Economic forecasting is a dangerous job. As Mark Twain put it in his novel Pudd’nhead Wilson, “October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.” Every wrong prediction could doom a career, or a bank account. Prudence and humility are the only sound tools for building one’s reputation. The talking heads on CNBC appear to know neither. They pledge allegiance to the flag of the tinkering bureaucracy. It explains the loss of ratings, and loss of confidence in the ability of “experts” to see what’s coming down the tracks. Refusing to learn from mistakes will lead to future blunders. Pundits that don’t heed this message are doomed to fail.
The central planners are in a state of fear and panic. They are trying everything and anything to create market validation for their policies, watching with trepidation as their favored economic metrics fail to respond to all of their frenzied efforts. They are so far over the tips of their skis right now that there's nothing they won't do. By the time a central bank is behaving as recklessly as Japan, it's time to edge towards the exit, because the chance of a flash fire in the building has grown uncomfortably high. That is, instead of providing comfort, these most recent moves should invoke greater worry for those of us alert enough to see them for what they are: acts of panic.
"In announcing that it will boost purchases of government bonds to a record annual pace of $709 billion, the central bank has just added further fuel to the most obvious bond bubble in modern history -- and helped create a fresh one on stocks. Once the laws of finance, and gravity, reassert themselves, Japan's debt market could crash in ways that make the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers look like a warm-up. Worse, because Japan's interest-rate environment is so warped, investors won't have the usual warning signs of market distress. Even before Friday's bond-buying move, Japan had lost its last honest tool of price discovery. When a nation that needs 16 digits in yen terms to express its national debt (it reached 1,000,000,000,000,000 yen in August 2013) sees benchmark yields falling, you've entered the financial Twilight Zone. Good luck fairly pricing corporate, asset-backed or mortgage-backed securities."
"Solutions to the world's problems are not produced in a meeting between Bill Gates and George Soros... Renewal has to come from below... Limiting the influence [of the richest] is of the utmost importance... so that today's upper-class, high-finance capitalism can once again revert to being a capitalism of the real economy and the societal center."
FOMC stops buying securities in the open market and the world falls apart, right? WOW. Are you folk’s economists, traders, or just a bit naive?
When the next crisis comes there will no doubt be economists and commentators who blame it on some proximal event, like the failure of a large important financial institution. Don’t be fooled. The seeds of the next crisis are already sown. Fed policy under Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen has distorted the economy in a way that makes it precariously fragile, and susceptible to collapse.
"While monetary weapons can be a good first step to remedying an economic crisis, they are clearly not enough on a standalone basis to return an economy to stability and growth. My concern is that there has been an almost total academic capture of the mechanism of the Fed and other central banks around the world by neo-Keynesian thinking and hence policymaking, while the executive and legislative branches of the government have turned a blind eye to the necessary reforms. So while the plan has thus far worked brilliantly for Wall Street, what central bankers have succeeded in doing is preventing, or at least postponing, the hard choices and legislative actions necessary by our politicians to fully implement a sustainable and prosperous future for our children—and theirs...Today I view the world as “risk-uncertain,” and in these instances I recommend the armored vehicle."
Six years after QE started, and just about the time when we for the first time said that the primary consequence of QE would be unprecedented wealth and class inequality (in addition to fiat collapse, even if that particular bridge has not yet been crossed), even the central banks themselves - the very institutions that unleashed QE - are now admitting that the record wealth disparity in the world - surpassing that of the Great Depression and even pre-French revolution France - is caused by "monetary policy", i.e., QE.
In what may be a resounding echo of March 2006, moments ago the New York Superintendent of Financial Services said that Ocwen had engaged in abuses that could potentially harm hundreds of thousands of borrowers. As AP reports, the state regulator issued a letter Tuesday to Ocwen Financial Corp., documenting the same kinds of suspicious actions that worsened the housing crisis and the Great Recession.
Nobody in the economic intelligentsia is implying that the IMF is staffed by paranoid cranks. They continue to ignore and belittle the Austrian school. This pompous and undeserved behavior will go on until it’s too late. In the process, the ivory tower disciples of Keynes will only further prove their intellectual bankruptcy. The average person never trusted them to begin with. And things certainly won’t change now.
- Obama open to appointing Ebola 'czar', opposes travel ban (Reuters)
- Schools Close as Nurse’s Ebola Infection Ignites Concern (BBG)
- How the World's Top Health Body Allowed Ebola to Spiral Out of Control (BBG)
- European Stocks Rise Amid Growing Pressure for Stimulus (BBG)
- Putin Threatens EU Gas Squeeze Raising Stakes for Ukraine (BBG)
- ECB to Start Asset Purchases Within Days, Says Central Banker Coeuré (WSJ)
- Investors search for signs of end to stock market correction (Reuters)
There is this whole idea of state dependence that we have to consider when we’re talking about the market. Uou might have a plan to buy stocks when the index gets below a certain level, but when the market gets to that point, you: a) may not have the capital; and b) might be panicking into your shorts. It’s nice to have a plan, but, paraphrasing Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. It’s been so long since we’ve had a correction, I’m guessing that most people have forgotten what a correction feels like.
Is the stock market about to crash? Hopefully not, and there definitely have been quite a few "false alarms" over the past few years. But without a doubt we have been living through one of the greatest financial bubbles in U.S. history, and the markets are absolutely primed for a full-blown crash. That doesn't mean that one will happen now, but we are starting to see some ominous things happen in the financial world that we have not seen happen in a very long time.
The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different. The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building. But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.
The rising fear may reflect a shift in sentiment from faith in the omnipotence of central banks to skepticism.