"The Fed will never end QE for good..." blasts Marc Faber, "they may do some cosmetic adjustments, but within a few years, [Fed] asset purchases will be substantially higher than they are today." There will be another weakening in the US economy, Faber warns, and "the Fed will argue it hasn't done enough and will do more... they have been irresponsible for 20 years." Use rallies to reduce exposure, he warns, "we will go up until it is over; and when it is over the drop will be larger than 20%," and the best opportunity, Faber notes, is in the most-depressed asset-class he looks at: gold and gold stocks.
Treasuries rallied from the pre-open release of inflation data this morning and never looked back (with 30Y unch on the week and 5Y -4bps). Stocks tumbled notably through the US open but recovered as Europe closed hovering quietly around VWAP all afternoon. The rally back in stocks coincided with a drop in VIX which smacked of hedges being lifted and exposure being reduced into the momentum-ignoted strength. Gold and silver saw weakness (though the latter is still +1% on the week). The USD weakened notably as Europe closed with some significant CHF buying. Stocks closed ugly...as VIX was significantly bid (up for the 6th day in a row - and 14 of last 16 days) and the 4th Hindenburg Omen appeared as the cluster grows.
While this morning we were re-assured by the government's statistics that there is no inflation (or deflation); implicitly enabling the Fed's extreme monetary policy to continue with no immediate consequence, it would appear there is an oddly synchronized rise in the price of something critical to day-to-day 'coping' for many - alcohol prices. Spurious correlation or unintended consequence? Cost-push or demand-pull?
There seem to be two camps at Deutsche Bank these days: one, lead by the observant and somewhat contrarian Jim Reid, who recently asked the all important question about 2014 ("what if there is a recession?"), who accurately observed that something "structurally changed" since the great financial crisis (pretty clear what), and who even dared to suggest that the Fed will never taper, especially with the economy so late in the cycle already. And then there is Joe LaVorgna, best known for having a losing track record to Groundhog Phil. It appears that this morning Joey emerged from his lair deep inside 60 Wall, sniffed the cold air, and saw the shadow of a $10 billion taper, which is what he predicts the Fed will do tomorrow.
By now it is a well-known fact that the Fed's monetary policies over the past 5 years (and really ever since Greenspan unleashed the Great Moderation) have been very successful at one thing: transferring wealth from the US (and global) middle class and handing it over to the already wealthiest strata of society, either through financial repression, zero savings rates, or generally boosting financial asset values, which as we showed hit a record $63.9 trillion in Q3, or over 70% of total. However, just like the general public's attention is focused on the quantitative components of the monthly payroll number and completely ignores the qualitative gains or losses in the US labor force, so the broad definition of "middle class" leaves quite a bit to be desired. So what happens if one quantizes society instead of by class with wealth of income cutoff ranges but instead by age? In that case, one gets the following chart prepared by the Urban Institute showing the change in net worth in the period 1983-2010 by age group.
Following Joerg Asmusen's somewhat surprisingly short 2-year stay at the ECB, stepping down as board member to become Germany's secretary of state for labor, the voice of economic reason in Europe has proposed 49-year-old female Sabine Lautenschlaeger to the ECB. Filling Asmussen's shoes among the ECB's "whatever it takes" crowd will be hard and while little is known of Lautenschlaeger's policy perspective, Reuters notes, she has been among those who have warned about potential conflicts of interest when the ECB has responsibility for both monetary policy and banking supervision, and argued against treating government bonds as risk-free assets in bank books.
Neofeudal financialization and unproductive State/corporate vested interests have bled the middle class dry. Yet we accept the officially sanctioned narratives as authentic and meaningful. Why? Perhaps the truth is simply too painful to accept, so we will reject it until we have no other alternative.
There’s a lot of chatter out there that the Fed will hold off on a taper announcement, but will put some sort of limit on the overall size of this latest round of QE launched in September 2012. In other words, monthly purchases will continue at the current rate, but this will no longer be a QE-forever program. From a CK game perspective, placing a limit on the QE program is a more market-negative statement than a taper. This is what I’m going to be watching for tomorrow, along with whatever dovish (market-positive) language is inserted around forward guidance on rates. And then the battle for meaning and interpretation will be joined …
In last month's 2 Year bond auction we highlighted that the end of the declining Bids to Cover trend has arrived for good, after the 3.54 BTC priced at the second highest since February. Today's just concluded 2 Year slammed the door shut on any fears that there may be declining broad bid side demand, after the Bid to Cover of 3.767 printed at nearly the same level as January's 3.675, but well higher, making it the highest BTC since last November's 4.07. The market demand at the time of auction confirmed this, with the When Issued trading at 0.352% at 1 PM, only to see the final yield on the $30 billion auction cross at a very strong 0.345%. Finally, the internals were just as strong, with Direct bidders taking down 30.24%, well above the November 27.3% and the TTM average of 23.5%, while Indirects took a slightly softer 21.55%, leaving Dealers with their usual fare of just around half, or 48.21% to be precise. Bottom line: if there was some concern in the recent 3 Year auction, the complete lack of market jitteryness today showed that the market is certainly not worried about any Fed rate hikes until after 2015.
Current price levels and related trends are similar today, Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone warns, to recent periods when deflation fears forced the Federal Reserve to ease policy. To determine the course of monetary policy, the Fed, Yamarone notes, looks at a number of indicators. What is worrying today is that several of them – production and employment – are moving in a somewhat softer direction (despite MSM propaganda). For those optimists leaning toward the potential for a more vibrant economic recovery, a word of caution: Comparisons to month-ago or even year-ago levels may be deceiving. However, given the fragility of the economy and the Fed’s unprecedented policy actions, a renewed threat of deflation leaves policy makers with few options.
Cronyism Strikes Again: Ex-Microsoftee Married To Democrat Congresswoman Set To Take Over Obamacare ExchangeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/17/2013 - 12:05
Having done a bang up job on the Healthcare.gov rollout (after retaining virtually every private sector company with relevant skills to fix the 500 million-lines-of-code monster), Jeff Zients, as we reported previously, is set to become director of the National Economic Council (perhaps he will next roll out a database where America's unemployed sign up). But what is more notable is that his replacement in leading the overhaul of the Obamacare exchanges is a former executive from Microsoft. Kurt DelBene, whose wife just happens to be Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. What could possibly go wrong as cronyism brings Blue Cross together with the Blue Screen of Death?
If policymakers were gunfighters, they’d be out of bullets: They have run out of effective policy tools to improve the economy.
So the question is simple: If there is a recession in 2014, and policymakers are out of bullets, how will it play out across the American economy?
USD strength, precious metal weakness, long-bond selling, and stocks tanking - all on the back of the ultimate driver of exuberance, the JPY-carry trade's leverage. With VIX pressing higher (over 16.5%) and credit spreads widening further, it seems hedges (or simply reducing exposure) into tomorrow's FOMC is the order of the day...
Over the past month, an interesting conflict emerged between Putin's Russia and, well, some unelected person's Europe. The conflict was over who would be the Ukraine's big brother, and strategic ally for the future, and whether the Ukraine would snub Europe, i.e. the West, and reorient to its Soviet Union roots, by aligning with Russia. Moments ago, the fight over Ukraine ended. Russia won.
- PUTIN SAYS GAZPROM TO SELL GAS TO UKRAINE AT $268.50
- PUTIN: RUSSIA TO USE SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND TO INVEST IN UKRAINE
- PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA TO INVEST $15B IN UKRAINIAN SECURITIES
- SILUANOV SAYS UKRAINE TO SELL $15B BONDS TO RUSSIA IN 2013-14
Europe, like a jilted lover, was sad but understood it had been bested:
- GERMANY’S STEINMEIER: EU’S OVERTURE TO UKRAINE FELL SHORT
- STEINMEIER: EU MAY HAVE UNDERESTIMATED RUSSIA DETERMINATION