Unfortunately, for Mr. Rosengren, since the average American was never allowed to actually deleverage following the financial crisis, and still living well beyond their means, economic growth will remain mired at lower levels as savings continue to be diverted from productive investment into debt service. The issue, of course, is not just a central theme to the U.S. but to the global economy as well. After seven years of excessive monetary interventions, global debt levels have yet to be resolved. If the Fed does proceed in hiking rates in the current environment, it will likely be a “policy error” which will be regretted in the not too distant future as debt service costs rise thereby further reducing consumers ability to “consume.”
We have reported for years that Russia and China have been doing everything they can to displace the use (and influence) of the US dollar. Of course, as the US has been playing geopolitical games, China and Russia have been working on strengthening their relationship with one another. At the end of 2015, China had become Russia's biggest oil customer, and as of April, Russian oil shipments to China hit a record high. Russia has also surpassed Saudi Arabia as the biggest crude exporter to China.
"Everyday we read headlines on what the central banks are doing. But their policies don’t have any effect. They are just like treading water. All the central banks are doing is substituting one form of debt with another form of debt... I think it means the business of central banks is like pornography: It’s not the real thing."
We delve into some of the possibilities that we think are at play here behind the scenes at the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.
Following last week's lull in global macro, it’s a busy start to the week in which we get the latest deluge of global flash PMIs, while the US economic calendar is loaded with New Home Sales data, Trade Balance, Initial Claims, UMichigan sentiment and the revised US Q1 GDP print on Friday. But perhaps the most expected event will be Yellen's speech on Friday at Harvard's Radcliffe, where the Fed chairman is expected to reveal some more hints on the upcoming rate hike.
- Global stocks see-saw, yields slip as investors get week off to cautious start (Reuters)
- Bayer defies critics with $62 billion Monsanto offer (Reuters)
- Iran has no plans to freeze oil exports, official says ahead of OPEC meeting (Reuters)
- U.S. lifts arms ban on old foe Vietnam as regional tensions simmer (Reuters)
- Anthem, Cigna Privately Bicker as They Seek Merger Approval (WSJ)
Another week of volatility, but with no real resolution to the burning question of “where do we go next?”
The Forgotten Depression tells of the slump of 1920-21: high unemployment, collapse in commodity prices, upsurge in bankruptcies and sharp break in stock prices. However, unlike the Great Depression, the 1920 affair was over in 18 months. What explains its brevity? James Grant, publisher of the prestigious Grant's Interest Rate Observer, tells the story of America's last governmentally-untreated depression; relatively brief and self-correcting which gave way to the Roaring Twenties...
There is perhaps no other area where the tunnel-vision, hypocrisy, and corruption of the U.S. media is more visible than with respect to its nearly incessant China-bashing. Previous commentaries have exposed such vacuous drivel again and again and again. Admittedly, the numbers involved should give any sober individual cause for concern. They are an obvious symptom of the global phenomenon of worthless, paper currencies being used to pump-up, manipulate, and destabilize our markets – to a degree never before seen in the history of our species. However, singling out China’s markets as being “prone to bubbles” represents hypocritical blindness on the part of the U.S. media which is too absurd to be accidental.
The central bank already missed the “window of opportunity” for normalizing rates in a manner that doesn’t hamper the recovery. While the big news for the market was the release of the April 27th FOMC minutes which once again suggested the Federal Reserve may be on a path to hike rates sooner rather than later. The reality is simple, with the markets hovering on critical support, a Presidential election just around the corner and no real evidence of economic recovery, the likelihood of a rate hike in June is approaching zero.
What happens when a system designed to sell to the "greater fool" runs out of fools?
A few months ago, we reported the incredible story of how hackers stole $100 million from Bangladesh Central Bank by way of the New York Federal Reserve. Now, thanks to a little noticed lawsuit, details are emerging that hackers had initially stolen another $12 million from a bank in Ecuador, Banco del Austro, although the bank was able to get back about $2.8 million of the stolen money.
The Federal Reserve has created a semblance of normality, but by suppressing interest rates they have enabled non-linear, and very possible ugly outcomes, to become entrenched in US public debt dynamics. The euro crisis from 2010 to this day show how difficult it can be to regain investor trust when the unsustainability is first revealed for all to see.
This could not have come at a more perfect time, with the Fed once again flip-flopping about raising rates. After appearing to wipe rate hikes off the table earlier this year, the Fed put them back on the table, perhaps as soon as June, according to the Fed minutes. A coterie of Fed heads was paraded in front of the media today and yesterday to make sure everyone got that point, pending further flip-flopping. Drowned out by this hullabaloo, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve released its delinquency and charge-off data for all commercial banks in the first quarter – very sobering data.