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Investment Outlook for 2010, a Year of Difficult Decisions

By: Steve Johnson

1/4/2010 - 21 Comments

2010 is here after an exciting stock market rally in 2009 from the many tricks that Congress and the Fed were able to implement.

It’s going to be difficult to predict what will happen next because there are a lot of possibilities. 

I could tell you what the ‘experts’ are saying, but you can read that anywhere.  What you can’t read anywhere else is what I think is going to happen and so that it what I’m going to talk about.

The phony consumer based economy is in big trouble.  The government has done everything they could imaging to juice the economy with easy money while bailing out businesses and banks. 

Yet, as predicted, these efforts have not helped but have only further reduced the foundation of economic growth – savings and production.

No matter what you read in the next few months about new jobs or an increasing GDP or even a drop in inflation, in my view it’s all bogus

The economy is getting worse and the only way it will truly recover is if we restore the value of our money with much higher interest rates and let capitalism work its magic. 

Small Business

2009 was an especially difficult year for small businesses because they didn’t get any government help and were directly impacted by the reduction in consumer spending, nor could they delay the losses by borrowing more money. Their only option was to further reduce expenses.

As hard as it was, the small business sector did what big business and government has yet to do.  Small businesses have already made the difficult decisions to cut expenses and employees to bring their business in line with actual consumer demand. 

They are perhaps the only part of the economy that has truly begun adjusting to the recession.  The largest part of the economy, big business and government, have yet to start adjusting to the new reality that the U.S. consumer and the nation is broke. 

Therefore 2010 is going to be a very difficult year for big business and government as the easy money that they are running on fades away and they are forced to operate within ‘real’ consumer demand.

Easy Money to Stop

Of course Congress and the Fed are going to try to keep the party going and I’m sure they will try to create more bailouts and stimulus packages.  They have already shown us just how far they are willing to go and are not likely to stop until they are forced to stop. 

Foreign Creditors

Our foreign creditors are quickly losing patience with our nation’s easy money policy because they are being forces to swallow the resulting inflation as they create their own new money to keep the dollar from sinking against their currencies. 

As their economies continue to recover, they are not going to tolerate our easy money policies much longer.

One day soon we will no longer be able to continue borrowing money from the rest of the world and the only option the government will have is drastic cuts or hyperinflation.

The Federal Reserve Will Eventually Become Irrelevant

Somewhere down the road, the Federal Reserve will lose its battle and Treasury Bonds will plummet in value.  This will in effect cause the inflation that we are exporting to our foreign creditors to be forces upon us

As more and more bond investors wake up to the looming inflationary pressures, they will start demanding a higher rate of return on their capital. When that happens, the rush to get out of bonds will drive up interest rates and the Federal Reserves attempt to lower interest rates will become irrelevant.

2010 is going to be a year of difficult decisions.

Bonds

Unless we have a major selloff of stocks like in 2008, bonds are likely to drop in value this year.  If treasury bonds lose value, which are thought to be the most secure, then I would guess that all types of U.S. bonds are also going to lose value. 

The fear of the stock market crash of 2008 has a lot of investors in bonds, but they are likely to get burned in 2010.

Stocks

It’s hard to say what is going to happen with stock. Stock values no longer depend much on how each company is performing, but on the actions of foreign creditors, foreign investors and the Fed.  If the Fed extracts the easy money, the stock market will sink. If foreign creditors pull out because the dollar becomes too risky, stocks could sink. 

The Fed has already begun extracting the trillions it adding to the economy last year and therefore they have already started the process that will lead to a stock market crash.

The question is will they continue to extract the money or will they reverse course when the market starts to sink and put the money back in.  If given the choice, they will put the money back in, but by the middle of the year I think our foreign creditor will take away their choice and the stock market will have to learn to fly on its own. 

If the market starts to sink, and the Fed does not seem to be able to help, then it’s probably going to sink pretty far – maybe 40-50%.

Gold

Gold was up 24% in 2009 as central banks around the world have begin moving their reserves into gold to protect their nation from inflation that is quickly increasing in many parts of the world. 

In 2009 gold was up higher in other major currencies then the dollar because foreign nations have allowed the U.S. to export our inflation to them.  In 2010, when they refuse to take on anymore inflation, the dollar is going to lose much more value against gold than any other currency.  So the best way to maximize your gain is to buy gold with dollars before the dollar sinks.

2010 could be the year that our inflation comes home and gold could see a major increase against the dollar. 

Commodities

There are two things that will drive up commodities in 2010, the weakening dollar and the growing global economy.  If the dollar has a major drop this year, oil prices could return to $145 / barrow.

Real Estate

As bad as residential real estate looks, it’s going to get a lot worse.  The only reason that housing prices have temporary stopped dropping is because the government continues to give away more free money to home buyers by extending the first-time home buyers credit – which now includes any-time buyers. 

Real estate is going to be a good investment in about 3-5 years after the prices bottom out with high interest rates, if you have cash.

Commercial real estate is also going to struggle as larger businesses go bankrupt and more and more properties become available.  Coupled that with higher interest rate and commercial construction will grind to a halt.

Conclusion

2010 is going to be a year of difficult decisions.  I think a lot of investors are going to lose a lot of money as the phony economy is forces to face the realities of the deepening recession.  At the same time, the global economy could have a great year.

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