Unlike the usual back-slapping reacharound that G-20 meetings are, the most recent one, just ended in Washington with a rather more aggressive set of comments...
- *JAPAN'S ECONOMIC PLANS MEET 'WIDESPREAD' SKEPTISM AT G-20: ZHU
- *U.S. SHOULD HEED GLOBAL CONCERNS ON DEBT CRISIS, ZHU SAYS (or else)
- *G-20: MONETARY POLICY MUST BE CALIBRATED, COMMUNICATED WELL (stop messing up Fed!)
- *G-20 SAYS U.S. MUST TAKE `URGENT ACTION' ON FISCAL UNCERTAINTY (come on Congress!)
In other words, you guys in the US and Japan with your crazy policies and lack of credibility and screwing up "the plan."
After reading the coverage of Janet Yellen’s Fed Chair nomination yesterday, it feels as though it’s 2006 all over again. Confidence in our central bankers seems to be approaching all-time highs, little more than five years after it collapsed alongside the financial sector. The overwhelmingly positive response to Yellen’s nomination is worrisome because, well, it’s overwhelming positive. As Galbraith once astutely observed: “In economics, the majority is always wrong.”
As reported previously, the latest meme surrounding the D.C. impasse is that Obama is suddenly willing to compromise on a short-term, supposedly six-week funding and debt ceiling extension, on the verge of his latest talks with republicans at the White House scheduled for this morning, as previously floated by the GOP. Throw some additional headlines such as "Ryan steps up to shape a deal" (in line with what we predicted yesterday) and "The ice breaks; fiscal talks set", by The Hill, and "GOP quietly backing away from Obamacare" from Politico, and one can see why futures are in breakneck soaring mode this morning, driven as usual by the two main JPY cross (USD and AUD), the first of which is less than 100 pips now away from being Stolpered out. So will a compromise deal finally emerge 7 days ahead of the first X-Date, or will a last minute snag once again derail the (non)-negotiations? We will know quite soon.
Unlike her predecessors, Janet Yellen has never had a youthful dalliance with hawkish monetary ideas. Before taking charge of the Fed both Alan Greenspan, and to a lesser extent Ben Bernanke, had advocated for the benefits of a strong currency and low inflation and had warned of the dangers of overly accommodative policy and unnecessary stimulus. (Both largely abandoned these ideals once they took the reins of power, but their urge to stimulate may have been restrained by a vestigial bias against the excesses of Keynesianism). Janet Yellen, who has been on the liberal/dovish end of the monetary spectrum for her entire professional career, has no such baggage. As a result, we can expect her to never waver in her belief that stimulus is the answer to every economic question.
In what had already been exposed as a 'contentious' meeting the minutes of the last Un-Taper FOMC meeting show a Fed in turmoil...
- *MOST FED OFFICIALS SAW QE TAPERING THIS YEAR, HALTING MID-2014
- *FOMC FORECAST `GRADUAL ABATEMENT' OF HEADWINDS SLOWING GROWTH
- *A NUMBER OF FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW RISING FISCAL POLICY RISK
- *SEVERAL FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW FINANCIAL CONDITIONS AS TIGHTER
Of course, the question is - will Yellen be a consensus-seeker or dictator?
Pre - S&P 500 Futs 1653, 10Y 2.66%, 10/17 bill 40bps, EUR 1.3515, Gold $1310
Today 3:00 pm nomination by Obama of Janet Yellen as the next Fed chair was hardly news (certainly wasn't news to stocks which briefly dipped below their 200 DMA) in the aftermath of Larry Summers' self-elimination, but nonetheless the sellside brigade was quick to praise her now official nomination for one simple reason: it means more of the same Bernanke policies that have done nothing to benefit broad America, but more importantly have resulted in year after year of near-record Wall Street bonuses, and unprecedented asset bubbles. Why shouldn't the banks then be giddy with excitement that the status quo will not only continue, but the monthly $85 billion in liquidity may in fact increase in time? Below is a selection, courtesy of Bloomberg, of the most vocal praises sung on behalf of the former San Fran Fed president byt the numerous banks that currently exist only thanks to the Fed's actions in 2008.
"There's no alternative in making monetary policy but to communicate as clearly as possible, and that's what we tried to do," is how Bernanke defended the Fed's actions over the last six months. But, as the WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath rather snarkily explains, the Fed's 'communications strategy' was a stumbling effort to let the public know what was going on as their efforts to telegraph strategy left investors confused at key points about where it was heading, and some misread Mr. Bernanke's intentions about the bond-buying program and interest rates.
All the histrionics over the next Fed chairman, pardon chairwoman, choice are over. WSJ reports that Obama is set to announce Mr., pardon Mrs Janet Yellen as Bernanke's replacement tomorrow at 3 pm at the White House. "The nomination would conclude a long and unusually public debate about Mr. Obama's choice which started last June when he said that Ben Bernanke wouldn't be staying in the post after his term ends in January. Mr. Obama gave serious consideration to his former economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, who pulled out in September after facing resistance from Democrats in the Senate." However, while a Yellen announcement, largely priced in, in a normal environment would have been good for at least 10-20 S&P points, with the debt ceiling showdown the far more immediate concern, the choice of the Chairwoman may not be the buying catalyst that it would have otherwise been.
Five years later, while some are congratulating themselves on avoiding another depression, no one in Europe or the United States can claim that prosperity has returned. The financial system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low bar – back then, it was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Those in government and the financial sector who congratulate themselves on banks’ return to profitability and mild – though hard-won – regulatory improvements should focus on what still needs to be done. Some are pleased that the economy may have bottomed out. But, in any meaningful sense, an economy in which most people’s incomes are below their pre-2008 levels is still in recession. An The glass is, at most, only one-quarter full; for most people, it is three-quarters empty.
"You don't need me to tell you that the developed countries, the US, Europe, Japan, are insolvent.... I don't want to paint a picture of clarity about the workout of this thing. Because once a society, a financial system gets in a position of the central bank being trapped, and being unwilling or frightened of stopping this merry go round, things get very dicey. They may move to stopping the money printing, markets collapse, then they panic, go the other way... We are in a period where confidence should be jostled and it could be lost at any time for a variety of reasons, how this works out nobody knows.... There is one right thing to do right now: after five years of 0% interest rates, after $3.5 trillion here and several trillion sprinkled around the globe, this Fed chairman, the next Fed chairman, should say: "We've done enough. It is up to the president and Congress to remove the impediments for growth and provide the catalysts for growth, and help this country grow. The country is capable of growing at a far faster rate than it has been. And I think that the Fed, which is the only central bank which has a dual mandate, has embraced this dual mandate in a very harmful way because they actually revel in the role of being Atlas, holding up the world by themselves."
We strongly suspect that both government debt growth and money supply inflation will continue unabated – any pause will immediately bring about the kind of short term economic pain these policies have explicitly sought to prevent and will therefore be quickly reversed. It is not unlike the situation the revolutionary assembly of France found itself in during the late 18th century: when it issued new money, industry seemed to revive. As soon as it stopped, industry slumped again. And so it was decided to issue ever more money, until the entire scheme blew up. There can be little doubt that modern-day governments are on the road to a similar date with destiny – and lately the speed at which they travel toward it has increased markedly.
Curious why recently the US stock market has dislocated from its most trusty correlation counterparty: the size of the Fed's balance sheet? Simple: the market is now starting to factor in the end of QE, because while tapering may have been delayed it has not been cancelled. And while the Fed has done everything in its power to destroy the market's discounting function, when it comes to frontrunning the Fed the market can still think ahead. Especially when frontrunning is no longer on the table. Which is precisely the basis for the just released forecast by SocGen's Alain Bokozba, which extrapolates what will happen when the Fed's balance sheet stops rising, and applies the same drop to stocks as was seen at the end of QE1 (-16%) and QE2 (-17%) and concludes that the "end of QE3 would cost the S&P500 15%" and that following that, absent even more QE of course, "the US equity index should remain relatively flat, burdened by higher yields (rate hikes in mid-2015), a higher US dollar and limited earnings growth (Return on Equity is already high), but supported by better economic prospects and a new shareholder value cycle, staving off a bear market." Or, as SocGen calls it, "the Big Sleep."
India's Bipolar Monetary Policy Continues: RBI Cuts Marginal Facility Rate Another 50bps To Boost LiquiditySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/07/2013 08:29 -0400
It was less than four weeks ago that the Reserve Bank of India, under new head Raghuram Rajan, stunned the world on September 20 when it announced that it would both hike its repo and cash reserve rates in an inflation fighting step, while lowering its marginal standing facility rate by 75 bps to 9.5% in order to boost banking sector liquidity, hence "bipolar policy" of the kind most recently seen in Europe. Moments ago, the RBI once again showed that when faced with the option of consumer pain, i.e. runaway inflation, and preserving a banking status quo, i.e. liquidity, the central bank will always choose the latter, when in a surprising move the RBI cut its Marginal Standing Facility rate by further 50 basis points, from 9.5% to 9.0%.
If you listen to TV commentators, you’ve been told the worst is behind us. Growth is picking up, and Europe is coming out of its slumber. No one seems to be concerned that this tepid below-2-percent growth is being entirely fed by the central bank’s massive money printing. It’s a “growth at any price” policy. How quickly we forget. We currently fear Fed tapering, as we should. Yet, we should be even more fearful that it doesn’t taper. Today, we really have a dreaded choice of losing an arm now or two arms and a leg tomorrow. Because the price distortions have been massive, the adjustment will be horrendous. Government policy makers and government economists simply do not understand the critical role of prices in helping discovery and coordination.
Looking at the equity market and some of the background dynamics Citi's FX Technical group cannot help but be reminded of 2011. They also warn, despite the constant hope-driven rallies this week, there are also some aspects of what we saw in 1998 and similarities with 2000 that are worth noting. The bottom line, we have had the view for some time that we would see a much deeper correction in the equity market (in excess of 20%). Recent price action and developments might (just might) be suggesting that it is time to revisit that theme.