Over the past several months, starting with the great US stock market surge back in October 2011 which was not paralleled by virtually any other index in the world (and especially not Spain which recently breached its March 2009 low), there has been a great deal of speculation that just because the US stock market was doing "better", that the US economy has by implication "decoupled" from Europe. Well, as yesterday's GDP number showed in Q1 the economy ended up rising at a pace that was quite disappointing, but more importantly, which even Goldman admits is due for a substantial slow down in the coming months. And ironically, in the past 6 months it was not the Fed, but the ECB, that injected over $1.3 trillion in the banking system. One would think that this epic "flow" of liquidity from the central bank would result in a surge in the only metric that matters to 'Austrians', namely the expansion in money (or in this case the widest metric officially tracked on an apples to apples basis - M2). One would be very wrong. Because as the chart below shows, while US M2 has soared from the 2009 troughs, money "movement" in Europe has barely budged at all.
In perhaps the most courageous (and now must-read) speech ever given inside the New York Fed's shallowed hallowed walls, Economic Policy Journal's Robert Wenzel delivered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to the monetary priesthood. Gracious from the start, Wenzel takes the Keynesian clap-trappers to task on almost every nonsensical and oblivious decision they have made in recent years. "My views, I suspect, differ from beginning to end... I stand here confused as to how you see the world so differently than I do. I simply do not understand most of the thinking that goes on here at the Fed and I do not understand how this thinking can go on when in my view it smacks up against reality." And further..."I scratch my head that somehow your conclusions about unemployment are so different than mine and that you call for the printing of money to boost 'demand'. A call, I add, that since the founding of the Federal Reserve has resulted in an increase of the money supply by 12,230%." But his closing was tremendous: "Let’s have one good meal here. Let’s make it a feast. Then I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you all, walk out of here with me, never to come back. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do. Nothing good goes on in this place. Let’s lock the doors and leave the building to the spiders, moths and four-legged rats."
In the science of physics, we know that ice freezes at 32 degrees. We can predict with immense accuracy exactly how far a rocket ship will travel filled with 500 gallons of fuel. There is preciseness because there are constants, which do not change and upon which equations can be constructed.. There are no such constants in the field of economics since the science of economics deals with human action, which can change at any time. If potato prices remain the same for 10 weeks, it does not mean they will be the same the following day. I defy anyone in this room to provide me with a constant in the field of economics that has the same unchanging constancy that exists in the fields of physics or chemistry. And yet, in paper after paper here at the Federal Reserve, I see equations built as though constants do exist. It is as if one were to assume a constant relationship existed between interest rates here and in Russia and throughout the world, and create equations based on this belief and then attempt to trade based on these equations. That was tried and the result was the blow up of the fund Long Term Capital Management, a blow up that resulted in high level meetings in this very building. It is as if traders assumed a given default rate was constant for subprime mortgage paper and traded on that belief. Only to see it blow up in their faces, as it did, again, with intense meetings being held in this very building. Yet, the equations, assuming constants, continue to be published in papers throughout the Fed system. I scratch my head.
In advance of ever louder demands for more, more, more NEWER QE-LTROs (as BofA's Michael Hanson says "If our forecast of a one-handle on H2 growth is realized, then we would expect the Fed to step in with additional easing, in the form of QE3") , it is an opportune time to demonstrate just what the traditional monetary "plumbing" mechanisms at the discretion of the Fed are, and more importantly, just how completely plugged they are. So without any further ado...
The ponzi will fail, and the economy will reset - the only question is when.
Dumbfounded. That’s the only way to describe the reaction that future historians will have when they look back and study the utter perversion that is our global financial system. We live in a time when a tiny handful of people have their fingers on a button that can conjure trillions of dollars, euro, yen, and renminbi out of thin air. In the United States, it comes down to one man. Just one. With a single decision, he controls the lever that dominates the entire economy. When you control the money, you control everything– financial markets, consumer prices, risk perceptions, investment habits, savings rates, hiring decisions, pay raises, sovereign debt, housing starts, etc. One man.
We have long shown that "investors" whatever that term means in the New Normal - those gullible enough to put their money in Bennie Madoff, pardon Bennie Bernanke Asset Management? - have been not only reluctant to put their money into stocks, but despite week after week of artificial, low volume highs, driven entirely by Primary Dealers (and now European banks post the $1.3 trillion in LTROs, not to mention even foreign Central Banks recently buying high beta stocks) spiking the market ever higher courtesy of record reserves, but in fact continue to pull their cash out of the stock market with every thrust higher. Why, just last week another $1.4 billion in cash was pulled from domestic equity funds, nominal Dow 13,000 be damned. The truth is that the banks are desperate to start offloading their risk exposure to retail investors, and instead of selling, are furiously trying to send the market ever higher just to get that ever elusive "investor" back: just look at how much the market rose by last week, CNBC will say: do you really want to be out of this huge rally? Alas, the damage has been done: between the Great Financial Crisis, the Flash Crash, a massively corrupt regulator, rehypothecating assets that tend to vaporize with no consequences, and a central bank which effectively has admitted to running a Russell 2000 targeting ponzi scheme, the investor is gone. But what if? What if the retail herd does, despite everything, come back into stocks? After all the money is in bonds, or so the conventional wisdom states. What harm could happen if the 10 Year yield goes back from 2% to 3%, if the offset is another 100 S&P points. After all it is good for the velocity of money and all that - so says classical economic theory. Well, this may be one of those "be careful what you wish for." Because while investors have indeed park hundreds of billions out of stocks and into bonds, the real story is elsewhere. And the real story is the real elephant nobody wants to talk about. Presenting: America's combined cash hoard, which between total demand deposits, checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time deposits (source H.6), is at an all time high of $8.1 trillion.
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
If you listened to Ben Bernanke's testimony between last week and this week, you were told repeatedly that he is not worried about inflation.
Here are some charts that his analysts must have missed - Perhaps they're spending their time hanging out with the SEC boys surfing the web, but either way they should probably bring these to Ben's attention sooner rather than later.
Not Money's Reaction to Ben Today
The surge in the U.S. money supply in recent years has sent gold into a series of new record nominal highs. Money supply surged again in 2011 sending gold to new record nominal highs. Money supply has grown again, by more than 35% on an annualized basis, and this is contributing to gold’s consolidation and strong gains in January. The Federal Reserve's latest weekly money supply report from last Thursday shows seasonally adjusted M1 rose $13.2 billion to $2.233 trillion, while M2 rose $4.5 billion to $9.768 trillion.
Today's key economic data comes early in the day. The rest will be punctuated by ongoing rumors out of Europe and Iran.
The real outlook of Monetary Easing vs Treasury Yields
But those Shanghai office towers across the river in Pudong were already standing empty a decade ago – not that you would know from any contemporary reporting. Former Prime Minister Rhu Rongji publicly pleaded with provincial bureaucrats to stop fabricating figures because it made it impossible for him to know what was going on.
European Indices are trading up at the midpoint of the session following strong performance from financials, however, Italian bond auction results dampened this effect after failing to replicate the success of the Spanish bond auction yesterday with relatively lacklustre demand. There has been market talk that this lull in demand for Italian bonds is due to technical error preventing some participants from bidding in the auction, but this still remains unconfirmed. Heading into the North American open, fixed income futures are still trading higher on the day having seen the Bund touch on a fresh session high and with peripheral 10-year government bond yield spreads widening ahead of the treasury pit open. Markets now anticipate the release of US trade balance figures and The University of Michigan confidence report.