The world’s leaders are facing up to another debt crisis
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The third leg of the world’s intractable depression is yet to come. If trade economists at the United Nations are right, the next traumatic episode may entail the greatest debt jubilee in history.
It may also prove to be the definitive crisis of globalized capitalism, the demise of the liberal free-market orthodoxies promoted for almost forty years by the Bretton Woods institutions, the OECD, and the Davos fraternity.
“Alarm bells have been ringing over the explosion of corporate debt levels in emerging economies, which now exceed $25 trillion. Damaging deflationary spirals cannot be ruled out,” said the annual report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
We know already that the poisonous side-effect of zero rates and quantitative easing in the US, Europe, and Japan was to flood developing nations with cheap credit, upsetting their internal chemistry and drawing them into a snare. What is less understood is just how destructive this has been.
Much of the money was wasted, skewed towards “highly cyclical and rent-based sectors of limited strategic importance for catching up,” it said.
Worse yet, these countries have imported the deformities of western finance before they are ready to cope with the consequences. This has undermined what UNCTAD calls the “profit-investment nexus” that ultimately drives growth and prosperity.