As the following two charts show, despite the rest of the world being mired in an entirely lackadaisical muddle-through (in terms of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs), the US is representing itself as the new growth engine with an expanding and rising economy (if the 'recovery-is-right-around-the-corner' data is to be believed). Of course, we are hearing the term 'decoupling' and 'cleanest dirty shirt' once again (begging the question Rick Santelli has asked numerous times "so why not remove the Fed's training wheels") but we remind, there is never a decoupling in the highly interconnected global economy (and its stagnant trade volumes). Our simple question is, with all this dramatic divergence from the rest of the world, stagnant income growth, and anemic manufacturing job growth at best, how will the consumer-driven US sustain its exuberance?
Day after day, CNBC's Rick Santelli hears analysts arguing how the economy is doing pretty well and that there is always some anecdotal fact that backs up their cognitively dissonant view with fundamentals. However, as Santelli asks (rhetorically), it always comes back to the same question, "if things are really that good, why do we still need the [Fed] training wheels on?" The answer is presumably obvious as actions ($85bn per month of POMO-provided liquidity to the 21 primary dealers) speak louder than analysts words (we promise recovery is just around the next corner.) While careful not to explicitly rebuff the exuberance of his channel's clients revenue-base, Santelli notes the oddly correlated relationship (that has time and again appeared in pixelated format on these very pages) between the Federal Reserve balance sheet and the ebbs and flows of the US equity market. As he concludes, the only (causal) transmission mechanism for the Fed's actions is via the primary dealers and implicitly the Fed is the entity that is goosing the stock market.
Much has been made this weekend of the WSJ story that Janet Yellen (and her dovish counterparts) have been so much more accurate as forecasters than the hawks on the FOMC in recent years. This along with pitting her against the asinine Larry Summers appears to create a shoe-in for 'damn-it-Janet' to take the helm as the new Maestro (or mistress?). But, as CNBC's Rick Santelli points out, it is ludicrous to proclaim a 'winner' based on inflation predictions, as transmission channels of the endless money-printing are jammed (and besides the models that predicted economic growth and new hiring from this 'spiking the punchbowl' have failed dismally). Simply put, Santelli analogizes, "the Cubs haven't won the World Series in a century, but if I poll all of the players/managers and see which predicted we wouldn't win the World Series; and whoever guessed that right, we will make them the manager, does that guarantee me that next year we're going to win the World Series?" The bottom-line, unless GDP shows sustainable growth, the rest is just a "silly discussion."
Despite consumer confidence at a six-year high, the latest AP survey of the real America shows a stunning four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, are near poverty, or rely on welfare for at least parts of their lives amid signs of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among whites about their families' economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987.
It would appear, judging by the following discussion that the mainstream is so far down the rabbit-hole of central-planning bias that, as CNBC's Rick Santelli exclaims, "you can't imagine it any other way." In a brief 60 second screamfest, Santelli and Liesman battle over just who (or what) should be in charge. Santelli's free-market perspective that markets will set the equilibrium prices is entirely lost on a bleating Liesman who, when addressing the question of what would happen without a 'Fed', utters the following serf-like phrase, "but, who would pull the levers?"
Based on the following quotes just uttered by the Chairman...
- BERNANKE: WALL STREET HASN'T BENEFITED MORE THAN MAIN STREET
- BERNANKE SAYS FED `VERY FOCUSED' ON MAIN STREET
... Bernanke's next career as a sit-down comedian smash hit is guaranteed.
Reminiscing on the good ol' days when traders and investors poured over fundamental metrics, CNBC's Rick Santelli looks upon the current environment as a single-factor "Bernanke-loves-me, he-loves-me-not" un-reality and the impact he has on savers. "It seems a little bit ridiculous," he understates before launching into two minutes of clarifying thought on just what it is that Bernanke is doing and that we are suffering through. Just who is Bernanke working for?
Commenting on the divergence between the bond market's Taper-On reaction and the equity markets Taper-off reaction amid the total lack of clarity from the FOMC, CNBC's Rick Santelli asks the (rhetorical) question that everyone should ask: "[What the Fed minutes said] is, listen, we have to wait for bigger confirmation that the economy is doing better; and for that, we're going to look at the employment side. [At the same time] we have the fewest people working that can work in 30 years, and all-time-record-high profits for corporations. Now, does that strategy sound rational to you?" It seems, now that Bernanke has seemingly promised that it will really never end, that Santelli's question will become increasingly critical in this country.
The following three minutes of absolute perfection uttered by CNBC's Rick Santelli is dangerous for anyone living in Kyle Bass' "intellectually dishonest" alter-world of denial and "unicorns and rainbows" as the Chicagoan goes off on the ignorance of everyone in these so-called markets. When every talking head is bullish and the world is going so great that we should all "buy stocks," Santelli demands we ask Bernanke - "what are you scared of," that keeps you pumping this much money into the system for this long? Simply put, Santelli's epic rant is the filter that every investor (or member of the public) should be viewing financial media and the Fed today (or in fact every day).
It started as your everyday hexagonal discussion on CNBC with the anchors up-in-arms over the fact that (shocker) some firms can pay for early access to critical economic data items. The disdain for the 'rich' was palpable as Bernstein, Sullivan, and then Cramer all exclaimed both their amazement and surprise that this was even possible. That was when Santelli stepped into the ring and explained - in what was a relatively well-behaved exclamation - that not only was the fact that early data releases were well-known to every real trader (as opposed to those who pretend for TV) but that the issue was absolutely not about 'early access' but about HFT. When we first brought the perils of HFT to the attention of the broader trading community in 2009, it was the stuff of conspiracy theory - but now (as with many other things) it is conspiracy fact and in a few short minutes, Rick Santelli showed off his co-hosts ignorance of the real market and opened many new eyes to the damage that HFT can do in a market that is, well, anything but Reg-FD fair and balanced to all.
On the two-year anniversary of our most in-depth explanation of how all stimulus globally is fungible, CNBC's Rick Santelli took up the mission of explaining how the never-ending rush of global central bank provided liquidity flows any and everywhere fungibly around the world in an instant. Furthermore, as we explained to Rick's colleague Mr. Liesman, not only is the stimulus fungible but it means all global leverage is 'shared', and available for use in any and every risk-asset-funding. In other words, as Rick so eloquently points out, thanks to the fungibility of stimulus, the speed of modern finance, and the shared leverage of global banks and hedge funds seeking (to enter and exit) the same leveraged carry trades wherever they are in the world, even a small 'David' of a Taper by the Fed is instantly transformed (3% swings in JPY, 800 point swings in Nikkei, 8bp ranges in IG credit, 10% drops in GGB prices, limit down breaks in European banks, 12% collapses in EM stocks) into a 'Goliath' of global deleveraging and, "you will hear a flush."
In the old normal ("when we had an honest Fed," under Volcker), David Stockman explains to CNBC's Rick Santelli, "the market could judge what Congress and the White House was doing and decide where the risk/reward equation was and how to price the bond, the note, the bills," but in the new normal, "today, the market is entirely rigged." Stockman is no fan of deficits and as he notes "is no fan of money-printing," pointing out that "it's not honest," for the Fed to fund these chronically growing deficits and "created an unsustainably dangerous financial system." In thie brief interview, Stockman (of The Great Deformation fame) sums it up perfectly to a just-as-concerned Santelli, when he notes, "the error of central banking has become unversal." We're taxing the futures generations, he concludes, "they're going to thank you for the massive disaster that was handed to them." The honesty will never come...
This morning we were treated, once again, to confirmation that Europe is still in the middle of a deepening crisis. No, this was not a reflection of the terrible data, it was Mr. Hollande's insistence that "the crisis is behind us." Luckily we have a foil for this idiocy. Bernard Connolly, author of 'The Rotten Heart of Europe' explains to CNBC's Rick Santelli, "the point is that the union has produced this disaster; and the people who put the disaster in place hail it as a success. are they crazy? If they are, that's pretty disturbing! If they're not crazy, then the question of why they have done it is more disturbing." In a few brief minutes, uninterrupted by an anchor desperate for silver linings, Connolly explains to Santelli when asked of the future, that nothing will change in the short-term, "the potential ways of getting out of the mess are simply unthinkable," to both beggar and chooser, adding that "you have a cycle of deflation, depression, default, more banking crisis, more sovereign debt crisis, and social and political crisis." Simply put, Connolly concludes on social unrest, "I don't see any way of avoiding it."
In a perfect follow-up to both President Obama's earlier comments and the news that a hearing is to be held ion May 17th, Rick Santelli has a few things to say. Clearly irritated at the incredible reality of big brother and government intervention, Santelli pushes his blood pressure to 11 on the dial as he comes to grip with the repercussions of the IRS actions. "Truth is power," he exclaims, "you can't assume someone is fair and honest," just because a politician says so. His bigger fears lie in the IRS administration of Obamacare where he is concerned that "No stent for you," will be heard when the powers that be know what groups you support, what thoughts you have, and what area you live in. Think he is exaggerating? Did you really believe the tin-foil hat wearers conspiracies that the IRS was doing this before it became mainstream news?
While notably 'not' the Fed's opinion, Dallas Fed head Richard Fisher provided more than a few compellingly truthy comments in this excellent discussion with CNBC's Rick Santelli. It is fiscal policy that is holding us back, he warns, "we have a massive fog here," and despite the extremely accommodation monetary policy, we are not seeing the transmission to job creation." The "conditions of total uncertainty," mean the politicians are holding us back; but it is when Santelli asks him about the Fed's exit that things get a little uncomfortable, "no central bank anywhere on the planet has the experience of successfully navigating a return home from the place in which we now find ourselves." When pressed he exposes the flaw (much to the chagrin of Kuroda and Bernanke we suspect), "somewhere we have to have practical limits as to where we can build the balance sheet. We're moving in the direction of a $4 trillion balance sheet. We know we can't go on forever."