What’s the easiest way to make a 500x return on investment?
When it comes to the poorest quartile of US society, some 14 million people, any suggestion that US society is deleveraging and setting the stage for pent up releveraging and thus, economic growth, is dead wrong. In fact, as the Fed's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, released last week showed, America's poorest have never been more in debt!
Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.
While the world was poring through the details of the latest round of preannounced western sanctions against Russia - a round which Russia commented would have little actual impact - and just as excitedly awaiting the Kremlin's retaliation, which Putin warned is coming shortly, far from the glare of the center stage Europe quietly folded to a bigger Russian demand namely to delay the implementation of a Ukraine free trade deal by more than one year until the end of 2015 and likely beyond.
There is a connection between modern capital markets and the NFL (and between Central Bankers and Roger Goodell). The connection is solipsism – a pathological egocentrism where reality is defined by an individual’s mental perceptions and constructs. Collective solipsism is what overwhelming Common Knowledge looks like. It’s the annihilation of an individual’s perception of reality in favor of a group perception of reality. The collective solipsism of modern markets is the most crucial game to comprehend.
Rents and housing costs make up 30% of CPI. They’re its largest component. They’re soaring in real life. But not in the CPI.
"The apparently long-term rupture of Russia's relations with the West offers an opportunity to the Chinese leadership to enhance its already close relationship with the Kremlin and thus turn the global geopolitical balance in its favor - not unlike former US president Richard Nixon and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger who reached out to Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972. The Russians, angry with Washington, are now more amenable to giving China wider access to their energy riches and their advanced military technology. The Western sanctions pushing Russia out of the international financial system are also making Moscow more ready and willing to back the Chinese yuan against the US dollar." - China Daily
While today's key news event will likely be the preannounced latest, third, round of anti-Russian sanctions and the Russian retaliation, the reality as DB notes, is that the market seems to be seeing "some fatigue" in this story with the ECB, Scotland and next week's Fed meeting taking center stage. As a result, and ahead of expectations of change in Fed language which should carry a more hawkish tone, the dollar has been bid up some more overnight, leading to fresh multi-year highs in the USDJPY, and the now-paired TSY trade, with 10Y yields up to 2.57%, although this may now be in short-term oversold territory. The latest Scottish poll appears to have dented some of the "Yes" momentum, with 52% of the polled saying they would vote No in the referendum, although right now neither side has a clear majority when factoring in the undecideds: which means it will come down to the wire next week, with clear implications for Europe's secessionist movements if the Yes vote still manages to prevail, not to mention massive ramifications for the UK.
Governments and mainstream media outlets have a great way of presenting sensational threats and evil villains. They want us to be terrified of men in caves, roving bands of barbarians, and deadly viruses that turn our insides out. Last night, for example, President Obama told the world that ISIL poses the most significant threat to global security. (Ironically al-Qaida no longer seems to be a threat, and ISIL, which no one had heard of until a few months ago, is now public enemy #1. It just goes to show how shallow and reactionary the security theater is...) But here’s the truth: If you live in the Land of the Free, you’re far more likely to get ‘accidentally’ shot by a police officer than blown up by a terrorist.
While we have grown used to eye-poppingly 'odd' data from China (and increasingly the US), last night's surge in Aussie employment is among the greatest statistical pieces of muppetry we have ever seen. As Bloomberg reports, Australian employers added a record number of jobs in August - great news, right? Confirming CBA's decision to hold rates (not cut) and instantly AUD exploded higher. However, since then AUD has collapsed back to fresh 6-month lows plunging over 300 pips in 4 days. The reason - "the market's skeptical," says one trader, as Aussie's miracle jobs recovery was thanks to a 121,000 surge in part-time employees (equivalent to 1.3 million added in one month in the US).
It's not just Scotland... or Catalan. As The Guardian reports, polls out in the past few days in France have shown far-right Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen topping a presidential poll for the first time. Alongside this surge in support for FN is the utter collapse in the French people's faith in Hollande. Less than 20% of voters now approve of the French president and stunningly more than half the nation's card-holding-socialists have given up on him. An unprecedented 85% of French voters don't think Hollande should seek a second term. One word - guillotine?
Following yesterday's confusing exuberance, which saw the sluggish market rise in the last hours of trading as the latest Scottish poll showed a reverse of the "Yes" momentum (and fading Gartman's latest reco of course), overnight European jitters have re-emerged once more following a speech by Catalonia's Artur Mas, who has long pushed for independence of the region, and who said that while there are different ways Catalonia can vote, the important issue is that Catalans vote somehow. Mas says Spanish govt will likely try to block Catalan vote "the reasons why the central government is blocking the vote are political not legal", which in turn has once again brought attention to Europe's artificial, unstable and temporary political and monetary union, which threatens a reversion of the nightmare days from 2012 when Mario Draghi was promising he would do everything in his power to send the EUR higher (as opposed to now).
Are you ready to have your veins scanned every time you use your bank account? Are you ready to use a "digital tattoo" or a microchip implant to unlock your telephone? Once upon a time we read about such technologies in science fiction novels, but now they are here. The era of widespread biometric identification and microchip implants is upon us, and it is going to change the way that we live. Proponents of these new technologies say that they will make our private information and our bank accounts much more secure. But there are others that warn that these kinds of "Big Brother technologies" will set the stage for even more government intrusion into our lives. In the wrong hands, such technologies could prove to be an absolute nightmare.
Back in the summer of 2008, when crude seemed poised to take out $150, Goldman decided to declare the start of a commodity supercycle and boosted its oil price forecast to $200. Shortly thereafter crude cratered, plunging to the low double digits, and causing many to scratch their heads whether Goldman was merely taking advantage of the pre-Lehman panic to sell into the euphoria. The same questions, but inverted, will likely follow today's just as seminal note, one which this time calls for the end of a supercycle, this time of iron, with "The end of the Iron Age."
Billions of dollars have already been lost in just a few days, since everybody realized the UK may actually split up. Many more billions will be lost in the coming week, as measures of volatility go through the roof. Neither the Yes side nor the No side have gone into this thing terribly prepared; there are a zillion questions surrounding the independence issue that won’t be solved before the vote takes place. Passports, currencies, central banks, monetary unions, there’s too much even to mention. Somewhere, emanating from the old crypts and burrows in which Britain was founded, we fear a hideous force may emerge to crush the Scottish people’s desire for self-determination, if only because that desire is a major threat to some very rich and powerful entities who found themselves as unprepared as Downing Street 10.