We recently revealed that $5.3 trillion of government debt trades at subzero interest rates. In today’s fiscally profligate world that is a thundering tell. What it signifies is nothing less than financial regime change. There are no markets left in any meaningful sense of the word - just a raging casino infected with the madness of the crowds and the central bank pied pipers who mesmerize them. Every day there are new confirmations of the mania.
In January when we first brought news of one of China's largest developer's inability to cover interest payments on its debt, we raised the question of who's next. Now that it is official - China's first major developer to default on its US currency debt - and property prices are falling at a record rate, we suspect the likes of Wanda and Agile will also start to collapse once again (after being bid up incredibly amid China's latest exuberant bubble). Kaisa’s debt problems underscore the slump in China’s property sector, which has been hit by the slowing economy and a series of cooling measures instituted by Beijing to avoid a bubble in what had been an overheated housing market.
Greek FinMin Varoufakis is meeting sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit today, the ‘fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress’... The big questions concern not just the difference between on the one hand, economic issues and on the other, political ones. Syriza doesn’t have the mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone. That is a huge point. But neither does it have the mandate to give in to the troika’s insistence on pensions cuts. At a certain moment, it may come down to what can be explained to the Greek people, and how well it can be explained. This explanation will almost certainly have to come after the fact, since holding a referendum pre-Grexit would carry far too much potential risk of uncontrolled demolition of the entire Greek economy and banking system.
The fairy dust peddlers who moonlight as Wall Street economists were out in force yesterday after March retail sales came in with a positive m/m change for the first time since November. This purportedly confirms that we’re back on track for a big rebound in Q2. In any event, what happens next is not too hard to figure. Unless you are a Wall Street economist.
GE’s announcement that its getting out of the finance business should be a reminder of how crony capitalism is corrupting and debilitating the American economy. The ostensible reason the company is unceremoniously dumping its 25-year long build-up of the GE Capital mega-bank is that it doesn’t want to be regulated by Washington as a systematically important financial institution under Dodd-Frank. Oh, and that its core industrial businesses have better prospects. We will see soon enough about its oilfield equipment and wind turbine business, or indeed all of its capital goods oriented businesses in a radically deflationary world drowning in excess capacity. But at least you can say good riddance to GE Capital because it was based on a phony business model that was actually a menace to free market capitalism. Its deplorable raid on the public purse during the Lehman crisis had already demonstrated that in spades.
Can't Wait To Read Bernanke's Memoirs? Here Are All The Timeless Statements By The Former Fed ChairmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/09/2015 16:13 -0400
We know it will be next to impossible to wait until October when this book of toner repair and printer cartridge replacement wisdom comes out, here is a sampling of timeless soundbites by the former Fed Chairman and current blogger, that should be enough to hold readers over.
"For many Americans, the rise in food and housing prices is a tough squeeze. That’s because even in an era with low overall inflation low-income Americans spend a disproportionate share of their money on food and housing," WSJ notes, proving that once again, poor people aren't allocating their funds correctly.
Today’s clueless Keynesian central bankers essentially believe that they can keep the pedal-to-the-metal until a 1970’s style inflationary spiral arises. But none is coming because the worldwide central bank money printing spree of the last two decades has generated massive excessive capacity and malinvestment all around the planet. What is coming, therefore, is not their father’s inflationary spiral, but an unprecedented and epochal global deflation. So the central banks just keep printing, thereby inflating the asset bubbles world-wide. What ultimately stops today’s new style central bank credit cycle, therefore, is bursting financial bubbles. That has already happened twice this century. A third proof of the case looks to be just around the corner.
Current policy coming from the Fed seems to be geared to create a never-ending series of booms and busts, with the hope that the busts can be shortened with more debt and easy money. Yet one major driver behind the financial crisis in 2008 was too much debt - much of which led to taxpayer-funded bailouts. In spite of this, the best the Fed can come up with now is to lower interest rates to boost demand to induce households and governments to borrow even more. Interfering with interest rates, however, is by far the most damaging policy. The economy is not a car, and interest rates are not the gas pedal. Interest rates play a critical role in aligning output with society’s demand across time. Fiddling with them only creates an ever-growing misalignment between demand and supply across time requiring an ever larger and more painful adjustment.
Bad News For America's Biggest Housing Bubble: San Francisco Home Prices Suffer Biggest Drop In Three YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2015 13:50 -0400
It was not only the annual growth rate of only 7.9%, matching the lowest since the European debt bubble burst in 2010, but also the sequential rate of price drops, at -0.9% - the biggest monthly drop in three years, or since January 2012 - that will once again be a subject for concern of housing watchers. Because should the price decline resume its acceleration without any emerging tailwinds to prop up the local housing market, then there will surely be some severe fallout such as this peak housing bubble example, in which as Curbed reported last week, a run down shack which listed for $799,000 sold for 50% more, or $1.2 million a few weeks later!
When it comes to our current pre-war, pre-revolutionary world (in Paul Tudor Jones' words) there are two social classes which are jockeying for the post positioning when it all comes crashing down: the Ultra High Net Worth, i.e., the 0.01%, those 211,275 individuals (and their families) who have a net worth over $30 million and who collectively control $30 trillion in wealth, and everyone else, with the countdown to extinction for the global middle class now getting louder by the day, leaving a world of a handful of uber-wealthy oligarchs and billions of, well, others. And nowhere is this distinction more vivid than when looking at their residential real estate holdings. But while the real estate of the 99.99% is boring (and increasingly in the form of rentals), when it comes to the dwellings of the 0.01% things get exciting, and are the topic of the latest joint report between Wealth-X and Sotheby's whose findings we summarize below.
If there is one chart that most clearly captures the unsustainable US home price appreciation bubble, it is the following which was released overnight from RealtyTrac: home price appreciation nationwide has outpaced wage growth by a 13:1 ratio!
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.
Energy accounts for 10% of Canadian GDP and around 25% of exports and the swift fall in oil prices is having a profound effect in the nation’s oil producing regions where home sales are collapsing by as much as 65%.
Less than three weeks ago, when the PBOC proceeded with its latest "surprise" rate cut, we showed a chart that should scare everyone who is hoping that China will avoid a hard-landing would prefer would never have been revealed: the annual collapse in Chinese home prices is now so sharp and so widespread, that it has surpassed the housing collapse in the aftermath of the Lehman collapse." Overnight things went from bad to worse, when China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that contrary to hopes for a modest rebound, China's average new home prices fell at the fastest pace on record in February from a year earlier.