Phantom wealth cannot possibly fund unprecedented retirement and healthcare promises. Only real wealth can do that, and central bank liquidity and the asset bubbles it inflates are not real wealth.
But the talking heads said that the consumer is back and jobs are soaring? Retail sales missed expectations for the 3rd month in a row (after the weather rebound was supposed to kick in?) with an unchanged 0.0% print in July (against expectations of a 0.2% rise). This is dramaticaly off the 1.5% growth rate seen in March. Across the board, retail sales were weak with Ex Auto & Gas up only 0.1% against expectations of a 0.4% gain. Department Store sales fell 0.7% MoM. So much for pent-up demand.
The global monetary system is diverging and fraying. Central bank post-crisis quasi-coordination has broken down. Initially, foreign central banks unhappily followed the Fed in cutting rates toward zero; or else risked an appreciating currency affecting competitiveness. As domestic challenges developed and the Fed initiated ‘tapering’, many central banks pushed rates back up. Developed world economies have grown from around 30% of global GDP 20 years ago to 50% today. This improvement has helped motivate the unfolding of a new international economic order between developed and developing world economies.
These bonds are the benchmarks for “risk” in the financial system. Stocks, corporate bonds, mortgages, auto loans, emerging market stocks… everything you can name are ultimately priced based on their perceived risk relative to the “risk free” rate of lending money to the US for 10 years.
Ten-year bond yields in six euro-area nations ended at a record low on Friday as geopolitical tensions fueled demand for the safest fixed-income securities (before everything was ruled 'fixed' later in the US day). As the world's central banks policies begin to diverge, it appears US Treasuries are increasingly attractive on a relative basis for the 'reach for yield' herd (especially as high-yield technicals dominate) in this new normal world (even on an FX-risk-adjusted basis).
“Train wreck is a pretty good term to describe what is coming. But this train wreck isn’t simply going to hit a wall out of the blue. Actually, it has been forming and accumulating and expanding for many years now, and yet it has simply been ignored, particularly by the financial markets which have ridden this bubble to these extreme and historic heights. The only issue is, when does it hit the wall? The answer to that question is it’s not very far down the road, and I can promise you that is when all hell is going to break loose.”
The last 3 months have seen Russia's "de-dollarization" plans accelerate. First Gazprom clients shift to Euros and Renminbi, then the UK signs currency swap agreements with China, then NATO ally Turkey cuts ties and mulls de-dollarization, Switzerland jumps in the currency swap agreements, and BRICS create their own non-US-based funding vehicle, and then finally this week, Russia's oligarchs have shifted cash holdings to Hong Kong. But this week, as RT reports, Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “"The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China," the Russian regulator said.
Physical gold is migrating to the East (Russia, China) and, with it, power and influence. We see it with China and Russia progressively imposing their will, building consensus with a great many countries that wish to end American domination made possible by their capacity (privilege) of issuing the world reserve currency. The saying, “He who holds the (physical) gold makes the rules”, is truer than ever. The announcement of the creation of the BRICs development bank is just the first cornerstone in the new international monetary edifice. All we have to wait for is the first official announcement from the East of a new means of settlement of commercial trade based on one or more tangible assets, with gold. Afterwards, logically, an announcement of the convertibility of certain currencies into gold, or even the creation of a new currency that would be convertible to gold, should be made.
Empires are not the result of conscious thought; they happen when a group is large enough and powerful enough to impose itself on others. But empires are expensive. They are typically financed by theft and forced tribute. The imperial power conquers... steals... and then requires that its subjects pay “taxes” so that it can protect them. The US never got the hang of it. It conquers. But it loses money on each conquest. How does it sustain itself? With debt.
The failure to understand money is shared by all nations and transcends politics and parties. The destructive monetary expansion undertaken during the Democratic administration of Barack Obama by then Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke began in a Republican administration under Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Republican Richard Nixon’s historic ending of the gold standard was a response to forces set in motion by the weak dollar policy of Democrat Lyndon Johnson. For more than 40 years, one policy mistake has followed the next. Each one has made things worse. What they don’t understand is that money does not “create” economic activity.
With credit markets beginning to creak, market internals flailing, and numerous sectors and individual stocks in a state of correction or bear market, it appears Marc Faber's calls for a big correction in stocks is more right than wrong but the algo-driven exuberance in indices maintains the illusion a little longer (even as the number of leading stocks drops). However, with redemptions increasing in credit, and costs of funding rising, perhaps Faber's insights in the following interview with a radiant Trish Regan are about to be realized. "By printing money, [The Fed] has delayed the cleaning process," as mal-invested capital (and self-referential buybacks) have sustained (and even encouraged) the worst quality companies. As corporate defaults pick up (and The Fed's free money dries up), perhaps that cleaning process will be allowed into the free-market producing "the big sell-off" Faber sees in the Fall.
Gold Breaks Out As Tensions In Middle East, With Russia Intensify - Technicals and Fundamentals PositiveSubmitted by GoldCore on 08/08/2014 17:06 -0400
Gold is nearly 2% higher this week and its technical position has further improved (see key charts). On Wednesday, gold broke out of bullish descending wedge chart pattern that has formed in recent months. Another buy signal for gold came when gold rose above the 20 EMA and 50 EMA (exponential moving averages). Also positive is the fact that the price momentum oscillator (PMO) has turned up, indicating that a positive momentum shift has occurred.
So, globally interest rates are at ZERO or even negative and the markets have realized that QE doesn’t do much. What exactly does this leave for Central Banks to do?
In Which We Read That The "Proper Role Of A Central Bank Is To Counteract Market Turbulence Before It Happens"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/08/2014 14:03 -0400
Want to read a really terrifying article? Take a look at this August 6th Op-Ed piece in the FT by Draghi’s former colleague, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi: “The ECB Must Move to Counteract Market Turbulence”. Are you kidding me? This is what we have come to … that the proper role of a central bank is to counteract “market turbulence” before it happens? I’d laugh, but then I remember that Yellen means exactly the same thing when she refers to “macroprudential policy”, and I want to cry.
Investing in oneself and enterprises one actively controls may now be the only legitimate deployment of capital that qualifies as an investment in the traditional sense - that is, capital isn't being risked in rigged gambling halls and Ponzi schemes.