The Bank of Japan issued its plans for future economic stimulus last night. Consider the rather stunning implications of the Japanese 10 year bond having a 0% yield. That means they expect the economy to grow…0%. Another thought to be derived from all this is that the giant increase in debt in Japan over recent decades and the vast complexification of Japanese society hasn’t worked, yet the Bank of Japan is doubling down on the same policies. Individual stocks may do quite well, though. Most importantly, the same phenomenons are playing out all over the world. Stock markets are going up globally because cheap money means that there’s more to support current values. I’m wondering when the electorate will truly realize the meaning of this.
Few people are considering that regardless of which candidate we elect in November, she or he may possibly be a weak president because an iron wall of hatred has been nourished into existence in our society. As a result, the central banks may run the global economy by default. Then you get guessing games like today. Note that this was originally written in 2015 and has been updated.
Where we are all dependent upon a handout. They’re in charge of what happens next, since the investment markets are dysfunctionally addicted to low interest rates. Meanwhile, Andresen & Associates is now AGGRESSIVELY rebalancing our portfolios in anticipation of…something. Today’s downturn is an indication of restless spirits, but whether it turns into anything meaningful is dependent upon news…and especially interest rates.
In 1994, when the world was awash in optimism and military funding was in decline, I read a small book, “The Transformation of War”, and its relatively radical predictions. At the time I wrote a newsletter to my investment advising clients suggesting that the “peace dividend” and the “kinder, gentler world” might be illusory. I had no idea how right Martin Van Creveld would be. Now I’m watching the current expansion of China and the rise of even more social anger, and I’m thinking that we need to be emotionally and financially prepared for war in the coming decades, especially since military spending is again so reduced. Historically, we have wars when we are weakest. What does this mean to our portfolios? Stay flexible, stay liquid, keep at least part of our money overseas. At the moment I’m on a campaign to diversify and streamline our portfolios. If there is no storm and there is no war, we’ll thrive even more fully. Here’s hoping and praying.
We’ve had all-time highs in the stock markets in recent days. Valuations are stretched. Some sort of correction is more likely. But we can’t just sell out of the stock market and wait for better days, because markets often ignore valuations in the short run. Instead it’s better to rebalance and diversify, and BUY when markets fall.
We appear to be in the Mother Of All Bubbles in the bond markets. The fear-mongering of negative interest rates created by central banks is having genuine and unforeseen consequences. We genuinely haven’t been here before. This means…well, we don’t really know what it means. Except that bond prices are sky-high and bond interest rates are historically low.
Our investment response is that we aren’t trying to guess interest rates in the short run. We own some short-term funds and some funds with longer durations. But we are also watching carefully for an interest rate spike!
At this point all our asset allocation and hybrid funds are looking great too. Yes, they are boring. In a crisis they do quite well. When any interest rate rise occurs we’ll be watching these funds as well.
Embrace the MOAB! DO NOT buy long term bonds!
If you’ve been noticing an uptick in scrumptious Asian restaurants in your community, now you know. Sometimes international trade works to our advantage.
At the end of a busy day of study and action, I’m looking at overall debt loads and interest rates. I’m wondering if, perhaps, the US government might seek to “accidentally” create runaway inflation for a short period to reduce the real cost of their soaring debt load. Otherwise, when interest rates go up, it’s going to be very difficult to repay. It worked for Germany in the 1920’s. No, wait, it didn’t work, did it? Still, it will be tempting when the bills come due.
We have largely exited our energy holdings. Most of these were profitable. We have cut our gold exposure in half after a very successful run. Our overall holdings in technology and health care remain in place. Now we are newly invested in bank stocks, both foreign and domestic. The challenge of financial stocks currently is that they are a very uncertain and high-risk position, dependent upon both interest rates rising and economies not stalling. We can’t really guess what will happen. For example European bank stocks…of which we own a dollop…were hammered today with bad Euro-economic news (Is there any other kind?) I’m thinking that patience and humility may help us produce outsized gains in this unloved, ignored sector. Meanwhile billionaire bond trader Jeff Gundlach says sell everything, even the kids. I’m inclined to keep the kids. Stay patient.