by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph:
The world financial system is at a dangerous juncture. Markets no longer believe that China’s Communist leaders are in full control of the country’s $27 trillion debt bubble, or know how to manage fast-moving events beyond their ken.
This sudden loss of confidence in the anchor economy of East Asia has struck before the West is fully back on its feet after its own debacle seven years ago.
Interest rates are still near zero in the US, the eurozone, Britain and Japan. Fiscal deficits are at unsafe levels. Debt is 30 percentage points of GDP higher than it was at the onset of the Lehman crisis. The safety buffers are largely exhausted.
“This could be the early stage of a very serious situation,” said Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary. He compared it to the two spasms of the Asian crisis in the summer of 1997 and again in August 1998.
Ominously, he also compared it to the “heart attack” of August 2007, when credit markets seized up on both sides of the Atlantic and three-month US Treasury yields plummeted to zero. That proved to be a false alarm, but it was an early warning of the accumulating stress that would bring down Western finance a year later.
Full-blown contagion is now ripping through the international system. The main equity indexes in Europe and the US have all sliced through key levels of technical support.
Once the S&P 500 index on Wall Street broke below its 200-day and 50-week moving averages last week, it was extremely vulnerable to any bad news. This came last Friday with yet more grim manufacturing data from China.
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