The Tulip Lunacy in the Bond market is just off the charts stupidity at its finest! The U.S. 2-Year Bond is currently pricing in no rate hike, and in fact, a negative rate of inflation over the next two years....
According to IRS estimates, there’s close to $5 trillion in individual retirement accounts in the Land of the Free. This is money that taxpayers prudently set aside for retirement, hopefully cognizant that Social Security isn’t going to be there for them. Devoid of any other easy lender, $5 trillion is far too irresistible for such a heavily indebted government to ignore. We've long warned that the government could easily nationalize a portion of all IRAs. It started happening last year with MyRA followed by the President and Treasury Secretary embarked on a blitzkrieg-style marketing campaign to pump the program... and now comes Step three..
The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
Echoing Elliott's Paul Singer's "greatest irony of politicians railing against inequality," former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman raged that when it comes to inequality, everyone can see the symptom, but "President Obama is clueless as to the cause," blasting that the problem is not capitalism, "the problem is in the Eccles Building and the 12 people sitting there thinking that zero interest rates are some magic elixir that will cause this very toubled economy to revive.! It won't, "these people are dangerous and destructive," Stockman exclaims, and sooner or later the inequality they have created is going to cause a huge political reaction.
Recent market actions, the rapid decline in interest rates, earnings deterioration and plunging energy prices have made many less comfortable being long the market. While the "buy and hold" crowd suggests this is all rubbish, it should be worth remembering that every single one of that group never saw the corrections in 2000 or 2008 until it was far too late. Their only excuse was "no one could have seen it coming." The truth is that many did see what was coming. Paying attention to what is happening at the margin leads to an understanding of when the "tides" begin to shift.
You've probably seen articles and adverts discussing how much money you'll need to "retire comfortably." The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The general idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time on the golf links as he/she might want. Needless to say, Social Security isn't going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on. By this definition of retiring comfortably, I reckon I should be able to retire at age 91--assuming I can work another 30 years and the creek don't rise.
- Falling Prices Spread Pain Far Across The Oil Patch (WSJ)
- ISIS Group Claims Responsibility for Attacks That Killed 27 in Egypt (NBC)
- Russia Unexpectedly Cuts Key Rate as Economy Eclipses Ruble (BBG)
- Greece’s Feisty Finance Minister Tries a More Moderate Message (NYT)
- U.S. homeownership hits 20-year low, but new households growing (Reuters)
- Indian Banks’ Shares Plunge as Bad-Loan Provisions Surge (BBG)
- Underground Terror Network Said to Benefit Would-Be Jihadists in Europe (WSJ)
- Russia warns West support for Kiev could lead to 'catastrophe' (Reuters)
It is my expectation, unless these deflationary trends reverse course in very short order, that if the Fed raises rates it will invoke a fairly negative response from both the markets and economy. However, I also believe that the Fed understands that we are closer to the next economic recession than not. For the Federal Reserve, the worst case scenario is being caught with rates at the "zero bound" when that occurs. For this reason, while raising rates will likely spark a potential recession and market correction, from the Fed’s perspective this might be the “lesser of two evils.”
Bill Gross Slams Broken Capitalism: "Policymakers Must Promote A Future Which Offers Hope As Opposed To Despair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2015 08:17 -0500
"Officials at the Federal Reserve – the most powerful and strongest of Parker Brothers – seem to now appreciate the hole that they have dug by allowing interest rates to go too low for too long.... While there is no better system than capitalism, it is incumbent upon it and its policymakers to promote a future condition which offers hope as opposed to despair. Capitalism depends on hope – rational hope that an investor gets his or her money back with an attractive return. Without it, capitalism morphs and breaks down at the margin. The global economy in January of 2015 is at just that point with its zero percent interest rates."
- Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
- Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
- Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
- Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
- How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
- U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
- Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
- Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)
Over the last 100 years the Fed has had many mandates and policy changes in its pursuit of becoming the chief central economic planner for the US. Not only has it pursued this utopian dream of planning the US economy and financing every boondoggle conceivable in the welfare/warfare state, it has become the manipulator of the premier world reserve currency. All this effort by thousands of planners in the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the bureaucracy to achieve a stable financial system and healthy economic growth has failed. It must be the case that it has all been misdirected. And just maybe a free market and a limited government philosophy are the answers for sorting it all out without the economic planners setting interest and CPI rate increases. A simpler solution to achieving a healthy economy would be to concentrate on providing a “SOUND DOLLAR” as the Founders of the country suggested.
Jeff Gundlach Warns "The Fed Is About To Make A Big Mistake" (& That's Why Bond Yields Are Crashing)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/28/2015 22:06 -0500
Since The FOMC's "hawkish" statement, bond yields have utterly cratered as near-record speculative short positioning in bonds unwind the long-end (and worries about international problems - "and readings on financial and international developments"). However, fundamentally speaking, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach explains, the Federal Reserve is on the brink of making a big mistake simply put, "if Fed Chair Janet Yellen goes ahead with this plan (to raise rates for 'philosophical reasons'), she runs the risk of having to quickly reverse course and cut interest rates."
In the QE era, monetary policy has lost any semblance of discipline and coherence. As Draghi attempts to deliver on his nearly two-and-a-half-year-old commitment, the limits of his promise – like comparable assurances by the Fed and the BOJ – could become glaringly apparent. Like lemmings at the cliff’s edge, central banks seem steeped in denial of the risks they face.
2014 was "relatively easier," as the pre-determined pace of tapering had The Fed on auto-pilot last year. However, as WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath warns, Janet Yellen ’s job is about to get harder. Hinting that The FOMC is likely to remain "patient" in deciding when to start raising short-term interest rates later this year (and markets have started to price in lower for longer-er following recent macro weakness domestically and abroad). Juxtaposed against a mixed picture of the economy is concerns of being boxed in at ZIRP should another economic downturn arrive. However, as III Associates notes, it is the communications challenge for The Fed that is most problematic, "it has been nine years since the last rate hike, and I’d estimate about a third of those working on trading floors have never witnessed one."
The threat posed by cyber war to our increasingly complicated, technologically dependent and vulnerable financial institutions, markets, banks and indeed deposits becomes more clear by the day. Fail to prepare ... prepare to fail ...