Article in The Telegraph about William White, "The economic prophet who foresaw the Lehman crisis with uncanny accuracy is even more worried about the world's financial system going into 2015. Mr White is a former chief economist to the Bank for International Settlements - the bank of central banks - and currently an advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel."
Some snippets below. The bold paragraph looks relevant to Asia. It does remind me of 1997/1998 when the roof came down and so many companies got hurt because they had borrowed in USD. It appeared to make sense, the RM was more or less fixed to the USD at 2.5 to 1, while the interest rate on the USD was lower. But there is no free lunch here, as many would find out, the RM crashed versus the USD and companies were sitting on huge one-off losses. For Jusco (Aeon) it would be the only year since listing that they lost money.
Beggar-thy-neighbour devaluations are spreading to every region. All the major central banks are stoking asset bubbles deliberately to put off the day of reckoning. This time emerging markets have been drawn into the quagmire as well, corrupted by the leakage from quantitative easing (QE) in the West.
He said the global elastic has been stretched even further than it was in 2008 on the eve of the Great Recession. The excesses have reached almost every corner of the globe, and combined public/private debt is 20pc of GDP higher today. "We are holding a tiger by the tail," he said.
He warned that QE in Europe is doomed to failure at this late stage and may instead draw the region into deeper difficulties. "Sovereign bond yields haven't been so low since the 'Black Plague': how much more bang can you get for your buck?"
"QE is not going to help at all. Europe has far greater reliance than the US on small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and they get their money from banks, not from the bond market," he said.
"Even after the stress tests the banks are still in 'hunkering down mode'. They are not lending to small firms for a variety of reasons. The interest rate differential is still going up," he said.
"The emerging markets got on the bandwagon by resisting upward pressure on their currencies and building up enormous foreign exchange reserves. The wrinkle this time is that corporations in these countries - especially in Asia and Latin America - have borrowed $6 trillion in US dollars, often through offshore centres. That is going to create a huge currency mismatch problem as US rates rise and the dollar goes back up."
Mr White said central banks have been put in an invidious position, compelled to respond to a deep economic disorder that is beyond their power. The latest victim is the Swiss National Bank, which was effectively crushed last week by greater global forces as it tried to repel safe-haven flows into the franc. The SNB was damned whatever it tried to do. "The only choice they had was to take a blow to the left cheek, or to the right cheek," he said.
He deplores the rush to QE as an "unthinking fashion". Those who argue that the US and the UK are growing faster than Europe because they carried out QE early are confusing "correlation with causality". The Anglo-Saxon pioneers have yet to pay the price. "It ain't over until the fat lady sings. There are serious side-effects building up and we don't know what will happen when they try to reverse what they have done."
The painful irony is that central banks may have brought about exactly what they most feared by trying to keep growth buoyant at all costs, he argues, and not allowing productivity gains to drive down prices gently as occurred in episodes of the 19th century. "They have created so much debt that they may have turned a good deflation into a bad deflation after all."