The bombs are going to drop – increased forward guidance on rates and decreased direct bond purchases – but these policies in and of themselves are just tactical. What’s really at stake is the strategic meaning of these policies, the belief system that takes hold (or doesn’t) around the power of the Fed to create market outcomes. Over the next three or four months we’re going to see quite a battle for the hearts and minds of investors, with both “sides” employing the Narrative of Don’t Fight the Fed. On the one hand you will have the Fed, with their Jericho Trumpet of Hilsenrath et al shrieking at you a new interpretation of the Narrative: ZIRP is the source of the Fed’s power, not QE, so tapering is no big deal. On the other hand you also have the Fed, but the Fed of the past several years and the way it has trained the market to believe that the portfolio rebalancing effect … i.e., the behavioral impact of QE that Bernanke has directly credited with driving up the stock market … is what really matters. And if that’s your reality, then tapering is a big deal, indeed. I’ll be monitoring all this closely at Epsilon Theory in the weeks ahead.
Although the U.S. stock market continues to hit new nominal highs on a nearly daily basis, the U.S. economy bumps along at a lackluster pace. This disconnect has been achieved by a massive Fed experiment in monetary stimulation. Through the combination of seemingly endless maintenance of zero interest rates and the injection of some $1trillion a year of synthetic money into fixed-income markets, the Fed is hoping that the boom it is creating on Wall Street will lead to a boom on Main Street. In reality, this a very dangerous economic gamble of enormously high stakes. As we have seen in the recent past, financial bubbles can leave catastrophe in their wake.
- Glass-Steagall Fans Plan New Assault If Volcker Rule Deemed Weak (BBG) ... "if"? The banks control the legislators and regulators...
- Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA (USA Today)
- Major tech companies push for limits on government surveillance (Reuters)
- Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog (BBG)
- Protesters fell Lenin statue, tell Ukraine's president 'you're next' (Reuters)
- Everyone must be flying private these days: EADS to cut 5000-6000 jobs, close Paris HQ in restructuring (FT)
- Big Players Trade 'Upstairs' (WSJ)
- There’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have (BBG)
- Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy (Reuters)
- America’s Role as Consumer of Last Resort Goes Missing (BBG)
- Holiday sales sag despite blitz of deals (WSJ)
- Abe Support Falls Below 50% for First Time Amid Secrecy Drive (BBG)
- U.S. airlines give China flight plans for defense zone (Reuters), while Japan: no change to airlines' notification policy when flying in East China Sea zone (Reuters)
- Thai protesters seek to topple PM after clashes (Reuters)
- Hilton Seeks as Much as $2.4 Billion in Biggest Hotel IPO (BBG)
- Biden on delicate mission to defuse tensions in East Asia (Reuters)
- Fed eyes financial system weak link (WSJ)
- Pentagon in line of fire in US budget war (FT)
- China’s monetary squeeze collides with housing bubble (FT)
Following the to-ing and fro-ing of the last 2 days with US and Japan "testing" China's new Air Defense Zone (ADIZ), China has not only escalated (as we noted earlier) but as the day begins in Asia is stepping up the rhetoric significantly. Official media said that Japan is the "prime target" and it is an "urgent task for China to further train its air force to make full preparation for potential conflicts." Japanese lawmakers, meanwhile, are pushing for a bill "demanding an immediate withdrawal of China's ADIZ." While the Western world goes on its merry way buying S&P futures, China's concluding message rings its most defint so far, "We are willing to engage in a protracted confrontation with Japan. Our ultimate goal is to beat its willpower and ambition to instigate strategic confrontation against China."
A zombie government armed with accounting tricks has bailed out a zombie banking industry using even more financial phoniness. A few numbers pushed here and there, and the industry is earning record profits. But out in the real world where people live and work, things aren't so rosy. Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.
Japan – Like the U.S. – Turns to Censorship
Recently, newspaper headlines declared that Greece would have a balanced budget for 2013 as a whole. The news came as quite a shock: Recall that when Greek officials came clean about the true state of their country’s public finances in 2010, the budget deficit was more than 10% of GDP – a moment of statistical honesty that triggered the eurozone debt crisis. It seemed too good to be true that the Greek deficit would be completely eliminated in just three years. In fact, it is too good to be true.
Edward Snowden has recently revealed that he has a secret cache of ‘doomsday’ material that will blow the world apart and the US in particular.
Are you deeply concerned about the future of America? Is something in your gut telling you that our system is fundamentally broken and that the mainstream media is not telling you the truth about what is happening? If so, you are definitely not alone. Right now, there are millions upon millions of Americans that are absolutely horrified as they watch this nation deteriorate. In fact, according to an analysis of recent polling data conducted by Real Clear Politics, approximately 68 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track and only 23.5 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the right track.
Reading between the lines of recent Fed communications, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the Fed wants to exit its quantitative easing policies as soon as possible. Though they’re loath to admit it, the architects of quantitative easing now recognize that their efforts are achieving diminishing marginal returns while at the same time building up massive imbalances, distortions, and speculative excesses in the capital markets. Moreover, they’re realizing that the eventual exit costs are also likely much higher than they had previously thought, and continue to rise with each new asset purchase. Implications for the markets, which may not yet be fully prepared for this outcome, are likely to be significant. In short, we would expect yield curves to steepen, the dollar to strengthen, equities to fall, credit spreads to widen, commodities to weaken (the metals in particular), and volatility to rise. How the Fed will then respond to these developments will be very telling indeed. Their hand will be forced, and we may all soon learn how strong the QE trap has become.
With all eyes glued to the anniversary of the assassination of JFK 50 years ago, we thought it worth noting that the death of another important American figure - the USDollar - began exactly 100 years ago. Today in 1910 Sen. Aldrich, 1 yr after introducing an amendment to establish an income tax, convened the first secret meeting at Jekyll Island.
With gold once again getting the slamdown treatment this morning (even as stocks shrug off any taper tantrum fears) the following article from Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional seems quite prescient. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes, it appears to imply that the struggling South American nation has agreed to sell or swap the gold it still holds overseas at the Bank of England to Goldman Sachs. Perhaps that helps explain where Maduro got the money for the Samsung deal...
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), "we've got to stop this, this is going to be bad." He adds, on the incoming QEeen, "she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn't believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good." However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, "eventually the markets will just say, "We're not going to play this game anymore", and we'll have a serious collapse." The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes "if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it's blue because I have found that most people won't even bother to look out the window..." Rogers concludes, "everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy," because as he ominously warns, when 'it' collapses, "there will be big change.