Leaving The Eye Of The Hurricane

Leaving the Eye of the Hurricane

In the early 2000’s, there were those economists and investors who believed that the U.S. was headed for an economic fall - that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 would allow the financial institutions to enter into widespread reckless loan practices that would lead to a housing crash. And that that crash would lead to a stock market crash that would herald in The Great Unravelling - The Greater Depression.

Most of us who made these predictions hypothesized that the initial collapse would be significant, but not severe - that the governments of the world would come to the rescue with bailout programs that would stave off the symptoms of the problem, but would do nothing to cure the disease itself - that of massive debt.

We suggested that there would be a false recovery, resulting in the easing of symptoms. There would be repeated claims by both governments and the media that “recovery is nigh.” However, underneath all the folderol, the disease would worsen considerably, eventually reaching the point at which the patient (the economy) could not be saved. At some point, public confidence in the leaders’ abilities to resuscitate the body would fade. This would be triggered by some event or events, such as a crash in the stock or bond market, a dumping of debt back into the U.S. by creditor nations, debt default by Greece or some other nation, commodity price spikes, backlash from sanctioned nations, the imposition of protective tariffs - any one of a dozen possible triggers would do the trick. From that point on, each of the other triggers would eventually occur, as toppling dominoes, fulfilling the prediction of Depression.

Only in this latter period would the dreaded “D-word” be acknowledged by the governments and media.

Most prognosticators (myself included) went on the general assumption that the initial collapse would last two to three years and that the following “suspension” period of bailouts and other attempts to paper over the problem might last another three years or so. During this period, conditions would not be good, but they would be better than the conditions during the initial crash and far better than the conditions that would follow the suspension period. Not surprisingly, many of us came to refer to this period as “the eye of the hurricane,” an apt term, as the eye of a hurricane is a period of relative calm after the first onslaught of the storm and just prior to the inevitable and often more devastating second half.

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