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The Consequences Playbook

What will happen as central banks lose control
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:45 PM
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Executive Summary

  • Desperate central banks are dangerous central banks
  • Why wealth disparity will get worse
  • The list of what comes next as central banks lose control
  • What you should do in advance

If you have not yet read When This Ends, Everybody Gets Hurt available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

What’s really happened since 2008 is that central banks decided that a little more printing with the possibility of future pain was preferable to immediate pain.  Behavioral economics tells us that this is exactly the decision we should always expect from humans. History says as much, too.

It’s just how people are wired. We’ll almost always take immediate gratification over deferred, and similarly choose to defer consequences into the future, especially if there’s even a ridiculously slight chance they won’t materialize.

So instead of noting back in 2008 that it was unwise to have been borrowing at twice the rate of our income growth for the past several decades -- which would have required a lot of very painful belt-tightening -- the decision was made to ‘repair the credit markets’ which is code speak for: ‘keep doing the same thing that got us in trouble in the first place.’

Also known as the ‘kick the can down the road’ strategy, the hoped-for saving grace was always a rapid resumption of organic economic growth. That’s how the central bankers rationalized their actions. They said that saving the banks and markets today was imperative, and that eventually growth would return, justifying all of the new debt layered on to paper-over the current problems.

Of course, they never explained what would happen if that growth did not return. And that’s because the whole plan falls apart without really robust growth to pay for it all.

And by ‘fall apart’ I mean utter wreckage of the bond and equity markets, along with massive institutional and sovereign defaults. That was always the risk, and now we’re at the point where...

 

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