The Illusion of Toothless Sharks

Harry S. Dent | Friday, April 12, 2013 >>

Every year, the East coast of Florida witnesses a great migration of sharks. The water just off the beaches is thick with them.

A trustworthy authority would close the beaches for public swimming, posting warnrnings signs all over the place. A smart person would listen to the warnrnings and stay out of the water until the danger has passed.

But what would you do if the lifeguard at the beach took down all the warnrning signs and told you the sharks swimming off that beach where all harmless? Would you get into that water?

And what would you say of a person who does go swimming with the sharks? Would you think they’re brave? Maybe they’ve seen evidence to back up the lifeguard’s claims…? They could be thrill seekers. Or they could just be idiots…

I vote for the latter, which is why it astounds me that investors are practically clambering over each other to get into the markets…


We’re barely through the period when the U.S. financial system melted down… major banks and corporations failing left, right and center… real estate collapsing… and stocks crashing.

We’re not yet through the period of Europe’s melt down… Cyprus being the latest (and not last) in a line of one sovereign debt crises.

China has the greatest real estate bubble ever… and it’s aching to burst.

Emerging countries are slowing as commodity prices and their exports keep falling.

And Japan is in a coma economy 23 years after its stock and real estate collapse.

This is a high risk economy, second only to the 1930s. This is like the Atlantic waters teeming with sharks.

Yet central banks the world over have said everything’s fine… they’ve removed the teeth from all the dangers lurking in the water… it’s safe to swim. And people believe them. They’re being swept up by the illusion!

So, what do governrnments and central banks do? They work to make the illusion even more elaborate. “We’re not addicted to debt,” they say. “We don’t have a problem,” they say. “We’ll just take more of the debt drug to keep the bubble going and everything will turnrn out alright in the end,” they say.

They’re idiots!

Central banks are flooding their economies with free money, like debt, but cheaper than ever… money they’ve created out of thin air. They’ve pinned their plans to the hope that their economies will returnrn to normal if they can just nurse them over this flu, which we caught in 2008.

Hope is NOT a strategy.

As I’ve said time and again, most of the developed economies of the world will not returnrn to normal until at least the early 2020s. Many never will. And we have unprecedented debt and entitlement burdens and slowing, totally predictable demographic trends to thank for that.

We found ourselves drowning in the greatest debt and real estate bubble in history because the governrnment manipulated the markets to create an illusion of no or low risk in an increasingly risky environment.

Financial institutions took such signs of low risk as the go ahead to speculate wildly, so they lent at levels that would seem absolutely crazy at any other time. When banks and investors perceive low risk, they take higher risks, it’s that simple.

Low interest rates, governrnment guarantees, lenient lending and ratings standards, and B.S. insurance all create that illusion. They feed the bubble that always bursts.

The worst part in this unique debt cycle is that governrnments are, for the first time in history, extending that illusion with endless money printing. They’re pushing down short- and long-term interest rates further, adding to the illusion that there’s no risk here… that they’ve got our backs.

That’s like saying that lifeguard has our backs while we swim in shark-infested waters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m preparing for a greater debt crisis and crash between mid-2013 and early 2020. I urge you to do the same.

Protect your capital and what you have before you worry about chasing riskier investments. The Fed is doing everything in its power to get you to take those risks. That’s the only way it can keep the bubble inflating.

But that will lead you to slaughter, just like it did in 2008.

Get your toes wet. Hell, even get your calves wet. But don’t go swimming under the illusion there are no sharks beneath you.




Ahead of the Curve with Adam O’Dell

The Other Games in Town

I’ve written recently on the declining correlations among individual stocks. This can make stock picking a lucrative venture, if you know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Of course, you also have to be nimble enough to hit the eject button and pull your chute as the Fed’s market-propping efforts begin to fail.


Harry Dent

Bestselling author and founder of Dent Research, an affiliate of Charles Street Research. Dent developed a radical new approach to forecasting the economy; one that revolved around demographics and innovation cycles.