We have argued that it is a perilous myth that central bankers these days control a general price level. They instead incentivize massive financial flows into securities markets and fashionable sectors. Over time, ramifications and consequences reach the profound. For one, excess liquidity promotes over/mal-investment. It’s only the scope and nature that remain in question. If major Bubble flows inundate new technology investment, the resulting surge in the supply of high-margin products engenders disinflationary pressures elsewhere. Policy responses to perceived heightened “deflation” risks then only work to exacerbate Bubbles, mounting imbalances and structural fragilities. This was a critical facet of “Roaring Twenties” analysis that was lost in time.
In almost all cases, including the most recent rise, the intermittent change in psychology that drove interest rates higher in the short run, occurred despite weakening inflation. There was, however, always a strong sentiment that the rise marked the end of the bull market, and a major trend reversal was taking place. This is also the case today. Presently, four misperceptions have pushed Treasury bond yields to levels that represent significant value for long-term investors. While Treasury bond yields have repeatedly shown the ability to rise in response to a multitude of short-run concerns that fade in and out of the bond market on a regular basis, the secular low in Treasury bond yields is not likely to occur until inflation troughs and real yields are well below long-run mean values.
No bubble can remain aloft without a heavy dose of monetary inflation. The fact that China’s authorities, including its central bank, have been unable to stem the decline stands as a stark warning to the many Western investors who seemingly believe that central banks are nigh omnipotent entities run by magicians. This is not the case. Once an asset bubble begins to burst, there there is nothing central bankers can do to stop it – and we have plenty of bubbles awaiting their turn in the barrel.
It has been a mostly quiet overnight session with Europe solidly green on another bout of Greek hope even as Bundesbank's Weidmann warned that Greek insolvency risks are rising and Greece reporting that its unemployment rose once more from 26.1% to 26.6% in Q1, in which we got two more rate cuts by New Zealand (which sent the Kiwi crashing the most since 2011) and South Korea (the Won initially dipped only to rebound) but China stole the stage with its latest report on retail sales, industrial production, and fixed investment all of which showed a modest bounce from multi-year lows suggesting the PBOC's attempts to shock the economy into growth may be starting to work (which is bad news for the market).
It just blows our mind, that in the face of almost every indicator having collapsed over the first 6 months of this year, market ‘pros’ just act as though it isn’t happening! It’s impressive to watch the insanity, the denial, the delusion, that has become the basis of the steady state market. What is continuing is us extending ourselves again on the very assumption that the American Consumer will rebound to its peak strength. Because there are those few all powerful economic cannibals that profit on policy rather than economics, we will continue down this flawed path until the legend of the Almighty American Consumer succumbs to reality. And that day my friends will be an ugly one for the record books.
Our current money system began in 1971. It survived consumer price inflation of almost 14% a year in 1980. But Paul Volcker was already on the job, raising interest rates to bring inflation under control. And it survived the “credit crunch” of 2008-09. Ben Bernanke dropped the price of credit to almost zero, by slashing short-term interest rates and buying trillions of dollars of government bonds. But the next crisis could be very different…
As the afternoon session opened overnight in China, stocks were crashing 6-7% (after dropping over 10% and soaring over 15% in the 5 days prior). With record and exponentially growing margin trading one can only imagine the vast majority of new account-holding housewives were stopped out of various positions. Which makes us wonder, just who the mysterious buyer of last resort was that lifted Chinese stocks ever-so-linearly all the way back to unchanged (and in fact green for Shanghai). We suspect you know the answer, and sure enough, just as Bloomberg notes, who cares about China's economy when stocks are rising this much? Simply put, this is bread-and-circuses distraction for the masses of Chinese facing the harsh economic reality of a post debt-fueled bubble bursting.
Although a slew of ‘experts’ say the darndest things (e.g.Bloomberg ‘Intelligence’s Carl Riccadonna: “You had equity markets benefit from QE, but eventually QE also jump-started the broader recovery.. Ultimately everyone’s benefiting.”), we can’t get rid of this one other nagging question: who needs an expert to tell them that today’s markets are riddled with bubbles, given that they are the size of obese gigantosauruses about to pump out quadruplets?
If governments have proven anything to us over the last seven years, it is that they will do anything to keep the banks from going down. If just 10% of people hit their breaking points and withdrew their money in cash - there wouldn’t be enough cash in the system to support this demand. And the banks would subsequently collapse. When a government is bankrupt, the central bank is nearly insolvent, the banking system is illiquid, and an entire population suffers from interest rates that are either negative or below the rate of inflation, capital controls are a foregone conclusion. In fact, we expect the next round of capital controls will be designed to protect the banks... from you.
Did you know that if you took every single penny away from everyone in the United States that it still would not be enough to pay off the national debt? Today, the debt of the federal government exceeds $145,000 per household, and it is getting worse with each passing year. Many believe that if we paid it off a little bit at a time that we could eventually pay it all off, but as you will see below that isn’t going to work either.
“A depression is coming? Let’s put interest rates at zero. The economy is still in trouble? Let’s have the central bank print trillions in new securities. The banks are not lending? Let’s change the accounting rules and offer government guarantees and funds. People are still not spending? Let’s have negative interest rates. The economy is still in the tank? LET’S BAN CASH TRANSACTIONS!”
A cashless society is promising to have very tangible costs to our liberties and future prosperity.
As tipped over a month ago, China witnessed a fourth straight quarter of capital outflows in Q1, exacerbating Beijing's currency conundrum and making it more likely that, should policy rate cuts continue to prove ineffective, Chinese QE is inevitable.
As the SHCOMP soars, the sellside reacts to China's latest round of easing and the message is clear: more policy rate cuts are in the cards as real lending rates remain elevated and deflation risk remains high. Meanwhile, the PBoC's statement was making the rounds on WeChat hours before its official release suggesting Janet Yellen isn't the only central banker that enjoys leaking information.
This is how DB summarizes what has been the primary feature of capital markets this week - the huge move in European bond yields: "On April 17th, 10-year Bunds traded below 0.05% intra-day. Two and a half weeks later and yesterday saw bunds close around 1000% higher than those yield lows at 0.516% after rising +6.2bps on the day." Right out of the European open today, the government bond selloff accelerated with the 10Y Bund reaching as wide as 0.595% with the periphery following closely behind when at 9:30am CET sharp, just as the selloff seemed to be getting out of control, it reversed and out of nowhere and a furious buying wave pushed the Bund and most peripheral bonds unchanged or tighter on the day! Strange, to say the least. Also, illiquid.
Russia Central Bank Cuts Key Rate By 150 bps To 12.50% Citing Risk Of "Considerable Economy Cooling"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/30/2015 06:43 -0400
The days when Russia scrambled to prevent the plunge in its currency in December of 2014, pushing its interest rate to an eye watering 17%, are now a distant memory: moments ago, the CBR announced that following the most recent cut from 15% to 14% on March 13, it once again cut rates by a greater than consensus 150 bps, to 12.50%. The majority of analysts, or 25 of 40, had expected a cut to only 13.00%.