As members of the world's central banks (most importantly Draghi and the ECB this week) are held up as Idols on mainstream business TV, despite their disastrous historical performances and inaccuracies, we thought it time to dust off the dark 'reality' behind the Federal Reserve - the uber-central bank... perhaps summed up nowhere better than in the words of former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan himself... "There is no other agency of government which can over-rule actions that we take."
"...so I think the low comes in economically in Q1 and Q2 in 2015. Every single macro indicator you can find will bottom at Q1/Q2. For the equity market, I think the top is 1900/1950. But you can't both predicted the level and the timing. And I’m more confident about the timing, not the level. So my timing I’m confident, and the timing I am confident on is the fact that the second half of this year is going to see a 30% correction from the top."
“I say to all those who bet against Greece and against Europe: you lost and Greece won. You lost and Europe won.” - Jean-Claude Juncker...
[Spoiler Alert: No, it's not over yet]
Will volatility become a policy tool? The PBOC decided that enough was enough with the ever-strengthening Yuan and are trying to gently break the back of the world's largest carry trade by increasing uncertainty about the currency. As Citi's Stephen Englander notes, this somewhat odd dilemma (of increasing uncertainty to maintain stability) is exactly what the rest of the world's planners need to do - Central banks will need more FX and asset market volatility in order to provide low rates for an extended period... here's why.
Paul Volcker Proposes A New Bretton Woods System To Prevent "Frequent, Destructive" Financial CrisesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2014 19:32 -0400
We found it surprising that it was none other than Paul Volcker himself who, on May 21 at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, said that "by now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth." We can, indeed, agree. However, we certainly disagree with Volcker's proposal for a solution to this far more brittle monetary system: a new Bretton Woods.
"We live in an economic age where we’ve simply lost our ability to look at the world as potentially self-organizing (and of spontaneous order - whereby order naturally emerges from bottom-up individual interactions when things are left alone rather than from top-down control), though we suspect we’ll be reminded of it again sooner rather than later. Perhaps our takeaway from economic crises will finally be different the next time around. By all means, let’s brainstorm and see if there are ways to alleviate problems and provide relief to the suffering. But any proposal that involves using coercion on unwilling citizens should be off the table. Anything else is a slippery slope to what we have today - these serial crises."
The relentless influx of paper money makes the wealthy and powerful richer and more powerful than they would be if they depended exclusively on the voluntary support of their fellow citizens. And because it shields the political and economic establishment of the country from the competition emanating from the rest of society, inflation puts a brake on social mobility. The rich stay rich (longer) and the poor stay poor (longer) than they would in a free society.
Dispassionae look at the several events in the week ahead.
You can smell this one coming a mile away... the ECB is now energetically trying to revive the a market for asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) - the very kind of “toxic-waste” that allegedly nearly took down the financial system during the panic of September 2008. The ECB would have you believe that getting more “liquidity” into the bank loan market for such things as credit card advances, auto paper and small business loans will somehow cause Europe’s debt-besotted businesses and consumers to start borrowing again - thereby reversing the mild (and constructive) trend toward debt reduction that has caused euro area bank loans to decline by about 3% over the past year. What they are really up to, however, is money-printing and snookering the German sound money camp.
Easy money and the timing of the Fed’s policy shift continue to dominate across the globe. Recovery is widely assumed for the next two years; but as Abe Gulkowitz exposes in this week's The PunchLine chartapalooza, deep-seated weaknesses have also become more evident. Very obvious financial vulnerabilities, repercussions from various political stalemates and serious geopolitical concerns are aggravating the problems of clearly insufficient growth in the world economy. And let’s not forget that many of the challenges cannot be resolved easily...
If clichés reflect overly common (if therefore unappreciated) wisdom, then we finally have a good explanation for why risk assets continue to rally. No, there are actually not “More buyers than sellers” – money flows are negative over the last month for both U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs. And forget about investors “Downgrading on valuation” as stocks climb higher and higher; truth be told, that’s not even really a thing (unless you work on the sell side). Nope, this is a “Flight to quality”, “don’t fight the Fed”, “never short a dull market” environment with “easy comps” from a long rough winter. Want to call a top somewhere around here? Remember that “Markets discount events 6 months in the future.” A “Santa Claus rally” in June? That would fit the one cliché we know is actually the market’s True North: it will do exactly what hurts the most “Smart” investors. And that would be to rally further as the doomsayers double down and the timid cling to their bonds and cash.
Citi's Bond Mea Culpa: "Fair Value Of Rates May Be Lower Than We Judged Them At The Beginning Of The Year"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2014 12:19 -0400
Today, for the first time, one bank, Citigroup, has been kind enough to offer a mea culpa, saying "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants may have judged them to be at the beginning of the year." That said, this tongue-in-cheek apology is wrapped by yet another justification for why rates are where they are (hint: Citi, clearly, has no better idea than anyone else, especially considering their previous forecasts on the matter), and why - all else equally priced to perfection - should finally begin to rise.
The mainstream media is latching on to the idea that all is not well in the world of 'markets'. The FT's Gillian Tett notes that, as we have vociferously explained, almost every measure of volatility has tumbled to unusual low levels, "this is bizarre," she notes, "financial history suggests that at this point in an economic cycle, volatility normally jumps." But investors are acting as if they were living in a calm and predictable universe, "[Investors in] the options markets are not pricing in any big macro risks. This is very unusual." In reality, as Hyman Minsky notes, market tranquility tends to sow the seeds of its own demise and the longer the period of calm, the worse the eventual whiplash. Tett concludes, that pattern played out back in 2007... and there are good reasons to suspect it will recur.
The Keynesians have failed. Japan has proved it. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world… and the markets catch on.
Prof. Ken Rogoff’s book ‘This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly'; is one of the best researched public works on the subject of sovereign debt. And Rogoff’s conclusions (though hotly contested due to an ‘Excel error’) were that, sensibly, governments which accumulate too much debt get into serious trouble. Duh. Not exactly a radical idea. But in an article published yesterday afternoon on the Financial Times website (based on a recently published academic paper), Rogoff did propose a new idea that is radical: ban cash. All of it.