Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wha' Happened?

Okay, so China's stock market, being the first to wake up in the morning, started off a flame of panic across the world that ended in the West. Two things are weird about this one: (1) The cause -- or rather the match strike -- of this surprise is not readily evident, and (2) gold didn't react by moving in the opposite direction.

I guess people are so scared they think they'd better have cash for a few "seconds" until they figure out what to do next.

All of us gold bugs have been warning the world of the imbalances we perceive in the world markets but none of us can say how and when they will all unravel. Is this the beginning of the denouement? And why China?

What I see so far is this:

[Thanks to for this photo of an ironically relaxed Doomsday Greenspan.]

Greenspan was giving a speech in Hong Kong. When Greenspan speaks, the East listens. Greenspan predicted an American recession by the end of the year.

No matter that his predictions have usually been wrong in the past; as usual, panics don't listen to statistics. And anyway, the underlying causes of the imbalances are what we goldies have been howling about for months and years now. (Start with my March 2005 archives and read forward.)

To run that by you again, there are two fundamental principles at work here:

1. The lack of an international hard monetary yardstick such as the gold standard; combined with
2. Human nature.

The two are a highly flammable mixture, even if they can waft together for years without a hitch as long as they don't come into contact with a match.

Out of this lethal combination come:

1. Inflating of and speculation in currencies that float (and those that don't, i.e. those that are pegged and/or otherwise manipulated);
2. Protectionism through currency manipulation;
3. Use of the money supply to ease market tensions (the Federal Reserve and other central banks do this all the time -- big mistake);
4. Lack of the discipline and will power to return strength to the monetary system once they have used it for No. 3 (the Fed governors are only human after all and hate to be the bearers of bad news);
5. Naivete of the voting public as to what is going on, which allows the power players to gamble all day long at our (the public's) expense.

Who is it that said: "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." How many times do economies (and governments) have to tank for lack of monetary discipline?

Here is Bill Cara's article over at Seeking Alpha along these lines. I agree with him that:

"[T]he Gnomes are bulldogs, and they have put their terriers into the U.S. Fed and Treasury. I believe there will be one final attempt to print the way out of a market crash. Ergo; I see one final push in precious metal prices. But the end of the long-term global stock cycle is near. It has been driven by a credit balloon that cannot be pumped higher. The peak of the cycle would have occurred in May 2006 except for the programs of the U.S. Administration (including the Fed) to ramp up the money printing. [Katy's Caveat: I would have added the other central bankers who are playing the same game, i.e. Japan, China, et al. The Fed is not alone in this.] The sad thing is that at the end of the day, when inflated stock prices blow up, those holding debt will still be holding the same level of debt. The banks will be demanding payment. That's what bankers do -- real bankers, not trader-bankers."

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