The Worldwide Depression/Recession Of 2012

Econophile's picture

This article originally appeared in the Daily Capitalist.

In case you haven't noticed, the rest of the world continues to slow down and the negative data is accelerating. The big powerhouses of the world, the eurozone including Germany, Japan, and China are leading this trend and there is no reason to believe that the U.S. will not follow.

I've been writing about this theme frequently lately because, while we are seeing some positive numbers here in the U.S., we are also seeing signs of weakness starting to show up, and since we live in a world of international trade, the world's woes will hit us.

The first thing to note about this phenomenon is that the central banks of the world, including the Fed, have been doing all they can to support their economies with plentiful money. According to a recent Bloomberg article, "Central banks across five continents are undertaking the broadest reduction in borrowing costs since 2009 to avert a global economic slump stemming from Europe’s sovereign-debt turmoil."

Monetary easing will push the average worldwide central bank interest rate, weighted for gross domestic product, to 1.79 percent by next June from 2.16 percent in September, the largest drop in two years, according to data and projections from JPMorgan, which tracks 31 central banks. The number of those banks loosening credit is the most since the third quarter of 2009, when 15 institutions cut rates, the data show. ...

 

The People’s Bank of China has raised its main interest rate three times this year to fight inflation. India’s central bank lifted rates on Oct. 25 by a quarter of a percentage point, while signaling it was nearing the end of its record cycle of increases as the economy cooled.

This is nothing new. Since the Crash of 2008, most central banks have been pumping fiat money into their economies.

The multiple EU sovereign insolvencies—you don't need to default to be insolvent—are hitting eurozone credit hard, which is a trigger for deflation as money supply declines. Lenders are stuck with bad sovereign loans and there isn't enough money to bail them all out, much less the PIIGS.

The thing to remember about the eurozone is that it's not just sovereign insolvencies that is their problem. They became insolvent, yes because governments spent too much, but also because their economies are in the tank mainly for many of the same reasons the U.S. economy declined (money inflation boom, high debt/spending, housing market collapse triggering depression, high taxes and regulation, and various bailouts to prevent recovery). Until they fix the underlying causes, their banks will collapse and countries will default.

China's economy relies on the West for its exports, and as a result:

  • Manufacturing production falls at fastest rate in 3 months; the lowest service sector growth since August;
  • Overall input costs fall for the first month since July 2010;
  • Service sector business optimism second-lowest in series history.

China's frequent monetary stimulus, along with government real estate policies, keeps feeding their real estate boom-bust cycles.

Once you look at the data, below, you will see where we and the world are headed. 

While these economies are shrinking, demand for commodities, capital goods, and manufactured goods all decline. This is impacting commodity prices; they have been falling since this summer (mainly a supply-demand factor, not just a money deflation issue). Each country/zone will have a different reaction to all this. Most will continue to inflate ("print" money).

Money printing will have little impact on declining prices for the time being. Unless they panic. If they panic, that is, massively pump money, they will suffer from price inflation. China will have more booms and the eurozone will also stagnate as well. Japan will continue to go "Japanese", and depending on what the Fed does, it is likely we'll go Japanese as well.

Here is what it looks like:

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N.B. The word "depression" frightens a lot of people. It should. But, we are in one now. Our leaders just invented the word "recession" to take our minds off what's really happening. Murray Rothbard in his book, America's Great Depression noted that when the economy crashed again in 1937, FDR and his advisers didn't want to use the "D" word so they came up with "recession." Until that time there were no "recessions." Now a "recession" is just a mini-depression. Since we, in my opinion, have not yet recovered from the Crash of 2008, we are in a depression. Just ask the 25 million Americans who either don't have a job, can't find one, stopped looking, or are working part-time because they can't find full-time work. Just ask the 24% of home owners whose homes are financially underwater.