There never seems to be a day that goes by without someone predicting that China is going to go down the Yangtze and end up some creek without a paddle.
If one wants to identify bubbles, one must perforce study monetary conditions. The comparison of historical data on valuations and other ancillary factors can only take one so far. The problem is that in times of strongly inflationary policy, the economy's price structure becomes thoroughly distorted, and that therefore a great many “data” can no longer be regarded as reliable... Most of the time, it's the eventual slowdown of money supply growth that brings a bubble to its knees.
After all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs:
"I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature."
30 years ago, the great outsourcing wave took millions of US low-skilled jobs and planted them right in the heart of China, which was about to undergo the fastest industrialization-commercialization-financialization experiment in history. $26 trillion in bank assets later, the world's biggest housing bubble, and a teetering financial system that every day depends on Beijing making the correct central-planning decision (of kicking the can one more day, of course) or else the biggest financial collapse in history will take place, all lubricated by years of inflation in everything and most certainly wages, and suddenly outsourding jobs in China is not all that attractive. In fact, it has gotten so bad that China itself is now forced to outsource its own labor to cheaper offshore markets. Such as this one.
Then comes the moment when the hot money evaporates.
The S&P 500 has only been at this level or higher a handful of times in the last 100 years. All of them have coincided with major market peaks.
First the good news: one can now buy an apartment in Hong Kong for the low, low price of under HK$2 million, or HK$1.94 million to be precise which amounts to a measly USD $250,000. "New flats selling for less than HK$2 million are almost impossible to find in Hong Kong," said Louis Chan Wing-kit, managing director of Centaline Property Agency's residential department
Now the bad news: The unit is about double the size of a prison cell.
Chinese Home Prices Decline In Record Number Of Cities, Average Sale Price Has Biggest Drop Since LehmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/18/2014 09:00 -0400
China’s new-home prices fell in a record number of cities tracked by the government as developers cut prices to boost sales volume. Prices fell in a record 55 of the 70 cities last month from May, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the statistics. What's worse, and as can be seen on the chart below, prices in Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou fell 0.6 percent each from May, the biggest drop since January 2011, while they declined 0.4 percent in Shenzhen. Prices fell 1.7 percent in the eastern city of Hangzhou, the largest monthly decline among all the cities. At the national level, China recorded a 0.48% sequential decline in home prices: the largest since at least 2010. And slamming the nail in the Chinese housing market, at least for now, is that the Average Sale Price dropping by 1.5% Y/Y, the biggest drop since Lehman!
Back in the summer of 2011 during the debt ceiling debacle, S&P did the unthinkable: it dared to speak the truth when it downgraded the US from its pristine AAA rating, setting off a stock market selloff and paradoxically sending bonds to record low yields. This resulted in a vindictive Tim Geithner promptly warning the Chairman of McGraw-Hill the US would retaliate (which it did), the termination of then CEO Devan Sharma (and his replacement with the all too friendly COO of Citibank), and most importantly, a still ongoing legal fight in which the DOJ sued S&P (and only S&P, not Moody's, not Fitch) allegedly for rating improprieties during the first housing bubble, but even 5 year olds knew it was just to teach S&P a lesson. Today we learn just what the cost is for anyone who dares to downgrade the US. The answer: $1,000,000,000. That is the amount that S&P has decided it will agree to pay in a settlement with the DOJ to put all this "truthiness" unpleasantness behind it.
The Phoenix housing market has a special place in the heart of housing bubble watchers: together with Las Vegas and various California MSAs, this is the place where the last housing bubble was born and subsequently died a gruesome death which nearly brought down the entire financial system. Which is why the monthly WP Carey report on the Greater Phoenix Housing Market is of peculiar interest for those who want to catch a leading glimpse into the overall state of the bubble US housing market. As hoped, this month's letter does not disappoint. What we find is that while equilibrium prices have been largely flat month over month, and are up 6% on an average square foot basis from a year ago, something very bad is happening with a key component of the pricing calculation: demand has fallen off a cliff.
You have to love how the Federal Reserve downplays inflation when they are the primary source of it with other central bankers for this monetary phenomenon. They continue to play inflation down because it gives them the power to continue to use policies that seem to only aid their banking allies while making working Americans poorer by the day. When you hear that inflation does not exist, simply look at the price of goods and services over the last decade and look at your paycheck. You might care to differ.
If the notion that the single most powerful entity in the world economy is ignoring warnings signs everywhere and continues to operate based on debunked and delusional academic theories worries you, you’re not alone.
Institutionalizing the speculative excesses that inflated the previous housing bubble has fed magical thinking and fostered illusions of phantom wealth and security.
It is fortunate that Paul Krugman writes a column for New York Times readers who want the party line sans all the economist jargon and regression equations. So here is the plain English gospel straight from the Keynesian oracle: The US economy is actually a giant bathtub which is constantly springing leaks. Accordingly, the route to prosperity everywhere and always is for agencies of the state - especially its central banking branch - to pump “demand” back into the bathtub until its full to the brim. Simple.
The selloff last year was a desperate warning about the lack of resilience in credit and funding. That repo markets persist in that is, again, the opposite of the picture Janet Yellen is trying to clumsily fashion. Central banks cannot create that because their intrusion axiomatically alters the state of financial affairs, and they know this. It has always been the idea (“extend and pretend” among others) to do so with the expectation that economic growth would allow enough margin for error to go back and clean up these central bank alterations. That has never happened, and the modifications persist. Resilience is the last word we would use to describe markets right now, with very recent history declaring as much.