Rosenberg Summarizes The Arguments Of The Great Treasury Bond-Bear Debate, Remains A Staunch Deflationist

Tyler Durden's picture

A great overview of the arguments on either
side of the great Treasury bull-bear debate, courtesy of David
Rosenberg. Rosie juxtaposes the perspectives of two of the most respect
yields strategists currently: MS' Jim Caron, and Goldman's Jan Hatzius. A dose of Jim Grant is also thrown in for good measure. Must read summary for bond bulls and bears alike.

 


 

You really have to have a read of "Yield Views Couldn't Differ More" on page B1 of the weekend WSJ. It pits Jim Caron, a good pal and former Merrill rates-strategist colleague against Goldman Sach's Jan Hatzius, a former formidable competitor and I would argue runs one of the best, if not the best, economics houses on Wall Street. Jim is bond bearish, Jan is bond bullish. The world pretty well knows my view. The article talked more about supply than it did about inflation, which is the much more critical ingredient in any simulation of interest rate determination.

Jim Caron makes the claim that the US government has never before been raising so much debt to finance the bloated fiscal deficit and roll over existing obligations. But if truth be told, the US government never before paid down as much debt as it did previously back in that surplus year of 1999 and the Treasury market got hammered. Why? An economic boom absorbed all the slack in the economy and causes a brief episode of inflationary pressure. That was the cause. Just as in 2002 the deficit exploded, bonds rallied massively because deflationary risks moved to the front burner. Yes, Virginia -- deficits and deflation can co-exist for extended periods of time. Ask anyone who has lived in Osaka over the past decade. The two Jimmies (Caron and Grant) are entitled to their opinions but not their own facts, and I have run similar correlations as Jan Hatzius has and there is no comparison between fiscal deficits and inflation when it comes to bond yield analysis. If the deficits and bond issuance are occurring at a time when the economy is approaching full employment and private sector balance sheets are expanding, then for sure interest rates will be on a rising trend. But fiscal deficits that are designed to cushion the blow from a credit contraction, especially among households, generate far different results. With credit contracting, rents deflating, the broad money supply measures now declining and unit labour costs dropping at a record rate, it hardly seems plausible that inflation is a risk at any time on the near- or intermediate-term forecasting horizon.

Plus, keep in mind that the price-setter for the entire retail sector, Wal-Mart, just announced price cuts on 10,000 items -- you heard that right. That is deflation, not disinflation or inflation or any other 'flation. And just to show you the enormity of this announcement, the CPI contains 8,018 items!

The "Current Yield" column in Barrons also runs with the bond-bear theme ("Next, a Sharp Jump in T-Yields"). This time, and again, it focuses on the Morgan Stanley forecast of a 5.5% peak in the yield of the 10-year note. We are told in the article to throw away the econometric models of the past and rely solely on the supply backdrop.

Again, this logic defies how bonds rallied through most of the Reagan years despite all the bond supply used to spend the Russians out of submission in terms of military expenditure. We are also told that the consensus is underestimating the recovery -- another reason to be bearish on bonds. But to get to 5.5% we had better get one heck of a renewed expansion in bank lending and household balance sheets and a good dose of inflation. It sounds so outlandish. We didn't even get past 5.25% at the 2007 peak with a late-cycle economic boom, a record-high stock market, dramatic credit expansion, a tight monetary policy stance and sky-high deficits -- not to mention an unemployment rate closer to 4% than 10%.

And to top it off, the front page of the Sunday NYT runs with "U.S. Consumers Face End of Era of Cheap Credit". When the view of higher interest rates comes to dominate the media as much as it has in recent days, you know that something else is bound to happen. That NYT article stated that housing "has only recently begun to rebound" -- well, when you look at the chart of new home sales, housing starts and the NAHB index, it's very difficult to detect any rebound at all…

One reason why interest rates cannot rise is because if they do, there will never be a sustained improvement in the pace of economic activity. Housing is the classic leading indicator, and the most interest-sensitive sector, and until it revives, it seems highly unlikely that bond yields will rise on any sustained basis or that the Fed will embark on a path towards higher policy rates. For a truly sombre assessment on the prospects for a housing recovery, see what Robert Shiller has to say on page 5 of the Sunday NYT biz section. ("Don't Bet The Farm on the Housing Recovery").

Full edition of today's Breakfast with Dave here

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bugs_'s picture

Default and save KING DOLLAR.

trav7777's picture

LOL...defaulting does wonders for the sanctity of the sovereign's currency

Ned Zeppelin's picture

The U.S. economy remains in a deep coma, with electrically induced periodic twitches and squirming mistaken for the early signs of an imminent awakening. Housing except in certain outlier and vigorously funded local markets (read: D.C.) is still struggling Big Time.  However, in the battle of the sovereign debtors, isn't it common sense that as we reach a point of huge supply, and constant (non-growing) debt demand, the highest safe rate gets to have a fully subcribed auction?  Isn't there a supply-demand factor here that eventually causes rates to go up, and bond prices decline, as supply outweighs demand? And given the exponential growth of debt, especially US, isn't that where we are headed?

trav7777's picture

What people fail to understand is that the government, via printing, can set the nominal price of the bond.

However, they cannot dictate what the bond will buy in terms of real goods.

So, sure, we can avoid a bond crash and interest rate blowout on USTs but we can't stop what those "values" fetch in terms of oil or gold or any other commodity.

So your $100 bond buys a sheet of toilet paper.  But its dollar price never crashed.

OBRon's picture

Actually, in this economic climate, the dog wags the tail as consumers ultimately determine the nominal price of bonds.  If no one buys homes or cars, no bank makes mortgage or auto loans.  If banks make no loans, all the money the govt can print and dump into bank reserves won't give it any velocity.  And without velocity, we have no inflation.

It's kind of like the old joke about how all the parts of the human body argued over which one was the most important...

Yep, that's us - at least in the eyes of Ben & Timmy.

HumbleServant's picture

I wish somebody would tell all of the raw material suppliers for my company that we're going into deflation.  They didn't seem to get the memo.

As long as the products you're buying don't involve any metals, oil, plastic or transportation via trucks that run on diesel fuel, you might see some deflation.  Unfortunately, here in the real world, tractors and combines run on diesel and fertilizers are also driven by oil prices so the price of food is also going up in addition to the materials listed above.

Maybe some of these economists need to get out from behind their computers and go shopping sometime or maybe even talk to an actual manufacturing company.

crosey's picture

+1.  The prices of polypropylene and polyethylene are not going down, and we're still getting $0.22 per pound for regrind.

HumbleServant's picture

In the last month, we have received 6% - 11% price increases on all varieties of polyethylene & polypropylene based products.  This is from several different manufacturers in different market segments that say the price of resin is going up and there is nothing they can do about it.

My theory is that manufacturers cut back as much as possible over the last year but at some point they either have to raise prices or shut the plant down.  It doesn't make sense to operate at break even for an extended period of time.  I think this is the market price testing time.  If demand falls now, the next wave of closures will hit.

Another thing is that the fuel surcharges on all truck line shipments are now back to 20%+.  That's going to ripple through the economy somehow.

trav7777's picture

Exactly.

The deflationists do not understand the axiom of business:  you cannot sell at a loss.

They expect the "liquidation" to continue forever and that if Toyota can't sell cars at $20k, they'll just have to drop them to 10k or 5k.  Just to "sell cars."  Yeah, sure, even at a 5k/unit loss, they'll HAVE to sell them to support their production numbers.

Wrong.  At some point, they'll raise prices to something that makes a profit and make do selling less.  This is how it works all over the world.  In Brazil, for example, cars are way outside the price range of average salaries, consequently, there are less of them bought.  Surely, all the makers would love to sell more cars at that price, but they cannot, so they do not.  Selling more cars at a loss is intractable.  If they cost X to make, the sales price has to be >X, period.  Or else the business isn't viable.

Once the liquidation phase of deflation is over, prices reset to a new normal based upon profitability.

HumbleServant's picture

When all this hit about a year and a half ago, I started doing some real research.  At first I thought the deflationists had all the answers but as things have developed, I don't think you can say that prices will deflate across the board.

It seems like anything that is energy/oil dependent from a raw material or transportation standpoint is going up, period.  That affects many consumer items and food.

It seems like anything that is not oil related and is dependent on debt financing is going down (raw land).  Everything else is somewhere in between based on its percentage of oil -vs- debt.

VegasBD's picture

You see deflation when you price everything in gold. But the massive inflating of the currency has kept asset prices in some areas about the same.

Price it in gold and the economics make sense.

HumbleServant's picture

Thanks VegasBD.

I need to remind myself to keep that perspective.  I try to tell people all the time that gold, silver and cropland are among the few ways to preserve your savings but I keep slipping back into the dollar mindset.

It's difficult to reprogram your thinking to price everything in gold but you're right... that is the only way to get the true picture.  

Ripped Chunk's picture

"The deflationists do not understand the axiom of business:  you cannot sell at a loss."

So the government has to purge your balance sheet of everything that will never appreciate again??

At some point it is game over.  Or a new credit bubble to inflate.  Hmmm? Which will it be???

 

Almost Solvent's picture

You should have notified GM & Chrysler of this pricing theory 10 years ago.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Ditto.   I run a small chemical manufacturing company that buys about fifty different raw materials..surfactants, solvents, phosphates, acrylic polymers..and paper and plastic packaging.   We buy from multiple sources in most categories. 

I've been surprised that prices of most of the above have been so stable as they have been in 2009 up to now.  Apart from phosphorus or potassium containing items, or straight petroleum derivatives, we're still not far from where we were in the summer of 2008, in terms of input prices.   We haven't changed our prices either.  

I'm assuming that all of this deficit spending and TreServe behavior and TARP and so on managed to keep prices stable whereas prices should have been dropping.   To wit, prices of raw materials in all categories rose impressively and quickly in late 2007 through the summer of 08, then seemed to freeze near their heights.   But, consumption of these raw materials has dropped, I or so I believe, because sales is down double digits at our large nationwide competitors.

Attitude_Check's picture

That's right,  It's not if we will have inflation or deflation -- we are getting both.  Deflation in assets (housing, bonds, stocks, etc. - some now, more in the future).  Go to Shadow stats and check out M3.  If you don't like/believe Shadow stats, check out M2 and MZM, they are rapidly dropping, which is consistent with the widely reported consumer and business deleveraging.

Inflation is already here through FX weakness and commodity price rises.  As all nations "race for the bottom", real physical items require more devalued "pretty paper" nores to purchase them.

economicmorphine's picture

It's still deflationary.  Let me give you an example.  The little family run restaurant on the square just raised prices.  They raised prices because business is down.  Business is down because people aren't spending as much as they used to.

Now, what do you suppose this price increase will do to business?  If you said decrease it further, you're correct.  This restaurant is five months from closing down.  When it does, their employees will not earn a paycheck, their vendors will have one less restaurant to sell to etc.

You have confused price levels with inflation/deflation.  They're not the same thing.  Just watch what happens next.  

JR's picture

The pundits have discussed, labeled, elaborated and embroidered on inflation so much that some don’t even know anymore whether we have it or not.  IMO, it’s not inflation or deflation, it’s debauchery of the currency.  There was value there once; now it’s gone.  Who has it?

I’ve never understood why inflation is so good for me.

FLETCH's picture

there is a difference between inflation caused by external suppliers (producers outside the dollar world) and internal monetary induced inflation.  Rosie is talking about the latter.

the FEDs have been mis-measuring this for years.  what you see is weakening of the buying power of the dollar, even though the DX says it's stronger against all the other fiat currencies.   but on an absolute scale its lower and is really deflation.

get the vaseline out;  the FED's own the currency and our commitments to one another, true tyranny, (that's what a fiat system is) and they will print until the next election is won, pretty much forever if they can maintain the money monopoly

 

 

 

steve from virginia's picture

"One reason why interest rates cannot rise is because if they do, there will never be a sustained improvement in the pace of economic activity."

Dave makes the same argument for bond/lending rates that I do over on The Oil Drum against ever- increasing oil prices.

Jeff Rubin, Jeffery Brown and others suggest +$100 to $300 oil. Not possible, nobody could afford it. 'Oil prices cannot rise (beyond a certain point) because if they do, there will never be a sustained improvement in the pace of ...' you get the idea. High prices kill demand; Colin 'Mr ASPO' Campbell came to a similar conclusion last week.

Far more (most) likely is a deflationary preference for cash with Treasuries being sold worldwide in order to obtain cash dollars. How the Fed responds to this will be most interesting! China, Japan and Germany hold both the most dollars and the most Treasuries and all are net oil consumers. The suppliers' dollar preference is entrenched at this point and in the face of exponential dollar demand even vast hoards of the stuff can disappear in a heartbeat.

If the Fed made monetary policy it would print dollars and retire Treasuries from overseas realizing that dollars sent to China or Germany will come 'home to Mama' - be repatriated via Saudi Arabia.

The Fed doesn't make monetary policy any more, it's made instead in Riyadh. The Fed won't print because it can't (and it isn't) the dollar is becoming increasingly a hard currency pegged to crude oil. Treasuries will be sold into the 'float' and dollars will disappear from circulation - as they have been and are doing.

The outcomes: China will allow dollars to circulate in China, oil prices will either stay low(ish) or they will spike and the world's economies will crash. If China, Japan, the US and Germany all sell Treasuries, rates will increase even as deflation is amplified.

Remember, we are having and ENERGY crisis, not a finance or credit crisis.

steve

trav7777's picture

Been saying the same thing for years.

The decline in oil supply makes a peg of the dollar to oil impossible.  We have a need for more purchases of petrodollars but there is less oil to produce.

But so long as the dollar buys oil, it has some real value.  However, if the creation of too many of them ends up in the oil market attempting to buy real barrels, you will see that change.

Suppliers will adjust the peg irrespective of whether the "price" is too onerous.  There's no way around this.  Oil is going to go wherever it's bid; it does not care if people find that price unpalatable.

In a world of growing scarcity, debt-based promises levied against a future of growth simply must be discounted.  And, there is no separation between the Treasury and cash.  The Fed need only "buy" the foreign holdings and give them cash.

If the goal is to maintain a dollar/oil peg, the price WILL have to rise to soak up this additional UST supply.  There's no way to balance the ledger otherwise.

Production of dollars is outstripping production of oil and will continue to do so. 

Madcow's picture

Bingo.

 

“Energy prices can’t go up because that would choke off the recovery and make people sad.”

 

Pay close attention to where your energy forecast is coming from. If its Houston or Rotterdam or Hong Kong, you’re probably getting decent advice. If its Washington DC, or from some hack “energy desk” on Wall Street, caveat emptor.

 

The oil producers are now managing their own depletion curves. They’ll need to convert their savings to something that can at very least maintain value. Long term, that is obviously not going to be any fiat currency or sovereign debt obligation. Better to invest in PMs, infrastructure, and long-term ‘revolution prevention.’ 

 

Yes – new sources of energy will come on line (biomass, coal syngas, wind …) and new technologies will be developed to economically harvest unconventional oils (shale, tar sands, bitumen …) but all the low hanging fruit has been picked.  Long term, the cost of energy goes UP – and that is because the cheapest and most useful form of energy (cheap oil) is dwindling.

 

The future is local production, local power generation, local distribution.  Historians will marvel at the audacity of shipping Kiwi fruit from SE Asia to the United States.

 

The price of oil could fall in a catastrophic global deflationary depression. But not for long. There will always be a bid for oil. Fossil fuels not simply not replaceable. 

 

casino capitalism's picture

Given the technical nature of markets these days, I think the direction of yields is an even simpler analysis.  As long as the risk trade is on, yields will trend higher (due to the marginal supply/demand of investment dollars).  When the risk trade reverses, yields will go down as money comes out of other markets (especially stocks and commodities) and into treasuries.

surfersd's picture

Am I mistaken or is crude for delivery in Dec '11 and '12 breaking out to 15 months highs? It is now above the price it was before their $50 run to $140 in February of 2008 as well.

Isn't this bond argument just a way to deflect us away from the huge amount of money that is being printed to buy these bonds?

 

 

 

 

 

Assetman's picture

This "inflation" vs. "deflation" debate among, so-called economists still burns my hide.  It's stupid.

Look, folks... there is still massive un/under-employment.  Wages aren't heading anywhere.  And it it does, it most likely will be south, not north.

CPI is purposefully distorted so that we don't "see" as much inflation in the system than their really is.  I don't really care if Wal-Mart is lowering prices on 10,000 items-- because I see my utility bills and costs for other services going up significantly. And the gasoline getting me to work everyday certainly isn't getting cheaper.

The bottom line is that the standard of living for the vast majority of Americans is going DOWN-- and going down SIGNIFICANTLY.  Perhaps economists need to debate what strategies are best to stem THAT decline-- than debate general price levels. 

I'm sure that betting on inflation vs. deflation has investing implications-- but this market is being manipulated anyway.  Either scenario when played out is eventually going to push risk assets down, and risk premiums higher.  Essentially the investing arugment on inflation vs. deflation is whether Treasuries are a good investment or not.  I don't care, given the vast amounts that need to issues and rolled over.

As steve from virginia said above, we are essentially having an ENERGY crisis-- and to my own view, a WAGE and INCOME crisis.  And that's causing the middle calss to disappear before our very eyes.

The inflation/deflation debate is tertiary.

economicmorphine's picture

Baloney.  The problem is that we've outspend production for decades and used debt to make up the difference.  You think we're having an energy, wage and income crisis because that's what affects you most directly.  The real problem is that we've outspent our productivity for over a generation and it has to come back into balance.  It will, one way or the other.  Don't look at price increases in a vacuum.  Look at them compared to production and consumption levels.  Production is down.  Consumption is down.  Price is up?  I can only think of one reason why and that is because producers have no other choice left but to raise prices, even if it costs them more business as it will.  It is inherently deflationary because there is no other way to bring the system back into balance.  Such is life when you choose to grow exponentially with debt.  The party has ended the same way every time throughout history and it will end the same way this time.   Government has shown no inclination to voluntarily cut back  It's Thelma and Louise, dude.  The cliff is straight ahead and she's hitting the gas.  Rosie's right.

Assetman's picture

Not baloney, dude. 

But I do agree with a tenant of your central thesis-- and that is the abusive use of debt to consume more than we produce is exactly what has got us here.  What I describe in terms of an energy, wage and income crisis is a consequence of the policies that have already been chosen.  And there's really no turning back from that.

It goes further than that, though-- because we've effectively outsourced our much of our productive capacity during this overspending phase.  Our economy made a quiet transformation from a production based economy to one of consumption-- helped by an increasing reliance on debt to supplent that "growth".   Not only is production and consumption down... but so is global trade.  The difference is that the Chinese can still produce and eventually recover from it. 

Again-- the agrument here isn't inflation vs. deflation.  The reality staring us in the face is a dramatic fall in our standard of living.  Our so-called "leaders" are indeed addressing this in "Thema and Louise" driving us off of a cliff.  It matters not whether the result is inflation or deflation-- it's just a consequence.  You bet on deflation-- fine.  Our leaders are putting an "all in" bet against it.

I don't care if there's a winner or loser, because most of us lose, anyway.   But if deflation makes you feel better, regardless of our endless capacity to print money-- so be it.

schoolsout's picture

Commercial truck prices are going up, also.  Main component is the new 2010 emissions requirements.  Mack Triaxle dump truck is around $150k

An Isuzu box truck will go up about $3500 and be north of $40k....

it is insane, to say the least.

yabs's picture

inflation/deflation debate is critical to anyone with savings

ie do you stay in cash or put it into stocks/commodities

its absolutely critical for them. I myself have worked very hard and saved a lot to try and exit the matrix early but now banana ben is ruining that chance if hyperinflation sets in. We already get zero return for our savings but many people like myslef do not want to take the risk of equities. If nature was aloowed to take its course we would be rewarded as we should be but now the debtors get rewarded

 

Assetman's picture

Nope.  Monetary policy is most critical to anyone with savings.  There's really no debate where Bernanke stands on that issue.  Risk aseets are the winner-- until it unwinds.

If you had focused on cash vs. stocks/commodities using the inflation vs. deflation argument-- you just missed a +90% run in equities.  Inflation/deflation is an afterthought.

Species8472's picture

So, over the next few years, money will become more valuable?

If so, college tuition will come down.

The Drs co-pays will come down.

The price of fuel will come down.

My property taxes will come down....

I can't wait!! I'm cash rich!! woot woot for me, the savers are winning!!

yabs's picture

assetman

yes monetary policy trying to influence the outcome is crtical but what is more critical in the end is who wins!

Ie can banana ben reflate  or will the market win

the market wants assets to deflate, ben wants to encourage investors to take risks and reinflate them.

what will be the outcome is the quadrillion  dollar question

Assetman's picture

In the end, we're all dead.  -- Some famous economist that I won't mention, or it will start another debate.

In all seriousness, I do find more relevance in the deflationists arguments as an endgame.  I just don't think the outcome is terribly revelvant when the certainly of "lower standard of living" is starting us in the face-- regardless of where one stands on the debate.

Ripped Chunk's picture

Perhaps I am missing a big point here?  But I do not see anything that would point to a major rally in Treasuries other than total calamity world wide and a massive flight to safety in US Govt's.

Isn't that sort of like piling into the last life boat which is already overloaded and leaking???

JR's picture

Inflation Representative Paul Krugman’s problem is that he has never had to work for his money. He feeds at the Establishment trough. Inflation’s no problem for him. Thus, it’s so painless for him just to inflate away someone else’s paycheck and savings. While you work and slave for your money, the Fed and the Krugmans are printing themselves an equal amount and transferring most of your work effort to themselves. That’s the maestros’ magic. This parasitic system wrecks every economy it feeds on.  And now, it’s America’s turn.

Says Peter Schiff in Krugman Strikes Again:  “In today's column, Krugman analyzes the Greek debt crisis, arguing that the best solution for Athens would be to simply inflate away its debt burden with printing-press money. Krugman laments that this sensible option is being foreclosed by the monetary priggishness of the German heavyweights in the European Union, who are "foolishly" seeking to prevent inflation and impose fiscal discipline.

“His theoretical justification is put forward in a familiar Keynesian recipe: deficit spending leads to inflation and growth, which leads to greater employment and rising GDP, which makes debt payments much easier to bear in relative terms. He laments that Greece does not control its own currency and is therefore unable to pursue such a policy on its own accord. He implores U.S. policy makers, who do control their own monetary policy, to take heed of the danger and avoid such a course…

“Like most of his academic peers, Krugman believes that falling prices are the economic equivalent of kryptonite, guaranteed to bring low even the mightiest economy.

“He is wrong. We need deflation. As a result of a phony boom in assets, price levels are still too high relative to the earning power and productivity of American workers. Falling prices will cushion the blow of recession (by allowing people to buy more with their paychecks and savings) and will eventually encourage people to spend when prices fall low enough. Deflation is the only way to save us from the much greater horror of inflation, or hyper-inflation, which Krugman argues is not actually that bad…

http://www.lewrockwell.com/schiff/schiff85.1.html

After thought: Krugman's worry over Greece is somewhat misplaced.  After all the Socialist International was most notably represented in Copenhagen by its president, George Papandreou, the current prime minister of Greece.  While addressing the UN summit on December 18, Papandreou stressed, “At this time, we are observing the birth of global governance.  We must, however, agree to an obligation and be committed to carrying this out.”

And the words “socialism” and “inflation,” of course, are interchangeable.

yabs's picture

so take your pick of calamities

eurozone imploding with the Pigs, Irish banks imploding, Japan going belly up, the Uk going tits up. Israel attacking Iran.

North korea attacking south Korea, nuclear terrorist strike

a massive solar maximum expected in the next few years that could wipe out all electronic/magnetic devices

not to mention the fact that major earthquakes seem to be happening every week. An earthquake in LA i'm sure wouldn't do  much good to the "recovery".

Maybe I'm being negative but I see disasters of biblical proportions every where I look

JR's picture

“Maybe I’m being negative…”  Priceless, yabs.  I loved it. LOL

Ripped Chunk's picture

Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this

Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of
Freaks

yabs's picture

I have looked at their sites on predictions yes and have come to the conclusion its a load of bollocks

they search the internet for chatter and come up with predictions

and they came to the conclusion that 2012 the world would end

well guess what if a  lot of people start discussing 2012 and the mayans and the world ending then maybe thats what your program picks up.

they claim success also in predicting the chinese earthquake in that they said a great quake would interrupt a big wedding in the US. How can a quake in China do that?

gratefultraveller's picture

Well, actually the guys from HalfPastHuman try to forecast what will make headlines in the future and roughly when that is supposed to happen. They analyze the shift of the emotional charge of the words people use in the web. The concept behind it is that human beings are intuitive, and even if single beings might not be aware of their ability, their intuition will somehow influence the choice of words they use to express themselves.

The results are put in a context by weaving them into a narrative of sort, attempting to extract a meaning of the currents of change they observe in the language on the web. The forecast is not to be taken too literal, a fuzzy logic approach helps. However, they do manage to nail the words and the timing down quite frequently, although more often then not the *context* they appear in might be different from the expected one.

I have encountered quite a few matches so far, for example what they said about the weather this last winter has helped me quite a lot from a purely day-to-day operational point of view.

In the case of the words [earthquake] and [wedding] a quick google search will show you about 2.7 million results, the first x pages about the Sichuan earthquake, where a wedding party was doing a photo shoot for memory pictures and the wedding church behind them collapsed during the event. That happened within the forecast timeframe, but took a while to hit the headlines (hence the initial attempted connection to a different earthquake).

imo, taken with a grain of salt theirs is a highly innovative concept worth looking into, if only because they offer a completely different angle on whatever you might perceive as "reality".