International Monetary Fund
- China cash injection fails to calm lenders (AFP)
- European Union Stripped of AAA Credit Rating at S&P (BBG)
- Last-Minute Health-Site Enrollment Proves a Hard Sell (WSJ)
- Bernanke’s Recession-Fighting Weapon Developed by 1900s Banker (BBG)
- Asia Stocks Are Little Changed Amid China Funding Concern (BBG)
- Regulators' Guidance on Volcker Rule Gives Banks Little Relief on Debt Sales (WSJ)
- On one hand: Man Who Said No to Soros Builds BlueCrest Into Empire (BBG); on the other: Michael Platt's BlueCrest Capital Poised for Rough Close to 2013 (WSJ)
- BOJ Keeps Record Easing as Fed Taper Helps Weaken Yen (BBG)
- Bank of England becomes more cautious on economic predictions (FT)
- Gold Climbs From Lowest Close Since 2010 as Goldman Sees Losses (BBG)
"If secular stagnation concerns are relevant to our current economic situation, there are obviously profound policy implications... Some have suggested that a belief in secular stagnation implies the desirability of bubbles to support demand. This idea confuses prediction with recommendation. It is, of course, better to support demand by supporting productive investment or highly valued consumption than by artificially inflating bubbles. On the other hand, it is only rational to recognize that low interest rates raise asset values and drive investors to take greater risks, making bubbles more likely. So the risk of financial instability provides yet another reason why preempting structural stagnation is so profoundly important."
As a general rule, extreme economic decline is almost always followed by extreme international conflict. Sometimes, these disasters can be attributed to the human survival imperative and the desire to accumulate resources during crisis. But most often, war amid fiscal distress is usually a means for the political and financial elite to distract the masses away from their empty wallets and empty stomachs. War galvanizes societies, usually under false pretenses. We're not talking about superficial “police actions” or absurd crusades to “spread democracy” to Third World enclaves that don’t want it. No, we're talking about REAL war: war that threatens the fabric of a culture, war that tumbles violently across people’s doorsteps. The reality of near-total annihilation is what oligarchs use to avoid blame for economic distress while molding nations and populations. Because of the very predictable correlation between financial catastrophe and military conflagration, it makes quite a bit of sense for Americans today to be concerned.
Despite hope (and talk) that Greece is on the path back to recovery, our recent discussion of the record deflation the nation is undergoing (and record unemployment) suggests Stournaras propaganda is just that. As Bloomberg's David Powell writes, the embattled nation continues to push further into depression and a state of insolvency and appears highly unlikely to be able to reduce the domestic price level in order to restore competiveness and simultaneously avoid a second restructuring of its sovereign debt. Perhaps that is why Troika delayed its appearance in Athens as it is easier to ignore the truth that way? Especially as beggars, once again, will become choosers in the "grexit" debate.
As a distant but interested observer of history and investment markets, Marc Faber is fascinated how major events that arose from longer-term trends are often explained by short-term causes.; and more often than not, bailouts (short-term fixes) create larger problems down the road, and that the authorities should use them only very rarely and with great caution. Faber sides with J.R. Hicks, who maintained that “really catastrophic depression” is likely to occur “when there is profound monetary instability — when the rot in the monetary system goes very deep”. Simply put, a financial crisis doesn’t happen accidentally, but follows after a prolonged period of excesses (expansionary monetary policies and/or fiscal policies leading to excessive credit growth and excessive speculation). The problem lies in timing the onset of the crisis.
Recently, newspaper headlines declared that Greece would have a balanced budget for 2013 as a whole. The news came as quite a shock: Recall that when Greek officials came clean about the true state of their country’s public finances in 2010, the budget deficit was more than 10% of GDP – a moment of statistical honesty that triggered the eurozone debt crisis. It seemed too good to be true that the Greek deficit would be completely eliminated in just three years. In fact, it is too good to be true.
It would likely also deal another blow to the U.S property market and the fragile U.S economy. JP Morgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo appear to be most exposed - meaning that either taxpayers will again be asked to bail out banks or more likely the coming bail-in regime will confiscate cash from depositors.
- Winter storm lashes eastern U.S., threatens Thanksgiving travel (Reuters)
- Fed Reveals New Concerns About Long-Term U.S. Slowdown (BBG)
- Private equity keeps $789bn of powder dry (FT) - because they are "selling everything that is not nailed down"
- Merkel and SPD clinch coalition deal two months after vote (Reuters)
- Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks (BBC)
- CLOs are the new black: Volatile Loan Securities Are Luring Fund Managers Again (WSJ)
- Health website deadline nears (WSJ)
- Norway Debates $800 Billion Wealth Fund’s Investment Options (BBG)
- Set of global trade deals stalls (WSJ)
- Berlusconi To Learn Fate In Senate (Sky)
- Silvio Berlusconi withdraws support from Italy’s government (FT)
And yet gold still seems to be stuck in a downtrend. This week's sell off may have been due to trading shenanigans on the COMEX and many, including the UK Financial Regulator are asking questions as to whether gold price rigging is taking place.
Many observers believe the U.S. dollar (USD) will lose its status as the world's reserve currency sooner rather than later. Proponents of this view often mention China's agreements with various trading partners to settle trade in their own currencies rather than the dollar as evidence of this trend. More substantial evidence can be found in the diversification of reserves held by many nations. One set of observers has long held that the ideal replacement for the dollar is a hybrid currency issued by the IMF called SDRs. However, since the SDR is just an aggregate of fiat currencies, it cannot really change the fundamentals of the current status quo. Boiled down to its essence, the SDR is presented as a shortcut solution to deeply seated problems. The reserve currency problem cannot be fixed by a basket of fiat currencies, as fiat currencies (and the trade imbalances they generate) are the problem.
As we discussed two weeks ago, it would appear Germany's lack of willingness to throw itself on the pyre of self-sacrifice and not adopt a global Fairness Doctrine - as engendered by the US Treasury's (and IMF's) bashing of the core European nation's for maintaining its export strength and daring to keep Europe in tact and thus a periphery-damaging strong Euro - is gathering steam. None other than Europe itself is now 'probing' Germany's trade surplus, using enhanced powers over how euro nations manage their economies with the IMF urging German Chancellor Angela Merkel to curtail the trade surplus to an “appropriate rate” to help euro partners cut deficits.
Ben Bernanke is participating in an IMF panel with Larry Summers, Ken Rogoff, and fromer Bank of Israel chief Stan Fischer... Full speech below...
Has a second civil war been “gamed” by our government? And are Americans being swindled into fighting and killing each other while the banksters who created the mess observe at their leisure, waiting until the dust settles to return to the scene and collect their prize? Here are some examples of how both sides of the false left/right paradigm are being goaded into turning on each other.
Just as the European 'markets' have entirely disconnected from fundamental reality, Japan's bond market - the largest in the world - "is dead, with only the BoJ driving prices," Mizuho warns. Crucially, once again just as in Europe, "these low yields are responsible for the lack of fiscal reform in the face of Japan’s worsening finances. Policy makers think they can keep borrowing without problems." Market functions are sacrificed for the sake of ending deflation, but "liquidity has evaporated as the BOJ has gobbled up most of the market." This means that a reduction in monetary stimulus could cause a rapid drop in bond prices, which, just as in the US, "will make it difficult for the BOJ to normalize policy." Simply put, as Bloomberg notes, the BoJ has killed the nation’s sovereign bond market, leaving it unable to reflect either the success of stimulus policies or fiscal risks.
Over 2 years ago when we first discussed the fact that "muddle through" had failed, BCG noted that "there were only painful ways out of this mess." The most painful truth, they suggested, was that "the only way to resolve the massive debt load is through a global coordinated debt restructuring... which will have to be funded by the world's financial asset holders: the middle-and upper-class' who will have a ~30% one-time tax on all their assets to look forward to as the great mean reversion finally arrives and the world is set back on a viable path." However, given the delay (and worst progression), Ken Rogoff warns that temporary wealth taxes may well be a part of the answer for countries in fiscal trouble today, and the idea should be taken seriously; but they are no substitute for fundamental long-term reform to make tax systems simpler, fairer, and more efficient.