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Saturday, July 02, 2011 9:52 AM

Preposterous Statements - Jim Rogers: "No Food at Any Price"; Barton Biggs: " U.S. Needs Massive Infrastructure Program"

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It does not help your case when you make absurd statements to support your views. All it does is damage your credibility. Here are a couple of completely unrelated viewpoints that will show what I mean.

"No Food at Any Price"

Speaking on food shortages, Jim Rogers says Global Agriculture Supply Worsening May Spur Food Shortages

The global agriculture supply situation has worsened and a failure to boost food production fast enough to meet demand may lead to shortages, said investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings.

“We’ve got to do something or we’re going to have no food at any price at times in the next few years,” Rogers said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Rishaad Salamat today in Singapore. “I still own agriculture. If I found something to buy, I would buy it.”
Rogers likes agriculture. Maybe he's right, and maybe not. However, the notion “We’ve got to do something or we’re going to have no food at any price at times in the next few years” is one of the more blatantly absurd things regarding food shortages that I have ever heard.

US has record grain forecasts. Even if you do not believe those forecasts, the US is going to have a good crop. How does that translate to "no food"? The short answer is "it doesn't".

Many reported shortages are weather-related. Some "alleged" shortages are not shortages at all, but unavailability because of government price controls. The rest of the "shortage" problem is higher prices caused by speculation and/or rampant inflation in China and India.

The idea there will be no food at any price is absurd. There may not be food available at government mandated prices, but that is certainly not what Rogers said.

"U.S. Needs a Massive Public Works Program"

Barton Biggs Says U.S. Needs a Massive Public Works Program
Don't expect the economy to perk up any time soon.

The U.S. and Europe are set to grow at an anemic pace for the foreseeable future unless the government can step in with an enormous fiscal stimulus, according to a veteran investor.

Speaking exclusively with The Wall Street Journal, Barton Biggs, managing partner at multibillion dollar hedge fund Traxis Partners, painted a bleak outlook for the developed world with only huge government intervention likely to improve things.

On the final day of the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program, Mr. Biggs dismissed a further round of the so-called quantitative easing as a possible solution. It was meant to lower borrowing costs and simulate investment.

Instead, Mr. Biggs, former chief global strategist for U.S. investment banking powerhouse Morgan Stanley, demanded the U.S. government temporarily return to ideas used in the Great Depression as a way to get the country back to higher growth.

"What the U.S. really needs is a massive infrastructure program … similar to the WPA back in the 1930s," he says.

He suggested financing such building through the sale of U.S. Treasuries.
Failure of Japan

It amazes me that apparently bright people can neither think nor see. Biggs is proposing the same medicine Japan tried. Where did it leave Japan? After 20 years of infrastructure projects, Japan has government debt to the tune of 200% of GDP and is still mired in deflation.

Looking Down the Road

Demographics and debt levels now are both far more precarious than they were in the 30's and 40's. Worse yet, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage laws guarantee government will overpay for what it gets.

What if we tried the idea anyway? What if we fixed everything in 5 years?

The economy would boom for 5 years, then what? How would the US pay back that debt? What would happen to jobs the moment the projects finished? How would our children and grandchildren pay back that debt?

No Painless Solution, No Free Lunch

The very last thing the US needs is a massive infrastructure program paid for via the printing presses. Instead, we need to cut military spending, scrap Davis-Bacon, scrap prevailing wage laws, get rid of government workers, reduce public worker pensions, and get the budget in shape before the US becomes the next Greece.

Will that cause pain? Of course it will. However, Biggs wants a free lunch. If printing money solved problems, Zimbabwe would be the wealthiest nation on the planet.

Biggs Cannot See, Hear, Think

It would help if Biggs could look at Greece, or Spain, or Portugal, or Ireland. Those countries show what happens when debt gets excessive and the bond market takes matters into its own hands.

The logical conclusion is Biggs is cannot see, hear, or think.

Perhaps Biggs is simply talking his short-term book with complete disregard to what his proposal would do to our children and grandchildren, so that he could have one last party.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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