The recent decline in gold prices and the drain from physical ETFs have been interpreted by the media as signaling the end of the gold bull market. However, our analysis of the supply and demand dynamics underlying the gold market does not support this thesis. In our view, the bullion banks’ fractional gold deposit system is testing its limits. Too much paper gold exists for the amount of physical gold available. Demand from emerging markets, who do not settle for paper gold, has perturbed the status quo. Thus, our recommendation to investors is the following: empty unallocated gold accounts and redeem your gold in physical form (while you still can).
Larry Summers has been failing up since he entered the public sphere. The reults have been catastrophic for many main street Americans.
It can't happen... It can't happen...It can't happen... It just happened.
Before the current turmoil began, Ben Bernanke's hope was that rising asset prices would lead to a "wealth effect" that would encourage the American consumer to start spending again, and thus help the American economy finally leave the "Great Recession" behind. However, the empirical data does not support this notion and equally the economy isn't booming sufficiently to make the reverse case that the economy drives the stock market. So what is causing the markets to boom right now? Steve Keen notes that during the period from 1890 to 1950, there was no sustained divergence between stock prices and CPI, and that almost all of the growth of share prices relative to consumer prices appeared to have occurred since 1980; and then, boom! - what must certainly be the biggest bubble in stock prices in human history took off - and it went hyper-exponential in 1995. So are stocks in a bubble? Yes - and they have been in it since 1982. It has grown so big that - without a long term perspective - it isn't even visible to us. It has almost burst on two occasions - in 2000 and 2008 - but even these declines, as precipitous as they felt at the time, reached apogees that exceeded the previous perigees in1929 and 1968.
Benjamin Strong was near the end of a long stint as head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (he passed away in October 1928), where he enjoyed the same immense power that Ben Bernanke has today. The economy had just begun to recover from a recession in December 1927, and there was much unemployment and spare capacity.... Agriculture was booming during and immediately after World War I, based on thriving exports to Europe. Overinvestment during the boom then gave way to stagnation in the 1920s. Europe was in a bad state in the late 1920s, just as it is now. What’s more, two of the world’s three largest economies are now in Asia, and these economies face similar challenges to those of 1920s Europe. While analogies are never perfect, the parallels with early 1928 are troubling. When the world slipped into depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was on the back of imbalances and debt overhangs that are oddly similar to those that we face today.
“That’s the whole dilemma!” As the G-20 is already getting cold feet....
The market deals extremely poorly with paradigm shifts or cycle changes. One reason for this is that there has been no need for any strategy except for the just-buy-the-dip mantra. This may have ended and that could be the best signal to the markets since the global financial crisis started. Sorry to be the messenger, but the only way for investors to understand risk and leverage is by having them lose money. Essentially then, the balance of this year could be an exercise in re-educating the market to long-lost concepts such as loss, risk, inter-market correlations and price discovery. We even predict that high-frequency trading systems will suffer, as will momentum-based trading and, most interestingly, long-only funds. Why? Because, at the end of the day, they are all built on the same premise: predictable policy actions, financial oppression and no true price discovery. We could be in for a summer of discontent as policy measures and markets return to try to search out a new paradigm. This will be good news for all us.
There is no greater crime in Washington today than speaking truth about the US economy in public. This is why Ben Bernanke is not being reappointed for another term as Fed Chairman.
Both the U.S. and China are now attempting to deflate asset bubbles. The former is likely to have second thoughts while the latter isn't.
It can’t be emphasized enough (I’ve emphasized it here, here and here) that there’s a close link between the Fed’s narrowing focus and the core, theoretical models that economists developed in the decades after World War II. These model builders naïvely ignored boom-bust cycles in credit and asset markets, just as the Fed disastrously eliminated the relevance of these cycles from its policy framework. Or, more precisely, policymakers reversed Martin’s maxim, spiking the punch bowl when credit and asset markets weaken but dismissing the case for action when the 'party gets going'. In order to explain, we thought it might be interesting to create one of those island economy stories to demonstrate a problem with the Fed’s policy framework - how the Fed’s inflation target can cause policymakers to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing.
Is recent market behavior the beginning of a market turndown? No one knows, although it is easy to find people providing “answers.” The value of these predictions approach those of astrologers and fortune-tellers.
Fear, like greed, makes people, and that would include investors, behave irrationally. Two major equity bear markets in the last 13 years have traumatized investors. The belief in Modern Portfolio Theory in general and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH) in particular has been shaken and finance theory will have to be re-written. So, Absolute Return Partners' Niels Jensen asks, what is it specifically that has changed? Human behavior certainly hasn’t. Greed and fear have been factors to be reckoned with since day nought. When faced with the unknown, people (in this case, fund managers) will use whatever information they can get hold of. Hence we shouldn’t really be surprised that fund managers extrapolate current earnings trends when forecasting future earnings, despite the evidence that it is a futile exercise. Occasionally, the Wisdom of Crowds turns into the Madness of Mobs and all rational behavior goes out the window. History provides many examples of that. EMH is entirely unsuited to deal with froth. What made economists love the EMH is that the maths behind it is so neat whereas the alternative truth is a little messy.
The last couple of weeks have been very interesting. Remember that, certain regional differences aside, Japan has, for the past two-plus decades, been the global trendsetter in terms of macroeconomic deterioration and monetary policy. The West has been following Japan each step on the way – usually with a lag of about ten years or so, although it seems to be catching up of late. Now Japan is the first developed nation to go ‘all-in’, to implement a no-holds-barred money-printing regime to (supposedly) ‘stimulate’ the economy. We expect the West to follow soon. In fact, the UK is my prime candidate. Wait for Mr. Carney to start his new job and embrace ‘monetary activism’. Carnenomics anybody? But here is what is so interesting about recent events in Japan. At first, markets did exactly what the central bankers wanted them to do. They went up. But in May things took a remarkable and abrupt turn for the worse. In just eight trading days the Nikkei stock market index collapsed by 15%. And, importantly, all of this started with bonds selling off. Are markets beginning to realize that all these bubbles have to pop sometime and that sometime may as well be now? Are markets beginning to refuse to dance to the tune of the central bankers and their printing presses? Are central bankers losing control?
This was one helluva week. Nevertheless current markets are still hooked on QE.
Jim Rogers was recently interviewed by GoldMoney and had plenty to say (as usual):
On Bernanke: "He doesn’t want to be around for the consequences of what he’s doing."
On Fiat: "Paper money doesn’t have a very glorious history, but again, nothing imposed by the government has a very long and glorious history."
On Europe's Crisis: "You can postpone it all you want, but the problems just mount."
On Capitalism: "You are not supposed to take money away from the competent people and give it to the incompetent so that the incompetent can compete with the competent people with their own money. That’s not the way capitalism is supposed to work."