In the most dramatic evidence yet that Britons are paying for the rising cost of living by raiding savings, Yahoo UK reports that households are pulling money out of their savings accounts at the fastest rate in modern record, according to Bank of England figures. Since the recent recession began, millions of workers have suffered repeated effective pay cuts as inflation has outstripped pay rises, and while consumer spending was one of the main contributors to the sharp rise in gross domestic product in the third quarter, "consumer strength usually reflects increased borrowing but this hasn't been the key factor recently."
While on the surface total cash earnings posted the smallest possible monthly increase, or 0.1%, in October - the first rise in 4 months - the reality is that this was driven by overtime pay, which increased by 5.4%. However, the far more important component of worker compensation, regular pay, declined by 0.4% in the month. This was the 17th consecutive decline in core pay and is a glowing testament to just how flawed Abenomics has been since its inception due to its staunch inability to shift employer eagerness to boost pay even in an economy where unemployment is supposedly so much less than in the US and thus worker slack is far less prominent. Turns out that is not the case.
"What keeps us up at night? Well I can’t speak for the others, having spoken too much already to please PIMCO’s marketing specialists, but I will give you some thoughts about what keeps Mohamed and me up at night. Mohamed, the creator of the “New Normal” characterization of our post-Lehman global economy, now focuses on the possibility of a” T junction” investment future where markets approach a time-uncertain inflection point, and then head either bubbly right or bubble-popping left due to the negative aspects of fiscal and monetary policies in a highly levered world. ... investors are all playing the same dangerous game that depends on a near perpetual policy of cheap financing and artificially low interest rates in a desperate gamble to promote growth. The Fed, the BOJ (certainly), the ECB and the BOE are setting the example for global markets, basically telling investors that they have no alternative than to invest in riskier assets or to lever high quality assets. “You have no other choice,” their policies insinuate.... Deep in the bowels of central banks research staffs must lay the unmodelable fear that zero-bound interest rates supporting Dow 16,000 stock prices will slowly lose momentum after the real economy fails to reach orbit, even with zero-bound yields and QE." - Bill Gross
One economic myth is that paper money is wealth. The proponents of big government oppose honest money for a very specific reason. Inflation, the creation of new money, is used to finance government programs not generally endorsed by the producing members of society. It is a deceptive tool whereby a “tax” is levied without the people as a whole being aware of it. Since the recipients of the newly created money, as well as the politicians, whose only concern is the next election, benefit from this practice, it’s in their interest to perpetuate it. For this reason, misconceptions are promulgated about the “merits” of paper money and the “demerits” of gold. Simply put, “Easy” money causes hard times.
Until early May of this year, trends in US macro fundamentals and US stock markets were 'relatively' well correlated. However, since the first stirrings of Taper concerns, the relationship has seemingly explicitly inverted. Day after day we see markets react to "good" or "bad" news but over time, as the following chart shows, the Fed's total farce has been exposed. Simply put, if the last 7 months of market-macro relationships hold (which makes sense in a world entirely driven by Fed liquidity), the Bulls should be praying for the economic fundamentals to collapse or things will get painful fast for stocks.
The rock is reality. The squishy place is the illusion that pervasive racketeering is an okay replacement for an economy. The essence of racketeering is the use of dishonest schemes to get money, often (but not always) employing coercion to make it work. Some rackets can function on the sheer cluelessness of the victim(s).
Here's your Excuse Book, America. There's something for almost everyone. Luckily, there is still an infinite abundance of excuses, guilt-tripping, victimhood, rage against those with "more" (never mind what they sacrificed to build it) and denial of choice, consequence, risk and fact. Sadly, there are consequences to the pursuit of victimhood and the denial of will, choice, consequence, risk and fact, and they will be consequential indeed.
Over the past 30 years, the rise in the price of Christmas according to PNC's annual 12-days-of-Christmas price index has matched the CPI at around 2.9% YoY. However, in recent years, the reality is considerably worse than the well-managed inflation data the government profers. The price of Christmas in 2013 is up a stunning 7.7% over 2012 - the biggest jump since 2010' 9.2% rise. The biggest driver of the increase were the dancing ladies (must be the minimum wage decree?) though 8 items saw modest increases also. Once again, it seems the government's benign inflation data is fictionalized by reality's rising price of everything.
If somehow the scramble to open stores earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving day, until such time as the very Thanksgiving dinner had to be interrupted early for the annual rush out to the (un)friendly neighborhood Thug-Mart (Toys'R'Us opened at a ridiculous 5pm on Thanksgiving day) and punching people in the face just to get that 42 inch, 2010-model Plasma TV for $99, was supposed to boost overall sales instead of merely pulling them forward (see cash for clunkers), it didn't work. According to ShopperTrak, total Black Friday traffic plunged 11% and total sales fell 13.2%, the second consecutive year of declines following last year's 1.8%. The reason, as largely expected, is that a substantial portion of Friday shopping was pulled back to Thursday: as ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said, "if retailers continue to promote Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday buying season, he thinks the holiday will eventually surpass Black Friday in sales. "We're just taking Black Friday sales and spreading them across a larger number of days," Martin said."
Taking a “short position” in either Japanese interest rates or their currency is a fundamentally sound idea; however it may take three to seven years for the “Macro-profits” to be fully realized. Over that time, a short position will demand a cost, either in the terms of the negative carry of a spot position or the time decay of a short-dated option. Additionally, since it is unlikely you will enter the trade at the extreme, there could be some mark-to-market vibrations that may breach your risk limits. To the rescue is the strange circumstance of a widening USD vs. JPY Rate differential in conjunction with a flattening Volatility Term Surface. Below is a table of mid-market values for Par Strike USD call // JPY put options with expiries from one-year to ten-years. The critical observation is that a five-year option costs more than a ten-year option; thus the weird dynamic of owning an option with (effectively) positive “theta”: You are paid to own an option !
Grant Williams "pulls no punches" in this all-encompassing presentation as the "Things That Make You Go Hmmm" author reflects on what is behind us and looks ahead at the ugly reality that we will face when "the impurities of QE are finally flushed from the system." Central bankers of today have "changed everything" he chides, "in ways that will ultimately end in disaster." Following extraordinarily easy monetary policies across all of the world's central banks, Williams explains why "we are now near the popping point of the 3rd major bubble of the last 15 years," each bigger than the last. The only way Janet Yellen avoids being at the helm when this ship goes down is to blow an even bigger bubble than Bernanke's government bond experiment, "which is highly unlikely." From how QE works, why many don't "feel" wealthy anymore, to the fact that "the geniuses that gave this thing life, don't have the guts to kill it," Williams warns, ominously, "the bills have come due on the blissful latst 30 years."
"We are on the eve of a deflationary shock which will likely reduce equity valuations from very high to very low levels.... Each investor must decide for themselves just how close to midnight they want to leave this particular party. The advice of Solid Ground is leave now as it is increasingly likely that one event will be the catalyst to very rapidly change inflationary into deflationary expectations... So perhaps it is global deflationary forces creating a bankruptcy event, somewhere in the world, that is the catalyst for a sudden change in inflationary expectations in the developed world. It can all happen very quickly; and it is dangerous to stay at an equity party driven by disinflation when it can spill so rapidly into deflation... When there is plenty of leverage in the system and any key price starts to decline then a credit event and a sudden change in inflationary expectations are much more possible than the consensus believes. So watch the TIPS, BAA bond spreads and copper if you must, but this analyst prefers to observe the party from outside.... Each investor must decide for themselves just how close to midnight they want to leave this particular party."
- Russell Napier, CLSA
1974 Enders To Kissinger: "We Should Look Hard At Substantial Sales & Raid The Gold Market Once And For All"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/30/2013 14:57 -0500
Four years ago we exposed what appeared to be a 'smoking gun' of the Fed's willingness to manipulate the price of gold. Then Fed-chair Burns noted the equivalency of gold and money, and furthermore pointed out that if the Fed does not control this core relationship, it would "easily frustrate our efforts to control world liquidity." Through a "secret understanding in writing with the Bundesbank that Germany will not buy gold," the cloak-and-dagger CB negotiations were exposed as far back as 1975. Recently, we exposed Paul Volcker's fears of "PetroGold" and the importance of the US remaining "masters of gold." Today, via a transcript of then Secretary of State Kissinger's 1974 meeting we see how clearly they understood that demonetizing gold was a critical strategy to maintaining a dominant power position in the world, and "raiding the gold market once and for all."
Faith, hope, and confidence are the 3 key factors driving stocks at this point with fundamentals lagging an awkward 4th place. Faith in the perpetual central bank put (and bad news is thus good news); Hope that repeating the same 'experiment' following its previous failures will work this time; and confidence that the old normal is re-attainable (no matter how many times we kick the can). Year-to-date, S&P 500 earnings are up around 7% (and the trajectory is declining); accordingly, as we noted previously, confidence is ultimately responsible for levitating nominal stock prices through multiple expansion.. and is responsible for the rest of the market's gains. With confidence now fading (according to most surveys) investors will not be willing to pay increasing multiples unless they are confident that the future streams of earnings are sustainable and forecastable...
You can’t overstate the baleful effects for Americans of living in the tortured landscapes and townscapes we created for ourselves in the past century. This fiasco of cartoon suburbia, overgrown metroplexes, trashed small cities and abandoned small towns, and the gruesome connective tissue of roadways, commercial smarm, and free parking is the toxic medium of everyday life in this country. Its corrosive omnipresence induces a general failure of conscious awareness that it works implacably at every moment to diminish our lives. It is both the expression of our collapsed values and a self-reinforcing malady collapsing our values further. The worse it gets, the worse we become. The citizens who do recognize their own discomfort in this geography of nowhere generally articulate it as a response to “ugliness.” This is only part of the story. The effects actually run much deeper.