This past week saw the initial public offering of the single most anticipated IPO of 2013 - Twitter. If you tweeted about it then you are not alone as the news dominated the media headlines and the market. With Twitter already sporting a 11x price-to-sales ratio, and no earnings, what could possibly go wrong? However, it is that growing complacency among investors that should be the most concerning as the general sentiment has become that nothing can stop the markets as long as the Fed is in the game. This week's issue of things to ponder over the weekend provides some thoughts in this regard...
Well over a year ago, we first suggested that the conventional wisdom thesis for the bounce in home prices - namely a spurt in household formation - was dead wrong. Sure enough, as has been confirmed empirically, the only reason for the latest dead cat bounce in home prices has been the Fed, and banks complicit in engaging in "foreclosure stuffing." And while it was easy to deflect the topic of just what is driving the housing market (because none of the bulls would want to admit it is just another credit and liquidity-driven bubble) for over a year, with the traditional "things will be back to normal soon" fall back used every time, as time passed and none of the traditional ingredients for a housing recovery fell into place, some started scratching their heads. This came to a boiling point today, when real-estate firm Trulia, looking at the latest Census Bureau data on household formation, finally threw in the towel and rang the panic button as not only have young Americans set anchor in their parents' basement, but even refuse to get a job.
Detroit may be on its way to becoming a ghost town, but the disappearance of homo sapiens from the streets just means the largest US bankrupt city is about to have a new master - man's formerly best friend, in the form of tens of thousands of stray dogs most of which happen to be a particularly vicious breed of pit bulls. Step aside Motown, and say hello to Dogtown.
Almost three years ago we warned of the consequence of the disincentives for the working man in the US at the lower-income level. Then, last November we noted the dismal fact that 'work is punished' in America for a large majority of the non-elites. And now, as the part-time new normal becomes more and more understood in the mainstream, we ask once again... If you could stay home and relax all day and actually make more money than you do at your current job, would you do it?
Congress: "Is it fair to say that Wall Street has benefited more [from QE] than Main Street has?"
Bernanke: "I don't think so... I want to emphasize that we're very focused on Main Street... Our low interest rates have created a lot of ability to buy automobiles..."
Let’s face it, the Las Vegas real estate market has gone full Chinese. By full Chinese, we mean a centrally planned bubble has been created that is just asking to blow up. We’ve covered the renewed insanity of the Las Vegas market before, but this article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provides even more detail. In a nutshell, as a result of Assembly Bill 284, which essentially made foreclosures impossible in Nevada, extremely delinquent homes are not coming for sale, and this phony market signal is leading to rampant overbuilding and price speculation. Bubbles and bullshit. It’s the American way.
The good old days are back, those of the last housing bubble when money grew on trees.
Not even the most prodigious and reckless money-printing binge can fix it
The next Great Depression is already happening - it just hasn't reached the United States yet. Things in Europe just continue to get worse and worse, and yet most people in the United States still don't get it. We have been warning that the next major wave of the ongoing economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. In fact, both Greece and Spain already have levels of unemployment that are greater than anything the U.S. experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Pay close attention to what is happening over there, because it is coming here too. A full-blown economic depression is raging across southern Europe and it is rapidly spreading into northern Europe. Eventually it will spread to the rest of the globe as well. The U.S. economy has become a miserable junkie that is completely and totally addicted to reckless money printing and gigantic mountains of debt. If we stop printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished. If we continue printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished. Either way, this is all going to end very, very badly.
Timing couldn’t be worse.
If any person is too big to prosecute then your justice system is a sham, a lie, a farce, a joke, a bastardization of all that America used to stand for.
5% fewer words, slightly shorter than last year but just as hope-full. From a hike (and inflation-indexed) in the minimum wage to a 140x multiplier of genome sciences investment (now that is Keynesian awesomeness); from extending homeownership (and refinancing plans) even more to energy independence; from Apple, Ford, and CAT's US Manufacturing to Bridge-Building and infrastructure spending; and from Trans-Pacific and -Atlantic Trade to cyber-security; it's all gonna be great - because as President Obama reminded us at the start... "Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding," and this won't add a dime to the deficit... oh and that Student loan bubble - no worries, there's a college scorecard so now you know where to get the biggest bang for your credit-based buck. Summing it all up: Guns 9 : 3 Freedom ; Jobs 31 : 17 Tax ; Congress 17 : 40 Work ; Recovery 2 : 0 Unicorns ; Spending 3 : 2 Cutting
The week's most anticipated speech (given Obama's absence from DC) is here. Bernanke's Economic Club of New York extravaganza - where he has previously hinted at new or further policy - is upon us. Sure enough, it's a smorgasbord of we'll do whatever-it-takes (but won't bailout Congress) easing-to-infinity, housing's recovering but we want moar, simply re-iterating his comments from last week...
- *BERNANKE SAYS FISCAL CLIFF WOULD POSE `SUBSTANTIAL THREAT'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CONGRESS, WHITE HOUSE NEED TO AVERT FISCAL CLIFF
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED TO ENSURE RECOVERY IS SECURE BEFORE RATE RISE
- *BERNANKE SAYS HOUSING RECOVERY `LIKELY TO REMAIN MODERATE'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CRISIS REDUCED ECONOMY'S POTENTIAL GROWTH RATE
However, as we have noted previously, once you've gone QE-Eternity, you never go back... and we would this is the 3rd time in a row that someone from the Fed has spoken and stocks have sold off.
Or to put in another way, by Christmas we may very well see Case-Shiller and other indicators of home prices headed back down, erasing the gains made in housing during 1H 2012.
Ben Bernanke will deliver the semiannual report on monetary policy to the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. The market is hoping and praying that the Chairsatan will make it rain. He won't. In fact, as explained earlier, it is likely that Ben will say absolutely nothing of significance today and in a world in which only the H.4.1 matters, this is not going to be taken well by the market. Of course, if Benny does crack and promises to push the S&P to 1450 just in time for the re-election, all bets are off.