Are gold prices going to US$ 5,000 or US$500 an ounce?
"Ultimately... it would be very hard for Greece to introduce a viable new currency unilaterally."
- Goldman Sachs
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
Behavioral economics suggests that a little QE can change human behavior at the margins, but no amount of QE is enough to change human nature at its core. The High Priests of the IMF, the Fed, and the ECB are blind to this because all of modern economic theory – ALL of it – is based on a single bedrock assumption: humans are economic maximizers. Yes, we are maximizers of reward. But we are also minimizers of regret. We seem destined to learn the hard way... once again... that you can’t change human nature by government fiat. But individual investors and allocators can listen and learn from these old good ideas, and that’s how you survive the Golden Age of the Central Banker.
So, while the markets have surged to "all-time highs," the majority of Americans who have little, or no, vested interest in the financial markets have a markedly different view. Currently, mainstream analysts and economists keep hoping with each passing year that this will be the year the economy comes roaring back but each passing year has only led to disappointment. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the Fed stimulus and government support has failed to put the broken financial transmission system back together again. Eventually, the current disconnect between the economy and the markets will merge. Our bet is that such a convergence is not likely to be a pleasant one.
The overwhelming mainstream media message continues to be everything is strong and the future is absolutely as bright as ever, as measured by the all time high markets; but the facts and the data clearly tell a different story. While memories are short, 2008/9 (and 199/2000) taught us that pundits will always tout the ‘everything is great’ story until it is too late. They laugh and ostracize anyone who attempts to rock the boat with a message of reality. And they do it to deter others from delivering such a message. That message is that there exists no catalyst mechanism to pull us out of this economic slumber. So you can listen to and laugh along with the ‘all knowing’ pundits or you can take heed of history and protect yourself now. But do remember the choice was yours. You will have nobody to blame but yourself when and if it all comes tumbling down and you were too busy laughing.
The trouble with the money printing madness in the Eccles Building is that it generates huge deformations, misallocations and speculative excesses in the financial markets. Eventually these bubbles splatter, as they have twice this century. The resulting carnage, needless to say, is not small. Combined financial and real estate asset markdowns totaled about $7 trillion after the dotcom bust and $15 trillion during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The Wall Street casino is now festooned with giant deadweight losses waiting to happen. But perhaps none is more egregious than Tesla - a crony capitalist con job that has long been insolvent, and has survived only by dint of prodigious taxpayer subsidies and billions of free money from the Fed’s Wall Street casino.
Jon Corzine had an illustrious career in investment banking, rising to the very top of Goldman Sachs, until he got pushed out in 1999. He subsequently decided to try his luck in politics, and was eventually elected as a Senator from New Jersey in 2001, then Governor in 2006. After losing to Chris Christie in 2010, Corzine was promptly hired as the CEO of MF Global. He was back in the game of finance - and with something to prove. While the majority of voters in New Jersey breathed a sigh of relief, the clients of MF Global could not imagine the disaster that would unfold.
Having put Russia on review in mid-January, Moody's has decided (somewhat unsurprisingly) to downgrade Russia's sovereign debt rating to Ba1 (from Baa3) with continuing negative outlook. The reasons:
*MOODY'S SAYS RUSSIA EXPECTED TO HAVE DEEP RECESSION IN '15, CONTINUED CONTRACTION IN '16
*MOODY'S SEE RUSSIA DEBT METRICS LIKELY DETERIORATING COMING YRS
We assume the low external debt, considerable reserves, lack of exposure to US Treasuries, and major gold backing were not considered useful? Moody's concludes the full statement (below) by noting that they are unlikely to raise Russian sovereign debt rating in the near-term.
Perhaps this explained why Greece and The Eurogroup have (reportedly) come to an agreement to avoid an actual Grexit for 4 months. As Die Welt explains that Euro-area nations will face losses of up to EUR330bn as Greek outright government debt, ECB capital needs, and TARGET2 liabilities have soared in the last 2 years since the crisis last erupted...
"... we almost hope those forecasts are proven wrong. They imply a widening gap between valuations and traditional fundamental relationships. They imply a dearth of yields and spreads that will almost invariably push more and more investors into positions they would ultimately rather not take. But if the old adage that markets move in the direction that causes the most pain to the largest number of people is anything to go by, then we suspect that this is what will happen. Depressingly, our instinct is that those new forecasts are more likely too conservative than too aggressive. Longer-term, sweet dreams really aren't made of this."
The global financial system desperately needs a big, bloody sovereign default - a profoundly disruptive financial event capable of shattering the current rotten regime of bank bailouts and central bank financial repression. Needless to say, Greece is just the ticket: A default on its crushing debt and exit from the Euro would stick a fork in it like no other. But don’t count on the Greeks.
When you owe someone $340, it is YOUR problem.
When you owe someone $340 BILLION, it is THEIR problem.
According to IMF researcher Brad Jones, who wrote "Asset Bubbles: Re-thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management", the "business risk of asset managers acts as strong motivation for institutional herding and "rational bubble-riding." This is a critical observation, and one which suggests that the mere groupthink of massive asset managers is what leads to not only herding, lack of originality and the "hedge fund hotel" phenomenon, but also to recurring and ever greater asset bubbles. As Jones further writes, "subdued leverage is not a sufficient condition for financial stability—if systemic risk, and activity in the wider economy, is shaped importantly by large shifts in risk premia owing to the "rational herding" motivations of asset managers."
The week just ended laid bare any pretensions that there is not something wrong (seriously wrong) within the natural world of both the macro underpinnings of business as well as finance. Unimaginable just a short 6 years ago, the U.S. equity markets closed at a height once again never before seen in human history highs, (it has more than tripled from the 2008 bottom!) but has done so solely on Keynesian fairy tales. The issue now is: does the fairytale end in a nightmare?