Editor’s Note: This article has been excerpted from a free issue of Robert Prechter’s monthly market letter, The Elliott Wave Theorist.
The full 10-page market letter, Be One of the Few The Government Hasn’t Fooled, can be downloaded free from Elliott Wave International.
By Robert Prechter, CMT
“Who Will Benefit From The Housing Act?”
This question is an actual headline from a national daily paper. The real answer is: mortgage lending corporations, developers, real estate agents, speculators and politicians. The government is also pledging tax money to providers of “financial counseling” and grants for speculators who want to “buy and renovate foreclosed housing”; in other words, it will hand tax money to charlatans and unfunded wheeler-dealers. But a far better headline would have been, “Whom Will the Housing Act Hurt?” The answer to that question is: (1) prudent people, i.e. savers, earners, renters and people who have waited to buy a house at a reasonable price; and (2) innocent people, i.e. taxpayers.
Government action (unless it is aimed at destruction) always causes the opposite of its stated effect. If taxpayers ultimately have to shoulder the burden for all the bad mortgage debt, those who are on the edge of being able to make their mortgage payments will be forced over the edge, causing more missed mortgage payments and more foreclosures.
There is never any need for a law granting privilege except when the goal is to reward the undeserving and to punish the innocent. If the goal were otherwise, there would be no need for a statutory law, because the natural laws of economics, when unencumbered, serve to reward the deserving and punish the imprudent and the guilty. Populists loudly challenge this idea, but they are wrong.
I thought the Fed was created to “help manage the economy.”
After a secret meeting on Jekyll Island (GA), Congress and a handful of bankers created the Federal Reserve System for two purposes. The first one was to allow the government to counterfeit money, thereby letting it steal value from savers through inflation. The second was to allow bankers to make profits through debt creation, also at the expense of savers. Any other claim is a smokescreen.
So shouldn’t we blame the Fed for the country’s financial problems?
That’s like blaming the collapse of your house on the biggest termite. The Fed is only one of the monsters that Congress has created. In the financial realm, others include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, Sallie Mae, the FDIC, the FHA, the FHLBs and the income tax. But there are also a hundred other havoc-wreaking agencies of the federal government. Congress is to blame for ruining America. The Fed is only one of the mechanisms it created along the way. It’s a big one, and it’s fine to campaign against it, but to blame it for everything is to give its creator a free pass.
This is an important distinction, because many people seem to think that abolishing the Fed will cure America’s money woes. They seem to think that once the Fed is abolished, Congress will behave responsibly. One web site even calls for abolishing the Fed in favor of giving money-printing power directly to the federal government! Abolishing the Fed is a worthy goal, but Congress will work tirelessly to create one disastrous institution after another, because that’s what campaign donors pay for.
For more information on the government’s role in the financial crisis, download Robert Prechter’s free 10-page market letter, Be One of the Few the Government Hasn’t Fooled.
Robert Prechter, Chartered Market Technician, is the world’s foremost expert on and proponent of the deflationary scenario. Prechter is the founder and CEO of Elliott Wave International, author of Wall Street best-sellers Conquer the Crash and Elliott Wave Principle and editor of The Elliott Wave Theoristmonthly market letter since 1979.
6 Questions You Should Be Asking About the Financial Crisis
(And 6 Must-Read Answers)
Elliott Wave International, the world’s largest market forecasting firm, receives thousands of questions every year from web site visitors and subscribers on their free Message Board.
Here the company shares 6 of the recent critical questions on the financial crisis and 6 answers provided by their professional analysts.
For more free questions and answers or to submit your own question, visit Elliott Wave Internationals Message Board
Q: Can increased government spending help stop the crisis?
What do you think about the new mortgage bailout plan – or bailouts and proposals for additional government spending in general? The opinions on whether or not this will ultimately work seem so divided…
In Ch. 13 of his Conquer the Crash, “Can the Fed Stop Deflation?”, Bob Prechter writes; quote: “Can the government spend our way out of deflation and depression? Governments sometimes employ aspects of’ ‘fiscal policy,’ i.e., altering spending or taxing policies, to ‘pump up’ demand for goods and services. Raising taxes for any reason would be harmful. Increasing government spending (with or without raising taxes) simply transfers wealth from savers to spenders, substituting a short-run stimulus for long-run financial deterioration. Japan has used this approach for twelve years, and it hasn’t worked. Slashing taxes absent government spending cuts would be useless because the government would have to borrow the difference. Cutting government spending is a good thing, but politics will prevent its happening prior to a crisis. … Prior excesses have resulted in a lack of solutions to the deflation problem. Like the discomfort of drug addiction withdrawal, the discomfort of credit addiction withdrawal cannot be avoided. The time to have thought about avoiding a system-wide deflation was years ago. Now it’s too late. It does not matter how it happens; in the right psychological environment, deflation will win, at least initially.”
Q: In deflation, what’s best: to have no debts or preserve capital?
During a deflationary period, if you had to choose one or the other – debt reduction or preservation of capital – which one is MOST important?
In Ch. 29 of Conquer the Crash, “Calling in Loans and Paying off Debts,” Elliott Wave International’s founder and president Bob Prechter writes; quote: “Being debt-free means that you are freer, period. You don’t have to sweat credit card payments. You don’t have to sweat home or auto repossession or loss of your business. You don’t have to work 6 percent more, or 10 percent more, or 18 percent more just to stay even. …the best mortgage is none at all. If you own your home outright and lose your job, you will still have a residence.” Of course, one could pay off some debts AND keep some capital – it all depends on an individual’s risk appetite and tolerance.
Q: Which news and events can move the market and which can’t?
I’ve noticed that a lot of times, the stock market does the opposite of what the news suggests it should do – or does nothing at all. Can you make a distinction, if there is one, between news that does not move the market and the news that does? I’m talking specifically about the news and anticipation of another bailout plan plus stimulus package that is supposedly rallying U.S. stocks right now.
The subject of the news is almost irrelevant. What IS relevant is the state of investors’ collective mood at the time of the news release. If they feel bullish (or bearish), they will interpret just about any news story as bullish (or bearish) too. (Or “dismiss the news,” as financial commentators often put it.) If you need a good example, just compare the February 6 horrific U.S. jobs report with that day’s rally in the DJIA. Or, contrast the February 10 passage of the “$838 Billion Economic Stimulus Package” with a 300+ drop on the Dow. The important thing to keep in mind is that while the news can cause short-term price spikes, it has no effect on the longer-term trend; only social mood does.
Q: If this deflation deepens, will the US dollar crash?
Bob Prechter’s Conquer the Crash and your monthly publications like Bob’s Elliott Wave Theorist, you’ve been saying that in deflation, “cash is king” as the value of the dollar rises. But won’t the U.S. government’s spending spree cause the dollar to crash instead against the euro and other currencies?
It’s very important to make a distinction between the dollar’s domestic and international values. In a deflation, the value of any currency – the U.S. dollar, in this case – rises domestically: As asset prices fall, each unit of currency buys more domestically-available goods and services. “Cash is the only asset that assuredly rises in value during deflation.” – Bob Prechter, Conquer the Crash, Ch. 18. However, the USD’s international value (as represented by the U.S. Dollar Index) in a deflation can rise OR fall relative to other currencies. If, for instance, the euro is deflating faster than the dollar, then the dollar’s value relative to the euro will fall, and vice versa.
Q: Won’t government bailouts turn deflation into inflation?
Trillions of dollars in bailouts “injected” into the economy – won’t they reverse deflation and turn it into inflation instead?
Here is a quote from Bob Prechter’s October 2008 Elliott Wave Theorist: “Believers in perpetual inflation think that the government can keep assuming others’ bad debts infinitely. But it can’t. The only reason that Congress has gotten away with issuing this latest blizzard of new IOUs is that society is still near the top of a Grand Supercycle, so optimism and confidence still have the upper hand. But as pessimism and skepticism continue to wax and the economy contracts, the bond market will figure out that the Treasury will be unable to fund all these obligations with tax collections. Then Treasury bond prices will begin falling as if they were sub-prime mortgages. A collapsing bond market is deflation; it is a contraction of the outstanding credit supply. Recent bailout schemes will not reverse the deflationary freight train. They will serve only to confuse the marketplace and hinder the efficient retirement of bad debts, thus exacerbating the crisis and aggravating investors’ uncertainties and thereby falling right in line with the declining trend of social mood.”
Q: When will recession end – and DEPRESSION begin?
When do you think the economic DEPRESSION will officially begin?
It took mainstream economists over a year to recognize the “official” start of the recession! Because a depression is a much bigger and rarer event, the delay with its “official” recognition will likely be even greater. Not to mention the fact that, interestingly, there is no “official” definition of a depression; even if there were one, ours here at Elliott Wave International would probably differ. Rest assured, though: We intend to update subscribers on any “progress” in that direction.
To read 30+ additional questions and answers on the financial crisis, investing, capital safety and more, visit Elliott Wave Internationals free Message Board.
Elliott Wave International (EWI) is the world’s largest market forecasting firm. EWI’s 20-plus analysts provide around-the-clock forecasts of every major market in the world via the internet and proprietary web systems like Reuters and Bloomberg. EWI’s educational services include conferences, workshops, webinars, video tapes, special reports, books and one of the internet’s richest free content programs, Club EWI.