Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting Edgy Eh?

Here's a fantastic interview between Dr. Marc Faber and Jim Puplava. here

Regarding the decoupling theory, here is Dr. Faber's views:

  • JIM: What about the theory that’s being bandied about, even though the US economy slows down as we are now seeing that –they call the decoupling theory – that the rest of the world (whether it’s Europe, Asia, emerging markets) will continue to be strong? So therefore, if you are let’s say a large cap international company where you get a good majority of your sales overseas – and a good example would be, for example, DuPont this week beat estimates. They get 60% of their business overseas and because of that business doing very well their earnings were higher than expected. Do you subscribe to the decoupling theory, or do you think a slowdown in the US will have some effect on Europe and the rest of the world?

    MARC: Well, basically, we have to first of all distinguish between an economic decoupling and a financial decoupling. In other words, can some countries grow when the US is say in a no-growth mode or in a recession mode? I think that this is possible because if you look at basically the US economy over the last two hundred years, occasionally you had a recession in one state, say, Texas in the early 1980s (when the oil price started to go down), and you had expansion in another state like New England (which benefited from lower oil prices); or in the early 1990s, you had a recession in California but other states they were expanding. So in an economy which is very complex, where you have different regions and you have different sectors – industrial sectors and service sectors – it is conceivable that one sector is in recession and other sectors or other regions are not; that is entirely possible. But I would argue that over the last seven years we had an unprecedented global economic boom where essentially every country has been growing with the exception of Zimbabwe, because you have a money printer in Zimbabwe who essentially should be joined by Mr. Bernanke. He would fit very well with Mr. Mugabe in that country.

    Now, what happens if the US no longer grows is that the trade and current account deficits of the US shrink. In other words, we had during the excessive consumption period 1998-2006, a current account deficit in the US that increased from 2% of GDP to over 7% of GDP, and at the end was supplying the world with $800 billion annually. And this river flows into the world through the American current account deficits, and essentially provided the world with the so-called excess liquidity and created booms in everything from art prices to commodities, stocks, bonds, real estate, what not. And once the US no longer has this growing current account deficit, but a shrinking current account deficit, you have essentially a relative illiquidity coming up in the world. It is not that it’s tight money, but the rate of growth of liquidity shrinks and it does have obviously an impact on the economies and on the asset markets. And it is conceivable that say the US goes into a recession, Europe goes into a recession and that China does not go into a recession but into a growth slowdown, say from 8 to 10% GDP growth down to 3 to 6% of GDP growth. But this decline in the growth rate is still very uncomfortable for China, as well as for India. So I’m not a great believer in this decoupling theory.

    Moreover, I don’t believe that financial markets will be decoupled. In fact, I would argue: If you look at look at the last four years, 2002 to today, then emerging markets have been the big bubble. The US markets have not been a gigantic bubble in the sense that US equities, especially large cap stocks, are not terribly expensive by world standards because the dollar has gone down so much. And so the big bubble is probably in emerging markets; and these markets, obviously if the S&P goes down, will be hit very hard. And I would argue, if someone puts a gun to my head, and says, “Marc, you must buy stocks,” as much as I dislike saying this but I would probably rather buy US stocks today, than say some of the emerging markets that are selling at 30 to 50 times earnings. [20:08]

Had a nice time reading some articles ( from links posted on the usually brilliant Kirk Report). Enjoy!

  1. Bank frontrunning?
  2. Chinese stock manipulation/overvaluation
  3. John Paulson made billions on subprime (here's his portfolio)
  4. Black Swan author Nassim Taleb issues a warning to traders