Economic principles explain why the Saudis began, in late 2014, to pump crude as fast as they could – or close to as fast as possible. In fact, there is a good reason why the Saudi princes are panicked and pumping.
We are seeing a kind of flight forward by investors – promises of future returns that may or may not eventuate continue to be highly rewarded – no price seems too high. This is actually a fairly typical bubble phenomenon. It is impossible to say for how long it will continue and how far it will go, but it is possible to say how it will end: in tears, especially for Johnny-come-lately investors.
When Janet Yellen speaks, investors buy stocks (whether she tells you stock valuations are 'substantialy stretched' or not). When Warren Buffett speaks, investors listen... so when his favorite indicator is flashing a huge "sell signal" trading 80% 'expensive' to its long-term average, perhaps, as BofAML suggests, it is time to listen.
Would you rather have one “Share” of the S&P 500 at $2,124, or 41 barrels of crude oil, or 1.86 ounces of gold? Yes, they are all worth the same amount at the moment, but the price relationship between the three has shifted over the decades.
When Warren Buffet put $5 billion in Berkshire Hathaway funds into Goldman Sachs the week after Lehman failed, amidst total turmoil and panic, it appeared from the outside a high risk bet. Buffet had long tried to portray himself as a folksy engine of traditional stability, investing only in things he could understand, so jumping into a wholesale run of chained liabilities may have seemed more than slightly out of character. We have no particular issue with Buffet making those investments, only the pretense of intentional mysticism that surrounds them. The reason the criticism of crony-capitalism sticks is because this was not Buffet's first intervention to "save" a famed institution on Wall Street. If Buffet's convention is to stick with "things you know" then he has been right there through the whole of the full-scale wholesale/eurodollar revolution.
It's true that “the authorities” want the price of financial assets (stocks, bonds) to go up, and the price of hard assets (commodities) to go down… which is exactly what has happened. So do governments and central banks ever lose? In the old days, they lost all the time. In one extreme example, an individual hedge fund took out the entire Bank of England. But central banks are currently on a massive winning streak. So to answer the question, “Will we ever have a crisis,” you need to answer the question, “Will we ever be allowed to have one?”
For corporate management teams it’s all about instant gratification these days and if you needed proof that US equity markets have become the preferred channel for transferring debt sale proceeds directly into the pockets of top management, Bloomberg has all the evidence you need.
Whole Foods has just been caught ripping-off customers, above and beyond their typical rip-off prices. So what does Whole Foods' leadership finally do about the recent pricing scandal? Create a feel-good advertisement! No staff changes nor any attempt at financial regress for the systematic and ongoing misconduct. They've already double bagged and taken home those ill-gains. Even worse, as we show, even the most fair mis-pricing will generally be "straight up" not fair.
Remember when oil pipelines were at risk of spilling and as a result the progressive movement decided it would be far safer to transport US oil by train, because supposedly trains are so much safer for the environment, only to lead to a record surge in oil-carrying train accidents and derailments? Well, not even the most hardline of environment-friendlies could have anticipated what happened overnight in Blount County, Tennessee after a freight train derailed carrying flammable and poisonous material caught on fire on Wednesday night, leading to the evacuation of as many as 5000 residents from their homes.
Today’s style of heavy-handed monetary central planning destroys capitalist prosperity. Real capitalism cannot thrive unless inventive and enterprenurial genius is rewarded with outsized fortunes. Warren Buffett’s $73 billion net worth, and numerous like and similar financial gambling fortunes that have arisen since 1987, are not due to genius; they are owing to adept surfing on the $50 trillion bubble that has been generated by the central bank Keynesianism of Alan Greenspan and his successors.
"Many investors get this one wrong. Even though they are going to be net buyers of stocks for many years to come, they are elated when stock prices rise and depressed when they fall. In effect, they rejoice because prices have risen for the "hamburgers" they will soon be buying. This reaction makes no sense. Only those who will be sellers of equities in the near future should be happy at seeing stocks rise. Prospective purchasers should much prefer sinking prices."
After 27 years, honest price discovery has been destroyed, thereby reducing the nerve centers of capitalism - the money and capital markets - to little more than gambling casinos. Accordingly, speculative rent-seeking in the financial arena has replaced enterprenurial innovation and supply side investment and productivity as the modus operandi of the US economy. This has resulted in a severe diminution of main street growth and a massive redistribution of windfall wealth to the tiny share of households which own most of the financial assets. Warren Buffett’s $73 billion net worth is the poster boy for this untoward state of affairs. The massive and systematic falsification of asset prices which lies at the heart of this deformation of capitalism is a direct and unavoidable consequence of monetary central planning.