In a world in which all the matters is "scale", the ability to Martingale down on losing bets as close to infinity as possible (something which JPMorgan learned with the London Whale may not be the best strategy especially when one can't print money out of thin air), and being as close to the Fed's Heidelberg rotary printer as possible, it was expected that that "expert" of government backstops and bailouts, the Octogenarian of Omaha, Warren Buffett, would have only kind words for Ben Bernanke. But not even we predicted that Buffett would explicitly admit what we have only tongue-in-cheek joked about in the past, namely that the Fed is the world's greatest (and most profitable) hedge fund. Which is precisely what he did: "Billionaire investor Warren Buffett compared the U.S. Federal Reserve to a hedge fund because of the central bank’s ability to profit from bond purchases while accumulating a balance sheet of more than $3 trillion. "The Fed is the greatest hedge fund in history,” Buffett told students yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington. It’s generating “$80 billion or $90 billion a year probably” in revenue for the U.S. government, he said.
The FOMC shocked markets by deciding not to slow its large-scale asset purchase program, after all the signals it had sent out in previous months that it would do so. While increasing policy risk, JPMorgan notes, this puts the asset-reflation trades back on the table. In their view, the main driver of gold’s performance over the past five years has been QE. As QE continued and inflation expectations remained subdued, the demand for an inflation hedge subsided, ETF positions were unwound and gold prices fell. However, JPM now believes, as a result of the Fed's volte-face on tapering, uncertainty about future inflation may pick up and suggest a long position in gold. Of course, the question is - are they buying or is this a last ditch effort to drain what little remaining gold they have in their vault to their hapless clients?
When people think failed or busted Treasury bond auction, they usually imagine something out of Brazil or Russia where the government was selling obligations and nobody showed up. Of course, in the US, courtesy of the Primary Dealer system and more importantly, of a multi-trillion shadow banking system, where bonds are cash equivalent following rehypothecation and pledging for cash-equivalents with virtually no haircut, there is no risk of an auction failing in the conventional sense, at least not until Bernanke finally manages to irrevocably erode the Dollar's reserve currency status. However, that does not mean that auction's can't "fail" in a purely technical sense. Which is exactly what happened during last week's sale of 3 month Bills, when due to a "glitch" in the system not only was a key Primary Dealer locked out of the auction, forcing the US Treasury to arbitrarily reassign allotment in the parallel 6 month auction, but leading to a wild intraday mispricing in the already collateral-scarce, short term bond market.
Are you ready for Janet Yellen? Wall Street wants her, the mainstream media wants her and it appears that her confirmation would be a slam dunk. She would be the first woman ever to chair the Federal Reserve, and her philosophy is that a little bit of inflation is actually good for an economy. She was reportedly the architect for many of the unprecedented monetary decisions that Ben Bernanke made during his tenure, and that has many on Wall Street and in the media very excited. Noting that we "already know that Yellen is on board with Bernanke's easy money policies", CNN recently even went so far as to publish a rabidly pro-Yellen article with this stunning headline: "Dear Mr. President: Name Yellen now!" But after watching what a disaster Bernanke has been, do we really want more of the same? It doesn't really matter whether she is a woman, a man, a giant lizard or a robot, the question is whether or not she is going to continue to take us down the path to ruin that Bernanke has taken us.
It is undeniable that America is thoroughly addicted to fiat stimulus. Every aspect of our economy, from stocks, to bonds, to banks, and by indirect extension main street, is now utterly dependent on the continued 24/7 currency creation bonanza. The stock market no longer rallies to the tune of increased retail sales, growing export markets or improved employment expectations. In fact, “good” economic news today is met with panic and market sell-offs! Why? Because investors and banks still playing equities understand full well that any sign of fiscal improvement might mean the end of the private Federal Reserve’s QE pajama party. They know that without the Fed’s opiate-laced lifeline, the economy dies a fast and painful death. All mainstream economic news currently revolves around the Fed, as pundits clamor to divine whether the latest signals mean the free money will flow, trickle, or dry up. At the edge of the Federal Reserve’s 100th anniversary, it is vital that we see the current developments for what they really are – history changing, in a fashion so violent they are apt to scar America forever.
Canadian Billionaire Predicts The End Of The Dollar As Reserve Currency; Warns "It's Likely To Get Ugly"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/17/2013 21:22 -0500
Beginning with how Kissinger and Nixon enabled the USD as the world's de facto reserve currency through oil, Canadian Billionaire Ned Goodman explains in the brief but far-reaching clip how it is both inevitable (and rapidly approaching) that the rest of the world will turn its back on the dollar. With China and Russia (among many others that we have detailed in the past) agreeing on non-USD swap terms for energy, the cracks are starting to show and as Goodman details, "in the 1930s, everyone wanted USD (backed by silver)," but today, backed by nothing, "everyone wants to get rid of them." Buying hard assets is crucial (he has never been more bullish of gold) as we head into a period of stagflation or even high inflation; and as Goodman previously commented "the world is totally upside down right now - it's completely crazy," in fact, he adds, "I'm keen on anything that's going to live with higher inflationary numbers, because I can't see the world getting out of the problems that it's in."
For the right answer, we look to the past....
One reason why the US has been able to extend its true "drop dead" cash exhaustion date has been due to an increase in tax revenues due to the payroll tax cut as well as cash inflows from the GSEs (which are set to reverse and become outflows once the latest housing dead cat bounce reverses), and cash remittances from the Fed. However, the capacity under this extended "revolver" is rapidly running out, and as of August 31, 2013, approximately $108 billion in extraordinary measures remained available for use. In a report released today, the Bipartisan Policy Center has released another analysis of just when the US will hit the "X Date" or the date on which the Treasury will not have sufficient cash to pay all of its bills in full and on time. Should there be still no deal on the debt ceiling by this date, the Treasury will be forced to prioritize payments to avoid a debt default. According to this estimate, the X Date falls anywhere between November 5 to as recently as October 18, or just over a month from now (and there has been zero real discussion in Congress over the debt ceiling hike with all the excitement over Syria).
Emerging markets’ currencies are crashing, and their central banks are busy tightening policy, trying to stabilize their countries’ financial markets. Who is to blame for this state of affairs? The cause of this state of affairs, in one word, is austerity. Weak demand in Europe is the real reason why emerging markets’ current accounts deteriorated (and, with the exception of China, swung into deficit). Thus, if anything, emerging-market leaders should have complained about European austerity, not about US quantitative easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s talk of “tapering” quantitative easing might have triggered the current bout of instability; but emerging markets’ underlying vulnerability was made in Europe.
There's a growing view that America's energy boom will result in a higher U.S. dollar in coming years. There are some key holes in the argument though.
The highlight of today's economic releases will be the 8:30 am non-farm payroll data, expected to print at 180K jobs, up from July's 162K, and result in an unchanged 7.4% unemployment rate. The "most important jobs number ever " is neither, because even if it comes as a wild outlier to the good or bad side, the Fed is unlikely to change its tapering intentions this late in the game. Still, it will provide fireworks in a very jittery market and if the number is far stronger than expected, expect the 10 Year to finally blow out from below the 3% range which it breached briefly overnight, and never look back, at least not until there is an August 2011 wholesale risk revulsion episode and stocks tumble. Speaking of jittery, overnight the WSJ reports that if picked as Bernanke's replscament, Larry Summers' faces an uphill battle to get the votes of three key democrats on the Senate Banking Committee (Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren). It would be only fitting that the dysfunctional Democratic dominated senate now lashes out against the president, and in the process scuttles the market's only hope of maintaining its Fed-derived gains over the past five years... And there is, of course, Syria which is becoming increasingly problematic for Obama whose support in Congress is looking ever shakier. Will he go it alone in the case of a no vote?
The petrodollar regime - that oil is bought and sold globally in U.S. dollars - is easy to understand. It boils down to these two principles: 1. Petroleum is the lifeblood of the global economy; and 2. Any nation that can print its own currency and trade the conjured money for oil has an extraordinary advantage over nations that cannot trade freshly created money for oil. This is why many analysts trace much of America's foreign policy back to defending the petrodollar regime. America's energy boom is creating consequences for the value of the dollar.
The most likely path of collapse to take place within the U.S. includes economic destabilization caused by a loss of the dollar's world reserve status and petro-status. This fiscal crisis event will likely not occur in the midst of a political vacuum. The central banks and international financiers that created our ongoing and developing disaster are not going to allow the destruction of the American economy, the dollar, or global markets without a cover event designed to hide their culpability. They need something big. Something so big that the average citizen is overwhelmed with fear and confusion. A smoke and mirrors magic trick so raw and soul shattering it leaves the very population of the Earth mesmerized and helpless to understand the root of the nightmare before them. The elites need a fabricated Apocalypse. Enter Syria...
Tick Tock... Tick Tock... Tick Tock...
Financial Times: "World Is Doomed To An Endless Cycle Of Bubble, Financial Crisis And Currency Collapse"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 09:37 -0500
It's funny: nearly five years ago, when we first started, and said that the world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse as long as the Fed is around, most people laughed: after all they had very serious reputations aligned with a broken and terminally disintegrating economic lie. With time some came to agree with our viewpoint, but most of the very serious people continued to laugh. Fast forward to last night when we read, in that very bastion of very serious opinions, the Financial Times, the following sentence: "The world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse." By the way, the last phrase can be written in a simpler way: hyperinflation. But that's not all: when the FT sounds like the ZH, perhaps it is time to turn off the lights. To wit: "A stable international financial system has eluded the world since the end of the gold standard." Q.E.D.