Saturday , 21 October 2017


Financial Markets to Culminate In One of These Two Extreme Outcomes

The financial markets endgame is ‘binary’ with a likely outcome of ‘one of twoinvesting-hold-buy-sell extremes’. This is an extremely important thing for everyone to think about. Below is more of what Mohamed El-Erian believes investors ought to be considering in these prevailing uncertain times and my comments/expansion on those views.

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Each morning Ian R. Campbell (CFPA, FCA, FCBV) personally filters an average of over 750 economic and resource  articles published in the previous 24 hours selecting those thought to be particularly important. He then comments on their subject matter via his new Economic Straight Talk Newsletter to give you balanced views and contextual comments that save you time. The subscription newsletter’s objective is to help you keep up to date, gain new ideas, better trade and invest, better communicate with your investment advisor if you have one, and importantly make your own ‘penny drop’.

Below is a paraphrased summary of what Mr. Mohamed El-Erian (CEO of Pimco, a U.S. based global investment management company with +$2 billion in assets under administration) believes investors ought to be considering in the prevailing uncertain times as presented by Campbell (with his permission) along with his interpretation of, and comments on, what El-Erian had to say, in a post* on his site entitled Financial Markets: What should investors do?. 

 “Mr. El-Erian currently sees things:

  • Today the majority of ‘investor recommendations’ are based on a view that ‘stocks are cheaper than something else’, not on ‘fundamentals’ – and that is “potentially very dangerous”.
  • Central Banks are forced to ‘stay on their current trajectory’ (by that I assume he means ‘continued quantitative easing’) and continue to ‘work at’ boosting confidence.
  • Eventually all ‘waves break’, and the question is does a surfer (read ‘investor’) ‘walk off the board’ or ‘crash’.  Like any surfer, how each investor is ‘positioned’ will determine the extent of whether he/she ‘suffers or not’.
  • There is more than ‘one wave’ out there beyond the wave created by the Central Banks that the Central Banks can’t ‘reach’.  Some of these, which include selected currencies and bonds, currently have ‘genuine growth potential’.
  • Past ‘models’ (I assume he means ‘economic models’) are broken, and new ‘models’ must be built.
  • The financial markets cannot disconnect from fundamentals forever, and in the end the financial markets will revert to the ‘fundamentals’ – with the result being severe capital devastation.
  • Today the world is very binary, meaning it will either end well or very badly, without middle ground.  Keeping options open and maintaining liquidity are the keys to surviving and profiting in a world of likely ‘extreme outcomes’.
  • Investors participating in today’s financial markets need to mitigate risk pursuant to ‘cost effective tail hedging’.  Unhedged investors will pay a very high price for assuming ‘excessive risk’ when the financial markets revert to ‘the fundamentals’.

I am particularly taken with Mr. El-Erian’s views that:

  • past models are broken.

I wonder if he shares my view that Central Bankers and many economists currently are relying on their ‘book learned’ beliefs that past economic events will repeat themselves in today’s globalized world.  This in circumstances where, as I see things, there are fundamental differences between the world economy today (different dependancies, different ideologies, altering world powers, communications changes, etc.) and the world economy as it was up to as late as 1999.  By analogy, would a baseball analyst predict the same average number of home runs hit in a season by all major league baseball players if a rule was introduced that all players had to hit with bats made of balsa wood.  The obvious answer is ‘hardly likely’, or if he/she did that their forecast would be ridiculed and disregarded.  I see a lot of economist ‘hitting with balsa bats’ these days;

  • the financial markets currently have reverted from ‘honoring fundamentals’…

This is something to seriously think about and reach your own conclusion if you participate in those markets; and,

  • the endgame is ‘binary’ with a likely outcome of ‘one of two extremes’.

This is an extremely important thing for everyone to think about – whether they participate in the financial markets or don’t.  It is definitely in my view something you should discuss with your investment advisor if you have one – and think hard about whether you do or don’t have one.

My final comments:

  • Hedging is complicated, and for a great many investors requires external advice.  Hedging brings with it its own attendant risks;
  • In his conclusion, Mr. El-Erian describes the two ‘endgame extremes’ (my words) as:
    1. a return to organic growth, and
    2. economic disaster but says “the problem is we really don’t know which it will be”.

I am surprised that Mr. El-Erian does [not] express a firm opinion on which of the two extremes he believes most likely – although I have to believe he thinks the latter, if for no reason other than he seems to blame the ‘market disconnects’ on prevailing Central Bank policies…

I suggest you read Mohamed El-Erian: Putting It All Together and reach your own conclusions with respect to what he says.”

(Editor’s Note: The author’s views and conclusions in the above article are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original post. Furthermore, the views, conclusions and any recommendations offered in this article are not to be construed as an endorsement of such by the editor.)

*The Economic Straight Talk Newsletter (Insights for Serious Traders and Investors – Today’s Commentary on Economic & Resource News) by Ian R. Campbell, FCA, FCBV; © 2013, Stock Research DD Inc., all rights reserved.

Other Ian R. Campbell Commentaries:

1. “Economic Straight Talk” on Gold, Rogers, Roubini & the Economy

The Economic Straight Talk Newsletter gives you balanced views and contextual comments that save you time. The newsletter’s objective is to help you keep up to date, gain new ideas, better trade and invest, better communicate with your investment advisor if you have one, and importantly make your own ‘penny drop’. Take a look. Read More »

2. Will We See Real Economic Growth or a Real Decline in World Stock Markets? That is the Trillion Dollar Question

Without economic growth, and real economic growth at that, there can be no meaningful long-term economic recovery in the developed countries.  Growth or lack thereof will have to be reflected in the financial markets over time.  Currently, I continue to see a disconnect between where the financial markets are pricing things, and where I think they ought to be pricing things. Words: 784

3. “Ponzi Finance”: What Must Happen To Bring It To An End?

The Boston Consulting Group has issued a paper that recommends 10 steps that developed countries must take to end what they refer to as ‘Ponzi finance’ and to return to a sustainable growth path but I believe their recommendations to be but theoretical and impractical constructs. While I believe we face – and will experience – interesting, speculative, fragile, and very challenging and very likely life-changing times going forward, I believe that the only thing that will force developed country politicians to work for common purposes is a further global financial crisis. This article provides an overview and assessment of said paper and the rationale for my position. Words: 600

4. Don’t Blithely Accept the Views of Stock & Commodity Commentators – Here’s Why

Many…commentaries by people referred to as ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’…often don’t state the assumptions that underlie the opinions they express leaving the reader…to take at face value what is said based on ‘assumed expertise’. I suggest you exercise caution and not blithely accept the views of  ‘experts’ without first understanding their underlying assumptions and then satisfying yourself that those assumptions both make sense and are internally consistent with the views and opinions the ‘experts’ express, and the advice they give. Let me explain more fully below.

5. It’s Crucial to Challenge ‘Commentator Credibility’ When Evaluating Gold ‘Mining’ Companies – Here’s Why

Every day now there is Media and Internet commentary on the current prices at which gold mining stocks are trading. Some of this commentary is excellent, some seems to be written from a “vested interest’ perspective and some is very simplistic. [This article discusses unstated underlying assumptions that some commentators base their views on, endeavours to provide a greater understanding of the gold ‘mining’ sector and influences on pricing of sector stocks and what investors need to do before investing in said sector.] Words: 2030

6. Campbell’s Challenge: Stop Being a Lemming! Contradictory Points of View are Imperative – Here’s Why

It is all too easy to look for like-minded persons who continuously reinforce one’s own views – a clear form of ‘lemmingism’, to coin a new word. Instead, one should make an effort to recognize both reader and writer biases when reading and thinking about things found on the Internet in social media websites and blogs. [Let me explain my views on that further.] Words: 720

7. Campbell: Balanced Opinions Regarding Gold & Silver are Paramount – Here’s Why

If you hold, or are considering holding, physical gold or silver or both, [it is imperative that you] read as many ‘balanced opinions’ as you possibly can with respect to ownership of each. [Here’s why]. Words: 337