September 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
What is a crisis? Is it losing a leg? An arm? An arm and a leg? Being the biggest investor in Glencore? Or is it being unable to afford your next car? Or maybe it’s your mortgage payment going into arrears?
The Greek word krino meant separate, judge or decide, and from it came the nouns krites “judge” – from which we get critic, and kriterion, a test to judge by.The related word “krisis” signified the preference of one alternative over another. The Day of Judgement is hemera kriseos. Most commonly, in English, the word signifies the climax of a disease. The point after which the patient recovers, or does not.
In 2008 the “crisis” involved a minor reshuffling of finances. It was a wound which led to a small death (cf Lehman). But the patient at large got up and recovered. Civil unrest, mass fomentation and revolution–these did not happen. Governments were not overthrown. High net worth wealth rose.
Now talk comes of another crisis, another disease, brought to us by the circling winds. China is battered and our Great Yellow Hope is going belly up. Greece, the cradle of all Western civilisations, falters. The Middle East remains a hotbed of infamy. And the Fed might raise rates.
But no, none of these constitute a crisis, dear readers. What is the real crisis? It’s the crisis that never ended. Debt.
Since 2008 debt to GDP levels have not shrunk. From Q4 2007 to Q2 2014 the global amount of debt outstanding increased from $142 trillion to $199 trillion. Household debt has grown at annual compound rates of 2.8%. Government debt is up 9.3% acr. It is a global credit bubble. And this is bigger than the last one.
But why are you getting so technical, Tim. This isn’t like you. We want to hear more about girls and murders.
Well let me ask you this–if it was debt that got us into trouble the last time, then what will happen now? This crisis is about not being able to afford your next meal. Not having a bed to sleep in overnight. Not being able to clothe your baby. It is a sickness, a disease, a lingering malady from which there will be no revival. Our real hemera kriseos. And if that doesn’t lead to murder then what will?
Change, revolution, deconstruction–whatever you wish to call it– it is coming. There are no tools to stop it.
In the meantime read the next instalment of “Anatomy” which details everything much more poetically.