Big Trouble Brewing – Chris Martenson

I do not toss around the idea of a market crash lightly. If you’ve been following me long enough, you know that only in very rare instances do I issue a cautionary Alert (I’ve only issued four since my website launched in 2008), and I am generally not given to hyperbole.

Let’s be clear: I’m not issuing an Alert at this time. But I am concerned that a materially adverse disruption to the financial markets is increasingly likely in the near future.

Perhaps a definition will be helpful as we begin. A ‘market crash’ is an event where there are no bids to meet a wall of selling. The actual amount of the percentage decline is less important to note than the amount of chaos, or loss of control, that a given market experiences. Some like to say that a market downdraft requires a decline of 10%, or maybe even 15% or 20% (or more), in order to qualify as a ‘crash.’ For me, the key factor is not so much the amount of the decline, but the pace of the decline.

With perhaps a quadrillion US dollars of hyper-interconnected derivatives outstanding — that’s the notional value, but who really knows what the real number is? — an orderly market is essential for knowing whether or not the counterparty to one’s trade is solvent. During periods of intense price swings in the market, such things are simply not knowable, and spawn the fear and paralysis that really define a market crash.

The Next Market Crash

Like everybody, I have no idea when the next market crash will occur, but I do happen to hold the view that a market crash is on the way. In fact, my view is that the entire future from here onward will be marked by sharp plunges (both crashes and regular market declines), followed by periods of stability, if not apparent recovery.

What I track instead are imbalances and risks. Sort of like being a fire marshal who takes note of an outlet with fifteen things plugged into it, some with frayed cords, located near a pile of old cleaning rags. I can’t tell you for sure that a fire will result, only that the odds are elevated. A prudent person will take steps to remedy the situation or at least prepare for the possibility of a fire.

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via Big Trouble Brewing – Blogs at Chris Martenson.

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