Watch special video below of David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates, discussing the inflation vs. deflation debate. This powerful presentation was filmed at the Strategic Investment Conference 2011 in La Jolla, CA.
65 posts tagged with “Inflation”.
The CPI was out this week, and it showed a continued drop in inflation. There were those who immediately pointed out that this vindicated the Fed’s move to QE2. We have to get ahead of this deflation thing, don’t we? Well, maybe, depending on how you measure inflation/deflation. This week we look deep into the BLS website on inflation to see just exactly what it is we are measuring, and then take a walk down Nostalgia Lane. But first we look at what I think we can call The Sputtering Economy, because that will tie into our inflation discussion.
To ease or not to ease? That is the question we will take up this week. And if we do get another round of quantitative easing (QE2), will it make any difference? As I asked last week, what if they threw an inflation party and no one came? We will take as our launching pad today's unemployment numbers, which serve to demonstrate just why the Fed may in fact be ready for some monetary shock and awe.
This week the Fed altered their end-of-meeting statement by just a few words, but those words have a lot of meaning. It seems they are paving the way to a new round of quantitative easing (QE2), if in their opinion the situation warrants it. A trillion dollars of new money could soon be injected into the system. Tonight we explore some of the implications of a new round of QE. Let's put our speculation hats on, gentle reader, as we are moving into uncharted territory. There are no maps, just theories, and they don't all agree. (Note: this letter may print a little long, as there are a lot of charts.)
But first, as a reminder, next Wednesday, September 29 (9:00 AM PST/12:00 PM EST), I will be doing a special "webinar" with Jon Sundt, President & CEO of Altegris Investments, where we'll discuss the forces that are shaping today's economy and their potential influence on financial markets (the very things I write about in this week's letter and in my new book!). This is an excellent opportunity to learn about alternative investment strategies designed to provide noncorrelated diversification for your investment portfolio in the "new normal" economy. We'll set aside a lot of time to answer your questions.
A replay of the call will be available for two weeks starting Thursday, September 30, for registered participants only. Even if you can't make it at this specific time, I recommend you still register so you can listen to the replay at your convenience after the event.
You can register by going to www.accreditedinvestor.ws and signing up for my free accredited letter, and a representative from Altegris will call you to give you the details. Sadly, this is available only to accredited investors ($1.5 million net worth and up) and/or registered financial professionals, due to current regulations. I will be giving a preview of the conclusions from my new book, The End Game, which I think you will find interesting. (In this regard, I am president and a registered representative of Millennium Wave Securities, LLC, member FINRA.)
I have been writing about The End Game for some time now. And writing a book of the same title. Consequently, I have been thinking a lot about how the credit crisis evolved into the sovereign debt crisis, and how it all ends. Today we explore a few musings I have had of late, while we look at some very interesting research. What will a world look like as a variety of nations have to deal with the end of their Debt Supercycle. We'll jump right in with no "but first's" this week.
Part of this week's writing is colored by my next conference. Next week I go to Vancouver to speak at the Agora Investment Symposium. I have a number of very good friends who will be there, both speaking and attending. This is generally a "hard money," gold-bug-type crowd (and a very large conference). Some (but not all) of the speakers believe that all fiat currencies, including the US dollar, will default in one way or another, either outright or through inflation, as mounting debts and out-of-control entitlement obligations force large-scale monetization, leading to high inflation if not hyperinflation.
There are a couple of panels and debates that I presume I will be involved in, and I have been meditating on how the panels will go. Bill Bonner, founder of Agora and a book-writing machine, has a steel-trap mind with an ability to turn a phrase that is way beyond that of your humble analyst. The preponderance of the panel members will likely be in the soft-depression camp, and most of us will card-carrying members of the Often Wrong but Seldom in Doubt school of economics and investing (the Latin for which, I am told, is "Saepe mendosus, nunquam dubius.") And yet, I am not quite there with most of that thinking, so the debates will be lively.
Understand, I started in the newsletter business back in 1981 or so, working with Dr. Gary North (also known as "Scary Gary"). Gary is an Austrian, and although I took a lot of economics courses at Rice, I had never read anything even remotely close to the Austrian school. I caught up rather quickly, and in the mid-1980s even wrote my own gold-stock newsletter (although I must admit I know next to nothing of the current gold-stock world). I was mostly limited to books, newsletters, and journals for reading material.
Then came the mid '90s and the internet, and the world opened up. I became incurably addicted to information and read widely and deeply. At some point the small lens of Austrian thought became difficult to continue to peer through, as I looked for perspectives on the larger world. I now worship at a number of economic altars, in the ongoing effort to understand what is happening in the real world, not just in the world of theory or the world of what we would like to be. So, with that background, let's look at The End Game.
There's a reason economics is called the dismal science, and weeks like this just give it further meaning. In economics, there is what you see and what you don't. This week we are going to examine the headline data we all see and then take a look for what most observers do not see. Then we'll try to think about what it all really means. With employment, housing, and the ISM numbers, there is a lot to cover. And this letter will print out longer than usual, as there are a lot of charts. Warning: remove sharp objects from the vicinity and pour yourself your favorite adult beverage. This does not make for fun reading.
But first, a very quick three-paragraph commercial. In the current market environment, there are money managers who have not done well and then there are managers who have done very well. My partners around the world would be happy to show you some of the managers they have on their platforms that we think are appropriate for the current environment. If you are an accredited investor (basically a net worth over $1.5 million) and would like to look at hedge-fund and other alternative-fund managers (such as commodity traders), I suggest you go to www.accreditedinvestor.ws and sign up - and someone from Altegris Investments in La Jolla will call you if you are a US citizen. Or you'll get a call from Absolute Return Partners in London if you are in Europe (they also work with non-accredited investors). If you are in South Africa, then someone from Plexus Asset Management will ring. And in Canada it is Nicola Wealth Management. And Fynn Capital Management in South America. (In this regard, I am president and a registered representative of Millennium Wave Securities, LLC, member FINRA.)
If you are not an accredited investor, I work with CMG in Philadelphia. We have created a platform of money managers who specialize in the alternative management space. By this I mean they do not need a bull or bear market in order to have the potential for profits. (Past performance is not indicative of future results.) You can go to http://www.cmgfunds.net/public/mauldin_questionnaire.asp and quickly read about the past performance of a manager we recently added to the platform, and then sign up to get more information.
Everywhere there are arguments that we are in a "V"-shaped recovery. And there are signs that in fact that is the case. Today we will look at some of those, and then take up the topic of when the Fed will raise rates. We open the case and look at the evidence. Is there enough to come to a real conviction? I think there is. (And at the end of the letter I mention two conferences I am speaking at in the next few months, in Vancouver and San Francisco.)
But first, a little housekeeping. The delivery rate for this letter has not been good for some time now and we are aware of it. We get tons of letters and calls from long-time readers who want to know why we have dropped them from the list. They keep resubscribing but not getting the letter. It is a problem. I was not getting delivery on my own personal accounts from well-known email providers. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please know that we do not drop anyone from the list unless they request it or we get hard bounces or undeliverable messages.
Hopefully that has all changed with this letter. The problem has been that the list is so large that it is blocked long before the letter ever hits your inbox. The computers at service providers just assume anything this large can't be for real. We are now using a service that is a third-party verification of our letter, which hopefully will fix the problem (not a cheap solution, by the way!). So, there may be a lot of you for whom this letter is (hopefully) a pleasant surprise after not getting it for some time.
If that is the case, we would like to know. If you have the time, drop me a response that says "got it" in the subject line. And of course, if you don't want to get the letter you can hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom. But even better, why not forward this to a friend and tell them to subscribe?
For the record, we are working on a MAJOR revision of the website and the letter. There will be a lot more ways for you to interact with me and each other. A lot more information and capabilities. We are excited. It should be here by the fall. Tiffani and I think you are really going to like it. And now to the letter.
The economy grew in the fourth quarter by 5.9%, the most in years. The adjusted monetary base is exploding. Bank reserves are literally through the roof. The Fed is flooding money into the system in an effort to get banks to lend. An historically normal response by banks (to increase lending) would have been massively inflationary, causing the Fed to stomp on the brakes. Despite raising the almost meaningless discount rate (as who uses it?), this week Ben Bernanke assured Congress of an easy monetary policy, with rates remaining low for a long time. Many ask, how can this not be inflationary?
This week we look at some fundamentals of money supply and the economy. If you understand this, you won't get misled by people selling investments, telling you to buy this or that based on some chart that shows whatever they are selling to be what you absolutely have to have to protect your portfolio and/or make massive profits. And we touch on a few odds and ends. And yes, I can't resist, a few more thoughts on Greece. It will make for an interesting letter, as I'm writing on a plane to San Jose. And it will print a bit longer than usual, because there are a lot of charts.
Before we get into the meat of the letter, I want to give you a chance to register for my 7th (where do the years go?!) annual Strategic Investment Conference, cosponsored with my friends at Altegris Investments. The conference will be held April 22-24 and, as always, in La Jolla, California. The speaker lineup is powerful. Already committed are Dr. Gary Shilling, David Rosenberg, Dr. Lacy Hunt, Dr. Niall Ferguson, and George Friedman, as well as your humble analyst. We are talking with several other equally exciting speakers and expect those to firm up shortly.
Look at that lineup. These are the guys who got the calls right over the past few years. They called the housing crisis, the credit bubble, and the recession. And, in my opinion, these are some of the best in the world at giving us ideas about where we are headed.
Comments from those who attend the annual affair generally run along the lines of, "This is the best conference we have ever been to." And each year it seems to get better. This year we are going to focus on "The End Game," that is, on the paths the various nations are likely to take as they try to solve their various deficit problems, and how that will affect the world and local economies and our investments. We make sure you have access to our speakers and get your questions answered, and you'll come away with excellent, practical investment ideas.
"Lying here, during all this time after my own small fall, it has become my conviction that things mean pretty much what we want them to mean. We'll pluck significance from the least consequential happenstance if it suits us and happily ignore the most flagrantly obvious symmetry between separate aspects of our lives if it threatens some cherished prejudice or cosily comforting belief; we are blindest to precisely whatever might be most illuminating."
-- from Transition, by Iain M. Banks
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
-- The Boxer, by Paul Simon
This will be my tenth annual forecast issue. Time has flown by, and I enter a new decade of writing Thoughts from the Frontline. And even as I write about the high level of uncertainty of the current times, I am optimistic that at the opening of the next decade we will look back and realize that there has been an enormous amount of progress made. None of us will want to revisit the pleasures of the past ten years in some nostalgic dream. I am so ready for a new decade. And speaking of Paul Simon (above), reading the lyrics of The Boxer, one of my favorite songs from my youth, another few words seemed to hit home:
...Now the years are rolling by me, they are rockin' even me
...I am older than I once was, and younger than I'll be, that's not unusual
...No it isn't strange, after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
--Old Scottish Prayer
Where the Wild Things Are is a beloved children's book and now a beautiful movie. But in the investment world there are really scary wild things lurking about in the hidden recesses of the economic landscape. Today we look at one of the unintended consequences of the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy.
For quite some time, I have been arguing that we are faced with no good choices, not just in the US but in the entire "developed" world. I see a low-growth, Muddle Through world over the next years (with a double-dip recession just to liven things up). However, that does not mean that we will lack for volatility. Things could get volatile rather quickly. Let's quickly set the background.
Let's look at today's interest rate picture. Yesterday, we had the bizarre occurrence of banks actually paying the government to hold their cash. Three-month treasuries yield a miniscule 0.01% in interest. If you opt to buy a one-year bill you get all of 0.26%. You can see the entire spectrum below.