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Friday November 20, 2009 - 13:28:22 GMT
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Friday Ramble

Key News
The Bank of Japan kept interest rates near zero. (Bloomberg)
Asian policy makers are studying capital controls to limit “hot money” inflows that may stoke asset bubbles and force their currencies to appreciate. (Bloomberg)
Pacific Investment Management Co., manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said China’s yuan, South Korea’s won and the Singapore dollar offer “attractive value” because central banks need to counter inflation. (Bloomberg)
Poland will be the only European Union country to escape recession in the global economic crisis, which will hit the Baltic countries especially hard, the EU's executive forecast on Tuesday. (Reuters)
In Hungary, the recipient of a $25.1 billion International Monetary Fund-led bailout after years of fiscal profligacy, the economy is expected to contract by 6.5 percent this year, shrink 0.5 percent in 2010 and grow by 3.1 percent in 2011. The Commission said Hungary could overshoot its budget deficit targets in both 2009 and 2010. This could put the financing agreement with the IMF into jeopardy. (Reuters)
“Japan doesn't need a stronger yen. Japan needs deregulation of its labor and capital market, privatization of state-owned industries, and a more pragmatic, progrowth domestic industrial policy focused on excising vested interests and the rigidities of domestic service industries. The promotion of growth and entrepreneurship is the only way to generate the kind of employment that the DPJ promised on the campaign trail. Unfortunately, this kind of policy path is particularly difficult for Mr. Hatoyama's government, which is heavily reliant on labor unions for political support.” 
           Jesper Koll, WSJ
FX Trading – Friday Ramble   
I noticed a Reuter’s poll today.  All the top banks were asked to provide their guess on just how undervalued the Chinese currency—yuan- was against the US dollar.  The average guesstimate was about 20%.  That’s about 20% lower than my guess would have been, but no matter.  What was interesting was their guess about when the Chinese currency would actually become convertible. 
Man, that’s a long time for the nut-job newsletter writers (guilty as charged, but not of this crime) to be shouting the “US dollar will disappear.”  I told you about one enlightened fellow who gives it a 10-year time frame before the buck goes bye-bye.   But there is another, a guy at a yet another major newsletter firm actually has a 2-year target for dollar disappearance.  Of course they know better—but it sells subscriptions.  It’s amazing!  His readers lap it up as if tablets were just brought down from the mountain top; I guess it goes to the point about investing: People want to be validated; at least novice types (and gold bugs).  I think, thinking people want a good dose of skepticism, as John Ross discussed so well in yesterday’s issue. 
Black Swan simply has a lot higher caliber of subscriber.  We are thankful and fortunate. 
Okay…next topic, it seems pressure is building for Asia to get serious about currency suppression, or the flip side, for the US to get serious about dollar dumping.  This comes interestingly on the heels of more news which is eliciting that special “double-dip felling” deep down in our gut.  Yo, Larry!  Larry!  Oh, yeah…Master Summers Sir!  The US economy isn’t recovering the way you and your minion of neo-Keynesian cronies have told us it would.  
What made us laugh out loud yesterday was President Obama’s warning about too much US debt.  It was one of those “say what” moments.  
President Obama—knock-knock—is anyone home up there or do you think we are just that stupid.  Your economic team knows only one policy; it is to create more debt and soak small businesses and payoff lobbyists, and Wall Street, and….(sorry).  Your team’s public debt policy will likely be the driver of US productivity for years to come, the unintended, yet foreseen by anyone not blinded by Keynesian cons, consequences of your efforts to stimulate productive capacity.  
It is to laugh, but it is so painful to watch.  No matter how many times you read General Theory you won’t find the answers.  Do you mind sharing that with Master Larry?  No one else seems to be brave enough to share that idea with the Man.  
Three more years—Atlas is shrugging indeed. 
Asked this question on our webinar about emerging market currencies yesterday: Why could the US dollar rally?  My answer: A risk event.  The bigger the event, the more the dollar rallies.  There appears darn little on the horizon to suggest there is anything good fundamentally to move the dollar higher.  
But thanks to awful US economic policies, and growing concern about the Baltics, Hungary, Ukraine, and Greece, not to mention bubble-iscous conditions in China, that risk event may be just around the corner.  If so, the dollar goes higher.  Simple as that…even it disappears in two years…it goes higher on risk here.

US Dollar Index Daily:  Dollar has retraced just over 76% from its post-credit crunch high… [Chart not available in text format.]

…and almost every person we know out there—with a pulse—thinks it will make a new low and beyond. 
….but we urge some caution to the cocky crowd.  We’ve seen this before.  It was the great dollar bull market (yes newsletter writers, there actually have been some, though they have carved out lower highs and lower lows for good reason) of the 1990’s when Mr. Market pulled a wildcard from the bottom of the deck…
1992 (beginning of the bull market that rallied the dollar index from 78 to 121—a nine year move); the dollar retraced over 80% of the ’92-’93 rally; most believed the long dollar bear market dated from around ’85 was still underway.  Hmmm… [Chart not available in text format.]

Am I simply finding past facts to fit a fantasy story.  Maybe! But at least this story has a modicum of plausibility.  If you think the dollar is going away anytime soon, and the Chinese currency will replace it, I want a huge piece of the other side of that bet. 
Happy Friday! 
Jack Crooks
Black Swan Capital LLC  


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