We will be the first to admit that yield curve inversion is not the only factor causing recessions, but through the credit channel it can be an important contributor. Depending on the importance of the credit channel, the Federal Reserve, by pegging the short term rate at zero, have essentially removed one recessionary market mechanism that used to efficiently clear excesses within the financial system. While stability obsessed Keynesians on a quest to the permanent boom regard this as a positive development, the rest of us obviously understand that false stability breeds instability.
No, Ben S. Bernanke will be someday remembered as the world’s most destructive battleship admiral. Not only was he fighting the last war, but his whole multi-trillion money printing campaign after September 15, 2008 was aimed at avoiding an historical Fed mistake that had never even happened!
Every day when you flip on the media, there is someone telling you that now is the time to "buy" into the market. Of course, if you are buying, then who is selling? The only "net buyers" of equities this year have been "individuals," while "professional" firms have been "net sellers." This is the epitome of the classic "smart money/dumb money" analysis where individuals are used by institutions to offload positions that are no longer optimal. The question is with corporate profits and earnings declining, weak economic data, and the threat of tighter monetary policy - will individuals once again be left "holding the bag" while institutions derisk portfolios in advance of the next decline?
To the extent the Federal Reserve decides to increase interest rates, it should be apparent that such a move would be inconsistent with their prior actions. In fact, it may likely be a desperate effort to re-load the monetary policy gun as opposed to a signal of domestic economic strength. Not only is this a departure from the past, this would lead many to question the Fed’s motives. It is worth keeping in mind that blind trust and confidence in the Fed has propelled many markets much higher than fundamentals justify. The bottom line is that NIM and the Taylor Rule-adjusted curve are both flashing warning signs of economic recession, while the traditional yield curve signal is waving the all clear flag.
The previous Bubble was of the Fed’s making, and our central bank lost control. It became a Hobson’s Choice issue in the eyes of the Fed, and they fully accommodated the Bubble. These days, the Fed and global central bankers face a similar but much more precarious Bubble Dynamic: The Fed specifically targeted higher securities market prices as its prevailing post-mortgage finance Bubble (“helicopter money”) reflationary mechanism. This ensured that the Fed would again be unwilling to impose any monetary restraint before it would then become too risky to remove accommodation (Einstein’s definition of insanity?). In concert, global central bankers now aggressively accommodate financial Bubbles.
“October is a particularly dangerous month to speculate in stocks. Followed by July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.” – Mark Twain
"My mentor, Dale Jorgenson [of Harvard], used to say — and Larry Summers used to say this, too — that, ‘If you never miss a plane, you’re spending too much time in airports.’ If you absolutely rule out any possibility of any kind of financial crisis, then probably you’re reducing risk too much, in terms of the growth and innovation in the economy.”
Americans in their 20s and 30s are facing a retirement crisis that could plunge them back into the Great Depression, Blackstone President and COO Tony James said Wednesday. Appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box, James exclaimed "Social Security alone cannot provide enough for these people to retain their standard of living in retirement, and if we don't do something, we're going to have tens of millions of poor people and poverty rates not seen since the Great Depression." According to James, the solution is simple - government-imposed mandatory savings through a Guaranteed Retirement Account which employers are mandated to match (whose assets would be managed by?).
"The United States is in decline. While not all major shocks to the system will be devastating, when the right one comes along, the outcome may be dramatic." Once upon a time America fought a great war to rid the world of the Nazis, but now we have become just like them.
Paul Volcker announced his intention to squeeze inflation out of the system soon after he became Fed chairman. Too bad he didn’t save a better system. Not many men can resist the appeal of free money. Americans proved they were no better at it than others. Falling interest rates and the paper dollar gave them a way to impoverish themselves – by spending money they hadn’t earned. They took the opportunity offered to them. They borrowed and spent... and drove the entire world forward at a furious pace. But now that stage is over.
Global Capitalism is trapped in its own Prisoner’s Dilemma; fourty four years after the end of the Bretton Woods System global central banks have manipulated the cost of risk in a competition of devaluation leading to a dangerous build up in debt and leverage, lower risk premiums, income disparity, and greater probability of tail events on both sides of the return distribution. Truth is being suppressed by the tools of money. Market behavior has now fully adapted to the expectation of pre-emptive central bank action to crisis creating a dangerous self-reflexivity and moral hazard. Volatility markets are warped in this new reality routinely exhibiting schizophrenic behavior. The tremendous growth of the short volatility complex across all assets, combined with self-reflexive investment strategies, are creating a dangerous ‘shadow convexity’ that will fuel the next hyper-crash.
The arms race of devaluation is not free and has come at the cost of massive global debt expansion. The world has simply shifted private debt to the public balance sheet. The next major global crash will likely be driven by unhealthy sovereign credit rather than corporate credit. The next Lehman moment will be the financial collapse of a major developed country instead of a bank.
"Then tell me, future boy, who's President of Brazil in 2016? Then who's vice president?"
"There are so many fault lines that the nation seems consumed by a conflict of all against all... there is an inevitable “revolution” coming because our politics, culture, education, economics and even philanthropy are so polarized that the country can no longer resolve its differences."
Bernanke and now Yellen have created an environment just like the Roaring Twenties. What came next wasn't pretty