It Begins: Council On Foreign Relations Proposes That "Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/26/2014 20:02 -0400
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...
Mark Spitznagel: "Mises will ultimately be right yet again about the inevitable final collapse of the current asset boom brought about by credit expansion. The term “black swan” (the surprising, unforeseen event) used for bursting financial bubbles has been and will remain a misnomer - we can and, indeed, should expect such tumults to occur at some point as a consequence of massive central bank intervention and economic distortion."
Ron Paul: "As to the unwinding of this mess, I’m convinced that when the current expansion ends it will be abrupt, gigantic, and worldwide. The 43-year expansion of Fed credit and debt, delivered to us by a fiat dollar standard, and held together artificially by an undeserved trust will end badly."
Despite all the massive monetary pumping over the past six years and the lowering of interest rates to almost zero most commentators have expressed disappointment with the pace of economic growth. This should not be surprising though, since, any policy, which artificially boosts demand, leads to consumption that is not backed up by a previous production of wealth. This means that monetary pumping leads to the squandering of real wealth. All this however, can be reversed by shrinking the size of the government and by the closure of all the loopholes of the monetary expansion.
While in July margin debt did dip modestly from near all time highs hit back in June when total margin debt was virtually tied with the previous record, at $464 billion, it was that other metric tracked by the NYSE, namely Investor Net Worth, calculated by subtracting margin debt from the notional represented in free credit cash accounts and credit balances in margin accounts, that was the notable highlight in the July report: at a negative $182.1 billion, a decline of $6.3 billion from the prior month, investor Net Worth has never been lower.
It is unclear exactly why stock futures, bonds - with European peripheral yields hitting new record lows for the second day in a row - gold, oil and pretty much everything else is up this morning but it is safe to say the central banks are behind it, as is the "de-escalation" algo as a meeting between Russia and Ukraine begins today in Belarus' capital Minsk. Belarusian and Kazakhstani leaders will also be at the summit. Hopes of a significant progress on the peace talks were dampened following Merkel’s visit to Kiev over the weekend. The German Chancellor said that a big breakthrough is unlikely at today’s meeting. Russian FM Lavrov said that the discussion will focus on economic ties, the humanitarian crisis and prospects for a political resolution. On that note Lavrov also told reporters yesterday that Russia hopes to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine this week. What he didn't say is that he would also send a cohort of Russian troops which supposedly were captured by overnight by the Ukraine army (more shortly).
Today, the world economy is in uncharted territory. Never before has the developed world carried this much debt. Never before have the central banks of those same countries expanded their balance sheets so much. Never before has so much sovereign debt been outright monetized. Never before have major financial institutions been officially designated as “too big to fail” and thereby been granted special license to assume gigantic risks. Dr. Lacy Hunt, economist and current executive vice president of Hoisington Investment Management Company, expects the macroeconomic situation to get worse from here...
The zombification of corporate America is nowehere more evident than the yield-starved demand that has enabled companies with the lowest of the low credit ratings to raise debt capital and stay alive far beyond their 'natural' lifespan. As WSJ reports, investors are gobbling up some of the riskiest debt from junk-rated European companies at the fastest pace in years. The riskiest tranche of that debt - so-called second-lien, or junior, loans - amounts to $3.3 billion, almost double the amount raised at the same stage last year and the most over the same period since 2007. The reason is simple - Central Banks - "If you have more demand than supply then you end up with a loosening of terms and potentially more leverage and more aggressive structures." This is 'mal-investment' writ large, and at least as bad as during the 2007 bubble.
India, Pakistan Intensify Shooting Across Border; Iran Downs Israel Drone; ISIS Seizes Military AirportSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/24/2014 12:07 -0400
Since in the New Normal no geopolitical events appear to have any adverse impact on risk and asset prices (because the central banks are always there to protect investors should the market "plunge" by say 5%) with general newsflow completely irrelevant on what has been a straight line up in the S&P since the announcement of QE4 in December 2012, one might as well see how much further geopolitical events can be pushed further before it all crashes. In other words, time for this weekend's geopolitical update which covers everything from India, Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Syria and Qatar.
Janet Yellen has essentially confirmed QE’s demise; good riddance. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the final end of QE in America, just as it hasn’t been the end time after time in Japan (and perhaps now Europe treading down the same ill-received road). The secular stagnation theory, that we think has been fully absorbed in certainly Yellen’s FOMC, sees little gain from it because, as they assume, the lackluster economy is due to this mysterious decline in the “natural rate of interest.” Therefore QE in the fourth iteration accomplishes far less toward that goal, especially with diminishing impacts on expectations in the real economy, other than create bubbles of activity (“reach for yield”) that always end badly. What Krugman and Summers call for is a massive bubble of biblical proportions that “shocks” the economy out of this mysterious rut, to “push inflation substantially higher, and keep it there.” In other words, Abenomics in America. Japanification is becoming universal, and the more these appeals to generic activity and waste continue, the tighter its “mysterious” grip.
Another day, another brilliant scheme from the think-tank that is the G-20: prevent systemic collapse from TBTF banks loaded up with record amounts of debt by forcing them to... issue more debt.
If you’re a girl and you’re old and you’re grey and you’re the size of a hobbit, who’s going to get angry at you? If your predecessor had all the qualities anyone could look for in a garden gnome, and his predecessor was known mainly as a forward drooling incoherent oracle, how bad could it get? Think they select Fed heads them on purpose for how well they would fit into the Shire? Janet Yellen has a serious problem: the story no longer fits.
It is clearly not in the interests of the long-standing members of the EU to escalate a 'sanctions and financial conflict' with Russia. This is why politicians are walking on eggshells, paying lip-service to America and the scared Eastern fringe members of NATO while hoping this goes no further. So long as this is the case it is clear that NATO members are powerless to stop Russia from wresting control of all or parts of Ukraine from the government in Kiev. Putin knows this; unfortunately it is not clear to us that the American government does. All in all it seems likely that after a period of slow-burn as Putin dictates the pace of developments, the political situation in Ukraine will deteriorate with some unhelpful nudges from Russia.
Russia Releases Video Of Massive Army Drill To "Contain Armed Conflict In Imaginary State"; Schedules 2 MoreSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/22/2014 15:29 -0400
Two weeks ago today, on Friday, August 8, the "market" seemingly desperate for any excuse to soar, did just that when Russia, tongue-in-cheek, announced that a Russian military drill, which everyone knew in advance would end that day, and which "worried the US department of state" finished. So by that logic the announcement of a new, and even more massive, military drill by Russia should send stocks crashing, right? We are joking of course: there is no news in this world that could possibly send stocks lower as good news is great but bad news only means even more intervention of various central banks, however Russia did indeedannounce that it will take part in counter- terrorism exercise called Peace Mission in China. All this is happening as Russia is currently taking part in a third exercise, called Interaction-2014, located in Kazakhstan with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The purpose of this particular drill: "seek to contain armed conflict in imaginary state."
With Yellen's speech a bit of a letdown for the doves - she did not go full-dovish - markets anxiously await Mario Draghi to promise whetever for ever and ever... While financial markets don’t expect bombshells, his speech is an opportunity to underscore that ECB policy will stay looser for longer than that of the Fed and the Bank of England.
DRAGHI SAYS HE'S 'CONFIDENT' JUNE STIMULUS WILL BOOST DEMAND, SEES 'REAL RISK' MONETARY POLICY LOSES EFFECTIVENESS
While the Federal Reserve presents itself as free to do whatever it pleases whenever it pleases, the reality is the Fed's own policies are constraining its choices. The Fed is being forced to end its bond-buying, cutting off the "free money for financiers" that has sustained a frothy stock market.