European Central Bank
A little followed development is revealing about the emerging financial architecture and the role of the dollar. A dispassionate discussion.
From the United States to Europe and Asia: The world's central banks are flooding markets with liquidity and pushing deeper into unknown monetary policy territory. Jim Grant tells Germany's Finanz und Wirtschaft that he "fears that this journey will not end well." The sharply thinking Wall Street veteran doesn’t trust the theoretical models of the central banks and warns of irrational exuberance in the financial markets adding that "the stock market is increasingly full of stocks that are borne aloft by hope rather than demonstrated performance."
Following Joerg Asmusen's somewhat surprisingly short 2-year stay at the ECB, stepping down as board member to become Germany's secretary of state for labor, the voice of economic reason in Europe has proposed 49-year-old female Sabine Lautenschlaeger to the ECB. Filling Asmussen's shoes among the ECB's "whatever it takes" crowd will be hard and while little is known of Lautenschlaeger's policy perspective, Reuters notes, she has been among those who have warned about potential conflicts of interest when the ECB has responsibility for both monetary policy and banking supervision, and argued against treating government bonds as risk-free assets in bank books.
Two phrases sum up the 'new normal' farce that is the world's equity markets in 2013... "Don't fight the Fed (or BoJ, or PBoC, or BoE)" and "Climbing the wall of worry"... one wonders, of course, what happens to 'climber' once the central bank's 'belay' is taken away (but that's just silly talk because it's all priced in, right?)...
"Twas the Friday before the Friday before Christmas..." and as the year end rapidly approaches the mainstream consensus is that 2014 will be another bouyant year for the stock market despite the impact of a potential Federal Reserve tapering. The optimistic view is an easy one. While it isn't popular, or fun, to look at the non-bullish view it is nonetheless important to consider the risks that could potentially lead to a larger than expected loss of investment capital. There is one simple truth about financial markets and investing: what goes up must come down. It is the downside risk that is most damaging to long term investment returns. Therefore, this week's "Things To Ponder" is a sampling of views and thoughts on what to watch out for as we enter the new year.
- J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $1 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe Related to Madoff (WSJ)
- Ford board aims to pin down CEO Mulally's plans (Reuters)
- Raising Minimum Wage Is a Bad Way to Help People (BBG)
- Japan Lawmakers Demand Speedy Pension Reform (WSJ)
- EU reaches landmark deal on failed banks (FT)
- In which Hilsenrath repeats what we said in August: Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates (WSJ)
- Senators Vow to Add to Iran Economic Sanctions in 2014 (BBG)
- Centerbridge in $3.3bn LightSquared bid (FT)
- Banks, Agencies Draw Battle Lines Over 'Volcker Rule' (WSJ)
For the last year or two, European banks have engaged in the ultimate of self-referential M.A.D. trades - buying the sovereign debt of their own nation in inordinate size to maintain the ECB's illusion of control (even as their economies collapse and stagnate) while referentially obtaining the funding for said purchase from the ECB by repoing the purchase back to the central bank, usually with no haircut to mention. Today though, as The FT reports, a top official at the European Central Bank has signalled it will try to force eurozone banks to hold capital against sovereign bonds, in an attempt to stop weak lenders using its cash to hoover up the debts of crisis-hit countries.
The FSB's first chairman was Mario Draghi, current President of the European Central Bank, while its current chairman is Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. The inclusion of Financial Market Infrastructures means that large parts of the global financial system is susceptible to bail-in and could potentially be bailed-in including exchange traded funds.
- Glass-Steagall Fans Plan New Assault If Volcker Rule Deemed Weak (BBG) ... "if"? The banks control the legislators and regulators...
- Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA (USA Today)
- Major tech companies push for limits on government surveillance (Reuters)
- Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog (BBG)
- Protesters fell Lenin statue, tell Ukraine's president 'you're next' (Reuters)
- Everyone must be flying private these days: EADS to cut 5000-6000 jobs, close Paris HQ in restructuring (FT)
- Big Players Trade 'Upstairs' (WSJ)
- There’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have (BBG)
- Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy (Reuters)
As the eurozone debt crisis has steadily widened the divide between Europe’s stronger northern economies and the weaker, more debt-laden economies in the south (with France a kind of no man’s land economy in between), one question is on everyone’s mind: Can Europe’s monetary union – indeed, the European Union itself – survive? Fiscal and financial measures aimed at strengthening eurozone governance have been inadequate to restore confidence in the euro. And Europe’s troubled economies have been slow to undertake structural reforms and by maintaining large trade surpluses, Germany is exporting unemployment and recession to its weaker neighbors. But how will Germany react when the north-south divide becomes large enough to threaten the euro’s survival? Two outcomes now seem possible. Europe’s north-south divide has become a time bomb lying at the foundations of the currency union.
While the perma bears may find comfort in the dollar's decline, its weakness has not been very broad, but really limited to the euro, sterling and currencies that move in their orbit. Still further dollar declines look likely near-term.
On November 7, when the ECB announced a "surprising" rate cut, 67 out of 70 economists who never saw it coming, were shocked. We were not. As we observed ten days prior, Europe had just seen the latest month of record low private sector loan growth in history. Or rather contraction. Back than we said that "one of our favorite series of posts describing the "Walking Dead" monetary zombie-infested continent that is Europe is the one showing the abysmal state Europe's credit creation machinery, operated by none other than the Bank of Italy's, Goldman's ECB's Mario Draghi, finds itself in." We concluded: "we now fully expect a very unclear Draghi, plagued by monetary zombie dreams, to do everything in his power, even though as SocGen notes, he really has no power in this case, to show he has not lost control and start with a rate cut in the November ECB meeting (eventually proceeding to a full-blown QE) in order to boost loan creation." Less than two weeks later he did just that. The problem, as the ECB reported today, is that not only did M3 decline once more, to 1.4% or the slowest pace in over 2 years and well below the ECB's 4.5% reference growth value, but more importantly lending to companies and households shrank 2.1% in October - the biggest drop on record! Draghi's monetary zombies are winning.
- The second coming of Obamacare website - will it work? (Reuters)
- Winter Storm Moves North as Macy’s Waits to Make Parade Call (BBG)
- Eyeing holiday sales, more U.S. retailers to open on Thanksgiving (Reuters)
- It's all Verizon's fault: H-P Will Replace Verizon in Hosting HealthCare.gov Website (WSJ)
- Bitcoin Service Targets Kenya Remittances With Cut-Rate Fees (BBG)
- Embattled Thai PM easily survives no-confidence vote, protests persist (Reuters)
- For U.S. stores it is ugly out there: in more ways than one (Reuters)
- Japan and S Korea military flout China air zone rules (FT)
- UBS Restructuring Forex Unit (WSJ)
- Trader Messages Scrutinized as UBS Bans Chats Among Firms (BBG)
- ECB warns on external risks to eurozone financial system (FT)
Recently, newspaper headlines declared that Greece would have a balanced budget for 2013 as a whole. The news came as quite a shock: Recall that when Greek officials came clean about the true state of their country’s public finances in 2010, the budget deficit was more than 10% of GDP – a moment of statistical honesty that triggered the eurozone debt crisis. It seemed too good to be true that the Greek deficit would be completely eliminated in just three years. In fact, it is too good to be true.
Are you deeply concerned about the future of America? Is something in your gut telling you that our system is fundamentally broken and that the mainstream media is not telling you the truth about what is happening? If so, you are definitely not alone. Right now, there are millions upon millions of Americans that are absolutely horrified as they watch this nation deteriorate. In fact, according to an analysis of recent polling data conducted by Real Clear Politics, approximately 68 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track and only 23.5 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the right track.