There is this whole idea of state dependence that we have to consider when we’re talking about the market. Uou might have a plan to buy stocks when the index gets below a certain level, but when the market gets to that point, you: a) may not have the capital; and b) might be panicking into your shorts. It’s nice to have a plan, but, paraphrasing Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. It’s been so long since we’ve had a correction, I’m guessing that most people have forgotten what a correction feels like.
For the US, it’s now shooting fish in a barrel – but just for now. The three-pronged plan the Fed has started to execute is plain for everyone to see... And it will have the rest of the world begging for mercy.
Stop trying to predict what exactly the Black Swans will be (not likely), when a Black Swan will arrive at our doorstep (less likely), and start trying to be more antifragile
Sometimes, when you go looking for trouble... you find it!
"If you look at the entire radar screen of things developing both domestically and internationally, we are plunging deep into a perfect storm of policy failure. There is blowback everywhere. First, the wreckage of prior policy mistakes of our intervention with foreign policy is coming home to roost. Second, monetary central planning is now coming to a dead-end. It is inflating the third financial bubble of the century and the Fed is now clueless as to how it will manage to unwind the massive balance sheet expansion it has been undertaken. And third, the fiscal doomsday machine continues to crank on. Washington is ignoring the fact that we are six years into a business cycle expansion and we are still running massive deficits and there is no cushion for the next upset that comes to the economy. Now, why is all of this important? Because I think the foreign policy failures -- the collapse of the American Imperium as I call it -- is at the center of this, and it will push all of these things in the wrong direction."
Things in China are getting downright biblical. First it was the floating animal apocalypse: who can forget the 16,000 floating pigs, followed by a thousand dead ducks, culminating with 5 dead black swans. But nothing quite beats the dramatic impact of the inner river of Wenzhou flowing blood red.
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
"In economics, [the mainstream] rely on experts who don't know what they are talking about," explains Professor Steve Keen in this brief but compelling documentary discussing 'when the herd turns'. "Herd behavior is a fundamental aspect of capitalism," Keen chides, but it is left our of conventional economic theory "because they don't believe it;" instead having faith that investors are all "rational individuals" (e.g. willing to pay 112x for OpenTable), which he notes, means "[economists] can't foresee any crisis in the future." The reality is - "we do have herd behavior" and people will follow the herd off a cliff unless they are aware its going to happen. "Contrary to herd wisdom, financial crisis are not unpredictable black swans..."
The individual or system that never experiences dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse. The individual who walks daily (i.e. aerobic exercise) is healthier than the couch potato, but the individual who routinely engages in short bouts of strenuous activity has the added benefits of triggering rebuilding/repair responses. Political economies, government agencies, enterprises and communities are no different, as all systems respond the same way: either growing brittle and vulnerable by suppressing dissent and volatility or maintaining strength, resilience and adaptability by encouraging dissent and volatility. Our centralized government and bank have spared no expense to ruthlessly suppress these essential forces of healthy systems at every turn. The cost of their gross incompetence has yet to be paid, but it will be paid, and in full, in the years ahead.
Central bank's ongoing and so-far-successful efforts to crush short-term volatility and encourage hapless individuals into the world's nominally rising stock markets has had consequences. Inequalities abound (rich vs poor, corporate profits vs capex/jobs, bond yields vs growth hopes) but nowhere else is this more evident - given the ever-increasing crescendo of the drum-beat of war around the world - than in oil price volatility. As the chart below shows... oil price volatility is at its lowest in 21 years. We can't help but be reminded of Taleb's priceless phrase that "there is no freedom without noise - and no stability without volatility."
Five years ago, we were the first to bring the world's attention to the staggering profitability of several firms that engaged in 'high frequency' trading that presented themselves as 'liquidity providers' and suggested (in our ever so humble way) that mark liquidity was in fact shrinking and this could lead to a 'black swan of black swans' long before the flash crash was even dreamed of. Fast forwarding to today, after hundreds of articles, not only is the mainstream "getting it" but such behemoths as Cliff Asness - who happens to run one of the world's biggest quant funds - are forced to pen a WSJ op-ed to explain it's all a fallacy and blame a lowly blogger (or digital dickweed) for starting all this naysaying five years ago.
Once again the smell of NAPALM is in the air
Citi's credit group is bullish; but, as they admit, for all the wrong reasons. Bullish, because they still believe that the extraordinary liquidity environment which has dominated the last four years will remain in place this year (despite tapering) and for the wrong reasons because aside from their doubts about the foundations of much of the economic recovery itself, nearly all the factors that they would normally base their view on the markets on seem to be pulling in the opposite direction. In their own words, "everything is expensive; and the market is driven purely by a variant of the Greater Fool's Theory."
As we begin 2014, it is important to recognize the levels of INSANITY currently existent in the world enabling us to understand the apocryphal nature of the times we live in and prepare ourselves to meet the challenges it represents. The world is leveraged to an extent that has never before seen in history! Debt now masquerades as NOMINAL growth and REAL growth has ceased. Headline economic reports are now nothing more than POLITICALLY CORRECT HOAXES to FOOL the public at large and mask the betrayal of the public by the leaders who hold the reins of power. ECONOMIC Stagnation emerged after the 2008 Global financial crisis and in real terms has NEVER ENDED!
Propaganda, phony fixes and more debt can only cover the widening gap between fiscal reality and official fantasy for so long. So what else besides the potential for another global financial meltdown bears watching in 2014? Here are a few worthy prospects... as we doubt the same illusions and tricks will get the global economy through 2014-2015 unscathed.