Earlier today, Bill Frezza of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and CNBC's Steve Liesman got into a heated exchange over a recent Frezza article, based on some of the key points we made in a prior post "A Record $2 Trillion In Deposits Over Loans - The Fed's Indirect Market Propping Pathway Exposed" in which, as the title implies, we showed how it was that the Fed was indirectly intervening in the stock market by way of banks using excess deposits to chase risky returns and generally push the market higher. We urge readers to spend the few minutes of this clip to familiarize themselves with Frezza's point which is essentially what Zero Hedge suggested, and Liesman's objection that "this is something the banks don't do and can't do." Liesman's naive view, as is to be expected for anyone who does not understand money creation under a fractional reserve system, was simple: the Fed does not create reserves to boost bank profits, and thus shareholder returns, and certainly is not using the fungible cash, which at the end of the day is what reserves amount to once dispersed among the US banks, to gun risk assets higher.
Alas, Steve is very much wrong.
Cliff Asness: "Nobody, Left Or Right, Really Thinks The Math Works, No Matter What They Say In Public"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/07/2013 14:47 -0500
The only way to finance a big European-style state is to have it paid for by massive taxation of everyone, mostly the middle class. Right now, we are avoiding honest debate on this fact. The central issue of our time is the debate over the size and scope of government. Two unpleasant but undeniable mathematical truths limit the feasible policy choices. The first truth is that the current tax rates cannot support the promises made to middle-class Americans. The second truth is that you cannot pay for the Life of Julia, or any vision of a cradle-to-grave welfare state, without massive and increasingly regressive middle-class taxes. Not only that, it's easy to tax middle-class assets and transactions but soaking the rich means taxing investments, and problematically, investments are the lifeblood of economic growth. The choice the country faces is simple. What we cannot have is the Life of Julia at no additional burden to 99 out of 100 of us. The way to boil the frog of freedom is slowly.
How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble, pt 2 - "Knowledge How" & Diplomas As Fictitious AssetsSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 01/07/2013 11:52 -0500
A complete & thorough explanation of how many (if not most) levered college diplomas are overvalued assets with fictitious values - that's including you too HBS and the ivy league! No wonder the education bubble in the US is about to collapse.
- Secret and Lies of the Bailout (Rolling Stone)
- Banks Win 4-Year Delay as Basel Liquidity Rule Loosened (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Squeezed With Shorts Beating S&P 500 (BBG)
- Bankruptcy regime for nations urged (FT)
- Is the Fed Doing Enough—or Too Much—to Aid Recovery (WSJ)
- Cracks widen in US debt ceiling debate (FT)
- McConnell Takes Taxes Off the Table in Debt Limit Negotiations (BBG)
- Abe Seen Spending 12 Trillion Yen to Boost Japan’s Economy (BBG)
- Monti, Berlusconi Spar on Taxes in Weekend Media Barrage (BBG)
- Cameron Sets New Priorities for U.K. Coalition (BBG)
- Defiant Assad Rules Out Talks With Rebels (WSJ)
- Korea Seen Resisting Rate Cut as Won Threatens Exports (BBG)
Why must the debt grow every year? To keep the debt-servitude paradigm going. To increase economic activity in a country operating in this type of system, you need to increase the level of credit and thus debt grows in tandem. This is self serving: if debt is the “fuel” to increase economic activity, interest payments will become larger and larger, until eventually it reaches a point where debt can no longer be increased. This point is known as the Minsky moment–when there is no net benefit to extra debt. So there we have it, in our “creditopia” world, if debt does not expand, the economy cannot grow and jobs cannot be created. In order to increase debt, foreigners have to continually finance the ever growing debt by purchasing government bonds and selling consumer products to the US. In turn, the US must increase the level of consumption, decrease savings, and eliminate the threat of any nation posing a risk to the US dollar hegemony. Is this a symbiotic or a parasitic relationship? Is is certainly a relationship that cannot grow forever. It poses an economic risk for ALL nations due to the interconnectedness of the global economy.
With Spanish 10Y yields hovering at a 'relatively' healthy 5%, having been driven inexorably lower on the promise of ECB assistance at some time in the future, the market has become increasingly unsure of just who it is that keeps bidding for this stuff. Well, wonder no longer. As the WSJ notes, Spain has been quietly tapping the country's richest piggy bank, the Social Security Reserve Fund, as a buyer of last resort for Spanish government bonds - with at least 90% of the €65 billion ($85.7 billion) fund has been invested in increasingly risky Spanish debt. Of course, this is nothing new, the US (and the Irish) have been using quasi-government entities to fund themselves in a mutually-destructive circle-jerk for years - the only difference being there are other buyers in the Treasury market, whereas in Spain the marginal buyer is critical to support the sinking ship. The Spanish defend the use of pension funds to buy bonds as sustainable as long as it can issue bonds - and yet the only way it can actually get the bonds off in the public markets is through using the pension fund assets. The pensioners sum it up perfectly "We are very worried about this, we just don't know who's going to pay for the pensions of those who are younger now," or those who are older we would add.
How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble, pt 1 - A Bubble Bigger Than SubprimeSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 01/03/2013 13:55 -0500
Truly ironic - anyone receiving a REAL business/finance education would be able to run these rudimentary calculations themselves, thereby invalidating the very diploma they are seeking
- Obama Signs Bill Enacting Budget Deal to Avert Most Tax Hikes (BBG)
- GOP Leaders Take Political Risk With Deal (WSJ)
- Basel Becomes Babel as Conflicting Rules Undermine Safety (BBG)
- Portugal Faces Divisions Over Austerity Measures (WSJ)
- The Fiscal Cliff Deal and the Damage Done (BBG)
- Cliff deal threatens second term agenda (FT)
- Deposits stable in euro zone periphery in November (Reuters)
- Fresh Budget Fights Brewing (WSJ)
- China Poised for 2013 Rebound as Debt Risks Rise for Xi (BBG)
- Who's Afraid of Italian Elections? (WSJ)
- China services growth adds to economic revival hopes (Reuters)
- Asian Economies Show Signs of Strength (WSJ)
- Japan’s Aso Targets Myanmar Markets Amid China Rivalry (Bloomberg)
In many respects, 2012 was a year of waiting: waiting for a path forward on the European debt crisis; waiting for the results of a polarizing U.S. election; waiting for the Chinese leadership transition; waiting for a resolution to the U.S. fiscal cliff issues; waiting for the Middle East to find peace; waiting for a clear path to global growth; and therefore, waiting to invest additional assets in the markets (or not, as the case may be). In this 2013 Outlook, Michael Cembalest, JPMorgan Asset Management's Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy, provides a comprehensive summary of the global factors at play, with a tone of optimism grounded in realism. Perhaps just what we need after the surreality of the last two days.
Curious how Europe's insolvent peripheral countries, where the government is increasingly the only source of demand (if not funding), have managed to avoid falling into a primary budget deficit abyss? Simple: instead of paying their outstanding bills, Europe's insolvent nations are simply not paying them. And with the entire European bond market now a central bank controlled policy mechanism, meaning there are no longer any checks and balances to keep governments honest, there is no pressure on said countries to actually pay. Hopefully those companies on the other end of these unpaid invoices have as generous a benefactor as the ECB to fund their now persistent and growing undercapitalization.
- Senate-Passed Deal Means Higher Tax on 77% of Households (BBG)
- Bipartisan House Backs Tax Deal Vote as Next Fight Looms (BBG)
- Fresh stand-off looms after US cliff deal (FT)
- Congress Deal Averting Tax Increase Curbs Risk to States (BBG)
- How Colombian drug traffickers used HSBC to launder money (Reuters)
- Danes Face New Reality in Struggle to End Crisis, PM Says (BBG)
- Ban on demanding Facebook passwords among new 2013 state laws (Reuters)
- Oil Climbs to Three-Month High as U.S. House Passes Budget Bill (BBG)
- Cameron seeks bold steps from G8 leaders (FT)
- China to outstrip Europe car production (FT)
- North Korea Picks Stronger Economy, South Ties as Top 2013 Tasks (BBG)
On The New Definition Of "Rich", A $620 Billion Tax Hike Offset By $15 Billion In Spending Cuts, And Much MoreSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/01/2013 09:49 -0500
We greet the new year with an America that has a Fiscal Cliff deal. Actually no, it doesn't - not even close. What it does have is an agreement, so far only at the Senate level which voted a little after 2 AM eastern in an 89-8 vote (Nays from Democrats Bennet, Cardin, Harkin, and Republicans - Lee, Paul, Grassley, Rubio and Shelby), to delay the all-important spending side of the Fiscal Cliff "deal" which "can is kicked" in the form of a 60 day extension to the sequester, to be taken up "eventually", but hopefully not on day 59 at the 11th hour, the same as fate of the all important US debt ceiling, which remains in limbo, and which now effectively prohibits America from incurring any new gross debt as the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling was breached yesterday... What did happen last night was merely the legislating of the inevitable tax hike on the 1%, which was assured the night Obama won the presidential election, something not even the most rabid Norquist pledge signatories had hope of avoiding. This was the first income tax hike in nearly two decades. A tax hike which, regardless of how it is spun, will result in a drag in consumption. It was also the brand new definition of rich, with the "$250,000" income threshold now left in the dust, and $400,000 for individuals ($450,000 for joint filers) taking its place. Who knew that New Normal would also bring us the New Rich definition. What is generally known is that the Senate bill boils down to the folllowing: $620 billion in tax hikes over the next decade offset by $15 billion in spending cuts now. Hardly "fair and balanced." Anyone who, therefore, thinks this bill is a slam dunk in the House is a brave gambling man.
There’s a much bigger cliff than the so-called fiscal cliff. The absolute worst result of the fiscal cliff would be a moderate uniform tax increase at a bad time, resulting in a moderate contraction. It is an obvious - but ultimately rather cosmetic - stumbling block on the so-called “road to recovery”. The much bigger cliff stems from the fact that the so-called recovery itself is build on nothing but sand. This is a result of underlying systemic fragilities that have never been allowed to break.
My Most Notorious Articles For The Year 2012: A Lot Of Hate & Controversy, But No Shortage Of Truth!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 12/31/2012 08:57 -0500
You may not have agreed with everything that I said, nor may you have particularly liked it (many hated it) but for the most part the more controversial stuff proved to be rather prescient.
The death of the 'cult of equities' was a popular topic this year among both fringe blogs and the best-known institutional asset managers and sell-side strategists. As AP discusses in this excellent article, ordinary Americans - defying decades of investment history - are selling stocks for a fifth year in a row. It's the first time ordinary folks have sold during a sustained bull market since relevant records were first kept during World War II. The answer is both complex and simple but summed up best by a former stock analyst's comment that in order to buy stocks "You have to trust your government. You have to trust other governments. You have to trust Wall Street, and I don't trust any of these." With Fed policy trying to force investors back into stocks (at any cost), a former fund manager notes, presciently that, "When this policy fails, as it will, baby boomers will pay the cost in their 401(k)s." Are we the new 'Depression Babies'? We suspect so.