Watch special video of Marko Papic, Marc Faber, John Mauldin, Martin Barnes, and Jonathan Tepper as they debate the Fed's QE strategy. Jon Sundt, president and CEO of Altegris, moderates. This lively panel discussion was filmed at the Strategic Investment Conference 2011 in La Jolla, CA.
80 posts tagged with “The Fed”.
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.)
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.
This week we do some review on a very important topic, the velocity of money. If we don't understand the basics, it is hard to make sense of the hash that our world economy is in, much less understand where we are headed.
But before we jump into that, I want to let my Conversations subscribers know that we have posted a recent conversation with two hedge-fund managers, Kyle Bass of Hayman Advisors [and his staff] here in Dallas and Hugh Hendry of the Eclectica Fund in London. Our discussions centered on what we all think has the potential to be the next Greece, but on a far more serious level. It was a fascinating time.
Then next Wednesday we will post a Conversation I had with George Friedman of Stratfor fame, and then the following Wednesday a Conversation that I just completed with Dr. Ken Rogoff and Dr. Carmen Reinhart, the authors of This Time Is Different.
For new readers, Conversations with John Mauldin is my one subscription service. While this letter will always be free, we have created a way for you to "listen in" on my conversations with some of my friends, many of whom you will recognize and some whom you will want to know after you hear our conversations. Basically, I will call one or two friends each month and, just as we do at dinner or at meetings, we will talk about the issues of the day, with back and forth, give and take, and friendly debate. I think you will find it very enlightening and thought-provoking and a real contribution to your education as an investor.
And as you can see, I can get some rather interesting people to come to the table. Current subscribers can renew for a deeply discounted $129, and we will extend that price to new subscribers as well. To learn more, go to http://www.johnmauldin.com/newsletters2.html. Click on the Subscribe button, and join me and my friends for some very interesting Conversations.
Should Greenspan and Bernanke have seen the bubble in housing and other assets and acted, or should we accept their defense that you can't know whether there is a bubble until after the fact? We will look at research that suggests they should have known, and, at the least, policy makers should no longer be allowed to say, "How could I have known?"
Of course, the employment numbers came out this morning, and the results are mixed; but that is better than they have been for the past two years. We dig into the numbers to see what they are really saying. And finally, we examine why the markets are so volatile. Is it just Greece, or is there more? There's a lot of very interesting, and important, material to cover.
But first, and quickly, as I wrote in Outside the Box a few weeks ago, I am starting to very selectively buy biotech stocks, and mostly, though not exclusively, companies associated with the regenerative genetic revolution that is coming our way. I am convinced that this is going to be a decade of the most amazing medical breakthroughs, which will literally change (and in many cases extend) our lives, as therapies to treat all sorts of diseases become available.
This is the last time I am going to mention it, but here is the link to that OTB, which analyzes why we may see a bubble in biotech stocks before the end of the decade. The OTB was written by my friend Pat Cox, who covers these stocks and other technological marvels in his newsletter, Breakthrough Technology Alert. I have been following Pat for some time now, have talked extensively with him, and think he is one of those guys who have a handle on what by all accounts is going to be an amazing decade of breakthroughs.
Last week we delved into the uncertainties that face us and that make forecasting for 2010 problematical. Will the government actually increase taxes as much as they say, with unemployment still likely to be at 10%? Or will cooler heads prevail? Would such an increase cause a recession? Will the markets anticipate the effects of such a major increase in advance? How will the mortgage market react when the Fed stops buying mortgage securities at the end of March? There are so many things in the air, and today we explore more of them, as I continue (perhaps foolishly) to try and peer into what is a very cloudy crystal ball.
But first, and far more important, is the tragedy that is unfolding in Haiti. Long-time readers know that several times a year I mention in this letter my very good friend Walt Ratterman, who volunteers his time going all over the world to install solar-power systems for hospitals and clinics, along with other relief efforts. My readers have been very generous over the years to Knightsbridge and their relief efforts. Walt and other members of Knightsbridge literally go into places where if they were caught by the government they would simply be shot (as in Burma). In Afghanistan, before our troops went in, the Taliban put a very hefty price on his head as he brought food and medicine to the northern tribes. Pakistan, Sudan, Darfur, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, in rebel-held territory, to bring medicine when no one else could get through - the hell-holes of the world. He and I talk frequently about the wisdom of taking such risks, and he cheerfully replies that someone has to. There are people dying.
When we talked just a few weeks ago he mentioned he was going to Haiti. At least, I said, that was one place where no one would be shooting at him. He had been there several times. And then we find a different type of uncertainty rearing its head. After all the places he had been where the danger was fellow human beings, this occasion found him in the courtyard of the Hotel Montana, minutes before the earthquake hit. There were teams on the ground the next morning, specifically looking for him, but as of Friday evening he has not been found. We are hopeful, because they are still finding survivors at the hotel.
His friends from Knightsbridge will be going there to assist in the recovery. Medical teams from Knightsbridge are going in early next week, and another experienced team will follow later in the week. These are people who know what to do and how to get it done.
A few of you who have done this type of work may want to contact Ed Artis (see below) to see if you can be of service (especially medical). As I have often written, these are the good guys. They pay their own way and have no office overhead. It is a total volunteer effort. But they do need money for medicines, supplies, etc., and transport to get them there.
"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.
I have been in South America this week, speaking nine times in five days, interspersed with lots of meetings. The conversation kept coming back to the prospects for the dollar, but I was just as interested in talking with money managers and business people who had experienced the hyperinflation of Argentina and Brazil. How could such a thing happen? As it turned out, I was reading a rather remarkable book that addressed that question. There are those who believe that the United States is headed for hyperinflation because of our large and growing government fiscal deficit and massive future liabilities (as much as $56 trillion) for Medicare and Social Security.
This week, we will look at the Argentinian experience and ask ourselves whether "it" - hyperinflation - can happen here.
I will be quoting from Niall Ferguson's recent book, The Ascent of Money. I cannot recommend this book too highly. In fact, I rank it up with my all-time favorite book on economic history, Against the Gods, by the late (and sorely missed) Peter Bernstein. There are very few books I read twice. There are too many books and not enough time. This book I will have to read at least three times, and soon, and I have a lot of underlines and mark-ups in it already.
If there were one book I could require every member of the Congress to read, it would be this one. As I read it, I am struck again and again by how fragile and yet resilient our economic systems are. Fragile in the sense that governmental policy mistakes, no matter how well-intentioned, can destroy the wealth of a nation, and resilient in that it doesn't happen more often.
This week we look at the second half of my speech from a few weeks ago at my annual Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla. If you have not read the first part, you can review it here. The first few paragraphs are a repeat from last week, to give us some context. Please note that this is somewhat edited from the original, and I have added a few ideas. You can also go there to sign up to get this letter sent to you free each week.
Okay, when you become a central banker, you are taken into a back room and they do a DNA change on you. You are henceforth and forever genetically incapable of allowing deflation on your watch. It becomes the first and foremost thought on your mind: deflation, we can't have it.
MV=PQ. This is an important equation, right up there with E=MC2. M (money or the supply of money) times V (velocity -- which is how fast the money goes through the system -- if you have seven kids it goes faster than if you have one) is equal to P (the price of money in terms of inflation or deflation) times Q (roughly standing for the Quantity of production, or GDP)
So what happens is, if we increase the supply of money and velocity stays the same, and if GDP does not grow, that means we'll have inflation, because this equation always balances. But if you reduce velocity (which is happening today) and if you don't increase the supply of money, you are going to see deflation. We are watching, for reasons we'll get into in a minute, the velocity of money slow. People are getting nervous, they are not borrowing as much, either because they can't or the animal spirits that Keynes talked about are not quite there.