Gold is Money

Bob Prechter: Gold is Still Money

By Robert Prechter, CMT

The following article is excerpted from a brand-new eBook on gold and silver published by Robert Prechter, founder and CEO of the technical analysis and research firm Elliott Wave International. For the rest of this fascinating 40-page eBook, download it for free here.

Have you ever traveled abroad and taken a look at the local currency and wondered how the citizens of that country could take seriously what looks like “Monopoly money?” I’ve got news for you: You’re using the same stuff. Monopoly money is the money over which some government has a monopoly. It is the currency of the realm only because the state makes it illegal to use any other type.

Promissory notes issued by a state and declared the only legal tender are always doomed to depreciate to worthlessness because of the natural incentives and forces associated with governments. A state cannot resist a method of confiscating assets, particularly one that is hidden from the view of most voters and subjects. By extension, it is unreasonable to advocate a standard for such notes, which is simply a state’s promise that its currency will always be redeemable in a specific amount of something valuable, such as gold. A gold standard of this type is only as good as the political promises behind it, reducing its value to no more than that of paper. It could be argued, in fact, that a state-sponsored gold standard is far more dangerous than none at all, as it imbues citizens with a false sense of security. Their long range plans are thus built upon an unreliable promise that the monetary measuring unit will remain stable. Later, when the government’s “IOU-something specific” becomes, as Colonel E.C. Harwood put it, “IOU nothing in particular,” reliability disappears and the arbitrary reigns. Although the populace tends to retain its confidence in the currency for awhile thereafter, the ultimate result is chaos.

The only sound monetary system is a voluntary one. The free market always chooses the best possible form, or forms, of money. To date, the market’s choice throughout the centuries, wherever a free market for money has existed, has been and remains precious metal and currency redeemable in precious metal. This preference will undoubtedly remain until a better form of money is discovered and chosen. Until then, prices for goods and services should be denominated not in state fictions such as dollars or yen or francs, but in specific weights of today’s preferred monetary metal, i.e., in grams of gold. Anyone might issue promissory notes as currency, but the acceptance of such paper certificates would then be an individual decision, and risks of loss through imprudence or dishonesty would be borne by only a few individuals by their own conscious choice after considering the risks. Critical to the understanding of the wisdom of such a system is the knowledge that private issuers of paper against gold have every long run incentive to provide a sound product, just as do producers of any product. As a result, risks would be minimal, as the market would provide its own policing. Thievery and imprudence will not disappear among men, but at least such tendencies in a free market for money would not have the potential to be institutionalized, as they are when a state controls the currency. From a macro economic viewpoint, occasional losses resulting from dishonesty or imprudence would be extremely limited in scope, as opposed to the nationwide disasters that state controlled paper money has facilitated throughout history, which have in turn had global repercussions. As Elliott Wave Principle put it, “That paper is no substitute for gold as a store of value is probably another of nature’s laws.”

That being said, it is also true, and crucial to wise investing, that markets come in both “bull” and “bear” types. Being a “gold bug” at the wrong time can be very costly in currency terms. For nearly three decades, gold and silver’s dollar price trends have confounded the precious metals enthusiasts, who for the entire period have argued that soaring gold and silver prices were “just around the corner” because the Fed’s policies “guarantee runaway inflation.” Yet today, 29 years after the January 1980 peaks in these metals and despite consistent inflation throughout this time, their combined dollar value (weighting each metal equally) is still 40 percent less than it was then.

It is all well and good to despise fiat money, but it is hardly useful to sit in gold and silver as if no other opportunities exist. In contrast to the one-note approach, which has had an immense opportunity cost since 1980, competent market analysis can help you make many timely and profitable financial decisions in all markets, including gold and silver.

For more in-depth, historical analysis and long-term forecasts for precious metals, download Prechter’s FREE 40-page eBook on Gold and Silver.

Bob Prechter on Silver & Gold

In case you hadn’t noticed: Over the past year of financial turmoil, the “safe haven” premium of precious metals has offered about as much support as a rubber ducky in a tsunami. Despite a string of powerful rallies, silver and gold remain well below their March 2008 peaks.

It goes without saying that the greatest opportunities in precious metals were not had by those who played the “disaster hedge” card; but rather by those who timed the trends as they developed, regardless of the fundamental backdrop.

Bob Prechter is in the latter group. Amidst the buzz and whirl of the most bullish backdrop in precious metals’ recent history, gold and silver prices soared to new, all-time highs and calls for a “New Gold Rush” and “$30 Silver” flooded the mainstream airwaves. Yet Bob alerted subscribers to an approaching top in the March 14, 2008 Elliott Wave Theorist.

  • “The wave count [in silver] is nearly satisfied, though ideally it should end after one more new high. If this analysis is accurate, and silver does peak and begin a bear market, gold is likely to go down with it.”

 

  • In the days that followed, prices in both metals fell off a cliff. In turn, Bob was asked to address his exceptional call for a turn down in a March 19, 2008 Bloomberg interview. Here are of excerpts from that conversation:

 

Bloomberg: “Why did you put out that call on Friday (March 14) about a peak in precious metals?”

  • Editor’s Note: You can download Bob Prechter’s 5-page report, Gold & Recessions, free from Elliott Wave International. It features 63 years of historical analysis that reveals how gold, T-notes, and the DJIA have performed in recessions and expansions.

 

  • Bob Prechter: “One of the reasons is that it seemed like an absolutely sure thing. We track several indicators of sentiment. One of them is the Daily Sentiment Index (DSI). That reached 98% bulls on a one-day basis going into this last high. We were tracking silver as well… as it is clearest in our minds. Now, at the time, we needed one more slightly new high. That happened Monday morning and silver dropped 15% in 48 hours. That’s a heck of a reversal and I think it’s real.”

 

“Real” indeed: From their March peaks, gold prices plummeted 34%, alongside a 60% sell-off in silver before hitting the breaks in October. Here, the October 2008 Elliott Wave Financial Forecast prepared for a corrective rebound and wrote:

  • “Silver traced out a five-wave decline from its March peak…Gold should also rally as silver pushes higher. Once silver’s rise is exhausted (initial target: $15.15), the larger downtrend should resume for both metals.”
  • A powerful, four-month bounce ensued in both metals: Gold prices came within kissing distance of its March peak before turning down on February 20; silver followed suit — a fulfillment of this bearish, near-term insight presented in the February 23 Elliott Wave Theorist:
  • “Silver has been clear as a bell. Silver is due to turn back down, and gold, which is back at $1000/oz, is likely to follow.”

 

  • Since then, it’s been a steady march lower for both metals. Obviously, EWI’s forecasts do not always prove this accurate. Yet in this case the analysis speaks for itself.

 

 

For more metals analysis from Bob Prechter, download Gold & Recessions a free 5-page report from Elliott Wave International. It features 63 years of historical analysis that reveals how gold, T-notes, and the DJIA have performed in recessions and expansions.

Robert Prechter, Chartered Market Technician, is the founder and CEO of Elliott Wave International, author of Wall Street best-sellers Conquer the Crashand Elliott Wave Principle and editor of The Elliott Wave Theorist monthly market letter since 1979.

Does the Central Bank Control the Markets

Think That Central Banks Move the Markets? Think Again

By Mark Galasiewski

The following is excerpted from Elliott Wave International’s Global Market Perspective. The full 120-page publication, which features forecasts for every major world market, is available free until April 30. Visit Elliott Wave International to download it free.

Conventional wisdom says that central banks can influence or even direct financial markets and the macro economy. The very existence of Elliott waves challenges such assumptions. For if markets responded to every central bank directive, how could Elliott waves exist? Parallel trend channels, Fibonacci price relationships, the similarity of form between waves of different sizes and time periods—none of that would be possible. Central bank decisions would have to coincide perfectly with turning points in Elliott waves, and we know that just doesn’t happen. But even without using waves, we can expose the conventional wisdom for the fallacy that it is.

Take, for example, this assertion in a recent article in a U.K. economic weekly: “Part of the aim of central banks in driving down interest rates is to encourage a greater risk appetite among investors.” Two key assumptions underlie that statement: a) central banks determine interest rates; and b) lower interest rates can increase society’s appetite for risk.

To see how the first assumption is false, let’s take a look at the daily chart of Australian interest rate data. It duplicates a study that Elliott Wave International has often done with U.S. interest rate data. It shows how movements in the cash target rate set by Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), appear to follow those in 3-month Australian Treasury Bills. After decisive moves up in T-bills from 2006 to early 2008, for example, the RBA faithfully raised its target. T-bills have since led the RBA during the financial crisis of the past year. In fact, the record indicates that the RBA almost always follows T-bills over time.

RBA Follows Treasury Bills

The proper conclusion to draw is not that the RBA has orchestrated the decline in rates since the early 1980s—but that it’s been riding it. During good times, central bankers look like geniuses; during bad times, they get tarred and feathered. Closer to the truth is that their interest-rate decisions are not proactive, but reactive, and that they continually follow in the footsteps of the market for lack of any other useful guide.

Now let’s look at the second assumption: that lower interest rates increase society’s appetite for risk. A simple glance at the weekly chart shows this assumption to be false. After the 1987 crash, the ASX All Ordinaries actually rallied for two years on rising rates and then sold off through 1990 on falling rates. Stocks then rose in 1991 on continued falling rates and sold off in 1992 on even lower rates. Continue following the chart to the right and you will see that there is no consistent correlation between the direction of interest rates and that of the stock market.

Stocks are not correlated to interest rates

The myth of central bank potency is so pervasive that conventional analysts can’t even imagine a better explanation for price trends: that the market is the dog wagging its central bank tail, not the other way around.

For more information, download Elliott Wave International’s FREE issue of Global Market Perspective, available until April 30. The 120-page publication covers every major world market, global interest rates, international currencies, metals, energy and more.

Mark Galasiewski is the editor of Elliott Wave International’s Asian Financial Forecast and member of EWI’s Global Market Perspective team covering Asian stock indexes.

Understanding the Fed – Not Just the Myths About the Fed

April 6, 2010

By Editorial Staff

If you would like to understand more about how the U.S. Federal Reserve works, you can spend some time on its website — or you can get the real story. Elliott Wave International has collected eight of Robert Prechter’s most trenchant articles about what the Fed actually does. He takes on the misleading myths about the Fed and explains what’s really going on as he writes about these topics.

How the Fed manufactures money

  • How the Fed encourages the growth of credit — and why that’s deflationary
  • What gives the Fed the authority to bail out troubled institutions
  • The difference between creating money and facilitating credit
  • Whether the Fed can manipulate the stock market or economy
  • How the Fed is ignoring historical lessons about central banks
  • How the Fed’s actions, combined with public outrage, may ultimately lead to its demise

The eBook with eight chapters is called Understanding the Fed: How to protect yourself from the common and misleading myths about the U.S. Federal Reserve. Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste of what you will learn.

The Fed’s “Uncle” Point Is in View

Chapter 13 of Conquer the Crash is titled, “Can the Fed Stop Deflation?” The answer given there was an emphatic no. In barely a year the faith –and that’s what it was–in the Fed’s inflating power has pretty much died. Conquer the Crash quoted The Wizard of Oz, and now anyone can see that there is no magic: just a man yanking on levers and blowing smoke. Back in 1929, consortiums of big banks, using their depositors’ money, tried to save the debt-laden stock market. They failed. This time, the new consortium was bigger: the Federal Reserve. But Conquer the Crash anticipated the end of that game, too: “The bankers’ pools of 1929 gave up on this strategy, and so will the Fed if it tries it.”

It is finally becoming obvious to everyone that the Fed is failing in extending its bag of tricks to stop deflation. The Fed’s balance sheet now contains more than 50 percent mortgage and other bank debt. Perhaps the Fed is willing to blow the rest of its AAA assets in the form of Treasury bonds, but somewhere between now and then is the Fed’s uncle point. The markets, however, are not so dumb as to wait for it. They can already see the end of that road, and they are moving now, ahead of it.

The Last Bastion against Deflation: The Federal Government
Now that the downward portion of the credit cycle is firmly in force, further inflation is impossible. But there is one entity left that can try to stave off deflation: the federal government.

The ultimate source of all the bad credit in the U.S. financial system is Congress. Congress created the Federal Reserve System and many privileged lending corporations: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, Sallie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Home Loan Banks, to name a few. The August 2008 issue cited our estimate that the mortgage-encouraging entities that Congress created account for 75 percent of all U.S. debt creation with respect to housing. For investors in mortgage (in)securities, the ratio is even greater. Recent reports show that these agencies, which have been stealing people blind by taking interest for nothing, account for a stunning 82 percent of all securitized mortgage debt. Roughly speaking, the government directly encouraged the indebtedness of four out of five home-related borrowers. As noted in the August issue, it indirectly encouraged the rest through the Fed’s lending to banks and the FDIC’s guarantee of bank deposits. These policies allowed borrowers to drive up house prices to absurd levels, making them unaffordable to people who wanted to buy them with actual money. Proof that these mortgages are artificial and the product of something other than a free market is the fact that while Germany, for example, has issued mortgage-backed securities with a value equal to 0.2 percent of its annual GDP, the U.S. has issued them so ferociously that their value has reached 49.6 percent of annual GDP, a multiple of 250 times Germany’s rate, and that is not in total value but only in value relative to the U.S.’s much larger GDP. (Statistics courtesy of the British Treasury.)

Do You Want to Really Understand the Fed? Then keep reading this free resource as soon as you become a free member of Club EWI. Join now!

Well, the ultimate source of this seemingly risk-free credit still exists, at least for now. When Bernake & Co. met in the back rooms of the White House in recent weekends, he must have said this: “Boys, we’re nearly out of ammo. We have $400b. of credit left to lend, and we have two percentage points lower to go in interest rates. The only way to stave of deflation is for you to guarantee all the bad debts in the system.” So far, government has leapt to oblige. One of its representatives strode to the podium to declare that it would pledge the future production of the American taxpayer in order to trade, in essence, all the bad IOUs held by speculators in Fannie and Freddie’s mortgages for gilt-edged, freshly stamped U.S. Treasury bonds.

Now, what exactly does that mean for deflation? This latest extension of the decades-long debt-creation scheme has essentially exchanged bad IOUs for T-bonds. This move does not create inflation, but it is an attempt to stop deflation. Instead of becoming worthless wallpaper and 20-cents-on-the-dollar pieces of paper, these IOUs have, through the flap of a jaw, maintained their full, 100 percent liability. This means that the credit supply attending all these mortgages, which was in the process of collapsing, has ballooned right back up to its former level.

You might think this shift of liability is a magic potion to stave off deflation. But it’s not.

Believers in perpetual inflation will ask, “What’s to stop this U.S. government from simply adopting all bad debts, keeping the credit bubble inflated?” Answer: The U.S. government’s IOUs have a price, an interest rate and a safety rating. Just as mortgage prices, rates and safety ratings were under investors’ control, so they are for Treasuries. Remember when Bill Clinton became outraged when he found out that “a bunch of bond traders,” not politicians determined the price of T-bonds and the interest rates that the government must charge? If investors begin to fear the government’s ability to pay interest and principal, they will move out of Treasuries the way they moved out of mortgages. The American financial system is too soaked with bad debt for a government bailout to work, and the market won’t let politicians get away with assuming all the bad debts. It may take some time for the market to figure out what to do about it, but as always, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The only question is who pays for it.

The Fed is nearly out of the picture, so the consortium of last resort, the federal government, is assuming the job of propping up the debt bubble. It is multiples bigger than any such entity that went before, because it can draw on the liquidity of American taxpayers and clandestinely steal value from American savers. So the question comes down to this: Will the public put up with more financial exploitation? To date, that’s exactly what it has done, but social mood has entered wave c of a Supercycle-degree decline, and voters are likely to become far less complacent, and more belligerent, than they have been for the past 76 years.

An early hint of the public’s reaction comes in the form of news reports. In my lifetime, I can hardly remember times when the media questioned benevolent-sounding actions of the government. Articles were always about who the action would “help.” But many commentators have more accurately reported on the latest bailout. USA Today’s headline reads, “Taxpayers take on trillions of risk.” (9/8) This headline is stunning because of its accuracy. When the government bailed out Chrysler, no newspaper ran an equally accurate headline saying, “Congress assures long-run bankruptcy for GM and Ford.” They all talked about why it was a good thing. This time, realism and skepticism (at a later stage of the cycle it will be cynicism and outrage) attend the bailout. The Wall Street Journal’s “Market Watch” reports an overwhelmingly negative response among emailers. Local newspapers’ “Letters” sections publish comments of dismay and even outrage. CNBC’s Mark Haines, in an interview on 9/8 with MSNBC, began by saying ironically, “Isn’t socialism great?” This breadth of disgust is new, and it’s a reflection of emerging negative social mood.

Social mood trends arise from mental states and lead to social actions and events. Deflation is a social event. Ultimately, social mood will determine whether deflation occurs or not. When voters become angry enough, Congressmen will stop flinging pork at all comers. Now the automakers want a bailout. Voters have remained complacent about it so far, but this benign attitude won’t last. The day the government capitulates and announces that it can’t bail out everyone is the day deflationary psychology will have won out.

Do You Want to Really Understand the Fed? Then keep reading this free resource as soon as you become a free member of Club EWI. Join now!

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.

Behind Closed Doors at the Federal Reserve
Ten Years of Research into America’s Central Bank

By Elliott Wave International

During the past few years, The Federal Reserve has engaged in a “deliberate inflating policy.”

This policy earned disfavor, both at home and abroad.

Robert Prechter said this in the July Elliott Wave Theorist:

“Foreign powers have been irate over the Fed’s deliberate inflating policy. At its outset, QE2 generated ‘a chorus of criticism’ from China, Russia, Japan, Brazil and Germany. It prompted one of China’s three credit rating services to lower its rating on U.S. debt from AA to A+, on the basis that QE2 is a scheme to defraud the Treasury’s creditors.

(Inflation is a scheme to rob everyone.) Whether or not that rating decision was politically motivated, it represents foreign resistance to the Fed’s machinations.”

[Note: The credit rating service in China is not alone in downgrading U.S. debt. History was made August 5 when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+.]

External resistance to the Fed’s policies is one thing. But the machinations of America’s central bank are also encountering resistance from within the Fed itself, albeit “behind closed doors.” Let’s return to the July Theorist:

It is not just outsiders who criticize the Fed’s policies. Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig voted against all seven of the Fed’s policy decisions in 2010. He disagreed with QE2 on the basis that it would generate inflation. He went public with his views at a Republican meeting in Washington on December 2. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser have also expressed concerns. Even Kevin Warsh, at that time a Fed governor-at-large who had never failed to support Bernanke, in a New York speech “warned of ‘significant risks’ associated with the program” (AP, 11/9) and expressed doubt that it would help the economy at all. His op-ed piece for The New York Times “expressed deep skepticism” of the plan. Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, in a San Antonio speech called QE2 the “wrong medicine” for the economy.

The “wrong medicine” indeed! If anything, the economy seems as unhealthy now as it was before QE2.

In a June 30 CNBC interview, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan himself said, “There is no evidence that [the] huge inflow of money into the system basically worked.”

 

 

The Federal Reserve BankPrechter has extensively studied and written about the Fed for more than a decade. He has “pulled back the curtain” on the nation’s “lender of last resort” and his findings are more relevant today than ever.

Prechter’s research is now available in a Free Report titled:

Understanding the Fed: How to Protect Yourself from the Common and Misleading Myths About the U.S. Federal Reserve

This special free report is now available for you to read by simply joining Club EWI. Membership is also free, and there are no obligations when you join. When you become a Club EWI member, you gain instant access to a wealth of EWI Educational Resources.

Download your Free Report about the U.S. Federal Reserve by following this link for the quick and easy sign-up!

Key To Trading Success

Key To Trading Success: Ignore Nature’s Laws?

The following is excerpted from Robert Prechter’s Independent Investor eBook. The 75-page eBook is a compilation of some of the New York Times best selling author’s writings that challenge conventional financial market assumptions. Visit Elliott Wave International to download the eBook, free.

By Robert Prechter

…The natural tendency of people to apply physics to finance explains why successful traders are so rare and why they are so immensely rewarded for their skills. There is no such thing as a “born trader” because people are born — or learn very early — to respect the laws of physics. This respect is so strong that they apply these laws even in inappropriate situations. Most people who follow the market closely act as if the market is a physical force aimed at their heads. Buying during rallies and selling during declines is akin to ducking when a rock is hurtling toward you.

Successful traders learn to do something that almost no one else can do. They sell near the emotional extreme of a rally and buy near the emotional extreme of a decline. The mental discipline that a successful trader shows in buying low and selling high is akin to that of a person who sees a rock thrown at his head and refuses to duck. He thinks, I’m betting that the rock will veer away at the last moment, of its own accord. In this endeavor, he must ignore the laws of physics to which his mind naturally defaults. In the physical world, this would be insane behavior; in finance, it makes him rich.

Unfortunately, sometimes the rock does not veer. It hits the trader in the head. All he has to rely upon is percentages. He knows from long study that most of the time, the rock coming at him will veer away, but he also must take the consequences when it doesn’t. The emotional fortitude required to stand in the way of a hurtling stone when you might get hurt is immense, and few people possess it. It is, of course, a great paradox that people who can’t perform this feat get hurt over and over in financial markets and endure a serious stoning, sometimes to death. Many great truths about life are paradoxical, and so is this one.

Robert Prechter’s Five Tips for How To Trade Successfully

September 15, 2009

Take it from the person who won the United States Trading Championship with profits of more than 440% in 1984 – there are five things that every successful trader needs to know how to do:

  • Have a method to trade.
  • Have the discipline to follow your method.
  • Get real trading experience, instead of only trading on paper.
  • Have the mental fortitude to accept the fact that losses are part of the game.
  • Have the mental fortitude to accept huge gains.

 

  • Bonus tip: Find a mentor.

 

That trader who won the championship in a record-breaking fashion is Robert Prechter, the founder and president of Elliott Wave International. Once you think you’ve mastered his 5 tips for how to trade successfully, then the best thing to do is to find a mentor. In this excerpt from the book, Prechter’s Perspective, Bob Prechter discusses how sitting at the elbow of a professional trader can make all the difference in learning the trade of trading.

 

Free 47-page eBook: How to Spot Trading Opportunities

Elliott Wave International has released part one of their hugely popular How to Spot Trading Opportunities eBook for free. The eBook sells as a two-part set for $129. You can now download part 1 for free. Learn more here.

 

(The following Q&A is excerpted from Prechter’s Perspective, revised 2004.)

Question: Has any specific trading experience decreased your trading success?

Bob Prechter: Yes. My first trade in 1973 was wildly successful, and I was hardly wrong in my first six years at it. Then I had a big trading loss in 1979, and that taught me more than the wins. The best way to develop an optimal state of mind for trading is to fail a few times first and understand why it happened. When you start, you’re better off speculating with small amounts of real money. Using larger amounts of money will bankrupt you early, which, while an excellent lesson, is rather painful. If you want to be a trader, it is good to start young. Then when you lose your first two bundles, you can gain some wisdom and rebound.

Q.: It sounds painful. Is there any way at least to reduce the hard knocks?

Bob Prechter: There is one shortcut to obtaining experience, and that is to find a mentor.

Q.: Did you have a mentor?

Bob Prechter: In 1979, I sat with a professional trader for about a year. The most important thing he taught me was to keep trades small relative to your capital. It reduces the emotional factor.

Q.: How would one select a mentor?

Bob Prechter: The best way to select one is to find a person who is doing exactly what you would like to do for a living, then get to know him well enough to ask if he will tutor you or at least let you watch while he works. Locate someone who has proved himself over the years to be a successful trader or investor, and go visit him. Listen to him. Sit down with him, if possible, for six months. Watch what he does. More important, watch what he doesn’t do. Finding a guy who knows what he is doing is the best lesson you could ever have. You will undoubtedly find that he is very friendly as well, since his runaway ego of yesteryear, which undoubtedly got him involved in the markets in the first place, has long since been humbled, matured by the experience of trading. He will usually welcome the opportunity to tell you what he knows.

 

Free 47-page eBook: How to Spot Trading Opportunities
Elliott Wave International has released part one of their hugely popular How to Spot Trading Opportunities eBook for free. The eBook sells as a two-part set for $129. You can now download part 1 for free.

Are These 4 Emotional Pitfalls Sabotaging Your Trading?

August 13, 2009

By Jeffrey Kennedy

The following is an excerpt from Jeffrey Kennedy’s Trader’s Classroom Collection. Now through August 17, Elliott Wave International is offering a special45-page Best Of Traders Classroom eBook, free.

To be a consistently successful trader, the most important trait to learn is emotional discipline. I discovered this the hard way trading full-time a few years ago. I remember one day in particular. My analysis told me the NASDAQ was going to start a sizable third wave rally between 10:00-10:30 the next day… and it did. When I reviewed my trade log later, I saw that several of my positions were profitable, yet I exited each of them at a loss. My analysis was perfect. It was like having tomorrow’s newspaper today. Unfortunately, I wanted to hit a home run, so I ignored singles and doubles.

I now call this emotional pitfall the “Lottery Syndrome.” People buy lottery tickets to win a jackpot, not five or ten dollars. It is easy to pass up a small profit in hopes of scoring a larger one. Problem is, home runs are rare. My goal now is to hit a single or double, so I don’t let my profits slip away.

Since then, I’ve identified other emotional pitfalls that I would like to share. See if any of these sound familiar.

Have you ever held on to a losing position because you “felt” that the market was going to come back in your favor? This is the “Inability to Admit Failure.” No one likes being wrong and for traders, being wrong usually costs money. What I find interesting is that many of us would rather lose money than admit failure. I know now that being wrong is much less expensive than being hopeful.

Another emotional pitfall that was especially tough to overcome is what I call the “Fear of Missing the Party.” This one is responsible for more losing trades than any other. Besides overtrading, this pitfall also causes you to get in too early. How many of us have gone short after a five-wave rally just to watch wave five extend? The solution is to use a time filter, which is a fancy way of saying wait a few bars before you start to dance. If a trade is worth taking, waiting for prices to confirm your analysis will not affect your profit that much. Anyway, I would much rather miss an opportunity then suffer a loss, because their will always be another opportunity.

This emotional pitfall has yet another symptom that tons of people fall victim to chasing one seemingly hot market after another. For instance, metals have been moving the past few years so everyone wants to buy Gold and Silver. Of course, when everyone is talking about it is usually the worst time to get into a market. To avoid buying tops and selling bottoms, I have found that it’s best to look for a potential trade where (and when) no one else is paying attention.

My biggest, worst emotional monster was being the “Systems Junkie.” Early in my career I believed that I could make my millions if I had just the right system. I bought every newsletter, book and tape series that I could find. None of them worked. I even went as far as becoming a professional analyst guaranteed success, or so I thought. Well, it didn’t guarantee anything really. Analysis and trading are two separate skills; one is a skill of observation, while the other, of emotional control. Being an expert auto mechanic does not mean you can drive like an expert, much less win the Daytona 500.

I am not a psychologist or an expert in the psychology of trading. These are just a few lessons I’ve learned along the way… at quite a cost most times. But if you are serious about trading, I strongly recommend that you spend as much time examining your emotions while you are in a trade as you do your charts before you place one. What you discover may surprise you.

For more trading lessons from Jeffrey Kennedy, visit Elliott Wave International to download the Best of Traders Classroom eBook. Normally priced at $59, it’s free until August 17.

 

Jeffrey Kennedy is the Chief Commodity Analyst at Elliott Wave International (EWI). With more than 15 years of experience as a technical analyst, he writes and edits Futures Junctures, EWI’s premier commodity forecasting service.

The Three Phases of a Trader’s Education:

Psychology, Money Management, Method

July 23, 2009

By Jeffrey Kennedy

The following is an excerpt from Jeffrey Kennedy’s Trader’s Classroom Collection. Now through August 10, Elliott Wave International is offering a special45-page Best Of Traders Classroom eBook, free.

Aspiring traders typically go through three phases in this order:

Methodology. The first phase is that all-too-familiar quest for the Holy Grail – a trading system that never fails. After spending thousands of dollars on books, seminars and trading systems, the aspiring trader eventually realizes that no such system exists.

Money Management. So, after getting frustrated with wasting time and money, the up-and-coming trader begins to understand the need for money management, risking only a small percentage of a portfolio on a given trade versus too large a bet.

Psychology. The third phase is realizing how important psychology is – not only personal psychology but also the psychology of crowds.

But it would be better to go through these phases in the opposite direction. I actually read of this idea in a magazine a few months ago but, for the life of me, can’t find the article. Even so, with a measly 15 years of experience under my belt and an expensive Ph.D. from S.H.K. University (i.e., School of Hard Knocks), I wholeheartedly agree. Aspiring traders should begin their journey at phase three and work backward.

I believe the first step in becoming a consistently successful trader is to understand how psychology plays out in your own make-up and in the way the crowd reacts to changes in the markets. The reason for this is that a trader must realize that once he or she makes a trade, logic no longer applies. This is because the emotions of fear and greed take precedence – fear of losing money and greed for more money.

Once the aspiring trader understands this psychology, it’s easier to understand why it’s important to have a defined investment methodology and, more importantly, the discipline to follow it. New traders must realize that once they join a crowd, they lose their individuality. Worse yet, crowd psychology impairs their judgment, because crowds are wrong more often than not, typically selling at market bottoms and buying at market tops.

Moving onto phase two, after the aspiring trader understands a bit of psychology, he or she can focus on money management. Money management is an important subject and deserves much more than just a few sentences. Even so, there are two issues that I believe are critical to grasp: (1) risk in terms of individual trades and (2) risk as a percentage of account size.

When sizing up a trading opportunity, the rule-of-thumb I go by is 3:1. That is, if my risk on a given trading opportunity is $500, then the profit objective for that trade should equal $1,500, or more. With regard to risk as a percentage of account size, I’m more than comfortable utilizing the same guidelines that many professional money managers use – 1%-3% of the account per position. If your trading account is $100,000, then you should risk no more than $3,000 on a single position. Following this guideline not only helps to contain losses if one’s trade decision is incorrect, but it also insures longevity. It’s one thing to have a winning quarter; the real trick is to have a winning quarter next year and the year after.

When aspiring traders grasp the importance of psychology and money management, they should then move to phase three – determining their methodology, a defined and unwavering way of examining price action. I principally use the Wave Principle as my methodology. However, wave analysis certainly isn’t the only way to view price action. One can choose candlestick charts, Dow Theory, cycles, etc. My best advice in this realm is that whatever you choose to use, it should be simple. In fact, it should be simple enough to put on the back of a business card, because, like an appliance, the fewer parts it has, the less likely it is to break down.

For more trading lessons from Jeffrey Kennedy, visit Elliott Wave International to download the Best of Traders Classroom eBook. It’s free until August 10.

Spot a Pattern You Recognize: One Simple Tip for Becoming a Better Trader

July 15, 2009

By Gary Grimes

The following article is adapted from market analysis by Elliott Wave International Chief Commodity Analyst Jeffrey Kennedy. Now through July 22, Jeffrey Kennedy’s daily, intermediate, and long-term forecasts for up to 18 markets are free via EWI’s FreeWeek. Learn more here.

Wave patterns are like beautiful women, classic cars and great art – you know them when you see them.

EWI analyst Jeffrey Kennedy drives this point home during his live Elliott wave trading tutorial. It’s my favorite of his tips for trading with Elliott waves.
“Trade the pattern not the count,” Jeffrey says.

If you don’t recognize a pattern at a glance, don’t trade it – plain and simple. After all, your wave count can be wrong; the pattern cannot.

Does that mean you must know the exact wave count at a glance, as well? No. Simply spotting a pattern you recognize is where you should start.

Jeffrey scans hundreds of charts, clicking through them one by one, spending mere seconds with each. If he doesn’t spot a pattern he recognizes, a click of his mouse takes him to another potential opportunity.

Does price action look extended or choppy? Is it trading in a channel? Is it forming a wedge or triangle shape? These are some of the signals Jeffrey’s looking for. Each could help him identify – at the quickest of glances – whether price action is impulsive or corrective. This is the first critical step, Jeffrey says, to spotting high-confidence, Elliott wave trade setups.

That brings us to the following chart. Do you see a pattern you recognize? I do.

chart pattern

Look at the downward price action; the moves look decisive, almost in straight lines like impulse waves. Now look at the upward moves; they look indecisive and choppy like corrections. There’s also one down move that is clearly longer than the others – that’s almost certainly a third wave of some degree.

At just a glance, here are a few things we can determine:

  • This is a bearish market pattern, because downward impulses are interrupted by upward corrections.
  • The price action from September to November seems to be a pretty clear wave 3 down, followed by waves 4 up then 5 down, completing what appears to be a larger degree wave 1 in early March.
  • Wave 2 follows wave 1, so the upward move starting in early March is most likely a larger degree wave 2.
  • Wave 3 follows wave 2, so that’s what we can expect next.
  • Wave 3 is never the shortest and often the longest of all five waves, so we can expect the next impulse move to take prices to new lows.

You see, with just a quick glance, we’ve put a finger on the pulse of the market. Negative psychology pulls prices down, and brief reversals of mood result in upward corrections – this appears to be a long-term bear market.

If you can gain this much insight simply by glancing at a chart, just think of what else you can glean by spending more time with it. Look at this pattern within a longer time frame, and you can determine the degree of trend (this one appears to be primary). Formulate Fibonacci price and time targets, and you can be confident about when and where prices will most likely turn.
There are literally hundreds of things you can do with a good chart, but none of them mean much unless you can first identify a pattern you recognize.

Gary Grimes focuses on mass psychology, U.S. stocks and the U.S. economy. Gary has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University in Auburn, AL, where he was first turned onto the Austrian School of economics by way of the world-famous Mises Institute. His study of classical liberalism eventually led him to discover the Elliott Wave Principle and Robert Prechter’s theory of socionomics.

How to Tell a Good Forecast From a Bad One

How To Tell a Good Forecast from a Bad One

Here’s a forecast for you. Clear and direct. As quoted by a Reuters reporter in his January 15, 2009, article, entitled, “Global Lending Thaw May Yet Return to Deep Freeze.”

“‘This is a temporary respite and when it’s over, the stock market will make new lows…,’ says Robert Prechter, chief executive officer at research company Elliott Wave International in Gainesville, Georgia.” [Reuters, 1/15/09]

But there are lots of forecasts out there – for the economy, for the Dow, for the price of oil, for the chances of the Boston Celtics repeating as NBA champions – so the question arises, how can you tell a good forecast from a bad one?

Bob Prechter addressed that very question with another reporter in a Q&A originally published in the book, Prechter’s Perspective.

Editor’s Note: For more market insights from Bob Prechter, visit Elliott Wave International to download Prechter’s FREE 60-page Deflation Survival eBook, part of Prechter’s NEW Deflation Survival Guide.

The following text was originally published in Robert Prechter’s 2004 best selling book, Prechter’s Perspective.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

Q: In general, is there any way for a person to tell a good forecast from a bad one?

Bob Prechter: There is a subtle way to tell a potentially useful forecast from a useless one. Most published forecasts are at best descriptions of what already has happened. I never give any forecast a second thought unless it addresses the question of the point at which a change in trend may occur.

As an example outside the financial markets: a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published his ratings (scale 1-5) for each of the players on the Atlanta Braves baseball team as a forecast of how they would perform in 1984. At the start of the season, he rated 1983’s Most Valuable Player a “5,” Atlanta’s slugger a “4,” and the right fielder a lowly “2” due to bad performance in 1983 following two excellent years. Later in 1984, the MVP was batting only .215, and the slugger was batting a dismal .179, while the lowest-rated player, the right fielder, had hit 8 home runs and led the team in batting average and RBIs.

The point is not that the sportswriter was wrong in his predictions. The point is that he didn’t make any predictions, even though he thought he did and said he did. He was merely rating the 1983 Braves in retrospect. He ignored possible bases upon which to forecast the 1984 season, things like motivation, new developments or events in a player’s life, cyclic changes in playing success, etc. As with most forecasts, these things weren’t even considered.

Read forecasts carefully. If they are mild-mannered extrapolations of a recent trend, it’s probably the best policy to toss them aside and go search for something potentially useful.

Q: Obviously, the same holds true in finance.

Bob Prechter: All the time. When economists say, as they so often do, that they see “no reason to expect anything different” from the recent past, they mean it from the bottom of their knowledge. The linear projections they typically employ result in logic such as that expressed by an economist in a national newspaper, who said, “This rising consumer confidence is good news for the economy. Rising confidence spurs the economy, and the pickup in the economy then serves to heighten confidence.” By this line of reasoning, no change of direction could ever occur. That’s why, absent other knowledge, the only forecasts even worth your time considering are those that predict a change. Not because the forecaster is certain to be right, but because it shows that he is thinking and perhaps employing a tool that can anticipate trends.

Q: So the word “prediction” doesn’t necessarily apply to the future!

Bob Prechter: Right. And it’s those predictions about the future that are the tough ones. That’s why economists stick to predicting the past, which is a crafty solution. It leads to misery among the people who follow them, but it doesn’t seem to affect economists’ jobs, so it certainly keeps them happy!

Q: Do you think that predicting the economy is possible?

Bob Prechter: It is not only possible, it is downright easy compared with predicting the stock market. One economist has gotten a lot of chuckles by saying that the stock market has predicted something like 19 of the last 13 recessions. However, that is only a reasonable statement if you believe that a certain rigid definition of a recession is the only one that is viable. In fact, if you look at the ebb and flow of economic activity and generally realize that it lags stock market activity of between 0 and 12 months, you will find that there is no better single indicator of what the economy is going to do than the stock market. Not only that, but even 19 out of 13 is infinitely better than any economist has ever done.

……….

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 founder and CEO of Elliott Wave International, author of Wall Street best-sellers Conquer the Crashand Elliott Wave Principle and editor of The Elliott Wave Theorist monthly market letter since 1979.

Now a little fun:

The Economic Crisis That No One Saw Coming: A Convenient Untruth

August 9, 2010

By Elliott Wave International

The single most convenient untruth about the 2008 (and counting) financial crisis is that it was unforeseen. For two years policymakers have insisted “There was no way to know ahead of time” that the liquidity boom would come to a screeching halt. Back in November 2008, in fact, the usually tight-lipped Queen of England herself publicly described the turmoil of international markets as “awful” and openly asked a panel of experts from the London School of Economics “Why did nobody notice?

Her Majesty is right: Most financial authorities did NOT notice the crisis before it was too late. Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” of all places provided the most poignant evidence: A March 2009 video montage shows executives and economists from the world’s leading financial firms repeatedly forecasting continued upside strength in stocks, plus renewed bull market growth in financials — right as debt markets came unhinged and the US stock market headed into a 50%-plus selloff.

Dubbed the “8-Minute Rap” (after the “18-Minute Gap” of Nixon’s Watergate tapes), the Daily Show video feature sent an equally powerful message, as the video below makes clear.

Yet even as the mainstream authorities failed to detect the economic earthquake moving below their own feet, somebody did “notice” well in advance. That person was EWI’s president Bob Prechter.

The clip below is from a 2007 Bloomberg interview. Clear as PLAY, the foreseeable nature of the crisis emerges from Bob’s October 19, 2007 interview.

As the historic trend change began to unfold, Robert Prechter issued this timely insight:

“We’ve seen the first crack in the credit structure with a huge drop in commercial paper… These are the harbingers of a change toward the downside for the stock market, commodities including oil, and the debt market itself.”

Don’t believe the convenient untruths. Get objective market analysis today. Download this free report that contains valuable market forecasts directly from the desk of Bob Prechter.

How A Bear Can Be Bullish And Still Be Right

Bob Prechter: the only good label is an Elliott wave label…
September 8, 2009

By Nico Isaac

In recent months, Elliott Wave International President Bob Prechter has become something of a household name. In the final two days of August 2009 alone, Bob was mentioned by several news outlets from MarketWatch to the New York Times. The claim to his “fame” —

EWI was one of the only technical analysis firms to anticipate a sharp rally in U.S. stocks as they circled the drain of a 12-year low this spring, a feat made ever more exceptional considering the widespread image of Bob as being the ultimate “Big, Bad Bear.”

The lesson? Believe in the facts, not in the “widespread image.”

Bob Prechter has always said that successful forecasting should look to the current wave count (and various other technical measures) for direction. He has never permanently tied himself to the mast of definition — i.e. “bull” or “bear.”

For this reason, EWI’s team of analysts have been able to stay one step ahead of the biggest turning points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, from the very start of the index’s historic 2007 reversal.

To wit: This two-year chart of the Dow incorporates several calls from our past publications as they coincided with the market’s most memorable peaks and troughs:

Predicting the DOW

——————————————————————
For more analysis from Robert Prechter, download a free 10-page July issue of Prechter’s Elliott Wave Theorist.
——————————————————————

The chart above presents the abstract details of our past analysis. Here is the expanded version of those insights as they appeared in real-time:

July 17, 2007 TheElliott Wave Theorist:

  • “Aggressive speculators should return to a fully leveraged short position now. We may be early by a couple of weeks, but the market has traced out the minimum expected rise, and that’s enough to act on.”

Soon after, as the DJIA neared its own historic Oct. 11, 2007 apex, the Oct. 9 and 10 Short Term Update amped up the urgency of its analysis and wrote:

  • “Odds have increased that a market high is in place. The structure, coupled with turns in the other markets, suggests a top is in place. The potential, at the least, is four a large selloff… Watch Out! The market faces a stout correction.”

Before landing at its March 10, 2008 bottom, the March 5 Short Term Update afforded respect to a bullish alternate count and wrote: “Prices should carry above the wave a high (13165) before it ends.”

At its four-month high, the March 16 2008 Elliott Wave Theorist went on high, bearish alert and wrote: The DJIA is entering “Free Fall territory.”

One week before the U.S. stock market landed at its 12-year low of March 9, our Feb. 27, 2009 Short Term Update utilized a traditional turning pattern to outline a specific time window for the onset of a major upside reversal. In STU’s own words:

  • “By all indication, this pattern is back on track… the turn will come on or near March 10, 2009. Anywhere in this time period may mark a turn, which will obviously be a market low.”

Once the bullish winds of change had turned, the March 16 Short Term Update wrote:

  • “When the market speaks, it behooves us to listen. The implications of this are that the… major stock indexes are in the initial stages of a multi-month advance.”

Finally, the April 2009 Elliott Wave Financial Forecast calculated a specific target range for the Dow’s rally: the 9,000-10,000 level.

So, now that the upside objective is met, where are prices set to go next? For more analysis from Robert Prechter, download a free 10-page July issue of Prechter’s Elliott Wave Theorist.

 

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 Theorist monthly market letter since 1979.

Mainstream media brings us a wide range of views from economic experts, many of which conflict in their prediction of the future. Everybody has a fundamental reason about the future of the stock market and their earnings predictions. Everybody rationalizes their views one way or another. And most of the market forecasts end up being wrong. However, at the turning points when investors are the most vulnarable, the wrong direction of the crowd takes an acute form.

Can the Fed and the Economists Forecast the Future?

Business Talk Radio host Gabriel Wisdom recently spoke with Pete Kendall, Co-Editor of EWI’s Elliott Wave Financial Forecast. Their discussion included a crucial but rarely asked question about economists and the Federal Reserve. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

  • Gabriel Wisdom: “Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says the economy is slowing but there’s faster growth ahead. Is he wrong?”
  • Pete Kendall: “Economists are extrapolationists. They tend to look at what’s happening in the economy and extrapolate that forward. So here we have a situation where not just Bernanke but economists in general are looking at… what they call the ‘soft patch’ and somehow contorting that into growth later in the year.

Pete’s startling reply flatly contradicts conventional wisdom. Most people believe that the Fed really is able to anticipate the economic future. After all, they’re the most “qualified.” But what do the facts say?

Pete’s Elliott Wave Financial Forecast Co-Editor Steve Hochberg recently included this eye-opening chart (from Societe Generale Equity Research) in his new subscriber-exclusive video, “Buy and Hold, or Sell and Fold: Where Are The Markets Headed in 2011?

Market Forecast vs Reality

The red line in the chart is the S&P earnings, and the black line shows economists’ forecasts relative to those earnings. Here’s what James Montier, head of equity research for Societe Generale, said about it:

“The chart makes it transparently obvious that analysts lag reality. They only change their minds when there is irrefutable proof they were wrong, and then only change their minds very slowly.” (emphasis added)

That comment is spot-on. In 2002-2003, as you can see, earnings turned up despite economists’ forecasts for earning declines. It took them a while to “turn the ship around” and play catch-up with the trend.

Yet in 2007-2008, earnings turned down — despite the forecast by economists for continued increases. The devastating truth is that earnings did more than fall in the first quarter of 2008: they had their first negative quarter in the history of the S&P. As Steve said in his subscriber video, “Economists were wrong to a record degree” — and investors felt the pain.

So what’s the point? Economists do extrapolate the trend. That approach works fine, until it doesn’t­ — and you’re on the hook.

Elliott wave analysis never extrapolates trends — it anticipates them. The Wave Principle recognizes that markets must rise and fall — and that they unfold according to changes in investor psychology, in a way that is patterned and recognizable.

Most people believe that the Fed really is able to anticipate the economic future. Now you know the facts. Uncover other important myths and misconceptions about the economy and the markets by reading Market Myths Exposed.

EWI’s free Market Myths Exposed 33-page eBook takes the 10 most dangerous investment myths head on and exposes the truth about each in a way every investor can understand. Download your free copy now.

Shrinking Business During Deflation

A Better Way To Handle a Shrinking Business

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 text was originally published in Robert Prechter’s February 2009 Elliott Wave Theorist

By Robert Prechter, CMT

During depressions, many businesses make a fatal mistake: They lay off employees. Some businesses have no choice; if the product or service is related more to quantity than quality, then perhaps there is no alternative. But many businesses are far better served by keeping their employees and reducing compensation. That way, they can continue to serve customers with full quality and stand ready to lead the competition when the next economic expansion arrives.

Surely most employees would rather endure an across-the-board salary cut than risk being laid off. In the 1930s, General Electric polled its workers on this very question, and the majority agreed that they would rather endure salary reductions. A few years later, when the economy recovered, GE had all of its employees in place and did not have to spend years recruiting new people. It shot out of the gate in full operating mode.
Moreover, the company had made progress improving designs and making plans during the lull. When business picked up, so did salaries. In the end, it was win-win for everyone.

Take, for example, a news service that needs to reduce costs. Instead of cutting staff by 50 percent, thereby forcing a radical reduction in the scope of the news coverage, it would make more sense to cut salaries by 50 percent and retain full service. If lowering the price of the service would keep the subscriber, viewer or listener base steady, or if reducing the cost of advertising would keep the support base steady, it would be better to make one of those moves rather than cutting staff. Either program would maintain quality and serve to keep the service in the forefront among news providers. Inflexible competitors would go out of business, thereby helping the survivors.

If an airline is in trouble, it should not cut routes and service while holding prices and salaries up. It should cut salaries and prices and continue serving the highest possible number of customers. That way, it will be the carrier of choice for many fliers when the economy returns to expansion mode. Again, everyone wins, including the employees.

This idea would work well for any business that does not have long-term contracts – such as with labor unions or high-level employees – guaranteeing salaries. Even in such a case, negotiating reductions would be smarter than going bankrupt.

This approach could work for many kinds of businesses: airlines, manufacturers, newspapers, shippers and sports teams, to name a few. If you work for a business for which this plan would serve, mention it to those in management. Even they would probably prefer a reduction in income to none at all.

Reducing salaries has another benefit, which is that fewer people would go to the state for “unemployment benefits,” reducing the strain on state budgets and taxpayers. If your business would operate better with all its employees, consider a company-wide salary reduction as opposed to layoffs.

……….

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 founder and CEO of Elliott Wave International, author of Wall Street best-sellers Conquer the Crashand Elliott Wave Principle and editor of The Elliott Wave Theorist monthly market letter since 1979.

The Last Bastion Against Deflation: The Federal Government

The Last Bastion Against Deflation: The Federal Government

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 free 60-page compilation of Prechter’s most important teachings and warnings about deflation.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

Now that the downward portion of the credit cycle is firmly in force, further inflation is impossible. But there is one entity left that can try to stave off deflation: the federal government.

The ultimate source of all the bad credit in the U.S. financial system is Congress. Congress created the Federal Reserve System and many privileged lending corporations: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, Sallie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Home Loan Banks, to name a few. The August issue [of The Elliott Wave Theorist] cited our estimate that the mortgage-encouraging entities that Congress created account for 75 percent of all U.S. debt creation with respect to housing. For investors in mortgage (in)securities, the ratio is even greater. Recent reports show that these agencies, which have been stealing people blind by taking interest for nothing, account for a stunning 82 percent of all securitized mortgage debt. Roughly speaking, the government directly encouraged the indebtedness of four out of five home-related borrowers. As noted in the August issue, it indirectly encouraged the rest through the Fed’s lending to banks and the FDIC’s guarantee of bank deposits. These policies allowed borrowers to drive up house prices to absurd levels, making them unaffordable to people who wanted to buy them with actual money. Proof that these mortgages are artificial and the product of something other than a free market is the fact that while Germany, for example, has issued mortgage-backed securities with a value equal to 0.2 percent of its annual GDP, the U.S. has issued them so ferociously that their value has reached 49.6 percent of annual GDP, a multiple of 250 times Germany’s rate, and that is not in total value but only in value relative to the U.S.’s much larger GDP. (Statistics courtesy of the British Treasury.)

Well, the ultimate source of this seemingly risk-free credit still exists, at least for now. When Bernanke & Co. met in the back rooms of the White House in recent weekends, he must have said this: “Boys, we’re nearly out of ammo. We have $400b. of credit left to lend, and we have two percentage points lower to go in interest rates. The only way to stave off deflation is for you to guarantee all the bad debts in the system.” So far, government has leapt to oblige. One of its representatives strode to the podium to declare that it would pledge the future production of the American taxpayer in order to trade, in essence, all the bad IOUs held by speculators in Fannie and Freddie’s mortgages for gilt-edged, freshly stamped U.S. Treasury bonds.

Now, what exactly does that mean for deflation? This latest extension of the decades-long debt-creation scheme has essentially exchanged bad IOUs for T-bonds. This move does not create inflation, but it is an attempt to stop deflation. Instead of becoming worthless wallpaper and 20-cents-on-the-dollar pieces of paper, these IOUs have, through the flap of a jaw, maintained their full, 100 percent liability. This means that the credit supply attending all these mortgages, which was in the process of collapsing, has ballooned right back up to its former level.

You might think this shift of liability is a magic potion to stave off deflation. But it’s not.

Believers in perpetual inflation will ask, “What’s to stop the U.S. government from simply adopting all bad debts, keeping the credit bubble inflated?” Answer: The U.S. government’s IOUs have a price, an interest rate and a safety rating. Just as mortgage prices, rates and safety ratings were under investors’ control, so they are for Treasuries. Remember when Bill Clinton became outraged when he found out that “a bunch of bond traders,” not politicians, determined the price of T-bonds and the interest rates that the government must charge? If investors begin to fear the government’s ability to pay interest and principal, they will move out of Treasuries the way they moved out of mortgages. The American financial system is too soaked with bad debt for a government bailout to work, and the market won’t let politicians get away with assuming all the bad debts. It may take some time for the market to figure out what to do about it, but as always, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The only question is who pays for it.

The Fed is nearly out of the picture, so the consortium of last resort, the federal government, is assuming the job of propping up the debt bubble. It is multiples bigger than any such entity that went before, because it can draw on the liquidity of American taxpayers and clandestinely steal value from American savers. So the question comes down to this: Will the public put up with more financial exploitation? To date, that’s exactly what it has done, but social mood has entered wave c of a Supercycle-degree decline, and voters are likely to become far less complacent, and more belligerent, than they have been for the past 76 years.

An early hint of the public’s reaction comes in the form of news reports. In my lifetime, I can hardly remember times when the media questioned benevolent-sounding actions of the government. Articles were always about who the action would “help.” But many commentators have more accurately reported on the latest bailout. USA Today’s headline reads, “Taxpayers take on trillions of risk.” (9/8) This headline is stunning because of its accuracy. When the government bailed out Chrysler, no newspaper ran an equally accurate headline saying, “Congress assures long-run bankruptcy for GM and Ford.” They all talked about why it was a good thing. This time, realism and skepticism (at a later stage of the cycle it will be cynicism and outrage) attend the bailout. The Wall Street Journal’s “Market Watch” reports an overwhelmingly negative response among emailers. Local newspapers’ “Letters” sections publish comments of dismay and even outrage. CNBC’s Mark Haines, in an interview on 9/8 with MSNBC, began by saying ironically, “Isn’t socialism great?” This breadth of disgust is new, and it’s a reflection of emerging negative social mood.

Social mood trends arise from mental states and lead to social actions and events. Deflation is a social event. Ultimately, social mood will determine whether deflation occurs or not. When voters become angry enough, Congressmen will stop flinging pork at all comers. Now the automakers want a bailout. Voters have remained complacent about it so far, but this benign attitude won’t last. The day the government capitulates and announces that it can’t bail out everyone is the day deflationary psychology will have won out.

……….

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 founder and CEO of Elliott Wave International, author of Wall Street best-sellers Conquer the Crashand Elliott Wave Principle and editor of The Elliott Wave Theorist monthly market letter since 1979.

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.
…………….

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.

……….

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.

About Financial Crisis

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…

Answer:
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?

Answer:
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.

Answer:
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?

Answer:
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?

Answer:
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?

Answer:
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.

 

Price Effects of Inflation and Deflation

Robert Prechter Explains the Price Effects of Inflation and Deflation

Editor’s Note: On Nov. 19, 2008, the U.S. Labor Department reported a 1 percent drop in the consumer price index for October 2008. The drop marked the largest decline in 61 years, and it was the first decline in that measure in nearly a quarter of a century. The 1 percent drop was twice as large as many mainstream analysts had forecast. Such a large decline in consumer prices is forcing U.S. policy makers to rethink the possibility of deflation in America. For more on deflation, we turn to Robert Prechter, the man who literally wrote a book on how to survive it. The following article, adapted from Prechter’s book Conquer the Crash – You Can Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression, will help you understand exactly what to expect from deflation.

In addition to this article, visit Elliott Wave International to download the free 8-page report, Inflation vs. Deflation. It contains details on which threat you should prepare for and steps you can take to protect your money.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

Before explaining the price effects of inflation and deflation, we must define the terms inflation, deflation, money, credit and debt.

Webster’s says, “Inflation is an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods,” and “Deflation is a contraction in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods.”

Money is a socially accepted medium of exchange, value storage and final payment. A specified amount of that medium also serves as a unit of account.

According to its two financial definitions, credit may be summarized as a right to access money. Credit can be held by the owner of the money, in the form of a warehouse receipt for a money deposit, which today is a checking account at a bank. Credit can also be transferred by the owner or by the owner’s custodial institution to a borrower in exchange for a fee or fees – called interest – as specified in a repayment contract called a bond, note, bill or just plain IOU, which is debt. In today’s economy, most credit is lent, so people often use the terms “credit” and “debt” interchangeably, as money lent by one entity is simultaneously money borrowed by another.

When the volume of money and credit rises relative to the volume of goods available, the relative value of each unit of money falls, making prices for goods generally rise. When the volume of money and credit falls relative to the volume of goods available, the relative value of each unit of money rises, making prices of goods generally fall. Though many people find it difficult to do, the proper way to conceive of these changes is that the value of units ofmoney are rising and falling, not the values of goods.

The most common misunderstanding about inflation and deflation – echoed even by some renowned economists – is the idea that inflation is rising prices and deflation is falling prices. General price changes, though, are simply effects of inflation and deflation.

The price effects of inflation can occur in goods, which most people recognize as relating to inflation, or in investment assets, which people do not generally recognize as relating to inflation. The inflation of the 1970s induced dramatic price rises in gold, silver and commodities. The inflation of the 1980s and 1990s induced dramatic price rises in stock certificates and real estate. This difference in effect is due to differences in the social psychology that accompanies inflation and disinflation, respectively.

The price effects of deflation are simpler. They tend to occur across the board, in goods and investment assets simultaneously.

…………….

For more information on deflation and inflation, including money-saving steps for protecting your wealth, download Elliott Wave International’s free 8-page report, Inflation vs. 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.

Banks Can Fail

Why Your FDIC-Backed Bank Could Fail

With big bank bailouts dominating the news, there’s no better time to get the truth about bank safety.

This informative article has been excerpted from Bob Prechter’s New York Times bestseller Conquer the Crash. Unlike recent news articles that are responding to the banking crisis, it was published in 2002 before anyone was even talking about bank safety. However, you may find the information even more valuable today than ever before.

For even more information on bank safety, visit Elliott Wave International to download the free 10-page report, Discover the Top 100 Safest U.S. Banks. It contains details on how you can protect your money from the current financial crisis, updated for 2008.

Risks in Banking

Between 1929 and 1933, 9000 banks in the United States closed their doors. President Roosevelt shut down all banks for a short time after his inauguration. In December 2001, the government of Argentina froze virtually all bank deposits, barring customers from withdrawing the money they thought they had. Sometimes such restrictions happen naturally, when banks fail; sometimes they are imposed. Sometimes the restrictions are temporary; sometimes they remain for a long time.

Why do banks fail? For nearly 200 years, the courts have sanctioned an interpretation of the term “deposits” to mean not funds that you deliver for safekeeping but a loan to your bank. Your bank balance, then, is an IOU from the bank to you, even though there is no loan contract and no required interest payment. Thus, legally speaking, you have a claim on your money deposited in a bank, but practically speaking, you have a claim only on the loans that the bank makes with your money.

If a large portion of those loans is tied up or becomes worthless, your money claim is compromised. A bank failure simply means that the bank has reneged on its promise to pay you back. The bottom line is that your money is only as safe as the bank’s loans. In boom times, banks become imprudent and lend to almost anyone. In busts, they can’t get much of that money back due to widespread defaults. If the bank’s portfolio collapses in value, say, like those of the Savings & Loan institutions in the U.S. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the bank is broke, and its depositors’ savings are gone.

Because U.S. banks are no longer required to hold any of their deposits in reserve, many banks keep on hand just the bare minimum amount of cash needed for everyday transactions. Others keep a bit more. According to the latest Fed figures, the net loan-to-deposit ratio at U.S. commercial banks is 90 percent. This figure omits loans considered “securities” such as corporate, municipal and mortgage-backed bonds, which from my point of view are just as dangerous as everyday bank loans. The true loan-to-deposit ratio, then, is 125 percent and rising. Banks are not just lent to the hilt; they’re past it.

Some bank loans, at least in the current benign environment, could be liquidated quickly, but in a fearful market, liquidity even on these so-called “securities” will dry up. If just a few more depositors than normal were to withdraw money, banks would have to sell some of these assets, depressing prices and depleting the value of the securities remaining in their portfolios. If enough depositors were to attempt simultaneous withdrawals, banks would have to refuse. Banks with the lowest liquidity ratios will be particularly susceptible to runs in a depression. They may not be technically broke, but you still couldn’t get your money, at least until the banks’ loans were paid off.

You would think that banks would learn to behave differently with centuries of history to guide them, but for the most part, they don’t. The pressure to show good earnings to stockholders and to offer competitive interest rates to depositors induces them to make risky loans. The Federal Reserve’s monopoly powers have allowed U.S. banks to lend aggressively, so far without repercussion. For bankers to educate depositors about safety would be to disturb their main source of profits. The U.S. government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees to refund depositors’ losses up to $100,000, which seems to make safety a moot point. Actually, this guarantee just makes things far worse, for two reasons. First, it removes a major motivation for banks to be conservative with your money. Depositors feel safe, so who cares what’s going on behind closed doors? Second, did you know that most of the FDIC’s money comes from other banks? This funding scheme makes prudent banks pay to save the imprudent ones, imparting weak banks’ frailty to the strong ones. When the FDIC rescues weak banks by charging healthier ones higher “premiums,” overall bank deposits are depleted, causing the net loan-to-deposit ratio to rise.

This result, in turn, means that in times of bank stress, it will take a progressively smaller percentage of depositors to cause unmanageable bank runs. If banks collapse in great enough quantity, the FDIC will be unable to rescue them all, and the more it charges surviving banks in “premiums,” the more banks it will endanger. Thus, this form of insurance compromises the entire system. Ultimately, the federal government guarantees the FDIC’s deposit insurance, which sounds like a sure thing. But if tax receipts fall, the government will be hard pressed to save a large number of banks with its own diminishing supply of capital. The FDIC calls its sticker “a symbol of confidence,” and that’s exactly what it is.

 

For more information on bank safety, including how to choose a safe bank during the current financial crisis, download EWI’s free 10-page report,Discover the Top 100 Safest U.S. Banks.

An affiliate of elliotwave.com – Investing and Trading in the Stock Market