Friday, January 25, 2013

Davos: the attempt to market the idea that the financial crisis is over

The pompoms are out and the Davos cheerleaders can be heard chanting:  the financial crisis is over, the financial crisis is over.  There is just one small problem.  The financial crisis isn't over.

If the financial crisis were over, why is the UK economy performing worse than it did during the Great Depression?

If the financial crisis were over, why is youth unemployment in Greece and Spain in excess of 50% and climbing?

If the financial crisis were over, why are central banks around the world pursuing zero interest rate policies and pushing liquidity into the financial system through quantitative easing?

If the financial crisis were over, why are central banks buying up the low risk assets in an attempt to force investors to buy riskier securities?

If the financial crisis were over, why haven't the financial regulators required the banks to provide ultra transparency and disclose on an ongoing basis their current global asset, liability and off-balance sheet exposures so that market participants could see they have purge their dud exposures and are keeping their risk down?

If the financial crisis were over, why is Japan, which followed the same policies after its financial crisis, still in an economic slump 2+ decades later and threatening to start a currency war in an attempt to get its economy moving?

If the financial crisis were over, why is there any talk about cutting back on government social programs to reduce the debt as between the natural shrinkage in the economic stabilizer programs and increased tax revenue more should be generated in revenue than is being spent?

Unfortunately, the financial crisis is not over and because of the policies that are currently being pursued there is no end in sight for the financial crisis ever to be over (see Japan's 2+ decades of dealing with its financial crisis).

I know that the 1% that went to Davos would like the financial crisis to be over because there is likely to be a backlash against them and their policies when it becomes apparent that the financial crisis isn't over.  However, that doesn't change the simple facts that the financial crisis hasn't ended.

The chanting the financial crisis is over does effect one group though (from a Bloomberg article):  money managers who are worried about missing a move up in the financial markets.

There is no official declaration, or even a formal survey. But the chatter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is about the end of the financial crisis that began in 2008 and dragged on through last summer’s spike in Spanish and Italian government bond yields. 
“There’s a crystallization of thought that the financial crisis is over,” says Scott Minerd, managing partner and chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, a Santa Monica (Calif.) firm with about $160 billion under management. 
“I was riding around in a van last night with two guys whose names you’d recognize,” Minerd said. “They were comparing notes and hearing the same thing. The conclusion has sort of gone viral. It’s an interesting social-networking phenomenon.” 
It has real-world consequences, too. “When thought leaders leave an event like this, they take the message with them, and it affects the way they behave.” That is, they’ll buy.
Which will give the 1% a chance to unload their shares.

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