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Acting Man  

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  • How 2014 Could Be Like 1929 [View article]
    It should be pointed out though that not a single financial newspaper or major economist predicted anything but 'continuing prosperity' shortly before (and after) the crash of 1929 either. The view that 'recovery is just around the corner' was the predominant opinion throughout 1930 and 1931. The Harvard Economics Society's bulletins were the funniest in hindsight. Continually 180 degrees wrong, they were singing from their 'recovery will be here any moment now' hymn sheet even when unemployment soared above 20%, the money supply was in free-fall and thousands of banks were on the brink of insolvency. My point is not to assert any similarities about today and 1929 - it is only: you won't learn whether there is an economic downturn by reading predictions in Barron's or any other financial newspaper. All of them will miss the moment when the economy turns down. 
    Feb 22, 2014. 12:59 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gold: Has The Bull Started To Run Again? [View article]
    You analyze gold supply and demand as though gold were an industrial commodity. This is erroneous. The annual mine supply influences the total supply of gold by 1.4% per year, basically a rounding error. Similarly, China's imports are hardly relevant for the gold price (if they were, gold would have rallied throughout 2013). All the gold ever mined still exists above ground - and this stock is the by far largest portion of the supply of gold. Therefore, the biggest component of gold demand is the reservation demand of the current holders of gold.
    To see how the gold price is actually determined, here is a good start:
    Feb 17, 2014. 03:40 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How Obama's 'MyRA' Plan Will Impact The U.S. Economy [View article]
    There is no such thing as a 'risk-free return', not even theoretically.
    Feb 3, 2014. 06:22 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Next Big Crash Will Be in the JGB Market [View instapost]
    Four years on, the JGB is trading exactly one point below an all time high...there's a reason why shorting the JGB is called the 'widow-maker' trade.
    Feb 2, 2014. 03:37 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Gold- Buffett And Morgan Stanley Agree [View article]
    "During the recent recession, rising gold prices (see chart below) convinced many that precious metals were finally viable investments"

    What a strange thing to say. Since 2000 gold is up by 400% (a five-fold rise), while the SPX is up a grand total of 18.5%. What would you rather have been invested in?
    As to Warren Buffett, he may be a good investor, but his area of expertise are stocks. His frequent comments on gold are completely uninformed and only reveal that he knows absolutely nothing about gold, which is by itself not really problematic. What is annoying though is that in spite of knowing nothing, he still opines on it all the time. Morgan Stanley and most other mainstream brokers/banks missed the entire bull market, got bullish above 1500 and are getting bearish now. At best they can be used as a contrarian indicator.
    Lastly, similar stuff could be read in the summer of 1976 too. Gold had just lost almost 50% from its 1974 high - in fact, looking at broker reports and articles in the press that appeared at the time, they could have been written yesterday. There is zero difference between what was published about gold then and what it being published now. Gold promptly soared by 800% over the next four years. At the top, all the mainstream commentators got bullish again. There is nothing new under the sun.
    Jan 31, 2014. 08:46 PM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Zero Hedge Is Wrong About Gold [View article]
    Your view about gold's supply/demand situation is deeply flawed. Gold is not an industrial commodity. It matters not one whit to its price if a little more or a little less of it is mined, since mining only contributes about 1.4% to the total extant supply of gold every year. The Fed has grown the supply of dollars by almost 90% since 2008. Contrary to the widespread erroneous notion that the Fed only creates bank reserves, it also creates deposit money, almost dollar for dollar concurrently with bank reserves, as it buys assets mostly from what are legally non-banks. In any case, even if all gold miners stopped mining it would have almost no effect on the total supply of gold in the near term (its long term growth would of course be considerably impaired). All arguments on gold supply and demand that mention things like mining, central bank buying/selling, ETFs, jewelry demand, etc., misconceive how the gold market actually works. Similar to other forms of money, gold must be analyzed as a currency, not a commodity. The vast bulk of the total demand for gold (including reservation demand) consists of monetary/investment demand. Here is an article that discusses in detail what determines the price of gold:
    Dec 17, 2013. 06:51 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Japan May Matter More Than Tapering [View article]
    The yen seems set for a multi-year rally. Positioning by speculators is at an extreme similar to the last multi-year low, and due to its modus operandi, the BoJ's 'QE' efforts have utterly failed in boosting the actual Japanese money supply much. Growing bank reserves have no effect unless the banks begin to expand their inflationary lending - but they are doing the exact opposite and are reducing outstanding fiduciary media. Given that the yen traditionally rallies when so-called 'risk assets' are under pressure (due to repatriation and the covering of carry trades), it may not be a coincidence that the II bull-bear ratio in the US stock market is at its highest level since 1987 just as everyone has taken positions against the yen.
    Dec 10, 2013. 02:09 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Austrians Are Right - Inflation Is Coming [View article]
    In fact, the Austrian school's biggest gripe with inflationary policy has nothing to do with changes in money's purchasing power (although it is of course the case that a broad-based decline in the objective exchange value of money can arrive with a considerable lag as a result of inflationary policy). It is all about the fact that when additional money enters the economy, it distorts relative prices, which leads to investment in a production structure that ultimately proves unsustainable as the necessary real savings to sustain it don't exist. The introduction of additional money however makes it appear as though these savings existed, and so capital is malinvested and ultimately ends up consumed. The housing bubble was an excellent demonstration of this principle.
    As Mises wrote in a brief description of the malinvestment of capital engendered by inflation of the money supply:

    "The whole entrepreneurial class is, as it were, in the position of a master-builder whose task it is to erect a building out of a limited supply of building materials. If this man overestimates the quantity of the available supply, he drafts a plan for the execution of which the means at his disposal are not sufficient. He oversizes the groundwork and the foundations and only discovers later in the progress of the construction that he lacks the material needed for the completion of the structure. It is obvious that our master-builder's fault was not overinvestment, but an inappropriate employment of the means at his
    Dec 2, 2013. 11:24 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Japan's Abenomics: Time To Take Stock [View article]
    So-called 'Abenomics' is simply the same hoary inflationism and mercantilism frequently practiced by what I call the 'John Law School of Economics' since the early 18th century. It never works. If one could get rich by devaluation and inflation, the whole world would be a Utopia of riches by now, led by a prosperous Zimbabwe.
    The inherent contradictions of this policy are especially glaring in Japan. With unemployment at 4%, what did Abe think needed 'fixing'? Japan with its aging and shrinking population needs inflation about as urgently as a hole in the head. The theory that society gains when the value of money is diminished is abject nonsense anyway, but in Japan's case it is even bigger nonsense than normally.
    Oct 22, 2013. 05:26 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Which Side Of Goldman Sachs Is Right About Gold? [View article]
    While I largely agree with you, for details see this article:

    I would point out that Indian import demand or Chinese imports of gold are largely irrelevant to the gold price. The total supply of gold amounts to some 175,000 tons - why would it matter if India imports a few hundred tons more per year? The LBMA alone trades more gold in three days than is produced by all the gold mines in the world over a whole year.
    People must stop analyzing gold as though it were an industrial commodity. It is a currency, or an investment asset, its supply and demand equation does not look like that of copper or oil. The most important factor is in fact the reservation demand of current holders of gold, and what that demand is can only be ascertained, or rather estimated, by indirect means - this is to say by studying the macro-economic factors that influence the gold price (such as real interest rates, the steepness of the yield curve, inflation expectations, the trend of the dollar, credit spreads, the trust in monetary and fiscal authorities, economic developments that influence monetary policy, etc.).
    You are partly discussing these things here, and that is imo the correct approach. Looking at Indian gold imports on the other hand is not going to tell you anything about future gold prices.
    Oct 9, 2013. 06:43 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Credit Is Money [View article]
    No, it isn't. The difference between money and credit explained:
    Sep 13, 2013. 07:20 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • There's No Way In Hell The Fed Will Taper [View article]
    There are a few issues I have with the 'taper' debate. First of all, we cannot be certain that the rise in bond yields is due to 'taper' speculation. Just because the mainstream financial press said so doesn't make it so (they always need an easily graspable 'reason' as to why market moves happen). In fact, it seems extremely unlikely, as tapering would likely lead to a decline in inflation expectations, which is bullish, not bearish for bonds. The Fed's buying or abstention from buying is always swamped by the effect of inflation expectations on the bond market (just look at what bonds did during QE1 and QE2).

    The next thing is that I doubt that 'tapering' or lack thereof should have any influence on the gold market. Did 'QE infinity' help the gold price? No, it didn't. Then why should 'tapering' hurt it? What is important to the gold market is the damage that has ALREADY been inflicted on the economy by the Fed's inflationary policy. In other words, when the seeming positive effects (the short term increase in aggregated 'economic activity') are swamped by the discovery of the longer term negative effects (e,g. capital malinvestment due to distortion of relative prices in the economy), then the gold price should react to this reassessment of past inflationary policy by market participants.
    Sep 10, 2013. 06:21 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: Reality Bites, So Time To Sell [View article]
    Carl Icahn bites back.
    Aug 13, 2013. 04:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Financial News Reports Mislead On Gold Hedges [View article]
    In addition to the fact that the media are incessantly busy spinning gold bearish stories fed by those same sources (which is quite a contrast to the complete silence that accompanied the bull market), there is the fact that hedging makes no sense with interest rates at zero and gold showing no contango out to 2015. It almost guarantees losses to hedge production under such circumstances. It would be quite different if interest rates were at say 5% and gold contracts were to sport a fat contango accordingly.
    Aug 7, 2013. 05:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Ben Bernanke's 3 Stages Of Recovery [View article]
    "Nothing is more difficult than trying to explain to someone that mild inflation is good and deflation is a death sentence for an economy."

    The main reason why it is difficult to convince people of this is that it is utter bunk. According to this 'mild deflation is bad' theory, the computer and electronics industries should have been in permanent depression since day one. Bernanke's 'explanation' only makes one wonder how this man ever graduated in economics. The selling price is immaterial to a producer: what is important is the spread between his input costs and his selling prices.
    Incidentally, the historical period when US real economic growth was by far the greatest ever was the Gilded Age, which coincided with, you guessed it, mild deflation.
    Jul 22, 2013. 05:41 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment