Marc Faber, editor of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, kicked off the CFA Institute Middle East Investment Conference by quoting Ernest Hemingway who said, “The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring permanent ruin.” On this downcast note, Faber attacked short-term Keynesian spending and reviewed the implications for investors of the accelerating shift of world economic and political power from the developed countries to the developing world.
Central bank action to cut interest rates, whilst intended to boost consumption and hence economic growth, has had unintended and severely negative consequences. Faber argued that “dollar bills dumped by helicopters” all over the US have not been channeled into housing, as hoped, but into other more speculative asset classes, particularly commodities such as precious metals and oil. He added that expansionist monetary policies have contributed to higher financial and economic volatility, in addition to inflation. Since greater money supply does not flow evenly across sectors, this gives rise to asset bubbles, which are not easy to identify.