Can the world recover from the worst economic slump since the Great Depression?
Can the globe rebound into a new decade and leave behind the outworn and useless ways that have left tens of millions of people in economic and social despair into this new year of 2010?
The answers to these questions depends greatly on the ability of the United States and developed nations to make the historic generational transition now underway as Baby Boomers walk out the backdoor as the outgoing establishment as Generation X walks in through the front door as the new establishment.
The arrival of the new astrological year on March 20, 2010, sees the world at crossroads. The main themes will be the Bank Crisis, the global economic impact, and the effects on populations. In my forecast, things are going to get more dicey as the economic atmosphere darkens, and leads into the Cardinal Crisis Transits of summer 2010.
The news from around the world in the wake the Bank Crisis and resulting world economic recession is not good. The celestial signs continue to point to increasingly heated and hostile protests and strikes leading into the Cardinal Crisis transits that peak in July & August 2010.
In Greece, a country teetering on bankruptcy, the country's leadership has embarked on a austerity budget that reduces spending in attempts to emerge out of basically being broke.
We hear that the nation's service employees will participate in a two-day strike that will be followed next week by a one-day strike by Greece's doctors and civil servants. On top of that, on February 24, Greece's largest union will strike for 24 hours.
The countries that were once heralded as shining examples of the European Union, are now fighting for their nation's future. Not only is Greece is serious trouble, but so is Austria, Ireland, Italy, and Spain - all showing signs of a bleak future in this new decade because of the losses of tens of billions of euros, and the collapse of global markets in 2007-2010.
The 16 nations that make up the European Union, and the 10-year-old Euro could recover from the economy crisis. However, a strong U.S. dollar, and mountains of debt among some of the nations of the EU show that the economic crisis is far from over.
Both Greece and Ireland try to slash national spending as they battle runaway deficits. Austria has seized control of a bank in December 2009 partly because of its bad loans in Eastern Europe, which is already in a near economic depression-like state.
Nations, and their governments are struggling to find ways to stave off mounting massive unemployment, whether or not to further stimulate their economies with declining tax bases because of the lack of jobs and income, and declining consumer confidence The revenues of poorer governments are declining rapidly, such as the situation in Greece, which worsens by the day in winter 2010.
"As a result, these poorer nations will not be able to even meet their previous programs that they had in place let alone be able to step up to the plate to meet the additional demands being made upon them," say economist Andrew Burns."
Burns, the lead author of Global Economic Prospects 2010 states that the most recent global economic prospects report from the World Bank says although the world economy appears to be slowly recovering from the financial crisis, a much tougher financial landscape with scarce financing and high unemployment awaits in the new decade.
"This is one of the big challenges facing developing and high income countries," Burns says. "How to withdraw the fiscal stimulus, withdraw the monetary stimulus that's been put into the global economy without killing the recovery."
Burns is manager of the Global Macroeconomic Trends Team of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank. He is also a lead author and task manager of Global Economic Prospects, the Bank's annual report that examines trends in the global economy and how they affect developing countries.
According to the World Bank, worldwide, economies of nations is expected to grow about 2.7 percent in 2010. Economic projections for 2011 range from 2.6 percent growth to near 4 percent growth because economists say it is difficult to predict when stimulus packages will be withdrawn, and how confident businesses and consumers will be about recovery.
What is becoming more certain is the economic crisis is taking a huge toll not just on developed nations, but on developing countries. It is estimated that this year, 64 million people living in developing nations will sink into extreme levels of poverty.
It may not be until the year 2017 before many nations recover from massive losses since 2007. This means those 64 million people living in deep poverty will struggle to exist on less than $1.25 a day this year, than would have been the case if the Banking Crisis had never happened.
By the year 2020, it is further estimated that 826 million people, or 12.8 percent of developing-nation citizens, will be living on $1.25 a day or less. The shocking numbers reveal that there will be nearly 2 billion people living on less than $2 a day ten years from now.
Amazing figures for a so-called "enlightened" humanity in the early 21st century.
"Unfortunately, we cannot expect an overnight recovery from this deep and painful crisis because it will take many years for economies and jobs to be rebuilt, says Justin Lin, the World Banks' chief economist.
"The toll on the poor will be very real and the poorest countries, those that rely on grants or subsidized lending, may require an additional $35-$50 billion in funding just to sustain pre-crisis social programs."
Global transits show that it is more than probable that a double dip recession will hit developed and developing nations this year.
"It is entirely possible in these kinds of conditions - non-performing loans, growing companies having difficulties meeting their balance sheets, for there to be a secondary crisis," Burns said.
The World Bank argues that although cyclical factors are clearly at play with the deep decline and the global economic imbalances, they are unlikely to return to past economic peaks of the mid-2000s. That assessment is based on four (4) assumptions about future developments.
First - Household savings rates in the United States is likely to remain high.
Second - Public savings in the U.S. is likely to increase (fiscal stimulus will begin to be withdrawn as the recovery takes hold.)
Third - Oil prices likely to remain close to current levels.
Fourth - China will have some success in stimulating domestic demand and overcoming the imbalance between domestic savings and investment that has increasingly characterized its economy in recent years---most notably since 2006.
The East Asia & Pacific region led the rebound in the global economy last year, reflecting robust fiscal policy steps and strong domestic demand. China, with 8.4 percent growth last year, was an engine for regional growth, a pattern expected to continue this year, with Chinese GDP projected to grow 9 percent. GDP in the region is estimated to have increased 6.8 percent in 2009 and is forecast to edge up 8.1 percent this year. Capital flows to the region are returning and local financial market developments have provided further impetus to the recovery. Continuing excess capacity in manufacturing and only moderate advances in world trade growth will restrain GDP growth from accelerating much faster than 8.2 percent in 2011.
Reflecting pre-existing vulnerabilities in many countries (in particular current account deficits arising from large private sector savings-investment imbalances), developing Europe & Central Asia was hardest hit by the crisis, with GDP falling by an estimated 6.2 percent in 2009. Although GDP is projected to rise by 2.7 percent in 2010 and 3.6 percent in 2011, growth rates in most economies will remain below potential and unemployment and bank restructuring will continue to be pervasive. Much higher non-performing loans, higher interest rates and weak international capital flows will remain key challenges in the near term.
Compared to the pre-crisis period, high non-performing loans, weak public finances and low international capital flows are likely to dampen investment growth in many countries. Moreover, significant downside risks persist, including the possibility of a double-dip recession or increased financial difficulties for banks in the region. Despite better international financing conditions and domestic adjustments, the region’s external financing needs are expected to exceed inflows by as much as $54 billion in 2010.
Stronger fundamentals helped the Latin America & Caribbean region weather this crisis much better than in the past. Following an estimated 2.6 percent drop in GDP last year, regional output is projected to increase by 3.1 percent in 2010 and 3.6 percent in 2011, but weaker investment will keep growth from attaining boom year levels. Remittances and to some extent tourism (both important sources of external finance for Caribbean countries) are expected to recover only modestly in the 2010–11 period, undermined by weak labor market conditions in the United States and other high-income countries. Key challenges include the winding down of stimulus measures; providing for the unemployed in a fiscally sustainable manner; and maintaining openness towards international trade and investment.
The Middle East & North Africa region was less sharply impacted by the crisis than other regions, with overall GDP growth slowing to 2.9 percent in 2009. Growth among oil-importing developing countries was an estimated 4.7 percent in 2009. Among developing oil-exporters, growth eased to 1.6 percent, reflecting production restraint and reduced oil revenues. For the region as a whole, GDP is projected to grow 3.7 percent in 2010 and 4.4 percent by 2011. The forecast for recovery is premised on a revival in global oil demand, stabilizing oil prices and a rebound in key export markets. Despite a gradual withdrawal of fiscal stimulus measures, moderate advances in consumer and capital spending are expected to underpin firmer growth.
South Asia appears to have escaped the worst effects of the crisis. Nevertheless, its estimated 5.7 percent GDP growth in 2009 (the same growth rate as in 2008) represents a marked deceleration from the boom period, largely driven by a pronounced fall-off in investment growth. Private capital inflows—a key transmission channel of the crisis—are less significant as a share of South Asia’s GDP (particularly foreign direct investment), compared with most other regions. Also, domestic demand in the region was relatively resilient, having been cushioned by counter-cyclical macroeconomic policies. Growth is expected to rebound to 6.9 and 7.4 percent in 2010 and 2011.
Sub Saharan Africa was also hard hit. It initially felt the crisis through trade, foreign direct investment, tourism, remittances, and official assistance channels. Regional GDP is estimated to have increased by only 1.1 percent last year. Oil exporters and middle income countries were hit more severely than low-income, fragile and less integrated countries – at least initially. In 2010 GDP is expected to grow by 4.8 percent in Sub-Saharan African countries excluding South Africa, with growth of 4.2 percent in fragile countries and 4.8 percent in low-income countries. South Africa is expected to grow by 2 percent this year after having contracted by 1.8 percent in 2009, while middle-income countries growth will accelerate to 3.5 percent. The overall regional outlook remains uncertain and the strength of the recovery will largely depend on demand from key export markets.
Generation X On Deck
All of this strongly suggests that the world is entering a crisis decade in 2010 that will result in very unstable regions of the world because of the poverty and lack of economic development and investment from richer countries, who themselves, have been victims of corruption, greed, and massive levels of financial fraud.
Serious times are ahead in the decade of the 2010s. The resulting cynicism, despair and anger in the wake of the global economic crisis will undoubtedly spread across many nations.
Populations, such as the people of a now bankrupted Greece, will witness an early series of national strikes as they contend not only with generational change, but reduced standards of living because of the losses of trillions in equities. Disturbances in Italy, and eastern European nations reminds some of the fanatical political movements spawned under the gloomy economic climate of the 1930s.
The global economic crisis surely will affect countries to the point of geopolitical breakdowns as populations struggle with poverty and the socio-economic crisis that has ensued.
The psychological impact of increasing social breakdown were seen in 2009 in a series of suicides, acts of violence, and overall despair. Unemployment continues unabated, as do debt demands, and with this comes seething resentment and public anger at international bankers and Wall Street which will persist in early 2010s.
We should see the first signs of trouble in spring 2010, then, with mounting stresses during the summer of 2010, we will have the first real tests of the inclinations of the Jupiter/Uranus, Saturn, and Pluto cardinal T-square - the Cardinal Cross transits.
Summer's events: protests, rising crime, depression, social & political tensions all based from mounting economic inequalities, will force governments to make hard choices between austerity measures that would exacerbate matters worse, while deciding just how much more stimulus can be achieved without feeding into fears of inflation in the after effects of a deflationary economy.
These events foretell what I forecast may be coming later down the road - rebellions, revolts and revolutions taking place under the inclinations of seven (7) exact Uranus/Pluto squares between 2012 to 2015 - heightening tensions already now building in 2010.
Meanwhile, the generational transition calls upon Generation X to formulate a new vision and action plans not only get the U.S. economy back into healthy territory, but to deal with the raging anger of populations looking for the heads of those to blame for the Banking Crisis that started it all.
The beginning of the Astrological New Year arrives Saturday, March 20, 2010. This kicks off a special year that extends to March 2011, and sees Uranus enter tropical Aries for good - starting a new orbital period that ends one which began in 1927-28. This officially closes the era of the 20th century.
Jupiter's motion in 2010, and its conjunction to Uranus in Pisces/Aries calls into question the ability of the outgoing establishment to make any significant changes that will lead to a sustainable recovery in my view.
The Baby Boomer generation, which has been resistant to change, while attempting to recover major financial losses by remaining in the workforce, simply will deepen the economic crisis because the generation has lost its ability to plan for the future.
When first-wave Generation X President Barack Obama first took office in mid-January 2009, financial markets were on the brink of collapse, jobs were disappearing at breakneck speeds, and the world's economic activity was sinking fast. A depression seemed imminent.
All that, we are told, was staved off, thanks to one of the largest and boldest global government interventions in world history. Now, in early 2010, the world stands at a crossroads.
The abysmal failures of the Baby Boomer generation across a wide spectrum of public and private institutions, financially, culturally, socially, and politically, threatens to cast the United States, and the world, directly into the pit of economic depression we were all told was coming in 2008-09.
This mess, left by the Boomer generation onto the three generations (Gen X, Gen Y & Millennial) could easily make the decades of the 2010s and 2020s much more challenging than they would have been without the Banking Crisis.
During the 2010s, all of this will fall on the laps of Generation X, the first waves of those born between 1961-66 will have to step up to the plate to replace the Boomers who caused the economic crisis, and remove them from policy-making positions that have been egregiously abused over the last 18 years of their time as the establishment.
Trends reveal that jobs, of course, will be the political mantra of 2010 in advance of the American mid-term elections. However, political promises and proclamations of jobs, and the actual creation of enough of them - to hire over 10 million American now out of work - is daunting to say the least.
There can be no other way but for the Obama Administration to initiate and guide a second, and larger economic stimulus package to get Americans back to work.
President Obama cannot pull back economic stimulus too quickly, despite concerns about rising deficits, because that could kill a fragile recovery. If the president pushes hard on the throttle to create more jobs, responding to voter sentiment, he then risks future inflation and a very dangerous new kind of recessionary cycle.
Yet, in Washington D.C., what is most obvious is that all these problems fall under the umbrella of generation differences within both major political parties.
The Democrats have their portion of Baby Boomers on the Left, and the Republican Party has their portion filled of aging Boomers on the Right. What's missing, and what the 2010 mid-terms and 2012 General Election is going to prove, is the Progressive Middle (that would be the American public) is going to surprise everyone.
People are pissed off, they are hungry, want shelter for their families, jobs, safety, and they want the bad bankers and speculators out of the way.
In effect, Americans want to get back to work. Yes, and back to business.
This is one of those times when a kind of magic - coming straight from voters, and on the heels of the American public who are those voters - these are the times when that magic can turn an era.
We are now nearing that time.
You know, this kind of reminds me of one of my favorite early 1980s commercial that sums up our present times when the elder lady repeatedly asks - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0
So, what we have here, to quote another famous line, "is a failure to communicate." It has been proven in the past that to do this, and ignore the American public is a huge mistake, and very unwise indeed.
We see the tired, outworn methods and manners of a Baby Boomer establishment confusingly curmudgeon contrasted to the enterprise, energy and vision of 40-something Generation X and the young generations - this is the major theme in our present era. These are not only the workers whom the economy recovery will fully depend on, but these are also your voters.
This is observed in the current battles on Capitol Hill about President's Obama's plan to convert $30 billion dollars from the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) into a new small-business lending program via community banks.
Heralded by a wide majority of businesspeople and their workers suffering greatly in this economic recession, the plan has been met with doubt and foot-dragging by aging Baby Boomer Washington lawmakers.
However, transits reveal 2010 is going to be the year when that famous rubber meets that equally famous road. This is the time when those who played key roles in deregulating the financial markets in the 1990s and 2000s will be forced to leave Washington and public life for the sake of the future of the nation.
Many people express concerns that those who caused the economic crisis cannot be allowed to continue in their positions, not only because of the failure to any due diligence, but to their obvious incompetence in managing the American economy, and, some say, the future of entire nation itself.
"You have to understand," says economist Max Keiser, "That the global economy is roughly worth $60 trillion dollars, but the global derivative markets are worth more to the tune of $700 trillion dollars."
"So the speculators who are able to control the derivatives markets... they control them and manipulate them, and trade on inside information," Keiser says.
"They are still in control, they still have an agenda, which is to bankrupt most of the major economies of the world, and to pocket much of the money for themselves. There is no political power in the world that is willing to stand up to the financial terrorists."
If what Keiser says is true, then, the global transits of the early 2010s will witness a sea-change with violence spreading across many nations that continue to struggle to survive while whole communities fall apart because of the corruption, greed, and refusal to change to the realities of a new century.
The choices made must reflect these realities, and the world transits are inclining towards negative outcomes should the short-term gains, and the games of exploitation, continue to be preferred over our collective medium and long-term future.
The challenge for Generation X will be to take a firm hold of the driver's seat - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFwcmU6Ql0A - and to lead the country, and the world, into this new era without the heavy weight of gloomy angst, the outdated & outworn methods, along with the irrational fears of the outgoing Baby Boomer establishment.
This soon-to-be era will be among the few brighter opportunities the world must grasp to avoid falling ever deeper into a bleak economic, social and political chaos of another Great Depression, but rather, to turn the manifest tides, and enter into the era of The Great Progression.