It is only fitting that just minutes after we disclosed our skepticism about those who forecast future events in a centrally planned regime, either directly or rhetorically, we ran into Goldman's 10 questions for 2011: the firm to whom none other than Brian Sack is supposed to report. While everything else is mostly Koolaid, the only important thing according to Jan Hatzius, who minutes ago appeared on Tom Keene, is that he may still advise his underlying at the FRBNY Bill Dudley to press go on QE3. Full list below.
One of the traditional characteristics of the financial media world in the last few days of any given year is the veritable cornucopia of next year "predictions" from those who believe their opinions are relevant/important/credible. Of course, with this whole process being nothing but an exercise in vanity, and resulting in pervasive ridicule by the rest of the media world 365 days later, unless of course one has immaculate luck, in which case playing the lottery has far better fringe benefits, Zero Hedge has no interest in actually predicting parallel outcomes, when event iterations are serial and just getting the one main thing right usually ends up paying off in droves (as such our one and only very vague prediction for the end of 2011 is that the Fed will be one year closer to completely losing control of its centrally planned schizophrenic reality, and the market will be ever closer to realizing this). That said, the following list of forecasts by Charles Hugh Smith is certainly worth reading. And with gems such as: Markets in precious metals, oil, commodities, stocks and bonds will rise and fall in an unpredictable fashion; The SNAP food stamp program will be expanded to include cable TV
access to a new U.S. government-sponsored channel, "Bread and Circuses, and QE3 will include issuing U.S. Treasury bonds directly to households you know this may well be the only set of predictions that gets the outcome right in our Bizarro world, TheOnion-style centrally planned reality.
On a day that was supposed to be as quiet as they get, the now traditional spike in FX vol that we have been observing for the past two months (even as the VIX has plunged to year lows) is back like clockwork. As the chart below shows, the EURUSD is now well over 100 pips higher on the day, and is back to early December levels. The reason, according to some, is that the various global banks, mostly French and US, who have been buying the billions in EURs sold by assorted central banking cartels in the past few months, starting with the BIS and going down, are engaged in some good old fashioned window dressing. There was a time when window dressing applied to stocks. With that now completely priced in, it is time to move on to FX, and shortly thereafter, gold. And speaking of the latter, with the yellow metal at $1,417, and just dollars away from the all time high, it would not be too surprising to see the best performing asset class tracked by Reuters to close the year at an all time high.
While hardly news to regular readers, most of whom have ridden the 80%+ wave in silver in 2010, the following video from Future Money Trends explains some of the key basics about why silver, which is unique in the precious metals basket in that it is also an industrial metal (and has thus sparked much debate over whether or not it, like gold, is "money"), and provides some perspectives on why silver just may one day be more valuable than gold. Some facts: while there are 10 ounces of silver, for every ounce of gold mined, the most of it is not "free flowing" and is locked up in industrial uses; for every $1 in SLV investors still pile $7 in GLD; above ground silver has declined from 10 billion ounces in 1950 to 5-700 million ounces in 2010 (compared to an increase in above ground gold from 1 billion to 7 billion ounces); the gold to silver ratio is at 50x while the average long-term is 15x, industrial demand for silver is up 18% in 2010; and much more. Of course, there is no reason why one has to pick one or the other. Historically both have been tiered stores of value, with the Roman empire going so far as to succumb its silver currency when the going got tough. The simple fact is since global deleveraging will likely continue and since the US government will need to print trillions, most of it monetized by the Fed, the ongoing currency dilution will continue to result in increasing P prices: pretty simple. The only downside case to gold and silver holdings would involve massive asset liquidations a la September 2008, which also would mean that the Fed has lost control, that the US dollar is no longer the reserve currency, and that after the smoke settles, non-fiat currencies will rise again. And that includes both gold and silver.
Where 2008 had seen the almost accidental move of investors from stocks to commodities, 2010 saw the almost willful, wide awake version of that. In 2008, investors woke up and noticed, “Wow, we aren’t buying Exxon or Chevron any more to get long in oil; we are actually buying oil.” In 2010, investors just bought oil, knowing that that buying would push prices higher. It seems likely to continue in 2011.
It seems anywhere one looks there days, one reads a refutation of Paul Krugman's tortured "economist" logic. Lately, the NYTer has fallen into the crosshairs of many due to his contention that currently taxes, based on some chart which the Nobelist probably mislabeled again, are at 20th century lows. Of course, cherrypicking data that fits the theory is precisely what economists do. Which is why Krugman may be excused for missing out on a trend so subversive that we have seen it only mentioned by tax attorneys at Weil Gotshal: namely the gradual transition in the definition of taxable income from a "net" to a "gross" tax basis. As Weil's Kimberly Blanchard explains: "Many observers — most prominently Paul Krugman — write in terms of tax rates being at an all-time low and compare today’s rates favorably with those that existed early in the 20th century. Their implication is that tax burdens are lower today and, therefore, there must be room for tax hikes. But we know that taxes are not lower today. How could they possibly be when government revenues are so much larger, even as adjusted for inflation? The increasing size of the national deficit cannot explain the gap, which was already in evidence during the Clinton years. The average individual taxpayer is frustrated and confused because she hears that tax rates are down but somehow she believes (correctly) that her taxes keep going up. What has occurred is that the base has expanded dramatically, leading to taxes far higher than those paid by individuals historically." Expect to hear much more of this in the next two years.
- Commodities Beat Stocks, Bonds, Dollar in 2010 (Bloomberg) - translation: anything that can't be diluted does and will do better than things that can be diluted
- How a mortgage clearinghouse became a villain in the foreclosure mess (WaPo)
- Euro Imbalances Mean 80% Risk Bloc Will See Structural Overhaul, CEBR Says (BusinessWeek)
- Estonia Prepares to Join the Euro Zone (WSJ)
- Simon Johnson: Fresh Crises Loom in Europe and the U.S. (NYT)
- That pesky CRE issue still refuses to go away: Commercial property loans pose new threat (FT)
- Krugman on The New Voodoo and hypocrites (NYT)
- Mises Institute on the Hypocrisy of Krugman (Mises)
- Venezuela to Devalue its "Strong Bolivar" Currency (WSJ)
Is The Treasury Selloff Over - Net Money Flows Into The TSY Complex, At Year Lows, Are Starting To RiseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/31/2010 - 08:58 Credit Suisse Gross Domestic Product POMO Price Action Ron Paul Smart Money
As the mainstream media finally made a big story out of capital flows after ignoring the topic with impunity for 33 straight weeks (of $90 billion worth of outflows), the question many ask themselves is whether last week's minimal inflow into domestic equity funds is indicative of a shift in risk sentiment, and more specifically whether the outflows in bonds will if not accelerate, then at least remain at their current elevated levels. Probably the best answer to that will come from looking at not only the price action of the most liquid rate instrument, the 10 Year, but the actual net money flows for all UST contracts. While the first can be done with any charting program, the second is slightly more complex and for that we go to Credit Suisse's Carl Lentz and Eric von Nostrand.
We now live in a world where governments print worthless pieces of paper to buy other worthless pieces of paper that combined with worthless derivatives, finance assets whose values are totally dependent on all these worthless debt instruments. Thus most of these assets are also worth-less. So the world financial system is a house of cards where each instrument’s false value is artificially supported by another instrument’s false value. The fuse of the world financial market time bomb has been lit. There is no longer a question of IF it will happen but only WHEN and HOW. The world lives in blissful ignorance of this. Stockmarkets remain strong and investors worldwide have piled into government bonds in a perceived flight to safety. -
Today's must see TV comes from the following interview of Pimm Fox on the consumer and the economy with retail expert Howard Davidowitz, who in 10 minutes provides more quality content and logical thought than we have seen from CNBC guests in probably all of 2010 (except of course for that one time when Erin Burnett kicked out Mike Pento, but that's a different story). Where does one start? Probably at the end: "I am not surprised by the strength of retail sales, because i knew that 30% of consumers are responsible for retail sales, and these 30% did much better because of the performance of capital markets. I don't think it is indicative of anything going forward. I don't think the economy is going to get any better. If you look at our fiscal and monetary policy, we went two trillion in the hole last year. Two trillion... to produce this... and unemployment went up to 9.8%! We've spent two trillion we're printing money we're going bananas. Our balance sheet, we've got $2.6 trillion on there, and what;s on there government securities, and MBS." And here is the kicker for the world's biggest hedge fund, which at least one person besides Zero Hedge appears to get: "If interest rates go up a point Bernanke's bankrupt. Everything he's bought is underwater. All the MBS are underwater, the whole country is underwater." Does anyone see the issue now with why rising interest rates, aside from predicting a "recovery", may also, courtesy of its now $2 billion DV01, "predict" the insolvency of the Federal Reserve?
Marc Faber, who just like Nassim Taleb has never hidden his disdain for investments in US-backed paper, is back to bashing Treasurys, although with logic diametrically opposite to that espoused by those such as Morgan Stanley who see rising rates as a sign of economic growth. "This is a suicidal investment,” Faber told Bloomberg in a telephone interview from St. Moritz, Switzerland. “Over time, interest rates on U.S. Treasuries will go up. Investors will gradually understand that the Federal Reserve wants to have negative real interest rates. The worst investment is in U.S. long-term bonds.” As for equities, Faber increasingly sees a Zimbabwe outcome: “If you print money, the currency goes down and the S&P 500 goes up. By the end of 2011, people will look at 2012 and think 2012 could be a very bad year because the policies applied are not sustainable and create a lot of instability. Investors may look at 2012 and 2013 with horror.” Not Wall Street thought. By the end of 2011, bankers will most likely be looking at the second consecutive record bonuses year, and by then will have enough gold safely stashed away in non-extradition countries to where the host organism may finally be allowed to die in peace.
There were two things that surprised me this past year. First, was the effectiveness of propaganda and market manipulation. Despite, the obvious lack of any real economic recovery other than phony aggregate demand increases due to inflationary policies many people actually think things are getting better. The Larry Summers’ of the world and other economic magicians like him have one economic policy and that is expectations management, which really means create enough propaganda, push the stock market up, and people will then believe things are getting better and then things will get better in reality. I believe this policy has been half successful so far. It has been successful is kicking the can down the road but it has not been and will not be successful in improving the standards of living for the American people and it is becoming more and more widely understood that this “respite” is merely being used by the small oligarch class in Washington D.C. and Wall Street to steal what little is left and push the middle class into serfdom. When this thing collapses again let’s never lose sight of this and remember who did what during these days of “recovery.”..This is not to say I am bearish on mankind or the world 10-20 years from now. I am not. I think once we finish the next 5-10 years which could be very, very difficult we can emerge into a New Renaissance. We just need to clean out the trash first. That means the current group of political and economic leaders that have infected the global economy. My advice remains the same. You must accept the fact that the current model has failed and will be replaced. - Mike Krieger
I should have embraced the corruption and policies I cannot stand rather than keep too bearish a focus, which only thankfully to careful tactical considerations based on technical observations did not turn into a complete disaster. So while we did overall a good job looking for technical opportunities to express our views, I will need to be much more cynical when it comes to assessing potential government intervention in the economy...I am however convinced that no real positive societal growth will be possible in the West without addressing entitlement programs, pension issues, the cost of production in developed economies whether it is via currency revaluation or protectionism, and a more responsible management of the world's natural resources should probably make the list too. Can we continue inflating this mercantilist world economy without an absolute collapse in the value of Western currencies? The answer is not "maybe not", it's not even close: we can't and it's obvious...So with all that said, I would like to close the circle and close the discussion with what I think is possible for 2011. - Nic Lenoir