Quantitative Easing

After Seven Lean Years, Part 2: US Commercial Real Estate: The Present Position And Future Prospects

The first installment of our series on U.S. real estate by correspondent Mark G. focused on residential real estate. In Part 2, Mark explains why the commercial real estate (CRE) market is set to implode. The fundamentals of demographics, stagnant household income and an overbuilt retail sector eroded by eCommerce support only one conclusion: commercial real estate in the U.S. will implode as retail sales and profits weaken. 

Terrifying Technicals: This Chartist Predicts An Anti-Fed Revulsion, And A Plunge In The S&P To 450

If the Federal Reserve is trying to force feed us prosperity then the inevitable blowback will be adversity. If the Fed is trying to compel the most dramatic economic recovery in history, then the blowback may well be the deepest depression in history. If the Fed is trying to enforce confidence and optimism then the blowback will be fear and despair. If the Fed is trying to force consumers to spend then the blowback will be a collapse in consumer confidence.

"Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences." - Robert Louis Stevenson

We sincerely hope that we are completely wrong here, that we are missing something, that there is a flaw in our logic. However until we can locate such a flaw we must trust the technical case for treating this Fed force-fed rally in the stock market as something that will end badly.

Jeff Gundlach Fears The 'Unthinkable': "It Feels Like An Echo Of The Late-90s"

On the heels of his less-than-optimistic presentation, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach tells Europe's Finanz und Wirtschaft "he's concerned about the growing amount of speculation" and draws a parallel between today’s markets and the dot-com boom of the late Nineties. This excellent interview takes the themes of his recent conference call and extends them as he warns "In the over thirty years I’ve been in the financial investment industry, I don’t recall a single year where I saw the year begin with the consensus being so solidified in its thinking across virtually every asset class." His biggest worry (for investors, as opposed to his funds), "the most unthinkable things happen this year and that is a basic pain trade that forces people into treasury bonds."

The Latest HSBC Scandal: An $80 Billion Capitalization Shortfall

Forensic Asia, a Hong-Kong-based reserch firm issued a "sell" recommendation on HSBC on the basis of "questionable assets" on its balance sheet. As The Telegraph reports the analysts involved actually worked at HSBC for 15 years and suggest the ginat bank could have overstated its assets by more than £50bn and ultimately need a capital injection of close to £70bn before the end of this decade. "HSBC has not made the necessary adjustments, during the quantitative easing reprieve...The result has been extreme earnings overstatement, causing HSBC to become one of the largest practitioners of capital forebearance globally... This charade appears to be ending."

GMO Market Commentary: Ignore The "Common Sense"

"The "common sense" justifications for these dramatic moves are now well documented. The Federal Reserve (Fed) model, which compares earnings yields on the S&P 500 Index (the inverse of price/earnings) with the Treasury yield, clearly signals to load up on stocks. Common sense also tells us that profit margins are at an all-time high, so clearly it's a good time to be buying stocks. Yellen's dovish background, common sense tells us, is yet further reason to expect continued loose monetary policy and accommodation. And, finally, common sense dictates that recent upward gross domestic product (GOP) revisions, lower unemployment numbers, and a successful holiday retail season, means that of course it's time to load up on stocks. Here's the problem: We don't buy the common sense. And so, like the philosopher boy above, we choose to ignore it. We suggest you do the same, but for good reason."

Fed's Fisher Says "Investors Have Beer Goggles From Liquidity", Joins Goldman In Stock Correction Warning

"Continuing large-scale asset purchases risks placing us in an untenable position, both from the standpoint of unreasonably inflating the stock, bond and other tradable asset markets and from the perspective of complicating the future conduct of monetary policy," warns the admittedly-hawkish Dallas Fed head. Fisher goes on to confirm Peter Boockvar's "QE puts beer goggles on investors," analogy adding that while he is "not among those who think we are presently in a 'bubble' mode for stocks or bonds; he is reminded of William McChesney Martin comments - the longest-serving Fed chair - "markets for anything tradable overshoot and one must be prepared for adjustments that bring markets back to normal valuations."

The eye of the needle of pulling off a clean exit is narrow; the camel is already too fat. As soon as feasible, we should change tack. We should stop digging. I plan to cast my votes at FOMC meetings accordingly.

Guest Post: We Will Be Told Hyperinflation Is Necessary, Proper, Patriotic, And Ethical

Hyperinflation leads to the complete breakdown in the demand for a currency, which means simply that no one wishes to hold it. Everyone wants to get rid of that kind of money as fast as possible. Prices, denominated in the hyper-inflated currency, suddenly and dramatically go through the roof. The most famous examples, although there are many others, are Germany in the early 1920s and Zimbabwe just a few years ago. German Reichsmarks and Zim dollars were printed in million and even trillion unit denominations. We may scoff at such insanity and assume that America could never suffer from such an event. We are modern. We know too much. Our monetary leaders are wise and have unprecedented power to prevent such an awful outcome. Think again. Like previous hyperinflations throughout time, the actions that produce an American hyperinflation will be seen as necessary, proper, patriotic, and ethical; just as they were seen by the monetary authorities in Weimar Germany and modern Zimbabwe.

Guest Post: The Greatest Myth Propagated About The Fed: Central Bank Independence (Part 1)

It has been commonplace to speak of central bank independence - as if it were both a reality and a necessity. Discussions of the Fed invariably refer to legislated independence and often to the famous 1951 Accord that apparently settled the matter. [1] While everyone recognizes the Congressionally-imposed dual mandate, the Fed has substantial discretion in its interpretation of the vague call for high employment and low inflation. It is, then, perhaps a good time to reexamine the thinking behind central bank independence. There are several related issues.

  • First, can a central bank really be independent? In what sense? Political? Operational? Policy formation?
  • Second, should a central bank be independent? In a democracy should monetary policy—purportedly as important as or even more important than fiscal policy—be unaccountable? Why?
  • Finally, what are the potential problems faced if a central bank is not independent? Inflation? Insolvency?

The Case Of The Missing Recovery

Have you seen the economic recovery? We haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago. It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so. At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets. It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.

5 Things To Ponder: Markets, Valuations & Investing

This morning we showed several charts that "Market Bulls Should Consider", as the mainstream media, analysts and economists continue to become more ebullient as we enter the new year.  This weekend's "Things To Ponder" follows along with this contrarian thought process particularly as it appears that virtually all "bears" have now been forced into hibernation.

Guest Post: Rate Cycles and Yield Curves – A Target for 5-Year Treasuries

With the Fed once again in the late stages of an easing cycle (affectionately dubbed QE3), we find the 2s/5s curve steepening yet again, hitting its widest level in 30 months at more than 135 basis points on January 1. Given this curve’s uncanny track record, one can’t help but wonder if it will ring the 160 bell yet again when the Fed completes its final purchase operation of QE3. With tapering now upon us, and the end of QE3 almost in sight, one might even be tempted to sell a few 5s against twos in the hopes of catching that final 25 basis points of steepening. A closer examination of that trade, however, reveals that one might be better off doing just the opposite.

Guest Post: The Fed Is Playing Global Pump-And-Dump

Even if you don’t buy that QE and ZIRP will lead to a dollar collapse, you do have to admit that these Fed policies have severely brainwashed investors. The Federal Reserve is the boiler room operation that has pumped up the equities market by way of QE and ZIRP. You are investing in a pump-and-dump scam. And like in all such scams, you will lose. Clear enough for ya?