Since 2007 our analysis has suggested the likelihood of economic outcomes that most have considered unlikely: significant and ongoing monetary inflation, policy-administered currency devaluation, substantial global price inflation, and an eventual change in how the forty year old global monetary system is structured. Most observers have viewed such outlooks as tail events – highly unlikely, unworthy of serious consideration or a long way off. We remain resolute, and believe last week’s movements in Frankfurt and Washington towards perpetual quantitative easing confirmed and accelerated the validity of our outlook. With QBAMCO's view that $15,000 - $19,000 Gold is possible, timing of the catch-up phase is impossible - though they suspect last week's events may be the catalyst that begins to raise public awareness of the link between monetary inflation and price inflation.
News may come, and news may go, but the fiscal policy implementation vehicle known as the market, and now controlled by the Political Reserve don't care. For those who do, here is what has happened in the past few hours and what is on deck for the remainder of the week.
Well, my fellow Slope-a Dopes, your favorite intrepid seafaring Frenchman got blown out of the water by Benjamin Moby-Dick Bernanke once again. I have to hand it to captain grey beard, for a guy with a curiously quivering lower lip, who seems so utterly unsure of himself every time he opens his moronic mouth, he sure does have some pair of ballistic brass balls. Not only did he delivered on his QE3 promise, but he actually turbo charged it into a terrifying trifecta! Boatswain BDI was left for dead, desperately drowning in a sea of red DOOMs (Deep Options Out of the Money). So now that Moby Dick has breached and surged the equity waves to new highs, where do we sail from here?
The Fed panicked. It is extraordinary that the Fed would announce an open-ended "we'll print as much as it takes, as long as it takes" policy. Chairman Bernanke is sending a signal to the markets and to government that the economy is bad and getting worse and that the Fed will do its part as everyone expects them to do. This is a clear signal to the markets and the world that the Fed stands for monetary inflation. They don't know what else to do. Here is the fallout.
With 20 minutes to go, we thought it timely to see the script (perhaps) for the frivolity to come. It seems like the fate of the known world is predicated on the words of a bearded academic this afternoon and whether you believe he must or must not LSAP us to Dow 20,000 (and Gold $2,000) in the next few weeks - even as the economy and jobs tail-spin - there are many questions, which Goldman provides a platform for understanding, that remain unanswered (and more than likely will remain vague even after he has finished his statement). Their expectations are for a return to QE and an extension of rate guidance into mid-2015 (and everyone gets a pony) but no cut in IOER.
SocGen’s Sebastian Galy:
The market decided rose tinted glasses were not enough, put on its dark shades and hit the nightlife.
And the uber-bullishness is based on what? Hopium. Hope that the Fed will unleash QE3, or nominal GDP level targeting and buy, buy, buy — because what the market really needs right now is more bond flippers, right? Hope that Europeans have finally gotten their act together in respect to buying up periphery debt to create a ceiling on borrowing costs. Hope that this time is different in China, and that throwing a huge splash of stimulus cash at infrastructure will soften the landing.
Perhaps never a more truthful 'lifting-the-veil' paragraph has been written by the squid as the following discussion of just what NEW QE will consist of and what it will achieve; sad that our economy market has come to this.
"The form of any return to QE is less clear. The issue is not so much whether the Fed buys Treasuries or agency mortgage-backed securities; we are pretty sure that any new program would be primarily focused on agency MBS purchases. These should have a somewhat bigger per-dollar effect on private-sector demand and are probably less controversial with the public than Treasury purchases. They can be framed as help for homebuyers to achieve the American Dream, which sounds better than help for the government to run large budget deficits."
One of the populist buzzwords of the past 5 years, particularly in Europe, has been "austerity", which as we have said for the roughly the same past 5 years, is simply a synonym for "deleveraging" but one which carries just the right amount of negative connotations, and is used by crafty politicians to shift blame from their own failure to enact proper policy (which over the past 30 years has merely meant to borrow growth from future political cycles, aka, issue debt) onto a "technical" word conceived by Ph.D.-clad economists, who too, are looking for a passive victim on which to project their failure of enacting a voodoo economic theory. There is one problem with all of the above. As we have also been saying for the past five years, the austerity deleveraging myth is one big lie. We are setting the record straight below with facts and figures. We would be delighted if some politician, somewhere, could disprove these facts, which essentially imply that the world is now in a global recession, having experienced no growth as the recent 100% contractionary PMI print of all major economies confirms, yet without any country actually having implemented austerity, pardon deleveraging to have at least a modest justification for this failure of growth.
The Summer of hope is over. Analysts return to their desks amid a grand-tour of conferences, industry gatherings, and company meetings, and - as has happened on average for the last twelve years - expectations are notched down from first-half-of-the-year 'hope' that this-time-is-different. Barclays' Barry Knapp notes that while macro risks seem more balanced than last spring, equity investors face a considerably higher risk in that of elevated earnings estimates. Since 2000, the worst month for analyst estimate revision momentum (net revisions) is also October, followed by September and December (tied). It stands to reason (though it’s tough to statistically ‘prove’) that equity investors and analysts return from vacation, attend conferences, and cut their earnings estimates. This, in turn, contributes to increased volatility and negative returns. While many will be focused on broader concerns – the ECB meeting, German Constitutional Court, presidential polls and macro data – equity investors are likely to hear a consistent message from the ~180 conferences: the global and domestic economic outlook is not robust enough to justify 11% y/y earnings growth in 4Q12 or 12% in 2013.
With Draghi stepping aside, the headliner can shine and while Goldman does not expect Chairman Bernanke's speech on Friday morning, entitled "Monetary Policy Since the Crisis", to shed much additional light on the near-term tactics of monetary policy beyond last week's FOMC minutes; their main question is whether he breaks new ground regarding the Fed's longer-term strategy. An aggressive approach would be to signal that the committee is moving closer to the "unconventional unconventional" easing options that Goldman has been ever-so-generously advocating for months, although even they have to admit that expectations are that any moves in this direction will be gingerly.
If you still require proof that in the short term, market action is driven by perceptions and sentiment rather than reality, here it is. It is worth quoting again what Mrs. Merkel said in Ottawa in toto:
“The European Central Bank, although it is of course independent, is completely in line with what we’ve said all along. And the results of the meeting of the central bank and their decisions, actually shows that the European Central Bank is counting on political action in the form of conditionality as the precondition for a positive development of the Euro.”
Does this sound like 'unlimited bond buying without preconditions' to anyone? No? Investors seemed to think that is what it meant. We see no painless way out for Spain, regardless of what ultimately happens. Even if the ECB were to act without conditionality or limits, it could not possibly alter the underlying solvency problems - and this isn't going to happen anyway. So what are markets currently pricing in? Everybody seems quite certain of a happy end at the moment. The bet is that massive central bank intervention is heading our way in the near future and will boost asset prices further. This is a mindset that has very likely set up the markets for disappointment.
It is hard to find fiscal situations that are worse than Japan's. The gross government debt/GDP ratio, at more than 200%, is the worst among the major developed economies. Yet yields on Japanese government bonds (JGBs) have not only been among the lowest, they have also been stable, even during the recent deterioration during the European debt crisis. This apparent contravention of the laws of economics is both an enigma for foreign investors and the reason for them to expect fiscal collapse as a result of a sharp rise in selling pressure in the JGB market. As Goldman notes, the European debt crisis has led to an increase in market sensitivity to sovereign risk in general and questions remain on when to expect the tensions in the JGB market and the fiscal deficit to reach a breaking point in Japan. In the following 14 charts, we explore the sustainability of fiscal deficit financing in Japan and Goldman addresses the JGB puzzles.
Two weeks ago, PIMCO's Bill Gross stirred up a few ivory-tower academics, permabull sell-side commission-makers, and bloggers pressured by Series [X] investors to generate maximum page views when he called for the death of the cult of equities. His main point was the apparent paradox that the total return on equities can outpace GDP growth over long periods. While there has been much gnashing of teeth over this comment, Morgan Stanley has very succinctly clarified and confirmed that this is not so much a paradox as a Catch-22. The key point is that, in aggregate, investors do not typically reinvest their dividends (or coupons); and akin to Keynes' paradox of thrift, if investors actually tried this en masse then the historical returns reported in total return indices would be unachievable. So here’s the Catch-22: over the long run theoretical total returns can exceed GDP so long as investors don’t actually try to capture those returns. But if ever investors try to achieve such GDP-plus total returns, it will be impossible for returns to stay above GDP growth. Hence, equities for the short- and long-term, are essentially a Ponzi scheme - as long as everyone buys-and-holds - but if 'someone' decides (or is forced) to take-profits, equity ROE will rapidly game-theoretically collapse to GDP growth.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate has generated renewed interest in the House-passed budget resolution that Ryan authored. Ryan's budget outline would reduce the deficit more quickly and impose more fiscal restraint than the President's budget proposal. However, as Goldman notes. while both proposals would increase revenues due to the scheduled expiration of the payroll tax cut at year end, the President's would raise income taxes as well. Rep. Ryan's plan, on the other hand, would cut spending sharply in 2013 and 2014, even though it assumes a one-year delay in the spending cuts under the "sequester" set to take effect at year-end. If the President wins reelection and/or Democrats hold their majority in the Senate, a bipartisan compromise would be necessary to enact fiscal reforms. This has been difficult to achieve over the last year or so and we expect compromise to be even tougher. We continue to believe that the economic effects of allowing the fiscal cliff to take effect in full will be the greatest motivation for members of Congress to reach an agreement.
Some might be surprised by the title's positivity, but while the barbarous relic has meandered in an ever-compressing (triangle pattern) series of waves in the last few months, it has rather notably outperformed relative to global risk aversion, CFTC positioning, and central bank balance sheet dynamics - especially in the last few weeks. Whether the yellow metal's zero-yield is now 'technically' attractive to safe-haven flows relative to the NIRPs of Germany and Switzerland - or in fundamental anticipation of the next bout of central bank largesse, Citi's global macro strategy group remain bullish of the precious metal and the charts below suggest they are not alone - as the view that precious metals are a put on political stupidity remains front-and-center.