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Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, November 8, 2010:

“As to the proposition that higher prices of financial assets will liberate those most in need, I wondered aloud if that were indeed true. We are already seeing the beginnings of speculative activity in stocks, bonds, buyouts and commodity markets. The rich and the quick are certainly able to exploit these circumstances to get richer. I have no problem with market operators making money; I did so myself in my previous life as a funds manager (before I took the vow of financial chastity and joined the Fed!). But I take no comfort, and see considerable risk, in conducting monetary policy that has the consequence of transferring income from the poor and the worker and the saver to the rich. Senior citizens and others who saved and played by the rules are earning nothing on their savings, while big debtors and too-big-to-fail oligopoly banks benefit from their subsidy. I know of no presidential administration or Congress, Republican or Democrat, that will tolerate, let alone advocate for, that dynamic for long, and I expressed my worry that this could come back to bite us and possibly threaten our independence.”

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Read the Introduction
to Panderer to Power

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"The Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market"

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"Chairman Greenspan: A Fiat Mind for a Fiat Age"

For speaking, interview, writing, and research requests, please contact Frederick Sheehan at info@aucontrarian.com

Insights and Analysis

Saturday, July 26, 2014
No Decency

 
MarketWatch should be ashamed of itself. In a July 24, 2014, interview, Mephistopheles was treated with the respect due a senior statesman, when he should have been asked: "Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

            The answer, of course, is "no," though Greenspan does not understand that. - Read more

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Where to Invest: With Macroinvestors or Macroeconomists?

          Stanley Druckenmiller, the justly renowned investor, spoke at the Delivering Alpha conference on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Quoting Druckenmiller: "As a macro investor, my job for 30 years was to anticipate changes in the economic trends that were not expected by others - and therefore not yet reflected in securities prices. I certainly made my share of mistakes over the years, but I was fortunate enough to make outsized gains a number of times when we had different views from various central banks."

            Druckenmiller went on to discuss, among much else that deserves reading, how the Fed's emergency 1.0% fed funds rate in 2003-2004 defied conditions observed by him and his colleagues at Duquesne Capital. Where was the emergency? In short: "[W]e were confident the Fed was making a mistake, but we were much less confident in how it would manifest itself. However, our assessment by mid-2005 that the Fed was fueling an unsustainable housing Bubble, with dire repercussions for the greater economy, allowed our investors to profit handsomely as the financial crisis unfolded." - Read more

Monday, July 14, 2014
The Old Regime and the French Revolution

On this 225th anniversary of liberté, égalit́́e, and fraternité, Alexis de Tocqueville's The Old Regime and the French Revolution (L'Ancien régime et la revolution), published in 1856, is, if not as invigorating as La Marseillaise, a worthy reflection upon Bastille Day. Following are some excerpts from Chapter eight, which carries the subtitle: "How, given the facts set forth in the preceding chapters, the Revolution was a foregone conclusion":

            My object in this final chapter is to bring together some of those aspects of the old régime which were depicted piecemeal in the foregoing pages and to show how the Revolution was their natural, indeed inevitable, outcome.
- Read more

Some Things Never Change
Old Insights Now Relevant

The blowup ahead is baked in the cake, just as it was in 2007. “When and where will it start?” is often asked. The proverbial snowflake that launches the avalanche fell some time ago. It is more difficult to interpret the when and where of collapses than in olden days with so much interference in markets. The avalanche rumbling in the distance is probably credit rather than the stock market. Stocks get much more attention, so the blame will most likely fall on Facebook or Yelp! or Twitter or Tweeter or Cynk or Right, On! or Drop Dead!

In the June 2007 and July 2007 issues of Marc Faber’s Gloom, Boom, and Doom Report, I described the collapse we were then entering. I discussed similarities to the 1960s and 1980s credit busts. (Credit is usually the reason. In 1929, margin loans, foreign loans, and the Florida Land Bubble pushed the stock market to the point of no return. The dot.com crash in 2000 was made much worse from telecom borrowing.)

This is an introduction to a condensed version of what appeared in the Gloom, Boom, and Doom Report under the title of “Tin Men with Tin Ears.” It was abbreviated for the November 2007 issue of Charles Allmon’s Growth Stock Outlook.

This is also an introduction to the new-and- improved AuContrarian website.“Some Things Never Change” will be a regular feature. Here is a link to the Growth Stock Outlook version of “Tin Men with Tin Ears.”

This précis was entirely wrong in one regard. The comparison to the earlier periods went beyond financial similarities to the public outcry that accompanied the destruction. In the 1960s and 1980s, public opinion, the media, Congress, and the courts did justice to the perpetrators. After 2008, the worst offenders, sometimes having committed multiple felonies, were not touched. Not one of them, in the United States, at least, even had to appear in a courtroom. They have gotten richer and richer, with the means to isolate themselves even further from the body politic.

Predictions and Advice

Frederick Sheehan is a regular contributor to Marc Faber’s The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report. Click here to read excerpts from some of Sheehan’s articles.

June 21, 2004: “[Americans] are caught in the pitiable condition of not being able to live on 1% interest; the disincentive to save has been energetically promoted with a short-term yield of microscopic content…. The flows have not been channeled towards productive enterprise but towards speculation.”

July 1, 2007: “The CDO and CLO markets have acted as both lubricant for structuring credit with no thought to tomorrow and as glue by which all asset classes have risen the past couple of years."

December 2012: “It is important to note, for all the talk of deleveraging, there has not been a single quarter when non-financial debt decreased. The government took over when consumer debt and investment bank leverage collapsed between 2007 and 2009…. [C]orporations increased borrowing by 6.2% in the third quarter…. [N]et capital investment by corporations during the quarter was negative. This is the death knell for companies and economies alike. …. Sufficient investment leads to profits. Profits generate more capital to invest. This cycle was propounded by J. Maynard Keynes: ‘It is investment, i.e., the increased production of material wealth in the shape of capital goods, which alone creates national wealth.’”

About Frederick Sheehan

Fred Sheehan

Frederick J. Sheehan Jr. is an investor, investment advisor, writer, and public speaker. He is currently working on a book about Ben Bernanke.

He is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and co-author, with William A. Fleckenstein, of Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve (McGraw-Hill, 2008). He writes regularly for Marc Faber's “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report."

Sheehan serves as an advisor to investment firms and endowments. He is the former Director of Asset Allocation Services at John Hancock Financial Services where he set investment policy and asset allocation for institutional pension plans. For more than a decade, Sheehan wrote the monthly "Market Outlook" and quarterly "Market Review" for John Hancock clients.

Sheehan earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS from the U.S. Naval Academy. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst.