Presenting the latest terrific analysis by Michael Krieger, formerly a macro analyst at Bernstein, and currently running his own fund, KAM LP, who joins Willem Buiter and everyone else left with a gram of prudence, in realizing that this is nothing more than the “last dance.”
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because most people do not want to admit they do not have the courage to do anything about it. Most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker, but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all”
– Michael Rivero
Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny, And in this judgment there is no partiality. So arm in arms, with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle, ‘Cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble. – Bob Marley, Zimbabwe
A Thousand Words On Conventional Wisdom
Conventional wisdom. Many market analysts define conventional wisdom in relation to what direction the market is going to head in the future, but I think this is an utter mischaracterization of the concept. For example, someone that is bullish on the market right now is likely to see conventional wisdom on stocks and the economy as overly bearish after ten years of no returns for U.S. equities. In contrast, someone that expects a market collapse will say that everyone is a cheerleader and that the “conventional wisdom” after such a huge rally is for stocks to continue to go up. This is not how I would describe conventional wisdom and all is does is drag the debate into the intellectual gutter. Rather, to me conventional wisdom is more the “zeitgeist” of the financial and economic community at any given time. Zeitgeist is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. In this sense an “era” will generally mean a lengthy period of time, several decades or perhaps even more extended periods. That said, what is interesting is that every cycle in the global economy seems to bring forward distinct “mini-zeitgeists” that the experts create to justify market movements or give credence to economic dogma.
When I define conventional wisdom in this manner what I have found is that I almost always disagree with conventional wisdom. Two very interesting recent periods were fall 2007-July 2008 and then mid-2008-early 2009 period. In the first period, it was clear to me that decoupling was impossible because the U.S. was too large and it was clearly on the verge of collapse and, more importantly, that China and the U.S. were joined at the hip in a Keynesian economic Frankenstein that would not be easily severed. Despite what I thought was pretty obvious at the time, conventional wisdom was that the BRICS had decoupled and all would be well. Rather than seeing the commodity surge as the flight out of the dollar due to the distinct money policies of the U.S. Fed and everyone else, the rally was seen as evidence of decoupling. This is mainly because conventional wisdom tends to view rising assets as a signal of prosperity. I believe this was and is generally due to a misunderstanding of economics (we are all taught mostly rubbish in schools) and a shocking ignorance of the global financial system, how it really works and who/what is pulling the levers.