Within our firm, Charles is the major proponent of the Schumpeterian view, and this thinking was apparent in his and Steve's recent ad hoc, A V-Shaped Recovery in Profits. Due to the quick reflexes that new technologies allow, corporates are managing their cash flow better than ever. Rarely ever, for instance, have companies (ex-financials) remained in such strong positions during a recession, which is yet another reason why we believe that capital spending, rather than consumption, will spark the recovery.
Indeed, the scale at which corporates have been able to cut costs and return to profitability, has laid the groundwork for a deflationary boom of epic proportions (which would be a major surprise for those who fear an easy-money inflationary nightmare). Of course, there is a major threat to this deflationary-boom scenario-and that is the increased government intervention we are seeing in most corners of the world. If government intervention manages to kill off return on investment capital, as it did in the 1930s, then the current opportunity will go up in smoke. Regular readers know we tend to err on the side of optimism; at this point we still hold out hope that a major lurch to a big-government era can be resisted-as exemplified, for example, by the unexpectedly strong fight we are seeing against the health-care bill, or the ability of so many US financials to pay back their debt to the US Treasury, thus lowering the extent of government influence on their business decisions. Thus, in our view, a period of deflationary boom is the likeliest scenario, and investors should focus on sectors and countries that will see the largest resurgence in capital spending.