8/18/2011 5:04 PM ET|
Europe’s banks could break us all
'So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night'
I've had time to think about this, and I'm not sure exactly what all the ramifications are. We know that the response to disruptions will be more easy money: here, in Europe and worldwide. Ultimately (and maybe even soon), that will benefit gold and gold-related ideas. The near-term risks are unanticipated dislocations and people's reactions to other people who are responding to the dislocations. In other words, the billiard balls will be careening around the table, and it is not possible to anticipate all of the interim moves.
Thus, if the powers that be in Europe continue to be a day late and a euro short, as they have been, we could easily see dislocations there spill over to here. I think that means that most people at the margin ought to have a bit more liquidity, even if that involves more green paper (currency) risk, to be able to take advantage of any opportunities that result from any chaos.
Beyond that, I have no specifics about what people should do, as everyone's strategy needs to be tailored to his or her own circumstances. As for me, I have not changed anything that I have done thus far. I am just alert to the fact that I may need to react. Possible outcomes, for me, might be to short the euro, certain companies or the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX). But I would consider doing that only if I anticipate that we are entering a nasty period in which stock markets crash to the downside and cause people to panic.
I am not saying that would be a sound strategy for the average investor. Nor am I saying that it will happen, only that it is a possibility -- and one that I do not want to surprise me.
I believe the U.S. banking system is far more sound than it was in 2008; thus, to the extent financial problems occur here, they will be as consequences of what is happening in Europe. Still, we cannot forget that the real-estate market is weakening again, and we have no idea how those kind of assets are marked inside the U.S. financial system.
In short, the next couple of months are liable to be rather turbulent, and I think folks need to be alert as to possible catalysts that could lead to new financial problems.
On the air
In the latest of my interviews with Eric King, of King World News, a few days ago, we discussed the European mess, the stock market, the bond market and the funding crisis, as well as gold. He helped me flesh out my thoughts pretty well, I think. Listen here.
At the time of publication, Bill Fleckenstein owned gold.
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.
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U.S. equity futures trade in mixed fashion amid cautious overseas action. The S&P 500 futures are lower by 0.1% as investors await today's statement from the Federal Open Market Committee, scheduled for a 14:00 ET release. The statement will be followed by Chairman Bernanke's press conference at 14:30 ET.
Looking at overnight developments: ... More
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