Bubbles

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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Peter Schiff Says Stock, Housing Markets Down If QE 4 Not Launched In 2015

“The U.S. economy entered 2015 on the most robust streak of consumer spending in years, yet when the first growth figures for 2014 came out Friday they underscored the lack of vigor in the current expansion.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., notched an annual growth rate of 2.4% for 2014, the government said Friday, just a touch better than the sluggish average of the nearly six-year-old recovery—and far from the 4% growth of the late 1990s. Fourth-quarter GDP was 2.6%, roughly half the summer’s blowout 5% pace, which was aided in part by a spree of military purchases that wasn’t repeated.

The report offered both hope and red flags for the world’s largest economy…”

The Wall Street Journal website, January 30, 2015

Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff discussed the latest U.S. GDP numbers in his January 30, 2015, entry on The Schiff Report vlog on YouTube.com. Schiff told viewers:

Ultimately, what I think has to happen- and it hasn’t happened yet- is that people are going to have to connect these dots, and get their arms around the fact that the U.S. economy is not nearly as prosperous. That this recovery is not legitimate, and that it cannot sustain itself. I mean, how can anybody believe- if you believed that the stimulus worked, if you believe that quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates stimulated the economy, then how can you take away the stimulus and have the economy perform better without the stimulus than it did with the stimulus? You would have to acknowledge that if you took away the stimulus, you’re going to get less growth. And that’s what’s going to happen. Yet everybody expects more growth…

The only question in my mind is- how long is the Federal Reserve going to maintain the pretense of economic growth and pretend that it stands ready to raise interest rates at some point, when it really is planning on launching QE 4 that will be larger than what they’re doing in Europe. If they don’t launch QE 4 this year, I think the stock market will be down. And not only will the stock market be down, the real estate market will be down. And remember, both the stock market and the housing market are the twin pillars upon which this phony recovery was built. And for those people who think that we’re going to have more economic growth in 2015- 3 percent economic growth which I think is still the consensus in 2015- how is that going to happen? Without any quantitative easing. With rate hikes later in the year. With a falling stock market. With a falling real estate market. You’re going to have the wealth effect working in reverse. In fact, they announced today that the homeownership rate just hit a brand-new 20-year low. And the Fed hasn’t even started to raise rates yet. How is this phony bubble economy going to grow faster under those conditions, than it did last year under the ideal monetary conditions? It can’t. And that is the dichotomy, the inconsistency, that nobody seems to be able to grasp.


“GDP Growth Slows Sharply in 4th Quarter: 2015 to be Worse”
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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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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Peter Schiff: Get Out Of Dollars And Own Gold, Silver, And Stocks In Countries With Much Sounder Economies

Early last month I blogged about an interview series with well-known investor Jim Rogers on the Wall Street Daily website that was conducted by Robert Williams, founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based investment research/market commentary service. Williams followed that up with a three-part interview of Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff that began on New Year’s Eve and finished just yesterday. Just like that Rogers series, it was pretty insightful stuff.

On December 31, 2014, the Wall Street Daily published “The Real Earthquake Is About to Hit.” That was followed on January 7, 2015, by “When Will the Dollar Bubble Burst?” From an exchange between Williams and Schiff:

WILLIAMS: So what’s our readers to do with their money, Peter? Their 401(k) s, their retirement accounts, their savings accounts? I mean, the markets aren’t safe, the banks aren’t safe, and the dollar isn’t safe. How can someone possibly protect themselves?

SCHIFF: Well, I mean, there’s no way to protect yourself really from the volatility, because, you know, you gotta be – the volatility’s here, but you know, long term, if you understand what’s gonna happen, then what – it’s pretty easy – what to do, and that’s get out of, you know, dollars, and own gold and silver, and own equity stocks in countries that have much sounder economies, you know, structurally sound economies underlying, you know, their markets and, you know, buy a lot of value. You can’t just buy a lot of hyped-up assets that have been propped up by cheap money and the bubble.

So you have to be in the right asset classes, be in the right currencies, be in the right countries, and I think, in the long run, you know, you’ll come out on top but it’s kinda difficult for a lot of people to do because, in the short run, you know, it’s the – you know, the people that are getting it wrong, that have been having their investment strategy validated by price auction because, you know, they have a lot of company. The cloud has got it wrong. There’s not many people in the scheme of things that actually understand what’s going to happen or, you know, if they do, they’re certainly not, you know, investing for that end game. They’re trying to – you know, they’re trying to finesse this and they’re trying to, you know, dance while the music’s playing, but they’re hoping that by the time it stops, they’ll have a safe seat somewhere…

(Editor’s note : Bold added for emphasis)

Yesterday, in “There Are No Safe Havens Left,” Schiff shared with readers where he thought commodities, crude oil, and gold are going in 2015 and beyond.

Head on over to the Wall Street Daily website to read Part 1, 2, and 3 of this nicely-done interview.

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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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

Peter Schiff: Buy Gold, Silver To Prepare For Bursting Of This ‘Much Bigger Bubble’ Than Housing, Dot-Com

The first installment of Peter Schiff’s Gold Videocast for the new year is out on YouTube. And Euro Pacific Capital’s Schiff recapped gold’s performance in 2014 and shared his outlook for the precious metal- along with silver- in 2015. He told viewers:

I think the sentiment situation, the markets, the technicals, are really poised for a very, very big year up in the precious metals in gold and silver for 2015. And nobody is expecting this. We had the sentiment completely in the opposite direction. All the bears were piled onto the same side of the boat. And now it turns out that they got it wrong. And I think they’re going to have to scramble to get to the other side as this illusion rapidly fades. Again, I’ve said this many times, that I’ve never seen a bigger disconnect in the markets- the stock market, the currency market, the precious metal market- between reality and perception. What everybody believes is wrong. And soon, these widely-held beliefs are going to be questioned in a major way and then abandoned. Just like they were with the housing market and subprime when that bubble burst. And just like they were with in dot-com market when that bubble burst. Except that this is a much bigger bubble, and the damage and the fallout on the financial markets will be much greater when this bursts. And therefore, it’s that much more important that investors be properly prepared. And part of that preparation is owning gold and silver.


“State of the Gold Market 2015: Exclusive Forecast & Charts”
YouTube 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, 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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Institutional Investors In Chicago-Area Homes On Verge Of Cashing Out?

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the Chicago-area housing market on Survival And Prosperity. But my Sunday paper contained two articles that shed some light on one reason the Chicagoland residential real estate market has been rebounding the last couple of years, and why recent price appreciation looks endangered. First, Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune:

By one estimate, institutional buyers that acquire distressed homes and convert them into rentals bought about 9,500 properties in the Chicago area in a 32-month period that ended in August…

But several housing markets, including Chicago’s, are considered prime places for institutional buyers to cash out if they choose, walking away with tidy profits, according to an analysis by RealtyTrac…

Institutional investors, defined as buyers who acquired 10 or more homes during a year, spent an average of $161,252 to acquire a home here, and that home now has an average market value of $210,126, according to RealtyTrac. That’s a gain of 30 percent. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index puts the Chicago area’s home price gain between January 2012 and this past September at 22 percent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, a few pages into the Tribune’s “Real Estate” section, Mary Umberger wrote:

The last one out should turn off the lights. The housing-research firm RealtyTrac says Orlando, Fla., is primed to see the horde of investors who bought up houses during the downturn start heading for the exits. They’ve made their profits, according to the researchers, who calculated that the investment properties’ values increased by 23 percent since January 2012. Price increases in that market are beginning to slow, suggesting that a sell-off may be coming, particularly from the so-called institutional investors who bought foreclosures by the dozens — even by the hundreds — when prices were ebbing. (In addition, RealtyTrac suggested that institutional investors soon may be similarly heading for the doors in Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and in Jacksonville and Brevard County, Fla.)

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It’s my opinion that the Federal Reserve is still desperately trying to re-inflate the housing bubble (among others) from the last decade. I don’t think this economic “recovery” is on as solid ground as Washington, the Fed, and others want the rest of America to believe. I expect additional stimulus in the coming year(s), and nominal asset prices could remain elevated/go higher as a result. Housing included. So there may not be a mass exodus of institutional investors from residential real estate right around the corner. Of course, something else could always spook these guys and have them running for the exits. Time will tell…


Infamous Housing Bubble TV Commercial
YouTube 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.)

Sources:

Podmolik, Mary Ellen, “Investors find fewer bargains in Chicago housing market.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Dec. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/ct-mre-1228-podmolik-homefront-20141222-column.html). 29 Dec. 2014.

Umberger, Mary. “Florida housing trends may be an early-market barometer.” Chicago Tribune. 22 Dec. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/sc-cons-1225-umberger-20141222-column.html). 29 Dec. 2014.

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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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Stephen Roach Warns Fed Headed Down ‘Highly Dangerous Path’

“Dow industrials mark their fifth fastest 1,000-point rise in history”

-MarketWatch.com, December 23, 2014

Shortly after my old blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” debuted on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I shared a warning from the former chairman/chief economist of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach. Brett Arends wrote in the Boston Herald’s “On State Street” column on November 23, 2004:

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish.

But you should hear what he’s saying in private.

Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity.

His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic “armageddon.”’

Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has obtained a copy of Roach’s presentation. A stunned source who was at one meeting said, “it struck me how extreme he was – much more, it seemed to me, than in public.”

Roach sees a 30 percent chance of a slump soon and a 60 percent chance that “we’ll muddle through for a while and delay the eventual armageddon.”

The chance we’ll get through OK: one in 10. Maybe…

A decade later, it’s safe to say Roach got those calls about the slump and muddling through for a while correct (give it time on that “armageddon” bit still).

But now, Stephen Roach is sounding the alarm again.

He wrote on the Project Syndicate website earlier today:

America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar – and highly dangerous – path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Roach noted that the U.S. central bank remains steadfast in keeping the federal funds rate near zero, before warning:

This bears an eerie resemblance to the script of 2004-2006, when the Fed’s incremental approach led to the near-fatal mistake of condoning mounting excesses in financial markets and the real economy. After pushing the federal funds rate to a 45-year low of 1% following the collapse of the equity bubble of the early 2000s, the Fed delayed policy normalization for an inordinately long period. And when it finally began to raise the benchmark rate, it did so excruciatingly slowly.

In the 24 months from June 2004, the FOMC raised the federal funds rate from 1% to 5.25% in 17 increments of 25 basis points each. Meanwhile, housing and credit bubbles were rapidly expanding, fueling excessive household consumption, a sharp drop in personal savings, and a record current-account deficit – imbalances that set the stage for the meltdown that was soon to follow.

A “meltdown” that might be in store for us again (even worse than last time around?) if the Federal Reserve doesn’t veer from the path it’s on, says Roach.

It’s a disturbing read, which is available in its entirety on the Project Syndicate website here.

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

Source:

Arends, Brett. “Economic ‘Armageddon’ Predicted.” Boston Herald. 23 Nov. 2004. (http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/112304_economic_armageddon.shtml). 23 Dec. 2014.

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Alan Greenspan: Gold Is A Currency, And Currently A Good Investment

Back in late October I recall The Wall Street Journal talking about some comments made by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to the Council on Foreign Relations concerning gold. I’ve been meaning to look into what Greenspan, who served as Fed Chair from 1987 to 2006, actually said about the precious metal. During lunchtime, I dug up the final version of the transcript from his visit with the CFR in New York City on October 29, 2014. From the exchange between the president of Greenspan Associates LLC and presider Gillian Tett:

TETT: I’m going to turn to the audience for questions in one minute, but before I do though, I just want to ask though, one of the really interesting chapters in your book is about gold. And there’s been a lot of media debate in the past about your views on gold.

You yourself oppose a question as to why would anyone want to buy this barbarous relic — I don’t know whether John Paulson is in the audience — but it’s an interesting question. But do you think that gold is currently a good investment given what you’re saying about the potential for turmoil?

GREENSPAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

TETT: Do you put…

GREENSPAN: Economists are usually perfect in equivocating. In this case I didn’t equivocate. Look, remember what we’re looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still by all evidences the premier currency where no fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it. And so that the issue is, if you’re looking at a question of turmoil, you will find, as we always have in the past, it moves into the gold price.

But the gold price is actually sort of half a commodity price, so when the economy is weakening, it goes down like copper. But it’s also got a monetary characteristic which is instrinsic. It’s not inbred into human beings — I cannot conceive — of any mechanism by which you could say that, but it behaves as though it is.

Intrinsic currencies like gold and silver, for example, are acceptable about a third party guarantee. And, I mean, for example at the end of World War II, or just at the end of it, Germany could not import goods without payment in gold. The person who shipped the goods in would accept the gold, and didn’t care whether there was any credit standing — associated with it. That is a very rare phenomenon. It’s — it’s the reason why, for example, in a renewal of an agreement that the central banks have made — European central banks, I believe — about allocating their gold sales which occurred when gold prices were falling down, that has been renewed this year with a statement that gold serves a very important place in monetary reserves.

And the question is, why do central banks put money into an asset which has no rate of return, but cost of storage and insurance and everything else like that, why are they doing that? If you look at the data with a very few exceptions, all of the developed countries have gold reserves. Why?

TETT: I imagine right now, it’s because of a question mark hanging over the value of fiat currency, the credibility going forward.

GREENSPAN: Well, that’s what I’m getting at. Every time you get some really serious questions, the 50 percent of the gold price determination begins to move.

TETT: Right.

GREENSPAN: And I think it is fascinating and — I don’t know, is Benn Steil in the audience?

TETT: Yes.

GREENSPAN: There he is, OK. Before you read my book, go read Benn’s book. The reason is, you’ll find it fascinating on exactly this issue, because here you have the ultimate test at the Mount Washington Hotel in 1944 of the real intellectual debate between the — those who wanted to an international fiat currency which was embodied in John Maynard Keynes’ construct of a banker, and he was there in 1944, holding forth with all of his prestige, but couldn’t counter the fact that the United States dollar was convertible into gold and that was the major draw. Everyone wanted America’s gold. And I think that Benn really described that in extraordinarily useful terms, as far as I can see. Anyway, thank you.

TETT: Right. Well, I’m sure with comments like that, that will be turning you into a rock star amongst the gold bug community…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not sure if the above will mean Greenspan is now a rock star among the “gold bugs”- he’s still considered by many as being a habitual asset bubble blower. But such a high-profile individual within the global financial community lending support to the ideas that gold is a currency and currently a good investment will no doubt anger a number of gold bears and haters.

You can read the entire transcript of Greenspan’s visit to the CFR on their 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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Jim Rogers On Best Ways To Invest In Agriculture

On Monday, I blogged about well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers and his steadfast belief that agriculture is where big money will be made in the future.

Late last night I was on the website of the Wall Street Daily website listening to an interview of Rogers that was conducted by Robert Williams, founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based investment research/market commentary service. Considering what I just wrote, it was what the commodities “guru” had to say about the best ways to invest in agriculture that grabbed my attention. From their exchange:

WILLIAMS: Jim, what’s the most effective route into agriculture for our readers interested in playing this long-term bull market?

ROGERS: Well, there are many ways to do it. The best way is to buy a farm- become a farmer if you really want to get rich because I explained before, some of the serious, serious, key fundamental problems in agriculture. So if you like the outdoors, if you think you’d be good at it, you might consider becoming a farmer.

Now most of your readers are probably not going to become farmers, but that’s the way. Or buy a farm and lease it to a farmer- somebody who’s competent. You can buy stocks. Certainly you can buy stocks. If you buy the right stocks- seed companies, fertilizer companies, or whatever- you’ll make a lot of money.

You can buy countries. Some countries are more agriculturally-oriented than others. Pakistan is a country that lives and dies on cotton more than anything else. So it depends on the country.

If you’re going to buy a lake house, I would buy my lake house in Oklahoma, not in Massachusetts, because stocks are at all-time highs. And we just discussed what’s been happening in commodities. So lake houses in Oklahoma or Nebraska are probably a lot cheaper than in Massachusetts. You can get a Lamborghini dealership in Iowa, because the farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis, in my view, in the future.

Or you can buy- for most people, obviously the best way is to buy an index. Many studies have shown that index investing is far and away the best way to invest in anything- stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, anything else. And there are plenty of exchange-traded products where it makes it very easy these days to invest in commodities.

On buying a lake house in Oklahoma or Nebraska, the former investing partner of George Soros said something similar in an May 23, 2003, interview on the Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE TV program. Nailing the U.S. housing bubble a couple years before it burst, Rogers talked property (with an eye towards natural resources) with co-anchor Karen Gibbs. From the interview:

GIBBS: How about real estate?

ROGERS: Well, real estate, Karen, depends on where you are. There is a mania, a housing bubble going on. But if you’re going to buy a second home, buy a lake house in Iowa, because Iowa is a natural-resources-based state. I’m bullish on agriculture. I’m bullish on natural resources. So houses in Iowa will probably do well. Don’t buy it in Boston. Boston is a financial town. I’m not that optimistic on financial companies or financial areas. So buy in Oklahoma, buy in Colorado, buy in states where the economy is going to get better. Stay away from places like New York and Boston — where I live — because real estate there will probably not do well.

In a Barron’s interview that appeared on the publication’s website on October 12, 2013 (blogged about here), the Singapore-based investor who correctly-called the commodity bull market that began in 1999 expanded:

I could buy farmland and become a farmer—although I would be hopeless at it—or buy farmland and lease it out. Buy shares in farms, farm equipment, fertilizer and seed companies that trade on exchanges around the world. Stock markets in agriculture-producing countries should do better than those in agriculture-importing ones. Retailers, restaurants, banks in agricultural areas will do well. Buy a vacation home on a lake in Iowa, not Massachusetts.

Good stuff. You can listen to/read (transcript provided) that recent Wall Street Daily interview on their website here. And for a trip down memory lane, that Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE exchange 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.)

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

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Boston Globe: We Need Financial ‘Doomsayers’ Like Jeremy Grantham

“Legendary value investor Jeremy Grantham, chairman of the global investment management firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), said in a recent letter to shareholders we are now witnessing the first global bubble in history, covering all asset classes. ‘From Indian antiquities to modern Chinese art; from land in Panama to Mayfair; from forestry, infrastructure and the junkiest bonds to mundane blue chips; it’s bubble time!’ Grantham adds, ‘Everyone, everywhere is reinforcing one another. Wherever you travel you will hear it confirmed that ‘they don’t make any more land,’ and that ‘with these growth rates and low interest rates, equity markets must keep rising,’ and ‘private equity will continue to drive the markets.'”

-Christopher E. Hill, Boom2Bust.com, June 14, 2007

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog regularly about “crash prophets” Marc Faber, Jeremy Grantham, Jim Rogers, and Peter Schiff- individuals well-known in financial/investing circles who correctly-predicted the global economic crisis that reared its ugly head back in 2008.

Why do I like reading and writing about their investment activities/recommendations?

From this blog’s “About” page:

“Vice President Dick Cheney says that his boss, President George W. Bush, has no need to apologize to the American people for not doing more to head off the financial calamity, saying no one saw the crisis coming.

During an interview Thursday with The Associated Press in his West Wing office, Cheney defended the administration’s performance on an economy that is growing weaker daily and which recently collapsed in spectacular fashion. Cheney said that ‘nobody anywhere was smart enough to figure it out.'”

-Associated Press, January 8, 2009

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Who are the “Crash Prophets?”

Contrary to the former Vice President’s assertions, a small number of individuals did see the current economic crisis coming. Among them were prominent investors, advisors, and money managers who, despite being ridiculed by their so-called “peers,” bravely warned others that a financial storm was coming. Perhaps their now-discredited colleagues should have known better, for these same persons also have impressive track records when it comes to calling the markets. Today, the “Crash Prophets” are positioning their or their clients’ money and continue to share their insights for what they see is more financial turbulence ahead.

Others are also now recognizing the worth of what the “crash prophets” have to say. Writing about British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham and his latest quarterly investment letter (I blogged about it here on November 20), columnist Carlo Rotella for The Boston Globe penned the following on the paper’s website on November 22:

Grantham’s ice-bath clarity, coming from a self-described fat cat, gives me some faint hope that the currently infantile conversation about economics and the planet being conducted by our money-handlers and elected leaders, many of them awash in the oil money that lubricates our political system, might someday advance beyond the notion that we can’t do anything about the long term for fear of inhibiting short-term growth.

Clear, forceful, disciplined thinking like Grantham’s seems obvious when you read it, but it makes much of what everybody else is saying on the same subject seem twisted and bizarre. Grantham’s quarterly letters, wry and measured in tone and solidly based on well-presented data, feel like an antidote to the magical thinking purveyed by Congress and hysterically optimistic stock-pickers.

Grantham’s long-view investment philosophy centers on the principle that prices eventually revert to the mean, and his bemused view of human nature centers on a similar reversion to the behavioral mean. We want to hear good news and assume that present conditions will persist, we tend to be bad with numbers and uncertainty, and we take comfort in short-term-oriented herd behavior of the sort that characterizes the financial industry. We need doomsayers like Grantham to counteract these tendencies.

Yes, we do need “doomsayers” like Jeremy Grantham to counteract the Pollyannish tendencies of many Americans.

Do they actually believe the same people who brought us the 2008 financial crisis and so-called “Great Recession” were actually able to “fix” that mess?

I, for one, hope to be fairly “insulated” from the Pollyannas when the balloon finally goes up, because I’ve seen how this crowd reacts WTSHTF. And it ain’t pretty.

By the way, did I mention Dick Cheney was a former client of Grantham’s?

“Nobody anywhere was smart enough to figure it out.”

Rotella’s November 22 piece- “Why we need financial doomsayers”- is a good read (don’t expect much investment intel although Grantham’s U.S. stock bubble-crash warning is touched on), which you can view in its entirety on the Globe website here.

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

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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