Elliott's Paul Singer Reveals The Thing That Scares Him Most

Tyler Durden's picture

When it comes to market experts with decades of insight, we will pick soon to be Second Admiral of his own sovereign navy (comprising of privateered Argentinian schooners, Belize catamarans, and soon, Greek Made in Germany submarines), Elliott's Paul Singer, over those of any fly by night TV talking head, or "information arbitrageur" whose only 'alpha' in the past decade was courtesy of expert networks. The same Paul Singer whose outlook on what the next crisis may look like we posted yesterday.  It is the same Paul Singer, who three weeks ago was a headline speaker at the Archstone Partnerships annual meeting, in which speech he laid out not only the biggest threat facing America - namely the arrogance of the United States "by not realizing that in today's world... you have to be attractive as a country [because] capital will go where it's welcome", but more importantly, the thing that keeps him up at night: "The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society."

In other words, one of the best and brightest investors in the world, is most terrified by the one thing that every central-planning dispensing economist says will never happen: hyperinflation. Our money is certainly not on the economist theoreticians who could never foresee the second great depression their lunatic policies drove the entire developed world into.

Extracting the key parts from Singer's speech. Highlights ours

Let me make a few comments and observations on the current investment scene. I said before that every once in a while things really are “different this time,” and I thought of a metaphor earlier that might be useful to illustrate an important point. Let’s do a thought experiment: Let’s make believe we are in 1960 and sitting in Germany, and we are a group of German investors and businesspeople, about the same ages as the people here today. The group would be people who had seen the most astonishing changes in the underlying conditions of investing and growing capital—a complete evaporation of savings from 1914 to 1923; complete destruction of society; and a complete change in governance from 1943 until after the War. Keep that image in your mind when you come back to 2012 in New York City today and realize the basic terms and conditions of everybody in this room have not really changed over your entire career. There have been booms and little crashes, you’ve made money and lost money, some people were wiped out and others became wealthy, but the elections come every four years, power is transferred peacefully, and taxes go up or go down.


It concerns me that we might be entering a period—we have to think about this possibility—when the basic terms and conditions of owning capital, making a rate of return, and keeping the money you earned might be in the process of changing. Charles Krauthammer said some time ago that most of American political life is between the 40-yard lines and that this crowd, which has been elected for another four years, is kind of at the 30-yard line. I had thought about it at the 10-yard or 5-yard line, but Charles is more mature than I and I’ll accept what he said. But I’m very concerned about class warfare generated from the top, about the possibility of an extended period of lacking strong economic growth. I think economic growth could be easily achieved in the United States at greater levels, and I’m quite concerned that the current prospects, beyond the so-called “fiscal cliff” and a deal on taxes and spending cuts, will be an extended period of low growth and possibly a recession, the continued bashing of money and success and very large tax increases.


I want to call to mind a micro choice that I think is relevant. If you lived in the upper Midwest, you’d know the difference between Indiana and Illinois. You would know Indiana welcomes jobs and businesses, and finds ways to work with businesses; and Illinois is on a slide to Hades. Illinois—and I suppose Michigan, too—is doing everything possible to support unsupportable expenses, structures and make thing miserable for taxpayers.


By the same token, I think America—and this goes beyond President Obama’s administration—has been quite arrogant for a long time by not realizing that in today’s world, where many countries around the globe can turn out products and services more cheaply than America, and where America has lost so many industries and jobs to other countries, that you have to be attractive as a country. Capital will go where it’s welcome. It is subject to an understandable rule of law, regulation, fair and attractive taxation, and the quality of life. I’m afraid of that, because when you look at the sweep of the booms since the Internet boom and monetary policy, and the extremism that has become embedded in current monetary policy, the United States, Europe, the U.K. and Japan, you do see extreme monetary policy.


They say this is not massive money printing, but first they are wrong; and second, monetary authorities in the United States did not see the crash coming and the unsoundness of the financial system. In fact, right up until the crash they were saying that nothing like what happened could ever happen. So money printing and zero-percent interest rates, which have distorted the economic recovery and the landscape in the United States and Europe, have become a substitute for sound, pro-growth, fiscal regulatory tax policy. As a result, they say they are not concerned about inflation. This monetary policy, $3 trillion of bond buying in the United States, $3 trillion in Europe and another $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in Japan, is unprecedented. It is not the case that they know the ultimate inflationary potential when this low-velocity money gets back into the system and acquires some velocity. If and when people lose confidence in paper money because of repeated bouts of quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates—it could happen suddenly and in a ferocious manner in the commodity markets, in gold, possibly in real estate—interest rates could go up at the long end by hundreds of basis points in a very short time.


I’m quite concerned as a money manager that we have to manage money, not just for the boundaries of what’s in front of our faces—maybe we’ll have a little tax increase or not, the fiscal cliff, or the stock market might go up or down 10% or 15%—but for a basic shift. The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society. Frankly, in my view the recent election has diminished the probability of a strong resurgence of growth, and I’m quite concerned. Others are concerned about the course of the next 12 to 24 months in terms of growth, taxation, regulation and social unrest, a resurgence or larger version of bashing anyone who has made money or makes money and not paying their fair share.

Or, perhaps, the developments over the past several months were geared with precisely this outcome in mind: because there is nothing quite like "social unrest" to resolve decades of untenable economic and monetary imbalance build up...

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Roosting Chicken's picture

That's one of the best, well-explained comments I've ever read on this site.  But I'm curious, you left a couple of sentences off the end, where do you fall out in the hyperinflation/deflation/noflation (just crash) debate?  How do you see it going down from here and what sort situation do we end up in?

Gamma735's picture

The USofA has 120 Trillion in unfunded liabilities.   Can you say, "broke".

A Lunatic's picture

a massive die-off (famine, war, pestilence, 2nd Obama term) would remove a goodly portion of said liabilities............

forwardho's picture

This may have already been taken into consideration, It's called the obama care. 2700 pages of societal structure, Long on large ovens and producers of Zyclon-B

Flakmeister's picture

What passes for humor in a Rush Limbaugh circle jerk ain't gonna cut it here...

Quinvarius's picture

I don't mind the printing so much.  It is toilet paper.  I mind the government intervention beyond that designed to make sure you suffer from it with no escape.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Two problems with the new money.

First, it's still on terrible paper for asswipe. They could fix this by moving to a much cheaper blend. More pulp, less cotton and linen.

Second. most of it isn't actually paper, it's digits. What good is digital paper? The Web is full of digital asswipes, so this inflationary money creation isn't helping anybody, including the assholes of America.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture



Might want to pick this up ~ Krugman reveals The Foundation series by I. Asimov inspired his road to becoming an economist. I'm sure you can find something in there...

"Applying that science to the all-powerful Galactic Empire in which they live, they discover that it is in fact in terminal decline, and that a 30,000-year era of barbarism will follow its fall. But they also discover that a carefully designed nudge can change that path. The empire can't be saved, but the length of the coming dark age can be reduced to a mere millennium... The Foundation may start out a lot nicer than its barbarous neighbours, but it evolves over time into a corrupt oligarchy – and that's all part of the plan"


Yes, that's right. Krugman has gone from Aliens to the Joker.

adr's picture

There isn't anybody left alive that really lived through the last first world hyperinflationary collapse. I read about people in Germany who loaded up on cash in the morning only to not have enough for a cup of coffee on the way to work, and listened to a man who lived through the collapse as a child.

What really started the collpase was a loss of faith and a massive increase in base costs. It cost more to make everything every day. In order to afford anything, workers needed to be paid more, which caused base production to cost more, and that added to the hyperinflationary spiral. Wage increases will never keep up with core inflation, it isn't possible.

The only thing stopping our hyperinflationary collapse is a government subsidized welfare state and a collapsing standard of living as more wages go towards essentials. The welfare class has actually picked up the slack of the deteriorating midle class by buying more disposable junk. The state enables this consumption by subsidizing a near middle class lifestyle for the welfare class without them earning it.

The collapse will happen faster than anyone thinks. One day the EBT system will not have enough cash to fill the checks, and it will all be over in a weekend.

trav777's picture

you're right...there are no Argentines left on the planet who were alive like last year.  Or brazilians over 30.

centerline's picture

Cheap shot.  Hitting below the belt.  There aren't any solid, modern comparisons.

trav777's picture

you're right, it's not like there are any serbs or yugoslavs around either. 

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

There's no "cash" or "cheques" in EBT; it isn't tied to any nominal liquidity.


There's a reason it's an electronic CC system. (Derp for you!)


Take down the CC backbone, and you might have problems (and thus the stress tests all last year...)

LucasATX's picture

Capital absolutely should go to where it is welcome!!!

However, it would be incredibly helpful if Capital would stop expecting the US Military to go in and defend Capital's interests when Capital decided it wanted to go to some 3rd world country ran by bat shit crazy inidividuals who feel they can repatriate captial at a drop of a hat.

Captial seems to forget that.

I also really wished Capital would stop expecting risk to be socialized.
That would be super helpful.

So please Capital, do go where you are most welcome. However, please stop asking the United States Government to bail you out when everything goes to shit. It is kind of starting to fuck things up for those of us who actually have to live in the United States.

Dr. Sandi's picture

I had to ask the government for help. Mom's broke because I never paid her back either.

Bob's picture

Funny, the thing that scares me most is that people like Singer are not spit on in the street, but are instead given great influence in setting government policy:



orangedrinkandchips's picture

Illinois: worst.state.ever.


fucking joke.....he's so right. 100%

akak's picture

And you spelled "spelled" wrong.

"Spelt" is a grain, not a past tense verb.

Flakmeister's picture

As someone learned true English, I cordially invite you to go fuck yourself


akak's picture

And I invite you to get fuckt.

Flakmeister's picture

Thanks... I took you up on it, 'twas helluva of money shot this evening...

trav777's picture

wrong...as usual.  I use spelt frequently to trap idiots like you.

gnomon's picture

Fiat currencies burning will not solve our long term problems.  The cities and most of their inhabitants will have to burn as well because at heart it is a "people problem", too many and too debauched from decades of generational rot.

Wiping out our debt with a default or devaluation would solve nothing.  Our debt would soon be back at a trillion dollar a year pace or we would have massive riots.

The Dems are riding a tiger that must be fed increasing amounts of red meat or they will be thrown and eaten as well.

grid-b-gone's picture

U.S. labor costs must come back in line with what is now a world economy to reverse the flow of jobs. Jobs are the key to recovery and the primary failure of current policy.

Look at the worldwide development in logistics over the past 20 years. That infrastructure created and allowed worldwide competition. 

Some countries have leapfrogged U.S. electrical grid and communications infrastructure because the bulk of their growth happened after cell towers and fiber optics became common.

Still others are winning with weak labor organization, human rights shortcuts, and non-existant EPA regulations. Some of those nasty jobs we should be content to leave right where they are.

Whatever the reason, targeting 2% deflation instead of inflation would have already closed much of the gap, especially vs. high-inflation countries like China.

Targeting deflation also would mean Social Security COL adjustments would stop, Medicare increases would at least slow, and public wages would be contained as private wage increases already are.

The Fed's wrongheaded attempt to lock-in artificial bubble prices of 2007-2008 has not allowed the U.S. pricing structure to come back in line with what is now a true world economy.

As a result, price and wage equilibrium is being forced upon the U.S. by market forces. $14/hr labor got Ford back into an honest growth mode. $100K+ federal salaries in positions that do not book a profit are anchors that continue to slow, or moor a recovery.

We need to embrace the free market we claim to embrace. It will lead us to a reset equilibrium and then to growth.

Monetary gimmicks can't be substituted for wage and price equilibrium anymore than holding helium ballons is a valid strategy to get one to their ideal weight, even though both post expected target numbers.  (7.7% unemployment)

foodstampbarry's picture

All that happened the last four years was the rich and unions were bailed out, so as to prepare for the inevitable collapse... I'm long on guillotines.

Dr. Gonzo's picture

"Intrinsicly worthless irredeemable currency." Say it 10 times. Understand? Good.

champagnesabre's picture

"If and when people lose confidence in paper money"

I've lost confidence that the Dancing with the Stars sheeple will lose condidence in the paper money. They're just too frikken stupid.

SmoothCoolSmoke's picture

I'll bet, if I knew  Mr. Singer, he would qualify for one of my favorite characterizations:

"On his Top 10 list of who he is concerned about, he has himself 1-9, and tied for 10."

He gives not one shit about America. If America's collapse made him even more fabulously rich than he most likely already is.....then sign him up. Who the hell does he think he's kidding?


Dr. Sandi's picture

Who the hell does he think he's kidding?


And it works or he wouldn't have billions of Bogus Bux at his command.

earleflorida's picture

this, is all about consolidating power, period! 

lehman [lb] brother's files ch11 bankruptcy 9/2008... barclay's capital's bossman, bob diamond, buys up lb's trading house/investment unit for pennies on the dollar,... ~$1.75bn.-- fighting tooth and nail with jamie dimon of jp morgan chase for the grand prize!

jamie dimon has a grudge too settle? [note: bob diamond has been destroyed by the fx debacle 2012?... surprise-- being goy, is not good :-0] 

now, lets go back to may 4, 2004... four years prior to lehman's demise [ http://www.taxfreegold.co.uk/rothschildquitgoldmarket.html  ] , and then something strange happens-- n.m. rothschild's & sons, quits the 'london [gold-fixing] bullion market assoc.[lbma]' as chairman on april /2004-- bingo,... barclay's capital takes its place, but now, the chairmanship rotates annually from hence forward! but, wait... what happens next is even more stunning? aig, also a member of the lbma quits one month later on june/4, 2004 [  http://www.taxfreegold.co.uk/aigquitgoldmarket.html  ] leaving two vacancies within a month?

question is: why did the rothschild's and aig get out approx 3+/+ years from the great reset? 

why did bernake bail out aig who created all the cdo's, cds's, cmo's, mbs's, abs's, cmbs's, etc., etc. for the "TBTF's given the rating agencies; S&P's [subsidiary of mcGraw hill owned by the rothschild's], Moody's [ owned by buffett, who takes his marching orders fro rothschild's and Fitch's [owned by rothschild's french bank & european consortum?] 'AAA' good housecleaning rating?

now, back to lb's bankruptcy and how the carcass is/was predestined to be divvied-up?  barclay's capital gets the n.a. trading house for peanuts, and eventually sells its money making etf's, etc. unit to blk. inc.!  bob damond eventually becomes head master of barclay's plc.

sir evelyn de rothschild of n.m. rothschild's & sons buys whole [  http://www.topix.com/forum/state/ny/TU4P5CKP358OFS7NV   ]  the banking half of 'lb's' for $10bn! 

nomura holdings inc. buys up the lehman brother's asian-pacific unit for $225ml.! Wow!!!

lastly, remember kuhn, loeb, and rockefeller's close relations?

ref: lehman brothers rise and fall    [  http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/lehman-brothers-the-rise-and-fall-of-...

conclusion:  the rothschild's want america as their own-- they want the rockefellers gone [jpmc], and they want to put the finishing kibosh on barclays plc in the u.k.!!! 


thankyou tyler

Roosting Chicken's picture

In a twisted way I'd like to see the Rothchilds get their wish because I think the Rockefellers want US gone.

backhandtopspinslicer's picture

"The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society." If it destroys our society let's make damn sure the elite ruling class has skin in that bonfire

EscapingProgress's picture

This doesn't frighten me in the least. Actually, I'm BANKING on it!


redd_green's picture

well, singer gets the last paragraph ok anyway.   And Krauthammer is an idiot, why quote that fool?

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

It should be considered odd that, that which we toil and sweat to obtain, money, today has no intrinsic value.  A dollar represents nothing, can be deemed worthless by the government and yet so very few realize this and even fewer take actions to remedy this precarious situation.  Money used to represent something, see the Coin Act of 1792. 


If the government can successfully dupe the public over something as important as money, then they truly have carte blanche to steal and rob citizens of anything and ultimately everything...


evernewecon's picture



Meltzer 1:



Meltzer 2:



Taleb On:




Follow "possibilities" (economic realm, though 

it may be the same as in any realm) also, which 

is also an area publicized by Taleb.


My concern is institutions of or advancing

monopoly result in this:



as much as does Putin (who's also not 

socialist or capitalist/democratic.)


So I feel an administration of Christina 

Romer's would have extricated us from the

crisis years ago if freed from the monopoly,

be it TBTF or blanket-universal oligpoly in health

care replacing simple in-your-face cherry picking

and exlusions.



Ohp:  don't forget the cable: they actually

would be better done with health care type

stipulated cost/profit ratios, whereas health

care's not actually a "natural" monopoly.


As to assets passing from weak hands to strong

hands (only a term of art,) it's the nature

of the mortgage bubble that mortgagors had little

down, so they should have a non-recourse regimen.


The U.S. needs risk takers, just not risk suckers.


Both WSJ Free Pass article per last awareness on my part

(with good effort:)










Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Ugly formatting aside, and your odd choice of http://lmgtfy.com/, you should be aware:


Taleb has a new book out, called "AntiFragile - things that gain from disorder". It's all about systems that thrive under duress, and systems that come into their own in crashes. He's fundamentally an optimist, people forget this.

pods's picture

The thing that scares me the most are clowns. Oh, and bull sharks.


liszt's picture

You will never have inflation, but deflation. Which will also destroy society. I repeat for the last time maybe, that printing money isn't automatically linked to inflation. Because what's matter is the money's velocity.

Money will not hit the real economy as much as one print, because there is no mean for that. The only mean is through wages, wages will not increase, therefor there is no inflation, and there will never be any inflation.

Please stop writing BS. and my best wishes to idiot Ron Paul and comrade Van Mises !

You will see all your theories hit the road soon. Deflation, not inflation ! 8 years old child can get that ! I'm not happy because i thought you where smart, in the beginning. You aren't, in the contrary.





q99x2's picture

That crook has no where to hide. He knows he is about to lose lots of money in big way.

NuYawkFrankie's picture

Re Paul Singer reveals the thing that scares him the most...


Hmmmm.... the size of Hillary's ass?

KCMLO's picture

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I need the brain trust of ZH to flesh it out (and/or see if I'm entirely wrong).  Given our money is fiat, and our government essentially creates their own money (through the Fed, its proxy).  Taxation is simply a deflationary pressure?  What I mean by this, what are the consequences if tax revenues fall to zero?  The "credit worthiness" of the country evaporates and no investor (foreign or otherwise) would be willing to buy our debt.  That's the big consequence right?  In that scenario the Fed "buys" up treasuries to fill the gap and their balance sheet explodes.  Inflation ramps up because all that money that would be previously collected stays within the system while more goverment spending floods the economy (inefficiently of course).

In essence taxation is only important to A) a line on a credit application stating the borrower's (the US Gov't) ability to repay and B) remove the cash from citizens under their jurisdiction to stifle inflation.  Doesn't seem like the actual money makes much of a difference at all.  Of course I'm also looking at this in the context of cash in isolation which I know isn't entirely realistic.  I've just been through the ringer trying to explain to my wife time and again how money is an invention and not a fact of life.

tip e. canoe's picture

interest is a helluva drug.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Ok, this will gain me major junks here (and watch for incoming Libertarians - I'm describing the working model of society here, not something they've ever tried out) but:

Taxtation is merely an acknowledgement of the social contract. It's the (stick) that binds society, whereas things like fire-fighters, medical facilities, social housing / benefits / unemployment payments and so forth are the positive, that attempts to keep everyone from Barter Town.


You should start by asking "What effect does 0% interest rates have on the money supply" first (and even negative ones, if we look at Denmark or German Bonds). This is far more important, and at the crux of the current crisis (i.e. Banks can borrow @ 0%, and loan out @ 5%, that's instant profit, especially if those banks who were lending out fucking silly mortgages to the local hobos can still robo-sign those documents).


That's the current scandal. Bailed out, and still making profit from selling fairy dreams to suckers, paid off over 30 years when in the last 30 years wages stagnated and everyone borrowed on Credit (from the same fucking people). At least the Greek people know they're being fucked; Americans are so deluded they think the party is still going.


[20 seconds in, a junk, and can't make a counter-argument - brave little boys!]

akak's picture


Taxtation is merely an acknowledgement of the social contract. It's the (stick) that binds society

I had to downarrow you for this egregiously false statement.

No, the RULE OF LAW is what (used to) bind society together, along with free association and free enterprise.  What you are saying here is that only COERCION, i.e., governmental force, holds society together --- the classic claim of the diehard statist, which however is disproven by countless historical examples, in which increasing levels of force pull societies apart, NOT hold them together.


Aurora Ex Machina's picture

I'm not a Statist.

As stated, I was describing the current system, where this is very much the case.


Anarcho-Cap, get off my meadow, we're not at odds here. And, no, I'm not going to junk you for expressing an opinion, that's the Statist way, instead I'll green you for adding your voice to the mix ;)

alfbell's picture

Don't worry the power elite are not any smarter than we are. They forgot one minor detail... they are standing in the boat as well.

The demise of the US Empire will most likely go on for a lot longer in a sort of slow motion before there is a significant collapse. We are a long way from the population losing confidence in their "money" (the USD). And, there is a lot of "technology", tactics, avoidance, propping up, etc. that can be done within this debt/fiat money paradigm. People with only 20-30 years of lifetime left might not even experience any major upheaval. Although, I'm not willing to bet my bottom dollar that things couldn't blow up sooner on a large scale and a systemic collapse occur.

I feel safe in continuing to amass as much cash/capital as I can (through lending, capital gain) with the idea of eventually, at the appropriate time, transferring it into hard assets (farm land and income property). Forget a major hedge in gold... too risky and unpredictable and subject to government control.

To be safe and to better sleep at nite, I believe a small farmette, owned free and clear, and furnished with all the survival facilities necessary is a good back up plan. Gives you water, food and shelter and barter potential.