When Bubbles Fail: Albert Edwards Explains What Happens When The Fed Can No Longer Contain The Fury Of The "99%"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/27/2013 10:49 -0500
"They’re at it again! US inequality is surging and the Fed has created another house price boom. Does this matter? Well I think so. But who cares what I think. Warren Buffet, Bill Gross and Stanley Druckenmiller think it matters. Clients marvel at how the US profits’ share of GDP remains so high and that labour remains so weak. Marc Faber said recently that in postponing the QE taper, we have merely climbed to a higher diving board. I go further. I see growing inequality draining the swimming pool dry. The crunch, when it comes, will be ugly"... Investors should make no mistake. The anger of the 99% will ultimately not be bought off by yet another central bank inspired housing bubble, engineered to pacify them and divert their attention as their real incomes fall and inequality continues to grow." - Albert Edwards
Men have had their stab at making the world into what they wanted and they made a pretty poor show of it all we might say when we look at the economy.
As it turns out, a lot... and also very little.
In what is unbelievable hypocrisy and re-writing of history based on 20/20 hindsight, Bullard, in responding to a question of asset bubbles, explained that while all Fed members are "concerned about asset bubbles," they do not see one now. His reasoning is so cognitively dissonant as to be almost comedic:
- *BULLARD SAYS TECH BUBBLE, HOUSING BUBBLE WERE BOTH `NO SECRET'
- "Bubbles Of The Past Were Gigantic And Obvious... Not Now"
So there it is - because the St. Louis Monday-Morning-Quarterbacker can now so clearly see the previous epic bubbles (which the Fed did not see and merely pumped even higher) were obvious and one is not obvious now (unless you actually take a minute or two to consider forward earnings growth and margin expectations in light of lower deficits, unemployment, and global growth; high-yield credit spreads; primary issuance levels; and the fact that corporate leverage is at record highs).
- Bernanke Resets Policy by Doing Nothing as Markets Soar (BBG)
- Stocks Jump to Five-Year High as Metals Rally on Fed (BBG)
- Centre-left bigwig says hard to stay allied with Berlusconi (ANSA)
- J.P. Morgan 'Whale' Fine Put at Over $900 Million (WSJ)
- Banks’ $10 Billion Sweet Spot Sets Off Buying Spree for Lenders (BBG)
- Time to taper? Not if you look at bank loans (Reuters)
- Mortgage Lending Reaches 5-Year High (WSJ) ... and then plunges as Fed gives "all clear" for a few months
- Yellen Chances Grow as Obama Aides Test Senate Support (BBG)
The chart below tells a story. Do you think the fiscal and monetary policies implemented by Bernanke and Obama since 2008 were designed to benefit you? If you believe in regression to the mean and a world based on reality, then you should be prepared for corporate profits to decline by 14% to 20% over the next four years. What do you think that will do to a stock market where the PE ratio is already at valuation levels of 1929, 2000, and 2007?
Amid the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve, it is absolutely imperative that the American people understand that the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems. It is a system of money that was created by the bankers and that operates for the benefit of the bankers. The American people like to think that we have a "democratic system", but there is nothing "democratic" about the Federal Reserve. Unelected, unaccountable central planners from a private central bank run our financial system and manage our economy. There is a reason why financial markets respond with a yawn when Barack Obama says something about the economy, but they swing wildly whenever Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke opens his mouth. The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does by a huge margin. The Fed is the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world, and if the American people truly understood how it really works, they would be screaming for it to be abolished immediately. The following are 25 fast facts about the Federal Reserve that everyone should know...
US Fed's exit plan poses a critical dilemma and underscores important contradictions. The calendar says Europe should be talking about exits too--as aid packages for Spanish banks, and Ireland and Portugal are to wind down in the coming year--yet more rather than less assistance may be neeed.
Britain has been popping the champagne corks over the economic recovery that has been announced and the bubbly has been flowing. They might want to leave the EU but, they still import more champagne than any other country.
"The Bank of England now has the ability to take the froth out of future housing market booms, without having to resort to interest rate increases," is the way the UK's realtor association explains their demand that the BoE limit national house price growth to 5% a year. While they would benefit from short-term gains, it seems the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sees the dangers of another unsustainable housing boom outweigh them. As The FT reports, RICS adds, "this cap would send a clear and simple statement to the public and the banking sector, managing expectations as to how much future house prices are going to rise. We believe firmly anchored house price expectations would limit excessive risk taking and, as a result, limit an unsustainable rise in debt." Or will it merely lead to further financial engineering and leverage?
The all important retail sales report, the final economic data point before next week's taper announcement, has just come and it was a disappointment, printing at just 0.2% for the month of August, down from an upward revised 0.4% in July, and below the 0.5% expected. Excluding the government loan-funded autos and volatile gas sales, retail sales barely rose, increasing at the lowest possible pace, or 0.1%, and below the expected 0.3% rate, and well below the revised 0.6% from July. General merchandise stores went so far to post a -0.2% dip. However, the most notable number is likely the -0.9% drop in building and garden material sales, which is a screeching halt to the recent upward bias in home renovation, and further evidence that the recent cheap-credit fueled housing bubble has finally popped. As for clothing retailers: with a -0.8% drop in August, don't expect a rebound any time soon. So much for retail strength. But hey: at least consumers have stocks they can buy... at all time highs.
Imagine a huge, stinking mountain of debt, which represents all of the debt in the world... now look at this chart of student loan debt. Notice anything about this chart of student loan debt owed to the Federal government? Direct Federal loans to students have exploded higher, from $93 billion in 2007 to $560 billion in early 2013. This gargantuan sum exceeds the gross domestic product (GDP) of entire nations—for example, Sweden ($538 billion) and Iran ($521 billion). Non-Federal student loans total another $500 billion, bringing the total to over $1 trillion. Does this look remotely sustainable? Does it look remotely healthy for students, society, taxpayers now on the hook for a half-trillion dollars in potential defaults or the U.S. economy?
In August 2012, when isolating one of the various reasons for the latest housing bubble, we suggested that a primary catalyst for the price surge in the ultra-luxury housing segment and the seemingly endless supply of "all cash" buyers (standing at an unprecedented 60% of all buyers lately as reported by Goldman) is a very simple one: crime. Or rather, the use of US real estate as a means to launder illegal offshore-procured money. We also identified the one key permissive feature which allowed this: the National Association of Realtors' exemption from Anti-Money Laundering provisions. In other words, all a foreign oligarch - who may or may not have used chemical weapons in their past: all depends on how recently they took their picture with the Secretary of State - had to do to buy a $47 million Florida house, was to get the actual cash to the US. Well good thing there are private jets whose cargo is never checked. It appears that a year later this too hypothesis has been proven. Earlier today the Post reported that "U.S. authorities announced Tuesday that they are seeking forfeiture of pricey Manhattan real estate linked to a fraud they say was uncovered by a whistleblowing Russian lawyer before he died behind bars. A civil forfeiture complaint filed against the assets of a Cyprus-based real estate corporation and other holding companies alleges that some of the proceeds from the $230 million tax fraud in Russia were laundered through the purchase of four luxury condominiums located in a Wall Street doorman building and two commercial spaces in prime locations in midtown and Chelsea."
San Francisco Fed head John Williams - known for his extremely dovish views on monetary policy (and support of record accomodation) - appears to have taken some uncomfortable truth serum this morning. In a speech reminiscent of previous "froth" discussions and "irrational exuberance" admissions, Williams explained:
- *WILLIAMS SAYS POLICY MAY YIELD ASSET BUBBLES, UNINTENDED RESULT
- *WILLIAMS: ASSET-PRICE BUBBLES AND CRASHES 'ARE HERE TO STAY'
- *WILLIAMS: ASSET-PRICE BUBBLES ARE 'CONSEQUENCE OF HUMAN NATURE'
His words appear to reflect heavily on the Fed's Advisory Letter (from the banks) from 3 months ago - warning of exactly this "unintended consequence." This, on the heels of Plosser's recent admission that the Fed was responsible for the last housing bubble, suggests with the black-out period before September's FOMC about to begin, the Fed is sending us a message that Taper is coming - as we know they are cornered for four reasons (sentiment, deficits, technicals, and international resentment).
If there is any one strikingly obvious feature of the U.S. economy in the past 15 years, it's the serial asset bubbles, one after another. So who benefits from serial bubbles? The financial sector and the central government...