At the young age of 22 Henry Hazlitt figured out the future involves too many factors for anyone to predict, not to mention just knowing what the relevant factors are. Jim Grant admitted it took him 40 years in the business to finally realize he couldn’t understand the future, noting, however, unfortunately the folks working at the Eccles Building have not come to this realization. The PhDs believe they can depreciate the currency at the proper rate to cause everyone gainful employment and live happily ever after. Hazlitt also has a fan in Rich Santelli who notes that if government makes loans, that private lenders won’t make, to entities that can’t pay back, economic signals get destroyed, and chaos ensues. Chaos, indeed...
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."
In less than 30-seconds, the always eloquent founder of the Interest Rate Observer 'translates' Yellen's Fed speak into reality:-
"What we mean to do is continue to nationalize the yield curve... and we would like to enlist the stock market in a program of wealth creation for the security holders of America."
The Fed has manipulated interest rates for 100 years but Grant adds, "never - until now - has it manipulated the stock market as if it were a lever of public policy." His discussion ranges from the bubble in Biotech to holding Gold (which he describes as "nature's bitcoin") because it is "the reciprocal of faith in Central Banks."
"The market is way overdue for a 20 to 30% drop," Marc Faber warns, "but that is not what worries him." Sarcastically reflecting on the typical talking-head that appears on financial media, Faber adds you won't "hear this view from someone who is fully invested," as he "hopes the market drops 40% so stocks will become - from a value point of view - attractive." The outspoken Faber channels Jim Grant as he exclaims, "the experience with quantitative easing is a complete failure. It has lifted asset prices and created asset inflation, but it hasn't lifted the standard of living of most people in the U.S. nor worldwide."
Even before the new myRA program was announced, there had been whispers about the need for the US government to assume some risk for US retirement accounts. That's code for forced conversion of private retirement assets into government bonds. As bad as it is to deceive naïve Americans into trading their hard-earned retirement savings for garbage (i.e., Treasury securities), the myRA program potentially represents something far worse... the first step toward the nationalization of existing private retirement accounts.
In a mere 140 seconds, Jim Grant explains to an almost stunned into silence Rick Santelli how we all "live in a valuation hall of mirrors" as the Fed manipulates everything. Thanks to it's "fingers and thumbs on the scales of finance," Grant continues, the Fed "insists on saving us from 'everyday low prices'" - what they call deflation - and by doing so it manufactures "redundant credit" which "does mischief" in and out of markets. Grant, ominously concludes, "there is no suspense as to how [this will] end... [it will] end badly."
From the United States to Europe and Asia: The world's central banks are flooding markets with liquidity and pushing deeper into unknown monetary policy territory. Jim Grant tells Germany's Finanz und Wirtschaft that he "fears that this journey will not end well." The sharply thinking Wall Street veteran doesn’t trust the theoretical models of the central banks and warns of irrational exuberance in the financial markets adding that "the stock market is increasingly full of stocks that are borne aloft by hope rather than demonstrated performance."
"I got up this early to talk, not to listen," Jim Grant berates Fed-apologist Steve Liesman as the two go head-to-head over the fallacy that QE has been a success. "The Fed can change how things look, it cannot change what things are," is the single-sentence summation of the mirage that the Fed's "dangerous monetary manipulation" has created...
In this exclusive interview with Birch Gold Group, former Congressman Ron Paul shares his opinions on a number of topics, including investing in physical gold and silver, the future of the U.S. dollar and the role of the Federal Reserve.
“The longer [Quantitative Easing] lasts, the worse the correction will be when eventually people give up on our dollar and give up on our debt.”
As Jim Grant recently recently noted, America's default is inevitable, as he confronts the implied message of the Federal Reserve’s pro-inflation policy: We will default in the future, though no lawyer will call it “default.” However, a glance back at the last 213 years of global history shows it is not that unusual for major sovereign nations to rapidly crumble and enter a state of default. As Global Financial Data's Ralph Dillon points out, all of this fear and rhetoric over a US default had him thinking about history and defaults. How have other countries that have defaulted faired over history? Some good and some bad for sure, but for the developed markets and global economic powerhouses, those that did default are still here alive and kicking. In fact, some have defaulted 8 times and are still a major player on the world stage.
“There is precedent for a government shutdown,” Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, remarked last week. “There’s no precedent for default.” How wrong he is.
As we have discussed previously, the "partial government shutdown" that we are experiencing right now is pretty much a non-event - especially with the un-furloughing of The Pentagon. Yeah, some national parks are shut down and some federal workers will have their checks delayed, but it is not the end of the world. In fact, only about 17% of the federal government is actually shut down at the moment. This "shutdown" could continue for many more weeks and it would not affect the global economy too much. On the other hand, if the debt ceiling deadline (approximately October 17th) passes without an agreement that would be extremely dangerous. A U.S. debt default that lasts for more than a couple of days could potentially cause a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic. If a debt default were to happen before the end of this year, that would bring a tremendous amount of future economic pain into the here and now, and the consequences would likely be far greater than any of us could possibly imagine.
Deflation - A derangement of money or credit, a symptom of which is falling prices. Not to be confused with a benign, i.e., downward shift in the composite supply curve, a symptom of which is also falling prices. In a genuine deflation, banks stop lending. Prices tumble because overextended businesses and consumers confront the necessity of selling assets in order to raise cash. When prices fall because efficient producers are competing to deliver lower-priced goods and services to the marketplace, that is called “progress.” In 2013, central bankers the world over define deflation as a fall in prices, no matter what the cause. Nowadays, to forestall what is popularly called deflation, the world’s monetary authorities are seemingly prepared to pull out every radical policy stop. Where it all ends is one of the great questions of contemporary finance.
The origin of today’s monetary policy of course lies in Keynesian economics, and Keynes was quite explicit that monetary authorities should intentionally use deception as a primary tool. He spoke of the need to gull workers into thinking that wages were going up even if net of inflation they were going down. At least he had a sense of humor about it, calling a central bank a "green cheese factory" that would persuade the public to accept "green cheese" (newly created money) as the real thing.
With euphoria returning to equity markets, it's worth remembering that stocks are unlikely to make you really rich. We have some ideas what might though.