicting China’s economy are a major reason why the prices of virtually every industrial commodity have crashed this year, with dramatic effects on the economies and the currencies of the countries whose welfare depends on the sale of the assets nature deposited under their territory. The fairy tale has been that these “emerging” nations, which of course will never deplete their deposits of whatever, will take over the engine of endless global growth as the mantle falls from the shoulders of the exhausted roosters — the United States, China, etc. Instead, each of these countries is in turmoil, its currency fraying, its markets roiled, its economy seizing up.
Money, real and imaginary, is rampaging out of China, out of Greece, out of the emerging markets, out of the bond market, and. yes, out of the American stock market. According to staid and optimistic CNBC, it’s a “stampede,” with domestic equity funds losing $20 billion in investor funding in July, nearly $160 billion in 12 months. The outflows are far worse than they were in the 2009 crisis. Ask not for whom the Chinese gong tolls; it tolls for three.
As the markets, including the US markets, continue to stagger along the edge of the cliff like the proverbial drunken sailors, the Dipsticks (a.k.a. the Masters of the Universe) continue to buy the dip, praying fervently to the great god Mammon that each reverse is a temporary hiccup and not the manifestation of the immutable law of gravity.
Never mind what your smartphone thinks the time is. It’s a minute to midnight, all over the world.