The Contrary Opinion Forum 2012 report
Eoin Treacy's view Mrs Treacy and I greatly enjoyed our brief sojourn in Vermont. Despite rather inclement weather, the convivial atmosphere, wonderful hospitality and opportunity to converse with so many subscribers made for a very worthwhile experience.
My presentation, which was entitled “Running to Stand Still”, concentrated on how to deal with the bubble in US Treasuries, the on-going bull market in precious metals and the developing bull market in the Autonomies. While these themes will be familiar to veteran subscribers, I was somewhat surprised by how revolutionary they seemed to many in the audience.
For me at least, David Hale's presentation was among the most notable. His perception of the condition of the global economy is very much in line with that of Fullermoney although he comes to his conclusions from the perspective of an economist rather our macro behavioural approach. He is more bearish in his outlook for the US economy in 2013 than we are.
Perhaps his most emphatic prediction, and one we share, was that the upcoming Japanese election and the end of Masaaki Shirakawa's term as governor of the Bank of Japan will herald a major devaluation in the Yen. The US Dollar found support near ¥77.5 in late September, posting an upside weekly key reversal, and has returned to test the ¥79 area. This represents the first area of potential resistance and a sustained move above it would confirm a return to US Dollar demand dominance beyond the short-term.
Mark Vitner of Wells Fargo focused on the recovery in US housing from the perspective of the USA's largest mortgage bank and eight largest employer. While he believes that the property market is in the process of bottoming, he highlighted the risks to economic expansion represented by the fiscal cliff. This was a common theme among the presenters. The vast majority expect a recession in the first quarter of next year and were bearish of the stock market.
Ian McAvity gave his customary entertaining presentation focusing on the bullish case for gold. He highlighted the continued deterioration of financial market governance and expressed his ambivalence over the prospects for the stock market.
Steve Leuthold delivered an insightful presentation on the skills gap that has developed in the USA which he believes is hampering the country's ability to attract high-end manufacturing jobs.
Steve Soukup from the Political Forum delivered a damning indictment of the political environment in Washington. Perhaps his most important conclusion was that he believes the political gridlock and polarisation between the parties will only intensify after the election.
Unfortunately, we had to leave early on Friday morning to make our flight so I missed the last presentations. However Walter Deemer was kind enough to send along his presentation which I have attached.
Two aspects stood out clearly to me from the various presentations. The first is the bearishness expressed by the majority of speakers. While there are risks to the current situation and there is a possibility that the progression of higher reaction lows since June will be taken out at some point this quarter, we are still a long way from a recession. If that does become a credible risk, then the Fed's policy response will be even more aggressive easing.
The other notable feature was that in talking about the problem economies of Europe just about all commentators excluded Ireland from their talks. This probably reflects the improved perception of Ireland's economic governance particularly compared to Greece and can probably be seen as a net positive from an Irish perspective.