A Transparent Poker Face

By: Michael Pento | Wed, Aug 29, 2012
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The European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve have both telegraphed that another round of currency depreciation is in the offing. The ECB's Mario Draghi has pledged to do "whatever it takes" to save the Euro currency by setting specific targets for Italian and Spanish bond yields. And the Bernanke Fed has stated that addition monetary stimulation is warranted soon unless there is a "substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery." Fed Presidents Charles Evans and Eric Rosengren have both recently indicated what action would be taken by saying that the U.S. central bank needs to expand its balance sheet until more favorable targets are reached on the unemployment rate and nominal GDP.

But there is little doubt, unfortunately, that both the European and American economies continue to falter. A composite index of Europe's manufacturing and service sectors contracted for the seventh straight month is August. Meanwhile, U.S. capital goods orders fell 3.4% in July, which was the largest decline since November 20011 and the fourth decline in the last five months. That can hardly be misconstrued as evidence of a substantial or sustainable economic recovery. Even the four-week moving average of initial jobless claims rose 3,750 last week as the unemployment rate in the U.S. continues to rise. In addition, EU 17's unemployment rate now stands at a Euro-era record 11.2%.

Therefore, there is now little doubt that more central bank money printing is coming in September. They are playing a game of poker with the markets but aren't very good at hiding their cards. Promises and threats of more monetary intervention have already caused commodity and equity prices to rise in anticipation. The 24 raw materials in the S&P GSCI are up 21% since June 21st and have just entered new bull market. Gold prices have increased over $100 an ounce and oil prices have soared 25% since mid-June. Even the S&P 500 index has risen 10% since the June low and the Spanish IBEX has soared 21% since July 25th.

The problem now is that unless the official announcements of quantitative easing from the ECB and Fed are surprisingly massive, much of the move in economically sensitive commodities and equities may have already been priced in. And after we receive the September decisions on monetary policy from Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke, there isn't much to carry those prices higher until the U.S. presidential election is concluded. However, what could weigh on markets between then and November is the continued political paralysis in Washington over how to reduce America's out of control deficits and the likelihood of $200 per barrel oil resulting from an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Therefore, investors should pay close attention to what the ECB does on September 6th and what the Fed does on September 13th. Unless the QE plans are "significant and sustainable", equity and industrial commodity prices could be in for a sharp decline. However, gold and oil ETFs should provide the best protection if war breaks out in the Middle East and/or if central banks decide to launch a "significant and sustainable" attack on fiat currencies.

 


 

Michael Pento

Author: Michael Pento

Michael Pento, President
Pento Portfolio Strategies

Michael Pento

Michael Pento is the President and Founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies (PPS) and author of the book "The Coming Bond Market Collapse." PPS is a Registered Investment Advisory Firm that provides money management services and research for individual and institutional clients.

Michael is a well-established specialist in markets and economics and a regular guest on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, FOX Business News and other international media outlets. His market analysis can also be read in most major financial publications, including the Wall Street Journal. He also acts as a Financial Columnist for Forbes, Contributor to thestreet.com and is a blogger at the Huffington Post.

Prior to starting PPS, Michael served as a senior economist and vice president of the managed products division of Euro Pacific Capital. There, he also led an external sales division that marketed their managed products to outside broker-dealers and registered investment advisors.

Additionally, Michael has worked at an investment advisory firm where he helped create ETFs and UITs that were sold throughout Wall Street. Earlier in his career he spent two years on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He has carried series 7, 63, 65, 55 and Life and Health Insurance Licenses. Michael Pento graduated from Rowan University in 1991.

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