"Debt increases tail-risk," warns anti-fragility expert Nassim Taleb, "whether it's personal, corporate, or governmental." A rise in debt, he warns, implies nothing less than a rise in "the risk of catastrophe," and Taleb chides, governments "should be focused in risk-management... instead of creating these risks." This brief Bloomberg TV clip cuts to the chase as the normally circumlocutory Taleb unloads on the perils of central banks, "Mr. Greenspan created tail risk by eliminating the business cycle," and since then tail-risks have accumulated with debt the "number one creator of these risks." In a fascinating phrase, Taleb notes, "corporate debt is benign," since in failure it turns into equity, "but government debt is another matter... for it turns into inflation or worse invasion..."
"We already live in a financial economy in which the debt and capital markets exceed the value of the real economy by far," Marc Faber explains to Germany's Finanzen100, "and that's before the current formation of bubbles." His most ominous warning, and one that fits perfectly with the seeming insanity of Federal Reserve (and all developed market central banks) is that "the next time a bubble bursts, then the capitalist economic system as we know will falter."
Dispassionate discussion of the investment climate.
Given our earlier discussion of Nobel winner Sargent's comments on Greece and the gold standard, and the ongoing melt-up in asset markets due to the 'limitless money-printing' of central banks around the world, we thought it worth a look at what a gold standard is (and is not). Before 1974, U.S. dollars were backed by gold. This meant that the federal government could not print more money than it could redeem for gold. While this constrained the federal government, it also provided citizens with a relatively stable purchasing power for goods and services. Today's paper currency has no intrinsic value. Professor Larry White asks, should the United States return to a gold standard?
Nobel Winner Dares To Go There: "No Reason To Fear Deflation... Greece May Benefit From Gold Standard"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/16/2013 12:45 -0500
"Historically, there is no reason to fear deflation," Nobel Laureate Thomas Sargent explains to Germany's Wiwo.de, "we all benefit from lower prices." Crucially, he continues, "countries with declining prices, such as Greece, must improve the competitiveness they have lost in recent years," requiring falling wages and rising productivity (and falling unit labor costs) which will lead to companies cutting prices, "this is not a dangerous deflation, but part of the necessary correction so that these countries are internationally competitive again." That central banks pursue an inflation rate of around 2%, Sargent blasts, is because they consider it their job to "make bad debt good debt," adding that inflation is "a major redistribution machine - reducing the real debt burden for the benefit of creditors and devaluing the assets of the creditors." A return to a gold standard,he concludes, to prevent governments and central banks from limitless money-printing "would not be foolish."
The Unspoken, Festering Secret At The Heart Of Shadow Banking: "Self-Securitization" ... With Central BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/15/2013 16:45 -0500
The implication of this particular and quite unprecedented shadow banking circle jerk, which could very easily make even the direct wealth transfer resulting from trillions in QE pale by comparison, is so stunning that we leave it up to the reader to come to their own conclusion.
According to the popular way of thinking, bubbles are an important cause of economic recessions. The main question posed by experts is how one knows when a bubble is forming. It is held that if the central bankers knew the answer to this question they might be able to prevent bubble formations and thus prevent recessions. Contrary to Shiller, in order to establish that a bubble is forming we don’t need to apply the same methodology employed by psychologists. What we require is the establishment of a correct definition of what bubbles are all about. Once it is done, one discovers that bubbles have nothing to do with some kind psychological malfunction of individuals – they are the result of loose monetary policies of the central bank.
Yesterday, the World Gold Council released its Gold Demand Trends 2013 Report which demonstrates quite clearly that the Chinese continue to accumulate gold; gold continues to flow east to both government and consumer channels.
On December 23, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) will celebrate its 100th birthday, so we thought it was time to take a look at the Fed’s real accomplishment, and the practices and policies it has employed during this time to rob the public of its wealth. The criticism is directed not only at the world’s most powerful central bank - the Fed - but also at the concept of central banks in general, because they are the antithesis of fiscal responsibility and financial constraint as represented by gold and a gold standard. The Fed was sold to the public in much the same way as the Patriot Act was sold after 9/11 - as a sacrifice of personal freedom for the promise of greater government protection. Instead of providing protection, the Fed has robbed the public through the hidden tax of inflation brought about by currency devaluation.
We have seen a confluence of events that suggests we may be reaching the terminal point of the financial markets merry-go-round – that point just before the ride stops suddenly and unexpectedly and the passengers are thrown from their seats. Having waited with increasing concern to see what might transpire from the gridlocked US political system, the market was rewarded with a few more months’ grace before the next agonising debate about raising the US debt ceiling. There was widespread relief, if not outright jubilation. Stock markets rose, in some cases to all-time highs. But let there be no misunderstanding on this point: the US administration is hopelessly bankrupt. (As are those of the UK, most of western Europe, and Japan.) The market preferred to sit tight on the ride, for the time being.
Discussion of a market bubble (in stocks, credit, bonds, Farm-land, residential real estate, or art) have dominated headlines in recent weeks. However, QEeen Yellen gave us the all-clear this morning that there was "no bubble." Are we currently witnessing a market bubble? It is very possible; however, as STA's Lance Roberts notes, if we are, it will be the first market bubble in history to be seen in advance (despite Bullard's comments in opposition to that "fact"). From a contrarian investment view point, there is simply "too much bubble talk" currently which means that there is likely more irrational excess to come. The lack of "economic success" will likely mean that the Fed remains engaged in its ongoing QE programs for much longer than currently expected - and perhaps Hussman's pre-crash bubble anatomy is dead on...
Hunting season is off to a good start this week, and I’m not just talking about deer hunting. It seems that former Fed officials declared open season on their ex-colleagues. First, Andrew Huszar, who once ran the Fed’s mortgage buying operation, let loose in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Huszar apologized to all Americans for his role in the toxic QE programs. And then today, the WSJ struck again, this time with an op-ed by former FOMC Governor Kevin Warsh. Warsh is a former Morgan Stanley investment banker whose 2006 to 2011 stint on the FOMC spanned the end of the housing boom and the first few years of “unconventional” policy measures. After such a solid grounding in the ways of the Fed and Wall Street, he recently morphed into a critic of the status quo. His criticisms are welcome and we believe accurate, but they’re also oh so carefully expressed. They’re written with the polite wording and between-the-lines meanings that you might expect from such an establishment figure. He seems to be holding back. So, what does he really want to say?
The notion that the euro area crisis is over has recently been heavily propagated by EU politicians and the mainstream media. However, it is way too early for such victory laps. Hans-Werner Sinn is perfectly correct in pointing out that the ECB's attempts to restore the 'monetary policy transmission mechanism' by suppressing interest rates in the periphery is going to perpetuate capital malinvestment,delay the necessary reforms and these interventions have actually scared private capital away, as investors require adequate compensation for the risks they are taking. Meanwhile, savers are ultimately paying for this ongoing waste of scarce capital. It is high time that central banking is recognized for the disease it is. Without central banks aiding and abetting credit expansion, this situation would never have arisen. Even a free banking system practicing fractional reserve banking could not possibly have created such a gigantic boom-bust scenario. Money needs to be fully privatized – the State cannot be trusted with it.
Despite the ECB's recent "stunning" rate cut, which sent the EUR modestly lower by a few hundred pips, the resultant resurge in the European currency has left the European Central Bank even more stunned: just what does it have to do to force its currency lower and boost Europe's peripheral economies, especially in a world in which every other major central banks is printing boatloads of money each and every month. We hinted at precisely what the next steps will be two days ago when in "Next From The ECB: Here Comes QE, According To BNP" we said "BNP is ultimately correct as the European experiment will require every weapon in the ECB's arsenal, and sooner or later the ECB, too, will succumb to the same monetary lunacy that has gripped the rest of the developed world in the ongoing "all in" bet to reflate or bust. All logical arguments that outright monetization of bonds are prohibited by various European charters will be ignored: after all, there is "political capital" at stake, and as Mario Draghi has made it clear there is no "Plan B." Which means the only question is when will Europe join the lunaprint asylum: for the sake of the systemic reset we hope the answer is sooner rather than later." Two days later, the answer just appeared when moments ago the WSJ reported that the ECB hinted more QE is, as we predicted, on the table.
- Desperate Philippine typhoon survivors loot, dig up water pipes (Reuters)
- Fading Japanese market momentum frustrates investors (FT)
- China's meager aid to the Philippines could dent its image (Reuters)
- Headline du jour: Granted 'decisive' role, Chinese markets decide to slide (Reuters)
- Central Banks Risk Asset Bubbles in Battle With Deflation Danger (BBG)
- Navy Ship Plan Faces Pentagon Budget Cutters (WSJ)
- Investors pitch to take over much of Fannie and Freddie (FT)
- To expand Khamenei’s grip on the economy, Iran stretched its laws (Reuters)
- Short sellers bet that gunmaker shares are no long shot (FT)
- Deflation threat in Europe may prompt investment rethink (Reuters)