Not too many traders remember ‘the phoney war,’ or the Sitzkrieg, as it happened 71 years ago. After Hitler invaded Poland on the first day of September 1939, Poland’s European allies France and England declared war on Germany, but nothing significant happened on that front until the following May when the German Army rolled through Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium and into France. Although the horror started in Poland in the fall of 1939, for a few months, the rest of Europe was spared that horror, which eventually lasted through the next five years. Strangely, this past September (2010), the US equity market rose by about 8.8%, its best return for that month, since that same September (1939). To me the parallels are ominous. What were those people thinking back in 1939? Could a coming world war have that positive an impact on the economy and on markets? They must have been crazy – of course equities gave up their gains and were cratered in May 1940 when Germany invaded the west. But, what are we thinking of now? A war has just begun. Didn’t Bernanke and the Fed announce in late August at Jackson Hole (and multiple times since then) that the US was going to enter QE2 and debase its currency setting off a currency war. Bernanke, like Hitler seven decades ago, had been warning everyone who would listen for years.
On November 21, 2002 he said that he would debase the US dollar if the American economy looked as though it would go through the same lost decades that the Japanese have recently endured. Now, it is clear that he has been true to his word and the currency war has begun. Although it took Guido Mantega the Finance Minister of Brazil to state the obvious saying that “an international currency war” had broken out, the reaction at the recent IMF meetings and among analysts of all stripes make it clear that this situation is well comprehended by everyone who is paying attention. The US has thrown a rock through the world’s plate glass window. This country will be severely disrupting the current global monetary system because the Federal Reserve – and not necessarily the Obama administration – believes that the status quo is not in the interest of the American people.
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