torsdag den 3. april 2008

We seriously need a crisis now!

Back - still slightly jet-lagged but I got so much on my mind, and I will try to distil it as best possible:

1. Unemployment is rising and fast

2. US consumers has been max'ed out
3. Asia dream is over for this time....high inflation and negative real rates killing world saving reservoir.
4. US Dollar is on the brink of real crisis
5. 95% of all managers do not understand the risk involved here. A system without a healthy working interbank market is no market.

I know, I know, most people see me as this total pessimistic guy on the economy - and the world, and to some extent that has been right since last spring where I started rambling about the incoming risk of slow down, crisis, and how private equity was dead.

I am not praising myself here, I for one, admits to not having ANY predictive powers, but at all times I do try to put odds on upcoming market moves.

Where in the past being too pessimistic has been wrong 99% of the time, I now think we have seen true paradigm shift, where being too optimistic will reward no one.

Why?Think about it for two minutes:

In a "normal" business cycle the rich nations will invest in the poor in order to get excess return on their capital. The flow will go from rich to poor nations.

Now? We have the "poor" nations, i.e EMG countries pouring money into the US at returns which is sub-par.

This will not work I am sorry. Capital should go where the marginal return is positive and rising not the opposite!

The fact is 10% of the world, I.e, the US, uses 80% of the world savings!In fact the whole recycling story is tied up on two things:

1. Strategic Deals. Energy deals for Middle East and for Asia import of cheap labour
2. Political agendas where Asia got the US "by its balls" by owning trillions of IOU notes.

Nowhere! Nowhere is allocation of capital based on best return profile!!!!!!!!

If you had the choice in investing a sum of money where would you invest?

1. Europe - poor demographics, with tail wind maximum growth of 2.5%....
2. US - poor demographics, saving deficit, real rates of minus 200 bps and weakening US dollar policy, maximum growth of 3.5/4.0%
3. Asia - excellent demographics, high saving rates, EXTREME need for infrastructure investments, minimum growth rates of 4.0/5.0% ?

I think it is very simple, and most intelligent investors seems to agree as the P/E for EMG for a while exceeded the P/E for G-15!

My point here is..... as the viscous cycle continues to compound the more the REAL RATES of growth, inflation , employment, currency rates gets out of whack with fundamentals.

Take Asia - now they got no monetary policy options (its own by Bernanke through the US dollar peg), high inflation (most above 5%) and negative real rates.

The biggest savers in the world is losing money saving !

Short-term that's not an issue, but when the net wealth decreases so does the incentive lend the money overseas.

The US consuming 80% of world savings offers you: more negative real rates than at home PLUS a guarantee for loss of currency value - is that a proposition you will take? No!

The result if this continues is one of stronger and stronger Asian currencies, with consumption falling as REAL WEALTH decreases and consumption comes down.

The saving grace being the STATE CAPITALISM in Asia which will keep pumping money into infrastructures making sure it crowds out private capital.

So this process which has been going on for way too long due to incompetent central bankers like Greenspan and Bernanke is reaching cross road where the worlds needs to face two major ghost:

Inflation and recession.

For balance to be established several things needs to happen:

1. The confidence in the US dollar needs to be restored preferably by increased saving rates and yields and a firm commitment to improve and maintain US competitiveness. This will work as confidence in the US will lower long-term yields, reduce inflation expectations and make investors commit to the "cheap" US dollar by allocating capital into the US.

2 Money needs to flow to highest marginal utility, which means where investment returns are highest. This means re-establishing the banking system to be able create CREDIT which in turn will be used for investments. The world is full of money, but there is ZERO credit. The market needs to flush out bad investment so the sounds investment can attract the proper rate....

3. The central banker should step away from speaking, engaging in the market place, and let market forces play it role. They should monitor inflation and commit to reduce inflation expectations to long-term averages.

Long time ago in the 1980s when I went to University I learned in Polical Science that the economies that survives long-term are the ones with the least amount of public engagement.

The US being the prime example, the very set-up of the US constitution making sure that Congresss and the President can't agree on anything meaning everything is left for the micro level of the economy to work things out. This worked so well during the Clinton years, which was ALL talk and no action (which reminds me of a lot of people I have met both internally and externally recently :-))

The bottom line here:

Never in my long life as a trader has perception and reality been further apart.

No one seems to understand that a capitalistic system with the above rules and no working banking system is the biggest systemic risk ever, and the policy response is one of more STATE CAPITALISME than before.

It is beginning to look a lot like the 1970s:

Big government, central ignoring inflation risk and rising energy and commodity prices.

This time we have a helicopter pilot who thinks its right to collect rent on Federal money - where is Volker when we need him ?

Finally, here is link to lengthy interview I did yesterday on the markets if you are not already bored - the link to the interview is on the right hand side.

We had excellent March - took profit - restarting engines now...

FX: Long MXN vs USD, long EURUSD from today.... (@ 1.5545 and @ 1.5665), short EURNOK @ 8.0170

FI: Long 122 US T-bonds calls

COM: Long AUG puts.. Long DBA

Looking to built negative Asian growth portfolio....more on strategy tomorrow.

Med Venlig Hilsen Yours Sincerely Steen Jakobsen, Chief Investment Officer, Saxo Fund Management Saxo Bank A/S -London
40 Bank Street, 26th Floor Canary WharfLondon E14 5DA
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