While certainly not news to most people, the following visual guides from Mint on the two most critical monetary concepts should provide a vivid explanation to all those who are still confused as to why deflation is good for savers and for the middle class in general, and bad for the Fed, for banks, and for all those who are levered to their gills in toxic, non current debt. As for all those who still think that hyperinflation is a function of rising prices, there are other, more appropriate blogs for you.
A few preliminary facts on gold from Matterhorn Asset Management:
- It is a fact that gold in US dollars (and many other currencies) has gone up 400% in eleven years or 16% per annum annualised.
- It is a fact that the US dollar has declined 80% in value against gold since 1999.
- It is a fact that the dollar and most other currencies have gone
down 98-99% against gold since 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank of New
York was created.
- It is also a fact that the Dow Jones (and many world stock markets) has declined over 80% against gold since 1999.
- It is a fact that gold has made a new all time monthly closing high in dollars in August 2010.
As to how Matterhorn gets to its 3 gold price targets of $6,000, $7,000, $10,000 read inside...
Another fascinating interview by Jim Rickards, in the first part of which the LTCM GC explains why he has told his clients to get out of stocks (yes, it does have to do with market manipulation and the Fed - the two most popular topics on Zero Hedge over the past year): "Markets have ceased to function as they are intended - traditionally a place to exchange values, but more importantly to perform price discovery (people rely on markets to tell them what to do or to at least give them some guidance). What's happened is that all the markets have become so badly distorted that their price discovery function and therefore the information content around it no longer has any value. The market has become self-referential, an algo playing itself out, almost the way you would run a self-recursive equation on a computer and you get very unpredictable results from very simple equations. It has degenerated into a joke." Perhaps more relevant for those seeking some advice on where to put their money if not into stocks, is his observation that now that the Fed is in dire need to getting people to start spending, the only option left is to instill the fear of a dollar devaluation, but not against other fiat (as that would in turn lead other central banks to follow suit), but depreciation against hard currencies such as gold. "If you are the Fed and you buy up gold to $2,000 an ounce what have you done? You've depreciated the dollar by not quite 50%. Well that's pretty powerful stuff if you are trying to get people to spend money and dump dollars. So they are not out of bullets, they have what I call the golden bullet..." As Kohn today said, it is all about expectations... Well, why not make people expect that the dollar they have today will be worth half as much tomorrow versus gold?
Exclusive: The Paulson Portfolio Post-Mortem (In Which We Learn That The Maestro Himself Is Advising J.P. On Future Gold Prices)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/05/2010 22:44 -0500
We present an exclusive summary of all the Paulson & Co. portfolio facts, figures, strategy, ins and outs, and Paulson's discussions with former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on the "the relationship between the monetary base, the money supply, inflation and gold prices." Must read for everyone.
Right now, we are at a stage where Treasury bonds are as weakened as a termite-riddled house. They look fine: But they are well on their way to a complete collapse. Why? Because of the way they have been mishandled and mistreated by the Federal Reserve Board, and the U.S. Treasury. Whether by incompetence or by design, U.S. Treasury bonds have become the New & Improved Toxic Asset. The question is no longer if they will collapse—it’s when. Here's why. —Gonzalo Lira
As part of the Fed's latest QE iteration, it has already been made clear that despite initial disclosures that the Fed would stay in the 2-10 Year bound of Treasurys, Ben Bernanke is now also gobbling up the very long end of the curve. For all those who are, therefore, still confused why bonds continue to surge to record levels, don't be: when there is a guaranteed bidder just below you in the face of the Fed, and who you can turn around and sell to at will, there is no pricing risk. The problem, from a bigger stand point, is what happens when the Fed is actively buying up 30 Year bonds with impunity and the much desired (by the Fed) inflation still does not appear? Well, the Fed then, in Michael Pento's opinion, will begin to purchase stocks and real estate. And as all those who enjoy comparing the US to Japan can attest, outright purchases of securities by the Japanese government is a long-honored tradition in the ongoing fight with deflation in Japan. However, and as the recent BOJ (lack of) intervention demonstrated, Japan never could do anything with the required resolve, and bidding up one stock and there piecemeal would never achieve anything. Which is why in this interview with Eric King, Michael Pento makes the case that as opposed to the occasional market intervention via the President's Working Group, Bernanke will soon make stock purchases an outright policy of the Federal Reserve as its last ditch attempt to engender inflation before the hundreds of billions of Commercial Real Estate and other debt starts maturing in 2011/2012. Bernanke is running out of time and he knows it. And once the Fed become the bidder of last resort in stocks, all bets are off, as the Central Bank will become the defacto only market in virtually every risky category. And the only safe vehicle, once the market then begins to price in asset-price hyperinflation, will be gold.
I clarify my critique of Austrian/Libertarian theory and explain how monetary austerity is not necessarily the "right thing to do" going forward.
In our attempts to simplify the comprehension of the ongoing serfdomization of the US population, we would like to present one of the more persuasive charts which the administration would likely be loath to demonstrate. Having collated monthly data from the FMS' Daily Treasury Statement on incremental tax revenues (individual, gross), and new debt issuance, we observe the following rather surprising pattern: since September 2008, or the month when capitalism collapsed, and the Fed, and ever other global Central Bank had to step in as a backstop of last recourse to the western way of life, the US government has undertaken the most peculiar matching program: simply said, for every dollar of individual tax revenue, the government has issued just over one dollar of incremental debt. In other words, in the past two years, tax revenues alone would have proven insufficient by over half to fill the budget gap. In yet other words, the US Treasury is now the functional equivalent of the entire US population and then some, when it comes to keeping the US economy afloat. From another perspective, with an average take down of roughly 50% of each recent auction by Indirect bidders, nearly a quarter (half of half) of US budget deficit needs is funded directly by foreigners. Should (in)formal trade wars escalate, and should the US see an embargo of foreign debt participation, then overnight a quarter of US spending will be unfundable: this includes such critical key expenditures as defense and social security spending. Also, it is important to recall , that of the $3.35 trillion in debt issued over the prior two year period, the Fed has directly (via UST purchases) and indirectly (via MBS purchases, and thus the forced rotation of MBS securities into UST securities for agency holders such as PIMCO) purchased the other half. Thus between foreigners, and the Fed, the US consumer's traditional contribution to funding the US economy has been diluted by half. And unfortunately, as the chart below shows, absent some dramatic deux ex machina, there is no chance this trend in which US debt issuance is the functional equivalent of taxpayer contributions, will ever end.
I usually don’t do follow-up pieces to any of my posts. But my recent longish piece, describing how hyperinflation might happen in the United States, clearly struck a nerve. There were two issues that many readers had a hard time wrapping their minds around, with regards to a hyperinflationary event: The first was, Where does all the money come from, for hyperinflation to happen? The second question was, Why will commodities rise, while equities, real estate and other assets fall? In other words, if there is an old fashioned run on a currency—in this case, the dollar, the world’s reserve currency—why would people get out of the dollar into commodities only, rather than into equities and real estate and other assets? In this post, I’m going to address both of these issues — Gonzalo Lira
In addition to the traditional (and much discredited) argument of quadrillions of cash on the sidelines (which conveniently ignores the quintillions of debt also on the sidelines), the other last remaining point that bullish pundit like to point out is that the PE on the S&P is oh so very low compared to historical level. Putting aside the fact that the last 30 years of economic data have been perverted by a cost of credit which has declined from 15% all the way to zero, and with no additional place to go, and as such any historical comparisons are now moot as the Fed is pretty much out of options (aside from monetizing of course, and outright debasing the dollar), the primary reason why investors continue to put little credit in the "miraculous" corporate profits explosion, and thus give companies subpar P/E, is that the entire profit recovery has been predicated not on GDP growth (which explains the constant skittishness about macro events), but on declining labor costs, and as the following JPM report points out, "the latest profit recovery (the three red dots) is reliant on declining labor costs like none before it." What investors really want to know is how much more wage deflation can America take before it all collapses into a huge stinking deflationary mess? And by sowing the seeds of deflation at the heart of the corporate economy, who in their right mind would expect a wage-driven inflation (a monetary-event catalyzed hyperinflation, in which the Fed just goes berserk and decides to print $1 quadrillion tomorrow, is a different topic altogether).
Gold Spikes As World Gold Council Says Gold Demand Surges 36% In Q2, Sees Ongoing Demand Out Of China And EuropeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2010 10:29 -0500
Rumors of Gold's imminent death in a liquidation-driven collapse continue to be greatly exaggerated, and in fact the shiny metal continues to perform inversely to stocks, which take on ever more water, and is a confirmation that the market expects continued dollar destruction courtesy of the Marriner Eccles residents. And courtesy of the World Gold Council's just released Gold Demand Trends update, there is an explosion in demand for the precious metal which will likely not cease any time soon: in a nutshell, in Q2 demand for gold surged by 36% from 770 tonnes to 1,050 tonnes: a huge move, and one which solidifies the thesis for a fundamental rise in gold, aside from all the talk that gold is now just a backstop to Central Bank idiocy. Lastly, the WGC sees a huge demand coming out of Chinese consumers for gold in the future which will provide a constant bid floor: "Recent developments in China are likely to have positive longer-term implications for this increasingly important market. The PBoC, together with five other ministries/regulators published a proposal to improve the development of the domestic gold market, (“The Proposals for Promoting the Development of the Gold Market”). This further reinforces the WGC’s view that there is huge potential for gold ownership to increase among Chinese consumers, in a market with tight domestic supply, as discussed in our China Gold Report – Year of the Tiger, March 2010." And the firm's conclusion on demand trends: "As demonstrated earlier, gold’s relevance as a preserver of wealth is
enduring, even in conditions of relative economic optimism, since
historically gold has a capacity to provide investors with both
confidence and a sure and steady means of enhancing the consistency of
their returns." So what was the bear case on gold again?
In its September Monetary Trends letter titled "The Monetary Base and Bank Lending: You Can Lead a Horse to Water…" the St Louis Fed analyzes the phenomenon that has all monetarists up in arms, namely the surge in the monetary base and the very muted increase (and outright alleged drop in the case of the M3) of monetary stock, going back to the core topic at every debate over hyperinflation/deflation: the money multiplier, and its current reading of well below 1. What is the reason for this discrepancy: as the St Louis Fed explains: "The answer centers on the willingness of depository institutions (banks) to lend and the perceived creditworthiness of potential borrowers. A deposit is created when a bank makes a loan. Ordinarily, bank loans—and hence deposits—increase when the Fed adds reserves to the banking system. How ever, despite an increase in reserves of over $1 trillion, total commercial bank loans were some $200 billion lower in May 2010 than in September 2008. Banks added to their holdings of securities, which resulted in a modest increase in deposits and the money stock, but many banks were reluctant to make new loans." And herein lies the rub: if and when the economy ever picks up, and at this point that looks like an event that may well never happen, "Many economists worry that bank lending and monetary growth will eventually surge and, ultimately, cause higher inflation." The backstops offered by the Fed looks increasingly more brittle: reverse repos and IOER. The longer ZIRP continues, the more aggressive the Fed will have to become if and when the money multiplier finally shoots higher. If prior examples of hyperinflation are any indication, this will not be a seamless or smooth process, which is why aside from the traditional calls for hyperinflation as a result of a collapse in the faith of the monetary system as a whole, many are also calling for this outcome should the Fed, paradoxically, stabilize the economy. And it is about to get worse: the Fed's balance sheet is likely about to grow by another $2 trillion as soon as QE 2 is announced. Which means that by the time the economy needs to remove excess liquidity, the Fed will need to find a way to remove not $2Bn, but probably double that number. The simple conclusion is that the longer the Fed fights deflation, the greater the likelihood for (hyper) inflation as the final outcome once it ultimately rights the economy. We tend to think that Odysseus was faced with an easier choice.
The debate over whether bonds are in a bubble is very much the topic du jour, and while some deflationists like David Rosenberg believe that not only is there no bubble, but the 10 year will soon slide inside of its all time tights at under 2.1%, others believe the 30 years bull run in Treasuries is the dumbest thing since the dot com bubble, and that if anyone is hoping to make money, it should be on the countertrend. Two such Treasury bears are Marc Faber and Peter Schiff, both of whom were on CNBC tonight, and both were dissecting what in their view is the fallacy of the long-UST trade. As for the Faber-Schiff view, no surprise: Peter encapsulates it best: "the bond market is the mother of all bubbles right now, and when it bursts the losses will dwarf the combined losses of the stock market bubble and the real estate bubble. There is no way for the government to pay this money back." And echoing a topic Zero Hedge has been warning on extensively, namely the maturity of trillions in short-term debt that rolls every month, Schiff notes: "I am afraid is that when people realize we can't pay this money back, we aren't going to be able to roll over all this short-term debt. And so it's not just paying the interest, we are going to have to retire the principal." Peter Schiff is correct that inflating our way out of this debt bubble is a lose-lose proposition. Schiff also notes the stupidity of crowds, by highlighting that 10 years ago everyone was chasing risk, by piling into stock market funds, followed by everyone knows what. The outcome for bond investors is clear: "this decade is going to be the worst decade for bonds in US history. Bond holders are going to get wiped out. Either the government is going to default, or it is going to inflate, but either way the people holding the bonds, are holding the bag."
Yields are low, unemployment up, CPI numbers are down—in short, everything screams "deflation". Nevertheless, the next leg down in the Global Depression will be a hyperinflation. Here's why it will happen, how it will happen, and what to do about it. - Gonzalo Lira
This is an article I wrote for a newspaper that is a reprise of my reasoning why I think we are headed for stagflation. The article will appear next week, but it will be familiar stuff for my readers.