The bloodbath in the bond markets has led some 'greatly rotating' commentators to see this as the end of the long bull market (and the beginning of a lost decade for Treasuries); in fact, as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes, the financial wreckage left in the wake of Bernanke's taper talk has generated a lot of interesting commentary. But, he asks (and answers eloquently in this far-reaching anatomy of all-the-world's-views-on-what-the-Fed-is-doing) what if (as we have noted) tapering has nothing to do with the US economy having reached a sustainable take-off velocity? From Janjuah to Rosenberg, and from Wolf to Faber, Edwards explains how his Ice-Age thesis (lower lows and lower highs for nominal economic quantities in each cycle... with each recovery bringing a partial reversal to the process and each recessionary phase taking us to shocking new lows, both in bond yields and in equity multiples) is very much still in play (despite the risks that are evident) since governments will take the path of least resistance, which is to print their way out of this looming fiscal catastrophe. Marc Faber is right. QE99 here we come.
It's been a long time since Hilsenrath actually reported news instead of serve as a leak dissemination service for the New York Fed. Today was one of those time with news from the WSJ that the Obama administration, and specifically Jack Lew, has begun assembling a short list of candidates for the Federal Reserve chairmanship, in the expectation that Ben Bernanke won't seek reappointment when his second term ends in January. According to Hilsenrath, since the decision on whether the Chairsatan stays or goes is all his, Bernanke may decide to stay for a few more years of QEasing, however he won't: "many of Mr. Bernanke's friends and associates believe he wants to step down when his term expires, after nearly eight years overseeing the central bank's response to the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression."
The late 20th century was a jam-packed time for stock-market crashes that would change, shape and alter our lives in so many ways.
Someone once wrote that criticizing economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his "vulgar Keynesianism" is the internet’s favorite pastime. All along, the Princeton prof has stayed true to the cause of aggressive government action to forestall the downtrodden economy. Large fiscal expenditures, aggressive monetary stimulus, increased legal privileges for organized labor, and boosting the degree of state pillaging – Krugman is the caricature of a tyrannical apologizer who will defend the cause of rampant statism at any cost. But now, it appears Krugman has gone overboard with his progressive moaning. Instead of getting bogged down in the economic imbecility that frequents Krugman’s twice-weekly diatribes; there is a fallacy more fundamental in this latest theorizing. What Krugman is embracing in his latest attack on historical cases has much more to do with the man’s epistemological bent and approach toward economics.
If anyone thought Bill Gross would take what is likely the worst P&L day in PIMCO history without a fight, they would be wrong.
Gross: To paraphrase #Bernanke 2002: “Regarding the Great (Re)pression. You’re right Milton, we did it. Sorry. We won’t do it again.” ???
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) June 20, 2013
So did Bernanke just do it again?
A mixed picture is starting to emerge from the Middle East in terms of oil production. Several members of the 12-member OPEC oil cartel are embroiled in turmoil or struggling to ensure post-war political gains. Oil production from the Middle East declined by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2009. Production from most Middle East countries has slowed down or leveled off, though gains from Iraq have offset some of those declines. With economic recovery seemingly on the horizon, a new OPEC may be developing from the ashes of the recession.
The days of reasonable economic forecasting are over. Today, an economic forecast is more like the analysis of a criminal mind than the evaluation of economic data. The dominating role of government overpowers markets intentionally. In the short-term that will continue. Reactions to Federal Reserve minutes referencing continuation, alteration or cessation of quantitative easing cause stock markets to move by over 100 points. Other markets are affected by government interventions, just not so noticeably. Long term, markets will overpower government. Welfare states can no longer maintain their level of spending, services and welfare. However, they dare not stop lest civil unrest and violence break out. The bind they are in has no solution. Governments around the world are doing whatever is necessary to survive. Lying, stealing and outright confiscation will begin in order to support their bankruptcies. Cyprus was a minor precursor of what is coming.
World trade volume growth is languishing at a mere 1.3% YoY - a level only seen worse during the 2000/1 and 2008/9 global crises. Central banks have shot their wads to the point of no return. Governments have hit a peak-debt wall of fiscal irresponsibility. So what's left in the great depression playbook... why protectionism of course. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, global trade protectionism has surged to its highest since the financal crisis according to Global Trade Alert. As Simon Evenett notes, the past 12 months have seen a quiet, wide-ranging assault on the commercial level playing field. When protectionist dynamics were viewed as a compelling threat to the world economy in early 2009, defenders of an open trading system took up arms. They would be wise to do so again before international commerce fragments further along national lines.
The 2011 actions of the FDIC ending the safe harbor for true sales locked in a solution to TBTF
Just one month after we discussed ArcelorMittal's 'demand' that Europe seek sanctions against China's steel tariffs (following unfair 'tit-for-tat-wine' Chinese trade practices, after EU solar panel tariffs), Reuters reports that the EU is indeed to press the WTO to rule against Chinese duties on imported steel. While history never repeats, it merely rhymes, this episodic collapse in economies, markets, and trade is now showing signs of the same desperation as during the Great Depression as intervention, devaluation, and now protectionism are brought to bear to save the domestic economy at all costs. The EU joins Japan in this rapidly escalating trade war with Beijing as they believe "retaliation by the Chinese is now recognized," something not allowed under WTO rules, "and so they have a good chance to win." This will not help either trade relations with the world's 'growth' engine or the credit-crunched nation's massive glut of commodities (and commodity-backed credit lines).
Those who believe the economy is recovering are ignorant of the facts. Other than the Great Depression no US recovery (and I don’t believe we are in a recovery) taken longer. Eventually it may take more than a decade like the 1930s. Or perhaps it will be like Japan which is in its third decade of “recovery.” The truth is that our economy is spent, exhausted and filled with misallocations and distortions made much worse by government interventions. There is no recovery, nor will there be one until a massive purge (usually referred to as a depression) occurs. This event will result in bankruptcies that release scarce, misallocated physical capital from unproductive and unwanted areas to places where it is needed and can be utilized efficiently. Rather than allow this pre-condition to an economic recovery and a growing, efficient economy, politicians want to prevent it. They use smoke, mirrors and propaganda (lies) to hide the reality of our sick economy. Their obfuscations continue, but the effective life is limited.
If you hold precious metals in your portfolio, there is a good chance you fear hyperinflation and the crash of fiat currencies. You probably distrust governments in general and believe they are self-serving and have no interest in your economic well-being. It is likely that your holdings in gold are your lifeline – your hope to get you through these times while holding on to your wealth. But have you ever given any thought to the possibility of having this lifeline confiscated by the authorities? If you fall into this camp, you're in good company. As terrible as the thought is, it seems unlikely to us that the government will not confiscate gold, as they have little to lose and so much to gain.
Almost all recoveries from recession have included rapid employment growth – until now. Though advanced-country central banks have pursued expansionary monetary policy in the wake of the global economic crisis in an effort to boost demand, job creation has lagged. As a result, workers, increasingly convinced that they will be unable to find employment for a sustained period, are leaving the labor force in droves. Rather than changing its approach, however, the Fed has responded to slow employment growth by launching additional rounds of QE. At some point, the Fed must realize that its current policy is not working. The US economy has not responded to the Fed’s monetary expansion, because America’s biggest problems are not liquidity problems.
Recent price action amid the heavily shorted solar stocks has seemingly been predicated on hope that late May chatter of negotiated settlements in the industry would occur and everyone could go happily about their business. While hope remains for a settlement - and tariffs have been delayed 2 months, as the WSJ reports - the EU is set to announce drastic anti-dumping levies on Chinese solar panels in a move that could trigger a trade war between two of the world's largest economies:
- *EU SAYS SOLAR-PANEL DUTY TO START AT 11% ON JUNE 6
- *EU SAYS SOLAR-PANEL DUTY TO RISE TO 47.6% IN AUGUST
- *EU'S DE GUCHT SAYS NOT CLOSE TO SOLAR-PANEL PACT WITH CHINA
Sadly this is playing out very similarly to the Great Depression period as tariffs and protectionism replaced domestic focused fiscal and monetary policy and escalated problems rapidly. China rejects the EU's price-dumping allegations, but the problem is not new for Beijing. The U.S. last year imposed punitive tariffs on solar panel imports after finding that China's government was subsidizing companies that were flooding the U.S. market.