The models we use for decision making determine the outcomes we experience. So, if our models are faulty or flawed, we make bad decisions and suffer bad outcomes. How broken are they? Steve Keen explains...
In all the annals of investing, few seemingly innocuous phrases incorporate as much by way of grave implication as those four words, “a shift to banknotes”. 2008 was bad. With central bank policy now at the outer reaches of the possible and even of the theoretical, the outlook is certainly uncertain. Not wishing to participate in the terminal stages of a momentum-driven bubble is not bearish so much as simply sane.
"When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low. The legislators were concerned about retirees living off their savings and able to obtain only very low rates of return on those savings. I was concerned about those seniors as well."
- Ben Bernanke first blog post
New report says there are only "20 years of known mineable reserves of gold." Most of the larger gold producing countries, not just Australia, the U.S. and South Africa but also Canada, Peru, Indonesia and others, have all seen production drops in recent years - see charts.
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.
Up until now, the world's descent into the NIRPy twilight of fiat currency was a function of failing monetary policy around the globe as central bank after desperate central bank implemented negative and even more negative (in the case of Denmark some four times rapid succession) rates, hoping to make saving so prohibitive consumers would have no choice but to spend the fruits of their labor, or better yet, take out massive loans which they would never be able to repay. However, nobody said it was only central banks who could be the executioners of the world's saver class: governments are perfectly capable too. Such as Australia's. According to Australia's ABC News, the "Federal Government looks set to introduce a tax on bank deposits in the May budget."
"The Risks Are Very High" Swiss Billionaire Warns "Global Financial Markets Have Never Been This Distorted Before"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/29/2015 20:15 -0400
"Global financial markets are more distorted than ever before and accordingly, the risks are very high... All equity and currency markets are pretty extended, at present; and many of the bond markets are as well... We know that the longer a distortion prevails, the more investors get used to it and it becomes the “new normal” to them. That’s where the problem lies! I see three potential threats..." - Felix Zulauf
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
No wonder complacency reigns supreme: any time the stock market tumbles by more than 3%, a Federal Reserve flack runs to a microphone and starts talking about how the Fed stands ready to launch QE4 or "whatever it takes" to push stocks back into rally mode. For context, recall that both VIX and VXX tend to reach 40 in real moments of panic/fear. That the VXX "soaring" 2 points from 24 to 26 now qualifies as an extreme of fear is absurd. Yet this is the logical result of central banks constantly "saving" equities every time they swoon the slightest bit: traders and punters know that the Fed making reassuring sounds is all that's needed to reverse any decline and restart the Bull advance.
Finally The "Very Serious People" Get It: QE Will "Permanently Impair Living Standards For Generations To Come"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2015 23:18 -0400
"In the long run classical economics would tell us that the pricing distortions created by the current global regimes of QE will lead to a suboptimal allocation of capital and investment, which will result in lower output and lower standards of living over time. In fact, although U.S. equity prices are setting record highs, real median household incomes are 9 percent lower than 1999 highs. The report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch plainly supports the conclusion that QE and the associated currency depreciation is not leading to higher global output. The cost of QE is greater than the income lost to savers and investors. The long-term consequence of the new monetary orthodoxy is likely to permanently impair living standards for generations to come while creating a false illusion of reviving prosperity."
The black line's trend is nobody's friend.
The Bubble Machine Is Complete: Soaring Stocks Push Investors Into Bonds Whose Issuers Buy More StocksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/28/2015 09:29 -0400
As JPM notes, soaring equity prices have had the effect of altering investors’ asset allocations, effectively tipping the balance towards equities even as money flows into bond funds. "The more equity prices increase, driven by either hedge funds or investors with low equity allocations, such as Japanese pension funds the higher the incentive by other investors who are already very overweight equities to buy bonds to prevent their bond allocation from falling too low."
A five sigma event signifies extreme conditions, or an extremely rare occurrence. To bring this discussion from sports and weather to the financial world, we can relate a 5 sigma event to the stock market. Since 1975 the largest annual S&P 500 gain and loss were 34% and -38% respectively. A 5 sigma move would equate to an annual gain or loss of 91%. With a grasp of the rarity of a 5 sigma occurrence, let us now consider the yield spread, or difference, in bond yields between Germany and The United States. As shown in graph #1 below German ten year bunds yield 0.19% (19 one-hundredths of one percent) and the U.S. ten year note yields 1.92%, resulting in a 1.73% yield spread. This is the widest that spread has been in 30 years.
If normalisation is the result of economic recovery we will be familiar with the playbook. However, The Fed has to face the possibility that, for whatever reason, highly suppressed interest rates are not working, and an escape from the zero interest rate bound without economic recovery may have to be contemplated. If interest rates cannot rise, then the dollar itself is ultimately exposed to loss of confidence in the foreign exchanges. The dawning realisation that after recent strength, the dollar is vulnerable after all can be expected to be reflected in a positive sentiment towards gold, which once under way could drive the price up dramatically due to the lack of available bullion.
"This market is dumber than a mule, and the nation’s central bank and its counterparts around the world have made it so."