With a global population of 7.3 billion this works out out at over $27,200 of debt for every man, woman and child alive today.
China has officially entered the realm of "unconventional" monetary policy, joining the Fed, the ECB, the BoJ, and a whole host of other global central banks in an attempt to bring the supposedly all-mighty printing press and the unlimited balance sheet that goes with it to bear on subpar economic growth. We suspect the results will be characteristically underwhelming (at least in terms of lowering real interest rates, although in terms of boosting risk assets, the results may be outstanding) meaning it's likely only a matter of time before LTRO becomes QE in China just as it did in Europe.
The conventional view is that the Fed will never need to print-and-buy more than a few hundred billion dollars to stem the tide of selling. But the conventional view has a fatal flaw that Greenspan outlined in his Foreign Affairs article: when markets go bidless, "animal spirits" may be beyond calming. Once central bank buying fails to stem the tide, markets will truly panic. Can central banks double, triple and quadruple their balance sheets almost overnight to absorb the mass dumping of risk-on assets? Will there be no consequences, political and financial, to central banks becoming the greater fools who will buy even as asset values are crashing?
What is extremely clear is that there is something amiss with the statistical headline employment and economic data. While there are indeed pockets of improvement, which should be expected following a recessionary contraction, there is a lack of widespread recovery. That sentiment is clearly reflected in every major poll of American's over the last year. What is important is that there is a clear disconnect between the financial markets, statistical economic headlines, and the reality of the vast majority of American consumers. So, riddle me this - what happens when that disconnect is eventually resolved?
- Bonds Extend Global Rout as Europe Stocks Slide, Dollar Weakens (BBG)
- Verizon Communications to Buy AOL for $4.4 Billion (BBG)
- Fresh Nepal earthquake kills dozens, triggers panic (Reuters)
- Sen. Shelby to Unveil Legislation Heightening Fed Scrutiny (WSJ)
- Bill Gross: The Amount of Money I'll Give Away 'Is Staggering, Even to Me' (BBG)
- U.S. rejects notion that Gulf rulers snubbing Obama summit (Reuters)... what about AIIB?
- In Asia, Debt Market Gets Tougher (WSJ)
- Iran’s Mahan airline defies sanctions in shadowy aircraft deal (FT)
As the years have passed without Washington hearing, Russia and China have finally realized that their choice is vassalage or war. Had there been any intelligent, qualified people in the National Security Council, the State Department, or the Pentagon, Washington would have been warned away from the neocon policy of sowing distrust. But with only neocon hubris present in the government, Washington made the mistake that could be fateful for humanity.
Why would financial firms pay so much for blogger Ben Bernanke’s thoughts? Aside from the marketing benefits we noted, there is one good reason. In essence, you’d want to know what Bernanke would think if he were wrong or ill-informed about some important economic issue. That is something money managers understand in a way that academics and policymakers do not, for being wrong – and knowing what to do next – is a critical skill for the professional. Getting the most information from Bernanke, either in a one-on-one or just reading his work online, boils down to just two questions: “What doesn’t he know” and “What is he sure of that is actually wrong?”
Fed-created bubbles are inevitably going to implode, because they have no relation to economic reality whatsoever. And when they implode, millions of Americans are going to be financially wiped out. Just like David and Jackie Siegel, “America’s time-share king”, America just keeps on making the same mistakes over and over again - we simply can’t help ourselves. And in the end, we will all pay a great, great price for our utter foolishness.
Systematic Corruption Has Metastasized throughout the U.S. ... Making Our Once-Great Nation Deathly Ill
In the eight years that the Fed has issued GDP forecasts in the prior Fall, only once, in 2010, did the actual economic performance come in the range of its expectations. A more sinister possibility is that the Fed is not really forecasting at all but cheerleading. By forecasting strong growth, the Fed may be hoping to engender optimism, with more spending and hiring hopefully to follow. Kind of like a field of dreams recovery -- if the Fed forecasts it; it will come. Based on what we have seen thus far in the year, fantasies about a 2015 recovery should be evaporating.
There is a practical benefit to shifting our attention away from the stock market. Any market that can yo-yo 10% within a day for no apparent reason, or undergo multiple booms and busts in a 20 year period should not be given too much credibility. The wealth-effect on the way up always turns into the wealth-destruction effect on the way down.
There is one thing riskier than investing in a free market: investing in a rigged market when you think the central bank has your back. At some point, the free market returns with a vengeance, like a coiled spring made out of pure risk. That time may be coming soon. When you devalue money and distort the supposed risk-free rate, you devalue every aspect of the capital structure, and of society itself.
The world economy is in the grips of a dangerous delusion. As the great boom that began in the 1990s gave way to an even greater bust, policymakers resorted to the timeworn tricks of financial engineering in an effort to recapture the magic. In doing so, they turned an unbalanced global economy into the Petri dish of the greatest experiment in the modern history of economic policy. They were convinced that it was a controlled experiment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"We can understand that Mr. Bernanke doesn’t like being tagged with any responsibility for poor economic results. He absolved himself for any mistakes before the financial crisis too. But sooner or later he and the Fed have to stop using the financial crisis as the all-purpose excuse for slow growth. Even President Obama has stopped blaming George W. Bush for everything. Maybe Mr. Bernanke should stop blaming everyone else too."
"I think we have to blame central bank intervention. How can we not? It’s all around the world. They’re setting interest rates at a ridiculous level. Quantitative easing is distorting all sorts of prices of assets. How do you price things anymore when you have such a giant manipulator out there?"