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:

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.

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AchtungAffen's picture

"while we are seeing some positive numbers here in the U.S., we are also seeing signs of weakness starting to show up"

Positive numbers in the US? Only now are we seeing "signs of weakness starting to show up"? I've been seeing them for a long time. What I haven 't seen yet are those positive US numbers. Might this be a redux of Econophile's "something's happening" series?

Econophile's picture

Manufacturing is trending upward, employment is trending upward, services are a bit better, consumer spending is trending upward. I just don't think it will last. And if you recall in my "something's happending" articles, something did happen, GDP was up, it just collapsed. But I will admit I was too optimistic about those trends as eventually money supply declined. Thanks for reminding me. I'm not perfect, but our record at the Daily Capitalist is very, very good. Good and fair comment.

Marty Rothbard's picture

   I agree with the author.  The depression that began in 2007 has not ended.  The lie of positive GDP growth, enabled by the lie of greatly under estimated (intentionally) price inflation, is used by the federal government to rationalize their claim that the depression ended in 2009.  Truly there will not be a double dip in 2010, because we are still decending within the first dip.

Dr. Engali's picture

This depression started in 2000. It was masked over by a massive debt build up. We still haven't gotten back to 2000's levels.

cabtrom's picture

Good news! The world will not end in your lifetime. Eventually one group of like minded people will kill the opposite group of like minded people and a new group of assholes will be in charge who think they know what's best for ALL mankind. They will then of course tax each other to pay for this new utopia then the game starts all over again. This has nothing to do with taxes you assholes!

Grand Supercycle's picture

SP500 new downleg confirmed - bearish triangle chart at blog.

My long term indicators have continued to warn of USD strength and EURO weakness and these signals have increased since 2009. The overdue dollar rally should be substantial.

AndrewCostello's picture

The whole problem is that the world has been living on borrowed money, and that borrowed money was printed out of thin air.


Until we separate the physical asset market from the paper fantasy, this is all going to get worse and worse until our civilization collapses.

Just like all the other civilizations that debased their economies.

Go gold or go home.



non_anon's picture

What, no green shoots?

Then, no soup for you!

bill1102inf's picture

As it gets worse, the price of gold is goin down down down

PulauHantu29's picture

Riots in the streets be com'n...I can feel it in my bones ...if the CBs don;t start printing again (prudently, however), even Bloomberg (Mayor of NYC) said he sees "severe civil unrest."

Scary stuff.....and 46 million on food stamps...

...wait 'till the 1.5 BILLION in China get hungry!

SeanJKerrigan's picture

Don't forget, that when China's currency appreciates, it will cause the working people of China to go out and buy some of that stuff they produce.  Higher demand means higher prices for the rest of us.  Till now, the Fed has been able to pretend inflation doesn't exist because quality is going down as prices stay the same, but when that China well runs dry, the real inflation will be exposed.  Fun times.


If you're looking for something funny:

Newt Gingrich hints at possible cabinet members 

Newt Gingrich in college -- you know he listens to Arcade Fire.

Ahmeexnal's picture

When Chinese run out to their nearest BestBuy to buy iPads by the truckload with their strong yuan, I'm sure you'll see shortages on Applestores in the US. But quite frankly, only douchebags like Alec Baldwin will be suffering when iPad prices quadruple.

A Lunatic's picture

It appears as though the "have their cake and eat it too" crowd ate my fucking cake.

hairball48's picture

I wasn't suggesting going back to the jobs of the past.

The real problem is we're not producing young men and women who are equipped/skilled at producing anything useful for tomorrows world.

Getting a masters degree in "Business Administration" won't cut it...nor will a degree in Art History....nor any of these other useless bullshit degrees kids "earn" today...assuming they even finish school.

Part of the problem, a big part, is the student loan programs. Like all the gov't bullshit programs, the student loan programs have created a fat and happy education establishment....and slave workers with useless degrees, indebted to the gov't for the rest of their lives.

But it's "all good" as the baggy ass pants crowd says. I really don't care 'cause I'll be dead and gone...or a senile old drooler in some institution before too long.)

Until then, I got my stash of gold, silver, food and "stuff"...and my trusty .12g pumpgun :)

Seer's picture

"Like all the gov't bullshit programs"

Ah, another govt hater...

Never mind that there's a shitload of private programs out there that are also bilking people.

"I really don't care 'cause I'll be dead and gone...or a senile old drooler in some institution before too long.)"

Then shut the fuck up.  I mean, if you don't know what the fuck you're talking about, that you cannot properly measure OR define any meaningful "solution," then why waste your energy?

Yeah, if you think that your tired ass is going to be propped up in some "institution" then think again.

Oh so typical of the "I've got mine, everyone else is fucked up" crowd.  Again, if you've got "yours" then run along.  Like I and others haven't heard the "it's the govt that's the cause" shit.

"Stash" of shit... oh, great demonstration of passing along "knowledge" to the next generations!  I'm fucking getting farming going so that I can pass it along- it's the least that I can do.  And, I don't have to brag about my "manhood" (that fucking ego shit died when I left the Marine Corps).

P.S. No, I have no affiliation with ANY educational institution or supporting entity (other than I got a little bit of "free" education under the G.I. Bill).

OldPhart's picture

"I really don't care 'cause I'll be dead and gone."  This line is a classic Keynesian paraphrase.

Would to God we were in a capitalist society, there might be hope remaining.  We haven't had capitalism since the early 1900's.  We've had markets where the government has had its thumb heavily on the scale.

That's not to say that government does not have a role in regulating capitalism.  There must be standards of measure, enforcement of contracts, standards of safety, etc.  But our government has spent the last century picking and choosing winners between various contributors and legislative districts.

Over time, governmental influence has built the sprawling military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about.  And today we have an unregulated, million man strong gestapo rising stealthily around us in the form of fusion centers, security companies, mercenary operations, and intelligence centers.

Meanwhile, our official 'government' builds redundancy into the system to use these companies as the source of intelligence gathering on american citizens.  It is no coincidence that the alarm over the rise of the TEA Party and, more recently, OccupyX with the world-wide appeal has seen the newest NDAA declaring that anyone, anywhere, including US citizens on US soil, can be declared a terrorist by Presidential fiat and ordered to be indefinitely confined, or killed, without recourse.

I actually DO work with the younger generation as a Scouter.  It can be a challenge to get them to pull the earbuds, turn off whatever doohickey, and pay just enough attention to consider something as fun or interesting. 

Most of these kids are pretty sharp, but they've been conditioned by media, school, shitty parents to be little drones socially.  Pull them out of themselves and most have actual personalities.

These kids see/hear/watch what is going on.  They don't understand it but they have a sense that they are already screwed.  Over the last ten years I've been shocked to find high school honors kids that can barely comprehend a book, they can read it but they can't process it, or do simple math without a device.  They've been told that they are the smartest kids EVAH!  It's dismaying to watch.

Scouting's core is character, citizenship and physical fitness.  I've witnessed transformations in kids, and their families, that only came from the Scouting program, even in the baggy pants group, that can be described as profound.  And I'm not a mormon...I'm just some dumbass traditional guy.

A lot of the kids are more awake than many of us perceive.  They just don't know what they don't is typical.  What a lot of them have realized is that they are going to have an especially tough life.

Semper Fi, Seer.

Econophile's picture

I like this comment because we all know it is mostly true. And it's something to worry about. OldPhart, ignore the rabble.

Dr. Engali's picture

Man you are a whiner. You sound like a big crybaby with a chip on your shoulder. All you say is we can't we can't we can't. You must be a joy to be around. Kind of like Eeyore.

Elliott Eldrich's picture

You might find this interesting: The "Open Source Global Village Construction Set."

Fox-Scully's picture

It's called start over!

jharry's picture

All of this could be solved in a couple of days.  Debt forgiveness, money distributed to people to pay off debts rather than corporations would be a good start.  Really, we have the necessary goods and services right now.  Nothing about that has changed.  We just need to reboot our financial system to a more practical model.

Seer's picture

"Really, we have the necessary goods and services right now.  Nothing about that has changed.  We just need to reboot our financial system to a more practical model."

Necessary goods and services for WHAT?  And, for how long?  Keep in mind that all is only possible through acquisition of physical resources.  That the US imports most of its oil would mean that it would, unless it were able to export more in goods, run deficits again.

As to what constitutes a "more practical model?"  Well, that's the question, isn't it?  The only acceptable one is capitalism, and, well, I'm afraid that it just doesn't seem up to the task of working long-term on a finite planet.

hairball48's picture

"...Really, we have the necessary goods and services right now. Nothing about that has changed..."

I don't think so. If you check around, America is woefully lacking in many of the technical and trades skills. Ask the American manufacturers...the ones still here. They can't fill many of their technical job vacancies. All these baggy ass pants kids are good for now is playing on their fucking iPhones.

So....When the shit truly hits the fan and import prices of stuff we used to make here in the USA get too expensive for the Joe Sixpacks to buy, what then?

We won't be able to go back to a manufacturing economy overnight, nor will we be able to shift gears in our education establishment to produce useful workers..instead of the useless morons colleges produce today.

You wait and see :)

Andre's picture

" America is woefully lacking in many of the technical and trades skills. Ask the American manufacturers...the ones still here. "

Bullshit. Companies threw hundreds of thousands of engineers on the streets after the dot com bomb. Not many got hired back. Plus with rampant age discrimination, it does not pay to be an engineer over 40. In order to survive, I did work in manufacturing, 2004 - 2009. In maintenance. Wages were much more important than qualifications in many cases, believe me (like the boss who wanted all rigid electrical conduit connections sealed with teflon tape - the mexicans he had did it. Check the NEC to see how egregious a mistake that was.)

One ignored problem, management really has no idea of the business they are managing.. They know how to count beans and check buzzword matches from Taleo, but that's about it. I was keeping some of the really outrageous job descriptions I saw, but I stopped when I got this latest gig. I'll have to start it up again. Believe me, a LOT of management is clueless.

A real answer to this would require a tome, not a sound bite. It might include:

  1. Education ("Think Right Thoughts!")
  2. Management ("Motivation through creative mendacity!")
  3. Workers ("They pretend to tell the truth, and we pretend to believe them.")
  4. Consumers ("Price is more important than quality, every time!")
  5. Government ("Laws mean more order and safety - for us.")
  6. Activists ("If it sounds good, it must be good!")

And probably a host of other topics and sub-topics.

Seer's picture

You sound like someone who was totally indoctrinated in the "greatest generation" mindset.

It's an illusion.

We can't "return" to an era that was unsustainable.

What, we're going to recapture the auto market?  The TV market?  And when 2/3 of the world's population lives on $3/day or less how much market do you really think is out there to support a perpetual growth in "manufacturing?"

The majority of the shit that humans buy is just that- shit!  Don't flatter yourself (your generation, or your trade etc.)

I have to wonder why it's OK to BUY iCrap (hey, it's manufactured!  AND, it's highly technological [robots do a damn fine job building the iCrap- leaving only a few to actually program and provide feedstock to the robots]) but not CONSUME it.  Again, most of the stuff that's out there has only existed during this energy glut that's nearing an end.

No, sorry, the future is going to be cottage-industry, selling actual, meaningful goods necessary for the fundamentals of life: no high-tech shit (this should help get Big Brother out of our lives), none of those "technical" jobs (promoted by Big Brother), and, here's where you'll be ecstatic- no kids running around plugged into iCrap! (of course, as an adult you'll actually be responsible for their upbringing and mentoring)

MrBoompi's picture

The US economy is not in the tank because of high taxes.

Seer's picture

So, there you have it, people here just aren't willing to admit that they don't have a clue (more down arrows).

Fuck, people, I doubt that MrBoompi is saying that he/she LIKES taxes or is wanting more!

Believing that taxes are the reason why it's all going to collapse is like saying that maggots are the cause of death!  Taxes are the salt in the wound (and, hate to say it, but once they're no longer being collected is the day that you're going to find out that the unicorns aren't showing up).

Seer's picture

Get with the program!  If there were no taxes then there would be no resource shortages, even on a finite planet!

As someone who wants a govt so SMALL that it wouldn't even exist, I'm not stupid enough to believe that our ills are due to high taxes (which happen to be lower than most others).  People need to grow up and quit sticking with old arguments that suffer from such huge logic flaws that you could drive a truck through them.

Mother Nature says our growth is done.  Time to quit deceiving ourselves and get on with figuring how we can coexist in a non-growth environment.

max2205's picture

USA, USA, USA!!!! We. Never lose.....

Sudden Debt's picture

The US is good at fighting and Inning battles but sucks in winning wars.

Uber Vandal's picture

De laatste keer dat ik gecontroleerd, België was niet langer deel uit van Duitsland.

Bagbalm's picture

Depression was supposed to sound better than the word PANIC. Truth is they all have a certain useful life until they create unreasoning fear in the hearts of man. It is similar to whatever word we use for black people. It remains viable until some racist pronounces it with a sneer as a slur. Then it is contaiminated. (A curse on them all and may they only find patterned sheets to buy.)

Georgesblog's picture

What goes around, comes around, eventually. The road to Hell is now paved with fiat currency.

Georgesblog's picture

What goes around, comes around, eventually. The road to Hell is now paved with fiat currency.