The politicians of Europe are plunging into a form of ideological fratricide as they battle over Greece. Accordingly, all the combatants - the German, Greek and other national politicians and the apparatchiks of Brussels and Frankfurt - are fundamentally on the wrong path, albeit for different reasons. Yet by collectively indulging in the sum of all statist errors they may ultimately do a service. Namely, discredit and destroy the whole bailout state and central bank driven financialization model that threatens political democracy and capitalist prosperity in Europe - and the rest of the world, too.
Greece’s problem can only be truly solved if large scale debt restructuring is accepted and executed. But that would initiate a chain of events that would bring down the bloated zombie that is Wall Street. And it just so happens that this zombie rules the planet. We are all addicted to the zombie. It allows us to fool ourselves into thinking we are doing well – well, sort of -, but the longer term implications of that behavior will be devastating. We’re all going to be Greece, that’s inevitable. It’s not some maybe thing. The only thing that keeps us from realizing that is that the big media outlets have become part of the same industry that Wall Street, and the governments it controls, have full control over. And that in turn says something about the importance of what Yanis Varoufakis and Syriza are trying to accomplish. They’re taking the battle to the finance empire. And it should not be a lonely fight. Because if the international Wall Street banks succeed in Greece, some theater eerily uncomfortably near you will be next. That is cast in stone.
Greece has been borrowing its way to disaster long enough. For its part, Greece stands at a fork in the road. Syriza can move aggressively to recover Greece’s democratic sovereignty or it can desperately cling to the faltering currency and financial machinery of the Euro zone. But it can’t do both. Now and again history reaches an inflection point. Statesman and mere politicians, as the case may be, find themselves confronted with fraught circumstances and stark choices. February 2015 is one such moment.
The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
It appears markets are on the verge of learning just how damaging the unintended consequences will be from multiple years of extreme central bank promises now that the Fed has run out of the ammunition to keep the utopian market façade alive. The structure of the ECB QE and the Greek situation make the backdrop considerably more troubling and difficult.
Over the last 100 years the Fed has had many mandates and policy changes in its pursuit of becoming the chief central economic planner for the US. Not only has it pursued this utopian dream of planning the US economy and financing every boondoggle conceivable in the welfare/warfare state, it has become the manipulator of the premier world reserve currency. All this effort by thousands of planners in the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the bureaucracy to achieve a stable financial system and healthy economic growth has failed. It must be the case that it has all been misdirected. And just maybe a free market and a limited government philosophy are the answers for sorting it all out without the economic planners setting interest and CPI rate increases. A simpler solution to achieving a healthy economy would be to concentrate on providing a “SOUND DOLLAR” as the Founders of the country suggested.
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.