I have often identified Keynesian economists and the Federal Reserve as cargo cults. After the U.S. won World War II in the Pacific Theater, its forces left huge stockpiles of goods behind on remote South Pacific islands because it wasn’t worth taking it all back to America. After the Americans left, some islanders, nostalgic for the seemingly endless fleet of ships loaded with technological goodies, started Cargo Cults that believed magical rituals and incantations would bring the ships of “free” wealth back. Some mimicked technology by painting radio dials on rocks and using the phantom radio to “call back” the “free wealth” ships. The Keynesians are like deluded members of a Cargo Cult. They ignore the reality of debt, rising interest payments and the resulting debt-serfdom in their belief that money spent indiscriminately on friction, fraud, speculation and malinvestment will magically call back the fleet of rapid growth. To the Keynesian, a Bridge to Nowhere is equally worthy of borrowed money as a high-tech factory. They are unable to distinguish between sterile sand and fertilizer, and unable to grasp the fact that ever-rising debt leaves America a nation of wealthy banks and increasingly impoverished debt-serfs.
- Hurricane Isaac Whips Storm Surge on Path to New Orleans (Bloomberg)
- Republicans Vow to Transform Obama’s U.S. With Low Tax, Freedom (Bloomberg)
- Little-known Ryan to take center-stage at Republican convention (Reuters)
- An $800 billion stimulus tempest in a teapot: China State Researcher: Local Govt Investment Plans Largely Symbolic (WSJ)
- China Says Payment Delays, Defaults May Worsen (Dow Jones)
- G-7 Countries Call for Increased Oil Output to Meet Demand (Bloomberg)
- Creeping Socialism: Clegg calls for emergency tax on rich (FT)
- United Airlines computer problem delays 200 flights (Chicago Sun Times)
- Paulson, Investors Avoid Fireworks Despite Brutal Run (Bloomberg)
- Occupy Sets Wall Street Tie-Up as Protesters Face Burnout (Bloomberg)
- The nostalgic grass is always greener: Serbia Joblessness Swells as Milosevic-Era Leaders Return (Bloomberg)
The tried strategy of "Baffle them with BS" continues today following the release of the June (two month delayed) Case Shiller data. Because whereas last week we showed that New Home Prices are plunging, and the average new home price just dropping to its 2012 lows, when it comes to the Case-Shiller index, things are looking up. In June, the Top 20 composite index rose by 0.94%, well above the expected increase of 0.45%. How much of this is due to the REO-to-Rental program in which we are now seeing actively securitization of rental properties, which in essence is converting more and more of the Residential market into commercial real estate, remains unclear. For now it is clear that those entities with access to cash are buying up properties in beaten down areas in hopes these will be filled by renters. On the other hand, the truth is that summer months always see the biggest pricing gains, and following the May data revision, which rose at a revised rate of 0.97%, one may observe that the pricing increase has now peaked even according to delayed CS data, and has begun its traditional rolling over pattern. And a pattern it is. As the second chart below shows very clearly, housing is now merely in the dead cat bounce phase of a broad housing quadruple dip, each one having been facilitated by either Fed or ECB intervention. We give this one a few more months before it too resumes the downward trendline so very well known to Japanese homeowners, and falls in line with the data reported by the Census department.
Weidmann rejected suggestions that he was isolated on the ECB Governing Council in having such reservations. "I hardly believe that I am the only one to get a stomach ache over this," he said. Alexander Dobrindt, a senior German politician who has been the Executive Secretary of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria since 2009, was more direct, saying Draghi risked passing into the history books as the "currency forger of Europe". A conservative ally of Merkel, Dobrindt echoed Bundesbank’s Weidmann that Greece should leave the currency bloc by next year. The comments show the huge divisions in Germany over the debt crisis now in its 3rd year and the understandable concerns of inflation and even hyperinflation. The Bundebank and senior politicians and allies of Merkel may thwart Mario Draghi’s big plans to do “whatever it takes” to solve Europe’s financial collapse. One way or another, the euro is certain to fall in value in the long term.
Weekend economic indices of dubious value
Gold held steady above $1,620/oz on Monday, as investors wait for the central banks from Europe and the US to give definite signs on their plans for more QE. QE3 would be bullish for gold and increase the inflation outlook which would benefit gold as a hedge against the rising prices. The public is now interested in the yellow metal again, with investors adding to their physical positions. Market watchers will take their clues from the data out this week. More investors are trading euro gold than ever before and using euro gold as the barometer of internal health of the gold market right now, says analyst Edel Tully of UBS. Euro gold is up 9% this year versus US dollar gold's +3% performance. The markets await the Fed’s move. Certainly some form of QE3 is inevitable whether it is announced this week or at the next FOMC meeting scheduled in early September
The decrease in nationwide inventory is an ongoing trend.
We know its is blasphemous to question the NAR and given the dismal state of the manufacturing sector data in the US in recent months, the entire recovery now seems predicated on good old 'residential real estate' rising phoenix-like from the ashes of negative equity. Goldman's Jan Hatzius ignores the 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil' of the mainstream media's call for a glorious recovery in housing and lays out his own three monkeys. While recent data is encouraging, he is far from sounding the all-clear as the massive instability of seasonal factors; the gradual nature of the 'turn' and wide dispersion between strong and weak markets; and housing's considerably less important role in the broad economy (and macroeconomic spillover wealth effects); all leave the Goldman economist unamused as he sums up his perspective quite succinctly: "while housing may be getting better, it's no longer about housing."
“Pessimism has become tiresome, so optimism is gaining a foothold”
Fed governors regurgitate it time and again to rationalize their policies.
Fed Vice Chair Yellen Says Scope Remains For Further Policy Accommodation Through Additional Balance Sheet ActionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/06/2012 20:08 -0400
That former San Fran Fed chairman Janet Yellen would demand more easing is no surprise: she used to do it all the time. That Fed Vice Chairman, and Bernanke's second in command, Janet Yellen just hinted that she is "convinced that scope remains for the FOMC to provide further policy accommodation either through its forward guidance or through additional balance-sheet actions", and that "while my modal outlook calls for only a gradual reduction in labor market slack and a stable pace of inflation near the FOMC's longer-run objective of 2 percent, I see substantial risks to this outlook, particularly to the downside" is certainly very notable, and confirms everyone's worst dream (or greatest hope assuming they have a Schwab trading platform or Bloomberg terminal) - more cue-EEE is coming to town.
The housing market is sending mixed signals in 2012.
US home prices have once again made a post-bubble low in spite of all the artificial intervention and massive bailouts to financial institutions. The bottom line unfortunately is that US household incomes have been strained for well over a decade. You can slice it up by nominal or inflation adjusted data but household incomes have been moving in a negative direction during the 00s and continuing into this decade. Keep in mind there is a massive pipeline of problems still in the housing market with over 5.5 million mortgage holders in some stage of foreclosure or simply not paying on their mortgage. This is more than a housing crisis but a crisis of quality job growth.
Once again pundits are claiming that housing is "finally recovering." But they're overlooking three peaks: Peak Housing, Peak Financial Fraud, and Peak Suburbia, all of which suggest years of stagnation and decline, not "recovery." Once the belief that housing is the bedrock of middle class wealth fades, so too will the motivation to risk homeownership in an economy that puts a premium on mobility and frequent changes of careers and jobs. Only one aspect of housing hasn't yet peaked: property taxes. If the risks of homeownership weren't apparent before, they certainly are now as local governments jack up property taxes to indenture homeowners into tax donkeys.