The world economy is stuck in a 'rolling cycle of crises'

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We haven’t seen the last of the 2008 debt-fuelled crisis.

In an interview on Tuesday, Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget that the massive debt build up in the economy hit a wall in 2008, leading to the global financial crisis, and that the fallout from that crisis is still causing problems in economies throughout the world.

Sonders noted that total debt — public, private, non-financial, and financial — is now 350% of GDP, and that is already causing problems for the economy.

“The question I get all the time is: When are we going to hit the wall? When are we going to hit the debt wall?” said Sonders. “I think we hit the debt wall in ’08. Which unleashed a big round one of what I think will be a rolling set of crises, and not just in the US but globally.”

The symptoms of this bubbling debt issue have popped up during the eurozone debt crisis in 2011 and the recent worries over China’s economy.

The real danger, according to Sonders, is when the cost of financing the debt starts to rise. Worst case scenario is that inflation in the US begins to pick up rapidly and the Federal Reserve is forced to increase interest rates dramatically.

This could force the federal government to re-think its entire budget.

“So if you draw a future trajectory with even a mild increase in the 10-year Treasury yield, the debt-servicing costs go up at a much sharper slope,” said Sonders.

“Maybe its a point where more and more of our taxpayer money is going to service the debt as opposed to getting devoted to the things we care about on a day-to-day basis.”

And when the debt servicing causes a curtailing of day-to-day services or an economic issue, this could have political ramifications.

“Now whether you say ‘Will that develop into a revolt?’ I would argue that what is going on politically, not just here but around the world, is a little bit of a revolt,” said Sonders. “Not just on that issue, but on a whole host of issues.”

Thus, there is a problem not only on the corporate side, which could see plummeting activity as well if debt servicing becomes more expensive, but politically and socially as well. In the end, according to Sonders, this isn’t an issue that is going away anytime soon.

“I think we started this simmering set of crises in ’08 and it’s an environment we’re going to have to live with for some time,” warned Sonders.

Check out the full interview between Blodget and Sonders here:

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