On a day full of exultation for The Oracle of Omaha, we could not help but see the irony of Warren Buffett losing yet another bet and not paying up...
Now we can see the real tragedy of negative interest rates: they not only have the perverse effect of reversing the flow of time, but they demonstrate that borrowers are not acting with the good faith incentives normally associated with someone who needs money. Rather than paying forward, borrowers are paying backwards because they are effectively trying to return something they don’t want. Such an arrangement renders it impossible for an economy to grow. By destroying the temporal and moral structure of money, negative interest rates destroy the economy. When tomorrow cannot be paid, the current regime must fail. The only question to be determined is the form that failure will assume. This may sound like philosophy but it is cold, hard reality.
Does it really take purportedly intelligent people six years to see that the macros are not responding? Better still, isn’t it time for the Fed to explain the exact channel by which its interest rate pegging and forward guidance is supposed to be transmitted to the main street economy? After all, if these channels are blocked or ineffective - then its flood of liquidity never leaves the canyons of Wall Street. In that event, the central bank actually functions as a financial doomsday machine, inflating the next financial bubble until it bursts. Then, apparently, its job is to rinse and repeat.
QE makes sense only from a Keynesian/socialist perspective and ignores the long-term cost of low interest rate policies to individual investors and financial institutions.
The correlation between wage growth and consumer spending is now 0.93 according to RBC meaning that the 80% of the labor force who aren't seeing their pay increase will not be driving the US economic engine going forward.
“They were people with great dignity,” Ivo Costamagna said of his neighbors who committed suicide in 2013. Romeo Dionisi, 62, and Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, hanged themselves after Ms. Sopranzi’s pension evaporated. “Romeo just wanted a job.” But no jobs were available in the dismal Italian economy.
In what may be another case of research confirming common sense, a new study finds, in all four regions of the world studied, “unemployment was related to an increased relative risk of suicide by 20-30%." While the tragic consequences of ZIRP, bailouts, and multiple QEs have so far been ignored, a tsunami of suicides are coming as the under-saved American baby boom generation faces the stark reality of having to work until they die to survive.
The deterioration in the subprime auto market is perhaps the clearest sign yet that we have learned literally nothing from the crisis years. That is, this is precisely the same dynamic and it will end precisely the same way: defaults will rise, investors in assets backed by these loans will suffer outsized losses, and the assets themselves will become completely illiquid.
The average American benefited in no way from the government/banker bailout. Their wages have deteriorated, their daily living expenses have risen, Obamacare has resulted in higher healthcare premiums, higher co-pays, more part-time jobs, less full-time jobs, and less healthcare choices for the working class, while Wall Street generates billions in risk free profits, bankers and corporate executives reap massive million dollar bonuses, and the .1% parties like its 1999. Rising wealth inequality has been systematically programmed into our economic system by bankers and their bought off puppet politicians in Washington D.C. – Corporate fascism at its finest.
"... should interest rates rise later this year, some households and corporations may find themselves overleveraged as interest rates and borrowing costs rise. When looking at interest rate sensitivity by loan product, we see that auto loans rates are the most sensitive to changes in the fed funds target rate. In addition, we can see that for each one-percentage point rise in the fed funds rate, the interest rate on a 48-month new car loan rises 0.61 percentage points."
The overwhelming mainstream media message continues to be everything is strong and the future is absolutely as bright as ever, as measured by the all time high markets; but the facts and the data clearly tell a different story. While memories are short, 2008/9 (and 199/2000) taught us that pundits will always tout the ‘everything is great’ story until it is too late. They laugh and ostracize anyone who attempts to rock the boat with a message of reality. And they do it to deter others from delivering such a message. That message is that there exists no catalyst mechanism to pull us out of this economic slumber. So you can listen to and laugh along with the ‘all knowing’ pundits or you can take heed of history and protect yourself now. But do remember the choice was yours. You will have nobody to blame but yourself when and if it all comes tumbling down and you were too busy laughing.
You've probably seen articles and adverts discussing how much money you'll need to "retire comfortably." The trick of course is the definition of comfortable. The general idea of comfortable (as I understand it) appears to be an income which enables the retiree to enjoy leisurely vacations on cruise ships, own a well-appointed RV for tooling around the countryside, and spend as much time on the golf links as he/she might want. Needless to say, Social Security isn't going to fund a comfortable retirement, unless the definition is watching TV with an box of kibble to snack on. By this definition of retiring comfortably, I reckon I should be able to retire at age 91--assuming I can work another 30 years and the creek don't rise.
At the end of the day, there is nothing behind the curtain at the Eccles Building except for the specious doctrine of wealth effects. Fractional changes in the money market rate are of relevance only to the day traders and robo machines which occupy the casino. Fed policy is designed to keep them dancing. It rests on the delusional hope that the drug of ZIRP or near-ZIRP can keep the stock market averages rising and a trickle down of extra spending by the wealthy flowing into the reported GDP and job numbers. History proves beyond a shadow of doubt that bubbles fueled by bad money ultimately splatter into a world of harm. The Fed is not only ignoring the coming storm, but is actually fueling its intensity with malice of forethought.
The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.
The car is at the center of the biggest boom in subprime lending since the mortgage crisis, and The NY Times reports, similar to how a red-hot mortgage market once coaxed millions of borrowers into recklessly tapping the equity in their homes, the new boom is also leading people to take out risky lines of credit known as title loans. Will we never learn?!!
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."