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Watch Out for a Second Global Crisis

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Friday, 15 Jan 2010 03:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The World Economic Forum, or WEF, has released its closely watched Global Risks 2010 Report.

The report was produced in collaboration with Citigroup, Marsh & McLennan, Swiss Re, the Wharton School Risk Center and Zurich Financial Services.

The report warns that the crisis has left leading economies acutely vulnerable to further problems.

There is now more than a 20 percent likelihood of another asset-price bubble implosion that, if it happens, would cost the world more than $1 trillion.

Similar are the odds of a full-scale sovereign fiscal crisis.

The report warns of a more than 20 percent likelihood that a backlash of the financial crisis could strike this year and have a destructive impact of more than $1 trillion.

Yes, it’s as simple and as unpleasant as that.

Investors should take into account the possibility of a second leg to the financial crisis.

They also should prepare for the possibility, also with a probability of more than 20 percent, of a fiscal crisis, where a major economy could face either default or a “sudden stop” of financing capacity at today’s conditions in the capital markets.

And, yes, the report also states China’s growth is a serious risk factor, with a likelihood of more than 20 percent. The report said China’s risk factor can — but that doesn’t mean it will — fall to 6 percent or even less.

China’s problem is that much of the domestic impulses derive from high credit growth, which entails an increased risk of misallocation of capital and renewed bubbles in financial asset prices and real estate.

These can always carry the risk of a sharp and potentially recessionary correction.

A loss in China’s growth momentum could adversely affect global capital and commodity markets.

The Chinese government faces a number of challenges: the need to increase domestic demand to counter the loss in exports and the need to maintain a stable yuan, or renminbi, given China’s vast accumulation of foreign reserves.

No doubt, these are serious risks.

But of course, that doesn’t mean they will take place — but be aware they are out there.

The report is out just two weeks ahead of the World Economic Forum's annual summit in Davos, Switzerland.

By the way, the report has been among the first to cite the prospect of a financial crisis, the oil crisis that preceded it and the ongoing food crisis, included a list of growing risks threatening leading economies.

Among the most likely, and potentially most costly, threats are the likelihoods of a new asset price collapse and a sovereign debt crisis that will result in the unprecedented costs of the crisis clean-up some countries like the United States and the United Kingdom will have to face.

To put somewhat the risk that China represents in context, I want to mention that the WEF report has mentioned the risk of Chinese growth slowing to below 6 percent since 2006, the year this report was launched.

Thursday, it will be enlightening to see the complete Chinese 2009 gross domestic product, or GDP, numbers.

Please note that pointing at risks is not the same as referring to facts.

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HansParisis
The World Economic Forum, or WEF, has released its closely watched Global Risks 2010 Report. The report was produced in collaboration with Citigroup, Marsh McLennan, Swiss Re, the Wharton School Risk Center and Zurich Financial Services. The report warns that the...
world,forum,second,crisis
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2010-20-15
Friday, 15 Jan 2010 03:20 PM
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