Via Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box,
The United States is in Trouble
We make more than we’ve ever made, we owe more than we’ve ever owed, and we have less than we've had in decades which is distributed to those that did not earn the money. This is a working definition of Trouble. The stock market is at an all-time high while the financial condition of the country has seriously deteriorated. We are printing $90 billion a month of little green pieces of paper while the Democrats yell at the Republicans to up the debt ceiling as they want to spend even more money to promote social welfare programs. We cannot afford the bills that we have now and we are being asked to add more to them. This is a recipe for disaster and I am reminded of those months right before the financial crisis of 2008/2009 where no documentation loans for Real Estate flourished and easy money was the normal course of things.
Perhaps the landscape has shifted from “money for nothing” for property to “money for nothing” for our national debt. Fiscal responsibility has evaporated in a grand scheme to get voters and Obama has put the Chavez Plan in place which appeals to the poorest of citizens, hands them money and expects their support at the polls. Hard work and earning a living are the ethics of past generations that are slowly being ground to dust in the flurry to socialize America and re-distribute wealth and having succeeded and having money is now thought of as a crime not far behind rape and arson. The White Knight is walking backwards and the Red Queen has lost her head and the Mad Hatter is in charge of the tea party.
“The trouble with practical jokes is that they very often get elected.”
Europe is in Trouble
The sovereign debt accounting is a fraud. Liabilities are not counted, contingent liabilities are not recognized and the balance sheet of the ECB is worse than America’s. Collateral considerations are a joke and loans are disguised, hidden and placed in various locked drawers and central bank vaults. The economies of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland continue to deteriorate as their sovereign yields fall due to the Draghi put and the creation of their little pieces of blue paper which must be used somewhere for something. There is, once again, easy money in the United States but easier money in Europe and so the game continues as anyone with any common sense begins to wonder how it all will blow up and when. Is it to be Inflation or Valuation and will Gold be the next currency or are there going to be other answers.
Asia is in Trouble
Japan, once thought to be an ascending power, has drifted into a nightmare of insolvency and no growth where Deflation rules and the debts of the country now exceed the ability of their citizens and institutions to own them. The push is on for Inflation as the only way out as they argue with China over some islands that might have some oil reserves. In China growth is slowing, their one party system will not allow outside investment past a certain point, their banks are a shadow of the demands of the country and in disarray as political/economic scapegoats and the numbers that China provides for growth make no sense and so are discounted as maybe-maybe statistics. The central banks of both nations follow the tendrils of the American and European ones and the entire globe is encased in a soap bubble of our own making as some may see the fire but no one knows how to get safely out of the theatre.
Find two elephants, two zebras and two giraffes and start building the boat.
The World is in Trouble
The scheme has worked because there is no place to go, no place to run; no place to hide. The collusion is past anything we have ever seen in history. The central banks of the world are supporting intervention and massive protection of the State and we are witnessing the results while all of the newly created paper must be put somewhere and so bonds rise in price, absolute yields on sovereign debt will fall more, compression will continue and the equity markets will rise. All of this is not the result of fundamentals or of economics but solely the result of little pieces of paper being printed, distributed and having to find a home.
“God didn't make the little green apples, and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summer time. And there's no such thing as Dr. Seuss or Disneyland and Mother Goose, no nursery rhymes.”
-Roger Williams, Little Green Apples
The world is in a gigantic bubble and it is going to get pricked. Now it takes certain magical incantations and special spells to determine all of this but we learned a few things from our last go round so the crystal ball is less cloudy and my wand is at hand. Our last fiasco whacked the banks on the backside as the valuation of their holdings, most noticeably their ownership of subprime mortgages and of mortgage securitizations raised the specter of default and of systemic carnage. This time it will be certain sovereign nations that will be the catalyst. It may be the mundane running out of cash that will cause the torrent to flow as Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Ireland or Portugal that lines up for more money and is refused by various governments on the Continent. It may be a refusal by a sovereign nation to accede to the demands of the IMF/EU/ECB for funding or it may be social unrest in the spring that unseats some government as nationalism overcomes the grand European experiment. The giant central bank slosh of money has lowered yields but it has not improved the financial condition of any nation on the Continent and so push will come to shove once again. It may be that Germany refuses to waste anymore of their citizen’s money or that Britain will have had enough of being run out of Berlin or it could even be a refusal to fund America’s debt which comes from China and other Asian countries as our creditworthiness deteriorates. There are many pressure points pressing against the Bubble and one of them will give just as the subprime mess was where the prick took place last time. It was all the cause of “money for nothing and chicks for free” and while I am unsure about the chicks I am quite sure that the incredible amount of easy money will take its toll once again. Money, you know, ceases to be money when all that anyone sees is paper and not the guarantee that is imprinted on it. It could be Inflation on a grand scale or worse, Valuation that determines the charade and calls it for what it is and neither result will be pleasant.
You cannot keep printing money without consequences and when absolute and intrinsic valuations replace relative valuations then the game is afoot. Lower and lower yields also eventually have a serious impact on the people of a nation, pension funds, insurance companies and backlashes are certainly possible as the lives of people and institutions are put at financial risk. When the survival of the State puts its people in dire straits then, eventually, the citizens will rebel as the nation has forgotten just who composes its constituents. The people and institutions that have the capital will only go along quietly for so long when nations try to take what they have earned and dispossess it for others. The rich will become poorer and the poor will become poorer and when those with the capital have been deprived of it so that everyone is worse off then the Lords of Chaos will be in control once again. Look for securities that float, States that have no debt in Municipals, the few countries in the world that are still fiscally responsible and get ready to hold on to your hat. The charade goes on a little longer but it will not go on indefinitely and the time for preparation is now. When one plus one no longer equals two then something will give. Make sure you are not the one crying “Uncle.”
The trouble with going with the flow is that you might be the one that is sucked down the drain!