Whenever I endeavor to explain America’s current economic situation to a person who likely receives most of his information from skewed mainstream news sources, I try to use two comparisons; the Great Depression, and Weimar Germany, because what we are experiencing is actually a combination of elements from both events. In the end, the madness of debt spending is going to annihilate this country anyway. Fiat printing and infinite QE will eventually result in the dumping of our currency as the world reserve, causing devaluation and hyperstagflation. Stimulus and the monetization of government liabilities are crippling us. The problem is, this nation is irrevocably dependent on such measures. Cuts will result in almost similar catastrophe, but on a faster time frame and perhaps a slightly shorter duration (depending on who runs the show in the aftermath). I’ve been saying it since 2008 – there is no easy way out of this situation. There is no silver bullet solution. There will be struggle, and there will be consequence. It is unavoidable. All we have to decide now is how we will respond when the inevitable disaster comes.
Waste and Fraud Are the Real Causes of the Deficit
Is the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn? Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now. In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened. Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality. When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly. Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008. Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever. As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed. In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness.
It's a cat and mouse game, only you're unable to realise that you were neither to begin with.
When Moody's downgraded the UK's sovereign credit rating last week it was something of an anti-climax. The ratings agencies long ago lost what little credibility they ever had. Being downgraded by Moody's is like being called a moron by a moron; ask anyone who has ever set foot in a bond dealing room - the ratings agencies are always behind the curve. The UK has been on the skids, credit-wise, for years. Britain's debt to GDP has gone through the roof. We, and generations to come, will be left with the reckoning. Nobody believes that bonds are an objective reflection of economic reality. The game is rigged, and everybody knows it. But the Moody's downgrade should serve as a piercing smoke alarm to anybody still naive enough to be holding these instruments of value destruction. Get out now while the going is good.
Speculation, derivatives, and the price of food in poor countries
Who says necessity is not the mother of invention in the New Normal. While a tiny fraction of the Japanese population is enjoying the transitory effects of Abe's latest reflating "wealth effect" policy (even as China has made it clear said policy will end quite soon), the bigger problem for Japan is that even sooner, more and more of it will be reliant on hamster wheels to generate electricity, as LNG prices have just hit a record high and are rising at a breakneck pace, and as local nuclear power generation has collapsed to virtually zero. Which means one thing: electricity will soon become so unaffordable only those who are invested in the daily 2% Nikkei surges will be able to electrify their immediate surroundings. So what is Japan's solution? A quite ingenious one: as Geek.com and ASR both report, Japan's Fujifilm has created organic printed sheet that harvests energy from body heat, or in other words, converts body heat to electricity. Finally, at least one key part of the Matrix "reality" is now fully operational - the use of human beings as batteries.
There is a simple reason why the real money (as opposed to fast money tweakers) has been far less excited about the domestic equity fund inflows than the financial media and their sponsoring commission-takers would suggest. The reason is - as Goldman shows empirically, not anecdotally - fund flows 'lag' performance, 'not lead'! As we have noted previously, the great rotation myth is simply that - a unicorn-like belief that the investing public will sell down their bond portfolios (high-yield, investment-grade, and sovereign) to stake their future on stocks - when the reality is the flows (which are not rotating to stocks 'net' anyway) simply reflect the sheep-like herding of performance-chasing index-huggers hoping to beat the greater fool. There always has to be someone left holding the bag...
Equities have rallied to all-time highs, sovereign debt is still just off their all-time lows and risk assets have compressed to their benchmarks in ways not dreamed about five years ago. The absence of hyper-inflation, once thought to be the consequence of this type of behavior, is nowhere to be seen and this has befuddled many economist and money manager alike. In other words, what most people thought would happen has not happened and there is a lesson here which rests upon all of the Central Banks acting in concert. Money is always put to use, it is never idle because it then earns nothing, but since it cannot be invested off-world it must go into the spaces that are provided and so it has. One can honestly say that the game has been rigged and this is an accurate statement but it makes no difference; this is the game that we have been given to play. Investors get to make all kinds of choices but we do not make the rules and arguing with reality may be an interesting academic exercise but it changes nothing in the end.
The one-stop, comprehensive summary of the key positive and negative news and events in the past week.
With recent (post-Minutes) chatter of a gradually-tightening Fed since curtailed by a plethora of Federal Reserve market savants jawboning us back to creditopia - "the liquidity must flow"; we thought a gentle reminder of what Quantitative Easing really is was worthwhile. Whether goldbug, bond-vigilante, or permabull-stock-muppet; two-and-a-half minutes of reality (or comedy) depending on your perspective.
When in doubt how to justify the latest central-bank funded stocks ramp, take advantage of the fact that algorithmic memory is so short, the entire market can move higher on exactly the same catalyst used twice in the span of three days.
The Coming “Lira-Ization” of the euro. And gold?
Forget 'red balloons', StreetTalkLive's Lance Roberts expands from his recent visualization of Bob Farrell's investment rules to six more market mavens with insights into money management and being a successful investor. What you will find interesting is that not one of them promote "buy and hold" investing for the long term - probably because in reality it doesn't work.
To the Execs at Walmart, and all of those other retailers that are feeling the SS pinch, I say "Welcome to the club".