Tuesday 13 July 2010

Recently I was asked by friends what I thought the economic future might be like

They were asking of course because they were concerned about their personal financial well-being, and they are all currently trying to figure what is the best thing to do for their specific circumstances. They have varying current circumstances and short/long term desires, as you would expect. They were all smart people, and they all have their own opinions of how things are. I guess they asked me for the sake of conversation, perhaps they already knew from past experience that I would tell them something they probably won't like and maybe they feel it wouldn't do them so much harm to hear an alternative opinion they probably won't find in the newspaper or on TV.

My view of the concensus that appeared to form around the table was that they saw we have experienced a V shaped recovery to date, but there appeared to be a good chance of it turning into a W shaped "double dip recession". So far, you can get this from TV and the papers of course.

My own view that I expressed was we had not had a real recovery since 2008, nothing has been fixed but money has been printed by governments to buy up bad debts and paper over the problems, transferring the problem debts onto government balance sheets. This has resulted in a "recovery" to some extent when measured in nominal asset valuation terms, but the reality is that monetary inflation has taken place to cause those nominal asset price recoveries around the world. The REAL, inflation-adjusted values (try pricing items in ounces of gold, like we did in the not-so-very-distant past) of those assets is actually still far down from the 2008 peak. So, to my mind, any talk of a double-dip recession is pointless -- this is still the same dip, but I agree that things are set to get worse again from here. That's not a description of a V or a W shape. That's a lightning bolt shape I am talking about. Perhaps a downward slanting reversed Z, if you must assign it a letter(?). Going forward, unfortunately, the way I see it the problem assets are still problematic now they are held by the governments, they have not been "fixed" somehow. If there are more problems that need dealing with any time soon, the governments have all already fired their bullets dealing with the last round. There is no way we can rely on them to take on the problem assets again, if a problem materialised in the next few years. Unfortunately, there are a rash of financial problems set to explode over the course of the next few years, so times are only going to get more interesting, unfortunately.

In a piece of rather fortunate timing for me, today I came across an article on FinancialSense.com, by Krassimir Petrov. In it he articulates, much better than I have here, roughly how I too envisage things unfolding. He has looked outside of the standard alphabet, and found what he was looking for within the Greek alphabet -- the letter is called "eta", and it looks like this: ɥ

Here is the article, if you are interested to find out more. http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/krassimir-petrov/the-eta-recovery

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