Black Hole Economics

The following text was written by my friend Christopher Gibaud. I feel that it needs to be seen by as many people as possible:2015-01-19 12.32.10

We are in the fevered hysteria of the run up to the most uncertain election of our lifetimes.

As the politicians hurl their promises at us our experts seek to guide us through the economic confusion that most of us feel. Last week Robert Peston (1) analysed the potential for economic paralysis as a minority government tries to rule – investment hiatus in business, loss of confidence in markets, a destabilising fall in the pound, all leading to a big chill in economic activity. In last week’s Saturday Times the Economics Editor is bleak in his assessment of the next governments challenge:

“Make no mistake, a storm is brewing. The true state of Britain’s public finances is dire – far worse than suggested by the official figures….if the nation’s finances were subject to the same scrutiny as a company, the reported level of borrowing would almost double.” (2)

I have, for some time now, been asking myself a key question to which I have not been able to give an answer. The question is this: “How come there are so many conflicting views on the state of our economic health.” One day we are being told that we are well on the way to recovery, the next all is doom and gloom. The markets are behaving in unusual and volatile ways, economic and fiscal data confuse, central banks are working hard to restore liquidity and growth but the harder they try somehow the less they seem to achieve.

A few days ago I read a commentary on our global economic state that gave me an insight into why things are the way they are. John Mauldin is an economic analyst of our times with a global following and I receive his weekly letter (3). He advances the view that we are stuck in a liquidity trap, a situation where central banks are creating cheap and plentiful money, reducing interest rates to zero, but to far less effect than hoped for in stimulating economic growth. Why is this? Why is it the case that economic policies are not working? His point is that the liquidity trap we are in is particularly severe because it comes at the end of a debt super-cycle. Economists who study liquidity traps observe that the usual rules of economics appear not to apply in these conditions.

Mauldin has an intriguing way of describing our present economic situation. He takes us into the realm of physics, Einsteins Theory of General Relativity and the existence of Black Holes in our space/time continuum! He introduces us to the concept of Singularity, the point at which conditions become so extreme that normal rules cease to apply, outcomes become very uncertain. In Physics Singularity refers to the conditions in space where a large enough collapsing star will eventually become a Black Hole, an environment so dense that its own gravity will cause everything close to be sucked within.

Mauldin has developed a concept of Economic Singularity as a way of describing what is happening today in our global economy. An economic bubble of any type, but especially a debt bubble, is an emergent black hole in our economic environment. When it gets too big (at the end of a debt super cycle) it will, like the dying star in space, collapse in on itself and creates the black hole conditions which suck all our economic institutions within it. As it does so traditional economic modelling breaks down. Normal solutions can make things worse.

His contention is that we are now at the point where our financial markets are being sucked towards the black hole. Mathematical investment analysis (4) no longer makes sense in strategic planning. An example of this is the fact that 25% of European bonds now offer negative interest rates. As he says:

“How do your value equations work in an environment of negative yields? It becomes mathematically impossible for pensions and insurance companies to meet their goals, given their investment mandates, in a world of negative interest rates.” (5)

In Einstein’s Theory of Relativity the “event horizon” is that point at which the emergent black hole conditions become inevitable. It is “the point of no return.” Mauldin’s next observation is pretty chilling:

“I believe the world will soon find out that by holding interest rates down and allowing sovereign debts to accumulate past the point of rational expectation for being paid, in one country in Europe after another (Greece is just the first), central banks have pushed us past the event horizon, believing they have supernatural powers that will let the global economy escape the debt black hole that has been created by governments.” (6)

In debt super-cycle environments, central banking initiatives will increasingly fail to deliver results, even deliver the opposite of what is intended. They battle with two contradictory forces – expanding debt and contracting growth. Low rate interest policies increase the market’s appetite for risk. Businesses struggle to grow in such conditions, but growth can only come from business, not from central bank policies. Finally, there is always a limit to be reached for a country’s ability to borrow. It is delusional to say otherwise. The “bang” moment comes when the bond markets lose confidence in that country and its ability to repay. When that moment arrives the money runs out. Then we fall into the black hole, country by country, economic region by economic region, until the global economy itself is threatened.

Black Hole Economics is what happens when man, his appetites and his systems are unchecked and without boundaries. Too late we discover that, as we approach the point of no return, our previous understandings and methodologies no longer seem to work. The vortex opens before us. We need a system that protects us from ourselves, that prevents this crazy unchecked and uncontrollable slide towards chaos.

God knows our hearts. He created Jubilee to protect us from the consequences of foolishness and greed, to enable us to live generous lives of abundance. Jubilee eradicates Black Hole Economics.

 © Christopher Gibaud   April 2015

(1) Robert Peston, BBC News website, Business, 20th April 2015. “Why SNP matters to whole of UK.”

(2) Philip Aldrick, The Times, Saturday April 25th 2015. “We’ll need much more than an umbrella to shield us from the coming storm.”

(3) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015. http://www.MauldinEconomics.com

(4) Jubilee 8: Greed is Good – the Black-Scholes equation

(5) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015. http://www.MauldinEconomics.com

(6) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015. http://www.MauldinEconomics.com

 

Christopher Gibaud is a founder of the North West Christian Business Forum, a business network based in the North West of England, United Kingdom. http://nwcbf.org/

 

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