It's now about to come crashing down.
Asian stock markets opened Monday with another sharp selloff. As of this writing, China’s Shanghai Composite index had dropped by over 8 percent and Japan’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Australia’s All Ordinaries were all down by more than 3 percent. China’s central bank was preparing another round of cash infusions into the country’s financial markets.
The global panic, which has wiped out over a trillion dollars in stock values in the US alone, has shattered the claim that the US and world economies are in the midst of an economic recovery.
Prompted by decelerating economic growth in China, a collapse of financial markets and currencies in the so-called emerging market countries, and a continuing fall in the price of oil and other commodities, the plunge in stock prices is an expression not simply of passing conditions, but rather the inability of governments and central banks to address the fundamental contradictions of the capitalist system that led to the Wall Street crash and recession of 2008–2009.
What appears to be coming to an end is the period when massive infusions of cash by central banks into the financial markets, combined with a ruthless assault on the living standards of the international working class, could paper over the systemic character of the crisis and produce a boom in stock prices, corporate profits and the wealth of the financial aristocracy—even as the real economy continued to stagnate.
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An article published Sunday in the New York Times (“Investors Race To Escape Risk In Global Bonds”) sheds light on a significant factor behind the crisis atmosphere on global markets. The Times explains that some of the biggest bond mutual funds based in the US, including BlackRock, Franklin Templeton and Pimco, are massively invested in emerging market government bonds whose values are now collapsing.
The article raises the very real possibility that one or more of these firms could be bankrupted by demands from investors for the return of their cash, under conditions where the firms cannot offload their emerging market bonds and meet these demands. Such an event would be comparable to, if not worse than, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Of course, what is happening here is simple: The second shoe is dropping. Anyone with any sense said that if we didn't fix the economic problems from the last crash, if we didn't rein in the out of control banks and corrupt Wall Street, it would happen again. Some people predicted it to come near the end of Obama's term.
Nothing was done to prevent another crash except to pump money to the monied. This kept the rich safe, temporarily. And we called it a recovery. But nothing was done to keep the banksters and the uber rich from doing it again. So they did. Will we bail them out again? Probably so.