We will readily admit that one cannot know with certainty whether the bubble in risk assets will become bigger. However, it seems to us that avoiding a big drawdown may actually be more important than gunning for whatever gains remain. We don’t think it is a good idea to simply “take the blue pill” and rely on the idea that the effects of the money illusion will last a lot longer. It is possible, but it becomes less and less likely the higher asset prices go and the more money supply growth slows down. If no-one can say when, then the “blue pill” strategy has a major weakness. It means that things could just as easily go haywire next week as next year.
Another year of putting lipstick on the zombie known as the global economy, kept walking only thanks to $11 trillion in liquidity injections by the world's central banks and tens of trillions of new Chinese credit created out of thin air and promptly misallocated and embezzled, and the results are in. The bottom line: according to Nielsen, is that despite the S&P recording a whopping 53 all time highs, and the Dow rising over 18,000, the channel that was once must watch financial TV for mom and pop, and has since devolved into endless cheerleading of failed policies and rigged markets, namely CNBC, just suffered its worst year in, well, ever.
If the tech mania was based on magic, and the housing mania was based on a supposed fact that was historically untrue, today’s mania is a mania of manias, interlinked and resting on premises that are patently illogical, contradicted by both the historical record and current experience. Those premises are: central planning works, government debt promotes prosperity, and economic growth stems from central banks buying that debt with money they create from thin air. On these premises rest manias in governments, their debts, and central banking.
We are once more in the hands of Occam’s Razor, namely that oil prices are falling hard because demand is falling hard. The scale gives us insight into the nature of the slowing of the global economy, to which the US is a full part, meaning that comparisons only with past and serious downslopes is not a welcome development; nor should it be “unexpected.” Mainstream commentary seeks to reject this simple and basic argument because it cannot fathom, predicated on its penchant for nothing but parroting economic “authority”, that the world could fall so deeply into recession once more drowning not just in oil but also “stimulus.” Once you get past the idea that “stimulus” isn’t, logical sense is restored.
Hugh Hendry's Eclectica Fund has had a great Q4 (up 3.3%, 4.0%, and 5.0% in the last 3 months) despite portfolio risk being quadruple his 'old normal'. How did he achieve this? He begins... "There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don't necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often... He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now."
As investors and market participants become increasingly aware of the regulatory failures that allowed for manipulation of LIBOR, FOREX, municipal bond bidding and certain commodities markets, regulatory sources are increasingly expressing concern that they have paid too little attention to potential manipulations of an arguably larger, more systemically important and less regulated market – the CDS market as self-governed, through ‘regulatory license’, by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).
The worldwide economic and industrial boom since the early 1990s was not indicative of sublime human progress or the break-out of a newly energetic market capitalism on a global basis. Instead, the approximate $50 trillion gain in the reported global GDP over the past two decades was an unhealthy and unsustainable economic deformation financed by a vast outpouring of fiat credit and false prices in the capital markets. In short, when the classical Austrians talked about “malinvestment” the pending disasters in the global steel and iron ore industries (and also mining equipment and other supplier industries) are what they had in mind.
Greek bank shares collapsed by even more. Two of Greece’s largest banks, Piraeus bank and Alpha bank, shed more than 14% of their share value as concerns of bank solvency, bank runs and Cyprus style bail-ins reemerged. Fail to prepare ... prepare to fail ...
And thus the utter craziness of monetarism is on full display, in that after arguing that declining oil prices are good for American consumers, they are also suggesting that monetary policy is “too tight”, and thus oil prices are contradictorily “too low.” That betrays the central aspect of this orthodox embracing of lower energy prices as nothing more than a shaky rationalization – they still are not comfortable with low prices but accept them lest anyone get worried about what they really suggest. Orthodox monetary theory is, when stripped of its academic trappings, dedicated to high oil prices and low wages.
All of this is political theater. The big story for the markets is not interest rates. It is the US Dollar.
In another Christmas surprise, China once again decided to adjust the cost of money, only this time instead of hiking, it eased, and in an effort to shore up the world's second-largest economy, China Business News reported that the PBOC will waive reserve requirements for non-bank deposits. As the WSJ adds, at a meeting with big financial institutions on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China told participants that they will soon be able to add deposits from nonbank financial institutions to their calculations of their loan-to-deposit ratios, according to the executives. The move would add considerably to the banks' deposits and allow them to lend more. Chinese stocks, which had been pricing in further easing by the PBOC for the past 3 months, a period during which the Shanghai Composite soared over 50%, were delighted by the latest easing move and surged even more, surging higher by the most in the past three weeks.
The ability of oil exporters to trigger a short-term collapse in price does not automatically translate into an ability to control the financial conflagration such a crash ignites.
"The Fed Is Heading For Another Catastrophe... Central Banking Has Lost Its Way" Stephen Roach WarnsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/24/2014 10:17 -0500
America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar — and highly dangerous — path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic. The Fed’s incrementalism of 2004-2006 was a policy blunder of epic proportions. The Fed seems poised to make a similar — and possibly even more serious — misstep in the current environment. In these days of froth, the persistence of extraordinary policy accommodation in a financial system flooded with liquidity poses a great danger.
A form of society could undoubtedly exist powered by nuclear, wind and shale gas. But it would be a society supported by the state with far larger numbers working in the energy industries than now, producing lower surpluses, the energy production part perhaps running at a perennial loss. Those losses have to be covered by either higher price or via the taxation system. Either way, the brave new world that awaits us will be characterized as the time of less that will be in stark contrast to the time of plenty many of us enjoyed during the 20th Century.