European Central Bank
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."
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.
There is a risk that Japan, China, and the US will not sit on their hands while the euro loses value, with the world possibly even sliding into a currency war. Moreover, the southern EU countries, instead of leaving prices unchanged, could abandon austerity and issue an ever greater volume of new bonds to stimulate the economy. Competitiveness gains and rebalancing would fail to materialize, and, after an initial flash in the pan, the eurozone would return to permanent crisis. The euro, finally and fully discredited, would then meet a very messy end. One can only hope that this scenario does not come to pass, and that the southern countries stay the course of austerity. This is their last chance.
We're just a little over two weeks into PSPP and signs are already beginning to show that the ECB is effectively breaking the market. "The soaring cost of borrowing government bonds in secured lending markets highlights the distortions caused by the ECB's asset-purchase scheme, which analysts say could clog up Europe's financial system," Reuters notes.
Ignoring the considerable risks in the mid 2000s led to the global financial crisis. Irish politicians, bankers and financial experts, like their international counterparts, are slow learners ...
Amid firey austerity protests at the site of its new headquarters, the ECB has a job opening available.
“Right now we are at the cusp," billionaire George Soros tells Bloomberg TV in this brief clip, the chances of Greece leaving the euro area are now 50-50 and the country could go "down the drain." The 84-year-old fears that talks between Greece and 'the institutions' could "break down," adding that "Greece is a long-festering problem that was mishandled from the beginning by all parties," concluding that the chances of Greece leaving the euro area are now 50-50 and the country could go "down the drain." Finally, Soros notes, what worries him the most is Ukraine.
- Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead (Reuters)
- Greece promises list of reforms by Monday to unlock cash (Reuters)
- Merkel Points Tsipras Toward Deal With Greece’s Creditors (BBG)
- Banks Shift Bond Portfolios -Move to ‘held to maturity’ category aims to guard against rising rates, shield capital (WSJ)
- Beijing to Shut All Major Coal Power Plants to Cut Pollution (BBG)
- As Silence Falls on Chicago Trading Pits, a Working-Class Portal Also Closes (NYT)
- Oil below $56 as Saudi output near record, China activity slows (Reuters)
*FISCHER SAYS RATE LIFTOFF LIKELY WARRANTED BEFORE END-2015
With the world now convinmced that Janet Yellen is as dovish as she has ever been on rate hikes, today comes the first post-FOMC speech. None other than Vice-chair Stanley Fischer is due to address The Economic Club of New York on the topic of "Monetary-policy lessons and the way ahead." As Art Cashin warned this morning, Fischer "seems to feel that the Fed must raise rates this year. He is also the only Fed official to concede that any rate hike will be different than any seen before."
QE makes sense only from a Keynesian/socialist perspective and ignores the long-term cost of low interest rate policies to individual investors and financial institutions.
What happens in the event a Fed rate hike triggers widening corporate credit spreads in a corporate bond market devoid of liquidity? Could it indeed be the case that the Fed’s highly anticipated “lift-off” will serve as the catalyst for credit market carnage? Some traders think so.
It matters not who is in charge of the Fed or what rules Congress may insist that it adopts. Once money printing, via fiat or fractional reserve credit creation, is seen to be both feasible, justified, and legal nothing and no one can stop it. The political pressure to fund government programs will be irresistible. Everyone knows that the Fed seemingly has the ability to solve their problem by monetizing the federal debt. Should it refuse to do so, we would see riots in the streets similar to what is happening in Europe as protesters target the European Central Bank. The only solution is to destroy the monster that makes it all possible, the Fed.
Back in 2009, when aside from a few insiders, nobody had heard of HFT, Zero Hedge launched its crusade to expose the algorithmic scourge that has since then caused an equity, treasury and now US Dollar flash crash, and has been the subject of a Michael Lewis bestseller and resulted in countless market halts and failures. More importantly, there is now roughly 50 pages of just bibliography citing the evidence-based, academic research that has shown just how pervsavibely, maliciously and premeditatedly HFTs manipulate, destabilize, impair and otherwise destroy every single market in which they participate.
Debt saturation and debt fatigue = diminishing returns on central bank tricks. The diminishing returns manifest in three ways: the gains from each round of central-bank tricks are declining, the periods of stability following the latest “save” are shrinking and the amplitude of each episode of debt crisis is expanding.
That the unraveling is speeding up is not just perception - it’s reality.