Soros was speaking at an economic forum in Sri Lanka last week when he made his dire prediction. The first week of 2016 mirrored his words as global currency, stock and commodity markets were all trending downward. China especially was showing weakness in any sustained growth looking forward. Its sinking yuan currency only added to the concern about the strength of the world’s second largest economy.
To those who have forgotten, on April 11, 2008, Soros was quoted in the New York Times as saying. “I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime, a ‘superbubble’ that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting.” He proved correct when the global economy did collapse later that year, triggering years of depressions and the loss of jobs among the world’s most developed countries.
Now, nearly 8 years later, Soros is warning the world that the bubble could burst again as Chinas shifts away from investment and manufacturing toward consumption and services. On Wednesday, Jan 6 of this year, nearly $2.5 trillion was wiped from the slate of global equities. Loses deepened the next day across the Asia and China was forced to halt stock trading in the middle of the day.
This isn’t the first time since the 2008 call that Soros has voiced his concern about the global economy. Speaking to a panel in Washington D.C. on September 2011, he warned the Greece-born European debt crunch was even more serious than the crisis of 2008. Only drastic action by Greece and the EU members averted a total collapse of the Greek economy.
The World Bank has taken note of the problem and cuts its forecast for 2016 global growth from 3.3%t to 2.9%. The US manufacturing ISM indicator is below the crucial 50 level at 48.2. A fall below the 45 would indicate a pending recession. China’s manufacturing PMI has fallen to the same U.S. level over the past year as the result of sluggish world trade. In short, as China turns inward as a consumer nation, the world can no longer look to the Asian economic powerhouse to fund and support their economies.
China’s Communist Party has pledged to gradually dismantle the capital controls that artificially oversee their markets and cause wide fluctuations and panic in their stock markets. Even after the People’s Bank of China cut interest rates to record lows, Chinese authorities continued to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy.
Soros is not the only one forecasting a rocky road ahead for 2016 but his record of spot-on predictions that went against conventional thinking in the past has the world listening to him with a much sharper ear.