Recall that in 2008 the fall of the Lehman Brothers started a nasty domino effect that led to a global economic meltdown. Today, with euro zone leaders scrambling to ease debt contagion fears, U.S. officials bickering over the debt ceiling, and the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) on the verge of overheating, it seems that the worst is yet to come for the global economy.
In fact, a growing number believe that individually taken, some of these problems could even have an impact as heavy as the 2008 financial crisis!
We’ve seen euro zone economies ask for bailout packages like it was just lunch money, while credit ratings agencies have also been burning the newswires by issuing one credit rating downgrade after another.
Unfortunately for euro zone officials, the region’s debt problems seem to have escalated instead of dying down, despite their efforts. Word around the hood is that Spain, Portugal, and Italy are next on the hot seat if Greece doesn’t overcome its debt hurdles.
A couple of weeks ago Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had warned that if Congress doesn’t lift its 14.3 trillion USD debt ceiling by August 2, there’s a good chance that the U.S. will default on its debts, which would put the country’s AAA credit rating at risk. Imagine the repercussions it would have on global markets if the widely-held dollar suddenly lost much of its value!
Of course, you can’t talk about problems in the U.S. without discussing the touchy subject of the country’s labor market. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that the NFP report printed much worse than analysts had expected? It’s no wonder talks of QE3 have been so rampant!
In the absence of strength from the usual economic powerhouses, Brazil, Russia, India, and China, took it upon themselves to bear the torch and lead the way for global economic growth. Their economies have been booming, but the rapid BRIC expansion has not been without growing pains.
Because of rapid growth, investors and their truckloads of funds have been flowing into these countries faster than you can say “Ka-ching!” The problem with this is that it presents the risk of the formation of asset bubbles, which can easily pop and disrupt markets and the economy. Things can get pretty sticky when a bubble gum bubble pops in your face, but when an asset bubble pops, it’s a million times worse. Just take a look at what happened with the U.S. housing bubble.
And then there’s the issue of fast-rising inflation, also brought about by unusually strong expansion. Inflation also presents a threat to growth, that is, if it gets out of hand. So far, BRIC central banks have been dealing with rising prices by tightening monetary policy, but not without drawbacks.
Their willingness to raise interest rates has caused their respective currencies to rise and bog down growth. It’s for this reason that many believe that these economies are on the verge of overheating.
So what can we take from all of this?
Well, expect the worst. Anyone worth his salt knows it’ll be a while before finance officials can sort out their problems, which is why most analysts are calling for a slower second half of 2011.
The future is as cloudy as ever, and as such, we have to be extra careful with our long-term trades. Basically, at this point in time, the only thing certain is uncertainty. But we shouldn’t feel lost when it comes to trading. After all, we all know too well how uncertainty can bend trading conditions in favor of safe haven currencies such as the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen.