Physics has the elusive Theory of Everything which consists of several Grand Unified Theories and which represents the holy grail of the science and which "fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle." In other words, once proven it would make life boring. We doubt it ever will be. Finance does not have anything like it, for the simple reason that while physics is a deterministic science, finance, predicated to a big extent on assumptions borrowed from the shaman cult known as 'economics' is always and everywhere open ended, and depends just as much on chaotic 'strange attractors' as it does on simple linear relationships. Yet when it comes to presentations, especially of the variety that attempt to explain not only where we are in the world, and how we got there, but also where we are headed, we have yet to see anything as comprehensive as the Investment Strategy guidebook from Pictet's Christophe Donay. If there is indeed a holy grail of presentations, this is it, at least for a few more instants, until something dramatically changes and the whole thing becomes an anachronism. In the meantime learn everything there is to know about global decoupling and the lack thereof, the reality of an over-indebted global regime and its 3 incompatible targets, the outlook for the US and the 30% probability of a hard recession, a recessionary Europe and the five possible outcomes of its crisis, China and its hard landing, and how this all ties into an outlook on where the world is headed together with appropriate investment strategies and proper asset allocation, the fair value of the EURUSD, systemic risk evaluation, cross asset correlation, the impact of central bank intervention, debt redemption profiles, the role of gold and commodities in the new reality, and virtually everything else of importance right here and right now.
It is no secret that over the past two months, Goldman has commenced a full endorsement of Nominal GDP targetting as a method to stimulate the economy, not to mention Wall Street's bonus pool, after Ben Bernanke completely ignored Hatzius' advice to reduce the Interest on Overnight Excess Reserve rate as well as subsequent pleading for a start of MBS LSAP. Mathematics once again aside, and as we demonstrated, the math works out to an non-trivial incremental $10 trillion in debt through 2016 on top of what will be issued, to catch up with the GDP growth run rate and to eliminate the excess slack in the economy, the question is whether NGDP would achieve any tangible stimulus at all, or merely reduce the Fed's ever smaller arsenal of non-conventional means to boost the economy by one more approach. The attached rhetorical Q&A just released by Goldman seeks to answer that and any other left over questions one may have on NGDP as a policy measure, and further puts out the inverse strawman argument that it is not coming out any time soon. To wit: "We do not expect a move to an NGDP target anytime soon, although the probability would increase if growth and/or inflation slowed by more than we currently estimate." Then again, with the whole reverse psychology trademark inherent in every piece of Goldman public product, and considering the squid's previous advances to determine monetary policy have been snubbed, it may just mean that the next time the US economy implodes, this is precisely the method the Fed may use in early 2012 to guarantee another record year of Wall Street bonuses considering 2011 will be abysmal for so many Swiss and other offshore bank accounts.
This is Jim O'Neill in about the most pessimistic light that his genetic makeup, not to mention GSAM employment contract, will allow him: "For a couple of days this week, it actually felt as though Europe’s post-war project was nearing the end of the road and, as a result, emotions have been running high. For those that never believed it was a good idea, some have been expressing a mood of jubilance. For many involved in its creation, this has not been a good week. I got more caught up in the middle of this than usual as a result of a newspaper interview, where the headline distorted what I had actually said, claiming that we were predicting a break up. While this was not a fair reflection, I did say that some major issues were now on the table and needed to be recognized. The EMU, as created, has not really worked and needs to change. It is quite clear that many countries should not have been allowed to join. It is also clear that the Growth and Stability Pact has not worked. Policymakers need to be more open in at least acknowledging this, and then doing something about it. If all of this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Italy’s issues have become front and centre. Italy is no Greece. Indeed, although the BRICs can create another Italy in 2012, Italy is close to 4 times the combined size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Its total debt is close to 25 pct of the Euro Area GDP. Quite simply, Italy cannot be allowed to stay in the position it found itself this week....while I can see the case for an EMU without some others, and despite all of Italy’s complications, I can’t see an EMU without Italy. At the same time, I can’t see Italy sustaining life with 6-7 pct 10-year bond yields. So something has to give. Let’s see what Italy brings over the weekend, and how Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels and the rest of us all react."
Goldman, Which Has Been Snubbed For The Second Time In A Row By FOMC, Shares Its Take On The Fed StatementSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/02/2011 13:19 -0400
First Goldman does not get its IOER cut, so desired back in September; now the Nominal GDP targetting which was the firm insinuated was coming, (and was insanity pure and simple) was not even mentioned. Jan Hatzius must be sweating: he is losing his monetary policy grip. In the meantime, as he sweats, here is his take on the FOMC statement.
The chart below indicates that should the Fed launch on the latest harebrained idea proposed by Goldman, namely to target nominal GDP, it will most likely blow up everything, as the US economy is now about 14.7% below the trendline average, and assuming a catch up to the bubble years through 2016, would mean an 8.6% annualized increase in economic growth, about double where growth has been in the past. How this is possible absent the issuance of an incremental ~10% in annual debt each year (keep in mind we are dealing with Keynesians, where debt = growth) we don't know. Neither does the Fed. So if indeed the Fed wants to revert to trendline, it means that by 2016, US Debt will be greater by an additional $10 trillion over an on top of the $10 trillion increase already forecast by the GAO over the next decade, or, numerically, by 2021, the US would have about $35 trillion in debt, and most likely, well over that amount. Brilliant.
Since obviously nobody in charge has learned anything at all, and all the old school games will continue until they no longer can, and demand for US paper, already plunging at the international level, disappears (aside from the Fed of course: the Fed will always be a happy last ditch monetizer of one-ply US paper), here is the Treasury's just released schedule for bond issuance for Fiscal Q1 (Oct-Dec 2011), and Q2 (Jan-March 2012), which amounts to $305 billion and $541 billion, respectively, or a total of $846 billion in 6 months, a $141 billion run rate per month. This compares to a total of $628 billion issued over the comparable period a year ago (although granted the Treasury did burn a whopping $225 billion in cash in Q1 of 2010). In other words, the US Treasury is planning on issuing 35% more in the first half of the fiscal year than a year previously, even though this time last year the Fed was monetizing all gross issuance, and even though the European EFSF was not about to ramp up issuance and soak up hundreds of billions of excess fixed income targeted capital. Now we only have some vague, ineffectively sterilized duration transfer operation which is doing nothing to lift belly demand, and merely takes care of the long end (while the Fed's promise to keep rates at zero until 2013 makes all bonds 2 years and less to be off zero effective duration). We doubt this schedule is even remotely sustainable without some imminent form of Large Scale Asset Purchase program being implement (with or without MBS monetization: for a definitive answer on this issue, please call 949-720-6226), and none of that Nominal GDP targeting mumbo jumbo. Unlike Europe, the Fed knows that money talks, and bullshit targeting walks.
As we come to terms with the new reality (or perhaps same old reality) that governments will do anything to maintain the status quo, Goldman Sachs took a step back this morning to consider what is worth focusing on in the medium-term. Obviously the European Summit proceedings impact their perspective, but less positively than one might expect as they expect slower global growth, a possible European recession, refocus on US data, Chinese policy responses, currency wars, and a balanced portfolio approach to risk. It certainly seems like Goldman remains less sanguine than an exploding US equity market might suggest and we tend to agree that ignoring the fact that the EU Summit conclusions leave more questions than answers, it may allow us to focus once again on the fundamentals and those fundamentals are not a rosy as many would have us believe.
When we witness the clash between the Austerity and Stimulus camps, on the surface there is the appearance that a true debate is taking place between diametrically opposed economists. For example, Austerity folks correctly note that our economy has been badly weighted towards consumption for some decades. They want to clear out the excesses, let the malinvestments fail, and elect an overall path of acute economic pain in order to reset the system. Stimulus advocates find such plans completely unnecessary, if not downright masochistic. Armed with a more humanistic approach, Keynesians want the government to run large deficits to help the private sector deleverage, which of course could take years....A rather serious problem in the ability of Developed Economies to coherently allocate resources started showing up well before the 2008 crisis. This status quo, made in part by policy mistakes, credit creation, and the energy limit, still remains today. Crucially, neither stimulus nor austerity will dislodge this status quo. Unless, of course, by austerity we mean to intentionally collapse the system, or if by stimulus we mean to engender a runaway inflation that will eventually yield the same result.
Zero Hedge has the pleasure to bring its readers this extensive Q&A with one of the most prominent voices of "Austrian" economic sensibility, and foremost experts on capital markets and commodities: Diapason's Sean Corrigan, who has repeatedly graced our pages in the past and who always provides a much needed 'on the ground' perspective on his native Europe. Among the numerous topics discussed are the Eurozone, its collapse, its insolvent banks, and the EFSF as the Swiss Army Knife ex Machina; the 3rd year anniversary of Lehman's failure and what lessons have been learned (if any); how to fix the US economy; on Goldman's relentless attempts to intervene in, and define, US monetary policy; what the Fed's role should be (if any) in the economy and capital markets; his views on the Occupy Wall Street movement; his advice to an inexperienced 25 year old looking to make their way in the world; And lastly, the $64K question: what is the endgame. A fascinating must read.
This is the boilerplate: "The following is based on remarks at the University Club in New York at the ceremony for the 2011 Lawrence R. Klein Award for the most accurate forecast over the prior four years to the Goldman Sachs US Economics team. The award was sponsored by the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and Blue Chip Economic Indicators, Inc., and was presented by Dr. Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot Professor of Economics at Harvard University." Hmm. We assume the University Club in New York did not read the following post. No matter. The attached analysis, ignoring that it is from the team that was 100% wrong less than a year ago, and is 120% wrong now with its ridiculous Nominal GDP targetting proposal, does have its "finer points", and as such is worth of mockery by ZH readers.
When we first reported on Bill Gross' massive surge in duration and accelerated purchase of Mortgage Backed Securities a week ago, we said, "That's either what is called betting one's farm on Operation Twist, or, betting one's farm that the next thing to be purchased by the Fed in QE3 or QE4 depending on how one keeps count, will be Mortgage Backed Securities." It was the letter. Confirmation that Bill once again frontran the Fed comes courtesy of Daniel Tarullo who in a speech at Columbia University, talking about the labor market of all things, just said the following: "I believe we should move back up toward the top of the list of options the large-scale purchase of additional mortgage-backed securities (MBS), something the FOMC first did in November 2008 and then in greater amounts beginning in March 2009 in order to provide more support to mortgage lending and housing markets." And there you go: watch as the market rips on the expectation that the US will bail out China all over again. Oh wait, at this point China couldn't care less what happens to the GSEs stack. So unfortunately as can be expected, this is nothing but yet another bailout of US banks, which lately have been buying up MBS like crazy (Gross is not the only one with the hotline), and expecting to flip right back to Brian Sack: after all something has to be done to save the poor things from a total pancaking of the Treasury curve.
Denial. Denial is safe. Comforting. Religiously and relentlessly abused by politicians who don't want nor can face reality. A word synonymous with "muddle through." Ah yes, that "muddle through" which so many C-grade economists and pundits believe is the long-term status quo for the US and the world just because it worked for Japan for the past three decades, or, said otherwise, "just because." Well, too bad. As the following absolutely must read report, which comes not from some trader of dubious credibility interviewed by BBC, nor even from an impassioned executive from a doomed Italian bank, but from consultancy powerhouse Boston Consulting Group confirms, the "muddle through" is dead. And now it is time to face the facts. What facts? The facts which state that between household, corporate and government debt, the developed world has $20 trillion in debt over and above the sustainable threshold by the definition of "stable" debt to GDP of 180%. The facts according to which all attempts to eliminate the excess debt have failed, and for now even the Fed's relentless pursuit of inflating our way out this insurmountable debt load have been for nothing. The facts which state that the only way to resolve the massive debt load is through a global coordinated debt restructuring (which would, among other things, push all global banks into bankruptcy) which, when all is said and done, will have to be funded by the world's financial asset holders: the middle- and upper-class, which, if BCS is right, have a ~30% one-time tax on all their assets to look forward to as the great mean reversion finally arrives and the world is set back on a viable path. But not before the biggest episode of "transitory" pain, misery and suffering in the history of mankind. Good luck, politicians and holders of financial assets, you will need it because after Denial comes Anger, and only long after does Acceptance finally arrive.
An intriguing research note from Goldman's Global Economics team tonight brought up the subject of 'unconventional' unconventional policies and how they ended the 'first' Great Depression. This gentle push towards softening the inflation leg of the Fed's mandate 'stool', while interesting in its own right given Goldman's policy-leading record, reminded us, by contrast, of a paper discussing how deflation is perhaps the more likely outcome when one shifts perspective from Keynesianism to a more Austrian view of the Fed's options. We are not choosing sides but for a quiet evening following a hope-shattering sell-off in risk assets, we thought it worth reflection.
Self explanatory is the title...