Central bankers reached a new low overnight when Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan warned of "disastrous consequences" from a pulpit in a church on a historic hill in the town of Uster, Switzerland, which Bloomberg dubbed the 'sermon on the hill.' "Hungry people don't stay hungry for long, they get hope from fire and smoke as they reach for the dawn..."
All the stimulus, all $50 trillion or so globally, has been thrown into the fire, and look at where we are. There’s nothing left, and there won’t be another $50 trillion. Sure, stock markets set records. But who cares with oil at $40? Calling for more QE, from Japan and/or Europe or even grandma Yellen, is either entirely useless or will work only to prop up stock markets for a very short time. Diminishing returns. The one word that comes to mind here is bloodbath.
A week after stunned Tribeca woke up to news of a grizzly death in which a Citigroup managing director living on Greenwich Street was found dead in his bathtub with a slashed throat and the lack of a suicide weapon on the scene suggesting there was foul play involved, another banking executive was killed over the weekend, when 54-year-old Melissa Millian, a senior vice president at MassMutual, was found lying in a road in Simsbury, Connecticut, having been stabbed in the chest.
On the heels of the biggest miss on record for US Manufacturing PMI (which corresponded un-decoupling-ly with disappointing European and Chinese Manufacturing PMIs), Markit's Services PMI printed 56.3, missing 57.3 expectations and notably down from October's 57.1 to 7 month lows. As Markit notes, the index has now pointed to softer growth of business activity in each of the past five months, to signal a sustained loss of momentum since the post-crisis peak seen in June. What is even more worrying... Markit points out that the economic upturn has lost considerable momentum, and with extreme weather hitting parts of the country, growth could slow even further.
Goosing stocks ever higher will eventually push wealth inequality to the point that it unleashes social instability.
With President Obama proclaiming this morning "it's too early to tell" if a nuclear-deal with Iran is still possible; and apparent confirmation this afternoon that differences are "still significant," the US is said to be discussing extending the nuclear-deal deadline. Yet again no consequences (for a newfound 'ally') and yet again John Kerry finds himself purposeless... and now we hear Vladimir Putin will be calling Iran's Rouhani tomorrow (one can only imagine the topic of conversation).
In the final part of Hugh Hendry's 3-part (part 1 and part 2 here) interview with MoneyWeek's Merryn Somerset the Sanguine Scot, perhaps surprisingly to some given his previous negativity - though fitting with his world view of fiat currency destruction - believes "to bet against China or Chinese equities, or the Chinese currency is to bet against the omnipotence of central banks. One day that will be the right trade, just not ready or sure that that is the right trade today."
November 21 - Gold $1197.50 up $6.80 – Silver $16.40 up 26 cents
Bill Cosby And GATA
As Day 2 of Carl Levin's Senate hearing on the fact that banks did indeed corner and rig the physical commodity markets - with the erosion of the line separating banking from commercial activities leading to the detriment of consumers and the financial system - we thought the world needed a 'dummy's guide' to why the biggest banks should not be allowed to do this... or in legalese, here are the four most negative effects of allowing FHCs to engage in Complementary Commodity Activities.
Just days after the NY Fed ousted an employee for providing confidential information to a Goldman Sachs banker (who formerly worked at the NY Fed - and has since been fired by Goldman), Bill Dudley - the president of the NY Fed - will face a very skeptical Senate Banking Committee this morning investigating so-called "regulatory capture." Of course, their eyes were finally opened after Carmen Segarra, a former employee, leaked 47.5 hours of taped conversation (as we discussed in detail here), exposing the dismal reality of the relationship between the 'regulator' and the 'regulated' as New York regulators were deferential to Goldman bankers for a supposedly "shady" deal. Dudley's defense (not denial) so far: "We understand the risks of doing our job poorly and of becoming too close to the firms we supervise. Of course, we are not perfect. We sometimes make mistakes."
The most shocking, if already completely buried, news of the day was that - in yet another confirmation that Goldman Sachs is in charge of the New York Fed - a NY Fed staffer was colluding and leaking confidential, material information to a 29-year-old Goldman vice president, himself a former Federal Reserve employee. This only happened because on the day Carmen Segarra disclosed her 47 hours of "secret Goldman tapes" on This American Life, Goldman executives asked the former Fed staffer where he had gotten what appeared to be confidential information from. To nobody's surprise the answer was: The New York Fed. So as the latter, also known as the biggest hedge fund of the western world with $2.7 trillion in AUM, is scrambling to once again prove it is shocked, shocked, that it has become merely the latest subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, Inc., it released the following statement explaining what "really" happened.
"The multiple expansion phase of the current bull market ended in 2013. The strong S&P 500 YTD price gain of 10% roughly matches the realized year/year EPS growth of the index. The index has climbed by 17% annually during the past three years as the consensus forward P/E multiple surged by nearly 60% from 10x to 16x. ... We forecast US stocks will deliver a modest total return of 5% in 2015, in line with profit growth. The US economy will expand at a brisk pace. Corporations will boost sales and keep margins elevated allowing managements to both invest for growth and return cash to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. Investors will cheer these positive fundamental developments."
- Banks Had Unfair Advantage From Commodity Units (Bloomberg)
- Report Notes Deals Between Goldman, Deutsche and Others Drove Up Aluminum Prices (WSJ)
- Goldman, Morgan Stanley Commodity Heyday Gone as Units Faulted (BBG) - because when you can no longer manipulate, you move on...
- Lenders Shift to Help Struggling Student Borrowers (WSJ)
- Immigrants face major hurdles in signing up to new Obama plan (Reuters)
- Distressed Debt in China? Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Buyers Say (BBG)
- Banking culture breeds dishonesty, scientific study finds (Reuters)
- Amazon Robots Get Ready for Christmas (WSJ)
The average person assumes the powers-that-be actually know what they are doing and would never lead us into disaster, but quoting my breakfast companion, that would be a very poor assumption. Simply, while mass war on the level of the wholesale slaughter commonplace in the last century is unimaginable to most in the modern context, it is never more than the equivalent of a faulty alarm system away from occurring. Those history buffs among you will confirm that up until about a week before World War I began, virtually no one in the public, the press, the political class, or even the military had any idea the shooting was about to start. And 99.9% of the people then living had no idea the war was about to begin until after the first shot was fired.
"QE is a necessary condition for recovery in Europe, but is not sufficient in itself. The question is where does this bridge take us? The eurozone can survive a couple more years of miserable growth, but it can’t go on forever like this before people lose hope. There is political risk almost everywhere."