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Worst Decade in American History

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Financial historian Niall Ferguson recently wrote in Newsweek of the Double Dip Depression and the simularites of 1929 and the second half of the Great Depression after bank crisis of 1931. As Ferguson puts it:

“Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it.” We’ve already forgotten the lessons of the 2008 disaster. No wonder we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the 1930’s triggering the Second Great Depression. Soccer anyone?

More bad news for 2012: from Gross, Grantham, Shilling and Stiglitz

Ferguson’s in good company with his dark forecast. Pimco’s Bill Gross asks rhetorically: “Where is the euro headed? More than likely down, perhaps significantly.” Gross warns of a “terrifying situation” where “the euro may fall … and take the U.S. recovery with it.”

Then there’s Jeremy Grantham, whose GMO firm manages $100 billion. He predicted the 2008 crash a couple years in advance. Predicts ‘Seven Lean Years” ahead, till 2016, the end of the next presidential term. Now, in his latest newsletter he feels “sadly … vindicated by my ‘seven lean years’ forecast.” The world “will not easily recover from the current level of debt,” as our self-destructive American and European leaders have “permanently slowed their GDP growth.”

More bad news: As we close out the first year of the “Worst Decade in American History,” economist and long-time Forbes columnist Gary Shilling just issued his semi-annual outlook: “Global Recession Likely” in 2012. OK, the best he can say is that this one “will be milder than the 2007-2008 nosedive.” Of course, you’ve already forgotten those pains, right?

And over at Vanity Fair, Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz also reexamines the dark history of the Great Depression, warning that in our ignorance of history we’re missing a fundamental economic “shift in the ‘real’ economy,” missing what will generate future jobs, just as we did back in the ‘30s. Yes, we “risk a tragic replay” of the Great Depression.

MarketWatch go on to make 10 predictions for America’s Worst Decade Ever

 

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Russia Sell US Bonds For 12 Months Straight

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Russia has sold off on its US bonds from its reserves for 12 months straight. As ZeroHedge has reported that Russia is considering investing $20bn in the IMF to be used to support the euro zone.

 

China Heading For A Hard Landing

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China’s property bubble looks to be bursting as Homelink property website reports that Bejing new home prices have  dropped a whopping 35% from the previous month. On the other hand the growth of money supply has reduced dramatically along with the Shanghai index falling compounding its problems.

The growth of the M2 money supply slumped to 12.7pc in November, the lowest in 10 years. New lending fell 5pc on a month-to-month basis. The central bank has begun to reverse its tightening policy as inflation subsides, cutting the reserve requirement for lenders for the first time since 2008 to ease liquidity strains.

The question is whether the People’s Bank can do any better than the US Federal Reserve or Bank of Japan at deflating a credit bubble.

Chinese stocks are flashing warning signs. The Shanghai index has fallen 30pc since May. It is off 60pc from its peak in 2008, almost as much in real terms as Wall Street from 1929 to 1933.

China’s $3.2 trillion foreign reserves have been falling for three months despite the trade surplus. Hot money is flowing out of the country. “One-way capital inflow or one-way bets on a yuan rise have become history. Our foreign reserves are basically falling every day,” said Li Yang, a former central bank rate-setter.

So with massive reserves China can use them help with its banking system right?

The reserves cannot be tapped to prop up China’s internal banking system. To do so would mean repatriating the money – now in US Treasuries and European bonds – pushing up the yuan at the worst moment.

As for consumption and investment

The economy is badly out of kilter. Consumption has fallen from 48pc to 36pc of GDP since the late 1990s. Investment has risen to 50pc of GDP. This is off the charts, even by the standards of Japan, Korea or Tawian during their catch-up spurts. Nothing like it has been seen before in modern times.

Why is the property market doing so badly now?

Investors had thought China was immune to a property crash because mortgage finance is just 19pc of GDP. Wealthy Chinese often buy two, three or more flats with cash to park money because they cannot invest overseas and bank deposit rates have been minus 3pc in real terms this year.

But with price to income levels reaching nosebleed levels of 18 in East coast cities, it is clear that appartments – often left empty – have themselves become a momentum trade.

A fire-sale is under way in coastal cities, with Shanghai developers slashing prices 25pc in November – much to the fury of earlier buyers, who expect refunds. This is spreading. Property sales have fallen 70pc in the inland city of Changsa. Prices have reportedly dropped 70pc in the “ghost city” of Ordos in Inner Mongolia. China Real Estate Index reports that prices dropped by just 0.3pc in the top 100 cities last month, but this looks like a lagging indicator. Meanwhile, the slowdown is creeping into core industries. Steel output has buckled.

The next few weeks are likely to reveal how little progress has been made. China may ride out the storm over the next few months, but the dangers of over-capacity and bad debt will only intensify”.

In truth, China faces an epic deleveraging hangover, like the rest of us.

Source: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

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