a gloom & doom report

  1. 9,081 Posts.
    Have the valium handy when you read this:

    "The Daily Reckoning

    Ouzilly, France

    Monday, 11 August 2003


    *** So much ahead of us! Strange slump, strange recovery...

    *** Insiders still getting out...

    *** Still hot... Mars... dead
    people... farmers... Mogambo... and more!


    We have so much to look forward to!

    The real bear market in stocks hasn't happened yet. Before
    it is over, stocks will sell for P/Es of 6-8... the Dow will
    fall to 3,000 or so... and you'll be able to buy the entire
    Dow for a single ounce of gold.

    Neither has the bust in refinancing. It's begun... but it
    has a long way to go. Refinancings are down sharply... but
    when it is over, almost no one will refinance anything.

    Nor has the total collapse of the dollar and the bond
    market happened yet. Eventually, the dollar will probably
    fall below 1.5 to the euro... bond yields will reach double

    And the real recession is probably still ahead of us,

    The nation has been in a slump for 20 months, we're told.
    But such an odd slump it has been. Jobs were lost. Stocks
    went down; some crashed. The newspapers reported the sad
    news... and commentators went around with long faces. But if
    times were tough, the lumpen didn't seem to notice;
    consumers just kept spending money... and debt just kept

    As far as they were concerned, it was like a funeral with a
    punchbowl, but no stiff; so they might as well enjoy

    Since 1994, mortgage debt doubled to $9 trillion. Total
    debt almost doubled, to $32.5 trillion. And, of course,
    that doesn't include the shortfall in federal
    revenues... estimated at up to $44 trillion.

    The big numbers don't bother us. For every debit there is a
    credit on the other side of the ledger. We expect both
    sides to disappear at once. And won't that be something to

    Not to worry, says the New York Times. "Business spending
    helps offset lag in refinancing," explains last Friday's

    Ah... everyone, including us, has worried what would happen
    when the refi boom ended. How would the consumer economy
    grow when consumers run out of money?

    The NY Times thinks it has the answer - the spending would
    come from business. But business spending is as big a fraud
    as the slump. Here's the juicy twist; you'll like this:

    According to Stephen Roach, most business spending is
    concentrated on buying computers and peripherals... and more
    than 80% of it is not spending at all - but make-believe
    spending implied by falling prices! If a company spends $10
    on a gizmo that is 5 times as powerful as the one he might
    have bought a few years ago, the government treats it as
    though he had spent $50! Deflation produces inflation, get
    it? We're sure the gods are chuckling. Falling prices in
    the technology sector now lead to overstated growth

    The inflated numbers then get factored into the nation's
    GDP, which was said to rise at a 2.6% pace in the 2nd
    quarter. This, by the way, was only half the rate of
    typical GDP growth in a recovery. In the last 6 cyclical
    recoveries, GDP was growing at a 5.4% rate at this stage.

    Not only that, but 70% of the GDP growth alleged for the
    2nd quarter came from increased military spending. Contrary
    to popular delusion, military spending does not make people
    rich. Instead, it consumes precious savings and leaves them
    with pockets as empty as a congressman's head.

    Who can make sense of it? And who can fail to be amused?

    Not us.

    And now we learn that the consumer is getting his house in
    order. "Credit card debt dips as consumers cut back," says
    a Chicago Tribune headline.

    The Fed says total consumer credit fell in June. But the
    Fed doesn't include mortgage debt... so, as consumers switch
    from expensive credit card debt to cheaper mortgage debt,
    total debt actually rises.

    But as we pointed out, every mortgagee has a mortgagor
    somewhere... so it all balances out. Besides, you could wipe
    off all the world's credits and debits all at once... but
    what would really change? Our houses would still be there.
    We'd still have our cars, our friends and most of our
    favorite restaurants. So what's the problem?

    Millions of people would probably go bankrupt in the
    transition... thousands of businesses, too. People who
    considered themselves rich would find out that they have
    less real money than they thought. Foreign holders of U.S.
    treasury bonds would get back pennies on the dollar, in
    real terms. Americans would be less able to buy imports.
    The foreigners, no longer willing to feed 'the world's
    mouth,' would have to do some consuming themselves.

    Do you have a problem with this, dear reader? We don't. In
    fact, we look forward to it almost as we look forward to
    Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall.

    Heck, if we could... we'd give the egg-man a little shove
    and get it over with."
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