Financial engineering masks the true performance and health of companies and nations. But the damage goes much deeper, deluding decision-makers into thinking that things are better than they are, and that solutions to problems can be deferred.
"When I was Chair of the Federal Reserve I used to testify before US Congressman Ron Paul... we had some interesting discussions... We would never have reached this position of extreme indebtedness were we on the gold standard, because the gold standard is a way of ensuring that fiscal policy never gets out of line."
When the history of these times is written, former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan will be one of the major villains, but also one of the greatest mysteries. This is so because he has, in effect, been three different people.
A year ago it was the Ruble, but for much of the last year it is the South African Rand that has been the most volatile currency in the world. That is until the last week, as Turkey deals with rising domestic instability (and Erdogan's push for total rule), the Lira has become the world's most unstable currency...
While the Turkish central bank's hand are largely tied as per Erdogan's decree that no rates are to be hiked, moments ago the monetary authority, faced with another record plunge in the currency, had no choice but to intervene when it cut FX RRRs by 50 bps, citing "unhealthy" price formation and said it would take additional measures if needed.
One day after Toshiba's new CEO, Satoshi Tsunakawa, pulled a page from the book of his ill-fated predecessor Hisao Tanaka who presided over the biggest accounting fraud scandal in the company's history, and bowed down during a press conference to apologize to investors, the company's stock crashed by the limit 20%, bringing its two day loss to 32% and wiping out $5 billion in market cap in two days.
"Markets don’t have a purpose any more - they just reflect whatever central planners want them to. Why wouldn’t it lead to the biggest collapse? My strategy doesn’t require that I’m right about the likelihood of that scenario. Logic dictates to me that it’s inevitable..."
Six months ago, Steven Mnuchin became finance chair for the Trump campaign. Having succesfully helped to raise 10s of millions of dollars for the campaign, the former Goldman Sachs partner and Soros Fund management employee is now positioned for something much larger as Donald Trump reportedly told his aides today that he wants Mnuchin to serve as his Treasury Secretary.
Global stocks continued their selloff this morning, driven by surging speculation about the liquidity, solvency and viability of Deutsche Bank, which plunged 9% after opening in German trading today, dropping to a new all time single-digit low of €9.90, while its default risk soared to new all time highs.
For most of 2016, Deutsche Bank shares had been sliding fast. On Monday, they crashed, down more than 7%, after Angela Merkel refused to consider a bailout for the troubled lender. The bank's bonds have slumped, while it default risk spiked. As some have correctly put it "it all has a very 2008 feel to it."