Friday, January 9, 2009

Doom and Gloom

With another half million jobs lost in December, the 2008 total is 2.6 million jobs gone. The December results pushed unemployment to 7.2%, the highest in 16 years. Dr. Doom says more doom ahead:

This crisis is not merely the result of the U.S. housing bubble’s bursting or the collapse of the United States’ subprime mortgage sector. The credit excesses that created this disaster were global. There were many bubbles, and they extended beyond housing in many countries to commercial real estate mortgages and loans, to credit cards, auto loans, and student loans. There were bubbles for the securitized products that converted these loans and mortgages into complex, toxic, and destructive financial instruments. And there were still more bubbles for local government borrowing, leveraged buyouts, hedge funds, commercial and industrial loans, corporate bonds, commodities, and credit-default swaps—a dangerous unregulated market wherein up to $60 trillion of nominal protection was sold against an outstanding stock of corporate bonds of just $6 trillion.

Taken together, these amounted to the biggest asset and credit bubble in human history; as it goes bust, the overall credit losses could reach as high as $2 trillion. Unless governments move with more alacrity to recapitalize banks and other financial institutions, the credit crunch will become even more severe. Losses will mount faster than companies can replenish their balance sheets.