Real Interest Rates
The Man in the Moon studies the pathology of Earth’s global economy and markets from a distance where there’s no gravitational pull towards empiricism or consensus. His findings: 1) the global economy is over-leveraged, fragile, stagnating, and increasingly centrally managed; 2) capital markets and asset performance have been captured by the perception of the ongoing value of money, and so; 3) unconventional investment analysis is prudent.
A little over two years ago, in the middle of April 2013, there was a gold crash that came seemingly out of nowhere. Worse, for gold investors anyway, that crash was repeated just a few months later. Where gold had stood just shy of $1,800 an ounce at the start of QE3, those cascades had brought the metal price down to just $1,200. For many, especially orthodox economists, it heralded the end of the “fear trade” and meant, unambiguously, that the recovery had finally at long last arrived. However, gold price activity since QE3 has been a warning, and a big one, not cause for victory celebrations.
The Economist is a quintessential establishment publication. Keynesian shibboleths about “market failure” and the need to prevent it, as well as the alleged need for governments to provide “public goods” and to steer the economy in directions desired by the ruling elite with a variety of taxation and spending schemes as well as monetary interventionism, are dripping from its pages in generous dollops. The magazine has one of the very best records as a contrary indicator whenever it comments on markets. While gold hasn’t yet made it to the front page, but the Economist has sacrificed some ink in order to declare it “dead” (or rather, “buried”).
"China is reversing course on a major effort to tackle its hefty local government debt problem, marking a setback for a priority reform aimed at getting its financial house in order," WSJ reports. The abrupt about-face by Beijing, which will now allow local governments to once again tap shadow banking conduits for high interest loans, comes as the PBoC gets set to ramp up an LTRO-like program designed to essentially monetize trillions in local government debt. The interplay between the debt swap program, Chinese-style LTROs, and the decision to drop the ban on LGFV financing could set the stage for a dramatic increase in the country's already massive debt pile.
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.
As the SHCOMP soars, the sellside reacts to China's latest round of easing and the message is clear: more policy rate cuts are in the cards as real lending rates remain elevated and deflation risk remains high. Meanwhile, the PBoC's statement was making the rounds on WeChat hours before its official release suggesting Janet Yellen isn't the only central banker that enjoys leaking information.
On the heels of last week's equity rout, China cuts interest rates for the third time since November. The move comes on the heels of last month's RRR cut and follows trade data that missed expectations (again) and a PPI print that betrayed persistent deflation risks. Perhaps more importantly, Chinese stocks fell last week amid still more rumors that tighter margin requirements are on the way.
"If banknotes are outlawed you will be forced to hold money that is a liability of a commercial bank (deposits) and refused access to money that is the liability of the central bank (bank notes)... In such a world, zero-yielding gold would be a high-yielding instrument. If the authorities ever sought to restrict access to banknotes, then gold would suddenly find itself enfranchised as money for the first time in many decades. So, given the scale of these competing forces, it is just too early to say what might happen to the gold price, but the allure of gold will grow the more it becomes clear that central bank fiat has failed and the age of government fiat is dawning."
Threatened with deflation, the authorities will want to turn the tide in the worst possible way. What’s the worst way to stop deflation? With hyperinflation. Yes, we may suffer a year or two more of sluggish growth... or even deflation. Stocks will crash and people will be desperate for paper dollars. But sooner or later, the feds will find their feet and lose their heads. Most likely, the credit-drenched world of 2015 will end... not in a whimper of deflation, but in a bang. Hyperinflation will bring the long depression to a dramatic close long before a quarter of a century has passed.
The results of the latest FOMC meeting confirm that most of the media and investor communities don't get the joke on Fed policy since the crisis. No change in '15
With the USDJPY's ascent to 125, 150 and higher having seemingly stalled just under 120, with concerns that the BOJ may not monetize more than 100% of its net debt issuance suddenly surfacing, the BOJ and the Nikkei would take any help they could get. They got just that an hour ago when Fitch downgraded Japan's credit rating from A+ to A, citing lack of sufficient structural fiscal measures in FY15 budget to replace deferred consumption tax increase.
The trio of macro-prudential policy, the onset and evolution of shadow banking, and the nebulous concept of financial stability may have become a toxic cocktail which can be instrumental in moving forward the Federal Reserve’s timeline for lift-off zero bound rates. The intuition here is stooped in concepts of volatility and how market structure evolution may contribute or detract from asset volatility. Volatility is the square root of time. Financial repression times time equals volatility. Financial repression and/or macro-prudential policy times time equals the inverse of financial stability. Financial stability inverted equals volatility squared.
The science of economics has taken a decidedly wrong turn sometime in the 1930s. In the field of monetary science specifically, sober analysis has given way to broad-based support of central economic planning, with both policy makers and their advisors seemingly trying to trump each other with ever more lunatic proposals.
Gold “Going Higher” and “A Big Buy Here” ...
"The policy actions that cause financial repression entail a number of unintended consequences. These include potential asset price bubbles, convergence in asset allocation strategies of otherwise heterogeneous financial market participants and an increase in economic inequality. With regards to the latter, the impact of foregone interest income for households and long-term investors is substantial. At the same time, the equity rally has predominantly benefited society’s wealthiest." The hit to US savers: nearly a half trillion.