"We are witnessing the biggest financial-market manipulation of all time. The authorities have intervened more and more, and thereby created this monster. They might change the rules when the game goes against their own interests. We are in a severe credit crunch. It starts when the weakest links in the system can't finance their activities. Then you have a flight to safety into Treasuries and German bunds, compounded by a quasi-shortage of good collateral. That's why bond yields have fallen so low. This isn't an inflationary environment but a deflationary one."
David Rosenberg summarizes this weekend's Barron's roundtable, and while chock full of amusing quips, the take home surely belongs to one of our favorite newsletter writers, Fred Hickey: “Last August, things weren’t looking so well. Then Ben Bernanke gave a speech in Jackson Hole that implied the Fed would engage in quantitative easing, and from that point forward, the Dow added 1,400 points. Gasoline prices went from $2.65 a gallon to well over $3.00 ? a $50 billion hit to consumers. Food prices rose to record levels. It caused a major imbalance in the economy. If you own financial assets, you’re doing quite well. If you don’t, you’re getting hit by higher food prices, higher insurance costs, higher everything, and you’re not getting any interest on your savings ... The economy has structural problems and we aren’t dealing with them. Money-printing won’t work, yet that’s the prescription we continue to give the patient. If the Fed keeps printing after June we’ll have higher gasoline and food prices and more imbalances until this ends. And at some point, it will end, because the dollar will fall apart. What we are doing now makes everything appear rosy. But it is devastatingly terrible policy for the long-term.” And Rosenberg's own contribution: "The era of spending-beyond-our means denial is on its last legs." One can only hope he is right for the sake of everyone...
Albert Edwards On The Market: "I Do Not Really Have One Scintilla Of Doubt That This Will All End In Tears - Again"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2010 10:38 -0500
Sometime we wonder if we are the only ones who are stunned by the ridiculousness coming out of the stock market on what seems a daily basis. Luckily, there is at least one other person out there who, like us, take a bemused approach to the endless insanity. As Albert Edwards says in his latest note: "I’ve been doing this job long enough to recognise when the markets are entering a new phase of madness that leaves me scratching my head with bemusement. The notion that we are in a sustainable economic recovery is as ludicrous as it was in 2005-2007. But investors are back on the dance floor, waltzing their way towards the next, inevitable implosion – yet another they will no doubt claim in retrospect was totally unpredictable!"
Last week, we pointed out that the ECRI Leading Index dipped to negative for the first time in over a year, which on a historical basis tends to predict a recession with surprising regularity. Today, David Rosenberg takes this data and expands on his views of the probability of a double dip.An interesting observation: when the ECRI drops to -10 (from the current -3.5, and plunging at the fastest rate in history), the economy has gone into a recession 100% of the time, based on 42 years of data. At the current rate of collapse, this means in two months we should know with certainty if the double dip has now arrived.
Guest Post: Fred Hickey - If We Continue Down This Path, the Outlook is General Impoverishment for the CountrySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/21/2010 02:05 -0500
A few weeks ago, I asked Fred Hickey what he would do as chairman of the Federal Reserve. In the remainder of our interview, I asked Fred whether we can avoid recessions in a business cycle, what will happen to the US Dollar, how our creditors are behaving, and what advice he can offer given the new economic environment.
Former Bridgewater-ite (which we hear is not doing that hot lately) Rick Bookstaber, who was recently appointed at the SEC in some risk management capacity, comes out with a truly amusing rant on why gold is in a bubble, and, not just that, but that "we all know gold is in a bubble." Ignore the fact that all multi-billionaire hedge fund managers have been loading up, all relevant and semi-relevant pundits have been claiming that gold is gradually becoming the one alternative to fiat debasement which has recently become a global phenomenon, and ignore that even with the dollar going up, gold has defended its 1,100 an ounce price quite successfully. Bookstaber compiles vivid imagery upon even more vivid imagery, and goes as far as comparing the quest for gold with the pursuit of hookers "Even if a guy is just after sex, he at least has the decency to act like there is some substance behind his interest. But with gold, no one seems even to
care about giving a justification, other than “gold has been a store of
value throughout 5,000 years of monetary history”. No one? Dear Mr. Bookstaber, feel free to peruse the following thoughts by Eric Sprott, Dylan Grice, Hugh Hendry, David Rosenberg, Fred Hickey, Jim Grant, David Einhorn and last but not least, Goldman Sachs, on some contrarian opinions to your prevailing dogma. And speaking of unconflicted advance warning vis-a-vis ponzi bubbles, where was your current employer cautioning the general population about the dot com bubble? Or the housing/credit bubble? Or the Madoff ponzi? Or the current Great Currency Deflation Bubble? Perhaps you can expend your time and energy on the real source of soon-to-be unparalleled wealth loss instead of focusing on the fringe "tin foil"-hatted gold community which nobody takes seriously anyway (except India of course which just incidentally bought 200 tons of gold north of $1,000).
I think I’d shoot myself. [Laughing] I don’t think I’d go to work in the morning. If I were Chairman of the Federal Reserve I would let free market forces unfold. I would let rates rise to where they should rise. These are not normal rates that we have now. I would have to raise rates. I’d have to do it over time. - Fred Hickey
A summary recap of the bullish groupthink gripping the Barron's Roundtable. As David notes: "The emerging consensus is that everything is just going to be fine and that we should expect nothing more than a second-half economic slowdown, and that if there is a sharper turndown the monetary and fiscal spigots will be turned on even harder. The market is seen no worse than fair-value. Treasuries remain the enemy."
The age old question rises: with everyone bullish, who is selling?
With the inexplicable recent reorientation by a traditionally very erudite, pragmatic and realistic Jim Grant (well, not that inexplicable) into what can only be described as pulling some serious wool over his readers' eyes, we decided to fall back to our other favorite newsletter writer: the inimitable Fred Hickey who writes The High-Tech Strategist. While we can not find enough praise for his work, it bears pointing out that whereas one may accuse Grant of selling out, such an accusation will be impossible of Mr. Hickey, who is a florid, objective and insightful as always, and maybe more so now than ever. His latest letter, Fighting the Fed, is a must read for all, and while we wish we had the copyright latitude to repost it in whole, we would like to at least share Fred's thoughts on gold (among many other things, some of which have made his readers serious money over the years).