Economics is one of my intellectual hobbies, so I like to keep an eye on the financial world when I can. I recently noted a peculiar string of apparent suicides by four leading bankers, and last night I read the following piece which my gut tells me is connected:
As opaque as China was 7 years ago, it remains largely the same today. No one knows what’s really going on in China economically. The numbers which come out are widely regarded as being way off. The second largest economy in the world operates in government created shadows. We know the red dragon is dipping, but we don’t really know by how much. We know that there is a property bubble which dwarfs the one which deflated in the West but we don’t know at what stage the bubble is.
Sorrentino then links to a Bloomberg article which states:
On any list of banking accidents waiting to happen, China is assured a place at the very top. But could a crash there take the entire global economy down with it?
Absolutely, says Charlene Chu, who until recently was Fitch’s headline-generating analyst in Beijing. Chu has fearlessly trod into an area that China is trying desperately to keep off limits: its vast shadow-banking system. Now that she’s working for a private firm that doesn’t have to rely to governments for revenue, as do rating companies, Chu is free to speak completely openly. And is she ever.
“The banking sector has extended $14 trillion to $15 trillion in the span of five years,” Chu, who is now with Autonomous Research, told the Telegraph. “There’s no way that we are not going to have massive problems in China.” What’s more, she added, China “could trigger global meltdown.”
I have no evidence that this possible meltdown is what drove those bankers to suicide (or had it called down upon them), and even if I knew the crash were coming, what could I do about it? Not much. Still, I prefer being at least cognizant of things like this, and it reminds me of why I enjoyed Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline (or, as I call it, “The Hedonist’s Guide to the Apocalypse”).
Which, in turn, reminds me of an amusing–albeit perhaps increasingly less hypothetical–thought experiment which Hilary White proposed not too long ago: if the bottom fell out and “first world problems” were a thing of the past, what skills or resources do you have to enhance your survival? Mine are that 1) I am multilingual, 2) I was trained as an emergency medical technician, and I’m physically fit enough to be both 3) a bodyguard and 4) a manual labourer for all kinds of tasks (chopping wood, digging, harvesting, climbing, etc.).
How about yourself?