Avoid market losses, and death, by understanding change

Change is good

-Yes, for the Greek too

Research of all kinds shows living an ever-changing “lateral life” improves happiness, general health, keeps brain diseases at bay, increases longevity, not to mention makes you smarter, better at learning (higher brain plasticity potential) and more experienced and skillful with the ability to connect the dots between diverse knowledge areas.

In short, change is good.

Keep changing preemptively and purposefully. You will anyway, just not in a beneficial way without some nudging (albeit not by the state).

 

This post is mirrored at the Swedish site for financial information, TradeVenue

 

Break out of homeostasis

In addition, change happens all around you. And, changing willfully primes you for identifying and embracing that change – makes it easier to break out of all sorts of homeostasis, rather than be broken down by it, as Ludvig at SGM might put it.

SGM

 

School induced homeostasis in me at an early age

The worst thing school did to me, apart from generally waste my time, was to fool me into believing in constant truths (not least in physics).

I learned that a planet was a planet, not just by a temporary definition. I learned that the four forces were just that, always were, always will be – rather than a temporary convention to describe certain phenomena within a quite wide but still limited range. I learned time flowed forward and more or less constantly, except for in relativistic experiments.

Not least I learned time in itself was indivisible and continuous, though possibly with a lower limit of Planck time (5*10^-44s). It was never proposed that time might be something else altogether that we only approximate with something called time, and that it was just convenient in our current paradigm to treat time as, … well the time as we know it today. It was quite preposterous really, to assume and teach that the approximately just 75-year old view of time was correct and would stay constant forever! 

It has taken me forever to relearn that everything changes, not just scientific paradigms – everything. Earth’s rotation changes (the leap second), the moon’s distance to earth changes, the discovery of dark matter and dark energy might in retrospect be just one small of thousands of discoveries over the coming thousand millennia and forward.

Moral and ethics change, maybe even the rules of logic (!).

You and I change – faster than you think, but we are protected by the narrative “I” that always claim everything is coherent and as it should be, and not least constant going forward. The “I” is lying. Actually, the I doesn’t even know the “me”, but more about that some other time (or read Nörretrander’s amazing book yourself. I recommend it highly!).

 

TED radio hour chimes in on time, change and happiness

time

The other day, I was listening to the (recommended) TED Radio hour’s pod cast on time (Shifting Time, 19 june 2015). As always several TED talks and aspects of change and time were discussed, but one topic regarding aging, personality change and happiness struck me particularly:

Almost all people have the experience of having grown into their real self.

We all [almost all – no spam or trolling please!] think we are finally the real me. We know we changed a lot growing up and aging, perhaps can hardly even stand for some of our earlier opinions and actions, but now finally have reached a stable self plateau.

And yet, research shows that we keep changing, morphing into somebody else over the course of 10 years, over and over again. It seems we know we could change in either direction along an infinite number of parameters (extroversion, e.g.) but since the potential changes even out, we instinctively expect status quo to reign. It’s like approaching a T-crossing expecting to stay there :)

 

So, expect change, and manage it

-That’s really all I’m saying.

That goes for companies and stocks too.

stocks change on the exchange

The current stock price will change, the price trend will change, sales and profits will change, valuation multiples of those fundamentals will change, competition will change, client preferences and demand will change, costs will change. All mentioned factors for the company’s peers/competitors will change.

If Apple could emerge from the grave and crush Nokia, Apple too can be Appled. Facebook, which crushed MySpace to oblivion, can be Facebooked. And Tesla can…, well Tesla hasn’t actually done anything yet, not at a profit anyway. Remember Kodak? Or when Dell, HP or IBM was all the rage?

My distillation of best practices in the market boils down to just two things to consider:

Distillation of best practices on the stock market SpreZZaturian

1. How is it now?

2. What will or must change? (fundamentals, perception…)

 

Expecto patronum! Or, rather, happiness

If that HP reference flew right over your head, never mind. It’s not important.

-You can expect time to save you, to make you happy (unless you get sick)

Research shows a trough in perceived well-being around the age of 50 (coincidentally not far from my age; 43), followed by a strong trend of improvement, leading to new all time highs just 20 years later. The risk of depression follows a similar (inverted) path.

One theory of why is that older people get happier with age because they are relieved of the burden of thinking about the future; relieved of change (despite the fact that they are facing the biggest change of them all… -on the other hand into a state of absolute stasis)

What about lateral living and homeostasis – is it good to become older and happier, or is that actually dying? I’m inclined to think the latter.

So keep changing and keep living – hopefully long enough to live forever (AI, genetics, nanotechnology, stem cells, robotics and all that. Huge changes are coming sooner than you think [WaitButWhy]).

Charts of happiness (and depression risk) show a trough around my age and then ever improving numbers into old age.

I’m thus more or less at my worst now, although I’ve never had it better, I think.

Either I’m just born that way, thinking every year is better than the last. Or, just maybe, my instinctive focus on incremental change and growth (just one more, always be investing etc.) rather than a point target (becoming financially independent, rich, the best, buying a particular item or any such thing) is key. 

happiness and depression happiness

 

Conclusion and summary

Just take this with you, no new practices, no new habits:

Be prepared for change, never status quo

Embrace it. Manage it. Master it. Don’t just sit on your favorite stock because it has done well. Analyze it; imagine things changing. Don’t hold on to your job or partner for dear life or by complacency. Proactively manage for change. Expect it. Perhaps even prevent undesired change by changing something else.

This post, and all my articles going forward, will be posted in parallel at the Swedish site for financial information TradeVenue

 

Why the government fears deflation and you shouldn’t

“Deflation – what’s in it for me?”

I guess that’s the first thought in the morning for most people. And rightly so.

Why?

  • For one, it’s coming (well, unless we get inflation instead – or more likely: both).
  • Second, it has everything to do with your job security, savings, loans, investments, wealth and future living standards; in short your life.

If you thought (not) chasing the stock market at highs was unnerving, deciding on buying gold or not was stressful, or that increasing automation and the death of jobs sounded scary, wait until you understand deflation.

Takeaways:

  • Falling prices are not bad
  • Avoid debt
  • Deflation is actually the remedy
  • You can expect higher real income
  • Negative profit margins and cheap stocks
  • Cycles cycle
  • Huge public debt spells catastrophe and depression
  • Who wins? Make sure it’s you

deflation inflation sprezzaturian

4 reasons the government wants you too to fear deflation

  • Exacerbates debt. Deflation makes public debt repayment more difficult (debt is nominal and fixed, and if the price of everything else rises, then tax revenues increase too).
  • Can’t be taxed. Another way of saying that is that a wage increase can be taxed, regardless of your real income trend, whereas falling prices and constant wages can’t.
  • Lowers GDP. Deflation reduces nominal GDP (lower prices of everything produced) while debt (nominal, remember?) stays the same (actually it most likely rises quickly due to the typical budget deficits during deflation, stemming from less tax revenues and higher stimulus expenses). Thus the debt/GDP ratio rises in deflation, and with it the risk of higher interest rates and default.
  • Ruins banks. Just as the real value of public debt increases during deflation, private debt does too. Your mortgage keeps growing in relation to your (falling) wage. Sooner or later first you and then the banks become insolvent.

inflation deflation 3

Consumption is not postponed due to falling prices

You often hear people say that deflation makes people postpone purchases, which in turn reduces corporate revenues, leading to layoffs and yet less consumption.

In the real world, however, we all know that falling prices on cell phones, computers and other electronics, e.g., stimulate even more sales and earnings. Despite absolute certainty of rapidly falling prices, we line up during iPhone launches and beg to buy at the most expensive prices possible.

In addition, the things we want and need to consume we buy anyway: food, clothes, transportation and so on. However, investments, in particular speculative “investments” and luxury might and should be postponed.

 

Asset prices will fall and that is good

What does happen is that the prices on assets like stocks and houses fall in a deflation – first from frothy levels to normal, and then sometimes undershoot and become cheap.

What should you as an investor or consumer think of falling prices? Very good, of course:

  • Cheaper housing? You can buy a bigger one.
  • Cheaper stocks? You can buy more of them and then earn dividends for several decades, as well as see prices increase to normal and even expensive levels after you bought cheaply.
  • Cheaper gold and other commodities? You can buy more jewellery, more of the products that are made from iron, oil, grain, sugar etc.

 

Those with too much debt deserve what is coming

…unless you bought with too much leverage of course. If you let evil and greedy politicians and ignorant central bankers fool you into borrowing to buy overpriced assets, then you’ll be in trouble – or at least you’ll be stuck with whatever assets you already have.

Newcomers and other unleveraged people, however, will be able to invest their savings in cheap stock or buy living quarters at firesale prices.

deflation inflation sprezza

Lessons

Okay, so what’s in it for you… reading this article, I mean, apart from being a little more knowledgeable, a little better prepared and inoculated vs. the deflation is bad propaganda?

Here is what I want you to take away from this post:

Falling prices are not bad. You know this in your heart. It’s only if you are too indebted it can be bad. Or, possibly if you are looking to scale down from a large house to a smaller, then the difference will be a little smaller too.

Hence, avoid debt to the extent that it will chain you to your current asset base. As long as you have unencumbered assets left after the price falls you should be able to scale up and then ride the comeback with more than you had going down.

Deflation is actually the remedy for a sick economy. Deflation should be welcomed. It punishes speculative borrowing and investing, while making prices more reasonable for the poor (but debt-free).

Higher income? It is difficult to ask for a raise, even in a strong economy (not least in these death of jobs and automation galore days), but it’s even harder for an employer to lower your wage for a normal non-performance related job – even in a deflation. Actually, if enough people fall below a certain standard of living (due to their own mistakes) and have no more venues for borrowing left, they will demand and get wage increases(!), which will cut deep into the currently bloated corporate profit margins. If you are debt-free you can still tag along the potential wage increase train among falling prices.

Negative profit margins and cheap stocks. Also, remember that, if you are looking for cheap stocks already. Many companies will lose money sooner or later due to less sales and higher wages – that can be difficult to remember at the peak. On top of it all, a wage spiral can turn into a rate rise spiral making life for both lenders and debtors even more difficult. Don’t be that guy.

Cycles cycle. However, as difficult as losses are to think of at the peak, record margins are far from mind at the trough. If you have cash ready, bargains should be plenty at the bottom. They usually are, even if it’s been unusually long since the last time. Fortunes are made or lost depending on your correct anticipation of the inherent cyclicality in most things.

Just one thing – debt! There actually is one very big drawback of deflation. If debts are already (too) high (public debt, corporate debt, household debt, stock market margin debt, bank leverage, hedgefunds/Private equity leverage) and a large part of the economy depends on stock brokering, fund commissions, loan administration, housing etc., then a lot of people will soon find themselves unemployed and with unemployable skill sets.

Depression. That will cause lower tax revenues, increase state and federal costs (food coupons…), cause civil unrest, calls for higher tax rates, not to mention make selling products and services to all those people all but impossible. Retail chains, restaurants, travel agencies, airlines, taxi drivers, you name it… Everyone will feel the pain. And you too, because the ones mentioned will have second order effects on your employer or your business or you directly almost no matter how far you are from the epicenter in the money business.

Who wins? It’s not the end of the world though. Even in Spain and Greece life goes on, more or less as before, despite 25% unemployment (>50% youth unemployment). People still have to eat just about the same number of calories as before and preferably buy their food as cheaply as possible and cook it themselves, so farmers and groceries should prosper. I’m sure you can come up with several more industries to hide in, no matter how deep the crisis becomes. Alcohol and tobacco? Water and electricity utility companies (oh, no,… loaded with debt unfortunately).

This article also ties in with the post on negative interest rates I wrote in February. Check back on it for a few quick points on education, mortgage and stock market strategies in a NIRP world.

 

Summary

  • Plan your debt level to not get crushed in the coming deflation (or high inflation and surging interest rates)
  • Be ready to pick up bargains (e.g., keep a Quatro Stagione investment portfolio now – including cash, physical gold and possibly attractive but undeveloped land), by having unencumbered assets or cash and a basic idea of what industries and single stocks you dare buy when there’s blood in the streets
  • Make sure you are self sufficient or have employable (preferably non-financial) skills.
  • Be prepared to argue for higher wages, even in a deflation. People will lose their jobs, but the valuable ones will keep theirs, and with higher pay (if needed to cover living costs)
  • Think critically. I don’t have the exact answers. Keynes definitely didn’t. Yellen and Obama certainly don’t have a clue. Neither do academics, your teacher or Nobel prize winners. Howard Marks might. Raoul Pal too. Maybe Marc Faber can weigh in, or Kyle Bass, Jeremy Grantham, Peter Schiff, Steve Keen, Vitaliy Katsenelson or even John Mauldin, Fred Hickey or John Hussman.
    • Search for and read the works of these guys, or just bookmark mikaelsyding.com and subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll help you as best I can to stay up to date.
  • We are in a grand experiment right now; the biggest money printing experiment ever. I’d say the last big one was during the last days of Rome*. That was fun. Whether we’ll end up in a devastating debt-deflation or a likewise ruinous high-inflation environment remains to be seen. Quite likely both.
    • *Oh, don’t forget Germany in 1923, Zimbabwe recently and right now Venezuela and Argentina, among others.
  • Uncertain technology. Layered on top of this debt fueled oligarchical and nepotistic economy is an accelerated technological evolution, possibly leading to a productivity boom never seen before, or an automated hell and death of jobs.

 

May you live in interesting times

Unfortunately you do, whether you like it or not.

The economy is in a transition phase from one semi-steady state to another. It’s payback time after 100 years of the US Fed with increasing money and gold manipulation and a belief in central planning. Thus, the coming 10 years will probably be very difficult and stressful. After that however, humanity might be facing a new spring and golden era, powered by the Singularity enabling technologies: nanotech, biotech, robotics and AI (or GAIN = Genetics, AI, Nanotech).

inflation deflation technological singularity depression

Life was pretty simple there a while: Make a reasonable effort in school, get a job, work yourself upward, borrow a little to buy a house and pay back the loan in a few years.

That life is no more. Education doesn’t guarantee a good job, robots are (slowly) taking over, low interest rates (and thus elevated prices) mean you have to borrow huge amounts just to pay for school and a house, becoming a debt slave for life and risking bankruptcy at even a tiny increase in interest rates.

Money printing, budget deficits and run-away derivatives markets cause systemic risks that could wipe out the dollar, lead to gold confiscation, increased taxes, lower welfare and so on.

I’m not trying to scare you, just open your eyes to a few possible adverse outcomes of a number very long trends that are simultaneously reaching critical states. 

Sounds complicated? Why don’t you just subscribe to my newsletter instead and future-proof yourself that way? Simple.

However, you are still the one who ultimately will have to manage your debts, skills, income and investments. Don’t trust the government, don’t trust your banker, don’t trust me. Trust no one. (Retard’s Playbook)

deflation inflation

Death of money

For further in depth reading I recommend Jim Rickards’ book The Death Of Money. It’s a bit heavy here and there (when reading around midnight I often fell asleep after just a page or two), but most of it is very informative, exciting and inspirational.

The last few chapters with 3 scenarios to ponder, 7 signals to watch and a few pieces of investment advice are particularly good.

To prepare for the coming deflation/inflation/social unrest, watch out for disorderly hoarding of physical gold and changes in the price of gold and the dollar, structural changes in the IMF, system crashes, the Chinese trust Ponzi scheme unraveling and a few others.