To little surprise, and confirming the pre-election polls, Shinzo Abe, who previously was Prime Minister of Japan from September 2006 to September 2007, has just won a second chance in today's Japanese election, following a crushing defeat by the LDP and the concession moments ago of challenger Yoshihiko Noda (who will no longer be watchim\ng, watching, watching). As BBC reports "The LDP, which enjoyed almost 50 years of unbroken rule until 2009, is projected to have an overall majority in the new parliament. Mr Abe has already served a Japan's Prime Minister between 2006 and 2007. He campaigned on a pledge to end 20 years of economic stagnation and to direct a more assertive foreign policy at a time of tensions with China. He is seen as a hawkish, right-of-centre leader whose previous term in office ended ignominiously amid falling popularity and a resignation on grounds of ill health. But Japanese media project big gains for his LDP who they say are on course to win between 275 to 310 seats in the 480-member house." In other words, with Japan's sharp turn to the right, this time will be different, and Abe will succeed where previously he failed miserably, or so the people, who have long abandoned any hope of an economic recovery, dare to hope.
Gold bugs can’t understand how the public can be so unaware, how highly intelligent policy makers can be so immoral, and how the mainstream media can be so incurious. We can’t understand why more men and women in the investment business haven’t joined some of the more successful ones that have come around to precious metals and have taken substantial positions in them for their funds and personal accounts. Conventional financial asset selection guidelines for professional investors are becoming increasingly uneconomic and problematic. Current macroeconomic conditions leave little doubt as to why. A zero-bound rate structure across developed economies, heavy monetary policy intervention, guaranteed negative real returns of benchmark financial assets and cash, impossible discount cash flow models,cacophonous (and economically meaningless) fiscal political wrangling diverting attention from legitimate budget arithmetic ($800 billion over ten years when we’re running $1 trillion-plus annual deficits?), dubious short and intermediate-term prospects in already-emerged emerging economies, and non-trending financial markets, all suggest something has changed. Regardless of whether one is investing personally or as a fiduciary, conventional financial asset allocation models and procedures are obviously failing and the reason is simple: the currencies in which financial assets are denominated are gravely flawed.
We find ourselves more amazed than ever at the ability of those in power to lie, misinform and obfuscate the truth, while millions of Americans willfully choose to be ignorant of the truth and yearn to be misled. It’s a match made in heaven. Acknowledging the truth of our society’s descent from a country of hard working, self-reliant, charitable, civic minded citizens into the abyss of entitled, dependent, greedy, materialistic consumers is unacceptable to the slave owners and the slaves. We can’t handle the truth because that would require critical thought, hard choices, sacrifice, and dealing with the reality of an unsustainable economic and societal model. It’s much easier to believe the big lies that allow us to sleep at night. The concept of lying to the masses and using propaganda techniques to manipulate and form public opinion really took hold in the 1920s and have been perfected by the powerful ruling elite that control the reins of finance, government and mass media. How many Americans are awake enough to handle the truth? Abraham Lincoln once said that he believed in the people and that if you told them the truth and gave them the cold hard facts they would meet any crisis. That may have been true in 1860, but not today.
What changed in the last 30 days? Did the world just wake up to the idea that the only way out of this quagmire is a twisted currency war that appears to have re-ignited thanks to Abe's efforts? Something appears to have snapped in the American psyche as the last 30 days have seen the largest physical gold sales on record. Between the search volume for 'bulk ammo' and this, we fear something is afoot and while Congress fiddles as our economy burns, Bernanke going 'back to work' is perhaps what the physical 'horders' are thinking... or maybe they understand, as we noted here, that just as Kyle Bass has confirmed previously, Paper Gold is just like allocated, unambiguously owned physical bullion... until it’s not.
In our first installment of this series we explored the concept of stock to flow in the gold markets being the key driver of supply/demand dynamics, and ultimately its price. Today we are going to explore the paper markets and, importantly, to what degree they distort upwardly the “flow” of the physical gold market. We believe the very existence of paper gold creates the illusion of physical gold flow that does not and physically cannot exist. After all, if flow determines price – and if paper flow simulates physical metal movement to a degree much larger than is possible – doesn’t it then suggest that paper flow creates an artificially low price?
Leveraged systems are based on confidence – confidence in efficient exchanges, confidence in reputable counterparties, and confidence in the rule of law. As we have learned (or should have learned) with the failures of Long Term Capital Management, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie & Freddie, and MF Global – the unwind from a highly leveraged system can be sudden and chaotic. These systems function…until they don’t. CDOs were AAA... until they weren’t. Paper Gold is just like allocated, unambiguously owned physical bullion... until it’s not.
In a recent article at the NYT entitled 'Incredible Credibility', Paul Krugman once again takes aim at those who believe it may not be a good idea to let the government's debt rise without limit. In order to understand the backdrop to this, Krugman is a Keynesian who thinks that recessions should be fought by increasing the government deficit spending and printing gobs of money. Moreover, he is a past master at presenting whatever evidence appears to support his case, while ignoring or disparaging evidence that seems to contradict his beliefs. Krugman compounds his error by asserting that there is an 'absence of default risk' in the rest of the developed world (on the basis of low interest rates and completely missing point of a 'default' by devaluation). We are generally of the opinion that it is in any case impossible to decide or prove points of economic theory with the help of economic history – the method Krugman seems to regularly employ, but then again it is a well-known flaw of Keynesian thinking in general that it tends to put the cart before the horse (e.g. the idea that one can consume oneself to economic wealth).
The JPY dropped 1.3% against the USD this week for a greater-than-6% drop since its late-September highs as it appears the market is content pricing Abe's dream of a higher inflation-expectation through the currency devaluation route (and not - for now - through nominal bond yields - implicitly signaling 'real' deflationary expectations). In a 'normal' environment, Barclays quantified the impact of a 1ppt shift in inflation expectations from 1% to 2% will create a 'permanent inflation tax' of around 18% (which will be shared between JPY and JGB channels). However, as we discussed in detail in March (and Kyle Bass confirmed and extended recently), the current 'Rubicon-crossing' nature of Japan's trade balance and debt-load (interest-expense-constraint) mean things could become highly unstable and contagious in a hurry. When the upside of your policy plans is an 18% loss of global purchasing power, we hope Abe knows what he is doing (but suspect not).
"When you let the politicians run monetary policy, well, that is how it [ends]... All of the ingredients are there [for Japan now] for this vicious cocktail to fall apart" is how Kyle Bass concludes this broad and succinct recent interview. With total credit market debt-to-GDP globally around 350% (or ~$200 trillion), his thesis remains that many countries will reach their profligate endpoint soon (if not already in Greece's case - where investors have already lost 90c on the dollar); but that managing around this current evolution is the single-hardest period for investing of the last few decades. The modest Texan notes it is naive to think he can call the end of a 70-year debt-super-cycle with any precision (as in mid-December's Japan fiscal data and Abe's election) but when you look at all of the inputs, he believes that Japan has crossed the proverbial Rubicon in the last two months and describes in this rather breathtaking clip how the end of twenty years of conjecture on what may happen to Japan will come to pass.
Kyle Bass, Larry Edelson, Charles Nenner, Jim Rogers and Marc Faber Predict Widespread War
Protesting Spanish Cops: "Forgive Us For Not Arresting Those Truly Responsible For This Crisis: Bankers & Politicians"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2012 10:36 -0400
Yesterday, in what is an appetizer to the great 2013 convergence trade (that, between the now thoroughly dead Greek and the Spanish economy, which is rapidly getting there, of course), several thousand Spanish policemen took the streets of Madrid protesting the latest round of austerity, which included frozen pensions and the elimination of the Christmas bonus (they will have many more opportunities to protest not only the loss of any future upside, but the eventual cut of existing wages and entitlements). As RT reports, protesters blew whistles, shouted slogans, and carried anti-austerity banners as they marched through the city centre to the interior ministry. But perhaps the most telling message read on one of the slogans, was the following: "Citizens! Forgive us for not arresting those truly responsible for this crisis: bankers and politicians."
Kyle Bass: Fallacies Such As MMT Are "Leading The Sheep To Slaughter" And "We Believe War Is Inevitable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 14:58 -0400
"Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation."
"A popular revolt will happen" is how Kyle Bass sums up the endgame from kicking the can in Europe. Dismissing the headline-making 'But, Blackrock is buying European bonds', Bass reminds Bloomberg's Stephanie Ruhle that very few ever get the crises correct and that the herd will keep buying things until it blows apart. With massively over-leveraged banks and a Greek dependency, Bass notes that investing in Europe now is like picking up a dime in front of a bulldozer and expects Germany will eventualy leave the Euro (within 3-4 years) as the 'joint-and-several' liabilities will never happen. 150 well-spent seconds to summarise just what is going in Europe, as he concludes with Milton Friedman's quote on Europe: "when they hit a bump in the road, it will tear them apart at the core."
Hugh Hendry: "I Have No Idea Where The Stock Market Is Going To Be"... But "I Am Long Gold And Short The S&P"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/25/2012 14:51 -0400
Hugh Hendry: "I have resigned from the professional undertaking of coin flipping. I am not here to tell you where gold’s going to be. I have no idea. That’s my existentialism. I am a student of uncertainty, I have no idea where the stock market is going to be. So when I am creating trades in my portfolio for my clients, I am agnostic. I just want to enhance the probability that I make money come what may."
The head of industrial and precious metals trading at Barclays, Cengiz Belentepe, has told Bloomberg that investors are selling their investments in gold ETFs and opting for the safety of allocated physical gold.
Barlcay’s Belentepe said “the question is whether the pace of buying has slowed, or whether the people have become a bit more sophisticated in recognizing the costs and liabilities.”
Imagine if in 2007, Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King, Jean Claude Trichet et al, had actually possessed the analytical foresight to see what was coming, organised a meeting with the world's media and explained how, using their collective wisdom, they would solve the problem.
"There's going to be a massive global crisis, but there's no need to worry. We're just going to print money."
"Is that it?"
How would most people have reacted then? We think they would have laughed out loud. Why are so many of us reacting differently now? The nature of markets is that they periodically forget the lessons of history. Confidence in the status quo seems as entrenched now as it was in 2007 but Gold appears to be exhibiting 'Giffen-like' behavior where, instead of falling, demand is rising as prices rise.