“When Money Dies” is the title of a 1975 book by Adam Fergusson, in which he describes the downfall of the Reichsmark in Weimar Germany. A fascinating look at that period of history, one can glean quite a few useful pieces of advice on how to survive a currency crisis. But “when money dies” could also describe the current currency crisis in Greece, in which many Greeks seem to have taken those lessons from Fergusson’s account of the Weimar hyperinflation to heart.
"We've won a few months' respite but the problem will come back," France's Marine Le Pen said of Greece... "Today we're talking about Grexit, tomorrow it will be Brexit, and the day after tomorrow it will be Frexit." We shouldn’t need Le Pen to voice the obvious. But that no other ‘leader’, save for Nigel Farage, puts it into these crystal clear terms, does tell us a lot about all other European leaders. And unfortunately that includes Alexis Tsipras. Though we hold out some hope for him yet. Here’s hoping he will not sign that deal, whichever it may be in the end, and thereby set in motion the disintegration of the unholy Union.
Stock markets in the US and Europe are in for a correction, while the euro is set to rise, according to Saxo Bank’s Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, nomatter what happens between Greece and its creditors. Steen also looks at the impact a rate hike from the US Federal Reserve would have on USD and what currencies could gain once the Fed decides to move on rates, noting that "the consensus has it wrong on the timing of US rate hike," as the credit cycle topped in June 2014. He believes that commodities and metals in particular offer opportunities for investors.
Stocks are pulling back ahead of a greatly anticipated FED meeting. Investors are holding their breath as they wait for news from Janet Yellen on whether or not the FED will give more indication of future interest rates.
The bond market may have gotten so fragmented in recent months that even Bloomberg was amazed at how little trading volume it necessary to make a price impact, the amount of bond traders (and certainly salesmen), and certainly their bonuses, appeared to only go up. "Appeared" being the key word, however, because as Bloomberg reports, "the average number of dealers providing prices for European corporate bonds dropped to a low of 3.2 per trade last month, down from 8.8 in 2009, according to data compiled by Morgan Stanley."
For decades, the rest of the planet has regarded the United States as “the land of opportunity” where almost anyone can be successful if they are willing to work hard. The “American Dream” has been transformed into a very twisted game of musical chairs. With each passing year, more people are falling out of the middle class, and most of the rest are scrambling really hard to keep their own places. Something has gone horribly wrong... We are the generation that gets to witness the end of the American Dream.
What we see now is the recovery of price discovery, and therefore the functioning economy, and it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it doesn’t come in a smooth transition. Six years is a long time. Moreover, it was never just QE that distorted the markets, there was – and is – the ultra-low interest rate policy developed nations’ central banks adhere to like it was the gospel, and there’s always been the narrative of economic recovery just around the corner that the politico/media system incessantly drowned the world in. That the QE madness ended with the decapitation of the price of oil seems only fitting.
History literally appears to be repeating. The mainstream media and our politicians are promising Americans that everything is going to be okay somehow, and that seems to be good enough for most people. But the signs that another massive financial crisis is on the horizon are everywhere.
From Bill Gross: "I’ll leave the specific forecasting for a few weeks’ time and sum it up in a few quick sentences for now: Beware the Ides of March, or the Ides of any month in 2015 for that matter. When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over.... Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed."
Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad trades in the coming year.
The big selloff in 2015 will come from housing and housing-related investments as the marginal cost of capital rises through regulation and through “margin calls” on banks as their profit-to-GDP ratios grow too high for the economy to function properly. The dividend society is here and the true manifestation of Japanisation is not a future event but a thing we are living in right now…
We’ve landed in the next phase of what arguably started in 2007, but what you could place back many years before that, an economic system based on the fantasy that is debt driven growth, inflated by a factor of a trillion, give or take a few zeros. That system is in the process of dying. And the people who have tried to make you believe, and succeeded, that it would all be fine in the end, are now jockeying for position in the aftermath of the demise of a world built on debt. And they are the same people who built that world, profited from it to an insane degree, and want to use those profits to hang on to power in a world that will be dramatically different from the one they called the shots in. And that doesn’t bode well; it tells us violent clashes will be on the horizon.
The Bank of Korea - South Korea’s central bank - released data that says South Korean domestic deposits have reached 16.19 billion Chinese renminbi in July this year, which is a 55-fold increase from the same period last year when renminbi deposits accounted for only 290 million. The signs are clearly all there. Everyone realizes that the present system is on its way out and are taking appropriate measures. The Russians, the Germans, the French, the Brits, the Canadians, the Koreans…
"If you call a life of surveillance, anxiety and ceaseless toil in the service of a government you didn’t elect 'freedom', then you and I have a very different idea of what that word means." There are only two possible futures facing the United States, and neither one is pretty. Whether the collapse is gradual or gut-wrenchingly sudden, the results will be chaos, civil strife and fascism.
"It is a bad sign for the market when all the bears give up. If no-one is left to be converted, it usually means no-one is left to buy.” The extraordinarily low level of "bearish" outlooks combined with extreme levels of complacency within the financial markets has historically been a "poor cocktail" for future investment success.