One way to understand why the global financial meltdown occurred in 2008 and not in 2012 is all the oxygen in the room had been consumed. In the U.S. housing market, there was nobody left to buy an overpriced house with a no-document liar loan because everyone who was qualified to buy a McMansion in the middle of nowhere had already bought three and everyone who wasn't qualified had purchased a McMansion to flip with a liar loan. Once the pool of credulous buyers evaporated, the dominoes fell, eventually circling the globe. Right now China is at the top of the S-Curve, and the problems of stagnation are still ahead.
UPDATE: *FIRST TSUNAMI WAVES REACH CHILE COAST, RADIO COOPERATIVA SAYS
At shortly after 1945ET, a massive 8.2 (revised up from 8.0) earthquake hit close to the coast of Chile:
*MAGNITUDE 8.0 QUAKE HITS OFF COAST OF CHILE, USGS REPORTS
*CHILE QUAKE MAGNITUDE REVISED UP FROM 8.0 TO 8.2 BY USGS
*FLASH: TSUNAMI WARNING ISSUED AFTER MAGNITUDE 8.0 QUAKE HITS OFF
*QUAKE CUTS ELECTRICITY SUPPLY TO MUCH OF ARICA, CHILE: TVN
The BBC reports the quake was shallow (which means it felt more powerful) and the tsunami wave's arrival is imminent. Copper prices are jumping on the news as the region is an active mining area.
"The US reached a peak in prosperity and influence in the world in the 1950s or 1960s," Marc Faber explains to an Australian audience at the recent World War D conference; but since the 70s the superpower has been locked into a cycle of bubbles, busts and growing debt. "There are some people who claim to be economists who will tell you debts do not matter," but the real story is different, he warns. "When you drop dollar bills into the economy... it won't lift all prices and assets equally at the same time," Faber explains, "in the 60s and 70s, extra money flowing through the economy inflated wages; in the early 2000s, money printing inflated commodities;" but, the Gloom, Boom, & Doom Report editor points out, this price and asset growth is never equal, warning that "we live in a new word... where the old world order is largely bypassed."
When one reads stories such as the following report from the FT, in which we learn that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin "has urged the current leadership to rein in an anti-corruption campaign that is proving the harshest in decades and is seen as threatening the interests and networks of some Communist party elders", or said otherwise - his cronies, aside from being utterly speechless at the rapid unravelling of the bizarro world, all one can say is - expect such developments in the US in a few years time, when then former president Obama asks Clinton, Christie or whoever the then-reigning dictator of the totalitarian states of America is, to take it easy on the Corzines of the world.
"The USA is exhibiting pretty severe signs of that sclerosis in the demented behavior of its leaders in episodes such as the current unnecessary manufactured fiasco over Ukraine to the physical deterioration of our towns, roads, bridges, and all the plastic crap we managed to smear over the mutilated landscape to the comportment of our demoralized, mentally inert, drugged-up, tattoo-bedizened populace of twerking slobs."
The Federal Reserve is likely to suffer significant losses on its Treasury holdings once interest rates rise from historic lows. Indeed, the researchers at the San Francisco Fed have recently called for "stress tests" on the Fed itself. Fail to prepare ... prepare to ...
Lots of moves appear to be afoot on the macro front at the moment. Today's deal between the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and Germany’s Bundesbank seems quite significant given the importance of Germany within the global economy generally and the E.U. specifically. And with that in mind, let’s not forget that Obama is currently in Saudi Arabia trying to restore ties with the Medieival Kingdom, i.e., he is trying to figure out a way to arm al-Qaeda in Syria without the American public finding out about it. It appears that becoming entrenched in a Syrian civil war is still very much on the table... The months ahead should be very interesting to say the least.
If there is one thing that unites trade unionists, Keynesian Cargo Cultists, free-market fans and believers in American exceptionalism, it's a misty-eyed nostalgia for the Golden Era of the 1950s and 60s, when one wage-earner earned enough to buy all the goodies of a middle-class lifestyle because everything was cheap. Food was cheap, land was cheap, houses were cheap, college was cheap and most importantly, oil was cheap. The nostalgic punditry quite naturally think of this full-employment golden age of their youth as the default setting, i.e. the economy of the 1950s/60s was "normal." But it wasn't normal--it was a one-off anomaly, never to be repeated.
The more the West attempts to "isolate" Russia and pushes it away from its "core values" and of course the US Dollar, the more Russia will seek the safety of a non-dollar based system. We have previously described how Putin has been scrambling to enmesh Russia in tight bilateral commodity-based trade with both China and India, and now it is Russia's turn to announce it would seek its own "national payment settlement system" following last week's surprising and unmandated service halts by both Visa and MasterCard, which as Vladimir Putin said earlier today, will be a "bid to reduce economic dependence on the West."
Gazprom must really be demanding payment on overdue Ukraine invoices which is the only way we can explain the unprecedented speed with which the IMF has managed to cobble together a makeshift bailout package of up to $27 billion - the bulk of which will naturally go to Russia - which has just made Ukraine its latest vassal state. There are of course, conditions: "Approval is “expected in April, following the authorities’ adoption of a strong and comprehensive package of prior actions aiming to stabilize the economy and create conditions for sustained growth,” IMF mission chief Nikolay Gueorguiev said in the statement. Disbursement may start next month, he said at a news conference in Kiev." And then comes the hyperinflation: "Monetary policy will target domestic price stability while maintaining a flexible exchange rate. This will help eliminate external imbalances, improve competitiveness, support exports and growth, and facilitate the gradual rebuilding of international reserves. The NBU plans to introduce an inflation targeting framework over the next twelve months to firmly anchor inflation expectations"... Very high inflation targeting.
To really appreciate “too big to fail,” you must first and foremost understand that it is a political concept that springs from a sense of liberal privilege and entitlement.
The Central Bank of Iraq said it bought 36 tons of gold this month to help stabilise the Iraqi dinar against foreign currencies, according to a statement from the bank that was emailed this morning. It is very large in tonnage terms and Iraq’s purchases this month alone surpasses the entire demand of many large industrial nations in all of 2013. It surpasses the entire demand of large countries such as France, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, Japan, the UK, Brazil and Mexico. Indeed, it is just below the entire gold demand of voracious Hong Kong for all of 2013 according to GFMS data (see chart). Iraq had 27 tonnes of gold reserves at the end of 2013 according to the IMF data and thus Iraq has more than doubled their reserves with their allocations to gold this month. Gold remains less than 5% of their overall foreign exchange reserves showing that there is the possibility of further diversification into gold in the coming months. The governor of the Iraqi Central Bank, Abdel Basset Turki, told a news conference that, "the bank bought 36 tonnes of gold to boost reserves and this move is to strengthen the financial capacity of the country and increase the elements of security and insurance reserves of the Central Bank of Iraq." He added that "the central bank seeks through the purchase of large quantities of gold to stabilize the Iraqi dinar against foreign currencies.” Iraq quadrupled its gold holdings to 31.07 tonnes over the course of three months between August and October 2012, data from the International Monetary Fund shows.
Chart 1 proves it is crystal clear that every time the US Federal Reserve acts to "save us" from one crisis, it directly sows the seeds for an even bigger crisis in the future.
China, Japan and the US are the three largest economies in the world. Each country is currently in the midst of highly-significant policy maneuvers. The Fed is bringing QE to an end. China is dealing with the credit bubble issues outlined above. Japan is lifting its consumption tax from 5% to 8%. Japan’s hike in 1997 from 3% to 5% pushed the economy into a recession. In addition, Russian sanctions could magnify and potentially take a large bite out of global economic growth. Portfolios will need to adapt to this changing environment. Just about everyone is anticipating higher Treasury yields. Most PM’s are short duration. However, the term premium is falling quickly. The technical chart looks outstanding on the long end. Macro factors are also beginning to align. I believe the next 50bps in the 30year (yield) is shaping up to be a move toward lower (not higher) yields. Portfolios are ill-prepared.
Is capital adequacy really the answer to the question?