This will make every American feel much better about handing over that check today... as Simon Black notes today "I believe we have an obligation to starve the beast..."
True, the world faces issues today… so it’s not odd for bond yields to be lower… but are those issues on par with a disease that wiped out 25%+ of Europe’s population… or the single largest military conflict in history?
The conventional class structure is divided along the lines of income, i.e. the wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class and the poor. But this 3.5-class structure did not capture the changing nature of employment, income and wealth/political power; which more appropriately subdivides into America's socio-economic spectrum into nine classes. This is neofeudal, a term we use to describe a society and economy dominated by financialization and the apex of wealth and political power that wealth buys. The classes below this apex are either tax donkeys, Upper Caste technocrats serving the apex, or the lower classes that are bought off with social welfare and various modern iterations of bread and circuses.
There are in fact problems that are too big for Central Banks to manage.
As Nanex's Eric Hunsader pointed out, while the well-paid HFT-lobbyists proclaim their rigging clients "knit together liquidity from all markets," it appears BATS' new CEO (since the lying old one left) disagrees. The exchange that caters significantly to the front-running HFTs believes it knows how to improve the market for thinly traded stocks... it will stop handling them.
Gold “Going Higher” and “A Big Buy Here” ...
“What’s going on is the customers don’t have the f***ing money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.”
Mohamed El-Erian's comments this week caused a stir among the status quo-huggers, as they were clearly a valuation call on the financial markets suggesting that currently having capital invested was likely to yield substantially lower or negative return in the future. This is an extremely important concept in understanding the "real value of cash." Not unlike the rhetoric of the late 1990’s or mid-2000’s, there is no shortage of rationalizations for why such currently extraordinary valuations are reasonable and justifiable. The fact remains firmly in place, stocks are expensive. Of course, since Wall Street does not make fees on investors holding cash, maybe there is another reason they are so adamant that you remain invested all the time.
Randolph Duke: Money isn't everything, Mortimer.
Mortimer Duke: Oh, grow up.
Randolph Duke: Mother always said you were greedy.
Mortimer Duke: She meant it as a compliment.
Who’s dumb enough to buy this stuff—10-year debt at negative yields and 100-year debt in a doomed currency? Institutional investors, of course—large pension funds and the like. You might look at news like that and think, well, that’s crazy, I’d never do that. But the fact is, it’s being done with YOUR MONEY. Just like Winston Churchill commented that it’s false to characterize the fighting at places like the Somme, Verdun etc. in WWI as battles, when they were actually more like prolonged sieges, what’s happening in the financial world today is similar. The financial world today is the same. Billion dollar stimulus packages. Quantitative Easing 1, 2, 3… Negative interest rates. Negative long-term debt yields. Cash withdrawal and transaction controls. Higher taxes. Capital controls...
The Treasury flash crash and similar recent events in currency markets are "shots across the bow," Jamie Dimon says in his latest letter to shareholders. The JPM chief goes on to warn, as we have for years, that declining liquidity in credit markets is likely to exacerbate future crises: "The likely explanation for the lower depth in almost all bond markets is that inventories of market-makers’ positions are dramatically lower than in the past. For instance, the total inventory of Treasuries readily available to market-makers today is $1.7 trillion, down from $2.7 trillion at its peak in 2007. The trend in dealer positions of corporate bonds is similar."
Despite what Bernanke says now, monetary policy is still talked about as if it were “pro-growth” and “stimulus”, powers that even its main proponent and practitioner no longer admits. The enduring legacy is bubbles and cycles, or, again to be fully specific, bubble-based supercycles. The problem is that the 14 million “lost” labor potential may only be the beginning.
This great generational injustice is the direct consequence of central banks lowering interest rates to zero and inflating asset bubbles in a corrosive (and vain) attempt to generate a wealth effect of households borrowing and blowing their newly created asset wealth. In an economy that isn't whipsawed by central bank manipulation, the difference between middle class households' asset wealth is largely behavioral, not the random luck of coming of age before central banks began blowing destructive asset bubbles as a matter of policy.
As usual, US stocks are the last to “get it.” But this won’t last for long. The S&P 500 is sitting on the ledge of a massive cliff. And when it finally tumbles, the move will be both fast and violent.
My advice to Ben Bernanke is simple. If you consider yourself a public servant, spend less time trying to concoct ways to defend your legacy, and spend more time on what you did that didn’t work, what can be learned from it, and what current policy makers can change and do better. Here is a theoretical title to a Bernanke blog post that I would like to read, but don’t think will ever get wrriten “Things I was wrong about, what I learned, and what the Fed should do differently going forward.”