The Illusion of the Perpetual Money Machine
We argue that the present crisis and stalling economy continuing since 2007 are rooted in the delusionary belief in policies based on a "perpetual money machine" type of thinking. We document strong evidence that, since the early 1980s, consumption has been increasingly funded by smaller savings, booming financial profits, wealth extracted from house price appreciation and explosive debt. This is in stark contrast with the productivity-fueled growth that was seen in the 1950s and 1960s. This transition, starting in the early 1980s, was further supported by a climate of deregulation and a massive growth in financial derivatives designed to spread and diversify the risks globally. The result has been a succession of bubbles and crashes, including the worldwide stock market bubble and great crash of October 1987, the savings and loans crisis of the 1980s, the burst in 1991 of the enormous Japanese real estate and stock market bubbles, the emerging markets bubbles and crashes in 1994 and 1997, the LTCM crisis of 1998, the dotcom bubble bursting in 2000, the recent house price bubbles, the financialization bubble via special investment vehicles, the stock market bubble, the commodity and oil bubbles and the debt bubbles, all developing jointly and feeding on each other. Rather than still hoping that real wealth will come out of money creation, we need fundamentally new ways of thinking. In uncertain times, it is essential, more than ever, to think in scenarios: what can happen in the future, and, what would be the effect on your wealth and capital? How can you protect against adverse scenarios? We thus end by examining the question "what can we do?" from the macro level, discussing the fundamental issue of incentives and of constructing and predicting scenarios as well as developing investment insights.
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