Judging by how the SkyNet formerly known as "the market" has been trading in the past three weeks (and years), one may get the impression the "smart money", hiding behind Bloomberg terminals for 9 hours each day, has gone full lunatic retard. Yet not even said Bloomberg terminals users are completely insane, as confirmed by a just released poll of Bloomberg Professional users, who were asked on their opinion for the two next probably Bernanke replacements: one Larry Summers, best known, together with Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan and everyone in Congress and Senate over the past 30 years, for destroying the US economy, as well as one Janet Yellen, currently vice chair of the Fed, and almost certain replacement for the Chairsatan once his term expires in early 2014. The verdict: nay to both, but a resounding hell no to the man who destroyed the US banking system, then crushed the Harvard endowment, and finally brought the US consumer and economy to a state of complete ruin.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is an exclusive and somewhat mysterious entity that issues banking guidelines for the world’s largest financial institutions. The Committee’s latest ‘framework’, is referred to as “Basel III”. The regulators have stubbornly held to the view that AAA-government securities constitute the bulk of those high quality assets, even as the rest of the financial world increasingly realizes they are anything but that. As banks move forward in their Basel III compliance efforts, they will be forced to buy ever-increasing amounts of AAA-rated government bonds to meet liquidity and capital ratios. Add to this the additional demand for bonds from governments themselves through various Quantitative Easing programs, and we may soon have a situation where government bond yields are so low that they simply make no sense to hold at all. This is where gold comes into play. If the Basel Committee decides to grant gold a favourable liquidity profile under its proposed Basel III framework, it will open the door for gold to compete with cash and government bonds on bank balance sheets – and provide banks with an asset that actually has the chance to appreciate. The world’s non-Western central banks have already embraced this concept with their foreign exchange reserves, which are vulnerable to erosion from ‘Central Planning’ printing programs. After all – if the banks are ultimately interested in restoring stability and confidence, they could do worse than holding an asset that has gone up by an average of 17% per year for the last 12 years and represented ‘sound money’ throughout history.
After recently selling the most expensive per-square-foot residential property in the world recently, the liquidity slooshing around the world has been modestly stymied by Hong Kong's curbs on home-buying in the world's most expensive market. But there is always a greater fool to sell to, right? So, that Fed-sponsored liquidity has found a new yield-grabbing spot - parking spaces! Average HK parking space prices have started to surge (up 6.7% in Q3) to its second highest on record and as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, a parking space in the exclusive Repulse Bay are sold for $387,000 (yes, that's a place to park your car; and no, it doesn't come with a happy ending) - double the average US home price! "There's just too much liquidity in the market," said Simon Lo, Hong Kong-based executive director of research and advisory at property broker Colliers International. "The government has set up a firewall for residential properties, but all this money still needs to find a place." Once again we are reminded of the Fed mantra - repeat in monotone: 'there is no inflation and money-printing has no adverse effect'.
In a recent article at the NYT entitled 'Incredible Credibility', Paul Krugman once again takes aim at those who believe it may not be a good idea to let the government's debt rise without limit. In order to understand the backdrop to this, Krugman is a Keynesian who thinks that recessions should be fought by increasing the government deficit spending and printing gobs of money. Moreover, he is a past master at presenting whatever evidence appears to support his case, while ignoring or disparaging evidence that seems to contradict his beliefs. Krugman compounds his error by asserting that there is an 'absence of default risk' in the rest of the developed world (on the basis of low interest rates and completely missing point of a 'default' by devaluation). We are generally of the opinion that it is in any case impossible to decide or prove points of economic theory with the help of economic history – the method Krugman seems to regularly employ, but then again it is a well-known flaw of Keynesian thinking in general that it tends to put the cart before the horse (e.g. the idea that one can consume oneself to economic wealth).
Politics and economics, or the better term, political economics, for the most part rules our lives: the political activity of the nation as a collective of economic groups and super- wealthy individuals, whatever the defining orthodoxy turns out to be. As the United States enters the final days in the much-hoped resolution of its “fiscal cliff,” there are a number of prominent individuals from both present and past – politicians, economists and business leaders – who regale us with their two-cent worth of admonition and advice. For the most part, that’s what the value is really worth. Meantime, here is the American citizenry reverting to their pre-recession days, with the highest confidence level in four and a half years, starting to spend beyond their capacity to produce thanks to that misplaced confidence, the resurgence of home equity loans, and the promise of governing politicians that things are on the mend... when they really are not, and the job market continues to decay for jobs with a living wage.
On November 16, and again today, one person boldly went where so many have gone before, and made sure that Nancy Pelosi's alleged SPY calls don't expire worthless, and by uttering a few words widely misinterpreted by the headline scanning, market-making algos both then, and today, preserved all confidence in the centrally-planned monetary policy farce formerly known as "the market." Who is this unmasked crusader against the evils of efficient markets, and for the unquestioned glory of authoritarian Economist PhD's in charge of the Fed's trading desk? This man:
Currency wars are set to intensify as the US Senate is considering new sanctions against Iran that would prevent Iran getting paid for its natural resource exports in gold bullion. The new sanctions aimed at reducing global trade with Iran in the energy, shipping and precious metals sectors may soon be considered by the U.S. Senate as part of an annual defense policy bill, senators and aides said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The sanctions would end "Turkey's game of gold for natural gas," Reuters reported a senior Senate aide as saying, referring to reports that Turkey has been paying for natural gas with gold due to sanctions rules. The legislation "would bring economic sanctions on Iran near de facto trade embargo levels with the hope of speeding up the date by which Iran's economy will collapse," the aide said. Last week Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has revealed a critical detail about a widely discussed Turkey-Iran gold trade boom, disclosing that the Islamic republic was exporting gas to Turkey in exchange for payment in gold bullion. It is also reported that Iranians are buying Turkish gold with the Turkish Lira, which is deposited into their bank accounts in exchange for Turkey’s natural gas purchases, the deputy prime minister said at midnight Nov. 22 during a parliamentary session. Iran cannot transfer monetary payments to Iran in U.S. dollars due to U.S sanctions against the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Iran has been forced to shun the international financial system and the petrodollar as means of payment and turn to the international gold market to ensure it gets paid for its natural resources in order to prevent absolute economic collapse.
- Egypt protests continue in crisis over Mursi powers (Reuters)
- Greece hires Deutsche, Morgan Stanley to run Greek voluntary debt buy back, sources say (Kathimerini)
- Executives' Good Luck in Trading Own Stock (WSJ)
- Hollande Presents Mittal Nationalization Among Site Options (Bloomberg)
- Eurozone states face losses on Greek debt (FT)
- Spain's rescued banks to shrink, slash jobs (Reuters)
- EU Approves Spanish Banks' Restructuring Plans (WSJ)
- At SAC, Portfolio Managers Are Treated Like Stocks (BBG)
- China considers easing family planning rules (Reuters)
- European Court to Rule Over ECB’s Secret Greek File (BusinessWeek)
- And another top tick indicator: Asia Funds Buy London Offices in Bet Volatility Is Past (Bloomberg)
- Harvard Doctor Turns Felon After Lure of Insider Trading (BBG)
- Zucker Is Lead Candidate to Head CNN (WSJ) - it's not true until CNN misreports it
- Iran "will press on with enrichment:" nuclear chief (Reuters)
Great and wondrous things seem to be afoot among the righteous bankers of the world. A few months ago Matt Zames was named to get JPMorgan's CIO office out of trouble - and also happens to be the Chairman of the all-powerful Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee. Just yesterday, Mark Carney completed Europe's full-house of ex-Goldman Sachs alum running the region's monetary policy. Today we hear Lloyd Blankfein will be sidling up to Obama tomorrow. And now this; from the never-crony-capitalist himself, billionaire Warren Buffett has publicly blessed Jamie "apart from the failure of control" Dimon as the best man for the top job at the Treasury. "If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job," Buffett added (sounding more like the 'we' meant he) and dismissed the London-Whale "failure of control" with sometimes "people go off the reservation." With Zames running the Shadow Treasury and Dimon running the Real Treasury, is it any wonder that inquiring minds are asking who really runs America (and for whom)? Of course, in the pre-Fed era - over 100 years ago, JPMorgan Sr. 'bailed-out' America before...
In what is the first formal speech of Simon "Harry" Potter since taking over the magic ALL-LIFTvander wand from one Brian Sack, and who is best known for launching the Levitatus spell just when the market is about to plunge and end the insolvent S&P500-supported status quo as we know it, as well as hiring such sturdy understudies as Kevin Henry, the former UCLA economist in charge of the S&P discuss the "role of central bank interactions with financial markets." He describes the fed "Desk" of which he is in charge of as follows: "The Markets Group interacts with financial markets in several important capacities... As most of you probably know, in an OMO the central bank purchases or sells securities in the market in order to influence the level of central bank reserves available to the banking system... The Markets Group also provides important payment, custody and investment services for the dollar holdings of foreign central banks and international institutions." In other words: if the SPX plunging, send trade ticket to Citadel to buy tons of SPOOSs, levered ETFs and ES outright. That the Fed manipulates all markets: equities most certainly included, is well-known, and largely priced in by most, especially by the shorts, who have been all but annihilated by the Fed. But where it gets hilarious, is the section titled "Lessons Learned on Market Interactions through Prism of an Economist" and in which he explains why the Efficient Market Hypothesis is applicable to the market. If anyone wanted to know why the US equity, and overall capital markets, are doomed, now that they have a central planning economist in charge of trading, read only that and weep...
Lately it seems that the entire world has become a complete basket case of economic data and market manipulation. On one hand, as we reminded yesterday, the disconnect between US economic fundamentals and the market has hit levels that imply the S&P is rich by 200 points. On the other, this morning the Chinese stock index, the Shanghai Composite, closed at a level of 1991: this was the first sub-2000 close since 2009 so early one can make it 2008. Yet the punchline in today's data is the report from the People's Daily, that in the first ten months of the year, a total of 11.2 million urban jobs have been created, or about 1.1 million per month on average (in context, the US has a problem with creating 150K jobs/month). Ignoring for a fact that this data is total manipulated garbage, is it now safe to say that no news has any impact whatsoever on the global monetary policy playing field once known as stock markets?
- OECD slashes 2013 growth forecast (FT)
- Fiscal Cliff Compromise Elusive as Congress Returns (Bloomberg)
- China’s PBOC Chief Search Spurs Focus on Finance Regulators (Bloomberg)
- Elected, but Still Campaigning (WSJ)
- Pentagon Readies Options for Afghanistan Force After 2014 (Bloomberg)
- Greece Wins Easier Debt Terms as EU Hails Rescue Formula (Bloomberg)
- Monti presses Cameron for EU referendum (FT)
- Welcome, Mr Carney – Britain needs you (FT)
- Argentina seeks halt to $1.3bn debt order (FT)
- Asean chief warns on South China Sea disputes (FT)
- South Korea Tightens FX Rules to Temper Won Surge (WSJ)
An article by David Weiner on the MarketWatch site reminded me of just how weak the economic arguments against the gold standard are. Its title: "A Fool's Gold Standard." We examine this article here. The issue that divides the anti-gold bugs from the gold bugs is simple to state. The gold-coin standard places monetary authority in the hands of millions of economic participants who own gold. The gold bugs favor this. The anti-gold bugs oppose it. The rival camps are divided by rival systems of economic sovereignty. The gold bugs favor the sovereignty of the free market. The anti-gold bugs favor the sovereignty of the banking cartel, which is the joint creation of the federal government (Federal Reserve) and the states (state bank licensing). This is a replay of the arguments of Adam Smith against the arguments of the mercantilists. It is the logic of widespread, decentralized private ownership and voluntary contract versus the logic of government licensing, barriers to entry, and the legal right to counterfeit money. The anti-gold bugs do not want to put it this way. This is why gold bugs should always put it this way. Ultimately, this debate is between the logic of the free market as a social organization versus the logic of central planning. The battlefield is monetary theory and monetary policy.
Forget Chuck Schumer's cat-out-of-the-bag 'get back to work' comments to Bernanke, now it is union-leaders who are advising the world's central bankers. "There is a not a single reason not to lower rates" exclaims Sweden's trade union confederation to the central bank as he begins negotiations with employers on wage deals for next year. His demands (for lower rates) are "far from excessive" and he adds "should not cause inflation" as Swedish organized labor have "never called for levels that ... could not be supported economically." It seems that everyone, from NYTimes bloggers & NY politicians to Swedish Hoffas know best what the central planners must do - and furthermore, it is becoming clear to an increasing mob who is really in charge (sadly).
While the developed world's central banks may enjoy trading FX and stocks, either directly or indirectly, with each other in a demonstration of monetary policy "stability", the historically biggest source of capital inflows into stocks - the retail investor - has once again just said "nein", for the 17th consecutive week, and excluding tiny inflows of $95 million in the week of July 18 and $907 million in the week ended May 30, has pulled money from stocks for an unprecedented 39 consecutive weeks, with $6.6 billion pulled out in the last week, the most since the first week of October. In fact going back to the beginning of 2010, according to ICI, while $44.5 billion has been invested into domestic equity stock funds, $412 billion has been pulled out. Where has the money gone on an almost dollar for dollar basis: bonds, confirming that the New Normal mantra is all about return of capital.