"The question now is not how bad will 2009 be, but will we recover in 2010 and if we recover, will it only be anemic?" said Andrew Scott, professor of economics at the London Business School, adding that the housing bubble is bigger, consumer debt is higher and the speed of the slowdown faster than in previous recessions.
That is diminishing hopes for China as Asia's economic white knight, with its growth potentially propping up economies in the region. And as China grows at a far slower rate, it is importing fewer goods from neighbors, giving export-dependent nations in the region no way to pick up the slack from plummeting demand in the United States and Europe.
Particularly hard hit is South Korea, which saw trade with China soar in recent years. But as China slows, and the United States, Europe and Japan sink into deep recessions, unsold goods are piling up at South Korea docks. This week, the government said the economy in the fourth quarter staged its sharpest drop since the Asian economic crisis swept across the country in 1998.
There is no answer. We'll be fighting each other for tins of pet food before we know it.