"In addition to the risk of a deeper profit recession, there is no doubt the recent sell-off has been exacerbated by policy impotence; the sense that policy-makers have little solution for global demand deficiency."
"The nominal GDP of the industrialized world has grown just 4.1% since the lows of Q1’2009, one of the tiniest, deflationary expansions ever. And while asset prices are up significantly since their 2008/09 lows, the underlying message from Wall Street in recent years has been doggedly deflationary."
By surprising markets with a move to a negative deposit rate, the Bank of Japan gave investors temporary reprieve, providing a much needed opportunity to pare portfolio risk at better prices. Unfortunately, the improvement in financial asset prices will be short-lived; except, of course, for long-maturity Treasuries.
As the great and the good gathered in Davos to ponder the next big thing, the pummeling of global equity markets brought key assumptions into question. Yet, their collective heads stayed buried in the snow with regard to the big ideas from years past, namely, the three grand economic experiments launched by the U.S., Japan and China following the Global Financial Crisis. By clinging to unrealistic growth expectations, the economic establishment has effectively bet everything on the success of these grand experiments, and the risk of losing that bet is rising inexorably.
Virtually every major program of every major nation-state is financially unsustainable going forward. Though triage is typically used in a medical setting, we are entering an era when financial triage will increasingly be necessary on a household, enterprise and national level.
“I think ageing demographics is a bigger issue in China than people think. And the problems it creates should be become evident as early as 2016.” – Stan Druckenmiller, 2013
A society without a functioning middle layer of economic and social activity is not stable, though repression can mask this for a time. This erosion of a self-employed, independent middle class was an important pre-condition for the collapse of Rome and the French Revolution. There is zero evidence that any of the drivers of this erosion is going to reverse.
As the towering forces that are prevailing against failing global economic architecture and the pit of debt beneath that structure, as laid out below, it is clear that the 'Epocalypse' - encompassing the roots "economic, epoch, collapse" and "apocalypse" - is here, and it is everywhere. The Great Collapse has already begun. What follows are the megatrends that will increasingly gang up in the first part of 2016 to stomp the deeply flawed global economy down into its own hole of debt.
American adults spent an average of $251 on lottery tickets. With a return of 53 cents on the dollar, this means the average person threw away $118 on unsuccessful lotto tickets – not a great investment. So why are we spending so much? Well, lotteries are a fun, cheap opportunity to daydream about the possibility of becoming an overnight millionaire (or in this case billionaire), but on the flip side people tend to overestimate the odds of winning. Lower-income demographics spend a much greater portion of their annual earnings on lottery tickets than do wealthier ones.
"Demographics may not rule absolutely, but they likely will dominate investment markets and returns for the next few decades until the Boomer phenomena fades away. The 1% – in addition to the 99 – will need extra doses of Xanax, or additional slices of cake, to cope."
Market psychology established in recent years is reversing. Market volatility is rising and will remain pervasive for a while as psychology, the change in direction of Fed policy, and the increases in general uncertainties, will all conspire to shape an environment ripe for sharp spikes in volatility which will be further amplified by rickety market liquidity.
Bill Dudley and the Federal Reserve (Fed), in their efforts to influence economic growth may have created a speculative and consumption driven environment that is crushing productivity growth. Ingenuity, not debt, made America an economic powerhouse. If we are to resume down that path we need the Fed to end their “self-defeating” policies and in its place we must demand ingenuity from them. The Fed, along with government, needs to properly incent productivity. The Fed should start this arduous task by removing excessive stimulus which will take the speculative fervor out of markets and allow asset bubbles to deflate.
Despite such endless financial engineering, sales for the S&P 500 have been declining for the last three quarters. And profits have declined for the first time since the 2009 expansion. Simply put: The recovery is a mirage... It isn’t real... And it isn’t sustainable.
Every year, Pew Research Center looks back at the most memorable facts that illustrate important trends shaping our world. From faltering faith in government to the decline of Christians in America and from increased racial tensions to the shrinking American middle-class, here are some of our most striking findings of 2015.
"The trouble is that rents are running high not because house prices are booming and/or construction is sawing but because structurally new entrants to the housing market are renters not owners. This is reflected in the very low first time homebuyer rate, less than 30 percent."