Commodities broke first because there was the direct link to actual rather than imagined activity; inflation breakevens next; followed by the yield curve in November 2013. Either stocks have permanently decoupled, continuing exclusively within the realm of central bank omniscience that has been rebuked time and again, or there will be a period soon where full harmony is restored; that is everyone’s greatest fear.
The reason why the BLS has not yet revealed the reality of the shifting US labor force, and why there is virtually no real wage growth across the US, is that the BLS simply backs into statistically goal-seeked results, using seasonal and statistical (birth/death) adjustments to smooth a trendline to beat a monthly bogey used by algos to bid stocks higher. Meanwhile, the reality at the micro level, is that increasingly more Americans are seeing their work status transformed from full-time to part-time status, earning less in the process, having no healthcare and retirement benefits and virtually no job security. As a result, starting this year, some 19 states just increased their minimum wage threshold, with 3 more states due to follow later in 2015. This takes place at the state level because for numerous reasons, there simply wan't enough of a consensus to pass this at the Federal level.
We will readily admit that one cannot know with certainty whether the bubble in risk assets will become bigger. However, it seems to us that avoiding a big drawdown may actually be more important than gunning for whatever gains remain. We don’t think it is a good idea to simply “take the blue pill” and rely on the idea that the effects of the money illusion will last a lot longer. It is possible, but it becomes less and less likely the higher asset prices go and the more money supply growth slows down. If no-one can say when, then the “blue pill” strategy has a major weakness. It means that things could just as easily go haywire next week as next year.
Don't listen to or become entrapped by financial advisors offering some great skill, in knowing the guide path for various asset prices, and therefore can guide you in when to buy and sell certain securities. It's their only job to simply sell as much insane fantasy as possible, to anyone willing to buy. And it's those same advisors -frenzied by their battalion of technology resources- who are likely uneducated on the lessons contained in the straightforward story about the Grinch, to provide a better light for anyone in their winter voyage ahead.
If the tech mania was based on magic, and the housing mania was based on a supposed fact that was historically untrue, today’s mania is a mania of manias, interlinked and resting on premises that are patently illogical, contradicted by both the historical record and current experience. Those premises are: central planning works, government debt promotes prosperity, and economic growth stems from central banks buying that debt with money they create from thin air. On these premises rest manias in governments, their debts, and central banking.
"As a former military analyst myself I can tell you that by now the Russian intelligence community's "indicators and warnings" should be "flashing red" and that in all likelihood Russia is already preparing for war..."
Hugh Hendry's Eclectica Fund has had a great Q4 (up 3.3%, 4.0%, and 5.0% in the last 3 months) despite portfolio risk being quadruple his 'old normal'. How did he achieve this? He begins... "There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don't necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often... He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now."
2014 is in the bag and there's something for everyone to celebrate. Here are the narratives that painted the past year - what’s real about them versus what we’re being told they are about.
Wealth inequality isn't just a political issue - it's a survival issue. When a society hits a certain level of economic disparity, it is set on a path towards destruction. It happened to the Roman Empire, and it will happen to the United States.
The worldwide economic and industrial boom since the early 1990s was not indicative of sublime human progress or the break-out of a newly energetic market capitalism on a global basis. Instead, the approximate $50 trillion gain in the reported global GDP over the past two decades was an unhealthy and unsustainable economic deformation financed by a vast outpouring of fiat credit and false prices in the capital markets. In short, when the classical Austrians talked about “malinvestment” the pending disasters in the global steel and iron ore industries (and also mining equipment and other supplier industries) are what they had in mind.
What scares me about the Clash of Civilizations is that the three leaders of the three biggest civilizations – the US (Western), China (Sinic), and Russia (Orthodox) – will misplay their hands and take on another civilization directly or, worse, take on each other, and that will vaporize the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence in a nanosecond. The existential risk here for markets is not that China/Russia/Europe/America might “collapse”, whatever that means. No, the existential risk is that the great civilizations of the world will be “hollowed out” internally, so that the process of managing the ten thousand year old competition between civilizations devolves into an unstable game of pandering to domestic crowds rather than a stable equilibrium of balance of power.
It has become exceedingly apparent that most Americans no longer think for themselves. Rather, most conversations in America today consist of an exchange of sound bites, phrases, ideas and talking points that the “matrix” has fed us. Most of us are just zombies that spend our days searching for the things that we are desperately craving. For fictional zombies, that usually consists of brains. For American zombies, that usually consists of something that will feed our addictions. Our society is breaking down in thousands of different ways, and we can see the evidence of this all around us.
Things for Europe (and liquidity addicts around the globe) just got a little more complicated. Earlier today, moments after the failed Greek presidential vote pulled the forgotten topic of a Grexit up front and center, the IMF announced that it is suspending financial aid to Greece under its huge rescue program until a new government is formed. RTE quotes IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice who said discussion on the completion of the sixth review of Greece's bailout will resume once a new government is in place. Mr Rice added that the holdup in the program would not impact the country's finances in the short term.