Elliott Management's 22-page letter to investors has something for everyone as Paul Singer ascribes his uniquely independent wisdom. From the fragility of the financial system to the hubris of academic pretenders; from inflation's various devious impacts on assets and reality to the floundering of the world's bankers; from America's "cooked data" to the pending social unrest in Europe and the perils of centralized power, Singers stresses "the temptation to debase fiat currencies... means owning claims on paper money is an act of either faith or denial." Recent market movements, Singer warns "indicate a world on life-support," and "for every day, month and year that policymakers try to substitute failed, inappropriate and risky QE policies for pro-growth policies, the debt mounts, as does resentment among middle-income families that their situation is not improving." The fact of the matter is that "no government has ever reached fiscal 'nirvana,' yet our central bank (and its peers) continues to push the envelope of risk, confidence and inflation." Despite the confident and brave words in which they are wrapped, central bank actions currently seem underscored by quiet panic.
Today’s bizarre confluence of negative real interest rates, money printing, eurozone sovereign default, aberrant asset prices, high unemployment, political polarization, growing distrust… none of it was supposed to happen. It is the unintended consequence of past crisis-fighting campaigns, like a troupe of comedy firemen leaving behind them a bigger fire than the one they came to extinguish. What will be the unintended consequences of today’s firefighting? We shudder to think.
It is painfully self-evident that our financial system doesn't just enable theft, it is theft by nature and design. If you doubt this, please follow along...
NSA Spying Directly Harms Internet Companies, Silicon Valley, California … And the Entire U.S. EconomySubmitted by George Washington on 07/31/2013 13:47 -0400
Mass Surveillance Is “Killing Our Most Productive Golden Goose”
One of the unpleasant side-effects for the Fed's forecasting (insert laughter here) abilities, is that following today's GDP revisions, H1 annualized GDP is now 1.4%. It means that there is no way that the economy can grow fast enough in the second half (especially with such early disappointments to the second half as the just released Chicago PMI miss) to meet the Fed's forecast growth of 2.3%-2.6%. Which, in turn, means more egg on the face of Bernanke and the FOMC's 2013 forecasts. Which is precisely what Goldman just said.
Think the pick up in Q2 GDP was due to the desired increase in end consumption? Think again. Following the full data revision, Personal Consumption as a component of GDP dropped from 1.54% in Q1 to 1.22% in Q2, offset however by an increase in fixed investment which rose from -0.23% to 0.93%. In fact, aside for Q3 and Q4 of last year, Personal consumption in the just completed quarter was the lowest goin back to Q2 2011 when PCE was 1.03%.
As readers are well aware by now, at 8:30 am today we get to see the rewriting of US GDP history back to 1929 with the revisions from the BEA. It’s a big last day of July with the Fed meeting coming after the GDP release. For GDP, real growth is expected to be as low as 1.0% in Q2. Opinions vary widely on today’s GDP number with one major US investment bank’s estimate as low as 0.2%, a number of bulge bracket banks at 0.5% while there are also plenty of economists above 1.5%. It is not news to anyone that nominal GDP is very low at the moment - especially in a world of nosebleed high debts - and today could see this have a 1-handle YoY (and at best a 2-handle) - a level not even normally seen at the depths of most recessions.
JP Morgan has been fined the sum of $410 million due to improper practices involving price manipulation via its subsidiary JP Morgan Ventures Energy Corp today in California and the mid-west by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the US.
Far Dan Loeb, gold has finally lost its lustre: "If we finally see accelerating growth rates, yields should normalize from the unusually low levels we have seen recently. The playbook for investors in that scenario is to focus on assets that will benefit from US growth while avoiding investments that are hurt when real yields rise, such as gold, emerging markets, and fixed income – all areas where we have very little exposure today. Indeed, we sold our long-held gold position early in the second quarter at approximately $1,450."
While the market's eyes were fixed on the near record slide in Japanese Industrial Production (even as its ears glazed over the latest commentary rerun from Aso) which did however lead to a 1.53% jump in the PenNikkeiStock market on hope of more stimulus to get floundering Abenomics back on track, the most important news from the overnight session is that the PBOC's love affair with its own tapering may have come and gone after the central bank came, looked at the surge in 7 day market repo rates, and unwilling to risk another mid-June episode where SHIBOR exploded to the mid-25% range, for the first first time since February injected RMB17 billion through a 7-day reverse repo. The PBOC also announced it would cut the RRR in the earthquake-hit Lushan area. And with that the illusion of a firm and resolute PBOC is shattered, however it did result in a tiny 0.7% bounce in the SHCOMP.
With all eyes fixed on GDP and unemployment data this week (and all their revised and propagandized unreality) for more hints at if (not when) the Fed will Taper; the dismal reality that few seem willing to admit is that it is when (not if) and that the announcement of a "Taper" has nothing to do with the economy. There are three key factors driving this decision: Bernanke's bubble-blowing and bond-market-breaking legacy, the political 'clean slate' his successor needs, and, most importantly, the fear that QE will be discovered for what it is - monetization. As BoJ's Kuroda admitted last night "if QE is seen as financing debt, this could lead to rise in yields." With deficits falling, the Fed's real actions will be exposed (unless QE is tapered) and as Kyle Bass has explained before, it was out of the hands of the BOJ (or The Fed) and entirely up to market psychology.
After a slow start in the week, there is a substantial pick up with announcements from the FOMC, ECB and BOE (as well as monetary policy updates from the RBI, RBA, Israel, and Czech Republic) with the possibility, if not probability, of a Fed update on tapering expectations. On Wednesday we get the much expected wholesale GDP revision which will boost "growth data" all the way back to 1929 and is expected to push current GDP as much as 3% higher, and on Friday is the "most important NFP payroll number" (at least since the last one, and before the next one), where the consensus expects a +183K print, and 7.5% unemployment. All this while earnings season comes to a close.
At this point the Central Bank has one of two options: 1) Monetize everything OR 2) Let the bond market fall to where it deems rates are appropriate given the new default risk.
Municipal finance is in sharp focus after Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. Detroit’s filing is arguably an isolated case and its fiscal problems are not indicative of the broader municipal credit landscape; but, the outcome of the bankruptcy process will dictate whether the value of the full faith and credit pledge backing GO bonds will be diminished going forward. The global hunt for yield has probably chased new investors into the Muni market who may not fully understand that in recent years it has become an ‘ownership not rental’ market. In other words, it is unlikely holders of Munis can sell what they own, as liquidity in the secondary market is almost non-existent.
The Fed publicly claims it wants to help the economy and Main Street. However, as we are now discovering, the Fed is more than willing to sacrifice the good of the people in order to prop up a few insolvent big banks.