Historical Fact: Some readers may have a pressing question: What happens to debt, including mortgages, under hyperinflation? In finance, there is a popular quote, “there is no free lunch.” By 1924, Weimar Germany will redenominate and reinstate debt into the brand new Rentenmark after bailing out Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. It’s a messy process and beyond the scope of this publication you’re reading.
Companies ranging from Ford Motor Company to Union Pacific Railroad report substantially improved business activity for the month of October. The current recession may have ended in the summer. Aggregate bond purchases were the largest since one year ago as Americans finally start investing again. Opinion articles, however, advise against common stock and its gambling attributes.
Historical Fact: American and international investors will soon assume high GDP growth is a feature of the American economy, as God-given and laid down in the natural order as the seasons. At the end of 1921, however, it’s not yet clear elements are present for business revival.
The prominent German industrialist Hugo Stinnes suggests a fringe dictatorship might seize power because the poorly drawn up armistice extracts too great a toll on the Teutonic nation. He reckons that one of the infant right wing parties could take power some day. Whatever the case, trouble is brewing.
Historical Fact: Replace American Sugar with Apple or Tesla, and this entire column could be published during the next bear market. Human psychology hasn’t changed in 100 years. Central banks cannot prevent a bear market once optimism has been exhausted.
On Thursday, a great article in the WSJ about a relatively new method called “Dow’s theory of indexing” walks readers through the stock market low from one month ago. The writers discuss how the most recent low on the Dow was 60, set in 1915. Because stocks met resistance last month despite awful sentiment, a bottom formed.
The Federal Reserve of New York lowers rates from 5.5% to 5% on September 21. The rest of the Fed branches match in tandem. The powerful New York Federal Reserve President (Governor pre-1935), Benjamin Strong, delivers a terse statement to the Journal. Equities seem nonplussed and drop the next day. The aggregate yield on high quality debt rallies from 4.8% to 4.5%.
Pundits, observers, and investors believe the 1920s will be a slow growth decade. High taxes, heavy regulations, wage pressures are the main culprits. (Author note: the consensus in 1921 was incredibly bearish and incorrectly predicted a slow growth decade; the polar opposite consensus circulates today) This editorial cartoon sums up the mood in 1921: