Wholeness, encounters and responsibility

This past weekend I had time to believe at least six impossible things. About Encounters, Other, Wholeness, Division, Responsibility, Perspective, Purpose and Meaning. Not all of them before breakfast though.

This post is about our immense responsibility in our encounters with other conscious entities.
I recently meditated on my relationship with my dog. I only now realize how important I was to her, and she to me. The way we greeted each other every day said it all. I was her entire life, and with that perspective I can’t say I took full responsibility for our encounter, whereas she did in every single minute and action.

It made me think about all our daily encounters, from brushing shoulders with strangers on the sidewalk (pre-Covid) to seeing our parents and siblings, or significant others. Meetings, encounters, achieving temporary resonance, with something that isn’t us are the foundations of all meaning. Thinking about it, truly othernesses can’t interact at all. Matter and consciousnesses must be part of a common whole to feel each other.

Bortoft elaborates beautifully on the topic of wholeness and artifical division into separatedness in this essay.

The quantum mechanics theorist David Bohm‘s book Wholeness and the implicate order is similarly eloquent and awe-inspiringly creative in its use of everyday language to talk about impossible things, about the reality we can’t access.

You just have to get past the first chapter on the need for a whole new language, before the book really starts to shine.

Later Bohm explains how our current word constructions and verb conjugations, as well as our flawed ideas about observer-based experiments (there can never be an outside observer in an experiment, the observer is always part of the experiment), are what stands between us and actual understanding of reality. Ambitious agenda to say the least.

In earlier blog posts and newsletters I have described my ideas about the importance of increased perspective for enhanced appreciation, and experience of meaning and purpose.

Meetings are what drives reality
I would now like to add the idea of encounters between consciousnesses being the ultimate event for experiencing newness, learning, increased perspective and personal growth.

Meetings are what drives reality. Nothing would happen without interaction, be it between particles or people. Several attempts at solving the mystery of unifying quantum mechanics and gravity even take the view that time and space are just event epiphenomena emerging from “encounters”. There is no time or space, just events, interactions, loops.

In this video Donald Hoffman briefly states his intriguing case against reality, explaining how evolution has no interest in the actual reality, but only in functional shortcuts in order to survive and procreate. Just as you don’t care what really goes on inside the computer when moving icons around, humans don’t have the time or capability to take an interest in what’s actually going on. We’re happy watching the virtual reality rendering provided by the brain (whatever the brain might actually be, rather than the jelly desktop icon we perceive). Actual reality is too much to handle to be able to avoid predators quickly enough.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Master And His Emissary, by Iain McGilchrist. He makes a great case for why the brain is divided and what the different hemispheres see and do. It’s nothing like the obsolete and debunked ideas about language vs spatial perception you might have heard about. This 12-minute video might inspire or confuse you enoughto actually read the book. I still need to be absolutely focused to keep up with the absolutely brilliant video, despite having watched it many times (and read the book less than a year ago).

What I wanted to convey here is that we’re not consciously seeing reality as it is. However, we are probably picking up a lot more than is commonly believed. The right hemisphere might actually have a clue what reality is, but won’t tell you anything about what it knows unless under the influence of ancient plant medicines.

When in contact with others, originally artificially separated from a common wholeness, every thought, intention, inattention and emotion affect the quality and end result of your resonance. Two others meeting need to be the same to interact, lest they pass through each other like materia and dark matter.
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In every encounter, short-term and long term, we have a responsibility to be fair but kind, genuine but gentle. Prioritize, i.e., take responsibility for making the encounters you choose productive and rewarding, while avoiding having meetings tainted by suppression, oppression, lies, inattentiveness and so on. Communicate your expectations as well as level of certainty clearly. Strive to enable informed decisions and inspire the same in others; and cut out social cheaters and leechers altogether.

Metaphorically, cast them out of the tribe to die on the savannah.

I used to provokingly say “every man is an island”, and think that grown-ups are responsible only for themselves, as long as they don’t initiate violence or practice other asymmetric ethics.

I still think nobody owes me anything. I nevertheless now see how “violence” can be interpreted more widely. Words hurt. Inattention has consequences. Thus, choose your encounters and your treatment of them carefully.

Good vibrations is what it’s all about.

It’s a potentially perfect world
By the way, I think it’s wonderful how this world can be so perfect and complete. Spending an early summer’s day in the presence of a good friend or lover, enjoying a gentle breeze, beautiful clouds, a good meal, the discrete dancing of mosquitos in the shadow on safe sucking distance, brilliant greens and blues – harmonius, just perfectly dissonant to add enhancing contrast, all “unnecessary” but nothing redundant, not a twig or molecule out of place. We must have evolved layers and layers of filters until it all was perfectly aligned for us to want to keep on living and meeting.

Or, maybe we created it as a game. Since it’s not reality we perceive anyway, it could be just about anything out there.

The neuroscientist György Buzsáki says in this interview (and his most recent book) that the brain has an immense repository of pre-programmed patterns and spontaneous action. The brain gradually maps inputs and movement to what patterns are practical. He calls the patterns nonsensical, but I suspect they are reflections of actual reality in the right brain HS.

Please accept my sincere hopes this leaves you more considerate than you were when you woke up today,

Karl-Mikael Syding

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Summerland, by Hannu Rajaniemi, author of the absolutely amazing Jean Le Flambeur series (The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince, and The Causal Angel) was pretty cool but not quite what I had hoped for. I’m simply not interested in crime novels, no matter how much weirdness, afterlife and ectoplasma you put in them.
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In sterquiliniis invenitur – Where you least want to look, you’ll find what you need to know the most. In filth it will be found.

Are you prepared for the Old Normal?

Increased globalization after the fall of the wall in 1989 spurred low inflation growth, which in turn increased willingness to take on debt — for governments, households and companies. The rising mountains of debt made the economy increasingly sensitive. As leverage grew, politicians thus provided a safety net, a “put”, in order to avoid a bout of deflationary deleveraging. Thus recurring central bank Buy The Dip action taught ordinary investors to do the same.

BTFD

-Buy The Fucking Dip

Buying every dip, ever faster and with increasing conviction of the strategy’s efficacy pushed volatility to historical lows. Stock prices simply couldn’t fall as much as in the pre-BTFD era before buy the dippers pushed the price up again.

Low volatility, zero interest rates and central bank puts encouraged even more debt on all levels and every domain of the economy. Why wouldn’t you use some leverage to increase your earnings when it seemed basically risk-free. Growth over the last 10 years was “not great, not terrible“, but most likely way higher than it would have been without rapidly growing leverage. The 2010’s are widely known as the weakest economic recovery ever after a recession. That very fact masked that the asset price boom was the greatest and most insane on record, taking the valuations of stocks and bonds to levels never seen before.

The situation with very low volatility, zero interest rates, huge debts, maximum risk-on mentality, TINA (there is no alternative to stocks), 3x historical valuation levels for stocks*, and levered risk-parity trades, was dubbed “The New Normal”. Any sane person of course understood it wouldn’t last, but most people still couldn’t resist being along for the ride, hoping to get off at the top.

* Dr Hussman’s cyclically adjusted valuation multiples demonstrate stocks in February 2020 reaching levels more than 3x their historical norm.

Unfortunately, this time’s not different from all previous asset price bubbles. The cycle turns when it hurts the largest number of people. It doesn’t matter what the trigger is, but once th cycle is ready, it turns.

The Old Normal

So, you’d better prepare for a return to sanity, to historical norms, to the old normal.

The virus was just the trigger, the pin to the bubble, the smallest and first of dominoes.

As risk-parity schemes come crumbling down, causing simultaneous sell-offs in stocks and bonds, each catalyzing more selling in the other, an all but unstoppable deleveraging process is set in motion. Selling begets selling as more and more margin calls have to be met. Rising bond prices no longer cover for falling stocks — quite the opposite.

When leveraged bets are liquidated, excessive debt melt away and disappear, taking trillions of perceived wealth with it. That wealth is not easily conjured into existence again. Hence, the artificially high valuation levels have to return to their old normal, most likely not to be seen again for a generation.

After a decade or two of free money and high valuations, real value investors are few, small and far apart. The market will have a hard time finding the real bottom, until those investors find stocks interesting from a dividend or net asset point of view. As I keep repeating, when you pay for an asset, you want to know beforehand how to get your money back, from whom end when. Those questions were ignored so far in the 21st century, but I suspect they’ll come into vogue again. 

In addition to all the negative factors above, the measures taken to stop the Covid-19 disease from spreading might even trigger a de-globalization, as supply chains are disrupted, and trade wars erupt in order to protect the local economy. Just as globalization was good for growth and low inflation, de-globalization pushes growth lower and inflation higher. The same goes for the WWII age cohort retiring. It was disinflationary as it provided a large group of workers and investors, but now turn inflationary, while at the same time liquidating their retirement nest eggs. So, more inflation, less growth and lower valuations are to be expected all else equal.

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The old normal, with lower valuations, lower growth, less debt, less easy money, more risk aversion, less get rich quick schemes, more inflation, is nothing to be feared. That’s how most of history has looked. We all managed quite fine in that environment.

What’s really good about all this, is that people in their 20s get to buy assets at reasonable prices — prices that promise decent or even good returns. And they didn’t have to see a life time of savings go up in smoke. If you only had invested in stocks for 0-10 years before Covid-19 hit, it’s too bad getting this re-set, compared to. e.g., those who are closer to retirement.

Imagine being 65+ in 2020. If the virus doesn’t kill you, the stock market crash (half of the downside still to go) ate your savings — and inflation will eat your promised state pension. That’s a tough deal, compared to a healthy 20-30-year old with a life time of investing at attractive valuations ahead.

But first a LOT MORE of the New Crazy

We’re not done yet, though. The plague is only reaching the end of the beginning (March 25, 2020) and it’s about to get orders of magnitude worse before we see the peak crisis, including lockdowns, economic effects and crashing markets. And politicians are set to release one stimulus package crazier than the last. 1 TRILLION, 10 TRILLION, 25 TRILLION USD… who knows where the new crazy will end. One thing is for sure though, gold is the place to be through all this.

The total market value of gold should be a certain percentage of the amount of money needed for the system to run. As the amount of currency doubles, the price of gold in that currency should double. And if the price of gold had lagged for some time, as it has, it’s likely to do some catching up. How does 10 000 USD/ounce sound to you?

(Just to get a feel for where the price equlibrium for gold might be, to cover 40% of the amount of money, M2, in the US, gold has to rise to around 25 000 USD/oz)

NB: THIS POST IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS FINANCIAL ADVICE. THIS CONSTITUTES NO RECOMMENDATION TO BUY OR SELL ANY FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS, GOLD OR WHATNOT. I HOLD NO LICENCES AND I NEVER GIVE FINANCIAL ADVICE. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. CONSULT A LICENCED INVESTMENT ADVISER.

OM DU KAN SVENSKA OCH VILL LÄRA DIG MER OM FUNDAMENTAL AKTIEANALYS KAN JAG REKOMMENDERA FINANSKURSEN.SE DÄR JAG LÄR UT ALLA MINA INSIKTER FRÅN FINANSMARKNADERNA DE SENASTE 30 ÅREN.

Marknadstankar under Covid-19

Här följer en kort summering av läget för ekonomin och börsen…

…grundad i analys av de obalanser och uppdämda behov av normalisering som rådde redan innan Covid-19-krisen

Uppdaterad 19 mars 2020

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Värderingen av S&P 500 var i slutet av februari 2020 2-3x så hög som det historiska genomsnittet

Börsen borde alltså falla minst 50% även utan Covid-19.

MAPE, ett slags P/E-tal låg på 48 och det historiska snittet var ca 16. NFMC/GAVadj låg på 2,4 mot normala 1,1. I tidigare nedgångar har den senare kvoten aldrig fallit mindre än till 0,9, och 1982 föll den så lågt som till 0,45 (motsvarande cirka -80% från toppen i februari)

Därmed var det redan innan Covid-19 motiverat med en korrigering av börsen med 50-67%, utan att göra aktier till mer än historiskt normalt attraktiva investeringar.

För att aktier ska bli “billiga”, t.ex. på grund av oro och riskaversion eller undershooting som reaktion på de senaste årens overshooting, så skulle aktier alltså behöva falla mer än 50-67%

Hussmans värderingsgraf, MAPE, februari 2020

Doom Loop för Företagsobligationer och återköp

Två av de viktigaste faktorerna som drivit upp marknaden till toppen i februari 2020 var företagens återköp av egna aktier, samt trenden mot passiva investeringar. Dessa två utgjorde alltid en massiv obalans och risk, men triggades nu av plötsligt minskade intäkter för företagen pga Covid-19.

Företag i USA gav de senaste tio åren ut egna obligationer (dvs lånade pengar till historiskt låg ränta) och återköpte och makulerade sina egna aktier för flera biljoner dollar (trillions). Företagen själva utgjorde alltså den största nettoköpargruppen av aktier det senaste decenniet. Pengarna är nu till stora delar borta i kraschen men lånen är kvar och måste servas och förnyas.

Wolfstreet

Pga recessionen som triggas av Covid-19 (restauranger, hotell, flyg, detaljhandel mm får inga intäkter och de anställda sägs upp, effekterna sprids eftersom alla får mindre pengar att göra av med, en del får inte ens råd med sin hyra) kan företagen inte längre ge ut nya obligationer eftersom marknaden inte tror att de kan betala tillbaka. Därmed kan de inte heller finansiera att de gamla lånen löper ut. Det gör att den sk. corp debt/buyback doom loopen tar fart, med konkurser som varit artificiellt uppdämda av nollräntor under många år. Effekterna förvärras av att räntefonder tvingas sälja obligationer som nedgraderas från investeringsfähiga, IG, till icke-IG, “junk”. En del fonder kan få så stora problem av detta att själva fonderna läggs ner, eventuellt med negativa effekter på deras finansiärer och andelsägare.

Passiva investeringar består fonder som blint köper aktier jämnt utspridda över ett index när de får inflöden, och nu säljer lika blint när de får utflöden. De senaste tio åren har över 1 trillion USD gått från aktiv förvaltning till passiv. Börsen styrs nu till >50% av sådana “blinda” trendföljare. Börsnedgången gör att många tar ut sina pengar, och då skapar utflödena extra stora effekter på illikvida aktier som måste säljas till vilket pris som helst för att möta fonduttagen.

Låga aktiekurser gör det samtidigt svårt för företag att finansiera sig med aktieemissioner istället för obligationer, så alla bolag som inte har stora kassor eller intäkter som inte påverkas av Covid-19-recessionen riskerar konkurs. Det svåra finansieringsläget sänker kreditbetygen ytterligare med negativa effekter för företagsobligationer. Sa jag att det var en “doom loop“?

TINA har gått i pension

Pga artificiellt låga räntor under 10 år och kraftigt stigande aktiemarknader har pensionspengar lockats att köpa alltmer aktier och färre räntepapper. En del fick för sig att aktier var det enda rimliga att äga. TINA = There Is No Alternative. Den processen reverseras nu.

OK, Boomer!

Runt 2020 har befolkningspuckeln från krigsslutet, baby boomers, börjat gå i pension. Boomers säljer sina tillgångar, till stor del aktier, för att finansiera sin ålderdom. Börsnedgången ger dubbel negativ effekt: dels måste de sälja mer än annars för att ha råd att leva, dels blir de riskaversiva och viktar om från aktier till räntor, dvs säljer ännu mer aktier för säkerhets skull, för att åtminstone veta hur lite de har att leva på. Dessutom är det här försäljningar av aktier som i stora drag inte kommer tillbaka som aktieköp senare, eftersom pensionärerna använder upp pengarna.

Större skuldbörda och större trigger än 2008 ger större negativa effekter än då

Skuldberget har vuxit på alla platser i världen sedan den förra finanskrisen 2008 kollapsade på grund av just ohållbart stora skulder. Det talar för att det blir värre den här gången.

När Bear Stearns och Lehman Brothers triggade finanskrisen (skuldkrisen) i samband med husprisbubblan var obalanserna (företagsskulder, hushållsskulder, statsskulder, budgetunderskott) mycket mindre än idag. Och att en enda bank, Lehman Brothers, likviderades var ett mindre slag mot systemet än en global pandemi och lockdown. Det talar för mycket större effekter på ekonomin och börsen nu än då.

Konkurser och kreditförluster sprider sig i samhället med start i hotell och fritid, konsultverksamhet och annan personalintensiv verksamhet

Förutom minskade vinster för företagen ökar också säljtrycket på aktiemarknaden från alla ägare för att få tag på kontanter. Det gör att värderingarna kan undershoota.

Hotell, restauranger, flyg, detaljhandel med mera blir direkt drabbade av förbud mot folksamlingar.

Själva företagen hotas av konkurs när de inte får några intäkter. De anställda blir av med jobb och hela eller delar av lönen.

Därmed får både företag och privatpersoner svårare att betala t.ex. sina hyror vilket pressar fastighetsägare med små marginaler. Alla som har skulder får svårare att serva sina lån.

Trots relativt välkapitaliserade banker i Sverige tack vare regleringarna från krisen 2008-2009 får även bankerna till slut problem med exploderande kreditförluster.

När företagens försäljning och vinster faller samtidigt som säljtryck och oro pressar aktierna under normalvärdering så är det sannolikt att aktier blir billigare än normalt historiskt. Givet oförändrad försäljning och MAPE-vinster och bara genomsnittlig riskaversion borde marknaden falla 50-67%, men med dessa justeringar kan man kanske pressa marknaden ytterligare till totalt 75-80% nedgång från toppen i en kapitulationsbotten. Men då är det alltså billigt och köpvärt.

Det är inte över än.

Tänk på att viruset kommer tillbaka igen till vintern.

Tänk på att effekterna på BNP, vinster och försäljning inte blir publicerade förrän i kvartalsrapporterna i juli respektive oktober.

Tänk på att effekterna på arbetslöshet, kreditförluster, bankroblem, fastighetsägarproblem mm kommer med ytterligare eftersläpning – s.k. second order effects

Myndigheterna kommer svara med modern av alla stimulansprogram

Centralbanker och regeringar kommer i stigande grad agera med allt större injektioner av stöd. Eftersom ekonomin inte blir bättre av det, snarare sämre, minskar realvärdet på alla verksamheter, men man kan undvika de värsta systemeffekterna av massiva företagskonkurser och personliga konkurser genom att ge ut gratispengar, efterskänka hyror och skulder mm. The Mother Of All QE läcker obönhörligt in i realtillgångar, tex guld och Bitcoin. Fysiskt guld eller fonder med 100% backning av fysiskt guld samt Bitcoin och kanske några kryptovalutor till är de enda riktigt tydliga vinnarna på krisen.

Guld kommer ha en svag period inledningsvis

…pga att guld används som säkerhet i en massa finansiella transaktioner. Svagheten är ett skenbart paradoxalt fenomen som beror på ökad efterfrågan på guld. Det är ett gyllene köptillfälle.

Även om QE till slut lyckas lyfta börsen så kommer guld lyfta desto mer. Är 5x pengarna något du skulle vara intresserad av?