Monday, August 31, 2009

A Break in the Bull and China Stops Shopping

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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August has not been a good month for Chinese stocks. In mid-month, the markets were down 20%, but some recovery took place and it looked like the bull market which had moved stocks up 80% or more was holding. The month ended badly last night though. After dropping 3% on Friday, Shanghai was down 6.7% and Shenzhen down 7.1% last night. Volatility, and Chinese stocks have certainly been volatile in August, is classic sign of a bubble top. The market's plunge last night took place because of concern about a drop in bank lending. Like every other major government in the world, China has been pumping massive stimulus into the economy. Even the threat that the stimulus might be reduced is enough to tank the markets. What would happen if it actually was reduced?

There was no China contagion in the other Asian markets last night. They all had relatively minor drops. The Nikkei in Japan was even up strongly in the morning, but closed down slightly.
Initial bullishness was because of the election news. The ruling party, which has been in power almost continuously since 1955, was crushed at the polls. After approximately half a dozen recessions in the last 19 years, the Japanese electorate finally became fed up enough to try something else. The U.S. electorate is not likely to be so understanding for so long.

There are lessons for what has just happened in Japan for the U.S. Japan has been producing much better economic statistics lately. GDP turned strongly positive last quarter. Industrial production figures out last night were up for the fifth month in a row. Exports have been rising (thanks mostly to China - anything happens to the Chinese economy and the GDP will go right back in the tank in a number of countries). The real estate market turn up last year (after a 15 year drop) Despite the 'improving economy' unemployment is up and retail sales are very weak. The average Japanese citizen sees his or her personal situation deteriorating. Based on how the vote went, they obviously no longer believe the government's upbeat reports on the economy.

The picture in the U.S. right now is remarkably similar to Japan's. Economists predict 3% U.S. GDP growth this quarter. Industrial production is up. Real estate prices are supposedly going up (well, that's the claim at least). Exports are supposedly doing better. However, just like in Japan, unemployment is up and retail sales are in bad shape. The economy the average person sees is deteriorating. Without massive government stimulus, it would look like the 1930s depression. Government stimulus was also the key component in improving the Japanese economy, as has been the case over and over again since 1990. Keeping the U.S. economy out of recession, will require ongoing stimulus as well and in our case this means massive money printing. When governments are forced to chose between recession and inflation, inflation always wins out. No government can risk ongoing recession and survive - even in Japan apparently.

NEXT: Next Five Days Critical for Stock Rally

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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