One year on from lockdown and we have slumping GDP…
…warnings that it will take years before the border will reopen…
…Westpac rats jumping ship…
This all at the same time the Covid Pandemic still threatens with mutations and uneven vaccination roll outs to over throw all the sacrifices and gains.
Will the global economy have a Suez canal moment?
One of the great surprises in modern economics was that the avalanche of quantitative easing used to save the global economy from American Corporate bank greed in the 2008 financial meltdown didn’t create an explosion in hyper inflation in the day to day lives of ordinary people.
Because of the ease of global labour supply, wages didn’t increase, prices of goods stagnated, inflation disappeared but it did create the false conditions for the lowest interest rates in 5000 years, and saw all that quantitative easing balloon into speculative house and stock prices.
Covid has seen the main banks of the West sink trillions more into quantitive easing to deal with the economic whiplash the pandemic has created and in NZ we saw with the pumping of billions into the pockets of property speculators how our own house prices have skyrocketed.
This game of printing money to pump into property and stock market speculation to create a false illusion of wealth can continue playing as long as hyper inflation doesn’t overturn the apple cart.
But what happens if it does?
What happens if hyper inflation does suddenly explode out of nowhere?
To date all the inflationary pressures caused by this mass printing has led to driving up property prices and stock markets without touching the essentials and basics of life, but one of the impacts of Covid has been to shut down the global supply chains which is now creating scarcity of products that can’t get to market because they are bottlenecked at a Port.
This seems insanely dangerous because all those hyper inflation pressures will immediately jump to the very basics everyone uses.
Your Kiwisaver going up and your property value climbing is one thing, paying $15 for a loaf of bread and $20 for milk is completely another.
After every great pandemic throughout history, the peasant revolt in the 1300s, the London riots of the 1600s and the social unrest right after the Influenza pandemic of 1918, society always goes through intense social change brought on by the economic collapse lockdowns generate.
If the bottlenecks of supply chains are blocked unleashing a tsunami of hyper inflation on the goods everyone requires for life, Central Banks will have no choice but to lift inflation rates to desperately attempt to curtail that hyper inflation, which of course will mean the ocean of low interest debt that has been created to fuel hyper speculation will suddenly start feeling the true gravity of trillions in borrowing.
I’m no economist or financial guru, but it seems the basic laws of capitalism’s supply and demand will unleash a terrible tsunami of hyper inflation that the Global Reserve Banks will struggle to contain in any other way than to allow stock markets and house prices to shatter and crash by forcing interest rates back up.
Now if a vaccine can reach the 75% herd immunity threshold, those supply chains will reopen, but if we don’t gain that herd immunity, quarantine will continue to force those supply chains closed and the prices of scarce ordinary goods will start to dangerously inflate.
I fear all our Black Swans are coming home to roost in 2021.
The economic depression this pandemic causes is the second wave of this tsunami after the lost lives. The Government has protected us from the first, it now must focus on the latter and that will demand a Labour Party brave enough to challenge the sleeping dogs of the neoliberal debate that almost destroyed the Party in the 1980s.
The foundations of the 35 year neoliberal experiment in NZ have been exposed an found to be cracked to their core, with the climate crisis demanding a radical change, this pandemic is the perfect time to challenge the religious orthodoxy of free market dogma.
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