Why Deflation

The Primary Precondition of Deflation

The following was adapted from Bob Prechter’s 2002 New York Times and Amazon best seller, Conquer the Crash  You Can Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression.

Deflation requires a precondition: a major societal buildup in the extension of credit (and its flip side, the assumption of debt). Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek warned of the consequences of credit expansion, as have a handful of other economists, who today are mostly ignored. Bank credit and Elliott wave expert Hamilton Bolton, in a 1957 letter, summarized his observations this way:

In reading a history of major depressions in the U.S. from 1830 on, I was impressed with the following:

(a) All were set off by a deflation of excess credit. This was the one factor in common.
(b) Sometimes the excess-of-credit situation seemed to last years before the bubble broke.
(c) Some outside event, such as a major failure, brought the thing to a head, but the signs were visible many months, and in some cases years, in advance.
(d) None was ever quite like the last, so that the public was always fooled thereby.
(e) Some panics occurred under great government surpluses of revenue (1837, for instance) and some under great government deficits.
(f) Credit is credit, whether non-self-liquidating or self-liquidating.
(g) Deflation of non-self-liquidating credit usually produces the greater slumps.

Self-liquidating credit is a loan that is paid back, with interest, in a moderately short time from production. Production facilitated by the loan – for business start-up or expansion, for example – generates the financial return that makes repayment possible. The full transaction adds value to the economy.

Non-self-liquidating credit is a loan that is not tied to production and tends to stay in the system. When financial institutions lend for consumer purchases such as cars, boats or homes, or for speculations such as the purchase of stock certificates, no production effort is tied to the loan. Interest payments on such loans stress some other source of income. Contrary to nearly ubiquitous belief, such lending is almost always counter-productive; it adds costs to the economy, not value. If someone needs a cheap car to get to work, then a loan to buy it adds value to the economy; if someone wants a new SUV to consume, then a loan to buy it does not add value to the economy. Advocates claim that such loans “stimulate production,” but they ignore the cost of the required debt service, which burdens production. They also ignore the subtle deterioration in the quality of spending choices due to the shift of buying power from people who have demonstrated a superior ability to invest or produce (creditors) to those who have demonstrated primarily a superior ability to consume (debtors).

Near the end of a major expansion, few creditors expect default, which is why they lend freely to weak borrowers. Few borrowers expect their fortunes to change, which is why they borrow freely. Deflation involves a substantial amount of involuntary debt liquidation because almost no one expects deflation before it starts.

For more on deflation, including the following topics, see Elliott Wave International’s free guide to deflation, inflation, money, credit and debt. There, you can also download two free chapters from Conquer the Crash.

Learn more about these six important topics:

1. What is Deflation and When Does it Occur?
2. Price Effects of Inflation and Deflation
3. The Primary Precondition of Deflation
4. What Triggers the Change to Deflation?
5. Why Deflationary Crashes and Depressions Go Together
6. Financial Values Can Disappear in 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 Theorist monthly market letter since 1979

Is the World Finally Ready to Accept the Deflationary Scenario?

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 Guide now.

The following article was adapted from Robert Prechter’s 2002 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-seller, Conquer the Crash  You Can Survive and Prosper in a Deflationary Depression.

By Robert Prechter, CMT

Seventy years of nearly continuous inflation have made most people utterly confident of its permanence. If the majority of economists have any monetary fear at all, it is fear of inflation, which is the opposite of deflation.

As for the very idea of deflation, one economist a few years ago told a national newspaper that deflation had a “1 in 10,000” chance of occurring. The Chairman of Carnegie Mellon’s business school calls the notion of deflation “utter nonsense.” A professor of economics at Pepperdine University states flatly, “Rising stock prices will inevitably lead to rising prices in the rest of the economy.” The publication of an economic think-tank insists, “Anyone who asserts that deflation is imminent or already underway ignores the rationale for fiat currency — that is, to facilitate the manipulation of economic activity.” A financial writer explains, “Deflation is totally a function of the Federal Reserve’s management of monetary policy. It has nothing to do with the business cycle, productivity, taxes, booms and busts or anything else.” Concurring, an adviser writes in a national magazine, “U.S. deflation would be simple to stop today. The Federal Reserve could just print more money, ending the price slide in its tracks.” Yet another sneers, “Get real,” and likens anyone concerned about deflation to “small children.” One maverick economist whose model accommodates deflation and who actually expects a period of deflation is nevertheless convinced that it will be a “good deflation” and “nothing to fear.” On financial television, another analyst (who apparently defines deflation as falling prices) quips, “Don’t worry about deflation. All it does is pad profits.” A banker calls any episode of falling oil prices “a positive catalyst [that] will put more money in consumers’ pockets. It will benefit companies that are powered by energy and oil, and it will benefit the overall economy.” Others excitedly welcome recently falling commodity prices as an economic stimulus “equivalent to a massive tax cut.” A national business magazine guarantees, “That’s not deflation ahead, just slower inflation. Put your deflation worries away.” The senior economist with Deutsche Bank in New York estimates, “The chance of deflation is at most one in 50” (apparently up from the 1 in 10,000 of a couple of years ago). The President of the San Francisco Fed says, “The idea that we are launching into a prolonged period of declining prices I don’t think has substance.” A former government economist jokes that deflation is “57th on my list of worries, right after the 56th — fear of being eaten by piranhas.” These comments about deflation represent entrenched professional opinion.

As you can see, anyone challenging virtually the entire army of financial and economic thinkers, from academic to professional, from liberal to conservative, from Keynesian socialist to Objectivist free-market, from Monetarist technocratic even to many vocal proponents of the Austrian school, must respond to their belief that inflation is virtually inevitable and deflation impossible.

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.

10 Things You Should and Should Not Do During Deflation

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

1) Should you invest in real estate?

Short Answer: NO

Long Answer: The worst thing about real estate is its lack of liquidity during a bear market. At least in the stock market, when your stock is down 60 percent and you realize you’ve made a horrendous mistake, you can call your broker and get out (unless you’re a mutual fund, insurance company or other institution with millions of shares, in which case, you’re stuck). With real estate, you can’t pick up the phone and sell. You need to find a buyer for your house in order to sell it. In a depression, buyers just go away. Mom and Pop move in with the kids, or the kids move in with Mom and Pop. People start living in their offices or moving their offices into their living quarters. Businesses close down. In time, there is a massive glut of real estate.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 16

2) Should you prepare for a change in politics?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: At some point during a financial crisis, money flows typically become a political issue. You should keep a sharp eye on political trends in your home country. In severe economic times, governments have been known to ban foreign investment, demand capital repatriation, outlaw money transfers abroad, close banks, freeze bank accounts, restrict or seize private pensions, raise taxes, fix prices and impose currency exchange values. They have been known to use force to change the course of who gets hurt and who is spared, which means that the prudent are punished and the thriftless are rewarded, reversing the result from what it would be according to who deserves to be spared or get hurt. In extreme cases, such as when authoritarians assume power, they simply appropriate or take de facto control of your property.
You cannot anticipate every possible law, regulation or political event that will be implemented to thwart your attempt at safety, liquidity and solvency. This is why you must plan ahead and pay attention. As you do, think about these issues so that when political forces troll for victims, you are legally outside the scope of the dragnet.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 27

3) Should you invest in commercial bonds?

Short Answer: NO

Long Answer: If there is one bit of conventional wisdom that we hear repeatedly with respect to investing for a deflationary depression, it is that long-term bonds are the best possible investment. This assertion is wrong. Any bond issued by a borrower who cannot pay goes to zero in a depression. In the Great Depression, bonds of many companies, municipalities and foreign governments were crushed. They became wallpaper as their issuers went bankrupt and defaulted. Bonds of suspect issuers also went way down, at least for a time. Understand that in a crash, no one knows its depth, and almost everyone becomes afraid. That makes investors sell bonds of any issuers that they fear could default. Even when people trust the bonds they own, they are sometimes forced to sell them to raise cash to live on. For this reason, even the safest bonds can go down, at least temporarily, as AAA bonds did in 1931 and 1932.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 15

4) Should you take precautions if you run a business?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: Avoid long-term employment contracts with employees. Try to locate in a state with “at-will” employment laws. Red tape and legal impediments to firing could bankrupt your company in a financial crunch, thus putting everyone in your company out of work.

If you run a business that normally carries a large business inventory (such as an auto or boat dealership), try to reduce it. If your business requires certain manufactured specialty items that may be hard to obtain in a depression, stock up.

If you are an employer, start making plans for what you will do if the company’s cash flow declines and you have to cut expenditures. Would it be best to fire certain people? Would it be better to adjust all salaries downward an equal percentage so that you can keep everyone employed?

Finally, plan how you will take advantage of the next major bottom in the economy. Positioning your company properly at that time could ensure success for decades to come.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 30

5) Should you invest in collectibles?

Short Answer: NO

Long Answer: Collecting for investment purposes is almost always foolish. Never buy anything marketed as a collectible. The chances of losing money when collectibility is priced into an item are huge. Usually, collecting trends are fads. They might be short-run or long-run fads, but they eventually dissolve.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 17

6) Should you do anything with respect to your employment?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: If you have no special reason to believe that the company you work for will prosper so much in a contracting economy that its stock will rise in a bear market, then cash out any stock or stock options that your company has issued to you (or that you bought on your own).

If your remuneration is tied to the same company’s fortunes in the form of stock or stock options, try to convert it to a liquid income stream. Make sure you get paid actual money for your labor.

If you have a choice of employment, try to think about which job will best weather the coming financial and economic storm. Then go get it.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 31

7) Should you speculate in stocks?

Short Answer: NO

Long Answer: Perhaps the number one precaution to take at the start of a deflationary crash is to make sure that your investment capital is not invested “long” in stocks, stock mutual funds, stock index futures, stock options or any other equity-based investment or speculation. That advice alone should be worth the time you [spend to read Conquer the Crash].

In 2000 and 2001, countless Internet stocks fell from $50 or $100 a share to near zero in a matter of months. In 2001, Enron went from $85 to pennies a share in less than a year. These are the early casualties of debt, leverage and incautious speculation.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 20

8) Should you call in loans and pay off your debt?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: Have you lent money to friends, relatives or co-workers? The odds of collecting any of these debts are usually slim to none, but if you can prod your personal debtors into paying you back before they get further strapped for cash, it will not only help you but it will also give you some additional wherewithal to help those very same people if they become destitute later.

If at all possible, remain or become debt-free. 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.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 29

9) Should you invest in commodities, such as crude oil?

Short Answer: Mostly NO

Long Answer: Pay particular attention to what happened in 1929-1932, the three years of intense deflation in which the stock market crashed. As you can see, commodities crashed, too.

You can get rich being short commodity futures in a deflationary crash. This is a player’s game, though, and I am not about to urge a typical investor to follow that course. If you are a seasoned commodity trader, avoid the long side and use rallies to sell short. Make sure that your broker keeps your liquid funds in T-bills or an equally safe medium.

There can be exceptions to the broad trend. A commodity can rise against the trend on a war, a war scare, a shortage or a disruption of transport. Oil is an example of a commodity with that type of risk. This commodity should have nowhere to go but down during a depression.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 21

10) Should you invest in cash?

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer: For those among the public who have recently become concerned that being fully invested in one stock or stock fund is not risk-free, the analysts’ battle cry is “diversification.” They recommend having your assets spread out in numerous different stocks, numerous different stock funds and/or numerous different (foreign) stock markets. Advocates of junk bonds likewise counsel prospective investors that having lots of different issues will reduce risk.

This “strategy” is bogus. Why invest in anything unless you have a strong opinion about where it’s going and a game plan for when to get out? Diversification is gospel today because investment assets of so many kinds have gone up for so long, but the future is another matter. Owning an array of investments is financial suicide during deflation. They all go down, and the logistics of getting out of them can be a nightmare. There can be weird exceptions to this rule, such as gold in the early 1930s when the government fixed the price, or perhaps some commodity that is crucial in a war, but otherwise, all assets go down in price during deflation except one: cash.

Conquer the Crash, Chapter 18

……….

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.

 

Government Does Not Want You To Ask About Financial Crisis

3 Questions The Government Doesn’t Want You To Ask
About the Financial Crisis

(And 3 Shocking Answers!)

Bob Prechter, President of Elliott Wave International (EWI), is no stranger to challenging the status quo. His New York Times bestseller, Conquer the Crash, was published in 2002 before anyone was even talking about the current financial crisis.

In his recent 10-page market letter, Prechter shifts his focus to the government’s role in the latest financial turmoil.

Elliott Wave International is offering the full 10-page report free if you’d like to read all 28 answers. Visit EWI to download the full report, free.

Here are 3 questions excerpted from the free report:

1. Didn’t Congress create the Federal Housing Authority, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Banks for the purpose of helping the public buy homes?

You’re kidding, right? What happened is that clever businessmen schemed with members of Congress to create privileged lending institutions so they could get rich off the public’s labor. In return, members of Congress got big campaign contributions from the privileged corporations and, as a bonus, even more votes. The public’s welfare had nothing to do with it.

Who celebrated when Congress passed the latest housing bill? Answer: “The California Mortgage Bankers Association applauded Congress for permanently increasing the size of loans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy….” (USA, 7/28) The legislation exists to “protect the nation’s two largest mortgage companies….” (NYT, 7/24) Who took out full-page ads to encourage Congress to “enact housing stimulus legislation now”? Answer: the National Association of Home Builders. Who celebrated when the administration “unveiled a new set of best [sic] practices designed to encourage banks to issue a debt instrument known as a covered bond”? Answer: “[Treasury Secretary] Paulson was joined at the news conference by officials from the Federal Reserve [and] the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation…. Officials from banking giants Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. issued a joint statement saying, ‘We look forward to being leading issuers’” (AP, 7/29) of covered bonds. And voters still believe that Congress is there to help the needy.

2. Who cares if a bank goes under? Won’t the FDIC protect depositors?

The FDIC is not funded well enough to bail out even a handful of the biggest banks in America. It has enough money to pay depositors of about three big banks. After that, it’s broke. But here is the real irony: The FDIC, as history will ultimately demonstrate, causes banks to fail. The FDIC creates destruction three ways. First, its very existence encourages banks to take lending risks that they would never otherwise contemplate, while it simultaneously removes depositors’ incentives to keep their bankers prudent. This double influence produces an unsound banking system. We have reached that point today. Second, the FDIC imposes costly rules on banks. In July, it “implemented a new rule…requiring the 159 [largest] banks to keep records that will give quick access to customer information.” As the American Bankers Association puts it, the new rule “will impose a lot of burden on a lot of banks for no reason.” (AJC, 7/19) Third, the FDIC gets its money in the form of “premiums” from—guess whom?—healthy banks! So as weak banks go under, the FDIC can wring more money from still-solvent banks. If it begins calling in money during a systemic credit implosion, marginal banks will go under, requiring more money for the FDIC, which will have to take more money from banks, breaking more marginal banks, etc. The FDIC could continue this behavior until all banks are bust, but it will more likely give up and renege. Remember, every government program ultimately brings about the opposite of the stated goal, and the FDIC is no exception.

3. Who are the “homeowners”?

Everywhere you turn, news articles are discussing how Congress, the President and the Fed are taking action to “help homeowners.” People’s understanding of this statement is 100 percent wrong. The homeowners in question are not the residents of the houses. The homeowners are banks. Unlike some states, Georgia made its law very specific on this point. Our local paper recently explained that, by recognizing the reality of ownership, “Georgia employs primarily a nonjudicial foreclosure” and therefore “has one of the fastest procedures in the country.” Specifically, “The property owner gives the mortgage holder a ‘security deed’ or a ‘deed to secure debt’. Technically, until the debt is paid, in full, the mortgage holder owns the property and allows the borrower to possess it.” (GT, 8/6) In states where the mortgage holder is deemed the property owner, the title is merely a legal technicality. The day he stops making mortgage payments, he no longer owns the property; the bank does. After foreclosure, many of those whom politicians and the media call homeowners will simply go from paying interest to a bank to paying rent to a landlord. For those with little or no equity, it’s not that big a deal. The real devastation is happening in banks’ portfolios, and banks, not home-dwellers, are the ones whom the government is trying to rescue, at others’ expense.

One might be tempted to charge therefore that Congress makes its laws for the purpose of helping banks. This idea, too, is incorrect. Helping banks is merely a side effect. The reason that Congress creates privileges for bankers is to benefit politicians. They make laws in response to campaign contributions from lending institutions, real-estate organizations and builders’ associations. They also garner votes from mortgage holders and, miraculously, from voters who think that their “representatives” are being “compassionate.”

 

The previous 3 questions and answers from Bob Prechter were excerpted from his recent 10-page market letter, The Elliott Wave Theorist.

Elliott Wave International is offering the full 10-page report free if you’d like to read all 28 answers. Visit EWI to download the full report, free.

How To Recognize a Financial Mania

How To Recognize a Financial Mania When You’re Smack Dab in the Middle of One

When you’re caught in the middle of a bad storm, you don’t really care whether it’s a tropical depression or a full-strength hurricane. You just know you’re hanging on for dear life. The same idea applies to financial markets. When a market is trending up strongly, it’s hard to tell whether it’s just a bull market or a more dangerous financial mania.

The recent tremendous ride up for global and U.S. financial markets, including the Dow, looks and feels more like a mania than a mere bull, says Elliott Wave International analyst Peter Kendall. This distinction is important to recognize in the rising stage, because manias always result in a crash that takes them back beneath their starting point.

Kendall recently published his research into current financial manias throughout the world in SFO (Stocks, Futures and Options) magazine. The article, titled “Financial Manias and the Trade of a Lifetime,” suggests an even more stunning finish for the current manias: “The speed and global scope of the unfolding credit crisis suggest that most of the fast-rising markets of the last decade will crash in unison,” he writes.

 

Editor’s note: Elliott Wave International invites you to read the full five-page article with charts from the October 2007 SFO magazine by Elliott Wave International’s Pete Kendall called “Financial Manias and the Trade of a Lifetime.”

 

As co-editor of The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, Kendall searches for trends that help traders to move in and out of markets. By comparing other historic manias with the impressive rise of the DJIA since the late 1970s, he focuses on the skyscraper pattern that they all have in common. The four historical manias are the Dutch Tulip mania of the 1630s, the South Sea bubble of 1720, the U.S. stock crash of 1921-1932 and the dot.com bust of the 1990s and early 2000s. Once you can see the similarities, you will be better prepared to face the music when the crash comes. As Kendall writes, “once the belief that the markets will always rise becomes widespread, it actually signals the start of a price swing that tends to be a career-breaker for any trader who tries to oppose it.”

He also discusses current manias, such as the Nikkei, which has yet to return to its start after a manic rise to its all-time high in December 1989, and the Dow, which reversed from its rise in 2000 but made a U-turn in 2002. The starting point for the Dow’s mania as shown in the chart included in the article is at the 1000 level.

Kendall, who is also writing a book about financial manias, titled The Mania Chronicles, describes five telltale signs that help an investor to tell the difference between a regular bull market and a mania. It’s a mania if:

  • 1. There is no upside resistance, and rising prices seem to be perpetual.
    2. Everyone in the market looks like an expert.
    3. There is a flight from quality investments to riskier investments.
    4. As financial bubbles pop in one area, they bubble up in others.
    5. The crash after the peak takes back all the gains the mania made.
  • No. 5 can be viewed only with hindsight. But the first four signs provide essential clues to what’s shaping up in the markets.
  • “By studying past mania experiences, traders can gain valuable insight into the collective emotions that drive their markets,” writes Kendall. “It’s possible to make significant money in the advancing stages of a mania with no knowledge of its existence. But there is nothing like recognizing a mania for what it is in real time to help a trader keep those gains and deal with the relentless crash after it peaks.”

 

 

Susan C. Walker writes for Elliott Wave International, a market forecasting and technical analysis company. She has been an associate editor with Inc. magazine, a newspaper writer and editor, an investor relations executive and a speechwriter for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Her columns also appear regularly on FoxNews.com.

Addendum to this topic:

Finance’s Euphoria: The Epilogue
What Record High Dollar Volume of Trading Says About Confidence

November 6, 2009

The following article was adapted from the November 2009 Elliott Wave Financial Forecast and reprinted with permission here. It shows the extent of theFinancial Mania we are going through. Until Nov. 11, you can read the rest of this brand-new report for free, during Elliott Wave International‘s FreeWeek of U.S. forecasts.

By Steve Hochberg and Pete Kendall

When Wall Street’s total value of assets rose to a “mind-boggling 36.6 percent of GDP” in late 2006, The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast published a chart of U.S. financial assets literally rising off the page.

Financial Assets Booming Compared to GDP

The Financial Forecast observed that financial engineers had “found a new object of investor affections—themselves” and asserted that “the financial industry’s position so close to the center of the mania can mean only one thing; it is only a matter of time” before a massive reversal grabbed hold. Financial indexes hit their all-time peak within a matter of weeks, in February. The major stock indexes joined the topping process in October 2007 and in December 2007 the economy followed. Subscribers will recall that one of the most important clues to the unfolding disaster was the level of financial exuberance relative to the fundamental economic performance.

This chart of the value of U.S. trading volume (courtesy of Alan Newman at www.cross-currents.net) reveals that the imbalance is far from corrected.

Trading Volume Compared to GDP

Incredibly, total dollar trading volume is even higher now than it was in 2007 when the economy was humming along. In June 2008, dollar trading volume also defied an initial thrust lower in stocks and the economy, eliciting this comment from the Financial Forecast:

  • The chart of dollar trading relative to GDP shows how much more willing investors are to trade shares in companies that operate in an economic environment that is anemic compared to that of the mid-1960s. A basic implication of the Wave Principle is that the public will always show up at the end of a rally, just in time to get clobbered. This chart shows that it is happening in a big, big way now because the market is at the precipice of the biggest decline in a long, long time.

Total dollar volume continues to rise despite further fundamental financial deterioration. Yes, GDP experienced a one-quarter, clunker-aided uptick of 3.5 percent in the third quarter. But the economy is in far worse shape than it was when we made the above statement. In fact, its recent performance on top of the decades-long economic underperformance (which is discussed extensively in Chapter 1 and Appendix E of the new edition of Robert Prechter’sConquer the Crash) means that industrial production just experienced its worst decade since 1930-1939. Total manufacturing employment slipped to 11.7 million people, its lowest level since May 1941 when it was 33 percent of all jobs. According to Bianco Research, manufacturing now accounts for only about 9 percent of the workforce. Finance anchors the economy now, which makes it far more susceptible to non-rational dynamics.

As Prechter and Parker explain in “The Financial/Economic Dichotomy” (May 2007, Journal of Behavioral Finance), a financial system is not bound by the laws of supply and demand in the same way that an industrial economy is. In finance, confidence and fear rule decisions. “In the financial context,” say Prechter and Parker, “knowing what you think is not enough; you have to try to guess what everyone else will think.”

We do know one thing: When everyone is thinking the same, the opposite will happen.

Right now, record high dollar volume of trading shows that confidence, at least on this basis, has reached a new historic extreme.

Learn more about Elliott Wave International, and sign up for reports like this here

Steve Hochberg and Pete Kendall are co-editors of the Elliott Wave Financial Forecast.

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