Fleckenstein: All Roads Lead to Inflation
Folks believed that the wonders of technology automatically meant that tech stocks were great investments. They even thought that two small pieces of paper were more valuable than one larger piece of paper, as they believed that stock splits meant stocks should go up -- though I don't suppose they expected to pay more for a pizza that was cut into eight slices than just four. In short, it was all about confidence and, ultimately, near-arrogance on the part of those involved.
In a period when an Internet "incubator" (whatever the hell that is) like Internet Capital Group could be valued at over $40 billion -- more valuable at the time than, say, Boeing -- and sported a valuation of approximately 150% of all the world's gold companies combined, is it any wonder that no one thought they needed to own gold?
Paper reigned supreme, as people were bursting with confidence. At the peak, Cisco (CSCO) claimed a valuation of over $500 billion. I saved a description from February 2000 by an analyst who followed Cisco and thought that within 18 months, it would be valued at a trillion dollars, never mind that its revenues were on track to be about $25 billion or $30 billion. Here was a company doing, in essence, about one-quarter of 1% of GDP that was deemed soon to be worth 10% of GDP. Those are just a couple of examples of hundreds that I could pick to illuminate the overconfidence of the public at that time.
I believe that as much as the mania for stocks was an expression of confidence in paper, the metals are just the opposite. They are an expression of a lack of confidence. I believe that given the pendulum's extreme swing to the side of confidence, it is now destined to travel back quite a ways in the other direction.We all know that the government will cheat us over time, via inflation. We just don't know at what rate. While lots of intelligent people believe that deflation is right around the corner, this is not my belief (nor has it ever been). I believe that people have come to confuse declining asset markets with "deflation." Deflation, to me, means that the value of the dollar appreciates against a basket of goods and services.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV