Simple overview of the week ahead.
Ghandi was once asked, "What do you think about Western Civilization?" to which he famously replied "I think it's a good idea." He may as well have been talking about free market capitalism. Capital in the 21st Century has hit the world like a new teen idol sensation. Everybody is drinking the Kool-Aid and it's being held up as the most important book ever written on the subject of how runaway capitalism leads to wealth inequality. Paul Krugman of course, loves it. As does every head of state and political hack in the (formerly) free world. So let's do something different here and accept a core premise of Capital, and say that wealth inequality is increasing, and that it's a bad thing. Where the point is completely missed is in what causes it (ostensibly "free market capitalism") and what to do about it (increase government control, induce more inflation and raise taxes). The point of this essay is to assert that it is not unchecked capital or runaway free markets that cause increasing wealth inequality, but rather that the underlying monetary system itself is hard-coded by an inner temple of ruling elites in a way which creates that inequality.
As Komal Sri-Kumar points out in this harsh (but fair) discussion of the Fed, (as Tim Iacono notes) the central bank’s abysmal track record on forecasting economic growth and how they have a fantastic track record for “taking the punch bowl away” far too slowly should worry all. "The Fed has been wrong every time on its growth forecast and overly optimistic," Sri-Kumar rants, adding that "the Fed is wrong in terms of its benevolence to the markets." The current environment reminds him of early 2008 noting there are "lots of characteristics which are similar and it worries me a lot." Simply out, "they’ve had five years of quantitative easing, big bond purchases, quintupling of the Fed balance sheet. And we don’t have sustainable economic growth," but the great medication is not working, and "the remedy is that you have to take the shock."
An overview of the price action in the FX market and a look at US 10-year yields. No ride on an ideological hobbie horse or axe to grind. Just trying to make sense of the price aciton
Once Central Banks get out of markets, and I know some critics think that once they get in they are here to stay, healthy volatility and actual price discovery should come back to asset classes.
For over 5 years we have been explaining the hole that the fed has been digging (most ironically here). This morning's op-ed by Warsh and Druckenmiller highlights many of the problems but we leave it to Marc Faber to succinctly sum up the dilemma that the Fed faces (and by dilemma we mean, the plan) - "The more they print, the more inequality there is, the weaker the economy will become." Simply put, "it's a catastrophe," Faber told CNBC, "what the Fed has done is to lift asset prices, and the cost of living. In the meantime, the cost of living increases are higher than the wage increases. The typical American household income is going down in real terms." Recovery?
Janet Yellen just cemented her status as the third member of the unholy triumvirate of Fed Presidents: Greenspan, Bernanke, and now Yellen.
On the day after Chairman Yellen’s press conference, investors aggressively bid up inflation trades across numerous asset classes. Gold and silver rallied sharply, TIPS implied inflation breakevens widened (despite a new slug of 30-year supply), Treasury yields rose, and the yield curve steepened. Based on investor positioning and market sentiment (CFTC’s Commitment of Traders data show record net short positions exceeding $1.5 trillion in notional rates exposure among speculators in the eurodollar futures markets), there’s decent potential for additional gains in these inflation expressions in the days and weeks ahead.
"Balance-sheet wealth is sustainable only when it comes from earned success, not government fiat," is the ugly truth that former Fed governor Kevin Warsh (amazing what truths come out after their terms are up) and hedge fund billionaire Stan Druckenmiller deliver in the following WSJ Op-Ed. The aggregate wealth of U.S. households, including stocks and real-estate holdings, just hit a new high of $81.8 trillion. No wonder most on Wall Street applaud the Fed's unrelenting balance-sheet recovery strategy.The Fed's extraordinary tools are far more potent in goosing balance-sheet wealth than spurring real income growth. Corporate chieftains rationally choose financial engineering - debt-financed share buybacks, for example - over capital investment in property, plants and equipment. The country needs an exit from the 2% growth trap. There are no short-cuts through Fed-engineered balance-sheet wealth creation. The sooner and more predictably the Fed exits its extraordinary monetary accommodation, the sooner businesses can get back to business and labor can get back to work.
As of this moment, US equity futures are perfectly unchanged despite what has been an almost comical reactivation of the 102.000 USDJPY tractor beam. Considering the pair has been trading within a 75 pips of the 102.000 level for the past month, one has to wonder when and what the next BOJ Yen equilibrium level will be reset to. Oddly enough, even as the USDJPY is very much unchanged, the Nikkei continues to rise suggesting that, as Nikkei reported, the GPIF is already investing Japanese pension funds in stocks. Which is great for the Nikkei catching up with the global bond bubble, what is not so great is what happens when the market realizes that the largest holder (excluding the BOJ) of JGBs is dumping, and the world's most illiquid major sovereign bond market rushes for the exits. Just recall the daily halts of Japanese bond trading from the summer of 2013 - we give it 3-6 months before it returns with a vengeance.
The only thing that can be said about Janet Yellen’s simple-minded paint-by-the-numbers performance yesterday is that the Keynesian apotheosis is complete. American capitalism and all political life, too, is now ruled by a 12-member monetary politburo, which is essentially accountable to no one except its own misbegotten doctrine that prosperity flows from the end of a printing press.
- Currency Probe Widens as U.S. Said to Target Markups (BBG)
- Battle for Iraq refinery as U.S. hesitates to strike (Reuters)
- Ukraine forces battle separatists after truce 'refused' (Reuters)
- Fed Dots Ignored as Investors Focus on Yellen’s Message (BBG)
- Retirees Suffer as $300 Billion 401(k) Rollover Boom Enriches Brokers (BBG)
- American Apparel ousts CEO; source says Dov Charney 'will fight like hell' (LA Times)
- House Panel Is Subpoenaed as Trading Probe Heats Up (WSJ)
- GM Officials Ignored Alert on Car Stalling (WSJ)
- Russia’s $20 Billion Bond Void Filled by China to Mexico (BBG)
Yellen has got to be the most dovish Fed chairperson going into the most important policy initiative withdrawal phase ever to be recorded since the inception of the Federal Reserve!
Goldman Sachs, like most of the mainstream economists believes today's FOMC statement will likely be "broadly neutral" with no indication of sooner rate rises than expected (despite what we have noted as the timing not being better), some modest upgrades to the economic outlook (to keep the "everything's good and you don't need us anymore" meme alive), and continued taper at the same pace (with maybe some acknowledgemnet of the transitory pop in inflation). UBS, on the other side, suggests there is a chance of some FOMC surprises with Janet Yellen pulling a semi-Carney as Citi's Steven Englander has previously noted "the Fed needs more volatility in order to maintain its illusion of omnipotence."
You can ignore and even downplay for a while, but eventually and as sure as the fundamental law of nature that everything has a cost....