The Austrian School of economics has a concept called a “crack-up boom” in which a critical mass of people conclude that their government is actively trying to devalue its currency. Consumers respond by front-running the government, spending their paychecks immediately in order to convert their soon-to-be-less-valuable money into real things. Merchants, not happy about the sudden influx of suspect currency (and sensing the panic of their customers) hold out for ever-higher prices, causing inflation to spike. But it’s a special kind of inflation, driven not by a sudden increase in the money supply but by collapsing confidence among holders of the currency. In a very short time, so goes the theory, the supply of stuff available for purchase dries up, prices hyperinflate, and the economy collapses. Welcome, in other words, to Greece...
No bubble can remain aloft without a heavy dose of monetary inflation. The fact that China’s authorities, including its central bank, have been unable to stem the decline stands as a stark warning to the many Western investors who seemingly believe that central banks are nigh omnipotent entities run by magicians. This is not the case. Once an asset bubble begins to burst, there there is nothing central bankers can do to stop it – and we have plenty of bubbles awaiting their turn in the barrel.
Nobody apparently learned much from the whole bubble-bust affair as banks and financial firms are at it again, this time in corporate debt. The artificial suppression of default, in no small part to perceptions of those bank reserves under QE (just like perceptions of balance sheet capacity pre-crisis), has turned junk debt into the vehicle of choice for yet another cycle of “reach for yield.” In the past two bubble cycles, we see how monetary policy creates the conditions for them but also in parallel for their disorderly closure. It isn’t money that the FOMC directs but rather unrealistic, to the extreme, expectations and extrapolations. Once those become encoded in financial equations, the illusion becomes real supply.
The US Federal Reserve has been universally lauded for the apparent success of its extreme monetary policy of recent years. With key world stock markets near record highs, traders universally love the Fed’s zero-interest-rate and quantitative-easing campaigns. But this celebration is terribly premature. The full impact of these wildly-unprecedented policies won’t become apparent until they are fully normalized. The most-extreme monetary experiment by far in US history is just at half-time now, the fat lady hasn’t even taken the stage. The full normalization of ZIRP and QE is likely to be as negative for stock and bond prices as its ramping up proved positive for them.
At the end of the day, the “Greek” issue is in fact a “debt” issue. And Greece is just a drop in the ocean of debt sloshing around the financial system.
At the open, Europe looked in the abyss, and with no help coming from China, it did not like what it saw: And then the answer came from the Swiss National Bank, which stepped in to prevent the collapse just as Europe was opening. Because seemingly out of nowhere, a tremendous bid came in to life the EURCHF, buying Euros (against the CHF and the USD) and selling Europe's last left safety currency. We now know that it was the SNB, the same central bank which is the proud owner of well over $1 billion in Apple stock.
today is Friday taken to the nth degree, with the markets having already declared if not victory then the death of all Greek "contagion" leverage, following news that a new Greek proposal was sent yesterday (which as we summarized does not include any of the demanded by the Troika pension cuts), ignoring news that Greece had again sent Belgium the wrong proposal which the market has taken as a sign of capitulation by Tsipras, and as a result futures are surging higher by nearly 1%, the German DAX is up a whopping 3.1%, on track for the biggest one day gain in three years, Greek stocks up over 8%, German and US Treasurys sliding while Greek and peripheral bonds are surging.
Greek end hogame is at hand. US economy is gaining momentum--consumption, capex, and housing. Several equity markets are at cross-roads.
We decided to do a little research to find out the size of different investable asset classes globally, to try to get some color on the money flows in this extraordinary period. The data is from various dates from 2013 to 2014, but the differences don’t matter much.
As so often, Mr. Tsipras makes a number of fair points. However, it seems to us that everybody is skirting the main issues. Greece cannot become a “socialist Utopia”, unless its citizens are happy with being condemned to a hand-to-mouth existence for a long, long time indeed. Whether or not Greece defaults, the one thing the government will be unable to fund is the very socialism that is its basic ideology.
The mainstream media is still full of articles about the alleged evils of cash, which we regard as a typical “trial balloon” launched by the powers-that-be. A salami tactic is therefore employed, not least because this ensures that there will be little protest. A new law or regulation may not be seen as overly onerous in isolation. The average citizen may well think – if he or she is even aware of the adoption of a new law: “Oh well, it is a bit creepy” or “it does make life a bit more difficult”, but “if it helps to keep us safer/more prosperous/more free/saves the planet, I can put up with it”. And so one freedom after another is taken away. If pursued to its logical conclusion, no freedom will be left in the end.
When and what will break the chains on gold by those seemingly omnipotent forces that so assuredly keep its price in check? In essence, the belief is (and I expect for most honest and impartial analysts this is true) that because there is potentially significant downside risk to a global monetary system built upon a currency to which gold represents the proverbial kryptonite (we’ll discuss why), there are checks in place within the system, to ensure that kryptonite doesn’t become too potent. The architects of the existing system would have been foolish not to implement checks on gold.
German notes begin with an X, while Greek notes start with a Y. Spain is V, France U, Ireland T, Portugal M and Italy S. Belgium is Z, Cyprus G, Luxembourg 1, Malta F, Netherlands P, Austria N, Slovenia H, Slovakia E and Finland L.
"While most are focused on the risks around a withdrawal of liquidity, we believe the biggest hit to confidence could be the opposite: if another round of US QE is necessary to prop up the economy," BofAML says, suggesting the Fed is now cornered as raising rates risks destabilizing markets and QE4 risks betraying the futility of successive central bank interventions.