Below is Fitzwilson’s exclusive piece for KWN:

October 19, 1987 was a shocking day as the U.S. stock market declined by a stomach churning 23 percent in that one session.  It is impossible to convey the sense of desperation, on that day, felt by anyone whose savings or livelihood was dependent upon the equity markets.

Most of the financial disasters since the early 1980s were caused by well meaning professors espousing new insights derived from their research.  In the case of ’87, institutions were convinced to take a much higher allocation to equities.  The research showed that if a problem ensued, the institutions could simply sell a futures contract, thereby immunizing their portfolio’s exposure to the effects of any subsequent decline.  It worked great in their computer simulations.

The markets began to roll over on the preceding Friday....

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“It started with Hong Kong.  In those days, Hong Kong was seen as a source of emergency liquidity by institutions, and their stock market was hit very hard.  As the declines reverberated around the world, the losses arrived in New York on Monday.

Unfortunately, futures traders are a smart lot.  When the institutions implemented the protection phase of the professor’s plan and went to sell the futures contract, the traders on those exchanges balked.  This was the fatal flaw in the hedging plan put forward by the academics.  A computer would always buy the futures contract.  The brokers would not.

What ensued was full-scale panic.  Prices for the bluest of blue chip stocks plummeted.  Orders could not be filled as the exchanges were swamped.

Being a specialist at the NYSE was a very good thing.  Seats on the Exchange were often passed down from generation to generation.  One of the obligations, however, was to provide temporary liquidity to the issues for which you were responsible if you could not immediately match a trade with a specific buyer and seller.  That was the safety valve at the Exchange.

Ultimately, the specialist’s ability to buffer significant declines was backed up by bank loans.  As the panic unfolded, the banks pulled the loans.  What saved the day was Alan Greenspan telling the banks that they would make whatever loans were necessary to maintain the solvency of the specialists, and therefore the Exchange itself.  It worked. 

Was the government engaged in intervention and manipulation?  Absolutely.  Was there anyone who was not thrilled at having our money, savings and careers bailed out?  Not a one.

For the next 13 years, the government stepped in time and time again to bail out markets which were once again corrupted with the professor’s well intended, but completely devoid of reality, schemes.  The last one of the 1990’s was the Long-Term Capital debacle that probably could have brought down the global financial system a decade before the sub-prime mess.

Central bankers had become the financial fire department.  Up until the early 2000’s, it was seen as a good thing.  Alan Greenspan became a personality, not the head of the Federal Reserve.  Investors and the government officials celebrated each and every word he spoke at his periodic testimonies.  Taking excessive risk was not a problem.  The Fed would make everything right.

The chart below juxtaposes the various forms of quantitative easing, known as QE, since the current crisis became out of control in late 2008.

As you can see, QE1 was more of the 1987 type.  Wall Street, the politicians and the professors had once again gotten us into a monumental mess.  While few were happy with the implication for deficits due the printing of fiat money, the $20+ trillion in global spending was seen as being rescued, akin to the 1987 experience.  Cash came out of Treasuries and markets correctly anticipated the inflationary effects of spending and printing such sums and interest rates rose.

At the end of QE1, fear returned that we were headed to a severe recession.  Interest rates declined as expected.  People were looking for what traditionally was a safe haven, Treasury bonds.  When QE2 was announced, a side effect was rising rates, as markets anticipated higher inflation and money was shifted out of Treasuries and into equities.

Europe then imploded.  China began to weaken.  More ‘stimulus’ and printing was needed we were told.  However, a curious thing happened, interest rates have since plummeted.  To an extent, it was a flight to perceived safety.  Operation Twist and now QE3 are about wrestling interest rates to the ground.  This is what has happened.  The key function of price discovery through free markets no longer exists.  Government policy now chooses winners and losers, at least for the time being.

Somewhere along the line, central banks transitioned from being safety nets to market manipulation.  The central banks are taking us into waters that are unchartered in our lifetimes.  But I would remind KWN readers that others have done this in the past with unpleasant endings.

We can only hope for the best.  At the same time, it is imperative to switch out of paper-based assets into real assets such as gold, silver and well-located real estate.  Along the way, various currencies will become the safe haven of the day, but none will survive what lies ahead.  We are living in an Entitlement Bubble along the lines of the Dutch Tulip Bubble in the 1600s.  No amount of printing or economic growth can prevent our destiny of currency destruction and entitlement collapse.”

© 2012 by King World News®. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  However, linking directly to the blog page is permitted and encouraged.

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Eric King

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© 2012 by King World News®. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,

rewritten, or redistributed.  However, linking directly to the blog page is permitted and encouraged.

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