Town Hall Meeting

24 Jan 2009

Future Prospects for US Economy – 2009 and Beyond

Filed under: — Administrator @ 3:31 pm

The view of serious observers:

The US and the UK are bankrupt and the defaults of the financial system and government will appear in the first half of this year. Many believe that the dollar will drop at least 20-30% (~ 1.75 to the euro), inflation will eventually increase a lot, official unemployment will remain above 10%. With a weak productive base and inefficient institutions in pensions, education, medicine, and transportation, the problems will continue for about a decade. East Asia and Eurozone will emerge first and slowly in 2010.

It shall be finished neither in spring 2009, nor in summer 2009, nor at the beginning of 2010. It is only towards the end of 2010 that the situation will start stabilizing again and improving a little in some regions of the world, i.e. Asia and the Eurozone, as well as in countries producing energy, mineral and food commodities (2). Elsewhere, it will continue; in particular in the US and UK, and in all the countries depending on their economy, where the duration could approximate a decade. In fact these countries should not expect any real return to growth before 2018.!-Global-systemic-crisis-New-tipping-point-in-March-2009-When-the-world-becomes-aware-that-this_a2567.html

I’ve found that credit losses could peak at a level of $3.6 trillion for U.S. institutions, half of them by banks and broker dealers,” Roubini said at a conference in Dubai today. “If that’s true, it means the U.S. banking system is effectively insolvent because it starts with a capital of $1.4 trillion. This is a systemic banking crisis.

It’s no wonder that so many Icelanders are angry. They live in a country bankrupted by the excesses of their bankers, who took on liabilities 10 times the nation’s GDP, betting billions in Britain’s property bubble. Bailed out only by a jumbo IMF loan, inflation and interest rates are now 18% and rising. Many are considering emigration. Only membership of the euro, if it can be secured, offers a lifeline.

We too have a banking system that is huge in relation to our GDP, but, like Iceland, we are not in the euro. Unless we act quickly, decisively and cleverly, the difficulties of our banks could overwhelm us, triggering an enormous run on the pound. Britain, in short, risks bankruptcy.

The Obama stimulus package is a good place to start, but it skirts the core issues of wages and debt relief.

I don’t believe the US has either the external credibility or the goodwill capital any longer to ask, Oliver Twist-like, for a little more leeway, a little more latitude. I believe that markets – both the private players and the large public players managing the foreign exchange reserves of the PRC, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the Gulf states, Japan and other nations – will make this clear.

There will, before long (my best guess is between 2 and 5 years from now) be a global dumping of US dollar assets, including US government assets. Old habits die hard. The US dollar and US Treasury Bills and Bonds are still viewed as a safe haven by many. But learning takes place.

The US Federal government has taken on massive additional contingent liabilities through its bail out/underwriting of the US financial system (and possibly other bits of the US economic system that are too politically connected to fail). Together will the foreseeable increase in actual Federal government liabilities because of vastly increased future Federal deficits, this implies the need for a future private to public sector resource transfer that is most unlikely to be politically feasible without recourse to inflation. The only alternative is default on the Federal debt. There is little doubt, in my view, that the Federal authorities will choose the inflation and currency depreciation route over the default route.

If I can figure this out, so can anyone in the US or abroad who follows recent economic developments. The dawning of the realisation will lead to the dumping of the assets….

Given the bad fiscal position of the US Federal government and given the vulnerability of the external position of the US and its growing reliance on foreign funding, the scope for expansionary fiscal policy in the US is much more limited than president-elect Obama’s advisers appear to realise. Underneath the effective demand problem is a deep structural rot, especially in household sector and financial sector balance sheets.

-Thanks G for the links!

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