Another Former Central Banker Finally Gets It: "The Idea That Monetary Stimulus Is The Answer Doesn't Seem Right"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/20/2015 11:12 -0400
What is it about central bankers who wait to tell the truth only after they have quit their post. First it was the maestro himself, the Fed's Alan Greenspan (most recently in "Greenspan's Stunning Admission: "Gold Is Currency; No Fiat Currency, Including the Dollar, Can Match It"), and now it is the Bank of England's former head, Mervyn King, who yesterday told an audience at the LSE that "more monetary stimulus will not help the world economy return to strong growth." That this is happening just as we learn that in one year the world's 1% will collectively own more wealth than the rest of the world combined, and two days before Goldman's Mario Draghi unleashed up to €1 trillion (if not unlimited) in QE, is hardly as surprise, and will be surely ignored by everyone until the inevitable outcome of another "French revolution" finally arrives.
As 2015 begins, policymakers around the world are faced with three fundamental choices: to strive for economic growth or accept stagnation; to work to improve stability or risk succumbing to fragility; and to cooperate or go it alone. The stakes could not be higher; 2015 promises to be a make-or-break year for the global community. The new networks of influence should be embraced and given space in the twenty-first century architecture of global governance. This is what I have called the “new multilateralism.”
Top ten things that investors will likely be watching in the week ahead.
What we see now is the recovery of price discovery, and therefore the functioning economy, and it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it doesn’t come in a smooth transition. Six years is a long time. Moreover, it was never just QE that distorted the markets, there was – and is – the ultra-low interest rate policy developed nations’ central banks adhere to like it was the gospel, and there’s always been the narrative of economic recovery just around the corner that the politico/media system incessantly drowned the world in. That the QE madness ended with the decapitation of the price of oil seems only fitting.
As a one-day upward move in a major currency its had few peers through history and is firmly in the top 10 of daily upward moves for any currency (vs the dollar) that we have data for which in many cases goes back into the nineteenth century. Most of the others in this top 10 are EM countries. So this is a rare event as when a peg gets abandoned and a big move ensues it’s usually a devaluation from a fixed rate system.What makes this move shocking is that just last month the SNB committed themselves to preventing their currency appreciating beyond 1.20 to the Euro and vowed they would enforce the policy with "the utmost determination". The risk for the global financial system is that if the SNB can make such a dramatic u-turn could other central banks follow at some point. We're not so concerned here as their situation is arguably a lot different to the ECB. The ECB might actually look at the wider market moves yesterday and be scared to disappoint.
Success, we’re constantly told, breeds success. And success breeds stability. The way to avoid failure is to copy successful people and strategies. The way to continue succeeding is to do more of what has been successful. This line of thinking is so intuitively compelling that we wonder what other basis for success can there be other than 'success'? As counter-intuitive as it may sound, success rather reliably leads to failure and destabilization. Instead, it’s the close study of failure and the role of luck that leads to success. In the macro-economic arena, we think it highly likely that the monetary and fiscal policies of the past six years that are conventionally viewed as successful will lead to spectacular political and financial failures in 2015 and 2016. How can success breed failure? It turns out there are a number of dynamics at work.
Given the potential for financial losses triggered by oil's price collapse to cascade into the financial sector at large, the Fed may well be forced to intervene either directly or indirectly... Unleash the oil weapon...
For all the hype about jobs and the booming (GDP) economy, the major portion of the retailer calendar around Christmas was a total bust. In many ways it was worse than last year, which emphasizes simply how the business “cycle” as it was understood in textbook economics no longer applies. In other words, the dichotomy between growing pessimism in credit/funding and economists is due to the continued failure of the economy to produce what economists expect.
At the very least, the ‘great recession’ seems likely to continue. A serious recession or depression will likely collapse the already fragile banking system, especially in Europe, and the savings of ordinary people and companies will become exposed to bail-ins.
The current premise is that global equities markets will rise regardless of economic fundamentals. Money must flow into equities [perceived as the only asset class capable of producing “acceptable” returns] because the alternatives offer virtually no return…with interest rates pinned near zero in most western economies. Just buy any equity [akin to dart throwing] and a “greater fool than you” will buy after your purchase, at a higher price, ad infinitum... thus ever increasing the asset’s value This is such an obviously flawed argument on so many levels... albeit, like almost any strategy, is surprisingly effective from time to time.
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We see far too much complacency out there when it comes to interest rates, in the same manner that we’ve seen it concerning oil prices. We live in a new world, not a continuation of the old one. That old world died with Fed QE. Just check the price of oil. There have been tectonic shifts since over, let’s say, the holidays, and we wouldn’t wait for the ‘experts’ to catch up with live events. Being 7 weeks or two months late is a lot of time. And they will be late, again. It’s inherent in what they do. And what they represent.
In the first half of this piece, readers were subjected to an exposition on the status quo. We revisited the preposterous paradigm of “too big to fail”, where a Crime Syndicate of private sector mega-banks pronounced themselves so “systemically important” that (supposedly) we could not live without them.
So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.
There is compelling evidence that 2015 will see a global slump in economic activity. This being the case, financial and systemic risks will increase as evidence of the slump accumulates. It can be expected to undermine global equities, property and finally bond markets, which are currently all priced for economic stability. Even though these markets are increasingly controlled by central bank intervention, it is dangerous to assume this will continue to be the case as financial and systemic risks accumulate. Precious metals are ultimately free from price management by the state. Furthermore, they are the only asset class notably under-priced today, given the enormous increase in the quantity of fiat money since the Lehman crisis. In short, 2015 is shaping up to be very bad for fiat currencies and very good for gold and silver.