“[W]e have placed the exclusive custody of our entire banking reserve in the hands of a single board of directors not particularly trained for the duty - who might be called 'amateurs'... But still there is a faith in the Bank, contrary to experience, and despising evidence.”
“When does our credit based financial system sputter / break down? When investable assets pose too much risk for too little return. Not immediately, but at the margin, credit and stocks begin to be exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal money in a mattress.” We are approaching that point now as bond yields, credit spreads and stock prices have brought financial wealth forward to the point of exhaustion. A rational investor must indeed have a sense of an ending, not another Lehman crash, but a crush of perpetual bull market enthusiasm.
The prices of gold and silver reflect the deflationary view to the exclusion of the likely outcome of all this experimentation. There is no doubt that many dealers believe that gold and silver are merely commodities, otherwise they would be chasing their prices upwards in a dash for cash. Future historians should be puzzled.
It appears The US Ministry of Truth has been hard at work this week...
For those who require still more proof that the rally in US equities has become inextricably linked with corporations leveraging their balance sheets to repurchase their own shares, JP Morgan is out with an in-depth look at buyback trends which strongly suggests that buyback activity is in fact responsible for driving US stocks to record highs.
There is a financial crisis on the horizon. It is a crisis that all the Central Bank interventions in the world cannot cure. It is a financial crisis that will continue to change the economic landscape of America for decades to come. No, we are not talking about the next Lehman event or the next financial market meltdown. Although something akin to both will happen in the not-so-distant future. It is the lack of financial stability of the current, and next, generation that will shape the American landscape in the future.
Honest price discovery is essential to capitalist prosperity since it is the miraculous mechanism by which capital is raised from savers and investors and efficiently allocated among producers, entrepreneurs and genuine market-rate borrowers. What the central banks have generated, instead, is a casino that is blindly impelled to churn the secondary capital markets and inflate the price of existing assets to higher and higher levels - until they ultimately roll-over under their own weight. The Easy Button addiction of our central bankers is thus not just another large public policy problem. It is the very economic and social scourge of our times.
When we first exposed in February how yet another bank - Bank of America - has been quietly preserving the post Glass-Steagall world in which cash depositing taxpayers are on the hook for a bank's stupidity, some shrugged it off and looked to stress test to solve all the problems. However, it appears - for once - the SEC is not willing to just ignore the bank's actions. Just as JPMorgan's CIO Office, aka the London Whale, took advantage of fungible, taxpayer-insured funding in the form of excess US deposits over loans, to corner the US credit market (in what was clearly a directional prop trade); so, as WSJ reports, The SEC is investigating whether BofA broke rules designed to safeguard client accounts, potentially putting retail-brokerage funds at risk in order to generate more profits using large complex trades.
Despite all of Dick Fisher's promises, The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook had collapsed in the last 4 months (and is down for 6 months in a row - the longest losing streak in history) and April did not disappoint. Against expectations of -12, Dallas Fed printed -16 (the 5th large miss in a row). Silver-lining enthusiasts will note this is a slight rise from 2-year lows at -17.4 in March but remains close to 6-year lows. Of the 15 sub-cmponents only wages and employment were positive (sure why not) as capacity utilization and new order growth rates slowing further. Prices Paid are at their most negative since Lehman and "hope" collapsed. It appears low oil prices are not a net positive to the Texas economy after all.
The evidence is mounting...
UK debt has continued to rise throughout the recovery and has soared to an eye-watering £1.48 trillion. In recent days, a slew of foreign exchange analysts have warned that the pound is vulnerable to falling in value. The incumbent government have not reined in public and trade deficits and have been accused of juicing the property market and the economy to postpone a crisis until after the election.
Nothing exposes the fallacies of the Fed’s policies like its horror at the prospect of raising rates even a little bit. Rates have been effectively zero for five years.
Europe is going to begin both capital and border controls.
With escorts forced to travel and with spending on alcohol and gambling on the decline, there's still one area of the vice economy which offers a compelling investment opportunity and thanks to Bloomberg, we now know which 55 stocks to focus on in order to capitalize off of the rise of legalized marijuana.
If you’re inclined to agree with the notion that trends in cash-based businesses are a good leading indicator when it comes to assessing where consumer spending (and thus the US economy) is headed going forward, you should expect the string of retail sales misses to continue because as Andrew Zatlin notes, spending on hookers, booze, and gambling is now sliding, forcing some escorts to take their show on the road.