No one does it like Kate Welling – we're talking financial-world interviews here, "interrogatory journalism," as Kate would put it – and her interview of Dr. Lacy Hunt, which you're about to read, is in my opinion one of the best she's ever done, and the best I've seen with Lacy.
Kate's interviews, which she publishes in welling@weeden, normally get seen only by the institutional investors and other market pros who are her clients; but she has kindly allowed me to share this one, in which Lacy tackles the same fundamental challenge I've been writing about these past few years: How do we deal with the economic crisis we've brought upon ourselves through the buildup of too much debt? How do we get out of the hole we've been digging, when the tried-but-not-so-true Keynesian (and Bernankean) methods just get us in deeper? How do we work through the end game of the Debt Supercycle, when there are seemingly no good or easy choices left, and find our way forward into an era of renewed growth and hope?
Lacy doesn't give us The Answer, but what he does give us that is really helpful is a deep historical understanding of economic forces and the key players who have tried to manage them, guys like Irving Fisher, who completely missed the call of the Great Depression, but learned a thing or two from it. Bottom line: "... if Fisher is correct, and if we try to solve our current problems by getting deeper in debt, then what Fisher is saying is the additional indebtedness doesn't make us stronger, doesn't increase our options. It makes us weaker, reduces our options."
My answer to everything tonight, as my brain, which is still in Cape Town, tries to catch up with my body in Dallas: take in a Mavs game!
Your giving microeconomic forces their due analyst,
Dr. Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington of Hoisington Investment Management write a “Quarterly Review and Outlook” that is a must-read for me. This quarter they focus on US monetary policy, noting that “After peaking at 1.69 in the second quarter of 2010, M2 velocity declined for four consecutive quarters, and we estimate that a major contraction in velocity to 1.59 is likely for the third quarter.” (I mentioned the importance of the velocity of money in judging inflation vs. deflation prospects in this week’s e-letter, too.)
They say, “If our analysis of a new contraction in GDP is correct, the U.S. economy should be viewed as operating in the midst of a long-term slump, regardless of terminology.”
They borrow a riff from Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson, who has asserted that the world is experiencing a “slight depression”; and mention that this conclusion has been backed up by Gluskin Sheff’s notable economist, David Rosenberg, who reminds us that “Depressions are basically long recessions lasting three to seven years.”
Hoisington Investment Management Company (www.hoisingtonmgt.com) is a registered investment advisor specializing in fixed-income portfolios for large institutional clients. Located in Austin, Texas, the firm has over $4 billion under management, composed of corporate and public funds, foundations, endowments, Taft-Hartley funds, and insurance companies.
Your kicking up my heels in the Big Apple analyst,
Long-time readers are familiar with the wisdom of Lacy Hunt. He is a regular feature of Outside the Box. He writes a quarterly piece for Hoisington Asset Management in Austin, and this is one of his better ones. Read it twice.
“While the massive budget deficits and the buildup of federal debt, if not addressed, may someday result in a substantial increase in interest rates, that day is not at hand. The U.S. economy is too fragile to sustain higher interest rates except for interim, transitory periods that have been recurring in recent years. As it stands, deflation is our largest concern …”
As I write, Europe is starting to unravel. This is going to be much worse than 2008, at least as far as Europe is concerned, and odds are high that it will be very bad for the US. And the markets are still acting as if the problems in Europe can be resolved. The recent bank stress tests were a joke, as they assumed no Greek or Irish defaults. This simply can’t be. There is a banking crisis of massive proportions in our future.
As Lacy notes, we are testing the economic theories of three (I think von Mises should be added) dead white guys. The dominant theories are being shown to be wrong. The sooner we acknowledge that the better. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the major economic schools to come to grips with their failure.
This is a real problem, and there is just no way to avoid it. I wish I had more positive things to say.
Your trying to figure this out analyst,