No year is ever easy to predict, if only because if it were, that would take all the fun out of life. But still, predictions for 2016 look quite a bit easier than other years. This is because a whole bunch of irreversible things happened in 2015 that were not recognized for what they are, either intentionally or by ‘accident’. Things that will therefore now be forced to play out in 2016, when denial will no longer be an available option. Simply put, 2016 will be the year when a lot of ‘underlying wealth’ evaporates.
The S&P 500 closed at 2052 on November 18,2014. That was 405 days ago, and despite the rips and dips in the interim the broad market average has gone nowhere.
Congress ended the U.S. crude oil export ban last week. There is apparently no longer a strategic reason to conserve oil because shale production has made American great again. At least, that’s narrative that reality-averse politicians and their bases prefer. Congress’ decision to lift the 40-year U.S. ban on crude oil exports reflects the same misinformed and distorted thinking that declares that the world’s highest cost producer - tight oil - can somehow also be the world’s swing producer.
For those who enjoyed his encyclopedic 2015: Year In Review, this week we spend an hour with David Collum to ask: After processing through all of that information, what do you think the future is most likely to bring? Perhaps it comes as little surprise that he sees the global economy headed back down into recession, one that will be deeper and more damaging than the 2008 crisis...
If ever there was a clearer indication of America's "need for war" it was the latest Durable Goods orders data, which confirmed, absent defense spending, the US economy is in a tail-spin. However, as NYTimes reports, foreign arms sales by the United States jumped by almost $10 billion in 2014, about 35 percent, even as the global weapons market remained flat and competition among suppliers increased, thanks to multibillion-dollar agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Our quarterly survey of “Off the Grid” economic indicators finds that the U.S. economy is still growing, but the pace seems to be slowing from Q3 2015.
At the end of the day, the Fed led central bank money printing spree of the past two decades resulted in what is functionally a massive dollar short. Once the Fed stopped expanding its balance sheet when QE officially ended in October 2014, it was only a matter of time before all the “near-dollars” of the world would come under enormous downward pressure in the FX markets. Our Keynesian witch doctors believe that sinking currencies are a wonderful thing, of course. They claim making your country poorer is a good way to stimulate export growth and a virtuous cycle of spending and growth. But there is another thing. It is also a good way to generate capital flight and the ensuing chaos that creates.
Since our Keynesian central bankers have no clue that their prodigious money printing resulted in the drastic underpricing of credit and capital over the course of the past two decades, they are flying blind. They simply fail to see that the global economy is now swamped in more excess capacity than at any time since the 1930s, and probably even then. So they keep expecting the commodity cycle to momentarily bottom and prices to rebound, thereby reflating CapEx and household spending.
When the only healthy part of an already-impaired system turns negative, everyone will feel the resulting pain.
The Fed seems to have been operating on the theory that their own views on the economy determine its path. But recently the Fed has taken the principle to an extreme never seen. Yellen may well have just hiked rates expecting, hoping, that the mere act of showing confidence in the economy would produce an economy worthy of confidence. The Fed has dominated the narrative for years now, investors and traders hanging on every word. Last week that started to change, the market repudiating the Fed’s outlook over a 48 hour period that must have produced some second guessing at the Fed.
The Fed is now - for the first time in adult memory for half the world’s traders and money managers - tightening rather than loosening monetary conditions. A quick look at financial history is all it takes to lead anyone with leveraged money at risk to lighten up. Equally important - and vastly more strange when you think about it - this tightening comes at a time when major parts of the global economy are either grinding to a halt or imploding.
“To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious, but the stupid have an answer for everything.” ~Edward Abbey
One would think that the Criminals, themselves, would not have the audacity to use the same Script (with just minor plot variations) every eight years. But here we go, again.
The Fed pricked the financial bubblethis week as expected. Janet Yellen’s press conference couldn’t have been more perfect as it confirmed that the money printers have come to a stark dead end. The fact is, the global economy is deflating rapidly and the U.S. is sliding into recession. But our Fed chairman is clueless about what’s happening. She and her posse of money printers are going to get bushwhacked by reality in the year ahead.
Yellen and her cohort have no clue, however, that all of their massive money printing never really left the canyons of Wall Street, but instead inflated the mother of all financial bubbles. So they are fixing to blow-up the joint for the third time this century. That was plain as day when our Keynesian school marm insisted that the Third Avenue credit fund failure this past week was a one-off event - a lone rotten apple in the barrel. Now that is the ultimate in cluelessness.