62 minutes | Aug 26th 2020

Lyn Alden – Global Macro Series – 26th August 2020

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We are very pleased to welcome Lyn Alden to the studio today, the founder of Lyn Alden investment strategy. Lyn is from an engineering background, and hence, as you might expect, brings a logical and rigorous approach to thinking about economics and financial markets. In our fascinating conversation Lyn was able to draw on her considerable knowledge and understanding of history to inform us in thinking about today’s problems. Our discussion spanned high level thinking about multi decade trends, but also very granular recommendations for the portfolio of assets you should hold today. Topics Discussed in this Episode   Long run debt cycles Deleveraging and inflation in the 1920’s and 1940’s "By the 1940s the private debt bubble was mostly worked off, but then, of course, we entered the WWII period; we had massive federal deficits as a percentage of GDP. ... In order to fund those deficits, the Federal Reserve had to take over the Treasury because there wasn't enough natural appetite for the public to buy all those treasuries. So, the Federal Reserve did something that was, basically, quantitative easing, even though they didn't call it that back then." The 2008 Great Financial Crisis “This time we have a very high federal debt and very high private debt at the same time. So, back then (1930s) we had one after the other; first, we had a private debt bubble then we had a federal debt bubble. So, they worked them off kind of separately, a decade apart. Whereas, in this time, we had a partial deleveraging ten years ago, but we did not have a deleveraging in the corporate sector. Then, of course, we've had an increase in the federal sector. Basically, we have a larger debt problem to work through...” The Wealth Effect’ vs free markets “A big difference that can actually have them “succeed” in causing inflation is that instead of a lot of this QE winding up in asset prices and winding up in the financial system, a lot of it is getting injected into the economy in the form of business loans that turn into grants and helicopter money to consumers, extra unemployment benefits...” Debt and demographics QE and inflation "You could have mid-single-digit sustained inflation with an occasional spike, especially in a yield curve control environment where they don’t raise rates to stop inflation. But, that could quickly get out of control if the global investors lose confidence in the currencies and bonds." Geopolitics and the possibility of war "You don’t want to rely on masks from China if you’re in a contest with China in a great war struggle. Even if it’s not a hot war if it’s a cold war you still don’t want most of your medicines made by your cold war antagonist." Portfolio inflation hedging Bitcoin “... it seems odd to me not to have, say, 1% in bitcoin because the market cap, right now, fluctuates between one and two hundred billion but gold's market cap is like ten trillion based on estimates for how much gold (above ground gold) exists in the world and what its current price is.” Debt jubilees “ Those supply chains for oil can be disrupted. We saw that happen in Saudi Arabia where they were attacked and they lost energy output. I do think we could see a period where we have more commodity scarcity this decade. I think there’s some of the tail risk to look out for is either certain commodity scarcity or how significantly we could have currency devaluations.” Pension fund investing in a low yield world “… there are a lot of pensions that have to own bonds… We’ve had a forty-year global cycle in lower and lower yields so bonds have had a really great run. But now that bond yields are equal or less than inflation and debt loads are so high that they can’t really raise rates, I do think that there’s a pretty big risk to these institutions of having so much bond exposures.” Links Catch up with Lyn and learn more about her work: Lyn Alden
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