Sunday, December 1, 2013

CLSA's Russell Napier: "We Are On The Eve Of A Deflationary Shock "

Napier is a pretty sharp guy and made a call four years ago that I still remember, link below.
From ZeroHedge:
In the aftermath of Ray Dalio's conversion to an inflationista earlier this year (even if he has since once again been pushing a deflationary agenda when he once again went long Treasurys in late September as Zero Hedge reported previously), which promptly got such permanent deflationists as David Rosenberg to change their multi-year tune, it seemed as if there was nobody left in the deflationary camp. Which, implicitly meant Bernanke was winning as the world's expectations for a return to inflation were rising (remember: hyperinflation has nothing to do with inflation per se, and everything to do with loss of confidence in a currency, even if formerly a reserve), and also meant the Fed would need to do less to further its reflationary agenda.

Alas, as the Taper Tantrum and the shock upon its subsequent withdrawal showed, not to mention the recent outright disinflation in Europe, any rumors that the Fed was back in control were wildly exagerated, and here we find ourselves, entering the last month of 2013 with loud speculation that not only will the BOJ increase its own QE but the ECB itself will have no choice but to join the QE party (even as the Fed may or may not taper although it is increasingly looking likely that with an economy this late in the cycle, Yellen will simply forego tapering altogether, and may even navigate Bernanke's chopper) in order to stoke even more inflation as the current amount was, surprise, insufficient. We ignore all discussion of what such a reckless action would mean for the credibility of fiat, although we remind readers that right now both the US and Japan monetize 70% of their gross bond issuance, and thus deficit.

So with everyone expecting deflation to have been conquered early in 2013, only for events to once again show that neither is it conquered, nor are central banks in charge despite having a collective balance sheet of over $10 trillion, we have once again gotten a demonstration of Bob Farrell's rule #9: " When all the experts and forecasts agree – something else is going to happen." And yet, that is not exactly true: not all "experts" think the Fed has won the fight, and the deflation has been conquered (what the Fed's response to even more deflation will be is a separate topic altogether, but it is not rocket surgery to assume "more of the same" until one day the Fed breaks the dollar itself). CLSA's Russell Napier has just written perhaps the most vocal pro-deflation piece we have read in a long time. It is titled, appropriately enough, "An ill wind."
Selected extracts from CLSA's Russell Napier:
Inflation has fallen to 1.10/0 in the USA and 0.7% in the Eurozone and we are now perilously close to deflation. Reflation is needed to relieve debt burdens throughout society and in doing so to bolster corporate equity. Investors are cheering the direct impact of QE on their equity valuations, but ignoring its failure to produce sufficient nominal-GDP growth to reduce debt. In a market where such bad news has been seen as good news (as it leads to more QE.), the reality of QE's failure will become bad news as we head towards deflation.

When US inflation fell below 1% in 1998, 2001-02 and 2008-09, equity investors saw major losses. If a similar deflation shock hits us now, those losses will be exacerbated, since the available monetary responses are much more limited than they were in the past.

For investors who cannot take the risk of leaving the bull-market party too early, this report focuses on three leading indicators of imminent deflation: copper prices; inflation expectations, as implied by the difference in yield between five-year Treasuries and Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS); and the spread on BAA corporate bonds....MORE
On June 25, 2009 Bloomberg published "‘Dangerous Time’ to Avoid Stocks, CLSA’s Napier Says (Update1)":
Stock investors can look forward to another few years of gains as central banks engineer a return to inflation, providing a tailwind for global markets, according to CLSA Ltd. strategist Russell Napier.

An acceleration in inflation from zero to 4 percent is historically associated with gains in stocks as the benefits of rising prices accrue to profits instead of labor earnings or debt holders, said Napier, the author of “Anatomy of the Bear,” a study of bear markets.

Thereafter, a bearish cycle that began in 2000 will resume as the Federal Reserve allows inflation to spiral out of control and foreign investors stop buying U.S. sovereign debt, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to an eventual bottom of about 400, Napier predicts. An index of U.S. consumer prices dropped 1.3 percent in May from the previous year, the Labor Department said on June 17. That was the steepest decline since 1950.

“We’re likely to get strong broad money growth, and I think it’s a very dangerous time be out of the equity markets,” the Edinburgh-based strategist said in a telephone interview yesterday. After a few years of gains “the Fed will launch its final attack on inflation and it will take us into a fairly terrible situation. They’ll let go and we’ll head for inflation.”...MORE 
Napier truly believed the central banks could manufacture the inflation they targeted and he was wrong.
On the other hand he was very right on the effect of the Fed's 'extraordinary measures' on equities and the fact that the time frame of the bull would be measured in years and that the 3 1/2 months since the Mar. 9, '09 bottom was just the beginning.

Plus, I've never had the guts to walk into the room, look around the table and say "This is a Dangerous Time to be out of the market."