Bonds

Lord Rothschild Warns ‘Geopolitical Situation Perhaps As Dangerous As Any We Have Faced Since World War II’

Jacob Rothschild, or 4th Baron Rothschild Bt, OM, GBE, FBA, as he’s known across “the pond,” has issued a warning to investors in RIT Capital Partners, an investment trust chaired by the 78-year-old banker. Lord Rothschild wrote in the £2.3 billion trust’s 2014 annual report (Report & Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2014) under “Chairman’s Statement”:

Our policy has been clearly expressed over the years. Simply put, it is to deliver long-term capital growth while preserving shareholders’ capital; the realization of this policy comes at a time of heightened risk, complexity and uncertainty. The economic and geopolitical environment therefore becomes increasingly difficult to predict.

The world economy grew at a disappointing and uneven rate in 2014 after six years of monetary stimulus and extraordinarily low interest rates. Stock market valuations however, are near an all-time high with equities benefiting from quantitative easing. Not surprisingly, the value of paper money has been debased as countries have sought to compete and generate growth by lowering the value of their currencies – the Euro and the Yen depreciated by over 12% against the US Dollar during the course of the year and Sterling by 5.9%. The unintended consequences of monetary experiments on such a scale are impossible to predict.

In addition to this difficult economic background, we are confronted by a geopolitical situation perhaps as dangerous as any we have faced since World War II: chaos and extremism in the Middle East, Russian aggression and expansion, and a weakened Europe threatened by horrendous unemployment, in no small measure caused by a failure to tackle structural reforms in many of the countries which form part of the European Union.

However, in a world of zero or even negative bond yields, equities may well remain the destination of choice for investors. Furthermore, the majority of companies are reporting profits exceeding forecasts together with steady earnings growth. In Europe, the combination of a more competitive Euro, an aggressive programme of quantitative easing and the yields available on equities, may well lead to even higher valuations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In 2012, it was reported the elder member of the Rothschild banking family took a $200 million position against the euro.

You can read the entire report on RIT Capital Partners website here (.pdf format).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating Yet Again, Issues Negative Outlook

Chicago’s financial health is still pretty bleak in 2015.

Almost one year ago to this day, I blogged about bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service downgrading the City of Chicago’s general obligation (GO) and sales tax ratings to Baa1 from A3, affecting $8.3 billion of GO and sales tax debt. I added last March:

According to Moody’s, “Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.”

Just before the weekend, Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s credit rating yet again. The Global Credit Research division announced on the Moody’s website under “Ratings News” Friday:

Rating Action: Moody’s downgrades Chicago, IL to Baa2; maintains negative outlook

Baa2 applies to $8.3B of GO debt, $542M of sales tax debt, and $268M of motor fuel tax debt

New York, February 27, 2015 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1 the rating on the City of Chicago, IL’s $8.3 billion of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt, $542 million of outstanding sales tax revenue debt, and $268 million of outstanding or authorized motor fuel tax revenue debt. We have also downgraded to Speculative Grade (SG) from VMIG 3 the short-term rating on the city’s outstanding Sales Tax Revenue Refunding Bonds, Variable Rate Series 2002. The outlook on the long-term ratings remains negative…

“The outlook on the long-term ratings remains negative”

Kind of hard to get excited about the “Windy City’s” prospects after reading that.

To be fair, some are suggesting the credit rating downgrades are being influenced by City Hall in order to avoid meeting certain financial obligations (i.e., Chicago’s well-publicized public pension crisis).

“We ain’t got it.”

You can read the entire Moody’s press release on their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Robert Shiller: ‘I’m Thinking Of Getting Out Of The United States Somewhat’

The second topic from earlier this week I’ll be revisiting tonight is Robert Shiller. The Nobel Prize-winning economist was on CNBC’s Squawk Box TV show Wednesday and talked equities (among other things) with Becky Quick, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Brian Sullivan. From their exchange:

SHILLER: The things that is really striking- and maybe not today- is the low-level, long-term interest rates. It is just stunning how low they have gotten. Recently, the 30-year TIPS real rate was at half-a-percent. That’s incredible for 30 years. And that is pushing the stock market up. But it’s not the kind of euphoria that we saw notably in 2000.
SORKIN: What percentage do you have in equities?
SHILLER: It’s about half.
SORKIN: Half?
SHILLER: Yeah.
SORKIN: Have you changed it recently? Will you change it?
SHILLER: Yeah. I’m thinking of getting out of the United States somewhat.
SORKIN: You are?
SHILLER: Yeah. I think Europe is so much cheaper.
SORKIN: And you’d buy big multinationals based in Europe? You’d buy smaller companies in Europe? What would you do?
SHILLER: Well, what I have done is I’ve invested in Italy indexes. Spain index.
SORKIN: Are you hedging currency?
SHILLER: No, I’m not.


“Shiller: Europe so much cheaper than US”
CNBC Video

The Yale professor talked about exiting his U.S. stock positions not too long ago. I blogged on December 10, 2014:

Dr. Shiller appeared on CNBC Tuesday morning and told viewers the following when asked what he’s doing with his own money:

I worry about valuation in the stock market. And I’ve been wondering if I should pull out. But I have not. And in fact I’m still thinking that even at the CAPE ratio of 27, the expected return is still higher than you expect to get on either housing, on real estate, or fixed income. So it still seems like- I feel a little trepidation because I know my own indicator is looking kind of scary. I wouldn’t over go into the market, but I wouldn’t be completely out either.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Dr. Shiller’s latest book (revision, actually)…

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Robert Shiller: ‘Stocks In Europe Are MUCH Cheaper Than In The United States’

The last time I blogged about Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, he was saying that the bond market “doesn’t clearly fit my definition of a bubble.” Dr. Shiller knows a thing or two about bubbles, considering he spotted the U.S. housing bubble last decade and the dot-com bubble a few years earlier.

Last Thursday, Shiller was interviewed by Bertha Coombs on CNBC’s Futures Now TV show where he shared his thoughts about bonds again (“it’s definitely high”) and some advice for investors. From their exchange:

SHILLER: One of them is, don’t use your usual assumptions about returns going forward. So that means you might want to save more. A lot of people are not saving enough. And incidentally, people are living longer now and health care is improving- you might end up retired for 30 years. People are not really preparing for that. The other thing is, diversify. And that helps reduce risk. And you can diversify outside the United States. Stocks in Europe are much cheaper than in the United States. So some people never invest in Europe- I think that’s a mistake.
COOMBS: So you’d rather go to Europe rather than emerging markets…
SHILLER: Or emerging markets, yeah…


“Robert Shiller’s unconventional investment advice”
CNBC Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Marc Faber: Central Banks, Governments Will Try To Confiscate Privately-Held Gold

Last week I was listening to a King World News interview of Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber. The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report warned listeners that he believes privately-held gold is in danger of being confiscated by central banks and governments. From an exchange between Eric King and Dr. Faber in that interview which appeared on the website on February 10, 2015:

KING: Marc, we were talking about the money printing earlier. Obviously, we had the revaluation of the Swiss franc overnight that led to so much chaos. But what I wanted to ask you today is, you’ve already said I think gold is going to have a strong 2015, but are we going to wake up at some point in the future and have a massive revaluation of gold overnight? Is that something you see happening not this year but in the future? Is that coming at some point?
FABER: Yes. But I think before it will happen the central banks and the governments will try to take the gold away from ordinary people, you understand? I think they know that this would be one solution for the global financial system to peg it again to some extent on gold. But before they do that, I think they’ll go after you and me and say, “Okay, parasites of society that do not spend but keep their money in gold that is unproductive- let us take it away.” That is the threat. I’m not worried about the price of gold. What do I care if the gold price is at $1,000 or $500 or $1,500 or $5,000? What I care is that I can keep ownership of gold.
KING: Just so I understand this, there may be a global coordinated effort by as many central banks that can get together on this to seize the gold, to take the gold.
FABER: Yes, because the professors at the central banks and the academics, most of them have never owned a single ounce of gold. And they know that gold is the honest currency that cannot be printed. Yes, the supply increases and sometimes the price goes up and sometimes the price goes down. But this is a market they really cannot control in the long-run. They can manipulate it in the short-run, but the more they manipulate it, the more it will eventually go to its real level. And so central bankers basically who are the money printers- the counterfeiters of this world- they hate gold. Period.

Later on in that King World News interview, “Dr. Doom” talked about the investments he owns these days. Faber revealed:

I own some real estate in Asia. I own some gold. I own some stocks. I own some bonds, because I agree with you at some point the bond market will diverge. In other words, they’ll print money and buy bonds, but the bond market will go down.

You can listen to the entire interview on the King News World website here (gold confiscation discussion begins at 14:09).

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 82

I had a tough choice to make earlier tonight- either watch President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Speech, or finish up doing laundry.

After all my clothes were put away, I saw on my Internet service provider’s home page some jibberish about how some “shadow of crisis” had passed. I pulled up a transcript of the President’s speech tonight and sure enough there was this:

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come…

Mark my words. The “shadow of crisis” hasn’t passed. It was merely papered over. Keynesian “enlightenment,” government intervention, bailouts, stimulus packages, quantitative easing, QE 1, QE 2, QE 3, willing-and-able presstitutes, and what do we have? The Not-So-Great Recovery. Answer me this- if the economy is so strong, why have interest rates been effectively at zero for how many years now? “But Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve are going to start raising interest rates soon.” We’ll see, but if they do, I suspect rates will be raised incrementally, and I can’t help but wonder if the next few years won’t resemble the early part of last decade when a housing bubble inflated (and eventually popped) under the guise of a strong economy, but with the Fed slow on the trigger to raise rates and take way the punch bowl. This time around, we could even have multiple asset bubbles (in bonds? housing? stocks?) formed before the next installment of the longer financial crash arrives. Who knows exactly how the next crisis will play out, but I’m pretty sure the end result will be much uglier than the last episode. Not many bullets left for Uncle Sam and the central bank to use.

One more thing. “We have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.” God forbid anyone scratch the surface to reveal how many more trillions of dollars of debt has been piled on our financial house of cards in order to kick the can down the road a little bit more. There’s no escaping the fact that the United States is the world’s largest debtor nation. And another inconvenient fact happens to be that taking on significant debt is akin to slavery.

“Freer to write our own future.” If only it were true. Financial reckoning day is more like it.

I’ll leave Survival And Prosperity readers with this. Back in the early 1990s while attending the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign I remember listening to a recording of “The Rat Pack” in action. Frank Sinatra was chiding Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Now, the “Chairman Of The Board” made an observation that better describes the situation we’re in than what the President Of The United States said this evening:

You’ve had your fling and you flung it.

Enjoy the “good times” while they last, then prepare to batten down the hatches.


Scene from The Final Countdown (1980)
YouTube Video

Note that it’s not the end of the word I’m talking about here. But things will definitely suck for a while before the economy and society gets better again. By that time, we’ll probably be well on our way to having passed the baton to China.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Marc Faber: Gold Going Up 30% In 2015

“BullionVault, an online service for investors to buy and sell physical gold and silver, said its Gold Investor Index fell in December to an almost five-year low.

The gauge, which measures the balance of buyers against sellers, slipped to 50.5 from 52.1 in November, the London-based company said in an e-mailed report today. That’s the lowest level since February 2010 and marked the biggest drop since 2013. A reading above 50 indicates more buyers than sellers…”

-Bloomberg.com, January 6, 2015

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber has been a gold bull for some time. And the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report is so confident about a rising price of gold in 2015 (in spite of all the negative sentiment among investors) that he made an eye-opening prediction yesterday. Sara Sjolin reported on the MarketWatch website Tuesday afternoon:

“I’m positive [that] gold will go up substantially [in 2015] — say 30%,” Faber, whose investment letter is called the Gloom Boom Doom Report, said at Société Générale’s global strategy presentation in London on Tuesday.

“My belief is that the big surprise this year is that investor confidence in central banks collapses. And when that happens — I can’t short central banks, although I’d really like to, and the only way to short them is to go long gold, silver and platinum,” he said. “That’s the only way. That’s something I will do.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

BullionVault

Dr. Faber repeated his recent “bubble in everything, everywhere” statement while in London. Sjolin added:

“We simply have highly inflated asset markets. Real estate is high, stocks are high, bonds are high, art prices are high, and interest rates and short-term deposits are basically zero,” Faber said. “The only sector that I think is very inexpensive is precious metals, and in particularly precious-metals stocks.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Faber, who became well-known for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash and for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box back on September 19, 2014, and warned viewers:

Today, the good news is we have a bubble in everything, everywhere- with very few exceptions. And, eventually, there will be a problem when these asset markets begin to perform poorly. The question is- what will be the catalyst? It could be a rise in interest rates not engineered by the Fed, because I think they’ll keep interests rates at zero on the Fed funds rate for a very long time… We could have essentially a break in bond markets at some point. We also could have a strong dollar. A strong dollar has already happened in the last two months signifies that international liquidity is tightening. And when that happens, usually it’s not very good for asset markets.

Dr. Faber also sees a potential investing opportunity in emerging markets, which you can read about in Sjolin’s piece on the MarketWatch website here.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Robert Shiller On Bonds: ‘Doesn’t Clearly Fit My Definition Of Bubble’

I just blogged about Yale economics professor Robert Shiller on December 30- when he appeared on CNBC that morning and talked about housing. He would know, considering he spotted the U.S. housing bubble last decade and the dot-com bubble a few years earlier.

These days, Dr. Shiller is turning his attention to bonds. Pat Regnier reported on the Money magazine website on January 6, 2015:

Since at least 2009, some market observers have called the bond market a bubble.

Shiller, however, resists applying the B-word to bonds. “It doesn’t clearly fit my definition of ‘bubble,’” he says. “It doesn’t seem to be enthusiastic. It doesn’t seem to be built on expectations of rapid increases in bond prices.” (Shiller spoke with Money in December.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dr. Shiller talks more about bonds in that Money piece, which you can read in its entirety on the magazine’s website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Sunday, January 11th, 2015 Bonds, Bubbles, Crash Prophets, Investing No Comments

Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, And Peter Schiff All Sound The Alarm

I find it both funny and disturbing that the financial types who missed the U.S. housing bubble/bust and global economic crisis that was readily-visible by the second half of 2008 are now claiming the U.S. economic “recovery” is on solid footing and there are no asset bubbles in sight.

Meanwhile, the few individuals who correctly-predicted that carnage- including Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff- are sounding the alarm again.

Here’s what each of these “crash prophets” have been saying lately (the following statements have all been blogged about previously on Survival And Prosperity).

Swiss-born investor and money manager Marc Faber warned CNBC Squawk Box viewers on September 19, 2014:

Today, the good news is we have a bubble in everything, everywhere- with very few exceptions. And, eventually, there will be a problem when these asset markets begin to perform poorly. The question is- what will be the catalyst? It could be a rise in interest rates not engineered by the Fed, because I think they’ll keep interests rates at zero on the Fed funds rate for a very long time… We could have essentially a break in bond markets at some point. We also could have a strong dollar. A strong dollar has already happened in the last two months signifies that international liquidity is tightening. And when that happens, usually it’s not very good for asset markets.

“A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Reminds me of what British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham said right before the asset bubbles popped during the “Panic of ’08.” Speaking of Grantham, he penned in his November 2014 quarterly investment letter entitled “Bubble Watch Update”:

I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…

My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory (which starts, as mentioned earlier, at 2250 on the S&P 500 on our data) before crashing as it always does. Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world’s equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20% or less. Usually the bubble excitement – which seems inevitably to be led by U.S. markets – starts about now, entering the sweet spot of the Presidential Cycle’s year three, but occasionally, as you have probably discovered the hard way already, history can be a snare and not a help.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…”

The S&P 500 stands at 2,058 this Sunday- only 192 points away from Grantham’s bubble “target.”

There’s also investor, financial commentator, and author Jim Rogers, who was talking U.S. equities on RT’s Boom Bust on December 26, 2014, when he remarked:

I know the bear market will come… The next bear market, Erin, is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof. Debt worldwide, including the U.S., has skyrocketed, and we’re all going to have to pay a terrible price for all this money printing and all this debt.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Finally, there’s Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff, who argued on The Schiff Report YouTube video blog on Halloween 2014:

When this illusion collapses, this fantasy of a U.S. economic recovery- because everybody believes there’s no recession anywhere in sight, that we’re years away from a U.S. recession- when in fact, another recession is right around the corner. And in fact, it will be worse than the recession that we had in 2008, 2009, if the Fed does not come in with QE 4…

I expect Janet Yellen to react to this coming recession the way Ben Bernanke reacted to the last one. The way Alan Greenspan reacted to the last one. Because that’s the only playbook we’ve got. And remember, when this recession starts, they can’t start with rate cuts. Rates are at zero. You can’t cut from zero. All they can do is revamp QE. And believe me, it’s going to have to be a lot bigger than QE 3. QE 4 is going to have to be bigger than QE 3 for the same reason QE 3 had to be bigger than QE 2- the economy builds up a tolerance. The more addicted to QE, the more QE you need to get any kind of result. And this last result was minimal in the real economy. I mean, yes- the Fed was able to get the stock market to go up, but the real economy never experienced any real economic growth. The average American is worse off today than when QE began. By far. Incomes are down. Real employment is down. Net worth is down. Poverty is up. Government dependency is up. The cost of living is up. Nothing has improved, except maybe the level of optimism on Wall Street…

This crisis is not really going to be about a credit crisis. Not private credit. It’s going to be about debt. Sovereign credit. It’s going to be about the dollar. A currency crisis. A sovereign crisis. Which is going to be very different than the crisis we had in 2008. It’s a crisis of an excess of QE. Of an overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning…

Schiff, who’s also a financial commentator and author, has been the most vocal of the four in warning of economic pain dead-ahead of us.

Jim Rogers talking the day after Christmas about the coming bear market alerted me to the fact that all these “crash prophets” whom I regularly-follow on this blog are now sounding the alarm at the same time. To summarize their recent warnings:

Marc Faber- “A bubble in everything, everywhere.” Actually, I believe he still likes Asia and Asian emerging economies.
Jeremy Grantham- “I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline.”
Jim Rogers- “The next bear market… is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof.”
Peter Schiff- “An overdose of QE. That’s the one that’s coming. That’s the one that we have to prepare for. That’s the one that I have been warning about since the beginning.”

At the start of 2015, it will be interesting to see how the next couple of years play out, for I believe Americans will get the chance to experience quite a bit of the above in that time period- whether they want to or not.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Marc Faber Shares 2015 Outlook, Talks Bonds, Stocks, Precious Metals

Yesterday, Swiss-born investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber appeared on Bloomberg Television’s In the Loop. Speaking with Brendan Greeley, Betty Liu, and Erik Schatzker, the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report shared his outlook for 2015. Dr. Faber told viewers:

I’m saying that we will have a lot of volatility and a lot of surprises, that’s why I keep on recommending diversification. And I just like to mention that hedge funds in 2014 and active money managers had a bad year. Almost 90 percent of active managers underperformed the S&P 500. And hedge funds, by-and-large, the average is up about 1 percent. But the portfolio that has actually done well is the All Weather portfolio of Bridgewater Associates, because they diversified- they were also in bonds…

So I’m diversified. I still think that the sentiment about stocks in the U.S. is much too bullish, much too optimistic… I think the Treasury market is not such a bad alternative given my view that the global economy is actually slowing down, and given the low yields you have in Japan and Europe.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Famous for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash and for calling the 2008 global economic crisis, Dr. Faber told the Bloomberg audience that when it comes to stocks, he prefers to invest in Asia and emerging economies of Asia than in the U.S.

The “crash prophet” added one more thing. Faber said:

I tell you, I prefer physical precious metals stored outside the U.S. But if you cannot own physical precious metals, I believe that whereas the sentiment about the stock market is bullish, and about investments in general, and whereas I believe that most assets are in kind of a bubble- we have a credit bubble- I have to say that sentiment about precious metals is incredibly negative. And all these experts are predicting gold price to drop to $700. Well understood, these are experts that never owned a single ounce of gold in their lives. So they missed the five-fold increase since 1999. But they all know that the price of gold will go to $800- they’re right about it with a lot of authority. And they also say these are people that never gave a gold jewelry to their girlfriends and saw the smile of these beautiful girls after they received the jewelry.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Marc Faber: Diversify Amid Volatility, Surprises in 2015”
Bloomberg TV Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Jim Rogers: Coming Bear Market In Stocks Will Be ‘Much Worse Than The Last One’

Well-known investor, financial commentator, and author Jim Rogers was on RT’s Boom Bust last Friday. He spoke with host Erin Ade about stocks and commodities (among other financial topics). On stocks, Rogers told viewers:

The breadth has been terrible. Most stocks are down- most U.S. stocks are down in 2014. They’re not up, whatever the averages are doing. It’s not been a good year for most investors in nearly any asset, unless you happened to own bonds or the U.S. dollar…

When asked about a coming bear market in equities, the former investing partner of George Soros warned:

I know the bear market will come… The next bear market, Erin, is going to be much worse than the last one because the debt has gone through the roof. Debt worldwide, including the U.S., has skyrocketed, and we’re all going to have to pay a terrible price for all this money printing and all this debt.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Ade also asked Singapore-based Rogers about the greatest opportunity in commodities right now, to which he responded agriculture. The chairman of Rogers Holdings advised the audience:

Buy yourself some rice. Buy yourself some sugar…


“Jim Rogers on Russia, China, and commodities”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Nouriel Roubini: ‘Mother Of All Asset Bubbles’ To Pop In 2016

One of the original “crash prophets” of the 2008 global economic crisis is now sounding the alarm over what he sees in 2016.

I first mentioned Nouriel Roubini, a former Treasury official under the Clinton administration, a professor of economics at NYU, and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, in my old blog Boom2Bust.com several years ago. Roubini correctly-predicted the financial crisis, but “Dr. Doom”- as the financial media likes to call him- had become more optimistic this year. On May 14, 2014, he “debated” fellow “prophet” Peter Schiff on CNBC’s Fast Money, saying:

We’re printing a lot of money but it’s not creating credit. It’s not creating inflation. And if we had not done this policy, this Great Recession would have become a Great Depression. So, inflation is going to stay low. Gold prices are going to fall. And I don’t believe that the dollar’s going to collapse. Actually, I believe the dollar’s going to become stronger in the next few years- just the opposite of what Peter thinks.

But these days, Dr. Roubini is starting to sound gloomy again. Last week, I happened to come across a Yahoo! Finance interview with Roubini from earlier this month. From an exchange with editor-in-chief Aaron Task:

TASK: Nouriel Roubini is often referred to as “Dr. Doom”- affectionately of course- but the NYU professor and chairman of Roubini Global Economics is not always downbeat. He prefers “Dr. Realist,” and in February 2013 Roubini told Yahoo! Finance and this reporter that, “The mother of all asset bubbles had begun, and would eventually be bigger than the 2003-2006 bubble.” Since that time the S&P 500 is up about 40 percent, so Nouriel, that was a great call if you were long, and bubbles are great if you’re long and you get out in time. Where do you see- what inning, if we use the baseball analogy, are we in in this bubble from your point of view?
ROUBINI: We’re in middle-later innings. Next year we’ll have economic growth. We’re still easy money. I think that this frothiness that we’ve seen in these financial markets is likely to continue- from equities to credit to housing. And in a couple of years, most likely, this asset inflation is going to become asset frothiness. And eventually, an asset and a credit bubble. And eventually, any booming bubble ends up a bust and a crash. I don’t expect that happening next year, but I would say that valuations in many markets- whether its government bonds or credit or real estate or some equity markets- are already stretched. They’re going to become more stretched as the real economy justifies a slow exit, and all this liquidity is going into more asset inflation. And so, two years down the line for them to shake out, but not before then.
TASK: A couple of years down the line, okay.
ROUBINI: Yeah. 2016 I would say.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Roubini: U.S. equities will be strong until 2016”
Yahoo! Finance Video

Dr. Roubini gave this advice to investors:

At this point, I would be neutral or underweight U.S. equities compared to other markets.

As for “best bets” in 2015, he told viewers:

Several I would say. I would say, dollar strength relative to the euro, relative to the yen, relative to the commodity currencies, relative to fragile emerging markets. And a bet on commodities further another leg down, certainly industrial metals like copper and others linked to China. Those will be two of the stories for 2015.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Robert Shiller On Stocks: ‘I’ve Been Wondering If I Should Pull Out’

I haven’t mentioned Robert Shiller, the Yale professor credited with correctly-calling the “dot-com” and housing busts, on Survival And Prosperity since August. The “crash prophet” had just penned “The Mystery of Lofty Stock Market Elevations” on The New York Times website on August 16 and warned:

The United States stock market looks very expensive right now. The CAPE ratio, a stock-price measure I helped develop- is hovering at a worrisome level…

That being said, Dr. Shiller appeared on CNBC Tuesday morning and told viewers the following when asked what he’s doing with his own money:

I worry about valuation in the stock market. And I’ve been wondering if I should pull out. But I have not. And in fact I’m still thinking that even at the CAPE ratio of 27, the expected return is still higher than you expect to get on either housing, on real estate, or fixed income. So it still seems like- I feel a little trepidation because I know my own indicator is looking kind of scary. I wouldn’t over go into the market, but I wouldn’t be completely out either.


“Scary market indicator: Shiller”
CNBC Video

Shiller mentioned that the CAPE ratio is now 27. It should be noted that in that August 16 Times piece he added:

I wrote with some concern about the high ratio in this space a little over a year ago, when it stood at around 23, far above its 20th-century average of 15.21. (CAPE stands for cyclically adjusted price-earnings.) Now it is above 25, a level that has been surpassed since 1881 in only three previous periods: the years clustered around 1929, 1999 and 2007. Major market drops followed those peaks.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’d feel a little trepidation too knowing what’s happened to the stock market when that CAPE ratio surpassed 25.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Shiller, Robert. “The Mystery of Lofty Stock Market Elevations.” The New York Times. 16 Aug. 2014. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/upshot/the-mystery-of-lofty-elevations.html?_r=1&abt=0002&abg=0). 10 Dec. 2014.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 Bonds, Crash Prophets, Housing, Investing, Stocks No Comments

Jeremy Grantham: Fed Will Engineer Another Stock Bubble, Crash

Today I spent my lunch reading the latest quarterly letter from British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham. Last time around, the founder and former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO)- which oversees $120 billion in client assets as of September 30- was predicting a bubble in the U.S. stock market. From “Summer Essays”:

My recent forecast of a fully-fledged bubble, our definition of which requires at least 2250 on the S&P, remains in effect.

As the S&P 500 sits at 2,051 as I type this (199 points below that bubble benchmark), Grantham- whose individual clients have included current Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Dick Cheney- still thinks U.S. equities are headed for bubble territory- before crashing. From his aptly-named “Bubble Watch Update”:

I am still a believer that the Fed will engineer a fully-fledged bubble (S&P 500 over 2250) before a very serious decline…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For those looking to put their money to work, Grantham lamented:

It is a particularly tough process today with nowhere to hide and no very good investments compared to, say, the time around the 2000 bubble when there were several…

Nevertheless, he offered:

An example of a portfolio that might be used in a world that excludes private equity and venture capital, and for a client who can do without a benchmark and can settle for owning a (hopefully) sensible long-term efficient portfolio. Efficient, that is, in terms of trying to minimize risk per unit of estimated returns…

This example portfolio was comprised of Equities (39%), Fixed Income (30%), Cash/Cash Plus (17%), and Alternative Strategies (14%).

Grantham concluded the essay with more talk about that U.S. stock bubble and crash. He penned:

My personal fond hope and expectation is still for a market that runs deep into bubble territory (which starts, as mentioned earlier, at 2250 on the S&P 500 on our data) before crashing as it always does. Hopefully by then, but depending on what the rest of the world’s equities do, our holdings of global equities will be down to 20% or less. Usually the bubble excitement – which seems inevitably to be led by U.S. markets – starts about now, entering the sweet spot of the Presidential Cycle’s year three, but occasionally, as you have probably discovered the hard way already, history can be a snare and not a help.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Jeremy Grantham’s made some great investment calls (hence Cheney and Kerry being clients), so his prediction about U.S. stocks having quite a bit more room to run shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.

You can read the entire quarterly letter (.pdf file) on the GMO website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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The Civic Federation Analyzes Chicago’s FY2015 Budget

The last time I talked about The Civic Federation (an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois) was back on March 4, when they proposed a five-year plan to balance the Illinois state budget, eliminate its huge bill backlog, and reduce income tax rates. But yesterday, the group released a new report on the City of Chicago’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015. From their press release Monday:

Civic Federation Supports FY2015 Chicago Budget

Recent Progress Threatened by Pension Funding Crisis, Borrowing for Operations

In a report released today, the Civic Federation announced its support for the City of Chicago’s proposed FY2015 operating budget of $7.3 billion but expressed deep concern for how the City will manage rising pension costs and debt service payments in future years. The full 101-page analysis is available here.

The FY2015 budget closes a $297.3 million deficit with reasonable structural changes including targeted tax and fee increases, vacancy eliminations and other operational efficiencies. The budget also reflects significant actions toward long-term stability including the 2014 pension reform law for the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ pension funds and the continued phase out of the City’s retiree health care subsidy and planned transition of most retirees to coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Mayor Emanuel and his team are continuing to make the reasonable changes and bold decisions necessary to stabilize Chicago’s finances,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Two issues, however, threaten to erase all recent progress: the pension funding crisis and the administration’s continued use of borrowing for operations through the issuance of refunding bonds.”

Landmark pension reforms were enacted in June 2014, but only for two of the City’s four pension funds. The City’s Police and Fire pension funds remain dangerously close to running out of funds with market value funded ratios of only 27.0% and 31.7% respectively in FY2013. The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation in 2010 that mandates a sharp $550 million increase in contributions to the Police and Fire funds. This change, even without considering increased contributions to the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ funds, would require a significant increase in the City’s property tax levy, crippling cuts to City services, or both. The Mayor, City Council and State legislators must work together to create a reform framework for the Police and Fire funds that will stabilize the funds at an affordable cost to taxpayers. The Civic Federation also recommends that the City study ways to consolidate its pension funds, including the possibility of merging its Police and Fire funds with suburban and downstate public safety funds.

Over the last three fiscal years, the City of Chicago reduced its annual debt service payments by refunding bonds that are due to mature and extending the life of these bonds for an additional 30 years, a practice referred to as “scoop and toss.” This practice dramatically increases the cost of providing government services. It also could threaten the City’s ability to issue future debt by filling the out years of the City’s debt service schedule with previously issued bonds. The Civic Federation urges the City to develop a strategy for ending this costly and unsustainable practice.

The Federation’s full report also discusses the creation of the City Council Office of Financial Analysis in 2013. The office was intended to give aldermen access to the independent information and analysis they need to be effective stewards of the City’s finances. A delay in fully implementing the office means aldermen will not have access to this resource before they vote on the FY2015 budget.

You can read the 101-page report entitled City of Chicago FY2015 Proposed Budget: Analysis and Recommendations on The Civic Federation’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 Bonds, Borrowing, Fiscal Policy, Government No Comments


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