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.
After all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs:
"I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature."
The 2008 Wall Street meltdown is long forgotten, having been washed away by a tsunami of central bank liquidity. Indeed, the S&P closed today up by nearly 200% from its March 2009 low. Yet four cardinal measures of Main Street economic health convey nothing like a 2x pick-up from the post-crisis bottom.
In the Golden Age of the Central Banker it is impossible to distinguish fundamental economic reasons for asset class price movements from politically-driven strategic reasons. When words are used for strategic effect rather than a genuine transmission of information you create a virtual stalking horse. It’s a focus on how something is said as opposed to what is described. It’s a focus on form rather than content, on truthiness rather than truth. It’s why authenticity is as rare as a unicorn in the public world today.
It is quite clear that Bernanke achieved his goal of inflating asset prices by expanding the Federal Reserve's balance sheet by 371.64% since the end of the financial crisis. However, was he as successful in fulfilling his other objectives? The following charts perform the same cost/benefit analysis on real economic health... Did the Fed's monetary intervention programs keep the economy from sliding into a much deeper recession? Probably. Have the programs been effective in achieving Bernanke's stated goals? Not really.
History is replete with the total failure of Central Planning. Whether one look to China or the USSR or the US today, Central Planning has never successfully worked. It creates the illusion of stability in the short-term, but eventually the truth comes out: that it is a TERRIBLE means of deploying capital (both human or monetary).
August gold GCQ14 and September silver SIU14 contract purchases spiked the exact moment Malaysia Airlines reported MH17 missing. Coincidence or tragedy profiteering? You decide.
Furious money printing by the world’s major central banks is not generating real growth and prosperity - but professional economists never seem to get the word.