Watch Brent Johnson’s follow up to The Dollar Milkshake Theory: https://rvtv.io/2tdRouM and The Great Dollar Debate with Brent Johnson and Luke Gromen: https://rvtv.io/2TGSnza only on Real Vision. — Santiago Capital CEO Brent Johnson rejoins Real Vision with a plethora of predictions that revolve around a strengthening dollar. Johnson believes that a global currency crisis looms, but that there is a bull case to be made for the greenback, gold and U.S. equities. Filmed on May 29, 2018 in San Francisco. Published on June 6th, 2018.
Now, one thing I want to make clear is this is not a story that ends well.
This is a story that ends very, very badly.
The strength of the dollar is going to cause such chaos in the global monetary system that
the safe haven that gold has always provided, I think, is going to become into higher demand.
And there will be a point where they rise together.
This isn’t a Pollyanna view.
I’m not saying to go out and buy equities, because things are good.
I’m saying, go out and buy equities, because things are bad.
Things are really bad.
It’s just that the road to bad looks much different than what the typical person thinks.
I’m really happy to be able to come onto Real Vision today, because I haven’t been this
excited about markets in a very long time– not because I think everything is going to
be easy, and things are fine, but really, because I think everything is bad, and it’s
going to be very hard.
But I think that it’s also going to present a lot of amazing opportunities for those who
can kind of see through the fog of what the markets are going to do over the next year
to two years.
Now, I’m sure over the next 30 or 40 minutes, there’s going to be a few of you out there
who agree with what I say.
But I know for a fact that there’s going to be a lot of people who disagree or who maybe
agree with part of what I say, but who are going to disagree with a lot of what I say.
And there’s also going to be some people out there who absolutely disagree with everything
And that’s fine.
What I’m asking you to do now is, at least for now, let’s put aside challenging me, and
just actually listen to what I say and think about how I might be right.
And if it turns out after you’ve actually thought about it and more than for a minute
or two, and you still want to have a conversation to discuss it, I’m more than happy to do that.
We’ve seen a nice bounce in the dollar after losing 10% to 12% on the dollar over the last
12 to 18 months.
So I think it’s a good time to discuss this.
I really think the dollar move higher is really just getting started.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be starts and stops, and in the short term,
it’s probably due for somewhat of a pause or even a short pullback.
But one thing I want to get across to people is this move is only just getting started.
The dollar, in my opinion, is going to go much, much higher over the next year to two
And so as I get into what the actual dollar milkshake theory is, it really comes down
to the fact that I think the whole world is really one trade right now.
And it’s the trade on the dollar.
Everything wraps around the dollar.
I’m going to talk about gold after a while, but I think even gold– all roads go through
So even though I’m very bullish gold long-term, that road also goes through the dollar.
And so at the end of the day, why I think the dollar is so important is because whether
you’re talking about a company, whether you’re talking about a family, or whether you’re
talking about a country, everything comes down to cash flow.
Everything investing ultimately comes down to cash flow.
And if you don’t have enough supply of cash, then you need flow of cash coming through
to keep operations going.
And I really think that’s where the whole monetary system is right now.
And that’s really the heart of the dollar milkshake theory.
And so I’m going to get into that as we go further into the conversation.
Now, one thing I want to make clear is this is not a story that ends well.
This is a story that ends very, very badly.
But I think the road to badly is much different than a lot of my peers think it is.
To get really into the theory, we all know that the central banks of the world injected
$20 trillion of new money into the global economy over the last 10 years.
And I kind of title this as this is the milkshake that all the different countries created.
They pushed down on their syringes, and they injected this tons of liquidity into the market–
euros, yen, pounds, yuan, dollars.
And they created this soup or this milkshake of all this liquidity out there.
But now, while the rest of the world is still pushing down on their syringes, the United
States has– we’ve gotten this monetary policy divergence, where we’re not using a syringe
We’re no longer injecting liquidity.
In fact, we’ve swapped out our syringe for a straw.
And so as we lift up on our interest rates, that sucks that liquidity to the US domestic
It sucks that liquidity up into our domestic markets.
And I think it’s going to push asset prices higher.
In other words, we’re going to drink the milkshake that the rest of the world is still mixing.
So the implications of this milkshake theory are several, and I’m going to try to walk
through them step by step.
But they really kind of all happen at the same time, and they all kind of go on at the
So while I’m going to try to walk through this linearly, I don’t want you to think of
it as necessarily a progression.
One might happen before the other.
They might happen at the same time.
But it’s really this soup.
It’s this milkshake that we’re dealing with.
So there’s three main implications of the theory, and the first part of the theory is
that the US dollar is going to strengthen.
And when I say the US dollar is going to strengthen, I don’t mean that it’s going to
strengthen a little bit.
I mean it’s going to strengthen a lot, and I hesitate to use the
word “supernova,” but it has the opportunity to really break out to incredible highs.
The second implication is that this dollar strength is going to lead to all kinds of
trouble in the global marketplace, specifically in the international markets and the
And finally, the third implication of this is it will ultimately react into
a currency crisis.
And we’re already starting to see the beginnings of that.
The monetary system is just not designed for a
So the implications of a strong dollar are really profound.
It really comes down to the flow that I was talking about earlier, but it’s the monetary
policy divergence as interest rates differentials eventually pull flow into the dollar.
Now, that hasn’t happened for a while.
The first part of the year, it didn’t look like
interest rate differentials mattered.
But you’re starting to see with a two or three-month lag that it actually does matter.
We’re also in a period where there’s not only this
increasing demand for US dollars due to the flow into the higher interest rates, but
we’re also– it’s compounded by the fact that we now have a situation where supply is
So you have increased demand with contracting supply.
That’s through the quantitative tightening that the Fed is
The other thing is that demand for dollars– there’s a lot of talk about a lack of
demand for dollars.
There is an incredible amount of demand for dollars just to pay
the interest on dollar-based debt in the world.
Now, a lot of people will focus on the $20 trillion that the United States government
And that is a problem.
I’m not going to deny it.
But the fact is that there’s another $20 trillion outside the United
States, either through direct dollar loans or the shadow dollar market, that
international entities own.
Oh, and those are dollar-based demand that they need as
And so if you add up all the dollar-based debt in the world, and if you just assume
that all that debt has the same rate as the US Treasury, which is 2.3%, which is
There’s no way that that’s what all these different loans are actually made
at, but if they did, there’s over a trillion dollars a year in demand for dollars just
to pay the interest on the dollar-based debt.
And that stays the same, whether– even if people totally move away from the dollar and
never borrow another dollar going forward, there’s still a trillion dollars
in demand to service the existing dollar-based debt.
And the reality is it’s probably twice that high.
It’s probably $2 trillion.
Now, another reason is that– we’re getting into a period where the dollar is going to
go higher– is that the US debt ceiling is now gone.
And we’re at a place where the government is providing fiscal stimulus.
And this provides increased demand.
And what I mean by that is a year ago, we bumped
up against the debt ceiling, and we could not issue new bonds.
And so the checking account that the US government, that
the Treasury has at the Federal Reserve, had about $500 billion in it.
And they drew that down to less than $100 billion.
So they pushed $400 billion out into the system.
That created supply of dollars, and that’s part of the reason why the dollar dropped.
That’s completely flipped now.
Not only is the government not pushing that $500
billion or $400 billion out into the market, but they’re actually entering the
dollar market to get funding.
They’re selling bonds in exchange for dollars.
So you have a situation where the supply of dollars is
no longer increasing, and now you have the biggest buyer in the world– the US
government– entering the dollar market, buying dollars, competing with everybody
That’s a recipe for price to rise.
Another part of the cash flow back to the United States theory is the US repatriation
after the new tax bill.
A lot of people didn’t think that even if they passed it,
governments– or I mean corporations– wouldn’t repatriate.
But we are seeing a repatriation.
And I think one thing a lot of people forget is it’s not just US corporates
repatriating cash back to the United States.
Foreign banks, foreign entities can also send cash back to United States, and they
can get that higher interest rate on doing it.
Now, if you don’t think that’s possible, just go look at the breakdown of the reserves
of the Fed.
Over half of the reserves, bank reserves at the US Fed, are from
So not only are they going to do it, but they’re already doing it in
a big way.
Now a fifth reason that the dollar will gain some of this flow coming from around the
world is that as the dollar does get stronger, it creates chaos everywhere else.
And so the dollar will start to get flow just from
a safe haven demand.
And we’re actually starting to see this already.
We’ve got problems in Turkey.
We’ve got problems in Italy.
China has just recently come out and said they’re probably going to have to
lower their reserve ratio requirements and provide stimulus at some point over the
So we’re already seeing that the strong dollar is impacting other markets.
And I don’t really have time to get into the whole euro
situation, other than to say that the euro is
just– I mean it’s really a disaster.
I really don’t know how else to say it.
It’s just not a currency that is going to be able to function
They have all the same problems that we do.
Their balance sheet is bigger than ours.
They’re still providing stimulus.
They don’t really have a way to draw down the stimulus.
And they’ve also got the political problems on top of it.
So as people real– and they’re overregulated.
The number of regulations that have gone on in the EU in the last two years are
dramatic, and we’re already starting to see the impact that that has on corporations.
So I think all of these five combined are really going to push the flows back to the
So one of the arguments that I often hear is that, what if people just leave?
What if they default on the dollars that they owe
and just go off to a new agreement that they’ve created?
Would that cause chaos?
It would absolutely cause a lot of chaos.
But is it possible?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible.
And that’s one of the reasons, by the way, you should own gold, because you
never know what could happen.
That said, one thing you have to realize is if these people default on their dollar
loans, and they leave, and they go somewhere else, in a debt-based monetary
system, it’s not just the debt that leaves.
It’s not just the obligations that leave.
Money disappears as well, because in a debt-based
monetary system, when debt gets defaulted on, money evaporates.
And if money disappears, that means supply falls.
So if you think about this like a musical chairs example, and we’ve got a number of
digital or paper participants swirling around the limited number of monetary base
dollars that actually exist, if some of these players decide they don’t want to play
anymore, and they leave, and they default on that debt, that’s fine.
But when they leave, money disappears as well.
So the chairs disappear as well.
And if the chairs start to disappear at the same
rate that the obligations disappear, if you get supply falling even faster than demand,
price still rises.
So I don’t buy that argument that they can just walk away and
that there won’t be any chaos and any implications involved with that.
Another thing I would say is even if they do raise rates, and it does cause a recession,
well, then, that means the US is now in recession, and the rest of the world’s biggest
customer now have a cold and cannot buy all the goods from those other countries
that they were selling before.
So that has a knock-on effect to EM, and I actually think
it hurts EM and international more than it hurts the US.
So even if that does turn out to be correct, I don’t think that that’s necessarily
Now, the big one that I always hear is that the Fed is going to have to– again, they’ll
have to– they can’t keep raising rates, so they’ll have to reverse course, and they’ll
actually have to implement QE again.
And that’s not going to happen either, in my
And the reason that I don’t think that that’s going to happen is because the
whole point of QE is to provide artificial flow from somewhere outside the current
That’s the whole point of buying the bonds to get that injection.
When the Fed would buy bonds, they would inject currency
into the system.
So if you can get that injection of currency into the system from somewhere other than
the Fed, then the Fed doesn’t need to provide it.
And this is the heart of the dollar milkshake theory.
The rest of the world is still providing an incredible amount of
stimulus into the market.
But we’re the only ones with a straw.
Everybody else is pushing the liquidity out into the market.
The Fed has a straw, and they’re sucking up that liquidity.
And as they suck up that liquidity, that is an injection from outside the
domestic market into the market that allows the flow to keep happening.
And that is no different than QE if we were doing it ourself.
Just because they’re operating QE out of Tokyo or out of Frankfurt doesn’t mean that
those dollars or that liquidity– the euros, the yen, whatever– stays in those domestic
In a global marketplace, all those assets can flow to the US, and I think that’s
what’s going to happen.
And that is literally the heart of the dollar milkshake theory.
It doesn’t really matter who provides the QE.
What really matters is who captures the QE.
And with our higher rates and relatively better economy than the rest of the
world, we’re going to capture that QE.
One of the other arguments that often gets made is the fact that if the Fed continues
to raise rates, then it’s going to invert the
Now, I can’t argue with that.
If you look back at history, whenever the yield
curve inverts, it almost always does lead to a recession.
But what many forget to put forth when they put forth this argument is
that the length of time from when it inverts until when it goes into recession is typically
18 to 24 months, and that goes back on several occasions as well.
Not only that, but what happens during that 18 to 24 months is typically a speculative
And that leads to the blow-off top.
And if you think about it– and I can’t prove this– but if you think about the typical
yield curve that a bank would want, they want a very steep curve.
They want short-term interest rates and high long-term interest
They want to lend long, and they want to pay short, and they make that
Well, if that’s great for the banks, that’s probably not great for the speculators.
But if you reverse it, and you get into an inverted
yield curve, that’s not good for the banks, because they’re having to pay short and lend
long, and they’re upside down.
But if it’s bad for the banks, who takes the other
side of the banks’ trade?
Well, that’s the speculators.
And if the speculators can borrow long and invest short and make that
spread and lever it up, that’s like Disneyland for them.
And that leads to the speculative mania, and that’s what leads to
the crazy excesses, and that’s what leads to the blow-off tops that nobody think can
And that’s why I don’t think that an inverted yield curve– I don’t think it’s
negative for the dollar, and in the short term, I
don’t think it’s negative for the markets.
OK, so where does all this lead?
What does this dollar milkshake mean to us in the
Well, I think what it means is that we haven’t seen the blow-off top yet.
I still think it’s coming.
I think equities are going a lot higher.
And again, this isn’t a Pollyanna view.
I’m not saying to go out and buy equities, because things are good.
I’m saying go out and buy equities, because things are bad.
Things are really bad.
It’s just that the road to bad looks much different
than what the typical person thinks.
And I think that as we get into this inverted yield curve, as we get into problems
around the world, as we have currency crises, the United States is going to be seen
as a safe haven.
And all roads go through the dollar.
And when that money flows into the dollar, it eventually goes into US
And I think it’s going to push equities to all-time highs.
I also think that it’s going to have a big impact on bonds.
Now, I’m of the opinion that interest rates are headed higher.
I don’t necessarily think that bonds are going to
crash, but I think they are going to break.
And I think that that is going to have a big impact on assets as well.
Now, there’s no doubt that there’s going to be some
moments of pure panic and terror along the way.
I’m not sitting here saying that bonds are going to fall, equities are going
to go up, and it’s all going to be smooth.
I don’t think that at all.
I think it’s going to be really frightening at points.
But I think rates are headed higher.
And when you think back to the fact that there’s been a 40-year bull market in bonds, that
means somebody could have invested their whole life for 40 years and been a fixed income
investor and made money quarter after quarter, year after year, decade after
They have never really lost money on bonds as long as they were buy and
Sure, along the way, maybe they did some trading of bonds where they
lost money, but essentially, nobody has lost money in bonds in 40 years.
Well, now we have interest rates heading higher.
We seem to have broke out of the chart of truth.
Will we retest?
Will there be some moments where bonds rally?
But I think interest rates are headed higher, and when people actually start
losing money in bonds, I think that’s going to be a real wake-up call not just for finance, but from an emotional perspective.
If you have made money on something for 40 years in a row, and then all of a sudden,
you wake up, and you’ve lost money, it’s kind of like the turkey at Thanksgiving.
They have 364 great days, but that 365th day is kind of a nightmare.
I think that can happen in bonds.
And as funds flow out of bonds, I think a lot of that’s
going to flow into equities.
And so all of this– again, I’ve kind of walked through this
linearly, but this is really all going on at the same time.
And as we’ve got a period where interest rates are headed higher, I
think around the world, as bonds start to break– not crash, but as they break– and
funds start to flow out of it, as dollars flow–
as funds flow into the dollar and push asset prices up, I really think we get into this
George Soros talked about it in his book, The Alchemy of Finance.
You get into a place where dollar strength begets more dollar
strength, because as the dollar strengthens, it causes all kinds of problems
And as the yen gets into problems, people seek out safe haven back
into the dollar.
Now, gold will, obviously, I think, be a beneficiary of this.
But I don’t think people around the world are going to sell everything
they own and put all their money into gold.
In fact, we don’t need them to put everything into gold.
They can just put a little bit into gold, and gold does really well.
But I think the dollar is going to be the big
beneficiary, and I think, again, as I’ve said many times, all roads go through the
So of course, as always, I have a lot to say about gold.
I think the first thing I want to get across is that my thesis on gold has not
Everybody should own gold.
It should be part of everybody’s portfolio.
And I’ve said for a long time that gold is going to go to at least $5,000.
That hasn’t changed.
Gold is going to go to $5,000, and the reality is it’s probably going to
go a lot higher than that.
But you know, for anybody that’s trying to put me– peg me down
as far as time and price, I’ll say $5,000.
Now, I don’t know if I’m going to necessarily tell you exactly when, but I still
think gold goes to at least $5,000.
The only question is when.
But part of the other thing is that– part of the reason that gold will go that high
is because it will be at least part of the solution
when this horrible system that the central banks have created eventually comes down.
This dollar milkshake theory is not one in which the dollar remains the world reserve
I think we’re going to get to a place where the dollar gets so strong, they’re
going to have to come to some new kind of Plaza Accord or some kind of a system
where they dramatically reduce the dollar.
But it’s not going to be that we reduce the dollar, and people are mad at us.
I think the world’s going to beg us to reduce the
value of the dollar, because the strong dollar, quite honestly, it just breaks the
entire monetary system.
It breaks international markets.
It breaks the emerging markets.
And it actually is, in the long term, not great
for the US market either.
But it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right now.
So I think over the next couple of years, the dollar goes much, much stronger.
I think initially, that breakout is going to
surprise a lot of people.
I think it’s going to create a lot of chaos, and it will ultimately
be that chaos that makes gold go a lot higher.
I tell people all the time that a lot of the typical gold theory is that dollar gets
inflated away, and gold goes through the world, goes through the roof.
And there is that view.
But there is nothing that is more long-term bullish for gold than a strong dollar.
Before we get into that, let’s talk about a little bit why gold, quote, unquote, hasn’t
worked for the last several years.
Well, the reality is I think gold has worked for the
last several years.
Many of us in the gold world got it wrong as far as timing when it
would work in US dollar terms.
But if you’re not a US dollar investor, and you lived in
Cyprus or Russia or Argentina or Venezuela, gold works just fine.
Gold did what it has always done for 5,000 years.
It’s provided a safe haven when things got bad.
And the reality is that things did not get worse here in the United States over the last
five or six years.
And as a result, gold has not performed as it has in those other
But it doesn’t mean that gold isn’t working.
I think a lot of the pain and a lot of the frustration with those in the gold world that
are feeling the frustration from gold not having done anything are those who bought
gold as a speculation, not as insurance, or it’s those who told themselves they bought
it as insurance, but really bought it as a speculation or a get rich quick scheme.
If you bought gold as a hedge against the rest
of your portfolio and the rest of the world blowing up or all the spinning plates that
the central bankers have going crashing, then gold is still working, because the reality
is the plates have not crashed yet.
There’s no doubt that they will, but they haven’t yet.
And so gold hasn’t needed to do anything.
But gold’s been around for 5,000 years.
It’s always been, at least from a market perspective, a currency and the last currency
of resort, and that’s not going to change over the next 5,000 years either.
So if you’re a gold investor, and you have it in your
portfolio, and you didn’t put all your money in gold, you’re probably just fine.
So now there’s also many people in the gold world who will say that the only reason
gold hasn’t worked for the last five years is manipulation, that the decades long gold
manipulation scheme between the central banks, the governments, and the
commercial banks have worked together to keep the price of gold low.
Now, even if you take that view, the fact is you are still
wrong, because if you– this is not a new theory.
This manipulation theory has been out there for decades.
Anybody who’s spent more than five minutes in the gold world
knows about this theory.
So if you bought gold five or six years ago, four years ago, whatever it is, and you
were wanting it to pay off much quicker, and it didn’t, because you think it’s been
manipulated over that time period, well, the only reason you would have bought it
four or five years ago is not because it wasn’t manipulated.
You knew it was manipulated.
The only reason you bought it then was because you thought that the
manipulation was going to fail.
And the reality is the manipulation hasn’t failed.
If you subscribe to the view that gold has been manipulated
lower, then the manipulation is still working.
And so I think it would help a lot of people in the gold world if we would just admit
that we’ve been wrong for the last five years.
I didn’t think that the monetary authorities could keep the plates spinning
for another five or six years.
I thought it would come down much sooner than that.
I was wrong.
The plates are still spinning, but it doesn’t mean that gold has failed.
It just means we got timing wrong, and I think the fact that if you say the words, “I was
wrong,” it’s very freeing.
It actually takes a lot of pressure off you, and you can actually
then move on to the next step and say, well, why was I wrong?
Why did the gold not go up?
Why are the plates still spinning?
And I think that will help prepare you for the next five or six years.
So now let’s talk a little bit about the dollar milkshake theory and how it applies to
Well, I think it largely depends on where you’re sitting and in what currency
You know, if you’re an international person or entity, and you
are not denominated in dollars– I don’t know if you’re in euros, or you’re yen, or
you’re yuan, or bolivar, or whatever you are– I think you can probably pretty much
back up the truck and buy over the next couple of months.
I think the dollar is going to get a lot, lot stronger.
But if the dollar gets a lot, lot stronger, that means a lot of
these other currencies are getting a lot, lot weaker.
That means gold, in those terms, is probably going to go a lot, lot higher.
It would not surprise me at all if these other currencies of gold rises 15% to 30% over the
next 12 to 18 months.
I think that could easily happen.
So I think determine where you’re at and which currency you’re denominated before
you just say, gold is going up or down.
I think that’s a very important point to make.
Now, I think it gets a little bit more complicated if you’re a dollar investor.
I have said for over two years now that I think eventually,
we’re going to get into a situation where dollars and gold rise together, and
I still firmly believe that.
The strength of the dollar is going to cause such chaos in the
global monetary system that the safe haven that gold has always provided, I think, is
going to become into higher demand.
And there will be a point where they rise together.
Now that said, for those of you that heard me say gold’s going to $5,000 earlier, I
want you to keep those positive feelings that you had when I said that, because I
don’t know that it’s going to happen over the next five or six months.
In fact, I think there’s a good chance that gold goes lower
in the short term.
It might not, and if it goes higher, I will embrace the break-out,
and we’ll be on to probably another five or 10-year bull market in gold.
But I’m just not sure that it’s going to break out yet.
We had another great opportunity this spring to break out, and it didn’t happen.
And I think with the move that the dollar is going to make over the next six to 12 months,
I think it will be very challenging for gold to break out initially with that.
And so I think if you are a US investor or a dollarbased
investor, I’m not saying that you should sell your gold.
The gold theory is still very much intact, but I’m just not convinced
it’s going to break out right now.
So as far as gold and the dollar rising together, I know that seems kind of
But at the end of the day, I really don’t think it is.
They’re both currencies, and they’re both measured against
all the other currencies in the world.
And so I think in the same way that the yen and the euro could rise together, dollars
and gold could rise together against a number of different fiat currencies.
Again, I don’t think that– I’m not even sure that
the dollar bulls have a proper appreciation for
how much damage that the dollar bull market is going to cause.
Again, the design of the monetary system was just not built for
a strong dollar.
And when it gets going and rocking and rolling, it is going to cause all kinds of
And that should be very good for gold.
When markets start melting down, and when chaos starts to happen, and confidence
starts to get lost, and you can feel the panic in the streets, that’s typically
great for gold.
And so whether or not things panic and break down in the United States,
if they panic in Europe, or if they panic in
Africa, or they panic in Asia, that’s a good opportunity to provide a chaos trade, so
to speak, or a safe haven trade.
And I think dollars will benefit from that, but gold
will benefit too.
And again, we don’t need everybody to sell everything they own and go buy gold.
The gold market’s very small on a per capita basis.
We just need the rest of the world to put 1% or 2% of their assets in gold, and
So we don’t need a mass exit out of fiat currency into gold for gold
to do very well.
The other reason that gold and the dollar can rise together is that we talked about
gold being a small market.
Well, if the dollar is rising a lot– and I mentioned other
currencies would be going down a lot– if those investors do start seeking out gold,
if Europeans start buying gold en masse, or the
Asian continent starts buying gold en masse, that can have dramatic implications
for supply of gold.
And so again, we don’t need it to be really big for it to impact.
And that’s another reason why, even though the dollar may be getting a safe haven
trade, that gold can get a safe haven trade as well.
And once we get to a place where the dollar and gold is rising together, I mean then
it’s just really rock and roll time.
I mean that’s just where the gold really starts to go
And then I think in a couple of years from now, whether it’s 2020 or 2021, after
the dollar has caused all this damage, the global authorities will have to get together,
and they will either have to, at that point, weaken the dollar either through QE or
some type of Plaza Accord, or maybe they introduce a whole new monetary system,
whether it’s an SDR or whether it’s a combination of a basket of assets.
I don’t know what it is, but what I know is that the monetary system, as it’s currently
designed, has a dramatic flaw.
And that dramatic flaw is about to be thrown a real
curve ball with the dollar getting stronger.
And that should be good for the US dollar.
It should be good for gold, and it should be good for those who are prepared.
A lot of people say that nobody sees the fact that the dollar has this problem, that
they have all these liabilities, all these unfunded liabilities, that our trading partners
are wanting to move away from the dollar.
I just don’t think that’s the case.
I think a lot of people see that this is a problem.
I think a lot of people want to leave the dollar.
I think there’s a big mistake in saying that this is a small problem that a few
people have discovered and that they’re going to profit wildly when the dollar gets
thrown by the wayside.
I go to meetings all the time.
I talk with investors all around the world all the time.
I can’t remember a meeting in the last couple
of years, where it either wasn’t brought up already or that I didn’t bring it up about
the dollar and its status in the world, that everybody around the table wasn’t familiar
with the issue.
Never once has anybody said, well, what are you talking about, “leaving
Everybody starts nodding their head, and everybody starts putting their
two cents in.
I think a lot of people have talked– or I think a lot of people have thought about this.
I don’t think this is some small issue.
I don’t think anybody’s come up with a real answer, but I don’t think it’s an issue that
nobody knows about and nobody discusses.
Now, even though I don’t think gold has got it wrong over the last five or six years,
and while I don’t think gold has stopped working, per se, I think gold is doing exactly
what it has always done.
Again, I think, as I alluded to earlier, I think we’re the ones that got it wrong.
Now, why did we get it wrong?
Well, I think part of it is that a lot of us, me included,
thought that quantitative easing was going to be dramatically inflationary.
I didn’t think that the world could inject $20 trillion
into the global economy and not inflate fixed assets, gold being one of them.
But you know what?
We got that wrong.
It was inflationary to asset prices.
Real estate went higher.
Equities went higher.
Some commodities went higher, but some commodities
In my opinion, all the low rates and the QE ended up being deflationary
to some assets, just as much as it was inflationary to other assets.
And I think keeping rates at the zero bound is overall
And so the fact that $20 trillion pumped into the economy was going to
create hyperinflation– it didn’t happen.
We got that wrong.
And I think it’s important– I really do think it’s important that we admit that we got that
wrong, because if you just say, “buy gold,” all the time, and you never say that it
could possibly go down, well, then we’re no different than those who say buy equities
all the time, and never buy gold.
I think we’ve got to be very careful that we don’t fall
into the same hypocritical arguments that the traditional Wall Street does.
I have a lot of friends in the gold world.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.
Most of them are my friends.
If you’re in the gold world, and you’re not my
friend, I think it’s probably because we didn’t spend too much time together.
But I do think that we can do ourself a lot of good
by kind of taking a step back and really trying to understand why gold didn’t do well
over the last five years.
Just admit that we got the timing wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with that, because just because we
got the last five years wrong, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get the next five
I mean, in fact, I’m pretty sure we’re going to get the next five years right.
But I think in order– for credibility’s sake or to be
able to take a step back and be objective and
try to really understand why gold didn’t break out in dollar terms over the last five
years, I think it’s important to just acknowledge that we missed something along the
Now, somewhere else where I think you can see it is in equities.
Now, at the beginning of the year, I said I thought that
equities were going to go higher.
I thought they might very well have a 5% or 10% correction
before that happened.
I said I thought it would be nice if we had it.
It would be helpful.
Well, we got it.
So kind of be careful what you wish for.
But if you look at equities, both the S&P and the NASDAQ are both in a wedge
And I think they’re kind of near the bottom of that wedge pattern.
I’m not saying it’s going to be a straight line, and
it’s going to be easy, but I think we’re going to move higher to the top of that wedge pattern,
and I think we’re going to break out of that wedge pattern.
I think equities are going higher.
I think the Fed’s going to continue to raise rates, and I think this
dollar milkshake theory is really going to get
So again, I’m really excited about where markets are headed, not because I think
things are going to be easy.
I actually think they’re going to be hard.
I think they’re going to be scary.
But I think they’re going to be fun, to be honest.
I think they’re going to present a lot of great opportunities.
And I think if you have a plan for how to get through it, I think the opportunities
are actually pretty incredible.
I think one thing to remember is never be closed off to any ideas.
I always consider everybody’s arguments that they send back
I’m happy to think about them.
It doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on my own opinions, but I think one of the
most important things to do over the next couple of years is keep an open mind.
I think we’re going to see things happen that
many people just don’t think can happen.
And I think that for those who kind of stay nimble and have a plan, there’s going to
be an opportunity to make some good profits in the years ahead.
New York Times’ bestselling author, former M&A investment banker, and long-time financial journalist, William Cohan, joins Ed Harrison to discuss the perilous state of U.S. credit markets, quantitative easing, junk bonds, and the ever-expanding pool of global debt. Predicated on the idea that persistently low interest rates have fueled distortions in the pricing of risk, Cohan argues that Wall Street has been developing a dangerous dependency that won’t end profitably for the majority of investors. Filmed on January 7, 2020, in New York.
Cutting interest rates now could set the stage for a collapse in the financial markets.
To widespread applause in the markets and the news media, from conservatives and liberals alike, the Federal Reserve appears poised to cut interest rates for the first time since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Adjusted for inflation, the Fed’s benchmark rate is now just half a percent and the cost of borrowing has rarely been closer to free, but the clamor for more easy money keeps growing.
Everyone wants the recovery to last and more easy money seems like the obvious way to achieve that goal. With trade wars threatening the global economy, Federal Reserve officials say rate cuts are needed to keep the slowdown from spilling into the United States, and to prevent doggedly low inflation from sliding into outright deflation.
Few words are more dreaded among economists than “deflation.” For centuries, deflation was a common and mostly benign phenomenon, with prices falling because of technological innovations that lowered the cost of producing and distributing goods. But the widespread deflation of the 1930s and the more recent experience of Japan have given the word a uniquely bad name.
After Japan’s housing and stock market bubbles burst in the early 1990s, demand fell and prices started to decline, as heavily indebted consumers began to delay purchases of everything from TV sets to cars, waiting for prices to fall further. The economy slowed to a crawl. Hoping to jar consumers into spending again, the central bank pumped money into the economy, but to no avail. Critics said Japan took action too gradually, and so its economy remained stuck in a deflationary trap for years.
Yet, in this expansion, the United States economy has grown at half the pace of the postwar recoveries. Inflation has failed to rise to the Fed’s target of a sustained 2 percent. Meanwhile, every new hint of easy money inspires fresh optimism in the financial markets, which have swollen to three times the size of the real economy.
In this environment, cutting rates could hasten exactly the outcome that the Fed is trying to avoid. By further driving up the prices of stocks, bonds and real estate, and encouraging risky borrowing, more easy money could set the stage for a collapse in the financial markets. And that could be followed by an economic downturn and falling prices — much as in Japan in the 1990s. The more expensive these financial assets become, the more precarious the situation, and the more difficult it will be to defuse without setting off a downturn.
The key lesson from Japan was that central banks can print all the money they want, but can’t dictate where it will go. Easy credit could not force over-indebted Japanese consumers to borrow and spend, and much of it ended up going to waste, financing “bridges to nowhere” and the rise of debt-laden “zombie companies” that still weigh on the economy.
Today, politicians on the right and left have come to embrace easy money, each camp for its own reasons, both ignoring the risks. President Trump has been pushing the Fed for a large rate cut to help him bring back the postwar miracle growth rates of 3 percent to 4 percent.
At the same time, liberals like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are turning to unconventional easy money theories as a way to pay for ambitious social programs. But they might want to take a closer look at who has benefited most after a decade of easy money: the wealthy, monopolies, corporate debtors. Not exactly liberal causes.
By fueling a record bull run in the financial markets, easy money is increasing inequality, since the wealthy own the bulk of stocks and bonds. Research also shows that very low interest rates have helped large corporations increase their dominance across United States industries, squeezing out small companies and start-ups. Once seen as a threat only in Japan, zombie firms — which don’t earn enough profit to cover their interest payments — have been rising in the United States, where they account for one in six publicly traded companies.
All these creatures of easy credit erode the economy’s long-term growth potential by undermining productivity, and raise the risk of a global recession emanating from debt-soaked financial and housing markets. A 2015 study of 17 major economies showed that before World War II, about one in four recessions followed a collapse in stock or home prices (or both). Since the war, that number has jumped to roughly two out of three, including the economic meltdowns in Japan after 1990, Asia after 1998 and the world after 2008.
Recessions tend to be longer and deeper when the preceding boom was fueled by borrowing, because after the boom goes bust, flattened debtors struggle for years to dig out from under their loans. And lately, easy money has been enabling debt binges all over the world, particularly in corporate sectors.
As the Fed prepares to announce a decision this week, growing bipartisan support for a rate cut is fraught with irony. Slashing rates to avoid deflation made sense in the crisis atmosphere of 2008, and cutting again may seem like a logical response to weakening global growth now. But with the price of borrowing already so low, more easy money will raise a more serious threat.
By further lifting stock and bond prices and encouraging people to take on more debt, lowering rates could set the stage for the kind of debt-fueled market collapse that has preceded the economic downturns of recent decades. Our economy is hooked on easy money — and it is a dangerous addiction.
Dr. Doom lives up to his moniker
.. Roubini pointed to the ongoing U.S.-China trade conflict as the likeliest trigger of the next crisis. “There is a cold war between the U.S. and China,” he said. “We have a global rivalry . . . about who is going to be controlling the industries of the future: artificial intelligence, automation, and 5G.”
Because the standoff has evolved into a one about national security and geopolitics, Roubini predicted that “there will be a trade and tech war between the U.S. and China that’s going to get worse.”
Roubini dismissed the trade truce declared by U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinpeng over the weekend as mere talk, though stock market investors appeared to think otherwise this week. The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.05% closed at a record high Monday, while the Dow Jones Industrial AverageDJIA, -0.09% and Nasdaq Composite index COMP, -0.11% also gained to be within 1% of their record closes.
The uncertainty that the standoff has created is forcing businesses to delay or cancel plans to make additional investments, Roubini added. “There’s already been, in the data, a collapse in [capital expenditures] and once capex is down, industrial production is down, and then you have the beginning of a global recession that starts in
- tech, then spreads to
- manufacturing, then to
- industry and then it goes to
- services,” he said.
The Sino-American trade dispute will have even further consequences than just triggering the next recession, as it will cause “a complete decoupling of the global economy” as private entities and countries will have to choose whether to do business with China or the U.S., and it will lead to a reconstruction of “the entire global tech supply chain,” which will be a drag on economic growth going forward.
He compared the predicted U.S.-China “cold war” with that between the Soviet Union and the U.S. during the last century, arguing that the coming war will be more disruptive. “This divorce is going to get ugly compared to the divorce with the U.S. and the Soviet Union,” because there was little economic integration between America and Russia prior to the conflict.