Financial Regulation

Larry Summers: "History Will Overwhelmingly Approve QE"

For anyone who still suggests, incorrectly, that Larry Summers was the "wrong" choice for Fed Chairman just because he would promptly end QE the second he was elected as the erroneous popular meme goes, we have one soundbite from his recent Bloomberg TV interview refuting all such speculation: "if you had to say, should we have used this tool or should we not have, I think the answer is overwhelming that we should have." He had some other amusing logical fallacies (including discussing whether the market is in a bubble) all of which are transcribed below, but the best one is the following: "I think it does bear emphasis that the people who were most appalled by it are the people who have been predicting hyperinflation around the corner for four years now and they have been wrong at every turn." And let's not forget that "subprime is contained" - until it isn't. Then again, the last time we checked, the history on the biggest monetary experiment in history - one in which both the Fed and the BOJ are now openly monetizing 70% of gross bond issuance - has certainly not been written. Finally, in the off chance Summers is indeed correct, what history will instead say, is why instead of monetizing all the debt from day 1 of the Fed's inception in 1913, and thus pushing the stock market into scientific notation territory, did the Fed leave so many trillions of "wealth effect" on the table?

Have Larry Summers And Paul Krugman Just Had Their Dimon/Dudley Moment?

A new opportunity to play "What's wrong with this picture" arose recently, with Larry Summers’ recent speech at the IMF and Paul Krugman’s follow-up blog. The two economists’ messages are slightly different, but combining them into one fictional character we shall call SK, their comments can be summed up "...essentially, we need to manufacture bubbles to achieve full employment equilibrium." With this new line of reasoning, SK have completely outdone themselves, but not in a good way. Think Jamie Dimon’s infamous “that’s why I’m richer than you” quip. Or, Bill Dudley’s memorable “but the price of iPads is falling” excuse for increases in basic living costs. Dimon and Dudley managed to encapsulate in single sentences much of what’s wrong with their institutions. Yet, they showed baffling ignorance of faults that are clear to the rest of us.

Frontrunning: November 18

  • What can possibly go wrong: Tepco Successfully Removes First Nuclear Fuel Rods at Fukushima (BBG)
  • Japan's Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money (WSJ)
  • U.S. Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits (WSJ)
  • Airbus to Boeing Cash In on Desert Outpost Made Field of Dreams (BBG); Dubai Air Show: Boeing leads order books race (BBG)
  • Sony sells 1 million PlayStation 4 units in first 24 hours (Reuters)
  • Russian Tycoon Prokhorov to Buy Kerimov's Uralkali Stake (WSJ)
  • Google Opening Showrooms to Show Off Gadgets for Holidays (BBG)
  • Need. Moar. Prop. Trading: Federal Reserve considering a delay to Volcker rule (FT)
  • Raghuram Rajan plans ‘dramatic remaking’ of India’s banking system (FT)
  • SAC Capital's Steinberg faces insider trading trial (Reuters)

Frontrunning: October 10

  • The ice breaks; fiscal talks set (The Hill); Ryan steps up to shape a deal (The Hill), as predicted here yesterday
  • Republicans consider short-term U.S. debt ceiling increase (Reuters)
  • Shutdown Standoff Shows Signs of a Thaw (WSJ)
  • JPMorgan Clients in Cash as Schwab’s Options Hedge Default (BBG)
  • Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP search for way out (Politico)
  • Meredith Whitney Winds Down Brokerage Unit After Setting Up Fund (BBG)
  • Washington Budget Chaos Keeps Fed Rates Low for Longer (BBG)
  • Chinese Premier Outlines US Debt Concerns (FT)
  • Saudis brace for 'nightmare' of U.S.-Iran rapprochement (Reuters)
  • Obama Urges Action on Yellen’s Fed Nomination (Reuters)
  • Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan Freed After Kidnap (WSJ)

The Debt-Ceiling Fight "Could Get Ugly" - Key Dates And Implications

Even though there is no technical link between the two main fiscal issues – the continuing resolution (CR) and the debt ceiling bill - there is a link in the minds of market participants because prompt resolution of the CR could spell a favorable outcome for the debt limit. On the other hand, a government shutdown tonight could lead the market to be more pessimistic on the chances of a debt default. As BofAML notes, the link between the two issues is fairly complex but the shutdown battle is just the beginning - and, as the suspect "the fight could get ugly."

Fed Post-Mortem And Overnight Summary

Yes, yes, only the Fed matters. Still, there was some event flow overnight which while completely meaningless for the epic liquidity bubble, may have some implications eventually when the music finally stops. In thie regard, perhaps the best summary of the the lunacy coming out of the Marriner Eccles building is the following sentence from Bloomberg: "Bernanke said he was concerned that market interest rates, driven higher by his own suggestion he would scale back QE, would curb growth." One can't make this up.

Yet Another "Most Important FOMC Meeting Ever" Begins

Overnight trading started with Asian markets continuing where yesterday's S&P 500 fizzle ended, wishing Summers could withdraw from Fed running again, as both the Nikkei and SHCOMP were well lower by the close. Perhaps all the easy multiple-expanding, headline-driven money is made, or perhaps economic fundamentals will finally start having to justify a 17x multiple on the S&P (a good is good regime for those who may be too young, or old, to remember), but overnight US futures were dull, and no doubt anticipating today's start of the "Most important FOMC meeting ever", which concludes tomorrow with an announcement by the Fed of what and how much (if any) tapering it will commence with an eye toward halting QE next summer, although more realistically what will happen is an Untaper being announced before then. While the start of the FOMC meeting is the main event, today we get CPI, TIC flows and the NAHB housing market index. Today's POMO is another modest $1.25-$1.75 billion in the long-end sector.

Time To Cross Donald Kohn Out Too

First, Summers steps away; Second, Geithner politely declines; and now - just as his odds of becoming the next Fed Head begin to rise, Donald Kohn drops the following headline bomb-shells at a Brookings' event this morning

KOHN: BAIL-IN NEEDED TO PROTECT FINANCIAL SYSTEM FROM TOO BIG TO FAIL FIRMS
KOHN: VERY EASY MONETARY POLICY CAN CREATE DANGEROUS RISKS
Kohn: Problems can arise when one policy [monetary or financial regulation] is leaning so hard in one direction

That should be enough to effectively remove himself from the running... It seems we are back to the lowest common denominator Fed-head - so much for American exceptionalism again.

(Ir)Rational Overnight Exuberance On Summers Withdrawal Sends Futures To All Time Highs

While the only market moving event of note had nothing to do with the economy (as usual), and everything to do with the Fed's potential propensity to print even more dollars and inject even more reserves into the stock market (now that Summers the wrongly perceived "hawk" is out) some other notable events did take place in the Monday trading session. Of note: while India's August inflation soared far higher than the expected 5.7%, rising to 6.1% from 5.79% (making life for the RBI even more miserable, as it is fighting inflation on one hand, and a lack of liquidity on the other), in Europe inflation decelerated to 1.3% from 1.6% in July driven by a drop in energy prices, while core inflation was a tiny 1.1%. In a continent with record negative loan growth this is to be expected. Additionally, as also reported, Merkel appears to be positioned stronger ahead of this weekend's Federal election following stronger results for her CDU/CSU, if weaker for her broader coalition. In Libya, oil protesters said they would continue stoppages at oil terminals until their demands are met in yet another startling outcome for US foreign intervention. Finally, some headline on Syria noted a Kerry statement "will not tolerate avoidance of a Syria deal", while Lavrov observed that it may be time to "force Syria opposition to peace talks." And one quote of the day so far: "Don't want market to become excessively exuberant" from the ECB's Mersch- just modestly so?

Financial Times: "World Is Doomed To An Endless Cycle Of Bubble, Financial Crisis And Currency Collapse"

It's funny: nearly five years ago, when we first started, and said that the world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse as long as the Fed is around, most people laughed: after all they had very serious reputations aligned with a broken and terminally disintegrating economic lie. With time some came to agree with our viewpoint, but most of the very serious people continued to laugh. Fast forward to last night when we read, in that very bastion of very serious opinions, the Financial Times, the following sentence: "The world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse." By the way, the last phrase can be written in a simpler way: hyperinflation. But that's not all: when the FT sounds like the ZH, perhaps it is time to turn off the lights. To wit: "A stable international financial system has eluded the world since the end of the gold standard." Q.E.D.

Frontrunning: July 12

  • Summers Said to Show Interest in Fed Chairmanship After Bernanke (BBG)
  • Obama Tells Chinese He’s Disappointed Over Snowden Case (BBG)
  • Texas Threat to Abortion Clinics Dodged at Flea Markets (BBG)
  • A Peek at Trucking Data, and Then the Stock Surged (WSJ)
  • China cuts growth target… or does it? (FT) - yes, it does, net of goal seeked Random () of course
  • China Official Suggests Tolerance for Lower Growth (WSJ)
  • Disney Says Wristband Boosts Sales in Disney World Test (BBG) - next up: implanted RFID chips
  • Spain Prepares Cuts in Renewable-Energy Subsidies (WSJ)
  • Bernanke Departure With Duke Heralds Cascade of Fed Appointments (BBG)

The Toxic Feedback Loop: Emerging <-> Money <-> Developed Markets

Extreme Developed Market (DM) monetary policy (read The Fed) has floated more than just US equity boats in the last few years. Foreign non-bank investors poured $1.1 trillion into Emerging Market (EM) debt between 2010 and 2012 as free money enabled massive carry trades and rehypothecation (with emerging Europe and Latam receiving the most flows and thus most vulnerable). Supply of cheap USD beget demand of EM (yieldy) debt which created a supply pull for EM corporate debt which is now causing major indigestion as the demand has almost instantly dried up due to Bernanke's promise to take the punchbowl away. From massive dislocations in USD- versus Peso-denominated Chilean bonds to spiking money-market rates in EM funds, the impact (and abruptness) of these colossal outflows has already hit ETFs and now there are signs that the carnage is leaking back into money-market funds (and implicitly that EM credit creation will crunch hurting growth) as their reaching for yield as European stress 'abated' brings back memories of breaking-the-buck and Lehman and as Goldman notes below, potentially "poses systemic risk to the financial system."