Kim Jong Il, the second generation North Korean dictator, has died aged 69 or 70.
The local media is reporting he died of fatigue whilst on a train. Call us sceptics, but we suspect the chain smoking, hard drinking, womaniser died of other causes.
Was Kim Jong Il a "dictator who defied global condemnation to build nuclear weapons while his people starved" or a jet fighter pilot who "penned operas, had a photographic memory, produced movies and accomplished a feat unmatched in the annals of professional golf, shooting 11 holes-in-one on the first round he ever played"?
That all depends on whether you believe North Korean or Western media. We'll side with likely fact over fantasy.
Global markets are falling hard. The retreat began in Australia on the back of another retailer warning of tough trading, this time Billabong International Limited (ASX: BBG). The stock is off a massive 44 per cent today.
The gloom then spread through Asia and Europe. U.S. markets will likely continue the trend when they open.
It appears North Korean dictators have much in common with the global financial crisis (GFC).
We'd sure prefer to see the back of both the GFC and the Kim dynasty, but both look likely to hang around for some time.
Be prepared for a few more years of slow economic growth, and courtesy of Kim's 20-something year old son Kim Jong Un, possibly a few more decades of irrational leadership from North Korea.
If nothing else, markets hate uncertainty. Odd as it may seem, in the short-term they'd have preferred the psychotic and predictably hostile Kim Jong Il to the unknown yet nuclear-armed quantity that is Kim Jong Un.
In the long-term, this likely doesn't change much. Sure, we'd all like North Korea to be a good international partner, and we'd love to see the North Korean people have the opportunity to grow, eat and prosper, but we're not holding our breath.