This update is titled NO PRICE TO PAY?, or if you prefer, NO WORRIES, IT'S FREE!
When the liquidity crisis of 2008 hit the world economy like a massive blow from a top ranked heavy-weight boxer, central bankers around the world responded in unison. They printed money at previously unheard-of levels. This solved the problem. No longer did a liquidity crisis exist. Money of all currency types was everywhere. In fact, there was so much money, interest rates around the world plunged to zero or even negative rates. Why pay a fee to rent money when the supply is overwhelming? Likes grains of sand on an ocean beach, the quantities are beyond most capabilities of counting.
So why worry? Pop open some more bubbly and party on. The crisis is over. Economies around the world are doing great. Equity markets world-wide are turning 201k's back into 401k's and most often 6-7-and 801k's. Interest rates around the world continue to be at levels that make housing, autos and yes, speculation, very affordable. So, as stated at the beginning of this paragraph, why worry?
Maybe it's conservative financial roots. Maybe it's a lifelong observation. Or maybe, it's the notion that nothing in life comes completely free. There is always a price to pay. Is it foolish to think that maybe there might be a price to pay for printing trillions of Dollars, Euros, Yen, Pounds, Francs and Renminbi to solve our problems? When a wannabe dictator tries to solve his/her problem of "how to get power and keep power" by printing the local currency at unheard of rates, it always backfires. The currency citizens worked for is diluted by the printed variety. In time, the whole lot loses value at a rapid clip and the local economy suffers. Said plainly, inflation soars, and people scramble to deal with the aftermath.
Is it time to worry that maybe the recent pick-up around the world in inflation rates is the start of the price we pay? Some say this type of thinking is outdated or "out of touch" with today's world. Okay, counterpoint duly noted. Thank you for presenting the perceived reality of the modern world. Now, forgive if you will, returning to the belief that there are things in life that are conceptual. In any world, two plus two equals four. Two million plus two million equals four million. The result doesn't change with the calendar or because of the size and complexity of the number. Certainly, the sum doesn't change because the equation is being computed in London, New York or Tokyo rather than in an unheard-of capitol of South America or Africa.
Recently is has become public that the Swiss National Bank (SNB) printed a rather stunning number of Swiss Francs to help stem the rise of the Franc against other currencies. (Remember back to the stampede into the Swiss currency when the very existence of financial Europe was in question). For an export economy like Switzerland, it was a good move to stem the rise in value of the Franc, correct? It's the rest of the story that causes worries. They sold the printed Francs and used the exchanged currencies to buy billions in bonds and equities. This holding of equities and bonds is now worth close to 800 billion. From a printing press to billions in value. The SNB is a major holder of Apple, Google, Microsoft and others. As said, NO WORRIES, IT'S FREE! Is there NO PRICE TO PAY for such modern-day alchemist maneuver? This is not meant to be critical of the Swiss. Quite the contrary. Cool move. Congrats.
Would only a damn fool would worry about the actions of the European Central Bank and the complete dizziness of the artificial bond market they have created? (Note a two-year GREEK bond trades at a lower yield than a two-year U.S. Treasury). The Central Bank owns something close to 30% of the entire European Bond market. NO PRICE TO PAY for the false pricing mechanism created by their quantitative easing?
This is our update. We "ARE" worried about the excesses created by central bankers world-wide. Inflation is a reality. Around the world it will continue its march higher. Central bankers will either ignore and hope it will go away (Not a good idea: would you Ignore pneumonia and just hope it goes away?), or be forced to begin a tightening move that markets are completely unprepared for. It is not normal for interest rates to be below inflation rates. Interest rates world-wide must go significantly higher until they exceed the rate of inflation.
There will be a price to pay. Massive expansion of Central Bank balance sheets simultaneous with governments running increasing budget deficits will not be free.