Marc Faber: “U.S. dollar weakness is a symptom of inflation in the system”
Below are two videos from Marc Faber’s recent interview on Asia Confidential. In it, he takes questions from user emailsregarding the U.S. dollar, economic decline in the U.S. and gold as an investment.
He sees a need for the U.S. to borrow increasing amounts of money going forward – not less. As a result, what was a crisis in finance in 2008, resulting in the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will become a national bankruptcy. The U.S. will borrow and print money. The dollar will fall precipitously. Then, “next station is when the U.S. government goes bust.”
Edward here. This might make for good headlines on Bloomberg, but it is patently false. The United States is not now or ever going bust. A sovereign government which borrows in its own currency in a fiat currency system can never go bust. An entity which borrows and prints its own money does not have the same constraints that, say, California or Ireland have. How prices are affected is another issue altogether.
That’s where gold comes into the picture. Here, there are many questions.
- Is it overvalued?
- Is it a good inflation hedge?
- How does gold perform in deflationary environments?
- How does it perform against equities over the longer run?
- What about silver?
Faber takes on all of these.
On the whole, he is an inflationista and does not believe the U.S. will suffer deflation. When asked how gold might perform in a significant deflationary environment, he responds “first of all, I would like to make a very clear statement. I will believe in deflation once we have a significant period of U.S. dollar strength. U.S. dollar weakness is a symptom of inflation in the system.”
He goes on to say that gold outperforms other asset classes in a deflationary environment and is therefore a good hedge against fiat currency revulsion whether one expects deflation or inflation.
My own view is similar. However, I would differentiate between consumer price inflation, which will remain non-existent while industrial capacity and employment levels are at depressionary levels. The inflation in the system will manifest itself first in asset prices – with industrial and food commodities or oil being the transmission mechanism into consumer prices. Secular consumer price inflation will not return until the slack in the system is purged.
I would add that this is one principal reason that the Great Moderation occurred despite enormous money printing in Japan and extraordinarily loose monetary policy in the U.S. After China, India and Eastern Europe joined the capitalist system, the enormous increase in labor – both skilled and unskilled – acted as a check on inflation of the consumer price variety.
Alan Greenspan was fooled by this and kept monetary policy too loose. The result was asset bubbles again and again. Going forward, it would comforting to see central banks target asset prices not just to gain policy traction through reflation but in order to cool the economy through deflation.