Political risk is back with a vengeance in Italy. As the third largest global issuer of government bonds after the US and Japan, the country is too big to be allowed to fail without severe contagion to the global financial system. However, it is also too big to bail out comfortably using tried and tested mechanisms.
Last week, in one of our daily morning team meetings (when all the economists, strategists and fund managers gather round to exchange market-relevant news and views), each and every one of the contributions was about politics; including Brexit, Germany, Italy, Catalonia, the Netherlands, the US and Japan.
The US corporate credit cycle seems to have turned with rising bad loans leading to banks tightening corporate credit conditions. This can be self-reinforcing. So I send a 'yellow card' warning to investors that we're 70 minutes into the match and we could see a recession in 2018.
The eternal truth in financial crises is that debt is the heart of the problem. Without debt, there is no leverage and no forced selling. Warning lights are now flashing across emerging markets. Timing the next debt crisis is extraordinarily difficult, but we know where to look.