If nothing else we have learned it doesn’t matter how obvious the lie is if people don’t want to know the truth.
The current environment is distinct from the period of 2009-2013 when governments and central banks were quasi-coordinated in providing gargantuan amounts of stimulus, and when the geo-tensions were only chirping modestly. This year, governments and central banks have focused more generally on domestic issues. This is good in theory, but it has splintered coordination into a quasi-fracturing of the global monetary system. Diverging policies serve as a trigger for capital flow movements. They are shaking the foundation of capital markets, which in turn is causing second order effects like a mini-contagion. Amplified volatility in FX and commodity markets are warning signs. They appear on the cusp of spilling more broadly into other markets, exposing the full size of the iceberg.
"The bubble probably needs to continue in order to sustain the current global financial system and the necessary future deleveraging. However with yields moving ever lower in many parts of the world in recent times, partly due to weak growth, and with debt levels still moving higher, the chances are that most government bondholders are unlikely to achieve a positive real return over the medium to long-term from this starting point. Inflation or even the risk of sovereign restructuring will likely prevent this."
While we fully understand that when selling institutionally-priced newsletters to institutions (not retail for one simple reason: lack of "other people's money" to spend) one will have a far more lucrative career as a bull than as a bear simply because insecure (that would be most of them) institutional "strategists" prefer to surround themselves in cognitive bias-reinforcing groupthink just to convince themselves they are right, as the rating-agency era confirmed, one thing we are very confused by is whether David Rosenberg, who famously flipped from bear to bull a little over a year ago (recall David Rosenberg: Here’s why I’m bullish on the US economy), preaching a "wage-inflation" driven bout of economic growth which has not only not materialized, but the 10 Year recently hit 2014 lows, is now back to being a bear.
Virtually every country in the world spends more money than they collect in taxes, but no group of countries has done a better job at this than those that formed the Euro-zone. This collective group has so much debt, that a recent study by the BIS concluded it would take 20 consecutive years of surpluses to simply bring debt loads back to levels previously reached prior to the current crisis. Considering that this has never happened before, we have little confidence that this type of spending constraint can be accepted and implemented by any of the respective governments. Every market has a release valve, and for Europe it will be the bond market. The beginning of the end, so to speak, really starts when social unrest reaches a new level. It’s at that point confidence rapidly declines and so too will the European bond market.
"...what was once a privilege is now a burden, undermining job growth, pumping up budget and trade deficits and inflating financial bubbles. To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar’s reserve-currency status...The privilege of having the world’s reserve currency is one America can no longer afford."
- former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team.
"Washington is absolutely correct, in my opinion, to want to boost American consumption, but the Fed seems to be trying to boost consumption by igniting another asset bubble in the hopes that, like before 2007, Americans will feel “richer” and so will consume more. This isn't sustainable, however, and will leave us, as Paul and Druckenmiller fear, even more heavily indebted and more dangerously exposed to the underlying weakness in demand."
The single most important item for investors to understand is collateral. Specifically, how there is a huge shortage of high grade collateral backstopping the trillions in derivatives trades owned by the TBTFs
“At This Point You Just Have to Laugh”. In every important respect, the Fed and the ECB and their brethren are no longer central banks at all. They are Ministries of Markets, no different from a Ministry of Industry or – even more eerily similar – the Ministry of Culture you would find in most European governments. At this point the Narrative hegemony is complete. There’s no longer even a cursory bow to the idea that fundamentals matter. So I’m calling a top. Not a top in markets, because I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen next. But I’m calling a top in the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence because it has, in fact, reached its asymptotic limit of influence and belief.
As I have said for at least a year now, until and unless we see a weekly close (ideally consecutive weekly closes) in the VIX index below 10, then I judge risk-on has more to go. We got close in June/early July, but we did not get there. I would expect that, if I am right about the next quarter or two, then VIX should hit this target during this timeframe. At that point, positioning for the big turn and reversal of large chunks of the nominal wealth/asset price gains since early 2009 would take over as my key investment strategy.
The proverbial "all you need to know"
"The ECB's quantitative expansion is hitting the financial system at a time when broad liquidity is also very high. The rise in excess liquidity, i.e. the residual in the model of Figure 3, is supportive of all assets outside cash, i.e. bonds, equities and real estate. The current episode of excess liquidity, which began in May 2012, appears to have been the most extreme ever in terms of its magnitude and the ECB actions have the potential to make it even more extreme, in our view.... These liquidity boosts are not without risks. We note that they risk creating asset bubbles which when they burst can destroy wealth leading to adverse economic outcomes. Asset yields are mean reverting over long periods of time and thus historically low levels of yields in bonds, equities and real estate are unlikely to be sustained forever."- JPMorgan
It appears there is another nation on planet Earth that is becoming isolated. One by one, Russia and China appear to be finding allies willing to 'de-dollarize'; and the latest to join this trend is serial-defaulter Argentina. As Reuters reports, China and Argentina's central banks have agreed a multi-billion dollar currency swap operation "to bolster Argentina's foreign reserves" or "pay for Chinese imports with Yuan," as Argentina's USD reserves dwindle. In addition, Argentina claims China supports the nation's plans in the defaulted bondholder dispute.