It has been four years since we first introduced the non-believing world to China's ghost cities. Two years later, we revisited to check on the widescale immigration that was expected to occur into these salubrious suburbs. Alas, another epic Keynesian fail as we so delicately described the 'if we build it, they will come' mentality. Now, four years after the news of the Chinese real estate bubble began to break on tin-foil hat-wearing blogs, the mainstream media (to wit, Sixty Minutes) have gone in depth - taking a wonderfully eery trip through these ghost cicties explaining the growing (and in some places popping) bubble in Chinese real estate markets. The incredulous host concludes this chilling saga, "Meanwhile, people who can afford it are still buying as much real estate as they can... potential buyers crowding buses to see new construction and new owners line up to register their new apts... Like us in our bubble, they just don't believe the good times will ever end." It's all make-believe -- non-existent supply for non existent demand.
When two weeks ago we exposed the heretofore secret location of JPM's London gold vault (located under the firm's massive L-shaped office complex at 60 Victoria Embankment) we thought: what about New York? After all, while London is the legacy financial capital of the "old world", it is in New York that the biggest private wealth of the past century is concentrated, and it is also in New York where the bulk of the hard assets backing the public money of the world's sovereigns are located, some 80 feet below ground level in the fifth sub-basement of the New York Fed, resting on the bedrock of Manhattan. That the topic of the gold "held'' by the New York Fed - historically considered the gold vault with the largest concentration of gold bars in the world - has become rather sensitive, in the aftermath of the Bundesbank's request to repatriate it (surely, but very, very slowly), is an understatement. Yet in the aftermath of some of the revelations presented here, we believe quite a few other countries will follow in Germany's footsteps for one very simple reason: suddenly the question of whether their gold is located at 33 Liberty, or just adjacent to it, in what we have learned is the de facto largest private gold vault in the world, located across the street 90 feet below 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, doesn't appear to have a clear answer.
Jobs! President Obama has set a record. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, he uttered the word "jobs" more than in any of his previous four State of the Union addresses. His 45 mentions were more than double the references to any of the other policy ambitions encapsulated in his speech by such words as health, education, immigration, guns, deficit, debt, energy, climate, economy, Afghanistan, wage, spend or tax (the runner-up). If only the president's record on unemployment were as good. After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression.
Curious why nobody at the G-7 or G-20 had the gall to outright accuse Japan of currency manipulation? Simple: because everyone else in the G-7 and G-20 has been doing precisely what Japan only recently started doing a few months ago. As such, it would be outright "glass house" hypocrisy if there was a formal Japanese condemnation by the group of overlevered nations, which moments ago released its draft communique not naming the island nation outright as was widely expected. Of course, that the G-20 did not accuse Japan of engaging in what everyone clearly knows is currency war, does not mean that everyone else is not doing this. To the contrary: they are, and the lack of a stern rebuke of Japan simply means the currency wars will now intensify, devolving into the same protectionism and trade wars as the first Great Depression was so familiar with, which to borrow a parallel from history again, will end with the kind of war that ultimately ended the first Great Depression.
Currency War ... Trade War ... Hot War
The Chairman of Goldman's Asset Management group, unwise supporter of Man Utd, promoter of 'decoupling' myths, and creator of the BRIC mnemonic has decided, with everything looking so tickety-boo, to retire. Whether his great Buy BRICS fail or his BoE leadership bid fail was the final straw is unclear, but for now, the erstwhile permabull (and mocker of market skeptics) leaves us on a bright note:
- *O'NEILL SAYS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF THINGS DOING BETTER ECONOMICALLY
20 years of 'broken record' survival and the Brit throws in his chips now - just as everything looks be taking off? Leave your farewell message below...
As with every piece of potentially bad news in the here and now, the IMF provides some bone for bulls to gnaw on by offering hope that 2014 will be considerably better. What at first glance is a broad-based slashing of global growth outlooks for 2013 ends up being yet another hockey-stick expectation dangled out in front of the world's investors. With Europe now downgraded to a recession in 2013 (GDP -0.2%), we should not fear though as Olivier Blanchard adds that "If crisis risks do not materialize and financial conditions continue to improve, global growth could be stronger than projected," and sure enough 2014 is expected to herald a new era of growthiness (GDP +1.0%) for the troubled region. He does offer one note of reality that is critical - "Financial market optimism should not lead to policy complacency" - alas we fear that time has long gone. World Trade Volume expectations have been ratcheted lower with Brazil and Newly Industrialized Asia seeing the biggest downgrades to growth.
Currency wars have captured the imagination of many. However, the modern history of the foreign exchange market demonstrates that is has always been an arena in which nation-states compete. Typically central banks want the currency's exchange rate to affirm not contradict monetary policy. The synchronized crisis and easier monetary policy makes it appear that nearly ever one wants a weak currency. Yet most officials are on low rungs of the intervention escalation ladder. Moreover, there is no sign of it spilling over to a trade war. Has any one else noticed that Japan's largest trading partner and regional rival China has been quiet, not joining the the chorus of criticism?
Japan's Chain Of Events: Stagnation -> Monetization -> Devaluation -> Stabilization -> Retaliation -> HyperinflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2013 17:31 -0400
As the world's equity markets prepare to rally on the back of yet more central bank printing as Japan's Shinzo Abe takes the helm with a 2% inflation target and a central bank entirely in his pocket, The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard suggests a rather concerning analog for the last time a Japanese prime-minister attempted to salvage his deflation/depression strewn nation. The 1930s 'brilliant rescue' by Korekiyo Takahashi, who removed Japan from the Gold Standard, ran huge 'Keynesian' budget deficits intentionally, and compelled the Bank of Japan to monetize his debt until the economy was back on its feet managed to devalue the JPY by 60% (40% on a trade-weighted basis). Initially this led to exports rising dramatically and brief optical stability, but the repercussion is the unintended consequence (retaliation) that the world missed then and is missing now. Though the economy appeared to stabilize, the responses of other major exporting nations, implicitly losing in the game of world trade, caused Japan's policies to backfire, slowed growth and left a nation needing to chase its currency still lower - eventually leading to hyperinflation in Japan (and Takahashi's assassination). With no Martians to export to, why should we expect any difference this time? and how much easier (and quicker) are trade flows altered in the current world?
Why must the debt grow every year? To keep the debt-servitude paradigm going. To increase economic activity in a country operating in this type of system, you need to increase the level of credit and thus debt grows in tandem. This is self serving: if debt is the “fuel” to increase economic activity, interest payments will become larger and larger, until eventually it reaches a point where debt can no longer be increased. This point is known as the Minsky moment–when there is no net benefit to extra debt. So there we have it, in our “creditopia” world, if debt does not expand, the economy cannot grow and jobs cannot be created. In order to increase debt, foreigners have to continually finance the ever growing debt by purchasing government bonds and selling consumer products to the US. In turn, the US must increase the level of consumption, decrease savings, and eliminate the threat of any nation posing a risk to the US dollar hegemony. Is this a symbiotic or a parasitic relationship? Is is certainly a relationship that cannot grow forever. It poses an economic risk for ALL nations due to the interconnectedness of the global economy.
To some, such as those few whose daily net worth is still a function of the policy vehicle formerly known as the 'market', it is a merry Christmas (at least until such time as the recoupling between central planning and reality once again inevitably occurs). To others, such as the 50 million (by now) Americans on food stamps, and billions of others around the world living in conditions of poverty, it is not so merry. But no matter one's current state of one's mind, there is always hope that the future will bring better days: after all that is what reflective holidays such as today are all about. We too hope that there is hope, if at the same time realizing that ever more of the promise of the future is packaged away in chunks of debt and securitized in order to fund an unsustainable present. We open up this open thread to readers to share their hopes and concerns about the present and the future.
What a year 2012 has been! The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class. Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through. We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done. Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that we have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.
Was the shooting of 20 students in Newtown, Connecticut the Neo-Liberal version of 9/11? The question merits considerable thought, but let me explain further what I mean. In the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, a sense of shock and awe sunk into the minds of the American populace like nothing seen in decades. This overwhelming fear, this logic crippling terror, infected the public to more destructive ends than any deadly virus in existence. Conservatives were especially vulnerable to the infectious symptoms of the event, abandoning all reason and even their small government values to support the fascist inklings of the Bush Administration. More than a decade later, the Neo-Liberal (fake liberal) Obama Administration and its minions continue the Bush legacy by exploiting our latest tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary as a means to an end; a political opportunity to assert federal authority as more valuable than constitutional freedom. If you can’t convince people through rational debate that your position is the correct one, and, if you have to threaten them, lie to them, or brainwash them before they will adopt your ideas, then there is something wrong with your ideas.
- IMF Demands Partial Default for Cyprus (Spiegel)
- Boehner's 'Plan B' Gets Pushback (WSJ)
- Beijing criticises US ‘political checks’ (FT)
- White House Said to Tell Business Groups Talks Stall (BBG)
- NYSE tries to get hitched again: IntercontinentalExchange in talks to buy NYSE (Reuters) -> N-Ice coming?
- Greece faces ‘make or break’ year (FT)
- Fed rejects idea of consensus forecasts, "maybe forever": Fisher (Reuters)
- Rajoy Drives Spanish Revolution With Low-Cost Manufacture (BBG)
- Italian Senate Set for Budget Vote Before Monti Resigns (BBG)
- BOJ Loosens With Pledge to Review Inflation Objectives (BBG)
- Bowing To Abe, BOJ To Review Price Goal (WSJ)