As Cyclone Gita formed in the Pacific more than a week ago, another type of storm, an economic one, blew a gust of ill wind through financial markets.

Most serious observers knew a "market correction" was coming; they just didn't know when or how big.

A market analyst is like a weather scientist in this regard, they can make general predictions, but saying share markets will plunge on this day is impossible. Likewise, you can't predict weeks in advance a cyclone hitting this city, at this time, on this day. If you could do either you'd make a fortune.

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To extend the comparison further, it struck me that a cyclone is an apt metaphor for the global economy at present.

When Cyclone Gita formed, it was impossible to know its path and its speed. Weather watches didn't know if it was going to hit us or not. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
When Cyclone Gita formed, it was impossible to know its path and its speed. Weather watches didn't know if it was going to hit us or not. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

As we know, cyclones are getting stronger due to increasing global air temperatures. Every fraction of a degree temperatures rise sees more water evaporating up into the atmosphere, which increases the fury of cyclones when they do form.

Well, the global economy is generating increasing amounts of hot air, too. That hot air is capital wealth zooming around the globe — thanks to the computerisation of market trading — desperately trying to find profitable investment.

A big chunk of that capital wealth is being created via the banks by unprecedented levels of borrowing. Global debt has reached a record high of US$233 trillion, which is 318 per cent of global GDP. The world economy is Greece, dangerously over-leveraged.

This borrowing spree has been encouraged by historically low interest rates, thanks to Reserve Banks dropping rates on government bonds to near zero.

But because the real economy that makes the goods and services we all consume is sluggish, large chunks of the money borrowed is not being invested in businesses, but in houses, land, shares, new-fangled technologies like Bitcoin, and the complex world of derivatives, looking for financial gain.

This speculative economy now dwarfs the real economy. The value of trade in derivatives alone (basically bets on whether prices in various markets will go up or down) is now around US$500 trillion annually, which is eight times global GDP. That's a lot of hot air.

And like increased air temperatures making weather events more extreme, the high level of debt-fuelled speculation will eventually lead to a more severe financial cyclone ripping a path through the economy.

Assessing the situation, former Australian government economist, John Adams, reckons "financial armageddon" is coming. We'll have to wait and see whether he's a false prophet or the real deal.

When Cyclone Gita formed, it was impossible to know its path and its speed. Weather watches didn't know if it was going to hit us or not.

We can, however, be certain that any global financial storm will hit New Zealand, like every other country in the world.

Meanwhile, it's a good time to be a bank, judging by the record $5.19 billion they made in New Zealand over the last financial year.

Here's hoping they've put some of their profits away for a rainy day.