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.
Why is the assertion that “all markets are manipulated” generally greeted with scorn and derision?
In all the annals of investing, few seemingly innocuous phrases incorporate as much by way of grave implication as those four words, “a shift to banknotes”. 2008 was bad. With central bank policy now at the outer reaches of the possible and even of the theoretical, the outlook is certainly uncertain. Not wishing to participate in the terminal stages of a momentum-driven bubble is not bearish so much as simply sane.
Surely the thinking folk out there must be asking themselves: what is the way out of this Federal Reserve three-card-monte, one-percenter-stuffing, so-called “economy,” and what is the destination of this society when that mendacious model for living fails? There really is no free lunch or get-out-of-jail card. The truth is, when you rig a money system with price interventions, distortions, and perversions, they will eventually express themselves in ways destructive to the system.
Back in September 2013 we wrote "Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: MBIA's $1 Billion World War Z" in which we explained why MBIA will soon have a substantial problem (amounting to just about around $600 million) with several CLOs which we dubbed "Zombie CLOs" or as they were actually known, Zohar, on which it had written insurance, and which would become evident sooner or later once someone took a long, hard look at the collateral manager of the CLOs, namely Lynn Tilton's Patriarch Partners. Well, finally someone did take a long, hard look and today, our warning comes full circle following a shocker out of the SEC accusing Lynn Tilton of fraud and of "hiding the poor performance of loan assets in three collateralized loan obligation (CLO) funds they manage."
Regarding the major problem of the more domestic issue of economic recovery, unless we would agree, which we really shouldn’t, that making a small group of the population richer while the much larger rest is made poorer, is how we define ‘recovery’, we have no recovery. But it is still accepted and proclaimed like a gospel: our economies are in recovery. If you take a step back and watch things from a distance, it’s truly too silly to be true, but endless repetition of the same lines, be they true or not, has them accepted as being cast in stone. It’s like selling detergent. Of course it doesn’t hurt that people very much want to believe a recovery is here. The stories we are bombarded with 24/7 under the quite hilarious misnomer ‘News’ have been prepared, pre-cooked and pre-chewed for our smooth and painless digestion, and as such they contain only tiny little flakes of reality. They are designed to make us feel good, not understand the world around us. And, as Scott Minerd says, the economic future for your entire families will look utterly bleak. Because that recovery they talk about? It’s not for you.