Inflation

Over a year ago, I wrote about China threatening to stop buying US Treasuries.

According to an article in the New York Times, it now looks like China is losing it’s appetite for US debt :

In the last five years, China has spent as much as one-seventh of its entire economic output buying foreign debt, mostly American. In September, it surpassed Japan as the largest overseas holder of Treasuries.

But now Beijing is seeking to pay for its own $600 billion stimulus – just as tax revenue is falling sharply as the Chinese economy slows. Regulators have ordered banks to lend more money to small and medium-size enterprises, many of which are struggling with lower exports, and to local governments to build new roads and other projects.

All the key drivers of China’s Treasury purchases are disappearing – there’s a waning appetite for dollars and a waning appetite for Treasuries, and that complicates the outlook for interest rates, said Ben Simpfendorfer, an economist in the Hong Kong office of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

By itself, this is a concern for our government. Recently, it sold billions of 3 year treasuries at a 1.2% yield! But when the demand for treasuries eventually dries up, yield should start jumping higher. But to make matters worse, the government will start a slew of public works projects and bailouts, for which we will have to borrow even more money. At some point the demand will simply fall short of the supply.

Here’s an interesting note by James Quinn on investmentrarities.com:

As the politicians scurry to “save” capitalism through the use of communist measures, more Americans are becoming disheartened. The definition of communism according to Webster’s is:

A system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed.

George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke have decided to seize money from the vast majority of Americans who lived within their means, utilized debt sparingly, and worked hard to get ahead, and give it to the most appalling failures in our society. They have shoveled billions to banks that operated their businesses like gambling parlors. They have shoveled hundreds of millions to people who bought houses with no money down, interest only mortgages and fraudulent loan applications. They are now rewarding automakers who made the wrong vehicles, pay 30,000 workers per year to not work, and have only been able to “sell” cars by giving them away with 0% financing to any schmuck who could sign on the dotted line. These acts fit the definition of communism. We are now more communist than China.

So what are the repercussions of our monetary policy? According to Chuck Butler of Everbank.com (which I highly recommend):

US government will have to ratchet the yield on these bonds up so high to attract investors… OR… Allow a general debasing of the dollar to allow those purchases of Treasuries to be made at a discounted clearing price.”

A lot of people will disagree, but during these economic times, we’ll see inflation and not deflation. And gold will continue to be a store of value and a hedge against inflation. Even though its quite popular to bash gold and call it a lousy investment, the fact remains that gold has been one of the best performing assets during the past decade. I’ve been buying gold coins since 2005 and while the price of gold is up around 50% since then, the premiums on gold and silver coins has increased more than twice that. (Premium is what you pay over the spot price of gold). This shows an increasing demand for gold coins.

Gold and silver coins will be the next bubble! The bubble has barely started and should take 2-3 years to play out.

A couple of days ago, legendary investor, commodity bull and one-time partner of George Soros, Jim Rogers, was interviewed by Betty Liu of Bloomberg’s Singapore office. It seems that Jim Rogers is also of the opinion that Fannie Mae is going to lose a lot of money along with other investment banks.

He’s still bullish on commodities like oil and food grain and he’s bearish on the US Dollar. Surprizingly, he’s also bullish on Arline stocks.

Here’s an excerpt of the relevant portions of the interview:

Financial Sector

LIU: All right. Jim, first, talk to us about the story of the week that we’ve seen so far, Lehman Brothers, you know, you’ve been very critical so far about what’s been going on on Wall Street, the accounting, all of that. Do you believe, I mean this is relevant – do you believe that Lehman Brothers is in fact in so good shape that they’ve got no liquidity problems or what’s your view on this right now?
ROGERS: Well, okay, I am still all – short all of the investment banks on Wall Street through the ETF. I know they are all in trouble. I know most of them have phony accounting. And you know, in bear markets, they all go down to eight. So, I just presume they are all going to go to eight before it’s over, before the bear market is over.
LIU: Do you believe that we could another Bear Stearns as we did in March?
ROGERS: Oh, why not, sure. There are certainly – and I’m also short Citibank and I’m also short Fannie Mae. So, you know, some of these companies have – have horrendous balance sheets and if the bear market has a ways to go, which in my view, it does, then you are going to see some really, really low prices. But, Betty, there’s nothing unusual about this, just go back and look at any previous bear market. Financial stocks sell at unbelievably low prices during bear markets. This was not going to be any – well, this one may be a little different because it’s just going to be worse for the financial companies during this bear market, because the excesses during the past five or ten years have been so horrendous in the financial communities.

LIU: All right. And Jim, you know, I want to turn back to, of course, the Fed and the banks and all of that. You were talking before about some of the stocks that you’re short on. Are you short on Lehman Brothers?
ROGERS: I’m short the ETF, Betty, the investment bank ETF, which means I’m short all of them. I am not short any specific investment banks. First of all, I have too many friends at all of those places, I don’t want to short any of them specifically. So, I am just short at the ETF, which means I am short all of them, I mean some would do well, some will do probably too badly, but the ETF in my view is going to go down a lot more.
LIU: Well, does what happened with Lehman Brothers over the past week, does it perhaps stoke your interest in shorting Lehman along with Citigroup? And Fannie, I believe is the one you talked about as well.
ROGERS: I’m already short Fannie Mae and Citibank, and have been for sometime. I’m just going to kind of stay with the ETF. It’s easier for somebody like me, who’s too lazy to spend a lot of time on any specific one, except for Citibank and Fannie Mae.

Monetary Policy

LIU: All right, Jim. So, tell us, you have also been very critical of the Fed and Ben Bernanke. I want to ask you first one thing. How do think the Fed has handled so far what’s been going on on Wall Street? You think that they helped situations or actually made things worse?
ROGERS: They made things worse, Betty. They printed huge amounts of money, which has caused great inflation which could cause the dollar to go down, and the Federal Reserve has taken on something like $400 billion of bad assets on to its balance sheet. Now, you and I as American taxpayers are going to have to pay off that debt some day. What’s Bernanke going to do? Get in his helicopter, and fly around, collecting bad debt? Is he going to start repossessing cars, repossessing houses that go bad? I mean, this is insane Betty, the Federal Reserve has $800 billion on its balance sheet. They have already committed $400 billion to bad debt. What then they are going to do next? Where are they going to get the money the next time things start going wrong?

Investment Strategy

LIU: Okay. Okay, well, given that scenario, Jim, as an investor, where are you going to put your money right now?
ROGERS: I own commodities, I have been buying agriculture, I bought airlines today. I bought a lot of airlines around the world today, both stocks and bonds. Swiss franc, Japanese yen, renminbi, these are the few things I have been buying recently.

Airlines

LIU: You bought airlines? A lot of people are very bearish on the airlines, talking about the fuel cost. Why are you buying airlines?
ROGERS: Well, Betty, you just got through the same why, everybody is very bearish. No, I don’t buy things just because people are bearish, but I fly a lot, and the planes are full. You cannot buy a new – if you order a new plane today, you couldn’t get it for several years. This Boeing and Airbus have problems. You read every day that the airlines are cutting back their capacity. Fares are going up. I mean, Betty, everybody knows about the fuel cost. Is there any airline left that doesn’t know we have fuel problems? They are adjusting for all of it.
LIU: Well, that’s true. But there’s also talk about bankruptcies in the airline industry. And you think some could go bankrupt?
ROGERS: How much more bullish in the news do you want? Twenty-four airlines have gone bankrupt this year. That’s great news. You know, five out of the seven largest American airlines went bankrupt during this decade. So, fine. Bankruptcies are signs of bottoms, not signs of tops.

Commodities

LIU: Right. You know, staying with oil and commodities, we’ve seen a pullback in some commodities in recent months. But which commodities do you like right now, Jim, and which don’t you like?
ROGERS: Well, I mean, yes, a lot of commodities have come down pretty hard. If people are talking about a bubble, I’d like to know what they’re talking about. I mean, many commodities, nickel, zinc, lead are down 50 percent. Silver is down 80 percent from its all-time high. Sugar is down 80 percent from its all-time high. What kind of bubble is that? Cotton is down 40 percent from its all-time high. Coffee is down 60 percent from its all-time high. I have been buying agriculture recently, I’m holding off a little bit right now because it looks like Congress is determined to do something to drive down commodity prices. If they do, it’ll be a fantastic buying opportunity and I’ll buy more.
LIU: Jim, you – .
ROGERS: But what I bought most recently is more agriculture.
LIU: More agriculture? In China, did you buy?
ROGERS: I bought agriculture stocks in China. It’s not legal for – I mean, it’s almost impossible for foreigners to buy commodities – commodities and sales in China.
LIU: Right. Okay, also, you’ve said before that we’re half- way through the commodity bull run. You still think that, or I mean how long can this bull run last for?
ROGERS: Well, Betty, there are number of acres devoted to wheat farming. It’s been declining for 30 years. The inventory of food is at the lowest level in 50 or 60 years. We are burning a lot of our agricultural products in fuel tanks now, as fuel. That’s useless, that’s hopeless. Talk about a bubble, that’s a bubble. It’s crazy that we’re spending so much money burning our agricultural products as fuel. But you can go on a long time, nobody has discovered any major oil fields for over 40 years. Betty, all the oil fields in the world are in decline. I mean, there’s been one lead mine opened in the world in 25 years. The last lead smelter built in America was built in 1969. Unless somebody starts bringing on a lot more capacity soon, that bull market has got a ways to go.

Oil

LIU:All right. Jim, also talk to us about oil. You know, you’ve been very bullish on oil. We’ve had a lot of people talk about, you and I had a debate about whether or not there’s speculation in oil markets right now. You say no, others say yes, like Soros, he says it’s going to bubble. What do you know that others don’t about the oil market?
ROGERS: Look, look, Betty, there are always speculators in every market. Look at the New York Stock Exchange right now. You think there aren’t any speculators down there on the floor of the stock exchange? There are always speculators. That’s what business is all about. I submit to you that most of the people and – I don’t know about most of the people, I shouldn’t say that, but we know that the IEA, the definitive authority on oil has said that the world has an oil problem. The Saudis have told Bush that we have an oil problem. Betty, if there is lot of oil, please, would somebody tell us where it is, so we can all invest in it? The world has a serious oil problem. Now, Betty, that does not mean that oil cannot go down 50 percent. During this bull market since 1999, oil has gone down twice by 50 percent, going down by 50 percent in 2001 and again, in 2000 whatever it was, ‘05 or ‘06. So sure, you can have big reaction in any bull market. But that’s not the end of the bull market. There is no supply of oil unless you – somebody can tell us where the oil is, the bull market in oil has years to go despite new corrections which may or may not come.
LIU: Well, but you know, and I know you always hate having me ask you about – about limits or caps and all of that. But, given the supply/demand situation that you’re talking about, how high can oil go?
ROGERS: Betty, I know you – how you’re paid to ask questions like that, but I don’t know the answer. I’m not smart enough. I know that unless somebody discovers a lot of oil, the price of oil can go to $150, $200. You pick the number.

U.S. Dollar

LIU: All right, Jim. And I’ve got to turn to the dollar very quickly. What do you make of the comments by Bernanke earlier this week, noting the dollar slide, you have been very, very critical of Bernanke on this.
ROGERS: It is astonishing. Now, this is a man that under oath in Congress said, “If the price of the dollar goes down, it doesn’t affect ordinary – it doesn’t affect most Americans.” So, I almost fell out of my chair when I saw him say that. We know the man doesn’t know about markets, we know he doesn’t know about the currencies. Now, we know he doesn’t even understand civil economics, simple economics. So, I was astonished to see him, what, two or three days –
LIU: Right.
ROGERS: – suddenly said, “Well, if the dollar goes down, it affects us all.” It’s called inflation. So, somebody’s been teaching him economics. It’s about time, he should go back and take Economics 101.

Here’s an incredibly interesting video about how the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan directly helped the rich become Super Rich by keeping interest rates artificially low. The low interest rates and easy liquidity caused a spike in asset prices (ever wondered what causes inflation?).

I’ve long maintained that globally, assets are no longer a function of value but a function of liquidity. The video explains how leverage has helped home borrowers become incredibly wealthy. I didn’t become super wealthy, but I did profit by using the same idea. Unfortunately, instead of growing a million into a billion, I started out with Zero and made proportionally less. (although technically, I made an infinite return of return!).

In England there are currently 30,000 people earning over half a million pounds a year, and over 50 Billionaires. All of them work in finance related industries like hedge funds and private equity firms.

10 hedge fund managers pulled in 500 million dollars last year with a lucky few pulling nearly 1 Billion dollars!

It also explains the discrepancy in risk-adjusted returns for these finance wizards. They made obscene amounts of money without taking on any risk. Their financial wizardry is what caused the financial crisis with the subprime loans. Of course, they weren’t left holding the bag! It was the shareholder and maybe at the end of the day it might even result in the US tax payers having to bail large investment banks like Bear Stearns.

Check out this video by the BBC starring Robert Preston – its very enlightening.

I’m finally back in the US! Last week, I heard Dr. Marc Faber, of GloomBoomDoom
fame, on CNBC India. While gold is currently at a whopping $973/Oz, on that day gold had briefly touched $950/Oz for the first time ever.

Dr. Faber said two things that were very interesting:

1. Gold is a bargain at $950/Oz

2. Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke doesn’t understand how the economy works

Seems like he agrees with Jim Rogers!

I’ve been advising everyone to invest in gold since it was $500/Oz. Of all the people I know, maybe 3 or 4 actually followed my advice and bought some gold. Most people thought I was stupid and vehemently disagreed with me. Most of their arguments consisted of the following points:

1. Gold has been a terrible investment for most of history and in fact had declined from its peak in the early 80’s for 17 years.

2. Gold doesn’t pay interest and you’re blocking your money.

3. Gold has no real use. It’s just some rich people who are propping up the prices.

While, these are all valid points, they didn’t touch the main point of gold being a store of value. In times of uncertainty and times of hyperinflation, gold always does well. Whenever there is a lack of confidence in the banking system, gold prices tend to shoot up.

John Lee, portfolio manager at Macau Capital Management, has a good explanation:

Banks create dollars out of thin air and loan them to people. Even though money is created out of thin air, once the borrower pays back the loan, the transaction is complete and those borrowed dollars perish in bank’s books. In this scenario, the dollar’s purchasing power is preserved through non-dilution.

However, as we have witnessed through the recent subprime fiasco, many parties are getting away without fulfilling their obligation to repay a loan. Institutions were bailed out as the Fed bought their mortgage positions at face value with new money. Consumers were bailed out as lenders were elbowed to freeze foreclosures, freeze rate resets, forgive loans, and make lower payments.

Such compromises erode confidence in the system. If one person can get dollars through borrowing without paying back, and yet another had to work to obtain and save dollars, it is surely not an incentive to earn and keep dollars. Rather, it is a no brainer to borrow dollars and spend unabashedly. Savers are the most risk averse bunch of people, and when the monetary rules are muddied, they will opt out. This is how a run on the dollar starts.

Interestingly, unlike Faber or Rogers, Lee maintains that Bernanke does know what he’s doing and that its the correct course of action for the Federal Reserve.

Today, the USA is the world’s largest debtor nation. Regardless of how high oil is, there is no room to raise rates with tens of trillions of dollars in debts to be serviced.

Don’t blame Bernanke for our problems; even if Volcker were to be the chairman today, he would have acted in exact same way as Bernanke did.

The ideal dream for debtors is inflation, which is precisely what the Fed is advocating – expanding money supply through lowering interest rates and direct handouts. The Fed’s action is entirely logical acting on behalf of the average American, which is heavily in debt.

While I would contend that debasing a currency just because you can’t afford the interest payments is a wrong thing to do, Lee does at least agree that fiat money always results in hyperinflation.

The deflation camp has been on the wrong side throughout EVERY fiat money experiment thus far. The bear camp contends that the debt burden will eventually become so large that eventually the debt bubble will blow and the prices of everything stocks to real estate to copper and zinc will collapse.

Fiat money systems have always resorted to hyperinflation and destruction of the currency without fail. If hyperinflation could be avoided in a fiat system by the creation of the Fed, the Argentines in 2002 surely would have figured it out and avoided their hyperinflationary disaster.

He also thinks that the Federal bailout will lead to a further weakening in confidence which will cause the dollar to drop further.

The idea that the Fed and the government will allow debt cleansing lasses faire style is patently absurd in my opinion. Central bank action has spoken louder than words in the past six months as record $1 trillion+ has being printed to rescue banks. For instance, England’s largest mortgage lender, Northern Rock, has been nationalized. And as for the consumers, loan amounts are reduced without penalty or conditions, mortgage rate resets are postponed, federal guarantee limits are set to increase.

Here we go back to psychology. It is not so much about the amount of bail out money being printed, but rather that the smart money took issue with the way the handouts were given unconditionally across the spectrum. Confidence in the dollar was further eroded.

Ok, so what’s his point? Lee thinks that gold is heading much higher.

Gold is money and a refuge of capital when a defective fiat money system shows its ugly head. Gold is universally recognized, portable, divisible, liquid, and limited in supply which makes it the only real viable option as store of wealth. Today’s gold price has not fully priced in dollar’s deep and terminal issues and there is nothing that can be done to stop the further rise in gold. The Fed can talk tame CPI to try stabilizing commodity prices but the effect will be limited. Mind you, gold’s rising popularity should be seen as positive; the fall of the dollar system levels the playing fields for global consumers and producers.

The markets can easily handle $3,000 – $5,000 oz. gold in the near term horizon with minimal disturbance. It is when gold rises too much over $5,000 too fast that we might start to worry about global inflation panic.

Wow, gold at $5,000/Oz! That’s a bold prediction. I’m not sure if I agree with him, but I’m still sticking to my belief that gold will reach somewhere between $2,500 and $3,000 in this cycle. Look for gold to break $1000/Oz around the middle of March when Bernanke drops the federal funds rate another 50 basis points.

And whether or not Bernanke knows anything about the economy is still up for discussion. The popular consensus seems to be that he doesn’t!

To shed more light (well actually cast more gloom) on last week’s inflation post here’s an excerpt of an email from Chuck Butler, President of Everbank:

The Fed has turned its back on inflation folks… And here’s some items that you won’t see in the CPI data…
1. Grade-A Large Eggs – Dec. 06 $1.54 a dozen… Dec. 07 $2.10, and current $2.73 a dozen… That’s up 36% in a year!
2. White Bread – Dec. 06 $1.13 a loaf… Dec. 07 $1.28 a loaf, and current $1.62 a loaf… That’s up 12.6% in a year!
3. Whole Milk – Dec. 06 $3 a gallon… Dec. 07 $3.87 a gallon, and current $3.93 a gallon … That’s up 29% in a year!
4. Fresh Whole Chicken- Dec. 06 $1.06 per pound… Dec. 07 $1.17 per pound, and current $1.19 per pound… That’s up 10.3% in a year!

These are the things I talk about all the time, in that an individual can feel the inflation eating away at this wallet… This is just some simple food items… I’m not even talking about things like: Tuition… Insurance… Medical… Movie tickets… And so on…

Your Federal Reserve has turned their backs on inflation eating your wallet folks… Isn’t that SAD?

And here’s some info on inflation in New York City. This data is from late last year.

[Inflation stats for New York City 2007]
Regardless of what the government tells you, inflation is running way more than 4% a year. Not only are they in denial about inflation, they also keep increasing the Money Supply (they’re printing more dollars which is making each dollar in circulation worth less) under the pretext of providing liquidity to prevent a depression-like scenario. I’m under the impression that the US government is bankrupt and doesn’t have any intention of meeting its nearly $60 Trillion worth of future debt obligations. If they can stave off insolvency through liquidity, that’ll be some real magic!

Today’s post is an excerpt from a letter by Martin Hutchinson. He’s done a great job of explaining why interest are so low and why inflation will probably run 10% pretty soon.

Back in the early 1990s, the Fed and its chairman – Alan Greenspan – had a problem. And it was a big one. The central bank tried to maintain a low rate of money supply growth, as Fed predecessor Paul Volcker had pioneered, but this was causing problems. Even though inflation appeared under control, economic growth remained stuck in low gear – even long after the nadir of the 1990 recession. President George H.W. Bush was seriously annoyed, as he had right to be: After all, that slow economic growth probably cost him the 1992 election.

Accordingly, Greenspan in 1993 abandoned monetary targeting, asserting that for some unspecified reason [but one that was doubtless highly technological] money supply aggregates had become inaccurate, so it was better to target inflation directly. However, inflation showed signs of turning up, so in 1994, the Fed was forced to tighten again, slowing growth once more. No fun at all.

The solution was to move the goalposts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures inflation, suddenly found a great interest in “hedonic pricing” – essentially an assessment of the pleasure people gain from the goods and services they consume.

The idea behind this is quite simple – essentially that the satisfaction derived from a particular good does not remain the same if the quality increases through better technology. Shouldn’t that quality increase be counted as the equivalent of a price decrease?

The most exciting application of this premise was a concept called “Moore’s Law” in the high-tech sector, where microprocessor power was doubling every two years or so. If you pretended that this doubling in chip speeds also doubled “hedonic” output, you could also pretend that the price had been halved. If you then rebased all weightings on the 1st of January of each New Year, you could then take the effect of these repeated “halvings” in tech-sector hedonic prices. If each halving took the tech sector from 5% to 2.5% of the economy, then after 10 years you would have halved prices over fully 50% of the economy.

Doing this is completely spurious – for one thing, it ignores the negative hedonic effects to consumers of such nuisances as customer call centers and automated telephone systems – but it has allowed the BLS to report inflation at about 0.8% to 1% less than it otherwise would have been in every year since 1995.

Conversely, since inflation is lower, using that artificially lower number to get a “real” economic growth figure will produce a growth figure that is artificially higher. And that’s why we had the so-called “boom” of the late 1990s, and the apparent boom since 2000 – even though neither really seemed to make consumers any richer.

Needless to say, politicians love this stuff! It enables them to trumpet the new, higher growth rates and the new, lower inflation rates every time they run for re-election. It also makes improvements in the U.S. economy look much better than its European Union and Asia counterparts, which haven’t adopted “hedonic” pricing.

But the game may finally be up. Even hedonic consumer price inflation is running at 4.1% in the last 12 months, so with interest rates at 3.5% for the benchmark Federal Funds Rate and about 3.6% for 10-year Treasuries, interest rates are now significantly below the inflation rate.

That means savers are getting an even worse deal than they usually get.

It also means inflation is almost bound to accelerate. By definition, if borrowing costs are less than zero, people will find ways to borrow and will waste the money they have borrowed. Unless the BLS finds some new trick to avoid reporting inflation, it is likely to rise rapidly towards 10% or so in the months ahead.


Whats the best way to hedge against this?

Hutchinson suggests the following:

1. Avoid TIPS (Treasury Inflation Proofed Securities).
2. Consider investing in Rydex Inverse Government Long Bond Strategy C Fund (RYJCX) is a fund designed to move inversely to Treasury bonds.
3. Buy gold.
4. Jump on Japan by buying the ETF JSC, which consists of smaller companies with little or no exposure to the global markets.

Check out this excellent, excellent video where Ron Paul rips Bernanke a new one. He explains why lowering the interest rates is screwing the US citizens. Low rates leads to a weak dollar which causes inflation (since we import nearly everything from foreign countries).


By lowering the rates, the Feds are enabling inflation. Which they probably want because it makes it is much easier to pay back all the money the government has borrowed from foreigners. The government currently needs around $2 Billion per day to sustain itself. Paying back foreign countries with dollars that are worthless is quite an enticing option.However, it doesn’t come without any cost. Putting more dollars in circulation devalues the current value of each existing dollar. If the Fed increases the money supply by 10% per year, the value of each dollar of your savings is decreased by a corresponding 10% too. Since you’re not getting 10% interest in the bank, your savings are being eroded every year. This is what Ron Paul was concerned about. The savings of elderly people are being eroded while simultaneously, everything is getting more expensive.

As the cost of everything goes up, eventually the cost of real assets will catch up. Real assets include commodities like gold, wheat, corn, lumber, oil and especially investments like real estate. So the low interest rates has the effect of propping up real estate prices and engendering the so-called soft landing in the real estate market. However, since its mostly wealthy people who own multiple properties that are leveraged with mortgages, as the value of the dollar drops and the value of real estate increases, they get to pay down their mortgage with cheaper dollars while simultaneously enjoying the appreciation in their properties.

This is basically a redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy. So you should either vote for Ron Paul or invest in gold (pretty easy to do), foreign currencies (slightly more difficult) or cash-flowing properties (pretty difficult right now). The worst thing to do is nothing or whine about how unfair life is.

As I’ve been saying for a while, the US Dollar is headed for a slump. Peter Schiff thinks the dollar could lose 50% of its value.

He’s very pessimistic on the state of the economy and the housing market and recommends buying Gold, which he thinks could hit $2,500/Oz.

He also suggests buying foreign dividend-paying stocks, foreign commercial property stocks, foreign government & corporate bonds and investing in commodities.

Check out this short informative video:

Here’s an interesting link on how to profit from dollar devaluation and inflation.

Jim Rogers, co-founder of Quantum Fund along with George Soros, achieved 4,000% returns in the 80’s. He’s famous for being bearish on the US economy and the US Dollar. However, he’s currently bullish on the Dollar, saying that everyone is negative on it.

In his opinion, when too many people take one side of a trade, the opposite is likely to happen. The Dollar has been in a bear market since 2002, but it turned bullish during 2005. He thinks its over-sold and in the short-term at least, due for a correction.

While I’m not buying any Dollars, I could definitely use a spike in the USD for my entry point into Australian Dollars.

Many claim the dollar’s weakness is helping offset a dropoff in U.S. economic demand that’s come from a recession in the housing market. Goods priced in dollars are cheaper in Europe or Australia, and manufacturing in the U.S. becomes more attractive for companies that export goods. That helps preserve jobs in the U.S.

But a debased currency is a hefty price to pay for growth, and not an easily reversible one, says Rogers. It breeds inflation and weak purchasing power, which ultimately undermines any short-term boost in growth. He reiterated his belief that the U.S. dollar is bound for a decline similar to the British pound’s 50% decline in the early 1980s.

He’s not very impressed with Bernanke lowering the interest rates either.

“The fool went and cut interest rates with the stock market down 6%,” he says of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. “What’s he going to do when stocks are down 30%?”

He says Bernanke and the Fed are ignoring obvious evidence of inflation in food, education and entertainment prices.

“This is a man who’s made a career learning about printing money and now we’ve handed him the printing press,” he says, likening Bernanke to his predecessor Alan Greenspan in their penchant for saving the markets by cutting rates and inflating asset bubbles.

Rogers is a believer in the global growth story, particularly China’s. He said he’s sold out of all his emerging market investments except for his investments in China, claiming the other emerging nations have “been exploited by 20,000 MBAs running around looking for markets.”

Rogers hopes he’ll be able to pass down his Chinese stocks to his 4-year-old daughter, but adds he may be forced to sell.

“If a bubble develops in China in the next year or two, I’ll have to sell because bubbles end badly,” says Rogers, pointing to Japan, where stocks remain well below their levels of over a decade ago. But he believes Chinese stocks would have to double before he’d feel forced to sell.

The self-proclaimed “inactive investor” is not buying much these days. He’s bullish on commodities, though he agreed he’d be hard pressed to find anything to buy at these levels. If he’d buy any commodity it would be in the agricultural space rather than the metals, though he declined to specify one. He’s short the U.S. investment banks along with the dollar.

Next to China, Rogers says he’s long gold.

I’ll undoubtedly buy more gold,” he says, predicting it will double from here in the next few years.

Today’s post is from the Mogambo Guru, who expresses his frustration at the inflation we’re seeing in basic food products. Although Bernanke has said that inflation might become a concern, the Federal Reserve is still maintaining its stance that core inflation is contained. (Just like how the subprime lending problems was contained to about $250 Billion USD and how it might potentionally disrupt the entire global economey!!!!)

BEING FED BIGGER BREAD PRICES
by The Mogambo Guru

Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital writes, “In current theory, the excess cash piling up around the world is like manna from heaven. Don’t believe the hype. Liquidity is merely a euphemism for inflation. Asset prices, including stocks, are simply rising to reflect the diminished value of the currencies in which they are traded. Wealth is not being created, merely re-priced.”

Well, I don’t know where Mr. Schiff lives, but around here, it’s not wealth that is being re-priced, but poverty. As the inflation in the prices of everything continues to outstrip “income after taxes and deductions”, standards of living are being eroded because people can’t buy as much stuff as they used to; their relatively static stream of discretionary income has lost buying power against rapidly rising prices.

For example, from the Financial Times we read that inflation is finally affecting food, and that Hovis bread said it was “preparing to raise bread prices for the second time in six months. The pending increase – which the company attributed to rising wheat costs – is merely the latest in a series of price increases food and drink companies have been trying to pass on to consumers this year. The series has seen costs of making bread, beer, yoghurt and chocolate as well as dozens of others packaged food products become increasingly expensive.”

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Who cares about bread? I don’t need no stinkin’ bread! I can eat pizza!”, which is wrong, whereas you would have been correct if you had instead thought “I don’t need no stinkin’ bread! I can eat the bodies of dead animals that I find alongside the highway!”

And indeed you could, as the current market price of road kill is still a very economical zero, which may explain why it is not included in the Lehman Brothers’ ingredients cost index, which “covers cocoa, coffee, oats, tea, soyabeans and milk, among other commodities and which is based on spot rates.” This index, in case you were wondering, “rose 14.9% in the first half of the year”, which “follows a 16.5% increase in the second half of 2006.” Yikes! Prices of foodstuffs are up over 30% in twelve months? Yow!

And what is the biggest gainer? “The biggest increase has occurred in powdered milk prices. These have nearly doubled compared with the same period a year ago. Barley prices have also shot up 53%, while corn prices are up 68%.”

So it is no wonder that people are complaining about prices! And you may be interested to learn the surprising fact that these afflicted people are, paradoxically, not the least bit interested in, or appreciative of, being educated that their inflation problems are all self-inflicted, as they are the same drooling morons that elected the Congressional morons that have spent us into the Hell Of Crushing Debt (HOCD) and allowed the Federal Reserve to create wildly excessive amounts of money and credit to make that grotesque orgy of spending possible!

To prove it to yourself, the next time somebody says that prices are going up and that they are having a hard time making ends meet, carefully observe their reaction when you politely and respectfully go up to them and, by way of education for their benefit, say, “Shut your damned stupid mouth, you ugly little troll! Your problems are all self-inflicted, as you are the same drooling ‘I Love Big Government Creating Perpetual Entitlements’ moron that elected the Congressional morons that have spent
us into the Hell Of Crushing Debt (HOCD) and who conveniently looked the other way while the damnable Federal Reserve created the money and credit to make that stupid, bankrupting spending possible! It’s your own fault, you ignorant little commie creep! You committed economic suicide, and in doing so have economically murdered the rest of us, you filthy piece of stupid, greedy, Leftist crap!”

He’s always good for a laugh!