I say that not because I have sufficient financial knowledge to evaluate his writings from a technical point of view but because he puts in huge effort, I mean hundreds of hours a month, to support his perspective.
An article published on the 10th demonstrates both Denninger’s commitment to his audience and some very specific dangers potentially coming out of Europe. Called “A Round-Up Of Current Idiocy” it includes this conclusion:
Since we keep drinking more as an economy (debt and deficits) the violence and incidence of these “undesirable outcomes” is going to continue to increase. We had one nasty in 2000, and then again in 2007. From the so-called “recovery” (2003) to the onset of the last mess was about four years. We’re now about two years in from the so-called “bottom” of this latest train wreck (Lehman), and if we keep on-path, and we are as the below chart shows, our fuse should go inside the box for this next mess somewhere between now and the end of 2011.
I hope you’re ready, because this next one, coming with no real recovery having taken place in employment or private economic activity, may be the one that takes us well beyond the misery we suffered in the 1930s.
And if it does, it will be our – that’s right – our – fault, since we simply will not accept that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Despite it being quite a technical piece with some aspects that weren’t clear to me, no surprise!, it’s still got many important messages for all those concerned about our savings and assets. Do read it.
Those that know me or have followed Learning from Dogs for the last year (and thank you!) know that I am pretty pessimistic about the economic future for North America and Europe (at least!). I speak not as an economist, far from it, but as someone sufficiently old to think that many millions of individuals and their countries have been living on borrowed time for decades.
Twenty years ago I didn’t really do anything than feel uncomfortable when friends announced another new house with mortgages far in excess of the old ‘rule’ of 1.5 to 2.0 times one’s annual income.
Then I came across David Kauders of Kauders Portfolio Management who explained in fundamental ways why this was all going to end in tears, so to speak. Wasn’t he right!
Thanks to David, I am moderately more well-off than I would have been – without a doubt. Not only did David manage my private pension, he greatly influenced my modest personal investments outside his portfolio.
Where’s this heading? This Blog is an attempt to show that integrity in all that we all do is not only the best personal strategy, it is the only viable course for mankind in bringing us back from the brink of global disaster. So a couple of recent items about economic matters from people of great integrity underlined the value of mentioning them in this Blog.
The first is a talk given by Elizabeth Warren two years ago, in January 2008, entitled The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class. It’s nearly an hour long but very well worth watching especially in the way that Ms. Warren shows how counter-intuitive is our understanding of how family costs have risen over the last 30 years. Although it applies to the US, it certainly has relevance for British viewers. Do watch it.
Here’s how the video is described:
Distinguished law scholar Elizabeth Warren teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law at Harvard Law School. She is an outspoken critic of America’s credit economy, which she has linked to the continuing rise in bankruptcy among the middle-class.
Next is that stalwart Karl Denninger. How he finds the energy and enthusiasm for publishing his Market Ticker is beyond me. He’s not subtle but his personal integrity is beyond reproach in my opinion.
Karl was recently interviewed by Bill Still (Bill produced the highly acclaimed film The Money Masters) and despite the videos being heavily edited Karl says “and for the most part accurately captures my views on the topics covered.”
Again these interviews are not short but, again, if you want to understand how dangerous the fundamentals still are – then watch them.
Karl Denninger, author of Market Ticker and winner of the 2008 Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award explains the roots of the current crisis and why real economic growth is impossible. He explains why the stock market rebounded in 2009 and why that can’t continue. He explains what needs to be done with the banks and predicts that all the big banks will fail.
Finally back to David Kauders. He also publishes an opinion website Contrary View. Here’s what David wrote in February 2010.
No. 73 22nd February 2010 Predicting lost decades
There is plenty of evidence from Japan about lost decades for investments. Japan has now lost two decades in equity and property investment, during which time only Government Bonds provided any sanctuary. All policy options failed, because none tackled the real problem, which is that there is already too much debt. What lessons can be drawn for Britain?
Shares here have certainly had a lost decade. On the Japanese evidence, they may well suffer another lost decade. Property has only hit minor bumps, so the Japanese experience suggests that property may suffer a long decline for two decades. In the UK, the Bank of England’s support for mortgages will be withdrawn over the next two years, which itself threatens prices. Why, though, the hysteria about Government debt?
It is questionable whether pundits appreciate the extent of the private sector debt problem, which explains why two groups of economists can offer totally contradictory remedies. In a world with no Gold standard and therefore no anchor to the monetary system, Government debt is relatively safe. The global economy is perched on a knife edge, with a permanent loss of output that must cause income loss and therefore restrict the capacity of households to service their debts. Seeing the commercial risks, banks are still restricting lending, which means there can be no sustained recovery.
There is a misconceived demographic argument being touted at present, which completely ignores the real driver of the post-1945 expansion, namely increased credit. That credit growth has simply gone too far and now brings its own problems. For those people who neither saw the credit crunch nor the long fall in interest rates and inflation coming, to now be credible in predicting a lost decade for bonds, is itself unbelievable.
You see how it all makes sense – the fundamentals are in charge, and always will be!
Several times a week, I drop into Karl Denninger’s blog The Market Ticker. While frequently the articles are too technical for me, it’s still, nonetheless, possible to get the drift of Karl’s messages.
As his overall theme is strongly coincident with my own views on my pension investments, and which have served me proud over the last 10 years, especially the last 2 years, it’s natural that I like what Karl does.
But the point of this Post is to underline just how much time and effort Karl puts in to his work, all of which is free to the world at the click of a mouse.
Are there others who devote equal amounts of time to their Blogs and websites? Yes, many! And many of them are also heroes (and heroines!)
Of course, I have no doubt that The Market Ticker is part of Karl’s business strategy but, again, he could choose other ways to make his income without sharing, for free, so many valuable ideas.
Here are a couple of examples to underline my deep respect for this man. (Taken from Market Ticker on the 13th May.)
We are going through unprecedented troubled times and the way ahead looks very uncertain. The whole world could be participating in the ‘lost decade’ that Japan experienced previously.
But this article is not about doom and gloom! It is about recognising the commitment to open and honest reporting being undertaken by (at least) these three individuals. Three commentators that this author follows in admiration and awe.
Learning from Dogs has nothing like the following of James Kwak, Yves Smith and Karl Denninger but the LfD authors do have an inkling of the work involved in writing not one but often several articles each day. It is a huge commitment.
First James Kwak of Baseline Scenario. Simon Johnson is, perhaps, the more well-known of this duo that comprise Baseline Scenario but it is James that puts in the leg-work. Here’s a taste of a recent article from James:
I spend a lot of time in the car driving to and from school, so I end up listening to a lot of podcasts (mainly This American Life, Radio Lab, Fresh Air, and Planet Money). I was catching up recently and wanted to point out a few highlights.
Last week on Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed Scott Patterson, author of The Quants, and Ed Thorp, mathematician, inventor of blackjack card counting (or, at least, the first person to publish his methods), and, according to the book, also the inventor of the market-neutral hedge fund.
Large chunk snipped ……
I finally got around to listening to Planet Money’s interview with Russ Roberts from December. Russ Roberts and I are pretty sure to disagree on almost any actual policy question. But what I liked about his interview was that he basically admitted that policy questions cannot be settled by looking at the empirical studies. On whether the minimum wage increases or decreases employment for example, he says that he can poke holes in the studies whose conclusions he doesn’t agree with, but other people can poke holes in the studies he agrees with. In Roberts’s view, people’s policy positions are determined by their prior normative commitments.
I don’t completely agree. I don’t think that these questions, like the one about the minimum wage, are inherently unanswerable in the sense that the answer does not exist. But I agree that empirical studies are unlikely to get to the truth, particularly on a politically charged question, because there are so many ways to fudge an empirical study. As one of my professors said, there are a million ways you can screw up a study, and only one way to do it right. But I agree with the general sentiment. We are living in an age of numbers, where people think that statistics can answer any question. Statistics can answer any question, but they can answer it in multiple ways depending on who is sitting at the keyboard.