October 14th, 2012
"Liquidity trap" was a term coined by John Maynard Keynes in the aftermath of the Great Depression. He argued that when yields are low enough, expanding money supply won't stimulate growth because bonds and cash are already near-equivalents when bonds pay (almost) no interest. Some, like Citi's credit strategy team, would say that it is a pretty apt description of the state of play these days. To their minds (and ours), there is very little doubt that central banks have played an absolutely crucial role in propping up asset prices in recent years, Why have markets responded so resolutely when growth hasn't? The answer, we think, is that in their attempts to free markets from the liquidity trap, central banks are ensnaring markets in what we'll call a "liquidity lure". That lure is three pronged... but tail risks are bound to re-appear and from this position, there is no painless escape.
It's like we are in a vacuum, and the silence is palpable as the bulls hope that the announcement of QE3 hasn't become a bull trap.
EURUSD meandered for the first few hours this afternoon but as Asia opens EUR (and AUD) weakness, USD strength and risk-off has come to pass. While not earth-shatteringly devastating, S&P 500 futures are trading down 5 points (8 points from opening high this evening) - their lowest in a month - and testing critical support from the Draghi 'believe' speech spike. AUD weakness is especially notable after opening rather strong (swing from a 0.3% gain to a 0.3% loss now against the USD). Treasuries are still waking up (down 1bps).
We know its 'early' and we should not be judging yet another QE-book by its front-running cover; but the following four charts might give all those hopeful that this time its different some pause for thought on the Fed's actions being anything other than by the banks, for the banks, and of the banks. With refi activity's burst fading, retail mortgage rates having not budged, residential delinquencies rising once again, and average 'approved mortgage loan' FICO score at 750, it would seem the Fed could throw another cajillion dollars at the banks and reserves would just inflate further (along with everything we eat, use, and need), leaving the economy muddling through at best.
Goldman "Hannibal Lecter" Sachs used to be the visible ringleader of The Gold Cartel. They have since disappeared from the gold price suppression scheme totally, at least as far as this eye can see.
The percentage of Americans who reside in the lowest income quintile and move up either to the middle quintile or higher has been in decline over the past three decades. This statistic should be alarming as it is indicative of stagnation within an economy that supposedly fosters the entrepreneurial spirit. In a world of scarcity, opportunity for a better life is an ever-present reality. In the marketplace, success is achieved by making others better off. Achievement for the state means trampling on the rights of others. One embodies the elements of peace and cooperation which give way to fostering incalculable opportunities to thrive. The other results in a perpetual state of conflict between those who “pay the taxes” and “those who are the recipients of their proceeds.” The state creates opportunity for latter and decimates it for the former. The only way to set free the innovative minds who build wealth and opportunity is to scale back this exploitive state of affairs.
The fact that the major credit indices have had to resort to 'imaginary credit' in order to generate an actionable market is perhaps the final nail in the coffin of the single-name CDS market in this cycle. An artificially low spread environment, forced their by massive technical flows thanks to central-bankers' financial repression has removed a natural buyer- and seller- from the market - reducing liquidity; and combined with Dodd-Frank and more regulation (higher capital reqs), dealers are also forced to delever risk books (reducing liquidity). But, there is one glaring reason why the single-name CDS market is dying; extremely high correlation. As Barclays notes, in a market where investors’ ears are, more than ever, finely tuned to the statements of politicians and central banks and the tail outcomes for the market, it makes sense for correlation to be high – at this stage, there should be little distinction between individual names – trading the level of systemic risk premia is the focus. And sure enough, index (systemic) volumes is rising as single-name (idiosyncratic risk) trading volumes and exposures are fading fast. So what brings it back?
On a regular basis we are placated by commercials to satisfy our craving to know which bathroom tissue is the most absorbent; debates 'infomercials' assuaging our fears over which vice-presidential candidate has the best dentist; and reality-shows that comfort our 'at least I am not as bad as...' need; there is an inescapable reality occurring right under our propagandized nose (as we noted here). Economic Reason has gathered together the Top 15 'reality' economic documentaries - so turn-on, tune-in, and drop-out of the mainstream for a few hours...
The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The phony prosperity of monetary inflation is entirely illusory. You cannot get something for nothing. "So, whenever you see a criticism of austerity as fostering recession, you are reading a Keynesian. He may not call himself a Keynesian, but in this case, he is delusional. Only Keynesianism teaches that reduced national government spending (“austerity”) in a nation whose national government spends 40% of its GDP (Greece) will produce a recession." Keynesian economic pundits advance many fallacious arguments about government spending. Chief among them is the egregious notion that mortgaging your posterity with debt and deficits is somehow “virtuous.”
Abe Gulkowitz, publisher of the periodic chart masterpiece The Punch Line, has released his latest macro economic update full of 17 pages of charts and news blurbs indicating the true state of the economy in an easily digestible format. While it will hardly come as a surprise to most, the prevalent chart direction is one from the top left to the bottom right in practically every macro vertical, despite the now endless monetary intervention attempts by all central developed world central banks.
The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals. In psychologist B.F. Skinner’s best-selling book Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), he argued that freedom and dignity are illusions that hinder the science of behavior modification, which he claimed could create a better-organized and happier society. Critically, given our current entitlement-heay environment, the finding that in order to get people to behave in a particular way, they must be “needy enough so that rewards reinforce the desired behavior.” should concern us all.
Guest Post: On Currency Swaps And Why Gartman May Be Wrong In Focusing On The Adjusted Monetary BaseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/14/2012 13:53 -0400
Last week Dennis Gartman, in his homonymous letter said that he was concerned about the fact that the adjusted monetary base has been falling, rather than rising, taking away the bullish case for gold on the topic of “money printing”. One must therefore remind those with this concern that the credit expansion caused by the backstop of the Fed alone is enough to inflate asset prices. This is consistent with the case we made in our last letter, that a commodity based standard is not as relevant as having a 100% reserve requirement. By the same token, if the reserve requirement is below 100%, it is not that relevant to see the expansion of the monetary base! The “printing of money” will eventually come, when EU corporations begin to default and the Fed has to “ensure there is enough US dollar liquidity”. It happened in 1931-33, in spite of the fact that the adjusted monetary base had been contracting since 1929: The US dollar was devalued from approx. $20.65/oz to approx. $34.70oz and gold was confiscated.
23 Miles Of Free Fall - Live Webcast Of Felix Baumgartner's Third World Record Attempt From The Edge Of SpaceSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/14/2012 10:45 -0400
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner's previous two attempts to set a world record in freefalling from an altitude of 23 miles, or from "the edge of space" were aborted in the last minute due to heavy winds. In a few minutes, the daredevil will find out if third time will be the charm for gravity to finally not be denied. Watch the live webcast below and find out in an hour when the process is officially scheduled to begin.
First, last Wednesday, Turkey intercepted a Syrian civilian jet suspected of carrying Russian weapons to Syria, forcing it to land in Turkey. The jet subsequently continued on its trip following stern denials from both Damascus and Moscow, and after Turkey found no evidence of its claim. Then yesterday, Syria promptly retaliated against this overt and unjustified aggression by banning all Turkish aircraft from crossing its airspace. Now, moments ago, Turkey retaliated to an act of retaliation against its own initial provocation, by barring all Syrian flights above its own airspace, and in the process preventing virtually all local airborne traffic from taking place. In other words: more mindless escalation which usually ends in a very unfortunate way.