"The Fed's policies have actually led to a lot of problems around the world," Marc Faber begins his discussion with Bloomberg TV's Trish Regan, especially "people in the lower income groups [who] spend say 30% of their income on energy, transportation, and so forth, electricity and gasoline." The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report author goes on to discuss everything from how the Fed is creating a two-class system around the world, the inexorable growth of governments, buying votes, Bitcoin, interest rates, wealth taxes, and overall market valuations. "We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble," Faber explains, "everybody's bullish," but he sees a slowing global economy (as do we e.g. Baltic Dry Index); "[The bubble] could burst any day. I think we are very stretched." Faber is on fire...
When it comes to forecasts and outlooks for 2014 (or 2013, or 2012, or 2011, etc), there is no way one can't be tired of the endless Keynesian drivel which the sellside bombards its gullible client base, which can be summarized as follows: "this is the year when the central bank strategies, which have failed to boost the global economy for the past 5 years, will finally work and the economy picks up - yes, this time will be different, we promise. Oh, and 'if' we are wrong (again), well just blame it on cold weather in the winter, or warm weather in the summer and if need be, delay the 'recovery" to the following year, while blaming the lack of insufficient stimulus - because $1 trillion in balance sheet expansion per year is obviously not enough." Rinse. Repeat. One would think spinning the same yarn year after year, they would get it right purely by luck at this point. Alas, they haven't. So for everyone tired of listening to the same old broken record, here is a completely different "Austrian" perspective, one shared by Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann.
... We have created an apparently wonderful economic model that seems to provide us with so many benefits. When you consider the incredible feats of technology and the global consumerist lifestyle we enjoy it is easy to marvel at what has been achieved. Of course what may be less obvious is the dark side of the growth economic model which is deeply inequitable, restricting its benefits to the relative elite in the western world and trapping the rest of the world in poverty. Most dangerous of all is the unsustainability of the model and where it is taking us in the future. There is now a perfect storm gathering that includes economic indebtedness, resource shortages, population pressures, and climate change that is guaranteed to derail civilisation. Despite this the political and economic mainstream are largely in denial about what is happening– like the hapless engineer and politician in the story everyone agrees that we must restart the ‘growth economy’ and continue to progress down the business as usual pathway. Very few people are taking the long term view and watching the direction towards doom that this pathway leads us. Too invested in the benefits of our current lifestyle, no one wants to hear the counsel of the philosopher who sees the disaster that looms ahead.
These names can fall farther than investors ever think once the downside momentum kicks in......
Even if you don’t buy that QE and ZIRP will lead to a dollar collapse, you do have to admit that these Fed policies have severely brainwashed investors. The Federal Reserve is the boiler room operation that has pumped up the equities market by way of QE and ZIRP. You are investing in a pump-and-dump scam. And like in all such scams, you will lose. Clear enough for ya?
Last week, Grant Williams reviewed the equity markets in an attempt to see how equity investors managed to scamper through 2013 with the friskiness of puppies when all about them lay doubt and potential disaster. His answer - of course - quantitative easing. This week Williams takes a deep dive into bonds and bullion in an effort to comprehend how the bond market managed to navigate the same 12-month period and see what can be learned about 2013 in order to forecast for 2014. The effect on the Fed’s balance sheet is plain to see - a very steady, predictable line; and markets love steady and predictable. So what happens when the 'predictability' ends...? The guardians of the global economy are relying on numerous logical fallacies to continue their path to oblivion...
The one item that caught our attention in the just released earnings was the GAAP EPS: a whopping loss of $2.19/share. Ok so, Alcoa added back a few things to get the Non-GAAP number: about $2.1 billion in goodwill impairment and restructuring charges to be precise - happens all the time. The only problem is that for Alcoa, this indeed happens all the time! The chart below shows just how freely Alcoa abuses the non-GAAP EPS definition, and how adding back charges has become ordinary course of business for the alluminum company. Very much in the same way as adding back litigation charges for JPM is now a quarterly ritual...
If one listens to Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius these days, it is all roses for the global economy in 2014... much like it was for Goldman at the end of 2010, a case of optimism which went stupendously wrong. Goldman's Dominic Wilson admits as much in a brand new note in which he says, "Our economic and market views for 2014 are quite upbeat." However, unlike the blind faith Goldman had in a recovery that was promptly dashed, this time it is hedging, and as a result has just released the following not titled "Where we worry: Risks to our outlook", where Wilson notes: "After significant equity gains in 2013 and with more of a consensus that US growth will improve, it is important to think about the risks to that view. There are two main ways in which our market outlook could be wrong. The first is that our economic forecasts could be wrong. The second is that our economic forecasts could be right but our view of the market implications of those forecasts could be wrong. We highlight five key risks on each front here." In short: these are the ten things that keep Goldman up at night: the following five economic risks, and five market view risks.
"Eventually (un-manipulated) asset prices always return to their fundamental value, which is why bubbles always pop. The FOMC has backed itself into a corner. Current changes in policy are being designed around efforts to manage the unwind process seamlessly. Central bank (and government official’s) micro-management appears based on a belief that they can exert an all-encompassing central control over markets and peoples’ lives. Those in power have come to believe that policies have a precise effect that can be defined and managed. This is highly unlikely."
Fed's action or inaction remains an under-appreciated risk to the global economy.
2013 Was A Year Of Calm In The World Of Finance ... 2014 May Not Be So Calm ... Highlights Of Year - German Gold Repatriation, Record Highs In Yen, Huge Chinese Demand - Lowlights Of Year - Massive Paper Sell Offs in April/June and First Deposit Confiscation and Capital Controls ...
Nothing can be a more pungent metaphor for today's investment climate than the headline, “Macau gambling revenue hits record $45 bn in 2013.”
After multiple months of positive acceleration, Goldman expect the Global Leading Indicator to continue to stabilize around current levels in the coming months. The infamous Swirlogram shows that the last 3 months have seen the indicator in "slowdown" mode - which Goldman optimistically notes is on the border of 'expansion' also...and while they see no clear evidence of further acceleration, they see overall level of growth at solid levels.
Alan Greenspan's Modest Proposal: Fix Broken Economic Models By... Modeling Irrational "Animal Spirits"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/02/2014 15:26 -0400
We leave it to everyone's supreme amusement to enjoy the Maestro's full non-mea culpa essay, but we will highlight Greenspan's two most amusing incosistencies contained in the span of a few hundred words. On one hand the former Chairman admits that "The financial crisis [...] represented an existential crisis for economic forecasting. The conventional method of predicting macroeconomic developments -- econometric modeling, the roots of which lie in the work of John Maynard Keynes -- had failed when it was needed most, much to the chagrin of economists." On the other, his solution is to do... more of the same: "if economists better integrate animal spirits into our models, we can improve our forecasting accuracy. Economic models should, when possible, measure and forecast systematic human behavior and the tendencies of corporate culture.... Forecasters may never approach the fantasy success of the Oracle of Delphi or Nostradamus, but we can surely improve on the discouraging performance of the past." So, Greenspan's solution to the failure of linear models is to... model animal spirits, or said otherwise human irrationality. Brilliant.
As 2013 comes to a close, efforts to revive growth in the world’s most influential economies – with the exception of the eurozone – are having a beneficial effect worldwide. However, All of the looming problems for the global economy are political in character; and there are some eerie resemblances with the financial conditions that prevailed in the US in the years preceding the crash of 2008.