By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Facebook will become the poster child for the current social-media bubble,” warns economist Gary Shilling in his latest Forbes column, “just as Pets.com was for the dot-com bubble.” Yes, Wall Street is repeating the 2000 dot-com crash as today’s social-media bubble crashes and burns.
Think history folks: Remember 2000-2002? The economy suffered a 30-month recession and a brutal bear market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 11,722, then crashed, losing over 4,000 points dropping below 7,500, down more than 43%, with massive losses of more than $8 trillion in market cap.
Pets.com sock puppet.
But it gets worse: Shilling’s bluntly warning: “If we aren’t already in a recession, we’re getting very close.” Yes, he’s more reserved than Nobel economist Paul Krugman, whose latest book goes beyond hinting that the America economy is repeating the 2000-2002 recession, His title says it all: “End This Depression Now!”
But the scariest fact is that America’s warring politicians, CEOs and Super Rich can’t even see the obvious link between the 2012 social-media bubble and the 2008 Wall Street credit bubble that nearly bankrupt our monetary system and forced Congress and the Fed into bailing out our too-big-to-manage banks to an estimated $29.7 trillion in cash, credits, cheap money loans and debt relief.
But, unfortunately, the banks still haven’t learned the lessons of history. Instead, they dug in their heels, spending hundreds of million on lobbyists, fighting all reform efforts, went back to business-as-usual, sabotaging America and ultimately themselves.
Déjà vu: here we are four years later. Again mired in another presidential election, right back where we were in the summer of 2008. In denial, trapped in lies and mean-spirited theatrics, ignoring warnings, blinded, obsessed about the smell of election victories no matter the cost, even if it triggers a recession.
Yes, déjà vu all over again. Four short years. We forget. We’re back repeating the same buildup scenario to another meltdown.
Worse, bankers, politicians and billionaires just don’t seem to care. And you get the foreboding feeling that it really doesn’t matter who wins the election. This war will go on till 2016: For one party and their billionaire super PACs will do anything to hold on to the presidency, and the other, backed by their billionaire super PACs, will do anything to regain it.
Politics is now a deadly blood sport that reminds us of the “Hunger Games.”
As if 2008 never happened, creating the granddaddy of all bubbles
Yes, another crash is coming soon because we’re back playing the same speculative games as we did for years prior to the 2008 crash. Nothing’s changed. And when we collapse, it will be because America’s leaders never do learn the lessons of history. And never will, if you get the meaning of economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff who surveyed “800 Years of Financial Folly” and saw nothing but repetitive cycles.
In a BusinessWeek editorial, Peter Coy and Rouben Farzad described the latest cycle in this eternal drama of the bubbles:
“It’s as if 2008 never happened. Once again the worlds investors are pumping up bubbles that will probably explode in their faces. After the popping of a real estate bubble led to the first global recession since the 1930s, world markets are frothing like shaken Champagne. Pundits claim to have spotted price increases that are unsupported by economic fundamentals in assets ranging from U.S. farmland to Israeli biotech to Australian housing to Chinese cemetery sites. Commodities have soared. Global junk-bond issuance hit a record … this is the granddaddy of them all, an almost-encompassing bubble right at the heart of monetary systems.”
Yes, for the past four years our great free-market system has been blowing many new bubbles, like the Facebook bubble that we saw coming months ago. It will soon halt Chairman Bernanke’s nonstop printing press. This bubble will sink like a mafia stiletto deep into the “heart of the monetary systems” worldwide, proving something Nassim Taleb said about Bernanke when Obama reappointed him in 2009: “He doesn’t even know he doesn’t understand how things work,” that his methods make “homeopath and alternative healers look empirical and scientific.”
Warning, the Real Crash is dead ahead, will bankrupt America
That’s also what economist Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, predicted recently when interviewed on Fox Business about his new book, “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy.”
“We’ve got a much bigger collapse coming, and not just of the markets, but of the economy … like what you’re seeing in Europe right now, only worse … when we hit our real fiscal cliff” and a meltdown more severe than the Crash and Great Recession of 2007-2010.
Schiff was one-upped during the same NewsmaxWorld report by Robert Wiedemer, author of the 2006 “America’s Bubble Economy” and recent “Aftershock” book about the “Next Global Financial Meltdown.” He warns that “the data is clear, 50% unemployment, a 90% stock market drop, and 100% annual inflation,” starting this year.
Yes, it sounds like overkill to drive home the message, but maybe not. Maybe this is déjà vu 1929. Maybe the Real Crash is dead ahead. And maybe nobody wants to see it, like 2008.
Big secret, buy banks? Yes, if Wall Street doubles down, splits up
That signal comes from no less than former Citigroup president Sandy Weill. Imagine, the man responsible for building the first too-big-to-manage mega-bank, and killing the 60-year-old Glass-Steagall separating commercial and investment banking back in 1999, now saying:
“I think what we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking. Have banks be deposit takers, make commercial loans and real estate loans. And have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not going to be too big to fail.” What a game-changer.
Huffington Post columnist Mark Gongloff notes that Weill is “not doing it out of the goodness of his heart.” But the truth is banks haven’t been doing well since 2008, in spite of controlling politicians and regulators: “The banks themselves, including the abomination he created, Citigroup, would be worth a lot more if they were broken into smaller pieces.”
Since 2008 “the market has turned against the big banks,” investors have been “doing the government’s dirty work for it.”
De facto Glass-Steagall? Yes, split and get richer on two bank stocks
Weill must also sense that with all the relentless political fears about the government’s out-of-control debt, plus the real possibility that the American economy could in fact go over a Fiscal Cliff in 2013 and into a long recession, or even a depression, the appetite for another taxpayer bailout will be zero, forcing a bank breakup anyway.
So Weill’s brainstorm makes a helluva lot of sense: Take command. Get ahead of the coming slowdown. Shilling warns the social-media bubble will keep deflating.
Forget them, seize this opportunity. Refocus on new bank stocks. Besides, if insiders control a split-up into a commercial bank and an investment bank, it’d be on terms more favorable to bank insiders, executives and shareholders than if Washington did it.
And you can bet the smart money’s on Weill’s strategy. For example, The Wall Street Journal quotes Phillip Purcell, former CEO of Morgan Stanley: “From a shareholder point of view, it’s crystal clear these enterprises are worth more broken up than together.”
Yes, deniers are claiming it’ll never happen, especially Jamie Dimon, who publicly doubled down on loving his too-big-to-manage $2.3 trillion bank. But Gongloff and the Journal note that Dimon’s reshuffled organizational chart suggests otherwise.
Moreover, you know bank CEOs like Lloyd Blankfein are motivated more by their own personal wealth than by firm assets under management. Ultimately, if they can make more money and get more control of their destiny by owning two bank stocks, you can bet they’ll plan a de facto Glass-Steagall revival in a New York minute. They can make more … and so can America’s 95 million Main Street investors like you.
Bottom line: if you are a risk-taker, maybe you can beat the market to the punch, before The Real Crash overwhelms Wall Street, like it did in 1929 and in 2000 and in 2008. Because next time, even though our too-big-to-manage banks expect they’ll get bailed out, the reality is that they’ll go begging for bail-out billions and Congress won’t do it again, without forcing a newer, tougher Glass-Steagall law on the banks.