There is overwhelming evidence that the rampant money printing of the past decade or two has done nothing to generate sustainable growth in mainstream living standards and real wealth. Yet the monkeys keep rattling the cage, promising and demanding more ZIRP(and now N-ZIRP) and more fraudulent purchase of government debt with fiat credit congered by their printing presses. Consider some striking proof of failure...
Governments from Around the World ADMIT They Do It
Why does one believe the word “catastrophe” was used by The Fed's Charlie Evans? Hmmmmm? After all, the very articulated and polished minutes of what members expressed to one another as to set the current policy was just made public. We thought the verbiage of choice was now “patient.” Unless... You know you’ve either lost, or in the process, of losing control of the markets ear. In our opinion, this is an unveiled showing of possible outright panic developing behind the proverbial curtain.
Assume the news for next week has not already been written, What should investors, or those monitoring the international political economy be watching? Here is my list.
- Global Debt Crisis II – Total Global Debt to GDP Ratio Over 300% - Risk of Bail-Ins in 2015 and Beyond - Currency and Gold Wars - $1 Quadrillion “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Derivatives - Cold War II and New World Order as China and Russia Flex Geopolitical Muscles - Enter The Dragon – Paradigm Shift of China Gold Demand - Forecast 2015: None. Forecast 2020: Gold $2,500/oz and Silver $150/oz
...over time, grand coalition governments may only serve to ossify the re-orientation of political allegiances along the mainstream vs. populist dimension. If economic malaise persists to the next election, support for populist parties is likely to build, as scepticism about the adjustments required to sustain Euro area membership rises. The Greek experience points in this direction. Were this experience to extend to larger and more systemically relevant countries (such as Italy or Germany), the implications for markets would be profound.
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
The entire theory of monetarism is coming undone in spectacular and empirical fashion, which leaves the entire status quo exposed. All that is left in defense is the same old refrain of “it wasn’t big enough.” That’s great for those in the ivory towers blinding themselves to the reality of a lost generation of Italians, Spaniards, French and now even Germans; a listing to which even the FOMC is worried may yet add Americans. Why anyone ever expected a different outcome is due solely to unrepentant ideology, since these central banks are following almost exactly the Japanese “model.”
For the first time ever, Italy's unemployment rate is more than twice that of its European Union (one region, one monetary policy) neighbor Germany. As Germany's jobless rate fell for the 3rd month in a row to 6.5% (the lowest level in records going back more than two decades), Italian unemployment unexpectedly rose to a record high at 13.4% (well above the euro-region rate of 11.5%). Of course, while these two nations 'economic' state diverges by the most on record, bond yields are at record lows in both - leaving us (and everyone else) questioning, just what it is that ECB QE will do to help Europe's economies?
Who owns Greece's public debt? That's the 322 billion-euro question, according to the Finance Ministry's figures from the third quarter of last year. Most of the debt has changed hands since a bailout in 2010, a second in 2012 and a restructuring involving private creditors that same year. Private owners now hold only 17 percent. The secondary market has become very thin — bear that in mind when looking at 10-year bond yields. A default would have to be absorbed instead by official creditors, holding the remaining 83 percent of outstanding loans and bonds. These include euro-area governments (62 percent), the International Monetary Fund (10 percent) through its participation in the two bailouts, and the European Central Bank (8 percent), which purchased bonds in 2010 through its Securities Market Program. The remaining 3 percent are repurchase agreements and assets held by the Central Bank of Greece. It is unclear where losses on that portion would fall.
- Twelve shot dead in Paris (Reuters)
- Eurozone Consumer Prices Fall for First Time Since 2009 (NYT)
- Euro's Drop is a Turning Point for Central Banks Reserves (BBG)
- How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything (BBG)
- Mercedes-Benz Moving U.S. Headquarters to Atlanta (WSJ)
- Greek 10-Year Bond Yields Exceed 10% for First Time Since 2013 (BBG)
- How Even Dairy Farmers Get Squeezed by Rigging in the $5.3 Trillion Currency Market (BBG)
- AirAsia jet tail found underwater, black box may be close (Reuters)
- Italy Unemployment Rises to New High (Bloomberg)
Things in risk land started off badly this morning, with the worst start to a year ever was set to worsen when European equities came under early selling pressure following news of German unemployment falling to record low, offset by a record high Italian jobless rate, with declining oil prices still the predominant theme as Brent crude briefly touched its lowest level since May 2009, this consequently saw the German 10yr yield print a fresh record low in a continuation of the move seen yesterday. However, after breaking USD 50.00 Brent prices have seen an aggressive bounce which has seen European equities move into positive territory with the energy names helping lift the sector which is now outperforming its peers. As a result fixed income futures have pared a large majority of the move higher at the EU open. But the punchline came several hours ago courtesy of Eurostat, when it was revealed that December was the first deflationary month for the Eurozone since the depths of the financial crisis more than five years ago, when prices dropped by -0.2% below the -0.1% expectation, and sharply lower than the 0.3% increase in November, driven by a collapse in Energy prices.
Gold will protect from currency devaluations – whether that be in the form of the euro itself being devalued or in the form of reversions to drachmas, escudos, pesetas and punts and subsequent devaluations.
If you want to know where the global experiment in massive money printing is heading - just take a look at the monetary madhouse in Europe. And that particular phrase has full resonance once again as it becomes more apparent by the hour that Europe and the Euro were not fixed at all. Indeed, beneath the surface of Draghi’s “whatever it takes” time out, the crisis has been metastasizing into ever more virulent deformations.
It’s no longer about which factors bring down oil prices, that’s old news; it’s about what oil prices bring down. The oil price drop is a much bigger event than the US subprime housing crisis, it’s bigger than everything put together that happened in 2008. And this time, central banks are lame sitting ducks. Omnipotence is a harsh mistress. She tends to backfire.