Interviews

07/21/2016 - Mish Shedlock: KEY TAKE AWAY FROM BREXIT IS ONE THING, VOTERS ARE FED UP!

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Mish Shedlock in discussing the details of Brexit, the BoJ, the current state of Illinois and much more.

Mike Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education.

SOCIAL UNREST AND BREXIT

“Key take away from Brexit is one thing, voters are fed up.”

What’s unique about Italy is that it’s a lot of individual people buying bank bonds and they can literally lose everything. Furthermore social unrest in the US explains the rise of Donald Trump and the popularity of a socialist, Bernie Sanders. This explains why Clinton, Sanders, and Trump are all against the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. It is a 5500 page document, there is absolutely no way it is simply about free trade. Free trade can fit on a napkin; it doesn’t take 5500 pages to enforce a free trade agreement. Make no mistake the TPP is about much more.

“Brexit is not the cause, it is the symptom.”

Speaking of real household income, the top 5 % have done very well, the top 20% have done good, but the bottom 80% have done horribly in comparison and this all began in 1971 when Nixon took the US off the gold standard. This is the same time when you had an explosion in credit, an explosion in corporate profits; all of this began at the same time. People are not blaming the Fed or the public union, they are blaming free trade when in fact we started losing manufacturing jobs long before NAFTA. The number of people it takes to build anything is dramatically lower and this began well before any of the agreements happened. The politicians can’r make accurate decisions because they don’t get it, they are a part of the wealthy class; they are exempt from Obamacare and rules and regulations that the ordinary citizen abides to. They live in their own isolated world and they just don’t get it.

“The EU isn’t about free trade, just look at the carve outs they have on France for agriculture. Everyone in Europe pays more for agriculture just to protect the inefficient French market.”

Then we had all these warnings that the UK was still going to have to abide by the migration rules of the EU if the UK wanted to work out any trade agreement, don’t these arrogant politicians realize that this is exactly why the UK left? Then if you look at bilateral trade, the UK has most of its trade with the rest of the world; the UK runs a huge trade deficit with Europe and especially Germany. Because of this the UK has the upper hand in negotiations due the bilateral balance of trade it has with the rest of Europe.

LABOR REPORTS

 

 

There is certainly a story behind the numbers they are putting out. The household survey numbers have been bad for 4 straight months; meanwhile there is this volatility in the establishment survey. We need to see another month or two of both surveys and maybe we will see a new trend.

Throughout America, people are working multiple jobs because companies do not want to hire them full time and provide them full time benefits. Another example, New England nursing homes are facing problems keeping staff because of their 24/7 operations. Workers cannot live off of one salary and so they are working 2-3 jobs.

STATE OF ILLINOIS

“Every 5 mins somebody is leaving Illinois.”

The people leaving the most are the millennials and those a little bit older. It is a sad environment, property taxes here are totally out of this world, and in Illinois you down own your own home because of property taxes. The solution without a doubt is bankruptcy. The Chicago public school system is bankrupt, period. All that needs to happen is recognition of that fact but it is not even possible to declare bankruptcy because Illinois doesn’t allow it.

JAPAN STICKING WITH THE OLD

“Japan is a bug in search of a windshield.”

I believe people are increasingly questioning whether central banks have things under control. Japan just doesn’t get it; they are trying to work something that hasn’t worked for 30 years. The only thing they know how to do is print more money and push liquidity out. But the bigger problem is central banks can fix liquidity but they can’t fix solvency.


07/20/2016 - Ronnie Stoeferle: “IN GOLD WE TRUST!”

Ronald-Peter Stöferle, Managing Partner & Investment Manager at Incrementum discusses with FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long,  the key points of his recent 2016 report, “In Gold we Trust.”

Ronald was born 1980 in Vienna, Austria, is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) and a Certified Financial Technician (CFTe). During his studies in business administration and finance at the Vienna University of Economics and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he worked for Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB) in the field of Fixed Income/Credit Investments. After graduation, he participated in various courses in Austrian Economics.

In 2006, he joined Vienna-based Erste Group Bank, covering International Equities, especially Asia. In 2006, he also began writing reports on gold. His six benchmark reports called ‘In GOLD we TRUST’ drew international coverage on CNBC, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. He was awarded 2nd most accurate gold analyst by Bloomberg in 2011. In 2009, he began writing reports on crude oil. Ronald managed 2 gold-mining baskets as well as 1 silver-mining basket for Erste Group, which outperformed their benchmarks from their inception. In 2014 he published a book on Austrian Investing

“One of the main aspects of the report is that we are in a bull market again.”

Gold Price Target for June 2018: USD 2,300

Slide14

Hedge fund managers and investors were buying gold and mining shares a couple of months ago and now we are entering what the Dow Theory calls ‘the public participation pace.’ $2,300 USD is our long term target which is based on the fact we are expecting rising inflation rates. Right now we have a tremendous global slowdown and the strong USD has further fueled this slowdown.

It is confirmed however that gold is rising in every currency. And this is a strong sign for a bull market. The world believed that the Fed would hike interest rates but that didn’t happen and now with the Brexit we will definitely be in this current interest rate environment for longer, the US may even implement negative interest rates.

“The one obvious thing in the midst of this all is that central banks are really good at finding excuses for not raising rates’ now their excuse is Brexit.”

The strength of the dollar has had enormous consequences for commodities. There is a very high negative correlation between the strength of the USD and the health of commodity markets. Furthermore we have seen the effects in emerging markets that are highly dependent on a cheap dollar, the rising dollar acted as a rate hike.

Expansion of Central Banks Balance Sheet: 2007 vs 2015

Slide15

“There have been rumors about helicopter money and I am almost certain it will be implemented.”

With monetary experiments, central banks have been engaging into an all-or-nothing gamble, hoping it will eventually bring about the long promised self-supporting and sustainable recovery. The central banks‘ leverage ratios and the sizes of the balance sheets relative to GDP have enormously risen in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Lastly it doesn’t help Bank of Japan (BoJ) has taken this insanity several steps further than their peers have managed; the ECB has been comparably conservative, but is currently doing its best to catch up.

5,000 Years of Data Confirm: Interest Rates Have Never Been as Low as Nowadays

Slide16

“The longer interest rates stay this low, the more fragile the system will become.”

Negative interest rates are one of the last hopes to which policymakers cling. Meanwhile 5 currency areas (government bonds valued at more than USD 8 trillion have negative yields to maturity). When the centrally planned bubble in bonds finally bursts, it will be abundantly clear how valuable an insurance policy in the form of gold truly is

“Lose-lose situation for central bankers.”

  1. The long-term consequences of low/negative interest rates are disastrous (e.g. aggravation of the real estate and stock market bubbles, potential bankruptcies of pension funds and insurers)
  2. Normalizing interest rates would risk a credit collapse or rather a recession

Trade-weighted US Dollar Index (lhs) and the Effective Federal Funds Rate (rhs)

Slide17

“A strong dollar undoubtedly has consequences for the manufacturing industry, while a strong USD is also deflationary.”

The Fed wants a weaker dollar, but this doesn’t happen in one day, it is a process. We are making a really strong case for a recession happening in the US and it will have global consequences. A recession is a very normal thing; it is akin to your need for sleep. It is a way for the system to replenish.

“If the Fed fails with the normalization of interest rates, the already crumbling narrative of economic recovery could collapse.”

We are comparing this year’s oil prices to last year’s and last year the big plunge in oil prices started in July, so just do to that we will have rising inflation rates. But it is not only this there are many factors that indication rising inflation rates. The fact that gold and mining shares have done so well since the beginning of the year is indicative that inflation is going to be a big topic.

Value of Gold Production vs. Volume of ECB and BoJ QE purchases 2016

Slide18

“Gold has to be physically mined, its global supply is exceedingly stable – holding it provides insurance against monetary interventionalism and an endogenously unstable currency system”

At a price of USD 1,200 per ounce, the ECB would have bought 4,698 tons of gold in the first quarter of 2016 (which is more than 6 times the value of globally mined gold). If the European QE program is continued as planned, it would be equivalent (assuming prices don’t change) to the value of 21,609 tons of gold (~12% of the total stock of gold of 183,000 tons ever mined). Adding the volume of the BoJ: the equivalent would be 39,625 tons of gold in 2016

Incrementum Inflation Signal

Slide19

“In the Long Term: If Currencies Depreciate, Gold Should Appreciate.”

It is a guide for investment allocations in our funds – depending on the signal’s message we shift allocations into or out of inflation-sensitive assets.

  • Proprietary signal based on market-derived data as a response to the importance of inflation momentum
  • Shorter reaction than the common inflation statistics
  • For the first time in 24 months the Incrementum Inflation Signal indicates a full-fledged inflation trend is underway

Closing Remarks

“The market is a pain maximizer.”

In poker you have to bring some chips to the table and it’s no coincidence that China is massively buying gold. Not only has the central banked, but individuals as well. Central bankers just don’t like talking about gold. They pretend that it’s just lying around in the basement. I think we are already in the early stages of an inflationary pattern, but it is important to never rule out a deflationary event. Going forward we should prepare for much more government intervention and intervention from central banks. We are seeing that the medicine doesn’t work yet they will continue to give doses of it.


“In this current global monetary experiment that we are in, it just makes sense to hold gold.”

 

 

 


07/15/2016 - Jeff Snider: HOW LONG CAN BUYBACKS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT A MARKET WHICH IS STANDING ON A FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED PREMISE?

FRA Co-Founder Gordon T.Long and Jeffrey Snider, Head of Global Investment Research at Alhambra Investment Partners discuss earnings, the Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen and the falling credibility of central banks.

As Head of Global Investment Research for Alhambra Investment Partners, Jeff spearheads the investment research efforts while providing close contact to Alhambra’s client base. Jeff joined Atlantic Capital Management, Inc., in Buffalo, NY, as an intern while completing studies at Canisius College. After graduating in 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Jeff took over the operations of that firm while adding to the portfolio management and stock research process.

In 2000, Jeff moved to West Palm Beach to join Tom Nolan with Atlantic Capital Management of Florida, Inc. During the early part of the 2000′s he began to develop the research capability that ACM is known for. As part of the portfolio management team, Jeff was an integral part in growing ACM and building the comprehensive research/management services, and then turning that investment research into outstanding investment performance. As part of that research effort, Jeff authored and published numerous in-depth investment reports that ran contrary to established opinion. In the nearly year and a half run-up to the panic in 2008, Jeff analyzed and reported on the deteriorating state of the economy and markets. In early 2009, while conventional wisdom focused on near-perpetual gloom, his next series of reports provided insight into the formative ending process of the economic contraction and a comprehensive review of factors that were leading to the market’s resurrection. In 2012, after the merger between ACM and Alhambra Investment Partners, Jeff came on board Alhambra as Head of Global Investment Research.

EARNINGS

Picture1

“It is no doubt that earnings have been under-performing.”

What’s even more concerning is that not even is the top line falling off, but the cash flow is falling dramatically and this impacts credit along with everything else. With no earnings and no cash flow it puts us in a high risk environment. The only thing that has been holding up the market has been excessive corporate buybacks which has come out of cash flow, and to a lesser degree, borrowing. But to borrow is tough when you don’t have the cash flow to justify the credit ratings.

“How long can buybacks continue to support a market which is standing on a fundamentally flawed premise?”

Picture2

We have had 4 to 5 quarters of falling revenue but the US market seems to ignore it. At some point reality has got to set in. But it is also important to note that trade problems are a systemic factor to the decline in earnings. China’s imports are down 17% year over year, but these imports are coming from basically the emerging markets and commodity markets. They have also borrowed upwards of 9 trillion USD in the last 7 years that has suddenly gotten very expensive for them, I think there is more pain to come.

CHINESE YUAN

“The health of the Yuan is tied into the global economy and the fact that the global economy is stumbling.”

Picture3

Less growth in China combined with less growth around the world again increases financial risk which fuels more reluctance to funnel dollars into China; it has become a vicious cycle. The Chinese have no choice but to continue going in one direction, they are in a rock in a hard place. As the Chinese Yuan has been falling, the Yen has been rising in strength. This has become a huge issue for Japan to add to their already lost list of issues to deal with. A fracture is likely around the corner, China and Japan cannot go long without devaluing the Yen.

The markets are reassessing what central banks can actually do. And what markets found was that central banks aren’t actually as powerful as everyone believes them to be and Japan is a perfect example of that. No matter what the BOJ does that Yen continues to move on up. It fits into the paradigm of the economy, the financial risk, everyone reevaluating what central banks are capable of etc. The markets are reevaluating central banks because they see that a tight money environment despite efforts from central banks to fuel stimulation.

Picture4

“Some major European bank stocks are indicative of an incoming banking crisis. We see already low interest rates around the world getting lower with each passing day; this is indicative of tight money conditions. Low rates are not stimulating.”

TROUBLING MATTERS OF DEBATE

“Most troubling thing to me currently is that there are not many answers available.”

What I see is an unstable global currency regime which we are completely unprepared for. There is no solution that has been presented that would allow for a stable currency to take over Euro dollars which clearly doesn’t work. Generally the central banks can fix liquidity problems, but they cannot fix solvency problems. We see that the credit cycle has turned from non-performing loans so on and so forth.

The idea behind QE for Japan, America and Europe was to kick start a robust recovery. Now that central banks has lost credibility as well as support.  Then you have all the unintended consequences that come with almost zero money. We have nearly zero price discoveries and risk is greatly mispriced.

“Policy makers and economists have simply run out of ideas.”

Desperation is a big role of why markets are reevaluating central banks. If we go back 20 years where Alan Greenspan was a genius and he didn’t even do anything, all he did was talk and he made a career out of not talking. No matter what he did he was taken as a genius. Whereas 20 years later, Janet Yellen sounds like a fumbling idiot no matter what she does. All her actions come across as desperate because the credibility has been blown away. The Fed has been forced into action and by being forced into action it has only highlighted what the Fed can’t do.

“Resource allocation is the main benefit of price discovery; it is the life blood of the economy. The more we damage price discovery the more fatal situations will become.”

We need to look at this as an opportunity in the long run. Now that the power of central banks has come to surface and credibility has been shot, it in turn opens the door to credible solutions. The fact of the matter is that the economy is nothing like what it should be and people know that something is wrong and change is needed.

ABSTRACT WRITER: Karan Singh karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

VIDEO EDITOR: Sarah Tung  sarah.tung@ryerson.ca

 


06/30/2016 - Ellen Brown: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TRANS-ATLANTIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP (TTIP)

The Financial Repression Authority is joined by Ellen Brown, a well renown author and advocate of financial reforms. FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long sits with Ellen to discuss a myriad of topics including the TTIP, Monsanto, Blockchain Technology, and bank bail-in’s.  Ellen Brown is an American author, political candidate, attorney, public speaker, and advocate of alternative medicine and financial reform, most prominently public banking. Brown is the founder and president of the Public Banking Institute, a nonpartisan think tank devoted to the creation of publicly run banks. She is also the president of Third Millennium Press, and is the author of twelve books, including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution, as well as over 200 published articles. She has appeared on cable and network television, radio, and internet podcasts, including a discussion on the Fox Business Network concerning student loan debt with the Cato Institute’s Neil McCluskey,  a feature story on derivatives and debt on the Russian network RT,[6] and the Thom Hartmann Show’s “Conversations with Great Minds.” Ellen Brown ran for California Treasurer in the California June 2014 Statewide Primary election.

TRANS-ATLANTIC TRADE AND INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP (TTIP)

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The agreement is under ongoing negotiations and its main three broad areas are: market access; specific regulation; and broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation

The controversial agreement has been criticized and opposed by unions, charities, NGOs and environmentalists, particularly in Europe. The Independent describes the range of negative impacts as “reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations”, or more critically as an “assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations”; and The Guardian noted the criticism of TTIP’s “undemocratic nature of the closed-door talks”, “influence of powerful lobbyists”, and TTIP’s potential ability to “undermine the democratic authority of local government”

Kangaroo Court

A weaker element of this trade agreement is the ISDS, an investor dispute which is a ‘guaranteed kangaroo court.’ Corporations whose profits have been hurt by some actions of government can take these local governments to court. But it is not a true court; moreover it’s a panel of 3 lawyers who are paid by the corporations. The issue is that these corporations can sue the government but the government cannot sue the corporations. It is a one way street, in which these corporations do not have to pay attention to legal authorities. It is a court set up for the betterment of the corporations. Furthermore they can not only sue for their lost profits, but they can also sue for lost projected future profits.

“This is not government by the people for the people; rather it is government by the corporations and for the corporations.”

MONSANTO AND THE TTIP

“Monsanto can now start a factory in Europe, which goes completely against what Europeans have been fighting for years. This agreement squanders everything Europeans have achieved in this sort of protection.”

One of the goals of these agreements is to enforce the world to use our rules rather than the rules of the BRICS.  As soon as Gaddafi started talking about his gold backed banking system for northern Africa he became a target. Saddam Hussein did the same thing that was going to take euros for oil which is counter to the whole petro dollar. History shows that anybody who steers away from this system becomes a target. If you go through the banking, the ones that control their own creation, Venezuela, Brazil, and Russia etc. are facing high waters. Furthermore there is not enough money in the system because of the nature of the system, where banks create the money and charge interest.  But ideally you need a central authority that can put some money out there. I think the national dividend is a great idea, the Swiss just had a referendum but it didn’t pass. Nonetheless it’s great for them to consider this at all.

“The money shouldn’t be coming from us, from our elected representatives, or from our central banks which should be representing us, but they don’t; they only represent themselves. The Federal Reserve isn’t there to serve our interest; they are there to serve the banks.”

BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY

The blockchain is seen as the main technological innovation of Bitcoin, since it stands as proof of all the transactions on the network. A block is the ‘current’ part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as permanent database. Each time a block gets completed, a new block is generated. There is a countless number of such blocks in the blockchain. Blocks are linked to each other in proper linear, chronological order with every block containing a hash of the previous block. To use conventional banking as an analogy, the blockchain is like a full history of banking transactions. Bitcoin transactions are entered chronologically in a blockchain just the way bank transactions are. Blocks, meanwhile, are like individual bank statements. Based on the Bitcoin protocol, the blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. The full copy of the blockchain has records of every Bitcoin transaction ever executed. It can thus provide insight about facts like how much value belonged a particular address at any point in the past.

Block chain technology can definitely revolutionize the banking system. It is important to understand that at this point, nearly all alternatives are better than what we currently have in place. The banks haven’t been able to come up with a valid plan because they don’t have the money; they are creating lots of money only to give off the appearance.

“Banks create money on their books in response to our request for a loan.”

We now know that we basically create the money. When we take out a loan, the bank takes your IOU and turns it into money, and that’s where money comes from. We, the borrower are the ones monetizing our own IOU; the bank merely just makes it official.

BANK BAIL-IN

“We are moving towards a cashless society.”

The argument for going cashless is this whole monetarist theory that there is specific amount of money in the system, and the central banks control the money that’s out there by playing with interest rates. They lowered the interest rate to zero and still we have deflation, and now the theory is to lower it below zero which clearly makes it worse. That means you’re paying money to keep your own money in the bank.

The reason people are waking up now is because they have been screwed. The balance is tipping; the people who are suffering are beginning to wake up to the reasons why.

Abstract Writer: Karan Singh karan1.singh@ryerson.ca


06/27/2016 - Peter Boockvar: BREXIT: “THIS IS ALSO EXPOSING A LOT OF FAULT LINES WITHIN THE EU WITH BUREAUCRACY & THE PUSH BACK AGAINST THE ‘RULING CLASS’!

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Peter Boockvar in discussing the aftermath of Brexit and the effects on the future economy.

Peter is the Chief Market Analyst with The Lindsey Group, a macro economic and market research firm founded by Larry Lindsey.

Prior to joining The Lindsey Group, Peter spent a brief time at Omega Advisors, a New York based hedge fund, as a macro analyst and portfolio manager. Before this, he was an employee and partner at Miller Tabak + Co for 18 years where he was an equity strategist and a portfolio manager with Miller Tabak Advisors. He joined Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in 1992 in their corporate bond research department as a junior analyst. He is also President of OCLI, LLC and OCLI2, LLC, farmland real estate investment funds.

Peter graduated magna cum laude with a B.B.A. in finance from George Washington University.

BREXIT

The shock is going to lead into some chaotic-type thinking, but while this is a gigantic inconvenience and reason for continued economic slowdown, over time the UK will adjust and trade with Europe the same way Norway and Switzerland does. For the rest of Europe, this raises the question of other countries deciding to leave.

“I think having the Euro is something they want to be a part of, but that is a major risk, no question.”

This is also exposing a lot of fault lines within the EU with bureaucracy and the pushback against the “ruling class”. The failure of the EU in Brussels to address the refugee problem is a major concern, but immigration was a short term emotional decision.

“Certainly, if it wasn’t for the immigration issue,  I think it’s pretty obvious that they would’ve voted to remain.”

EU BANKING STRUCTURE

“On a bank to bank basis, they’re being crushed by the ECB and the negative interest rates. That’s the biggest threat to the European banking system, and their overleveraged banking sheets with too many nonperforming loans. Not the UK vote.”

We should remember what the underlying fundamentals are that we’re faced with every day. That is, slowing economic growth globally. In the US that is falling earnings, falling profit margins, a loss of credibility on the part of all central bankers and the Fed. On top of this is an asset price bubble over the last six years that leaves us with no margin of safety in order to face all these headwinds.

The European Union can adjust to it, because this is a gigantic wake-up call and they have two choices: they either let this bleed away or they say, you know, we have to change our ways, and some things for the better may come from that.”

“The global growth story remains very challenged, asset prices remain very expensive, and central bankers have lost credibility. Those are the risks that people should be mostly focussed on right now.”

China’s been slowing for years. Who doesn’t know that China’s going through challenges? Even the Chinese stock market is down 50% from where it was in 2007. It’s still part of a broader picture of slow growth.

DOLLAR AND YIELD

Past the very short term knee-jerk reactions – sell the Euro, sell the Pound – the Dollar has its own issues. The Fed is stuck at 37½ basis points throughout this economic cycle. They likely won’t raise rates until the expansion after the next recession. So it’s easy to sell other currencies to buy the Dollar right now, the Dollar has its own issues.

“The fair answer to that question is which is going to be the currency left standing? And the only answer to that is going to be gold and silver, and that’s obviously being reflected today. The dollar is getting a knee-jerk bounce here, but I’m not a believer in a strong Dollar because I think it itself is facing major headwinds.”

The Fed isn’t raising interest rates, and the US economy is slowing. Going from current growth to recession is not that far of a leap. The determinant of that is what asset prices do, actually. If the S&P500 goes back to 1800, then the odds of a recession increase.

The reason the stock market is used as the swing factor is because the last two recessions were led by a decline in asset prices, tech stocks, and housing prices. We have our third bubble in front of us. Tt’s mostly been manifested in credit markets, but if you do get a decline in asset prices, as it reprices to the global economic reality, that in itself could tip us over. In the US, the consumer is the only thing keeping us from a recession, and a decline in asset prices could tip the consumers over from a psychological standpoint.

LOOKING FORWARD

“The Fed has no policy right now… They were so clear on how they were going to ease, and they’ve been in the clouds on how they’re going to exit… they’re stuck, they’re trapped, and they essentially are writing policy with their fingers crossed.”

The US growth will likely continue to slow, we saw durable goods today that were very weak, we saw core capital spending within that is at a five year low, at a level last seen 10 years ago, and this was before the greater unknowns now coming out of Europe. Growth will continue to slow and asset prices will continue to decline.

In an election season and campaign, this is when peoples’ voices are heard. Where that goes socially, who knows. It’ll depend on a lot of different things. People are making their voices heard, and hopefully the ruling class is listening.

“I think the whole commodity space has bottomed out. I think investors need to look where it is most painful to look. That remains emerging markets that have already gone through a five year bear market and have much better valuations than the rest of the world.”

In Europe right now, you’re going to see carnage, but there’s probably going to be some opportunity there. There might be opportunities in the UK where selling is occurring due to the weaker pound.

“I’m very nervous about the US stock market, which happens to be one of the most, if not the most, expensive in the world.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


06/22/2016 - Graham Summers: “DURING THE NEXT CRISIS ENTIRE COUNTRIES WILL GO BUST!

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Graham Summers in discussing

Graham Summers, MBA is Chief Market Strategist for Phoenix Capital Research, an investment research firm based in the Washington DC-metro area.

Graham’s sterling track record and history of major predictions has made him one of the most sought after investment analysts in the world. He is one of only 20 experts in the world who are on record as predicting the 2008 Crash. Since then he has accurately predicted the EU Meltdown of 2011-2012 (locking in 73 consecutive winners during this period), Gold’s rise to $2,000 per ounce (and subsequent collapse), China’s market crash and more.

His views on business and investing has been featured in RollingStone magazine, The New York Post, CNN Money, Crain’s New York Business, the National Review, Thomson Reuters, the Fox Business, and more. His commentary is regularly featured  on ZeroHedge and other online investment outlets.

 

RECENT HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

What we’ve seen since 2009 has been kind of this grand delusion. We did have a bit of a recovery from 2009-2011 where the economy and the financial markets snapped back from the very deep recession in 2008. But since about 2012, the real economy hasn’t really progressed. What you’re actually seeing is a financialization of the economy in the sense that asset markets have boomed but real economic activity has stagnated. Throughout this time we have central banks engaging in massive monetary programs which have effectively been a transference of private debt onto the public sector’s balance sheet.

The very policies that bankrupted Wall Street and resulted in the 2008 crisis, those policies have now been shifted onto the public sector’s balance sheet. And as a result of this, most countries are sporting worse fundamentals from a debt to GDP perspective and when the next crisis hits, we’re going to see a severe cycle of default begin, that will eventually be sovereign. The real fireworks have yet to fit.

“If you want to use 2008 as a proxy, we’re currently in the late 2007-early 2008 stage of the cycle.”

LEVERAGE BUBBLES AND CENTRAL BANKS

“Everything post-2009 has effectively been academic central bankers implementing what their economic models suggest would work, but what works in an Excel spreadsheet doesn’t work in reality a lot of the time.”

If you simply want to refer to leverage bubbles, Lehman Brothers was leveraged 30:1 when it went bankrupt. You now have the Fed leveraging something like 70:1, the European central bank is leveraged at nearly 30:1, so you now have central banks sporting leverage ratios on par with Wall Street. To those that say it’s different because the Lehman Brothers couldn’t print currency, central banks have gone bust throughout history. The US Federal Reserve is the third central bank the US has had, and there’s no reason a central bank cannot go broke, because whether you’re going for a hyperinflationary collapse or a deflationary collapse, it’s the same thing. It’s the loss of actual value relative to nominative terms.

“The issue we believe is going to start unfolding is because central banks have spent so much money… propping the markets up over the last 6-7, we’re going to see some sort of implosion.”

Even if central banks engage in what we would call nuclear levels of intervention going forward, that in of itself would result in some kind of systemic event. You can’t have trillions of dollars of intervention without things breaking. We actually had a taste of this in April 2013, when the Bank of Japan launched the largest QE program in history, their famous Shock and Awe program. They announced their program equal to almost 25% of Japan’s GDP, and when they did this there was a brief period in the following week where the Japanese government bond market almost broke and had to be halted several times.

“Even if one were to say, well, we can’t have central banks go bust, they’ll just do a larger program, the problem is eventually the program becomes large enough that either you run out of assets to buy or the system simply can’t handle it.”

We had a brief taste of that with Japan. If central banks go nuclear when the next crisis hits, we’ll probably get another taste of it. They’ll probably close the stock market, to be honest, but how exactly the details will play out remains to be seen.

The other thing to consider is that the political landscape has changed. At some point there’s going to be a popular revolt where people don’t put up with central banks’ meddling to the level they are. There’s a lot of things in the air about how things will play out, but we’re very close to the edge.

THE 2008 TRADE SETUP

“You have to find these kinds of easy ideas for people to latch onto. You can talk about leverage, you can talk about complicated sort of financial metrics, but the reality is that you have to put it in terms that people are going to grasp and helps them realize what’s happening.”

We see an opportunity similar to 2008 today in terms of the discrepancy between economic realities and asset level pricing.

“The idea is that when something breaks and the asset prices begin to readjust to more in line with economic levels, you’re going to see a sharp move… During periods like that, you can see a very large return if you position properly.”

If you compare the S&P500’s GAAP earnings to the S&P levels today, earnings are back to where they were in 2012 but the stocks are 70% higher. Just that alone, for stocks to fall back in line with their actual earnings, you can see a very large percentage collapse.

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IS THE FED BUYING STOCKS TO PROP UP THE MARKET?

What we do know financially is that the futures markets have a program through which central banks can buy stocks. We also know that the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Japan directly intervene in the stock market.

“It’s not a far stretch to assume that the Federal Reserve is also playing around with this, and it makes perfect sense.”

We know they’re intervening in the markets on a regular basis. Somebody is trying to hold the markets up. Whenever the markets begin to break down on a very aggressive fashion and they hit a key inflection point, for some reason ‘buyers’ move in very aggressively and start buying the heck out of the market. Real buyers don’t do that. When an institution puts in an order to buy stocks, they put in these orders over a span over a couple weeks because they don’t want to adjust the price and lose the value.

We also have some corporate buybacks driving the markets higher, cash flows are flowing, and buybacks should be halting. Retail investors have been selling, and so far the only buyers are corporate buybacks and some form of intervention from central banks.

ECONOMIC TURNING POINTS

It’s very hard to find these turning points. Investors have been crushed so many times by central bank interventions that they’re loathe to put a lot of money into the markets and go hard short. Your average investor, when the market turns against them and they’re short, it’s very hard for them to sit on that position. If you actually look at investment fund managers, the ones who can and want to go short don’t want to because they’re afraid they’ll be crushed by central bank interventions.

At which point does the actual selling begin? It’s impossible to guess, but what you can do is look at the warning signs, the selling pressure, but the specifics are impossible to guess.

INVESTMENT STRATEGIES FOR THE FUTURE

US Treasury yields have had a significant breakdown. Globally we now have $10T of bonds with negative yields, but Treasuries still remain positive.

“From a financial and economic perspective, the US is on at least a sound a footing as Europe and Japan.”

That begs the question of why our Treasuries rallying instead of pushing their yields lower. It’s likely that there’s going to be a move in Treasuries that’s going to have yields falling to all-time lows.

There’s a big question as to whether the dollar is about to begin another leg up in a bull market, or if it’s just going to continue to consolidate. Something happened in the last four months where the dollar really sold aggressively. A theory is that the Fed formed the Shanghai Accord to devaluate the dollar in order to prop the markets up. Since QE300, stocks and the dollar have been in a trading range.

If another round of serious deflation hits, will gold sell-off with the commodity complex or will it hold up? Currently in the last year, we see gold and the dollar rallying, which doesn’t often happen. The question is whether gold will become a fair trade or if it would be a commodity trade.

“The S&P500 is just a couple of percentage points away from all-time highs, but based on earnings and other fundamentals it could fall over 40%. To us, it seems the downside potential is higher than the upside risk.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou <a2zhou@ryerson.ca>


06/15/2016 - Richard Duncan: CHINA’S HARD LANDING HAS ALREADY BEGUN!

The Financial Repression Authority is joined by Richard Duncan, an esteemed author, economist, consultant and speaker. FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long discusses with Mr. Duncan about the current Chinese situation and the ramifications being imposed on the global economy.

Richard Duncan is the author of three books on the global economic crisis. The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures (John Wiley & Sons, 2003, updated 2005), predicted the current global economic disaster with extraordinary accuracy. It was an international bestseller. His second book was The Corruption of Capitalism: A strategy to rebalance the global economy and restore sustainable growth. It was published by CLSA Books in December 2009. His latest book is The New Depression: The Breakdown Of The Paper Money Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).

Since beginning his career as an equities analyst in Hong Kong in 1986, Richard has served as global head of investment strategy at ABN AMRO Asset Management in London, worked as a financial sector specialist for the World Bank in Washington D.C., and headed equity research departments for James Capel Securities and Salomon Brothers in Bangkok. He also worked as a consultant for the IMF in Thailand during the Asia Crisis. He is now chief economist at Blackhorse Asset Management in Singapore.

Richard has appeared frequently on CNBC, CNN, BBC and Bloomberg Television, as well as on BBC World Service Radio. He has published articles in The Financial Times, The Far East Economic Review, FinanceAsia and CFO Asia. He is also a well-known speaker whose audiences have included The World Economic Forum’s East Asia Economic Summit in Singapore, The EuroFinance Conference in Copenhagen, The Chief Financial Officers’ Roundtable in Shanghai, and The World Knowledge Forum in Seoul.

Richard studied literature and economics at Vanderbilt University (1983) and international finance at Babson College (1986); and, between the two, spent a year travelling around the world as a backpacker.

THE CHINESE FINANCIAL CRISIS

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“China’s economy resembles a spinning top that is running out of momentum. It is wobbling and gyrating erratically.”

China is really just running into a brick wall. If they continue to have more and more credit growth, it will only exaggerate their problem. This is essentially the nature of China’s current problem. A stock market crash, diminishing returns on credit, a plunge in imports, capital flight and currency volatility are all signs that China’s great economic boom is now coming to an end. In all probability, this is just the beginning of what is likely to be a very protracted economic slump.

China’s economy need not collapse into a Chinese Great Depression to produce a global economic crisis, although the possibility of economic collapse in China cannot be ruled out. The 17% contraction in Chinese imports last year was already enough to tip the global economy into recession. The consequences of this economic hard landing in China will be felt in ever corner of the world.

CONSEQUENCES OF INCREASING CREDIT IN AMERICA

Despite the efforts of quantitative easing, it did not help or facilitate much benefit to China. This is largely due to the fact that China’s economy is so large. There is a large gap between how much China produces and how much China consumes.  From 2005 to 2014, China invested $4.6 trillion more than it consumed. If we look at aggregate financing it reveals a much more detailed story of the credit growth situation in China. Since 2009 credit growth has been significantly slowing, and once this began, so too did nominal GDP growth begin to decline.

“China is increasingly misallocating and wasting credit.”

Untitled

During the last 25 years in China:

If credit growth in China continues to grow then by 2021, total credit growth in China will be more than the peak credit growth the US had back in 2008.

  • The Gross Output Value of Construction increased by 134 times, growing at an average annual rate of 21%.
  • Building Area Under Construction increased by 33 times, at an average annual rate of 15%.
  • Steel Production increased by 12 times, at an average rate of 11% growth per year. Consequently, China now has 50% of global steel capacity.
  • Cement Production increased 12-fold, growing by an average annual rate of 11%. During just three years (2011 to 2013), China produced more cement than the United States did during the entire 20th Century.  China now has 59% of global cement capacity.

On the other hand many would believe that if China devalued the yuan, it would bring in more capital investment, but this is not the case. If they had one big devaluation it would make china much more competitive in the global economy. The trade surplus will soar and bring in more money into china. But at the same time China’s trading partners would not be pleased because China already has a large trade surplus with the rest of the world. So too devalue further only to make the already large trade surplus even larger would be unfair by anyone’s standards.

FALLING FOREX RESERVES

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“Rather than the reserves shrinking, the more important thing to note is that they have not been growing.”

The buyers who are absorbing the treasuries being sold at are really people just fleeing negative interest rates. Rather than take a negative yield, they would rather buy US treasuries at a pathetic 1.7% on a 10yr. The reason China’s forex reserves are falling is because Chinese people want to sell Chinese yuan and buy dollars. And with these dollars they want to buy treasury bonds.

I do expect there to be a steady depreciation in the yuan coming in the near future. But much of this depends on what happens to the dollar. It is very clear that if the dollar goes up, the yuan is going to go down and this is a problem because the more the yuan goes down then the cheaper the Chinese goods will become compared to the US. Therefore making it more difficult for the fed to reach its mandate of 2% inflation.

JOB CREATION AND SUSTAINMENT IN CHINA 

 

Untitled2

The green shows that China’s’ economy made up 13% of the global economy. But Chinese household consumption made up only 9% of global consumption, while investment made up 24.4% of global investment. This is mind boggling because its telling of investment in all kinds of structures which create jobs.

 “If global investment and Chinese investment grow at the same rate as they are now, then within 10 years; Chinese investment will make up 60% of global investment. Of course this is not possible, it just won’t happen, so the investment is going to have to slow. “

What Chinese authorities are telling is that they are consequently going to move from investment driven growth into consumption driven growth, but this again is just not possible because if you begin laying off factory workers, then these people will consume less, not more.  If investment slows as it must, then consumption will also slow. So in order to have any growth at all, Chinese spending will need to sharply increase.

“For the rest of the world it does not matter how much China’s economy is growing by, but that matter is how much their imports are growing by.”

When Chinese imports are growing, china then becomes a significant driver for global economic growth. But last year Chinese imports contracted by a staggering 17%. Brazil is now suffering the world depression in 100 years because commodity prices have crashed due to lack of Chinese demand. The effects of this import contraction are clearly being felt and it will be global. All around the world we are seeing a rapidly growing backlash against free trade and the rise of anti-free trade candidates on both the right and the left.

“We need to push up wages in the manufacturing industries around the world. Currently the average wage rate globally is $8/day, and there are hundreds of millions of people who would be happy to work for $5/day. We now live in a global economy, we are very much interconnected and we have to find a way to increase wages in the manufacturing sector.”


06/09/2016 - Erik Townsend: “YOU EITHER ACCEPT FINANCIAL REPRESSION AND YOUR WEALTH WILL ERODE, OR YOU BECOME A SPECULATOR!”

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Erik Townsend in discussing what it means to be an American entrepreneur and his perspective as a global traveler, along with the impact of the upcoming election.

Erik Townsend is a retired software entrepreneur turned hedge fund manager. Throughout his career, Erik has capitalized on his ability to understand complex systems and anticipate paradigm shifts far in advance of the mainstream. By the mid-1980s, Erik had invented an approach to distributed system design that is now widely known as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). In 1992 Erik founded the Cushing Group, a boutique consultancy focused exclusively on bringing advanced distributed application computing technologies to market. The Cushing Group’s work with Wells Fargo Bank in the early 1990s paved the way for Wells Fargo to become the world’s first Internet Bank by early 1995. After selling the Cushing Group to Ciber, Inc. (NYSE: CBR) in 1998, Erik briefly engaged a well-known investment bank to manage his assets, but was profoundly disappointed with their services.

Erik has become a passionate world traveler. He moved to Hong Kong in 2009 to get a better perspective on changing global economics. While living in Hong Kong, several hedge fund professionals he met there observed that through his own passionate trading activities, Erik was “already doing all the work of running a hedge fund except for picking up the phone and calling a lawyer and turning it into a fund”.

Erik eventually took his Hong Kong friends’ advice to heart, and founded Fourth Turning Capital Management, LLC in 2013. Through that asset management company, he launched a Global Macro-strategy hedge fund in July 2013. In February 2016, in a joint effort with Nathan Egger, Erik launched Macro Voices, a new weekly financial podcast program which will target professional finance, high net worth, and other “sophisticated” investors who desire financial content at a level of sophistication and complexity above what the retail investment-focused podcasts on the Internet presently offer. Erik continues to live a very international lifestyle, and presently has homes in Hong Kong, Mexico and the United States.

AS AN ENTREPRENEUR

Being an American entrepreneur was kind of a hero story. It was understood in America that the people who launch small business and innovate new ways of doing things are the heroes that make America strong, and made it what it once was. It’s in decline, unfortunately. In 2008 I wanted to get back into technology entrepreneurship, bur there were barriers to entry and it was so easy to watch the reckless monetary policy and get into trading instead. The government is desperate and doing crazy things. We’re in very unprecedented times, and if you can understand that picture, it’s not too hard to be successful in trading. It’s much easier to make money by understanding how reckless the government is being.

“I help rich people get richer while watching the country that I’m very proud to be from, in my eyes, fall apart at the seams. Being an entrepreneur was a much more responsible and honorable thing to do with one’s life.”

There’s a huge financial incentive to trade markets and take advantage of the huge inefficiencies that are created by reckless actions of government.

TECHNOLOGY IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP

“I don’t know that entrepreneurship is necessarily stronger in other places, compared to what the United States used to have.”

There is no place that begins to compare with what America used to be. We see America in decline today. It’s gone from being head and antlers above the rest of the world down to still one of the better countries. I don’t know that there’s anything that’s dramatically better in terms of opportunities for entrepreneurs starting their own companies.

“I think that Americans who don’t travel a lot have no idea how much things have changed.”

Technologically, every place was behind the United States. But that was during the 80s. Today, America is run down and broken. The systems in the United States don’t work very well. Asia is shiny and new.

For example, Hong Kong’s octopus card. It has an RFID chip in it and can be used on every form of public transit as an electronic cash card. This was in service and working in 1997. That was 19 years ago and there’s nothing like it in the United States today. Gigabit internet is standard around most of the world now, yet it’s next to impossible to find. Hundred megabit is “unheard of fast” in the United States, but that’s really slow service in most of the world now. What makes this infuriating is that all of the underlying technology that makes this possible was invented in the United States.

“Why is it that the United States is last in terms of adoption of technology that we ourselves invented? I think it’s the failure of government. They have created so many barriers to entrepreneurs taking technology and using it to change society for the better that entrepreneurs are going and doing it elsewhere where governments are cooperating with them.”

That said, the way things are done elsewhere is according to procedure with no deviation from the standard policy. The way Americans think and innovate is still culturally not accepted in most of the world, so we still have that advantage.

In a lot of cases, we’re seeing a lot of American entrepreneurs move overseas because there are better opportunities there. The American government used to recognize that its job was to promote and endorse that kind of innovation, but now they’ve basically been sold out. Entrepreneurs can’t afford lobbyists, but large corporations can. It doesn’t matter how innovative you are; if your government prevents you from being successful, the most innovative people will find other parts of the world.

“I think that if the government continues to prevent American entrepreneurs from succeeding, they’re going to go elsewhere and they’re going to bring their talent to help other countries to be competitive.”

FROM ENTREPRENEUR TO HEDGE FUND MANAGER

Dealing with executives of Fortune 100 companies, you need to prove your ethics and morality and loyalty to them before they’re willing to give a small company a chance. In Wall Street, the boxing analogy is what you have to wrap your head around.

“What you see on Hollywood movies about business being cutthroat, it doesn’t really work that way in most of corporate America. On Wall Street, it’s worse than that.”

Entrepreneurs are people who make things happen, who get things done, and that’s what makes us successful. But investing is the opposite of that. They watch and make decisions based on what other people do. Entrepreneurs also don’t have to listen to stupid people, and you can’t do that in investing. If you focus on what should happen in the economy, you’re going in the wrong direction. You want to be learning how the people who are actually in power think.

“During my work week I have to learn how to think like the people who are in charge do, and it’s not based on common sense.”

THE PROBLEM OF CENTRAL BANKS

Governments are taping over our problems and addressing symptoms with printed money. The root cause of the 2008 crisis was too much debt. The solution governments proposed was more debt, and they’re trying to stimulate credit markets in order to get banks lending again so people can go back to spending beyond their means. There’s no focus on saving and investments. A lot of people have said this is unsustainable.

“The truth of the matter is that central banks, with a deflationary backdrop like it is now, can continue to print money.”

They can keep getting away with addressing symptoms as long as we have a deflationary backdrop that permits money printing to occur without causing runaway inflation. Once we get to runaway inflation, central banks will have no choice but to tighten in order to arrest the inflation, and then things will come crashing down.

We’re printing all this money to benefit Wall Street; it’s not benefiting hardworking Americans, it’s supporting financial markets.

“Wouldn’t it be better, if quantitative easing has to happen, if it were helicopter money that helped everyday people?”

When inflation hits the stage, that’s when central banks have to fold their cards. What happens in the meantime, almost everyone thinks that negative interest rates are coming to the United States. As we do get back toward a worsening economic situation, we’re going to see an uprising. Americans might not understand the problem, but they know there’s a problem and they’re angry about it. If there’s going to be more quantitative easing, there’s going to be very strong political pressure that it should be to help Main Street, not Wall Street.

“I think the next president, the one elected this year in 2016, could very possibly be the most important president in the nation’s history because I think the fiscal situation is likely to come to a head.”

People around the world don’t envy the USA the way they used to. They’re angry. The world is getting very pissed off at Americans. Hilary Clinton is talking tough with Russia. Donald Trump is talking tough with China. When you start picking fights with Russia, with China, these are places who have the ability to end humanity on Earth with the push of a nuclear button, just like the US does.

“All of the candidates, I think, are very dangerous in terms of their very tough-guy attitudes that they’re taking toward other countries. So I’m very concerned about where we’re headed in terms of American hegemony offending people that are able to defend themselves.”

THOUGHTS TOWARD THE FUTURE

You’re better off not being a speculator, but in an era of financial repression that gives negative returns. So you either accept financial repression and that your wealth will erode slower than other people, or you become a speculator.

“I think the opportunity is coming to buy energy, hand over fist.”

You have to watch the action of central bankers, and recognize that the smartest people in the room are saying that the global economy does not support current asset prices. What does support current asset prices is that the Fed is going to be accommodative and continue to prop up asset prices. The longer this goes on, the harder the fall will be.

If you wanted to own something long term, precious metals will definitely behave very well. But buying and holding long term in the stock market is not recommended. We’re in an environment where asset prices have been artificially propped up, they’re supposedly taking the punch bowl away and if they do, I think that we could see a very precipitous drop.

PODCAST HOST EXPERIENCES

“I wanted there to be a de facto place where you could go online and collaborate and share investing ideas with other smart people.”

If you look at what’s there in terms of discussion forums on the internet, it’s childish. So where do the adults go for discussion? So I created a podcast that specifically targets high net worth individuals, family offices, accredited investors, basically sophisticated investors living in financial repression and understand that they have to speculate to avoid a negative real rate of return. And that means collaboration.

“The idea behind MacroVoices is to create that podcast, get that discussion going in the podcast, and then have a listener discussion forum where we can discuss the topics and continue the conversation, bring that global community of sophisticated investors together.”

There are other platforms like Twitter, which are starting to gain a huge amount of market share. We’re participating on Twitter through the MacroVoices handle, as well as having our own listener discussion forums. The idea is to just get smart people talking to one another.

“I get to interview the smartest people on Earth about financial topics, and what we tell them all off the air is what we’re doing different here is please do not dumb it down to a retail level. We want you to speak on a professional level.”

So we keep the guest interview on a professional level, and then add a conversation to explain any issues that might have been confusing to the retail component of the audience. We thought we were going to offend the retail audience, but it’s the opposite. The more that they don’t get it, the more interested they are, and the more they post questions and ask other listeners to help them understand.

“Not dumbing it down is the best thing that we’ve done.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Video Editor:   Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


05/27/2016 - John Rubino: DEFLATION IS A DIRECT RESULT OF OUR ATTEMPTS TO CREATE INFLATION THROUGH EASY MONEY!

John Rubino of DollarCollapse.com and FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long discuss the effects of the rise in eCommerce along with the rise of technology and the consequences we are facing from flawed perceptions of financial authorities.

John Rubino is author of Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green Tech Boom (Wiley, December 2008), co-author, with GoldMoney’s James Turk, of The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It (Doubleday, January 2008), and author of How to Profit from the Coming Real Estate Bust (Rodale, 2003). After earning a Finance MBA from New York University, he spent the 1980s on Wall Street, as a currency trader, equity analyst and junk bond analyst. During the 1990s he was a featured columnist with TheStreet.com and a frequent contributor to Individual Investor, Online Investor, and Consumers Digest, among many other publications. He now writes for CFA Magazine and edits DollarCollapse.com and GreenStockInvesting.com.

Print

The big retail chains are generally seen as pretty good barometers of the health of “the consumer.” And since — in today’s late-cycle debt-binge pseudo-capitalism — the consumer drives the economy, the numbers coming out of the aforementioned retail chains should be cause for worry. Ecommerce companies like amazon are making it easier and easier to stay at home. Women now are more and more buying their clothes from the comfort of their homes which will soon make the need for malls obsolete.

Furthermore by increasing the minimum wage rate in America, all of the fast food chains have begun automating cashiers with kiosks. McDonalds’ has already begun doing this and this new direction has highlighted the lesser need for human labor within the retail sector. Warehouses and factories used to employ many people throughout the world, now with the rise of technology, and particularly in America these places have become vastly automated. In many cases you do not need bartenders, waiters, and cashiers. All of these tasks can be automated through technology.

“I hate to be apocalyptic but the fact of the matter is we have multiple storms that are all playing in the same direction and they are feeding on each other as a link. To link monetary policy and cheap money to robotics. If you are a CEO and money is this cheap, you are going to invest into robotics. These trends have accelerated the shift to robotics and this wave is going to shock people and leave many without jobs.”

MONETARY POLICY

When interest rates are low it is a signal to the market to borrow lots of money. Over the past couple of decades due to these low interest rates, the businesses of the world have begun mass borrowing of money to build factories. This mass overcapacity in turn leads to deflation. for example when you build too much steel you cannot just stop operations at the given plant; the plant must continue to run to at least break the variable cost, which in the long run drops the price of steel.

“Deflation is a direct result of our attempts to create inflation through easy money.”

Cheap money was not going to bring demand forward any more than two years, but what it would do is create a dramatic over supply. We have had $9 trillion leveraged into the emerging markets that basically went into fueling overcapacity for the past several years. When you get overcapacity you lose price power and then cash flows begin to be depleted. This was easily predictable, there was no economist that would say otherwise, however the mistake was that they thought we had some sort of recovery happening or they ignored that and thought Japan had the right approach.

“The people making high level financial decisions the past decade are clueless. They have no idea what the consequences of their decisions are. The people in charge now are getting exactly the opposite of what their predecessors expected when they implemented QE, and ran massive government deficits.”

This is going to force another wave of major layoffs. We already have a gutted middle class; we are killing the golden goose that actually buys consumer products. Maybe what was really missed is that all of this economics was based on a standalone country. We live in a globalized economy now that has labor arbitrage, and the central banks have underestimated the global impacts of these policies.

“We are at the point where there are no more options. Anything we do from now on will have some sort of unintended consequences that will come back to bite us.”

The Japanese Central Bank and the ECB both took steps to devalue their currencies and they got the opposite result; the currencies went up. If we have gotten to the point where all the emergency measures central banks implement do not seem to work then it can’t be interpreted as a sign that we are coming or have come to the end of this process.

THE NEW NARRATIVE

IT-infrastructure

“The narrative has now been shifted to a massive move of increasing central banks’ balance sheets that will be based on fiscal spending of infrastructure.”

James Rickards in his new book, ‘The New Case for Gold’ argues that to get the dollar down and force inflation into the system a way to do it is for the government to drive up the price of the gold. The enemy of the government has been gold, but it can also be the friend of the government in a crisis situation. Similarly, Catherine Austin Fitts  argues the 1% has sucking wealth out of the US society for the past few decades and they have basically stolen just about as much as they think they can steal. Now it is in their interest to go back to sound money to protect what they have stolen. This is another reason for the gold standard to eventually look useful to the people in charge.

Karan Singh karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

Sarah Tung  sarah.tung@ryerson.ca


05/25/2016 - YRA HARRIS: WE’RE IN A WHOLE NEW BALLPARK – THE FED’S OWN MECHANISM MAY BE BROKEN!

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long discusses with Yra Harris about the yield curve of US Treasury bonds along with the G7 meeting and the effect of Germany and ECB on the rest of the world.

Yra Harris is a recognized Trader with over 32 years of experience in all areas of commodity trading, with broad expertise in cash currency markets. He has a proven track record of successful trading through combination of technical work and fundamental analysis of global trends; historically based analysis on global hot money flows. He is recognized by peers as an authority on foreign currency. In addition to this he has Specific measurable achievements as a member of the Board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Yra Harris is a Registered Commodity Trading Advisor, Registered Floor Broker and a Registered Pool Operator.

He is a regular guest analysis on Currency & Global Interest Markets on Bloomberg and CNBC. He has been interviewed for various articles in Der Spiegel, Japanese television and print media, and is a frequent commentator on Canadian Financial Network, ROB TV.

LOW ON 2/10 YIELD CURVE

Slide1It looks like we have another temporary bottom. After we took out that previous level we were talking 120 basis points, but now we’re trading at 95. The big problem is going to be the 75 basis point area, but we’ve already taken out the lows that were made in 2007-2008. What it reflects is that the Fed is flattening as they’re talking about raising rates.

Usually with this flattening of the curve, the 2/10 which is called the “investor’s curve” instead of the “speculator’s curve”, indicates one of two things. Firstly, rates are either too high or going too high on the short end relative to what the market perceives is its potential growth in the future. They’re getting nervous.

“Usually I would say this is a very solid indicator and that the Fed has really waited too long to do anything. Which flies in the face of everything we’ve heard in the last two weeks.”

There is a dynamic in play in the global markets. With the vast amount of central bank purchases, they have skewed the markets so badly that the markets are trying to get a read on what this all means. Because everything is relative value, 60% of the developed market bonds are in negative territory. That skews everything, so we can’t get a real feel for what this curve means. If that’s the reason the curve is flattening, then we’re in a whole new ballpark because it’s a global phenomenon at a level we’ve never seen before and that’s going to affect everything. It breaks the Fed’s own mechanism.

“Bond markets need to be a signally mechanism to be effective, and if you’ve broken the signalling mechanism, well, we’re flying here in uncharted territory… then it becomes a question of, who’s in the pilot’s seat?”

That’s what the world is trying to figure out: do the people in the pilot’s seat know what they’re doing and have confidence in what they’re doing or are we really flying blind here?

5/30 CURVE FLATTENING

Slide3The 5s30s is where speculators like to play and that curve is actually flattening more as they seem to be able to exert more pressure, but that might be reflective of relative value. In a yield-starved world, yield-starved because central banks have so dynamically shifted everything everything through their massive purchases, people are stuck having to really reach for things.

“The 5/30 is more dynamically telling me that the Fed may be erring in raising rates, that they waited too long.”

People in Europe have 3/10% of GDP yield. It’s not even enough to cover their budget situations. Europe is in a very difficult situation here. That might mean the Fed has waited too long.

THE PREVIOUS G7 MEETING IN SHANGHAI

“I don’t think anything major came out of Shanghai because I’ve been around this business for a long time and nothing could’ve kept that quiet.”

Maybe something did take place, but then we consider June of 1998, when the Chinese were much more concerned, and two weeks before Bill Clinton goes to China, Bob Rubin makes a speech about the strength of the Dollar and the US Treasury started buying Yen and selling Dollars contrary to what Rubin said. The Chinese were very upset with the weakening of the Yen and put pressure on the US to try and correct it. Now in Shanghai, we get the sense that the Chinese were displeased with the recent 30% depreciation of the Japanese Yen and made their voices known.

If you tied that into Shanghai, you can see that the Japanese sent a signal saying, ‘when we have displeasure, and since we’re an autocratic government, we can move in a very quick, dynamic fashion. And when we move, we’ll disrupt the markets, so you better take care of this situation cause we believe the Yen is too weak against the Yuan.’ So now the Japanese are unhappy, so this will get interesting. The Japanese have voiced their concern with this one sided depreciation.

SPECULATION ON RESULTS OF THE G7 MEETING

The Japanese could seriously weaken the Yen if they started buying other countries’ bonds. So there was a conservative effort by the BOJ to buy US treasuries and European debt.

“Any time a central bank intervenes or starts to buy some of these assets in an aggressive manner, it’s being done to weaken your currency. There’s no better way to word it.”

Slide4The Swiss are actively intervening in the market, the Norwegians are maintaining stability. If the BOJ were to start buying US Treasuries, the Dollar-Yen would weaken dramatically cause that would be a central bank policy to directly weaken their currency by buying other countries’ assets. They will be warned against doing that, but the Japanese retail investors and pension funds are under a lot of pressure to deliver some modicum of return with negative rates in Japan hampering their ability to achieve a positive return.

“What I think the biggest issue the G7 will speak to is what I call the Larry Summers Agenda… he’s trying to get a global fiscal stimulus.”

He wants everyone to bring forward all their infrastructure spending now. It would make the Chinese very happy, but it certainly seems to be a desire to craft some type of global fiscal stimulus to take the pressure off the fiscal monetary policy.

People talk about the Chinese, but the Germans are much more a propagator of current account surpluses, but they save and save and save.

“We are totally opposed to nations using their currencies to gain a trade advantage. There will be a lot spoken about the need for fiscal stimulus.”

THE PROBLEM OF EUROPE

Europe is 27 different situations looking for a common policy, and that just can’t possibly happen. Germany has full employment and budget surplus, current account surplus, and it sits there with negative interest rates, then everything you’ve told me is wrong. What has to happen is you get very robust inflation in Germany, cause you’re keeping rates way below whatever metric is used.

“Your work is in financial repression. Nobody in the world right now is more financially repressed than the German people.”

We have the German constitutional court ruling against these OMTs and the ability of the ECB to actually perform fiscal policy through their monetary policy.

The markets are complacent. The European bond markets have yields that are preposterous.

“Germany is Europe’s credit card; the ECB, yes, they can print money but they have no credibility without the German credit card.”

No one would buy German debt without someone guaranteeing it. There is no Euro bond. It doesn’t exist. People keep saying they need it, but in order to do that there has to be someone guaranteeing that credit, and that’s the Germans. European debt is at 8-9% and this is going to be the wild card. They have swallowed the concept that the ECB is some sort of brilliant organization with credibility. It has x amount of balance sheet assets which are growing tremendously.

The ECB would be equivalent to the Great Depression in 1932 Austria, when the credit gestalt went under. The ECB sits in that role. If the Germans say they’re not going to be a part of this, the world blows apart financially. They’re hoping to pile all this on so the world will tell the Germans they can’t leave. This is such a surreptitious way of forcing them to be the guarantors.

Meanwhile the ECB is buying 80b more Euro’s worth of credit every month. They don’t even have to buy it. They’re doing it because they need product. They’re in a hurry to keep piling all this debt on the ECB, who kept saying ‘we’ll do whatever it takes’ and the market accepted that, and over the course of this “whatever it takes” they kept piling on this debt.

“If you want to see an accord, there’s going to be a fiscal stimulus accord.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou: a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Min Jung Kim: minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


05/18/2016 - Kristin Tate: WHAT THIS ELECTION TELLS US ABOUT HER MILLENNIAL GENERATION

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Kristin Tate in discussing her book and the outlook of Millennials on the upcoming US election.

KRISTIN TATE is is a political columnist and author of “Government Gone Wild”.

In her book she says D.C. politicians are shipping our friends and family overseas to fight in wars we shouldn’t be fighting. They monitor our emails, record our phone calls, and peer into our snail mail. They spend our hard-earned cash on things no disciplined family would buy. They tell us who we can marry and what we can put in our bodies. They throw us in overcrowded prisons for smoking pot. They take lavish trips around the world, staying in five-star hotels… and it comes straight out of our paychecks. This isn’t freedom?

Government Gone Wild is a brash, bold ride through the carnival of absurdities that our broken system has become. This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans… it’s about inspiring hard working Americans to give a damn so we can take our country back. This is your wakeup call. You’re not anywhere near as free as you think you are – but you can be. We’re not as prosperous as we once were – but we can be.

GOVERNMENT GONE WILD

“You could really open my book on any random page and start reading and not be confused.”

If you want Millennials to not be apathetic you have to get their attention in a way that will let you keep their attention. They grew up with technology and have a shorter attention span, so it’s unrealistic to expect a young person who’s not already politically involved to pick up some long boring book.

The book takes the reader through various topics; everything from social issues to taxes to foreign affairs.

“The main message throughout this book is that whenever too much government gets involved, usually our freedoms are eroded.”

Once you get young people interested, once you get the conversation going, it’s usually easier to keep their attention. The battle’s getting their attention initially.

The book is a really light read, filled with a lot of shocking facts that a lot of people don’t know about our government, but it’s presented in a very fun way.

“One thing I really try to show Millennials is how we really need to start demanding accountability from our politicians.”

We’re scraping to get by and all this money we’re using to pay our taxes are going toward these sanctimonious politicians to live like kings and queens. There’s a lot of things we can do to turn this country around, but you’ve got to show young people why they have to care and why they need to demand accountability from our politicians.

ON THE SPECTRUM BETWEEN BERNIE SANDERS AND DONALD TRUMP

Poll after poll shows that Millennials tend to be more socially accepting of diverse lifestlyles, so maybe more socially to the left, but we’re also fiscally conservative. It’s kind of libertarian.

“I would say that I tend to be a representation of that – socially more liberal and fiscally conservative. It’s kind of libertarian.”

Even if they don’t know what the word ‘libertarian’ means, if you ask them about these issues many young people want the government to stay out of our personal lives and out of our wallets.

A few decades ago, something like gay marriage was very controversial, but this generation has grown up with these social issues and they are a little closer to home than previous generations.

“I see the future of the Republican party as being a little bit more libertarian, and if these older Republicans don’t start understanding that you’re going to keep seeing younger Millennials flock to the Democrats because they really see these social conservative issues as deal-breakers.”

CURRENT ELECTION ISSUES

You have a record number of Millennials living with their parents, the job market is awful, and you do have a lot of young people who do have college degrees working low wage jobs. We’re depressed, and that’s why Bernie Sanders is doing so well. He’s sending a message that sounds positive to young people about the future, even though socialism would destroy this generation. A lot of young people don’t realize that when they hear him talk about income inequality and wealth distribution.

“If the Republicans or Hilary Clinton want to grab some of this Millennial vote, they need to start showing young people how their policies will lead to jobs… and how their policies will bring prosperity to all Americans. That’s what young people care about.”

They get these soundbites of positivity from Bernie and that sounds better than anything else they’ve heard. That’s why they’re so excited about Bernie. It’s depressing, but young people are all about bumper sticker politics; if you want to get their attention you need to spread your message in catchy, easy to understand ways. Bernie Sanders doesn’t really need to show young people how he’s going to make these things a reality because right now he’s the only one giving them any hope at all.

“There’s a lack of understanding of what capitalism is, but the fact that young people say they like free enterprise gives me home that fiscal conservatives can still spread their message to young people effectively.”

The movements behind Bernie and Trump are very similar. People are fed up with the Republicans and the Democrats. The voters are fed up with these establishment bureaucrats who do not look out for the people, on both sides of the aisle. That’s why they flock to Bernie Sanders.

“Although I don’t love Trump or Bernie, the fact that both of them are so popular does give me hope because they’re both outsiders and it shows me that people want something new and that they understand that the system is broken.”

LOOKING FORWARD

If Hilary gets the nomination, young people will continue to be frustrated. Hopefully they’ll start to understand once they get into the job market, they’ll understand that we need more capitalism and less socialism.

“I do think that politics as we know it is changing forever in the US. I think this whole notion of having two establishment parties is crumbling… I see more apathy than ever, but I also see in some other way more awareness of what’s going on.”

It’s easier to hold people more accountable because of technology, and this increased awareness of what our politicians are doing and this connectiveness because of technology will only make the two party system crumble even more. We’re seeing this huge movement toward outsiders, toward politicians who are not career bureaucrats, and we’ll continue to see that in future elections.

“More government involvement is not what we need; we have too much socialism right now… capitalism is our friend, the job market is our friend, a great corporate environment is our friend. I want Millennials to wake up to this stuff and hopefully vote in a way that would lead to these for a free market policy down the road.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou: a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


05/13/2016 - Wolf Richter – TRANSPORTATION RECESSION SIGNALS RETAIL PROBLEMS AHEAD!

Financial Repression and the Structural Concerns for the Retail Market

FRA co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Wolf Richter to discuss the struggling retail market and its subsequent impact on the U.S economy as a whole which are a result of the recent financial crisis.

Wolf Richter is the founder of Wolf Street Corp. In his cynical, tongue-in-cheek manner, he muses on wolfstreet.com about economic, business, and financial issues, Wall Street shenanigans, complex entanglements, and other things, debacles, and opportunities that catch his eye in the US, Europe, Japan, and occasionally China. You can subscribe to his free emails and keep in touch with Wolf Richter’s research and news through his cynical, tongue-in-cheek manner, he muses on wolfstreet.com about economic, business, and financial issues.

He has over twenty years of C-level operations experience, including turnarounds and a VC-funded startup. He earned his BA and MBA in Texas and his MA in Oklahoma, worked in both states for years, including a decade as General Manager and COO of a large Ford dealership and its subsidiaries. But one day, he quit and went to France for seven weeks to open himself up to new possibilities, which degenerated into a life-altering three-year journey across 100 countries on all continents, much of it overland. He has written two books: BIG LIKE: CASCADE INTO AN ODYSSEY and TESTOSTERONE PIT.

Concerns of Financial Repression

Under financial repression the money that you earn does not compensate for the forward inflation on your investment.  This is slowly eating up the savings of investors and bond holders in a period of low inflation, and is done so by the central bank to help aid governments and debtors in paying off the massive pileups of debt. We can expect this trend of financial repression is to go on for the time being due to the position most corporate firms and the government is in right now, as most economists believe a slight increase in interest rates would be catastrophic for the economy.

Retail Space

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We are in a booming online retail environment which is not going to slow down any time soon. The problem with retail space is a structural problem due to the surge in online shopping. Everywhere we look in urban environments there are strip malls on every corner of the neighborhood and multiple outlets for the same retail store exist all across the states. With the drop in consumption in goods and services, a recession in the goods produced within the U.S. On a weekly basis we are seeing more and more stores shed employees and closing stores all across the country in order to cut operation costs and stay afloat.

 “This creation of demand is just smoke and mirrors”

At the same time consumers are growing older, and had planned to live off their savings However, over the past years due to the shocks to the FIRE economy we have seen virtually zero growth in their savings. Causing shifts in their purchasing patterns towards cheaper and more affordable goods, trying to save on all levels and spend as less as possible. This all stems from financial repression, there have been no increases in demand but we still see an immense amount of retail space, creating a false sense of demand to consumers, showing promise of a improving economy at a time where it is nearly impossible to thrive.

Transportation Recession

“When you have a transportation recession like this, it tells you something about the goods produced in the economy in the United States, and it’s not over.”

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There has been a large increase in stalled transportation vehicles including trucks and trains which simply have gone out of business due to a lack of demand in the market. This shows us the effects of the 2008 financial crisis still linger on heavily even today. The lack of demand and surplus of supply in many sectors of the economy including retail is continuously putting the U.S economy in a downward spiral and has kept it on the brinks of another recession.

“If service economy gives, if it starts to break apart even in a minor way I think we’ll have a recession.”

Luckily the service economy is still holding on and showing signs of improvement and growth. However, if the service economy gives out even in a minor way, the impact on the rest of us considering the tight situation at the moment will certainly throw the U.S into another recession within the coming fiscal year. Factoring the decline in goods produced is a great concern for the U.S since the goods consumed market is already collapsing.

This causes an alarm for even more concern in the economy, since the financial crisis even under financial repression we are still seeing a steady rise in debt. This debt carried over from the financial crisis affects every major company in the world. When these companies can no longer hold their own Wolf Richter believes that we will have a real risk for credit default.

The Changing of the credit cycle

“What concerns me the most; the amount of corporate debt, the amount of government debt and state municipal debt that’s out there since the financial crisis”

Credit rating companies have begun downgrading almost everything, meaning companies are no longer able to lend, and losing faith in many companies which can no longer continue doing business. The rise in bankruptcy alone should be a definitive sign of the turning credit cycle. This is not limited to any single industry, oil, energy, and retail especially companies are going bankrupt as their debts and expenses simply cannot keep up with the demand that is required to keep them running.

“In total there were about 3500 commercial bankruptcies, and that’s up 33% from a year ago”

Right now it is the number of small companies that are making headlines in failure to overturn their debt into sustainability. So even though there has been an increase in bankruptcies filed this year there is still a large sum of debt which is held in majority by the big fish of the sea. This provides us with further affirmation of the psychological behaviors of consumers in the economy hinting it to a difficult time for not only continuing to run business as usual but also for entrepreneurs. As the demand is simply not as it used to be in the past, and should expect a slow and painful recovery out of this worldwide debt.


05/12/2016 - Satyajit Das: DISCUSSES FINANCIAL REPRESSION & THE AGE OF STAGNATION

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Satyajit Das in discussing the consequences of financial repression and current policy making, along with the effects of the Chinese economy.

SATYAJIT DAS is an internationally respected expert in finance, with over 35 years’ experience. Das presciently anticipated many aspects of the global financial crisis in 2006. He subsequently proved accurate in his warnings about the ineffectiveness of policy responses and the risk of low growth, sovereign debt problems (anticipating the restructuring of Greek debt), and the increasing problems of China and emerging economies. In 2014 Bloomberg nominated him as one of the fifty most influential financial thinkers in the world.

Mr. Das is the author of a number of key reference works on derivatives and risk management. Das is the author of two international bestsellers, Traders, Guns & Money (2006) and Extreme Money (2011). His latest book is A Banquet of Consequences (2015) (published in North America as Age of Stagnation).

He was featured in Charles Ferguson’s 2010 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, the 2012 PBS Frontline series Money, Power & Wall Street, the 2009 BBC TV documentary Tricks with Risk, and the 2015 German film Who’s Saving Whom.

VIEWS ON FINANCIAL REPRESSION

Slide1It started around 2008 and prices relate to debt. Fundamentally, the way the surprises were dealt with were in a very old fashioned way to grow and inflate their way out of debt. As we know, this process hasn’t really worked, and there’s really only two choices left. One of them is to default, which is hugely unpalatable because writing off peoples’ savings like that has consequences for future consumption, and a huge amount of wealth loss in the world. The other option is financial repression, which is a way of managing excess debt. The most common way is by very high levels of taxation.

“I don’t think people, when talking about financial repression, are talking about taxation as being something that shouldn’t happen.”

There’s obviously a point of taxation which is to run social services and infrastructure and government, but at some point under the condition of high debt it starts to bring taxation rates up for the simple reason of using the state to absorb everyone’s debt, in other words socialize the debt and then try to use the taxes to pay it off. That can be hugely unproductive for the economy but we’re starting to see it happen around the world.

The next stage is what we call financial repression, where we start to devalue the debt. The most important way we can see that is through a period of low interest rates.

“People forget that since 2008, we’ve had over 600 interest rate cuts globally. Interest rates are pretty much around zero around the world.”

Slide2Roughly 30% of global government bonds are trading at negative yields. Either you have nominal yields that are positive but below the rate of inflation to use that to try and ease the purchasing power of debt. Alternatively as we’re now finding that because inflation is low and the debt levels are so high, we’ve gone to negative interest rates. There’s something perverse about negative interest rates because people get very technical about it. This is actually a way of writing down the debt, and are very dangerous, as the market’s reaction to the negative interest rates in Japan and Europe have proven.

Firstly, there’s no real proof that these types of policies are going to create growth or inflation. They’ve been put in place to write down the debt. First we have -5% interest rates, and after ten years we’ve written off half the debt. That’s now a sort of stealth tactic the central banks and policy makers have put in place. Everybody knows that they said, look, in the next crisis we’re going to cut interest rates and interest rates are so low that we’re going to have to go to negative territory, but we all know that if we go to negative territory people are just going to take money out of the bank and just hold the cash.

“They’re going to have to stop people from taking out cash, and the interesting way that’s being channeled by policy makers is that they’re pretending that banning cash is necessary to prevent criminality or terrorism.”

There are also other forms of financial repression as well, like redirecting investment. There’s a whole variety of these measures that we see come into play, and it all has to do with the fact that they try to use these measures to deal with the debt crisis.

“I would argue that it’s not going to be able to be dealt with, and it creates enormous social and political pressures… What we’re going to see is a period of financial repression, which is very, very dangerous.”

POLITICAL EXTREMISM AND POLICY MAKING

We’re starting to see signs of this via the political extremism that’s starting to come about. The reason these popular extremist policies are being promoted in the United States and elsewhere is because financial repression and the lack of honesty of dealing with the world’s financial and economic problems.

If you look at this period of history and the way the Europeans have deal with the European Debt Crisis, it’s almost single-handedly created parties like Ciudadanos in Spain, but in Germany these policies would never have gotten any sort of traction. Even the German Finance Minister has said that these parties are really the creation of the economic policies that people are playing around with, and that’s setting up this confrontation we see in play between Germany and the European Central Bank.

“I honestly don’t know how it’s going to end. In the 1920s and 1930 when similar pressures built up, it didn’t actually have a very good ending.”

THOUGHTS FOR THE NEXT YEAR (12-14 MONTHS)

“I think, fundamentally, we know what the problems are: it’s debt.”

It built up in the system, it’s not properly funded, we know the global imbalances are unsustainable, and add on top of that the financialization of the economy where people are rewarded for trading claims on real cash flows and real assets.

“You have financial institutions which are too big to fail but too big to jail, and frankly, too big to regulate or too big to manage.”

So all of those we know, and on top of that there’s climate issues, resource scarcity, so we’ve got a very toxic set of problems. Things are going to play out in one of three scenarios. One is the ‘Lazarus economy’, where all the skeptics are wrong and everything goes back to normal. It’s not likely, but it might happen. The most likely one is a period of stagnation, which might happen with a 70% chance. What happens is we’re stuck in this environment of very low growth, disinflation, the debt keeps building up, we use policies like financial repression and low interest rates in a predominant way, and we stretch this out for as long as we possibly can. One lesson we learned from Japan is that we can’t do this for a very long time. The policy makers are going to try to keep this game going for as long as possible. The problem is that it’s not sustainable.

Slide3The last scenario is the one with the 30% chance, which is the crash. The question is whether that happens suddenly, or if we get gradually to where the system breaks down. You have all these nodes of instability going on and it’s all held together by chicken wire, which is basically central banks putting more and more money in and coming up with more and more far fetched and less effective schemes.

The crucial thing that people forget is that this is the ultimate act of faith. The central bankers who completely misread things in the lead-up to 2007 and contributed to the crisis have suddenly after that becomes the saviors.

“At some point in time it’ll turn into, ‘oh dear, the emperor has no clothes, they don’t actually know what they’re doing’.”

What people need to keep in mind is that it’ll be very different from 2007-2008. The problem is much bigger, and the emerging markets that were a source of strength in 2008 and provided demand for the people in advanced economies, along with abundant savings that helped push the problem, are no longer a source of strength. The third thing is the fact that the policy makers are all wrong. The social and political pressures are in a much worse place than 2007-2008 and socially the tensions are starting to build up.

“Whatever happens now will be far more difficult to control than they were in 2007-2008 and I think essentially we are at a very dangerous inflection point… And the one thing I do know is if something cannot go on, it won’t go on, and if something happens it happens suddenly.”

The central banks have this under control for the moment, but in complex systems they tip over extremely suddenly and extremely quickly, and none of us know what the trigger will be, but there will be a trigger and in hindsight it would be obvious it was the trigger.

“Everyone now is chasing risky assets because it’s the only way they can feed themselves.”

INVESTMENT DIRECTION AND PREPARATION

“In this crazy world of the 1980s onward, we sort of reversed priority and put capital gains first, income next, and security of capital last.”

You have to think about how to recover, rather than worry about capital gain. One of the key things is to find things that people need: food, oil, scarce resources, and guns (security).

“You’re looking for areas that are absolutely crucial in the terms of the actual needs of ordinary people, and that will be protected.”

The policies are hugely repressive because they’re forcing people to take risks with their savings, and intentionally they’re going to go broke or grow poorer over time.

“I’m actually astonished, when you mentioned pitchforks earlier, that investors haven’t picked up their pitchforks and gone after some of these policy makers, though given time I suspect that’s going to happen.”

VIEWS ON CHINA

The pre-2008 period was very sound, but after that the Chinese Public Bureau placed a strong emphasis on social stability and launched a program to create employment opportunities. What that’s done is increased the amount of debt in China. In 2000 the amount of debt was $2T. In 2007 it went to $7T. In 2014 it’s $28T. It’s gone up by a factor of 14 times.

“You can’t have that kind of growth being leveraged by debt in a financial system without consequences.”

Slide4If you look at where the money’s gone, it’s this massive overcapacity in their industries, there’s a lot of real estate; about 15-20% of China’s GDP is tied up in real estate. It’s inevitable that they’re going to have some problems. The last few debt crises that happened in China, the States stepped in, created asset management companies, bought the bad loans to the banks, selected government guarantees on some bonds, and sold it back to the same banks and let time to take care of the problem.

The problem now is the bad debt problem is much larger, and they’re not going to have the same GDP growth that they had. The way that they’re trying to deal with this is by keeping deposit rates low and the system very liquid so the banks can gradually absorb these losses.

“I think the best case is that China becomes like Japan, which is putting all these bad debts on their balance sheet and gradually slowing down.”

The problem is if they miscalculate, the problem is bigger and comes upon them in a way that is much quicker that you could potentially get a banking meltdown. The problem with that is that would spread from China out very quickly because there’s about a trillion dollars of exposure that far end lenders have to Chinese banks and Chinese companies.

Abstract by: Annie Zhou <a2zhou@ryerson.ca>

Video Editor: Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


05/12/2016 - Charles Hugh Smith – WHY OUR STATUS QUO FAILED & IS BEYOND REFORM

The Financial Repression Authority is delighted to have Charles Hugh Smith, prolific writer on the web and author of the highly acclaimed book, Why Our Status Quo Failed and is Beyond Reform. FRA Co-Founder, Gordon T. Long delineates with Charles on the core topics that are mentioned in his book as well as go over key diagrams to supportive diagrams.

Charles Hugh Smith is the Publisher of the site “Of Two Minds”. From its humble beginnings in May 2005, Of Two Minds now attracts some 200,000 visits a month and has been listed No. 7 in CNBC’s top alternative financial sites. His commentary is featured on a number of sites including: Zerohedge.com. The American Conservative, Peak Prosperity and AOL’s Daily Finance site (www.dailyfinance.com. He has written eight books.  Charles Hugh Smith graduated from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Honolulu. Charles Hugh Smith currently resides in Berkeley, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

Mr. Smith’s articles, which critique the status quo, had influence from Braudel’s historical account of early capitalism. Smith’s economic works stress the value and efficacy of decentralizing power and wealth, the individual’s power of self-determination and the value of community, which in his view has been diminished by the state. His blog covers an eclectic range of timely topics: finance, housing, Asia, energy, long term trends, social issues, health/diet/fitness and sustainability.

Book-Why_Are_Status_Quo_Failed“I wanted to encapsulate in a very short form that the status quo is broken and it is not going to be able to solve the problems. In order for us to move forward we first need to accept this reality.”

The core thesis in this book is that humanity has 6 problems which are interconnected:

  1. Entrench poverty: There are hundreds of millions of people who remain in severe poverty and they do not have access to resources to better their situations.

“The idea that we are going to reach every human on the planet has been proven incorrect.”

  1. Using more of everything in a world of finite resources: We have to adopt a ‘de-growth model,’ which is to make better use of the resources we have instead of just relying on consuming more.
  1. Wages is the only way we have of distributing the output of an economy:

“The share of our national output that is going to wages is declining. The rise of automation and technology has decreased the demand for human labour and this will continue as a trend into the indefinite future.”

  1. When you consolidate power in a central state you consequently give an upper hand to the wealthy to have influence over that centralized power:

“I call it cartel state capitalism and we see it everywhere where the industries are controlled by a handful of players who have a great degree of influence.”

  1. Depending on credit for everything.

“We are borrowing from the future to fund present day consumption.”

  1. The current system pays people regardless of their productivity and contribution:

“People need work, they need livelihoods and they need a positive social role within their community. Paying them to sit home and do nothing creates a whole new assortment of problems. People need work and a sense of importance and contribution.”

THE NEW NORMALS

It is all the central planning arrangements and policies that have been implemented since the 2008 Financial Crisis. One new normal is the federal government ownership of student debt. It is now on this incredible increase where the government is buying all of the student loans because it is the only way to mask the bankruptcy of the student loan system. The GDP in the US, EU, Japan and other developed economies has been subpar. It has been barely over 1% and it is being driven by extraordinary expansion of debt. More debt is working against us because there is not enough real wealth being generated to pay for it. Throwing more debt at it does not work. Another new normal is this increasingly popular practise of growing more debt to hide your nonperforming loans.

“The problem is that the debt is inextinguishable. The central banks can do a great job in creating liquidity but they cannot solve solvency problems. And this is suggesting the central issue that debt is a solvency problem now”

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The fed creates money out of thin air and buys more assets and then it levels off until markets and the economy weaken. Then the Fed ramps up the balance sheet again which is shown by the stair step pattern of the figure. The Feds’ balance sheet never declines it only plateaus briefly and then goes up again. The new normal is that central banks are cropping up markets because if the markets collapse to their true value it would reveal the bankruptcy of the entire system.

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In The New Normal “recovery,” the percentage of the population with a job has advanced all the way back up to where it was 40 years ago, in the late 1970s. During booms eras many more people were employed, but today we are at employment levels similar to that of the 1970s. Fewer people are working and they are earning less money if we were to adjust for inflation, it’s stagnation.

 

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“Most of the gains that have been registered are flowing to the top 5%. This is not just because of a few greedy people at the top have taken the gains, but also the factor of mixing global competition with technology places a premium on workers who have the skillet set to generate value with increasing technology. Just working in a factory or doing some white collar job does not create a premium in an economy that is pressured by global competition and automation. “

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Money velocity has been falling and everybody is concerned as to why it is doing so, but the fact of the matter is that there is no growth. The jobs themselves are paying minimal which is why people are dropping out of the labour force to start their own personal endeavour of sorts.

“A notable feature of the chart is the divergence being shown in 2008-2009 and this is when we went into hyper printing of money to put the system on life support. The productivity numbers in the developed world has fallen off; there is lack of growth. Growth in present day is not real, the growth we are seeing is artificial.”

STRUCTURAL REFORM

“We all know the system broke since the last crisis. We now need structural reform of entitlements. We need a new form of capitalism that is more accessible to people and that is not just controlled from the top through central planning. We are having a hyper-monetary policy where the status quo is looking to central banks to solve all the problems by issuing more debt and liquidity. These problems cannot be solved this way; we have to deal with the reality that we need deep structural reforms.”

If you observe caterpillars in construction sites you will notice the driver has many levers in front of him to control. An economy is managed the same way, there are many levers to pull, but we are running the economy pulling the same lever and that is monetary policy. The other levers are fiscal policy which we are not using, public policy, and taxation policy and so on. These are elements that come out of the political process, it is on political leaders to realize this and make appropriate decisions.

“One of the things you can have a lot of faith in is mankind. It will reset, we will survive and we will come out of it, but unfortunately it leads to crises and it is always the innocent that are most burdened.”

Abstract written by, Karan Singh  Karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Sarah Tung sarah.tung@ryerson.ca


04/29/2016 - Anthony Wile: The Emerging Legalized Cannabis Industry and the Rising Latin Star, Colombia.

FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long is joined by Anthony Wile, Founding Chairman and CEO of The Wile Group, to discuss the future of the emerging legalized Cannabis Industry on a global scale, along with the war on drugs and the next upcoming star in the global theater, Colombia.

Mr. Anthony Wile, founding Chairman and CEO of The Wile Group Ltd., is an active investor, business strategist and consultant, financial markets commentator, publisher and author. Mr. Wile founded The Daily Bell, where he served as chief editor until February 2016. He now publishes Wile Reports, a free subscription publication with new material from Anthony Wile and occasional introductions to investment opportunities of potential interest that are being supported by The Wile Group. Mr. Wile is the author of High Alert: How the Internet Reformation is causing a financial hurricane – and how to profit from it. Ron Paul has said, “High Alert should be read by everyone who wishes to educate themselves about the dangers fiat money poses to American liberty and prosperity. I wish I could get every member of Congress to read this book.”

WAR ON DRUGS

“I think the entire world is repressed as a service to benefit a very few.”

I believe that people should be able to invest their capital in whatever way they want to. Bottom line is, we should not be trying to organize society in a way that monetarily determines who is and who isn’t capable of making decisions for themselves.

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Special Session of the General Assembly UNGASS 2016 – The meeting happened as a results of several factors:

  1. Some sovereign nations have been jumping ahead of international policy and making their own rules and regulations regarding the war on drugs.
  2. Canada is an example of a country that has moved in its own direction to establish a national marketplace for the distribution of medicinal cannabis products.
  3. Canada’s recently elected Prime Minister Trudeau has made it very clear by some time in spring 2017, there will be legislation in place for an adult use recreational cannabis marketplace.
  4. The world is changing in this respect, and rightfully so.

Authorities discuss how to reduce drug use, which surely we can all agree on, is a noble topic to talk about, but more importantly we must ask, how do we reduce the demand? Too much attention is spent on the supply side of the equation. I think it’s important we begin to consider the demand side as well. A major idea is that if you’re going to educate somebody, you need to know who you are talking to. Today the demand side of the industry is unknown other than as a group, an umbrella which you don’t deal with as a whole; rather, you deal with individual people within the system. The regulation of the industry, like it or not, will ensure that the drugs will be maturely distributed, and as a result of that you will get the appropriate data.

“If we open up the system and have a rational understanding that the demand already exists … We are not talking about normalizing drugs; we are talking about creating a highway system that develops the communication ability for those who wish to impart their views on how you should reduce consumption of these products. By doing this you remove the black market from the distribution side, which then cuts off funding to the ‘terrorism’ of the war on drugs.”

If you want to make a change and cease the funding of these illegal organizations throughout the world, then you must simply cut off their funding source. In many cases, these funds are related to the war on drugs. The rest of the world is beginning to realize that the problem can be alleviated through a mature discussion that recognizes human nature being what it is, and that it is individuals who are deciding for themselves to consume these products. We don’t endorse it; we are simply saying that we must get to know who these people are-; profile, understand and get to know people on a personal and real level.

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“This is a big boys’ game that will be handled by the big boys when it comes to the determination of what the products are and how they’re distributed.”

Without a doubt there are investment opportunities in this arena, but people should take their time and not rush in. The regulatory environment has not yet shaped itself. That will determine where the profit margin will lie. Big change is coming, for instance, in distribution. Some of the largest associations in Canada have come out saying that they are behind this shift towards a pharmacy distribution model. This immediately puts an “X” over the revenues that would have belonged to the licensed producers in Canada who distribute through the mail. Today they have the whole vertical, but tomorrow they won’t.  As a result, those investments are dramatically affected and thus the viability of anybody who invested in those investments.

Areas of negative environmental impact can be alleviated if the focus is on the cultivation in areas that can generate a positive environmental impact. You will see in the coming future that international bodies will be quite focused on the environmental side of this new industry in which the standards can be determined upfront by the private sector with support of agencies that see this is in fact the better way to approach this.

There is a lot of discussion happening at this point in time within the international circles of how best to embrace, monitor, secure and develop international trade in this industry. For investors who want to get involved in this big shift, I suggest to pay attention to the nations that on a production side are leaving a positive environmental footprint, and are producing medicinal-grade products which are standardized at legitimate price points.

COLOMBIA’S ROLE

“In the war on drugs, Colombia has suffered more than any other nation on Earth.”

Colombia desires to rehabilitate its reputation. The aftermath of the war is a way for Colombia to recreate the way they are viewed by the world. The country is far from backwards in regards to their research capabilities. Their universities are top notch. There is more than enough capability and infrastructure for Colombia to establish a new role in the world with respect to their contribution in pharmaceutical products.

The government has paved the way for a legal business to develop in Colombia. Colombia has means to be a world leader in a scientific and technological way for how these products should be standardized, regulated, and distributed and pave the way by example.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN COLOMBIA

“I don’t see a country in the world today that offers as much opportunity as Colombia.”

I try to stay away from global stock markets as much as possible. I am more interested in generating real wealth with real businesses that generate positive and sustainable cash flow. We’re focused in private equity and in Colombia. There are so many areas of Colombia which have been sealed off for decades, inaccessible and totally under-explored in terms of natural resources. There is great opportunity for investing – real estate, tourism, a myriad of opportunities exist. I also think the hemp industry in Colombia is going to develop rapidly; we’re conducting due diligence on that now. It is a nation that is about to spring forward in many ways.

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ECONOMIC SHIFTS IN SOUTH AMERICA

The Latin American nations surrounding Colombia are unfortunately lagging far behind. They are not learning as much as they should be from the example of Venezuela. After Colombia, the next rising star would be Chile. It is a country that offers reasonable stability, but it is still difficult to compare the opportunities it offers with those of Colombia.

“At the end of the day, the leading nation in Latin America, in terms of growth, opportunity, and economic prosperity, is undoubtedly Colombia.”

Abstract written by, Karan Singh  Karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Sarah Tung sarah.tung@ryerson.ca

 


04/27/2016 - Michael Hudson: “THE WALL STREET ECONOMY HAS TAKEN OVER THE ECONOMY & IS DRAINING IT!”

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Professor Michael Hudson in discussing his concept of the FIRE economy and its influence on the production and consumption economy, along with some of his writings.

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of Killing the Host (2015), The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1968 & 2003), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (1992 & 2009) and of The Myth of Aid (1971), amongst many others.

ISLET engages in research regarding domestic and international finance, national income and balance-sheet accounting with regard to real estate, and the economic history of the ancient Near East. Michael acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide including Iceland, Latvia and China on finance and tax law.

FIRE ECONOMY

FIRE is an acronym to the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector. Basically that sector is all about assets, not production and consumption. Most people think of the economy as being producers making goods and services and paying labor to produce them, and then labor is going to buy the goods and services. But this production and consumption is rife in the asset economy of who owns assets and who owns other things.

The Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sector is dominated by finance. For instance, 70-80% of bank loans in North America and Europe are mortgage loans against real estate. The only way of buying a home or commercial real estate is on credit, so the loan to value ratio goes up steadily, banks lend more to the real estate sector, and real estate is worth whatever banks are willing to lend against it.

As banks loosen credit terms, lower interest rates, take lower down payments and basically lower amortization rates, interest only loans, they’re going to lend more hand more against property.

“Property’s bid up on price, but all of this rise in price is debt leverage.”

A financialized economy is a debt leveraged economy, whether it’s real estate or insurance or just living, and debt leveraging means a larger portion of assets are represented by debt, raising debt-equity ratios, but also that more and more of people’s incomes and tax revenue is paid to creditors. So there’s a flow of revenue from the production and consumption economy into the financial sector.

WE’RE STILL IN CAPITALISM, NOT CREDITISM

There’s a huge amount of gross savings, about 18-19% of the US economy, coded in part in debt. The savings that are lent out to borrowers are debt. So you have the 1% lending out their savings to the 99%, but the gross savings are higher.

“Every economy is a credit economy.”

“The IMF has this Austrian theory that pretends money began as barter and capitalism operates on barter, and this is a disinformation campaign. This is a very modern theory that is basically used to say “oh, debt is bad”, an what they really mean is that public debt is bad, the government shouldn’t create money or deficit, and you should leave it all to the banks who should somehow run off debt and in-debt the economy”.

“You can usually ignore just about everything the IMF says, and if you understand money you’re not going to be hired by the IMF.

They impose austerity programs that they call “stabilization programs” that are actually destabilization programs, almost wherever they’re imposed.

“When you have an error repeated year after year, decade after decade, it’s not really insanity doing the same thing thinking it’ll be different. It’s sanity. It’s doing the same thing thinking the result will be the same again and again.”

The result will be austerity programs making the budget deficit even worse. The successful era of monetarism is to force countries to have self-defeating policies that end up having to privatize their natural resources, public domain, public enterprise, their communications and transportation, and sell it off.

Everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that’s all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Financiers in the 1% are going to pry away the public domain from the government and privatize it so that they get all of the revenue for themselves. It’s all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99%.

“As long as you can avoid studying economics, you know what’s happened. Once you take an economics course you step into the brainwashing of an Orwellian world.”

KILLING THE HOST

Finance has taken over the industrial economy. Instead of banks evolving from usurious organizations that leant to governments, finance was going to be industrialized. They were going to mobilize savings and flow it back into financing the means of production, starting with heavy industry. In Germany in the late 19th century, banks worked with government and industry in a kind of triangular process. But that’s not what’s happening now. After WW1 and especially after WW2, finance reverted to its pre-industrial form and instead of allying themselves with industry, they allied with real estate and monopolies because they realized they can make more money off real estate.

You had David Ricardo arguing against the landed interest in 1817. Now the banks are all in favor of supporting land rent, knowing that today people can buy and sell property, renters are paying interests, and they’re going to get all of the rent.

“You have the banks merge with real estate against industry, against the economy as a whole, and the result is that they’re a part of the overhead process, not part of the production process.”

THE WALL STREET ECONOMY

“The Wall Street economy has taken over the economy and is draining it.”

Instead of the circular flow between producers and consumers, you have more and more of this flow being diverted to pay interest and insurance and rent. In other words, to pay the FIRE sector, most of which is owned by the 1%. The agency is active politicking by the financial interests and the lobbyists on Wall Street to obtain all of the growth of income and wealth for themselves, and that’s what happened in America and Canada since the late 1970s.

INVESTMENT STRATEGIES FOR TODAY

What all the billionaires and heavy investors do is they’re simply trying to preserve their wealth. They’re not trying to make money, they’re not trying to speculate, and if you’re an investor you’re not going to outsmart the billionaires because the markets are basically fixed. It’s the George Soros principle.

“If you have so much money, billions of dollars, you can break the Bank of England. You don’t follow the market, you don’t anticipate it, you actually make the market and push the market up.”

You have to be able to control the prices and you have the insiders making money but the investors are not going to make money.

The Canadians don’t buy stocks until they’re up at the very top and then they lose all the money, and finally when the market’s all the way at the bottom the Canadians begin selling because they can see a trend, and then they miss the upswing.

“J” IS FOR JUNK ECONOMICS

“It begins as a dictionary of terms just so I can provide people with a vocabulary. The vocabulary that is taught to students today, used by the mass media and government spokesmen, is basically a set of euphemisms. Almost all the words we get are kind of euphemisms to conceal the actual dynamics that’s happening. For instance, “business cycles”. Nobody in the 19th century used “business cycle”. They spoke about “crashes”. They know that things go up slowly and then plunge very quickly. It was a crash, not the sine curve you have in Josef Schachter’s business cycle. A cycle is something that is automatic, and if it’s a cycle then you’d think “oh, okay, everything that goes up will come down and everything that goes down will come up, just wait your turn.” And that means you should be passive. That is the opposite of everything that’s said in classical economics in the progressive era, when they realized that economies don’t recover by themselves”.

“You need the government to step in, you need something exogenous, as the economists say. You need something from outside the system to revive it.”

This idea of the business cycle analysis is, somehow you leave out the whole role of government. If you look at neoliberal and Austrian theory, there’s no role of government spending or public investment. And the whole argument of privatization, for instance, is the opposite of what was taught in American business schools in the 19th century.

The first professor of economics at the Wharton School of Business, Simon Patten, said public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production but its role isn’t to make a profit. It’s to lower the cost of public services and basic inputs to lower the cost of living and cost of doing business to make the economy more competitive.

“The privatization of this adds in interest payments, dividends, managerial payments, stock buybacks, and merges and acquisitions, and obviously bills all of these financialized charges into the price system and raises the cost of living and doing business.”

MORE ON FIRE ECONOMICS

We’re going into a debt deflation and the key is to look at debt. If the economy has to spend more and more money, then the reason he economy isn’t recovering isn’t simply because this is a normal cycle.

“It’s not because labour is paid too much, it’s because people are diverting more and more of their income to paying their debts, so they can’t afford to buy goods.”

Markets are shrinking, so real estate rents are shrinking, and profits are shrinking. Instead of using earnings to reinvest, hire more labor to increase production, companies are using their earnings for stock buybacks and dividend payouts to raise the share price so that the managers can take their revenue in the form of bonuses and stocks and live in the short run.

“They’re all setting up to take the money and run, leaving the companies are bankrupt shells, which is pretty much what hedge funds do when they take over companies.”

The financialization of companies is the reverse of everything classical economists were saying. They can get wrap themselves in this cloak of classical economics by dropping history of economic thought from the curriculum. Following the banks and the Austrian school of the banks’ philosophy, that’s the road to serfdom. That’s the road to debt serfdom.

“It lets universities and its government be run by the neoliberals, and they’re a travesty of what real economics is all about.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou: a2zhou@ryerson.ca


04/21/2016 - Mish Shedlock: “EXCUSE ME MR. PRESIDENT, IS THAT A JOKE?”

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Mish Shedlock in discussing the rigging of gold and silver by Deutsche Bank and the reliability of so called “casino banks” and the state of global banking institutions.

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative forSitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education.

POST G20 MEETING

Slide2Christine Lagarde is worried about public finance and declared  the need to get public finance in order. At the same time, she wants countries to spend more.

She said the “strong” countries need to spend more and used the US as an example, but the US deficit projections don’t look very good. In fact, we can’t find anybody anyplace that does look good.

“It is just a bunch of hooey attempting to show concern while giving countries another reason to go deeper in debt.”

There’s all these emergency meetings happening and causing a lot of rumors.

French President François Hollande had a public meeting recently. He said, “I think things are getting better”, and was interrupted by a journalist who said “Excuse me, Mr. President, is that a joke?”

“That’s just what we need journalists in the US to do; ‘Excuse me Mr. President, is that a joke?'”

All the big Italian banks were gathered and told to chip in to bail out these other banks that were in trouble. What they came up with was a plan to increase the capital on these small banks by €5B Euros. Supposedly this would fix €360B in non-performing loans. There’s also roughly another €180B in bad loans.

“They’re supposed to fix this huge problem with the Italian banking system with €5B. That doesn’t work.”

DEUTSCHE BANK RIGGING GOLD & SILVER

Everyone suspected that they were cheating on gold trading, and they admitted manipulating the gold and silver market in a court of law. It’s like someone commits $100B worth of fraud and get fined $50B and promises to never do it again. That’s not even like paying the full price.

“My position all along was, yes, they’ve been cheating, but where isn’t there cheating… I’m quite positive it’s in both directions.”

Has there been this overall price suppression on gold and silver? Gold got up to €1900/ounce, and silver got to €44-46/ounce, and is now sitting at €15-16. Was there pressure applied by all the banks? Is gold really down or was there manipulation because the banks were generally on the other side of the trade?

“Is gold about where it would be without this manipulation? I don’t know, and nor does anyone else.”

“CASINO BANKS”

What we saw was Deutsche Bank had €500B+ in derivative profits and roughly €480B in current losses, so roughly €20B ahead. On another page they outline all their derivatives positions and it amounted to €21T. That’s a profit of €20B from €21T in notional values. These are values way out of the money and some of it is genuinely off.

“When you’ve got a €21T casino on your balance sheet, it just goes to show you how much banks aren’t banks.”

This has nothing to do with core bank policies and procedures and lending. It’s a derivatives casino and it’s rigged. They admitted rigging gold and silver, they admitted rigging LIBOR, they admitted rigging Euribor.

For all the rigging, they got caught on gold and silver. Their commodities portfolio of derivatives was only a tiny piece of that €21T, compared to €15T in interest rates derivatives or €5T in currency derivatives. Something is clearly wrong with all these casino banks.

The international swaps marketplace is approximately $600T, compared to the US economy of $25 GPD a year. Most of the magnitude is more than the entire global economy. The risk is way greater than everyone thinks, especially with these credit default swaps.

ATLANTA VS NEW YORK FED GDP REPORT

Slide3The Atlanta Fed projected 0.1% growth and revised it up to 0.3% but NY Fed says it’s more like 1%.  Originally it used to be 1.1% vs 0.1% and now it’s 1% vs 0.3%, and we don’t know which one is right. However, the New York Fed model has all kinds of nebulous things in it that can’t be explained.

Inflation is probably a lot higher in a lot of places than the CPI admits.

When 24% of the CPI is Owner’s Equivalent Rent, that doesn’t make sense. Rents in Cleveland and Illinois have nothing to do with rents in Seattle, or places where the economy is doing a lot better. They average it out and supposedly this is some sort of aggregate number that tells you it only goes up by 1.7%. I don’t believe these prices can aggregated because there is no basket that we can define as suitable for everyone, but this is what the Fed does and everyone hinges on these numbers.

“We’ve got too much inflation, too much wealth concentrated in the hands of all the people making the money, while the average guy is losing out.”

RETAIL CHARTS AND AUTO INVENTORIESSlide4

A lot of these charts peaked around November 2014, then there was a little rise back that didn’t recover all of it, and another plunge. Factory sales are down 13 out of the last 16 months, and there’s more things participating now. For instance, auto sales are down 3-4 months in a row. Inventories are at an all-time high. Everyone’s traded in their car; used car inventories are at an all-time high.

35% of all autos sold are on lease, and the residual value of used cars are plummeting. Someone has to take a massive write down since they’re all traded as ABS in the shadow banking system. The US government are the biggest owner of used car assets with $1.1T since they buy all the collateralized loan obligations etc. that go through the government.

LIKLIHOOD OF A RECESSIONSlide10

“I am still sticking with my forecast that says the recession started in December 2015. I see no reason to revise that.”

We might not know for a year, especially if it’s a small recession. The official harbinger is the NBER, and they get to call when we get it, but we’ve had a recession that ended before they called it. They’re always late. Nothing is coming out of these reports that indicate the call was wrong.

“We’re certainly not in a very strong economy, and there’s no reason to believe it’s going to get any stronger.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Sarah Tung sarah.tung@ryerson.ca


04/21/2016 - Harry Dent: Stocks Set to Fall 70% By Late 2017 – Gold $400-$800

FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long  is joined by Harry Dent to have a detailed discussion about the state of the global economy and how investors can be prepare themselves for the turmoils to come.

Harry S. Dent, Jr. is the Founder of Dent Research, an economic forecasting firm specializing in demographic trends. His mission is “Helping People Understand Change”. Using exciting new research developed from years of hands-on business experience, Mr. Dent offers unprecedented and refreshingly understandable tools for seeing the key economic trends that will affect your life, your business, and your investments over the rest of your lifetime.

Mr. Dent is also a best-selling author.  In his book The Great Boom Ahead, published in 1992, Mr. Dent stood virtually alone in accurately forecasting the unanticipated boom of the 1990s and the continued expansion into 2007. In his new book, The Demographic Cliff, he continues to educate audiences about his predictions for the next great depression, especially between 2014 and 2019 that he has been forecasting now for 20 years. Mr. Dent is the editor of the Economy & Markets newsletter and has created the HS Dent Financial Advisors Network.

Mr. Dent received his MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and was elected to the Century Club for leadership excellence. At Bain and Company he was a strategy consultant for Fortune 100 companies. He has also been the CEO of several entrepreneurial growth companies and a new venture investor. Since 1988 he has been speaking to executives and investors around the world.  He has appeared on “Good Morning America”, PBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, Bloomberg, and has been featured in USA Today, Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Success, US News and World Report, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, American Demographics, Gentlemen’s Quarterly and Omni.

WHAT IS FINANCIAL REPRESSION? 

“Financial repression is how the central banks hijack the free market.”

Other than from the aftermath of WWII, this is the first time that governments around the world have just begun frantically printing money to offset the downturns.  The most important thing to understand is that central banks do not just set short term rates; they print money and buy their own bonds to set long term rates to zero.

“When you are a baby boomer approaching retirement, due to financial repression you will get zero adjust for inflation returns. Baby boomers are being forced to go into the stock market on higher yield assets and get crucified.”

Pushing long term rates so low forces people to go into stocks and other financial assets as well as allows firms on Wall Street to leverage up. When this happens you get massive misallocation of investment, and have companies borrowing money to buy back their own stocks to engineer mergers that wouldn’t be possible without such low rates. This bubble we are in, which is greater than any we have been in before, is going to burst and when it does it will wipe out all the excess gains. This financial repression is just going to destroy wealth faster than it artificially built up. It comes down to central banks admitting that they created a bubble, but they won’t because nobody wants to take blame for it while they’re in office.

1

It is a lifetime consumer spending cycle. Most people do not enter the workforce until they’re 20 then they go on a huge spending cycle which eventually slows down at the age of 39 because people buy their largest home well before they peak in spending. We peak at age 46 and continue the trend because of automobile purchasing and especially with QE; the affluent people go to school longer which is followed by their kids and so on. Therefore peak spending for these people happens 6 years later, and it has been magnified due to QE since these are the same people who of the entire population are the ones who tend to own financial assets.

2

“The combination of financial repression, QE, and extreme income inequality has seriously butchered the middle class in America.”

It is a graph of the birth index adjusted for immigration, and then projected forward 46 years for the peak spending of the average person. This is why since 2008 governments have been doing endless QE and stimulus just to keep the bubble going enough so that the affluent people can at least continue spending. This demographic trend will continue to point down until 2022 which is when the next generation comes along. Authorities have been able to hold off the burst as long as they wealthy continue to spend, but they are not anymore.

3

“We are in a bad yield geopolitical cycle, and it is clearly getting worse and it will hit bottom at around 2020.”

The productivity that was created in the 1900s from inventions like the automobile and so on is not present today. Today our economic progression is being backed by Facebook and watching the new viral videos. The point is that these 4 cycles have turned down only twice in the last century before this. It was in the early 1930s, the great depression, and the next major stock crash in the mid 70’s. Governments are fighting the impending crash tooth and nail and have resorted to emergency measures such as zero interest rates and in some cases even negative interest rates.

4

“This is going to be the final bubble. It’s going to be like the great depression, like the 1974-1975 crash, and without a doubt it will be the worst stock market crash you will see in your lifetime and it is going to happen by roughly end of 2017.”

5

“This chart is for people who intend to sit in the market, hoping to get another 5-10%. From it we can see that since November 2014, we have gone nowhere and we are right now at the bottom of the rounder top and I am confident it will not go up from here.”

Europe going to be in deep trouble. Banks are failing in Italy like no tomorrow, and I predict by end of the year Italy will be the next Greece, effectively marking the end of the Euro Zone. They already have immigration problems, debt problems, and slowing growth despite endless stimulus.

China on the other hand, has the biggest stock market in the world and it crashed by 45% in 2 months, and I predict it is going to crash again by the end of this year. So what can the Fed and central banks in Europe do about that? Once that happens it is going to send a shockwave in commodities and especially real estate, since it is the Chinese after all who are buying all the cutting edge real estate throughout the world.

“The next US President might as well walk into office and openly admit that this is a bubble and talk about actions to deal with it, rather than being like his predecessors and claim job creation and economic growth; there is just no chance.”

HOW CAN INVESTORS PROTECT THEMSELVES?

“Right now you have to get out and do not listen to your stock broker. This is not the time to be taking risk; it is the time to be prudent.”

The idea is to realize that this is a once in a lifetime reset and you have to simply get out of the way. Everything is a bubble that’s ready to pop, just simple get out of risk assets as much as you can. You can either gamble and get 5%-10% return or lose 60%-70% by end of 2017. Bubbles build on denial because everyone benefits, even the average person has a lower mortgage than car payments because of the bubble and zero interest rates. It is because of the fact that everyone benefits that everyone goes in denial.

PRECIOUS METALS AND THE US DOLLAR

“This is a deflationary crisis, and it is the one time that gold will not do well.”  

Gold is a bubble as well. Gold went up 8x in 10 years, there are not many bubbles bigger than the gold bubble and now it is bursting. It is bursting because a lot of the gold bubble happened after 2008 as a result of the crisis, and gold went up the most when people thought the massive money printing would lead to inflation but it didn’t. It didn’t because deflation is a trend; when debt bubbles deleverage, money that was created out of thin air disappears. Most of the time in cycles, we either have moderate or extreme inflation, but this is the one time we have deflation and therefore I do not want to be in gold or in commodities.

“The USD has been the best currency; it goes up versus other currencies as it did in 2008. We are still the best house in a bad neighborhood.”

China is going to be the biggest urban disaster in modern history. They have 250 million people that are not even registered citizens working low paying jobs that are primarily focused on building infrastructure for nobody. And when this crash comes, those people are done for.

When stocks crash, price earnings ratios collapse, and risk premiums go up on everything. So if I was in stocks, I would rather be in pharmaceuticals, health and wellness etc. These are the stocks to buy when the Dow goes down to 5500.

Abstract written by, Karan Singh  Karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


04/13/2016 - Jeff Berwick: “THEY’RE TRYING TO BRING EVERYONE INTO THE BANKING SYSTEM SO THEY CAN ESTABLISH A ONE-WORLD CENTRAL BANK & TAXATION SYSTEM!”

FRA Co-founder Gordon T. Long is joined by Jeff Berwick in discussing the article Central banks beat Bitcoin at own game with rival supercurrency, the central banking system, and blockchain technology.

Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast.  Jeff is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences including his own, Anarchapulco, as well as regularly in the media including CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business.

Jeff’s background in the financial markets dates back to his founding of Canada’s largest financial website, Stockhouse.com, in 1994. In the late ‘90s the company expanded worldwide into 8 different countries and had 250 employees and a market capitalization of $240 million USD at the peak of the “tech bubble”.  To this day more than a million investors use Stockhouse.com for investment information every month.  He has since started numerous businesses including TDV Offshore and TDV Wealth Management to help others internationalize their assets.

FIAT CURRENCIES AND BITCOIN

There’s going to be a lot of chaos this year, beginning in January with the worst first month of the world stock market in history. A lot of financial leads have been warning about it, even saying this is a debt jubilee and will end up in utter collapse if people aren’t careful.

“I think by 2018 they’ll be bringing in a one world currency… All Fiat currencies, including the US Dollar, are going to collapse sometime between 2015-2020.”

The market came up with a solution. Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is a free market currency, and one of the ways that we can avoid this total collapse.

RESPONSE TO AMBROSE-EVANS PRITCHARD

“It looked like a propaganda piece, like it was written by the Bank of England as a press release.”

In no way does this new central bank crypto-currency compete or defeat Bitcoin in any way. In fact, central banks are extremely worried about Bitcoin. They’re trying to bring everyone into the banking system so they can establish a one-world central bank and taxation system. They planned to create a system that impoverishes people to get the wealth into the hands of the 0.0001%.

They want to collapse the entire system so they can bring in a new system. We’re reaching the end of that plan, when every government is insolvent with debt. The US Federal Reserve has essential kept interest rates at zero for eight years, because if interest rates rise the US government would quickly be insolvent.

“With $19T worth of debt, if the interest rate rose to 10%, a very low level, that’d be almost $2T a year in interest payments alone.”

They’re trying to delay that and get everyone into the banking system first. If you try to open a new bank account, it’s very difficult and they want to know every detail because it’s going into a central database so no one can evade taxes. Then they’re going to go even further with negative interest rates and really impoverish people.

If people start getting into Bitcoin, they can’t control it. The only way would be to turn off the internet or the power.

BITCOIN

Bitcoin is an internet-based currency that’s completely decentralized. To get rid of it, they’d have to remove it from the millions of computers around the world, and that’s almost impossible. If you control the money supply, you control the governments. That’s what the Federal Reserve and all central banks do.

“The governments do not control the big decisions. It’s the people behind the scenes who control the money, who tell the government what they want done, and that’s been going on for decades.”

Bitcoin cannot be fraudulent because it’s open-source software. Anyone who wants to can look at the code. There’s no CEO, there’s no central office, and it’s on so many computers they can’t stop it. Central banks want to tax everything and control the economy.

“I don’t call things like Bitcoin a revolution so much as an evolution. It’s creating something that circumvents the entire system completely.”

BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY

Blockchain type technology could change everything, and goes beyond just money. This could be where everything is based. This technology is also starting to being used be for governance, starting in Africa, as a system of private property. Eventually it could be used to replace the government.

“Your average person still doesn’t know what a big deal is going on behind the scenes, but this is going to revolutionize the world… There’s going to be so many things built on top of this technology that it’s going to change the world.”

BACK TO THE ARTICLE – RSCOIN

Central banks will get rid of fiat currency and use RSCoin instead, but since it’s a crypto-currency it can be tracked even more. The population will likely use it, but it does not “beat Bitcoin at its own game”.

RSCoin will supposedly be good as it gives the government and central bank more control over the money system, and this will apparently make us less prone to boom-bust cycles. However, the central bank’s control over interest rates is what creates boom-bust cycles in the first place.

THOUGHTS FOR THE FUTURE

You want to get your assets out of the banking system, especially anti-system sorts of investments and trades and speculations, ad moving assets out of your own country.

“You want to get assets internationalized. That’s the new diversification in my opinion: not stocks, bonds, or cash, it’s where your assets are, in what countries are they, and under what structures are they.”

We’re headed for a collapse, and how it plays out is anyone’s guess. This is going to be a time talked about in history for centuries, after the collapse happens. We have a global fiat currency that is just computer bits controlled by central bankers with no intrinsic value, and they will return to that.

“Do your own research. There’ a lot more going on out there than most people know.”

Abstract by: Annie Zhou a2zhou@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Min Jung Kim minjung.kim@ryerson.ca


04/10/2016 - Michael Oliver – LIBERTARIANISM, AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS & MOMENTUM STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS – Part II – Analytics

This is the second installment of a two part series in which FRA Co-founder, Gordon T. Long and Michael Oliver, Founder of Momentum Structural Analysis (MSA) break down momentum charts and their unique distinctions in understanding the foundations of Momentum Structural Analysis.

“What we do is we measure means; we do not just lay a moving average on a price chart which doesn’t help at all. One of the great things that momentum analysis does is it finds repetitive market action which can be seen better compared to looking at a price chart. MSA is always focused on the different trends a market might have because markets never have one trend. They may have long term trends which within them consist of counter-cyclical sub-trends which if you’re are not cognizant of can really hurt you. What we try to do with momentum is, since we cannot totally ignore price because it is nonetheless part of the momentum measuring process, we measure price bars in relation to averages of our choice. We oscillate monthly bars in relation to the averages and we get a visual construct of the market once we create the momentum chart which often reveals alarming data.”

2000 Top001Price is comfortably at the high points and far away from any major pivotal lows but from looking at the momentum chart once you break the structure, the rally that followed confides itself to the underlying side of the violated momentum chart.

“The market was a dead man walking and all it was doing from January to august was bumping his head on something he couldn’t get through and finally he just gave up. “

If you were going into an asset that couldn’t be dumped overnight but you had to have committee meetings etc. annual momentum gave you the warning. It gave you time to reorient yourself to the new reality.

2008 Top002

At this point annual momentum had not broken down, so all the activity at point 1500 was lateral action in price and momentum. But from looking at the price chart, you could plot an uptrend line going back to a pivotal low in 2004 and connect it with other lows giving you a good price chart trend line. And still sticking to price, you could draw a horizontal line through the two lows of 2007 which gives you these two lines converging. When you opened in Jan 2008 you were almost 100 points above the low in August, giving you a cushion.

On momentum however, you opened below the flow, so again the situation where the moving average changed and you opened at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the price chart accommodated the break in annual momentum, but as soon as price lows are removed and you ran stops, the market became ‘oversold.’ This instance leads to a double digit percent rally, the rally is inconsequential to momentum but important to price.

In present case, the rally will likely play around in the upper 2000s, not making a new high. If this rally is similar to the rallies in 2008, which occurred after price came down and joined momentum, took out previous price lows and made the picture very clear that you’re in a bear market.

“It is a fact you have to live with; tops especially in stocks are tough to catch.”

Gold is up 17% in the year thus far and this shift is quite significant when you put it on a momentum chart based on spreads. When you plot all these variables together, I predict many seismic shifts to occur, and not just stock declines, but upturns in gold as well.

“Right now I believe we are in a bear market and this is a bear market rally. It is also important to not just look at a market; you have to look at things that are inverse or related to it. I would therefore look at gold and commodities in their relationship to the S&P.”

Many price chart advocates would look at gold and say you’re having problems from being against a channel top, but on the contrary momentum says that same channel tops will be transitory.

Oil Top003

“If oil collapsed in 2012 versus when it really did in 2014, it would have severely damaged the stock market, particularly the S&P. Oil waited until the latter part of 2014 which is the same time the S&P began going sideways and which is also where we are now. In effect, by oil holding off, it held back its need to replenish.”

From looking at the price chart you see a sideways action of sorts, but you can interpret it as a price chart advocate as a basing action preceding another leg up, the lows were rising more rapidly than the highs. Then coming down in the late summer, you managed to close below the 3 year moving average. This average was important because in the years prior to 2014, there were a few pullbacks to this average which held throughout. When you convert this to the momentum chart, it shows a descending pattern.

Now what is going on in oil is that you’re building a base. It is possible the low that was made last month as well as the addition of the rally is a setup for a potential final low. When you look at quarterly momentum you see a major pending upside breakout. From looking at the momentum chart you would be shocked. But for this to happen you have to firstly finish the downside, and once that happens and oil closes at any month in the current quarter at $41.20 or higher then you have broken out of quarterly momentum leading me to believe oil will go to roughly $60.

“Now what I am looking at is lesser time scales, even weeklies and trying to find a credible downturn that indicates the rally is over.”

Charts004

In 2011 people were very comfortable in believing gold was in a congestion zone. For the next year it teetered sideways, and was rationalized to be the next leg for the upside. The problem was that in January you have this price drop from late 2011 to a low in 2012. But when you came down in January, it didn’t do any damage to the price chart but it created an uptrend line on the annual momentum chart and it also took out a major previous low on gold. After this there was a mass amount of time where price didn’t break down, it oscillated until finally in 2013 momentum broke down in a decaying pattern.

Ever since the summer lows in 2013, gold has gently oscillated downwards but also came above that level repeatedly, so we can interpret this level as a midpoint. But during the decline in gold in 2013, most people were looking for collapses but we were not.

Looking at the momentum chart you see a different picture, you see horizontal action. The point at which momentum broke through that base was when price reached 1140-1160, a level well below the current market.

“I think gold has broken out on annual and quarterly momentum; it has paid its dues and I’m getting secondary evidence from foreign exchange. I believe now is a time to be long gold stocks more than gold.”

Abstract written by, Karan Singh  Karan1.singh@ryerson.ca

Video Editor: Sarah Tung  sarah.tung@ryerson.ca