Europe's printing-press problem
The region's debt markets are caught in a game of chicken in which the central bankers can either speed up the presses or lose the euro. In the end, it will solve nothing.
After some time on the back burner, European angst has worked its way back into the headlines and market price tickers, led once again by a deterioration of confidence in Italian and Spanish debt. Both were roughed up midweek for roughly 20 basis points apiece.
That left Spain's 10-year bonds yielding 6.60% and Italy's 5.90%, high numbers signaling that no one wants to touch them.
Print your poison
Obviously, variations of this scenario have been at the root of the European financial psychodrama for going on two years now. That will continue to be the case until either the euro totally fractures amid some sort of unimaginable chaos or the European Central Bank becomes extremely bold in its money printing.
That is not to suggest that it has not already printed a lot of money. It has, but it doesn't get "credit" for that because it has done so reluctantly and as a last resort after huge damage had already occurred.
It may sound a little like I am describing the printing press as a perverse sort of savior, when, in fact, I detest it and the dislocations, malinvestment and irresponsibility it has spawned over the past 30 years. But the way the world is set up right now, being willing to use the printing press aggressively makes you a winner (at least on a relative basis).
Just look at Japan, the U.K. or the United States. On Wednesday, the yield on 10-year bonds in the U.S. hit a record low of 1.63%. Is that because our problems are nonexistent? Quite the contrary. It is because we print money aggressively and somewhat proactively compared with what has transpired in Europe.
Perpetuating the 'stasis' quo
The guardians and architects of the European Monetary Union have shown a complete lack of understanding of the fix they have created for themselves, as they are trapped inside a structure that absolutely cannot work under its current setup. However, they refuse either to admit defeat or to ensure victory. As a result, the world continues to be caught in a no-man's land where Europe is full of potential live financial hand grenades, and yet the ECB is hesitant to use the preferred method for disarming them, i.e., the printing press.
In the end, intensive money printing will be the order of the day, but there is no way to determine ahead of time how bad the crisis is liable to get first, as measured by which markets might be pummeled the most. It is simply unknowable.
But, as I have just noted, using the U.K., Japan and the U.S. as examples, any fool can see that, in the current environment, a powerful printing press creates an oasis of calm, if only temporarily. Eventually, the consequences of these actions will lead markets and societies to take the printing press away.
But for right now, printing rules.
Putting the RIMM in grim
Last, given how much ink I have spilled on the company over the years, I should mention that Research In Motion (RIMM) preannounced an ugly loss on Tuesday. My only regret is not being short it in the past year and a half (due to the upward pressure on asset prices caused by central bank money). But to say this was an obvious train wreck is an understatement, as anyone who has read this column over the years can attest.
There is a good lesson here, however. The fact that something seems cheap doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve to be even cheaper. You have to get behind the numbers and look at the fundamentals. I had been hearing that Research In Motion was cheap for the last $30 of its recent decline, and the fact of the matter is, it wasn't.
At the time of publication, Bill Fleckenstein did not own shares of any company mentioned in this column.
Ah, print more money, where have I heard that before. The problem is, you elect someone to tighten the purse strings, balance the budget, and put your financial house in order and what happens? The libs RECALL the elected official, waste 12 to 15 million in tax payers money for the recall election, and lose in the process ( unless the community organizers can bus in enough "voters" ). Wisconsin dems ( unions ) are absolutely clueless.
If you have no money in your checkiing account, do you keep writing checks?
If your credit cards are maxed out, you you apply for a new one?
Printing money is the same exact thing as writing bad checks or carrying a maximum balance on your credit cards.
our natl. debt. (thanks to Keynesian economics) is almost 16 trillion dollars. thx to;
bush 1-1.5 tril.
little bush-6.1 tril.
repubs and dems are from the same cloth less the social agenda.
that leaves voting for or against abortion rights/gay rights/womens rights
vote independent and throw all these bums out
we need term limits and need them now
and citizens united passed by the supreme court? what a nightmare
best of luck to us all!
They are stuck with a Trillion US Worthless paper that if they start to sell will cause a further f en
collapse of that worthless paper and that rotten US dollar.
Little House on the Prairie! Mr Engalls, remember? Thats who you remind me of. Your advise is good and sound. Thankyou. A rational voice amidst the din.
You ie. our gubment can use slight of hand, talk out of both sides of their mouth, lie, what ever B.S. they want to call it. In the end, you can not spend more than you bring in...... Period
If you think you can, try it with your family. See how long you make it. Our gubment has no money, all they can do is Tax their workers. They must stop giving money away. Stop spending money they do not have, and stop wasting and thieving our money
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ABOUT BILL FLECKENSTEIN
This column is a synopsis of Bill Fleckenstein's daily column on his website, FleckensteinCapital.com, which he's been writing on the Internet since 1996. Click here to find Fleckenstein's most recent articles.
[BRIEFING.COM] The drive for five continued today and it was a success. For the fifth straight session, the S&P 500 ended lower. Like the previous four sessions, though, the losses were fairly modest in scope. The S&P 500 declined 0.4%, bringing its total loss for the five sessions to 22 points or 1.2%. All in all, that still qualifies as a pretty tame slide considering the S&P 500 had risen 150 points, or 9.1%, over the previous eight weeks.
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