I think Bernanke is going to get his balls squeezed.
This is just getting better and better:
- FOMC: 2012 GROWTH AT 2.2%-2.7% VS 2.5%-2.9% IN NOV. FORECAST
- ELEVEN OF 17 FED OFFICIALS SEE MAIN RATE ABOVE 0.25% IN 2014
- SIX OF 17 FED OFFICIALS SEE NO RATE INCREASE BEFORE 2015
- FOMC DOESN'T SET SPECIFIC LONG-RUN GOAL FOR EMPLOYMENT LEVEL
Japan is now seriously blushing. As for the reality of the Fed's forecasts, they are absolutely worthless, so no point in even spending one minute on them.
The fear of 'turning-Greek', which is now apparently worse than 'turning-Japanese', is the anchoring bias that seems to be driving more and more countries to dramatically adjust their fiscal affairs. However, Nomura's Richard Koo (whose blood pressure was already elevated last week at the ignorance of many nations to his balance sheet recession diagnosis and treatment protocol) points out in a note this week that Greece's problems stem from fiscal profligacy, a lack of domestic savings, and dishonest reporting by the government (it does kind of ring a bell). His point being that the rest of the eurozone - not to mention Japan, US, and the UK - are suffering balance sheet recessions (unlike Greece), which occur when the collapse of an asset price bubble drives sharp increases in private savings. His problem is that traditional economists are not taught of a situation in which private sector deleveraging (which we discussed last week also) leaves fiscal stimulus as the only way to stabilize an economy and in the currrent environment of deficits being watched and denigrated by any and all politician, market participant, and talking head, Koo's borrow-and-spend 'all deficits are good deficits' medicine is hard to swallow. Koo believes that the post-Lehman world was saved by fiscal stimulus, that Greece is different, and that the anti-Koo austerity actions have 'thrown a large wrench into the works of many world economies' and while the UK is coming around to the notion that austerity is not working, he worries on recent actions in the US and Japan at a time of excess private saving. It seems to us that his argument boils down to - given the system's fragility - an Austrian solution to the broken Keynesian problem is unworkable (without depression), and he hopes that the growing doubts (recessions popping up left, right, and center) about an overriding focus on fiscal consolidation will bring people back to Keynesian (Kooian) fold. He concludes with a worrying reflection on his countrymen in the MoF that seem to have learnt none of his lessons as they look to raise the consumption tax and Japan's rising sun sets.
This is how Goldman sees today's events, and critical FOMC announcement, public communication overhaul and press release, unfolding.
Brevan Howard Made Money In 2011 Betting On Market Stupidity, Sees "Substantial Dislocation" In 2012Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/24/2012 23:53 -0500
While Paulson's star was finally setting in 2011, that of mega macro fund Brevan Howard was rising, and has been rising for years by never posting a negative return since 2003. The $34.2 billion fund, now about double the size of John Paulson's, returned 12.12% in a year marked by abysmal hedge fund performance. But how did it make money? Simple - by taking advantage of the same permabullish market myopia that marked the beginning of 2011, and that has gripped the market once again. "The Fund’s large gains during the third quarter were due predominantly to pressing the thematic view that markets were ignoring clear signs of economic slowdown and were not correctly pricing the probability of central bank accommodation, particularly the reversal of the ECB rate hikes in April and July." Not to mention the €800 billion ECB liquidity accommodation that started in July and has continued since. So yes: those betting again that the market correction is overdue, will once again be proven right Why? Because "we are about to witness an unprecedented policy move. In the US, Eurozone and UK, fiscal austerity is being prescribed as the cure following the bursting of the credit bubble and to overcome the malaise following a balance-sheet recession. Unfortunately, there is no historical example of when this approach has been successful." As for looking into the future, "we continue to believe that markets remain at risk of substantial dislocation."
Successive plans to restore confidence in the euro area have failed. Proposals currently on the table also seem likely to fail. The market cost of borrowing is at unsustainable levels for many banks and a significant number of governments that share the euro. In three short sentences, the Peterson Institute for International Economics' (PIIE) Simon Johnson introduces the clear and present danger that Europe has become in a comprehensive article on the deepening European crisis. The circular nature of the realization of sovereign credit risk realities and the subsequent effective insolvency of banks exacerbates a credit crunch and exaggerates problems in the real economy - most specifically in the periphery. Johnson outlines five measures that are needed to enable the euro area to survive but the big bazooka of up to EUR5tn just for the PIIGS is what the PIIE senior fellow fears as the ECB is pushed down a dangerous path. The coordination of 17 disaparate nations leaves the former IMF man greatly concerned as the unique nature of this crisis leaves "four economic, social, and political events as possible causes of systemic collapse with each at risk of occurring in the next weeks, months, or years and these risks will not disappear quickly." As European sovereign bonds are now deeply subordinated claims on recessionary economies, it is no surprise that Johnson ends by noting that Europe's economy remains in a dangerous state.
Despite German and French Manufacturing and Services PMI data outperforming expectations, European equity indices are trading down at the mid-point of the European session on extended concerns over the still-not-settled Greek PSI agreement. Further downward pressure on German markets came from Siemens’ earnings report earlier this morning, with the company missing their revenue targets and foreseeing a difficult economic environment for them in Q2 of this year. In UK news, despite an unexpected fall in government spending, UK debt has topped the GBP 1tln mark for the first time.
As widely expected by Zero Hedge, barely a few months after the arrival of former Goldmanite Mario Draghi to head ECB, the ECB's balance sheet exploded by nearly $1 trillion. Naturally, such is the way of central banks infiltrated by tentacles of the squid: no surprises. Which brings us to the first Fed meeting of 2012 and its public manifestation: the FOMC's January 25 statement. As is well known, while the Goldman addition to the ECB is a recent development, its agent at the Fed, the head of the FRBNY Bill Dudley has been there for a quite a while - in fact ever since the tax-challenged Mike Judge character impersonator left to become Treasury Secretary. As was suggested on Zero Hedge, it was the meetings of Bill Dudley with Goldman's Jan Hatzius at the Pound and Pence, and of course elsewhere but these are the only public recorded ones, that have shaped monetary policy more than anything. In other words, if anyone can predict, not to say define, US monetary policy, it would be Jan Hatzius. Below are his just released "thoughts" on what to expect on Wednesday. What is odd is that whereas a month ago Goldman was convinced that an LSAP version of QE was imminent, now the firm has become substantially less optimistic. Is it time to manage down expectations? To wit: "Given the improvement in the economic indicators and the easing of financial conditions that has occurred in the meantime, we believe it is less central now. While Fed officials are certainly not targeting a tightening of conditions, we doubt that they will "bend over backwards" to deliver a dovish surprise relative to current market expectations." So just how much QE3 is priced in if Goldman is already doing disappointment damage control. Or did Goldman finally wise up and realize that the only effective Fed statement is the one that surprises. So if Goldman does not publicly expect QE3, and we do in fact get a notice thereof, it will have an immediate knee jerk reaction on risk, and of course, Gold. These and many more questions shall be answered at 12:30 pm on Wednesday.
Stocks usually follow the Fed, but this time when the ECB pumped, so much of it flowed into the US that not only Treasuries, but also stocks, got a lift.
The market will look for any signal on the pace of discussions over the ESM pre-funding details and the fiscal compact. Flash PMIs in the Eurozone and the IFO will also be key to watch given market fears over the activity impact of tight fiscal policy linked to the Eurozone fiscal crisis. Attention will likely shift to the US this week. Q4 GDP will likely exceed 3% mostly due to one-off drivers and less so due a genuine pick-up in final demand in our view. The FOMC statement and press conference are unlikely to lead to a change in US monetary policy. However, we will be focusing on the publication of the FOMC participants’ views of appropriate policy (specifically the path for the federal funds rate and guidance for the size of the balance sheet going forward). In addition, President Obama will give his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Yesterday, Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon in a well-written if somewhat verbose essay, makes the argument that "Greece has the upper hand" in its ongoing negotiations with the ad hoc and official group of creditors. It would be a great analysis if it wasn't for one minor detail. It is wrong. And while that in itself is hardly newsworthy, the fact that, as usual, its conclusion is built upon others' primary research and analysis, including that of the Wall Street Journal, merely reinforces the fact that there is little understanding in the mainstream media of what is actually going on behind the scenes in the Greek negotiations, and thus a comprehension of how prepack (for now) bankruptcy processes operate. Furthermore, since the Greek "case study" will have dramatic implications for not only other instances of sovereign default, many of which are already lining up especially in Europe, but for the sovereign bond market in general, this may be a good time to explain why not only does Greece not have the upper hand, but why an adverse outcome from the 11th hour discussions between the IIF, the ad hoc creditors, Greece, and the Troika, would have monumental consequences for the entire bond market in general.
For the Fed to continue ZIRPing, Twisting and QEing, it has to support the policy with a bleak assessment on the economy.
In this very informative interview between The Browser and Peter Boettke, the professor of economics discusses the contributions made by the Austrian School, and explains the various nuances of the economic school by way of recent books by "Austrians." He also explains what we can learn from Mises and Hayek, and argues that economics is the sexiest subject.
While it is early to determine if the ongoing breakout is finally in anticipation of upcoming episodes of direct and indirect monetization by the Fed, ECB, or any of the many other pathological currency diluters in circulation, it is obvious that precious metals have found a new bid in recent days. Is this then, the beginning of the next surge in gold and silver to record highs? It remains to be seen, but one entity, the Duet Commodities Fund which was one of last year's best performers, has already made up its mind. 'Our central forecast in gold remains constructive as our long term view targets $2,500 in 2012. Our core view is that gold will head higher to the $2,500 range driven by consequential USD weakness once the EU crisis dissipates and the US steps into the limelight. A weaker USD is not undesirable in the world order as everyone (especially China) understands that the US consumer is the driver for global consumer confidence and consequential consumption led demand." Wow - someone in this market can actually think one step ahead of the inevitable ECB LTRO/monetization, and realize that the Fed will in turn have to escalate to that escalation. Gold, er golf clap.