Ray Dalio, in a recent blog and book, gives a clear explanation of his views on the long-term and short-term debt cycles. He explains why asset markets may often fall, when the current underlying economy might be (and very often is) strong.He also explains causes for the rise of populism, why the china-US trade war is fits the historical pattern of when one country rises to challenge a dominant power and the problems of the bottom 60% in the US. (blog links end)
A very good collection of thought provocations.
“The short-term debt cycle lasts about 5-10 years, depending on how long it takes the economy to go from having a lot of slack to not having much, which depends on how much slack it starts off with and how fast demand grows. In the cycle that we are now in, the expansion has been long because it started from a very depressed level (because the 2008 downturn was so deep) and because growth in demand has been relatively slow (because of the debt crisis hangover, because of the growing wealth gap and spending of those with a lot of wealth having a lower propensity to spend than those with little wealth, and because of other structural reasons). When slack is reduced and credit-financed spending growth is faster than capacity growth early in the cycle, that leads to price increases until the rate of growth in spending is curtailed by central banks tightening credit, which happens late in the “late-cycle” phase of the short-term debt cycle (where we are now). At that time, demand is strong, capacity is limited, and profit growth is strong. Also at that time, the strong demand for credit, rising prices/inflation, and eventually central banks’ tightenings of monetary policy to put the brakes on growth and inflation, causes stock and other asset prices to fall. They fall because all investment assets are priced as the present value of their future cash flows and interest rates are the discount rate used to calculate present values, so higher interest rates lower these assets’ present values. Also, tighter monetary policy slows prospective earnings growth, which makes most investment assets worth less. For these reasons, it is common to see strong economies being accompanied by falling stock and other asset prices, which is curious to people who wonder why stocks go down when the economic and profit growth is strong (because they don’t understand how this dynamic works). That is where we now are in this short-term debt cycle.”
My blog on Dalio’s populism work
Dalio’s populism analysis
Dalio On cycles and current state of world:
My blog including Howard Marks work (Marks, Dalio and Hyman Minksy have similar observations but are worth reading together)