European Central Bank
The market is prone to temporary fits of shared enthusiasm – for emerging-market debt, for Internet stocks, for residential mortgage-backed securities, for Greek government debt. Traders need not wait to see when or whether the profits materialize. IBGYBG, they say – I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone. There are numerous routes to bezzle and febezzle... traders borrowed money from the future. And then the future came, as it always does, turning the bezzle into a bummer.
Governments and their central bank creations usurped market-based monetary and banking systems to serve the plundering purposes of kings, princes, parliaments, and special interest groups who all wanted to hold the magical hand of the monetary printing press. Print up money (or its digital substitutes and surrogates in more modern times) and you can have access to all the hard work of others without the reciprocal effort. The monetary social engineers' century-long legacy in the arena of money and banking has been the booms and busts of the business cycle. The time has come to end the tragic and disruptive reign of monetary central planning.
The US and world economies are drifting inexorably into the next recession owing to the deflationary collapse of commodities, capital spending and world trade. These are the inevitable “morning after” consequence of the 20-year global credit binge which has now reached its apogee. The apparent global boom during that period was actually a central bank driven excursion into the false economics of household borrowing to inflate consumption in the DM economies; and frenzied, uneconomic investing to inflate GDP in China and the EM. The common denominator was falsification of financial prices. By destroying honest price discovery in the financial markets, the world’s convoy of money-printing central banks led by the Fed elicited a huge excess of financialization relative to economic output.
"There’s a lack of faith in monetary policy -- you’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it, you’ve cut rates to zero, you’re printing money -- and still inflation is lower. I think this is a dangerous situation if people perceive that it has the responsibility and it doesn’t have the tools."
- MOAR: Euro-Area Growth Seen Slowing in Sign More Stimulus May Be Ahead (BBG)
- MOAR: Japan's wage growth slows in August, keeping pressure on BOJ for more stimulus (Reuters)
- MOAR: Stocks, Copper, Emerging Markets Jump as Fed Delay on Rates Seen (BBG)
- And yet... Central Banks Lose Bond-Market Credibility as Woes Mount (BBG)
- World Bank cuts Asia growth forecast on China and US rates (BBC)
Japan has a nigh endless supply of insane Keynesians doing the same thing over and over and over again. But support is now growing around the world for the next round ofspending to be funded by “People’s QE.” The idea behind “People’s QE” is that central banks would directly fund government spending... and even inject money directly into household bank accounts, if need be. And the idea is catching on. That’s the monster coming to towns and villages near you! Call it “overt monetary financing.” Call it “money from helicopters.” Call in “insane.” But it won’t be unpopular. Who will protest when the feds begin handing our money to “mid- and low-income households”?
From time to time, the data (from economic activity, inflationary pressure, risk appetite and asset valuations) points unambiguously in a single direction and experience tells us that such confluences are worth watching. We are today at such a point, and the worry is that each indicator is flashing red.
When a lot of Keynesian cowbell doesn't work, the only cure for the deflationary fever must be more Keynesian cowbell which explains why Japan is about to double down on Abenomics, and why the ECB will almost invariably expand PSPP now that the deflationary boogeyman is back in Europe. Indeed, S&P is now out calling for ECB Q€ to last for nearly two years longer than originally planned and for the size of the program to be expanded to a Dr. Evil-ish €2,400,000,000,000.
The divergence theme is likely to strengthen in the week ahead.
"By relaxing constraints on other economic actors, central-bank support may create opportunities for them to shirk their responsibilities. In turn, this may render it more difficult for the central bank to withdraw its exceptional measures. The road to central bankers’ hell may be paved with good intentions."
When risk sold off last week in the wake of the Fed’s so-called “clean relent,” it signalled at best a policy mistake and at worst the loss of any and all credibility. Tonight, Yellen gets a do-over.
Quantitative easing, as this policy is known, has bailed out bonus-happy banks and made the rich richer. Banks have been the biggest beneficiaries, with their 20- or 30-times leveraged balance sheets. Asset managers and hedge funds have benefited, too. Owners of property have made out like bandits. In fact, anyone with assets has grown much richer. All of us who work in financial markets owe a debt to QE.
What can we expect to happen in our homeland when finally even the generally uninformed population also understands that governments they have elected for decades, and its Fed facilitator or controller, jointly have waged a century-long war on its citizens? The people of America cannot make a counter offensive similar to those of sovereign nations; however people are uniting in resistance to robber baron policies, as evidenced by the popularity of nonpoliticians currently in candidacy for the office of president. These troops will mass also, it just remains to be seen what form their eventual counter offensive will be. The established order will be challenged.
So far, it’s a different type of crisis – market tumult in the face of global QE, in the face of ultra-low interest rates and the perception of a concerted global central bank liquidity backstop. It’s the kind of crisis that’s so far been able to achieve a decent head of steam without causing much angst. And it’s difficult to interpret this bullishly. If Brazil goes into a tailspin, it will likely pull down Latin American neighbors, along with vulnerable Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and others. And then a full-fledged “risk off” de-risking/de-leveraging would have far-reaching ramifications, perhaps even dislocation and a collapse of the currency peg in China. China does have a number of major trading partners in trouble. Hard for me to believe the sophisticated players aren’t planning on slashing risk.
The growing roar of 'the establishment' crying for help from The Fed should make investors nervous. While your friendly local asset-getherer and TV-talking-head will proclaim how a rate-hike is so positive for the economy and stocks, we wonder why it is that The IMF, The World Bank, Larry Summers (twice), Goldman Sachs, China (twice), and now no lessor nobel-winner than Paul Krugman has demanded that The Fed not hike rates for fear of - generally speaking - "panic and turmoil," however, as Krugman notes, “I think it would be a terrible mistake to move. But I’m not confident that they won’t make a mistake."