Calls by various mainstream economists to ban cash transactions seem to be getting ever louder, while central bankers have unleashed negative interest rates on economies accounting for 25% of global GDP, with $5.5 trillion in government bonds yielding less than zero. The two policies are rapidly converging. This is what the resulting cashless society would look like.
Long term risk has increased quite a bit, no matter which data points one happens to consider. Whether one looks at valuations, market internals, leverage or positioning, there are now more warning signs than ever. With the support provided by strong money supply growth declining as well, it becomes ever more likely that these potential dangers will actually materialize. It is an accident waiting to happen.
Perception is everything in contemporary economics and the Fed is the center of perception; the medium has become the message. The truth is more this: the Fed no longer reacts to the waxing and waning of animal spirit-led demand. In the current monetary regime it exists to create and maintain animal spirits with a secular policy centered on ever-expanding credit, but it is very aware that admitting it’s centrality would defeat its purpose.
No bubble can remain aloft without a heavy dose of monetary inflation. The fact that China’s authorities, including its central bank, have been unable to stem the decline stands as a stark warning to the many Western investors who seemingly believe that central banks are nigh omnipotent entities run by magicians. This is not the case. Once an asset bubble begins to burst, there there is nothing central bankers can do to stop it – and we have plenty of bubbles awaiting their turn in the barrel.
Stock markets in the US and Europe are in for a correction, while the euro is set to rise, according to Saxo Bank’s Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, nomatter what happens between Greece and its creditors. Steen also looks at the impact a rate hike from the US Federal Reserve would have on USD and what currencies could gain once the Fed decides to move on rates, noting that "the consensus has it wrong on the timing of US rate hike," as the credit cycle topped in June 2014. He believes that commodities and metals in particular offer opportunities for investors.
“A depression is coming? Let’s put interest rates at zero. The economy is still in trouble? Let’s have the central bank print trillions in new securities. The banks are not lending? Let’s change the accounting rules and offer government guarantees and funds. People are still not spending? Let’s have negative interest rates. The economy is still in the tank? LET’S BAN CASH TRANSACTIONS!”
A cashless society is promising to have very tangible costs to our liberties and future prosperity.
China's January credit data hints that in some ways China is becoming like the US, and as ever more newly created credit money ends up in the stock market, is China about to follow the US and Europe and suffer a collapse in monetary velocity. Because whereas previously the biggest asset bubble in China was that of housing, now it is the stock market, which means that suddenly its monetary system is for all intents and purposes haunted by the same issues that affect western markets. So how long until China, too, which is battling both deflation and economic contraction, proceeds with outright monetary devaluation?
It’s not entirely clear what will happen in the near term, but the financial markets are already pushed to extremes by central-bank induced speculation. With speculators massively short the now steeply-depressed euro and yen, with equity margin debt still near record levels in a market valued at more than double its pre-bubble norms on historically reliable measures, and with several major European banks running at gross leverage ratios comparable to those of Bear Stearns and Lehman before the 2008 crisis, we're seeing an abundance of what we call "leveraged mismatches" - a preponderance one-way bets, using borrowed money, that permeates the entire financial system. With market internals and credit spreads behaving badly, while Treasury yields, oil and industrial commodity prices slide in a manner consistent with abrupt weakening in global economic activity, we can hardly bear to watch...
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 14:11 -0500
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
There should be no 'flexible currency' and no central planning of money. They are at the root of the boom-bust cycle, the very reason for the various crises that have beset Western economies in recent decades. Switzerland would be far better off if no-one had the power to meddle with its money supply. As it is, there has been plenty of meddling already, and quite a bit of suspension of disbelief would be necessary to conclude that there will be no price to pay. As always in monetary matters, the bill will be presented at an unknown future date, but it could be a very big bill in this case... but Switzerland's Keynesian dunderhesds are well on their way to that coming due as they blast any gold repatriation plans as "reducing the credibility of the SNB’s policy."
As we explained in great detail recently, the abundance of so-called cash-on-the-sidelines is a fallacy, but even more critically the we showed the belief that these 'IOUs of past economic activity' would immediately translate into efforts to deploy them into future economic activity is also entirely false. Simply put, there is no relationship between corporate cash and subsequent capital expenditure, nor is the level of capital expenditure even well-correlated with the level of real interest rates. At this point, as John Hussman explains, it should be clear that the mere existence of a mountain of IOUs related to past economic activity is not enough to provoke future economic activity. What matters instead is the same thing that always matters: Are the resources of the economy being directed toward productive uses that satisfy the needs of others?
Financial markets have become increasingly obviously highly dependent on central bank policies. In a follow-up to Incrementum's previous chartbook, Stoerferle and Valek unveil the following 50 slide pack of 25 incredible charts to crucially enable prudent investors to grasp the consequences of the interplay between monetary inflation and deflation. They introduce the term "monetary tectonics' to describe the 'tug of war' raging between parabolically rising monetary base M0 driven by extreme easy monetary policy and shrinking monetary aggregate M2 and M3 due to credit deleveraging. Critically, Incrementum explains how this applies to gold buying decisions as they introduce their "inflation signal" indicator.
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.
Confused what the (non) news of today's "unprecedented" forward guidance announcement by the ECB means? Shocked that the ECB is about as dovish as it has ever been? Then SocGen is here to explain, if only for all those who are seemingly stunned that the ECB isn't planning on hiking rates, or even "tapering" any time soon.
Back in 2002 Warren Buffet famously proclaimed that derivatives were ‘financial weapons of mass destruction’ (FWMDs). Time has proven this view to be correct. As The Amphora Report's John Butler notes, it is difficult to imagine that the US housing and general global credit bubble of 2004-07 could have formed without the widespread use of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and various other products of early 21st century financial engineering. But to paraphrase those who oppose gun control, "FWMDs don’t cause crises, people do." But then who, exactly, does? And why? And can so-called 'liquidity regulation' prevent the next crisis? To answer these questions, John takes a closer look at proposed liquidity regulation as a response to the growing use of 'collateral transformation' (a topic often discussed here): the latest, greatest FWMD in the arsenal.