Race to the Bottom
Sep 30, 2010
Long ago, before economic models developed their current levels of sophistication, it used to be that the goal of a government's economic policy was to bring prosperity to its citizens; in other words, to raise the general level of material comfort, while at the same time reducing the amount of toil required to attain that end.
However, due to the blather spouted by modern economists, success is no longer measured in those terms. Instead, governments simply look to pump up nominal levels of gross domestic product (GDP), while simultaneously catering to the needs of entrenched political classes. As exports feed directly into GDP, currency devaluation has been widely used as a means to boost exports and therefore achieve 'prosperity.' In this model, selling is an end unto itself. There is no focus whatsoever paid to the obviously negative consequences of currency debasement: diminished purchasing power and lowered living standards.
Way back in the 20th century, a nation's currency was viewed much as a company's stock price. The reliability, competitiveness, and growth of a national economy usually translated into a strong currency. This system made sense.
Countries that offered the most fertile soil for investment capital or that made products other countries wanted would attract funds from abroad. Demand for the currency of these "blue chip" countries (which was needed to invest or buy locally) would inevitably push up the value of the currency. And so, much as shareholders of successful companies are rewarded by higher stock prices, citizens of successful countries were rewarded with stronger currencies - with which they could buy more goods and services both domestically and internationally, raising their living standards.
But all that has changed in recent years. With a strategy that seems to be taken from the playbook of Sam Walton, governments now look to take market share from competitors by lowering the cost of their exports. To do this, they have adopted a beggar-thyself policy of habitual currency debasement. Although such a move may benefit those who buy the products, it is a burden to the country's own workers who, like Wal-Mart employees, have to get by on subsistence wages. While the markets like a low-cost provider, this is not a niche that everyone can, or should, fill. While some will compete only on price, more successful ventures will compete on quality and innovation. For every Kia, there is a Mercedes Benz.
For the remainder of this article, and for a look at reasons why you may want to invest in Australia (a country that is resisting the urge to debase), go to the latest edition of Euro Pacific Capital's Global Investor Newsletter.
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Sep 30, 2010
C.E.O. and Chief Global Strategist
Euro Pacific Capital, Inc.
Mr. Schiff is one of
the few non-biased investment advisors (not committed solely to
the short side of the market) to have correctly called the current
bear market before it began and to have positioned his clients
accordingly. As a result of his accurate forecasts on the U.S.
stock market, commodities, gold and the dollar, he is becoming
increasingly more renowned. He has been quoted in many of the
nation's leading newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal,
Barron's, Investor's Business Daily, The Financial Times, The
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Arizona Republic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Christian
Science Monitor, and has appeared on CNBC, CNNfn., and Bloomberg.
In addition, his views are frequently quoted locally in the Orange
Mr. Schiff began his investment career as a financial consultant
with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in
finance and accounting from U.C. Berkley in 1987. A financial
professional for seventeen years he joined Euro Pacific
in 1996 and has served as its President since January 2000. An
expert on money, economic theory, and international investing,
he is a highly recommended broker by many of the nation's financial
newsletters and advisory services.