Editor’s Note: Bill wrote the following essay in the middle of last year. But given our new president’s spending plans, it is perhaps even more timely now.
GUALFIN, Argentina – If the recession doesn’t appear this year, it won’t be the first time we’ve been wrong… or early.
But despite claims that the feds have mastered the business cycle, a recession is bound to come someday.
And when it does, we’ll be ready… at least here at the ranch.
We still have 700 head of cattle – tough, but edible. We have a couple hundred bottles of Malbec wine stocked in the depósito (storeroom). We have corn and tomatoes in the garden.
What else do we need?
We don’t know. But we’d rather not find out.
And neither does anyone else. But bad stuff still happens. And it is unlikely that recessions have been completely banished.
Then again, recessions are not bad things – not in our book.
They are nature’s way of clearing out mistakes. Recessions are when the destruction part of economist Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” comes into play.
The “creative” part follows. But you can’t have one without the other. Marginal businesses… bad investments… weak competitors – they all need to get out of the way so better uses can be found for the capital at work.
Believe it or not, capital is limited. If you use it for bad projects, you get poorer, not richer.
Which projects are good? Which are bad? Typically, a rise in real interest rates (increasing the cost of funding) is the way to find out. Higher rates “put the hurtin’” on company finances. The weak give way.
Recessions are not necessarily pleasant. But they are as necessary as growing pains and family budget discussions.
But we are in a minority. Most economists fear recessions; they want to avoid them in the worst possible way.
What’s the worst way to avoid a recession?
Just throw some more money at it!
Most serious economists realize that we have a problem on our hands. Debt goes up and up… much faster than the economy that has to pay it.
It is a “debt bubble” floating around a knife store.
In the last eight years, for example, the U.S. federal government added $9 trillion to the public debt – more than it had amassed in the previous 246 years.
And total debt increased in the U.S. last year by $1.9 trillion… while GDP only went up $599 billion. For the corporate sector, it was worse: Companies took on $793 billion of extra borrowings against just $161 billion of extra output – five times as much debt as growth.
Some analysts, such as our friend Richard Duncan at Macro Watch, believe we have no choice but to keep inflating the credit bubble.
He likens our situation to a man who has gone up in a hot air balloon. Suddenly, he realizes that the hot air is not taking him where he wants to go.
But what can he do?
If he releases the hot air, the balloon will fall and he will die. To survive, he has to keep putting in more hot air.
Other economists, such as Paul Krugman, believe in hot air, too.
“Demand,” they call it. They cling to the balloon hoping that more credit will increase growth and make the debt more bearable.
We think both Duncan and Krugman are wrong.
An economic boom, based on nothing but hot air (phony credit with no real resources behind it), is fraudulent. It will never take us to real growth. Just the contrary.
The best thing to do is pop the bubble… and then pick up the pieces. Besides, it will pop whether we want it to or not.
Heck, we believe in magic as much as the next guy.
But the magic act is wearing a little thin. The smoke is dispersing. The rabbits have disappeared. All the glam and sparkle, the shock and awe, the claptrap and hokum – they’re all giving way to economic reality.
We are beginning to see more clearly: The Fed’s theory is nothing but hot air. Now, its funny money is doing something even funnier than it imagined: the exact opposite of what the central planners intended.
The “velocity of money” is plummeting.
This is serious. The velocity of money tracks how often each dollar is used to buy something in the economy. Falling velocity shows that consumers and businesses are pulling back… becoming more reluctant to spend and invest… downsizing… and holding on to dollars rather than spending them.
This has a similar effect as reducing the supply of money bidding for goods and services. Prices drop. Deflation, in other words.
The bubble has developed a leak. The hot air is gushing out.
Look out below…
Editor’s Note: Master trader Jeff Clark agrees that another major crisis is on the way. Two of the three signals in his three-pronged warning system have already been triggered. And he predicts the third one will trigger this May. If it does, look out below…
But here’s the thing: Jeff likes crashes. His unique trading strategy thrives in bear markets… and countless readers have already made fortunes from this system.
This Thursday, you can watch as Jeff reveals his “countdown to crisis” in a live emergency briefing. You’ll learn how he predicted the 1987, 1994, 2001, and 2008 collapses, why a crash is very likely right around the corner, and why this is an enormous opportunity for investors…