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Showing posts with label Bill Bonner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Bonner. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2013

You Can't Buy Prosperity

by Bill Bonner

Gold rose $24 per ounce Thursday. The Dow fell 12 points.
The smart money is using this dip to buy gold.
Because the world's major stock markets... currencies... and economies all depend on reckless measures by central banks. In the short run, the central banks can make things appear safe and stable.
By making lending money at ultra-low rates the norm. It's hard for major players to go broke; they can just refinance.
But in the long run, those same policies can lead to instability, bubbles... and disaster.
Too bad, but you can't buy prosperity. You can't print prosperity. You can't borrow prosperity. You can't ZIRP, QE or OMF ("overt monetary financing," a phrase that is bound to become current soon) prosperity, either. Prosperity comes from hard work, saving and discipline.
That is, it comes from responsible policies, not reckless ones.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What TARP Boss Neil Barofsky Told Me Yesterday Should Shock You

by Bill Bonner

The financial news is getting boring. The Dow goes only one way – up. But gold fell below $1,400 per ounce yesterday.

Rather than trying to figure it out, yesterday evening we drove down to Zombietown. A friend in Washington had promised to introduce us to Neil Barofsky, inspector general of the TARP program.

You remember TARP? It was the feds' $700 billion program to rescue the US economy from a correction. Neil Barofsky was in charge of it. So we decided to go down and ask him how it turned out...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why My 'Crash Alert' Flag Is Flying High

by Bill Bonner

Whoa! Investors are acting as if it were 2007 all over again.

USA Today has the story:

Emboldened by soaring stock prices and record-low borrowing costs, stock investors are taking out loans against their portfolios at the fastest pace since before the Great Recession hit.

So-called margin debt hit $379.5 billion in March, the highest level since July 2007 when such debt hit an all-time record of $381.4 billion, according to the most recent data available compiled by the New York Stock Exchange.

The trend signals that investors are more comfortable with stocks and are more willing to use borrowed money to buy more securities in hopes of garnering fatter returns in a hot market that has pushed the Dow Jones industrials up more than 15% in 2013.

Why are investors so bullish? Because the economy is coming back? Because the future is rosy? Because stocks are going to earn even more?

Nah... What do you take us for, dear reader? We know the story. Stocks are going up because the Fed is making them go up. Here's David Rosenberg in Canada's Financial Post:

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Phony Recovery

by Bill Bonner

Not much action following the new Dow high. Not much follow-through. But no big breakdown, either.

As near as we can tell, the Fed's EZ money has driven up stock prices. Investors expect more EZ money. So they think stocks will go up more.

We are attending an investment conference in New York. What has struck us so far is how optimistic the young investors are. They think stocks always go up.

"I'm 36 years old," one explained. "That means I was too young to get in on the boom of 1982-2000. All I've seen are stocks going up and down. They're just a little bit higher today than they were in 2000 – when I was just 23 years old.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why I'm Praying for Government Incompetence

by Bill Bonner

"You Americans don't understand anything. You have to come to Argentina and live here for a few years. Then you'll understand America."

We had to ask, "Huh?"

"When you're here, you can see more clearly how things really work... and don't work. You see the real nature of things... especially government. Believe me, you Americans have all sorts of delusions.

"A government 'by, for and of the people'? Or, as Hillary Clinton put it, 'The government is all of us.' Not quite. And when you've been here for a while, you'll see your own institutions more clearly."

Our Man in Argentina

The speaker was a friend of ours. An American from Alabama who has lived in Argentina for 30 years. He lived through the hyperinflation of the 1980s... the boom of the 1990s... and the crash of the 2000s.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Are We a 'Criminal Element'?

by Bill Bonner 


Back in the USA, stocks rose again yesterday. The Dow finished up 128 points. Gold fell $25 per ounce yesterday... and everybody seems to think it will be going down forever. (A word of caution: probably not.)
Last week, we went to São Paulo, Brazil. There, too, we found taxi drivers who knew a lot more about monetary crises than the typical US economist. Said one:
I remember. I was just a kid. But my father would call and tell us to run to the grocery store. He had just been paid. We'd dash for the grocery story, meet him there and buy everything we could. We spent every cent in just a few minutes.
Our friend was recalling what it was like in the late 1980s in Brazil. The government had caused inflation... then hyperinflation. Prices rose so fast that as soon as people got some cash they ran to the grocery store to spend it.
Later, there was no point. In 1990, hyperinflation in Brazil reached 30,000%. What cost 1 real (the Brazilian currency) in 1980 cost 1 trillion in 1997. The hyperinflation wiped out the middle class... and wiped the shelves clean.
"It's hard to run a business when you don't know what your money is going to be worth," said our friend. "Businesses tended to just stop."

From Harare to Buenos Aires...

And here in Argentina, there came an announcement this week. The government will freeze the price of gasoline for the next six months.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Did These Hidden Forces 'Elect' the President?

by Bill Bonner

Today, on the Ides of February, we hold our hat in our hand... we bow our head... and let our mouth fall open in amazement. Our Lenten program of fasting, prayer and meditation is producing results. We are lightheaded from near-starvation and alcohol deprivation. But our thoughts are clear. Or else, we are hallucinating.
In the last two days, we've taken a look at what promises to be the biggest bust-up of all time.
It began in stealth when a small group of big bankers boarded an unlisted train in the middle of the night. They all knew each other. All were from powerful New York banking families. But they didn't even use their own names when talking to one another... so afraid were they that word of their meeting would leak out.
Then the strange little group traveled in complete secrecy to a small island compound off the coast of Georgia. There they could talk freely. But the conversation wasn't about hunting or sports... or politics... or religion.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The End of Honest Money

by Bill Bonner

You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
~ William Jennings Bryan
The season of fasting is upon us. No more high living. It's time to cinch up our belts... to put on a gaunt face and a smug look. Alone among friends and associates, we will keep Lent.
So neglected is Lent that even Google has forgotten about it. When we searched for it, it proposed "lentil soup."
Lent is meant to rehearse the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent fasting in the desert before going public. We remember the lean days with prayer, meditation and self-denial. No alcohol will cross our lips from Ash Wednesday till Easter Sunday. (Except on Sundays. And saints' days. And national holidays. And days that begin the letter "T" or have a date that is a prime number.)
Yes, dear reader, we will be true to the church calendar, with a few emendations of our own.

The Core of American Liberty

by Bill Bonner

I've been at the beck and call of rich men all my life. But I'll be damned if I'll be at the beck and call of every son-of-a-bitch with a 3¢ stamp.
~ William Faulkner on losing his job at the Oxford, Miss., post office
One of the rarely cited advantages of having money is that you're less beholden to others who have it too. The more you have, at least in theory, the more you can ignore the other fellow with it, and go about your business. Nor need you drink the same cocktail or rush to the same mall so you can outfit yourself in the same duds.
In short, with a little capital of your own you can do what you want.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Serf Society

By Bill Bonner

Stocks, bonds, gold – all bounced around last week.

And as we mentioned on Friday, Americans continue to turn into "neo-serfs."

"Wall Street is running a new profit game," writes Shabnam Bashiri at, "by buying foreclosed houses and renting them back to their former owners."

Yes... nice business. Even better than it looks. It's why the rich get richer... and the 1% are way ahead of the other 99%. Writes Bashiri:

Every day, it seems a new report comes out praising the ongoing housing recovery. In Georgia, home prices are up 5% over last year, a year in which we also had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Seems a little odd, doesn't it? Don't foreclosures usually drive down the market?

Failure of Leadership

By Bill Bonner

Poor Chuck Hagel. Every day, The Wall Street Journal wallops the fellow. He is whacked for not knowing what he is doing…smacked for not appreciating the threat of a nuclear Iran…and slapped hard for not bending over quickly enough to kiss neo-con butts.

John McCain and Lindsay Graham went to work on him in the Senate. They went at it clumsily and disgracefully — like a pair of goons with lead pipes. And then, in the WSJ, Dorothy Rabinowitz hammered him last Monday; she was so hysterical we couldn’t follow what she was talking about. Then, on Tuesday, Brett Stephens took over…and began pounding away in a more usual, ham-fisted way.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Promises Will be Broken

By Bill Bonner

When wealth was easy to identify and easy to control — that is, when it was mostly land — a few insiders could do a fairly good job of keeping it for themselves. The feudal hierarchy gave everybody a place in the system, with the insiders at the top of the heap.
But come the industrial revolution and suddenly wealth was accumulating outside the feudal structure. Populations were growing too…and growing restless. The old regime tried to tax this new money, but the new ‘bourgeoisie’ resisted.
“No taxation without representation,” was a popular slogan of the time. The outsiders wanted in. And there were advantages to opening the doors.
Rather than a small clique of insiders, the governments of the modern world count on the energy of the entire population. This was the real breakthrough of the French Revolution and its successors. They harnessed the energy of millions of citizens, who were ready to be taxed and to die, if necessary, for the mother country. This was Napoleon’s secret weapon — big battalions, formed of citizen soldiers. These enthusiastic warriors gave him an edge in battle. But they also ushered him to his very own Waterloo.
Napoleon Bonaparte himself was an outsider. He was not French, but Corsican. He didn’t even speak French when he arrived in Toulon as a boy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What the Road to Hell is Paved With....

by Bill Bonner

Improving the world costs money. When you have it, your efforts either bear fruit. Or they don’t. But when you don’t have it, when you have to change the world on credit, then what?

John Maynard Keynes revolutionized the economics profession in the early 20th century. It was he more than anyone who changed it from a being a refuge for observers and willowy philosophers into a hard-charging phalanx for men of action. But Keynes’ big insight, like all the useful insights of economics, was based on a story with a moral.

In the Book of Genesis, Pharaoh had a dream. In it, he was standing by the river. Out came 7 fat cattle. Then, 7 lean cattle came up out of the river and ate the fat cattle. A similar dream involved ears of corn, with the good ones devoured by the thin ears.

Pharaoh was troubled. His dream interpreters were stumped. So, they sent for the Hebrew man who was said to be good at this sort of thing — Joseph. Pharaoh described what had happened in his dreams. Without missing a beat, Joseph told him what they meant. The 7 fat cattle and 7 fat ears of corn represented years of plenty with bountiful harvests. The 7 lean cattle and thin ears of corn represented years of famine. Joseph wasn’t asked his opinion, but he gave his advice anyway: Pharaoh should put into place an activist, counter-cyclical economic policy. He should tax 20% of the output during the fat years and then he would be ready with some grain to sell when the famine came. Genesis reports what happened next: