Back in the early to mid-2000s I encountered a number of “crash prophets” while trying to figure out where the U.S. economy was heading. One of these was Michael Panzner, a 25-year veteran of the global stock, bond, and currency markets who worked in New York and London for HSBC, Soros Funds, ABN Amro, Dresdner Bank, and J.P. Morgan Chase. He’s also a New York Institute of Finance faculty member and has written a number of books including When Giants Fall: An Economic Roadmap for the End of the American Era and Financial Armageddon, Revised And Updated Edition: Protect Your Future from Economic Collapse. In a March 24 post on his Financial Armageddon blog, Panzner looked at the disconnect between what Americans believe is happening with the economy and what is actually going on. He wrote:
As it happens, this current disconnect may represent one last opportunity for those who haven’t been taken in by all the delusions and chicanery to get their affairs in order. While I don’t believe there’s any way to stop the coming train wreck, there may be ways to capitalize on that knowledge.
That might mean selling or swapping risky assets, which is somewhat easier when prices are artificially inflated by low rates and high expectations (house prices, unfortunately, are a bit of an exception, though I and others like my friend Charles Hugh Smith believe that if you can sell now, it’s still a good idea).
It might also mean paying down or restructuring debt to take advantage of today’s unrealistically low rates and appetite for risky assets. And, finally, for those who are in a position to do so, it might make sense to line up whatever job or freelance work you can find with firms that are anxious to secure staff in anticipation of a “boom.”
Whatever the case, now is probably not the time to be thinking that Financial Armageddon is history.
Panzner isn’t the only one who senses this disconnect. In his blog The Great Depression of 2006, “Jim in San Marcos” busted out this doozy the other weekend:
I’m thinking of discontinuing the newspaper, not much in it any more. The depression is over, we’ve licked inflation, the national debt is no longer a problem and stocks are bouncing off of new highs.
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