“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
You could not make this up; an unimaginably complex WW3 Techno-thriller unfolding as markets stumble and global supply chains hover on the edge of anarchy. On the other hand, maybe that’s just the way it was planned.
I am not one for conspiracy theories. But… this morning… If I was a writer of trashy global-techno-World War 3 pulp fiction, and proposed the following scenario where the global economy lurches into an unprecedented period of instability – nobody would believe me:
1) Global Supply Chains, weakened and struggling after a year of global pandemic, plus a growing shortage of microchips holding back multiple industrial sectors, are plunged into new crisis by a puff of wind causing a box-ship to skite sideways and block the Suez Canal, trapping East-West Trade.
2) Unstable and over-priced Global Markets are spooked into a frenzy late on a quiet Friday night by the largest margin calls ever ($20 bln plus) as an Asian “family office” dumps billions of dollars of stock into the market. Collateral damage spreads, as other financial firms, (inevitably including Credit Suisse (Switzerland’s very own Deutsche Bank), and Nomura), announce material losses.
3) As global central banks struggle to restore real growth, while trying to hold interest rates low and support commerce, and acutely conscious of how a market crash could crush global confidence – things suddenly get more difficult as confidence in equity valuations takes a massive knock.
4) Geopolitical stability wobbles after China lashes back at US criticism in Alaska, and then surprises Europe with sanctions and push back on trade deal – when many has expected China to attempt to reach out to Europe – even as it reaches out to pariah states including Iran, Myanmar and Turkey.
5) Rumours abound of imminent China action to seize Taiwan – and the potential impotence of US fleets from the Gulf to the Pacific are targeted by long range Chinese carrier-killer missiles – further destabilising markets.
6) Cyber-attacks across western economies, first uncovered at Solar Wind, but possibly undiscovered elsewhere, raise questions as to how much the West’s digital and financial infrastructure has been compromised.
What happens next?
On the basis I am an optimist, and things are never as bad as we fear, I think it all settles. Who knows? But I suspect one thing is going to become very apparent. China has crossed the Rubicon and will now longer be a rule taker. The rules have changed. China has demands.
What’s different in the above scenario is that it doesn’t necessarily lead to a hot-war. The Beijing leadership see benefit in trade, engagement and the global economy to deliver its pact of prosperity to the Chinese population. They may conclude China’s done enough to achieve its’ strategic economic objectives; parity with the west, and economic primacy across Asia. Whether the mood turns hot or cold rather depends on how the West responds to the apparent nullification of the USA’s military hegemony achieved by China’s new missile technologies.
These new missiles are a known unknown. The latest versions of the D-26 Carrier-Killer are apparently based on the Tibetan Plateau and can take out US Carriers from the Gult to New Zealand – making any defence of Taiwan look an extremely risky call. Sending the UK’s carrier strike group into the region later this year looks… challenging.
And suddenly you are wide awake and wondering just how crazy this suddenly got…..