In a stunningly honest reflection on itself (and its peer group of professional prognosticating panderers), The Federal Reserve's San Francisco research group finds that - just as we have pointed out again and again - that since 2007, FOMC participants have been persistently too optimistic about future U.S. economic growth. Real GDP growth forecasts have typically started high, but then are revised down over time as the incoming data continue to disappoint. Possible explanations for this pattern include missed warning signals about the buildup of imbalances before the crisis, overestimation of the efficacy of monetary policy following a balance-sheet recession, and the natural tendency of forecasters to extrapolate from recent data. The persistent bias in the track records of professional forecasters apply not only to forecasts of growth, but also of inflation and unemployment.
The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
Bill Gross Slams Broken Capitalism: "Policymakers Must Promote A Future Which Offers Hope As Opposed To Despair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2015 09:17 -0400
"Officials at the Federal Reserve – the most powerful and strongest of Parker Brothers – seem to now appreciate the hole that they have dug by allowing interest rates to go too low for too long.... While there is no better system than capitalism, it is incumbent upon it and its policymakers to promote a future condition which offers hope as opposed to despair. Capitalism depends on hope – rational hope that an investor gets his or her money back with an attractive return. Without it, capitalism morphs and breaks down at the margin. The global economy in January of 2015 is at just that point with its zero percent interest rates."
When you read about female doctors feeling forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children, about the number of miscarriages doubling, and about the overall sense of helplessness and destitution among the Greek population, especially the young, who see no way of even starting to build a family, then I can only say: Brussels is a bunch of criminals. And Draghi’s QE announcement is a criminal act. It’s a good thing the bond-buying doesn’t start until March, and that it’s on a monthly basis: that means it can still be stopped.
This infographic documents the rise and fall of Bre-X.
From initial private offerings at 30 cents a share, Bre-X stock climbed to more than $250 on the open market. Near the peak of Bre-X share prices, major banks and media were on board:
Since the European sovereign-debt crisis erupted in 2009, everyone has wondered what would happen if a country left the eurozone. The risks created by the SNB’s decision – as transmitted through the financial system – have a fat tail - and the consequences will not be limited to Switzerland. After years of wondering whether the exit of a small, fiscally weak country like Greece could undermine the euro, policymakers will have to deal with an even bigger shock stemming from the exit of a small, fiscally strong country that is not even a member of the European Union.
Last week we focused on potential manipulations of the opaque and self-regulated process by which the conflicted members of ISDA’s Determinations Committee (“DC”) determine whether a triggering event has occurred. This week we will focus on the inherent problems in the External Review process, as set out in the Determinations Committee’s rules.
- 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
Introduce a regulation over here, an unintended consequence pops up over there. Then there are more regulations to deal with the unintended consequences. Regulations have added 100 times the volatility to one of the most liquid and ordinary derivatives in the world - the plain-vanilla EFP. Less liquidity, more volatility - welcome to 2015.
Mainstream Media in the US seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction. The situation is much more worrisome than most people would expect. Even if there are some temporary good effects, they will be more than offset by bad effects, some of which could be very bad indeed. We may be reaching limits of a finite world.
From Bill Gross: "I’ll leave the specific forecasting for a few weeks’ time and sum it up in a few quick sentences for now: Beware the Ides of March, or the Ides of any month in 2015 for that matter. When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over.... Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed."
"This series is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy," begins Adam Curtis, as he describes the propaganda that Western governments and corporations have utilized stemming from Freud's theories (and his nephew Bernays). The words of Paul Mazur, perhaps ironically working for Lehman Brothers at the time, sum it all up: "We must shift America from a 'needs' to a 'desires' culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed... Man's desires must overshadow his needs."
If there is one thing the investing public has 'learned' in the last few years, it is 'no matter how bad the fundamentals, if it's been working, buy moar of it'. And so, it is with almost certain confidence that we should expect a resurgent flood of yield-chasing muppetry into no more egregious idiocy than the subprime-mortgage-debt market. As Bloomberg reports, the subprime-slime-backed securities that were created in the years before the financial crisis in 2008, which marked the last time they were issued, have gained almost 12% this year, or six times more than junk-rated corporate debt, according to Barclays. As one money 'manager' proclaims, "a lot of the uncertainty around the asset class has been taken away." Indeed, home prices will never go down ever again, right? (Just ignore this and this)
Banks are selling a record amount of U.S. structured notes tied to the stocks of fast-growing, volatile technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter. As Bloomberg Briefs reports, sales of securities linked to Facebook soared to $457.6 million this year, more than double the $204.2 million issued during the same period of 2013. Bloomberg notes that investors are flocking to products tied to social media companies, where more volatile share prices help banks improve structured-note terms that have been hurt by low interest rates... and issuers are "trying to put shiny objects in front of the client," as the BTFD mentality gets increased leverage (and downside risk). Investors have purchased $1.88 billion of structured notes linked to the 10 most popular technology stocks so far this year - 31% more than the same period in 2013 - and $32.7bn equity- and commodity-linked notes this year alone (up ~10% YoY). As we warned last week, counterparty risks are rising.
"The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal... There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine."