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Jim Cook

 

RUNAWAY SOCIAL SYMPATHY

Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

 
Best of Doug Noland
June 2, 2009
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Doug Noland

I again want to emphasize the dramatic change in circumstances that is increasingly in view throughout global markets and economies. During the nineties – and stretching through the "King Dollar" period earlier this decade – there was an overarching inflationary bias that worked to direct flows TO the "Core" (the U.S. Credit system and securities markets). Whether it was a crisis that initially erupted in Mexico, SE Asia, Russia, Argentine or Brazil, the immediate market response was an abrupt reversal of financial flows from the developing countries to U.S. dollar securities. While there was an ongoing acceleration in speculative flows meandering about the globe in search of big returns, the first sign of trouble would incite a panic straight to the dollar.

The "Core" absolutely dominated the system, providing our policymakers (especially the Fed) extraordinary latitude. The Periphery to Core bias fostered financial crises, along with general Periphery financial and economic instability. This dynamic worked to keep global inflationary pressures in check. Or, better said, the nature of the inflationary flow of finance kept inflation pressures directed to U.S. dollar securities markets - as opposed to energy, commodities and more traditional inflation.

The global financial and economic backdrop has changed profoundly. Today, there exists a powerful inflationary bias working to direct flows away from the Core out to the Periphery. This dynamic helps to explain the dramatic change in the cost and availability of finance for the developed world over the past several years – the virtually unlimited cheap finance that funded historic booms in China and Asia.

Granted, this flow was abruptly interrupted by last year’s global Credit crisis. It is, however, my view that the dynamic of powerful Core to Periphery flows has resumed. Moreover, it is the nature of this type of dynamic that if such a trend recovers it will likely resume stronger-than-ever (think tech stock post-LTCM reflation or mortgages post-tech Bubble reflation). This analysis is supported by the Periphery’s recent dramatic economic and market outperformance relative to the Core.

So, is this bullish or bearish? Well, I believe The Core to Periphery Dynamic is supportive of a more rapid than expected global economic recovery. I definitely expect global inflation to surprise on the upside. Adherents to the global deflationary spiral thesis may be left wondering what the heck happened. The backdrop seems to be set for surprising revival in energy and commodities markets. And I would not be surprised if the global equities rally has some legs.

Yet I view The Core to Periphery Dynamic as profoundly bearish for the U.S. At its core, this historic redirection of global flows and inflationary pressures is the consequence of a breakdown in the dollar standard. Failed policies, a resulting deeply impaired economic structure, and massive ongoing devaluation have ended the dollar’s reign as the globe’s premier reserve currency and perceived stable store of value. There is today no sound currency to replace the dollar, so the global financial system operates rudderless and with great uncertainties.

It is more certain, however, that the great benefits commanded to our economy and markets over the decades from governing the world’s reserve currency are drawing to an end. Our policymakers still believe they can inflate Credit and manipulate interest rates - and not have to pay a price for it. But the new global reality may be that currency markets protest massive U.S. fiscal deficits and activist monetary policy, while global markets come to dictate U.S. market yields. Over the past two weeks we have seen the dollar and U.S. Treasuries/MBS come under significant pressure. Is this the beginning of global markets disciplining Washington?

A robust Core to Periphery Dynamic and the re-emergence of dollar vulnerability are a potent combination. U.S. markets to this point remain sanguine with the prospect of an expanding Federal Reserve balance sheet rectifying any spike in interest rates. But currency markets are no doubt increasingly fixated on our propensity to monetize current and prospective stimulus. At some point, increasingly unwieldy flows out of our currency may force the Fed’s hand. The scenario where the Fed is forced to choose between loose monetary policy and currency crisis sits out there as a potential big negative surprise for U.S. markets.

Doug Noland is a market strategist at Prudent Bear Funds. Their website is www.prudentbear.com.