Sunteți pe pagina 1din 7

Our view on global investment markets:

October 2010: Here it comes

Keith Dicker, CFA Chief Investment Officer keithdicker@IceCapAssetManagement.com www.IceCapAssetManagement.com

First publication June 2010

October 2010:

I can see the future

Here it comes

As an investment manager, I have a skill that is extremely valuable (it’s worth gazillions), highly desired (the Russians and the Chinese want it) and rather unique (very few punters in the local pubs have it) – I can see the future.

- stubbornness. You see, years earlier Captain Kirk defeated Kahn and banished him to a remote planet for the rest of his life. Years pass, and out of the blue Kahn emerges, more powerful than ever with one objective – get even with Kirk.

Using this talent, I know for certain that 20 years from now my children will ask me the following all important question: “Dad, why did Mom decide to marry you?”

The answer? Well, I’m definitely not tall nor dark. No one has ever referred to me as being handsome. Athletic? No. Witty? A wise-ass maybe, but certainly not witty. Then why? What made her say yes? The answer – Star Trek.

While you won’t find us parading around with pointed ears, or attending conventions in Vegas, we have always enjoyed the show. It was truly ahead of its time. Apologies to the creators of the Blackberry, but I’m pretty sure Captain Kirk and the gang were touting around the same device back in 1966 – a full 40 years before the rest of us .

Of course, everyone knows the crew of the Enterprise always prevailed over the bad guy. But (and this is a big but), there was one bad guy that almost won and his name was Kahn. For our non-Trekkie readers, Kahn was played by Ricardo Montalban (the boss from Fantasy Island fame) and he was the baddest dude in the universe. Fortunately for the Federation of Planets, Kahn also had one bad trait

Without making a long story longer, Kahn actually has the Enterprise defeated but his preoccupation with destroying Kirk as well, blinded him to a counterattack. From his Captain’s chair, watching Kahn on his 120 inch plasma TV (another early invention by Star Trek), the good Captain pulled the trigger on the biggest giant death ray known to mankind whispering “Here it comes” – and with that, Kahn was gone.

Fast forward to October 2010. Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (the most powerful financial institution on the planet) is also sitting in his captain’s chair, watching a 120 inch plasma TV and he too is getting ready to pull the trigger on his own version of “Here it comes.” What exactly is “it”? Well, “it” refers to a big helicopter filled to the blades with money – Helicopter Ben, you see, is about to drop the single biggest financial bomb ever ; anywhere from $500 billion to $7 trillion onto America .

Exactly 2 years ago, Helicopter Ben made his first “Here it comes” announcement and started the first ever Quantitative Easing (or money printing) program by the good ole US of A. At that time, Ben and boys printed $1.2 trillion to help save the World (see Chart 1 ).

time, Ben and boys printed $1.2 trillion to help save the World (see Chart 1 ).

1-Jul-10

1-Jul-08

1-Mar-10

1-Jan-10

1-Mar-08

1-Jan-08

1-Apr-10

1-Apr-08

1-Aug-10

1-Aug-08

1-Jul-09

1-Aug-07

1-Mar-09

1-Jan-09

1-Apr-09

1-Feb-10

1-Oct-10

1-Aug-09

1-Dec-08

1-Sep-10

1-Feb-08

1-Oct-08

1-May-10

1-Sep-08

1-May-08

1-Jun-10

1-Dec-07

1-Oct-07

1-Jun-08

1-Sep-07

1-Dec-09

1-Feb-09

1-Oct-09

1-Nov-08

1-Sep-09

1-May-09

1-Jun-09

1-Nov-07

1-Nov-09

October 2010:

Here it comes

1-Jun-09 1-Nov-07 1-Nov-09 October 2010: Here it comes This is fun ! Chart 1: Securities held
This is fun !
This is
fun !

Chart 1: Securities held by the US Federal Reserve

$2,500,000

The US Federal Reserve Printed Money: $1.25 Trillion to help stimulate the economy
The US Federal
Reserve
Printed
Money:
$1.25 Trillion
to help
stimulate the
economy

Source: US Federal Reserve, IceCap Asset Management Limited

Leaving nothing for the people who need it

$2,300,000

$2,100,000

$1,900,000

$1,700,000

$1,500,000

$1,300,000

$1,100,000

$900,000

$700,000

$2,100,000 $1,900,000 $1,700,000 $1,500,000 $1,300,000 $1,100,000 $900,000 $700,000 www.IceCapAssetManagement.com 33 3

October 2010:

and, it involves wet pants

Here it comes

At that time, the financial world was in turmoil. We all know the story by now – housing markets collapsed, banks collapsed, soufflés collapsed and retirement plans collapsed. Someone had to take control and start to rebuild – enter Mr. Bernanke and the gang.

Back then they had a decision to make – who will be bailed out and who would pay for it. There is no doubt that the Big Banks (including some French & German banks, and let’s not forget the Chinese) would be bailed out and there was never any doubt about who would pay for it – the American tax payer.

House prices still declining

8 million people still looking for work

Budget deficit approaching $ 1.3 Trillion

States & cities issuing IOUs

Capital spending by small businesses at a 35 year low

Big banks sitting on $1.2 Trillion in cash and refusing to lend

Senior citizens trying to live on 0% interest from their savings

On a normal planet, these banks would have declared bankruptcy, and the stock and bond holders of these companies would have lost their shirts . That’s the way capitalism works. The only area where the long dangly arm of the government should have been involved was with those who held GICs and Term Deposits at the banks. These are the people who should have been helped. Yes, in this situation, chaos would surely have existed, but the Great Recession of 2007 would have turned into the Great Recovery of 2010.

Think about this for a minute; close down 75% of the American banks, post an ad in the Globe & Mail, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal asking who would like to open a bank in the US. The result would have been 100s of shiny, new, clean, healthy banks ready to kick-start the economy (come to think about it, IceCap Bank sounds nice). Instead we have the following:

Is there anyone else who finds this to be a little weird? The first attempt of Quantitative Easing was suppose to be a panacea . The economy was suppose to be growing at 8%, unemployment was suppose to be down to 7% and housing prices should have been increasing. Instead, we are witnessing a bug hitting a windshield in slow motion .

Recall our July 2010 Outlook “Somewhere over the rainbow” where we first described Mr. Bernanke’s attempt at Quantitative Easing as being equivalent to wetting his pants to stay warm. Mr. Bernanke

was then humble enough to follow this with a slight trickle down his

leg which was covered in our August Outlook “Oops

Here we are now in October 2010 and the global media has decided that Bernanke’s next version of money printing shall be called Quantitative Easing 2, or QE2 for short. While that has a nice ring to

be called Quantitative Easing 2, or QE2 for short. While that has a nice ring to

Mar 1994

Jan 1974

Nov 1964

Jan 1996

Nov 2008

Nov 1986

Jan 2007

Nov 1997

Mar 2005

Mar 1972

May 1970

Jan 1985

Jul 1990

Sep 1988

Mar 1983

Nov 1975

Sep 1966

Jan 1963

Jul 1968

Sep 1977

Sep 1999

May 1992

May 1981

Jul 2001

Jul 1979

May 2003

1-Jul-04

1-Jul-00

1-Jan-04

1-Jan-00

1-Jul-10

1-Jul-06

1-Jul-08

1-Jan-10

1-Jan-06

1-Jan-08

1-Jul-07

1-Jul-01

1-Jul-02

1-Jan-07

1-Jul-09

1-Jan-01

1-Jan-02

1-Jul-05

1-Jul-03

1-Jan-09

1-Jan-05

1-Jan-03

October 2010:

Here it comes

yet, money printing didn’t work here, or there

Chart 2: US Unemployment Rate (U6) 17% Unemployment Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, U6
Chart 2: US Unemployment Rate (U6)
17% Unemployment
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, U6 Rate, IceCap Asset Management Limited
Chart 3: US New Home Sales Fewest new houses sold EVER Source: US Commerce Department,
Chart 3: US New Home Sales
Fewest new houses sold EVER
Source: US Commerce Department, IceCap Asset Management Limited

20%

18%

16%

14%

12%

10%

8%

6%

4%

1,600

1,400

1,200

1,000

800

600

400

200

0

it, we’ll stick with the pants wetting theme (because that is what it really is) and call it Pee2.

The probability of the economy not working out the way the rose- coloured glasses wearing economists are telling you is actually quite higher than you would think. Mr. Bernanke knows this and in some aspects, you have to admire the guy – just as Kahn was preoccupied with destroying Captain Kirk, Bernanke is just as determined to destroy the threat of deflation. The difference being of course,

the threat of deflation. The difference being of course, (apologies to my fellow Trekkies) Star Trek

(apologies to my fellow Trekkies) Star Trek isn’t real. Bernanke however, is very real and he is conducting the World’s biggest science experiment – completely funded by the American taxpayers.

It has been written before that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. With QE 2 coming, why would the banks pull away their net and not catch the free money? In other words, why should QE2 work when QE1 didn’t work?

October 2010:

Here it comes

and now we have a bonanza for lawyers!

The real challenge today is not a lack of money or liquidity in the system, rather, the real problem is a lack of demand – for the recovery to occur, people and businesses must have a desire (or need) to borrow and spend. Take a look a Chart 2 and Chart 3. It’s pretty clear why neither people nor businesses are spending.

Although it’s nice of Mr. Bernanke to make money even cheaper, the result will once again be risk-free profits for the banks. For America to recover the government has to create attractive conditions to encourage companies to invest and hire again. Cheap financing has already been established, the challenge baton now should be passed along to the folks in Washington. However, considering the current political landscape, it will be a surprise how any spending program or tax cut will become effective.

The bottom line: regardless of the potential size of QE2 it will not make things right. We ask: when will this madness stop?

The Latest Goof -up Previously, we’ve written about the US housing market crapping out and how the big US banks are essentially insolvent because of it. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for a change to some accounting rules, the banks would have had to close their doors. There really isn’t much left to say, unless of course we discover that the entire mortgage approval process had been built out of duct tape. Correction, let’s make that scotch tape.

Over the last few days, virtually the entire foreclosure system has been frozen due to dodgy paper work by the banks. Few people understand all of the details, but we can tell you this: of the 12 legal steps required to buy and sell a house, it turns out that about 12 of those steps were performed illegally.

While Obama has refused to declare a moratorium on foreclosures, in effect he doesn’t have to. No one in their right mind is going to buy a house until this has been cleared up. If you do proceed with a purchase, there is a chance the house you just purchased didn’t legally belong to the seller to start with. The immediate result is about $1 trillion worth of houses that will exist in limbo until the

issue is resolved. If you are a banker – good luck with that. If you are

a real estate lawyer, this is your chance of a life-time. Pack your bags head to Florida, California or Nevada – Obama needs you.

Our strategy

A few weeks ago Mr. Bernanke confirmed that he would once again

start the printing press. Since then stocks, bonds, commodities, gold and every currency except the USD all increased; the key driver of the returns isn’t an improving economy and profits for companies, rather

it is the systematic depreciation of the USD – that’s what printing money does for you.

Presently, sentiment for the USD is extremely pessimistic (see Chart 4) and we believe this will reverse itself soon enough causing a correction in most other asset classes. Our strategy is to overweight

causing a correction in most other asset classes. Our strategy is to overweight www.IceCapAssetManagement.com 66 6

October 2010:

Chart 4: US Dollar Sentiment

Here it comes

Source: Ned Davis Research

US Dollar Sentiment Here it comes Source: Ned Davis Research bonds, underweight commodities and stocks. We

bonds, underweight commodities and stocks. We continue to like gold and will look to add to positions during periods of weakness.

If you’d like to chat further about our view and our unique investment solutions, please feel to contact:

John Corney at

or

Keith Dicker at

Thank you for sharing your time with us.