From Cascading Complexity To Systemic Collapse: A Walk Thru "Society's Equivalent Of A Heart Attack"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/05/2013 23:59 -0400
"The commonalities of global integration mean that diverse hazards may lead to common shock consequences. The systems that transmit shocks are also the systems we depend upon for our welfare and the operation of businesses, institutions and society... One of the primary consequences of a generic shock is an interruption in the flow of goods and services in the economy. This has diverse and profound implications - including food security crises’, business shut-downs, critical infrastructure risks and social crises... More generally it can entail multi-network and delocalised cascading failure leading to a collapse in societal complexity.... This is a complex society’s equivalent of a heart attack. When a person has a heart attack, there is a brief period during which CPR can revive the person. But beyond a certain point when there has been cascading failure in co-dependent life support systems, the person cannot be revived. The extent of our contemporary complex global system dependencies, and our habituation to a long period of broadly stable economic and complexity growth means a systemic collapse would present profound and existential challenges."
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".
As stocks press back towards all-time highs amid a US government shutdown, extreme weakness in earnings pre-announcements, slower-than-expected China growth, Europe's recovery in doubt, and a looming debt-ceiling debate in the US, we look at four 'big picture' charts of dismal divergences that suggest it's not different this time at all...
Much attention has fallen on the Fed's recent announcement that a new fixed-rate, full-allotment overnight reverse repo facility is in the works (so much so that both shadow banking experts Singh and Stella have opined on the issue). It appears that despite the Fed's "best efforts" at communication, not enough clarity has been shed on the topic. So here is Bill Dudley's explanation.
As it turns out, a lot... and also very little.
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.
When we first posted this article a month ago, few paid attention as the entire world was gripped in Summer-mania. Now that Summers is out of the picture, and the monetary policy acumen of the former San Fran Fed president are under the spotlight, it is probably an opportune time to recall Janet Yellen's ability to foresee the future heading into the great financial crisis whose five year anniversary took place this weekend. Or rather lack thereof, because as the following excerpt from a 2010 FCIC hearing, noticed first by the NYT, demonstrates, if this is the best Fed head replacement we can do then we may as well fast forward to the Great Financial Crisis ver 2.0: “For my own part,” Ms. Yellen said, “I did not see and did not appreciate what the risks were with securitization, the credit ratings agencies, the shadow banking system, the S.I.V.’s — I didn’t see any of that coming until it happened.”
The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the risk of other large important banks failing in the coming months and the still significant systemic, macroeconomic, monetary and geopolitical risk of today shows the vital importance of real diversification and an allocation to physical gold.
The markets seem to sense that all of this. In the US we’re putting in what looks like a lower high. The market appears to be forming a Head and Shoulders pattern.
- Obama Holds Fire on Syria, Waits on Russia Plan (WSJ)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (Reuters)
- Not one but two: Greece May Need Two More Aid Packages Says ECB’s Coene (WSJ)
- BoJ insider warns of need for wage rises (FT) ... as we have been warning since November, and as has not been happening
- California city backs plan to seize negative equity mortgages (Reuters)
- Home Depot Is Accused of Shaking Down Suspected Shoplifters (BBG)
- Most-Connected Man at Deutsche Bank Favors Lightest Touch (BBG)
- Norway Pledges to Limit Oil Spending (BBG)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (BBG)
- Gundlach Says Fed Is Mistaken in How It's Ending Easing (BBG)
In the US, retail sales on Friday will be the main data release. In addition, Congress will return from its 5-week recess on Monday and will likely keep their focus on Syria this week. Finally, San Francisco Fed President Williams (who does not vote on FOMC policy this year) will speak on Monday. Last week, Williams argued that the FOMC should maintain its focus on the unemployment rate, despite its limitations. After Friday's employment report saw the unemployment rate drop again due to falling participation, this issue is likely to resurface. The Fed's communication blackout period begins on Tuesday so Williams will be the last FOMC speaker before the September meeting ends on the 18th.
A dispassionate discussion of the weekend events and a look at the week ahead.
- Al-Qaeda Links Cloud Syria as U.S. Seeks Clarity on Rebels (BBG)
- Administration Tells Lawmakers of Evidence Linking Assad to Attack (WSJ)
- Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper to publish numbers of secret spying orders (CBS)
- U.S., Switzerland strike bank deal over tax evasion (Reuters)
- Another Budget Deal Bites the Dust (WSJ)
- Contemplating Summers Drives Investors to Seek Beltway Expertise (BBG)
- Austerity Test Looms in Australia as Abbott Pledges Cuts (BBG)
- Gay Spouses in All States Now Married Under U.S. Tax Law (BBG)
- Shadow banks face limits to securities trading (FT)
- EU's Rehn sees European recovery strengthening in 2014 (Reuters) ... or 2015... or 2022... or never?
Back in May, with the release of the quarterly TBAC presentation, we penned "Desperately Seeking $11.2 Trillion In Collateral, Or How "Modern Money" Really Works" in which we described in detail Wall Street's lament that as a result of upcoming changes and regulations of the shadow market, that there may be a dramatic shortage in collateral over the next several years, which in addition to other factors, may hit over $10 trillion. Well, we can scratch the collateral concerns off.
- G20 TASK FORCE SAYS NEW SHADOW BANKING RULES EXPECTED TO BE IN PLACE BY 2015
- WON'T IMPLEMENT GLOBAL MINIMUM 'HAIRCUT' ON REPOS, SECURITIES LENDING UNTIL MARKET CONDITIONS RIGHT
Said otherwise, Wall Street looked at the shadow banking abyss, and promptly ran away when the abyss looked back.