Gold Knows

A grudge match of epic proportions has been developing. Like Ali and Frazier, these two pugilists have been taunting each other, name calling, daring their counterpart to step into the ring and get the beating they so richly deserve.

This championship match, the Thrilla in Manilla, the Rumble in the Jungle can no longer be avoided. The contestants are fit and well-trained, the crowd is growing restless, the bets have been placed. Let the battle begin!

In this corner, weighing 195 pounds, standing 5 foot 10, hailing from Washington D.C. via Harvard, MIT and Princeton, New Jersey, wearing the M1 green trunks, the Charlemagne of Currency, the prince of paper, the bearded bard of the Fed, monarch of monetary policy, Benjamin GOLDILOCKS Bernanke!

And in the opposing corner, weighing 2046 metric tonnes — one ounce at a time — the shiny, precious, storehouse of value,  the standard for monetary exchange, the most malleable and ductile of the known metals, that master of disaster, hailing from most of the world, that dense, soft, shiny, yellow metal, GOLD.

The battle between these two titans has become increasingly loud and volatile as of late. Bernanke, a former inflation Hawk, recently went all Lovey Dovey: He now believes there is "growth with ebbing inflationary pressures and a stabilizing housing market."

When Gold heard this, it laughed out loud, calling the Fed Chair out for such nonsense. Gold dissed Bernanke: "I know what you fear" taunted the metal. "You’re afraid of the drag on growth while inflationary pressures are building and the subprime implosion is threatening the system."

Gold knows. It knows Bernanke has been painted into a corner, hamstrung by his predeccessor, Easy Al. Even if inflationary pressures spike upwards, Gold knows Ben cannot raise rates. Gold know what’s been goin’ down in the subprime market. Gold’s sees his buddy Oil (aka Black Gold) at $61 bucks.

Gold know that the slowing economy would not absorb more rate hikes particularly well. Gold also knows that the FED can’t throw the economy a lifeline by easing, either. Gold thinks the Fed is full of crap, jawboning the markets with lies: That economic growth is robust, and about to reaccelerate, that inflation is "contained;" That Housing has stabilized.

Gold laughs its arse off at each and every NovaStar blow up. Gold knows the score. Reality dictates that the FED is going to sit there and get bitchslapped by whatever inflation comes our way. Thank you sir may I have another?

Gold smirks.

Want to talk re-acceleration? Gold knows that if the Fed tries to throttle inflation back down, they will launch a cascade of subprime lending implosions far beyond what we have already seen. And, if that were to occur, we might see it metastasize, spreading across the entire lending sector like an invasive economic cancer. So far, the sub prime disasters have been contained, like a large malignant tumor, confined to one small but significant section of the mortgage market. A few hikes and the entire disease could spread much further up the food chain.

Meanwhile, Gold futures edged higher earlier today, as rising crude-oil prices and a weaker dollar underpinned demand for the precious metal. Marketwatch reported that Gold for April delivery was last up $1.50 at $684.50 an ounce on the New York Merc. On Wedsday, gold closed at $684 an ounce, a seven-month high.

And the Fed? They are content to jawbone the markets.

All the while, Gold sits there, smiling.

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  1. Mike M commented on Feb 23

    Great Post!

  2. Charles Butler commented on Feb 23

    Aren’t we waxing poetic this morning. Must be that sweet scent of vindication.

  3. joe commented on Feb 23

    Awesome post.

    Checking Harold Lederman’s scorecard, it’s currently 5 rounds to 2 in Gold’s favor.

  4. Ollie commented on Feb 23

    Umm, ding. Ding!
    Sayonara long commodities trade, you were great while you lasted!

  5. edf commented on Feb 23

    “Reality dictates that the FED is going to sit there and get bitchslapped by whatever inflation comes our way.”

    Maybe not. Bernanke doesn’t appear to be anyone’s lapdog. I suspect he understands the role of the FED and the real danger of inflation.

    In the Vietnam era we spent money without corresponding fiscal restraint; the late 70’s/early 80’s were no fun. In fact, action by the FED may be our best hope of keeping the Federal Government from spinning entirely out of control.

  6. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Excluding inflation, there is absolutely no inflation…..nada….period, end of sentence. However, if you exclude inflation, with real wages of course then being flat and not negative, how much profits are there really for corporations ? Really….really,…… truly really?

  7. agent00yak commented on Feb 23

    Gold knows something… maybe it has more to do with Iran than with Ben?

  8. jagmohan swain commented on Feb 23

    Wonderful post that aptly sums up what’s going on in the market today.But for long I have been thinking that the biggest insanity is happening in the bond market and not equity market.How come bond players display such crass stupidity in driving down the yield when inflation is soaring is beyond me.May be it’s all Saudi money who doesn’t know where best to stash their oil riches away.Umpteenth time I keep hearing so-called-experts on CNBC ( unlike genuine ones like Barry Ritholz, Mark Faber, Jim Rogers etc ) babbling away how Fed can do wonders to the economy by cutting interest rate as if cutting Fed rate is the same thing as cutting long end rates.Even Inflation ex-Inflation is soaring and any further ease should theoretically push bond yields up ( Unless people love to lose money ) causing spike in mortgage rates.Have you been noticing how the MEW is slowing down as interest rate ticks up.No one wants to refinance at a higher mortgage rate than the old mortgage rate.MEW led to economic expansion and MEW contraction will eventually lead to economic contaction since
    there is no scope for further busines spending boost.

  9. Fred commented on Feb 23

    “Gold smirks” is the surest sign of that commodity’s top!


    The COT is massively bearish!

    Seperately, the Put Call is just hysterical…and the Achilles heal for the bears.

  10. Rick Hanley commented on Feb 23

    I thought that I would have to wait much longer to hear this perfect summary of the situation: “Bernanke has been painted into a corner.”

    I suppose that he is furiously calculating which is the worst of two evils. Let it all crash now, while some of the credit can still be assigned to Greenspan, or wait and hope that the rest of the world takes the actions that they should which will then make it crash.

    Bernanke is a smart guy with the weight of the world on his shoulders. There are so many metrics that look really bad at both the market and individual level, that his actions may define an unusually severe turn of events. And it may look like his fault, ironically. He should have turned down the job.

    For example, if he raises rates one day and the next day Isreal hits Iran, we gonna have problems. The world has gone flat and we are in the corner with no rope to lean against.

  11. KirkH commented on Feb 23

    I vote for a new name: “The Goldschlager Economy” Tiny flakes of real gold to mask the fact it tastes like crap.

  12. jswede commented on Feb 23

    Bernanke is only 5’10” ??? Damn, we may be in trouble.

  13. SINGER commented on Feb 23

    Interesting thing about some of the metals stocks

    Some silver stocks are lower now than they were when SILVER waslower ie, SLW some much higher ie PAAS.

    Some gold stocks are lower now ie NEM and GG..Some are higher ie HL and AUY…

  14. Damian commented on Feb 23

    edf wrote: “In the Vietnam era we spent money without corresponding fiscal restraint; the late 70’s/early 80’s were no fun. In fact, action by the FED may be our best hope of keeping the Federal Government from spinning entirely out of control.”

    Uh, and we don’t have that now? Or maybe that was your point!

  15. Peter commented on Feb 23

    Deeper concerns over subprime problems and Cheney’s comments in an Australian newspaper saying they haven’t taken any options off the table with respect to Iran which thus implies military action if diplomacy doesn’t work are helping to boost bonds to the highs of the day and is taking the 10 yr yield to the lowest since Jan 9th. The yield curve inversion b/w the 3 month and 10 yr is now at 50 basis pts for the 1st time since Dec 5th of last yr.

  16. V L commented on Feb 23

    Fantastic Post! It is also very funny and true!
    Indeed, the Fed is full of it.

    This is my favorite part:

    “Gold thinks the Fed is full of crap, jawboning the markets with lies: That economic growth is robust, and about to reaccelerate, that inflation is ‘contained’; That Housing has stabilized.”

  17. Gary commented on Feb 23

    hmm…the COT is either bullish or extremely bullish on almost all commodities. Gold is slightly bearish, silver is neutral. In this secular bull market it has so far taken extreme short positions to turn gold. Even multiyear levels of shorting didn’t stop the gold bull last year as it ran from $450 to $740. We have many, many years left of gold’s secular bull run. I won’t be selling any of my gold until I see the general public buying gold like they were buying real estate in 05.


  18. jab commented on Feb 23


    I have been reading your blog daily for about 2 years. This is my favorite post of all time!

  19. KP commented on Feb 23

    Uncle Ben knows full well he’s in a catch 22. And he is doing what he thinks is best…Nothing at all. He’s taking the middle road. Rates are where they would if the economy were stable and mostly operating in a generally inflation free environment. This is the way to control inflation. Set the target and let all the other variables smooth themselves out around it. You can’t go chasing it by moving the target around. It’s like paddle ball…One good jolt to get the ball moving and then you keep the paddle still…and sure enough the ball will come back to you.

    In the mean time, while things are straightening themselves out. Expect to see gold high, a weak dollar, high oil, etc. It’s going to take quite a while for all of these big gears to realign in the global machine.

    Rates should have never moved in 2001. But I guess Greenie had to throw his banker buddies one more period of low rates to help out their credit spreads…and their pockets…one more time before he retired to get paid untold thousands on the lecture circiut.

  20. K-Dawg commented on Feb 23

    Tis the gold season.
    We have another few more months before gold season winds down. Senior gold stocks are lagging but selective junior gold stocks are doing quite well.

  21. Turbo commented on Feb 23

    I agree that the Fed is going to be in a tough place very soon. Note however that inflation was still relatively high in 2001 when the Fed starting slashing rates, and we still (briefly) flirted with deflation. I do disagree with the notion that gold is still a financial asset in any sense. Why are people crawling all over themselves to pay $680 an once for an asset that has no yield, costs you to store, is currently being pulled out of the ground for about $200 an once, and the world has already stockpiled thousands upon thousands of tonnes of? If you really think the world financial system is going to collapse to the point of requiring a new gold standard, spend your money stockpiling ammo and canned goods, because you’ll be wanting those a lot more.

  22. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Turbo, if this country continues losing the good paying jobs to China and India with the quid pro quo of lower interest rates to “stabilze” the masses and power the financial assets forward, you better start saving for armored plates for your vehicles of choice since the suburbs in the latest reports have now more poor people than the cities.

  23. jagmohan swain commented on Feb 23

    If the yields paid by financial papers are below inflation what good are those yields.One can create credit by the swing of pen if one is talking of paper money.The very fact that it takes $200 to dig gold out ( I am not sure if that figure is quite correct ) explains why Gold has been a great storage of value.Since the beginning of civilization gold has been and will continue to be the real money.The current
    paper currency standard will come a cropper as the down side of business cycle unfolds itself.Though politicians and bankers would prefer paper currencies and will do whatever it takes to fight return to gold standards.

  24. Fred commented on Feb 23

    Ted…let me ask you a simple question. Assume you’re looking to have someone cut your grass. You have 2 options…a corporate company (with huge bloated overhead) that will charge you $200 or a college kid (or an immigrant) that will do it for $60, which would you choose? If you chose the kid, would you want to hear the corporate employees whine?

    Would you want to see the city commission pass laws to “protect the God given jobs” of the corporation?…or set up special tarrifs for the kid?

  25. Fred commented on Feb 23


    Per, the COT is the nearly the most bearish it has been over the last 12 mos or so…small specs hugely long, while the professionals/commercials are the most short over that same period of time. It may not call a top TODAY, but my $$ is with the pros.

  26. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Fred, I think this country has way too many voices for special interest groups, but especially those for foreign governments. Let’s put OUR people back to work and stop the corporate welfare which has been feeding on them. Even Gordon Geko would say that indentured servitude is taking greed to a whole new level.

  27. Turbo commented on Feb 23

    Gold is a great storage of value???
    Let’s see, that gold you stashed behind the canned goods in your fallout shelter cost you say $700 an ounce in 1980. Current purchasing power now, 26 years later, that gold is finally approaching its last speculative frenzy highs in nominal terms, is about $250. What a fabulous investment. Let me sell all my doomed to become worthless stocks and bonds and backup the truck. And $200 an ounce is the approximate average cash cost of most existing mines in the world. New mines being developed typically have cash costs of around $300 an ounce. I’m also not saying that gold won’t go considerably higher in the near future, I think it will, but call it what it is, which is commodity speculation, the same as oil, copper or lumber.

  28. Tim commented on Feb 23

    Very nice.

  29. Ironman commented on Feb 23

    Absolutely inspired! Perhaps completely wrong, but the best opinion pieces I’ve read anywhere this week!

  30. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Fred, News Bulletin, Sydney, Australia: Vice President Dick Cheney warns China concerning anti-satellite weapons testing and continued military buildup. And Fred….don’t forget the iron bars for the windows and doors and a concrete reinforced high wall for the house.

  31. super-anon commented on Feb 23

    How come bond players display such crass stupidity in driving down the yield when inflation is soaring is beyond me.

    The inflation we’ve been seeing recently is largely a product of excess borrowing. In other words, it’s caused by an asset/debt cycle rather than an income/production cycle.

    This type of inflation often ends in disinflation or outright deflation rather than accelerating inflation.

  32. Josh commented on Feb 23

    Barry, I see the Left Coast agrees with you. Fantastic post.

  33. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Conundrum? What conundrum? Reports out saying foreign central banks still buying US bonds and other US debt instruments at a high rate even though they have a NET shortage of savings as witnessed by inflation in their own backyards and money supply growth double digit worldwide. M-3 in US still growing at double digit levels. As Barry stated, this is “The thrilla in Manilla”.

  34. donna commented on Feb 23

    Gold knows the fed hasn’t begun to see tough places yet….

  35. Fred commented on Feb 23

    Ted…through the shreds of paranoia I sense that you will pay the fat corporation the higher price to cut your lawn. Too bad for the entrepeneurial kid who is trying to compete.

    At your leisure, open an Econ 101 book…and please, not the Marxist version.


  36. Teddy commented on Feb 23

    Fred, that job as a lobbyist for China is waiting. They’re looking for a few good men.

  37. bobd commented on Feb 23

    How come its always the grass cutters we import to lower our costs, I think we would all save alot more money if we started importing some workers to wall st. Oh, Barrons reported a week or two ago that that China estimates that 30% of white collar American jobs will be outsourced. It reminds me of the poem about the Nazi’s. First they came for everybody else and their was no one left to protect me. Tell the factory, steel, airline and soon auto workers to find a new career. Your turn is coming.

  38. jagmohan swain commented on Feb 23

    “This type of inflation often ends in disinflation or outright deflation rather than accelerating inflation.”.

    That’s a good point but while saying so aren’t we looking too far into the future.Real inflation is here and now while a deflationary economic collapse could be many years down the line.Are these guys so smart to figure out what’s going to happen 3 or 4 years down the line or may be even longer.Last checked even the best economist can’t make correct prediction for quarterly inflation rate two times in a row.Also before we get to a deflation stage we have to fight the Fed printing press and Helicopter Bernake.Have we forgotten that?I am still in the camp that more than the equity market it’s the bond market which is suffering from acute delusional syndrome. Bond bulls are dime a dozen and that’s not boding well for future of bond market.

  39. super-anon commented on Feb 23

    That’s a good point but while saying so aren’t we looking too far into the future.Real inflation is here and now while a deflationary economic collapse could be many years down the line.

    Well, inflation was running high after the burst, but then fell off dramatically in it’s wake (in 2002-2003). If you believe we have a housing bubble that’s bursting you might expect the same thing to happen in a year or so. The problem is this will be priced into markets long before it happens, hence the inverted yield curve.

    Of course the bond market could be wrong this time, but if it’s not it’ll be too late to cash in once you have conclusive proof.

  40. M.Z. Forrest commented on Feb 23

    jagmohan swain,

    It depends how you play the game. In my 401(k), I have four choices. American cash instruments, American Bonds, American Equities, Global Equities. The Cash fund I have a little bit in, but I don’t feel comfortable earning 2%. My greatest fear is dollar devaluation, so with the remaining dollars, I’m about 50% in global equities. My second greatest concern is a global slow down and/or a world deflationary spiral. That is why my other 50% is in U.S. bonds. I would have US equity exposure, but I think Europe is safer, particularly on the currency side. Obviously my 401k isn’t a market maker, but who knows? There may be one or two other idiots like me out there who are market makers.

  41. RN commented on Feb 23

    Barry, you’re a great writer.

  42. Michael commented on Feb 23

    want another reason for the ‘ole yeller’s strength? check out the abx indices. they are getting creamed! i still have not heard anyone comment on this.

  43. Gary commented on Feb 23

    Sorry I’m not familar with sentimenttrader. I’m getting my data straight from the weekly COT report. Mar 04 it took a commercial net short level of -190,000+ to turn gold down, Nov 04 it took almost 180,000 contracts short to turn the market, 212,000 contracts short couldn’t stop the bull at the end of 05. We are only at -168,000 contracts this week and silver is only at -64,000. Generally it takes about -80,000 to -90,000 to turn silver around. Heck we’re in a secular bull market, bull markets make new highs that’s what they do. So far on this leg we haven’t even made a new high yet. I’m guessing there’s still more upside to go before we get a significant correction. Maybe quite a bit of upside if the market is starting to wake up to the fact that the inflation numbers published by the government are about as real as all those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq :)


  44. Emmanuel commented on Feb 23

    Ben is 5’10” and weighs 195? I sincerely doubt it. He looks quite fit to me. I’d estimate his weight at 170 at the most.

  45. JKH commented on Feb 23

    Great writing. But until the 3rd paragraph, I assumed it was gold versus bonds.

  46. Jdesmond commented on Feb 23

    Terrific post…Gold knows….oh Gold knows……tick tock tick tock…….


  47. Estragon commented on Feb 23


    I find your asset-credit versus income-production cycle thought compelling. Do you see it as inevitable that asset-credit deflation must flow through to income-production deflation though? Your reply to JS seems to imply you do.

  48. Gold Bug Blog commented on Feb 23

    Ritzholtz on Gold

    A bit of tongue-in-cheek story from the Big Pictures Barry Ritholtz.
    Do I dare say he sounds like a fellow goldbug in the making.
    Link to Ritzholtzs: Gold Knows Edit N Place

  49. brewster commented on Feb 23


    I wont comment on the substance of the post, but as a piece of prose, it is remarkable, and I enjoyed it very much. It is probably the best prose of yours I’ve read, and I’ve been a reader here for ever.

    Thank you.

  50. Mark commented on Feb 23

    “want another reason for the ‘ole yeller’s strength? check out the abx indices. they are getting creamed!”

    the ABX is hardly liquid, the bid/ask is measured in POINTS not ticks, FYI. the BBB & BBB- tranches are whats getting creamed and have been since the inception of the ABX, why? because its impossible to trade the basis, the cash bonds don’t trade, the tranches are miniscule in $ terms, thats the whole reason why the ABX was created.

  51. jjr commented on Feb 23

    bobd, wall st. is a bunch of pigs at the trough, same with hollywood and the big recording companies. love the idea of the outsourcing of some of those bloated salaries.

  52. Joe commented on Feb 23

    (In Cartman’s voice) – I got a blog, I write what I want.

  53. Eclectic commented on Feb 24

    Don’t worry little Bondie… go back to sleepy, baby.

    Uncle Barry didn’t mean it… it was only just a story.

    There, there, now little baby… and close your eyes my child.

    Go back to sleepy, baby… sleepy, sleepy… sleEEEEeeepy.

    Nite nite my little baby… go back to sleep my baby.

    Nite nite and go to sleepy.

    Nite nite my precious baby.

    Nite nite.

  54. Philippe commented on Feb 24

    Justice has to be given to Mr Bernanke, he is the heir of a situation (he did not provoke it) and has challenged to steer an economy with an increasing balance of payment deficit,inflationary pressure, low investment savings and full employment which is now moving towards unemployment and the same negative features.
    This is the worst economic situation that an economist may face.
    Gold is not a cure just a placebo for speculation, the real economic cure has yet to come and will be painful.

  55. Eclectic commented on Feb 24

    Per BR:

    “…if the Fed tries to throttle inflation back down, they will launch a cascade of subprime lending implosions far beyond what we have already seen.” …end quote.

    You are definitely correct wit’cho para-sailin’ self.

    And the reason is not because the Fed may be right or not about inflation, but rather what the consequences of raising rates would likely be, at least now. It’s always possible they may perceive more inflation worries than some may think really exist, but nevertheless, they can’t raise rates and they know they can’t.

    No… the reason is because of the core failures of Monetarism, which I have written extensively about on your blog, and the particular problem they have now derives from the failed attempt of the Greenspan Fed to stimulate economic output without creating imbalances at the same time.

    Monetarism can never be stimulative to an economy. Let me say that again… Monetarist policies can never be stimulative.

    It’s counterintuitive to common understanding, and what I’ve said will be attacked, but no real economic stimulus can come from monetary expansion.

    Money is only a facilitator. It is a force that ‘allows’ economic activity, but not a force that ‘commands’ it.

    Adam Smith knew this, and ‘Wealth’ is full of his understanding that money is not the value of economic output but merely the representation of it. His contemporary, the philosopher David Hume, understood it as well. They both knew that the species of money, regardless of its supply, simply readjusts to the level of economic output.

    Consequently, a central bank can only be restrictive to an economy by removing the basis for its orderly facilitation, but it can never truly stimulate economic output, because market participants simply build in a capacity to rationalize the dilution of excess monetarist expansion.

    They conduct this rationalization as a series of failed realizations of the erroneous philosophical concepts of both ‘profit’ and ‘wealth’ that are derived purely as monetarist expressions. If you doubt this, ask any recent mortgagee who is newly upside-down now on equity about it, when just possibly weeks ago they were in the money.

    Failed economic realizations proceed, at first, outbound from originating market participants and are perceived by them, and by observers, as successful, but they reflect back later, in the sense of a wave, as successive market participants correctly realize the phantom nature of profits first assumed to exist. Phantom profits are thus gradually intellectualized away by market participants in the form of a reassessment of their assumptions of their own wealth creations. Wealth in its common interpretation is therefore recognized by market participants as having been diluted relative to the wealth of others.

    What is understood from this, and from exploring other philosophical concepts of money, labor and productivity, is that true wealth in a society is created as the expression of a reduction of the costs of goods and services, rather than as the accumulation of monetary riches derived from profiting from economic exchanges. This is also possibly counterintuitive to most people, because it requires a rather extensive absorption into abstract concepts, chiefly among these is the concept that the real objective of all human economic endeavors is the progressive marginal reduction of the costs of goods and services philosophically to zero, even if this objective is only understood subconsciously.

    Keynes also understood the primary limitation of Classical Theory, that derives from a periodic dissociation of the core identify, MV = PQ, from being what Classicists always have assumed was a linear or near-linear function. But he imperfectly described it by failing to conceptualize the failure in terms of the philosophical fully abstract nature of money. His intent was to describe the failure in empirical terms, since Classicists would only accept it in that way. I’ve read Keynes’ ‘General Theory’ and I’ll characterize my reading in the following manner.

    It’s like I’d been on a casual walk and happened onto a city park, one that was beautiful, multi-layered and revealing. I enjoyed the flowers and the manicured ornamental plants, and in fact the whole experience was an education about a man’s life and work that I’d known about since 1983. Even before that, I’d implicitly understood much of what he’d advanced by understanding its effects on the New Deal, which to my father’s death had caused him to regard Franklin D. Roosevelt as among the shining immortal souls of all time. However, I’d never taken the time to read what Keynes had said… instead of simply accepting what people said he’d said.

    There is always a difference between those two things.

    While I was enjoying the park yet struggling to fully absorb what it offered in countless pathways that could be taken again and again without discovering a new formerly unseen pathway, one that would in its own meandering way cross the others again, I discovered that Keynes had been like the architect who designed the grounds. He’d calculated the hydrology of the water basin and mapped its topography; he’d experimented with the geology of the underlying strata; he’d determined the rates of rainfall and solar warming and allowed for the correct placement, cultivation and grooming of all its plants and animals. He’d financed it, staffed it, and he’d done its accounting, payroll, taxes, signage, marketing; and he’d been the caretaker, the security, and he was the gatekeeper, ticket-taker and immediate supervisor for all things, large or small.

    And to do all these things, he’d striven to accomplish the task by working from a sort of Einsteinian ‘Single Unified Theory’ of economy that could answer every question it was given about money, interest and employment.

    He outsmarted every philosopher and theoretical economist that came before him who’d just thought they understood Classical Theory. He took it apart piece-by-piece, all the while seeming to enjoy the fact that he himself had been grounded in and even taught the very Classical Theory he was dissembling. However, after reflecting on erroneous assumptions that Classical Theorists had maintained, in the end Keynes built too many assumptions of his own into his successive and very complex chain of mathematical derivations. His mathematical equations accurately depicted the behavior of his assumptions, but not entirely the behavior of the people he made the assumptions about.

    I actually determined to read every word of ‘General Theory’ to examine my own doubtfulness that he’d have failed to discover the concept of ‘perceived liquidity’ which I discovered theoretically and have both introduced and wrote extensively about here on The Big Picture. He didn’t. He got close to it several times, but he didn’t realize that the concept of perceived liquidity existed.

    All his equations and theorizing were intended to explain only nominal money and its impact on aggregate employment, interest rates and monetary behavior. He was as wrong about quite a few of his assumptions as Classical Theorists were about much of what they said, and both he and they were partly wrong for the very same reasons. They simply failed to understand the fully abstract psychological basis of money.

    The Perceived Liquidity Substitution Hypothesis

    (I) The sum total of all money in an economy is held in only two forms; (i) perceived liquidity, and (ii) deferred liquidity, and market participants hold these forms subjectively and interchangeably.

    (II) Perceived liquidity is always greater than conventionally held nominal liquidity measured at the same time, regardless of economic state.

    (III) Perceived liquidity is at the steady state equal to nominal liquidity multiplied times a hypothetical terminal low coefficient of perceived liquidity that is always greater than 1 (one).

    (IV) Perceived liquidity is at all times substitutable for nominal liquidity transactional demand at a rate of substitution that is always greater than zero, and the rate of substitution varies in direct proportion to variations in the coefficient of perceived liquidity.

    (V) Upon an upset to the steady state the coefficient of perceived liquidity will increase to some higher but not unlimited value, and the increase will be proportional to the severity and speed of the upset.

    (VI) An increased coefficient of perceived liquidity can not resume its former steady state value until economic conditions resume the steady state.

    My hypothesis explains why expansive monetary policy can often fail, and the slow motion unraveling of at least a considerable component of the housing market today is very possibly just a reversing wave of successive realizations of the consequences of that failure. Time will tell.

  56. Eclectic commented on Feb 24

    Earlier I wrote, now please correct by adding [brackets].

    They conduct this rationalization [in the beginning] as a series of failed realizations of the erroneous philosophical concepts of both ‘profit’ and ‘wealth’ that are derived purely as monetarist expressions.

  57. Arnab Dutt commented on Feb 24

    Barry, a witty and inscisive read. I started accumulating precious metal stocks in the last quarter of 2006. Their charts tell the underlying story of where the smart money thinks we are heading. When Jim Cramer said motgage lenders and financials would not be affected by the sub-prime market,It was my signal to go short CFC,GS,MS etc.. You have been on the nose for the past 12 months keep it up Barry.

  58. Bill commented on Feb 24

    If this post isn’t the surest sign that Gold is near a major top I don’t know what is. The Greatest Fade of All Times strikes again?…

  59. Lintel commented on Feb 25

    Gold is approaching this $740 resistance point with confidence. This will be the moment of truth for currencies and US financial hegmony for some time. Take a look at the ABX story since the beginning of the year: The sub-prime mortgage market implosion looks terminal. If credit gets fully restrictive to 20% of the housing market buyers and foreclosures/distress housing sales become a nationwide feature, then maybe bottom fell out of 1/3 of the nation’s asset base. Re Barry’s article, gold may bite off a piece of the Fed’s ear….

  60. Barry Ritholtz commented on Feb 25

    I’m not sure the economy is going down the tubes — I’ve been calling it the “Slow motion Slow down” for about a year now. As we lose the stimulus of the Real Estate sector, there’s a significantly decrease in employment and consumer spending. I am not sure if we coast down to 1-2%, or slow even more dramatically to 0% or worse. But I think the 0% scenario is a higher possibility than many people believe (Like you, I do not believe a long deep yieldcurve inversion is meaningless).

    And inflation, tho moderating, has been coursing thru the system since the Fed cut their overnite rates to 1%. Thats why I think the Fed’s hands are somewhat tied — otherwise they might be leaning towards cutting sooner rather than later.

    I am in California this week, and if I lived out here in the sunshine year round, my forecast would be Dow 36,000 also!

  61. Barry Ritholtz commented on Feb 25

    The traders in comments here calling this a top in Gold seem to be misunderstanding this post. It’s not a call to buy gold here, its a critique of the corner the Fed has painted itself into.

    But since you brought it up, here are some thoughts on Gold. Fade (short) the metal or the miners if you like, but you best understand the current set up before you do:

    Short term, Gold is overbought. Note that since its low in early October — when many of the same commentors here were calling for Gold to drop back down to $300, Gold has rallied from $570 to $685 — about a 20% move in 8 months. Sentiment is now shifting from a rather negative consensus to a fairly positive bend.

    Technically, Gold is now approaching the July peak of $690. There will be resistance there. The Gold stock index (XAU) has been lagging the performance of gold, which is, more often than not, a negative for both Gold and the Gold stocks.

    Based on all of the above, this does not look like the beginning of a large up move commencing any time soon. I would call that possible but not probable (unless something funky happens with Iraq).

    Given all of these factors, the short term probability of a breakout above $690 is only modest. The correction in Gold, which began last May when it tagged $755, may still have further to go.

    However, if we do get lucky and see a decline that carries Gold to under $600 and the XAU down to near 120, consider it an opportunity. Short interest in Gold would inrease geometrically.

    If this technical retracement were to unfold, I would expect a monster rally to follow.

  62. jagmohan swain commented on Feb 25

    ABX index is telling a fascinating story.There
    is a proverbial Armageddon going on there.Wille the BBB tranches are being decimated the key still as far as a more wider credit crunch is concrened is in A, AA and AAA
    tranches.Even those have started to weaken and it’s fairly obvious with due time those will follows their BBB brethern.It could happen now or it may happen some time later.Until that happens however it’s unlikely there would be any major panic in financial markets.But one thing is sure.One of these days there is going to be a major panic reaction in either the Currency or the bonds or the equity market.We will see.Undoubtedly the stage has been set for the Perfect storm to strike.

  63. Eclectic commented on Feb 25

    Quoting BR:

    “It’s not a call to buy gold here, its a critique of the corner the Fed has painted itself into.” …end quote

    Strangely enough, were the Fed to raise rates, it’s likely that gold would drop rather quickly, because raising rates would be a signal that the Fed would honor its Monetarist heritage. The problem is that Monetarists enjoy honoring half-a-heritage, but they’d rather take an ass whuppin’ than to honor the other half.

    Volcker had this figured out and was willing to take the whuppin’, but he was a tall, tall man, in a sense the natural heir to Adam Smith.

    Remember, Fisher in Dallas has called Milton Friedman the “patron saint” of the Dallas Fed… and one thing I’ve never failed to respect Friedman for is that he very carefully observed that only the Fed can cause inflation.

    So, if Bernanke were to fail to raise rates upon the perception by the Fed of truly increased inflation fears, he’d then possibly have to apologize to Friedman again, post mortem, after already apologizing to him once before (regarding Fed supposed failure during the Great Depression) for just the opposite.

    Therefore, Mr. Bernanke would have to do something that he’d know in advance he’d possibly have to apologize for, and while doing that very thing, he’d know that later he might have to apologize again for doing the thing that he’d already apologized for once before. I tell ya… I j-i-s-s c-a-n’-t make this stuff up!

    You see what a nightmarish predicament hard money Monetarists can get themselves into? That’s your ‘corner’ that you speak of Barry. I’ll classify it another way… it’s ‘calf rope.’ I bet none of your erudite followers know what calf rope is, huh?

    Ages ago, farmers would drive a stake near a ditch close to a road, and tie a calf to the rope. The calf could then eat the grass and clean the ditch (no sling blading needed) to the end of the rope… which was just slightly short of the distance to the road. See what a brilliant idea that is?

    Well, calves being the calves that they are (smart as a sack of hammers), later the farmer would inevitably find the calf had wrapped the rope around the stake so many times that the calf was bound to the stake, and bawling to be freed. That’s ‘calf rope.’ And, that’s where the Fed is right now… calf roped!

    Tell me BR, haven’t I been trenchant?

    Haven’t I been loyal, dependable and analytical?… Don’t I contribute?… Am I not worthy?

    So, whurrza love?

  64. Eric commented on Feb 25

    Barry–great read. I agree that gold is that important. I know that the Fed is forced into this fight with those pathetic government-issue short-term-interest-rate boxing gloves. I was wondering what your take on the match would be if Ben was allowed to use his balance-sheet boxing gloves instead? Just curious. Thanks.

  65. jagmohan swain commented on Feb 25

    It would be extremely difficult for Bernanke to do an encore of Paul Volker as the conditions extant then was markedly different from what it is now.Then in late 70’s US was a
    major donor nation unlike now when it’s the largest debtor nation.So while trying to kill one inflation ( CPI ) if Bernake raises interest rate it will stoke up the other implicit inflation ie higher debt payment.Let’s not forget that a typical 3 person US household has a debt liability of roughly $100,000 that’s rising every day.You raise interest rate means they have to pay more every month in terms of debt liability and that’s inflation too.As far as I understand loss of purchasing power in whatever shape it comes is an inflation.Be it raising the tax or printing excessive money ( indirect taxation ).It’s obvious that Federal Reserve is complelely hamstrung now that they are caught between the devil and deep sea situation.So if stocks are to rally commodities and Gold will outperform and if gold goes down that means equity markets will go down even more.

  66. Gold Bug Blog commented on Feb 26

    Ritzholtz on Gold

    A bit of tongue-in-cheek from the Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz.Do I dare say he sounds like a fellow goldbug in the making.
    Link to Ritzholtz’s: Gold Knows
    Edit N Place

  67. Gold Bug Blog commented on Feb 26

    Ritzholtz on Gold

    A bit of tongue-in-cheek from the Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz.
    Do I dare say he sounds like a fellow goldbug in the making.
    Link to Ritzholtz’s: Gold Knows 
    Edit N Place

  68. The Everyday Economist commented on Mar 1

    Ritholtz onGold

    As many of you know, I have recently been professing my belief that inflation is still too high (see here and here). Today, I would like to highlight this stellar piece of writing by our friend Barry Ritholtz:

    A grudge match of epic proportions has b…

  69. sindhu commented on Jan 9

    show the picture of post mortem

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