"What keeps us up at night? Well I can’t speak for the others, having spoken too much already to please PIMCO’s marketing specialists, but I will give you some thoughts about what keeps Mohamed and me up at night. Mohamed, the creator of the “New Normal” characterization of our post-Lehman global economy, now focuses on the possibility of a” T junction” investment future where markets approach a time-uncertain inflection point, and then head either bubbly right or bubble-popping left due to the negative aspects of fiscal and monetary policies in a highly levered world. ... investors are all playing the same dangerous game that depends on a near perpetual policy of cheap financing and artificially low interest rates in a desperate gamble to promote growth. The Fed, the BOJ (certainly), the ECB and the BOE are setting the example for global markets, basically telling investors that they have no alternative than to invest in riskier assets or to lever high quality assets. “You have no other choice,” their policies insinuate.... Deep in the bowels of central banks research staffs must lay the unmodelable fear that zero-bound interest rates supporting Dow 16,000 stock prices will slowly lose momentum after the real economy fails to reach orbit, even with zero-bound yields and QE." - Bill Gross
The rock is reality. The squishy place is the illusion that pervasive racketeering is an okay replacement for an economy. The essence of racketeering is the use of dishonest schemes to get money, often (but not always) employing coercion to make it work. Some rackets can function on the sheer cluelessness of the victim(s).
Just as in the 1930s the Fed fueled deflation by not making credit available, today the opposite seems to be the case – low rates are fueling deflation and preventing markets from clearing.
"We are on the eve of a deflationary shock which will likely reduce equity valuations from very high to very low levels.... Each investor must decide for themselves just how close to midnight they want to leave this particular party. The advice of Solid Ground is leave now as it is increasingly likely that one event will be the catalyst to very rapidly change inflationary into deflationary expectations... So perhaps it is global deflationary forces creating a bankruptcy event, somewhere in the world, that is the catalyst for a sudden change in inflationary expectations in the developed world. It can all happen very quickly; and it is dangerous to stay at an equity party driven by disinflation when it can spill so rapidly into deflation... When there is plenty of leverage in the system and any key price starts to decline then a credit event and a sudden change in inflationary expectations are much more possible than the consensus believes. So watch the TIPS, BAA bond spreads and copper if you must, but this analyst prefers to observe the party from outside.... Each investor must decide for themselves just how close to midnight they want to leave this particular party."
- Russell Napier, CLSA
There are a couple of disturbing points that came out of her take on bubbles and the rationale behind not tapering a mere 10 or 15 Billion dollars given the monthly commitment of 85 Billion in Fed Purchases every month.
In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’s real estate market has created not a “soaring” real estate market as economists always incorrectly explain them, but massive real estate market distortions better known as a bubble.
Debt always matters because it must always be paid for by someone - even if the borrower defaults, of course, the debt is simply “paid” by the lender. As China Financial Markets' Michael Pettis notes, this is why the fact that debt in China seems to be growing much faster than debt-servicing capacity implies slower growth in the future. The author of "Avoiding The Fall", explains that if the debt cannot be fully serviced by the increase in productivity created by the investment that the debt funded, unless it is funded by liquidating state sector assets it must cause a reduction in demand elsewhere, most probably in household consumption. Therefore, in spite of all the hope among global stock-buying hope-mongers, this reduction in demand implies slower growth in the future and, of course, a more difficult rebalancing process.
It is a common view that the shutdown, the debt-limit debacle and the repeated failure to enact entitlement and pro-growth tax reform reflect increased political polarization. John Taylor believes this gets the causality backward. Today's governance failures are closely connected to economic policy changes, particularly those growing out of the 2008 financial crisis. Despite a massive onslaught of legislation and regulation designed to foster prosperity, economic growth remains low and unemployment remains high. Claiming that one political party has been hijacked by extremists misses this key point, and prevents a serious discussion of the fundamental changes in economic policies in recent years, and their effects.
As Citi's Matt King recent showed, when it comes to stepwise, quantum leap repricings of widely held credits, the revelation is usually a very painful, sudden and very dramatic one. This can be seen nowhere better than in the default of Lehman brothers, where while the firm's equity was slow to admit defeat it was nothing in comparison to the abject case study in denial that the Lehman bonds put in. However, as can be seen in the chart below, when it finally came, and when bondholders realized they are screwed the morning of Monday, Septembr 15 when the Lehman bankruptcy filing was fact, the move from 80 cents on the dollar to under 10 cents took place in a heartbeat.It is the same kind of violent and anguished repricing that all unsecrued creditors in the coming wave of heretofore "denialed" municipal bankruptcy filings will have to undergo. Starting with Detroit, where as Reuters reports, the recovery to pensioners, retirees and all other unsecured creditors will be.... 16 cents on the dollar!... or less than what Greek bondholders got in the country's latest (and certainly not final) bankruptcy.
- Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On (BBG)
- More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around (Reuters)
- Contractors Point Fingers Over Health-Law Website (WSJ)
- Jury Decides Against BofA on 'Hustle' Program (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse to overhaul interest rates trading business (FT)
- Home Builders Target Higher End (WSJ)
- The Many Lives of Iron Mountain (NYer)
- Busy tourist season nudges Spanish unemployment lower (Reuters)
- Morgan Stanley Joins BofA in Broker Recruiting Truce (BBG)
- Ending World’s Longest Nonstop Flight Adds Five Hours (BBG)
Alasdair explains how his "Fiat Money Quantity" (FMQ) is derived, as well as what it can tell us about the true levels of fiat money supply. In the case of the dollar, it reveals that levels are far above what is commonly appreciated – so far, in fact, that a currency crisis could arrive sooner than even many dollar bears expect... and how horribly mispriced gold remains.
While there haven't been many economic data points to highlights the so-called damage to if not the economy, then the confidence of the all important US consumer, data on consumer confidence has been trickling in, and as expected, has been sliding. However, nowhere more so than in the just released latest read in the Bloomberg Weekly Consumer confidence index, whose expectations gauge just tumbled to -31, or the lowest level since November 2011. Bloomberg reports: "Americans in October were the most pessimistic about the nation’s economic prospects in almost two years as concern mounted that continued political gridlock will hurt the expansion. The monthly Bloomberg Consumer Confidence Index expectations gauge plunged to minus 31, the lowest level since November 2011, from minus 9 in September, a report showed today. The share of people projecting the economy will worsen jumped by the most since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. five years ago. The weekly measure of current conditions fell to minus 34.1 in the period ended Oct. 13, the weakest since March."
TedBits - Newsletter
The dollar is the world’s go-to currency. But for how much longer? Will the dollar’s status as the only true global currency be irreparably damaged by the battle in the US Congress over raising the federal government’s debt ceiling? Is the dollar’s “exorbitant privilege” as the world’s main reserve currency truly at risk? Sane governments do not default when they have a choice – especially not when they enjoy the “exorbitant privilege” of issuing the only true global currency. We are about to find out whether the US still has a sane government.
As Warren Buffet openly states that he believes that a default on US debt will be catastrophic and that lawmakers in Congress need to get their act together and get the federal government back to work by passing the budget we might well wonder if it’s just for show or if he really believes that.