Today's offering for this week's Outside the Box starts off with a quote from Titus Maccius Plautus: "I am a rich man as long as I don't pay my creditors." Even 2200 years ago, it seems that problems of credit were an issue.
I talked last Friday about the US being faced with a number of bad choices. But it is not just the US. Today we look at a piece from my friends at Variant Perception based on London. They are a relatively new institutional research house. I have been reading their material for some time and have begun to look very much forward to it. They do some very good in-depth analysis. I asked then to shorten a piece they did on Spain and Spanish banks for this week's Outside the Box. Spain will soon be faced with a number of very uncomfortable choices, but for now they appear in denial.
For those interested, I also provide a link to another report they did on the United Kingdom, tax collections (way down!) and the link to UK gilts (or bonds). It seems they also have a problem with issuing too much debt. http://www.variantperception.com/sites/default/files/uploads/Taxing_Problems_and_a_Gilt-y_Solution.pdf
I have highlighted problems in Japan and with the European banking system. The problem from the credit crisis are world wide. To think they are not interconnected would be naiveté in the extreme. What happens in Japan and Spain and the US will affect your part of the world, some more than others. Today, let's look at Spain, which has as many unsold hoes but at one-sixth of the population, and these homes are on the books of banks at full price. I will let you read about the rest of the future train wreck that is Spain from Variant Reception (www.variantperception.com which has some other interesting sample commentary as well).
There is the strong possibility that policy makers in the US and UK will not time the transition from the current quantitative easing to a more tightened monetary policy. That is not because they are no competent. It is because the task is very tricky and there is no play book outlining the steps. This is not Tom Landry (former Dallas Cowboy coach) pacing the field with a play for every situation already planned and practiced well in advance.
The odds favor they will either be too late or too early. Getting it "just right." The Goldilocks play, would be more than fortunate. In fact, there may be no right play to call. They may be forced to choose between a slower economy and/or inflation/deflation. And as this week's Outside the Box authors note, there is also the possibility of yet another asset bubble, making the choices even more risky.
Those who are absolutely positive about which of a variety of outcomes will emerge have a level of clairvoyance with which I am not familiar. It makes risk asset (like stocks) investing particularly tricky right now. This is a time to be nimble and avoid creating opportunities for large losses if you are wrong.
We will start this week's OTB with a few paragraphs from the Bank Credit Analyst about the Great Depression and then move on to a piece from the London office of Morgan Stanley on the problems facing central bankers.
And on a less ominous but more important note, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has issued a warrant for my arrest which goes into effect on August 26th! I will be held at the PM Lounge in the Joule Hotel from 3-6. My bail is set at $2,400, which will benefit local families living with neuromuscular disease. No one person can set me free. It will take a little help from all of my friends, family, colleagues and enemies! Please use the link below to visit my Bail Page and help me post my bond by contributing in any way that you can. Thank you for having a big heart! And come see me in jail!
And now, the thoughts from BCA.