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Agcapita Mar 2010 Update


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Agcapita is Canada's only RRSP and TFSA eligible farmland fund and is part of a family of funds with over $100 million in assets under management. Agcapita believes farmland is a safe investment, that supply is shrinking and that unprecedented demand for "food, feed and fuel" will continue to move crop prices higher over the long-term. Agcapita created the Farmland Investment Partnership to allow investors to add professionally managed farmland to their portfolios.

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Agcapita Mar 2010 Update

  1. 1. Agcapita Update March 2010
  2. 2. Summary We continue to live in historic financial times and in particular in the first synchronized, global, fiat money inflation effort. Further to this we have zero interest rate policies in virtually every major market and the monetary base of the world’s reserve currency is up 150 percent in the last 24 months and growing. In such an environment it can be a challenge to distill actionable investment themes from the noise and uncertainty in the market place. This is why the compass by which we steer is value. Investors must be in the business of buying cash flow inexpensively in order to generate long-term returns. If I had to label my approach it would be value investing informed by the Austrian School of Economics - value driven at the investment selection level with Austrian analysis at the macro level to provide Contents insight into trends. 3 “The U.S. government must make It is of trends that I want to speak more about because we are adjustments in its spending.” in the midst of some unsustainable trends if history and Austrian 3 “If it were possible to take interest Economics is a guide. I have written this many times in one form rates into negative territory, I or another but it bears repeating: would be voting for that.” 3 Why the US Financial Sector is There is no way to create capital and the prosperity that flows still not Healthy – More bailouts to from it other than through private savings and private production. follow? Sadly this is a message to which our governments, under the 4 How Much Is Too Much? sway of Keynesian ideology, are unwilling to listen. It is axiomatic 4 Peak Oil that state spending requires that capital is first taken out of the hands of the profit making private sector activities via taxes, 5 Emerging Economy Decoupling borrowing or inflation and then deployed in typically, loss-making Revisited public sector activities. 6 AIG – oh dear, oh dear, oh dear 6 Ben Bernanke The Second To quote Jens Parssons from the “Dying of Money: Lessons Coming Of Rudolf von of the Great German & American Inflations” - “Everyone loves Havenstein? an early inflation. The effects at the beginning of inflation are all good. There is steepened money expansion, rising government 7 Austrian Definition of Money spending, increased government budget deficits, booming stock Supply markets, and spectacular general prosperity, all in the midst of 8 US Inflation is 10% not 3% 1
  3. 3. Summary (continued) temporarily stable prices. Everyone benefits, and no-one pays. That is the early part of the cycle. In the later inflation, on the other hand, the effects are all bad. The government may steadily increase the money inflation in order to stave off the latter effects, but the latter effects patiently wait. In the terminal inflation, there is faltering prosperity, tightness of money, falling stock markets, rising taxes, still larger government deficits, and still roaring money expansion, now accompanied by soaring prices and an ineffectiveness of all traditional remedies. Everyone pays and no- one benefits. That is the full cycle of every inflation.” The Austrians have many useful insights on the economic consequences of state expansion. Friedrich Hayek, the prominent Austrian economist, wrote “The Road to Serfdom” and “The Fatal Conceit” as a warning against an expanding state and intervention in the free operation of the markets. Despite the almost universal belief that more government is needed, Hayek’s works should make us ponder the ultimate damage caused by such actions. It has been state control over the cost of money (i.e. interest rates) and the moral hazard created with “too big to fail” that led directly to the problems we now face. More of the same will not solve our problems. Hayek once said “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say history is largely a history of inflation, usually inflations engineered by governments for the gain of governments.“ You can bring this quote up to date by adding the financial sector as the other beneficiary. Give this some thought as you watch the governments of the world pursue their current fiscal and monetary policies. If you haven’t already, please take the time to read these books or if you find them overly daunting as a starting place then perhaps consider Frederick Bastiat’s short but seminal work “The Law”. I am confident that all these books will cast some light on what we are currently sowing and what we can expect to reap. On a final note, we continue to believe that with all that is taking place this is a market where concerns about “return of capital” should take precedence to concerns about “return on capital”. 2
  4. 4. Agcapita Update (continued) “The U.S. governmenT mUST make adjUSTmenTS in iTS Spending.” Chart 1: Months of shadow hoMe supply In the spirit of delicious irony, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig said recently “The U.S. government must make adjustments in METRO AREA NUMBER OF MONTHS its spending and tax programs,” (emphasis mine). “It Phoenix 15 is that simple. If pre-emptive corrective action is not Las Vegas 18 taken regarding the fiscal outlook, then the United Miami 24 States risks precipitating its own next crisis”. This coming from the same Fed that increased the base Orlando 27 money supply over 150% in the last 24 months. Stockton, CA 27 Click to read Hoenig’s speech. U.S. Average: 10 months “if iT were poSSible To Take inTereST Source: John Burns Real Estate Consulting raTeS inTo negaTive TerriTory, i woUld be voTing for ThaT.” San Francisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen payments. Based on the average sales rate over the has been nominated by Obama to be Vice Chair past decade this “shadow inventory” is enough to last of the Fed’s Board of Governors. Yellen, who has about 10 months. consistently downplayed the dangers of inflation, is now able to vote on the interest rate-setting Open When this inventory is released prices will drop even Markets Committee. In support of her view that the further and magnify the already large losses on Fed’s role is to create full employment, Yellen recently mortgages and RMBS being suffered by the banking said, “If it were possible to take interest rates into sector. negative territory, I would be voting for that.” Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (“CMBS”): why the us finanCial seCtor is still not The other large asset sitting on bank balance sheets healthy – More bailouts to follow? is commercial real estate loans. Its clear from the CMBS market that all is not well in the commercial Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (“RMBS”) real estate lending world. - A recent study estimates that 5 million houses and condominiums on which mortgages are now – At the end of January, a record 10% of CMBS delinquent will go through foreclosure or related by balance ($72.3 billion of the $723 billion of procedures that put them on the market over the outstanding CMBS loans in the U.S.) were in the next few years – the majority of the estimated 7.7 hands of special servicers, up from 9.43% on million households currently behind on their mortgage Dec. 31, 2009. 3
  5. 5. Agcapita Update (continued) – The special-servicing rate is now six times higher Chart 2: total us federal than the year-end 2008 level of 1.62%. spending v Median inCoMe – The 60-day delinquency rate has increased to 6%. 250 % $2.79 trillion +221% More commercial loans are certain to become non- 200 performing over time, as overleveraged borrowers are In 1970 Total federal spending Total federal spending 150 unable to refinance at maturity. In addition, the pace was $870 billion, and median household income was $38,851 of maturing CMBS loans will accelerate over the next 100 $41.355 few years. According to the Congressional Oversight +32% Panel (COP) recent report on the state of the US 50 Median household income commercial real estate market: 0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 – Between 2010 and 2014, about $1.4 trillion Source: Heritage Foundation based on US Census Bureau and in commercial real estate loans will reach the OMB, 2008 inflation adjusted dollars end of their terms. Nearly half are at present – underwater! – that is, the borrower owes more than the underlying property is currently worth. – Commercial property values have fallen more than to default or inflate away its obligations. What is 40 percent since the beginning of 2007. happening to Greece, Ireland, UK and Spain is a – Increased vacancy rates, which now range microcosm of the decisions that rapidly expanding from eight percent for multifamily housing to 18 governments the world-over may be faced with in a percent for office buildings, and falling rents, few years. which have declined 40 percent for office space and 33 percent for retail space, have exerted peak oil a powerful downward pressure on the value of commercial properties. Chart 3 is drawn from the WEO-2008 report that shows that “oil from fields currently producing” is how MuCh is too MuCh? projected to enter a significant decline in production. The production shortfall is made up primarily by US Federal government spending has grown 7 times “oil fields yet to be developed”, “oil fields yet to be faster than real (inflation-adjusted) median found”, and “natural gas liquefaction”. However, the household income over the last 40 years. low rate of oil field discovery since the early 1960’s begs the question of how this gap will be filled. Government spending cannot outstrip private sector income indefinitely unless the government plans 4
  6. 6. Agcapita Update (continued) Chart 3: iea 2030 oil foreCast Chart 4: ConsuMer spending – us vs. eMerging eConoMies mb/d 120 n Emerging Markets’ Consumption n U.S. Consumption 100 35% 80 60 40 25% 20 0 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 n Natural gas liquids n Crude oil - fields yet to be found n Non-conventional oil n Crude oil - fields yet to be developed Source: JP Morgan Chase n Crude oil - additional EOR n Crude oil - currently producing fields Source: IEA Chart 5: global ppp gdp in 2008 eMerging eConoMy deCoupling revisited Other Dev Russia Emerging-market consumers recently outspent 3% India 3% American consumers for the first time in modern 5% Other EM history. For example, January auto-sales compared to 26% a year earlier were up: China 12% – 50% in India – 33% in Malaysia – 6% in the US Brazil 3% The source of this domestic strength – high growth Japan rates and high domestic savings rates that provide 6% a large pool of productive capital. The emerging economies are now larger in total purchasing Dev Europe power adjusted GDP terms than the developed 21% world. Inevitably this will mean that their growth is US increasingly dependent on trade amongst themselves 21% rather than with the developed world. Source: Everest Capital 5
  7. 7. Agcapita Update (continued) aig – oh dear, oh dear, oh dear ben bernanke the seCond CoMing of rudolf von havenstein? American International Group, Inc. (“AIG”), the insurer that has absorbed approximately $180bn Dylan Grice of Societe Generale has done a review in taxpayer funds, recently reported its results for of the Weimar Republic inflation in his latest `Popular the fourth quarter and full-year 2009. AIG reported Delusions’ note. Prussian central banker Rudolf von a net loss attributable to common shareholders of Havenstein monetized Germany’s debt during and $8.9 billion for the fourth quarter of 2009, or $65.51 following the First World War, eventually leading to per diluted common share, compared to a net loss massive bouts of hyperinflation. of $61.7 billion or $458.99 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2008. Fourth quarter 2009 adjusted Apparently economic thought at the time held that net loss was $7.2 billion, compared to an adjusted increasing money supply had nothing to do with the net loss of $38.5 billion in the fourth quarter of rate of inflation. Instead, Germans were told the high 2008. However, from section 1A, Risk Factors, of rates of inflation were caused by the war reparations the company’s 10-K filing the narrative takes a turn Germany had to pay. More from the note: for the worse indeed: “AIG has been significantly and adversely affected by the market turmoil in late “One might think that the big difference is that today 2008 and early 2009, and, despite the recovery we have a greater expertise. Surely we understand in the markets in mid and late 2009, is subject to what happens when deficits are financed with printed significant risks, as discussed below. Many of these risks are interrelated and occur under similar business and economic conditions, and the occurrence of Chart 6: weiMar gerMany Cpi certain of them may in turn cause the emergence, or exacerbate the effect, of others. Such a combination 100,000,000,000 could materially increase the severity of the impact 10,000,000,000 16,579,999% inflation 1,000,000,000 on AIG. As a result, should certain of these risks 100,000,000 emerge, AIG may need additional support from 10,000,000 the U.S. government. Without additional support 1,000,000 5,300% inflation from the U.S. government, in the future there 100,000 60% inflation could exist substantial doubt about AIG’s ability 10,000 1,000 to continue as a going concern.” (Emphasis mine) 100 10 1 01/21 04/21 07/21 10/21 01/22 04/22 07/22 10/22 01/23 04/23 07/23 10/23 Source: SG Cross Asset Research 6
  8. 8. Agcapita Update (continued) money, and that it is only backward and corrupt austrian definition of Money supply states that don’t know any better, like Bolivia and Zimbabwe? But just a few years ago didn’t we think The True Money Supply (TMS) was formulated by that it was only backward and corrupt states that Murray Rothbard and represents the amount of suffered banking crises too? money in the economy that is available for immediate use in exchange. It has been referred to in the past And anyway, how could Von Havenstein not have as the Austrian Money Supply, the Rothbard Money known that the continued and escalating printing Supply and the True Money Supply. The benefits of of money to fund government deficits would TMS over conventional measures calculated by the cause inflation? The United States experience of Federal Reserve are that it counts only immediately unrestrained money printing during the Civil War had available money for exchange and does not double been well documented, as had the hyperinflation of count. In any event the True Money Supply continues revolutionary France in the late 18th century. Isn’t it to grow rapidly. possible that, like today, he was overconfident in his ability to control his creation and in the economic theory which told him such control was possible? Certainly, in an article in the New York Times on the eve of the First World War, again from Liaquat Chart 7: true Money supply Ahamed’s book, there seems to have been evidence billions of dollars of the general optimism that there would be no “unlimited issue of paper money and its steady 6,282 depreciation … since monetary science is better 5,282 understood at the present time than in those days.” 4,282 The fact is we do understand the economics of inflation. Despite what economists everywhere say 3,282 about being in “uncharted territory” with QE, we know 2,282 that if you keep monetizing deficits eventually you get inflation, and we know that once you’re on that 1,282 path it can be extremely difficult to get off it. But we knew that then. The real problem is that inflation is an 282 inherently political variable and that concern over debt 1959 1964 1969 1974 1979 1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 2009 sustainability and unfunded welfare obligations leaves us more dependent on politicians than we have been Source: Ludvig von Mises Institute in many decades.” 7
  9. 9. Agcapita Update (continued) us inflation is 10% not 3% Chart 8: Cpi vs sgs alternative Despite the rosy public assertions to the contrary, Year-to-Year Change % inflation is not running at subdued levels in the US. If you calculate the US CPI using the pre-1980s 15 methodology you can see from the Shadowstats CPI-U SGS Alternate CPI data below that inflation is approaching levels not 10 seen since the 1970s when the US last lost control of monetary policy. 5 0 -5 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 Source: 8
  10. 10. disClaiMer: The information, opinions, estimates, projections and other materials contained herein are provided as of the date hereof and are subject to change without notice. Some of the information, opinions, estimates, projections and other materials contained herein have been obtained from numerous sources and Agcapita Partners LP (“AGCAPITA”) and its affiliates make every effort to ensure that the contents hereof have been compiled or derived from sources believed to be reliable and to contain information and opinions which are accurate and complete. However, neither AGCAPITA nor its affiliates have independently verified or make any representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect thereof, take no responsibility for any errors and omissions which maybe contained herein or accept any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of or reliance on the information, opinions, estimates, projections and other materials contained herein whether relied upon by the recipient or user or any other third party (including, without limitation, any customer of the recipient or user). Information may be available to AGCAPITA and/or its affiliates that is not reflected herein. The information, opinions, estimates, projections and other materials contained herein are not to be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation for or an offer to buy, any products or services referenced herein (including, without limitation, any commodities, securities or other financial instruments), nor shall such information, opinions, estimates, projections and other materials be considered as investment advice or as a recommendation to enter into any transaction. Additional information is available by contacting AGCAPITA or its relevant affiliate directly. #400, 2424 4th street sw tel: +1.403.218.6506 Calgary, alberta t2s 2t4 fax: +1.403.266.1541 Canada