Here come the revisionists with new malarkey about the 2008 financial crisis. No less august a forum than the New York Times today carries a front page piece by journeyman financial reporter James Stewart suggesting that Lehman Brothers was solvent; could and should have been bailed out; and that the entire trauma of the financial crisis and Great Recession might have been avoided or substantially mitigated. That is not just meretricious nonsense; its a measure of how thoroughly corrupted public discourse about the fundamental financial and economic realities of the present era has become owing to the cult of central banking. The great error of September 2008 was not in failing to bailout Lehman. It was in providing a $100 billion liquidity hose to Morgan Stanley and an even larger one to Goldman. They too were insolvent. That was the essence of their business model. Fed policies inherently generate runs, and then it stands ready with limitless free money to rescue the gamblers. You can call that pragmatism, if you like. But don’t call it capitalism.
Just like the US and the EU, Switzerland at the federal level is ruled by a group of elites who are more concerned with their own status, well-being, and international reputation than with the good of the country. The gold referendum, if it is successful, will be a slap in the face to those elites. The Swiss people appreciate the work their forefathers put into building up large gold reserves, a respected currency, and a strong, independent banking system. They do not want to see centuries of struggle squandered by a central bank. The results of the November referendum may be a bellwether, indicating just how strong popular movements can be in establishing central bank accountability and returning gold to a monetary role.
- Police fire tear gas, stun grenades at Missouri protesters (Reuters)
- Putin’s Pipeline Bypassing Ukraine at Risk Amid Conflict (BBG)
- Russia's Largest Oil Company Seeks $42 billion to Weather Sanctions (WSJ)
- Shells hit central Donetsk, Russian aid convoy heads towards border (Reuters)
- U.S. Tightens Sanctions, Putting More Russian Companies at Risk (BBG)
- How to Blindly Score 43% Profit Overnight in China Stocks (BBG)
- Tears guaranteed: San Diego Pension Dials Up the Risk to Combat a Shortfall (WSJ)
- Euro Recovery Halts as Germany Shrinks, France Stagnates (BBG)
- Billionaire Found in Middle of Bribery Case Avoids U.S. Probe (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama 'Hug It Out' on Martha's Vineyard (WSJ)
If Venezuela is the case study of a country in the late stages of transition into a socialist utopia, then France is the clear runner up. The most recent case in point, aside from the already sliding French economy, whose recent contraction can be best seen be deteriorating PMI data which hints at the dreaded "triple dip" recession, nowhere is the economic collapse in France more evident than in its housing market which as even Bloomberg admits, citing industry participants, is now "in total meltdown." Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain, summarized the current dire situation best: "Current figures are worrying and will be disastrous if nothing is done; clients of the building sector are sounding the alarm bell.”
The Fed wants asset bubbles because they hide the rot within the US economy. If the Fed didn’t raise stock or housing prices, people might actually start to wonder… “hey, why is my life getting more and more difficult despite the fact that I’m working all the time?”
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."
- EU Works to Punish Russia as MH17 Bodies Leave Rebel Area (BBG)
- Bodies From Malaysia Airlines Flight Begin Long Trip to Netherlands (WSJ)
- Israel pounds Gaza as Kerry arrives (Reuters)
- U.S. judge dismisses Republican lawsuit over Obamacare subsidy for Congress (Reuters)
- Israel Soldier Missing Amid Assault on Hamas in Gaza (WSJ)
- Detroit Retirees Vote in Favor of Pension Cuts (WSJ)
- Russia Axes 1st Bond Sale in 3 Months as Ukraine Drives Up Yield (BBG)
- Wall Street Cut From Guest List for Jackson Hole Fed Meeting (BBG)
- Credit Suisse to Exit Commodities, Posts Big Quarter Loss (BBG)
- Draghi Cedes Euro Control to Yellen on Fed Rate Wagers (BBG)
Yellen’s acting routine is worthy of an Academy Award. In her role, she plays a caring, sweet, grandmotherly type figure all concerned about the poor and middle-class, when reality points to a career as a staunch, frontline protector of the bankster oligarchy.
Tonight's round of baffle 'em with bullshit is courtesy of a diverging AsiaPacific economic picture that is anything but supportive of the 'reality' being painted by China's official PMI (which printed at 51.0 as per expectations at 2014 highs) followed by HSBC China PMI which missed its flash estimate (with employment dropping to 8mo lows). South Korea PMI collapsed to 10-month lows; Aussie PMI faded further into contraction at 48.9; and then Japan's Tankan dramatically missed expectations, tumbling to 9-month lows (only to be followed by a 51.1 Japan print (3-month highs). Just to complete the "picture", Chinese home prices fell for the first time in over 2 years. The result, USDJPY rallies and Nikkei 225 soars 200 points... baffled?
Market extremes generally share a common formula. One part reality is blended with one part misguided perception (typically extrapolating recent trends as if they are driven by some reliable and permanent mechanism), and often one part pure delusion (typically in the form of a colorful hallucination with elves, gnomes and dancing mushrooms all singing in harmony that reliable valuation measures no longer matter). This time is not different.
Those who have lost trust in Wall Street or actively hate it and everything it stands for (neofeudalism, unbridled greed, the corruption and collusion of the revolving door between the state and Wall Street, etc.) will never change their minds and hand their money to Wall Street to play with. If the primary assets held by Boomers (houses and stocks) both decline for these fundamental reasons, there may be relatively little wealth left to pass on to Gen-Y... if Gen-Y avoids bank debt/mortgages, buying conspicuous consumption luxury goods on credit and investing in Wall Street's scams and skims, this generational lack of demand for housing, stocks and luxury goods will effectively crash the sky-high valuations of these assets. These factors suggest a generational bet against banks, Wall Street, housing and luxury retail stocks.
Borrowing heavily from Albert Edwards "Ice Age" analogy of our new normal, PIMCO's Bill Gross, after explaining why he does not have a cell phone, discusses the "frigidly low" levels of "The New Neutral" in this week's letter. Confirming Ben Bernanke's "not in my lifetime" promise for low rates and a lack of normalization, Gross explains that the "the new neutral" real policy rate will be close to 0% as opposed to 2-3% (just as in Japan) leaving an increasingly small incremental rise in rates as potentially responsible for popping the bubble. Gross concludes, "if 'The New Neutral' rates stay low, it supports current prices of financial assets. They would appear to be less bubbly," clearly defending the valuation of bonds knowing that he can't expose stocks as 'bubbly' without exposing his firm to more outflows.
The housing "recovery" since 2010 can be summarized in four phrases: diminishing returns, unprecedented central state/bank intervention, unintended consequences, end-game. The unintended consequences of the Fed's unprecedented interventions will rip the heart and lungs out of the housing market
After the crisis, many expected that the blameworthy would be punished or at the least be required to return their ill-gotten gains—but they weren’t, and they didn’t. Many thought that those who were injured would be made whole, but most weren’t. And many hoped that there would be a restoration of the financial safety rules to ensure that industry leaders could no longer gamble the equity of their firms to the point of ruin. This didn’t happen, but it’s not too late. It is useful, then, to identify the persistent myths about the causes of the financial crisis and the resulting Dodd-Frank reform legislation and related implementation...."Plenty of people saw it coming, and said so. The problem wasn’t seeing, it was listening."
A simple way of grasping the precarious situation China has found itself in is with this useful diagram which summarizes the negative loop that China's economy (which essentially means housing market which as SocGen recently explained is indirectly responsible for 80% of local GDP) could fall into should the government not promptly move to address the emerging dangerous situation, i.e., resume aggressive easing.