What's the difference between a non-voting and a voting dovish member of the Federal Reserve? About 20 S&P 500 points...
Nearly two-thirds of all Americans are completely and totally unprepared for the next economic crisis.
It is important to remember that the supportive underpinnings are deteriorating. Valuations are elevated, bullishness and complacency are high, and deviations are at extremes. The combination of these ingredients has never led to a profitable conclusion and expecting a different outcome this time will likely lead to excessive disappointment.
- French policewoman killed in shoot-out, hunt deepens for militant killers (Reuters)
- The Bold Charlie Hebdo Covers the Satirical Magazine Was Not Afraid to Run (BBG)
- Evans Says Fed Shouldn’t Rush Rate Rise as Inflation Undershoots (BBG)
- Oil holds above $51 as traders search for floor (Reuters)
- Gross Helps Fuel New Fund With His Own Cash (WSJ)
- ECB warns Greek funding access hinges on keeping bailout (Reuters)
- Greece Jolts QE Juggernaut as ECB Gauges Deflation Risk (BBG)
- Analysts Say There's No Telling How Low Oil Prices Could Go (BBG)
- Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance (Reuters)
Cry if you want to, but the dollar is stronger. Deny it if you want to, but the US economy is more vibrant now than the Europe or Japan. This is what is shaping the investment climate, if you are interested.
The 114th Congress formally convened yesterday. In what follows, Goldman Sachs presents its views on some of the central questions regarding the political and policy outlook for the coming year. In general, Goldman expects most of the deadlines Congress faces over the coming year to result in only limited uncertainty, though the debt limit increase that will be necessary later in 2015 is the main potential exception. Additionally, they expect legislation to "audit" Fed monetary policy decisions is likely to pass the House again in 2015, but enactment looks less likely.
History literally appears to be repeating. The mainstream media and our politicians are promising Americans that everything is going to be okay somehow, and that seems to be good enough for most people. But the signs that another massive financial crisis is on the horizon are everywhere.
Mainstream Media in the US seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction. The situation is much more worrisome than most people would expect. Even if there are some temporary good effects, they will be more than offset by bad effects, some of which could be very bad indeed. We may be reaching limits of a finite world.
Yesterday, to much fanfare, the White House blasted that it was Obama's desire to appoint Allan R. Landon, a Hawaiian community banker, to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. To wit: "President Obama said, “Allan Landon has the proven experience, judgment and deep knowledge of the financial system to serve at the Federal Reserve during this important time for our economy. He brings decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, particularly as a community banker.” Apparently what he also brings as Bloomberg's Dawn Kopecki reminds us, is the usual near-criminal cronyism and corruption that we have all grown to love and expect from every single Fed governor in recent history. It turns out in 2005 Landon agreed to step down as SFHLB board member due to the "appearance of impropriety" when he "failed to comply with a rule requiring the disclosure of conflicts of interest by a director."
While the vast majority of mainstream economists and analysts currently expect 2015 to be another robust year for the economy and the markets, there is a rising risk to that forecast. If oil prices, a reflection of global economic demand, remains depressed for a considerable period of time, the negative impacts of loss of employment, reductions in capital expenditures and declines in corporate profitability could outstrip any small economic benefit gained from lower oil prices. As we stated previously, for those who have lived in Texas long enough to remember the oil rout in the early 80's, the greatest fear in 2015 is that oil prices remain low.
The world has habituated to the never-ending undeclared war over ownership and access to hydrocarbons. Now we are entering a new phase of asymmetric war being waged not over oil but the price of oil.
Hope springs eternal that 2015 is the year that the US economy stretches its escape velocity growth as consensus growth expectations at 2.9% are still at their highest since 2005 (although world GDP expectations are falling rapidly). However, as Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone explains, with 5 of the Top 10 economies in the world in or near recession, the wall of worry can be constructed as follows...
"Something Is Not Right" Jeff Gundlach Is "Concerned About Health Of The Economy & Financial System"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/05/2015 20:30 -0500
Having warned of the "terrifying consequences" of oil prices staying this low, DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach, in an extensive interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft, warns he is "beginning to see signs of investor concern around the edges about the health of the economy and about the financial system. Historically, when junk bonds give up the ghost and treasuries remain firm, it is a signal that something is not right." Touching on everything from a string dollar to Indian stocks, and from Oil to bonds, and The Fed, Gundlach concludes, "the only places where there is inflation is in places that are painful. Raising interest rates against that backdrop seems like a poor idea. So I just hope the Fed thinks carefully about what it is doing." Boxed-in much?
The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.