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"Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world" - Henry Kissinger

and yet...

"Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences" – Robert Louis Stevenson

Global economic disaster is unlikely...says Martin Wolf

In response to an FT article by Martin Wolf on 5th January 2016, entitled 'Why global economic disaster is an unlikely event'

"...the slowdown in 1998 was triggered by the Asian financial crisis, that in 2001 by the bursting of a huge stock market bubble and that in 2009 by the western financial crisis"

You list a number of crises culminating in the three above as if they were separate events. Whilst I appreciate this is an article not a dissertation, events are far more interrelated than you suggest.

Personally, I do not believe the world evolves through unrelated events, and economic crises do not come out of the blue - 'This time is different' and 'No-one could have seen it coming' are two of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves, ranking alongside 'We have zero tolerance for unethical behaviour' and 'Your call is important to us' in terms of how utterly spurious they are. They are cop-outs. 

This time is not different and people do see it coming. Unfortunately these people are rarely policy makers, who seem to have a vested interest in 'group think', and in the worst cases 'willful blindness'. In my view the biggest exponents of this are the central banks. The tech bubble of 2001, the sub-prime bubble of 2007, and the preponderance of asset bubbles currently floating around everywhere, are the direct result and inevitable consequence of a relentless expansion of credit, fuelled by the money printing and low interest rate policies of our central banks - primarily the Fed. 

We live in a complex economic system that evolves through the combined choices of billions of people in markets all around the world; people who make those decisions on the basis of signals from the market place. We have policy makers who think they can bolt together a few mathematical formulas, sit them atop an unproven and to my mind ridiculous theory called the Phillips Curve, and come up with a DSGE model that will tell us what the most fundamental price in capitalism should be - the price of money. This is absurd hubris.

The QE and ZIRP policies of the Fed, the BoJ, and the ECB have achieved a number of extremely negative consequences, amongst which are:

1. Repaired the balance sheets of the banks that the market selected for liquidation in 2008, institutionalising 'moral hazard' in the process

2. Facilitated a massive transfer of wealth from the poor/middle class to the rich

3. Brought forward demand, which produces deflation - Student debt and 7 year car loans are two of the latest examples of this madness

4. Pushed forward the day of reckoning for countless zombie companies, which under market interest rates would have gone bust and released their capital and resources for productive enterprises

5. Exponentially expanded the bubbles of debt floating around the global economy looking for a pin

On the other hand it has not done what was predicted by the CBs - the 'wealth effect' and 'trickle down' are bunkum. Even some of the Feds are starting to 'own' this. Anyone who wants to hear an honest Central Banker should hit the link below and hear Richard Fisher on CNBC just this week, explaining how the Fed front-loaded the stock market expansion of the past 6.5 years. He also, unsurprisingly, reminded everyone that he'd voted against QE3, and also talks about the Fed being 'out of ammo'. I think you'll find it worth a view, even with the poor synch' between vision and sound:

We will have another financial crisis Mr. Wolf - it will be the trailing edge of the financial storm that hit in 2007, which has been delayed but not solved, by the continuation of the policies that got us there. It will manifest as a sovereign debt crisis that goes global - the carnage will be in the bond market. Whether it will be 2016 or 2017 I do not know - I'm amazed they have been able to kick the can down the road this long - but the can has now become too big to kick. 

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