"A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman's famous "helicopter drop" of money ."
- Ben Bernanke, Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here, November 21, 2002
These days, you could put ‘safety and security’ in front of just about anything and get people to readily comply. Well, OK. After all, who is against ‘safety and security’? Only criminal terrorists, apparently. This is now the easiest way for governments to exact their agendas... whether it’s invading new countries, monitoring all Internet activity worldwide, or bailing out the big banks at taxpayer expense. Apparently the citizenry has become so scared that we collectively lay down and let governments walk all over us. At this point, the Founding Fathers’ list of grievances nearly pales in comparison to the indignities and injustices to liberty that people suffer today under their government. We’ve been talking about this trend for four years now. This is no longer theory. It’s real. It’s happening. And it’s coming soon to a bankrupt, insolvent nation near you. Have you hit your breaking point yet?
The first signs are emerging that the cult-like status given to the world's central bankers is starting to wane, with significant market implications.
Much data and events next week. Politics risks trumping economics.
Overnight, the market continued to digest news out of the UK that the formerly solid pro-war alliance has splintered following a historic vote by the House of Commons, leaving Obama to "go it alone." The result was a rather sizable slamdown in both crude and gold, accelerating as Europe opened for trading, and pushing gold back under $1400. This happened even as data out of Europe showed that European unemployment remained at a record high 12.1%, while inflation missed expectations and printed at 1.3%, or below 2% for the seventh month. Earlier in the session, headline data out of Japan showed that inflation had risen at the fastest pace since 2008. However, before the deflation monster is proclaimed dead, the core-core figure (excluding foods and energy) of the Tokyo CPI was down 0.4% yoy, unchanged since June for three months, suggesting that prices are still largely driven by energy-related costs. In other words cost-push inflation is rampant, which is the worst possible scenario and means the BOJ's QE is going to all the wrong place.
History is very clear: societies that organize themselves around a tiny elite who thinks they should control the entire system suffer a 100% failure rate, without exception. Today’s system shares similar fundamentals to nearly every other case of failed empire. And it’s foolish to think that this time will be any different.
The key overnight events were already discussed previously, but here they are again: the wholesale selloff in Asia (which subsequently shifted to Europe), the accelerating outflows from India (moment ago the SEBI website announced a net INR13.7 billion selling in Indian stocks yesterday and the near record collapse in the Indian Rupee to new record lows, and the ongoing uncertainty over Syria and what it will do to crude prices (if SocGen is right, nothing good). In brief: a market conditioned and habituated to a world in which Bernanke promises "to make everything ok" suddenly finds itself in the throes of uncertainty and following 4 years of dumb trend-following, has no idea what to do.
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
Next weeks events placed within the larger context.
A look the end of the rising cycle and the start of the falling cycle, including its dynamics and capital destruction. How does the central bank respond?
“Is there any good news?”
The good news is that this fraudulent system of unchecked, unbacked paper currency is finally coming to an end.
$51, 323, 233, 866, 518. That’s the current global public debt that exists all countries together. Next year it will rise to$54, 020, 847, 580, 179.
Draghi is a clever man in charge of a pretend central bank (for it’s only equipped to fight inflation, not a banking-turned-sovereign-debt-and-unemployment crisis). He must guess that bond investors will soon figure out that a stateless central bank defending a stateless currency is so hamstrung politically that it carries far less firepower than, say, the Federal Reserve has over the US economy and US dollar. If his outright-monetary-transactions bluff collapses, he may well have other tricks ready to suppress yields on struggling sovereign debt and save the euro (without which there is no need for the ECB). If Draghi is out of surprises, he can be thanked for buying time for politicians to come up with durable solutions to the eurozone’s woes. Oh, that’s another flaw with Draghi’s scheme; it removed the pressure for politicians to act. So they haven’t.
The Chinese demand for gold essentially comes from three segments: (1) the People’s Bank of China; (2); the banking sector; and (3) Chinese citizens. We can count on the Chinese central bank to pursue the same steady course they have been pursuing for a while: buying additional gunpowder by increasing their gold reserves. More importantly, it is very likely that the current forced deleveraging will be accompanied by, for instance, a significant cut in interest rates or a lowering of the reserve requirements to offer the banking sector a helping hand (as the PBOC appears to be folding a little on its hard stance). This could have a major impact on gold. We’ll see why by observing that the bulk of Chinese gold demand comes from its third source: Chinese citizens. China has one of the world's highest saving rates, and the public faces few investment options. With negative real interest rates, in case the PBoC does lower rates to support the banking system, gold seems to be an opportune alternative.
It just never stops...