One of the great absurdities of our modern financial system is that a nation living within its means, i.e. spending less than what it confiscates in tax revenue, is no longer the norm. Living within your means is now considered ‘austerity’. And unfair. Whether in the UK, Europe, or North America, many voters have become so accustomed to the government’s massive role in the economy, they can’t begin to imagine how it could be scaled back. The more insolvent governments become, the more they’re going to be forced to axe all the things they can’t afford. We’re already starting to see this in places from California to England that can no longer hide from their fiscal reality. With the government monopoly out of the way, the private sector will mop up every service that it can turn a profit on– trash collection, security, fire, prisons, libraries, etc. This forces competition, higher quality service, and lower prices for everyone. The people who protest against austerity, or think it’s a tragedy when a courthouse closes down due to budget constraints, are really missing the larger point: the sooner this corrupt house of cards collapses, the better off we’ll all be.
Swiss National Bank currency reserves just topped CHF300bn in May for the first time on record. As SocGen notes this jump from a mere CHF66bn in April is the second largest rise since August last year - right before the SNB put in place the 1.20 cap in EURCHF. The increase in reserves is not a major surprise after EURUSD plummeted over eight big figures last month and the SNB was left with no choice but to step up its EUR purchases in order to defend the cap. However, the size of the increase may cause fresh political consternation as the cost of unlimited foreign currency purchases continues to climb and a definitive resolution of the euro crisis is still remote. What worries us more is the market's 'hedging' of a tail-risk event in Europe has driven risk-reversals in EURCHF (a way of understanding the bullish/bearish bias in FX options prices) that implies a 1.10 level for EURCHF which is somewhat incredibly supported by an analysis of the variation in ECB and SNB balance sheet changes. As the threat of capital controls looms large and Swiss 2Y rates press back towards -30bps, we wonder how long until a new 'equilibrium' cap is adjusted down to 1.10.
At the rate the market has soared in the past 3 days, one would think Bernanke has already formally announced QE. Instead we have had a rumor, a hint, and a headline. All of this was sufficient to push the DJIA up 500 points. Problem is there has been nothing official from the Fed. Which is why everyone will be looking for the Chairman to leak something at the 10am hearing before the Joint Economic Committee. Otherwise, if nothing comes now, and nothing comes on June 20, we may be looking at another deja vu event from 2011: namely the August 2011 market crash.
It would appear that the asset-class most sensitive to the next round of renewed money-printing by the Fed - that implicitly seems to provide stock investors with some belief that their USD-numeraire priced holdings should go up in price - is dropping fast and pricing out hope of a 'New QE' anytime soon. As The Bernank speaks and offers nothing more than a Draghi-reinforcing check-to-the-government around the poker table of global macro, Gold is plunging. The biggest beneficiary of the Bernanke soliloquy so far is China, which has managed to get a new cheaper entry point on Bernanke's latest attempt to talk down Gold while keeping stocks up (because rising input costs courtesy of oil apparently only impact the gold bottom line). After importing 100 tons in physical gold (not GLD) in April, the country will be even happier to buy far more at lower, not higher prices.
Capitalism can be subverted by either an Elite or the majority. Marx traced out how Capital (wealth) naturally consolidates into monopolies or cartels (shared monopolies). These concentrations of wealth then buy political influence via campaign contributions, armies of lobbyists and the full spectrum of cronyism: sweetheart deals, envelopes of cash, revolving doors between the cartels and their regulators, plum jobs for lazy nephews and so on. This base corruption of the Central State, which is now the dominant force in the economy, allows Elites to change the rules rather than accept failure (also known as losses). Thus we have Crony Capitalism: profits are private and yours to keep, losses are transferred to the taxpaying public. This mechanism is well known and catches most of the attention. But M.M. highlighted the way the democratic majority can subvert capitalism. This is generally ignored for the simple reason that most commentators are part of the majority subverting capitalism to benefit their own self-interest.
This leads to a terminal state of self-delusion and self-justification
Less than an hour ago Zero Hedge was happy to point out the glaringly obvious.
Bernanke speech will have nothing in it
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 7, 2012
Shortly thereafter, Bernanke confirmed it. Now it is Wall Street's turn to join in.
With Bernanke's speech dominated by the word 'Fiscal', is it any wonder that Fitch comes over-the-top with a warning, via Reuters and Bloomberg:
- *FITCH SAYS WOULD CUT US AAA RATING IF THERE IS NO CREDIBLE FISCAL CONSOLIDATION PLAN IN 2013
- *UK, FRANCE ,GERMANY, OTHER AAA NATIONS HAVE CREDIBLE PLANS:FITCH
Are the world's central bankers now checking back to the governments? Well we know how that will end. With the Fed's implicit tightening (as the balance sheet rolls down) and the fiscal cliff, it seems headwinds are mounting.
Update 2: In her own words - dispelling rumors of new instruments: "In view of the current difficulties, it’s important to emphasize that we have created the instruments of support in the euro zone, that Germany is ready to work with these instruments whenever that is necessary and that this is an expression of our firm desire to keep the euro area stable,”
Update: here is the counterrumor, just as expected courtesy of the summer and fall of 2011: Merkel willing to back use of EXISTING Euro-area instruments... Where Euro-Bonds just happen not to figure.
Just out from Bloomberg:
- MERKEL SAYS GERMANY READY TO BACK USE OF EURO-AREA INSTRUMENTS
Ignore that it is unclear what instrument is mentioned (not Euro Bonds as Merkel made very clear 48 hours ago), she probably just is referring to the Redemption Pact, which she would of course be in favor of, as noted before, and where Europe funds its loan-loss exposure with gold. We look forward to the PIIGS agreeing to hand over their gold to Das Deutsche Pawn Shop.
The pending three-day rally that has seen European and US markets soar smacks of a short-covering squeeze, notes UBS' Art Cashin, as some of the biggest percentage gains came in the most heavily shorted stocks. While this is hardly surprising in this increasingly schizophrenic economy market, it is the long-term consistency and prophetic consternation of Margaret Thatcher's view of the Euro as "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era" that sits uncomfortably with the Merkel comment-driven rally of this morning (for now).
The video below is a great a preview of things to come in Greece. Per Bloomberg, Greek police on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for the spokesman of far-right party Golden Dawn for assaulting two left-wing politicians on live television. Ilias Kasidiaris was shown on a live morning show jumping out of his seat and slapping Communist Party member Liana Kanelli three times after throwing a glass of water at leftist SYRIZA party member Rena Dourou. Golden Dawn, which was elected for the first time to parliament in a May 6 election, is accused of carrying out violent attacks against immigrants. Surely, being captured on live national TV beating up women will do wonders for restoring the party's image as that encouraging pacifism and peaceful resolution of problems.
In preparation for what we are about to receive from the Charmain of the Fed, may we be truly grateful, Jim Grant offered CNBC's Maria B the forthright advice last night "prepare for platitudes but watch what they are doing not what they are saying". The ever outspoken Grant notes that the Fed's balance sheet has been contracting (unlike Maria's mainstream perspective); for the past three months the Fed's balance sheet has contracted at an annualized rate of 10% - even as Fed-head after Fed-head talk up QE and so on. So unless they continue buying securities - since the short-dated positions will continue to roll off - the Fed's balance sheet will continue to contract and therefore the stimulative effect will fall. Grant does expect QE3 since it is the fun-drug that we have been using for 4 or 5 years and that Bernanke will need little pushing to continue the Grand Manipulation. He ends on a rather interesting note that the Wisconsin win and the potential for an Obama loss in November may be more of a positive driver for stocks since markets begin to revert to a free market once again - we suspect this is not the case given the donors/beneficiaries under Romney's wing. But rest assured - the bespectacled bear ends on the chilling note that 'the long-term implications are bad' for the ongoing manipulation that is now the status quo.
Update: 9:00 am has come and gone... and no global bailout unlike November 30, 2011. Not a good sign for those expect a central-bank D-Day.
While minutes ago the Bank of England followed in the ECB's footsteps, it was the China central bank that stole England's thunder, announcing an unexpected rate cut moments before 7 am, and thus finally joining the global easing party: this was the first Chinese interest rate cut since 2008. As a reminder, hours before the global central bank intervention on November 30, China announced its first (50 bps) reserve requirement cut since 2008. Is today's PBOC move, which is the first cut of deposit and 1 year lending rates also since 2008, a harbinger of something much bigger to come any second now?
Initial Claims Beat Expectations, With Prior Revised Higher, As Whopping 105 Thousand Lose Extended BenefitsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/07/2012 08:49 -0400
While it is a number which nobody will care about today, especially if it is better than expected, initial claims printed at 377K on expectations of 378K, the first beat of expectations in 5 weeks. Of course, the claims number next week will be revised to over 380K. Why? Because, as now happens every single week, last week's initial claims number was revised higher from 383K to 389K. As a reminder, last week this number was expected to print at 370K. So only a 19K miss when all is said and done. But at least the mainstream media has its bullish for general consumption headline: "Initial Claims drop by 12,000" even as market participants realize this is still QE-promoting. Continuing claims printed at 3,293K, missing expectations of 3,250K, and down from an upward, of course, revised 3,259K. But the most disturbing observation is that in one week alone, a whopping 104,600 people hit the 99-week cliff, and stopped collecting extended unemployment benefits, the most since December 2011, as those on EUCs dropped by -45,808 while those on Extended benefits dropped by a astounding -58,829. As a reminder, Zero Hedge first noted that shortly 700,000 people will no longer be collecting any unemployment benefits. Here is to hoping those off the dole, are at least collecting disability in the USSA as otherwise these are tens of billions in lost purchasing power.
Central bank gold demand remains robust as central banks continue to diversify out of the euro and the dollar. Further central bank demand is confirmed in the news this morning that Kazakhstan plans to raise the share of gold in its international reserves from 12% to 15%. So announced central bank Deputy Chairman Bisengaly Tadzhiyakov to reporters today in the capital, Astana. “We’ve already signed contracts for 22 tons,” Tadzhiyakov said. Bloomberg report that immediate-delivery gold was little changed at $1.620.41 an ounce at 10:50 a.m. in Moscow, valuing 22 metric tons of gold at about $1.2 billion. “The bank is ready to buy when suppliers are ready to sell,” Tadzhiyakov said. Kazakhstan said yesterday it will cut its holdings in the euro by a sixth. It was reported in the Reuters Global Gold Forum that the central bank buys all the gold produced in Kazakhstan and owned 98.19T at the end of April, according to the IMF's most recent international finance statistics report. Meanwhile, supply issues remain and South African gold production continues to plummet. South African gold production fell 12.8% in April from a year earlier, Juan -Pierre Terblanche, a spokesman for Statistics South Africa, told Bloomberg.