Depression Risk is Higher Than Ever

The Federal Reserve fears the 1930s depression. Their actions since are based on this crisis. The panic in 2008, quantitative easing and all the bailouts are motivated by fear of deflation. When prices collapse, the Fed steps in to prevent "runaway" deflation. Runaway in quotes because deflations can't keep running. They terminate rather quickly, albeit brutally.

A deflationary depression was always a system-failure risk in this environment. An event becomes large enough such that even central banks cannot stop it. Smaller events will be stopped as they have been in the past.

This history created a blind spot: inflationary recession. Central banks, and here the ECB and BOJ are far worse offenders than the Federal Reserve, are moving slowly because they don't fear inflation the way they fear deflation. They will tolerate far more economic destruction then they would in a deflationary recession. Stopping this destruction will reveal the full extent of it via a far deeper deflationary recession.

By GDP measures, the economy barely dipped in 2008 because of central bank intervention. See GDP Stands For Garbage Data Point for a look at gross output, which did show the economic damage.

Major economic devastation is already happening beneath the surface, but the surface data doesn't reveal it. The stock and bond markets sense it though...

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