Foreign Central Banks

This Is Where "The Money" Really Is - Be Careful What You Wish For

We have long shown that "investors" whatever that term means in the New Normal - those gullible enough to put their money in Bennie Madoff, pardon Bennie Bernanke Asset Management? - have been not only reluctant to put their money into stocks, but despite week after week of artificial, low volume highs, driven entirely by Primary Dealers (and now European banks post the $1.3 trillion in LTROs, not to mention even foreign Central Banks recently buying high beta stocks) spiking the market ever higher courtesy of record reserves, but in fact continue to pull their cash out of the stock market with every thrust higher. Why, just last week another $1.4 billion in cash was pulled from domestic equity funds, nominal Dow 13,000 be damned. The truth is that the banks are desperate to start offloading their risk exposure to retail investors, and instead of selling, are furiously trying to send the market ever higher just to get that ever elusive "investor" back: just look at how much the market rose by last week, CNBC will say: do you really want to be out of this huge rally? Alas, the damage has been done: between the Great Financial Crisis, the Flash Crash, a massively corrupt regulator, rehypothecating assets that tend to vaporize with no consequences, and a central bank which effectively has admitted to running a Russell 2000 targeting ponzi scheme, the investor is gone. But what if? What if the retail herd does, despite everything, come back into stocks? After all the money is in bonds, or so the conventional wisdom states. What harm could happen if the 10 Year yield goes back from 2% to 3%, if the offset is another 100 S&P points. After all it is good for the velocity of money and all that - so says classical economic theory. Well, this may be one of those "be careful what you wish for." Because while investors have indeed park hundreds of billions out of stocks and into bonds, the real story is elsewhere. And the real story is the real elephant nobody wants to talk about. Presenting: America's combined cash hoard, which between total demand deposits, checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time deposits (source H.6), is at an all time high of $8.1 trillion.

Guest Post: Caution - Falling Currencies

Eventually, people will discover that they cannot save in terms of dollars (those who don’t figure it out will be rendered economically irrelevant as their wealth is removed from their hands). Savings is a necessary prerequisite for investment. Investment is necessary for companies to grow, to develop new technologies, products, and markets. Growth is necessary to hire new workers. As existing companies achieve higher productivity of labor, and do not need as many workers to perform the same work, they lay off unneeded people. In a free market, the unemployed would quickly be hired by growing companies that expand and develop new businesses. But today’s structurally high unemployment can be traced back to Friedman’s quack prescription (among other government interference). Weakening the currency not only discourages savings, it also weakens businesses who have to keep the currency on their balance sheet and who have to import some of their inputs. When a currency loses value, then all who hold it incur a loss. It is not possible to employ workers and run a business in a country without holding significant amounts of its currency. Currency debasement therefore imposes constant losses on enterprises that try to operate in such an environment.

Asia Buys Gold After Massive Single Trade Sell Off During Bernanke’s Testimony

Wednesday’s sell off is being attributed to one massive sell trade of 31 tonnes on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange during Bernanke’s speech. There are rumours of a large US fund selling and also that the selling may have been by JP Morgan – rumoured to be acting on behalf of an Asian fund. Who sold off and why is less important than the fundamentals of the gold market. Absolutely nothing has changed regarding the fundamentals of gold which remain as sound as ever with broad based demand from store of wealth buyers, institutions and central banks internationally and especially in Asia. Good volumes have been seen on the Shanghai Gold Exchange in recent days. In India, lowest gold prices in a month saw strong physical bullion demand and physical buyers hunting for gold bargains to meet the wedding season demand. India remains the world’s largest buyer of the yellow metal (900 tonnes/year) but China is expected to outpace them this year according the World Gold Council. ETF holdings gained 238,674 ounces to a record high of 70.76 million ounces, showing that institutions and investors remain keen on gold. Also, options data has not changed since Wednesday’s price falls.

ilene's picture

Priced for Nirvana

But coincidentally, the ECB’s next Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) is set for February 29...

Guest Post: The Great Repression

Highly paid shills for the status quo on Wall Street have recently been wheeled out to observe the fundamental ugliness of western government bonds. They are correct. This is an asset class that has managed to defy the laws of economics in becoming ever more expensive even as its supply swells. Their response has been to recommend piling into stocks instead. The logic here is not so pristine. If Napier's thesis is correct, the West faces a period of outright deflation, which will be deeply traumatic for exactly the sort of speculative stocks that have lately done so well. Admittedly, the picture is confused, and prone to all sorts of political horseplay, as observers of the long-running euro zone farce can attest. Nevertheless, when faced with a) huge underlying uncertainties; b) structurally unsound banking and government finances; and c) central banks determinedly priming the monetary pumps, we conclude that the last free lunch in investment markets remains diversification. G7 government bond markets are a waste of time (though you may end up being cattle-prodded into them regardless). But there are still investment grade sovereign markets offering positive real yields. Stock markets are partying like 1999. Which, in many cases, it probably is. We would normally advise to enjoy the party but dance near the door.