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Bernanke still blind to market bubbles

Ben Bernanke may be paid privately for his economic and market prognostications these days, but the former chairman of the Federal Reserve is still unable to identify or acknowledge the monumental bubbles that central banks have engineered. Investors should think twice about the value they place in his judgment.

Bernanke, recently interviewed in Korea, tried to assure investors that rate hikes would be good news for the U.S. economy. He was also very "optimistic" there would be a soft landing in China. And, the man who is now gainfully employed at the Brookings Institution, Pimco and hedge fund Citadel, is "encouraged" by Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe's growth strategy. This is despite the fact that the thrust of Abenomics has been to depreciate the value of the yen by 35 percent in the past 2 1/2 years.


Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, March 2, 2015 in Washington.
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Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, March 2, 2015 in Washington.

Why should investors trust Bernanke? After all, the erstwhile Fed head missed the real estate-related credit bubble and its aftermath. And he is once again blind to the bubbles in China, Japan and the United States.

The communist government of China has been on a debt binge since 2000. In response to the worldwide Great Recession of 2007, the government of China put in place policies that quadrupled the total debt outstanding—rising from 160 percent of GDP, to nearly 290 percent today, according to McKinsey & Co.

This humongous debt accumulation did not occur within the context of robust economic growth. In fact, the growth rate fell from 13 percent in 2007 to 7 percent today. Despite the slowdown, the Shanghai exchange has surged 140 percent since the summer of 2013.

Read MoreWhy the Fed may be forced to raise rates

The data has lulled Bernanke into believing a hard landing in China is out of the question. Nevertheless, another crash in the Chinese stock market and economy similar to 2007's collapse cannot be avoided by dumping another $20 trillion into building more ghost cities.

Likewise, Bernanke holds a rosy view of the Japanese economic condition, even though the nation is drowning in debt, has an economy that hasn't grown in five years and sits atop an epic equity bubble. He remains unshaken even given the fact that the nation has a 10-year note that yields an incredible 0.4 percent, proving the Bank of Japan has completely wiped away the free-market price discovery mechanism and propelled Japanese government bonds firmly into the twilight zone. Once the inevitable mean reversion of interest rates occurs, the tsunami of debt defaults could shake the global economy to the core.

Bernanke's vision doesn't become any clearer when viewing our domestic economy. He stated the markets will cheer the Fed's first rate hike in nine years; but the truth may be vastly different. The market now stands extremely overvalued by nearly every metric.

These peak valuations exist precisely because central banks have forced investors out along the risk curve in a desperate search for a return on their savings. Now the Fed (both current and former members) is on a campaign to persuade nervous investors not to sell stocks once liftoff of the fed funds rate begins.

Read MoreRate hike needed to pop bubbles

The problem is the first rate hike from the Fed, now led by Janet Yellen, will cause investors to begin pricing in future increases. The first move off the zero-bound range, which the Federal Open Market Committee has virtually promised will occur sometime this year, has to be taken as the starting gun for the race toward the committee's stated 1.8 percent fed funds target rate within 12-18 months.

And since the Fed has removed itself from giving any date guidance for rate hikes, the second move higher will have to be purely data dependent. Unless the economy slips back into another recession, the Fed will be hiking rates on a regular basis throughout 2016. This will cause the U.S. dollar to surge even higher against the yen and the euro, which will place much greater downward pressure on the already anemic state of S&P 500 revenue and earnings. The resulting influence of a surging dollar and a rising cost of debt service should be devastating to the current equity bubble.

Read MoreWhy the Fed is wrong. Again

The bottom line is that central bankers both past and present have a vested interest in convincing investors that the strategies of zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing have been a success. But the sad truth is that these policies have led to an additional $60 trillion of new debt piled onto the global economy since the end of the financial crisis, causing the re-emergence of colossal real estate, bond and equity bubbles worldwide. Bernanke may still be blind to the bubbles he helped create, but all investors need do to see them is open their eyes.

Michael Pento produces the weekly podcast "The Mid-week Reality Check," is the president and founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies and author of the book "The Coming Bond Market Collapse."