Making predictions is a risky business, particularly economic predictions. I am certain that the growth economy is not sustainable, and by extension, neither is the superstructure of social services that are built upon it. Health, education and pension security are all dependent on the tax revenues drawn from an economy that is fuelled by petroleum products. And even if a fossil fuel economy could be sustained, a livable atmosphere and biodiversity services could not, under that arrangement. But short of the impending oil shortage, it looks as if the crisis in the Debt Money System may shrink the economy in the interim. How bad will it be? The following scenario suggests that it will be much worse than we imagine. Is it alarmist or prophetic?
What's Dead (Short Answer: All Of It)
Thursday, March 5. 2009
Posted by Karl Denninger in Editorial at 10:57
Just so you have a short list of what's at stake if Washington DC doesn't change policy here and now (which means before the collapse in equities comes, which could start as soon as today, if the indicators I watch have any validity at all. For what its worth, those indicators are painting a picture of the Apocalypse that I simply can't believe, and they're showing it as an imminent event - like perhaps today imminent.)
• All pension funds, private and public, are done. If you are receiving one, you won't be. If you think you will in the future, you won't be. PBGC will fail as well. Pension funds will be forced to start eating their "seed corn" within the next 12 months and once that begins there is no way to recover.
• All annuities will be defaulted to the state insurance protection (if any) on them. The state insurance funds will be bankrupted and unable to be replenished. Essentially, all annuities are toast. Expect zero, be ecstatic if you do better. All insurance companies with material exposure to these obligations will go bankrupt, without exception. Some of these firms are dangerously close to this happening right here and now; the rest will die within the next 6-12 months. If you have other insured interests with these firms, be prepared to pay a LOT more with a new company that can't earn anything off investments, and if you have a claim in process at the time it happens, it won't get paid. The probability of you getting "boned" on any transaction with an insurance company is extremely high - I rate this risk in excess of 90%.
• The FDIC will be unable to cover bank failure obligations. They will attempt to do more of what they're doing now (raising insurance rates and doing special assessments) but will fail; the current path has no chance of success. Congress will backstop them (because they must lest shotguns come out) with disastrous results. In short, FDIC backstops will take precedence even over Social Security and Medicare.
• Government debt costs will ramp. This warning has already been issued and is being ignored by President Obama. When (not if) it happens debt-based Federal Funding will disappear. This leads to....
• Tax receipts are cratering and will continue to. I expect total tax receipts to fall to under $1 trillion within the next 12 months. Combined with the impossibility of continued debt issue (rollover will only remain possible at the short duration Treasury has committed to over the last ten years if they cease new issue) a 66% cut in the Federal Budget will become necessary. This will require a complete repudiation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a 50% cut in the military budget and a 50% across-the-board cut in all other federal programs. That will likely get close.
• Tax-deferred accounts will be seized to fund rollovers of Treasury debt at essentially zero coupon (interest). If you have a 401k, or what's left of it, or an IRA, consider it locked up in Treasuries; it's not yours any more. Count on this happening - it is essentially a certainty.
• Any firm with debt outstanding is currently presumed dead as the street presumption is that they have lied in some way. Expect at least 20% of the S&P 500 to fail within 12 months as a consequence of the complete and total lockup of all credit markets which The Fed will be unable to unlock or backstop. This will in turn lead to.... • The unemployed will have 5-10 million in direct layoffs added within the next 12 months. Collateral damage (suppliers, customers, etc) will add at least another 5-10 million workers to that, perhaps double that many. U-3 (official unemployment rate) will go beyond 15%, U-6 (broad form) will reach 30%.
• Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year. The Military and Guard will be called up to try to stop it. They won't be able to. Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone. If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go "feral"; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get.
The good news is that this process will clear The Bezzle out of the system.
The bad news is that you won't have a job, pension, annuity, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and, quite possibly, your life.
It really is that bleak folks, and it all goes back to Washington DC being unwilling to lock up the crooks, putting the market in the role it has always played - that of truth-finder, no matter how destructive that process is.
Only immediate action from Washington DC, taking the market's place, can stop this, and as I get ready to hit "send" I see the market rolling over again, now down more than 3% and flashing "crash imminent" warnings. You may be reading this too late for it to matter.
In 3 minutes, what's coming.....
My Financial Advisor comments:
Like all articles like this, they are based on what is happening today and extrapolating it to the most dire outcomes. Yes things are bad but not that bad. This recession has not hit the depths of the last several recessions and definitely not the depression. And in the depression we did not have any where near the calamitous effects forecast by this writer.