Is there a better phrase to describe modern government than “a seedy circus which is perpetually in debt?” It is perfect. Government is exhausted. It, like Whipsnade’s circus, is out of resources, ideas and solutions. Government has painted itself into a fiscal and financial corner from which there is no escape. As a result of its profligacy, government is no longer able to sustain itself. That is the real reason for the Fed’s quantitative easing program(s). Taxes and traditional government bond sales no longer provide enough money to run the monster. QE, more properly described as counterfeiting, is a euphemism to disguise the insolvency of the government. Without the Federal Reserve, government would have to pare down dramatically. Government is now a facade, with guns. It has failed miserably at governance and shifted its focus to survival.
US consumer confidence is soaring. That's great - there is a problem: the two year drop real US wages has never been lower.
The conventional wisdom is that oil should decline in nominal price as global demand weakens along with the global economy. In the hot-money-seeks-a-new-home scenario outlined above, demand could decline on the margins but speculative inflows - demand for oil contracts by speculators - push prices higher, potentially a lot higher in a geopolitical crisis. The central banks that are creating all the "free money" that is available to large speculators fulminate against oil speculators, as if all the free money is only supposed to go to "approved" speculations in equities and bonds. Unfortunately for the central bankers, they only create the money, they don't control what the financiers who get the free money do with it. Gasoline is expensive at the pump, but by one measure oil is cheap and poised to go higher and despite the endless MSM hype about U.S. energy independence and U.S. exporting energy abroad, the U.S. still imports over 3 billion barrels of crude oil every year and when oil becomes expensive: the economy sinks into recession.
- ‘Cov-lite’ loans soar in dash for yield (FT)
- Cambodian police clash with thousands of garment workers, 23 hurt (Reuters)
- Obama Accepting Sequestration as Deficit Shrinks (BBG)
- Having done nothing to restore confidence in a fragmented market, the SEC turns back to main street fraud (WSJ)
- Europe's austerity-to-growth shift largely semantic (Reuters)
- Germany thwarts EU in China solar fight (FT)
- In EU-China dispute, Beijing warns of trade (FT)
- U.S. Oil Boom Divides OPEC (WSJ)
- Record Cash Sent to Balanced Funds (BBG)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Wrestles With Market Expectations About Pace of QE (WSJ)
- Worse-Than-Cyprus Debt Load Means Caribbean Defaults to Moody’s (BBG)
- States Raise College Budgets After Years of Deep Cuts (WSJ)
- U.K. Banks Cut 189,000 With Employment at Nine-Year Low (BBG)
The aftermath of the largest liquidity injection process in the history of the world, is that politics, and the entire fiscal process, has effectively been rendered obsolete, and politicians are now nothing but figureheads in a central banker world. Perhaps, the general public would be angry if it were to realize that the only entity left making global macro economic decisions is a private organization run by academics, who in turn are merely firgureheads for the world's private banks. That, however, would entail that the co-opted media would actually explain to the broader population just what is going on behind the scenes: a process that would entail the loss of core advertising revenue, which is why expect confusion about just who pulls the strings to linger for years.
Investors borrowed $384.4 billion in April, a 1.3% gain from the previous month and a 29% rise from the same month last year. This is an all-time record for margin debt and it exceeds the previous high mark set in June 2007. Some may see this as an increased sign of investor confidence but we are not among them. To me this is a giant red warning flag blowing in the financial breeze indicating the leveraging of dumb money making very risky bets. We are once again in the crack house of substance abuse! In each age the gods of the marketplace show up once more. The packaging may be different but the powder is the same. Each dealer uses the same line, "Nothing addictive here."
With the long-weekend rapidly approaching, ConvergEx's Nick Colas takes a trip to the Hamptons, but through a time warp back to the Great Depression. Examining the social registers (colloquially called the “Blue Book”) from 1927 and 1940, he finds that “The great and the good” of the day had real trouble holding their status during the social upheavals of the late 1920s and 1930s. Only 32% of the families appearing in the Blue Book in 1927 were still there in 1940. The ratio was even worse, at 29%, for the ultra-elite who belonged to the Meadow Club in Southampton. It’s too early to tell what the last few volatile years will do to the upper crust of East Coast society, of course. Or what may still be in store. But when the hedgie in the Bentley cuts you off on Route 27 this weekend, take some solace in knowing he may not be there in a few years. “Yes, the wealthy are different. Every year there are different wealthy people.”
So the Fed is essentially handcuffed at this point. Increasing QE in any way risks a Japan-bond market style rout.
In the 1940s, the Fed adopted pegging operations to protect the financial system against rising interest rates and to ensure the smooth financing of the war effort. In effect, the Fed became part of the Treasury’s debt management team; as the budget deficit hit 25% of GDP in WW2, it capped 1Y notes at 87.5bps and 30Y bonds at 2.5%. From the massive bond holdings of its domestic banks to its exploding public debt, Japan today faces a situation very similar to the US in the 1940s. When the long-term rate climbs above 2%, the BoJ will probably adopt outright measures to underpin JGB prices to prevent turmoil in the financial system and a fiscal crisis - and just as Kyle Bass noted yesterday, they are going to need a bigger boat as direct financial repression in Japan is unavoidable.
Is the coming financial collapse going to be inflationary or deflationary? Are we headed for rampant inflation or crippling deflation? This is a subject that is hotly debated by economists all over the country. Some insist that the wild money printing that the Federal Reserve is doing combined with out of control government spending will eventually result in hyperinflation. Others point to all of the deflationary factors in our economy and argue that we will experience tremendous deflation when the bubble economy that we are currently living in bursts. So what is the truth? Well, for the reasons listed below, we believe that we will see both.
Our country has entered a period of Crisis. We may or may not successfully navigate our way through the visible icebergs and more dangerous icebergs just below the surface. The similarities between the course of our country and the maiden voyage of the Titanic are eerily allegorical...
Up until today, the narrative was one trying to explain how a soaring dollar was bullish for stocks. Until moments ago, when Bill Dudley spoke and managed to send not only the dollar lower, but the Dow Jones to a new high of 15,400 with the following soundbites.
- DUDLEY: FED MAY NEED TO RETHINK BALANCE SHEET PATH, COMPOSITION
- DUDLEY SAYS FISCAL DRAG TO U.S. ECONOMY IS `SIGNIFICANT'
- DUDLEY: FED MAY AVOID SELLING MBS IN EARLY STAGE OF EXIT
- DUDLEY: IMPORTANT TO SEE HOW WELL ECONOMY WEATHERS FISCAL DRAG
- DUDLEY SAYS HE CAN'T BE SURE IF NEXT QE MOVE WILL BE UP OR DOWN
And the punchline:
- DUDLEY SEES RISK INVESTORS COULD OVER-REACT TO 'NORMALIZATION'
Translated: the Fed will never do anything that could send stocks lower - like end QE - ever again, but for those confused here is a simpler translation: Moar.
If this plan fails to bring about economic growth in Japan, or worse still fails to bring about growth and unleashes inflation, then it’s GAME OVER for Central Bankers. Their one great claim “we’re not doing enough QE” will have been proven to be total bunk.
Preview of tomorrow's Bernanke testimony and FOMC minutes.
To those who have already submitted their applications to launder their cash buy an apartment or better yet, have already wired the money to purchase any of the still to be built residences at 432 Park, the 84-story giant that is set to become the tallest residential building in the Western hemisphere, congratulations. Although that is technically inappropriate: for full effect we would have to say "congratulations" in the buyers' native tongue, be it Russian, Mandarin, Spanish or Arabic, because it sure won't be English in the ongoing scramble to park trillions in cash away from a global banking system now hell bent on confiscating it, especially away from Europe's insolvent and massively levered banks as shown yesterday, and in the Cyprus template aftermath, the cleanest dirty shirt has once again emerged as midtown Manhattan real estate just as we said would happen last September. However, to call the emerging, full-blown panic scramble to park cash sight unseen, with zero regard for asking price "a bubble", would a slap in the face of all calm, cool and collected bubbles everywhere. Because any time someone is willing to pay $95 million for a non-duplex one-floor apartment, $44.8 million for a 4-bedroom apartment, $10 million for a two-bedroom, or a paltry $3.9 million for a maid's quarters studio (no really), something far more profound is going on beneath the surface than a simple asset bubble.