New economic crash ‘just around the corner’

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When the financial crisis hit in 2008 one of the most common reactions was to question why nobody had anticipated its arrival.

The reality is that there were numerous commentators who had been warning over the dangers of excessively leveraged banks and the vulnerability of the housing market for several months prior to the crash.

However in the din of a growing economy, their voices were drowned out.

Fast forward to 2018 and the climate is different. With a sluggish economy and numerous political shocks engulfing the planet, the warnings over another downturn are growing.

One of those people who has been sounding the alarm bell for some time is David Scott.

An investment manager with wealth managers Leeds-based Andrews Gwynne, Mr Scott spent more than 25 years as a stock broker.

A Chinese investor holds his head back as he looks at the share numbers on the board of a stock trading office in Beijing , China, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. Chinese stocks fell further Thursday, dragged down by Wall Street's losses. (AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel)

A Chinese investor holds his head back as he looks at the share numbers on the board of a stock trading office in Beijing , China, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. Chinese stocks fell further Thursday, dragged down by Wall Street's losses. (AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel)

For Mr Scott, the lessons of the 2008 crash were not learned and we are now in a situation where another stock market crisis could unfold at any time.

He is far from a lone voice, with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week warning that the world economy was “sleepwalking” into another downturn.

Elsewhere 18 per cent of fund managers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch believe that stocks have peaked, while David Stockman, former budget director for the Reagan White House and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones, who famously called the 1987 crash ahead of time, have all expressed concerns that another downturn is around the corner.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Scott said: “We are pretty sure we are about to hit another 2008.

“We are in the middle of one of the crudest experiments when it comes to money.

“The next thing is not going to be a Western thing, it is likely to be a global thing, and one wonders if it is going to be used as some way to bring fairly radical change to the money system, but it will mean a lot of pain for a lot of people.”

When asked if any lessons have been learned from the 2008 downturn, Mr Scott is unequivocal.

“The answer is no, we have continued on in the same way.

“In America there was a window of opportunity of maybe about six months where we could have really reformed the financial system. The banks had been bailed out and were on the knees. And it was completely lost.

“The banks needed to be reined in, broken up into smaller institutions and more regulation.

“The world got into a mess because the banks were too big and we had too much debt. In order to get out of this debt we made banks even bigger and got even more debt.

“In 2008 we had a national debt of about £600bn, it is £1.7 trillion now. Osborne and Cameron

borrowed more money in real terms than the Second World War cost us just to keep the things going.”

In many ways Mr Scott feels that the situation in 2018 could be worse than it was 10 years ago.

He has grave concerns over the amount of Quantitative Easing, the introduction of new money into the economy, and in particular the fate of public sector pensions.

“The main difference in 2008 was that they could not cut interest rates, they couldn’t flush the system with liquidity, the global financial system came within hours of crashing, certainly within the UK it was almost imminent. What they did was create money. A lot of commentators refer to QE as the heroin of the system. You pump into the system, you can’t wean it off, you have to keep giving it bigger and bigger doses until the patient dies.

“Churchill famously said never waste a good crisis and in 2008 we wasted that crisis. In the Western world, certainly in the UK, there is no way we can afford to pay the pensions that are promised.

“If you are promised something you need to check the guarantor.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has said that while banks are better funded now than a decade ago, risks were still present in terms of high levels of debt.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “I think the risks this time are different, I don’t think there’s any danger of the banks collapsing, they are these days much safer, they’ve got much more capital, but there are quite a lot of other financial institutions where a lot of the high-risk, gambling behaviour is taking place.

“There’s a massive amount of debt in the country – households, companies, government – the economy isn’t in a strong position to face a financial crisis.”