Well... here's a 'bearish' outlook for twenty ten.
Ah.. if you do not wish to continue reading, perhaps clicking away is the best solution. :D
On Bloomberg News Sprott Says S&P 500 Index Will Plunge Below March Low
- Sprott Says S&P 500 Index Will Plunge Below March Low (Update3)
By Matt Walcoff
Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will collapse below its March lows as an expected rebound in economic growth fails to materialize, according to hedge fund manager Eric Sprott.
The Toronto-based money manager, whose Sprott Hedge Fund returned about 496 percent in the past nine years as the S&P 500 lost 32 percent in Canadian dollar terms, said the index’s 66 percent rally since March 9 reflects investors misinterpreting economic data. He’s predicting the gauge will fall 40 percent to below 676.53, the 12-year low reached on March 9.
“We’re in a bear market that will last 15 or 20 years, and we’ve had nine of them,” Sprott, chief executive officer of Sprott Asset Management LP, which oversees C$4.3 billion ($4.09 billion), said in an interview Dec. 18.
Investors in Sprott’s funds have been rewarded by his holdings in gold, which has climbed 48 percent since the S&P 500 peaked in October 2007. The stock has since fallen 28 percent and declined 0.1 percent to 1,126.20 today for its first loss in seven sessions.
Sprott said the Federal Reserve has kept bond yields and interest rates artificially low through its program to buy agency debt and mortgage-backed securities. The central bank expects the securities purchase program to finish by the end of March.
Expiration of the program would reduce demand for fixed- income securities, forcing up bond yields and interest rates and hurting economic growth, Sprott said.
Loss of Faith
Should the Fed renew the programs while the U.S. government continues to run record deficits, investors will lose faith in the U.S. currency, he said.
“If they announce another quantitative easing, trust me, the gold price will go up another 50 bucks that day,” he said. Gold futures fell 0.9 percent today to $1,098.10 an ounce in New York.
Sprott has been bullish in gold and gold stocks, which are used as a hedge against inflation, since at least 2001, when the precious metal was trading below $300 an ounce.
Gold futures have slipped 7.2 percent this month in New York as the U.S. dollar has rebounded on data that signaled a recovery in the U.S. economy.
American payrolls fell by 11,000 in November, the fewest since the recession began, while retail sales gained 1.3 percent, twice the rate forecast in a survey of economists by Bloomberg, according to government reports released this month.
Sprott says investors have been too eager to see the data as signs of recovery. While the S&P 500 added 0.6 percent on the day of the employment report, a 23rd consecutive month of payroll contraction was no reason for optimism, he said.
“We don’t have employment gains,” he said. “We have less of a decline. That’s a sign of weakness. The data is weak.”
Sprott said gold is the only asset about which he remains positive in the short term. His C$1.42 billion Sprott Canadian Equity Fund -- which is up 23 percent in five months -- has 34 percent of its portfolio in mining stocks and another 39 percent in bullion as of Nov. 30.
He said though he has no target price for the metal he doesn’t think it has reached a ceiling after quadrupling over the past eight years.
“If you get into this thing where you’ve got to keep printing more and more and more, who knows about the price of gold?” he said. “It will be the new currency in due course.”
Within the mining industry, Sprott prefers companies with smaller market capitalization, which he said have greater potential to grow.
Since last year, Sprott’s firm has become the biggest shareholder of Avion Gold Corp., which mines in Africa, and East Asia Minerals Corp., which explores in Indonesia. Avion is undervalued for its projected 2010 production, he said. According to a Dec. 16 note from analyst Eric Zaunscherb of Canaccord Financial Inc., Avion was trading at 2.9 times its estimated 2010 earnings, compared with a multiple of 10.5 for its peers.
Regarding East Asia Minerals, Sprott said, “I just get the feeling that these guys could find a multi-double-digit-million- ounce property.”
East Asia completed a 2,000-meter, 14-hole drilling program at its largest Indonesian property that Canaccord analyst Wendell Zerb called “encouraging” and indicative of a large zone of gold mineralization. Over the next two quarters, East Asia is to drill 45 more holes at the site and begin drilling in four more locations in the country, Zerb said.
Outside of the gold industry, Sprott owns shares of Wavefront Technology Solutions Inc., a TSX Venture Exchange- listed company whose products are meant to increase oilfield production. Its technology could be used on at least two-thirds of the world’s oil wells, he said.
Sprott, 65, founded his current firm in 2001 after divesting Sprott Securities, now Cormark Securities Inc., to its employees.
This is the link to Sprott Asset Management's December newsletter, in which Sprott is effectively asking "Is it all just a Ponzi scheme?"
And of course this newsletter was featured by Jesse Who Is Buying All These US Treasuries (And Can They Keep It Up in 2010)?
- So what does all this mean?
The bottom line is that the data seems to indicate that the foreign sector traditional buyers (at least for the past 20 years or so) of US sovereign debt are walking away from the market as they had said they would do, and are moving their reserves into other instruments.
This may not be such a great problem if the US trade balance continues to narrow, but it certainly is not healthy to see the Fed and the US household sector as the major markets for US sovereign debt.
If 2010 is not a year of recovery for the average American, the ability of the Treasury and Fannie/Freddie to keep expanding their debt offerings is going to become quickly constrained. How can Joe Sixpack keep saving and buying Treasuries, and at the same time consume at a rate sufficient to grow GDP? All on a stagnant median wage and a contracting housing market? Think the rest of the world is suddenly going to grow a taste for US exports? Will the US retreat into isolationism and trade barriers? That might not be Price Index friendly.
The US is marshaling its ratings agencies and multinationals to cast doubt on the European union, their currency, and their solvency, and threaten to take them down first to maintain an equilibrium of failures.
But in fact, the US is much closer to the point of a serious debt crisis than one might imagine from what is being put out by most US based financial analysts. There is a nasty convergence of constraints bearing down on the Fed and the Treasury that look to push the ability to market dollar debt to the breaking point. If a couple big States go under next year, the dominoes may start falling very quickly.
I see the problem, but I have to confess that I do not yet see how the Bernanke Fed intends to dodge this collision. And I know that they must see this as well, and have a game plan. Could counting on an exogenous event that would provoke an artificial demand and neo-isolationism (something like a regional war, or at least a trade war) be called a plan? Can they possibly be in denial, and just looting the capital before the Empire falls? It is hard to see how the resolution of this will unfold just yet, but I am pretty sure that many of the simple scenarios that people are laying out so nicely with such fine rhetoric are more fantasy than probable outcomes. This is going to knock our socks off default-wise.
If you think that this crisis will be deflationary, then you might be a bit surprised to see what happens if and when a US sovereign debt offering fails in the market. It will not be pretty. And it will not be dollar friendly in the longer term. But who can say what will happen, when there are so many possibilities.
The market may likely reveal to us what is coming, if we are observant, and lucky, and have the willingness to listen to what we may not wish to hear.
There are some definite gaps and assumptions in the case that Sprott makes, raising more questions than providing answers. It is possible that Americans have shifted an enormous amount of capital out of consumption and stocks into Treasuries. It is also possible that this is just masking something else, as Sprott suggests. But this does not affect the argument we make, that something has got to give, as the US consumer is tapped, and cannot sustain this type of sovereign debt purchasing given the offerings that the Treasury must make in 2010. And if it is something else, then that will be revealed 'when the tide goes out' next year. The Fed and its enablers are the buyers of last resort, increasingly so. And that means increasing monetization, and a stretching of the value basis of the bonds and the dollars.