As H.L. Mencken opined, 'The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.' It is no wonder that, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in early October, a record-low 14% of Americans thought that the country was headed in the right direction, down from 30% in September. That's the biggest single-month drop in the poll since the shutdown of 1990. Some 78% think the country is on the wrong track. Simply put, Faber explains, it is most unlikely that US economic growth will surprise on the upside in the next few years. It is more likely there will be negative surprises.
It may appear to be safe for everyone to be on the same side of the boat, but the gunwale is awfully close to the water.
The establishment desires to acclimate Americans to the idea that being anti-government is wrong; that it is a despicable philosophy embracing social deviance, aimless violence, isolation and zealotry. Looking beyond the mainstream position, my question is, is it really such a bad thing to be anti-government today?
Thailand is known for a lot of things – quintessential white sandy beaches, hard partying nightlife, quiet Buddhist reverence... But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Bangkok is probably one of the most important cities in the world when it comes to illegal trafficking. Human trafficking. Narcotrafficking. Money laundering. Weapons. Forged documents. Etc. Bangkok is just as vital to these industries as New York or London to the global financial sector. And now, thanks to India’s sagging economy, they can add one more to this list: gold smuggling... In Thailand, however, gold demand is up 125% from the 3rd quarter of 2012.
Economic data can be and is commonly used as a political tool. The EU is just the latest example of this. In the US we’ve seen this same game played out using GDP numbers.
The third stage of bull markets, the mania phase, can last longer and go farther that logic would dictate. However, the data suggests that the risk of a more meaningful reversion is rising. It is unknown, unexpected and unanticipated events that strike the crucial blow that begins the market rout. Unfortunately, due to the increased impact of high frequency and program trading, reversions are likely to occur faster than most can adequately respond to. This is the danger that exists today. Are we in the third phase of a bull market? Most who read this article will say "no." However, those were the utterances made at the peak of every previous bull market cycle.
Would printing the cash to fund pensions for low-income retirees trigger inflation? It's more of an open question than we might imagine at first glance.
It is human nature to follow fads, no matter how strange or cultish they may seem. Anything from Beanie Babies to cupcakes to even tech IPOs fall into this category, but, ConvergEx's Nick Colas asks, why do some of these trends manage to stick around while others die off? We might laugh now at bellbottoms and the so-called “grapefruit diet”, but at one point in time these were both fashionable – and profitable. So what does it take to make a fad last? Colas looks at a number of quirky trends past and present and importantly for market participants, finds lessons that extend directly to investor psychology and discipline. The bottom line is that we are sometimes blind to our own trading (and fashion) mistakes in the moment, but we are not preordained to make the same errors in perpetuity.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are seeing the disconnect between financial markets and the real economy grow. It is also increasingly obvious (to Citi's FX Technicals team) that not only is QE not helping this dynamic, it is making things worse. It encourages misallocation of capital out of the real economy, it encourages poor risk management, it increases the danger of financial asset inflation/bubbles, and it emboldens fiscal irresponsibility etc.etc. If the Fed was prepared to draw a line under this experiment now rather than continuing to "kick the can down the road" it would not be painless but it would likely be less painful than what we might see later. Failure to do so will likely see us at the "end of the road" at some time in the future and the 'can' being "kicked over the edge of a cliff." Enough is enough.
The woman who is set to become one of the most powerful people in the world begins her confirmation hearing today. And few people have ever even heard of her. A tiny elite orchestrates the whole system. And one of the most influential conductors is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, a post about to be taken over by Janet Yellen. Since most people have no idea how central banking really works, her confirmation hearing today is just a footnote. Even people who are otherwise financially sophisticated simply trust that the men behind the curtain know what they’re doing. This is quite strange when you consider that central bankers have nearly total control over the economy. Kyle Reese from the first Terminator movie sums this up rather succinctly...
Many observers believe the U.S. dollar (USD) will lose its status as the world's reserve currency sooner rather than later. Proponents of this view often mention China's agreements with various trading partners to settle trade in their own currencies rather than the dollar as evidence of this trend. More substantial evidence can be found in the diversification of reserves held by many nations. One set of observers has long held that the ideal replacement for the dollar is a hybrid currency issued by the IMF called SDRs. However, since the SDR is just an aggregate of fiat currencies, it cannot really change the fundamentals of the current status quo. Boiled down to its essence, the SDR is presented as a shortcut solution to deeply seated problems. The reserve currency problem cannot be fixed by a basket of fiat currencies, as fiat currencies (and the trade imbalances they generate) are the problem.
It would appear that much of the rally yesterday (and early overnight) was driven by hope (and confirmed relief) that Fed chair nominee Yellen is not about to take on a substantially less-dovish tone in today’s testimony in an effort to garner the support of the more hawkish elements of the Senate Banking Committee. There was a great deal of confirmation bias in the market's move and interpretation but, as BofAML notes below, this may be misplaced. The more important part of today’s testimony is yet to come in the Q&A session - where we will hear likely more unscripted thoughts from the QEeen at her Senate confirmation this morning.
We can usefully classify politicians into three categories: caretakers, practical visionaries and values-transformers. Solving profoundly structural problems by establishing a new foundation of values that most can embrace positively is the hallmark of leadership. Either those with these leadership skills are avoiding politics or the voters are rejecting them in favor of caretakers who are incapable of challenging political powerful constituencies or finding common ground for desperately needed systemic reforms.
Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope. Who was to blame?
"The government, writ large, had a hand in creating the conditions that encouraged the approval of dubious mortgages. It was the government, in the form of Congress, that repealed Glass-Steagall, thus allowing certain banks that had previously viewed mortgages as a source of interest income to become instead deeply involved in securitizing pools of mortgages in order to obtain the much greater profits available from trading. It was the government, in the form of both the executive and the legislature, that encouraged deregulation..."
- Judge Jed Rakoff
With Ben Bernanke's tenure closing, many financial TV pundits delight in touting the stellar performance of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman with just a couple months left in his term. Before the re-writers of history begin spinning performance, we thought why not compare Mr. Bernanke against all the other Federal Reserve Chairman to determine which Chairman deserves recognition. Bernanke's overall score across all factors was the lowest (let the spin begin counterfactualists). The data suggests that Mr. Bernanke ranks last in performance between the two mandates since 1948. Quite an accomplishment considering what events transpired during the last 60+ years; Korea & Vietnam, Oil Shock, high interest rates, etc...