David Stockman On Yellenomics And The Folly Of Free Money

The Fed and the other major central banks have been planting time bombs all over the global financial system for years, but especially since their post-crisis money printing spree incepted in the fall of 2008.  Now comes a new leader to the Eccles Building who is not only bubble-blind like her two predecessors, but is also apparently bubble-mute. Janet Yellen is pleased to speak of financial bubbles as a “misalignment of asset prices,” and professes not to espy any on the horizon. Actually, the Fed’s bubble blindness stems from even worse than servility. The problem is an irredeemably flawed monetary doctrine that tracks, targets and aims to goose Keynesian GDP flows using the crude tools of central banking. Not surprisingly, therefore, our monetary central planners are always, well, surprised, when financial fire storms break-out. Even now, after more than a half-dozen collapses since the Greenspan era of Bubble Finance incepted in 1987, they don’t recognize that it is they who are carrying what amounts to monetary gas cans.

Baltic Dry Plunges 8%, Near Most In 6 Years As Iron Ore At Chinese Ports Hits All Time High

It would appear record inventories of Iron ore and plunging prices due to China's shadow-banking unwind have started to weigh on the all-too-important-when-it-is-going-up-but-let's-blame-supply-when-dropping Baltic Dry Index. With the worst start to a year in over a decade, the recent recovery in prices provided faint hope that the worst of the global trade collapse was over... however, today's 8% plunge - on par with the biggest drops in the last 6 years - suggests things are far from self-sustaining. Still think we are insulated from the arcane China shadow-banking system, which suddenly everyone is an expert of suddenly? Think again.

Guest Post: Why 2014 Is Beginning To Look A Lot Like 2008

Does anything about 2014 remind you of 2008? The long lists of visible stress in the global financial system and the almost laughably hollow assurances that there are no bubbles, everything is under control, etc. etc. etc.  certainly remind me of the late-2007-early 2008 period when the subprime mortgage meltdown was already visible and officialdom from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan on down were mounting the bully pulpit at every opportunity to declare that there was no bubble in housing and the system was easily able to handle little things like defaulting mortgages. The party, once again, is clearly ending and raises the question: "If asset bubbles no longer boost full-time employment or incomes across the board, what is the broad-based, “social good” justification for inflating them?"

Bond Trading Grinds To A Halt: Goldman Set To Report Weakest Q1 Since 2005; Revenues Down As Much As 25% Elsewhere

Since Wall Street has been explicitly fighting the Fed (remember: the main reason there is no volume is because nobody is selling) Wall Street has once again lost, and despite its appeals, the time to pay the piper has come. Said payment will be taken out of bank Q1 earnings which as everyone knows, will continue the declining trend seen in recent years (so much for that whole Net Interest Margin fable), but to learn just how bad, we go to the FT which reports that fixed income groups across Wall Street "are set for their worst start to the year since before the financial crisis, with revenue declines of up to 25%." The punchline: "Analysts now expect Goldman Sachs to record its weakest first quarter since 2005 and JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are forecast to see their lowest revenues since they bought Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, respectively, in 2008."

Obama Approval Rating Drops To Fresh Record Low

Poor Obama - the president can't get anything right these days. Obama's job approval ticked down to 41% in March from 43% in January, marking a new low. Some 54% disapproved of the job he is doing, matching a previous high from December, when the botched rollout of his signature health law played prominently in the news. The latest survey also showed the lowest-ever approval in Journal/NBC polling for Mr. Obama's handling of foreign policy.


Frontrunning: March 12

  • China worries chill markets, copper slumps (Reuters)
  • Peak dot com dot two idiocy: Candy Crush Saga maker King seeks $7.56 bln valuation from IPO (BBG)
  • Obama Meeting With Yatsenyuk Raises Stakes in Ukraine (BBG)
  • Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of GM recall (Reuters)
  • Pimco Cuts Government Debt on Outlook for Fed Buying (BBG)
  • Missing Malaysian Jetliner Confuses World That’s Online 24/7 (BBG)
  • Mortgage Giants Face Endgame (WSJ)
  • Russia Calls U.S. Aid to Ukraine Illegal Amid Standoff (BBG)
  • U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss (Reuters)
  • Ousted Libyan PM flees country after tanker escapes rebel-held port (Reuters)
  • Senate-CIA Dispute Erupts Into a Public Brawl (WSJ)

How Long Does This Go On Before There's A Currency Crisis?

In setting the price of money, we have given central bankers the power to effectively set the price of... everything. Make no mistake, this is a form of price controls; and one day (probably soon), future historians are going to look back and wonder how so many people could be bamboozled. We have somehow been conned into believing that the path to prosperity is for the grand wizards of the financial system to conjure paper currency out of thin air. Yet this notion of 'money backed by nothing' is an absurd fantasy that has failed every single time it has ever been tried before in history. We bring this up because the following chart highlights the Fed's margin of safety before confidence wanes...

The Fed Has Failed (And Will Continue to Fail), Part 1

Let's be clear about one thing (to quote the president)the Fed's policies have been an unqualified success for financiers and an abject failure for everyone who has to work for a living. The Fed has not just failed to rectify the nation's obscene inequality in wealth and income; it has actively widened it by handing guaranteed returns to the banks and financiers while strip-mining what's left of the middle and working classes' non-labor income, i.e. interest on savings.

Meet The 2 Iranians At The Center Of The "Stolen Passport" Plot

"The more information we get, the more we're inclined to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident," says the Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble according to CNN, as details of the 2 Iranians at the center of the "stolen passport" uncertainty are identified. As CNN reports, Noble gave their names and ages as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, 29 and added "they are not likely to be members of a terrorist group." Of course, the more dismal unknown is that of the entire plane and its passengers and crew which remain missing without a trace.

The Hiringless Non-Recovery In Full Farce

The chart below shows that while there has traditionally been near 100% correlation between the 1 year cumulative change in payrolls, and the monthly amount of job hires, in the New Normal this is anything but true. The simple explanation: the only reason why it "seems" things have gotten back to normal, is not because there is hiring, but because companies have put a freeze on terminations, and with quality jobs few and far between, workers still refuse to leave existing jobs voluntarily, further confirmed by the Quits print which just dropped to 2.375MM, the lowest since October as confidence in finding a better paying job has rapidly evaporated. Perhaps the snow is to blame for that too?

Futures Fail To Rally On Lack Of Yen Carry Levitation

Stocks in Europe failed to hold onto early gains and gradually moved into negative territory, albeit minor, as concerns over money markets in China gathered attention yet again after benchmark rates fell to lowest since May 2012. Nevertheless, basic materials outperformed on the sector breakdown, as energy and metal prices rebounded following yesterday’s weaker than expected Chinese data inspired sell off. At the same time, Bunds remained supported by the cautious sentiment, while EUR/USD came under pressure following comments by ECB's Constancio who said that financial markets misinterpreted us a little, can still cut rates and implement QE or buy assets. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly API report after the closing bell on Wall Street and the US Treasury will kick off this week’s issuance with a sale of USD 30bln in 3y notes.

20 Stunning Facts On The US Retail Apocalypse

If the U.S. economy is getting better, then why are major retail chains closing thousands of stores?  If we truly are in an "economic recovery", then why do sales figures continue to go down for large retailers all over the country?  Without a doubt, the rise of Internet retailing giants such as have had a huge impact.  Today, there are millions of Americans that actually prefer to shop online. But Internet shopping alone does not account for the great retail apocalypse that we are witnessing.  In fact, some retail experts estimate that the Internet has accounted for only about 20 percent of the decline that we are seeing.  Most of the rest of it can be accounted for by the slow, steady death of the middle class U.S. consumer.  Median household income has declined for five years in a row, but all of our bills just keep going up.  That means that the amount of disposable income that average Americans have continues to shrink, and that is really bad news for retailers.

How Brits Make The Rent - Sell A Kidney (On Facebook)

While central bankers and politicians alike celebrate the great recorvery in the UK, the nation is increasingly divided between the haves and have-nots (or Londoners and non-Londoners). In no way is that more clearly evident that a dreadful new trend that, as The Sunday Post reports, desperate Brits are turning to Facebook to advertise their organs for sale at up to $50,000 despite the medical and legal risks involved.

A Tale Of Two Bubbles

China's biggest blue-chip stock index - the CSI-300 - dropped over 3% overnight and fell to its lowest level since Feb 2009. Corporate bond and trust defaults (crushing confidence in credit markets), shadow-banking collateral unwinds (crushing commodity prices), and exports collapsing (crushing dreams of a global economic recovery) are all weighing on Chinese stocks. This comes, ironically as the US equity "market" celebrates the 5 year anniversary of the Mar 2009 lows and soars to new highs in the face of turmoil. There is, of course, another outlet for China's massive money-printing - that dwarfs the Fed's - its real estate market.. and that is the bubble that the PBOC is trying to tamp down.