Monday, November 10, 2008

China Bails Out Asia - at Least for Today

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 (nineteen of the world's largest economies, plus the European Union) met in Brazil on Sunday and called for increased government spending to bolster the sagging global economy. The multi trillion dollar bailouts, massive liquidity injections, and sharp rate cuts in the last two months apparently haven't done the trick. To do its part, China promptly announced a $586 billion stimulus plan consisting of spending, subsidies, loser credit, and tax cuts. Unlike the rate cuts in Britain and the ECB last week, when the markets crashed the day they were announced, Asian markets rallied strongly on the news.

Not surprisingly, the Shanghai composite was up the most with a 7.3% gain. It is still down about two-thirds from its high last October, after rising in one of the most spectacular bubbles in history (bubble markets usually need somewhere between an 80% to 98% drop before they can stabilize). The Nikkei rose 5.8% on the news, after having hit a new low in its 18 year drop only recently. Intraday, the Nikkei has had approximately an 83% drop so far from its bubble high in 1990 to its current low. What the final number will be and when it will take place is anybody's guess. The Sensex in India, another bubble market, rose 5.8% as well. The dollar rallied against the Yen and natural resource stocks (inflation indicators) seemed to be the major beneficiaries of China's announcement. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company was up 13%.

As the rally moved along with the sun to Europe, the enthusiasm dampened somewhat. Major European markets are up less than 3% as of this writing. U.S. pre-market futures indicate an even smaller rally here. Of course the Dow already rallied 2.8% on Friday, but this was after a two-day post election drop of around 10% (half of what would be necessary to create a bear market). The news of Circuit City's bankruptcy and AIG's third government bailout, with the total now up to $150 billion, will weigh on the U.S. market if rationality prevails - a dubious presumption at best.

In case there was any doubt previously, the economic policy makers for all the world's large economies are pursuing and will continue to pursue extreme inflationary policies. In many cases, this is being done to try to reinflate collapsing bubbles. There is no short-term likelihood of success in this endeavor. They will be successful however in igniting an inflation bubble. Although this is completely predictable, expect great surprise - and denial - when inflation starts to get out of control.

NEXT: Auto-Asphyxiation - GM, Ford Gasp for Bailout

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.

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