Apr 30

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Mike Krieger: Goodbye Disneyland! – The Neo-Feudalistic, Gulag Casino Economy Has Already Begun


Presenting the latest terrific analysis by Michael Krieger, formerly a macro analyst at Bernstein, and currently running his own fund, KAM LP, who joins Willem Buiter and everyone else left with a gram of prudence, in realizing that this is nothing more than the “last dance.”

“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because most people do not want to admit they do not have the courage to do anything about it.  Most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker, but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all”
–  Michael Rivero

Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny, And in this judgment there is no partiality. So arm in arms, with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle, ‘Cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble. –  Bob Marley, Zimbabwe

A Thousand Words On Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom.  Many market analysts define conventional wisdom in relation to what direction the market is going to head in the future, but I think this is an utter mischaracterization of the concept.  For example, someone that is bullish on the market right now is likely to see conventional wisdom on stocks and the economy as overly bearish after ten years of no returns for U.S. equities.  In contrast, someone that expects a market collapse will say that everyone is a cheerleader and that the “conventional wisdom” after such a huge rally is for stocks to continue to go up.  This is not how I would describe conventional wisdom and all is does is drag the debate into the intellectual gutter.  Rather, to me conventional wisdom is more the “zeitgeist” of the financial and economic community at any given time.  Zeitgeist is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:  the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.  In this sense an “era” will generally mean a lengthy period of time, several decades or perhaps even more extended periods.  That said, what is interesting is that every cycle in the global economy seems to bring forward distinct “mini-zeitgeists” that the experts create to justify market movements or give credence to economic dogma.

When I define conventional wisdom in this manner what I have found is that I almost always disagree with conventional wisdom.  Two very interesting recent periods were fall 2007-July 2008 and then mid-2008-early 2009 period.  In the first period, it was clear to me that decoupling was impossible because the U.S. was too large and it was clearly on the verge of collapse and, more importantly, that China and the U.S. were joined at the hip in a Keynesian economic Frankenstein that would not be easily severed.  Despite what I thought was pretty obvious at the time, conventional wisdom was that the BRICS had decoupled and all would be well.  Rather than seeing the commodity surge as the flight out of the dollar due to the distinct money policies of the U.S. Fed and everyone else, the rally was seen as evidence of decoupling.  This is mainly because conventional wisdom tends to view rising assets as a signal of prosperity.  I believe this was and is generally due to a misunderstanding of economics (we are all taught mostly rubbish in schools) and a shocking ignorance of the global financial system, how it really works and who/what is pulling the levers.

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Apr 23

Mike Krieger, formerly a macro analyst at Bernstein, and currently running his own fund, KAM LP, summarizies the pretend reality we are all caught in now, knowing full well America is set on a crash course with reality at some point, yet sticking our collective heads in the sand, as the collapse will be some time in the “indefinite” future. In the meantime, banks will continue to boost US GDP by peddling “financial innovation” and restructuring advice to countries like Greece… and nothing else.


Goodbye Disneyland, by Mike Krieger

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.  It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.  Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.  The heresy of heresies was common sense.  And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right.  For, after all how do we know that two and two make four?  Or that the force of gravity works?  Or that the past is unchangeable?  If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?
– Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984

A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
– Thomas Jefferson

We Must Move to a Free Market and Shun the Welfare-Warfare State or all will be Lost

Unfortunately for all of us, the primary economic policy of the U.S. government as well as many others around the world is an extend and pretend strategy that is economic suicide primarily in that it keeps the irresponsible in their assets and it makes the responsible shudder and shun productive investments.  Whether it be a homeowner that is subsidized to stay in a home that he cannot afford or a bank that doesn’t want to come clean on the extent of its bad assets, the result is the same.  Complete economic inertia.  Now of course there has been a rebound in demand, but my argument has been and continues to be that this is the most unproductive rebound in aggregate demand that perhaps the world has ever seen.  Whether it be in the U.S. or China, the demand is taking away spare capacity in many areas indeed but we must question the methods.  This is where the whole idea of inflation comes into play.  The whole reason why printing a million dollars and giving it to everyone doesn’t work is because this “liquidity” is not created through a productive process.  It is purely an injection of new dollars into the economy.  The basic rule of supply/demand kicks in.  In the average person’s pocket, this money is unlikely to be “invested” in productive capital endeavors, rather the vast majority of it will simply be spent to consume the resources of that which can be supplied by the already existing capital stock.  So in many ways it isn’t that the creation of the money itself that is the biggest problem, it is the distribution channel of that money.  Only a small percentage of the population that receives the million dollars has the ability, drive and discipline to invest the money into something that will create economic value for the society at large rather than just blow it on a flat screen television.  This is the entire premise of why a free market economy works when it is allowed to work (which I would argue is not possible under the current Federal Reserve system).  The Fed is a socialist organization that SETS the most important price in the economy, the price of money.  Even worse, when they set that price at say 0% as is basically the case today that 0% or anything close to it is not offered to all the small businessmen or potential entrepreneurs out there.  It might not even be so bad if the low interest rates weren’t simply being used to gamble or play a carry trade with treasuries.  Of course, the banks or anyone else for that matter playing a spread by borrowing at near zero to buy long-term treasuries is doing irreparable harm to this nation.  They are complicit in the gross misallocation of capital to the government, capital that can then be doled out at will to favored interests.  So all we have today is essentially a creation of money and credit out of thin air that is allocated to two major constituents.  First, it has primarily been used to maintain the people of wealth, power and political connections (on both sides of the isle) before the crash entrenched in their socioeconomic roles.  Second, is to pay off political favors.  Those who supported the President in his campaign have been paid back handsomely and are today much more powerful and secure than before whether we are talking unions or the oligopoly banks.  If we wish to have any hope of a sustainable recovery preventing the inevitable social unrest to come from truly getting dangerous we must restore the free market and end the union of big business and government, which historically has presented an extremely dangerous situation.  For those that are in big business and think they have made a great move by joining forces with the state I suggest you go back and read your history.  You never will possess the ultimate power, you will be seduced into thinking you do and then when the time is right government can eliminate you and your fortune with the stroke of a pen.  Power is granted to you by this authority when you engage in this unholy union and it can be taken away on whim and your wealth confiscated. Selling out freedom and your fellow citizens for some extra money or government contracts will come back to haunt you.  Your legacy to the United States will be a neo-feudalistic, gulag casino economy that has already begun. Below is a link to an excellent interview with Bill Moyers on PBS about our financial oligarchy (I believe many industries here are becoming oligarchies but the financial one is the most powerful) and the need to stop its cancerous growth.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04162010/watch.html

There Will be Surplus…In 2050!

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