Inflation or deflation – or Both? Mish vs. Dr. Doom

Which is the greater threat, inflation or deflation?In Marc Faber and Michael “Mish” Shedlock, we found two market watchers ready (and able) to champion both sides of this great debate.Shedlock, an investment advisor with SitkaPacific Capital and author of the economics blog, MISH’S Global Economic Trend Analysis, made the case for deflation: Credit is contracting, despite Ben Bernanke’s best efforts to flood the financial system with liquidity.”The money supply is just sitting there as excess reserves on bank balance sheets,” Mish says. “Bernanke can print this money but unless it makes its way into the real economy we’re not going to see inflation.”In addition, he predicts “another leg down” in housing and commercial real estate, more consumer loan defaults, and notes state and local governments are (finally) cutting back on spending in the face of falling tax receipts and budget deficits. All these trends will contribute to the deflationary force of credit contraction, Mish declares.But Shedlock is missing one critical factor says Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report: “When the economy’s bad, governments pile up these fiscal deficits and they print money” to offset the deleveraging of the private sector, he says. “They’re going to print and print and print.”If the economy sours again and especially if deflationary forces take hold, we’ll have “even more stimulus packages and even more printing,” Faber says. “That will bankrupt western governments – not just in the U.S. but everywhere. “And by that, he means the dollar and other western currencies will collapse, leading to a bout of rising (if not hyper-) inflation around the globe, which will spur all manner of societal unrest and geopolitical strife. Now you know why they call him “Dr. Doom.”

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7 Good Reasons Why The Dollar Will Fall and Gold Rise

It’s time to provide some fundamental reasons as to why the dollar is in trouble long term and why the precious metals sector and the commodities sector stands to benefit from these dollar woes.

  1. The US has a massive current account deficit and it only seems to be getting bigger. Economists may play with the numbers by stating that one month is less than the other and so forth, but the trend is up. It now comes close to 6% of our total economic activity.
  2. The US needs to attract a whopping 1.8 billion dollars a day to compensate for the current account gap. This trend is simply unsustainable.
  3. While Government officials talk big about a strong dollar policy, they actually favour a weak dollar. This serves two purposes, it helps increase exports and it allows the government to pay its debt with lower valued dollars. As long as the Government continues to borrow at these mind boggling rates, it is going to unofficially favour a weak dollar.
  4. By inflating the money supply, the government is imposing a nefarious silent killer tax on the masses. The only way to hedge against this outright theft is to hedge yourself by getting into hard assets (precious metals, lumber, oil, etc).
  5. Our national debt is 12.4 trillion and increasing. However, this does not take into consideration all our unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare. If these are combined, the debt levels soar to well unimaginable levels.
  6. 44 states are facing budget shortfalls. California is leading the way as it is expected to spend 50% more than it will generate this year. Now that is a really scary thought. Since 2007 US states have collectively spent 300 billion more than they have generated. These deficits mean higher taxes and so far 33 states have raised taxes, but collections have plummeted to their worst levels in 46 years; you cannot squeeze water out of a rock. No jobs means no revenues but states are selling new bonds at record rates to raise funds. It’s a recipe for long term disaster.
  7. Eventually the Fed is going to have to raise rates to continue attracting the huge amounts of money it needs to function. Overseas investors are going to start demanding higher rates. Higher rates will kill this fragile economy. Precious metals thrive in a high interest rate environment. From a long term perspective the bull market in precious metals has only just begun.
About the author: Sol Palha

Paul Krugman says, We’ll be Repeating the Great Mistake of 1937

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

That 1937 Feeling

Published: January 3, 2010

Here’s what’s coming in economic news:  The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

This shouldn’t be happening. Both Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Christina Romer, who heads President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, are scholars of the Great Depression. Ms. Romer has warned explicitly against re-enacting the events of 1937. But those who remember the past sometimes repeat it anyway.

As you read the economic news, it will be important to remember, first of all, that blips — occasional good numbers, signifying nothing — are common even when the economy is, in fact, mired in a prolonged slump. In early 2002, for example, initial reports showed the economy growing at a 5.8 percent annual rate. But the unemployment rate kept rising for another year.

And in early 1996 preliminary reports showed the Japanese economy growing at an annual rate of more than 12 percent, leading to triumphant proclamations that “the economy has finally entered a phase of self-propelled recovery.” In fact, Japan was only halfway through its lost decade.

Such blips are often, in part, statistical illusions. But even more important, they’re usually caused by an “inventory bounce.” When the economy slumps, companies typically find themselves with large stocks of unsold goods. To work off their excess inventories, they slash production; once the excess has been disposed of, they raise production again, which shows up as a burst of growth in G.D.P. Unfortunately, growth caused by an inventory bounce is a one-shot affair unless underlying sources of demand, such as consumer spending and long-term investment, pick up.

Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation.

During the good years of the last decade, such as they were, growth was driven by a housing boom and a consumer spending surge. Neither is coming back. There can’t be a new housing boom while the nation is still strewn with vacant houses and apartments left behind by the previous boom, and consumers — who are $11 trillion poorer than they were before the housing bust — are in no position to return to the buy-now-save-never habits of yore.

What’s left? A boom in business investment would be really helpful right now. But it’s hard to see where such a boom would come from: industry is awash in excess capacity, and commercial rents are plunging in the face of a huge oversupply of office space.

Can exports come to the rescue? For a while, a falling U.S. trade deficit helped cushion the economic slump. But the deficit is widening again, in part because China and other surplus countries are refusing to let their currencies adjust.

So the odds are that any good economic news you hear in the near future will be a blip, not an indication that we’re on our way to sustained recovery. But will policy makers misinterpret the news and repeat the mistakes of 1937? Actually, they already are.

The Obama fiscal stimulus plan is expected to have its peak effect on G.D.P. and jobs around the middle of this year, then start fading out. That’s far too early: why withdraw support in the face of continuing mass unemployment? Congress should have enacted a second round of stimulus months ago, when it became clear that the slump was going to be deeper and longer than originally expected. But nothing was done — and the illusory good numbers we’re about to see will probably head off any further possibility of action.

Meanwhile, all the talk at the Fed is about the need for an “exit strategy” from its efforts to support the economy. One of those efforts, purchases of long-term U.S. government debt, has already come to an end. It’s widely expected that another, purchases of mortgage-backed securities, will end in a few months. This amounts to a monetary tightening, even if the Fed doesn’t raise interest rates directly — and there’s a lot of pressure on Mr. Bernanke to do that too.

Will the Fed realize, before it’s too late, that the job of fighting the slump isn’t finished? Will Congress do the same? If they don’t, 2010 will be a year that began in false economic hope and ended in grief.

Gold

Gold

Closing Price for London AM Fix: 2000-2009
Date Gold AM Closing Price
29-Dec-00 $272.65
31-Dec-01 $276.50
31-Dec-02 $342.75
31-Dec-03 $417.25
30-Dec-04 $435.15
30-Dec-05 $513.00
29-Dec-06 $635.70
31-Dec-07 $836.50
31-Dec-08 $865.00
31-Dec-09 $1,104.00

Stephen Roach says, U.S. Consumer Deleveraging is Just Beginning

Stephen Roach

Stephen Roach

Stephen Roach: “The market is in for a rude awakening,” said the chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, whose grim outlook seems to remain constant wherever he’s domiciled. “This will be an usually weak recovery,” Roach said. “The damage done to the system [will be] lasting – we are not even close to healing. It’s ‘game over’ for the U.S. consumer. Deleveraging is just beginning.”

Jim Rogers Says, Gold Will Hit $2,000 and USA Will Lose Status As The World’s Reserve Currency

Good Time To Buy Gold

Good Time To Buy Gold

Famed investor Jim Rogers is “quite sure gold will go over $2000 per ounce during this bull market.”Rogers’ confidence gold will continue to rally stems from a view the U.S. dollar is on its way to losing status as the world’s reserve currency.”Is it going to happen? Yes,” Rogers says. “I don’t like saying it [and] I’m extremely worried about it but we have to deal with the facts. America is not getting better [and] the dollar is going to be replaced just like pound sterling [was].”Rogers didn’t offer a timetable, and it’s likely gold would exceed $2000 per ounce if the dollar were to lose its reserve status.Still, “I wouldn’t buy gold today,” Rogers says. “I think I’ll make more money in other commodities, which are cheaper,” as discussed in more detail here.Among many others, Rogers is “worried about the fact the U.S. government is printing huge amounts, spending gigantic amounts of money it doesn’t have,” the investor and author says. “People are very worried [and] skeptical about paper money [and] looking for places to protect themselves. The best way is to buy real assets. [That] has always protected one during currency turmoil, and it will again.”

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Peter Schiff says, The Economy Is Getting Worse Not Better

The Fed upgraded its view of the economy Wednesday, declaring: “Economic activity has picked up following its severe downturn.”But forget all the talk about recovery, V-shaped or otherwise. The economy is actually worse today vs. during the depths of the recession, according to Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital and author of Crash Proof 2.0.”Ben Bernanke is keeping his record of perfection intact of never getting anything right. Once again he’s gotten it wrong,” Schiff says. “If the Fed really thought the economy was sound, why does he have it on life support? If he pulls the plug, our sick economy is going to die.”Although the Fed never said the economy is “sound”, Schiff is referring to the FOMC’s renewed pledge that “economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period.”Nothing that’s occurred in the past six months has changed Schiff’s view that America’s economy is headed for disaster. In fact, he’s even more convinced a true “currency crisis” awaits, and that China will soon stop enabling our reckless borrowing, the basis our “phony” economy. The coming collapse of the dollar and bursting of the Treasury bubble will have devastating consequences for ordinary Americans, and any investors based in dollars, he says.The economy today is “worse [because] we are much more deeply indebted than in March,” Schiff declares. “We’ve dug ourselves a deeper hole.”

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