The timing of the report is interesting. Will it influence Bernanke? Maybe.
The market has reached a level where only recurring hopes and prayers of incremental monetization and easing by one or more central banks have any impact. For the past two months it has been primarily the ECB which continues to talk a lot but do nothing, with infrequent and false speculation that the Fed will step in during the annual Jackson Hole pilgrimage in 10 days and add more reasons to send gasoline to all time highs for this time of year 2 short months ahead of the election. It won't. Which always left the PBOC. However, as we have repeatedly explained, concerns about food inflation have and will keep China in check for a long time. The market finally appears to have grasped this last night, when the regional Asian markets reacted accordingly, and the dour theme has merely carried over into Europe and now the US, especially following the ECB's sound refutation of the Spiegel fishing expedition.
For whatever reason, yesterday's unsourced Spiegel report that the ECB is actually contemplating open-ended monetization with arbitrary yield targets on various European nations is the talk of the town, if only for a few more hours until, just like last year, the proposal is summarily dismissed, only to be reincarnated once Spanish yields pass north of 8% again. In the meantime, it has allowed those very well paid sell-side strategists to present their erudite opinions, which naturally do not matter in the grand (and not so grand) scheme of things as long as Germany sticks to the 9-9-9 plan.
Monetary policy typically has little direct impact on the labor market, but Dual Mandate most likely will continue to force Fed's hand into the futile unemployment-QE cycle.
How far is the Fed from reaching the bottom of its ammunition box? Well, both Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke said no to yet more monetary stimulus recently. Wall Street unsurprisingly was disappointed. Wall Street expected more stimulus, as institutional investors are analyzing monetary policy from their own perspective rather than the central bank's viewpoint – understandable, but a big mistake. Wall Street's Conundrum: with the S&P 500 up less than 7% in 2012, the year is almost over, and the investment firms have little to show for it.
Even the strong falter. As the dynamics within this global economy become more severe, the strengthening local economies find it more difficult to remain on course. The situation in Australia is that the country’s currency appears to be overvalued which impedes their ability to compete in the global market place.
We all make mistakes. In the investment world, some mistakes arise from having imperfect information, some from not anticipating the future correctly and some from sloppy analytics. Sloppy analytics includes everything from outright mathematical errors or misinterpretations, to poor assumptions, to overfocusing on unimportant variables or underfocusing on important ones. Analytics is the most critical and controllable part of the investment process, but even if done flawlessly does not ensure a favorable outcome by any means because the views/ behaviors/incentives of other investors – and indeed, the investment environment itself – change continually in ways that can’t be anticipated. But there is one more common mistake that is a consistent source of perplexity for active investors. Over the years, my experience has been that those who lose money more often (and in greater amounts) than they should, often do so because of overconfidence. Overconfidence can lead to the conviction that one is only buying investments that will be highly profitable and one is only selling investments that no longer have significant upside potential. This can lead to a lack of diversification and a heavy concentration of money in a single investment or asset class. Overconfidence, however, also leads to overtrading.
The must see time lapse video below courtesy of Stone McCarthy shows the distribution across the entire curve of the US marketable debt, as it was held by either the Fed, or the private sector over the past three unconventional monetary policy programs: starting in 2003 and concluding yesterday. In one short minute, this clip demonstrates very vividly how the Fed effectively took over the US bond market.
As Goldman observed last night, the "metaboring" meme continues, as things go from boringer to boringest. Nothing notable has happened overnight. Some things that did happen was news that Spain is about to receive an emergency disbursement from its €100 billion euro bank bailout because of restriction imposed by the ECB on bank borrowings; Italian banks announced plans to dispose of more bad loans to avoid "potentially bigger losses" (to whom? the ECB?), non-voting Fed member Kocherlakota saying that cutting IOER would have a minimal impact (are you paying attention former visiting Fed advisor David "the Fed will bail everyone out always and forever" Zervos), UK retail sales coming in stronger on bigger gas and food purchases (so aside from being ignored for inflation purposes these are useful when extrapolating economic "growth"), July Eurozone inflation coming in just as expected unchanged at 2.4% Y/Y, China FDI collapsing 8.7% as data revealed the longest run of declining inward investment growth in China since the 2008-09 financial crisis sending local markets to 2 week lows as the MOFCOM said the country's 2H export outlook will be even more grim and Premier Wen said easing inflation (not in food) allows for more room to adjust monetary policy, a statement that had zero impact on domestic stocks. As a result we have seen minimal flattening in Spanish and Italian 2s10s, and a continued gradual drift lower in the EURUSD. And this, aside from another week of initial claims that will have the prior week's data revised higher, and a Philly Fed, may be as good as it gets, as volume is set to plumb another multi-year low, and with the 2s10s flattening again, guarantees that bank profits in Q3 will be atrocious, forcing banks to fire even more (or cause various unnamed market makers to accidentally activate 1000x buy algos).
41 Years After The Death Of The Gold Standard, A Look At "How We Ended Up In This Economic Purgatory"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/15/2012 20:53 -0400
As we await the latest developments out of the Eurozone and Washington, JPMorgan's Kenneth Landon takes a moment to look back on this very important day in history. If you want to understand current events, then you first have to understand history. How did we get here? More specifically for financial markets, how did we end up in this mess -- this economic purgatory? This being August 15, 2012, students of the history of monetary economics no doubt are aware that this is the 41th Anniversary of the breakdown of Bretton Woods. It was on this day 41 years ago that President Nixon defaulted on the promise to exchange gold for paper dollars presented for exchange by foreign central banks. The crisis in confidence that we observe today resulted from cumulative effects of those measures.
There are already three former European central bankers who criticize more or less openly the European Central Bank (ECB). All these older central bankers experienced the inflationary periods in the 1970s in detail, whereas the younger ones seem not to grasp what inflation means. Modern central bankers seem to think that monetary inflation will not lead to price inflation in the long-term. This might be true in countries where asset prices need to de-leverage after the bust of real-estate bubbles. But it is certainly not true in states like Germany, Finland or Switzerland, that did not have a real-estate bubble till 2008. With current low employment and the aging population, qualified personnel who speaks the local language will get rare. PIMCO’s Bill Gross might be right saying that soon employees want to get a part of the cake and not only the stock holders. This essentially implies wage inflation, the enemy of the 1970s.
One of the most vocal advocates of a NEW QE announcement next month, at either the FOMC meeting or Jackson Hole - Goldman Sachs - has just pulled the plug. From Jan Hatzius: "The US economic data continue to look a bit stronger. Tuesday’s retail sales report for July beat expectations, while inventory accumulation showed a further slowdown in June. Our Q3 GDP tracking estimate edged up to 2.3%. The recent news also has implications for Fed policy. While QE3 at the September 12-13 FOMC meeting remains possible, our best estimate is that it will take until late 2012/early 2013 before Fed officials return to balance sheet expansion." Just as we have been saying. Which means the Fed is now out of the picture until the end of 2012. And with corn prices where they are, so is the PBOC. As for the ECB - talk to Rajoy, who will do nothing as long as 10 Year yields are under 8%. Which means that, as explained previously, Spain and Italy, and in fact the entire world, must all be destroyed first, before they are saved.
It is important to consider how beneficial a debt reset — so long as society comes out of it in one piece — will be in the long run. As both Friedrich Hayek and Hyman Minsky saw it, with the weight of excessive debt and the costs of deleveraging either reduced or removed, long-depressed-economies would be able to grow organically again. This is obviously not ideal, but it is surely better than remaining in a Japanese-style deleveraging trap. Yet while most of the economic establishment remain convinced that the real problem is one of aggregate demand, and not excessive total debt, such a prospect still remains distant. The most likely pathway continues to be one of stagnation, with central banks printing just enough money to keep the debt serviceable (and handing it to the financial sector, which will surely continue to enrich itself at the expense of everyone else). This is a painful and unsustainable status quo and the debt reset — and without an economic miracle, it will eventually arrive — will in the long run likely prove a welcome development for the vast majority of people and businesses.
With less than three months to go, the outcome of the November election remains highly uncertain. SocGen notes that, as always, economic performance over the coming months will be a key determinant of who wins and who loses. If the elections were held today, the most likely outcome would be a Republican win in both Congressional races and a Democratic win in the race for the White House. This means that any new significant legislation will almost certainly have to be a product of compromise. In this sense, we may very well be looking at a status quo in terms of bipartisanship and gridlock which have dominated Washington politics over the past few years. This would be bad news at a time when the country faces a number of serious challenges with significant long-term implications. From the economy to long-term fiscal health, and from the debt-ceiling to Housing, Healthcare, and Energy policy differences, the following provides a succinct review.