Even Bill Gross Admits that Gold Holds Its Value, While - In an Era of Central Bank Money Printing- Paper Money Doesn't
For the first time since September of 2010, nearly two years ago, has the Case Shiller 20 City Index realized a year-over-year gain. Does this signify a sustainable turning point for the market?
When it comes to the NEW QE, everyone has an opinion, and most seem to believe that the NEW QE will come next week, now that the US economy added "just" 96,000 people (but, but, the unemployment rate 'fell'). Certainly, and far more importantly, if the most recent FOMC minutes are any guide, the Fed shares this view. Sadly, as so often happens, most, and this includes the FOMC's various voting members, have once again made up their minds without actually evaluating the limitations posed by simple math. After all it is far easier to form an opinion, and actually think about the underlying facts later. The math, for those who actually have looked at the numbers behind the scenes, is scary (in UBS' words, not ours).
Here is the math.
Central Banks United have the upper hand these days. So don’t mess with them…
At least not this week…
One look at the short squeeze in the EURUSD, coupled with the endless jawboning out of Europe, and one may be left with the faulty impression that Europe has been magically fixed and that Greece couldn't be more delighted to remain in the Eurozone. One would be wrong. This is what is really going on in Europe: "As a pharmaceutical salesman in Greece for 17 years, Tilemachos Karachalios wore a suit, drove a company car and had an expense account. He now mops schools in Sweden, forced from his home by Greece’s economic crisis.“It was a very good job,” said Karachalios, 40, of his former life. “Now I clean Swedish s---." That more or less explains everything one needs to know about the "fixing" of Europe.
The disregard for the future and the fundamentals of fiscal well-being is about to reap consequences. The Powers That Be counted on "time healing all," as if the mere passage of time would magically heal a broken economy and political machine. Time heals all--unless you have an aggressive cancer. The system has been pushed to extremes: the expectations are impossibly high, the promises are impossibly generous and the sums of money demanded by the vested interests "just to stay afloat" are stratospheric. The "run to fail" levers have all been pushed to the maximum, and it is simply too politically painful to make any real-world adjustments that might save the system from imploding. Nobody wants a crisis, yet a crisis is the only thing that can save the system from implosion.
The odds of some instability erupting globally in 2013-14 seem high, but what the trigger might be remains unknown. The fragility and vulnerability of systems pushed to extremes are like sandpiles: it doesn't really matter which grains finally trigger the cascade; the system's rising instability is the causal factor. Where does this put us? If the ultimate crisis is another decade away, we might as well enjoy what we can in the meantime and assemble the pieces of a semi-sustainable life: income streams that we own/control, a very low cost of living, and property in areas that are universally desirable, i.e. they have decent weather, surface supplies of water, concentrations of intellectual and financial capital, and ideally, a functioning local government that isn’t hopelessly corrupted by vested interests. Any disadvantages in these resources can be offset by a solid network of friends, family, associates, business contacts, etc., i.e. social capital. I think it is safe to assume the promises of Social Security, Medicare and pensions will be chipped away by one force or another (inflation, taxation, “austerity,” etc.) and so those who have written these out of their own personal expectations will be psychologically primed for self-reliance embedded in local support networks.
Yesterday we dedicated significant space to the most recent piece of perfectly ludicrous propaganda out of the ECB, namely that monetizing debt with a maturity up to three years is not really monetization but is instead within the arena of "money market management" (images of Todd Akin defining when something is 'legitimate' and when it isn't swimming our heads). The implication of course is that debt under 3 years is not really debt, but some mystical piece of paper that nobody should be held accountable for. Hopefully all those consumers who have short-maturity credit card debt which nonetheless yields 29.95% APR are made aware of this distinction and decide to follow through with Mario Draghi's logic, which is about to take the war of words between Germany and the ECB to the next level. Sure enough, this is precisely the news item that is dominating bond risk markets this morning, if not so much futures, and sending Spanish and Italian 2s10s spreads to record wides on hopes Draghi will definitely announce some sub 3 year monetization program for the PIIGS. Bloomberg summarized this best last night when it commented on the move in the EURUSD, since retraced, that we now have speculation Draghi's move will bolster confidence. In other words: the market is now hoping there is hope. Sure enough, even if Draghi follows through, for the ECB to monetize Spanish bonds, Spain still has to demand a bailout, which however is now absolutely out of the question as mere jawboning has moved the entire highly illiquid curve so steep Rajoy (and Monti) have absolutely no reason to hand over their resignations (i.e., request a bailout). And so we go back to square one. But logic no longer matters in these markets.
September Arrives, As Does The French "Dexia Moment" - France Nationalizes Its Second Largest Mortgage LenderSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2012 15:32 -0500
September has arrived which means for Europe reality can, mercifully, return. First on the agenda: moments ago the French government suddenly announced the nationalization of troubled mortgage lender Credit Immobilier de France, which is also the country's second lagrest mortgage specialist after an attempt to find a buyer for the company failed. "To allow the CIF group to respect its overall commitments, the state decided to respond favourably to its request to grant it a guarantee," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said according to Reuters. What he really meant was that in order to avoid a bank run following the realization that the housing crisis has finally come home, his boss, socialist Hollande, has decided to renege on his core campaign promise, and bail out an "evil, evil" bank. Sadly, while the nationalization was predicted by us long ago, the reality is that the French government waited too long with the sale, which prompted the Moody's downgrade of CIF by 3 notches earlier this week, which in turn was the catalyst that made any delay in the nationalization inevitable. The alternative: fears that one of the key players in the French mortgage house of cards was effectively insolvent would spread like wildfire, leading to disastrous consequences for the banking system. End result: congratulations France: your Fannie/Freddie-Dexia moment has finally arrived, and the score, naturally: bankers 1 - taxpayers 0.
Upcoming calls from Ben and Mario to the governments?
Get your act together, there’s just so much that can be done.
Odd and contradictory ROn / ROff close
Expectations for tomorrow's J-Hole speech by the venerable Ben Bernanke vary from the mundane "things-we-can-still-do; monitoring-situation" to the exuberant "we'll-print-our-way-out-of-this-mess-no-matter-what-and-I've-got-your-back-for-anything-more-than-a-1%-drop-in-the-Russell". We suspect, like Morgan Stanley's Vince Reinhart that a lot of people are going to be grossly disappointed as the FOMC (C for Committee) meeting is so close and the election being just around the corner means playing-down any miracle-making. Instead we suspect it will be more of the same - disappointment in economic performance, could do better, closely monitoring, Fed-has-tools; i.e. a replay of most of his recent speeches in tone. Reinhart does see some room for surprise though - especially on conditional policy rules (and the potential problems with over-reaching their mandate).
"Fix it Yourself" or "We've got Your Back"; "Crisis not done in three years" or "Euro is not in crisis";
"Market is pricing in Breakup of Euro" or "Portugal Yields Back at Pre-Bailout Levels" Is it any wonder that EURUSD just blipped up 10 pips, on ECB Executive member Asmussen's confusing diatribe, and fell back now stranded like an upside down beetle. Of course, the key factor in the non-crisis is that
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS SPECULATION OF EURO AREA EXITS HINDERS ECB POLICY
but if there is a crisis - he pushes all-in back to Rajoy:
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS STATES MUST SEEK EFSF HELP BEFORE ECB HELPS
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS THERE HAS TO BE CONDITIONALITY
We guess Europe is indeed back from vacation and the real jaw-boning can begin.
The discussion over the GOP's gold standard proposals continues in spite of the fact that everybody surely knows the idea is not even taken seriously by its proponents – as we noted yesterday, there is every reason to believe it is mainly designed to angle for the votes of disaffected Ron Paul and Tea Party supporters, many of whom happen to believe in sound money. As we also pointed out, there has been a remarkable outpouring of opinion denouncing the gold standard. Unfortunately many people are misinformed about both economic history and economic theory and simply regurgitate the propaganda they have been exposed to all of their lives. Consider this our attempt to present countervailing evidence. The 'Atlantic' felt it also had to weigh in on the debate, and has published an article that shows, like a few other examples we have examined over recent days, how brainwashed the public is with regards to the issue and what utterly spurious arguments are often employed in the current wave of anti-gold propaganda. The piece is entitled “Why the Gold Standard Is the World's Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts”, and it proves not only what we assert above, it also shows clearly why empirical evidence cannot be used for deriving tenets of economic theory.
The causal relationship between scarcity, demand, and price is intuitive. Whatever is scarce and in demand will rise in price; whatever is abundant and in low demand will decline in price to its cost basis. The corollary is somewhat less intuitive, but still solidly sensible: the cure for high prices is high prices, meaning that as the price of a commodity or service reaches a threshold of affordability/pain, suppliers and consumers will seek out alternatives or modify their behaviors to lower consumption. Much of the supposedly inelastic demand for goods is based on the presumptive value of ownership. For many workers, there simply won’t be enough income to indulge in the ownership model. The cost in cash and opportunity are too high. This leads to a profound conclusion: What will be scarce is income, not commodities.
Up until now, the title of "Spain's scariest chart" belonged to one depicting its youth (and general) unemployment, both of which are so off the charts it is not even funny (especially to those millions of Spaniards who are currently unemployed). As of today we have a contender for joint ownership of said title - Spain's monthly deposit outflows, which in July hit the highest amount ever, and where the YTD deposit outflow is now the highest on record. One look at the chart below confirms that nobody in Spain got the June 29 Euro summit memo that "Europe is fixed"...