Nobody in the economic intelligentsia is implying that the IMF is staffed by paranoid cranks. They continue to ignore and belittle the Austrian school. This pompous and undeserved behavior will go on until it’s too late. In the process, the ivory tower disciples of Keynes will only further prove their intellectual bankruptcy. The average person never trusted them to begin with. And things certainly won’t change now.
What’s He Going To Do … Lobby To Convince Us that Ebola Is Not That Big A Risk?
Surprise! Having been fooled twice before in the last housing bubble by the NAHB's persistent optimism in the face of dismal realities, it appears October was the beginning of a breaking point in realtor confidence. The headline sentiment index dropped to 54, missing extrapolated expectations of 59, led by a collapse in prospective buyers traffic (from 47 to 41). The headline 54 level is below the lowest estimate of 56 from 52 economists surveyed. Both present and future sales sub-indices also dropped but have no fear, as the NAHB notes, "while there was a dip this month, builders are still positive about the housing market," as cheaper borrowing costs may help draw more prospectiev buyers into the market (umm yeah that hasn't worked).
The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different. The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building. But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.
The systemic risks underlying the Financial Crisis are in no way resolved.
The rising fear may reflect a shift in sentiment from faith in the omnipotence of central banks to skepticism.
The recent years of money printing by the world's central banks has NOT ushered in a “permanent plateau of prosperity”. And, as with all bubbles, symmetry indicates the downslope after the bursting will be steep, swift, and likely quite scary.
The September jobs report was greeted by a flurry of robo-trader exuberance because another print well above 200k purportedly signals that growth is underway and profits will remain in high cotton as far as the eye can see. But how many years can this Charlie Brown and Lucy charade be taken seriously - even by the headline-stalking talking-heads who inhabit bubblevision? For the entirety of this century they have actually been gumming about little more than “born again” jobs, not real expansion of labor inputs to the faltering US economy.
Relative to stock market indices, broad commodity indices are now at their lowest levels since the late-1990s dot com boom. Key commodity price ratios, such as those between precious and industrial metals, are already at levels associated with financial crises such as that of 2008. In other words, there is already ‘blood on the commodity streets’, presenting investors and commodity traders with potentially attractive opportunities.
Today, we now have a financial system that is even more leveraged than in 2007… backstopped by even less high quality collateral. So when the panic hits, the selling pressure will be even MORE extreme.
We continue to be told that the US economy is in recovery and stronger than ever. The press trumpets heavily massaged data (GDP growth and the unemployment number) while ignoring data that clearly indicates the US economy is in the toilet (labor participation rate, median income, etc).
The ultra high end of US housing is now sliding fast, and that unless some other central banks steps up and resumes the injections of some $100 billion in outside money into inflating asset prices such as stocks and billionaire mansions, then all bets are soon off.
China may be doing everything in its power to divert attention from the simple fact that its housing bubble, the largest in the world in terms of both assets comprising it as well as divergence from fair value, has burst. But while there is no clear threshold of what constitutes a bursting bubble when it comes to housing, the latest data out of Soufun, China's largest real-estate website, which said that land sales have dropped a massive 22% to 1.7 trillion Yuan in 2014 so far, is likely as clear an indication as any that Beijing is about to panic. And if that was not enough Bloomberg adds that land sales in 300 cites followed by Soufun fell almost 50% Y/Y to 415.9 billion yuan in 3Q, while residential land sales declined more than 50% to 265.3b yuan in 3Q.
At some point, the markets will call BS on Spain’s dreams of recovery and the bond markets will rebel. When this happens the whole fraud will come unraveled. However it might take a full-scale political crisis before this happens. And by the look of things we’re not far from one.
The key question now is “Can the U.S./global economy handle a meaningful downturn in financial asset prices?” The short answer is that it may not have a choice. The Federal Reserve has done what it can to juice the American economy and has the balance sheet to prove it. Central banks, for all their power, do not control long term capital allocation or corporate hiring practices. Fed Funds have been below 2% for six years. If the U.S. economy can’t continue to grow in 2015 as the Federal Reserve inches rates higher, there are clearly larger issues at play. And those private sector problems will need private sector solutions.