You hear that old saw that "the market is not the economy," a lot these days, and for good reason. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the S&P 500 breaks to record highs - but U.S. labor markets remain sluggish; investor portfolios do well - but over 47 million Americans (more than 15% of the population) are still in U.S. food stamp program – the same as August 2012. The important question now is: "Is the market TOO different from the economy?"
The speculative excesses and political power of Wall Street pose a strategic threat to the Deep State, and as a result a showdown between the Deep State and the surface machinery of governance that has been captured by Wall Street is looming. Put another way: we've reached Peak Wall Street and it's all downhill from here. This crisis is simple to summarize: the paper claims on wealth so far exceed actual wealth that something's gotta give. Simply put, the vast majority of these claims will have to be zeroed out, i.e. these phantom-claim "assets" will be voided and declared worthless. This leads to the key question: who will the Deep State throw under the bus to preserve itself and the nation-state?
The technicals break with the news!
- Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea (Reuters)
- Ukraine Sees More Russian Incursions as Standoff Worsens (BBG)
- Ukraine Crisis Roils Global Markets (WSJ)
- Cold War Ghosts Haunt East Europe in Moves for Crimea (BBG)
- How Moscow Orchestrated Events in Crimea (WSJ)
- Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine (BBG)
- Euro-zone PMI slowed less sharply than estimated (MW)
- Two top Microsoft execs to leave in reshuffle (Reuters)
- Soaring Luxury-Goods Prices Test Wealthy's Will to Pay (WSJ)
- IQ-Boosting Drugs Aim to Help Down Syndrome Kids Learn (BBG)
Following last week's confirmation that capital expenditure in the land of the Free runs a very poor third to buybacks and dividends (and well anything that props up the over-inflated share prices of US corporates), and merely confirming what we have been discussing for the last few years (that Fed policy has focused management on short-term gratification and not long-term growth and stability), ex-PIMCO shit-cleaner-upper Mohamed El-Erian notes six reasons why the collapse in capex spend will continue and how central banks have failed to prime the pump of the real economy.
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized. What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.
"If I ask you what’s the risk in investing, you would answer the risk of losing money. But there actually are two risks in investing: One is to lose money and the other is to miss opportunity. You can eliminate either one, but you can’t eliminate both at the same time. So the question is how you’re going to position yourself versus these two risks: straight down the middle, more aggressive or more defensive. I think of it like a comedy movie where a guy is considering some activity. On his right shoulder is sitting an angel in a white robe. He says: «No, don’t do it! It’s not prudent, it’s not a good idea, it’s not proper and you’ll get in trouble». On the other shoulder is the devil in a red robe with his pitchfork. He whispers: «Do it, you’ll get rich». In the end, the devil usually wins. Caution, maturity and doing the right thing are old-fashioned ideas. And when they do battle against the desire to get rich, other than in panic times the desire to get rich usually wins. That’s why bubbles are created and frauds like Bernie Madoff get money." - Howard Marks
- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)
Missed today's follow up Janet Yellen testimony before the Senate Banking Committee? Don't worry: you didn't miss much, all the bases were covered including winter weather during the winter, the Fed's complete cluelessness about what "full employment" means (because the definition changed thoroughly from December 2012 when it was 6.5%), what the "quantitative" definition of quantitive easing is (Yellen has no idea), why the Fed isn't subject to a haircut on its MBS holdings while all the other banks have to suffer under the intolerable Basel III 15% haircut (something to do with illiquidity of MBS, and specifically - something to do with the fact that the Fed has soaked up more than all net issuance of MBS in the past year, but don't worry - the Fed is on top of it), and, of course, Bitcoin. For everything else, here is Goldman's post-mortem of Yellen's Day Two testimony.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of..." - 1928
As a society we have fallen asleep at the wheel. We’ve allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency, distracted by minutia, mesmerized by technology, turned into consumers by corporations, pacified by financial gurus and Ivy League economists, and fearful of our own shadows. Surveillance, censorship and propaganda are the tools of the oppressive state. Free speech and truthful revelations about the Deep State are a danger in the eyes of our oppressors.
Bill Gross, by his own admission, is a demanding boss; but as the WSJ reports, one day last June (amid the bond sell-off), things went a little turbo (leading to Mohamed El-Erian's recent resignation):
Gross: "I have a 41-year track record of investing excellence... What do you have?"
El-Erian: "I'm tired of cleaning up your shit."
While careful to deny that El-Erian's departure had anything to do with 'friction' although even Mr.Gross admits he can be difficult to work with,"sometimes people will say 'Gross is too challenging,' and maybe so. I would say if you think I'm challenging now, you should have seen me 20 years ago."
That didn't take long: merely weeks since he walked out of the Marriner Eccles building and into the sunset, Ben Bernanke is writing his memoirs. AP reports: "Ben Bernanke, who stepped down last month after eight years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, is planning a memoir. Bernanke told The Associated Press on Monday that he will focus not just on the defining moment of his time at the Fed, the 2008 financial crisis, but on the "Great Recession" that followed. "I want people to understand what we knew, when we knew it, how we made decisions and how we dealt with the enormous economic uncertainty," said Bernanke, who expects to begin meeting with publishers within the next several weeks. Bernanke, 60, says he will cover his entire career at the Fed, starting in 2002, when he joined the Board of Governors." So our question to you, dear readers, is what should the title of Bernanke's book of memoirs be?
It’s like 34 drunken sailors holding each other up. That’s the best way I can think of to describe the latest product from the good idea factory that is the OECD. Over the weekend in yet another cushy five-star hotel, representatives from this unelected supranational bureaucracy announced plans for world governments to exchange all their citizens’ tax and financial data with one another. It’s a pathetic display of exactly the sort of tactics that governments embrace when they go broke. And most of these OECD countries ARE broke – Italy, Japan, the US, Spain, Greece, etc.