Nobody apparently learned much from the whole bubble-bust affair as banks and financial firms are at it again, this time in corporate debt. The artificial suppression of default, in no small part to perceptions of those bank reserves under QE (just like perceptions of balance sheet capacity pre-crisis), has turned junk debt into the vehicle of choice for yet another cycle of “reach for yield.” In the past two bubble cycles, we see how monetary policy creates the conditions for them but also in parallel for their disorderly closure. It isn’t money that the FOMC directs but rather unrealistic, to the extreme, expectations and extrapolations. Once those become encoded in financial equations, the illusion becomes real supply.
The Fed understands that economic cycles do not last forever, and we are closer to the next recession than not. While raising rates would likely accelerate a potential recession and a significant market correction, from the Fed's perspective it might be the 'lesser of two evils. Being caught at the "zero bound" at the onset of a recession leaves few options for the Federal Reserve to stabilize an economic decline. The problem is that they may have missed their window to get there.
Global central banks are afraid. Before Greece tried to stand up to the Troika, they were merely worried. Now it’s clear that no matter what they tell themselves and the world about the necessity or even righteousness of their monetary policies, liquidity can still disappear in an instant. Or at least, that’s what they should be thinking. The problem is that central banks have no plan B in the event of a massive liquidity event. In this cauldron of instability and lack of leadership, cash is the one remaining financial possession that Main Street can translate into goods, services and security. That’s why private banks want more control over it.
This is the question that astute investors are forced to ask themselves these days. No reasonable person believes that a system of ever-expanding debt can resolve painlessly. It simply cannot happen... not, at least, until 2+2 stops equaling four. But the international money system, while deeply interconnected, can implode in sections. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that it will crash as a single unit. So, if you have significant moneys to invest, you end up coming back to our question: Who will be the last to crash?
After seven long years of aggressively defending a monetary policy regime that's served to exacerbate the divide between the haves and the have-nots, the Fed looks at whether "the legend of Robin Hood" offers any helpful pointers about how to reignite America's economic growth engine. Spoiler alert: the Fed doesn't think "taking from the rich to give to the poor" would be very productive.
Spin revolving door, spin...
This next week is not so much about Greece the butterfly, but it is about keeping the butterfly from becoming a hindrance to the math working globally. And the Greek government knows this. They are negotiating on the basis that a bad Greek deal from Europe’s point of view is better than a default. Angela Merkel wanted a concluded Greek deal before markets open on Monday. Now she has a mess.
Nope - no bubble here at all...
With The IMF (and Germany to a less extent) apparently peeing in the Greek Deal pool, perhaps it is worth considering what happens next if this "Greece is rescued" deal is not done. Who can save Greece? Who will pay The IMF? Why, that's simple, the good ol' American taxpayer thanks to The Fed's lifeline...
Just a few days after Jeb Hensarling accused The Fed of "willful obstruction" in the Congressional leak probe, demanding "immediate compliance" with the subpoena seeing "no legal basis to withhold records from Congress," Janet Yellen has responded in a letter: YELLEN REPEATS FED CAN'T PROVIDE DOCUMENTS ON LEAK PROBE. If this does not confirm The Fed is utterly above the law, we are not sure what it will take to convince skeptics of the need for an independent audit. As Hensarling previously noted, this appears to be "vigorous and coordinated obstruction.”
today is Friday taken to the nth degree, with the markets having already declared if not victory then the death of all Greek "contagion" leverage, following news that a new Greek proposal was sent yesterday (which as we summarized does not include any of the demanded by the Troika pension cuts), ignoring news that Greece had again sent Belgium the wrong proposal which the market has taken as a sign of capitulation by Tsipras, and as a result futures are surging higher by nearly 1%, the German DAX is up a whopping 3.1%, on track for the biggest one day gain in three years, Greek stocks up over 8%, German and US Treasurys sliding while Greek and peripheral bonds are surging.
Ronald Reagan is surely rolling in his grave. He is credited for much that he didn’t actually accomplish on the economic front, but his most singular real victory - decisive repudiation of the Keynesian macro-economic policy model that had produced stagflationary havoc for more than a decade - overshadows all his fiscal failures and the urban legend that he actually tamed Big Government. Needless to say, however, that 35-years ago repudiation has now been itself completely repudiated by the keynesian apparatchiks who presently rule the Eccles Building. This week Janet Yellen was at it again, displaying outright contempt for the Gipper’s crowning achievement.
European shares remain higher, close to intraday highs, with the autos and travel & leisure sectors outperforming and basic resources, utilities underperforming. Meeting of finance officials to reach a deal over Greek aid ended in frustration, forcing leaders to call for an emergency summit for Monday. ECB plans to hold an emergency session of its Governing Council on Friday to discuss a deterioration in liquidity at Greek banks, three people familiar said. German airwave auction raises $5.7b to top 2010 sale. Bank of Japan leaves monetary policy unchanged as forecast. Shanghai Composite Index capped its worst weekly decline in seven years.
The recent peak in profits, combined with substantially elevated P/E ratios, is likely suggesting that forward return expectations should be revised sharply lower.
"Don't fight the Fed," unless The Fed says "sell." That appears to be the message loud and clear from an absolutely exuberant Biotech bubble that is now up over 75% from Janet Yellen's "stretched valuations" warning last year...