‘This looks to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse.‘
These ominous words hit the finance sphere this week. If you’ve tuned in to the Daily Reckoning lately, you might think it was Family Wealth editor Vern Gowdie repeating his warning of a 90% stock crash. But these words actually belong to William White.
Mr White is the former chief economist for the Bank of International Settlement. More importantly, he was the only ‘official’ economist to call the 2007 crisis before it happened. We know, we know — it’s hard to believe a mainstream economist actually accurately forecast something. But it’s true.
Kudos to Mr White, of course. He’s one up on Ben Bernanke for life. And here’s what he has to say now, as The Telegraph reports:
‘"All the previous imbalances are still there. Total public and private debt levels are 30 per cent higher as a share of GDP in the advanced economies than they were then, and we have added a whole new problem with bubbles in emerging markets that are ending in a boom-bust cycle," said Mr White, now chairman of the OECD’s Economic Development and Review Committee.‘
Mr White then went on the record to say that the five years since Lehman Brothers collapsed have been wasted, the global system is more unbalanced than ever and the world is addicted to easy money and largely out of options if the system goes down again. Jeez, if he fancies a job at the Daily Reckoning, we think we could find a place for him!
All this was before the Fed surprised almost everyone by doing nothing to ‘taper’ QE. Thanks to that, the Australian dollar and stocks, especially the miners, went up. As we pen these notes, the Aussie dollar is just below 95c to the USD.
The Aussie dollar move is interesting. It’s enjoyed a nice rally this month.
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Whether it stays up there is the question. Greg Canavan over at Sound Money Sound Investments reckons it’s overvalued. He’s hanging on to his US dollar and euro ETF recommendations. He diversified into them before the Aussie hit the skids in April.
The Reserve Bank of Australia is no doubt hoping the market does something similar. It doesn’t want the currency any higher. Neither do Australian manufacturers. A high currency makes them less competitive on price. It will be even worse if their energy costs rise as well.
It would be a tough call to deal with both. The direction of the currency is a tricky one to predict long term. But there can’t be much doubt that higher gas prices are coming to Australia, especially NSW. Check this out from the Australian Financial Review:
‘The reality is that the state [NSW] may run out of gas in the next couple of years, and even a sudden shift in policy means any new sources of supply are another five to 10 years away. The situation will be exacerbated in 2017 when several major liquefied natural gas projects in Australia come on line.
‘The other concern is that whatever solution is found, gas will become so expensive in the short term that it will be uneconomic for many manufacturers, which will be forced to close operations.‘
That was Wednesday. On Friday things settled down a bit when Origin Energy announced a $3 billion deal to buy gas out of Bass Strait from ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton. That locked in some actual gas. But it also locked in a higher oil-linked price for east coast domestic users. The Australian called it the most valuable east coast gas deal to date. But it won’t be enough to fend off higher prices.
‘Current prices of $4 a gigajoule are expected to more than double to what is known as export parity, which is the price in Japan, currently $US15 minus liquefaction and shipping costs.’
Not to be out done, Western Australia industry group DomGas Alliance sounded the alarm this week that WA face shortages by 2020 despite BHP opening a new $1.5 billion gas plant.
They’re talking their book of course, but it does put energy costs and supply right back in the spotlight.
Australia is heading for a US-style clash between domestic users, exporters and government policy. The difference is the US has the luxury of a glut of cheap gas while they sort out their differences. Australia does not.
Over at The Denning Report, Dan maintains that higher gas prices will provide a sweet spot for companies with proven or probable reserves to cash in. He’s backing the projects in his portfolio to start attracting bidding interest. We’re about to find out if he’s right or not.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
ALSO THIS WEEK in The Daily Reckoning Australia…
Super… Who’s Going to Buy Your Shares When You Retire?
By Nick Hubble+
Once retirees sell more super assets than young people are buying, that’s going to put an incredible amount of downward force onto share prices. In fact, the most important force pushing up share prices in the past – the inflow of money into super – will suddenly disappear, and then become a steady drain instead.
Racing Toward the Zombie Apocalypse
By Bill Bonner
What counts is not how much energy you produce, but what you do with it. As stable societies mature, they tend to use their energy less efficiently. Energy is wasted by complying with regulations…paying for lobbyists…filling out tax forms, dodging taxes…and supporting zombies. Yes, zombies proliferate.
Citigroup analysts have completely lost the plot altogether. They are warning that rising house prices could stop the Reserve Bank of Australia from lowering interest rates to combat any increase in unemployment. Rising house prices and unemployment at the same time? Isn’t the whole point of central banking to goose house prices to influence unemployment in the first place? Is this an admission of a new kind of stagflation?
The End of Australia’s Boom Economy
By Satyajit Das
In a Freudian slip, the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor identified a fundamental issue with Australia’s economic model. The mining boom helped maintain income and buying power, as Australia extracted large rewards for its mineral resources, covering up the lack of international competitiveness in many sectors, driven by high costs, poor productivity performance, declining educational achievements and narrow industrial base.