As we have opined since January, when we predicted a major market swoon in the April-May timeframe, the only gating factor for more QE is a substantial drop in the market. As a result we predicted a telegraphing of a major economic slowdown to commence some time in April. We were off by a month. We also were off in anticipating just how stupid and obstinate the market is, as stocks continue to believe that QE3 will come in no matter what, yet it is precisely stocks, and nothing else in the economy, that will be the catalyst for more easing, thus leaving mutual funds in a conundrum of having to sell in order to generate profits. So far, few have been willing to push the sell button which will see many of them getting wiped out courtesy of record margin debt and record low cash balances. Earlier today we once again received validation of our outlook when David Tepper told CNBC that while he is skeptical on QE3 overall, "If (the S&P 500 falls) a couple hundred points and financial
conditions tightened maybe they would reconsider... there is no logic to QE3 now and the only result might be more food and
energy inflation." Once again, the only "logic" would be for Bernie "Madoff" Bernanke to look at his Bberg Screen and see the S&P under 1000. At that point he will have no choice. Absent that, the S&P will still drop to that level but in a very slow bleed which will see even more asset managers put out of business. Once again: game theory at its best...or worst, now that the whole "career risk" thing has been flipped and he who sells first keeps their job. We give the painfully inefficient market a few more weeks before they grasp this.
- Germany Digs In On Greek Debt Restructuring (Bloomberg)
- Libya emerges as Opec's big winner (FT)
- Athens approves four-year austerity package (FT)
- Germany sticks to demand for Greek bond swap (Reuters)
- Fed said to consider expansion of capital reviews (Bloomberg)
- Ally Financial delaying IPO (Reuters)
- Tokyo Riot Squad to Safeguard Tepco Meeting (Bloomberg)
- Christine Lagarde's victory a "done deal" says IMF rival (Telegraph)
- Jamie Dimon's faulty capital requirement math (Simon Johnson)
Gold has risen to new record nominal highs in British pounds and is consolidating just below recent record nominal highs in U.S. dollars, euros and other currencies. The ECB’s rate decision and Trichet’s ‘signals’ saw the euro fall sharply against the dollar and against gold with gold in euro terms quickly rising from €1,050/oz to over €1,065/oz. The fact that these new record highs are just nominal and not more important adjusted for inflation highs is a crucial fact not acknowledged by many commentators and analysts. As ever, it is important to realize that the inflation adjusted high for gold in 1980 is over $2,400/oz. When interest rates do rise, central banks will have to make them very gradual. With inflation and stagflation deepening, negative real interest rates are likely to remain with us for some time which bodes well for gold (and silver). The Titanic analogy grows increasingly apt. The various major currencies all face real challenges and are like various floors on the Titanic. The massive ship is holed and water is flowing into it, gradually affecting all floors of the boat. Gold represents the lifeboat.
We have complete the cursory first run of the just released quarterly Flow of Funds (Z.1) updated for Q1 2011. While we will present the far more important breakdown of the shadow economy, we first focused on the key asset and liability data covering the household, corporate and government sectors, which presented few surprises. In summary, total household net worth increased by $1 trillion from $57.1 trillion to $58.1 trillion in the 3 months ended March 31, 2011. This the highest level of household net worth since Q2 2008 when it stood at $60 trillion, and still down substantially from the all time high of $65.7 trillion in the summary of 2007, or the peak of the credit bubble. Looking at the asset components we see once again just why Bernanke is so focused on pumping up the Russell 2000: the stock market (through holdings of corporate equities, mutual fund shares, and pension fund reserves), accounted for $1.2 trillion of the $1.0 trillion increase. This paper profit was offset by a $349 billion drop in mortgage equity, which declined to $18.1 trillion, the lowest in almost a decade. Additionally, household deposits increased to the peak level of $8 trillion once again, which is explainable since household liabilities declined with a drop in both mortgage ($68 billion) and consumer ($31 billion) debt. In a nutshell the consumer continues to delever. But probably the most surprising move was the substantial drop in the positive contribution to total debt from state and government debt. Coming in at $9.6 trillion, total government debt outstanding, rose by the lowest amount since Q2 of 2008, courtesy of a modest increase in Federal Government debt of $184 billion and an actual decline in state and local government debt of $18 billion.
Just when one thought every imaginable taxpayer bailout scheme had been seen, experienced and in many cases, forgotten, here comes AIG once again. The specifics come from Deutsche Bank's Joshua Shanker initiation of coverage report on AIG (naturally with a Buy rating, $34.00 target price), where within the fine print he notes: "the company believes there may be bargains available from buying RMBS securities from European banks seeking better positioning under Basel III requirements. " Prudently, he adds: "We note that increased yield, in this regard, also carries with it increased risk." Translated this means that AIG is about to do for European banks what the ECB so far has been unwilling and/or unable: namely to transfer the risk associated with European banks' massive ongoing exposure to the continuously collapsing US housing market back to the US taxpayer, in the form of AIG, which was bailed out once, and which will certainly be bailed out again, when the time comes.
So our Federal Reserve Chairman, with a supposedly Mensa level IQ, declares that prices have risen due to demand from emerging markets. He also declares that US economic growth will pick up in the 2nd half of this year. He then declares that inflation will only prove transitory as energy and food prices will stop rising. I know I’m not a Princeton economics professor, but if US demand increases due to a recovering economy, along with continued high demand in emerging markets, wouldn’t the demand curve for oil and commodities move to the right, resulting in even higher prices? Ben Bernanke wants it both ways. He is trapped in a web of his own making and he will lie, obfuscate, hold press conferences, write editorials, seek interviews on 60 Minutes, and sacrifice the US dollar in order to prove that his economic theories are sound. They are not sound. They are reckless, crazy, and will eventually destroy the US economic system. You cannot solve a crisis caused by excessive debt by creating twice as much debt. The man must be judged by his words, actions and results.
Regular Zero Hedge readers are aware of our consistent noting how in the past several years, the BLS has relentlessly imposed an guaranteed upward bias to prior initial claims revisions, to the point where it has become a statistical farce (today's upward revision of last week's number from 422K to 426K being just the latest indication). It is thus to our surprise and disappointment to find that even Bloomberg has ceased to keep track of prior revisions: one wonders if the BLS may have had some close conversations with the only media which back in 2009 dared to challenge the Bernanke Put.
- Obama Considering Another Stimulus Tax Cut (New Republic)
- Taxes on the menu in debt-reduction talks (Reuters)
- Americans torn over debt limit (WaPo)
- Dimon Challenges Bernanke on Wall Street Regulation (Bloomberg)
- The Great Property Bubble of China May Be Popping (WSJ)
- Beige Book confirms break in supply chain(FT)
- Trichet May Play ECB Rate Card as Germany Risks Split on New Greek Rescue (Bloomberg)
- Slow growth to anchor Bank rates despite price pressure (Reuters)
- President Obama Authors The Economic Recovery That Isn’t (Forbes)
- New Cracks in Oil Cartel (WSJ)
'Worst Ever' OPEC Meeting Sees Oil Rise Sharply – Inflation Pressures, Growth And Sovereign Debt Concerns Support BullionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/09/2011 07:04 -0400
Gold is marginally lower while silver is showing strength again today after yesterday’s 'worst ever' OPEC meeting ended in disarray and saw oil prices surge. Markets await today’s ECB rate decision and signs as to whether interest rates are set to rise sooner rather than later. Signs of an interest rate rise in July should see the euro and gold rally versus the dollar. The precious metals are also likely to be supported by further sharp falls in peripheral markets bonds, particularly Greece, this morning. While all eyes are on the ECB today, there was a reminder late yesterday that it is not just the Eurozone that is struggling with debt. Fitch Ratings said it would put US debt on watch in early August if Congress fails to raise the federal debt limit. OPEC, the oil cartel’s increasing impotency was seen yesterday when Libya, Iraq, Angola, Ecuador and Algeria sided with increasingly influential Iran and Venezuela rather than Saudi Arabia and its allies Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Also, Japan’s nuclear crisis is leading to a decline in nuclear energy production, possibly long term in nature, and China’s massive drought has led to marked decline in hydroelectric energy production. There is increasingly the real risk of an oil crisis especially given the very tense geopolitical situation in North Africa and the Middle East. Separately, Iran announced it planned to treble its capacity to produce highly enriched uranium which alarmed western powers and was deemed ‘provocative’ by one international relations analyst. Oil prices have risen over 10 times since 1999. For gold prices to just catch up with the price increases seen in ‘black gold’, gold would have to rise over $2,500/oz (10 X $250/oz).
Jim Rogers spoke to a very dramatic and even more hoarse Bartiromo, touching on old and well-known themes, namely that the administration is essentially using up its last stimulus bullet with the current recession: "When the problems arise next time what are they going to do? They can’t quadruple the debt again. They cannot print that much more money. It’s gonna be worse the next time around." Alas, as Obama appears to be preparing, "they" will simply do more of the same: the same payroll tax that was supposed to cure all evils in December. The fact that nobody anticipated something so stupid is probably indicative of the administration's genius. Or lunacy. Followed by more dollar printing of course. On what needs to be done to avoid the debt ceiling breach which will shut down the government, Faber believes that nothing short of Draconian measures will be relevant: "We’ve got troops in 150 countries around the world. They’re not doing us any good, they’re making enemies. They’re costing us a fortune." On the other hand he acknowledges: "we can never pay off these debts." As usual, Rogers saved the best for Bernanke: "Since the first day Mr Benanke went to Washington I knew he was going to be a disaster. He has never been right about anything in the 7 or 8 years he has been there. I hope he doesn't come back with QE3 but that's all he knows. The only thing he knows to do is to print money. He doesn't understand finance, he doesn't understand currencies, he doesn't understand economics. He understands printing money. It's the wrong thing to do but that's what he'll do... They're gonna bring QE back because he will be terrified and Washington will be terrified," he said. "There's an election coming in November 2012. Washington's gonna print more money." Lastly, in terms of investments, Rogers is long the dollar but only "for a rally", and also owns Chinese stocks and commodities, would be buying more gold and silver if the price were to go down, and is short tech stocks and JP Morgan. Like we said nothing new. With one addition: the republicans will now get tax cuts, so democrats get QE3. As we have been saying - 2011 is nothing other than 2010 all over again.
By the time the "too big to fail" banks and their lobbyists get through with the rules, banks will be relatively free to pursue lending practices that existed before the crash.
This is not even getting into the depreciation scam, which is another MASSIVE tax break taken by Big Business that is even larger than the tax avoidance scam we are discussing in this study.
Credit markets continue to show glaring concerns as European sovereign risk, global financial systemic risk, and global growth scares drive HY and IG to six month wides. The critical aspect is the potential to reverse the virtuous cycle that has maintained primary issuance - and we are indeed seeing this starting to happen.
One of the conclusions that I try to coax, lead, and/or nudge people towards is acceptance of the fact that the economy can't be fixed. By this I mean that the old regime of general economic stability and rising standards of living fueled by excessive credit are a thing of the past. At least they are for the debt-encrusted developed nations over the short haul -- and, over the long haul, across the entire soon-to-be energy-starved globe. The sooner we can accept that idea and make other plans the better. To paraphrase a famous saying, Anything that can't be fixed, won't. The basis for this view stems from understanding that debt-based money systems operate best when they can grow exponentially forever. Of course, nothing can, which means that even without natural limits, such systems are prone to increasingly chaotic behavior, until the money that undergirds them collapses into utter worthlessness, allowing the cycle to begin anew.
Yesterday we brought you Goldman's quite bearish takeway on Bernanke's speech (excluding the highly irrelevant Jamie Dimon monologue detour: we can't wait to hear what the JPM CEO says once it is announced that Glass-Steagall is being reinstated). Below we present Rosie's key takeaways on Bernanke's remarks. "Bernanke said the 'jobs situation remains far from normal" and as such, this recovery cannot be regarded as being "truly established." That is quite an admission — free money, a tripling of the Fed's balance sheets and 10% deficit/GDP ratios have fallen short of establishing an established recovery. Cause for pause."