A week ago we showed a chart from Charles Gave which does a terrific job at explaining why the modern economic "science", in conjunction with the Fed's negative rate environment, have failed at their ultimate stated mission - to stimulate growth. The reason: the Keynesian multiplier, which has tracked the nominal US GDP 7yr average change with a very high correlation, is now negative. From Gave: "shows that the marginal efficiency of public debt, at least in the US (public spending in emerging markets from a low base usually improves productivity) has been declining structurally since 1981. And it seems that this marginal efficiency has now reached a negative level."... There is now another problem: as the chart below shows, China has developed a Keynesian multiplier problem of its own. Even as the Chinese politburo and the PBOC have been injecting an ever increasing amount of credit into the private sector - the primary source of Chinese growth - the incremental GDP growth has been trending lower, and lower, and lower...
A mixed picture is starting to emerge from the Middle East in terms of oil production. Several members of the 12-member OPEC oil cartel are embroiled in turmoil or struggling to ensure post-war political gains. Oil production from the Middle East declined by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2009. Production from most Middle East countries has slowed down or leveled off, though gains from Iraq have offset some of those declines. With economic recovery seemingly on the horizon, a new OPEC may be developing from the ashes of the recession.
A sense among investors that the global economy is unraveling has injected tremendous volatility into the markets. As Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes, if the global equity market decline is not a “Sell in May” event, but the beginning of a great unwinding, then the economy, skating on thin ice, may be even more susceptible to recession. However, most of the US equity disconnect from the reality of weak data (and other markets) can be laid at the feet of the Fed's ever-generous monetary policy. However, given all of this 'weakness' - or missing of Fed benchmarks that we discuss below - that the Fed is well aware of, we ask again, why would so many members have been out discussing 'Taper' if it were not due to their concerns of broken markets and bubble conditions.
Not so long ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the U.S. government to register a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of $642 billion. But hold on a minute... The budget deficit so far (as of May 31, 2013) has already hit $626.3 billion, and we still have four more months to go in the government’s current fiscal year! The U.S. has been the family that spends more than it earns for many years now. In the short term, spending more than one takes in can work (especially if the Fed just prints new money and gives it to the government to pay its bills). But in the long term, if fundamental changes are not made to the government’s spending habits, financial chaos just starts all over again. Posting a budget deficit year after year is not sustainable. The debt-infested eurozone nations did very much the same; they borrowed to spend. Look where they are now.
- Global shares pummeled, dollar slumps as rout gathers pace (Reuters)
- Hong Kong to Handle NSA Leaker Extradition Based on Law (BBG)
- Lululemon chairman sold $50 million in stock before CEO's surprise departure (Reuters)
- Companies scramble for consumer data (FT)
- Traders Pay for an Early Peek at Key Data (WSJ)
- When innovation dies: Apple looking at bigger iPhone screens, multiple colors (Reuters)
- Washington pushed EU to dilute data protection (FT)
- Japan-U.S. drill to retake remote island kicks off (Japan Times)
- EM economies in danger of overheating, World Bank says (FT)
- Don't forget the Indian crisis: Chidambaram seeks to quell concerns over rupee (FT)
Wednesday may be the new Tuesday (which halted its relentless and statistically impossible streak of 20 out of 20 up DJIA days last week), if only in terms of the overnight no news stock futures ramp, which today is back with a vengeance. In a session that was devoid of any news, the e-Mini is up enough to practically erase all of yesterday's losses. Whether this is due to a relatively calm Nikkei trading session, to no further surge (or collapse) in the USDJPY, or to the 10 Year trading flat inside 2.20% is unclear. What is clear is that the bipolar market swings from extreme to extreme on speculation about the largely irrelevant topic of whether the Fed will taper (because if it does, it will be very promptly followed by an untapering once risk assets around the world implode.)
"By propping up asset markets, the Fed has created an illusion that wealth is being created. The next step, according to Bernanke’s plan, should be for growth to follow. In fact, there is no reason why the rise in prices of financial assets should lead to actual investments or a rise in the median income. So far, it has not. There has been no real increase in the private sector propensity to borrow, and the danger may be that any further public sector borrowing will hasten the decline because of our “permanent asset hypothesis”. This means that, should the Fed lose control of asset prices (is this what is now happening in Japan?), then the game will be up and the downside move in markets may well be terrifying."
Fear, like greed, makes people, and that would include investors, behave irrationally. Two major equity bear markets in the last 13 years have traumatized investors. The belief in Modern Portfolio Theory in general and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH) in particular has been shaken and finance theory will have to be re-written. So, Absolute Return Partners' Niels Jensen asks, what is it specifically that has changed? Human behavior certainly hasn’t. Greed and fear have been factors to be reckoned with since day nought. When faced with the unknown, people (in this case, fund managers) will use whatever information they can get hold of. Hence we shouldn’t really be surprised that fund managers extrapolate current earnings trends when forecasting future earnings, despite the evidence that it is a futile exercise. Occasionally, the Wisdom of Crowds turns into the Madness of Mobs and all rational behavior goes out the window. History provides many examples of that. EMH is entirely unsuited to deal with froth. What made economists love the EMH is that the maths behind it is so neat whereas the alternative truth is a little messy.
- Reports on surveillance of Americans fuel debate over privacy, security (Reuters)
- Apple to Yahoo Deny Providing Direct Access to Spy Agency (Bloomberg)
- Misfired 2010 email alerted IRS officials in Washington of targeting (Reuters)
- Spy vs Spy: Cyber disputes loom large as Obama meets China's Xi (Reuters)
- When NSA Calls, Companies Answer (WSJ)
- How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading's Rise and Fall (BBG)
- Japan's Pension Fund to Buy More Stocks (WSJ)
- ‘Frankenstein’ CDOs twitch back to life (FT)
- China’s ‘great power’ call to the US could stir friction (FT)
- Toyota Tries on Corolla Look That’s Just Different Enough (BBG)
In November, NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini stated, “gold at $1,500 is utter nonsense.” In less than two years, gold was above $1,900. This week, the mad professor is back with his swiss-cheese logic and anti-gold rants.
That concept of the Chinese Dream "came just in time" and will "benefit the world"
The topic of the IMF's idiocy - unquestioned here following years and years and years of absolutely horrific forecasts, not to mention charts like this one courtesy of the Troika, of whom the IMF is a proud member has been widely covered in the past. However, while in the past we have attributed to stupidity all the faults of the Angela Mozilla Christine Lagarde-headed organization, we never had the factual backing to also invoke malice, lies and manipulation. Now, we can.
Over three months ago in "South Korea Starts Currency War Rumblings; Has Japan In Its Sights" we showed that the one nation with the biggest sensitivity to Japan's currency-destructive and export-promoting Abenomics policy is its close neighbor, South Korea. With nearly 60% of SK's entire GDP deriving from net exports, every percent drop in its trade balance result in a more than 0.5% hit to GDP: more than any nation in the world. And since South Korea and Japan compete for the same export end markets, there would be no bigger loser in a zero trade sum world than Seoul. However now that Abenomics is in its sixth month, and South Korea's max export pain threshold has been reached, the country no longer will stay silent. As the FT reports, "South Korea has warned that G8 leaders need to do more to tackle the “unintended consequences” of Japan’s monetary easing when they gather for a summit later this month amid mounting concerns about the knock-on effects of a weaker yen. In an interview, Hyun Oh-seok, the South Korean finance minister and deputy prime minister, said that international co-ordinated action was needed to mitigate the impact of so-called “Abenomics” on currency markets."
One of the problems with QE is that the Fed is forcing people to buy riskier investments than they otherwise would have. The immorality of their actions aside, they create a significant psychological mismatch between assets and their holders. Stocks are in weak hands, insuring one great stampede for the chairs when the music stops.
The conventional wisdom is that oil should decline in nominal price as global demand weakens along with the global economy. In the hot-money-seeks-a-new-home scenario outlined above, demand could decline on the margins but speculative inflows - demand for oil contracts by speculators - push prices higher, potentially a lot higher in a geopolitical crisis. The central banks that are creating all the "free money" that is available to large speculators fulminate against oil speculators, as if all the free money is only supposed to go to "approved" speculations in equities and bonds. Unfortunately for the central bankers, they only create the money, they don't control what the financiers who get the free money do with it. Gasoline is expensive at the pump, but by one measure oil is cheap and poised to go higher and despite the endless MSM hype about U.S. energy independence and U.S. exporting energy abroad, the U.S. still imports over 3 billion barrels of crude oil every year and when oil becomes expensive: the economy sinks into recession.