Today’s the first day in a long time financial markets appear willing to at least consider the reality of the geopolitical situation on the ground for what it is, as opposed to what most people would like it to be. As I’ve noted for months, the “trade war” is just one battle in a much larger, increasingly unstable struggle between the U.S. and China for global power and leverage to shape the next paradigm of world history.
A failure to appreciate how big this really is explains why investors have been so willing to swallow unrealistic happy talk from both sides. The risk that needs to be discounted in the market isn’t a risk of higher tariffs, but the risk of WW3. The U.S. and China were never going to sign a trade deal and blissfully return to the ways things were. That world is over. We now find ourselves in the very early days of a historic struggle to influence the future.
The Global Debt Bubble
At the core of everything unsustainable and destabilizing about the “old world” we live in, lies the ever expanding global debt bubble. In early 2018, I wrote an opinion piece for The Hill titled, Bitcoin Isn’t the Bubble — the Global Financial System Is, in which I noted:
While we’re on the topic of bubbles, it seems the truly gigantic bubble in the world isn’t bitcoin, but rather the global debt market. This leviathan now stands at around $233 trillion, or 318 percent of global GDP. Even more troubling, an estimated $11 trillion of government debt now trades at negative yields. This means whoever is buying this paper is doing so despite the fact they are guaranteed to lose money on the “investment.” Much of this buying has been propelled by central banks which can print their own currency and buy debt indiscriminately. This is not characteristic of a healthy financial system (particularly so many years into a global recovery), but rather a zombie one that’s been artificially propped up since the financial crisis.
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