When Paul first introduced his bill a decade ago, it was written off as another piece of his far-flung libertarian worldview is how Politico juxtaposes today's (now successful) vote on Ron Paul's Fed Transparency Bill. "I want to appreciate and congratulate Dr. Ron Paul for his tireless pursuit of openness and transparency," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). "Without his leadership, we wouldn’t be at this point today." Via Bloomberg:
- *FED AUDIT BILL OPPOSED BY BERNANKE GAINS APPROVAL BY U.S. HOUSE
- *FED AUDIT BILL NEEDS SENATE APPROVAL, PRESIDENT'S SIGNATURE
- *FED AUDIT BILL SPONSORED BY REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL OF TEXAS
"I’m pleased. It’s something I’ve worked on for a long time, and it’s a good first step," Paul told POLITICO. "It’s coming to the floor as a response to the American people, because I don’t have a whole lot of clout around here." Never mind that the Fed audit is dead in the Senate — Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office has said he won’t bring it up.
"The global growth picture is, as per our long-term contention, weak and deteriorating, pretty much everywhere – in the US, in the eurozone and in the emerging markets/BRICs.... We in the Global Macro Strategy team still think the market consensus is far too optimistic on policy expectations both in terms of the likelihood of seeing more (timely) fiscal and/or monetary policy assistance (globally), and in terms of any meaningful and/or lasting success of any such policy moves. In particular, we think that the period August through to November (inclusive) represents a major global policy and political vacuum. Based on the reasons set out earlier and also covered in my two prior notes, over the August to November period I am looking for the S&P500 to trade off down from around 1400 to 1100/1000 – in other words, I expect over the next four months to see global equity markets fall by 20% to 25% from current levels and to trade at or below the lows of 2011! US equity markets, along with parts of the EM spectrum, will I think underperform eurozone equity markets, where already very little hope resides. For iTraxx crossover, this equates to a spread wide for 2012 of – in my view – 800/1000bp.... And of course I still see a very clear path to 800 on the S&P500 at some point in 2013/2014, driven by market revulsion against pump-priming money printing central bankers, but this discussion is also for nearer the time."
Independent from Congress … or from the American People?
"This market isn't real. The two percent on the ten-year, the ninety basis points on the five-year, thirty basis points on a one-year – those are medicated, pegged rates created by the Fed and which fast-money traders trade against as long as they are confident the Fed can keep the whole market rigged. Nobody in their right mind wants to own the ten-year bond at a two percent interest rate. But they're doing it because they can borrow overnight money for free, ten basis points, put it on repo, collect 190 basis points a spread, and laugh all the way to the bank. And they will keep laughing all the way to the bank on Wall Street until they lose confidence in the Fed's ability to keep the yield curve pegged where it is today. If the bond ever starts falling in price, they unwind the carry trade. Then you get a message, "Do not pass go." Sell your bonds, unwind your overnight debt, your repo positions. And the system then begins to contract... The Fed has destroyed the money market. It has destroyed the capital markets. They have something that you can see on the screen called an "interest rate." That isn't a market price of money or a market price of five-year debt capital. That is an administered price that the Fed has set and that every trader watches by the minute to make sure that he's still in a positive spread. And you can't have capitalism if the capital markets are dead, if the capital markets are simply a branch office – branch casino – of the central bank. That's essentially what we have today."
The three "de's:" deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization.
The importance of the negative credit outlook from Moody’s lies less in the realm of financial markets, given how little investors seem to value the views of the credit rating agencies. Rather the major importance lies in the policy and political reactions to the rating actions. As UBS notes, there is a risk of popular (not political leadership) adverse reaction. The media in Germany (where there is a tradition of media hostility to the Euro periphery) or in the Netherlands (approaching a general election in September) may portray this as "we are being dragged down by the Euro periphery". If that does transpire it could easily fan the flames of populist resentment of the Euro still further. Critically, if the media attribute (or mis-attribute) the blame to the periphery, there could be obstacles to that integrationist momentum. The reality of a common monetary policy and the necessity of some kind of communalized fiscal responsibility are being brought to bear on the Euro area polity - but markets seem confused. CDS markets are pricing Germany's risk as if it was becoming increasingly encumbered to the periphery and yet the FX market is dragging EURUSD lower on expectations of massive upheaval and potential SPexit with no German 'unlimited' support. CDS appears to fit with raters, FX more with haters - or as UBS points out, perhaps all is not well in Germany as it "has demonstrably failed to grow its way out of debt."
This has been the recovery of downward revisions - each annual revision to payrolls and GDP since the recovery started in 2009 revealed an even sharper contraction and weaker recovery. BofAML believes this year’s revision, which is released with the Q2 GDP report on Friday, will once again show an even slower start to the recovery with growth revised lower in 2009 and 2010, and modestly higher in 2011. While it is good news that growth could be revised higher in 2011, it appears that it will only be marginal. The downward revisions to growth in 2009 and 2010 will still leave the level of GDP lower and, hence, the output gap larger. This shows that the economy has made even less progress in healing from the deep recession. The severity and duration of the recession was understated in real time and the recovery was overstated. This suggests that monetary policy may not have been easy enough over the past several years - and therefore the current slowdown is even more significant.
Curious just how we were 100% certain that the June 29 summit was an epic disaster, in addition to the obvious? Because in a note from that morning we said the following: "Below is Goldman's quick take on the E-Tarp MOU (completely detail-free, but who needs details when one has money-growing trees) announced late last night. In summary: "We recommend being long an equally-weighted basket of benchmark 5-year Spanish, Irish and Italian government bonds, currently yielding 5.9% on average, for a target of 4.5% and tight stop loss on a close at 6.5%." By now we hope it is clear that when Goldman's clients are buying a security, it means its prop desk is selling the same security to clients." Sure enough, its prop desk was selling, and selling, and selling. Since then Spain and Italy have blown out, and only the strange tightening in Ireland has prevented yet another stop loss from the squid which is now known for cremating clients more than anything else. The stop loss is certainly not far: the basket is now at 6.20%, and has just 30 bps to go until yet another batch of Goldman clients is slaughtered. Which is now only a matter of time - Goldman just told its clients it has a little more of its 5 Year exposure left to sell, and then it will be done. Of course by then another muppet murder scene will have to be cordoned off.
The conventional view looks at the domestic credit bubble, the trillions in derivatives and the phantom assets propping the whole mess up and concludes that the only way out is to print the U.S. dollar into oblivion, i.e. create enough dollars that the debts can be paid but in doing so, depreciate the dollar's purchasing power to near-zero. This process of extravagant creation of paper money is also called hyper-inflation. While it is compelling to see hyper-inflation as the only way out in terms of the domestic credit/leverage bubble, the dollar has an entirely different dynamic if we look at foreign exchange (FX) and foreign trade. Many analysts fixate on monetary policy as if it and the relationship of gold to the dollar are the foundation of our problems. These analysts often pinpoint the 1971 decision by President Nixon to abandon the gold standard as the start of our troubles. That decision certainly had a number of consequences, but 80% the dollar's loss of purchasing power occurred before the abandonment of dollar convertibility to gold.
Risk-off trade is firmly dominating price action this morning in Europe, as weekend reports regarding Spanish regions garner focus, shaking investor sentiment towards the Mediterranean. The attitudes towards Spain are reflected in their 10yr government bond yield, printing Euro-era record highs of 7.565% earlier this morning and, interestingly, Spanish 2yr bill yields are approaching the levels seen in the bailed-out Portuguese equivalent. As such, the peripheral Spanish and Italian bourses are being heavily weighed upon, both lower by around 5% at the North American crossover.
Gold edged down on Monday due to the pressure from a stronger dollar, as worries about the Eurozone debt crisis grew after Spain looked like the next candidate for a sovereign bailout. Spain has two regions seeking aid from the central government and El Pais reported that six Spanish regions may ask for aid from the central government while Spanish bonds yields continue to rise. As the 4th largest economy in the Eurozone Spain looks likely to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland seeking an international bailout. Greece’s creditors meet this week as many doubt they will meet their bailout commitments. German Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said he’s “very skeptical” that European leaders will be able to rescue Greece. China’s economic expansion may fall for a 7th straight quarter to 7.4% in the three months to September, said Song Guoqing, a member of the People’s Bank of China monetary policy committee.
The week ahead brings a batch of Q2 GDP prints, which will provide guidance on the strength of activity in that quarter, as well as a bunch of business survey data which will offer insights into the strength of momentum at the start of Q3. Starting with the GDP data, the main attraction is likely to be the print from the US. Goldman expects a below trend print of 1.1%qoq, vs the consensus at 1.5%qoq. The Q2 print from the UK is expected to be negative. While only a few Q2 prints have been published so far, only China has recorded a recovery on Q1. The consensus expects soft prints for the business surveys out this week. The Euroland flash PMIs are expected to be unchanged, leaving them at levels consistent with a continued contraction in activity. The German IFO is expected to fall slightly, as is the Swiss KoF. There are no consensus expectations for the China flash PMI, however if it does not pick up from current levels around 48, questions over the extent/effectiveness of stimulus in China will remain.
There is no mystery to the “headwinds” that continue to plague and mystify monetary policymakers. The global economy is not pulled into re-recession by some unseen magical force, conspiring against the good-natured efforts of central bankers. Instead, the very thing central banks aspire to is the exact poison that alludes their attention. Conventional economics will continue to believe and empirically “prove” that the theory of the neutrality of money is valid, giving them, in their minds, unrestricted ability to intervene and manipulate over any short-term period (though it is getting harder to argue that these emergency measures are “short-term” nearly five years into their continued existence). The occurrence of panic in 2008 and the unresolved and unremoved barriers to recovery in the years since, however, fully attest to nonneutrality, an ongoing form of empirical proof that their models will never be able to refute. And we are all condemned by it.
I am fairly certain the answer to why Bernanke isn’t increasing inflation when his former self and former colleagues say he should be is actually nothing to do with domestic politics, and everything to do with international politics. Most of the pro-Fed blogosphere seems to live in denial of the fact that America is massively in debt to external creditors — all of whom are frustrated at getting near-zero yields (they can’t just flip bonds to the Fed balance sheet like the hedge funds) — and their views matter, very simply because the reality of China and other creditors ceasing to buy debt would be untenable. Why else would the Treasury have thrown a carrot by upgrading the Chinese government to primary dealer status (the first such deal in history), cutting Wall Street’s bond flippers out of the deal?
Strength is fading. Parity is visible. Reform is the only option. European markets are tumbling and the euro has slipped to record lows against several major currencies. The market is in reaction mode responding Spain and Greece in the headlines.