Guest Post: The Worst Advice I’ve Seen In Years

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From Simon Black of Sovereign Man

The Worst Advice I’ve Seen In Years

 

When I woke up this morning and scanned through my usual digest–
boots on the ground reports from overseas contacts, market summaries
from Asian and European bankers, commentary from friends still in the
intelligence community– a couple of things caught my eye that I want to
tell you about.

Dagong Global Credit Rating Co is China’s leading credit rating
agency. Credit rating agencies are the firms who are responsible, among
other things, for scoring the credit risk of a particular asset or
sovereign nation.

When they rate a security as “AAA”, premium safety, investors pile in. They’re an integral part of the financial system.

You undoubtedly remember that the world’s leading agencies– Fitch,
Moody’s, and S&P, were all complicit in slapping AAA premium ratings
on so many toxic mortgage-backed securities… and maintaining sound
ratings for far too long on bankrupt nations like Greece and Portugal.

The entire industry lacks credibility at this point, and China’s Dagong agency aims to do something about that.

This morning I read Dagong president Guan Jianzhong’s remarks at a
recent conference of Asian rating agency CEOs held in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia (one of my favorite cities).

In his speech, Guan called for the establishment of a global rating
agency that follows clearly outlined international standards,
effectively putting an end to the cowardly analysis that dominates the
industry now and replacing it with a healthy dose of reality.

Putting its money where its mouth is, Dagong has a long-standing,
negative outlook on US debt that doesn’t pull any punches. From its
November 2010 report:

“In essence the depreciation of the U.S. dollar adopted by the U.S.
government indicates that its solvency is on the brink of collapse,
therefore it wants to cut its debt through the act of devaluation with
the national will; such a move has severely harmed the interests of
creditors.”

Following suit, S&P stunned financial markets this morning by
revising its US outlook to ‘negative’, citing politicians’ inability to
address medium-term and long-term challenges.

In total contrast, US News and World Report published an article a few days ago entitled Why you should buy U.S. Treasuries,” which amounts to the worst advice I’ve seen in years.

FE DA 081124geithner The worst advice Ive seen in years

"Trust me. I'm good for it."

The article is devoid of any clear analysis which could support
loaning our hard-earned savings to the most indebted nation in the
history of the world in a rapidly depreciating currency at rates which
have little chance of keeping up with inflation; instead, the author
relies solely on patriotism:

“It has always been a bad idea to bet against America and our ability
to prosper even against overwhelming difficulties. America will cut
back its spending, innovate, and pay off its debts. We will earn our way
out. It’s just how we do it…”

A more accurate statement would have been, “that’s how we used to do
it…” Fact is, America’s economic problems are deep-seeded and neither
political party can put forth a viable strategy for righting the ship.
Even S&P is starting to realize this.

Even worse, it’s not just the politicians that don’t get it. From
top to bottom, the culture in government service is an entrenched “me
first [at the expense of taxpayers...]” attitude which encourages
shortsighted decision making, and in some cases, even fraud.

If you’re still betting on America to come out on top, you’re taking a
big risk. America first emerged as a major economic power, not because
of government policies or political leadership, but because of the
strong incentive that individual Americans had to work hard, take risks,
and create value for others.

The incentive isn’t about patriotism… it’s about the benefit of their families and loved ones.

Americans like this still exist, and their desire to see their
families and loved ones flourish through enterprise and value creation
is as strong as ever. As the economic situation worsens with each
passing day, more and more of these value creators look to greener
pastures outside of America.

Maybe you should consider the same.