The world economy is in the grips of a dangerous delusion. As the great boom that began in the 1990s gave way to an even greater bust, policymakers resorted to the timeworn tricks of financial engineering in an effort to recapture the magic. In doing so, they turned an unbalanced global economy into the Petri dish of the greatest experiment in the modern history of economic policy. They were convinced that it was a controlled experiment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the QE era, monetary policy has lost any semblance of discipline and coherence. As Draghi attempts to deliver on his nearly two-and-a-half-year-old commitment, the limits of his promise – like comparable assurances by the Fed and the BOJ – could become glaringly apparent. Like lemmings at the cliff’s edge, central banks seem steeped in denial of the risks they face.
Having previously warned that The Fed's "fixation with the markets has created a deadly trap," and recently noted that "Central Banking has lost its way," Stephen Roach unleashed a few minutes of painfully honest truthiness on an unsuspecting Kelly Evans at CNBC. The brief interview reiterates Roach's previous comments, as Tim Iacono notes, that "it didn't have to be this way." The Fed "is in total denial," Roach rants, adding that it "hasn't learned the lessons of what it put the world through a decade ago."
A Fool’s paradise is what the once great “land of opportunity” is in real danger of becoming if the adults don’t stop acting like children and actually care about what’s beneath the headlines or between the book covers. Rather than the headlines of who’s between the covers with who. Today far too many are only taking in the “headlines” along with what’s known as “headline numbers.” This is an abject lesson in Tom Foolery.
"The Fed Is Heading For Another Catastrophe... Central Banking Has Lost Its Way" Stephen Roach WarnsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/24/2014 11:17 -0400
America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar — and highly dangerous — path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic. The Fed’s incrementalism of 2004-2006 was a policy blunder of epic proportions. The Fed seems poised to make a similar — and possibly even more serious — misstep in the current environment. In these days of froth, the persistence of extraordinary policy accommodation in a financial system flooded with liquidity poses a great danger.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
The Fed remains fixated on financial-market feedback – and thus ensnared in a potentially deadly trap. Fearful of market disruptions, the Fed has embraced a slow-motion exit from QE. By splitting hairs over the meaning of the words “considerable time” in describing the expected timeline for policy normalization, Fed Chair Janet Yellen is falling into the same trap. Such a fruitless debate borrows a page from the Bernanke-Greenspan incremental normalization script of 2004-2006. Sadly, we know all too well how that story ended.
This week's "Things To Ponder" is focused on things that, in my opinion, far too many individuals are ignoring. Bob Farrell once wrote that "when all experts and forecasts agree; something else is bound to happen." Today, that is the case as much as it ever was. Despite rising geopolitical risks, weak economic data, deteriorating fundamentals and softer internals - the overwhelming belief is "equities are the only game in town." Of course, we have seen this mentality many times in past history whether it was 1929, 1987, 2000 or 2007. While every market peak was different, there were all the same.
How in the world does the government expect us to trust the economic numbers that they give us anymore? For a long time, many have suspected that they were being manipulated, and as you will see below it appears we now have proof that this is indeed the case.
In what appears to be the first real action post-Flash Boys, NY AG Eric Schneiderman will announce at 4pm ET that Barclays will be sued over fraud allegations related to its Dark Pool's preferential treatment of high-frequency traders. As Bloomberg notes, Barclays runs one of the market's largest dark pools. This comes 2 months after the NY AG sent requests for information to various major HFT shops. It seems, just as we noted here, that a potential scapegoat is being primed 'just in case' this 'market' can't withstand the Fed's pullback.
As we wrap up a holiday shortened trading week, there are several things to ponder this weekend. Will the breakout of the S&P 500 of the trading range it has been stuck in since February hold? Is the negative print of GDP in the first quarter simply a weather related anomaly, or something else? Is the decline in interest rates telling us something important? Are the currently high levels of complacency and bullishness in the markets a warning sign? Or, is this just a continuation of the bull market cycle that started over five years ago with plenty of room left to run. "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken?" - Yogi Berra
The temptations of extrapolation are hard to resist. The trend exerts a powerful influence on markets, policymakers, households, and businesses. But discerning observers understand the limits of linear thinking, because they know that lines bend, or sometimes even break. That is the case today in assessing two key factors shaping the global economy: the risks associated with America’s policy gambit and the state of the Chinese economy. It is often said that a crisis should never be wasted: Politicians, policymakers, and regulators should embrace the moment of deep distress and take on the heavy burden of structural repair. China seems to be doing that; America is not. Codependency points to an unavoidable conclusion: The US is about to become trapped in the perils of linear thinking.
Stephen Roach, former Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley, has never been shy to share his opinions about the world and having left the Wall Street firm is even freer to speak uncomfortable truthiness. This brief clip, as Sovereign Man's Simon Black notes, says it all so succinctly... "The market has been distorted by far bigger forces than flash trading. To me, the force that has rigged the market... is the Federal Reserve, not the flash traders."
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?
“Isn’t it now time for China to abandon the concept of a growth target?”