In March last year, I published an article looking at historical perspective on boom/bust cycles in SeekingAlpha. I suggested then that, “the (still) festering economic imbalances might get resolved along two alternative scenarios. Either we’ll have a full-blown deflationary depression that could see asset prices drop by 50% or more, or we’ll have a strong and sustained decline in the US Dollar, ” accompanied with a continued rise in equity markets. Today, the latter scenario appears more likely. Here’s why: Continue reading
Bursting of an asset bubble can have grave consequences for the economy and the society at large – so grave, it’s worth paying attention at this point. I’ll elaborate.
In only six trading sessions from the 20th February peak, the S&P500 shed more than 12%, one of the fastest declines on record for the index (only the 1987 black Monday was worse). Only a week before this event I posted the article, “Bubbles Always Burst…”on SeekingAlpha, warning about the risk of this happening.
Whether last week marks the beginning of the bubble’s bursting remains to be seen, but this is only a matter of time. Bubbles always burst, no exceptions. But what’s important to understand is this: bubbles are meant to be burst! For guidance, let’s look again at the bursting of Japan’s own everything bubble of the 1980s. Continue reading
Back when I traded stocks in late 1990s, I got a gnawing suspicion that beyond the nonstop noise of the news flow, there was some force pushing the rising tide, but I couldn’t discern what it was. By today I think I worked it out. The most surprising thing about it is that it’s been so hard to work out.
Stocks are principally driven by money supply
The first time I encountered an explicitly formulated hypothesis that justified my suspicions was years later while I researched for my book, “Grand Deception.” The hypothesis, relating to Russian stocks, was articulated by Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management in his 2006 HedgeWeek interview: Continue reading
Inflation is with us – and in time it will flood the economy. Regardless of how powerful and prosperous a nation may appear in its peak, no empire ever was able to exempt itself from the elemental laws of economics any more than we can exempt ourselves of the laws of gravity.
Warren Buffett warned that for a debtor nation, inflation was the economic equivalent of the hydrogen bomb. Runaway inflations tend to emerge when an economy’s debt burden becomes unsustainable, usually as a consequence of too much government spending and too much war. Today, nearly all categories of debt in the U.S. economy are breaking records: government, corporate as well as household and student debt. Worse, the levels of delinquency have been rising and credit standards have been deteriorating over the recent months, particularly for corporate debt. Continue reading
A few years back in an interview with Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” program , Elliott Management’s Paul Singer said that his greatest worry was the rise of inflation that could appear suddenly. He suggested that this could come about with small changes in perception of inflation risk. Specifically, “The first whiffs of either commodity inflation or wage inflation,” said Singer, “may cause a self-reinforcing set of market events … which may include a sharp fall in bond prices, … fall in stock prices, rapid increase in commodities…”
In June of 2014, a group of American researchers published an article in the American Journal of Public Health, pointing out that, “Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.” To be sure, each of these wars was duly explained and justified to the American public and for all those Americans who believe that their government would never deceive them, each war was defensible and fought for a good reason. Nonetheless, the fact that one nation initiated more than 80% of all wars in the last seventy years does require an explanation, which I submit below: Continue reading
So far, the dreams of 1,000-year empires and stable world domination have eluded the ruling elites throughout history and across the globe. Empires arise, sustain themselves for a century or two and then rapidly decay and collapse. The collapse may appear relatively fast and obvious in hindsight, but in reality it spans decades, may appear as a series of temporary crises and only become obvious very late into the slow-motion train wreck. Continue reading
In June 2011 Carmen Reinhart wrote a paper for the IMF titled “Financial Repression Redux.” She suggested that the current policy of financial repression could ultimately lead to high levels of inflation. Today, five years later it seems like she couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. In spite of the unprecedented monetary expansion, monetization of public debt and swelling central bank balance sheets, deflation seems entrenched. So why worry about inflation at all? In short, because deflation could actually give rise to inflation. Continue reading
Our future is being shaped by an unprecedented monetary experiment run by our central bank mandarins, but a happy ending is a mathematical impossibility. The economic imbalances that resulted in the last, 2008 financial crisis are now much worse and we are facing two possible routes of their resolution. One is a full-blown deflationary depression that could see asset prices drop by 50% or more. The other is a strong and sustained decline in the US Dollar (and other major currencies) with an accelerating commodity price inflation that might span a full decade.
Central banks’ overt commitment to supporting asset prices at all costs suggests that the second scenario may be more probable. In this case, a major stock-market crash could be averted; instead, we could see a significant and sustained rise in equity markets, as was the case most recently during the Zimbabwean and Venezuelan inflations, as well as the Argentinian, Brazilian, Israeli and German inflations before that. Below is the chart showing the appreciation of Israel All Share index during the country’s inflationary crisis in the 1980s: Continue reading
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.” – Lord Acton
Well over a century ago, Lord Acton had understood the problem that’s been well obscured from students of economics, history and politics over the more recent generations. The role of money in our society is not sufficiently well understood today. Its importance was underscored by Thomas Paine when he said that, “Money, when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency.” Continue reading