Thursday, March 24, 2011
Investment Legends – “Dollar Collapse Inevitable”
BIG GOLD: A lot of economists, including the government, believe the worst is behind us economically. Do you agree? If not, what should we be on the lookout for in 2011?
Jim Rogers: It is better for those getting all the government largesse, but the overall situation is worse. More currency turmoil. State and local problems, plus pension problems.
Bill Bonner: None of the problems that caused the crises in Europe and America have been resolved. They have been delayed and expanded by more debt and more money printing and will lead to more and worse crises. Deleveraging takes time. 2011 will, most likely, be a transition year… not unlike 2010. But the risk is that one of these latent crises will become an active crisis.
Peter Schiff: To me, it’s like watching someone walk into the same sliding glass door again and again. Wall Street must know by now that large infusions of liquidity from the Fed spur present consumption at the expense of investment for the future. We are an indebted family going out for an expensive meal to celebrate getting approved for a new credit card. It might feel good (at the time), but we’re still simply delaying the inevitable.
Jeffrey Christian: We believe the worst is behind us economically, in the short term. The recession ended in late 2009, and 2010 saw U.S. economic growth in line with what CPM had expected, but higher than the more pessimistic consensus had been. In 2011 we expect continued expansion. We think some economists and observers are too enthusiastic about economic prospects right now.
For the U.S. in 2011, we are looking for real GDP of 2.5% – 2.8%, inflation to remain low, and for the economy to avoid deflation. Interest rates are expected to start rising, perhaps significantly in the second half of 2011. The dollar is expected to be volatile, rising somewhat against the euro but continuing to weaken against the Canadian and Australian dollars, the rupee, yuan, rand, and other currencies.
European sovereign debt issues will continue to plague financial markets, but market reactions will be less severe than they were regarding Greece in April 2010.
John Williams: An intensifying economic downturn – what formally will be viewed as the second dip of a double-dip depression – already has started to unfold. The problem with the economy remains structural, where household income is not growing fast enough to beat inflation, and where debt expansion – encouraged for many years by the Fed as a way to get around the economic growth problems inherent from a lack of income growth – generally is not available, as a result of the systemic solvency crisis. Accordingly, individual consumers, who account for more than 70% GDP, do not have the ability, and increasingly lack the willingness, to fuel the needed growth in consumption on which the U.S. economy is so dependent.
What I will be watching for this year is sovereign and U.S. municipal debt corpses floating to the surface sometime in the months ahead.
Frank Trotter: Right now I have a somewhat dark but not dismal outlook. I think that over 2011, we will continue to experience a Jimmy Carter-style malaise that combines continuing high unemployment, tentative business investment, rising prices, low housing numbers when looked at on an absolute basis, and creeping interest rates.
As a very large mortgage servicer, we are not seeing significant improvements in payment patterns that would indicate the worst is fully behind us, and with mortgage rates moving upward, we see less ability for current mortgage holders to refinance and reduce payments.
Bob Hoye: The worst of the post-bubble economic adversity is not behind us.
BG: Price inflation is creeping up, but the enormous amount of money printing hasn’t really hit the system yet. Does that happen in 2011, further down the road, or not at all?
Jim Rogers: It is happening. The U.S. and CNBC lie about it. Most other countries do not lie and acknowledge it is worsening.
Bill Bonner: Most likely, substantial consumer price inflation will not show up in 2011. The explosion of money printing is being contained by the bomb squad of deleveraging. That will probably continue in 2011. But not forever.
Peter Schiff: 2010 was the year that China began cutting back its Treasury purchases in favor of gold, hard assets, and emerging market currencies. The Fed has stepped in as a major purchaser of Treasuries. This represents a new phase on the path to dollar collapse, and it will manifest in 2011 in the form of more “unexplainable” inflation – as we are now seeing in the prices of everything from corn to gasoline.
Jeffrey Christian: We are now beginning to see some increases in monetary aggregates, suggesting that some of the monetary accommodations are beginning to filter into the economy. We expect this trend to accelerate over the course of 2011. This will bring some increase in inflation, but we expect the major manifestation will be through higher U.S. Treasury interest rates as the Fed and Treasury seek to sell bonds to sterilize the inflationary implications of the monetary easing and to finance ongoing massive federal deficits.
Frank Trotter: Most research has shown that over time the increase in money supply is not a short-term economic stimulus, but rather has a moderate effect in the 18- to 36-month range. In addition, this theory contends that a growth in the monetary base – which is what has happened so far – only increases economic activity when accompanied by a decent multiplier; this is not occurring. The real risk is that with rising rates and continued soft economy, the Fed will feel obliged to continue to QE3, QE4, and so on, all of which may have a significant inflationary impact.
I am more concerned about general price inflation here in the U.S. and the potential it has to reduce global growth.
Bob Hoye: Massive “printing” has been widely publicized and is “in the market.”
Jim Rogers: No, but further down the road.
Bill Bonner: No opinion. But there is more risk in the dollar than potential reward.
BG: Gold has risen 10 years in a row, so some are calling it a bubble, yet it’s roughly $1,000 below its inflation-adjusted high. What’s your outlook for the metal in 2011?
Jim Rogers: It is hardly a “bubble” when very few own it still. Who knows? Overdue for a correction, but who knows?
Bill Bonner: The smart money is in gold. It will stay in gold until the bull market that began 10 years ago finally reaches its peak. It is extremely unlikely that the top will come in 2011; it’s probably years in the future. In the meantime, gold is bound to have a losing year or two. Don’t worry about it. Buy gold. Be happy.
Gold will continue to climb in 2011 as the currency war continues and investors continue to seek stability. Unless there is a major sea change in the way the U.S. does business, I think the gold trade is a safe one.
Jeffrey Christian: A price of $1,550 is possible, although given the enormous investor buying pressure, prices could spike to almost anywhere. After that, we expect prices to fall back, initially to around $1,340 or $1,380. We expect gold prices to stay above $1,280 or so for most of 2011, and to average around $1,369 for the full year.
John Williams: As the U.S. dollar increasingly is debased, and where gold tends to preserve the purchasing power of the dollars invested in it, the upside to gold in the year ahead is open-ended, restricted only by any limits to the massive downside potential for the U.S. dollar. Any intermittent gold price volatility, extreme or otherwise, will be short-lived. There is no bubble – only increasing weakness in the U.S. dollar – with the gold price fundamentally headed much higher in the years ahead.
Steve Henningsen: I believe gold will once again prove the bubble-boys wrong and end the year positive (I have no idea by how much and don’t really care). However, I think this year will be more volatile and that Gold Bugs better remain seated on the precious metals express or they might get squished.
Frank Trotter: I still think that with price inflation on the rise and big political events occurring, there may be room to continue to rise. If stock markets take off, then there will be a reduction in appreciation or even a significant decline, but based on the factors I mentioned above, I don’t see that as highly likely.
Krassimir Petrov: Gold still has outstanding fundamentals. I believe that over the course of 2010, the fundamentals have strengthened significantly: (1) “No Exit [Strategy] for Ben” as he unleashed QE2, and will likely unleash QE3, QE4, etc., (2) no more central bank selling of gold, (3) more central banks become buyers of gold, and (4) trial balloons for a global gold-backed currency.
Bob Hoye: Once past the early part of 2011, the best returns are likely to be obtained from the junior gold exploration sector.