Putting the World on a Paper Standard

Half a century ago one of the most disastrous monetary policy decisions in US history was committed by Richard Nixon.  In a television address, the president declared that the nation would no longer redeem internationally dollars for gold.  Since the dollar was the world’s reserve currency, Nixon’s closing of the “Gold Window” put the world on an irredeemable paper monetary standard.

 

Richard Nixon during his televised speech on the “temporary” closing of the gold window (effectively a debt default). [PT]

 

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Lessons to be Learned from East Asia

The world should take a lesson from how East Asia ran itself in 2020. Japan had no lockdown. None. With an aging population, its death rate has been creeping up for many years. In 2020, it fell by 0.7%, as if Covid-19 was a life-saver.

 

Daily new cases in Singapore – Covid-19 seems to be pretty much under control there. [PT]

 

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Scavengers Out in Full Force

I have just returned from a visit to my family in India. It was hard to escape. To get to the US from India, I needed a COVID test. The Indian government has seriously restricted who can provide COVID testing, treatment, and vaccination. Private doctors and hospitals that are not approved face brutal legal consequences if they provide COVID treatment.

 

India’s experience with the COVID pandemic was particularly unpleasant… [PT]

 

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Shooting from the Hip

[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]

 

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

 

Stranded in India… [PT]

 

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Value Traps and Economic Ignorance

A financial analyst is often, or at least should be, more of a psychologist than a financial expert. There are companies that I knew fifteen years ago that had inherent value a multiple of what their stocks were trading at. Today, there continues to be similar upside, except that upside targets and share prices are lower. What went wrong?

 

A problem reaches the far North faster than climate change can melt all the ice. [PT]

 

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Dead Men Don’t Spend

The checks went forth yesterday.

And all the peoples rejoiced.

 

Stimulus blinders firmly attached! Let’s go! Mars is within reach! [PT]

 

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The Stress of Losing Billions

Up until the WallStreetBets crowd short squeezed Melvin Capital for a $7 billion loss, Robinhood had it made. But losing billions is stressful. And when your product blows up your customer the clucking that follows comes hot and heavy.

 

A surprise revival of business at Game-Stop… [PT]

 

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Silver Yo-Yo

The price of silver is going up and down like a yo-yo. On Sunday and into the first part of Monday, the price skyrocketed on news that Reddit was touting the metal. But as the data clearly showed, the price was not driven up by retail buying of physical metal.

 

Silver, March futures from Jan 27, 30 minute chart: a lot of volatility, but silver seems to have established a higher low after coming down from the initial spike. [PT]

 

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Sticking it to the Man

A certain Reddit group has recently become very popular. For many people, the group has emerged as the savior of humanity. With their collective might, this group has brought a few hedge-funds close to bankruptcy.

 

GME daily, log and linear view – a brief surge, but quite a painful one for hedge funds that were  short the stock in size. [PT]

 

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The Investment Asset of the Century Makes yet another Comeback

Even the most ardent cryptocurrency bulls are probably slightly slack-jawed at this juncture and can hardly believe it. To be sure, many people were undeterred by the vicious bear market that saw BTC melt down from just below $20,000 in Dec. 2017 to less than $3,300 in Dec. 2018, but we doubt that even these steadfast believers in the grand-daddy of cryptocurrencies expected to see new all time highs in less than two years. Oh well…

 

Look who’s back from the dead…

 

BTC, weekly – who says a bubble cannot be resurrected in two years time?

 

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The Lure of Easy Money

Right now happens to be an attractive time to do something stupid.  What’s more, everyone is doing it.  Maybe you are too. Stock valuations and corporate earnings growth no longer appear to matter.  Why not buy an S&P 500 index fund and let it ride?  Or, better yet, why not buy shares of Nvidia?

 

NVDA, weekly, over the past 6 years. The stock really started to take off after the 2016 election surprisingly brought an administration to power that was willing to cut taxes and roll back regulations. This vastly improved the competitive position of US-based companies in the world and boosted their profit margins. Other favorable narratives accompanied the rise of NVDA and other tech stocks specifically, such as the cryptocurrency mania and the increase in demand fostered by the pandemic. Add to that the biggest driver of them all – an unprecedented exercise in money printing by the Fed and other central banks – and a bubble for the ages emerged. And that is where we now are: in the greatest stock market mania of all time. [PT]

 

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A Curious Development in Japan

For a long time Japanese stocks have been little more than a mirror image of the yen – they would rise when the yen lost ground and fall when it strengthened. This has changed rather noticeably of late as the chart below illustrates. Incidentally, the Nikkei has broken out over a resistance level that has held it back since early 2018. Whether this breakout will hold remains to be seen, but so far it certainly looks convincing (perhaps it will require a retest).

 

The Nikkei and the yen (weekly candles): in the middle of the chart the 60-period correlation between the two markets is shown (it ranges from “-1” for maximum negative to “+1” for maximum positive correlation). A strong negative correlation persisted for such a long time that it almost began to feel like a law of nature. Not anymore.

 

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