Billionaire philanthropist George Soros notched up another score for the doom merchants this week, saying we are at the end of a 60-year super-boom. It's a tragedy that so many of us were blissfully unaware we were the beneficiaries of this benevolent macroeconomic phenomenon. But that's super-booms for you - you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

It's tempting to file the idea in the dusty old cabinet alongside all the other forecasts that turned out to be little more than highly educated fingers in the air. And Soros is not perfect - he apparently made the wrong call on the Yen exchange rate in the 1990s (didn't we all), but he's still got billionaire philanthropist on the business card. He also recently took a $100m punt on film this year, with an investment in India's Reliance Entertainment.

And at the heart of Soros' theory is an idea that should be obsessing the film business - that the entire global system of borrowing and lending is creaking at the edges, with popped bubbles such as Bear Stearns or the UK's Northern Rock merely symptoms of the disease.

This is a business, particularly in the US, that has been awash with debt finance. And these are the areas that may be most affected if indeed the end of the super-boom means the current credit crunch is little more than the first signs of creaking before the dam breaks.

And just in case anyone was under the impression the financiers had become our new best pals who would stand by us in a storm, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of private-equity giant Blackstone, puts us right, in an interview with the BBC. He says the boom time for companies like his own are when economies are on their knees and businesses will sell their own grandmothers - or indeed film rights - for an ounce of liquidity.

Now all of this may or may not turn out to be true and when you read an economic theory you think you understand, it's easy to find evidence that seems to back it up. As with fundamentalist religion and political extremism, you end up seeing patterns in everything.

But as the saying goes: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean everyone's not out to get you. And if one can see a pattern in today's global film-business environment, it is that inconsistencies have become integral to our globalised industry.

We're both consolidating and splitting into constituent parts. To weather the storm, the film industry is becoming both bigger and smaller. The question for both ends of the spectrum remains a simple one: can we afford to make films that audiences want to see'

The studios are answering the challenge with a strategy that rallies simultaneously around fewer big blockbusters while building growth in the international market through supporting smaller local product.

The idea is that clear signs of customer demand for local fare in recent years can be turned into more serious business through improved efficiency of distribution. In other words, Hollywood is betting a fair bit of the studio on partnership with film-makers and, from the evidence of Screen's report (page 12), is finding considerable support.

Of course, anyone coming into international markets with cash is going to be welcomed by businesses facing financial deficits from, for example, collapsing television pre-sales.

What's more, one can virtually hear the mental lightbulbs flicking on at conferences, as people calculate that if the studios back, say, 50-100 films in international markets, there's not a whole lot of room for some existing players. That's a threat to the status quo and asks questions about the sustainability of national independent production (though that's hardly new).

But what we know is that with other sources of finance increasingly squeezed, a studio deal looks like a golden ticket and one without the cultural downsides that had been ascribed to it by anti-Hollywood critics. Studios have always been made up of business people rather than cultural hegemonists.

Ironically, however steep the downward economic slope, it is the global giants that look to have the most credible plans for local production.