The Fed is, indeed, a political, oligarchic force, and a key part of what looks and functions like a banking cartel. During the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Fed’s true nature was clear to anyone paying attention. We can’t really know what we don’t know until we look. We owe it to the “swindled futurity” of the next generation to take a long, hard look through a full and independent audit of the Fed.
Timing a crash can be a fool's errand, and fortunately such efforts are largely irrelevant if you are tail hedging (though they are quite relevant if you aren't). But this doesn't mean that exercises in timing are without merit. Without a doubt (or at least with over 99% confidence), bad things happen with increasing expectation when conditioning on higher Q ratios ex ante. Factoring time into the equation, and again based on history, the confidence interval around the median time would point to an expectation that the crash should commence right about now.
“To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious, but the stupid have an answer for everything.” ~Edward Abbey
Presenting Exhibit A: Goldman's latest YTD performance breakdown by strategy basket. It reveals is that far from suffering even the most modest correction, the "Hedge Fund Hotel" strategy (aka the most concentrated holdings), is massively outperforming not only the broader market, but has returned double the second most profitable strategy - investing in companies with high revenue growth. In a world in which the Fed just saw its credibility crushed, expect this to change shortly.
The man who made a billion dollars on Black Monday sums up his strategy perfectly in this excellent FOX Business clip with the money-honey, "I'm a hedge fund manager that actually hedges for his clients. This is something of an old fashioned idea in this day of just gambling on the next Fed bailout." Spitznagel, who is wholly unapologetic in his criticism of The Fed (and any central planner), unleashes eight minutes of awful truthiness on what is going on under the surface of the so-called 'market', concluding ominously, "if August was scary for people, they ain't seen nothin’ yet."
"If only The Fed would get out of the way... Monetary policy designed to spare us from pain has instead made the system more vulnerable to a crash."
You can't say Nassim Taleb didn't warn you: the outspoken academic-philosopher, best known for his prediction that six sigma "fat tail", or black swan, events happen much more frequently than they should statistically (perhaps a main reason why there is no longer a market but a centrally-planned cesspool of academic intervention) just had a black swan land smack in the middle of the Universa hedge fund founded by ardent Ron Paul supporter Mark Spitznagel, and affiliated with Nassim Taleb. The result: a $1 billion payday, translating into a 20% YTD return, in a week when the VIX exploded from the teens to over 50, and which most other hedge funds would love to forget.
Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was a corporation, with its shares owned by the nation's major pharmaceutical companies. How would you feel about the regulation of medications? Whose interests would this corporation be serving? Or suppose that major oil companies appointed a small committee to periodically announce the price of a barrel of crude in the United States. How would that impact you at the gasoline pump? Such hypotheticals would strike the majority of Americans as completely absurd, but it's exactly how our banking system operates.
Uncertainty should not bother you. We may not be able to forecast when a bridge will break, but we can identify which ones are faulty and poorly built. We can assess vulnerability. And today the financial bridges across the world are very vulnerable. Politicians prescribe ever larger doses of pain killer in the form of financial bailouts, which consists in curing debt with debt, like curing an addiction with an addiction, that is to say it is not a cure. This cycle will end, like it always does, spectacularly.
Before the crisis that started in 2007, both of us believed that the financial system was fragile and unsustainable, contrary to the near ubiquitous analyses at the time. Now, there is something vastly riskier facing us, with risks that entail the survival of the global ecosystem - not the financial system. The G.M.O. experiment, carried out in real time and with our entire food and ecological system as its laboratory, is perhaps the greatest case of human hubris ever. It creates yet another systemic, “too big too fail” enterprise - but one for which no bailouts will be possible when it fails.
"...stocks are the side show of the world. They shouldn't matter that much. They matter too much. They're the realm of punters, the realm of hair-trigger traders... We are back to "a religious belief" that The Fed is our savior... the market doesn't owe you liquidity, thinking you'll get out is the height of naivete."
"To find the real source of the system's excessive fragility, the regulators will need to look much closer to home... The Federal Reserve remains the largest market manipulator ever, and the desperate yield-chasing, hair-trigger markets that it created were the primary cause of that crash and the inevitable ones yet to come."
3 words... fun durr mentals!
The major sudden bear markets of the last decades were not dreaded “black swan” events at all. They were perfectly predictable, by economic logic alone, the same logic that says governments cannot manipulate market prices without creating distortions that will always, without exception, be counterproductive. In the next stock market crash, we will be told that the fault was some surprising economic or geopolitical shock. Let’s remind ourselves now that this will be false.
Due to the principal-agent problem in the asset management industry, most money managers rationally have a propensity to use a negatively skewed payoff distribution. This kind of behavior, in aggregate, is also evidenced in the historical data, which shows significant losses for professional investors during the largest market downturns. Most investors and asset allocators, in addition to these negatively skewed positions, further view the returns of hedging strategies in a vacuum, rather than as a holistic part of their broader portfolio. Thus, they are likely to consider portfolio hedging programs to be a drag on their performance numbers and further undervalue them. We believe these factors, among others, contribute to a market segmentation that creates an undervaluation in tail-risk hedges.