"We think that something structurally has changed since the GFC, a change that seems destined to continue to hold back growth in the near-term and more worryingly has lowered the longer-term trend rate of growth. In the absence of structural reforms, a lack of appetite for debt restructuring and no ability to pursue more aggressive fiscal policy, the temptation will be strong globally to continue to throw liquidity at the problem which is likely to continue to have more impact on asset prices than the actual economy. Bubbles could easily form which could ultimately be the catalyst for the imbalances that will likely lead to the next recession or crisis... Our base case is that the world needs low yields and high liquidity given the huge amount of outstanding debt that we’re still left with post the leverage bubble and the GFC. There’s still too much leverage for us to believe that accidents won’t happen with the removal of too much stimulus. If we’re correct, we may see a reaction somewhere to tapering and this in turn may force the Fed into a much slower tapering path than it wants."
Despite the ratings agencies (Moody's Dec 5th and S&P Nov 22nd) seemingly premature raising of the outlook for the nation's sovereign credit rating (from negative to stable), economic hardship in Spain looks likely to continue as loan defaults surge and the unemployment rate remains the second highest in the EU.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Yesterday, we pointed out that according to the latest Bloomberg survey of economists, roughly 70% of respondents now believe that a taper is coming in either December or January, further accentuated by the recent flipflopping of Fed "bellwether" James Bullard who after holding out for a much delayed reduction in the Fed's monthly flow, admitted that the "probability of a taper had risen ". Today, some additional thoughts on what now seems the consensus from Credit Suisse: "With the labor market looking to be on a more sustained recovery trend following a late summer set-back we think tapering is now virtually inevitable with the decision between a Dec or Jan taper a virtual toss-up that may come down to Fed perceptions of market liquidity in the latter part of December." And just to add fuel to the flame here comes CNBC's own staff "Fed expert" Steve Liesman with "get ready, here it comes: A December taper."
- U.S. set to adopt Volcker rule to curb bank trading gambles (Reuters) After vote, lawsuits likely next hurdle for Volcker rule (Reuters)
- U.S. Congress budget talks could produce Tuesday deal, aides say (Reuters)
- Wealthy Go Frugal This Holiday Amid Uneven U.S. Recovery (BBG)
- Tearful Thai PM urges protesters to take part in election (Reuters)
- Fed’s Bullard Sees Higher QE Taper Odds as Labor Market Improves (BBG)
- Coeure Says ECB Would Offer More LTROs Only When Banks Can Lend (BBG)
- Inside China's Super-Sterile Chicken Farms (WSJ)
- Mandela Service Rivals JFK’s as Leaders Meet in South Africa (BBG)
- China data defy slowdown forecasts (FT), and of course the word is "data"
- Cold, ice grip U.S. as more snow to blanket East (Reuters)
The grind higher in equities, and tighter in credit, continues as markets brush aside concerns about a December taper for the time being. Overnight futures levitation has pushed the Fed balance sheet driven record high S&P even higher, despite as Deutsche Bank points out, the fact that we had three Fed speakers advocate or talk up the possibility of a December taper, including the St Louis Fed’s James Bullard who is viewed as a bit of a bellwether for the FOMC. Bullard said the probability of a taper had risen in light of the strengthening of job growth in recent months. Indeed, he noted that the best move for the Fed could be a small December taper given the improving jobs data but below-target inflation readings. The Fed could then pause further tapering should inflation not return toward target during the first half of 2014. Looking at today’s calendar, the focus will be on US JOLTs job openings - a report which Yellen has previously highlighted as an important supplement to more traditional labour market indicators. US small business optimism and wholesale inventories are the other major data releases today. As mentioned above, US financial regulators are due to announce Volcker rules at some point today although as we just reported, the CFTC's meeting on Volcker was just cancelled due to inclement weather.
Japan's PM Shinzo Abe has seen his approval ratings collapse for the first time since his 'devalue-to-glory' strategy was unveiled a year ago. Kyodo News reported, support for Mr. Abe fell 10.3ppt to 47.6%, while Japan News Network reported a 13.9-point fall to 54.6% as WSJ reports, public concern over the controversial secrecy bill (designed by Kafka, inspired by Hitler) and its nationalist overtones merely exacerbated Japanese people's concerns about their pocketbooks (as incomes stagnate and costs rise). As Abe plays lip service to economic issues (with a very Maduro-like speech recently on profit margins and wage increases), there is little but public outrage to hinder his plans as his ruling Liberal Democratic Party has big majorities in both houses of parliament, with no election scheduled until 2016. So much for Abenomics...
The current malaise of news, data, and spin is "meaningless," David Stockman tells Bloomberg's Tom Keene, adding that markets are exhibiting "the kind of speculative froth you get at the top of a cycle where valuation loses any anchor in the real world; from earnings or the prospects of the economy." As he argued before, "owning stocks here is very dangerous," and despite Keene's best efforts to denigrate Stockman's "of course it's a bubble," perspective; the former inside-man exposes the hard mathematical truths of valuations, performance, and reality in this brief clip. Who is to blame - The Fed or Wall Street? "It is a question of who has taken whom hostage," Stockman concludes ominously, "it's a co-dependency... it's very dangerous."
"If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it." Sadly, that appears to be the approach that the Obama administration and the mainstream media are taking with the U.S. economy. They seem to believe that if they just keep telling the American people over and over that things are getting better, eventually the American people will believe that it is actually true. And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now. Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers. The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics. All of that "stimulus" should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy. Sadly, all of those "emergency measures" do not appear to have done much at all.
We warned here (and here most recently), the most insidious way in which the Fed's ZIRP policy is now bleeding not only the middle class dry, but is forcing companies to reallocate cash in ways that benefit corporate shareholders at the present, at the expense of investing prudently for growth 2 or 3 years down the road. It seems the message is being heard loud and very clear among 'some' of the FOMC members; most notably Richard Fisher:
"Without fiscal policy that incentivizes rather than discourages U.S. capex (capital expenditure), this accommodative monetary policy aimed at reducing unemployment (especially structural unemployment) or improving the quality of jobs is rendered flaccid and less than optimally effective... I would feel more comfortable were we to remove ourselves as soon as possible from interfering with the normal price-setting functioning of financial markets."
Perhaps Yellen (and others) will listen this time?
The United States’ reputation for sound economic policymaking took a beating in 2013. Some of this was warranted; some of it was not. And now a related distorted narrative – one that in 2014 could needlessly undermine policies that are key to improving America’s economic recovery – is gaining traction... to the danger of "government failure."
While the second-derivative hopers and primary budget surplus believers cling to the faith that Stournaras talking about recovery is enough to bring the depressing Greek nation out of its slumber, the fact is that Greek deflation has never been worse. However, it gets worse... as a recent study by CFR finds that countries are most at risk of defaulting the year they turn a positive primary budget - meaning they are no longer reliant on their creditors. Simply put, the Greek government has far less incentive to pay, and far more negotiating leverage with, its creditors once it no longer needs to borrow from them to keep the country running - this makes it more likely, rather than less, that Greece will default sometime next year. Beggars, once again, become choosers.
The FSB's first chairman was Mario Draghi, current President of the European Central Bank, while its current chairman is Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. The inclusion of Financial Market Infrastructures means that large parts of the global financial system is susceptible to bail-in and could potentially be bailed-in including exchange traded funds.
Technically, "High Yield" is no longer the appropriate name for the riskiest credit issuance since the average coupon has declined to where Investment Grade used to trade in the years before the New Normal. It is therefore only appropriate that as part and parcel of this record high yield bond issuance surge levering the riskiest companies to the gills with low interest debt, that there is also a scramble between underwriters to become as competitive as possible. And, sure enough, as Bloomberg Brief reports, "the underwriting fees disclosed to Bloomberg on U.S. junk bond deals average 1.276 percent for the year to date, the lowest since our records began. The prior low was set in 2008, when fees averaged 1.4 percent." 2008... that was when the last credit bubble burst on unprecedented demand for junk bonds: we are confident the bubble apologists will find some other metric with which to convince everyone that reality, and the Fed's Stein, have it all wrong.