Are we about to see a repeat of 2008 (or something even worse)? Suddenly all kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork and warning that we could be on the verge of the next major financial collapse. Of course many economists and financial pundits just enjoy hearing themselves talk, and sometimes they will make outrageous claims just to get attention, but when so many ominous warnings come out all at once it does tend to make one sit up and take notice. The truth is that global financial markets are even more vulnerable today than they were in 2008, and all over the globe we are seeing trouble signs. Japan is trying to recover from the worst natural disaster that they have ever seen and they are dealing with a nuclear crisis that never seems to end. The Europeans are trying to put another bailout package for Greece together and about a half dozen more European nations that are drowning in debt will need bailouts after that. In the U.S., there are all kinds of signs pointing to the collapse of the economy and the politicians in Washington D.C. continue to "kick the can down the road" and hope that our economic problems will somehow fix themselves. Oil prices are incredibly high and turmoil is sweeping the globe. Conditions are certainly developing that could bring about a "perfect storm" and cause another global financial collapse.
The following is just a sampling of the financial warnings that we have seen in recent days from some prominent voices....
*Economist Nouriel Roubini: "I think right now we’re on the tipping point of a market correction. Data from the U.S., from Europe, from Japan, from China are suggesting an economic slowdown."
*Jim Rogers: "I would expect to see some serious problems in the foreseeable future….By 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013, I don’t know when, we’re going to have an economic slowdown again."
*Mark Mobius, the executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management’s emerging markets group: "There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis."
*David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices: "Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight."
*Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital: "I think we're looking at some type of echo in the credit crisis coming up here. That's what I'm afraid of."
*Carl Icahn: "I do think that there could be another major problem. Now, will it happen next week, next year, i don't know and certainly nobody knows, but i don't think that the system is working properly. I really find it amazing that we're almost back to where it was, where there's so much leverage going on in the investment banks today. There's just way too much leverage and way too much risk-taking, with other people's money."
Sadly, the world really did not seem to learn much of anything from 2008. Global financial markets are still pretty much operating the same way that they did before the last crisis.
But back before the crisis in 2008 things were much more stable around the globe.
When the horrible earthquake and tsunami struck Japan earlier this year, most economists brushed it off and believed that Japan would be "resilient" and would bounce back very quickly.
At the time, I went directly against the mainstream consensus with this article: "14 Reasons Why The Economic Collapse Of Japan Has Begun".
I followed that up with another article entitled "The Japanese Economy Is In Much Bigger Trouble Than Most People Think".
So who was right?
Well, it turns out that Japan is now officially in a recession. Their economy contracted at a 3.7 percent annualized rate during the first quarter.
As bad as that number is, just remember that the tsunami did not even hit until March 11th.
So what is the 2nd quarter number going to look like?
There is often a lag between a disaster and the economic effects of the disaster. The economic impact of this nightmare is going to be felt in Japan for many years to come. In fact, it is going to be very interesting to see what kind of earnings reports we seeing coming out of Japan in the months ahead.
The economic problems in Japan are also really starting to be felt around the rest of the globe. The other day, USA Today published an article with the following headline: "U.S. economy damaged more than thought by Japan quake".
Amazingly, everyone seems to be really surprised that the worst tsunami in modern history is having a significant economic impact.
Meanwhile, the crisis at Fukushima just continues to get worse.
In case you haven't noticed, the Japanese are not even close to finding a solution to this crisis.
If you want to get a good idea just how bad things are getting around Fukushima, just read this article by Natural News: "Land around Fukushima now radioactive dead zone; resembles target struck by atomic bomb".
The mainstream media has been doing their best to downplay the crisis at Fukushima, but the truth is that it is now a worse disaster than Chernobyl and life in that region will never be the same again.
Conditions are also ripe in Europe for another financial collapse.
Have you been watching what has been going on in Greece?
It's crazy. Without another bailout the Greek government will soon start defaulting on their debts.
The EU and the IMF don't want to give Greece more bailout money unless there are some significant "strings" attached. But they also know that if Greece is not bailed out it will cause complete chaos in the financial markets.
The Greek population does not want more bailouts and more austerity. There have been protests all over the country. Greek citizens have been pulling billions out of Greek banks as the country descends into chaos.
In the end, another bailout deal will get pushed through and the can will be kicked down the road a little while longer.
But what about all of the other European nations that need bailouts?
The government of Ireland is already indicating that they may need another bailout.
Portugal, Spain and Italy (along with several other European nations) are also teetering on the brink of financial disaster.
Most Americans do not realize it, but the European sovereign debt crisis really could set off another global financial crash. Everyone really should be watching Europe. It is going to be a very interesting summer.
Of course the United States continues to be an economic basket case.
More depressing housing data came out today. U.S. home prices are now 5.1% lower than they were a year ago and they have fallen back to mid-2002 levels. CNN is declaring that a housing "double-dip" has been confirmed.
Sadly, U.S. home prices have now fallen farther during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression.
Also, the consumer confidence index fell from 66 in April to 60.8 this month.
Americans are becoming more pessimistic about the economy.
According to Gallup, 41 percent of Americans believed that the economy was "getting better" at this time last year. Today, that number is at just 27 percent.
We are seeing a tremendous about of inflation in 2011, but incomes are not rising. Unemployment is still rampant and very few jobs are being created. What is even sadder is that a very high percentage of the jobs that are being created are part-time or temporary jobs.
But this was supposed to be the "recovery". Barack Obama and the Congress pushed through "stimulus package" after "stimulus package". We added trillions to our national debt. The Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazy. An all-out effort was made to pump up the U.S. economy in the short-term.
So after all of that, is this what the "recovery" is going to look like?
Meanwhile, all of those efforts have also made our long-term economic problems even worse.
We are in big, big trouble.
This is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy. Despite unprecedented efforts, the U.S. economy is still struggling mightily and our long-term economic problems are scarier than ever.
Sadly, most Americans still believe that wonderful economic times are on the way. Most believe that this downturn is just temporary and that things will soon be better than ever.
How do you think they are going to feel when they find out the truth?