Since the beginning of this year, Wall Street economists and analysts have been consistently prognosticating that following the Federal Reserve's latest bond buying campaign, economic growth would gather steam and interest rates would begin to rise. This has consistently been the wrong call. The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered; wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically at strong enough rates to sustain higher interest rates. This is a point that seems to be lost on most economists who forget that the Federal Reserve has been pumping in trillions of dollars of liquidity into the economy to pull forward future consumption.
Forget about the Fed’s language and its FOMC meeting. The real story is the $100 trillion bond bubble (more like the $191 trillion interest rate bubble based on bonds). When it breaks, it doesn’t matter what the Fed says or does.
If the world's fifth largest trader of commodities has chosen to outright not trade gold, and thus not generate value for its shareholders over risks and fears that another, or two, or three, or a countless number of other prior "owners" may come knocking one day and demanding delivery of gold whose origin could not be documented by its trading intermediaries, and whose ownership link Gunvor is unable to trace, then just what on earth is really going on with the world's physical gold inventory (here's looking at you, Chinese gold-backed Commodity Funding Deals), and just what is the catalyst that will unleash what is essentially the infamous US mortgage robosigning scandal onto the gold arena, at which point owners of gold realize the gold they thought they owned, even if held safely in a deposit box deep in a gold vault in a safe offshore location, in reality "belongs" to someone else?
The rank economic cheerleading in the guise of “news” printed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the rest of the financial press never ceases to amaze. But on the heels of Congress’ pathetic capitulation to Wall Street over the weekend you have to wonder if even the robo-writers who compose the headlines are on the take. How could anyone in the right mind label this weekend’s CRomnibus abomination “A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress”? Apparently, that unaccountable plaudit was bestowed upon Washington by the WSJ solely because it avoided another government shutdown.
It's a wonderful life on Wall Street, yet here is a holiday wish list to make it even better...
The myth of harsh lending conditions in the US is probably only matched in its disconnect from reality by the just as entertaining narrative of the "one-time, non-recurring" harsh winter crushing Q1 GDP. A narrative which even needed support from none other than former Fed Chairman Bernanke who allegedly was denied a mortgage refinancing on the $672K loan he still owes for his 3-bedroom, 2100 square foot home (a story which is about as credible as 17 year olds making $72 million by cornering the penny-stock market). For the truth we go to the Office Of the Comptroller of the Currency, which just reported in its annual survey that for the third year in a row, U.S. banks relaxed loan underwriting standards, "a trend mirroring the lax lending just before the financial crisis." To wit: "This year's survey showed a continued easing in underwriting standards, with trends very similar to those seen from 2004 through 2006," said Jennifer Kelly, senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision.
Lots of old market hands are talking about how its similar to the Russia default and crash of ‘98 all over again.. Actually... its worse. Much worse.
For those wondering if the CBR's intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes... for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74 76, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.
The shale oil “miracle” was an epochal stunt. Thanks to ZIRP, what every pom-pom carrying cheerleader failed to note was how much of the day-to-day shale operation was being run on junk bond financing. ZIRP destroyed the most fundamental index in the financial universe: the true cost of borrowing money. Finance was the lifeblood of the global economy and scam after scam left it riddled with wormholes of fragility. That fragility has been waiting to express itself and the ability of bank wizards to squelch and conceal it may have come to an end. There will be no quick cure for cratering oil prices and the damage it will wreak among the shale drillers.
The market is a giant living organism of human behavior and trying to predict what the market will do in two weeks, much less twelve months from now, is pure folly. However, by looking at the price trends, and using some statistical analysis, we can garner a view of the direction that the “herd” is most likely heading. There is a fascinating analogy in nature, called murmuration, that very much resembles the “herd mentality” in the markets.
Slowing the rebalancing and creating further downside risk is a very strong consensus view that this pull back is temporary and that oil prices will quickly rebound as they did in 2009. According to a recent Bloomberg survey, the median WTI forecast for 2016 is $86/bbl (even we forecast it going back to $80/bbl). All of these forecasts are based upon now outdated cost data that is shifting as fast as the price. It is precisely this strong view for a rebound in prices and the behavior it creates, that not only suggests that oil prices can go lower for longer, but also that the new normal is far lower than we thought just one month ago. Instead of optimizing against a lower price environment, many oil producers are trying to position themselves for the rebound in prices
"... America has followed the Soviet Union down the path of re-engineering its ideological culture... shifting towards a new socialist middle ground where centralization has woven the macro economic system tighter around a supra-sovereign statehood... They will say no one saw it coming... The sad reality is that the disorganized masses will remain ignorant to the whole process as they become consumed with television news drama that hides the structural truth behind the engineered cultural implosion of the American identity."
The most efficient outcome is the one without human involvement. That is the problem of efficiency....
While the entire financial world is hanging on to every Mario Draghi word in hope Europe finally improves the market's (if not the economy's) "fundamentals" to new record highs, and joins the rest of the "developed" world's central banks in injecting trillions of liquidity into the Div/0 P/E stocks "whatever it takes" (because in a world where only multiple expansion is left, the ECB is the last wildcard at least until the US is dragged right back into the global recession and the Fed admits any pipe dreams of a rate hike in 2015 were just that), something far more different may be taking place behind the scenes. According to at least one journalist, the Fiscal Times' Patrick Smith, "Draghi appears set to leave Frankfurt and return to his native Italy the first chance he gets."
In space, no one can hear you scream... unless you happen to be Venezuela's (soon to be former) leader Nicolas Maduro, who has been doing a lot of screaming this morning following news that UAE's Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said OPEC will stand by its decision not to cut crude output "even if oil prices fall as low as $40 a barrel" and will wait at least three months before considering an emergency meeting.