Prechter interview: Fed may be ended within his lifetime.

From Yahoo! Tech Ticker last week. Lots of market talk, then Prechter makes the case for truly free banking, in which banks could decide for themselves what to use as money. He beleives that most banks and savers would chose gold, as they have for most of human history. The first segment below is mostly on the markets — the comments on the Fed are in the second:

EDIT: Sorry, I didn’t realize that there are actually two segments to this interview. The comments on the Fed are in the second half:

At the end, Prechter makes a key point about the gold standard: it is not a free-market solution, because it is a “standard” set by the government. Essentially, a gold standard is redeemable paper money, but as we saw in the early years of the Federal Reserve (and actually in older times with many other central banks), the exchange rate between paper and specie is set by the government. Paper money remains legal tender and the primary unit of account, so citizens are forced to use it and the banking cartel can still inflate.

A much better solution is no standard at all. Under such systems, the unit of account was typically a weight of gold or silver. Hence the British pound sterling, which was exactly that (sterling is 92.5% pure silver). Under these systems, there were safe banks that earned money by simply storing metal and clearing payments. Interest was low, but inflation was lower or negative, since the growth of human productivity from improved infrastructure and technology meant that goods and services became more abundant over time, while the money supply grew only as fast as new gold was mined.

This is why the price level fell steadily during the 1870s in the US while the economy grew at its fastest pace in history, and why the price of a postage stamp in England remained the same for 100 years, even as the country grew rich. There were booms and busts and banks failed, but because even big ones were allowed to fail, bubbles remained contained and the busts freed up capital for productive uses.

Such periods will come again. This is not the end of civilization, just the end of a long credit inflation.

I’m with Hendry

Taleb thinks hyperinflation is a strong enough possibility to justify way OTM bets on gold (long) and bonds (short). The one bit I agree with is the long gold / short stocks play (though I think gold is likely to fall with stocks, just not as much), and I suspect that deflationist Hendry would concur.

Hendry thinks that deflation is here to stay, that nations will start to default, and that the market will at least start to worry about sovereign defaults by nations like Germany and the US (even if they don’t actually default, he’ll make money in that situation as the price of insurance goes up).

(The video cuts off when Hendry passes the mic, and I don’t have a link to the rest. If anybody else does, please post it.) ¬†(EDIT: Minute¬†24:00 and after. Thanks Charles!)

Hendry makes a point I’ve made myself: the euro is like gold for countries like Greece (they can’t print it) so it will have to default.

Hendry says his porfolio is inspired by Nassim, but basically the opposite. He’s fed up with other people’s opinions. The hedge fund guys are “so uncool.” He doesn’t talk to brokers, and he reads nobody else’s research.

Debt loads are bound to squeeze all of the vitality out of the risk takers in the market.

UK interest rates are at the lowest since the Bank of England was established in 1692. He is betting that the central banks won’t raise rates in the next 4 months and he will make 4x his dough if right.

He thinks the sovereign default scenario today is like the mortage bond situation three years ago.

Now, who is the true contrarian? Is hyperinflation really a black swan right now? Every chat board on the net has been buzzing about it for years. When Taleb said every human being should short treasuries, every human being agreed with him!

Good bye 2009

I believe that the last few minutes of trading this year are a harbinger of 2010.

Dow futures, 1-week (you might have to squint to see the final dive at the buzzer):

Source: Interactive Brokers


VIX index, 1-week:


Happy new year, everyone. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in over the last 16 months.