Despite tactical, rhetorical opposition to further expansion of the entitlement state by many voices in Washington, and firm resistance by an honorable and principled few, collusive bipartisan support for an ever-larger welfare state is the central fact of politics in our nation’s capital today, as it has been for decades. Until and unless America undergoes some sort of awakening that turns the public against its blandishments, or some sort of forcing financial crisis that suddenly restricts the resources available to it, continued growth of the entitlement state looks very likely in the years immediately ahead. And in at least that respect, America today does not look exceptional at all.
In a larger sense, the Fed is already intervening in the oil sector via its zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and its unlimited liquidity for financial speculation.Should the Fed turn the dial of intervention up by buying futures and oil-based bonds, it is not a new policy--it is simply a matter of degree. The intervention has been going on in every sector since 2008. The implosion of the oil sector is simply the latest outbreak of consequence following cause.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
America has created a moral hazard for all Americans in that we feel we always have a fail safe no matter what we do because we’ve always succeeded. But so too had every other great dynasty until it didn’t. If we do not force a change in our economic policies we are very close to and perhaps already past the point of no return. I have no witting quip to end this article. The economic landscape we face today is nothing short of dire. And at the risk of sounding overdramatic we either force a policy change, suffer the short term pain and restructure or we and all future generations will live in a very different America from the one our folks left us.
Oil Slumps To 4 Year Low Ahead Of OPEC, Eurozone Yields New Record Lows: Summary Of Overnight EventsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/27/2014 07:46 -0400
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."
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.
Please don't claim anything changes if one party or the other is in the majority. Anyone clinging to that fantasy is delusional.
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.
Paul Singer Slams The Fake World: "Fake Growth, Fake Money, Fake Jobs, Fake Stability, Fake Inflation Numbers"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/04/2014 12:52 -0400
"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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.