Courtesy of the Cronybus(sic) last minute passage, government was provided a quid-pro-quo $1.1 trillion spending allowance with Wall Street's blessing in exchange for assuring banks that taxpayers would be on the hook for yet another bailout, as a result of the swaps push-out provision, after incorporating explicit Citigroup language that allows financial institutions to trade certain financial derivatives from subsidiaries that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, explicitly putting taxpayers on the hook for losses caused by these contracts.
The central banks are now out of dry powder - impaled on the zero-bound. That means any resort to a massive new round of money printing can not be disguised as an effort to “stimulate” the macro-economy by temporarily driving interest rates to “extraordinarily” low levels. They are already there. Instead, a Bernanke style balance sheet explosion like that which stopped the financial meltdown in the fall and winter of 2008-2009 will be seen for exactly what it is—-an exercise in pure monetary desperation and quackery. So duck and cover. This storm could be a monster.
Are much lower oil prices good news for the U.S. economy? Only if you like collapsing capital expenditures, rising unemployment and a potential financial implosion on Wall Street.
If there's one absolute truism we hear again and again, it's that central banks are desperately trying to create inflation. Perversely, their easy-money policies actually generation the exact opposite: deflation. Financial and risk bubbles don't pop in a vacuum--all the phantom collateral constructed with mal-invested free money for financiers will also implode.
Fraud generates risk, and risk eventually breaks out in the "safest" parts of the financial plumbing, the ones nobody gives a second thought to because they're "low risk." Using unspeakable powers to generate global fraud is not as sustainable as punters imagine. Those who don't believe in risk can alternatively ponder karma as a guide to the future.
The price drop is a head-fake: it doesn't usher in a new era of permanently cheap oil. Rather, it unleashes dynamics that impair supply on multiple levels: geophysical, geopolitical, demographic and financial.
Several days ago we heard rumors, unsubstantiated, of an accident at Ukraine's Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, Europe's largest and the 5th biggest in the world. Considering Ukraine's history with nuclear accidents, and resultant panics, we decided it would be prudent to wait for an official confirmation before proceeding with a report. We got the confirmation about an hour ago, when Ukraine's new/old Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, or "Yats" as his puppetmaster Victoria Nuland likes to call him, said "on Wednesday an accident had occurred at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in south-east Ukraine and called on the energy minister to hold a news conference."
Since moral hazard - the disconnect of risk and consequence - is the fundamental cause of the global meltdown of 2008, the only solution is to eliminate moral hazard. By this we mean de-institutionalizing moral hazard. But de-institutionalizing moral hazard means smashing the vested interests' primary engine of wealth and political power. Playing monetary games has done nothing to eliminate moral hazard; indeed, playing monetary games cannot possibly eliminate moral hazard, as monetary policy enforces moral hazard.
I love the idea that prosperity can be decreed by a G20 communiqué. World leaders in Brisbane have airily committed themselves to two per cent growth. (Why only two per cent? Why not 20 per cent? Or 200 per cent? Who knew it was so easy?) Meanwhile, in the real world, the divergence between Continental Europe and the rest of the planet accelerates. David Cameron can hardly have failed to notice, as he looked around the G20 table, that his European colleagues are the ones with the worst problems. Britain is in the wrong place.
The monetary tectonic plates are shifting, and predicting the next global financial earthquake is relatively easy.
- Banks Had Unfair Advantage From Commodity Units (Bloomberg)
- Report Notes Deals Between Goldman, Deutsche and Others Drove Up Aluminum Prices (WSJ)
- Goldman, Morgan Stanley Commodity Heyday Gone as Units Faulted (BBG) - because when you can no longer manipulate, you move on...
- Lenders Shift to Help Struggling Student Borrowers (WSJ)
- Immigrants face major hurdles in signing up to new Obama plan (Reuters)
- Distressed Debt in China? Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Buyers Say (BBG)
- Banking culture breeds dishonesty, scientific study finds (Reuters)
- Amazon Robots Get Ready for Christmas (WSJ)
Simply put, the dollar's rise could destabilize the entire global financial system. To understand why this is so, we have to start with the source of the risk: the world's central banks.
At the end of the day, it is overwhelming clear that the headline jobs number is thoroughly and dangerously misleading because there has been a systematic and relentless deterioration in the quality and value added of the jobs mix beneath the headline. It has no value whatsoever as an index of labor market conditions, labor market slack or even implied GDP growth. The truth is, in an open global economy the quantity of labor utilized by the US economy is a function of its price - not the level of interest rates or the S&P 500. Currently, wage rates on the margin are too high, but the Fed’s ZIRP and money printing campaigns only compound the problem. They permit the government to fund with ultra low-cost bonds and notes a massive transfer payment system that keeps potential productive labor out of the economy, and thereby props up bloated wages rates; and it enables households to carry more debt than would be feasible with honest interest rates and competitively priced wage rates, thereby further inhibiting the labor market adjustments that would be required to actually achieve full employment and sustainable growth.