Today’s clueless Keynesian central bankers essentially believe that they can keep the pedal-to-the-metal until a 1970’s style inflationary spiral arises. But none is coming because the worldwide central bank money printing spree of the last two decades has generated massive excessive capacity and malinvestment all around the planet. What is coming, therefore, is not their father’s inflationary spiral, but an unprecedented and epochal global deflation. So the central banks just keep printing, thereby inflating the asset bubbles world-wide. What ultimately stops today’s new style central bank credit cycle, therefore, is bursting financial bubbles. That has already happened twice this century. A third proof of the case looks to be just around the corner.
This morning I had left the TV mistakenly tuned to CNBC with the sound on - and unavoidably caught another bullish strategist jawing about the US economy’s awesome strength. This one was peddling as exhibit #1 the recent surge in C&I loans, arguing that it is a sure sign that business is gearing up for a post-winter boom. In this case, like most of the blizzard of bullish factoids spewed out each day on bubble vision, the purported business lending boom is not all that.
Blogger Ben’s work is already done. In his very first substantive post as a civilian he gave away all the secrets of the monetary temple. The Bernank actually refuted the case for modern central banking in one blog. The truth is the real world of capitalism is far, far too complex and dynamic to be measured and assessed with the exactitude implied by Bernanke’s gobbledygook. In fact, what his purported necessity for choosing a rate “somewhere” actually involves is the age old problem of socialist calculation.
"The utterances of the Yellen/Zhou duo who kicked off yesterday’s rip make absolutely clear why the central bankers will never stop stimulating. They have embraced a spurious “inflation deficiency” doctrine, and have thereby, in effect, lashed themselves to the wheel of a doomsday machine."
"Now a legal quirk could bring a surreal ending to... foreclosure cases around the country: [borrowers] may get to keep their homes without ever having to pay another dime."
Surely the thinking folk out there must be asking themselves: what is the way out of this Federal Reserve three-card-monte, one-percenter-stuffing, so-called “economy,” and what is the destination of this society when that mendacious model for living fails? There really is no free lunch or get-out-of-jail card. The truth is, when you rig a money system with price interventions, distortions, and perversions, they will eventually express themselves in ways destructive to the system.
At the end of the day there is a considerable irony. The Fed has now become the tool of liberal Keynesian do-gooders - exemplified by the school marm who heads it. But its policies are exclusively benefiting Wall Street and the top 1%. They are redistributing income and wealth to the top, not the bottom of society as liberals have always claimed. Needless to say, main street does not need that kind of “help”. And it would do far better on its own hind legs if the monetary politburo joined its Soviet colleagues in the afterlife of mistaken ideologies.
Does it really take purportedly intelligent people six years to see that the macros are not responding? Better still, isn’t it time for the Fed to explain the exact channel by which its interest rate pegging and forward guidance is supposed to be transmitted to the main street economy? After all, if these channels are blocked or ineffective - then its flood of liquidity never leaves the canyons of Wall Street. In that event, the central bank actually functions as a financial doomsday machine, inflating the next financial bubble until it bursts. Then, apparently, its job is to rinse and repeat.
Janet Yellen noted that everything was awesome and that stocks were now slightly "on the high side" of their historical range. It appears no one showed her the Russell 2000 which has a valuation multiple of just about 90x LTM earnings (as reported by the 2000 companies which comprise the index, and which were certified as accurate by 4,000 CEOs and CFOs on penalty of jail time). The mystery of how the Fed remains so stubbornly bubble blind - just like it did during the dotcom and housing bubbles - is thus revealed. The self-evident reason is that the purported geniuses who comprise our monetary politburo drink the Wall Street Cool-Aid about forward ex-items EPS. The Fed is driving a two-ton bubble machine, but has no clue that it has become a financial death trap.
Janet’s Yellen’s pettifogging today about her patient lack of impatience was downright pathetic. Her verbal hair-splitting is starting to make medieval ritual incantations sound coherent by comparison. But unlike the financial media’s dopey dithering about “dot plots”, Yellen at least has something to hide behind all the gibberish. Namely, she and her merry band of money printers are becoming more petrified each month that they will trigger a thundering Wall Street hissy fit if they move to “normalize” interest rates - even as they are slowly beginning to realize that continuance of ZIRP much longer will only intensify the market’s addiction to rampant speculation, free money carry trades and the associated risks to financial stability.
What we have here is another powerful case of the Great Immoderation. That is, the havoc that the Fed’s bubble finance policies have visited upon the main street economy. In short, in the name of improving upon the alleged instability of the private economy - absent the Fed’s expert ministrations - the geniuses in the Eccles building have actually caused the rate of housing starts to gyrate wildly. To wit, by a factor of 5X from top to bottom - so far this century.
- Dollar at 12-year peak versus euro, emerging markets spooked (Reuters)
- CIA sought to hack Apple iPhones from earliest days (Reuters)
- Draghi Urged Greece to Allow Troika Back Before It’s Late (BBG)
- Brent crude dips below $58 on strong dollar and supply (Reuters)
- Credit Suisse replaces CEO Dougan with Prudential's Thiam (Reuters)
- More "distressed" energy M&A: Verisk buys Wood Mackenzie for £1.85bn (FT)
- Prepare for a surge in defaults: Investors Are Buying Stocks and Bonds From Energy Producers Amid Oil Price Drop (WSJ)
- Private equity executive ordered to pay £72m to ex-wife (FT)
- Democratic donors unfazed by Hillary Clinton's use of private email (Reuters)
- Expensive Hepatitis C Medications Drive Prescription-Drug Spending (WSJ)
- 'ISIS Hackers' Almost Certainly Not ISIS Hackers (NBC)
Unfortunately, industrialists and bankers who reshaped schooling to serve their needs during the Industrial Revolution have transformed institutional academia into the rote memorization of many facts and have rotated it away from real learning that trains the mind to think.
Greenspan started the destructive Keynesian tradition of pumping liquidity to stimulate the economy, and this tradition has created significant economic pain for Main Street in the form of long-term unemployment and underemployment, reduced wages, foreclosures, bankruptcies, reduced savings rates, shuttered businesses, and drained savings and retirement accounts. So, “Mr. Bubble” inferring that the Fed creates unsustainable bubbles for the benefit of Main Street is pretty insulting.
Once upon a time businesses borrowed long term money - if they borrowed at all - in order to fund plant, equipment and other long-lived productive assets. Today American businesses are borrowing like never before - to fund financial engineering maneuvers such as stock buybacks, M&A and LBOs, not the acquisition of productive assets that can actually fuel future output and productivity.
Let’s see. The Eccles Building has grown its balance sheet by 9X since the turn of the century, but real net investment in the business sector has plunged by 33%!