Well known economist, trend forecaster and Gloom, Boom and Doom Report publisher Dr. Marc Faber joined some of the world’s leading investment minds at the Barron’s 2012 Roundtable to discuss what’s in store for 2012 and beyond with respect to the economy, inflation, political stability and a host of other issues.
As is generally the case, Dr. Faber doesn’t mince words and warns that, despite what happens in the near term, the end game is global conflict.
Marc Faber: On another optimistic note, World War III will occur in the next five years. That means the Middle East will blow up. New regimes there will be less Western-friendly. The West has also figured out it can’t contain China, which is rising rapidly and will have more military and naval power in Southeast Asia. The only way for the West to contain China is to control the oil tap in the Middle East.
Bill Gross (Founder, Pimco): How does your World War III hypothesis affect the financial markets? Is it positive for stocks?
Marc Faber: It is very positive for stocks and negative for bonds, because debt will grow dramatically. There will be massive monetization of debt. When the U.S. entered World War II total credit equaled 140% of GDP, and there were no unfunded liabilities. Now total credit-market debt is 380% of GDP, and unfunded liabilities make that 800%.
Brian Rogers (Chairman, T. Rowe Price): How is World War III good for stocks?
Felix Zulauf (Zulauf Asset Management): Unused capacity in an economy can be directed to the defense and war industry. That will be paid for by new government debt, and that keeps the economy growing.
Scott Black (President, Delphi): Marc, if Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities, they will use air power. They aren’t going to commit ground troops. It won’t be the kind of conflagration you’re thinking.
Bill Gross: War takes place today in cyberspace and in terrorist space. Whether or not there will be a land war isn’t the question.
Dr. Faber has also expressed his views on prior occasions, suggesting that World War III is an inevitable outcome when nations begin to default on trillions of dollars worth of debt (whether by refusing to pay or simply easing their monetary supply).
In August of 2010 Faber urged his subscribers to begin making preparations for worst case scenarios:
In his latest GBD Report, Faber again advises those with the means to do it, to leave urban areas and seek safety in rural, country areas, preferably farms, and to be prepared to defend that land in the event the worst happens:
Faber has an interesting suggestion for investors if the plunge comes to pass.
With tongue apparently in cheek, he says buy a farm you can tend to yourself way out in the boondocks. And protect it with high voltage fences, barbed wire, booby traps, military weapons and Dobermans.
While several members of the Roundtable disagree with the idea that a conventional global war is out of the question, suggesting instead that conflicts will be dealt with through air superiority and in cyberspace (in itself a potentially catastrophic battlefield for modern civilization), they are ignoring the real possibility that an attack on Iran, or even a rogue attack against Europe or the United States, could escalate to such a level that China or Russia would have no choice but to get involved.
While hard to believe, we’ve seen it before. Twice just in the last century.
Not many people would have believed it prior to 1914 either. But within just a few short months of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in late June of that year, millions were dead and the Western front had extended hundreds of miles across Europe to the North Sea.
Events played out with similar velocity in World War II when Adolf Hitler’s aptly named Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) overtook entire nations in a matter of days.
It only takes one country, one sociopathic leader with his finger on the button, to get the ball rolling. Then there is no stopping it.