Irredeemable Currency Collapse

Dollar black hole

Talks on our monetary system

more: Leveraged Bubbles


Question: Inevitable Currency Collapse?

Premise 1: All dollars are borrowed into existence.  The Fed, for example, creates dollars to purchase government bonds, which, in turn, are paid in dollars, but those dollars are backed by debt.  Around and round we go.

Premise 2. The debt can’t be extinguished, so debt grows while the marginal utility of debt declines.  You borrow $100 from the bank, then repay your bank with $100 then your cash declines by $100 and the bank’s loan balance declines by $100.   But what happens to the $100 used to buy a tool for your business. Now the tool maker has the $100.

Can the debt be paid back out of current income?  When the marginal utility of debt reaches zero or a negative number, then the dollar has to collapse since the value of the debt will have to decline until collapse.   Ernest Hemingway, said, “We go broke in two ways. First slowly and then suddenly.”

How does the dollar die? It drowns in debt.  The money supply may even be decreasing as debt defaults, but the value of other debt collapses and thus the dollar. Remember that all dollars are backed by the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve.

I am not saying that the dollar will collapse tomorrow but what will stop the inevitable?   Since all other currencies are a derivative of the reserve currency, the US Dollar, you will see greater stress in foreign currencies before the dollar shows the same level of decline.

Question 2: legal tender laws were eliminated and people could choose their own money, would interest rates remain LOW and  S T A B L E?  How would rates fluctuate?


Hint: note how relatively stable interest rates were between 1880 and 1913.  What set the rate of interest?

Question 3: Does a long-term decline in interest rates hurt businesses? How? What adjustments would you make as an analyst in such an environment?

Prizes to be determined.
The end game?

I will send out the Value Vault keys as promised to the folks who have made requests over the past week.


Carl Icahn Speaks About Our Market Train Wreck

Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn gives an interview on FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto show in New York in this February 11, 2014 file photo. Icahn said October 9, 2014, Apple Inc's shares could double in value and urged the company's board to buy back more shares using its $133 billion cash pile.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files (UNITED STATES)

Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn gives an interview on FOX Business Network’s Neil Cavuto show in New York in this February 11, 2014 file photo. Icahn said October 9, 2014, Apple Inc’s shares could double in value and urged the company’s board to buy back more shares using its $133 billion cash pile. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files (UNITED STATES)

Carl Icahn Speaks

Carl Icahn is becoming a DC activist just in time to help stimulate congressional talks on corporations being able to repatriate money to America at a lower tax rate, he told The Post.

Icahn — a day after GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump unveiled his economic plan, which included corporate tax relief for repatriated funds — released a 15-minute video Tuesday titled “Danger Ahead,” giving his views on the US economy. Icahn also endorsed Trump for president.

The billionaire investor dedicated much of the video and a corresponding interview with The Post to the taxation rate of repatriated profits.

“We want to make sure companies have the ability to bring their funds [$2.2 trillion in overseas profits] back,” he told The Post.

“Repatriation [tax rate] should be 7 or 8 percent.” Presently, companies pay taxes in countries where they make the goods, and then a 35 percent rate when bringing the money back to the US.

Icahn said he had been in touch with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), “and everyone wants to see a [reduced rate] bill” by December.

“I think Schumer, Hatch and Ryan want to see this happen,” Icahn said.

If they don’t succeed, Icahn said, the repatriation effort will stall in the 2016 presidential election year and the US will see more balance-sheet cash remaining overseas, out of Uncle Sam’s reach.

Icahn’s biggest stock position, meanwhile, is his stake in Apple, from which he would benefit greatly if the company can repatriate some of its $200 billion at a lower tax rate.

“Repatriation would be viewed as massively positive for Apple,” Friedman Billings Ramsey Capital analyst Dan Ives said.

Icahn Enterprises, the investor’s publicly traded vehicle that is a proxy for his investments, is down 28 percent this year and 37 percent over the past 12 months. The company took a $373 million loss last year, largely on energy stock declines.

Another top 10 Icahn holding is Herbalife, which, as of June 30, had 48 percent of its $750 million in cash overseas.

The foreign cash repatriation talks in Washington could use some help, a well-placed Senate source told The Post. “I think it’s a long shot it gets passed this year.”

The main problem is key Democrats want to spend the new proceeds collected from repatriation on a long-term highway funding bill.

But key Republicans are uncomfortable with that idea because they are concerned that once repatriated money slows, Congress may have to raise taxes to pay for continued highway funding.

Not all business interests, especially big tech companies, are for repatriation at lower tax rates as they now have an excuse to not bring back foreign profits. So Icahn calling senators and being vocal on the subject makes a difference, the source said.

Icahn in the video explains why he is for repatriation.

“If that money came back, it would [be used] for jobs.”

“That money is given to somebody who will invest in this country. As opposed to taking the money in Europe and investing in Ireland or somewhere like that.”


Brazil EM

Friday, September 25, 2015

No Mas, No Mas! The Vale Chronicles (Continued)!

Some of my Brazilian readers seem to be upset that I used “No Mas”, Spanish words, rather than Portuguese ones, in the title. To be honest I was not thinking about language, but instead about a boxing match from decades ago, where Roberto Duran used these words to give up in his bout with Sugar Ray Leonard.

I have used Vale as an illustrative example in my applied corporate finance book, and as a global mining company, with Brazilian roots, it allows me to talk about how financial decisions (on where to invest, how much to borrow and how dividend payout) are affected by the ups and downs of the commodity business and the government’s presence as the governance table. In November 2014, I used it as one of two companies (Lukoil was the other one) that were trapped in a risk trifecta, with commodity, currency and country risk all spiraling out of control. In that post, I made a judgment that Vale looked significantly under valued and followed through on that judgment by buying its shares at $8.53/share. I revisited the company in April 2015, with the stock down to $6.15, revalued it, and concluded that while the value had dropped, it looked under valued at its prevailing price. The months since that post have not been good ones for the investment, either, and with the stock down to about $5.05, I think it is time to reassess the company again.


John Chew: At least the author has a process to reassess his investment.  I believe the critical flaw in his analysis (easy to say in hindsight) was not noting the massive mal-investment due to distorted credit markets caused by central bank policies. To normalize iron ore prices you would need pre-distortion prices going back twenty-five years.

Read more: No Mas!

A Mr. Market Lecture


Chapter 20_Margin of Safety Concept

A Short Selling Primer


For the millions of investors in buy and never sell strategies today who look at the values on their statements today, trusting that the Federal Reserve will always cut rates and always flood the system with more cheap debt as though this were some sacred rite of passage for the American investor, I can only say two words. Wake up! Read more: BMI_TheBigNastyDWordIsHere_Sept22.15

no easy fed helps stoks You may not wish to become a short-seller due to the asymmetrical risk and reward, but you can certainly improve as an analyst to become more skeptical by taking on the viewpoint of a short-seller. Riders on the Storm or Short Selling  An overview and primer. The best book yet that I have found: short selling Bear market  For those who wish to learn what a REAL BEAR MARKET is like then:

miners horrific

The Secret to Success: Being Ridiculed on Social Media; Hedge Fund Analyst Quiz; The End


Jesse Felder, a Contrarian Trader   Listen to the podcast and explore The Felder Report

Hedge Fund Quiz

The only way to win a date is to become a hedge fund analyst.  Your interview process requires you to analyze a real estate/mining company.

You look first at the balance sheet (Thanks Mr. Graham).   You notice that this mining company bought claims under a ski resort (Park City, Utah) where it bought acres in 1907 at five dollars an acre.

Then you notice that the company issued 20-year corporate bonds when interest rates were 9% for AA corporates about fifteen years ago.  Now similar companies can issue bonds at 5%.

How would you conduct your analysis? Good luck.

Interest rate decline

The End

So how will it all end? Dollars are created by computer key stroke when the Fed buys bonds, but the dollar is backed only by bonds (and a tiny bit of gold) and the bonds are payable in Federal Reserves Notes (the dollar) or just another form of debt. So debt is created to buy debt which, in turn, is payable in debt. Whoa?! No way this could ever be a problem. It’s magic. One thing bothers me, though, why do we need legal tender laws TO FORCE people to use dollars? I got a bad feelin’ on this.

But WHAT if more and more debt creates less and less “GDP” (let’s pretend it means something–govt spending creates economic growth, Ha Ha.) until each dollar of debt creates 0 or negative GDP growth. The Fed has to print to pay interest on the debt or the tail consumes the tiger.

Hemingway: We go broke slowly, then suddenly!

Anyone using CPI to gauge reality needs a reality check. You are a fool to buy gold as an “investment against “CPI inflation.” You own gold as a form of money to store wealth IF you lack confidence in central planning. So when it all comes down is when gold goes into permanent BACKWARDATION in gold. Holders of gold go NO BID on dollars. But don’t worry, the dollar derivatives like the Yen and the Euro will be earlier casualties. Meanwhile hope that the dollar rises against in order to buy more ounces. For others, Pray.
Now those who read the above my disagree, but know exactly fiat currencies do NOT go to 0 (or NO BID).

Commodity Markets

2015sep8crb1Commodity declines leading to stresses in emerging markets like Brazil.

Brazil 10 year

While the marginal commodity seller is selling.

glencore panic


Glencore Chart

Glencore is the marginal seller–another sign of the beginning of the end of the emerging markets’ declines.

Emerging markets and commodity producers are another area to search for values.


MBA Class on Valuation Begins

@AswathDamodaran Aug 24

Looks like my upcoming Fall 2015 Valuation class will be framed by a market meltdown. You are welcome to join in:

Supplement your class with books and best value blogs:

What you should not miss

Jim Rogers on Life

“I always thought I knew, from a distance, that business school was more or less a waste of time but then I actually taught at a business school so I’m pretty convinced it’s  waste of time and money”

“Skepticism is something I try to teach my children”

“The largest creditor nations in the world are now in Asia … you have to have savings and investment to build an economy … even Karl Marx knew the importance of building capital “




Gone huck finn

Back in two weeks!

But don’t stop learnin’.  Check out:


10 Value Investing Blogs

By Wall Street Survivor | More Articles | Save For Later
March 2, 2014 | Comments (4)

So you want to be the next Warren Buffett?

The man himself famously started out by reading all the books in the Omaha Public Library with “finance” in the title. Over the years, Buffett took that knowledge and turned it into investing tips that have helped countless investors. The Motley Fool has even taken the best of Warren Buffett’s wisdom and packaged it in a new special report that you can get free just byclicking here now.

Today, we also have blogs that can make the learning process quicker. But with so many blogs out there on the subject of value investing, the quality of content varies widely. So here, in my opinion, are the 10 best value investing blogs for you to follow and what you can learn from them.

  1. Contrarian Edge
    Why you should follow it:
    Two reasons. One is that its author, Vitaliy Katsenelson, is a well-known value investor who’s been dubbed “the new Benjamin Graham” by Forbes. The other is the wonderfully eclectic nature of its content, ranging from insightful analysis of popular stocks like Apple and to musings on Tchaikovsky.

Philosophy: “I invest, I educate, I write, and I could not dream of doing anything else.”

Sample post title: “Why Investors Hate Apple — and Are Dead Wrong

  1. ValueWalk
    Why you should follow it:
    This site started in 2010 as a simple value-investing blog but has mushroomed into a popular site delivering breaking news, analysis, and syndicated content from other blogs. Expect multiple posts a day, as well as useful resources like a list of books recommended by Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and other gurus.

Philosophy: “Many academics claim investing is a random walk. We believe this to be partially true, but believe that value investing can outperform the market.”

Sample post title: “Follow Up On Technical Analysis And Why To Avoid It

  1. Brooklyn Investor
    Why you should follow it:
    Well, not for the design, which is old-school BlogSpot. The draw here is the supremely detailed posts analyzing individual securities, taking extracts from annual reports and investor presentations and explaining what they mean for investors. Even if you don’t plan to invest in the companies in question, the posts offer great insight into some good ways of researching a stock.

Philosophy: “Random Thoughts on Investing and Investment Ideas.”

Sample post title: “Alleghany Corp Investor Day

  1. The Aleph Blog
    Why you should follow it:
    Asset manager David Merkel has been blogging since 2007, covering a range of different topics but accumulating almost 700 posts on value investing. He looks at both individual stocks and more general investing principles, and his posts are full of detail but easy to follow.

Philosophy: “To fight for what is right in money management, and encourage readers to pursue strategies that reduce risk and enhance returns.”

Sample post title: “If Investing Were Free, How Would It Change What You Do?

  1. Wexboy
    Why you should follow it:
    This blog spends a lot of time analyzing Irish stocks, which may not immediately seem useful to people from other parts of the world. But even if the companies are unfamiliar, the methods are classic value investing, picking through the numbers and trying to uncover value other investors have overlooked. And the breezy writing style makes it fun to read!

Philosophy: “I think the most valuable ‘skill’ any investor can wish for is a little dose of humility.”

Sample post title: “The Great Irish Share Valuation Project

  1. Greenbackd
    Why you should follow it:
    Author Tobias Carlisle runs a value investment firm and has some smart insights on value investing. His posts often introduce interesting research on subjects like negative-enterprise-value stocks and present them in a way that the rest of us can understand.

Philosophy: “Deep value, contrarian, and Grahamite investing.”

Sample post title: “A Market of Stocks? Distribution of S&P 500 P/E Multiples Tightest In 25 Years

  1. Value Investing World
    Why you should follow it:This blog takes a cerebral approach, bringing in a broad range of articles on investing and economicsthat are relevant to value investing, along with quotes from people like Seneca and Einstein.

Philosophy: “Promoting the multidisciplinary approach to investing.”

Sample post title: “Marcus Aurelius quote

  1. The Graham Investor
    Why you should follow it:
    Posts here aren’t released very often — just once or twice a month — but they’re usually well thought-out. And the worth of this site lies not only in the blog posts, but also in the stock screens to help you find investments that meet the criteria proposed by famed value investor Benjamin Graham.

Philosophy: “I am generally a long-term value investor and try to use as many of Ben Graham’s principles as possible.”

Sample post title: “Has Your Portfolio Suffered an ACL Tear?

  1. Old School Value
    Why you should follow it:
    This is a long-running blog with five years of value investing posts, some of them collected into series of tutorials that are a great way to learn the basics. Owner Jae Jun also writes very detailed posts analyzing particular stocks using a variety of valuation methods to show you how value investing works.

Philosophy: “Provide practical and actionable value investing tools, tutorials and educational material to help empower the individual investor.”

Sample post title: “Stock Analysis Lesson with CommVault Systems

  1. Long Term Value Blog
    Why you should follow it:
    Some bloggers tend to trumpet their successes and gloss over their failures. This one is refreshingly honest, charting its owner’s real-life investing experiences and analyzing both what worked and what didn’t.

Philosophy: “Value Investing for the Long Term.”

Notice that is off the radar. Good.


A Masters Degree in Mungerisms, Druckenmiller Buys 20% of Portfolio in GLD


A Masters in Munger  Take the university level course.

Charlie Munger



Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Notes 2004

gold and Drucken

Druckenmiller Buys GLD 20%

spy credit spreads

credit spreads widen

What is Mr. Druckenmiller worried about?

Buy-Backs Create Stealth Leverage