Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
- Invade Syria already, we know you will: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 150 Christians (Reuters)
- Greece Struggles to Get Citizens to Pay Their Taxes (WSJ)
- Doubts Shadow Deal to Extend Greek Bailout (WSJ)
- In surprise result, Chicago's Mayor Emanuel faces election run-off (Reuters)
- Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill (Reuters)
- Another sign of the top: Cushman & Wakefield Going Up for Sale (WSJ)
- Lure of Wall Street Cash Said to Skew Credit Ratings (BBG) ... and threat of DOJ lawsuits also
- Oil rises to $59 as Saudis say demand growing (Reuters)
As the dash-for-trash continues in US equities, Neuberger Berman sums up the state of investing currently, "there has certainly been little reward for owning high-return, superior business models that are conservatively financed," as Bloomberg notes, Fed policy has had the “unintended consequence” of boosting the stocks of companies with heavy debt and little or no earnings. Typically after a recession, such companies lose out to firms that generate more cash and have better balance sheets; this time, no “Darwinian” shakeout happened and low-quality stocks ruled. Managers say they haven’t changed, the market has.
The last thing Janet Yellen needs to be doing right now is cheer-leading more risk taking on behalf of financial market participants!
With more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings, when the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks. If you are trusting in the government to save you when things fall apart, you will be severely disappointed.
While there are many that suggest there is "no bubble" in the financial markets at the current time, a simple look at the extreme elevation of prices over the last couple of years is eerily reminiscent of the late 90's. Given the very elevated levels of investor bullishness, margin debt and complacency, there is more than sufficient evidence that a mean reverting event is highly likely at some point. However, at the moment, the perceived "risk" by investors is "missing the run" rather than the potential destruction of capital if something goes wrong. This is the opposite of what "risk" management is about...
It may signal that the ECB and Eurozone are set to embark on a gold accumulation programme. More likely, it is simply a way to bolster confidence in the euro due to increasing doubts about the viability of the single currency.
As the market anxiously await Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this morning, hanging on every word and intonation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas is reminded of Harry Truman’s famous request: “Give me a one-handed economist!” The U.S. central bank clearly feels challenged by the cross currents of the global economy even as it reiterates confidence in domestic growth prospects. In an effort to help clear things up, Colas brings some 21st century data to the Fed’s distinctly old-school toolset and looks at the historical popularity of 10 Google search terms with a decidedly economic twist. Bottom line: the Google data is clear. The Fed needs to wait a while longer before raising interest rates.
The nebulous threat of NIRP in the US "some time in the future" became tangible after J.P. Morgan Chase, the largest US bank by assets (and second largest in the US by total derivative notional) is preparing to charge large institutional customers for some deposits. WSJ adds that JPM "is aiming to reduce the affected deposits by billions of dollars, with a focus on bringing the number down this year. "The moves have thrown into question a cornerstone of banking, in which deposits have been seen as one of the industry’s most attractive forms of funding."
- Yellen faces Senate grilling on Fed rate policy, transparency (Reuters)
- Big Banks Face Scrutiny Over Pricing of Metals (WSJ)
- Greece makes more concessions to euro zone, Germany sets vote (Reuters)
- Time for another executive order: Longer Lives Hit Companies With Pension Plans Hard (WSJ)
- The Syria invasion "false flag" approaches: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 90 from Christian villages (Reuters)
- Why Lenders Love the $2.5 Million Home Loan (BBG)
- Reuters journalist Maria Golovnina dies in Pakistan aged 34 (Reuters)
- Qatar’s Ties to Militants Strain Alliance (WSJ)
So, while the markets have surged to "all-time highs," the majority of Americans who have little, or no, vested interest in the financial markets have a markedly different view. Currently, mainstream analysts and economists keep hoping with each passing year that this will be the year the economy comes roaring back but each passing year has only led to disappointment. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the Fed stimulus and government support has failed to put the broken financial transmission system back together again. Eventually, the current disconnect between the economy and the markets will merge. Our bet is that such a convergence is not likely to be a pleasant one.
Alan Greenspan Warns: There Will Be a “Significant Market Event... Something Big Is Going To Happen”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/23/2015 05:15 -0500
"We really cannot exit this [era of QE and ZIRP] without some significant market event... The end has to come at some point... Gold will go measurably higher... In any market that is so one sided, that is accelerating so rapidly, that trend will end… it will most likely end in a fairly violent fashion."
Greece moves off front burner. Markets can turn attention to 1) strength of deflationary forces, 2) state of cyclical recoveries, and 3) outlook for Fed policy.
Government mandated fiat currency simply does not work in the long run. We have empirical evidence galore – every fiat currency system in history has failed, except the current one, which has not failed yet. The modern fiat money system is more ingeniously designed than its historical predecessors and has a far greater amount of accumulated real wealth to draw sustenance from, so it seems likely that it will be relatively long-lived as far as fiat money systems go. In a truly free market, fiat money would never come into existence though. Greenspan was wrong – government bureaucrats cannot create something “as good as gold” by decree.