There are so many parallels between the current period since 2007 in the U.S. (The Great Recession), the period since 1990 in Japan (Japan’s 2+ lost decades), and the period after 1929 in the US (The Great Depression) because they are all periods of a ‘balance-sheet recession’ (or similarly, ‘secular stagnation'; that it is next to impossible to dismiss the comparison. Using this, there is an important lesson for the Fed to consider now in weighing whether to raise rates.
Debt is a fickle witch. When left to its own devices, which it has been for nearly seven years with interest rates at the zero bound, it tends to get into trouble. Unchecked credit initially seeps, and eventually finds itself fracked, into the dark, dank nooks and crannies of the fixed income markets whose infrastructures and borrowers are ill-suited to handle the capacity. Consider the two flashiest badges of wealth in America - cars and homes...
The Fed’s zero interest rate policy has provided a subsidy to investors for the past 7 years. The lure of easy profits from cheap money was wildly attractive and readily accepted by investors. The Fed “put” gave investors great confidence that they could outperform their exceptionally low cost of capital. These implicit promises by central banks encouraged trillions of dollars into ‘carry trades’ and various forms of market speculation. Complacent investors maintain these trades, despite the Fed’s warning of a looming reduction in the subsidy, and despite a balance sheet expected to shrink in 2016. It has been a risk-chasing ‘game of chicken’ that is coming to an end. Changing conditions have skewed risk/reward to the downside. This is particularly true because financial assets prices are exceptionally expensive...There are warning signs and visible market stresses beyond those mentioned yesterday.
We were amused to learn that in the quarter in which AAPL stock almost hit a new all time high, the Swiss Central Bank, which reported a record $20 billion loss in the second quarter, and a record $52 billion in the first half, added another 500,000 AAPL shares, bringing its new grand total to a whopping 9.4 million shares, equivalent to $1.2 billion as of June 30 (well below that now following the recent 10% correction).
It wasn’t until the Americans were free to issue unlimited amounts of ‘dollars’ that these claims lost their soundness in a rambunctious belief in the never-ending global supremacy of US manufacturing. Now the damage is done. The gross misallocations that have plagued the world economy for well over four decades cannot be corrected without a cataclysmic event that will dramatically change living standards as the US realign their manufacturing and service sectors. But it cannot continue indefinitely either. Something will have to give.
What is going on here: is it just more seller than buyers, who are frontrunning an epic curve flattening or even inversion as may well happen once the Fed launches its rate hiking cycle? Or is something else happening behind the scenes. We ask because in addition to the normal selloff in cash and derivative products, something far more dramatic took place in the repo market where the repo rate on the 2Y just suddenly plunged out of nowhere.
'Death of gold' has been greatly exaggerated. It is important to consider gold in local currency terms. In euro, gold is up 2% in 2015, after 13% gain in 2014.
The reality might just be that the collective "we," and quite possibly sooner than we think, really will need a bigger boat. That is, as it pertains to the global debt markets, which have swollen past the $200 trillion mark this year rendering the great white featured in Jaws which can be equated with past debt markets as defenseless and small as a small, striped Nemo by comparison. The question for the ages will be whether size really does matter when it comes to the debt markets...
"Increasingly concerned about the markets, I’ve taken more aggressive action than in 2007, the last time I soured on the equity markets. Let me explain why and what I’m doing to try to profit from what may lie ahead."
The headlines are dramatic, ugly and depressing to anyone who holds gold right now. Broad market sentiment has shifted from disdain and dismissive to highly negative. Hedge funds are shorting gold aggressively, hedge funds that own gold are being "outed". The market pundits are are sticking the proverbial knife in and twisting it with glee.
When we insist that markets are broken and the equities have been consigned to the gambling casinos, look no farther than today’s filing by Alpha Natural Resources. Markets, which were this wrong on a prominent name like ANRZ at the center of the global credit boom, did not make a one-time mistake; they are the mistake. As it now happens, the global credit boom is over; DM consumers are stranded at peak debt; and the China/EM investment frenzy is winding down rapidly. Now comes the tidal wave of global deflation...
We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history. Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. China is the biggest domino about to fall, and from a great height as well, threatening to flatten everything in its path on the way down. This is the beginning of a New World Disorder…
Will the Japanese “monetary perpetuum mobile” ever get questioned by financial markets?
One would think contrived confidence would lead to more confidence, and manipulated market record highs would lead in abundant euphoria and market bullishness, a traditional reflexive feedback loop used and abused by central banks the world over over the past century. One would be wrong.
"If circumstances cause these price-insensitive buyers to turn around and become price-insensitive sellers, there are not a lot of candidates to take the other side. Be prepared for the possibility that some of the same assets that have again and again risen to prices that many investors said were impossible show more downside volatility than investors have bargained for."