The US government still has not reached an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, the markets turn their backs on Spain and Italy, stocks worldwide erase all their recent month's earnings in two days, gold is near its historic high again... Everybody seems to be expecting another big hit to the economy sooner rather than later. We have already been there, we should know what to do. Quoting the great Ray Charles "No peace I find, just this old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind". In this case the name may not be Georgia but Lehman Brothers, and the 'song' may not be sweet at all, but we should have it on our minds.
Because while preparing for this kind of impact, what people are not figuring out is that they are inadvertently paving the way for said impact to be much stronger. Nobody seems to trust anybody else these days, and this is bad, very bad for market stability. No matter how long you have traded or invested with a counter-party, no matter how strong and risk-averse you have been for years; in the eyes of others nobody seems safe against what is coming.
Lehman Brothers' situation was really bad, but it was the mistrust from its clients, partners and rivals that put it into a corner and accelerated its demise. This mistrust seems to be the general rule in financial markets these days. Today everybody is hedging against everybody else, buying insurance and taking CDSs (Credit Default Swaps) through the roof. This mistrust has enough power to stall global financial markets; and as we recently became aware of, a financial crisis can transform into a full-fledged economic crisis in the blink of an eye. If that were to happen, we would find ourselves in the much feared double-dip recession. I do not want to even think about what another economic crisis would mean globally when we are still struggling to make our way out of the first one. However there is something I can be totally sure of: if such a double-dip recession happened, a lot of players would be out of the game very soon. A lot of companies, and most importantly some countries, would be unable to dodge a second punch when they are still dizzy from the first one.