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It's Time to Brace for a Repeat of 2008

If you think the global economy is out of the woods now that the European Union (EU) has expanded its effort to solve the sovereign debt crisis, then I'm afraid you're sorely mistaken.

No doubt, the European crisis is far from being solved - but that's hardly the only potential economic catastrophe looming on the horizon.

Indeed, two successive articles in the Financial Times last week warned of a new disaster approaching: They forecast 25% declines in financing volume for both commodities finance and aircraft purchases in 2012.

Now that would be truly bad news.

You see, the most job-destroying feature of the 2008-09 recession was a 17% decline in world trade that was caused by the financial crash and the disruption to the world's banks. That decline intensified recessionary conditions and caused millions of job losses worldwide. Some 700,000 jobs were being lost each month in the United States alone for a period in early 2009. That's more than double the previous worst monthly losses since World War II.

And now we could be in for a repeat.

In fact, it's hard to see how one can be avoided.

In today's distorted world financial system, a combination of over-loose monetary policy, intractable budget deficits, and tightening regulation seems to have made a credit crunch more or less inevitable.

So if you're smart, you'll take a moment to examine exactly why, and then figure out who the winners and losers are going to be.

Here's how.

A Disruptive Disconnect

When you look at bank lending, it's clear that the link between the huge amount of world money growth and the meager supply of lending to productive enterprise is broken.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his international colleagues can hand as much money as they like out to banks, but if the banks don't lend it, that money will be wasted. And right now the banks aren't lending to trade and private businesses for three reasons:



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