Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
Since we are now in the middle of the final month of a quarter, checking repo stats shows what we have come to expect of a fragile liquidity system. Once again, repo fails spiked sharply. The problem for “markets” is that repo is a primary liquidity conduit indicating significant and persistent degradation under, again, very benign conditions. There is no doubt that QE is the primary culprit here and that its removal is not “allowing” a healing process to begin but instead revealing the damage. With the Fed’s reverse repo program having no impact whatsoever, it just adds to the weight of evidence that policymakers don’t really know what they are doing and are just making it up as they go.
“It’s a questionably unquestionable situation... Are the markets prepared for a shocking answer... Will Janet Yellen announce the final end to QE? Or electrify the bulls with more accommodation? Can Yellen’s eloquent elocution energize the markets…or will she magnetize the bears? Tune in next time Fed fans... Same Fed time... Same Fed channel”
The financial media has no concern of negative outcomes, Wall Street has growth priced in that has never occurred in history, and there is NO expectation of a recession built into any forward assumptions. We have indeed discovered financial “Utopia,” or at least that is what is currently believe.
Yesterday's exuberant equity market reaction has been largely defined by the mainstream media as driven by WSJ Hilsenrath's 'confirmation' that Yellen will keep the uber-dovish phrase "considerable time" in the FOMC statement today. So, we wonder, why did the Fed-whisperer, after markets had closed last night, issue a quasi-retraction of his prediction explaining that instead of some prohetical "I just know" statement, it was a "best guess," as he concluded, "will the Fed take these steps? Only the people in the room know that. The rest of us will see Wednesday afternoon." It appears the sell-side disagrees with him on the language...
The last week has been dominated by sell-side strategists raising hawkish concerns about this week's FOMC with a focus on the drop of the "considerable time" language describing the period from the end of QE to the start of rate hikes. The Wall Street Journal's Fed-whisperer Jon Hilsenrath just dropped a rather large hint that that the "considerable period" language will remain... “Given the economic backdrop, they don’t want to send a signal right now that rate increases are imminent." Here's what the street thinks...
In our era of omnipotent central banks worshipped by the Status Quo, we have a goddess of financial transitions--Janus Yellen, the two-faced chair/deity of the Federal Reserve - to usher in the Great Transition from risk-on to risk-off.
As the Scotish independence vote draws near and remains too close to call, some analysts are suggesting Plan B for Scotland may be to choose to opportunistically default. This has done nothing to calm concerns of the aftermath of a "yes" vote - despite US asset managers proclaiming it irrelevant. Nowhere is that more clear than, as The Independent reports, Britain’s banks have been quietly moving millions of banknotes north of the border to cope with any surge in demand by Scots to withdraw cash in the event of a Yes vote in Thursday's independence referendum, it has emerged. Bankers stressed there has been no sign yet of any increase in the amount of withdrawals from deposit accounts or ATMs, but the moves have been taking place over the past week or so in order to make sure ATMs do not run out on Friday in the event of a panic reaction to a “yes” vote.
"[A] crash is coming, and it may be terrific... The vicious circle will get in full swing and the result will be a serious business depression. There may be a stampede for selling which will exceed anything that the Stock Exchange has ever witnessed. Wise are those investors who now get out of debt."
The uncorrected half-cycle advance since 2009 has been accompanied by a resurgence of proponents advocating that stocks should simply be bought and held indefinitely, regardless of price. As Graham & Dodd warned, "it is important to note that mass speculation can flourish only in such an atmosphere of illogic and unreality." The over-arching reality is that there is a cliff at the edge of what appears to be a permanently high plateau.
The longer Abe’s policies fail to deliver the hoped-for economic results, the more intensely they will be implemented.
Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.
There is a connection between modern capital markets and the NFL (and between Central Bankers and Roger Goodell). The connection is solipsism – a pathological egocentrism where reality is defined by an individual’s mental perceptions and constructs. Collective solipsism is what overwhelming Common Knowledge looks like. It’s the annihilation of an individual’s perception of reality in favor of a group perception of reality. The collective solipsism of modern markets is the most crucial game to comprehend.
Today, the 13th Anniversary of 9/11 will see many people recall how things were. To remember that day and the heroes it spawned who better than UBS' Art Cashin - who thought it simplest to repeat what he wrote back then.
A farce, a tragic comedy and a travesty...
The dashing of youthful expectations of open-ended wealth and security for everyone with a college degree is highly combustible when combined with a popping real estate bubble, systemic corruption, the implosion of a shadow banking credit bubble and the impending global recession.