Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. “You will know that the financial markets have reached peak instability and volatility when Britney Spears rings the opening bell.”
What do an old German bank note, a current $100 bill, and an apple all have in common? The answer, according to ConvergEx's Nick Colas, is that these simple objects can tell us much about the current investment scene, ranging from Europe’s economic challenges to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s attempts to reduce unemployment. Colas takes an “object-ive” approach to analyzing the current investment landscape by describing 10 common items and how they shape our perceptions of reality. The other objects on our list: a hazmat suit, a house in Orlando, a barrel of oil, a Rolex watch, a butterfly, a heating radiator in Berlin, and a smartphone.
Six years after QE started, and just about the time when we for the first time said that the primary consequence of QE would be unprecedented wealth and class inequality (in addition to fiat collapse, even if that particular bridge has not yet been crossed), even the central banks themselves - the very institutions that unleashed QE - are now admitting that the record wealth disparity in the world - surpassing that of the Great Depression and even pre-French revolution France - is caused by "monetary policy", i.e., QE.
yes, I know it feels soooo good. Hint: China is the dealer
With no mention of the current turmoil in markets - or suggestion of QE99 - Janet Yellen's speech this morning on "Inequality and Opportunity" in America explains how the poor can get rich. After admitting that widening inequality resumed in the recovery (and "greatly concerns" her), as the stock market rebounded (driven by Fed's free money) and cost-conscious share buying-back companies defer wage growth as the healing of the labor market has been slow; she turns her attention to how the poor can beat the vicious cycle. Rather stunningly, she notes the 4 sources of income opportunity in America: The first two are widely recognized as important sources of opportunity: resources available for children and affordable higher education (so more student debt and servitude). The second two may come as more of a surprise: business ownership and inheritances. As she concludes, "this is how individuals and their families can improve their economic circumstances."
There is this whole idea of state dependence that we have to consider when we’re talking about the market. Uou might have a plan to buy stocks when the index gets below a certain level, but when the market gets to that point, you: a) may not have the capital; and b) might be panicking into your shorts. It’s nice to have a plan, but, paraphrasing Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. It’s been so long since we’ve had a correction, I’m guessing that most people have forgotten what a correction feels like.
The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different. The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building. But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.
"...much like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, nothing is over yet. The Fed has not undone its extraordinary loose monetary policy and is just now stopping its direct QE purchases... Paul [Krugman] will continue to be mostly wrong, mostly dishonest about it, incredibly rude, and in a crass class by himself."
The old adage that if something is repeated often enough it is soon assumed to be true couldn’t be more apt with respect to the Fed’s 2% inflation target. That Keynesian central bankers peddle this nostrum with a straight face is amazing in itself, but it is at least understandable because it gives them a reason to keep the printing presses humming. That journalists repeat it with no questions asked is even more remarkable. It proves that the impending replacement of financial journalists with robo-writers may not be so bad after all. It won’t make any real difference.
The “Doomsday Book” is essentially a private compilation of emergency measures that the Federal Reserve could take in the event of a financial crisis or other market-destabilizing event. The book has never been made public. But Fed officials have refused to release it, and Justice Department officials at a court hearing on Tuesday said the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wanted to keep the book under seal.
There’s really no point in trying to convert anyone to our viewpoint. Somebody will have to hold stocks over the completion of the present cycle, and encouraging one investor to reduce risk simply means that someone else will have to bear it instead... In any event, be careful in believing that a market advance “proves” concerns about valuations wrong. What further advances actually do is simply extend the scope of the potential losses that are likely to follow. That lesson has been repeated across history.
No, it's not a joke or sarcasm. The Fed-whispering Jon Hilsenrath has penned the first strawman sponsoring Ben Bernanke for the Nobel Prize...
There is nothing like the release of secret tape recordings to clarify an inconclusive debate. Actually, what the tapes really show is that the Fed’s latest policy contraption - macro-prudential regulation through a financial stability committee - is just a useless exercise in CYA. Macro-pru is an impossible delusion that should not be taken seriously be sensible adults. It is not, as Janet Yellen insists, a supplementary tool to contain and remediate the unintended consequence - that is, excessive financial speculation - of the Fed’s primary drive to achieve full employment and fill the GDP bathtub to the very brim of its potential. Instead, rampant speculation, excessive leverage, phony liquidity and massive financial instability are the only real result of current Fed policy.