As is almost always the case, the price of gold was leaned on at the standard PLAN A time in London when The Gold Cartel traders reported for work, but their nudge was thwarted pretty quickly. Gold took off again going into the Comex trading hours and managed to reach $1200 where it was stopped dead in its tracks. James Mc early this morning…
Ben Bernanke’s skin is as thin, apparently, as is his comprehension of honest economics. The emphasis is on the “honest” part because he is a fount of the kind of Keynesian drivel that passes for economics in the financially deformed world that the Bernank did so much to bring about.
If yesterday's laughable lack of volume (helped by the closure of Japan and the UK) coupled with hopes that the end of the buyback blackout period was enough to send stocks surging if only to end with a whimper below all time highs despite what is now looking like three consecutive quarters of Y/Y EPS declines according to Factset, today's ramp will be more difficult for the NY Fed and Citadel to engineer, not least of all due to the headwind of the overnight "incident" by China's stock bubble which saw the Shanghai Composite tumble by 4%, the most since January.
Yesterday, when we heard that China brokers may impose tighter margin requirements to contain what is now a laughable stock bubble we said that tonight's Shanghai session could get exciting: "China may get exciting: Some China Brokers Raise Margin Trading Requirement: Sec. News" It did: overnight the Shanghai Composite tumbled by 4.1% to under 4300, the biggest one day drop since January 19.
The world economy is in the grips of a dangerous delusion. As the great boom that began in the 1990s gave way to an even greater bust, policymakers resorted to the timeworn tricks of financial engineering in an effort to recapture the magic. In doing so, they turned an unbalanced global economy into the Petri dish of the greatest experiment in the modern history of economic policy. They were convinced that it was a controlled experiment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It seems yet another hero of the recent cyclical bull market, resp. echo bubble, may be in danger of falling from grace. This has already happened to his predecessor Alan Greenspan, who has been gradually demoted from “Maestro” to “irresponsible bubble blower”. In this sense the somewhat less praise-laden verdicts that are lately emerging with respect to Ben Bernanke could be seen as an early warning sign.
“When does our credit based financial system sputter / break down? When investable assets pose too much risk for too little return. Not immediately, but at the margin, credit and stocks begin to be exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal money in a mattress.” We are approaching that point now as bond yields, credit spreads and stock prices have brought financial wealth forward to the point of exhaustion. A rational investor must indeed have a sense of an ending, not another Lehman crash, but a crush of perpetual bull market enthusiasm.
"We can understand that Mr. Bernanke doesn’t like being tagged with any responsibility for poor economic results. He absolved himself for any mistakes before the financial crisis too. But sooner or later he and the Fed have to stop using the financial crisis as the all-purpose excuse for slow growth. Even President Obama has stopped blaming George W. Bush for everything. Maybe Mr. Bernanke should stop blaming everyone else too."
Quickly looking at the potential market moving events this week, US payrolls on Friday will be the clear focus. In terms of expectations, our US colleagues are expecting a +225k print which matches the current Bloomberg consensus, while they expect the unemployment rate to drop one-tenth to 5.4%. Elsewhere, Thursday’s UK Election will be closely followed while Greece will once again be front and center.
As with all good socialists, central banks have locked the global economy onto but a single path without any possibility of choice. The purpose of all this intrusive nature through finance is actually to dethrone the defining quality that makes capitalism so useful in society’s advance – dynamic destruction. Despite the radical alteration as to what is taught in “business” schools, credit is not capital and it will never be. No amount of math will make it so, but the longer it remains operative the greater the potential we all end up with something even worse.
The week that passed has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride for many nervous investors. And for some: a realization that the once hyped, hawked, and levered Billion dollar babies can indeed “come off the rails.” Turning the once joyride into something more in common with a free fall into the abyss. However, you’re told not too worry: For if you loved the ride when the prices were higher, then surely you should be ecstatic to “ride again” since the new ticket prices are clearly “on sale!”
A look at the drivers for the week ahead.
"We remain constructive on the US for three reasons: 1) economic data should improve in the next few quarters; 2) the Fed does not seem to be in any rush to move early and a June rate hike seems unlikely; and 3) while investors are focused solely on the first rate raise, we think the overall path higher will be gradual, in contrast to previous rate shifts. These factors should create an environment where growth improves and monetary policy stays flexible, which is generally good for equities (higher multiples notwithstanding). We may follow last year’s playbook and ignore the old adage to “sell in May and go away.”
Yellen... AND Bernanke!
"The War on Cash is the attempt by governments to phase cash out of their economies. Governments hate cash because they hate the financial privacy cash makes possible. And they prefer that you keep your money in a bank to help prop up an unsound fractional reserve banking system." As Ron Paul warned, “The cashless society is the IRS’s dream: total knowledge of, and control over, the finances of every single American.”