The dark ages were an awful time. Considering the brightest days delivered constant warfare, the burning of books, and the fear of barbarians, no one ever looked forward to the darkest days. Fast forward 1,600 years, and the darkest days of the European debt crisis are finally over - not because the bad debt has been written off or due to the consolidation of all debt, but simply because everyone has said so. Exactly who is telling lies and who is telling the truth will only be determined in due course. Without a doubt, global economic growth remains stagnate, yet stock markets are booming. Our message on financial markets remains very consistent – do not confuse strong financial markets with a strong underlying economy. While this may sound like hogwash to many investors and investment professionals, it is the extreme, unorthodox, and never-before-tried policies by the World’s central banks that is the reason for the march higher for stocks. Regardless, for those who honestly believe in the recovery, ask yourself the following questions...
Central banks are the devil. Hinde Capital explains that they are like drug dealers except they administer regular doses of supposedly legally prescribed barbiturates to their addicts. The 'easy money' or 'credit' they create is an opiate and like all addictions there is a payback for the addicts, one exacted only in loss of health, misery and death. The economic system is an addict, but that system is comprised of banks, corporations, non-profit organisations, small businesses all of which are communities. And what comprises communities, us, human beings - individuals. We are the addicts. It is Hinde's contention that central banks feel they need to maintain the balance of credit in the system as it currently stands by adjusting the money supply and monetary velocity (MV) but by doing so they merely circumvent the necessary adjustment in the economic system that comes about by market failure. If they don't allow this failure then any attempt to influence MV will only lead to higher prices (P) at the expense of output (T) in the famous monetary equation MV=PT. Sadly the desire of the State to control money and administer it like a drug has left our economies unproductive and incapable of standing on their own two feet. Full must read Hinde Insight below...
- China drains cash to curb liquidity (FT) - no longer just a New Year issue...
- Hilesnrath speaks (but nobody cares anymore) - Fed Split Over How Long To Keep Cash Spigot Open (WSJ)
- Chasm opening between weak French and strong German economies (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Said to Seek First Sale of Mortgage Bonds Since Crisis (BBG)
- China's Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike (Reuters)
- Fed minutes send warning on durability of bond buying (Reuters)
- Sony Seeks an Extra Life in New PlayStation 4 (BBG)
- Rajoy pledges fresh round of reforms (FT) - and by reforms he means kickbacks?
- Doubts loom over eurozone recovery (BBG)
- China Extending Zhou Stay Seen as Aid to Financial Overhaul (BBG)
- King Pulls Out Stops to Energize Economy in Carney Handover (BBG)
- Central Banks Discussed Nominal GDP Targets at G-20 (Businessweek)
- Grand Central Owner Opposes IPO of Empire State Building (BBG)
As the markets once again approach historic highs - the overly exuberant tone, extreme complacency and weakness in the economic data, bring to mind Bob Farrell's 10 investment rules. These rules should be a staple for any long term successful investor. These rules are often quoted yet rarely heeded - just as they are now. Farrell became a pioneer in sentiment studies and market psychology. His 10 rules on investing stem from personal experience with dull markets, bull markets, bear markets, crashes and bubbles. In short, Farrell has seen it all and lived to tell about it. Despite endless warnings, repeated suggestions and outright recommendations - getting investors to sell, take profits and manage your portfolio risks is nearly a lost cause as long as the markets are rising. Unfortunately, by the time the fear, desperation or panic stages are reached it is far too late to act and we will only be able to say that we warned you.
Over ten years ago, when Europe was a bright and shining example of experimental monetarist "brilliance", and when the money was flowing, the continent decided to do the ethical thing and actively promote the pursuit and development of renewable energy through countless government subsidies. As a result, Germany and Spain became the undisputed leaders in the race for a green future, and both created similar laws to encourage the development of renewable energy. There were two problems: i) green energy, while noble in theory, is about the worst idea possible when it comes to profitability and capital self-sustainability and constantly needs governmental subsidies, and ii) it was the end consumers who would pay for the government's generosity, in the form of a surcharge on electric bills. In Germany, for example, as the industry grew (in size, and thus in losses) demand for the subsidy increased, driving the surcharge higher. In January, the surcharge, which amounts to about 14% of electricity prices, nearly doubled to 5.28 euro cents per kilowatt hour. And here is where a third problem comes into play, because while German and Spanish consumers were happy to pay a surcharge in the golden days of a Dr. Jekyll Europe when everything was great, soon Europe become a doomed Mr. Hyde-ian Frankenstein monster, with imploding economies, 60%+ youth unemployment and resurgent neo-nazi powers. In short: the German and Spanish consumers have had it with funding an infinite money drain (even bigger than Greece), when cash flow is scarce and getting worse, and have just said "Basta" and "Nein", respectively.
My colleague and erstwhile nemesis Gonzalo Lira posed the question above in a recent essay, and it is indeed a most puzzling one. Given that the world’s central banks — joined most recently by a shockingly reckless Switzerland — are waging all-out economic war by inflating their currencies, shouldn’t gold be soaring?
Two months ago we demonstrated one of the biggest paradoxes of the current iteration of the US welfare state, in which a single mom earning gross income of $29,000 has the same disposable income after all net benefits as a worker who has gross income of $69,000. The same logic is applicable to all those who instead of working, opt to receive foodstamps, disability payments, and the occasional Obama phone, all the while dropping out of the labor force and making the BLS' job of indicating a dropping unemployment rate a little easier. And while the US is fully intent on converting an ever rising portion of the population into these "comfortably poor" zombies who no longer have any marketable skills, and are completely unqualified to be competitive in an increasingly more specialized workforce, one place where such welfare handouts will no longer be tolerated is Japan, of all places. As Japan Times reports, "welfare benefits will be slashed by ¥74 billion over a three-year period starting from fiscal 2013, after a government panel found that some people are making more on the dole than the average low-income person who is not spends on living costs, it was learned Sunday." We await with eager amusement as this attempt to impose austerity on the comfortably poor takes place in the US next. Considering there was nearly a revolution in California a few weeks back when EBT cards malfunctioned for a few brief hours, the outcome of a comparable belt-tightening in the US would have truly hilarious, not to mention lethal, consequences.
How many European Union officials does it take to change a light bulb?
None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its condition is improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are an illusional spin from the American media. Illuminating European rooms is hard work. That light bulb has served honorably, and any commentary not approved by the EU undermines the lighting effort. From the 'obvious 'encouragement' given to Europe's banks to pay back exceptionally cheap LTRO loans early to the world's addiction for freshly printed money and propaganda.The world seems devoid of politicians that sensibly lead though they have been quite adept at spending past what can be afforded. The worlds’ central banks have been left to pick up the bills.
"America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.... The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."
In an increasingly globalised economy, we need more global data measurement. The Economist presents a new attempt to measure global GDP. Globally, there was a big and swift return to strong GDP growth, built on the backs of emerging countries and particularly the BRICs. Since early 2010, rather than getting stronger and stronger, global growth has actually become weaker and weaker. This is quite a departure from certain narratives popular today.
In May 2011, Belarus surprised its citizens by devaluing its currency by 50% overnight in an attempt to kickstart its economy, leading to swift and brutal hyperinflation. And while written narratives of the most recent episode of monetary collapse are one thing, nothing is quite as amusing, and grounding for those attempting to "value" money (such as Nobel prize winning economists writing out of their steel exoskeletal ivory towers), as watching a bag of cash be used to pay for seven boxes of beer. And nothing is quite a cathartic as spending several hours trying to count said cash - cash backed by the "full faith and credit" of the Belarus central bank...
As Obi-Wan Kenobi might have said "This is not the debt ceiling debacle you are looking for." That is the seeming 180-degree shift that Goldman appears to have taken with its latest missive on the pending 'discussions'. Their reasoning that this time is different is based on the fact that, in contrast to now, the S&P 500 seemed immune to 'cliff' risks and traded in the 1300 range for the first half of 2011, even as the macro backdrop began to sharply deteriorate. Their models suggest it was clear that risk sentiment was buoying the market even as macro fundamentals were deteriorating. Goldman's view is that the swift market 20% sell-off was in part a reflection of a levitating market reconnecting to still-deteriorating macro fundamentals, possibly catalyzed by the political debate. This time around, they claim, the macro backdrop is, at least for now, stable and far better then in 2011, which perhaps, will allow the market to better absorb the upcoming debt ceiling debate. Unless, this happens...
Forecasting the future with any accuracy is a difficult affair. Being right about the facts, often obscured by various governments, and then correct in your deductions is never enough as macro impacts such as Draghi’s “Save the World” plan can often change the face of market outcomes in a New York minute. This is why so few people can predict the future of the markets with much accuracy. The central banks of the world have accumulated balance sheets of about 15 trillion dollars. There will be consequences of this including inflation, valuation of currencies and ultimately defaults as motivated by political and economic decisions. In the spring keep your eye on Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy as nationalism returns to protect the various nations. In the United States rancor will resurface. Like in Europe, the “have-nots” control the votes but the push-backs will come and the intensity of them may startle many as the House refuses to accede to the demands and cries for the sharing of wealth. Polarization will continue and a shift in the population base will bring intense rivalry from one State to the next.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Once upon a time there lived an independent and industrious people in a land called Ameristan deep in the realm of Middle Income. Their kingdom was unlike any other recorded in the ancient histories, primarily because they had no “king”. Instead, the Ameristanians had decided long ago that kings were much more trouble than they were worth, and, using cost/benefit ratio analysis, came to the conclusion that it was better to hang such ambitious power mongers by their necks and govern themselves instead. Unfortunately, many generations had passed, and the revolutionary fire of Ameristan had grown tired and dormant. Eventually, many of the people began to forget where they had come from... Ameristan had become a land of Unicorn-burger flippers, Swamp Banshee back washers, Dwarf tossers, Jabberwocky jugglers, Bugbear shavers, etc. They were like the peasants of the old days; beggars, thieves, and slaves.