Moral Hazard

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Oil Slumps To 4 Year Low Ahead Of OPEC, Eurozone Yields New Record Lows: Summary Of Overnight Events





While the US takes the day off after another near-record low volume surge to a new all time high in the S&P500, a level which is now just 125 points away from Goldman's year end target for 2016, the rest of the world will be patiently awaiting to see if oil's next step, as a result of today's OPEC meeting will be to $60 or to $100. For now at least the answer is the former (see more here from the WSJ), with Brent recently touching a fresh 4 year low in the mid-$75s, as WTI doesn't fare much better and was down 2% at last check to $72.20 after touching a low of $71.89. It appears the prepared remarks by the OPEC president to the 166th conference have not eased fears that despite all the rhetoric OPEC will be unable to get all sides on the same story, even though the speech notes "ample supply, moderate demand and warns that "if falling price trend continues, “long-term sustainability of capacity expansion plans and investment projects may be put at risk."

 
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Nothing Has Changed - And That's The Problem





Since moral hazard - the disconnect of risk and consequence - is the fundamental cause of the global meltdown of 2008, the only solution is to eliminate moral hazard. By this we mean de-institutionalizing moral hazard. But de-institutionalizing moral hazard means smashing the vested interests' primary engine of wealth and political power.  Playing monetary games has done nothing to eliminate moral hazard; indeed, playing monetary games cannot possibly eliminate moral hazard, as monetary policy enforces moral hazard.

 
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If You Really Think It Matters Which Party Controls the Senate, Answer These Questions





Please don't claim anything changes if one party or the other is in the majority. Anyone clinging to that fantasy is delusional.

 
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"If The Fed Was Truly Data-Dependent, They Would Have Tightened Already"





In 2006, Bernanke said that “stable prices are a prerequisite to the achievement of the Federal Reserve’s other mandated objectives….”   In other words, achieving maximum employment and low long-term interest rates, required price stability foremost.  However, in the past few years, the FOMC expressed its willingness to compromise price stability in order to gain improved employment. It seems to me that markets have been duped into believing that inflation is a proxy for growth. However, fragmented global policy shifts - as opposed to the quasi-coordination from 2008-2013 - are causing enormous volatility in currency and commodities.  It is likely to spill over into equity and bond markets, and have the potential to trigger disruptive second order effects.  Hopefully, the Fed does not miss its window of opportunity to hike before this occurs.

 
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Paul Singer Slams The Fake World: "Fake Growth, Fake Money, Fake Jobs, Fake Stability, Fake Inflation Numbers"





"Nobody can predict how long governments can get away with fake growth, fake money, fake financial stability, fake jobs, fake inflation numbers and fake income growth. Our feeling is that confidence, especially when it is unjustified, is quite a thin veneer. When confidence is lost, that loss can be severe, sudden and simultaneous across a number of markets and sectors."

"The situation is universal, a consequence of incompetent leaders and careless (or ignorant) citizenry."

 
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To Protect and Perve – California Cops Share Nude Photos Stolen From Citizens' Cellphones





The worst thing about the government’s reckless response to the financial crisis of 2008, even worse than the trillions in taxpayer bailouts and backstops granted to the financial criminals that created the disaster, is the primary lesson that it sent to American society as a whole. Some people like to call it “moral hazard,” but in more pedestrian terms it really just boils down to: The Bad Guys Got Away with It... "The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone told investigators that he and his fellow officers have been trading such images for years, in a practice that stretches from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station."

 
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Forget "Lower For Longer", The Fed's New Message Is "Sooner But Slower"





Many have recently drifted toward believing the Fed will be ‘lower for longer’.   My view is that the Fed will be ‘sooner, but slower’.  In other words, I expect the Fed to hike in March or sooner, but then run into problems that will slow the pace (and make it difficult to get to 1% by the end of 2015).  Moreover, today’s equity market ‘melt-up’ should be a warning sign to the Fed of the moral hazard, one-way, bubble-like conditions it has instigated.

 
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"Warning Signs" & The Fed's Grand Illusion





The current trade-off is not the contemporaneous one between more versus less policy stimulus today, but is an intertemporal trade-off between more stimulus today at the expense of more challenging and disruptive policy exit (and disruptive markets) in the future. The FOMC's dialog needs to change immediately.

 
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The Tragedy Of NATO: "Beware Foreign Entanglements"





Due to the inherent problems with collective security alliances – tragedy of the commons fed by socialism and moral hazard – nations should enter into them with great caution. George Washington’s farewell address has never sounded more prescient: Beware foreign entanglements.

 
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This Time 'Is' Different - For The First Time In 25-Years The Wall Street Gamblers Are Home Alone





The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different.  The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building.  But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.

 
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Holy Trinity Caption Contest: Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner





If anyone's bucket list includes hearing, and seeing, the unholy trinity of Bernanke, Paulson and Geithner whose actions have pretty much doomed America, today is your lucky day, because as part of the lawsuit brought on by former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, the three legendary statists will field questions from prominent, and very flamboyant, lawyer David Boies. As has been reported previously, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg is challenging the terms of the 2008 bailout for the company he built into a global financial-services powerhouse before being pushed out in 2005. He is not challenging the bailout which prevented AIG from liquidating as a result of selling billions of default protection on worthless companies, and which avoided the all out, and much needed, purge of trillions in bad debt and just as worthless equity.

 
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China Launches CNY500 Billion In "Stealth QE"





It has been a while since the PBOC engaged in some "targeted" QE. So clearly following the biggest drop in the Shanghai Composite in 6 months after some abysmal Chinese economic and flow data in the past several days, it's time for some more. From Bloomberg:

  • CHINA’S PBOC STARTS 500B YUAN SLF TODAY, SINA.COM SAYS
  • PBOC PROVIDES 500B YUAN LIQUIDITY TO CHINA’S TOP 5 BANKS: SINA
  • PBOC PROVIDES 100B YUAN TO EACH BANK TODAY, TOMORROW WITH DURATION OF 3 MONTHS: SINA

Just as expected, the Chinese "derivative" currency, the AUD, goes vertical on the news, and the S&P 500 goes vertical alongside:. As for those confused what the SLF is, here is a reminder, from our February coverage of this "stealth QE" instrument.

 
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Same $#!%, Different PIIGS





Desperate governments call for desperate measures. Unfortunately for us, citizens often end up paying for the mistakes of their governments. That’s not how it should be but, sometimes, that’s how it is. If and a when a government is no longer able to meet its obligations, capital controls, broad wealth confiscation measures, and other extreme burdens are often considered. Spanish bond yields just fell to their lowest levels in history but does that mean that your money is safe there? Absolutely not. It means that investors are complacent, not that Spain’s political risk has diminished. Portugal is in the same boat. While its borrowing costs continue to fall, its prospects for economic growth and its financial position continue to worsen. If you’ve got assets in Portugal then now would be a good time to contemplate how safe they really are. Unless you like bail-ins, that is.

 
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