Never have markets carried so much risk. And never have markets been as vulnerable to an abrupt change in perceptions with regard to central banker competence, effectiveness and capabilities. At the minimum, global markets will function poorly, but risk is now high for a disorderly – Party Crashing - "run" on financial markets, as faith in central banking begins to wane.
"This is a monetary moment... we are looking at the beginning of the world’s reappraisal of the words and deeds of central bankers like Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi. You see monetary disorder manifested in super low interest rates, in the mispricing of credit broadly and you see it in the escalation of radical monetary nastrums that are floating out of the various central banks and established temples of thought: Negative real rates, negative nominal rates and the idea of helicopter money. So you need some hedge against things not going according to the script and that makes gold and gold mining equities terrifically interesting now."
"You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." - Morpheus, The Matrix
It is not hard to see history repeating itself all over again. Just look at the Chinese central bank this week cutting interest rates, just like the Fed had to do in 2008-9.
The question we appear to be getting answered this week is, as Grant's Interest Rate Observer's Jim Grant so poetically explains, "how much of this paper moon market is real, and how much is governmental whipped cream?" In this brief but, as usual, perfectly to the point interview with Reason.com's Matt Welch, Grant asks (and answers), "are prices meant to be imposed from on high, or discovered by individuals acting spontaneously in markets?" noting that, while many readers here may know the answer, "they’re regrettably in the minority." The always entertaining Grant then goes on to discuss the underlying causes of the recent market turbulence, why we don’t really "have interest rates anymore."
“The way to wealth in a bull market is debt. The way to oblivion in a bear market is also debt, and nobody rings a bell.” – James Grant
From our perspective, the fundamental reason for economic stagnation and growing income disparity is straightforward: Our current set of economic policies supports and encourages a low level equilibrium by encouraging debt-financed consumption and discouraging saving and productive investment. We permit an insular group of professors and bankers to fling trillions of dollars about like Frisbees in the simplistic, misguided, and repeatedly destructive attempt to buy prosperity by maximally distorting the financial markets.
Grant: "I am very bullish indeed". ”Recent fall in prices “terrifically vexing but a wonderful opportunity”; the reasons for owning gold have not gone away.
"The modern financial animal is wont to assume that he or she lives in an age of science. The truth is we live in an age of pseudoscience. Far from dealing in science, central bankers, and, to a degree, investment bankers and security analysts, employ magical thinking... For an individual to fix Libor is a crime. For a central bank to suppress European bond yields is an act of financial statesmanship..."
"The important thing to recall is why those of us who own it, bought it. What is it about gold that ought to make it appealing – when it seems to be absolutely the thing you don’t want to have." As ValueWalk reports, Grant warned that gold thrives in the face of monetary turmoil, disorder and uncertainty, noting, "I think we have all three of these things."
Speaking at Russell Napier’s Library of Mistakes in Edinburgh earlier this month, Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer was asked what financial mistakes we’re making today that future generations will regard as the most ridiculous. If you’re familiar with Grant’s writing the short answer won’t surprise you...
The fact that such books dominate the book sales in this category tells us a thing or two about how the near consensus of approval once enjoyed by the Fed (and other Western central banks) is long gone.
"The Fed is 'ever-interested' in doing something later," Jim Grant notes, explaining why he believes the timetable for rate hikes will be pushed back further as fear of allowing a free market in the "most critical" of prices - that of interest rates - would lead to the "unmasking of the misallocations of capital that will have come about through the levitation of asset prices." Grant further unleashes his verbal attack of truthiness when he points out that the central bank's persistent easy money policies is on display currently in the form of stifling American enterprise and sending millions of people from the workforce "more or less permanently."
The constant changes to Fed policy targets and enslavement to the ticker must change, according to former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh. "The markets think they have Yellen's number," that she will never allow markets to go down, Warsh warns "that is a very dangerous development." What worries Warsh the most, however, is "The Fed's policies changing based on what happens on the ticker... The Fed should be thinking 3 to 4 years ahead." Investors "think good times can last forever," he notes ominously, "we tried negative real rates in the mid 70s and the early 2000s and both ended badly." Someone is not getting invited back on CNBC...
Nearly 100 years after its creation, the power of the U.S. Federal Reserve has never been greater. Markets and governments around the world hold their breath in anticipation of the Fed Chair's every word. Yet the average person knows very little about the most powerful - and least understood - financial institution on earth. "Money For Nothing" is the first film to take viewers inside the Fed and reveal the impact of Fed policies - past, present, and future - on our lives. Join current and former Fed officials as they debate the critics, and each other, about the decisions that helped lead the global financial system to the brink of collapse in 2008. And why we might be headed there again...