WATCH PART 1 of this discussion over at George’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/georgegammon
With the Federal Reserve tapering monetary stimulus and then planning to hike interest rates 3 times next year — while Congress may not be able to pass ANY more fiscal stimulus — can a recession and/or market crash in 2022 be avoided at this point?
And not to mention the impact the latest Omicron COVID virus variant may wreak on the economy…
To address these questions, Wealthion founder Adam Taggart and macro expert George Gammon do a “collab” — George first interviews Adam on his YouTube channel and then they flip the script to finish the conversation in this video.
To view Part 1, go to youtube.com/georgegammon
Adam Taggart: And we are picking up here at part two of the collab that I’m doing here with Wealthion and George Gammon and his channels over there at YouTube. He’s got YouTube.com/georgegammon and YouTube.com/rebelcapitalist. It’s been a great discussion so far. George, thanks for coming on over to my channel.
George Gammon: Well, I appreciate you having me. I know we left it right kind of at a cliffhanger. A great ride at the end. I wanted to go into that kind of theory I have on the Fed put. Should I just dive right in there?
Adam Taggart: Yeah. Real quickly let me just set the stage for anyone that’s watching without having watched part one yet and folks, you should definitely go watch part one after this if you haven’t seen it yet and we’ll put the links. We’ll tell you how to do that at the end of this video. I just want to show a tweet that I put out yesterday that’s kind of gone viral and it captures the spirit of the question that George is about to address here. I just sort of summarized the trap that the Fed is in right now in this tweet where I said there’s a politically unwinnable decision at hand right now where the Fed can either one, taper and then raise rates and makes folks poor by cratering markets, home prices, and the economy. Or two, it can let inflation run hot and make folks poor by an increasing cost of living and currency debasement and I think that is the trap that they’re in right now and George and I spent a lot of time over in the part one part of this collab kind of explaining how we got to this point and what the Fed may or may not be able to do from here. The cliffhanger that we ended on was George said he has a theory about whether the Fed put is still something that can be relied on or not. So George, why don’t we just dive right into that?
George Gammon: Yeah, because we’re trying to think through if the market starts to crash because of the tapering or if they get to actual raising rates and we still have the CPI print at 7% and going up, then do they have price controls? The government come up with price controls? But let’s just say that they choose to support the market in that environment. They say, “Sorry, we’ll go back to have an emergency meeting like we did in March 2020 and we’ll drop rates back down to zero and we’ll go back to 120 billion dollars a month in QE,” because they got to do anything they can to prop up the market if we have a disorderly downturn let’s say 20-30%. But then what if the market rejects that and continues to go down? And the proof for this is I think March of 2020, going back there again and if you recall the Fed was supposed to meet on a Wednesday and they did that emergency meeting on Sunday. They dropped rates down to zero and they said, “Okay, we’re going to do basically QE infinity. In addition to that we’re going to commit to, we’re not going to do this much in transactions, but we’re going to commit to a maximum of 1 trillion dollars a day in repo. And that was on a Sunday. Then if you remember the very next Monday the market opens up and I don’t know what it did intraday but it ended the day down over a thousand points. That might have even been down more than 1500 points and it didn’t get better. So in my mind this was kind of like the market saying, “Okay, the Fed put has expired. We’re done. You can do all the QE you want. You can do all of your fancy interest rates. We don’t care. Do operation twist. It doesn’t matter anymore. We’re going to continue to go down.” So what did make the market go back up, at least from a timing standpoint? Whether it was correlation, causation, who knows? When the market started to go back up is when they came out with the CARES act. When the government announced that they were going to do whatever it was, let’s say four or five trillion dollars of stimulus spending, which of course is deficit spending, that’s when the market rebounded and started to go up to the all-time highs that we have seen lately. So my theory there is that the Fed put has expired and we’ve transitioned into a government put. So let’s look at that through the lens of what we’re just talking about. The Fed comes in, they can’t raise rates, they choose the quantitative easing and whatnot, the market continues to go down, and then the government has to come and say, “Okay, we’ll do another stimulus. We’ll do a five trillion, six trillion dollar stimulus,” but remember we’ve got high inflation. So then the people say, “No, no. You can’t do that stimulus because I don’t want my grocery bill to double like it did during 2020,” so then I think that increases the probability of what we were talking about earlier but the government comes in with 1070s style price control. So basically they’re they’re stimulating the market by getting out stimmy checks and PPP or UBI or whatever but then they’re trying to really micromanage it by saying, “Okay, we’re going to give you all this money but we’re not going to allow producers to raise the price above a certain level.” So then what happens, as you know, but for the viewers who don’t geek out on economic stuff, what would happen is we would have even bigger supply shortages than we’re already seeing because when you get price controls you’re just going to get less stuff and so how does that play out? I’d like to get your feedback on that. In the 1970s we had price controls which led to shortages but we didn’t start from a standpoint of shortages. What happens now when our starting point for price controls we’re seeing shortages to the extent to which we’re seeing them today? Meaning you go down to your local grocery store and 10-20% of the shelves are already barren. You go to your local car dealership and there’s no cars or there’s very few cars. So how does that play out? I’d like to get your thoughts there? Sure. Well, I think we can see directly how it plays out because we can just look at Turkey. Turkey’s kind of going through exactly this right now where their currency is devalued versus the dollar by I think 50% over the past year. They called for price controls. Anybody that has lived in Argentina can tell us exactly what it’s like down there because they’ve lived through several waves of this. So I’m really glad you brought this up, the fiscal side as well, because that really is I think what would stoke the inflation that we’re seeing right now. You talk to guys like Lacey Hunt and and kind of pre-Covid, even after Covid, Lacey was saying, “My money’s still on deflation and the Fed can print as much as it wants but if that money is not getting out into the real world, the velocity of money is dropping and it’s been dropping like a stone.” It doesn’t necessarily juice the economy the way that the Fed is hoping that it will but fiscal stimulus is very different. That money gets out into the real economy and it has a highly inflationary result. So to your point, if congress could do that – I think what’s material about 2022 is right now, at least looking at both the Fed and congress, the Fed is actually turning off the liquidity spigot. I mean they’re saying we’re going to zero. Congress is fighting to get the next social spending bill done and having lots of trouble getting the majority that needs to get it passed. Will they? Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it’s not the environment it was back in 2020, like you said, where they were approving multiple trillion deals right and left so we’re seeing a tightening of both liquidity spigots right now and if that continues, then we go back to what I was talking about in part one which is all of that liquidity has been supporting today’s asset prices and we could see a huge contraction in the market just simply by reducing stimulus, let alone even getting to tightening. The scary thing there, Adam, is deflation in asset prices while we have consumer price inflation. Your stock portfolio is down by 50% but your groceries are up by 50%.
Adam Taggart: Right. I think that’s the most highly probable scenario that we have coming out of this. That’s what I do fear most. I’m sorry I’m just trying to get back to your question there though about if the government steps in and tries to put in price controls and whatnot.
George Gammon: While they’re trying to quote unquote, “Stimulate the economy,” by checks and UBI and whatever, they’re trying to get more dollars out in circulation to prop up the stock market in the economy while at the same time they’re trying to keep prices low.
Adam Taggart: Right and I feel that the end result of this is very predictable which is that it’s not going to work and we probably will see what you just said where we’ll see continued higher cost of living but we may very well see deflation in asset prices which is kind of the worst case scenario but I do want to underscore that it’s complicated by a couple factors. Absolutely price controls will lead to outages the way that you talked about. A lot of the outages that are we’re seeing right now are caused more by supply chain issues than just the type of government intervention that you’re talking about so we might see an improvement and then fall back we we might solve the supply chain outage issues but then fall back into the government control, manage economy control issues. The other issue here that complicates things is we were talking about, in part one, kind of the role of the Fed and whatnot and what needs to shift is the national perspective on sentiment on the Fed. Right now people are souring on the Biden administration and beginning to make all this a political headache for him but people still view the Fed pretty favorably. They don’t necessarily understand what the Fed does but they look at the Fed as kind of the guy who steps in and helps when things –
George Gammon: Like the adult in the room, ironically.
Adam Taggart: Yeah, or at least just the white knight that comes in and makes it better and maybe even gives us money, makes it possible for us to get money. The problem is that they look at the Fed as the savior and not as the culprit, as the key cause of what’s going on here so that needs to shift but also when the populace gets pinched they ask for more stimulus not realizing that it’s the stimulus itself that is leading to the higher cost of living that’s pinching them. So you kind of get this vicious cycle where people are demanding more of the problem.
George Gammon: The cure for high prices is we just give you money to pay the high prices.
Adam Taggart: Yeah, exactly, which of course to the family, understandably, having trouble feeding their kids that month or heating their home, they just want money to get that short-term need met so they’re thinking much lower on the maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They’re more sort of in the animalistic part of the brainstem. So we’re going to need to have some sort of national awareness of what’s actually causing this problem before I think the right types of reform are taken and and sadly that might mean that things need to get painful enough that people take the time and the energy to really focus on what’s going on here. As a populace we have completely abdicated economic and financial management of this country to a small group of people many of them who get very, very rich off this system in ways that people just don’t don’t understand and because we tell ourselves that math is hard and these people are smart. At some point we as a people are going to need to pull back our agency in this story and get educated enough to know what to specifically demand.
George Gammon: Yes, and that brings us back to where our discussion started and that’s, “What does the average person do?” and kind of my theme throughout the last week on my videos with the Rebel Capitalist channel is – and I hate to say this because it sounds like I’m being such a defeatist, but I want to be a realist at the same time, and I’ve tried to tell people that I think we’re just at a point where all we have are bad options as investors. That’s it. So you can’t try to figure out what’s a quote-unquote, “good investment,” because there are none. The only thing you have to do is try to figure out what’s the least bad investment. And now that said, I think there could be some quote unquote, “good investments,” but you got to get offshore. You got to look At – I think Russia’s interesting. There’s some investment opportunities in Africa that I think are interesting but if you’re just looking at the S&P 500 and bonds and gold and silver and I would go so far as even to say bitcoin, that going into this environment, there’s nothing that’s a good investment and not even bitcoin because if someone says, “Well, everything crashes down. Everyone’s going to go into bitcoin,” maybe eventually but not initially because I think that bitcoin is on the balance sheet of so many of these hedge funds that philosophically don’t care about bitcoin. They just want to make money. But also in a downturn they would need liquidity and as a student of financial history, you know that when we have a big downturn in the stock market like the GFC, what sells off? Gold.
Adam Taggart: Anything that’s retaining its value.
George Gammon: Anything where there’s a bid. So if you got a bid you’re going to sell it because you have to have that liquidity and that’s exactly what we saw after Lehman brothers now what ends up happening is, because of the policies that are enacted by the central planners, then gold rebounds and that’s most likely what we’d see in bitcoin as well but it’s definitely not a straight from the lower left to the upper right with the price of bitcoin in that environment because it’s heavy duty risk off. And then I’d also point out that going back to our wonky discussion that the eurodollar future curve did invert and I won’t go into the explanation of what it is but the bottom line is it’s very similar to the inversion on the treasury yield curve. And for those of your viewers who might be a little more sophisticated, they know that when that yield curve inverts, the treasury yield curve, there’s a 90% plus chance that we get a recession in the next year and a half or so. I mean you just go back to the 1940s look at a chart and every single time that thing inverts we get a recession and it’s a similar outcome with the euro dollar market but what the euro dollar future curve tells us is that the global economy is going to have big, big problems. At the very least we’re going to see a lot less economic activity globally and I do think that it’s interesting that the eurodollar future curve started to invert when a lot of these European countries came out with their new round of restrictions, lockdowns, etc. I think the euro dollar – that’s smart money. That’s pretty much the smartest money in the world. I think they saw that and they’re saying, “Okay that’s definitely going to be what we’re going to have to deal with for the next two years globally,” and that means less goods and services are going to be produced, less economic activity. And I oddly enough, to layer this over the top of the rest of our conversation, that means that there’s going to be a dollar shortage or at least a dollar cash flow shortage outside of the United States while at the same time inside the United States there could be an abundance of dollars chasing goods and services.
Adam Taggart: You can have the dollar depreciating and purchasing power inside the US but still strengthening versus the rest of the world currencies.
George Gammon: Correct.
Adam Taggart: For folks that want to try to wrap their brains around what George was just talking about there with the dollar, I interviewed Brent Johnson who George just said he was traveling with recently. He has a theory called the dollar milkshake theory which really goes into detail in explaining this. It’s very important to understand. If you haven’t watched the video I’ll put up a link to it right here but yeah, George, what’s concerning about that is not only is the inverting curve predicting recession and it very well could be what could be responsible for the trigger could be these tightening labor controls because of the pandemic in these countries. We haven’t even talked about the pandemic as a wild card if we get some new hyper contagious strain that’s even worse than what’s being tatted right now, but think about this for a second. So you layer on top of that increasing commodity costs which have been happening worldwide right now so that basically depresses profitability and whatnot so that in itself is problematic for companies. And then of course if we actually get the rate hikes that we talked about in part one, I don’t see how the economy couldn’t go into a recession with an economy that is this hyper-leveraged, this dependent upon basically, practically costless debt. So many companies are at the highest leverage levels they’ve ever been in history and of course when rates go up their debt service costs go up so we could really have a perfect storm of recessionary factors converging here all at one time.
George Gammon: You mind if I throw you a curveball?
Adam Taggart: Absolutely.
George Gammon: I agree with the premise of what you’ve been saying. I think the Fed raises rates that the market goes down but I think there’s an interesting theory that Brent was talking to me about the other night when I had dinner with him in San Juan and I want your audience to kind of think this through the thought experiment because it kind of offers a different view and there are no certainties, there are only probabilitiesM so I think it would be wise for your audience to take what we’re saying try to figure out the probability of that outcome coming to fruition and then take what Brent’s saying and then kind of weigh the probabilities there. So what we were talking about is just what happens domestically so interest rates go up, that means stocks most likely go down, PE compresses, and then there’s this rotation from growth stocks into value and those growth stocks have been what’s been really driving the market overall. So then you have this crash in the market. Then what does the Fed do? Well, let’s just assume that the result or the catalyst was raising rates. Okay. If you’re a foreign corporation, let’s say in Colombia, you’ve got a lot of dollar denominated debt. So let’s say that you’ve got to roll over that debt but now you’ve got to do it at an interest rate that’s even higher and your dollar cash flows have really gone down because of what’s happening in Europe and Australia where they’re taking this draconian approach to the – we’ll call it the cerveza sickness. So this is what the euro dollar futures curve is predicting so we have a decrease in global economic growth that means a decrease in dollar cash flow but they still have their dollar loan payment every single month. So then what do they do? Well they most likely take some of their Colombian pesos that are on their balance sheet to go into the FX market to buy dollars to service their debt until those dollar denominated cash flows go up. Okay. Well, if you’re a Colombian investor and you’re someone like a Warren Buffett type in Columbia, you see this happening and you’re like, “Wait a minute. This is not good for peso denominated assets.” This means that although they may go up we’re going to get some big inflation spike here like they saw in the United States because all of these corporations and maybe sovereigns are trading their pesos for dollars to service this dollar denominated debt because of the lack of dollar cash flow. What do you do in that environment? So I think that the Warren Buffett type might look at that and say, “Man, I’m just gonna take my hundred million dollars worth of Colombian pesos and I’m gonna buy the US stock market because I’m buying a dollar denominated asset and I think the Fed’s going to come in and do something and even if they don’t, yes, the stock market might go down but I think the Colombian peso will go down even further relative to the dollar so I’ll have a little bit of a hedge there even if the nominal value of the stock that I purchased goes down,” and therefore you could see a lot of capital flowing if the Fed raises rates. You could see a lot of capital flowing from offshore from the euro dollar system, let’s just say, into the United States to buy stocks to do the Fed’s bidding for them. What do you think about that?
Adam Taggart: Yeah, so I think it’s definitely a potential and actually I’ve had that same conversation with Brent which I think actually I think we need to sort of count on some of that happening. Question is could it be enough to offset, just in the US alone since the pandemic hit, I think it’s something like over 10 trillion in stimulus has been pumped in by both the Fed and the Federal government –
George Gammon: Yeah, so the main takeaway there, I think for the viewer, is you have to understand that we’re dealing with complex issues. It’s not black and white and you have to also understand we’re dealing with cross currents that are at play at all times so it’s not whether we’re going to have a stock market crash or the stock market boom or whatever. It’s these forces are at play constantly like these tectonic plates and we just have to figure out which one has the most power at any given time and I think that’s the prudent way to think through this regardless of what the viewer’s conclusion is.
Adam Taggart: Absolutely and it’s funny you took the words right out of my mouth there with cross currents. So as I say often in these videos I think this is one of the most treacherous times in living history to be an investor and it’s certainly one of the hardest times to kind of wrap your brain around and feel like you can predict with confidence what’s going to happen next and I come back to a point that Jim Rickards made at the panel when we were in New Orleans when you were down there. I mean you were very kindly gonna pitch in for Jim when we couldn’t find him but he did show up and his number one advice to people is diversify. He said the diversification, especially in this type of environment, is your friend. That’s what’s gonna save your bacon if your primary theses turn out not to be true and of course history has shown that a diversified portfolio tends to outperform any sort of concentrated portfolio over time. So I would say, to kind of munch together advice from both Grant Williams and Jim, is pick your path. There’s lots of good arguments out there that deflation may actually win out but there’s an increasing number of ones that are equally compelling that inflation is going to win out but kind of try to pick your general path but then diversify. And we were talking a little bit earlier in part one George about we’ve done a good job of scoping the problems but investors still have the real world problem about, “What do I do with my money?” and you were kind enough to call me an expert. I am not an investing expert, per se. I feel like if anything I’m sort of an expert of experts in the way that you are where I know a lot of people out there who are extremely smart on these issues and a big part of Wealthion and your channels is bringing that in front of people and then a big part of what Wealthion does is then connects people with financial advisors who look through a similar lens and are translating those insights into an actual actionable plan right and given everything that’s going on right now, I do think that the number one thing to focus on is risk management. It’s not an environment where you’re trying to swing for the fences here because, as you and I talked about, there’s so many risks out there and it’s just so murky because of these cross currents. I think, really at this point in time, capital preservation outweighs reaching for growth. I’m just going to list a couple of what I consider to be sort of best practices having talked with a bunch of smart people and if you want to add anything to this, George, I think the audience would be really appreciative of that. Again, this was taken from Grant’s interview last week. The assets that have benefited most up until now are highly likely not to be the ones that are going to benefit going forward. So expect to see sort of a change in regime in terms of which asset classes are going to be outperforming. You and I spent a lot of time talking about inflation and, from an economic standpoint at least, you gotta you gotta figure out how to protect against it and you and I were talking about finding investments that give a yield and ideally give an inflation adjusting yield that can be income producing real estate, it can be tips, it can be deep value stocks that are priced reasonably that issue dividends, it even can be t bills, hard assets, obviously things that have intrinsic value that can’t be inflated away. Commodity is a huge part of that and you mentioned gold and silver and some people would throw crypto in there as ways to sort of protect against dollar devaluation. I feel much more confident opining about the precious metals and the cryptos because I understand them a lot more and the cryptos – so much speculation has gone into that place, they might be very good protectors against dollar devaluation but maybe only if you get in at a more rational price than they are today and I don’t know what fair value is for those so I’m not going to tread too much in there. I think, too, you need to have some positioning against a market crash and we talked about the importance of the optionality of cash even though it hurts to hold it in an inflationary environment before a market correction happens. Hedging is super important in terms of risk management and most people might be somewhat familiar with the term but very few people are practiced in actually deploying it and this is where a professional advisor can be super helpful in looking at your portfolio and and using hedges as insurance the same way that you put in fire insurance on your house to protect you in the unlikely event that it burns down. And then last in that bucket, volatility. Volatility right now is about the only asset out there right now that is negatively correlated with the markets. Everything else is trading in tandem and volatility can give you some really powerful protection. You don’t need a lot of it in your portfolio to give you that that protection.
George Gammon: In fact, I actually invested in one of Chris Cole’s funds.
Adam Taggart: For folks that don’t know Chris Cole, he runs Artemis Capital. It’s a long volatility fund. A very, very smart guy, too, by the way. So that’s mostly the list. I also talked there about the rotation from growth and the value but you’ve already talked about that a bit here. Is there anything else that you would add to that list?
George Gammon: Yeah, because I think people need to get their mental state in order and they need to have a psychological game plan and going into a tough year, if we see that, that’s the hardest thing to manage. It’s not your portfolio but it’s your own emotions.
Adam Taggart: That’s a phenomenal point. Yeah, keep going.
George Gammon: The way I do that – what keeps me grounded is studying the greats and the first book that I read that introduced me to the greats was Market Wizards and so I believe that’s a three-part series. The first one came out just – the original Market Wizards, I think it was the late 80s early 90s, but that’s when I was pretty much first introduced to Jim Rogers as well because Jack Schwager, who was the the author, he interviewed Jim for the book and it’s just a book of of interviews and they’re absolutely fantastic. Fantastic. And you talked about a tweet that you sent out earlier and I tweeted something a couple days ago because I saw this ad on social media that featured Matt Damon and it was for Crypto.com and it said, “Fortune favors the brave.” Fortune favors the brave,” and listen, I’ve studied the greats and if you go back and read the Market Wizards books, you will find that brave was never a common denominator in their investment strategy; what was, was incredible risk management. That’s what you find. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Jim Rogers and you have a kind of asymmetric long-term approach or you’re a Stan Druckenmiller where you do multiple trades every single year and you’re more on a two or three month time frame. It didn’t matter whether you’re an Dd Thorpe in your you got your beginnings in blackjack. It didn’t matter what your strategy, was what your personality was. All the guys and gals that were the best in history, they have all had one thing in common and that is incredible risk management skills and an ability to manage their own emotions. So I think that’s key going into 2022 and to start I think everyone should read those Market Wizards books to give them insight on how others that did it very well did it themselves and hopefully that allows them, the average Joe and Jane that reads the book, to implement those strategies with their own portfolio moving into 2022.
Adam Taggart: Alright, super. George, I know you need to go here in just a minute but we’re going to start sort of the rapid fire recommendations for folks here and recommendation number one is to go read that book and I don’t know the derivation or where,” The fortune favors the brave,” came from, but I do know that Louis Pasteur – and there’s the book Market Wizards right there. Who’s it by?
George Gammon: Jack Schwager.
Adam Taggart: Great. But Louis Pasteur, the fellow who invented pasteurization, his famous quote is, “Fortune favors the prepared mind,” and that’s exactly what you’re saying here, George, which is you want to go into this with the game plan, “The to fail to plan is to plan to fail,” and so this is why I think working in concert with a professional financial advisor who can take the emotion out of it for you and come up with a plan and when the emotions begin to get the better of you can be an impartial counsel to say, “Hey George. Look, this is why we came up with the plan. Do you really want to change things here or do you want to stick to the logic of what we put together?” can really be grounding and so for I know we got a lot of your audience that have come over from your channel to watch this part two, folks, if you actually want to have a conversation with the financial advisors that Wealthion endorses just go to Wealthion.com and it takes about five seconds to fill out the form there. You can have a free consultation with them. It doesn’t cost you anything. There is no commitment to work with them. It’s really just a public service they offer for all the reasons that George and I are talking about here. They just want as many people as possible to position prudently in advance of what may be coming to reduce the number of people who find themselves kind of roadkill and what goes on here. Alright George, so kind of in wrapping up here for your audience you and I do very much the same thing here in terms of we spend most of our time talking with experts in this space and trying to make things digestible and understandable to the average person who’s trying to build wealth and navigate this really challenging time so if you’re one of my viewers and this is your first time getting to know George, go over to his channel. He’s got two. YouTube.com/georgegammon and YouTube.com rebel capitalist. I’ll put links to those in the bottom of this video below but go over there and subscribe to his channel. And if you’re one of George’s viewers this is your first time here and you’d like to see the interviews that we do going forward with folks everywhere from Jim Rogers to Grant Williams to John Hussman to Stephanie Pomboy, Danielle DiMartino Booth, a lot of the same people that George interviews, just click the subscribe button down there and feel free to start enjoying these videos going forward. So George, any parting advice for folks before you got to run off to your next –
George Gammon: No, I just think it’s really exciting that you’re doing what you’re doing and I think the more people that are out there spreading the message of financial education but also freedom liberty and how important free market capitalism is, the more people that are doing that, the better, and so it’s just great to see people like you out there doing what you’re doing and I’m very glad to be a part of it.
Adam Taggart: Well, hallelujah brother and thanks so much for doing this. It’s been a really fun experience. I hope it’s been an educational one for folks and George, I really look forward to inviting you back on this program in the future.
George Gammon: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s do it again soon.