Monday, June 9, 2008

1930 All Over Again?

I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us." - Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930

"irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery" - HES June 28th 1930

``The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so'' - Federal Reserve Chariman Ben Bernanke June 9th, 2008

The quote was from that Bloomberg story. Fed Chariman Ben Bernanke spoke at the Boston Fed conference with more posturing for rate hikes. I do not know what planet he is living on but the risks to the economy have not diminished an iota. Things are getting eerily similar to the Depression. For those who know market history would know the Fed in the summer of 1930 (I think July) raised interest rates. Could we be setting up for a repeat? I still do not believe a depression is on a horizon but I think this is growing evidence for a serious recession. We essentially almost have to have one. I will repeat, you have to pay the piper. There is no free lunch. Serious recession or inflation. Which one? I still think recession is a long term less costly answer despite the pain many will feel.

This may just be a big game of chicken. Who blinks first? The Fed or the dollar and oil? The Fed is obviously hoping the latter.


Mikey said...

How could it possibly be newsworthy to quote someone like Bernanke saying things are going to be great?

The man was a professor, and his big promotion was to a civil servant job paying only $190k (I saw this in the FT). Fed Chair pay pales in comparison to equivalent positions throughout the world. But, it's probably adjusted over the years using COLA, which is based on core CPI, LOL.

I think the next recession is going to be much worse than the 30s. We don't have our factories anymore, people are less educated, we're not as tough, we're in serious debt as a whole, we're about to retire as a whole (baby boom), we're no longer exporting oil (we did back then), we have a current account deficit... I could keep going, but what's the point?

Essentially, since we've blown our natural resources driving hummers around, we're going to be competing with the likes of Japan and Western Europe on pretty even terms now. That's like taking a donkey to the Kentucky Derby. We're going to get smoked.

The one game we were good at, "financial engineering," has lost its foreign suckers. It's not much use to feed on ourselves... I guess there's wealth reallocation, but nothing that would be positive for the U.S.

The only chance we have is our military, but that would be so uncool.

Market Seer said...

LOL..I enjoyed the comment. The reason it is noteworthy is because billions of dollars depend on what he and his croonies decide to do with interest rates even if he is wrong. The 2 year had another violent move after the speech making and losing billions for investors.

I tend to agree with you though as someone who manages money I must guard against completely buying into your points. I must let it unfold before intellectually going where you went.

It does not pay to be a bear doom and gloom guy and it does not pay to be a bull rosy colored glasses guy. It pays to be right. One powerfuly counter to your point is I think the rest of the world will continue to grow, though albeit at a slower rate, and America with the weak dollar will continue to produce various goods. My guess is the trade deficit number tomorrow will be fairly decent.

I think your best point is that we are not as tough. The government will bankrupt this country because the massses will whine and whine about a foreclosure or higher gas prices. In the 1930s people lived with eating from soup lines. The government will probably kill itself before letting that happen again. History is full of great empires who collapsed because the people became soft and valued pleasure and leisure over what got them to their pinnacle in the first place, hard work and an attitude to conquer, not time to sip a martini.

Mikey said...

OK, I'm a bear, but c'mon, we're not going to start making plastic dog doo in the U.S. and exporting it to wherever.

80% of the world exists on less than $3000 a year. We're the consumers of trinkets; there's no one to replace us. But, food/energy. Sure, everyone wants to consume that.

I guess the biggest difference between now and the '30s is the dollar is now just a piece of paper. I'm not a gold bug by any means, but I could see the value of forcing discipline on our government. The repudiation of the gold standard by FDR/Nixon was probably the biggest power grab by any American ever, and unconstitutional as h---.

At any rate, for those reasons, I'm much more long than I am short. If you want to make money in a variety of market conditions, I think you need to know how to bat from both sides of the plate. Don't really care what I do, just as long as I make money. I would guess the stuff I do is very similar to you. Didn't want to leave the wrong impression of a screaming short-only bear. Typically, 10:1 long/short, but right now 3:1.

Market Seer said...

Well I am probably closer to 1.3 to 1 so based on those statistics I am more bearish than you. :)