This week's Barron's cover looks like a pretty strong warning sign for stocks (not only the cover, but also what's inside). However, there may be an even more stunning capitulation datum out there, in this case a survey that we have frequently mentioned in the past, the NAAIM survey of fund managers. This survey has reached an all time high in net bullishness last week, with managers on average 104% long. The nonsense people will talk – people who really should know better - is sometimes truly breathtaking. Recently a number of strategists from large institutions, i.e., people who get paid big bucks for coming up with this stuff, have assured us that “equities are underowned”, that “money will flow from bonds to equities”, and that “money sitting on the sidelines” will be drawn into the market. These fallacies are destroyed below. And finally, while, theoretically, the “inflation” backdrop is a kind of sweet spot for stock, even to those who insist that stocks will protect one against the ravages of sharply rising prices of goods and services, As Kyle Bass recently explained, the devaluation of money in the wider sense was even more pronounced than the increase in stock prices. Stocks did not protect anyone in the sense of fully preserving one's purchasing power. The only things that actually preserved purchasing power were gold, foreign exchange and assorted hard assets for which a liquid market exists.
Amid the euphoria of today's crossing of the Dow's Maginot Line at 14,000, Kyle Bass provided a few minutes of sanity this morning in an interview with CNBC's Gary Kaminsky. Bass starts by reflecting on the ongoing (and escalating) money-printing (or balance sheet expansion as we noted here) as the driver of stock movements currently and would not be surprised to see them move higher still (given the ongoing printing expected). However, he caveats that nominally bullish statement with a critical point, "Zimbabwe's stock market was the best performer this decade - but your entire portfolio now buys you 3 eggs" as purchasing power is crushed. Investors, he says, are "too focused on nominal prices" as the rate of growth of the monetary base is destroying true wealth. Bass is convinced that cost-push inflation is coming (as the velocity of money will move once psychology shifts) and investors must not take their eye off the insidious nature of underlying inflation - no matter what we are told by the government (as they will always lie when its critical). Own 'productive assets', finance them at low fixed rates (thank you Ben), and finally, on HLF, don't bet against Dan Loeb.
Germany and Japan have a long tradition of cooperating, at least when it comes to various iterations of world war, generically in the conventional sense (and where they tend to end up on the less than winning side). Which is why it may come as a surprise to some that earlier today German politician Michael Meister launched what is now the third shot across Japan's bow in what is rapidly escalating as the most dramatic case of global currency warfare between the world's net exporters (at least legacy net exporters: thanks to Japan's recent political snafus, it has now become a net importer as it is rapidly losing the Chinese market which accounts for some 20% of its exports) which started as long ago as 2010 when it was quite clear that currency warfare is what the insolvent world can expect, before it devolves into outright protectionism, and finally regular war as Kyle Bass explained recently. To wit: “What can Japan’s competitors do?” Meister said today in a telephone interview. “Either we’re all smart and do nothing, or we follow suit and create a spiral that hurts us all.”
Japan's Chain Of Events: Stagnation -> Monetization -> Devaluation -> Stabilization -> Retaliation -> HyperinflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2013 17:31 -0400
As the world's equity markets prepare to rally on the back of yet more central bank printing as Japan's Shinzo Abe takes the helm with a 2% inflation target and a central bank entirely in his pocket, The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard suggests a rather concerning analog for the last time a Japanese prime-minister attempted to salvage his deflation/depression strewn nation. The 1930s 'brilliant rescue' by Korekiyo Takahashi, who removed Japan from the Gold Standard, ran huge 'Keynesian' budget deficits intentionally, and compelled the Bank of Japan to monetize his debt until the economy was back on its feet managed to devalue the JPY by 60% (40% on a trade-weighted basis). Initially this led to exports rising dramatically and brief optical stability, but the repercussion is the unintended consequence (retaliation) that the world missed then and is missing now. Though the economy appeared to stabilize, the responses of other major exporting nations, implicitly losing in the game of world trade, caused Japan's policies to backfire, slowed growth and left a nation needing to chase its currency still lower - eventually leading to hyperinflation in Japan (and Takahashi's assassination). With no Martians to export to, why should we expect any difference this time? and how much easier (and quicker) are trade flows altered in the current world?
The recent landslide victory of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on a platform that promised positive change for the long-struggling Japanese economy has thrust a somewhat forgotten Japan back into the headlines. Indeed, as Goldman notes, asset markets have already responded aggressively to the prospective changes with Japanese equity markets climbing to multi-year highs and the Yen declining to multi-year lows against the US dollar and the EUR. But, as Kyle Bass has recently explained, very real questions remain about the ability of the LDP and new Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe to deliver on promises and break the damaging cycle of low growth and deflation that has become well-entrenched in the Japanese economy over the last five-plus years. These doubts are reinforced by concerns about the health of the domestic banking sector and of Japan Inc. in general. "Abe-nomics 'appears' positive, but for how long?" Goldman asks and Hamada's recent concerns over 'going too far' are very real - though in general Goldman's positive 'take' is a useful counter-point to Bass' somewhat more realistic apocalyptic endgame thesis.
“Gold, the way we look at it, is anywhere from being undervalued to being seriously undervalued,” Kaye said. “We’re in the early stages, in our judgment, of what would likely be the world’s largest short squeeze in any instrument.”
The hyper-correlation of Japanese stocks (Bass - The people that buying Japanese stocks, are picking up a dime in front of a bulldozer) and the JPY have led many to believe that Abe's miracle promise will be just the ticket to bring the nation's two-decade slump to an end - a 2% inflation target is all you need. However, in a brief CNBC interview, Kyle Bass explains that not only are 99.9% of people wrong about the crisis (explaining the critical aspect of the abrupt turn of twenty years of the 'procylicality of thought' - that deflation is the norm), but Abe's actions have actually brought forward the date of the "detonation of Japan's Debt Time Bomb. Bass goes on to discuss the US Housing stabilization, European stress, and China's economic opacity (and tensions with Japan), but leaves us with the clear and present danger in Japan that the clock has started on the qualitative shift in participants' minds that the situation is untenable (signs are already among the elite with recent JPY-extricating M&A deals) and "All of the components for this [bomb] to go off 'all of a sudden' are in place." Must watch.
The groupthink in the world of finance is some of the worst on the planet. It’s incredible how such an educated, experienced group can willfully ignore reality, stick their heads in the sand, and repeat the same mantras over and over again until they become axiomatic. The desire to be accepted by one’s peers is part of human nature. And when it’s one’s peers who are rigging the financial system, the pressure to adopt industrial groupthink is enormous. The dawning of a new year is invariably a time for forecasts. But we have some reservations about the seemingly ubiquitous binary decision to ditch bonds and put the proceeds into the stock market. To put it more plainly, ditching bonds to buy stocks may be jumping from the frying pan into another frying pan. To put it more plainly still, stock markets are only cheap by reference to grotesquely expensive government bonds, and the risk of significant price falls is ever present, especially at what is likely the tail-end of a multi-decade expansion in credit. A falling tide might sink more than one type of boat.
Ex-Barclays chief 'Austrian' economist Thorsten Polleit provides a few clarifying thoughts on the hyperinflatory endgame (and democracy-crushing impact) of the fiat currency environment. Critically, Polleit notes that fiat currency tends to result in "collective corruption" in societies, and how this then leads to hyperinflation, despite the dangers to society that hyperinflation always brings. Ring some bells? This brief interview (with more detailed article below) stretches from the development of the global fiat currency regimes over the last 40 years to the increasing levels of debt that may (just as Kyle Bass and others have noted) mark the terminal decline of the fiat regime and the self-serving majority electing themselves into a vicious circle. Mises noted:
"The masses... do not conceive any ideas, sound or unsound. They only choose between the ideologies developed by the intellectual leaders of mankind. But their choice is final and determines the course of events. If they prefer bad doctrines, nothing can prevent disaster." If these "uncommon men" become "court intellectuals," the door will be opened for effectively spreading of false theories, supporting government-friendly ideas."
• Introduction – Gold’s Gains In All Fiat Currencies in 2012
• Much of Gold’s Gains in 2012 On 11% Price Gain in January 2012
• Japanese Yen Shows How Gold Protects From FX Devaluations
• Food Inflation Risk As Wheat and Soybeans Surge in Price
• Currency Wars and Competitive Currency Devaluations
• Gold Remains Historically and Academically Proven Safe Haven
• Conclusion – Gold in 2013
In part one of this two part series – Hey You – we examined how an invisible government of wealthy, power hungry men have utilized the propaganda techniques of Edward Bernays and lured the American people into a narcissistic, techno-gadget, debt based servitude. Over the last one hundred years they have created a totalitarian state built upon egotism, material goods, and fulfilling our desires through Wall Street peddled debt and mass consumerism. It has been an incredibly effective form of control that has convinced the masses to love their servitude. The lyrics to Pink Floyd's 'Mother' had both a literal and figurative meaning for Roger Waters. Having seen his Wall Tour performance this past summer at Citizens Bank Park with a diverse crowd of 40,000, ranging in age from senior citizens to teenagers, it seems this song has gained new meaning. He sang a duet with himself from 1980 projected on the Wall and when he sang the lyric, “Mother, should I trust the government?” the entire stadium responded in unison – NO!!! This revealed a truth that is not permitted to be discussed by the corporate mainstream media acting as a mouthpiece for the ruling class. A growing legion of citizens in this country does not trust the government. This is very perceptive on their part.
For the fourth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined simply by the number of page views. Those first eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to where the top articles of 2009, 2010 and 2011 are recapped. With that out of the way, here is what readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days..
With JPY bleeding lower once again overnight extending to 28-month lows against the USD (and the long-end of the JGB curve starting to show some signs of anxiety), it is perhaps timely to revisit Kyle Bass's five key reasons why Japan is the epicenter of the world's failed monetary policy experiment. In this excellent and much-requested summary 8-minute clip, Bass summarizes his Japan thesis and destroys several of the myths that talking-heads like to assign to the so-called widow-maker trade.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Last year's AmeriCatalyst interview with Kyle Bass provided much more color than the normal 30-second soundbites that we are subjected to when serious hedge fund managers are exposed to mainstream media. This year, Bass was the keynote speaker and in the following speech (followed by Q&A), the fund manager provides 60 minutes of eloquence on the end of the grand experiment and its consequences. From Money Printing and Central Bank Balance sheets to Japan and the psychology of the current situation - which in many cases trumps the quantitative data - the question remains, "when will this unravel" as opposed to "if?"; Bass provides his fact-based heresy against the orthodoxy of economic thought "On The Financial Nature Of Things" extending well beyond his recent note. Must watch (there's no football or X-Factor on tonight).Make sure to stay tuned to the last 2 minutes when Kyle succinctly sums up our society...