“The warning signs were all
Dismissed or shouted down
So it goes
The kings all failed to tell us
The madmen failed to sell us
On what would then become
The only life we know.”
“Were they burning signal fires
To guide us to the fields?
Or building funeral pyres?
The outcome of a final appeal.”
– Rise Against “Endgame” –
The single biggest news event this week besides the Royal Wedding (who actually cares) was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s televised press conference. The Federal Reserve is attempting to appear more transparent after coming under pressure from the United States Congress because of their obscure and potentially nefarious operation. For most Americans, Ben Bernanke is someone they likely have never even heard of, but on Wednesday Mr. Bernanke got to bask in the sunlight that is generally only reserved for public elites such as celebrities, pro athletes, and the President of the United States.
While Chairman Bernanke had his brief moment of publicity, his answers to seemingly pre-screened questions were vague, misleading, and rather contrived. He answered questions using very long responses which generally obfuscated rather than clarified the situation. In my estimation, Mr. Bernanke solidified what many market participants already believed; he is nothing more than an academic.
Mr. Bernanke and the Federal Reserve have based every decision they seemingly make on antiquated models and algorithms which work in a classroom and fail in real time. To the average man (myself included), he blathered on speaking about things that most people do not even understand. It is almost as if he did this to prove his intelligence and ability.
For long time readers, my disdain for the Federal Reserve is relatively easy to recognize. While the U.S. Congress is nothing more than charlatans, the Federal Reserve is the greatest thief in American history. Through the debasement of the U.S. Dollar and a long time track record of reacting too late or not at all to economic events, the Federal Reserve has stolen purchasing power from the American people. The inflation that has been unleashed over the past 10 years has been tremendous and the long term impact on the standard of living in the United States has been negatively altered. In essence, the Federal Reserve took from everyone and “we the people” got nothing tangible in return.
Mr. Bernanke made comments about the U.S. Dollar including “that it fluctuates.” The only direction it has fluctuated since he has been in charge at the Federal Reserve is lower. If lower and fluctuation are synonyms, I wish my weight would fluctuate!
Where were the hard questions from reporters? Where were questions about gold and silver rallying to new highs nearly every day? Where was the question about the Fed’s credibility when it totally missed the sub-prime crisis and referred to it as a contained event? What has the Federal Reserve done a good job at besides causing inflation based bubbles immediately followed by nasty busts. However, the real question still remains, what does the future hold for financial markets?
What I’m about to say may surprise readers, but history supports my thought process. If the Federal Reserve continues on the same path it is possible that the U.S. Dollar could go through a real currency crisis. The potential for such an event is intensified by the fact that Asia and Europe are raising interest rates due to inflationary pressures. Time will tell, but gold and silver remain strong, however I would not fall in love with either commodity, or any commodity for that matter. Whether we have a currency crisis or not, there is going to be one nasty sell off in commodities in the future, specifically in silver.
I agree with many market prognosticators in that we are in a commodity bubble. The weekly chart of silver futures below illustrates just how parabolic the move has been:
At some point the U.S. Dollar will bottom, and when it does a significant rally will take shape. When the U.S. Dollar rallies it has the potential to be sharp and fast. Silver would be hit hardest as the chart above shows the parabolic move higher that has transpired over the past few months. The timing of the U.S. Dollar’s bottom is difficult to quantify, and picking bottoms is a fool’s game. Nevertheless, the commodity charts will tell us when it’s time for the rally to unfold, but for right now prices will likely continue higher for commodities and equities.
While I think longer term precious metals investors might be able to withstand the impending selloff, the other side of that selloff will likely see gold and silver work higher still. Longer term gold and silver will likely perform well, but traders must be aware that a sharp pullback is not only likely, but would be considered healthy by many market participants. The Dollar Index weekly chart illustrates the sharp selloff in the U.S. Dollar the past few months.
While several articles have been proffered by authors I respect deeply, they have not offered a means to determine when the Dollar has bottomed. While nothing is full proof, the longer term SPX chart may be a guide as to when the U.S. Dollar will begin to bottom. The SPX weekly chart shown below illustrates the long term ascending channel that the S&P 500 has been trading in for some time.
My “educated guess” as to when the Dollar will begin to bottom will likely coincide with a test of the ascending trend line. In previous articles, I opined that I thought we would see the S&P 500 rally and we are in that process now. My guess is that about the time the S&P 500 tests the rising channel, we will see the U.S. Dollar begin to bottom. The short opportunities that will be presented from a risk / reward perspective could be outstanding. Cycles typically line up, particularly when one particular asset, in this case the U.S. Dollar, are driving markets in one particular direction for a long period of time.
Typically business cycles end when commodities and commodity based stocks such Exxon or Barrick Gold rally. We are in that stage of the business cycle right now, and typically when that stage has been reached it is indicative that the economy is starting to overheat. Cyclicality in financial markets has been discussed for years, but often times technical analysis will align with the business cycle. While I may not be exactly right as to the timing, it certainly gives a solid framework for risk-based decisions going forward.
I believe that the actions taken by the Federal Reserve for the past 2-3 years are going to result in additional selling pressure in the future for the U.S. Dollar which will propel commodity prices and equity futures prices higher than what many will expect. While the selloff may occur within the confines of a short to intermediate term time frame, the U.S. Dollar will eventually bottom and a nasty selloff in commodities and stocks will transpire and the next leg of the secular bear market will begin. The business cycle and the technicals are aligned at this point, the question is really how long it is going to take to get there.
The end game will likely result in the Federal Reserve looking foolish while the American people and the global economy will suffer from the Fed’s ineptitude. The possibility that the Federal Reserve is forced to raise interest rates to slow down inflation at the same time the U.S. Dollar bottoms is a recipe for a potential economic disaster.
Slowing economic conditions based on higher oil prices and inflationary pressures paired with higher interest rates will result in another recession fueled by the Federal Reserve’s Keynes based economic models and decision making. Ben Bernanke was right about one thing, the Federal Reserve uses educated guesses based on their models when setting monetary policy. I posit to readers, what happens if the Federal Reserve Chairman and Governors’ price models and educated guesses are completely false?
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“The warning signs were all