Ben Bernanke is participating in an IMF panel with Larry Summers, Ken Rogoff, and fromer Bank of Israel chief Stan Fischer... Full speech below...
Many will answer "yes" to the five questions - and that has profound implications on what kind of country the US will become for the next generation...
While today's big event is the October Non-farm payrolls print, which consensus has at 120K and unemployment rising from 7.2% to 7.3%, there was a spate of events overnight worth noting, starting with Chinese exports and imports both rising more than expected (5.6% and 7.6% vs expectations of 1.9% and 7.4% respectively), leading to an October trade surplus of $31.1 billion double the $15.2 billion reported in August. This led to a brief jump in Asian regional market which however was promptly faded. Germany also reported a greater trade surplus than expected at €20.4bn vs €15.4 bn expected, which begs the question just where are all these excess exports going to? Perhaps France, whose trade deficit rose from €5.1 billion to €5.8 billion, more than the €4.8 billion expected. Of note also was the French downgrade from AA+ to AA by S&P, citing weak economic prospects, with fiscal constraints throughout 2014. The agency added that the country has limited room to maneuver and sees an inability to significantly cut government spending. The downgrade, however, was largely a buy the EURUSD dip event as rating agencies' opinions fade into irrelevance.
The Fed seems to be facing two major risks: first, premature tapering disrupting markets and triggering global turmoil across asset classes, thereby threatening the fragile economy recovery; second, delayed tapering further fuelling asset price bubbles, which could burst eventually and do major damage. UBS' Beat Siegenthaler notes the September decision suggested a Fed more worried about the fragile recovery than about the potential for asset bubbles and other longer-term problems associated with extended liquidity injections. Whereas it had originally assumed that a gradual tapering would result in a gradual market reaction, Siegenthaler explains it is now clear that the situation is much more binary; and as such, the hurdles for tapering might be substantially higher than originally thought.
Readers should consider carefully the fundamental difference between a “real economy” and a “financial economy.” In a real economy, the debt and equity markets as a percentage of GDP are small and are principally designed to channel savings into investments. In a financial economy or “monetary-driven economy,” the capital market is far larger than GDP and channels savings not only into investments, but also continuously into colossal speculative bubbles. It would seem to me that Karl Marx might prove to have been right in his contention that crises become more and more destructive as the capitalistic system matures (and as the “financial economy” referred to earlier grows like a cancer) and that the ultimate breakdown will occur in a final crisis that will be so disastrous as to set fire to the framework of our capitalistic society.
Once upon a time, a few deluded individuals held hope that quantiative easing may actually do something to improve the plight of the common person instead of simply transferring wealth from the poor to the rich at an ever faster pace. Five years of failed monetary policy later, which has done nothing to stimulate the economy and everything to stimulate unprecedented non-risk taking that makes even the epic asset bubble of 2007 pale by comparison, this naive assumption has been thoroughly destroyed. However, for all those who don't splurge on yachts, mega mansions, and private jets, the pain is just starting. The latest evidence of this comes from Japan where according to a survey by the Bank of Japan released today, the share of Japanese households with no financial assets rose to a record as falling incomes forced people to dig into their savings. According to Bloomberg, as a result of Abe's disastrous "reflation at all costs" policies, the proportion of Japanese households without financial assets reached 31 percent up from 26 percent a year earlier and the highest since the poll began in 1963.
Perhaps it is not surprising that with the absolute majority of economists and strategists, or 67 of 70, predicting no rate cut by the ECB, this is exactly what the ECB just did, when in a stunning move it cute rates for both the main refi rate and the marginal lending facility by 25 bps, to 0.25% and 0.75% respectively. And there is your reaction to Europe's encroaching deflation. The Euro will need a bigger chart to show just how far it tumbled as a result of the stunner...
Moments ago the Czech Republic officially entered the global currency wars with the first currency intervention in 11 Years
CZECH CENTRAL BANK APPROVES KORUNA INTERVENTION; CZECH CENTRAL BANK SAID TO BUY EUROS IN MARKET
KORUNA WEAKENS 3.2% VS EUR AS CENTRAL BANK OKS INTERVENTION
This has led to the biggest Koruna drop in 4 years. Whoever was long the EURCZK, take the rest of the day off:
When it comes to US equities today, the picture below summarizes it all... the only question is whether the NYSE breaks to celebrate the year's overhyped social media IPO.Aside from the non-event that is the going public of a company that will likely not generate profits for years, if ever, the overnight market has been quiet with all major stock indices in Asia trading modestly lower on the back of a modestly stronger dollar, although the main currency to watch will be the Euro (German Industrial production of -0.9% today was a miss of 0.0% expectations and down from 1.6% previously), when the ECB releases its monthly statement at 7:45 am Eastern when it is largely expected to do nothing but may hint at more easing in the future. On the US docket we have the weekly initial claims (expected at 335k) which now that they are again in a rising phase, have been the latest data item to be ignored in the Bizarro market, as well as the latest Q3 GDP estimate, pegged by consensus at 2.0%.
As the S&P 500 continues to push to one new high after the next, the bullish arguments of valuation have quietly given way to "it's all about the Fed." The biggest angst that weighs on professional, and retail investors alike, are not deteriorating economic strength, weak revenue growth or concerns over the next political drama - but rather when will the Fed pull its support from the financial markets. For the Federal Reserve, they are now caught in the same "liquidity trap" that has been the history of Japan for the last three decades. Should we have an expectation that the same monetary policies employed by Japan will have a different outcome in the U.S? More importantly, this is no longer a domestic question - but rather a global one since every major central bank is now engaged in a coordinated infusion of liquidity. Will the Federal Reserve "taper" in December or March - it's possible. However, the revulsion by the markets, combined with the deterioration of economic growth, will likely lead to a quick reversal of any such a decision.
European unemployment hits a new record high. China's see-saw taper no taper talk. And the beginning of US Housing Bust 2.0
"The major themes are unchanged – anaemic global growth/mediocre fundamentals, what I consider to be extraordinarily and dangerously loose (monetary) policy settings, very poor global demographics, excessive debt, an enormous misallocation of capital driven by the state sponsored mispricing of money/capital, and excessive financial market/asset price speculation at the expense of any benefit to the real economy. As I expect marginal higher highs before the big reversal, and while my target for this high in the S&P over the next five months remains anchored around 1800, an ‘extreme’ upside target could see the S&P trade up to 1850. Put it another way – before we see any big risk reversal over 2014 and 2015, we need to see more complacency in markets. I am looking – as a proxy guide – for the VIX index to trade down at 10 between now and end Q1 2014 before I would recommend large-scale positioning for a major risk reversal over the last three quarters of 2014 and over 2015.... Beyond Q1 2014, the longer term will all likely be driven by the growth data and the credibility of policymakers and what seems like an all-in ‘bet’ on QE as the solution to our ills."
The extreme experiment of current US monetary policy has evolved (as we noted yesterday), from explicit end-dates, to unlimited end-dates, to threshold-based end-dates. Of course, this 'threshold' was no problem for the liquidty whores when unemployment rates were extremely high themselves, but as the world awoke to what we have been pointing out - that it's all a mirage of collapsing participation rates - the FOMC (and sell-side strategists) realized that the endgame may be 'too close'. Cue Goldman's Jan Hatzius, who in today's note, citing two influential Fed staff economists, shifts the base case and forecasts that the Fed will lower its threshold for rate hikes to 6.0% (and perhaps as low as 5.5%) as early as December (as a dovish forward-guidance balance to an expected Taper announcement).
This morning US futures are an unfamiliar shade of green, as the market is poised for its first red open in recent memory (then again the traditional EURJPY pre-open ramp is still to come). One of the reasons blamed for the lack of generic monetary euphoria is that China looked likely to buck the trend for more monetary policy support. New Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech published in full late on Monday that adding extra stimulus would be more difficult since printing new money would cause inflation. "His comments are different from what people were expecting. This is a shift from what he said earlier this year about bottom-line growth," said Hong Hao, chief strategist at Bank of Communications International. Asian shares struggled as a result slipping about 0.2 percent, though Japan's Nikkei stock average bounced off its lows and managed a 0.2 percent gain. However, in a world in which the monetary tsunami torch has to be passed every few months, this will hardly be seen as supportive of the "bad news is good news" paradigm we have seen for the past 5 years.
The goal of forward guidance is to steer market, as well as public, expectations about the future path of monetary policy. It would appear, to those without PhD.s that central banks are drifting from actions to words and the following chart shows the devolution over the past 20 years of central-banker-speak. We have come quite a way from the "never explain, never excuse" view of Montagu Norman in the early 20th century to the hope-laden promises of increasingly wordy statements today...