It’s easy to be pessimistic over the future prospects of liberty when major industrialized nations around the world are becoming increasingly rife with market intervention, police aggression, and fallacious economic reasoning. The laissez faire ideal of a society where people should be allowed to flourish without the coercive impositions of the state is all but missing from mainstream debate. In editorial pages and televised roundtable discussions, a government policy of “hands off” is now an unspeakable option. It is presumed that lawmakers must step up to “do something” for the good of the people. Thankfully, this deliberate false choice will slowly but surely bring the death of itself. Illogical theories can only go on for so long before the push-back becomes too much to handle. For those who desire liberty, it’s a joy that the statist economic policies of the Keynesians become even more irrational as the Great Recession drags on. The two following examples will illustrate this point.
"Spain Requests Bailout On September 14" - Goldman's Definitive Post-Mortem On Europe's Third Bond Buying AttemptSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/06/2012 16:04 -0400
Yesterday, when Bloomberg leaked every single detail of today's ECB announcement, which thus means today's conference was not a surprise at all, yet the market sure would like to make itself believe it was, we noted that everything that was leaked, and today confirmed, came from a Goldman memorandum issued hours before. Simply said everything that happens at the ECB gets its marching orders somewhere within the tentacular empire headquartered at 200 West. Which is why when it comes to the definitive summary of what "happened" today, we go to the firm that pre-ordained today's events weeks ago. Goldman Sachs.Perhaps the most important part is this: "September 13-14: Spain to make formal request for EFSF support at the Eurogroup meeting. With a large (and uncovered) redemption looming at the end of October (and under pressure from other Euro area governments), we expect Spain to move towards seeking support." In other words, Rajoy has one more week before he is sacked and the Spanish festivities begin.
The monetary policy transmission mechanism is broken in Europe; we all know it and even ECB head Draghi has admitted it (and is trying to solve it). As Bloomberg economist David Powell noted though, Draghi may have to address the economic fragmentation of the euro area before undoing the financial fragmentation of the region. The latter may just be a symptom of the former. The Taylor Rule, a policy guideline that models a monetary authority’s interest rate response to the paths of inflation and economic activity, highlights the drastically different monetary policies required across the various EU nations as a result of their variegated domestic economic conditions. This variation creates concerns over sustainability and the rational (not irrational as Draghi would have us believe) act of transferring deposits to 'safer' nations for fear of redenomination. As Powell notes: Draghi will probably have to convince market participants of the economic sustainability of the monetary union before the financial fragmentation of the region is ended. The large-scale extension of central bank credit to potentially insolvent countries is unlikely to accomplish that - as economies remain hugely divergent.
China and India have always been crazy for gold, and the yellow metal remains the choice store of value in those two countries, says Don Coxe, a strategic advisor to the BMO Financial Group. In an exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Coxe explains how demographic shifts are affecting the price of gold and delves into the logic of investing in gold as a long-term strategy. Coxe also draws an important lesson in economics from his reading of Lenin.
Did the German Bundesbank roll over and die as Die Welt suggest, by yielding to the will of the ECB and Goldman? Or is it merely setting the stage for the inevitable German referendum? Many claim the Italian head of the ECB won today in his ever escalating confrontation with the last remaining German on the ECB governing council, although in reality he is merely doing what he has already done twice before. The outcome will be the same: abject failure to contain the crisis which will not be resolved until and if Europe succeeds in creating a united, Federal state, with one bond issuance authority. That will never happen: after all, 17 European states will never hand over their sovereignty to a third party, especially one which is backstopped by German cash. But it can pretend. In the meantime, Buba will not quietly go, instead it has already stated what it thinks, and what it thinks is that what the ECB is doing (once again) is "tantamount to financing governments by printing banknotes" and that monetary policy is now subjugated to fiscal policy. Full text of the Buba's response below.
The ECB has released the details of its SMP 2.0 program, aka the OMT program, which will be pari passu, unlike the SMP 1.0. The full details are a whopping 472 words. Furthermore, we hope that it is quite clear to Greece that if the ECB has bought Greek bonds under the new SMP 2.0 program instead of SMP 1.0, its debt would now be about €100 billion less.
Despite consensus for a 25 bps cut by the ECB, Mario Draghi decided to leave rates unchanged. To say that this is ominous for the press conference in 45 minutes is an understatement.
Just a few hours before someone (cough Draghi cough) leaked the details of the sterilized - though unlimited, peripheral spread-reducing - though not capped or fundamentally-based, SMP 2.0, Goldman Sachs released their 'view' of what Super-Mario will do. Rather unsurprisingly, almost verbatim, the rumors fit that 'guess' rather well as the chaps at Goldman fully expected demanded this 'compromise' solution. They also expect no rate cut - since economic data is not a broadly dismal and falling as it was - but do expect further non-standard measures including collateral-easing (which has been pre-announced to some extent in the 'credit-easing' camp).
Gold prices languished from 1980 to 2000 and had declining correlations with debt levels because GDP growth was sufficient to mute fears about budget and deficit issues. The current economic recovery has been too weak to support a sustained rise in real rates above the 2% level that has acted an inflection point for gold prices. With energy and food inflation deepening and soon to affect consumer price indices, interest rates may have to rise significantly in order to restore real interest rates above 2%. This is with ex Federal Reserve Chairman Volcker did in the late 1970’s - when he increased interest rates to above 15% in order to protect the dollar and aggressively tackle inflation. It is unlikely that similar ‘hawkish’ monetary policy would be implemented by the Bernanke Fed today. It is unlikely that they would and even doubtful if they could – given the appalling fiscal situation and levels of debt in the US and global economy. A continuing succession of higher real gold prices above the inflation adjusted high, or real record high, of $2,500/oz is likely until we see interest return to more normal levels and zero percent interest policies are supplanted by positive real interest rates.
As we described in detail yesterday, things are going from worse to worserer as the problems in Spain - more specifically in its banking sector - are deepening as deposit flight accelerates, and "the private sector is leaving the banking system." But the Bank of Spain isn't leaving anything to chance. The WSJ disconcertingly highlights that last month the central bank appears for the first time to have activated an emergency lending program that will enable its banks to borrow from the Bank of Spain directly, bypassing the ECB's relatively tough collateral demands. That would make Spain at least the fourth euro-zone country - following Greece, Ireland and Portugal - to use the ELA, which generally is reserved for situations when banks have exhausted all other financing options. As we pointed out yesterday, this would appear to confirm a "full-blown bailout" is imminent, as the collateral problems mount.
It is amazing how big an effect a rambling, sleep-inducing speech by a chief central planner can have on financial markets in the short term. Nonetheless, the speech contained a few interesting passages which show us both how Bernanke thinks and that people to some extent often tend to hear whatever they want to hear. Bernanke noted that although he cannot prove it, econometricians employed by the Fed have constructed a plethora of models that show that 'LSAP's (large scale asset purchases, which is to say 'QE' or more colloquially, money printing) have helped the economy. In other words, although no-one actually knows what would have happened in the absence of the inflationary policy since we can't go back in time and try it out, the 'models' tell us it was the right thing to do. However, some indications would suggest that mal-investment is higher than ever - and accelerating - as the production structure ties up more consumer goods than it releases, an inherently unsustainable condition; additional expansion of money and credit will only serve to exacerbate the imbalance.
In two days Mario Draghi may, although without Germany's blessing most likely will not, announce vague terms of how the ECB plans on monetizing hundreds of billions in short-term (sub-3 Year) bonds by Spain and Italy, which according to the ECB is not really monetization, and the only thing that is needed is for the two countries to admit they are insolvent, something which paradoxically will never happen as long as the ECB does everything in its power to spook markets away from fair clearing levels, and to keep the cashflow implied price at record divergence from the centrally-planned "valuation" determination. But let's assume Draghi does go ahead and one up Bernanke, announcing the next easing round a week ahead of the September FOMC meeting, as both central banks take the lunge into the latest lap of currency devaluation. What happens then? Well, as JPM's Michael Cembalest puts it quite succinctly, Draghi will unleash nothing short of the transformation of the ECB from the European Central Bank to the European Creosote Bank (see below for the reason). Numerically, this will mean that once the ECB is done monetizing another €1 trillion or so in bonds in the next year, the ECB will then hold just shy of a unimaginable 50% of the entire Eurozone GDP, taking the New Normal monetary world well beyond the rabbit hole and deep inside the twilight zone.
It’s perhaps no co-incidence that the trend towards persistent deficits started around the final collapse of the last link to a quasi-Gold standard back in August 1971. As Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid notes, in a world of the Gold Standard or equivalent, those countries loosening policy too much would have seen a rush to convert their currencies into Gold thus destabilising their economic policy framework. Multi-year (let alone multi-decade) deficits and the GFC could not have occurred under a gold standard. So with the shackles off and with nothing backing paper money, the post-1971 period has seen a uniquely long period of fiat currencies globally with a beggar-thy-neighbour rolling period of credit creation. Never before in observable history have so many countries been off a precious metal type currency system for so long. So after 41 years of global fiat currencies and an unparalleled amount of debt that is proving very difficult to shift, we really are venturing into the unknown.
Mario Draghi Reprises Hank Paulson: Demands Full Monetization Authority Or Else Threatens With End Of EuroSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2012 11:21 -0400
Yesterday's "leak" of Draghi's comments that it is not monetization if just the tip only bonds with a maturity of 3 years or less are monetized, aka, legitimate monetization does not cause inflation was so horribly handled that the ECB huffed and puffed in a desperate attempt to appear angry, even though it was absolutely delighted that it had even more ammo in its war against Germany. Today, the leakage continues only this time nobody cares that Draghi's desperation is hitting the headlines left and right. As a result, Draghi literally pulled a carbon copy of Hank Paulson, and while he did not have a three page term sheet in hand, threatened that the Euro would end unless he was allowed to monetize short-term bonds. Here's looking at your Germany. From Bloomberg: "European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank’s primary mandate compels it to intervene in bond markets to wrest back control of interest rates and ensure the euro’s survival. Mounting his strongest case yet for ECB bond purchases, Draghi told lawmakers in a closed-door session at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday that the bank has lost control of borrowing costs in the 17-nation monetary union."
Gold’s seasonality is seen in the above charts which show how March, June and October are gold’s weakest months with actual losses being incurred on average in these months. Buying gold during the so-called summer doldrums has been a winning trade for most of the last 34 years. This is especially the case in the last eight years as gold averaged a gain of nearly 14% in just six months after the summer low. We tend to advise a buy and hold strategy for the majority of clients. For those who have a bit more of a risk appetite, an interesting strategy would be to buy at the start of September, sell at end of September and then buy back in on October 31st.