Erik Townsend: Expect a US Price Shock as Black Swans Come Home to Roost

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Submitted by ChrisMartenson.com

Erik Townsend: Expect a US Price Shock as Black Swans Come Home to Roost

American investor (and longtime CM.com member) Erik Townsend has spent the past several years living internationally, with an eye to which countries may be good alternatives if economic crisis and/or Peak Oil start to materially impact life in the US. 

His main observation as an expat? Through its misguided policies, the US has been exporting inflation to the rest of the world, raising prices all over the globe (as an example, he cites a $57 chicken pot pie from the menu at a 'working class' restaurant in Australia). 

This inflation is affecting the rest of the world harshly, but is not yet being felt in the US due to our ability to export it as the issuer of the world's reserve currency. Our immunity will not last forever though, and when it ends, a massive upwards spike in prices is going to hit US markets.

On the Global Economy

As far as I can tell, this whole economy is being propped up by stimulus and money printing, really since 2009. And I think that what is going on is we have forgotten that we are literally changing the—I do not know if you want to call it changing the terminology or changing the paradigm—but what is going on here is, we used to use words like “solution” fairly accurately. Now as we are just creating these Band-Aid fixes to temporarily put symptoms of problems at bay.

 

We are calling those solutions, and we are actually behaving -- and when I say “we”, I mean collectively market participants -- are behaving now as if the ECB printing money in order to buy some more Greek bonds and put a bid under that market was a solution to the European sovereign debt crisis. And it is obviously nonsense. The ECB printing money just dilutes the value of the Euro and causes more reason in the long term for people to flee away from making investments in Euro-denominated sovereign debt. So it does not solve anything.

 

But we have gotten to the point where we are so overwhelmed that the market is thinking in terms of these Band-Aid patches as being actual solutions to problems. And I think as long as that is the case, we are going to continue to apply these Band-Aid patches, which are things like printing more money, until it all comes to a head. When it comes to a head and how it comes to a head, I do not think anybody is smart enough to predict accurately.

 

At some point, though, we are going to get to a point where we cannot handle any more printed money and I think that the black swans that have been leaving the market alone for several years are going to come in force.

 On The Market's Willfull Blindness

I do not think that we have ever seen a larger basket of major macro structural risks that everybody is aware of. It is not like nobody sees these things. But we have just somehow put them all on the back burner. Do not worry about China. Do not worry about Europe blowing up. Do not worry about Iran. Do not worry about the carry trade unwind in Japan that you have just written about recently. Do not worry about Peak Oil. Do not worry about the domino effect of China and Japan going down, taking out other economies that depend on them.

 

It is all fine. The LEIs are looking up. And we just seem to be in this cyclical trading mindset

 

that it is going to continue to last until something breaks. And I think that when something breaks, it is going to break big.

On The China Wildcard

I think China has quite a bit of pull here. In that as QE3 happens—and I am convinced it is going to happen sometime this year, I do not know when—it is going to export so much inflation to China that it is going to be almost intolerable for them.

 

And I think that we are forgetting that if China says, “Okay, guys, we have had enough of this. If you do any more QE-ing we are going to dump the US Treasury bonds that we are holding and we are going to use the money to save our own economy.” If we see that kind of reaction from China, it really could put a monkey wrench into the plans of the central banks to inflate this all away.

 

I think that whether it is that mechanism or another one, at some point we are going to get to a hard wall here where you cannot just print money forever without the unintended consequences coming back and biting you.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Ben Davies (runtime 51m:56s):

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