The King of Globalization

Will the global economy have the same ending as a Stephen King plot?

July 24, 2000

Will the global economy have the same ending as a Stephen King plot?

In a recent interview, Stephen King made one of his most horrifying predictions ever when talking about the global economy, world stock markets and currencies. With everything seemingly turning up roses in the U.S. economy and with the major economies of Europe showing signs of life, Mr. King thinks that investors around the world have been lulled into a false sense of security. As Mr. King sees it, the global economy is long overdue for something scary to happen.

In Stephen King’s analysis, the primary object of fear is the strong U.S. dollar. Mr. King predicts that the dollar will crash sometime this year — thrusting, as it were, a silver dagger into the heart of the current economic boom. Of course, any sudden and unexpected end to the U.S. boom will doom the slower-growing economies in Europe and Asia — and the world will sink in economic malaise.

Sounds grim, right? But what other kinds of economic predictions would you expect from someone named Stephen King? The politicians and business people who should heed Mr. King’s warnings need only to read “The Shining,” “The Dead Zone” or “Misery” to get a glimpse of Stephen King’s bleak and harrowing worldview.

Take his best-selling novel “The Stand,” for example. After most of the world’s population is wiped out by a virus manufactured in a U.S. government laboratory, the remaining survivors splinter into warring tribes. The good people settle in the mountains in Denver, Colorado. The bad people, predictably enough, choose to settle in Las Vegas, that din of iniquity and vice in the western desert. On one level, the novel is pulp fiction. On another, it is a thrilling parable about human imperfections.

Now that Stephan King is getting his teeth into globalization, imagine the rich assortment of characters and institutions he can draw on for his next book. Perhaps he will create a world in which the survivors of the coming global economic meltdown split into two groups — one in favor of globalization who base themselves in the IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a group of protectionists who base themselves in … Seattle?

Terrified yet? Relax! The Stephen King who is plotting the dollar’s demise is in fact the chief economist of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Lucky for the world, not many people read what economists write.