It is hard to believe that the end of the year is fast approaching. This weekend's list of things to ponder covers a range of issues that caught our attention this week. Will the economy continue to grow, are stocks under owned, what about Fed - rising credit risk (and collapsing credit risk premia) and the question of "when or if to taper?" These are all important questions that all investors must answer as the new year rapidly approaches.
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.
For anyone who still suggests, incorrectly, that Larry Summers was the "wrong" choice for Fed Chairman just because he would promptly end QE the second he was elected as the erroneous popular meme goes, we have one soundbite from his recent Bloomberg TV interview refuting all such speculation: "if you had to say, should we have used this tool or should we not have, I think the answer is overwhelming that we should have." He had some other amusing logical fallacies (including discussing whether the market is in a bubble) all of which are transcribed below, but the best one is the following: "I think it does bear emphasis that the people who were most appalled by it are the people who have been predicting hyperinflation around the corner for four years now and they have been wrong at every turn." And let's not forget that "subprime is contained" - until it isn't. Then again, the last time we checked, the history on the biggest monetary experiment in history - one in which both the Fed and the BOJ are now openly monetizing 70% of gross bond issuance - has certainly not been written. Finally, in the off chance Summers is indeed correct, what history will instead say, is why instead of monetizing all the debt from day 1 of the Fed's inception in 1913, and thus pushing the stock market into scientific notation territory, did the Fed leave so many trillions of "wealth effect" on the table?
The relatively new Minneapolis Fed president Narayana Kocherlakota is not known for any insightful, original ideas. Before he took over the MinnFed, he was a research economist at the bank in the late 1990s, a consultant there from 1999 to 2009, taught at the University of Minnesota from 2005 to 2010 and was chairman of the U’s department of economics before being named president of the bank. What he is best known for is his epic flip-flopping: from one of the Fed's staunchest hawks early in his presidential career, to a dove so starved for the Fed's monetary liquidity, he often puts even Charles Evans to shame. He is among the first to suggest that the Fed should hold rates at zero until unemployment hits 5.5% (which it never will unless of course the plunge in the labor participation rate continues) something which both Goldman and Yellen have now adopted as gospel. Nobody knows what precipitated this shocking metamorphosis, although it is said Ben Bernanke can be quite persuasive during unrecorded phone calls. Which brings us to the topic of this post: what does a suspiciously reformed Fed dove do when faced with increasingly louder, conflicting voices that challenge the delusion that the only thing that will fix a failing QE is more QE? He fires them of course.
At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of the administration's collective mouth. And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us. Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years. Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust. Aside from the now "fake" employment data, the following are five massive economic lies that the government has been telling you... Our financial system is far more vulnerable than we are being told. We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when this bubble bursts it is going to be an absolutely spectacular disaster. Please don't believe the mainstream media or the politicians when they promise you that everything is going to be okay.
At one point during the evening, when pressed about whether his Quantitative Easing program was good for Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, Ben Bernanke flat out denied it, saying that such a premise is "simply not true". He defended his printing $85 billion per month, suggesting that fixing interest rates at zero is beneficial for society because, among other things, it allows people to 'buy cars'. I saw these words coming out of his mouth and thought to myself, "Is this guy f'ing serious?" Cars. Wow. As if going into debt to purchase a rapidly depreciating consumer item is somehow a victory for the people.
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.
It is time for the centrally-planned markets to "try" for the round number trifecta of 16000, 1800 and 4000 again, although it may be a tad more difficult on a day in which there is no double POMO and just $2.75-$3.50 billion will be injected by the NY Fed into the S&P - perhaps it is Bitcoin that will hit the nice round number of $1000 first? Overnight, the Chinese Plenum news rerun finally was priced in and the SHComp closed red, as did the Nikkei 225 as the Asian euphoria based on communist promises about what may happen by 2020 fades. What's worse, the Chinese 7-day repo rate is up 140bp this morning to 6.63% amid talk of tightening domestic liquidity conditions, and back to levels seen during the June liquidity squeeze. All this is happening as China continues leaking more details and hope of what reform the mercantilist country can achieve, and how much internal consumption the export-driven country can attain: overnight there were also additional reports of interest rate liberalization and that the PBOC are to set up a floating CNY rate. Good luck with that.
The Failure Of Abenomics In One Chart... When Even The Japanese Press Admits "Easing Is Not Working"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/18/2013 14:56 -0400
Today, with the traditional one year delay (we assume they had to give it the benefit of the doubt), the mainstream media once again catches up to what Zero Hedge readers knew over a year ago, and blasts the outright failure that is Abenomics, but not only in the US (with the domestic honor falling to the WSJ), but also domestically, in a truly damning op-ed in the Japan Times. We will let readers peruse the WSJ's "Japan's Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money: Dearth of Borrowers Illustrates Difficulty in Japan's Program to Increase Money Supply" on their own. It summarizes one aspect of what we have been warning about - namely the blocked monetary pipeline, something the US has been fighting with for the past five years, and will continue fighting as long as QE continues simply because the "solution" to the problem, i.e., even more QE, just makes the problem worse. We will however, show the one chart summary which captures all the major failures of the BOJ quite succinctly.
Gold prices pulled back this morning as traders booked gains and stagnant physical demand had the yellow metal out of favour. Recent confirmation by Janet Yellen that she will continue Bernanke's loose monetary policy lifted gold, but tapering appears priced into the metal already.
"Debt increases tail-risk," warns anti-fragility expert Nassim Taleb, "whether it's personal, corporate, or governmental." A rise in debt, he warns, implies nothing less than a rise in "the risk of catastrophe," and Taleb chides, governments "should be focused in risk-management... instead of creating these risks." This brief Bloomberg TV clip cuts to the chase as the normally circumlocutory Taleb unloads on the perils of central banks, "Mr. Greenspan created tail risk by eliminating the business cycle," and since then tail-risks have accumulated with debt the "number one creator of these risks." In a fascinating phrase, Taleb notes, "corporate debt is benign," since in failure it turns into equity, "but government debt is another matter... for it turns into inflation or worse invasion..."
The US dollar looks vulnerable to additional losses next week. While we had correctly anticipated the greenback's losses last week, we had expected it to begin recovering ahead of the weekend. This did not materialize and, leaving aside the yen, the dollar finished the week near its lows. Generally speaking, the technical outlook for the greenback has soured and, in fact, warn of some risk accelerated losses in the period ahead.
The third stage of bull markets, the mania phase, can last longer and go farther that logic would dictate. However, the data suggests that the risk of a more meaningful reversion is rising. It is unknown, unexpected and unanticipated events that strike the crucial blow that begins the market rout. Unfortunately, due to the increased impact of high frequency and program trading, reversions are likely to occur faster than most can adequately respond to. This is the danger that exists today. Are we in the third phase of a bull market? Most who read this article will say "no." However, those were the utterances made at the peak of every previous bull market cycle.
Two days ago, when we posted ""Frustrated" Liquidity Addicts Demand Moar From BOJ As Nikkei Rally Stalls", we suggested that more QE from the Bank of Japan is just around the corner (and likely to take place as early as April) as the only real "driver" behind Abenomics, the surge in the stock market had stalled for nearly 6 months. 48 hours later, and 700 points in the Nikkei higher, the realization that indeed more QE is coming has swept through the market like wildfire. So what will the Bank of Japan's expansion of quantitative easing look like, when supposedly only $75 billion per month amounting to a whopping 70% of all new issuance, is not enough? According to Goldman "the BoJ could take the lead in this reallocation process by notably increasing its purchases of risky assets, such as ETFs and RIETS, or even outright equities – say purchasing a wide range of Japanese equities by index weight." It may get even better: "the BoJ is likely to consider more unorthodox policy to push up inflation expectations" - like paradropping NGDP, better known as paradropping yen (a move Yellen herself is now contemplating as we previewed back in September).
Discussion of a market bubble (in stocks, credit, bonds, Farm-land, residential real estate, or art) have dominated headlines in recent weeks. However, QEeen Yellen gave us the all-clear this morning that there was "no bubble." Are we currently witnessing a market bubble? It is very possible; however, as STA's Lance Roberts notes, if we are, it will be the first market bubble in history to be seen in advance (despite Bullard's comments in opposition to that "fact"). From a contrarian investment view point, there is simply "too much bubble talk" currently which means that there is likely more irrational excess to come. The lack of "economic success" will likely mean that the Fed remains engaged in its ongoing QE programs for much longer than currently expected - and perhaps Hussman's pre-crash bubble anatomy is dead on...