Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recession Fatigue

If you're experiencing "recession fatigue", as in you're sick of all the bad news in the economy, stock market, job market, real estate market, you had better sit tight. Things aren't going to return to 'normal' anytime soon.

This is rapidly shaping up to the worst recession in a generation and will probably influence the zeitgeist for the coming decade ahead.

The financial crisis is feeding off the economic crisis and is in turn fueling the economic crisis through one giant positive feedback loop. And embedded in this giant feedback loop are hundreds of other little vortices that are like tiny positive feedback loops acting in concert.

And we thought the big bank bailouts were the end of it. Heck, no. For the Singaporeans who care about such things, you can safely assume that our sovereign wealth fund investments in Citigroup are essentially worth zero already; Citigroup the global entity is effectively insolvent. That's in spite of the spin that we're paring losses. Further dilution of common equity through "preprivatization" or at the very least, more capital injections by the US government, is almost certain for sure.

And Singapore's exports driven growth model works just as well on the downside as it does on the upside. The problem is, we were so successful at it that every other Asian country jumped onto the exporting bandwagon, independently or not. It's now a really crowded ride. 

How are the economic numbers going to turn out in the near future of the next one or two years? If you live in the USA, you want to read this.

For Singapore, I'll take a wild stab at guessing the numbers. And the operative word here is guessing.

5% contraction in GDP and unemployment in the high single digits (~9%).

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