Springtime for Economics: Ignoring the Bubble Era Mistakes

It’s springtime. The temperature is 85 degrees here in Washington. New York is approaching record-breaking temperatures. Global warming is back in business.

The flowers are out. Cherry blossoms are thick on the ground. The grass is yearning for the mower.

Heck, everything is back in business. To hear the media tell it, you’d think jobs were picking up…consumer spending too…manufacturing – everything.

Everyone thinks the recovery is as pullulating as April. Obama says we’ve ‘turned the corner.’ Larry Summers thinks we’re headed to the moon.

Is our old ‘Crash Alert’ flag still flying over the building with the gold balls? We hope so. Because, when everyone is thinking the same thing, no one is really thinking at all.

And when you start thinking about it, you begin to wonder…

…what happened to de-leveraging? What happened to all those bubble era mistakes?

…what happened to all that debt consumers were carrying?

…what happened to the Great Correction; isn’t there anything left to correct?

You’ll recall that the Great Correction seemed to be aiming to put a number of things right. Foremost were the economies of the USA and China. The US needed to correct its over-reliance on consumer spending/debt. China needed to correct its over-reliance on exporting things to America.

Of course, there were a number of other things in need of correction too:

…like the huge credit expansion of 1946-2007…in which debt went from 150% of GDP to more like 370%.

…and the phony baloney post-1971 money system in which the reserves of one central bank are the IOUs of other central banks. In the case of Europe, nobody is exactly sure who’s supposed to pay the IOUs. In the case of the US, everybody knows who’s supposed to pay…and everybody knows he can’t pay. He doesn’t have that much money. Even if you liquidated all his assets and all his citizens’ assets, Uncle Sam would still be about $50 trillion short.

…and there’s the stock market too. We’re still in bounce mode, following the big drop from 2007 to March of 2009.

In the short run, our chief researcher – Charles Delvalle, who keeps an eye on our investments at our family office – is bullish:

“The intermediate trend in the Dow Jones is still up. This trend was confirmed after the Dow Jones surpassed its Jan 19 peak. We could see a test in the trend, with a drop back down to the Jan 19 highs. As long as the Dow manages to stay above this, we could see a charge to 11,000 as soon as [this] week.”

But if this Great Correction is as great as we think it ought to be, it will wipe out this bounce…and sink another 50% before finally hitting bottom.

…and don’t forget the bull market in bonds. No one knows for sure, but the 10-year T-note hit its all-time low below 3% in November 2008, after a 27-year bull run. This week it went back over 4% – its highest point for this cycle. “The fun’s over,” says old-timer, Richard Russell. Are 10-year yields headed back to 15%?

…finally, there’s the very big picture…the Anglo-saxon empire…begun by the British in the 16th century…and carried on by Britain’s former colony, America. Is it time to take the English-speakers down a notch? Maybe…

Well, what do you think? Has the Great Correction fizzled out? Is it time to party like it was 2006 again? Is China going to make even more money by selling even more stuff to the US? Are Americans going to go further into debt to buy it? Are their houses going to recover 25% to 30% losses and keep on going? Is the Dow going back up to 14,000 – and beyond? Are bonds going up – even though the supply of them is soaring? And what about the empire? Has it got greater glories still in store?

We don’t know. We just watch…wait…and wonder…

…along with everyone else.

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning