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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
September 30, 2008
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Trying to add a bit of simplicity to the Complexity of a Credit Market Breakdown, I’ll say the Lehman collapse marked a critical inflection point in at least five major respects: First, the Crisis of Confidence jumped the "firebreak" from risk assets to contemporary "money," shattering trust in various facets of contemporary finance that was forged over decades. Second, it required the marketplace to reexamine exposures to various direct and indirect counterparty risks, a terminal blow for derivatives markets. Third, it pushed the Credit default swap marketplace into full-fledged dislocation and instigated a long-overdue regulator onslaught. Fourth, it decisively burst the "leveraged speculating community"/hedge fund Bubble. This has ushered in another round of problematic de-leveraging and accelerated the reversal of "Ponzi Finance" dynamics. Fifth, it instilled global fear with respect to the risks of participating in the inter-bank lending market with American institutions.

Basically, the Lehman collapse marked the end of "Wall Street" risk intermediation as a significant component of system financial intermediation. Going forward, Credit growth will be chiefly generated by the banking system, supported by various forms of government backing (Fed, FDIC, Washington bailouts/recapitalizations, etc.), the government-operated GSEs, and various forms of federal government debt issuance. Importantly, this new financial structure will ensure minimal risky lending as well as significantly reduced risk-taking. And from a global perspective, I believe newfound fears of lending to the American financial sector marks the beginning of the end of our economy’s capacity for trading new financial claims for imports of energy and goods.

Over time the Changed Financial Landscape will have a profound impact on the underlying economic structure. Our economy will have no alternative than to get by on less Credit, less risk intermediation, and fewer imports. In the near-term, the effects will be a rapid and pronounced slowdown of our economy’s "output." And while we’ll only know over time, I’d bet this new financial structure will allocate much less finance to entrepreneurial activities, productive endeavors and the asset markets – while at the same time providing ample (government-directed) purchasing power to ensure stubborn consumer price inflation.

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