Deflationary Environment

Making Preparations and Taking Action in Today’s Deflationary Environment

Editor’s Note: The following article is adapted from Robert Prechter’s 2002 best-selling book, Conquer the Crash – You Can Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression.

In addition to this article, visit Elliott Wave International to download the free 15-page report about how to protect yourself, you wealth and your family in this environment. It contains details about what you should do with your pension plan, valuable tips for business owners, insights on handling loans and debt and important warnings against trusting the government to protect you.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

The ultimate effect of deflation is to reduce the supply of money and credit. Your goal is to make sure that it doesn’t reduce the supply of your money and credit. The ultimate effect of depression is financial ruin. Your goal is to make sure that it doesn’t ruin you.
Many investment advisors speak as if making money by investing is easy. It’s not. What’s easy is losing money, which is exactly what most investors do. They might make money for a while, but they lose eventually. Just keeping what you have over a lifetime of investing can be an achievement. That’s what this my book, Conquer the Crash, is designed to help you do, in perhaps the single most difficult financial environment that exists.

Protecting your liquid wealth against a deflationary crash and depression is pretty easy once you know what to do. Protecting your other assets and ensuring your livelihood can be serious challenges. Knowing how to proceed used to be the most difficult part of your task because almost no one writes about the issue. My book remedies that situation.

Preparing To Take the Right Actions

In a crash and depression, we will see stocks going down 90 percent and more, mutual funds collapsing, massive layoffs, high unemployment, corporate and municipal bankruptcies, bank and insurance company failures and ultimately financial and political crises. The average person, who has no inkling of the risks in the financial system, will be shocked that such things could happen, despite the fact that they have happened repeatedly throughout history.

Being unprepared will leave you vulnerable to a major disruption in your life. Being prepared will allow you to make exceptional profits both in the crash and in the ensuing recovery. For now, you should focus on making sure that you do not become a zombie-eyed victim of the depression.

Taking the Right Actions

Countless advisors have touted “stocks only,” “gold only,” “diversification,” a “balanced portfolio” and other end-all solutions to the problem of attending to your investments. These approaches are usually delusions. As I try to make clear in Conquer the Crash, no investment strategy will provide stability forever. You will have to be nimble enough to see major trends coming and make changes accordingly.

The main goal of investing in a crash environment is safety. When deflation looms, almost every investment category becomes associated with immense risks. Most investors have no idea of these risks and will think you are a fool for taking precautions.
Many readers will object to taking certain prudent actions because of the presumed cost. For example: “I can’t take a profit; I’ll have to pay taxes!” My reply is, if you don’t want to pay taxes, well, you’ll get your wish; your profit will turn into a loss, and you won’t have to pay any taxes. Or they say, “I can’t sell my stocks for cash; interest rates are only 2 percent!” My reply is, if you can’t abide a 2 percent annual gain, well, you’ll get your wish there, too; you’ll have a 30 percent annual loss instead. Others say, “I can’t cash out my retirement plan; there’s a penalty!” I reply, take your money out before there is none to get. Then there is the venerable, “I can’t sell now; I’d be taking a loss!” I say no, you are recovering some capital that you can put to better use. My advice always is, make the right move, and the costs will take care of themselves.

If you are preoccupied with pedestrian concerns or blithely going along with mainstream opinions, you need to wake up now, while there is still time, and actively take charge of your personal finances. First you must make your capital, your person and your family safe. Then you can explore options for making money during the crash and especially after it’s over.
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For more information, Prechter has made five full chapters from his book available for free download.
What to do with your pension plan
How to identify a safe haven (a safe place for your family)
What should you do if you run a business
Calling in loans and paying off debt
Should you rely on the government to protect you?

 

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.

Exposing Three Myths of Deflation and Recession

This article is part of a syndicated series about deflation from market analyst Robert Prechter, the world’s foremost expert on and proponent of the deflationary scenario. For more on deflation and how you can survive it, download Prechter’s FREE 60-page Deflation Survival eBook, part of Prechter’s NEW Deflation Survival Guide.

The following article was adapted from Robert Prechter’s NEW Deflation Survival eBook, a 60-page compilation of Prechter’s most important teachings and warnings about deflation.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

Myth 1: “War Will Bail Out the Economy”

Many people argue that war will bring both inflation and economic boom. Wars have not been fought in order to inflate money supplies. You might recall that Germany went utterly broke in 1923 via hyper inflation yet managed to start a world war 16 years later, which was surely not engaged in order to inflate the country’s money supply. Nor are wars and inflated money supplies guarantors of economic boom. The American colonies and the Confederate states each hyper inflated their currencies during wartime, but doing so did not help their economies; quite the opposite. With respect to war, the standard procedure today would be for the government to borrow to finance a war, which would not necessarily guarantee inflation. If new credit at current prices were unavailable, either the new debt could not be sold or it would “crowd out” other new debt. The U.S. could decide to inflate its currency as opposed to the credit supply. As explained in Conquer the Crash, doing so would be seen today as a highly imprudent course, so it is unlikely, to say the least. If it were to occur anyway, the collapse of bond prices in response would neutralize the currency inflation until the credit markets were wiped out. Despite these arguments, I concede that war can be so disruptive, involving the destruction of goods and the curtailment of commercial services, that the environment from the standpoint of prices could end up appearing inflationary. To summarize my view, the monetary result may not be certain, but an inflationary result is hardly inevitable.

There is in fact a reliable relationship between monetary trends and war. A downturn in social mood towards defensiveness, anger and fear causes people to (1) withdraw credit from the marketplace, which reduces the credit supply and (2) get angry with one another, which eventually leads to a fight. That’s why The Elliott Wave Theorist has been predicting both deflation and war. You cannot cure one with the other; they are results of the same cause.

Myth 2: “Deflation Will Cause a Run on the Dollar, Which Will Make Prices Rise”

This is an argument that deflation will cause inflation, which is untenable. In terms of domestic purchasing power, the dollar’s value should rise in deflation. You will then be able to buy more of most goods and services.

It is unknown how the dollar will fare against other currencies, and there is no way to answer that question other than following Elliott wave patterns as they develop. From the standpoint of predicting deflation, the dollar’s convertibility ratios are irrelevant. There may well be a “run on the dollar” against foreign currencies, but it would not be because of deflation. I think the impulse to predict a run on the dollar comes from people who own a lot of gold, silver or Swiss francs. They feel the ’70s returning, and so they envision the dollar falling against all of these alternatives. If deflation occurs, a concurrent drop in the dollar relative to other currencies would be for other reasons. Perhaps the dollar is overvalued because it has enjoyed reserve status for so long, which might make it fall relative to other currencies. If this is what you expect, what are you going to buy in the currency arena? The yen? Japan has been leading the way into the abyss. The Euro? Depression will wrack the European Union. Maybe the Swiss franc or the Singapore dollar. But these are technical questions, not challenges to deflation or domestic price behavior.

Myth 3: “Consumers Remain the Engine Driving the U.S. Economy”

Only producers can afford to buy things. A consumer qua consumer has no economic value or power.

The only way that consumers who are not (adequate) producers can buy things is to borrow the money. So when economists tell you that the consumer is holding up the economy, they mean that expanding credit is holding up the economy. This is a description of the problem, not the solution! The more the consumer goes into hock, the worse the problem gets, which is precisely the opposite of what economists are telling us. The more you hear that the consumer is propping up the economy, the more you know that the debt bubble is growing, and with it the risk of deflation.

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For more on deflation, download Prechter’s FREE 60-page Deflation Survival eBook or browse various deflation topics like those below atwww.elliottwave.com/deflation.

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.

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