But at the end of the day, if your creditors lost faith in your ability to repay it… it’s GAME OVER. This is hitting the emerging market space today.
If we break below these... LOOK OUT BELOW.
Most economic observers are predicting that 2014 will be the year in which the United States finally shrugs off the persistent malaise of the Great Recession. In contrast, we believe that the episode has, for the moment, established supreme confidence in the powers of monetary policy to keep the economy afloat and to keep a floor under asset prices, even in the worst of circumstances. The shift in sentiment can only be explained by the growing acceptance of monetary policy as the magic elixir that Keynesians have always claimed it to be. This blind faith has prevented investors from seeing the obvious economic crises that may lay ahead. Based on nothing but pure optimism, the market believes that the Fed can somehow contract its $4 trillion balance sheet without pushing up rates to the point where asset prices are threatened, or where debt service costs become too big a burden for debtors to bear. The more likely truth is that this widespread mistake will allow us to drift into the next crisis.
While some would argue (as they always do) that there are good reasons to be bullish going into 2014 (central bank liquidity provision being an obvious one); there are ample reasons to remain vigilant with respect to your investments. The stagnation of wage growth combined with higher costs leaves an already cash strapped consumer with few options. It is likely that we will see a push by consumers to re-leverage their household balance sheet which will be hailed by the media as a return of consumer confidence. However, one should not forget the last time a highly levered consumer ran into problems. Furthermore, there are three potential headwinds that are likely to weigh on the economy and the markets which are potentially being overlooked.
While the generic overnight futures meltup is present this morning, it is nothing compared to what the epic surge in the EURJPY early in the overnight session suggested it would be, and in fact the levitation in US equities driven as usual by Yen carry trades (just what is the P/E or PEG on the USDJPY, or the EURUSD for that matter?) is far more muted than seen in recent days. The main reason for the easing of the carry-risk signal pair is the increasing confusion over what may happen next week when increasingly more are convinced Bernanke will announce a Taper, and since everyone remembers the summer very vividly, the last thing anyone wants is to be the last Kool-aid drinker at the centrally-planned party.
Thanks to the "pulling forward" of future production in the channel-stuffing-based inventory build of Q3, consensus estimates for the growth of the US GDP in Q4 2013 has collapsed to new lows for this cycle at a mere 1.5%. However, the "escape-velocity" recovery remains just around the corner as estimates for Q1 and Q2 2014 remain unimpacted by such nuance as reality...
Technically, "High Yield" is no longer the appropriate name for the riskiest credit issuance since the average coupon has declined to where Investment Grade used to trade in the years before the New Normal. It is therefore only appropriate that as part and parcel of this record high yield bond issuance surge levering the riskiest companies to the gills with low interest debt, that there is also a scramble between underwriters to become as competitive as possible. And, sure enough, as Bloomberg Brief reports, "the underwriting fees disclosed to Bloomberg on U.S. junk bond deals average 1.276 percent for the year to date, the lowest since our records began. The prior low was set in 2008, when fees averaged 1.4 percent." 2008... that was when the last credit bubble burst on unprecedented demand for junk bonds: we are confident the bubble apologists will find some other metric with which to convince everyone that reality, and the Fed's Stein, have it all wrong.
"It's only a question of time before the central banks lose control," David Stockman warns a shocked CNBC anchor, "and a panic sets in when people realize that these values are massively overstated." The outspoken author of The Great Deformation rages "the Fed is exporting its lunatic policies worldwide." If one cares to look, Stockman adds, "there are bubbles everywhere," citing Russell 2000 valuations of 75x LTM earnings as an example, "that makes no sense. It's up 43% in the last year, but earnings of the Russell 2000 companies have not increased at all." This is dangerous, he strongly cautions, "I haven't seen too many bubbles in history" that haven't ended violently.
SSDD. Collapsing confidence, check. Housing Recovery meme toast, check. Volume at 2013 lows, check. BTFATH and send Trannies up for 13th of last 15 days (+10.4%), Dow near all-time highs again (thank you IBM buybacks), and S&P to new all-time highs... but don't tell Treasuries (which stand +/-1bps on the week). VIX wasn't drinking the kool-aid but the NASDARK session enabled futures to drag us back to higher before limping lower into the closer. The USD oscilatted around Nowotny comments and POMO ending the day up a rather notable 0.5% from Friday's close and that pressured commodities in general lower (gold hovering at $1345). Credit, Treasuries, VIX, and volume are all diverging from equity exuberance. The last 2 minutes saw stocks scream higher on their own as the world was terrified it would miss out on something (but no other market moved) and all the major indices managed new highs.
If you’re anything like us, you may have reached the conclusions that:
- Our elected officials are charting a course to a fiscal disaster.
- The Fed is repeating past mistakes by setting us up for another bust.
After the drama of the debt ceiling debate and the Fed’s non-tapering surprise, we see no reason to doubt these views. But the latest developments got us thinking, and we have an unusual proposal.
Once the economy's capital structure is distorted beyond a certain threshold, it won't matter anymore how much more monetary pumping the central bank engages in – instead of creating a temporary illusion of prosperity, the negative effects of the policy will begin to predominate almost immediately. Given that we have evidence that the distortion is already at quite a 'ripe' stage, it should be expected that the economy will perform far worse in the near to medium term than was hitherto widely believed. This also means that monetary pumping will likely continue at full blast, as central bankers continue to erroneously assume that the policy is 'helping' the economy to recover.
Fingers of Instability
Stanley Druckenmiller's World View: "Catastrophic" Entitlement Spending, "Bizarre" & "Illusory" Asset Markets, & Beware The TaperSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2013 21:50 -0400
During an extended interview with Bloomberg TV, billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller provided a seemingly fact-based (and non-status-quo sustaining, commission-taking, media-whoring) perspective on a very wide variety of topics. The brief clips below touch the surface, with the detailed annotated transcript below providing details, as Druckenmiller opines on the looming catastrophe in entitlement spending "when you hear about the National debt being $16tn; if you actually took what we promised to seniors and future taxes, present value to both of them, that number is $200tn," why the Fed exit will be a big deal for markets, "it is my belief that QE has subsidized all asset prices and when you remove that, the market will go down," and his changing views on Obama "I was drinking the hope and change Kool-aid... in hindsight, he probably needed more experience for this job." Looking back to the financial crisis, he warns, "...a necessary condition to have a financial crisis, in my opinion, is too loose monetary policy that encourages people to take undue risk and go on the risk curve and do silly things. We should have shut this down in 1998, 1999. The NASDAQ bubble, we should have raised rates, we didn’t. Then we got the implosion."
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"Can central banks now really do “whatever it takes”? As each day goes by, it seems less and less likely... Six years have passed since the eruption of the global financial crisis, yet robust, self-sustaining, well balanced growth still eludes the global economy. If there were an easy path to that goal, we would have found it by now. Monetary stimulus alone cannot provide the answer because the roots of the problem are not monetary. Many large corporations are using cheap bond funding to lengthen the duration of their liabilities instead of investing in new production capacity...Continued low interest rates and unconventional policies have made it easy for the government to finance deficits, and easy for the authorities to delay needed reforms in the real economy and in the financial system... Overindebtedness is one of the major barriers on the path to growth after a financial crisis. Borrowing more year after year is not the cure...in some places it may be difficult to avoid an overall reduction in accommodation because some policies have clearly hit their limits." - Bank of International Settlements