The fear of deflation serves as the theoretical justification of every inflationary action taken by the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world. It is why the Federal Reserve targets a price inflation rate of 2 percent, and not 0 percent. It is in large part why the Federal Reserve has more than quadrupled the money supply since August 2008. And it is, remarkably, a great myth, for there is nothing inherently dangerous or damaging about deflation. Now unmoored from any gold standard constraints and burdened with massive government debt, in any possible scenario pitting the spectre of deflation against the ravages of inflation, the biases and phobias of central bankers will choose the latter. This choice is as inevitable as it will be devastating.
Though the mainstream financial media and the blogosphere differ radically on their forecasts - the MFM sees near-zero systemic risk while the alternative media sees a critical confluence of it - they agree on one thing: the Federal Reserve and the “too big to fail” (TBTF) Wall Street banks have their hands on the political and financial tiller of the nation, and nothing will dislodge their dominance. In addition, the U.S. dollar’s status as a reserve currency is a key component of U.S. global dominance. Were the dollar to be devalued by Fed/Wall Street policies to the point that it lost its reserve status, the damage to American influence and wealth would be irreversible. What if there is another possibility to the consensus view that the Fed/Wall Street will continue to issue credit and currency with abandon until the inevitable consequence occurs, i.e. the dollar is devalued and loses its reserve status. What if Wall Street’s power has peaked and is about to be challenged by forces that it has never faced before. Put another way, the power of Wall Street has reached a systemic extreme where a decline or reversal is inevitable.
The start of Q2 2014. US economy to strength. Japan's to weaken. Euro-area is barly growing, while the UK continues apace.
Ask yourself: Why do governments finance their expenditures with inflation rather than simply by raising taxes?
The answer is a simple one: With taxes, everyone knows that the government’s the culprit because people can see that it’s a government agency that is collecting the taxes. With inflation, government can blame what is happening on the private sector, where prices are rising in response to the government’s continued debasement of the currency.
Howard Marks once wrote that being a "contrarian" is a lonely profession. However, as investors, it is the downside that is far more damaging to our financial health than potentially missing out on a short term opportunity. Opportunities come and go, but replacing lost capital is a difficult and time consuming proposition. So, the question that we will "ponder" this weekend is whether the current consolidation is another in a long series of "buy the dip" opportunities, or does "something wicked this way come?" Here are some "words of caution" worth considering in trying to answer that question.
After tumbling overnight to just around 101.80, the USDJPY managed to stage a remarkable levitating comeback, rising all the way to 102.3, which in turn succeeded in closing the Nikkei 225 at the highs, up 1% after tumbling in early trade. The Shanghai Composite was not quite as lucky and as fear continue to weigh about a collapse in China's credit pipeline, the SHCOMP was down more than 0.8% while the PBOC withdreww even more net liquidity via repos than it did last week, at CNY 98 billion vs CNY 48 billion. That said, this morning will be the fifth consecutive overnight levitation in futures, which likely will once more surge right into the US market open to intraday highs, at which point slowy at first, then rapidly, fade again as the pattern has seemingly been set into algo random access memory. Which in a market devoid of human traders is all that matters.
Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability. As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. As a new report finds, "You can’t reform welfare programs for the poor until you’ve gotten Daddy Warbucks off the dole. Voters will insist on that - as well they should."
If there was one thing that the market was demanding after last night's disappointing March HSBC manufacturing PMI, which has now fallen so low, local market participants are convinced a stimulus is imminent (despite China's own warnings not to expect this), and sent both the SHCOMP and the CNY surging, it would have been further weak data out of Europe, where the other possible, if not probable, "QE-stimulus" bank is located now that the Fed is in full taper mode. It didn't get precisely that however there was a step in the right direction when overnight the Euro area Composite Flash PMI eased marginally from 53.3 to 53.2 in March, largely as expected. The country breakdown showed a narrowing of the Germany/France Composite PMI gap owing to a notable (3.7pt) increase in the French PMI while the German PMI eased somewhat (1.4pt). On the basis of past correlations, a Euro area Composite PMI of 53.2 is consistent with GDP growth of around +0.4%qoq, slightly stronger than our Current Activity Indicator (+0.35%qoq).
A dispassionate look at the main considerations for investors in the week ahead.
As any long-time reader of this column knows, we routinely draw from historical lessons to highlight that this time is not different. History is full of examples, from ancient Mesopotamia to the Soviet Union, which show that whenever societies reach unsustainable levels of resource consumption and allocation, they collapse. We’ve been writing about this for years, and the idea is now hitting mainstream. A recent research paper funded by NASA highlights this same premise. According to the authors: "Collapses of even advanced civilizations have occurred many times in the past five thousand years, and they were frequently followed by centuries of population and cultural decline and economic regression." The results of their experiments show that some of the very clear trends which exist today– unsustainable resource consumption, and economic stratification that favors the elite – can very easily result in collapse.
Why Mainstream Economists Like Krugman Are So WRONG and So DANGEROUS
"If we look only at the stock market, then we're in denial," warns Ron Paul in this brief 'uncomfortable-for-the-anchor' CNBC interview, adding that "it's an illusion." While the stock market has performed well, Paul explains that the economy-at-large continues to struggle noting that it's due to the Fed: "I don't think any one individual knows how to plan the economy by manipulating interest rates' [they] are so important that if you give this power to one small group - there will be distortion." That's why socialism fails, slams the Fed critic, "it's the invisible hand that we lack, not the wisdom of a few people. Few people can't be wise enough to dictate the market," and the Fed's history shows their track "record is pretty bad."
If the idea is to anticipate what an adversary does, it behooves us, even if we do not believe in QE on moral grounds or on efficacy grounds, to consider how the ECB can have QE, which it appears under increasing pressure to do. Here is such a course.
"All the Trumans – the economists, fund managers, traders, market pundits –know at some level that the environment in which they operate is not what it seems on the surface…. But the zeitgeist is so damn pleasant, the days so resplendent, the mood so euphoric, the returns so irresistible, that no one wants it to end."
Klarman is here referring to the waning days of this third and greatest financial bubble of this century. But David Stockman's take is that the crack-up boom now nearing its dénouement marks not merely the season finale of still another Fed-induced cycle of financial asset inflation, but, in fact, portends the demise of an entire era of bubble finance.
While Goldman is quickly down-playing the decision by the PBOC to double the size of the daily trading bands for USDCNY to +/2.0% as a risk-off event (just as it was in 2012 - but blame that on Greece as cause rather than symptom), BofA is a little less sanguine about the move noting a more volatile CNY/USD without trend appreciation will deter hot money inflow and perhaps will result in some unwinding of previous inflow. With 1-month volatility spiking to over 4% (its highest in over 2 years), the move is sure to remove some carry traders as risk-rewards break down on their leveraged positions.