These are the issues to consider going forward. Our view is that it is quite possible the Fed has played its hand too strongly and thereby damaged its future efforts to maintain market stability via intervention. Given that stocks were already decoupled from the underlying economic realities, this has made the market highly vulnerable to a sharp correction.
The unleashing of QE3--unlimited money-printing in support of the financial Status Quo-- is proof the Fed has failed, failed, failed. If anything the Fed has done in the past four years had actually had a positive consequence in the real economy, Bernanke would have identifed that policy and expanded it in a measured response. Instead he went all-in, emptying the Fed's toolbox in one big dump: unlimited money-printing, unlimited propping of the mortgage market, unlimited support of low Treasury rates and three more years of zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP). Here is the translation of the Fed Chairman's public comments: whatever. Did you see any of his testimony? It was painfully obvious that either 1) he was sky-high on Ibogaine or 2) he was just going through the motions, duly enunciating PR "cover" that he finds tiresome to repeat and impossible to say with any sincerity or conviction. His body language and delivery said: "You think I believe this canned shuck and jive? Get real, chumps."
While Koo-nesianism is only one ideological branch removed from Keynesianism, Nomura's Richard Koo's diagnosis of the crisis the advanced economies of the world faces has been spot on. We have discussed the concept of the balance sheet recession many times and this three-and-a-half minute clip from Bloomberg TV provides the most succinct explanation of not just how we got here but why the Fed is now impotent (which may come as a surprise to those buying stocks) and why it is the fiscal cliff that everyone should be worried about. As Koo notes, the US "is beginning to look more like Japan... going through the same process that Japan went through 15 years earlier." The Japanese experience made it clear that when the private sector is minimizing debt (or deleveraging) with very low interest rates, there is little that monetary policy can do. The government cannot tell the private sector don't repay your balance sheets because private sector must repair its balance sheets. In Koo's words: "the only thing the government can do is to spend the money that the private sector has saved and put that back into the income stream" - which (rightly or wrongly) places the US economy in the hands of the US Congress (and makes the Fed irrelevant).
Wait a minute, investors can't expect more QE because we already have too much of it already.
From The Last Sane Person At The Fed: "More Easing Will Not Lead To Growth, Would Lead To Inflation"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/15/2012 12:17 -0500
There are two key sentences which explain why there is now only sane voice left among the FOMC's voting members (recall that back in December 2011 we explained that more QE was only a matter of time now that the Doves have full control). From Jeffrey Lacker: "I dissented because I opposed additional asset purchases at this time. Further monetary stimulus now is unlikely to result in a discernible improvement in growth, but if it does, it’s also likely to cause an unwanted increase in inflation.... Channeling the flow of credit to particular economic sectors is an inappropriate role for the Federal Reserve. As stated in the Joint Statement of the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve on March 23, 2009, 'Government decisions to influence the allocation of credit are the province of the fiscal authorities.'" That, however, is no longer the case, as the only real branch of 'government', accountable and electable by nobody, going forward is that located in the Marriner Eccles building, named ironically enough, for the last Fed president who demanded Fed independence, and who was fired by the president precisely for that reason. It is in this building where the central planners of the New Normal huddle every month, and time after failed time, hope that "this time it will be different" and that wealth can finally be achieved through dilution of money.
Yesterday, when we first presented our calculation of what the Fed's balance sheet would look like through the end of 2013, some were confused why we assumed that the Fed would continue monetizing the long-end beyond the end of 2012. Simple: in its statement, the FOMC said that "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability." Therefore, the only question is by what point the labor market would have improved sufficiently to satisfy the Fed with its "improvement" (all else equal, which however - and here's looking at you inflation - will not be). Conservatively, we assumed that it would take at the lest until December 2014 for unemployment to cross the Fed's "all clear threshold." As it turns out we were optimistic. Bank of America's Priya Misra has just released an analysis which is identical to ours in all other respects, except for when the latest QE version would end. BofA's take: "We do not believe there will be “substantial” improvement in the labor market for the next 1.5-2 years and foresee the Fed buying Treasuries after the end of Operation Twist." What does this mean for total Fed purchases? Again, simple. Add $1 trillion to the Zero Hedge total of $4TRN. In other words, Bank of America just predicted at least 2 years and change of constant monetization, which would send the Fed's balance sheet to grand total of just over $5,000,000,000,000 as the Fed adds another $2.2 trillion MBS and Treasury notional to the current total of $2.8 trillion.
What is it that makes Keynesians so insanely self destructive? Is it their mindless blind faith in the power of government? Their unfortunate ignorance of the mechanics of monetary stimulus? Their pompous self-righteousness derived from years of intellectual idiocy? Actually, I suspect all of these factors play a role. Needless to say, many of them truly believe that the strategy of fiat injection is viable, even though years of application have proven absolutely fruitless. Anyone with any sense would begin to question what kind of madness it takes to pursue or champion the mindset of the private Federal Reserve bank… Quantitative easing has shown itself to be impotent in the improvement of America’s economic situation. Despite four years of free reign in central banking, employment remains dismal in the U.S., the housing market continues its freefall, and, our national debt swirls like a vortex at the heart of the Bermuda Triangle. Despite this abject failure of Keynesian theory, the Federal Reserve is attempting once again to convince you, the happy-go-lucky American citizen, that somehow, this time around, everything will be “different”.
Liar, Liar, Fed on Fire!!! Why no one else has called this thinly vieled bailout out is truly beyond me. Well, the retail and consumer discretionary sector will feel the heat if everyone believes Bernanke and I end up being right... again!
"Everything will collapse" is the consequence Gloom, Boom, & Doom's Marc Faber sees from the Fed's latest 'stimulus' (and the fallacy and misconception of how money-printing can help employment). In a wondrously clarifying interview on Bloomberg TV this morning, Faber explained why he was 'happy', since "the asset values of his holdings will go up" but as a responsible citizen he is worried because "the monetary policies of the US will destroy the world." It truly is class warfare under a veil of 'its good for you' as he notes: "the fallacy of monetary policy in the U.S. is to believe this money will go to the man on the street. It won't. It goes to the Mayfair economy of the well-to-do people and boosts asset prices of Warhols." Congratulations, Mr. Bernanke.
Ex-Fed Governor Kevin Warsh provided much food for thought during his appearance on CNBC this morning. Over the course of the following clip, he addresses concerns from just how bad the reality of the global economy must have been for Bernanke and his merry men to have gone "all-in" aggressive - reflecting on this as a panic-like reaction during times now where we are not panicking, the ineffectiveness of QE3 "iPhone 5 will do more for the real economy than QE3", fears over how bad this could get as "there is a reason 'exit' is a four-letter word." Warsh notes the paradox of Bernanke "trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat' each time the economy loses control while calling for Washington to do more - as the politicians know "there's not much we need to do, Bernanke has our back." When asset prices are driven less by fundamentals and more by speeches and policies coming out of Washington, you're taking risks. "Risks are highest in the economy when measures of risk are he lowest"
A $4 trillion Fed balance sheet in 15 months (40% increase) and guess who is not happy. Yup, you got it.
- Weeks before U.S. election, Mideast gives Obama perfect storm (Reuters)
- Clashes intensify near US embassy in Cairo (Al Jazeera)
- Puppet governments in trouble: Mursi Risks Rift With U.S. or Voters as Islamists Rally (Bloomberg)
- Protests Put Egypt Relations on Edge (WSJ)
- Fed insists politics had no role in decision (FT)
- UBS "rogue trader" fraudulently gambled away $2.3 billion, court told (Reuters)
- Obama Holds Lead in Three Key States (WSJ)
- China's Xi recovering from bad back, could appear soon - sources (Reuters)
- Japan voices anger over Chinese incursion after vessels entered waters around disputed Senkaku islands (FT)
- Goldman Scales Back Junior-Analyst Program; No Contracts for College Hires (WSJ)
- China commentary slams Romney's "foolish" China-bashing (Reuters)
- Aging Baby Boomers Face Losing Care as Filipinos Go Home (Bloomberg)
The Fed panicked. It is extraordinary that the Fed would announce an open-ended "we'll print as much as it takes, as long as it takes" policy. Chairman Bernanke is sending a signal to the markets and to government that the economy is bad and getting worse and that the Fed will do its part as everyone expects them to do. This is a clear signal to the markets and the world that the Fed stands for monetary inflation. They don't know what else to do. Here is the fallout.
What took Ben Bernanke sixty minutes of mumbling about tools, word-twisting, and data-manipulating to kinda-sorta admit - that in fact he is lost; Ron Paul eloquently expresses in 25 seconds in this Bloomberg TV clip. Noting that "we are creating money out of thin air," Paul sums up Bernanke's position perfectly "We've Lost Control!" From mal-investment to Bernanke's frustration and the unintended consequences, the full 5-minute interview is a must-watch.
There is one last irony in Bernanke's constant promotion of his powers to unleash QE. Having talked up the market for years with his promises/threats of QE, the market has priced in ever higher doses of QE, in effect bidding expectations of QE's effectiveness to the sky. Bernanke has lost the power to surprise the market. Having raised expectations to the sky, he must deliver something beyond the stratosphere to surprise the market. But he doesn't have anything capable of matching the absurd expectations he's inflated, never mind exceed them. The only surprise left is a negative one. Chairman Bernanke and his fellow doves will soon realize the consequences of over-promising and under-delivering. It works better the other way around, but now it's too late.