Here's a two-word summary of why the American healthcare system is fundamentally broken and cannot be fixed with policy tweaks: perverse incentives.
Having sent shockwaves through the "Don't fight the Fed" apologists yesterday by stating that small caps (etc.) have stretched valuations, we suspect today's hearing (assuming the politicians have now read her statement and report) will focus on what the market's gurus is rapidly trying to paper over. Expect more 'uber-dovish if we need to', expect more 'vigilant' of bubbles (but there are none now)... expect more 'rates will rise - so sell your bonds (and patriotically help with the collateral shortage). Presenting Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins part two... facing the Republican-led Financial Services Committee.
Even if the economy were growing at a faster pace, it wouldn't come close to offsetting the interest payments on our ever-expanding debt. If you want to know why the Status Quo is unsustainable, just look at interest and debt.
The problem for the ECB, of course, is that Espirito Santo and Erste are not isolated incidents, any more than Laiki and Fortis and Anglo Irish and WestLB and BMPS and... should we go on? ...were isolated incidents. "...with apologies to Lewis Carroll, here’s the choice facing our modern-day Alice (Mario Draghi) – does (s)he sing a lullaby that keeps the Red King (investors) sleeping for a few more years, albeit at the cost of drinking a terrible potion that will turn her into a hideous giant... or does she let the Red King wake up, shattering the dream and risking the existence of everything, herself included, but preserving the story of her beautiful face and form?" If we were betting men (and we are), we’d wager on Draghi drinking the potion and keeping the dream alive, no matter how complicit it makes him in preserving a very ugly and very politically-driven status quo. But there’s a non-trivial chance that it’s just too much to swallow...
With the Q2 US reporting season upon us, SocGen's quant research team focuses on the deteriorating state of corporate balance sheets in the US. Despite Intel going full retard on forecast buybacks, as we remarked numerous times, US firms are starting to show the strains of having to buy back $500bn of shares every year, whilst cash flows were under pressure. Leverage, SocGen argues, is starting to become an issue... and with it the ability to fund ever more expensive buybacks to maintain the illusion of EPS growth
"Shiller’s body language said it all, as he squirmed and contorted in his chair during the interview. Nothing feels right about these new market highs. It’s the same squirming and discomfort we’ve been feeling for some time now. We confidently know the U.S. market is unusually expensive. We confidently know that allocating capital to expensive markets is a really bad idea. We confidently know that expensive markets usually lead to low—quite possibly negative—real returns over time. So, why the squirming? Because of what we most confidently do not know—the timing, path, potential triggers, etc., of the U.S. market correction in the short term. Yes, we have theories and coffee-room discussions, which we’ve written about in our quarterly letters. But they remain that. We truly have no blooming idea when an expensive market will break. It is the value investor’s omnipresent dilemma, with 2014 (and this quarter, in particular) testing our mettle yet again. And so, we continue to squirm and contort with the only solace that we are in good company. " - GMO
"Excess credit creation is at the heart of much of China’s GDP growth, and why this means that China must choose between a sharp slowdown in GDP growth as credit is constrained, or a continued unsustainable increase in debt. The key point is that we cannot simply put the bad debt behind us once the economy is “reformed” and project growth as if nothing happened. Earlier losses are still unrecognized and hidden in the country’s various balance sheets."
To much trumpeting the IMF have kindly agreed to help out desperate and war torn Ukraine. How wonderful they are we are all meant to think, but the truth couldn’t be more opposite. but in reality the IMF has a very different purpose from that which is stated. If you look at the history of the IMF’s intervention in countries around the world you will see a trail of disaster and looting that repeats time and time again wherever they go.
The Phoenix housing market has a special place in the heart of housing bubble watchers: together with Las Vegas and various California MSAs, this is the place where the last housing bubble was born and subsequently died a gruesome death which nearly brought down the entire financial system. Which is why the monthly WP Carey report on the Greater Phoenix Housing Market is of peculiar interest for those who want to catch a leading glimpse into the overall state of the bubble US housing market. As hoped, this month's letter does not disappoint. What we find is that while equilibrium prices have been largely flat month over month, and are up 6% on an average square foot basis from a year ago, something very bad is happening with a key component of the pricing calculation: demand has fallen off a cliff.
Vested interests are threatened by the losses generated by small financial fires, so these are systemically suppressed. As a result, the fallen deadwood piles ever higher, creating more fuel for the next random lightning strike to ignite. Once the deadwood piles high enough, the random lightning strike ignites a fire so fast-moving and so hot that it cannot be suppressed, and the entire financial system burns to the ground. So go ahead and keep defending the Status Quo as the best system possible, or believe Elites will keep suppressing fires forever because they're so powerful, or whatever excuse, rationalization or justification you prefer. It won't matter, because the firestorm won't respond to words, beliefs, ideological certainties, reassurances or official pronouncements. It will do what fires do, which is burn all available fuel until there's no fuel left to consume.
Well, if you take the US Supreme Court and representatives of the Federal Reserve System at their own words, the case is pretty clear: the member banks of the Federal Reserve System are private corporations / banks.
This week was interesting to say the least and it is ending with a bang. We are covering a number of brief subjects this week. I hope you enjoy them.
Those who own the resources and influence the political control of those resources are the New Nobility in a pernicious Neofeudalism enforced by the very government that claims to serve the debt-serfs and tax donkeys.
Broad European stocks are down over 4% in the last few days but that hides the carnage among the most exuberantly excited names on the way up. Portugal, Spain, and Italy have been battered in the last few days (despite everyone explaining how Portugal is so small, contained etc..). Portuguese bond spreads spiked 25bps today as the central-bank-inspired coupling of sovereign-health and banking-system stability drag each other down (Spain and Italy jumped 9bps higher in risk). European bank stocks have cratered and are now negative year-to-date.
The Fed and its policies have warped the culture of capitalism to the point that we now exist in a Centrally-Planned nightmare in which a handful of academics influence the economy and world reserve currency with every speech and verbal statement.