In American society, 'debt' and 'income' have become increasingly synonymous over the past 3 decades; but as Rick Santelli blasts (commonsensically), "they certainly shouldn't be." It appears the average joe has been led to this conclusion by the Central Banks. Rhetorically asking "where's the horsepower in the economy coming from?" Rick reflects on the auto-loan fears we discussed earlier, santelli notes that 55% of used cars (and 30% of new cars) are financed by subprime lenders... and rages, "if we continue as a country to fuel our consumerism with debt, there is no way the bond market's going to be wrong."
Forget international capital flows, forget central banks (even though the world's reaction to the ECB enacting such an extreme policy - QE- this far down the 'recovery' raises questions about the entire false state of the world), and forget positioning... Rick Santelli - stunned at the disconnect between stocks and bonds off the February lows... says there is only one number that matters for lower rates - Nasdaq 3996.
In his first major speech since The White House got their 'flexible' man in to manage the GSEs, Mel Watt outlined his strategic plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Predicated on the maintenance of liquidity, competition, and resilience of the national housing finance market, Watt's remarkably blind to the past proposal will, as CNBC's Rick Santelli warns, create Subprime 2.0. Easing lending standards, not lowering limits, and raising the possibility of principal reduction seems to do anything but reduce taxpayer risk and merely creates more perverse incentives. Santelli steams, as the orthodox monetary policy channel of the last 30 years continues to be pumped ever higher, "immense fiscal and monetary stimulus has gotten us nowhere." As we suspect Rich might have concluded... Watt the fuck!? "if you believe any of this, you have to be crazy after what we've been through."
This week's data marked a crucial turning point in US monetary policy. For all those "rules-following" economists out there with their various adaptions of the infamous Taylor Rule (a model that stipulates how much the central bank should change the nominal interest rate in response to changes in inflation, output, or other economic conditions), this week marked the point at which ALL models suggest that Fed interest rate policy is simply too easy. This explains why the Fed has shifted to a qualitative forward guidance (reminding us of porn - we'll know when to tighten when we see it) as Rick Santelli so eloquently the fact that the Fed claims to be data-dependent "is a twilight zone" and as John Taylor himself notes, the Fed's QE policy "has not worked with few if any signs of success," and now, even as they taper, their rate policy is far too easy. Simply put, they're making it up as they go along (and it's never been more obvious).
Reflecting on the divergence between equities at all time-highs and drastically sliding bond yields, CNBC's Rick Santelli reminds that it seems bonds recognize that business cycles work in "fits and starts" and not in straight-lines as some (equity bulls) would believe and reminds (as we noted previously) that with revisions, Q1 GDP could be negative. His discussion moves from US Treasury 'cheapness' relative to global bonds and the 'weather' effect's over-exuberant expectations; but it is his final topic that raised an eyebrow or two. Santelli doesn't buy into the meme that "the reason the Fed is doing all this is because Congress does nothing;" in fact, he exhorts, it's the opposite, if the Fed wasn't hunkered down supporting the stock market - and stocks started throwing little hissy fits (a la TARP), it would send signals... and things would get done!"
With 30 year bond yields set to close their lowest in 10 months, CNBC's Rick Santelli is concerned at the signals that the Treasury yield curve is sending.If yesterday's minutes from the Fed were supposed to walk back their 'hawkish' tone, then Santelli slams they are "gonna need a really big billboard" because the term structure is still flattening. "When 'flattening' is the theme, that is not painting a rosy outlook for the long-term economy," and as Santelli warns, this is when the Fed is pulling out of its extraordinary policies. Santelli screams, "the entire monetary policy side has to be under review... and the only way you can keep the fallacy alive is "if you sell it as a 'deflationary' issue, where you can keep trying the same thing that isn't working."
For all the talk about how High Frequency Trading has rigged markets, most seem to be ignoring the two most obvious questions: why now and what happens next?
As the day began with every Joe, Jim, and Harry claiming to be an expert in HFT and having prophesied all of this long ago, we thought it would be intriguing to track just how well the retail investor was edumacated on the 'rigging of markets'. It didn't take long before Bob "I'm not trying to be an apologist for HFT, but..." Pisani explained that investors should not be concerned and another talking-head popped up on CNBC to proclaim, "being a little bit front-run is not a problem... remember, it's legal." Henry Blodgett made his 'takes one to know one' bubble perspective adding confidently that "the concept that the market is rigged is crazy." Crazy indeed - until the FBI gets involved. But we leave it to Rick Santelli who summed it all delightfully in a death-match with Pisani, "I'm sorry but if a large group of people can take that one cent all day long, day-in and day-out, then there's a problem."
Since the crisis, and more likely decades before, we (the people) have been apparently 'happy' to have a small group of people in charge of picking winners and losers. "While free markets may have their hiccups," CNBC's Rick Santelli notes, when it comes to allocating resources, "the aggregate behavior of the marketplace is better than individuals." Crucially, Santelli blasts, if you're a saver, you understand now that you weren't picked as winner." In fact, some might even say the 'saver' is the enemy of the recovery, but according to the Central Banks, as Rick rages, it is deflation that is the enemy. Bankers and governments love inflation because "if you owe a lot of people a lot of money, there's nothing better than to pay it back with cheaper money."
At the young age of 22 Henry Hazlitt figured out the future involves too many factors for anyone to predict, not to mention just knowing what the relevant factors are. Jim Grant admitted it took him 40 years in the business to finally realize he couldn’t understand the future, noting, however, unfortunately the folks working at the Eccles Building have not come to this realization. The PhDs believe they can depreciate the currency at the proper rate to cause everyone gainful employment and live happily ever after. Hazlitt also has a fan in Rich Santelli who notes that if government makes loans, that private lenders won’t make, to entities that can’t pay back, economic signals get destroyed, and chaos ensues. Chaos, indeed...
While the guests on Friday's CNBC closing bell were giddy with excitement about earnings, US stocks, and 'the recovery' being "a lot stronger than people give it credit for", Rick Santelli asked a simple question, if it's all so great why is the Fed still printing billions of dollars each month? A disquieted crowd of asset-gatherers attempted a response but made the mistake of uttering the most inflammable 7 words Santelli could hear... "Where would we be without the government?" What ensued is worth the price of admission...
The curse of the over-bearish (or over-bullish) magazine cover is well known. Of course, the media will only cherry-pick the "lows" as an indication that it's time to buy; as opposed to the exuberance-exhibiting article writers and their glaring headlines. To wit, this week's Barron's cover proclaims "GOOD NEWS - The US economy could grow this year at 4%... Forget the snow, consumers and businesses are ready to spend." Hhmm, it seems that Barron's forgot to look at the data...
One glimpse at the following chart and it's clear that the US economy has not reached the much-vaunted "escape velocity." As CNBC's Rick Santelli explains in this succinct summary of the quandary of GDP hopes, inventory-build fears, and extrapolation-dreams, "many of these programs, procedures, and plans offered by the Fed - or the government - actually work to jump-start the economy... but they can't reach sustainability." His simple analogy of the economy as a heart-rate in a chronically sick (if not dead) person and Fed juice as a defibrillator seems very fitting. As the chart below shows, the US economy is very much still on life-support.
As Rick Santelli just noted, the JPY carry trade is the only thing that matters. It is the only fun-durr-mental factor that matters (implicitly or explicitly encouraged by the varying velocities of BoJ and Fed balance sheet flows). To that end, this morning has seen the crucial Abenomics make-it-or-break-it 102 level for USDJPY tested once again... and then instantly ramped (by Nomura we suspect by all market chatter accounts). We will wait for Europe's close to see reality.
In a mere 140 seconds, Jim Grant explains to an almost stunned into silence Rick Santelli how we all "live in a valuation hall of mirrors" as the Fed manipulates everything. Thanks to it's "fingers and thumbs on the scales of finance," Grant continues, the Fed "insists on saving us from 'everyday low prices'" - what they call deflation - and by doing so it manufactures "redundant credit" which "does mischief" in and out of markets. Grant, ominously concludes, "there is no suspense as to how [this will] end... [it will] end badly."