In an odd admission of the possible fallibility of a centrally-planned economy, none other than Chinese Premier Li recently noted, "we should never assume that we few at the top have more insight or power but should try to mobilize the intelligence and creativity of the many thousands of our people so as to create unrivaled value." Perhaps the Federal Reserve would do well to listen. However, Li did not excuse himself from the need to spin how well things were going. On the heels of our 11 awkward Chinese fact charts, Li explains "the Chinese market is booming, the economy strong [sic]. Enterprises are the mainstay of the market." However, as Diapason Commodities' Sean Corrigan, when trying to confirm this 'fact', "discrepancies abound."
The actual state of employment in the U.S. is likely far weaker than the economic statistics currently suggest. If this is indeed the case, it creates a potential for policy mistakes that could have negative consequences to both the economy and the financial markets.
It has been over six months since we first highlighted the growing deterioration in the quality of auto loans and mentioned the 's' word (subprime) as indicative that we learned nothing from the financial crisis. Since then, auto loans (and especially subprime in the last few months) have surged to record highs; and most concerning, recently has seen delinquencies and late payments spike. The reason we provide this background is that, thanks to The NY Times, this story is now hitting the mainstream media as subprime-quality car buyers (new and used) realize the burden they have placed on themselves thanks to exorbitantly high interest rates (and a rapidly depreciating 'asset'). As one car 'owner' exclaimed, "buying the car was the worst decision I have ever made."
Ssshh... The trade only works if everyone is lulled into staying on the long side until it's too late.
If one looks past headline figures, things are not really getting better. As shown in Figure 1, real disposable income per capita in the U.S. has increased only modestly since the Great Recession. However, all of this increase is due to Government Transfers, not from an improvement in the real economy.
To those who believe the correlation of Fed monetary heroin and the stock market is eternal and cannot possibly come undone, please consider this line from songwriter Jackson Browne: "Don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet."
What if Janet Yellen is wrong?
These are two areas where the Federal Reserve might want to consider in their overall evaluation of the effectiveness of the ZIRP Experiment. I think the counterfactual case in these two examples is quite compelling.
Yellen’s acting routine is worthy of an Academy Award. In her role, she plays a caring, sweet, grandmotherly type figure all concerned about the poor and middle-class, when reality points to a career as a staunch, frontline protector of the bankster oligarchy.
So not only are we dealing with an investment landscape in which virtually no working fund manager has experienced a bear market in bonds… we’ve actually got an entire generation of investment professionals who have experienced only one increase in interest rates in 14 years.
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- But how will math PhDs determine "fair value" - Wall Street Techs Take Secrets to Next Job at Their Peril (BBG)
- U.S., EU Escalate Russia Sanctions as Putin Holds Firm (Bloomberg)
- Australia Becomes First Developed Nation to Repeal Carbon Tax (WSJ)
- Gaza humanitarian truce goes into force, hours after tunnel clash (Reuters)
- Barclays, Deutsche Bank Said to Face U.S. Senate Hearing (BBG)
- ECB Asset Buying Far Off and May Not Come, Hansson Says (BBG)
- Time Warner win would make Murdoch U.S. media king (Reuters)
- Costly Vertex Drug Is Denied, and Medicaid Patients Sue (WSJ)
- China Rallying for All Wrong Reasons to Top-Rated Analyst (BBG)
- GM recalls some cars with problematic switches; judges others safe (Reuters)
"I hope we can all agree that once in a century emergency measures are no longer necessary five years into an economic recovery," begins Stan Druckenmiller as he unleashed a torrent of uncomfortable truthiness on a crowd of Fed apologists stunned by his reality check that the Federal Reserve is putting the economy at risk by continuing its aggressive market intervention.. Blasting the counterfactual "mob", Druck slams, "To economists and Fed officials who continually cite that we are better off than we would have been without ZIRP for long I ask why is that the relevant policy time horizon? Five years after the crisis and with growing signs of economic normalization it seems to be time to let go of myopic goals." Simply put, Druckenmiller concludes, rather ominously, "I am fearful that today our obsession with what will happen to markets and the economy in the near term is causing us to misjudge the accumulation of much greater long term risks to our economy."
Janet Yellen is always one step behind. If people start to ask you "Are you fat?", then you ARE fat!
There has been much discussion as of late about the end of the current quantitative easing program and the beginning of the Federal Reserve "normalizing" interest rates. The primary assumption is that as interest rates normalize, the financial markets will continue to rise as economic growth strengthens. While this certainly seems like a logical assumption, is it really the case?