The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed today at 17,824... exactly 1 point higher than the close at the end of 2014 thanks to a sudden urgent need to sell VIX protection (because with tensions between EU and Greece at its highs, who would want any hedges into the weekend?) and bid the Dow straight up 20 points in the last minute... here's why..
"This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar." Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit from low oil prices; but what the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up...
"... If the unemployment rate were to edge up after reaching a trough in two years and the gap between U-6 and unemployment remains as wide as it is today – in excess of historical norms – the size of the program would be expected to reach roughly $3.3 trillion in 2024, $1.7 trillion more than in the base case." - TBAC
This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as one starts to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, it is clear Keynes wad right in his call for a hybrid currency when he recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold convertibility, the world needed an alternative way to prevent destabilizing imbalances from developing. On the heels of Treasury Economist Kenneth Austin and former-Obama chief economist Jared Bernstein discussing the end of the USD as a reserve currency, Michael Pettis summarizes 10 reasons the USD's reserve status has become an 'exorbitant burden'.
While all the western banks are clearly envious at the facility with which Zimbabwe managed to hyperinflate away its debt mountain after simply printing a few trillion in fiat monetary equivalents, which instead of the stock market hit the broader economy, there is much more the "developed" world can learn and is learning from Robert Mugabe domain of experimental yet practical monetarism.
With Yellen's speech a bit of a letdown for the doves - she did not go full-dovish - markets anxiously await Mario Draghi to promise whetever for ever and ever... While financial markets don’t expect bombshells, his speech is an opportunity to underscore that ECB policy will stay looser for longer than that of the Fed and the Bank of England.
DRAGHI SAYS HE'S 'CONFIDENT' JUNE STIMULUS WILL BOOST DEMAND, SEES 'REAL RISK' MONETARY POLICY LOSES EFFECTIVENESS
The FOMC has used experimental tools for so long to keep the accelerator pressed that it fears what happens when the car stops. Therefore, the FOMC believes they have little choice other than to keep the car going forward, which works until it doesn’t. The risk/reward tradeoff continues to skew unfavorably. The farther markets move into the right-tail side of the distribution curve, the deeper they will eventually more into the left-tail. Vrooom...Crash.
The failure to understand money is shared by all nations and transcends politics and parties. The destructive monetary expansion undertaken during the Democratic administration of Barack Obama by then Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke began in a Republican administration under Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Republican Richard Nixon’s historic ending of the gold standard was a response to forces set in motion by the weak dollar policy of Democrat Lyndon Johnson. For more than 40 years, one policy mistake has followed the next. Each one has made things worse. What they don’t understand is that money does not “create” economic activity.
"In effect, by pursuing indexation we have introduced a socialist way of allocating capital in the heart of the capitalist system... As we all know, socialism is the ultimate form of freeloading. It has never worked, and it never will. This indexation is one of the most obvious forms of parasitism we have ever encountered."
President Obama’s populist, class-warring, shut-out-the-legislature, ignore-the-long-term-consequences romp through every corner of life turned to the education sector. Problems with student loan programs are deep-rooted – thanks mostly to the government’s domination of the market – and were only worsened by Obama’s actions this week. In a better world, policymakers would take a cold, hard look at the effects of federally-funded student loan programs, including the good and the bad. Here are a few such observations that you’re unlikely to hear from your president...
Anyone reading the regular Federal Open Market Committee press releases can easily envision Chairman Yellen and the Federal Reserve team at the economic controls, carefully adjusting the economy’s price level and employment numbers. The dashboard of macroeconomic data is vigilantly monitored while the monetary switches, accelerators, and other devices are constantly tweaked, all in order to “foster maximum employment and price stability." The Federal Reserve believes increasing the money supply spurs economic growth, and that such growth, if too strong, will in turn cause price inflation. But if the monetary expansion slows, economic growth may stall and unemployment will rise. So the dilemma can only be solved with a constant iterative process: monetary growth is continuously adjusted until a delicate balance exists between price inflation and unemployment. This faulty reasoning finds its empirical justification in the Phillips curve. Like many Keynesian artifacts, its legacy governs policy long after it has been rendered defunct.
A simple way of grasping the precarious situation China has found itself in is with this useful diagram which summarizes the negative loop that China's economy (which essentially means housing market which as SocGen recently explained is indirectly responsible for 80% of local GDP) could fall into should the government not promptly move to address the emerging dangerous situation, i.e., resume aggressive easing.
Most of our readers probably know what we think of minimum wages, but let us briefly recapitulate: there is neither a sensible economic, nor a sensible ethical argument supporting the idea. So when we saw that the Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month, we were stunned... If Swiss voters agree to introducing a new minimum wage law, they would end up doing incalculable damage to Switzerland's entrepreneurial culture. At the moment, Switzerland is still one of the freest economies in the world. It has been extremely successful so far and its achievements would clearly be put at risk. Hopefully Switzerland's voters won't be swayed by union's arguments.
Following the March Jobs Report, ConvergEx's Nick Colas got to thinking about the composition of employment growth rather than just the headline number. Is every new job created really the same when it comes to overall economic impact? Consider that the average household income in Maryland is $69,920, versus $39,592 in Mississippi. Or that Mining and Logging jobs pay, on average, $28.77/hour and Retail Trade positions average only $14.22/hour. To expand on this point, Colas came up with three 'Ideal' marginal hires, when considering which jobs bring the most "bang" for the wage/employment "buck". At this point in the cycle we should be focused on job quality as much as quantity.
Bad news is the best news this morning. A higher unemployment rate and worse than expected job creation is the new mother's milk for stocks which kneejerked instantly to new record highs. Bond yields are tumbling and gold is surging (back over $1300) as 'investors' believe this will signal an un-taper (because QE did so much good for so long) or lower-for-longer chatter (so more buybacks?). The USD is fading fast also.