I can see the stocks market at the exact same level 10 years from now. People would have called you an idiot saying that 10 years ago, yet its 30% lower 10 year later!
There of course will always be money to be made running businesses, inventing new products, puntin currencies/commods etc if you are good at it, Developing property in the right places by buying at the right price etc
Yes, one needs to be conscious of inflation, but lets face it…the most important aspect to inflating the value of a home or the amount the stock market can earn is Wages…and at 14% area unemployment end this year etc I cant see significant wage inflation for a very long time. The Japanese tried their best to re-inflate their own economy and as we all know didnt succeed. But so what?!? The Japanese have a very high standard of living and per head are the richest people on this planet. Thats because they save and have and economy that produces useful things. They learnt their lesson on borrowing against low yielding assets 30 years ago. The only place we will see inflation is China and that a BAD thing for many reasons!!
After the US left the Gold Standard the platform was set for ever increasing Leverage with no firewall. It took a while to get things going because the shock of the US effectively defaulting on its obligation meant that the US$ imploded and commodities like Oil / Gold etc went nuts causing rampant inflation…At that point, Volcker stabilised things ramping up interest rates and restoring at least some credibility to the US$. China’s deflationary impact on the price of goods later added a further deflationary force. The fact that Japan and Asia were becoming big savers helped our cause as well…that Capital found its way to our side of the planet. The Japanese at one point saving 25% of disp income, as the property thing had left a sour taste on their pallets!
In any case once inflation was under control and rates started to fall the party started…For the next 30 years we borrowed more and more until it got to the point where we were borrowing 3x as much per unit of income as we were in the late 70s. This made sense to some degree as borrowing was more affordable and the great credit rush began. GDP started to grow, as it always does when credit grows as initially the credit gets put to productive uses. This allowed governments to lower taxes as their tax income was rising etc.
In the late 90s we had reaped all we could from falling interest rates as they couldnt really fall much more and we were borrowing as much as we could justify relative to our incomes. However, we were hooked on 10%+ credit growth and needed a mechanism to make it still look legitimate. Securitisaton provided the platform for another decade and a non-existant credit derivatives market became an 80 Trillion$ market in just 10 years. This was the last play…eventually Wall Street would run out of ways of hiding the fact that as a sociey we had borrowed beyond our means and with interest rates so low and places like Japan/China starting to consume a bit more and save a bit less…there were no more catalysts left. We hit the brickwall…
In any case, I guess my point is that the last 30 years has all been about falling interest rates and the banking system leveraging itself up more and more.
There is no more proof needed than to know that if 30 years ago you invested in 30 Year US Govt bonds at over 12% yield and locked in this return (which was possible in the late 80s when zero coupon Tsys negated the need to re-invest coupons), you would have 30x your money today. This easily beats the stock market and property or any asset class for that matter.
So here we are. Living in a society with no obvious catalysts left. Taxes are going higher, Interest rates cant go any lower and have more risk to going higher, The banking system is deleveraging and getting itself back into shape. The worlds biggest savers (the Japanese) are retiring and starting to consume their wealth (which means we have to pay it back). China is at that point where inflation is about to become a big problem, meaning goods will eventually cost us more (China messed with the minimum wage again last week in some province as people cant afford to live earning what they earn to subsidise our lifestyle with cheap widgets)
In any case, I know little of this is news, but sometimes I think its good to just think about the last 30 years out loud and realise that the easy money has been made. That going forward people will need to be nimble with their savings etc. Diversification and the ability to move easily in and out of various asset classes etc will be the biggest determinant in how one does over the next 10-20 years in my opinion…