Prosperity Requires Privacy
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
"Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur."
In the final part of Hugh Hendry's 3-part (part 1 and part 2 here) interview with MoneyWeek's Merryn Somerset the Sanguine Scot, perhaps surprisingly to some given his previous negativity - though fitting with his world view of fiat currency destruction - believes "to bet against China or Chinese equities, or the Chinese currency is to bet against the omnipotence of central banks. One day that will be the right trade, just not ready or sure that that is the right trade today."
On Nov. 15, 2010, a letter signed by academics, economists and money managers warned that the Federal Reserve's strategy of buying bonds and other securities to reduce interest rates risked "currency debasement and inflation" and could "distort financial markets." As Bloomberg reports, they also said it wouldn't achieve the Fed's objective of promoting employment. Four years later, many members of the group, which includes Seth Klarman of Baupost Group LLC and billionaire Paul Singer of Elliott Management Corp., explain why they stand by the letter's content...
“Money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong.”
Having singularly failed to reform or restructure their dilapidated economies, many governments throughout the West have left it to their central banks to keep a now exhausted credit bubble to inflate further. Unprecedented monetary stimulus and the suppression of interest rates have now boxed both central bankers and many investors into a corner. Bond markets now have no value but could yet get even more delusional in terms of price and yield. Stock markets are looking increasingly irrational relative to the health of their underlying economies. The euro zone looks set to re-enter recession and now expects the ECB to unveil outright quantitative easing. If the West wishes to regain its economic vigour versus Asia, it would do well to remember what made it so culturally and economically exceptional in the first place. We seem to be close to the endgame.
It is clearly not in the interests of the long-standing members of the EU to escalate a 'sanctions and financial conflict' with Russia. This is why politicians are walking on eggshells, paying lip-service to America and the scared Eastern fringe members of NATO while hoping this goes no further. So long as this is the case it is clear that NATO members are powerless to stop Russia from wresting control of all or parts of Ukraine from the government in Kiev. Putin knows this; unfortunately it is not clear to us that the American government does. All in all it seems likely that after a period of slow-burn as Putin dictates the pace of developments, the political situation in Ukraine will deteriorate with some unhelpful nudges from Russia.
The first big wave of embracing a liberal international economic order - relatively free trade, rising international capital flows and rapidly growing global economic integration - resulted in something remarkable. Between 1870 and 1914, there was a 45-year span of rising living standards, stable prices, massive capital investment and prolific technological progress. In terms of overall progress, these four-plus decades have never been equaled — either before or since. Then came the Great War. It involved a scale of total industrial mobilization and financial mayhem that was unlike any that had gone before. In the case of Great Britain, for example, its national debt increased 14-fold.
Let Us Count the Ways ...
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” - Albert Einstein
The [growing deficits of the past 50 years] suggest that we’ve never been in a predicament comparable to today. Essentially, the world’s developed countries are following the same path that’s failed, time and again, in chronically insolvent nations of the developing world. Look at it this way: the chart shows that we’ve turned the economic development process inside out. Ideally, advanced economies would stick to the disciplined financial practices that helped make them strong between the early-19th and mid-20th centuries, while emerging economies would “catch up” by building similar track records. Instead, advanced economies are catching down and threatening to throw the entire world into the kind of recurring crisis mode to which you’re accustomed if you live in, say, Buenos Aires.
This doesn’t mean hyperinflation HAS to occur, but it is unlikely this situation will end well.
This past Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the November jobs report which sent the mainstream analysts and economists into an ecstatic state as the numbers were substantially stronger than estimates. However, in reality, the employment report continues to show that employment is being driven almost entirely by population growth rather than real economic strength. The long term implications of these secular shifts are crucially important to the future of everything from investing, to living and the future of our economy. It is not too late to change our future, but it eventually will be if we do not begin to make changes soon.