This piece is timely as markets spit up the punch from Bernanke's bowl
Year-over-year inflation in Venezuela accelerated to 35.2% - up from 20.1% YoY in December. Goldman is concerned as the 6.1% MoM (the highest on record) in May means inflation is now endemic and the economy could easily veer from the current stagflation equilibrium into the dangerous and slippery road to hyperinflation. In a sentence that rings all to close to home, they sum up: All in all, we are increasingly concerned with the inflation and monetary dynamics in Venezuela as the classical Sargent and Wallace (1981) “unpleasant monetarist arithmetic” of severe fiscal dominance brought about by growing monetization of fiscal deficits and very weak policy credibility could easily degenerate in a recessionary hyper-inflationary spiral. That must mean it is time to buy the Caracas Stock Index (+72% YTD, +600% since Jan 2012)?
Last night's over-promised and under-delivered 'third arrow' from Abe appears to have solidified market opinions about the chances of Abe slaying his deflation-monster nemesis. UBS' CIO Alex Friedman fears that Japan may face a fearsome stagflation - where accelerating inflation in asset prices is not met by higher growth rates - a scenario he calls "Abegeddon." In an "Abegeddon" scenario, Friedman said "investors may grow increasingly concerned about the sustainability of Japanese debt levels that could lead to a 'stampede' out of government bonds." With Nikkei 225 futures having faded their European morning bounce and pressuring back towards the 20% 'bear market' correction levels once again, it seems the 'stampede' is out of growth-expectation-driven equities as JGBs are bid for now. That bid (no matter how hard the BoJ tries) is unlikely to last if the doubt grows as Japan's debt-to-GDP would rise above 300% (from 226% currently) and the 10Y JGB yield could approach 5%!
The latest ISM reading came in at 49. Any reading below 50 is considered recessionary. And an ISM of 49 is the worst in four years.
From Rosie: "The next major theme is stagflation — this will be the legacy of the Bernanke regime. You cannot keep real short-term rates negative for this long in the face of even modestly positive real economic growth without generating financial excesses today and inflationary pressures in the future. Imagine dusting off the Phillips Curve and getting away with it — it's as if the Fed has changed religions as it now believes there is some trade-off between inflation and unemployment The last time we had negative real policy rates for this long with a central bank wedded to the Phillips Curve was under the Burns-led Fed of the early 1970s. As I have said recently — I am undergoing my own epiphany. I am renowned for being very early — to a fault — in my calls and no doubt am early yet again."
Inflation is hot property today, hyperinflation is even hotter! We think we are modern, contemporary, smart and ready to deal with anything. We’ve got that seen-it-all-before, been-there-done-it attitude. But, we are not a patch on what some countries have been through in the worst cases of hyperinflation in history.
As the global economic slump continues central bankers, such as Mario Draghi, and politicians have vowed “to do whatever it takes” to get economies back on track. Such policies while having near term benefits are considered extremely risky in the longer run by many commentators as they could beckon runaway inflation or stagflation, with ruinous results.
Shinzo Abe unleashed his plan with the blessing of the Bank of Japan to begin aggressive government bond purchases. This has led to a massive growth of 60% on the Nikkei and is deflating the yen and boosting their exports.
Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg exclaims we are currently are witnessing the Potemkin rally (the phrase Potemkin villages was originally used to describe a fake village, built only to impress). The term, however, is now used, typically in politics and economics, to describe any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that some situation is better than it really is. Ben Bernanke, recently proclaimed “The Hero” by Atlantic Magazine, is the “Wizard of Potemkin.” Since 2009 Bernanke has engage in massive monetary experiments. These experiments lead to future dislocations. There is no doubt that the Fed wants inflation. The problem is they may get more than they ask for. We are currently witnessing the slowest economic recovery of any post-WWII period. However, It is important to challenge your thought process. Read material that challenges your views. Here are David's rules...
The slight rebound in prices from multi-year lows has as of yet failed to dampen the global appetite for bullion, causing a shortage in the physical supply of gold coins and bars.
Even more bad news for Cyprus, which now has not only a depression to look forward to but a depressionary stagflation to boot. Bloomberg has ranked countries based on their risk of stagflation based on the following methodology: First, the average real Gross Domestic Product and average Consumer Price Index was calculated for each country from 2012 to 2014. Then the Stagflation Score was determined by multiplying average real GDP by average CPI if the average real GDP was negative or by dividing average real GDP by average CPI if the average real GDP was positive. The lower the score, the greater the risk of stagflation. The winner, or loser at the case may be? Cyprus was found to be most at risk of stagflation with a Stagflation Score of -4.733, followed by Portugal (-2.671), Italy (-2.133), Spain(-1.745) and Greece (-1.366). Switzerland was ranked least at risk with a score of (7.560), followed by China (2.612) and Japan (2.446).
There are two articles of faith in the central-bank religion: 1) We can keep interest rates near-zero for as long as we deem necessary, and 2) We can suppress inflation at will, too. The question is: can they do both at the same time for as long as they wish? If either interest rates or inflation (and they are correlated) start rising, the central banks' claims of control evaporate. There is an interesting paradox at work here: Since there is an unlimited buyer for low-yield bonds (the central banks), there is no market pressure for higher rates. Why raise yields when you can sell trillions of dollars of low-yield bonds to the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, etc.? By buying the new debt with newly created money, the central banks have marginalized the market's ability to transparently price risk and credit: the bond market has in effect been captured by the central banks, who can counter any reduction in demand with newly created money. But the central banks don't control where all this newly issued money goes. If it goes into the real economy, it triggers inflation; if it goes into assets, it inflates asset bubbles. Inflation and bubbles have consequences.
The stock market has now been up for ten straight days. Many on Wall Street are singing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” For them, that is probably the case. They finally have something to sell that will bring the rubes back into the markets. We are not in Kansas anymore. Fear is ebbing and greed is coming back. Those on the outside looking in are rounding up cash so that they don’t get left behind. The shills assist them with their pictures of economic recovery, new era crap and whatever other nonsense they can peddle successfully. So the cycle goes, as it has since the New York Stock Exchange came into existence. We are in another game of musical chairs where the music is playing joyfully. As in all such events, there are too few chairs to accommodate the participants when the music stops. And it always does!
The spectre of stagflation threatens the UK economy due to concerns that sterling weakness will contribute to even higher inflation amid very weak economic growth and the likelihood of a recession – likely a severe one.
Markets are pricing in a jump in inflation as inflation expectations, as measured by the difference between nominal and inflation-linked bond yields, ticked up to near 3.3% yesterday.
Recent poor economic data and the appalling UK fiscal position are rightly leading to concerns of stagflation as was seen in the 1970s. Conditions that make owning gold and silver vitally important to own in order to protect and grow wealth.
- More black smoke over Vatican: No decision on pope in second day (NBC)
- PBOC Chief Says China Should Be on ‘High Alert’ on Inflation (BBG) - just as predicted last fall
- California Seizes Guns as Owners Lose Right to Keep Arms (BBG)
- U.S. Tax Cheats Picked Off After Adviser Mails It In (BBG)
- In 2012, Samsung spent $401 million advertising its phones in the U.S. to Apple's $333 million (WSJ)
- Coca-Cola probed over mapping in China (FT) - accused of ‘illegally collecting classified information’
- Italy's Bond Sale Meets Tepid Demand (WSJ)
- U.S. Steps Up Alarm Over Cyberattacks (WSJ)
- Mugabe takes on Zimbabwe's Generation X (Reuters)
- Mars Rover Finds Conditions Once May Have Supported Life (BBG)
- Oil demand hit by China refinery outages (FT)
- Big Sugar Is Set for a Sweet Bailout (WSJ) DOA to buy 400,000 tons of sugar to stave off a wave of defaults by sugar processors
- Spectre of stagflation haunts UK (FT)
- As Republicans seek identity, conclave highlights divisions (Reuters)
New highs will become a daily headline feature it seems until we actually have a down day.
Thursday, Jobless Claims fell (340K vs 347K previous), Productivity (-1.9% vs -2% previous) and Costs (4.6% vs 4.5% previous) were very poor reports, and the Trade Deficit grew (-$44.45B vs -$38B). Lastly, Consumer Credit expanded to $16.2 billion from $14.6 billion primarily on student loans (in a bubble) and auto loans (subprime auto loans booming).