Say hello to the next financial crisis, brought to you courtesy of the dumbest new bill of the week: H.R. 5148: Access to Affordable Mortgages Act.
This is so completely ridiculous. But it really crystalizes what’s wrong with the entire financial system.
We’re told to keep our money in banks... that banks are safe. But the objective data tells a completely different story.
At the end of the day, everything the Fed has done has been focused on propping up a broken system. Eventually the Fed’s efforts will fail at which point so will the Fed (just as the last two Central Banks in the US failed).
Things are getting a bit hotter for the Federal Reserve regarding the tradeoff between growth and inflation, according to JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest. For the last few years, he notes, a zero rate policy was put on autopilot given excess labor and industrial capacity. Both are shrinking now, and when looking at a broad range of variables, some are clearly mid-cycle. If so, in a few months Fed governors will have to jump out of the 0% interest rate pot and remove some of the liquidity that it has infused into the US economy; and, Cembalest warns, despite today's jobs print, they may have to do so at a quicker pace than what markets are pricing in.
The chart below shows the civilian employment to population ratio: a convenient indicator of the real state of the US labor market which does away with the labor force entirely, and the associated rhetoric of why it may or may not be plunging, and merely focuses on two simple things: total population and the total civilian population of the US. One thing is clear: the ratio crashed when the depression started and has flatlined since. Which, incidentally, may be all you, and the Fed, needs to know about the recovery.
This past week has seen the market repeatedly attempt new "all-time" highs only to be found wanting. There has been plenty of headline data for the "bulls" to feast on from the ECB announcing a program to buy bonds, surging ISM data and improvement in productivity. However, the underlying data has kept the "bears" in the game with new orders and employment showing weakness, unit labor costs shrinking and the realization that the ECB's plans are likely be ineffectual.
Market reversions, when the occur, are extremely rapid and tend to leave a rather brutal "scar" on investment portfolios. There is clear evidence that economic growth is being impacted by deflationary pressures on a global scale. This suggests that the sustainability of current and projected growth rates of profits is questionable given the magnitude to which leverage has been used to boost margins through share repurchases. Here are three things to consider that may help you question your faith.
Since the inception of Obamacare, Humana up more than 440% because just as cereal manufacturers decrease their costs by putting less cereal in the same box, health insurers have raised the deductibles and co-insurance.
"when we look at wages for the 25th percentile of college graduates, the picture is not quite so rosy. In fact, there is almost no difference in the wages for this percentile ranking of college graduates and the median wage for high school graduates throughout the entire period. This means that the wages for a sizable share of college graduates below the 25th percentile are actually less than the wages earned by a typical worker with a high school diploma. While we can’t be sure that the wages of this group wouldn’t have been lower if they had never gone to college, this pattern strongly suggests that the economic benefit of a college education is relatively small for at least a quarter of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree."
- Global stocks bounce on sign ECB could launch ABS program (Reuters)
- Putin unveils Ukraine ceasefire plan, France halts warship (Reuters)
- Poroshenko Flummoxes Investors With About-Face on Truce (BBG)
- No Free Lunch for Companies as IRS Weighs Meal Tax Rules (BBG)
- Turkey Struggles to Halt Islamic State 'Jihadist Highway' (WSJ)
- Lego Becomes World's Largest Toy Maker on Movie Success (WSJ)
- U.N. says $600 million needed to tackle Ebola as deaths top 1,900 (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Named 'Stabilization Agent' for Alibaba Stock Offering (WSJ)
Canada is seen as the new banking safe haven and an “island of safety and stability” because of its perceived sound fiscal position, commodity wealth and solid economic performance. Now, anytime we see central bankers slapping each other on the back, we're going to be skeptical. As it turns out, Banque du Canada is actually the most pitifully capitalized central bank in the western world. They’re in such bad shape they actually make the Fed look healthy. Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority Exchange Fund is a good example of a strong balance sheet; their latest figures as of 30 June show a whopping capital reserve equal to nearly 22% of total assets. This is a massive margin of safety for the central bank. The US Federal Reserve, on the other hand, shows a capital reserve of just 1.27%. And Canada? A tiny 0.47%... as in less than one half of one percent. This isn’t safety and stability. It’s a rounding error.
The dismaying reality: the only purpose of central bank monetary policy is to keep the bloated, corrupt, inefficient and self-liquidating vested interests of the state-cartel crony capitalism from having to suffer the consequences of real reforms. Japan ably serves as Exhibit #1 of this core dynamic.
Heading into the North American open, the bulk of the morning’s price action has been provided by news that Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that he reached an agreement with Russia's Putin on a "permanent cease fire" in Eastern Ukraine's Donbass region. This saw an immediate spike higher in European equities with the DAX future rallying and breaking above its 100DMA seen at 9644.50, thus extending earlier gains that stemmed from the strong performance in Asia-Pacific equities, while the e-mini S&P once again printed a fresh record high. However, these moves staged a partial reversal amid comments from Russia’s Putin that he denied that such an agreement had been reached as Russia is not a party to the Ukraine conflict. In stock specific news, Russian exposed Raiffeisen Bank outperforms Europe (+7%) in reaction to the geopolitical developments, while Hugo Boss have underperformed throughout the session following a share placement which came in at the lower end (-5.3%).
Is it possible, that in globally interconnected economy, the U.S. can stand alone? It certainly seems that the answer to that question is currently "yes" as financial markets hit "new all-time" highs and economic data has rebounded in the second quarter following a sharp Q1 decline. However, as is always the case, the issue of sustainability is most critical.