If you’re a girl and you’re old and you’re grey and you’re the size of a hobbit, who’s going to get angry at you? If your predecessor had all the qualities anyone could look for in a garden gnome, and his predecessor was known mainly as a forward drooling incoherent oracle, how bad could it get? Think they select Fed heads them on purpose for how well they would fit into the Shire? Janet Yellen has a serious problem: the story no longer fits.
The Fed likes to claim that its policies are aimed at helping Main Street. Ben Bernanke began this argument when he was still Fed Chairman. Janet Yellen has since taken it a step further claiming that she comes from an “intellectual tradition” that it is important to use “public policy” to “make the world a better place.”
The arrogance, hubris and contempt for morality displayed by the ruling class is breathtaking to behold. They think they are untouchable and impervious to norms followed by the rest of society. They may have won the opening battle, but will lose the war. Discontent among the masses grows by the day. The critical thinking citizens are growing restless and angry. They are beginning to grasp the true enemy. The system has been captured by a few malevolent men. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.
Nobody really believes the official narrative that the "recovery" is powering the remarkable strength of U.S. stocks, bonds and real estate. The real Main Street economy is quite obviously struggling, outside the energy and Federal government sectors, and so many see the Federal Reserve's free money for financiers (a.k.a. quantitative easing) bond and mortgage-buying programs as the real reason bond yields have declined and stocks have soared. This leads us to wonder if capital inflows into the U.S. aren't a largely overlooked driver of rising U.S. markets.
A month ago, Carl Icahn told told CNBC that he was "very nervous" about US equity markets. Reflecting on Yellen's apparent cluelessness of the consequences of her actions, and fearful of the build of derivative positions, Icahn says he's "worried" because if Yellen does not understand the end-game then "there's no argument - you have to worry about the excesssive printing of money!" Today he follows up that warning with an op-ed that states "we are in a major asset bubble that continues to grow," supporting Stiglitz comments that "these very strong stock market prices are in a sense a symptom of the weak economy, not a symptom that we are about to have a strong recovery to our real economy."
- Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee (Reuters)
- Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (BBG)
- Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite (BBG)
- Israeli Jets Strike Gaza Targets After Rockets Shatter Truce (BBG)
- U.S. starts aid airdrops in Iraq but no strikes yet (Reuters)
- Banks Said to Be Arranging Argentine Debt Buyer Group (BBG)
- Siberia Flight-Ban Threat Forces Airlines to Mull Options (BBG)
- Malaysia Airlines to Be Delisted in $429 Million Buyout (BBG)
- Erdogan poised to win Turkey's first popular presidential vote (Reuters)
- African Bank Fights Collapse in Espirito Santo-Like Drama (BBG)
- China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call (Reuters)
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.
Despite Krugman's “Mission Accomplished” Announcement, the Giant Banks Are Worse Than Ever
Practically since the day Lehman went down in September 2008 Washington has been conducting a monumental farce. It has been pretending to up-root the causes of the thundering financial crisis which struck that month and to enact measures insuring that it would never happen again. In fact, however, official policy has done just the opposite. The Fed’s massive money printing campaign has perpetuated and drastically enlarged the Wall Street casino, making the pre-crisis gamblers in CDOs, CDS and other derivatives appear like pikers compared to the present momentum chasing madness. In a nutshell, the Fed’s prolonged regime of ZIRP and wealth effects based “puts” under risk assets has destroyed two-way markets.
With Netanyahu pulling troops back and claiming the Gaza tunnels operation will be over soon, it appears attention has been refocused on Jerusalem as two terrorist attacks have occurred this morning. The first, near Jerusalem's Hebrew University, saw gunmen riding a motorcycle open first at by-standers, seriously injuring one Israeli soldier. The second, caught on tape below, saw a young Palestinian man take control of a construction vehicle and use it to attack a bus, killing a pedestrian. The attacker was shot and killed by police. Police have not confirmed if the two attacks are related.
It appears - judging by today's shenanigans - that good news for Main Street (rising employment costs) is bad news (for stocks), though obviously there are other factors; but tomorrow's payrolls data is the last best hope before the Fed finishes its taper for them to pull a 'data-driven' U-turn out of the bag. Consensus is for a drop from last month's exuberance at 288k to 230k (with Barclays slightly cold and Deutsche slightly hot). The fear, for market bulls, is that the print is anti-goldilocks now - not bad enough to provide excuses for lower-longer Fed rates; and not high enough to justify the hockey-stick of miraculous H2 growth priced into stocks. Average S&P gains on NFP Friday are 0.5% but recently have become more noisy.
To demonstrate it hasn't failed, the Fed must taper/withdraw its monetary heroin. If the stock market tanks as a result, and the Fed rushes to the rescue with more free money for financiers, that will also prove the Fed has failed: if the economy and financial system is as robust as the Fed claims, why does it need to be rescued yet again after six long years of unprecedented injections of monetary heroin? It's a double-bind with no escape. No matter what the Fed chooses to do, the failure of its policies to help households and Main Street while enriching wall Street and the banks will be revealed to all.
"One reason we know voters will embrace populism is that they already have. It’s what they thought they were getting with Obama...He turned out to be something else altogether. Not long ago optimism was in vogue. Obama’s slogan then was “Yes we can.” Today it could be “It turns out we can’t.”"
As the topic of "unpatriotic" 'tax inversions' becomes a political issue, we thought it interesting to examine how big an economic issue it really is. How much income tax do U.S. companies actually pay every year to the Federal government? As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the simple answer is “Not much”, at least as compared to any other major source of revenue. In Fiscal 2013, Colas adds, the total was $274 billion, or just 9.9% of all tax and withholding receipts. Your political leanings will inform your opinion about whether that number is too high or too low, of course; but we point out that, as Reuters reports, a former international tax counsel at Treasury explains Obama could "slam dunk" dictate an end to 'tax inversions' without Congressional approval (by invoking a little known 1969 tax law)
Amazon is Exhibit A of how the Fed’s free money for Wall Street and corporate mastodons is destructive to the rest of the economy.