As we enter the 2nd half of the year, I will become a lot more serious in my warnings that something monumental is brewing. Sure the stock market is rallying, which I warned it would, but this is not a sign that our economy is out of the woods; it merely shows that capital is already looking for a hedge against sovereign debt. What I’m telling you is the truth, the truth that the government will never tell. The government, with the press as their allies, can literally fool the public 100% of the time. But the intellectuals? They can’t fool them, which is why historically intellectuals are always targeted first in a crisis.
We are headed towards a crisis of monumental proportions and the public is still asleep. Financial panics come in all different flavors. You have the dot.com bubble that pops and business as usual resumes in about 3 months. A standard real estate correction is a little worse because the equity in a home is perceived as savings, so spending declines and you see a contraction in leverage, which leads to an economic slowdown. But we recover from a real estate contraction soon enough and all is back to normal.
But a debt crisis? Now this is a different beast.
You see rising taxation at a time when the economy can least handle it. You see a flood of bonds hit the market, which drives up interest rates at a time when our debt load is at its greatest. You see a run on the currency, which is viewed as a close cousin of bonds. And when Federal debt is at obscene levels and government needs to contract while almost half our population are government workers? Watch out. Calling for austerity now is like mandating by official decree for unemployment to rise! True stupidity.
The Great Depression is viewed by economic historians as being caused by a stock market collapse. This is just plain stupid. Why didn’t the much bigger one week crash in 1987 create a Great Depression? No one thinks with common sense anymore. The truth is the Great Depression was primarily caused by a sovereign debt crisis in Europe. This created a stampede into dollars that imposed deflation on our economy at the same time we had a Dust Bowl and half our population worked on farms. So of course you are going to get massive unemployment: if prices and wages fall while debt burdens remain constant, you are going to have a crisis.
The Keynesian elixir is not working because it is akin to medicine that has been overused, so the body adjusts to it. Chronic deficit spending with rising rates of taxation is NOT what Keynes, a true genius, envisioned. What we have now is a crisis in confidence, which means even with low interest rates no one is borrowing to start a business. If the government can raise taxes at a whim, this can literally wipe out your entire projected profits. Why would anyone invest in this environment? The best thing the government could do is to keep taxes flat for a preset period of time; this would create a boom for the ages.
European Debt Crisis
The Euro experiment was doomed to fail from the beginning. Essentially what you have is European banks holding sovereign debt as reserves because they were forced to. So weaker European countries got lower interest rates than a pure free market would have ever given them. This created a sense that they were a lot more stable than they actually were even with rising entitlements and populations heavily employed in the public sector.
When you combine different countries with different cultures in the same monetary union, you are asking for trouble. One country will be booming while the other is contracting. A boom in a country like Germany will create demand for Euros. Unfortunately, a demand for Euros is akin to deflation for countries that are in contraction mode, which exacerbates the crisis there. And countries like Greece don’t even have the option of inflating away the burden of their debt by devaluing. This is the type of politically created monetary chain that gold was in the 1930′s. We are walking down the same path.
It is so utterly stupid to have a monetary union without one debt. European leaders believed it would defend against currency attacks against weaker nations. Well yea, it did. But what they didn’t realize is that a short on a sovereign bond is a synthetic short on the currency. How they didn’t think of this is beyond my comprehension. Furthermore, imagine if a state like New York could issue federal debt and place the burden on a state like Nebraska. This is obviously very stupid, but this is the arrangement the geniuses in Europe created.
So now we come to gold, which is going to be one of the few assets that do well in this debt crisis. People misunderstand gold for so many reasons. For example, the 1970′s were an inflationary period according to the CPI and gold rose dramatically, so people automatically correlate gold to inflation. But no one ever talks about how almost half of the CPI was composed of home prices. And home prices in the U.S. rose almost 50% during the 1970′s adjusted for inflation.
Once home prices were replaced by rents, the CPI naturally moderated. If the CPI right now were composed of 40% home prices, we would most likely be experiencing deflation. Yet gold is rising. What I’m trying to tell you is to stop accepting conventional wisdom and start understanding what the hell gold is.
Gold is first and foremost a hedge against government fiscal stupidity. When the entire Western world and Japan is mired in a debt crisis (300% debt-to-GDP ratio for Japan), why do you think people would start flocking into the Euro, Yen, or Dollar? This is just irrational. Look at what people are doing in Greece because this is a precursor to what will happen worldwide. They are rushing to gold. Most other assets are domestic in nature meaning they can be manipulated for political reasons. But gold is outside the system, which is exactly what people desire when it hits the fan.
So yes, we are doomed, probably starting around 2016. Gold will probably hit $5000 by 2020, and this is not that big of a deal. Markets, especially in a panic, always rise exponentially. That’s just the way markets work– dynamically. The gold market has been in consolidation mode for quite some time so people are losing interest, but believe me, when the rally comes, it is going to be magnificent.