While cogitating on yesterday's weak GDP print, CNBC's Rick Santelli confirmed his view that forecasting is complex (at best) and impossible (most likely). The 2010 view of the Fed was that 2012 growth would be 3.5-4% - quite a destructive miss as it turned out; and while Santelli is not attacking the Fed for its ridiculously bad forecasts, he makes a critical point. Forecasting such a massively complex and dynamic system as the global economy is foolhardy but attempting to control a few of the pieces (and not all of the pieces - which is akin to herding cats) is insane. His suggestion, "maybe [the Fed] should look at what has worked in the past; that is market forces." Indeed, two minutes of sanity...
As I noted in an article published Thursday morning, the government bought three quarters of a percentage point worth of growth in the third quarter leading several hapless commentators to opine on national television that the U.S. economy was not only on solid footing but was in fact experiencing "above trend" growth. Of course if you're the mainstream financial media what is good for the Q3 goose is not necessarily good for the Q4 gander and so when fourth quarter GDP printed in contraction territory Wednesday, viewers were encouraged (much to the chagrin of a predictably irate Rick Santelli) to discount "volatile" government consumption expenditures and focus only on the components that made a positive contribution.
While some would look at the surge in government spending in Q3 last year (ahead of the election) and subsequent plunge in Q4 as conspiratorial, CNBC's Rick Santelli takes a step slightly further back as he draws the analogy between the mystical monetary experimentation of Ben Bernanke and his horde of central bank cronies and the "bloodletting of leeching" of medieval medicine providers. The point being that if you were sick in the middle ages, leeches were applied; and if you returned weeks later (still sick), more leeches and blood-letting took place - with no lesson learned. The fact that we borrowed $300bn in Q4 and managed a dismally dire drop in GDP growth offers little hope as the world glares agog at the Dow Jones Industrial Average index while Bernanke, six years on from the start of the recession continues to apply the same medicine that has done nothing to resurrect our economy. In Rick's words, "Whatever you're doing; It isn't working!" and in fact the monetary support could potentially hurt the economy in the medium-term as debt piles up exponentially. An epic rant...
We are in our sixth year since the US officially went into recession and yet, as CNBC's Rick Santelli notes, we are still in crisis management mode. Some argue that any day now, the Fed will begin to remove its mega liquidity pipe from the market but Rick exclaims in this wonderfully succinct clip that: "there is no expiration date on faulty illogical ideas," as he expects any Fed exit to be "very, very messy." Rick's dilemma is the seemingly paradoxical need for yet moar and bigger monetary policy crisis management by Ben Bernanke when day-after-day we are told by the very guests on his network that "stocks look great." At the end of the day, when the Fed decides to exit, they will not be able to put the liquidity 'toothpaste' back in the tube.
There are numerous myths flying around the screens we all remain glued to - from inflows suddenly becoming correlated with equity market performance to a 'real recovery' in housing. TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman paid a brief but fact-full visit to CNBC's Rick Santelli and the two somewhat skeptical gentlemen expounded on four of the critical fallacies supporting hope in our markets currently. First, the last time inflows were this big we saw dramatic reversals in stocks; and coincidentally, secondly, we also saw companies buying back less stock (in fact we saw float rising at those periods) and sure enough that is what Biderman notes is happening in January too. Third, current 'economic' euphoria appears due to the drag forward of incomes into Q4 2012 due to tax concerns (which is being spent/saved now) - however that means Q1 2013 and on will be negatively impacted (even if we see a decent print in Q4 GDP) as that pull-forward reverts; and finally, fourth, interest rates are rising and simultaneously refinances have plunged - hurting the 'housing recovery' meme which has been the driver of a lot of euphoria (be careful what you wish for). It appears facts, once again, get in the way of a good story.
Correlation, causation; cause-and-effect; Birinyi's Ruler; and Bernanke's Hammer. CNBC's Rick Santelli attempts to open some minds to the "nefarious" levels to which banks and politicians will go to infer from data and bolster our crowd-sourced confirmation biases. Santelli dismisses the meme that government dysfunction is the cause of our problems - instead stating that it is the effect. The main cause of this dysfunction is that we have problems we need to solve, politicians who know how to solve them, but that solving them is not only going to be painful for everyone - but most importantly for their respective bases - and therefore dysfunction ensues. From ratings downgrades not being caused by dysfunction (rather by an inability to deal with entitlements spending and debt) to the Federal Reserve losing the nation's trust acting not for liquidity needs but for insolvency; Santelli aims his magic marker finally at the Keynesians, for whom cause-and-effect is all, adding that their answer to everything is "always more money" to paper over short-term pain, as he rhetorically asks "in ten years when we look back, is the weight of all this debt going to take care of all of these impulsive upticks?" Must watch...
We are on the same path as Greece, and Mr. President, you need to recognize that being a true leader is not doing the popular thing but the right thing with regard to fiscal responsibility.
CNBC's Rick Santelli nails it once again by cutting through the idiocy and spin that is almost the entire mainstream media's view of the 'fiscal cliff' resolution. His point, among many he makes in this brief but compelling clip, is that the massive amounts of arm-twisting of the House Republicans not to add any Amendments was not about the 'economic turmoil' it might cause (as so many press wanted to report) but that "it would have riled up the stock market." The shouting Chicagoan explicitly states: "the Country, and Congress in particular, ...should never again use the stock market as their main barometer when addressing what's wrong with the country". Santelli drives his point home with examples from previous equity market downturns as he makes the critical point that it took 20 years to catch Madoff's ponzi scheme and he wonders how long we will remain dumbstruck by the Fed's printing presses, FASB, et al. into believing everything is good because stocks are going up. "Take a look at yourself in the mirror," he admonishes, but watch this 3-minute clip first for enlightenment!
If anybody should be labeled a lunatic, it should be the Democrats and those that are encouraging these unsound financial spending policies.
The 'deal' didn't surprise CNBC's Rick Santelli as he notes the administration did the "easy thing" once again. However, he does think the coming battle in 6-8 weeks regarding the debt ceiling will be surprising to many and believes "there has to be an endgame to insanity." Rick's rightly cynical perspective on the euphoric opening gap today in stocks and bonds (and questioning the veracity of manipulated 'market' prices) appears as frustrating to him as "watching politicians all slap each other on the back while the country slips into a Grecian like formula."
Comparisons of the failure of the TARP vote and the fiscal cliff were summarily dismissed early in this clip - though CNBC's Rick Santelli does note, as we have vociferously stated that a market correction is the only impetus to get something done in Washington. Having abandoned his channel's "Rise Above" meme in the face of this "childish nonsense", Santelli agrees that politicians "can show incompetence at very critical moments." Then, sparked by the anchor's comment that "the markets would know if [the cliff] was going be a horrific thing", Santelli goes 'off-script' with an epic take-down of all things CNBC: "the stock market is an immediate gratification for investors to make money;" and asks the key question "Why do we look to the Dow Jones Industrial Average to handicap if this country is going to go down the sewer in a couple of years? It doesn't give us a glimpse into the future." He adds that the market is not discounting $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities in our future and then slams the door shut with what will likely become the new meme: "The Fed doesn't have a clue, neither does the President, neither does Congress."
From the government-induced structural unemployment malaise to the implosion of our entire 'artificial economy', Peter Schiff and Rick Santelli explore the dark side of monetary policy in this brief clip. On the Fed's new policy and potential exit strategy, Schiff notes that "the Fed is constructing goalposts so it never actually hits them; the Fed is never going to tighten." While Santelli tends to agree with Schiff on the eventual collapse of the USD under this never-ending Fed easing scenario, he notes that getting a fix on that USD weakness is hard given everyone is racing to debase. Schiff notes, oil prices, gold prices, food inflation, and real assets all send the signal that Bernanke chooses to ignore and on the topic of 'monetization' which Bernanke seemed so 'put off' by during the press conference last week, Sch-antelli both seemingly (obviously) conclude that the mere mention of an exit at some point in the future by the great and powerful Oz does not preclude the fact that 90% of current Treasury issuance ends up on the Fed's books... leaving the fact that selling any of this "would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic."
In a little under three minutes, CNBC's Rick Santelli clarifies (in a much-needed manner) that we do not live in a monarchy or dictatorship (hoping for benevolence) - no matter how many Democratic senators and congressmen believe the President was given a mandate leaving him "holding all the cards" - we live in a republic (where the sovereignty rests with all individuals) and removing 'debt ceiling' checks and balances (for example) is a ride down a slippery slope. The chagrined Chicagoan then goes on to discuss the fact that the Fed, having unloaded another package of potentially infinite unsterilized money-printing, was actively discussing its exit strategy. Put simply, Santelli notes, "mark my words" the market will decide that exit - and the Fed had better be ready when it comes.
It seems that there are more than just tin-foil-hat-wearing fringe blogs that have decided to take up the truthiness hunt as CNBC's Rick Santelli exposes the 'fibbing' in statistics that has become more than mainstream thinking. From the 35% 'untruth' of the Clinton-era tax cuts and wage rates (with no explcit wealth assessment and a total ignorance of inflation) to the 75% 'untruth' of the millionaires-and-billionaires tax when it's really on salaries opver $250k; Santelli's blood pressure reaches mercurial levels as he exclaims that Middle Class America should pay attention: How do we expect honesty in negotiation when they're fibbing about truths to such an extent, "all they're after isn't fixing the economy, it's your bucks!" A refreshing three-minute glimpse of reality on a quiet day...
UPDATE: Senate Republicans block vote on President Obama's debt-limit plan
The Pharaoh-like power-grab of omnipotence that Egypt's Morsi recently pulled seems to have set a precedent among newly 'elected' leaders. This morning, as per Bloomberg, we hear that Obama (and his viceroy Harry Reid) plan to demolish the idea of congressional checks on the debt limit. Incredibly ironic timing - given our previous post (in which Rick Santelli explains why this is a potential disaster), but placing that much unlimited money power in the hands of one man seems like a mistake:
- *OBAMA PLAN CALLS FOR END OF LAWMAKER APPROVAL OF DEBT LIMIT
- *REID SAYS SENATE MAY VOTE ON OBAMA DEBT-LIMIT PLAN TODAY
McConnell's response: “Look: the only way we ever cut spending around here is by using the debate over the debt limit to do it, now the President wants to remove that spur to cut altogether.”