This note was originally published at 8am on October 26, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.
“All money is a matter of belief.”
-George J.W. Goodman
If he was writing today, George Goodman would have thrived as an “economist” of The People. The competition in the land of Market Practitioner (money manager) turned Author is light. I think he would have crushed Paul Krugman, like a bug.
Best known for his writings under the pseudonym of “Adam Smith” when he first published one of the all-time greats on my bookshelf “The Money Game” in 1968, Goodman went on to write “Supermoney” in 1972 and “Paper Money” in 1981. The similarities between the times of his writings (US Dollar Debauchery, US Debt Monetization, and Big Keynesianism) and today are glaring.
Let me re-state that – they are glaring to the non-willfully blind who would, of course, have to accept some level of responsibility in their recommendation. Much like history has forced Nixon, Carter, and their Fed Chief (Arthur Burns) to in the 1970s.
Do You Believe?
“Credit derives from the Latin, credere, “to believe.” Belief was there, the factories functioned, the farmers delivered their produce. The Central Bank kept the belief alive when it would not let even the government borrow further. But although the country functioned again, the savings were never restored, nor were the values of hard work that had accompanied the savings…” (Paper Money, 1981)
In that excerpt, Goodman was talking about The German Hyperinflation of 1923. Obviously a lot has changed since then, but the idea of the world’s largest man-made Money Printing Bazooka (ever) will be as alive as ever in the next 24 hours.
If you want to believe that the Swedes, Russians, and British aren’t already feeling the anticipated inflation associated with the centrally planned destruction of the Eurozone’s common currency, just go there… and ask them…
In the US, it’s already here. Only from the artist formerly known as an “economist” from The Goldman Sachs (NY Fed Head Bill Dudley) would you hear that talking up QG3 for a +9% one-day energy rip in the price of oil isn’t inflationary for those of us driving somewhere to eat something for our American Thanksgiving.
Thanking God’s Work for that…
Back to reality, what do The American People believe?
1. US Consumer Confidence: after the biggest 21 day stock market and commodity inflation almost ever (which is a long time), US Consumer Confidence for the month of October plummeted yesterday to 39.8 versus the 46.4 reading when inflation toned down in September. To put that print in context, US Consumer Confidence in October of 2008 was 38.8! (see chart)
2. US Institutional Sentiment: if there’s one certainty grounded in the Uncertainty of 2011, it’s that institutional investors are forced to suspend disbelief, often. BEFORE this 3-week, +13% inflation of the oil price, the II Bullish to Bearish Survey had a Bearish Spread of minus -12 points (bulls minus bears). AFTER the move, we have a Bullish Spread this morning of +2 points (40% Bulls versus 35.8% last week and 37.9% Bears versus 41% last week).
3. Hedgeye’s Moves: we made the “Short Covering Opportunity” call on October the 4th and the “Shorting The SP500” call on October the 24th. Back-check, Fore-check, Time Stamped.
But never mind what we did when few wanted to pull the trigger … or what went on in Germany in 1923 … or in the USA in 1978. Those were lessons that history has offered to us – and our said leaders can ignore them at their own risk. The American Zeitgeist that no one can simplify is actually really simple – The People no longer believe that stock and commodity market inflations are good. Period.
Our 2011 Strategy: Growth Slowing. The Keynesian 2011 Strategy: More Policy.
The difference between our views and theirs is not that complicated. What is complicated is having The People believe in these ridiculous acronyms (TARP, EFSF, etc). So now, in the spirit of simplicity, the Obama Administration is mixing it up with ones that commoners and journalists alike can pronounce – like HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program):
HARP is the next Policy Idea coming out of Washington that’s had the US Housing Index (ITB) trading with what The Bernank would call The Price Stability (ie +3% daily price moves in the stock market).
If you read into this Policy Idea, it’s effectively a short-term subsidy for losers, which will serve notice to the American Dreamers that their deadbeat neighbor can afford a shiny new car lease with his government handout. Or will they?
Our resident Financials and Housing gurus, Josh Steiner and Allison Kaptur, have boiled down the HARP 2.0 as follows:
- It doesn’t really help consumers much at all
- Consumers will be pressured into shortening the duration of the loan
- Net-net, monthly payment flat when principle and interest is taken into account
OK. So what do you do with that?
The conservative, head down, American saver gets even more upset because every Policy Idea we come up with rewards leverage and losing. Meanwhile the policy itself doesn’t help the most delinquent Americans anyway!
Nice. Really nice. Can we get some more of that?
As the pretend American Capitalists of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand spend the next 24 hours hoping and begging for the Heaviest Keynesian Hand offered to Global Markets ever, I’ll leave you with Goodman’s summary of what I think Americans Believe:
“… yet they had lost their self assurance, their feeling that they themselves could be the masters of their own lives if only they worked hard enough; and lost, too, were the old values of morals, ethics, and decency.” (Paper Money, 1981)
My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil, German DAX, and the SP500 are now $$1670-1715, $88.62-93.67, 5698-6144, and 1222-1254, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer