Living In 'The Day Before'

Via Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box,

The Day Before

  • March 15, 44 BC                    Julies Caesar was assassinated
  • December 25, 4 BC                Jesus Christ was born
  • 476 AD                                 Augustulus deposed ending 505 years of the Roman Empire
  • July 16, 622                            Mohammed began writing the Koran
  • December 25, 800                  Charlemagne crowned “Emperor of the Romans” by the Pope
  • October 14, 1066                    William of Normandy defeated the English
  • June 15, 1215                          The Magna Carta was signed
  • October 12, 1492                    Christopher Columbus set sail
  • 1687                                        Isaac Newton published the “Principia”
  • July 4, 1776                            The Declaration of Independence is signed
  • July 4, 1789                            The French Revolution begins
  • June 19, 1815                          Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo
  • November 24, 1859                Charles Darwin published the “Origin of the Species”
  • April 12, 1861                         The Civil War begins in America
  • March 6, 1876                         Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call
  • December 17, 1903                The Wright brothers make their historic flight
  • June 23, 1914                          The first World War starts
  • October 29, 1929                    The Stock Market crashes & the Great Depression begins
  • December 7, 1941                  The second World War is set-off
  • September 3, 1945                  The first atomic bomb is dropped
  • October 1, 1949                      The People’s Republic of China is born
  • October 1990                          The World Wide Web was inaugurated

In each of these instances, at each of these critical moments in time, there was a “day before.” The “day before” was just another normal day, time running its course, twenty-four hours where people may have known that something was up but supposed nothing would change. Markets, you see, always live in this “day before” where the bend in the highway never comes, where the path is always straight and fixed and where it is generally thought that nothing of consequence will happen. Then some event takes place, something magical or wonderful or awful occurs and the world is turned on its axis and nothing is ever the same again. The lead time for many of these moments in history is often long and could have been prepared for but, people being what they are, we tire of the wait and the markets continue to operate on the assumption that this “day before” will always be in effect right up until the moment when it is not. You see; the “day before” is transmuted by Time and what was becomes what is and that could be something very different than our last turn around the sun and to not be prepared is a disservice to your own position and to the capital of your clients.
“After all tomorrow is another day.”
                     -Gone with the Wind
The Looking Glass
Women are much better at it than men but we all need to stand and stare into the mirror and take a very hard look at what is staring back. An honest reappraisal is imperative now! Syria fires on Israel, Israel fires back and Iran looms like the grey robed man with a scythe. War in the Middle East is an outlier no longer.
Greece has risen from its recent obscurity, a Phoenix from the fire but, unlike the mythological bird re-born, this Greece is covered in fire, soot and dirt and Hercules himself could not make their debt sustainable.  The IMF may not fund and Europe promises, promises, promises and delivers nothing, no one wants to take any losses when losses must be taken and so Greece has become a dead man walking. Greece promises, Europe promises, platitudes are delivered like meat on a platter at a steakhouse and the silver cover is swept away and, low and behold, there is nothing there. Debt extensions, the lowering of interest rates, the buy-back of Greek debt in the open market and all of the other slivers of even more promises will not solve the problem, cannot solve the problem as the numbers have overtaken any relatively painless solutions. The figures will not add up without debt forgiveness, significantly more money or default. “Where’s the beef” is soon to be found or not found in the European Parliaments as the IMF rejects any new methodology for counting the coins in the vault. Breakpoint; we are at Breakpoint.
The United States is staring into a fiscal abyss affecting 4.52% of our GDP and the priorities of the Republicans and the Democrats are as opposite as they have been in my lifetime. Perhaps there will be a compromise but maybe not and the risks enlarge with the passing of the days. Forget gloom, doom, optimism or muddle; the reality is that huge, giant risks are at hand and that you have no control over them and that in the Middle East, in Europe, in America that things could swing wildly out of control and that we do not face one cliff but jagged edges on three sides where Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece could cause an avalanche while another may occur in the United States and a third could come rolling out of the sands of the desert countries.
“Get ready, skanks! It’s time for the truth train!”
                      -The Simpsons
I am not talking of betting this morning but of preservation and, in my humble opinion, only a fool would fail to see the risks at hand and take precautions. We are in danger, “clear and present danger” and the strategy of the “day before” is no longer appropriate. I can also tell you that the scent of Fear is picking up as the calls to the Wizard increase and as many institutions begin to assume “fall back positions” that are not only reasonable but mandated out of necessity by our present circumstances. Take note, $400 billion has poured into bond funds this year, an all-time record, with yields at depressed levels indicating a quite real flight to safety. The United States lost thirty-six percent of its wealth during the American Financial Crisis and, people or institutions, the song rolls across the landscape, “We won’t get fooled again!”
Don’t get fooled again!
“Soon enough, soon enough; a string of tomorrows that will be the most critical days of the year.”
                              -The Wizard


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