The key question now is “Can the U.S./global economy handle a meaningful downturn in financial asset prices?” The short answer is that it may not have a choice. The Federal Reserve has done what it can to juice the American economy and has the balance sheet to prove it. Central banks, for all their power, do not control long term capital allocation or corporate hiring practices. Fed Funds have been below 2% for six years. If the U.S. economy can’t continue to grow in 2015 as the Federal Reserve inches rates higher, there are clearly larger issues at play. And those private sector problems will need private sector solutions.
And no, it certainly can not be characterized as doing God's work............................
Self-evidently, all the major economies are saturated with debt. Accordingly, central bank balance sheet expansion has lost its Keynesian magic entirely. Now the great sea of freshly minted liquidity simply fuels the carry trades as gamblers everywhere load up with any asset that generates a yield or short-run capital gain, and fund these bloated positions with cheap options and repo style finance. But here’s the obvious thing. Central banks can’t normalize interest rates - that is, allow the money markets to rise off the zero-bound - without triggering a violent unwind of the carry trades on which today’s massive asset inflation is built. On the other hand, they can no longer stimulate GDP growth, either, because the credit expansion channel to the main street economy of households and business is blocked by the reality of peak debt. Yes, the era of Keynesian money printing is over and done. But don’t wait for the small lady at the Fed to sing, either.
Despite her platitudes to the unemployed (here) and the poor (here), it is clear Janet Yellen's Federal Reserve policies are aimed squarely at only one segment of the US population - the wealthy. The reason is simple... with an economy built on the back of conspicuous consumption, it's only the top quintiles of the population's income earners that spend-spend-spend to keep the dream alive. What's good for the 'wealthy' is good for America, right?
Believing they are filling the macroeconomic bathtub with aggregate demand and full-employment jobs, Janet Yellen and her merry band of Keynesian money printers are simply blowing chronic, giant, dangerous bubbles on Wall Street. Easy money is always the wrong medicine, but most especially for an economy that is already and self-evidently saturated with too much debt. The implication of all of this, of course,is that our monetary politburo is out of business; that “monetary accommodation” is nothing more than a one time parlor trick of central bankers.
"You can't eat GDP, and you can't live in a rising stock market" is the striking phrase from NY Times' Neil Irwin as he offers the most damning chart of the decline of America's Economic Model (and dream). As we have explained vociferously, the most important thing to understand about today’s economy is: Around 1999, growth in the United States economy stopped translating to growth in middle-class incomes. The choice, by Greenspan and carried on by his followers, was to enable the financialization of the US economy for the benefit of the few, at the cost of the many. As Irwin concludes, and we explained previously, Americans feel disappointed by the economy; the new data show that they have good reason.
Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.
This is why Capitalism is failing in the US: because not only is it now clear that the US economy is, for the most part, a rigged game… but that NO ONE involved in the rigging is punished.
The single most important item for investors to understand is collateral. Specifically, how there is a huge shortage of high grade collateral backstopping the trillions in derivatives trades owned by the TBTFs
Remember, it's for Main Street...
At the end of the day, everything the Fed has done has been focused on propping up a broken system. Eventually the Fed’s efforts will fail at which point so will the Fed (just as the last two Central Banks in the US failed).
Bank of England plans to make bondholders and depositors bear the cost of bailing out failing banks has led Moody’s to downgrade its outlook on the UK banking sector.
Here are some of the choice excerpts from the man who is baffled by a new effort to punish him, proud of past triumphs and incensed by criticism: “You’ll have to ask those people, ‘What do you have against Mozilo, what did he do?’” he said in a 30-minute call with Bloomberg News before Labor Day, one of his few interviews since the firm’s downfall. “Countrywide didn’t change. I didn’t change. The world changed.” Mozilo doesn’t understand why he and his firm, blamed by lawmakers and authorities for lax underwriting and predatory lending, have been seen as villains. “No, no, no, we didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, adding that a real estate collapse was the root of the crisis. “Countrywide or Mozilo didn’t cause any of that.” Yes, the Moz talks about himself in the third person.
Although I never thought it was possible, it makes me angry to write this book review. I'm not angry because I don't like the book. On the contrary, this is the best economics book I've ever read. Indeed, it may be the best and most influential book I've ever read in my life. I only wish I had read it the moment it was published in April 2013.
The sheep have been told their confidence is at a 7 year high by the propaganda peddlers working at the behest of the oligarchy. The sheep are also told that 10 million jobs have been added since the GOTUS played his first round back in 2009. The sheep have been told the record highs in the stock market prove that all is well. If the .1% are doing fantastic, some of the wealth must be trickling down. The sheep are told that QE and ZIRP were really to save Main Street and not the bonuses of Wall Street (at record highs by the way). The sheep are told to fear ISIS, Iran, Assad, Putin, and China. The sheep are told U.S. energy independence is just around the corner and to ignore the fact that gas prices have tripled since in the last ten years. The sheep are told drones will keep them safe and the DHS militarizing the police is just for their safety and security. The sheep are told guns are dangerous in their hands, but not in the hands of the government. The sheep passively eat their iGadgets and barely bleat while being led to the slaughter house.