By any reasonable measure, we think it is safe to say that the last quarter of 2013 has been an insane game of economic Russian Roulette. Even more unsettling is the fact that most of the American population still has little to no clue that the U.S. was on the verge of a catastrophic catalyst event at least three times in the past three months alone, and that we face an even greater acceleration next year. Economic collapse is not necessarily an event, it is a process, the most frightening elements of which usually do not become visible until it is too late for common people to react in a productive way. All of the dangers covered in this article could very well set fires tomorrow, that is how close our nation is to the edge. However, the culmination of events so far seems to be setting the stage for something, an important something, in 2014.
"Governments cannot reduce their debt or deficits and central banks cannot taper. Equally, they cannot perpetually borrow exponentially more. This one last bubble cannot end (but it must)." What is the alternative to the present system of debt serfdom and rising inequality? Eliminate the Federal Reserve system and revert to the national currency (the dollar) being issued by the U.S. Treasury in sufficient quantity to facilitate the production and distribution of goods and services. Is this possible? Not in our Financialized, Neofeudal-Neocolonial Rentier Economy.
While we identified long ago the "wealth effect" nerve center of the New Normal, one thing largely unavailable, was pictures of this trading desk with seemingly no sell buttons. Until now: below, courtesy of Wall Street on Parade, we present a modest compilation of not only what the current NY Fed trading desk looks like but also compare it to its predecessor, as it appeared on vintage photos from the 1930s
While shoppers will perceive the discounts on Black Friday as 'saving' them fortunes, the cost of the 2013 Thanksgiving Day dinner may be the most expensive ever. As the gorging commences, despite an entirely benign inflation in the eyes of the Federal Reserve, the prices of everything from chocolate chip cookies to ice cream are on the rise. But it is the centerpiece of the meal that is weighing on pocket-books. As Bloomberg's Michael McDonough notes, Americans are paying the most for whole frozen turkeys since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began publishing data on the series in 1980.
It would likely also deal another blow to the U.S property market and the fragile U.S economy. JP Morgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo appear to be most exposed - meaning that either taxpayers will again be asked to bail out banks or more likely the coming bail-in regime will confiscate cash from depositors.
I know why someone who is so wrong can get so much media attention. My big question is why do so many "so-called" smart people actually believe him! We need a new, new media outlet, no?
Are you deeply concerned about the future of America? Is something in your gut telling you that our system is fundamentally broken and that the mainstream media is not telling you the truth about what is happening? If so, you are definitely not alone. Right now, there are millions upon millions of Americans that are absolutely horrified as they watch this nation deteriorate. In fact, according to an analysis of recent polling data conducted by Real Clear Politics, approximately 68 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track and only 23.5 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the right track.
As stocks hit new records and small investors—finally—return to the market, some analysts are getting worried. Risk assets have rallied to previous bubble conditions. Powered by unprecedented refinancing and recap activity, 2013 is now the most productive year ever for new-issue leveraged loans, for example. This has been great for corporations as financing and refinancing has put them on a stronger footing. Where M&A activity still lags the highs of the last boom, issuers have jumped into the opportunistic pool with both feet. And why not? Secondary prices are high and new-issue clearing yields remain low. Yet very inadequate movement has been evidenced on the hiring front. And after all the improvement in ebitda, where do we go from here? Forward guidance will clearly be harder. One might argue that we are back in a Goldilocks fantasy world, where the economy is not so strong (as to cause inflation and trigger serious monetary tightening) or so weak (as to cause recession and a collapse in profits) but "just right". Yet, it seems unlikely that issuers with weaker credit quality could find it so easy to sell debt without the excess liquidity created by the Fed and other central banks.
"The reality is,"Kevin Warsh exclaims, "QE policy favors those with big balance sheets, those with risk appetites, and access to free money," while real people "are still looking around and saying what is fed policy doing for me." The problem, he explains, is a disconnect between what markets are discounting about the future and the Fed's credibility with regard their apparently divergent forecasts for unemployment, growth, and interest rates. In a little under 90 seconds, Warsh explains the dilemma and sums up the Fed perfectly, "they're just talking, rather than acting."
The mainstream media staple 'common wisdom' within the financial markets is that when the Federal Reserve "tapers," or eventually ceases, its current bond buying program that interest rates will begin to rise. However, there are three primary issues which should be considered that fail to support this widely held belief. The Federal Reserve has gotten itself trapped into creating an asset bubble in the equity markets because any reversal of policy leads to severely negative economic consequences. With the current economic recovery cycle already very extended in historical terms, along with the financial markets, it is unlikely that we have just begun a growth cycle that will allow the Federal Reserve to extract its support. The reality is quite the opposite, and the next asset rotation will not be from bonds to stocks; but just the opposite.
The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...
Goldman Reveals "Top Trade" Recommendation #2 For 2014: Go Long Of 5 Year EONIA In 5 Year Treasury TermsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/26/2013 07:27 -0500
If yesterday Goldman was pitching going long of the S&P in AUD terms (the world renowned Goldman newsletter may cost $29.95 but is only paid in soft dollars) as its first revealed Top Trade of 2014, today's follow up exposes Top Trade #2: which is to "Go long 5-year EONIA vs. short 5-year US Treasuries." Goldman adds: "The yield differential between these two financial instruments is currently -61bp, and we expect it to reach around -130bp. On the forwards, the differential is priced at around -95bp at the end of 2014 at the time of writing. We have set the stop-loss on the trade at a spread of -35bp. The choice of Treasuries over OIS or LIBOR on the short leg is motivated by the fact that yields on the former could underperform more than they have already in relative space as the Fed scales down its asset purchase program."
Even the most ardent of bulls would 'admit' that the period of the last 90s was a bubble in US equities. What started at the margin quickly morphed into a euphoric valuation for any and everything that could be pitched. Even The Fed's Jim Bullard 'knew' there was a bubble back then... Today's recovery of the NASDAQ to 4,000 - levels not seen since this period - is quickly dismissed by those that need things to go higher on the basis of earnings, multiples, or some such forward-looking hope-based methodology that reinforces their bias. However, Tobin's Q - among the longest-lived and most well-respected of longer-term valuation methodologies has just reached levels only ever seen during the 1999/2000 bubble. BTFATH valuation?
Just as many expect that the #1 buyer of Treasuries (the Fed) will soon begin paring back its purchases, the top foreign holder (China) may cease buying, thereby opening a second front in the taper campaign. Little thought seems to be given to how the economy would react to 5% yields on 10 year Treasuries (a modest number in historical standards). The herd assumes that our stronger economy could handle such levels. That is why when it comes to tapering, the Fed is all bark and no bite. But the market understands none of this. This is not unusual in market history. When the spell is finally broken and markets wake up to reality, we will scratch our heads and wonder how we could ever have been so misguided.
From consumer and retailer surveys to quantitative data such as household spending and private jet bookings, ConvergEx's Nick Colas has amassed a collection of 10 clues about this year's holiday shopping season. On the plus side, disposable personal income and consumer spending on discretionary items are rising, and travel to Palm Beach via private jet is quite popular this Christmas season. However, consumer confidence surveys are particularly weak, and consumer debt has ballooned to a 5-year high. Roughly equal parts good and bad, Colas' collection of holiday spending indicators points to a mediocre (at best) 2013 shopping season (as we noted earlier).