These are just a few of the pleasantries that this world-renowned Swiss money manager sees developing in the near future.
Riots in the streets... banks withholding your money... governments forbidding you from moving your money. As insane as this all sounds, is it possible?
According to Felix Zulauf, not only is it possible, it is highly probable. If these ideas were being put forward by anybody else, it would be easy to dismiss them as the fear mongering rantings of a perma-bear.
However Felix Zulauf is anything but that. He is the former head of institutional portfolio management at the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and a twenty year contributor to the Barrons Round table. He manages a $1.7 billion fund out of Zug Switzerland and, in addition to all of that, his market calls to date have been eerily prescient.
He called for the market to peak in late March of this year, and he called the March 2009 low. Clearly Felix Zulauf is no perma-bear, as he has demonstrated his ability to recognize when it’s time to buy the market as well as when it’s time to sell.
In a worst-case scenario Zulauf says "the potential exists for a broad-based nationalization of the credit system, capital controls and dramatic restrictions on financial markets. Some might even be closed for some time."
The Biggest Financial Manipulation of All Time
What Zulauf is suggesting is that, as things become worse and worse, the pool of available "good collateral" -- that is, financial instruments (such as bonds and stocks) where institutions can park their money in relative safety -- is going to shrink. We are already seeing the effects of his theory show up in the US Treasury and German Bund market, where yields are trading at all time lows.
Investors are piling into Treasuries and Bunds because there is so little trust in other types of investment vehicles. His (Zulauf's) fear is that this loss of "good collateral" could be the match that sparks a global deflationary spiral.
What is Deflation?
When the prices of goods and services drop so much that annual inflation rates turn negative, we are said to be experiencing deflation. On the surface it would seem that deflation would be very beneficial to consumers. After all, who complains when things go down in price?
Here’s the rub: As prices drop, consumers put off their purchases, because they know if they wait they can get a better price. Now imagine this effect compounded across the buying habits of hundreds of millions of consumers. What happens is we start seeing a slowdown in consumer spending, which causes corporations to spend less, which leads to job cuts, which leads to even less consumer spending, which leads to more corporate cuts which leads to... I think you get it.
The technical term for this effect is a deflationary spiral. The last time we experienced one was back in the Great Depression. Just to show you how punishing a global deflationary spiral can be, view the graphic below that displays the massive drop in industrial production that took place during our last bout with deflation:
The chances of a deflationary spiral actually happening are quite slim, but there are some steps you can take to both protect yourself from deflation while at the same time positioning yourself if a more normal type of economic recovery should take hold.
The key here is to hone in on blue chip companies that not only have a strong track record of paying ever-increasing dividends, but also dominate their industry. You also want to make sure that they have low debt levels and that they sell a product that people will buy even in difficult economic times.
Many blue chip stocks fit this description and, as you identify them, you’ll notice that these are the companies that have been outperforming the market.
I’ll give you three that you can look at right now: Wal-Mart (WMT), Kimberly Clark (KMB) and Altria (MO).
Each of these three stocks meet all of the criteria above and, most importantly of all, they are all breaking out to new highs while paying dividends of 2.35%, 4.90% and 3.63% respectively.
Chief Investment Officer
ETF Master Trader