It ranks at the very top of potential tax nightmares, especially if you invest internationally. This nightmare could become a reality if you happen to invest in what the IRS deems a Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC), which are taxed at exorbitant rates and have highly complex reporting rules. Most foreign mutual funds are PFICs, as are certain foreign stocks. PFIC rules amount to unofficial restrictions on investing in certain foreign assets and are yet another indicator of the disturbing trend of creeping capital controls in the US. Capital controls are used by many countries and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and labels. The purpose, however, is always the same: to restrict and control the free flow of money into and out of a country so that the politicians have more wealth at their disposal to plunder.
Current policy coming from the Fed seems to be geared to create a never-ending series of booms and busts, with the hope that the busts can be shortened with more debt and easy money. Yet one major driver behind the financial crisis in 2008 was too much debt - much of which led to taxpayer-funded bailouts. In spite of this, the best the Fed can come up with now is to lower interest rates to boost demand to induce households and governments to borrow even more. Interfering with interest rates, however, is by far the most damaging policy. The economy is not a car, and interest rates are not the gas pedal. Interest rates play a critical role in aligning output with society’s demand across time. Fiddling with them only creates an ever-growing misalignment between demand and supply across time requiring an ever larger and more painful adjustment.
Now we can see the real tragedy of negative interest rates: they not only have the perverse effect of reversing the flow of time, but they demonstrate that borrowers are not acting with the good faith incentives normally associated with someone who needs money. Rather than paying forward, borrowers are paying backwards because they are effectively trying to return something they don’t want. Such an arrangement renders it impossible for an economy to grow. By destroying the temporal and moral structure of money, negative interest rates destroy the economy. When tomorrow cannot be paid, the current regime must fail. The only question to be determined is the form that failure will assume. This may sound like philosophy but it is cold, hard reality.
Why Is the U.S. Smack Dab In the Middle of a Religious War ... Backing the Most Violent Muslim Terrorists?
One just has to laugh at this point.
Barron’s should have published its gushing cover story on Jamie Dimon’s stewardship of JPMorgan today – as an April Fool’s joke.
Blogger Ben’s work is already done. In his very first substantive post as a civilian he gave away all the secrets of the monetary temple. The Bernank actually refuted the case for modern central banking in one blog. The truth is the real world of capitalism is far, far too complex and dynamic to be measured and assessed with the exactitude implied by Bernanke’s gobbledygook. In fact, what his purported necessity for choosing a rate “somewhere” actually involves is the age old problem of socialist calculation.
US Manufacturing PMI beat expectations, printing 55.7 up from 55.3 prior to its highest since Oct 2014, once again flying in the face of the collapse in US hard-data-base macro. More in line with the underlying reality, Feb Construction Spending dropped for the 3rd month of the last 4 and March ISM Manufacturing tumbled to 51.5, missing expectations of 52.5, to its lowest since May 2013. Under the covers, it is even uglier with the lowest New Orders since Jan 2014 as US Manufacturing data has missed 5 of the last 7 months and dropped for 5 months in a row - which hasn't happened since 2008.
It has been another whiplash, rollercoaster, illiquid session which saw US equity futures tumble early overnight driven by a bout of USDJPY and Nikkei selling, only to regain all losses as European, and BIS, traders walked in, and promptly BTFD. In fact at last check, it was as if all the fireworks that took place just a few short hours ago and sent the ES as low as 2037, and below what has become the key support level, the 50-DMA never happened.
I’m sure when Talking Heads wrote "Burning Down The House" that they didn’t exactly have financial collapse and environmental degradation in mind. Although with a verse like “Hold tight wait till the party's over. Hold tight we're in for nasty weather. There has got to be a way. Burning down the house” it’s hard not to see that song as strangely prophetic.
As the death toll mounts from the various regional conflicts in the Middle East, one wonders if trading autocratic rule for some semblance of stability isn’t all that bad of a compromise. That said, US foreign policy seems to be everywhere and always inept especially as it relates to the Arab world and as CNN notes, propping up dictatorships at the expense of basic rights and freedoms sows the seeds for violent revolution.
"Saudi leaders have said that if troops do go in, they won't leave until they have degraded the Houthis' ability to fight. The Houthis are apt guerrillas. A fight on the ground could prove bloody and lengthy," CNN notes. Unfortunately, it now appears that this “bloody and lengthy” conflict just got a little closer to becoming reality as Reuters reports that Houthi rebels have gained access to a military base at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the 4th largest oil-shipping chokepoint in the world.
"The utterances of the Yellen/Zhou duo who kicked off yesterday’s rip make absolutely clear why the central bankers will never stop stimulating. They have embraced a spurious “inflation deficiency” doctrine, and have thereby, in effect, lashed themselves to the wheel of a doomsday machine."
The Fed may engage in a symbolic rate hike... but we will not enter a truly hawkish period... not when the TBTFs have $551 trillion in interest rate based derivatives outstanding.
Following February's drop from 'recovery' cycle highs (which has now been erased by previous revisions! why are confidence measures seasonally-adjusted anyway?), despite surging gas prices, terrible economic data, and dismal weather, March consumer confidence explodes higher. Printing 101.3, massively beating expectations of 96.4, this is just shy of the cycle highs in January. Of course, it's all hope... the present situation index actually dropped notably from 112.1 to 109.1 as future expectations surged from 90.0 to 96.0, but fewer people plan to buy homes or major applicances in the next 6 months.