The 20th century could be categorized as THE century when communications took off and we started living in each other’s pockets. Lives had been ruined by war, trouble and strife. Wealth had been redistributed beyond belief.
Following yesterday's early MNI rumor that a Chinese QE is being "considered" and which sent the Shanghai Composite surging 3% and led to an initial boost in US stock futures, overnight the PBOC scrambled to once again deny such speculation. Of course, going full "cold Turkey" on Chinese stimulus would be too much for the market to handle, so in a piece by the WSJ also released overnight, the author said the PBOC would pivot from outright QE to mere LTRO, which is also not new and was reported over a week ago here in "China Floats QE Trial Balloon, PBoC May Launch LTROs." In any event, for now at least, Asian stocks are not happy despite Apple's latest blockbuster results, and neither is Europe, with the Stoxx 600 down 1%, and even the E-mini is hugging 2100 unable to levitate on any imminent central bank intervention.
A look at the next week's events that could impact the global capital markets.
In a stunning shun to Congressional lawmakers, WSJ reports that The Fed has failed to comply with a request that the bank-owned entity identify the individuals who leaked The FOMC Minutes to Medley Global Advisors a day before the official release in October 2012. Rep. Jeb Hensarling sent a letter to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen on April 15 asking the Fed to name them by 5 p.m. EDT April 22. The deadline passed without any response by the Fed...
Ask yourself: where do you think this is going? Do you really think your home country will be more free and more prosperous in five years? If not, it’s time to come up with a Plan B...
China may allow commercial banks to swap the local government bonds they purchase for cash loans from the PBoC, WSJ reports. The country's local governments are laboring under a debt load that totals 35% of GDP and much of it carries relatively high interest rates. A new program will allow localities to swap a portion of that debt for lower-yielding bonds. If China does indeed roll out an LTRO-like initiative, the banks which buy the new local government bonds would then be able to pledge them as collateral for cash from the central bank.
Understanding Jackson’s Bank War is critical to our future. He was absolutely correct insofar as following the Jeffersonian view that a National Debt would not be a Blessing as Hamilton proclaimed, but the servitude of the people that would ultimately consume all liberty.
The science of economics has taken a decidedly wrong turn sometime in the 1930s. In the field of monetary science specifically, sober analysis has given way to broad-based support of central economic planning, with both policy makers and their advisors seemingly trying to trump each other with ever more lunatic proposals.
Late last year, Grexit "expert" Willem Buiter decided that he was a greater expert on the topic of monetary metals than on geopolitics by stating that "Gold Is A 6,000 Year Old Bubble." Now, he has decided that after gold, it is best to just do away with any physical currency altogether and the time to ban cash has arrived.
Confidence in the system likely hangs by a much thinner thread than is currently widely perceived. Since “risk asset” prices are soaring in much of Europe, the underlying currents of suspicion are well masked, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist. While we believe that central bank and regulatory interventions in the market are a major reason why so many bond yields have dropped into negative territory, the role played by distrust in the banking system is probably quite large as well – a suspicion that seems to be confirmed by the strength of the euro-denominated gold price.
Whether today’s most feted “intellectual leaders” and policy makers are correctly diagnosing problems or misdiagnosing them, their proposals are never anything but “viciously statist” to paraphrase Hans-Hermann Hoppe. They seemingly don’t realize that economic freedom is the sine qua non for personal freedom. One simply cannot have the latter without the former. None of them seem to believe that people can be trusted to be in charge of their own affairs. The debate over the “inequality problem” is an excellent case in point. It isn’t as if the knowledge required to understand the problem weren’t readily available. However, most of these people were educated in statist institutions, and have rarely been exposed to any non-statist ideological viewpoints. The possibilities offered by solutions that do not involve the State in every nook and cranny of the economy and our daily lives don’t even occur to them. And of course, the best social engineering plans are always their personal ones.
In his recidivist attacks on the gold standard Prof. Krugman tediously resurrects and refutes straw man arguments drawn from marginal thinkers. Prof. Krugman sets his phaser on stun and points it at the ghost of Ayn Rand rather than tangling with his peers. But boiled to its essence, Krugman's sciencefictiononomics is a tug of war between believers in mathematical modeling and believers in common sense. One also can cast this as a war between elitists (i.e believers in the ability of an elite to manage society’s affairs better than can the society itself) and populists (i.e. believers in the ability of society to manage its own affairs better than an elite can do so for it).
GE’s announcement that its getting out of the finance business should be a reminder of how crony capitalism is corrupting and debilitating the American economy. The ostensible reason the company is unceremoniously dumping its 25-year long build-up of the GE Capital mega-bank is that it doesn’t want to be regulated by Washington as a systematically important financial institution under Dodd-Frank. Oh, and that its core industrial businesses have better prospects. We will see soon enough about its oilfield equipment and wind turbine business, or indeed all of its capital goods oriented businesses in a radically deflationary world drowning in excess capacity. But at least you can say good riddance to GE Capital because it was based on a phony business model that was actually a menace to free market capitalism. Its deplorable raid on the public purse during the Lehman crisis had already demonstrated that in spades.
Huxley’s words describe a psychological condition termed cognitive dissonance. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive dissonance is induced when a person holds two contradictory beliefs, or when a belief is incongruent with an action that the person has chosen freely to perform. Cognitive dissonance is on full display today in the financial markets. The U.S. economy has been supported for seven years by a zero interest rate policy, record fiscal deficits and unprecedented surges in the money supply. Despite all of the stimuli, the economy is slogging along well below trend. The actions taken by the Federal Reserve, federal government and governments around the world are unprecedented. In a normally functioning economy such actions would generate massive growth and inflation. Since growth has been tepid and inflation benign, there is obviously something amiss.
Centrally issued money centralizes wealth and generates systemic inequality. This is equally true of all centrally issued currencies. But the inequity that is intrinsic to this system is politically, socially and financially destabilizing, and so this system is unsustainable.