We would like to believe that a period of peace and prosperity lies ahead of us. Unfortunately, the facts do not support this panglossian assertion. If history repeats it is more likely that we see hyperinflation and the sharp devaluation of paper and digital currencies in the coming years, given that no experiment with money printing has ever had a positive outcome.
Debt is a fickle witch. When left to its own devices, which it has been for nearly seven years with interest rates at the zero bound, it tends to get into trouble. Unchecked credit initially seeps, and eventually finds itself fracked, into the dark, dank nooks and crannies of the fixed income markets whose infrastructures and borrowers are ill-suited to handle the capacity. Consider the two flashiest badges of wealth in America - cars and homes...
The reality might just be that the collective "we," and quite possibly sooner than we think, really will need a bigger boat. That is, as it pertains to the global debt markets, which have swollen past the $200 trillion mark this year rendering the great white featured in Jaws which can be equated with past debt markets as defenseless and small as a small, striped Nemo by comparison. The question for the ages will be whether size really does matter when it comes to the debt markets...
In a note by BofA's Michael Hartnett, the bank looks at the latest EPFR fund flows and concludes that the wave of commodity "capitulation" revulsion selling has finally arrived.
China matters after all. As recently as three weeks ago, Bridgewater - the world's largest hedge fund - was among the most effusively bullish on China deflecting fears of the stock market drop on the basis that its "movements are not significant reflective of, or influential on, the Chinese economy." However, that meme that has been spewed by endless talking heads protecting their assets under management, has evolved. In his latest letter to investors, Ray Dalio warns, "our views on China have changed... there are no safe places to invest." As WSJ reports, the move adds to a growing chorus of high-profile investors who are challenging the long-held view that China’s rise will provide a ballast to a whole host of investments, from commodities to bonds to shares in multinational firms, as they realize, "it appears that the repercussions of the stock market’s declines will probably be greater."
The last time the Fed tried to exit a period of massive balance sheet expansion coupled with ZIRP - back in 1937 - its strategy completely failed. The Fed tightening in H1’37 was followed in H2’37 by a severe recession and a 49% collapse in the Dow Jones. This is the ghost of 1937 and it is about to make a repeat appearance.
After Bridgewater, and Goldman Sachs, today it is SocGen's turn, which overnight advised clients that with "US set to unwind QE", now is the time to "increase cash" and "reduce risk." This is how SocGen advises its clients to be positioned ahead of the end of QE...
"we're beyond the point of being able to successfully manage this... and I worry about another leg down in the economy causing social disruption."
"Gold should be a part of everybody's portfolio to some degree because... it is the alternative money. Warren Buffett is making a big mistake."
With each passing year the currency fell in value to ever more absurd depths until by November 1923 an ounce of gold - which had cost 170 Marks only five years previously - was trading at 87,000,000,000,000 Marks per ounce. Silver saw similar price gains (see chart) - or rather to put it more accurately silver too remained a store of value and maintained purchasing power as the currency collapsed.
The Economist is a quintessential establishment publication. Keynesian shibboleths about “market failure” and the need to prevent it, as well as the alleged need for governments to provide “public goods” and to steer the economy in directions desired by the ruling elite with a variety of taxation and spending schemes as well as monetary interventionism, are dripping from its pages in generous dollops. The magazine has one of the very best records as a contrary indicator whenever it comments on markets. While gold hasn’t yet made it to the front page, but the Economist has sacrificed some ink in order to declare it “dead” (or rather, “buried”).
"If you dont own gold... there is no sensible reason other than you dont know history or you dont know the economics of it"
“When does our credit based financial system sputter / break down? When investable assets pose too much risk for too little return. Not immediately, but at the margin, credit and stocks begin to be exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal money in a mattress.” We are approaching that point now as bond yields, credit spreads and stock prices have brought financial wealth forward to the point of exhaustion. A rational investor must indeed have a sense of an ending, not another Lehman crash, but a crush of perpetual bull market enthusiasm.
"Bridgewater’s assets under management increased from $150 billion as of 12/31/13 to approximately $154 billion as of 12/31/14."... "Bridgewater generally requires that its Clients have a minimum of $5 billion of investable assets."... "For new client relationships, Bridgewater’s standard minimum fee is expected to be $500,000 for its All Weather strategy, $1,000,000 for its Pure Alpha and Pure Alpha Major Markets strategies, and $4,750,000 for Optimal Portfolio."
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.
Now we can see the real tragedy of negative interest rates: they not only have the perverse effect of reversing the flow of time, but they demonstrate that borrowers are not acting with the good faith incentives normally associated with someone who needs money. Rather than paying forward, borrowers are paying backwards because they are effectively trying to return something they don’t want. Such an arrangement renders it impossible for an economy to grow. By destroying the temporal and moral structure of money, negative interest rates destroy the economy. When tomorrow cannot be paid, the current regime must fail. The only question to be determined is the form that failure will assume. This may sound like philosophy but it is cold, hard reality.