Marc Faber noted recently, "markets will punish the interventionists one day," and while we are already seeing 'accidents' occurring in JGBs, Gold, EM debt, and now US Treasuries; US equities remain immune. However, given the current uncertainty of macro-economic data, high-leverage, fear of rising interest rates, and instability of currency markets, all of the same conditions that led to the 1987 crash are now present in financial markets. Does this mean the markets are going to crash? Certainly not; but the conditions may be right for another 'market accident' to happen.
The bloodbath in the bond markets has led some 'greatly rotating' commentators to see this as the end of the long bull market (and the beginning of a lost decade for Treasuries); in fact, as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes, the financial wreckage left in the wake of Bernanke's taper talk has generated a lot of interesting commentary. But, he asks (and answers eloquently in this far-reaching anatomy of all-the-world's-views-on-what-the-Fed-is-doing) what if (as we have noted) tapering has nothing to do with the US economy having reached a sustainable take-off velocity? From Janjuah to Rosenberg, and from Wolf to Faber, Edwards explains how his Ice-Age thesis (lower lows and lower highs for nominal economic quantities in each cycle... with each recovery bringing a partial reversal to the process and each recessionary phase taking us to shocking new lows, both in bond yields and in equity multiples) is very much still in play (despite the risks that are evident) since governments will take the path of least resistance, which is to print their way out of this looming fiscal catastrophe. Marc Faber is right. QE99 here we come.
"Well you know if you look at the last 13 years it was up 12 out of 13 and this year isn't even over yet, so I would say its responded pretty well. But you might say well yeah what about in the last year why hasn’t it? Well, markets do these things they go up sharply and sometimes they take a rest. But the long term is something you can get a handle on, but I was never very good on short term, whether it’s the stock market or whatever, or what government will do, they are just all over the place.
"If you believe that [Bernanke] means what he says," explains Gloom, Boom, and Doom's Marc Faber to a spell-bound Trish Regan on Bloomberg TV, "then you believe in Father Christmas." Simply out, Faber adds, "we are going to see QE99," and while he notes that equities, bonds, and gold are "very oversold," he would "rather buy bonds and gold than equities." From his views on Laszlo Birinyi to inflation, the 'taper', US housing, and China, Faber calmly warns that "the S&P could drop 20-30% from the recent highs - easily."
"The only thing that I know is that I want to own some physical gold because I don't want all of my assets in financial assets."
"I am not a prophet, I don't know exactly where the price will be on a month by month basis, but I want to have some wealth, some of my assets in physical gold. I can see a lot of problems coming into the world including expropriation through taxation or through regulation or even through revolution and social strife."
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Unfortunately, the majority appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
In almost every asset class, volatility has made a phoenix-like return in the last few days/weeks and while equity markets tumbled Friday into month-end, the bigger context is still up, up, and away (and down and down for bonds). From disinflationary signals to emerging market outflows and from fixed income market developments to margin, leverage, and valuations, here is the 'you are here' map for the month ahead.
As Barron's notes in this recent interview, Marc Faber view the world with a skeptical eye, and never hesitates to speak his mind when things don't look quite right. In other words, he would be the first in a crowd to tell you the emperor has no clothes, and has done so early, often, and aptly in the case of numerous investment bubbles. With even the world's bankers now concerned at 'unsustainable bubbles', it is therefore unsurprising that in the discussion below, Faber explains, among other things, the fallacy of the Fed's help "the problem is the money doesn't flow into the system evenly, how with money-printing "the majority loses, and the minority wins," and how, thanks to the further misallocation of capital, "people with assets are all doomed, because prices are grossly inflated globally for stocks and bonds." Faber says he buys gold every month, adding that "I want to have some assets that aren't in the banking system. When the asset bubble bursts, financial assets will be particularly vulnerable."
While we have all heard the apocalyptic prognostications by the accented Swiss, and there is little doubt where the Gloom and Doom reside, here is some very unexpected advice on the Boom. Make that the "Boom Boom"... room.
During an interview with The Globe and Mail, 'Gloom, Boom, and Doom's Marc Faber unleashed some awful truthiness about gold "I buy gold every month", real estate "bubble territory", and the likelihood of a crash in smoke-and-mirrors-like asset markets - "In the 40 years I’ve been working as an economist and investor, I have never seen such a disconnect between the asset market and the economic reality... Asset markets are in the sky and the economy of the ordinary people is in the dumps, where their real incomes adjusted for inflation are going down and asset markets are going up... Something will break very bad."
All Empires Crash Soon After They Reach Their Peak
Perfectly summarizing the cognitive dissonance of the mainstream media (and their drone-like viewers), this duel of the Soft-Money-Honey Maria B and Hard-Money Golden Boy Peter Schiff was a tragic farce. Maria comes out swinging, "whether this is a manufactured market or not, you've got no alternative but stocks - where's my yield?" Schiff counters, "there are alternatives" - summarily scoffed at (a-la his housing appearances in 2006/7) by Maria - "we have a completely phoney economy driven 100% by cheap money; the minute you take it away, the whole thing implodes." And while the 'fight' moves on, we are left thinking they are in two different rings since whatever point is made by Schiff is summarily ignored for the status quo. "QE will be here until we have a USD crisis and the Fed can't get away with it anymore," Schiff reminds, adding, "There is no exit strategy... the Fed is bluffing; exit is impossible." The glancing blows continue deep into the late rounds. "The reality is we are living in a bubble; and all bubbles burst," (reminding us of Sam Zells' comments to the very same CNBC anchor a few weeks back), "it's unfortunate we didn't learn that lesson in 2008 but we're about to learn a much bigger lesson." Disingenuous laughter follows at Schiff's suggestion at holding Gold with Maria's anchoring bias loud-and-proud - "I'm looking for alternatives to stocks, and I can't find any."
"The late Margaret Thatcher had a strong view about consensus. She called it: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects.” The same applies to most market forecasts. With some rare exceptions (like our commodity analysts? recent prescient call for a slump in the gold price), analysts don?t like to stand out from the crowd. It is dangerous and career-challenging. In that vein, we repeat our key forecasts of the S&P Composite to bottom around 450, accompanied by sub-1% US 10y yields and gold above $10,000."
"Gold has become much more affordable in recent days as the price has collapsed. Such a collapse is unpleasant, but not cause for concern," advises Dylan Grice. "Gold remains durable," as a source of protection from loss of confidence in the system, and, he adds "a correction was overdue. Now, the gold market has become healthier." Critically, Grice warns during this interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft, "gold will not protect against a crash in the financial markets, it showed 2008," since if many investors simultaneously urgently need cash, they sell everything they have, including gold. However, Europe is a time-bomb, China's credit bubble is ow where the US was before the financial crisis, and while inflation may not be an imminent threat (and likely shuffled more gold holders out leaving "a more stable investor base,") Grice concludes, "Gold endures. If confidence in the currency is lost, or in the bond market; Gold is a safe haven." There are good reasons to own gold. And to buy gold, there is now a reason more than a week ago: It's 30% cheaper.
A Roundup of Opinions
The stock market is not crashing yet, but there are lots of other market crashes happening in the financial world right now. Just like we saw back in 2008, it is taking stocks a little bit of extra time to catch up with economic reality. But almost everywhere else you look, there are signs that a financial avalanche has begun.