Underneath the Propaganda, the Economy Is In BAD SHAPE …
"The nation was leery of a national bank with seemingly endless power to manipulate the money supply and the Second National Bank of the United States was attacked by both the expansionists and the sound money opponents. It was during this period that future President Andrew Jackson shaped his anti-Bank views in Tennessee while his future hard-money arm in the Senate, Thomas Hart Benton (Old Bullion), shaped his views in Missouri, two of the hardest-hit states. The debate over central banking, and the concern over deflation and inflation, continue two hundred years later."
Following last week's holiday-shortened week, which was supposed to be quiet and peaceful and was anything but thanks to OPEC's shocking announcement and a historic plunge in crude prices, we have yet another busy week of macroeconomic reports to look forward to.
Day after day, well-dressed talking heads are paraded on business media and proclaim how cheap Japan is, how Abenomics will work (he promise... if it doesn't we'll have to question everything we believe in), how GDP is backward-looking (so ignore it... and every other economic indicator), and how being long Japanese stocks (of course, hedged back to dollars because you don't want to take the currency risk that Abe is creating) is a "no brainer." The problem with that strategy is... in 2014, the JPY-hedged Japanese stock market investor in the US has not had a daily close in the green year-to-date and is down over 5% for the year... but it gets worse.
Kuroda has fired the shot that looks likely to trigger the next phase of the crazy monetary experiment we’ve all been living in for the last five years. Unfortunately, the next phase is where things start to get nasty. Just because equity markets cheered the latest sugar rush he guaranteed them should not make smart investors lower their guard — quite the opposite, in fact. Colonel Kuroda has gone up-country into the Heart of Darkness, and all we can do is await the Apocalypse now.
Even Japan is playing dirty little tricks...
For the moment capital markets appear to be adapting to deflation piece-meal. The fall in the gold price is equally detached from economic reality. While it is superficially easy to link a strong dollar to a weak gold price, this line of argument ignores the inevitable systemic and currency risks that arise from an economic slump. The apparent mispricing of gold, equities, bonds and even currencies indicate they are all are ripe for a simultaneous correction, driven by what the economic establishment terms deflation, but more correctly is termed a slump.
We've written a lot about Japan lately as what happens today under the no longer rising sun is going to have such repercussions worldwide that it would be foolish not to pay attention. Moreover, there’s something about what Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said this morning that both perfectly and painfully illustrates to what depths, economically as well as morally, the country has sunk.
We’ve been keeping the long lost idea of our long lost society alive by squeezing our own children wherever we can, and telling them that if they only work hard enough, they can be whoever they want to be. But they can’t, that notion is also long lost. When you keep home prices artificially high, homeowners don’t suffer as much, even if they bought at insanely high prices, but the suffering is switched to potential buyers, who remain just that, potential, while they live in their mom’s basements for years. A surefire way to kill a society while everyone’s eagerly awaiting the growth that is just around the corner and will forever remain there. Take it from your kids. Take it from somewhere else in the world. And that’s where we’re now passing a barrier: there’s no-one to take it from anymore.
The problem with what we call the Exit Rule for Bubbles - "you only get out if you panic before everyone else does" – is that you also have to decide whether to look like an idiot before the crash or an idiot after it.
The trend is your friend... until it becomes a Venezuelan hyperinflation melt-up...
It never fails: any time there is a dump in precious metals through their paper representation (GLD, SLV, or futures) typically as a hedge to a rally in the dollar (because last week Japan materially increasing its fiat monetary base was also somehow negative for gold and silver) or to meet margin demands from cross-asset liquidation, demand for physical PMs soars confirming yet again that any connection between paper prices and physical demand no longer exists. As reported on Friday, sales of American Eagle silver coins by the U.S. Mint jumped 40 percent in October to the highest in 21 months, defying a slump in New York futures to the lowest in more than four years.
From a market perspective the move today was almost perfectly timed coming on the heels of a Federal Open Market Committee meeting which ended quantitative easing and expose the big difference on future monetary paths between the BoJ and the Fed. There is, however, a dark side to this big move.. telling a story of how central banks, even the desperate ones like BoJ, are and remain one-trick-pony institutions: "this is the final round – Japan was ALWAYS going to give it one more shot – now it happened."
Because nothing says economic strength like nominal equity market gains... as Kyle Bass warned in the past - beware the 'nominal' stock market cheerleaders.