"Washington is absolutely correct, in my opinion, to want to boost American consumption, but the Fed seems to be trying to boost consumption by igniting another asset bubble in the hopes that, like before 2007, Americans will feel “richer” and so will consume more. This isn't sustainable, however, and will leave us, as Paul and Druckenmiller fear, even more heavily indebted and more dangerously exposed to the underlying weakness in demand."
“At This Point You Just Have to Laugh”. In every important respect, the Fed and the ECB and their brethren are no longer central banks at all. They are Ministries of Markets, no different from a Ministry of Industry or – even more eerily similar – the Ministry of Culture you would find in most European governments. At this point the Narrative hegemony is complete. There’s no longer even a cursory bow to the idea that fundamentals matter. So I’m calling a top. Not a top in markets, because I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen next. But I’m calling a top in the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence because it has, in fact, reached its asymptotic limit of influence and belief.
This month's Bill Gross letter, notably shorter than usual, is as close to the bond manager discussing an Austrian economics worldview as we will likely ever see him: in brief, it's all about the credit/money creation, with an emphasis on the use of proceeds of said creation under ZIRP, i.e., malinvestment , or as Gross puts it: "credit growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for economic growth. Economic growth depends on the productive use of credit growth, something that is not occurring."
Do you believe in miracles? Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker does, having given up on his sane bearish case long ago, he now predicts S&P to 3,000 because "if we get EPS growth of 6% per year from 2015-2020, that would drive S&P500 earnings to near $170; a 17x multiple would translate into a peak level for the S&P500 near 3000 under this scenario." So, just some simple math, eh? But he does add, "of course, no one can predict unforeseen shocks to the economy," but they will never happen, right?
Were this extreme policy to be implemented it would be a further and deliberate debasement of fiat currencies. Alan Greenspan’s warning of “fiat money in extremis” becomes more real by the day. Were this silly proposal ever to become policy, it would significantly increase the risk of inflation and stagflation. In a worst case scenario, it will lead to currency collapse and hyperinflation.
With regard to the goings-on in Ukraine, quite a few European and American voices piping in, saying that, yes, Washington and Kiev are fabricating an entirely fictional version of events for propaganda purposes, but then so are the Russians. They appear to assume that if their corporate media is infested with mendacious, incompetent buffoons who are only too happy to repeat the party line, then the Russians must be same or worse. The reality is quite different.
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...
In this first of a series of London interviews that Lars Schall conducted for Matterhorn Asset Management this summer, Lars met up with the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard to discuss geopolitical tensions in the world, China's challenges, threats to the global economy and the expectations for gold.
That 4% market correction was quick and virtually painless. Not missing a beat after the market briefly tested 1900, the dip buyers came roaring back - gunning for the 2000 marker on the S&P 500, confident that longs were not selling and that shorts had long ago been obliterated. Needless to say, bubblevision had its banners ready to crawl triumphantly across the screen. When the algos finally did print the magic 2000 number, it represented a 200% gain from the March 2009 lows. And to complete the symmetry, the S&P 500 thereby clocked in at exactly 20X LTM reported earnings based on consistent historical pension accounting. The bulls said not to worry because the market is still “cheap” - like it always is, until it isn’t. To be sure, the Fed is a serial bubble machine. But even it cannot defy economic gravity indefinitely.
US Services PMI dropped from multi-year highs to a still expanding 58.5, 3 month lows and the biggest MoM drop in 6 months. This is the 10th month of expansion in a row but employment growth continues to slow, as opposed to the priced-in escape velocity to the moon levels the market expects, even if this particular piece of bad news may just be the good news the "market" needs for that nudge above 2,000.
When we last met Sergei Glazyev, Vladimir Putin's chief 'integration' adviser (who has been regularly featured on these pages in the past (see Putin Adviser Threatens With Dumping US Treasurys, Abandoning Dollar If US Proceeds With Sanctions and Putin Adviser Proposes "Anti-Dollar Alliance" To Halt US Aggression Abroad for two examples) he explained "how the U.S. military and oligarchs are trying to maintain leadership in the global competition with China." Arguably the best informed main in Russia, his perspective seems important to grasp as he considers "The world today is going through a year of overlapping cyclical crises. This is a period when the global economy is changing as the structure that has driven economic growth for 30 years has exhausted itself. The world needs to transition to a new system and transition has always come about through war..."
With Yellen's speech a bit of a letdown for the doves - she did not go full-dovish - markets anxiously await Mario Draghi to promise whetever for ever and ever... While financial markets don’t expect bombshells, his speech is an opportunity to underscore that ECB policy will stay looser for longer than that of the Fed and the Bank of England.
DRAGHI SAYS HE'S 'CONFIDENT' JUNE STIMULUS WILL BOOST DEMAND, SEES 'REAL RISK' MONETARY POLICY LOSES EFFECTIVENESS
Out of the gate - based on the fact the word "slack" was present and the word "bubble" was not, stocks ramped higher as J-Yell's J-Hole speech hit. Bond yields surged (led by 5Y) and the USDollar also surged (as gold shrugged). However, once the machines were done, humans reacted to the fact that this was not the "full dovish" speech that was 'priced in' and have started to sell stocks back... but then again - we always have Draghi later to save Friday...
- Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
- Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
- U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
- Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
- Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
- Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
- Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
- Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)
With the FOMC Minutes in the books, the only remaining major event for the week is the Jackson Hole conference, where Yellen is now expected to talk back any Hawkish aftertaste left from the Minutes, and which starts today but no speeches are due until tomorrow. And while the Minutes were generally seen as hawkish, stocks continue to levitate, blissfully oblivious what tighter monetary conditions would mean to an asset bubble, which according to many, is now the biggest in history. And speaking of equities, US futures climbed to a fresh record high overnight on just the right mix of bad news.