On August 17, 2007, the Fed's Board of Governors announced a key change to primary credit lending terms, whereby the discount rate was cut by 50 bp — to 5.75% from 6.25% — and the term of loans was extended from overnight to up to thirty days. This reduced the spread of the primary credit rate over the fed funds rate from 100 basis points to 50 basis points. News of the emergency measure was supposed to be kept secret from market participants as it was substantially market moving. It wasn't. And just when we thought our opinion of the outgoing Treasury Secretary and former NY Fed head Tim Geithner, whose TurboTax incompetence is now legendary, couldn't get lower, it got lower. Much lower.
The hyper-correlation of Japanese stocks (Bass - The people that buying Japanese stocks, are picking up a dime in front of a bulldozer) and the JPY have led many to believe that Abe's miracle promise will be just the ticket to bring the nation's two-decade slump to an end - a 2% inflation target is all you need. However, in a brief CNBC interview, Kyle Bass explains that not only are 99.9% of people wrong about the crisis (explaining the critical aspect of the abrupt turn of twenty years of the 'procylicality of thought' - that deflation is the norm), but Abe's actions have actually brought forward the date of the "detonation of Japan's Debt Time Bomb. Bass goes on to discuss the US Housing stabilization, European stress, and China's economic opacity (and tensions with Japan), but leaves us with the clear and present danger in Japan that the clock has started on the qualitative shift in participants' minds that the situation is untenable (signs are already among the elite with recent JPY-extricating M&A deals) and "All of the components for this [bomb] to go off 'all of a sudden' are in place." Must watch.
The Fiscal Cliff theater was great 'off Broadway' drama, but the real show for traders took center stage Sunday December 16th in Japan. The curtain went up for the newly elected Prime Minister of Japan as the star actor in the unfolding global fiat currency drama. In the last 90 days the US, EU and now Japan have announced "unlimited", "Uncapped" monetary policy with UK's soon to be bank of England Governor, Carney indicating he wants inflation & growth targeting also when he assumes the reins. The goal has been to get interest REAL interest rates as low as possible, and the expected duration to be as long as possible. Market have reacted to this strategic and obvious debasement by stampeding, relentlessly into the Bond Market and creating a disturbing potentially destabilizing bond bubble. However, remember, Financial Repression is at work here and US Bond Yields and Interest Rates must be further reduced. We presently expect the 10 Year US Treasury Bill to eventually break below 1% and Equities will fall on the re-pricing of credit and risk, earnings revenue and margin issues and slowing real global growth.
Following the recent fall of the Swiss franc against the euro, there were paradoxical comments on the opportunity on both moving the Swiss National Bank’s floor lower (say to 1.25 for example) or on abandoning it altogether (or moving it higher). We believe both options are very unlikely, at least in the coming months. Moving the floor lower would be a bad idea in our view. As we have seen, the extent of the franc’s overvaluation is quite debatable and the lower the floor, the quicker a monetary policy dilemma may emerge. Moreover, in the event renewed upward pressures on the franc occur once again, a lower floor may prove more costly in terms of FX interventions.
The USD ends the week up over 0.6%, Treasury yields down 2-4bps, Silver up 4.6%, Oil 2%, and Gold 1.4%; but it is VIX that rules the waves of unreality this week as it collapsed from this morning's unchanged on the week, played catch down to stocks (from yesterday) and then led stocks on a vol steepening/compression extravaganza down to 12.31% - its lowest since June 2007 as the 'contingent' extension of the debt-limit appeared the initial trigger and nothing at all the secondary trigger. AAPL wavered below and tested up to $500 (amid very large average trade size) but was the distinct loser once again with size sellers as S&P 500 futures surged (yet agin inferring the unwind of the long-AAPL, short-ES trade continues). Once the fire was lit, there was no stopping the stop-chasing momo run in stocks as ES chased all the way up above the week's highs. VXX was crushed (as the curve also compressed) and high-yield credit and stocks tracked each other in the rampapalooza. Of course the moment the day-session close, ES cracked back lower but for now no one cares (ending up just 5 points in the S&P cash). Average trade size was high once again in the S&P as the USD, Bonds, and Stocks were bid.
The recovery since the 2008 financial crisis is just an illusion created by the papering-over of our insolvency by central-bank printing. Doug Casey adds that the current state is akin to being "in the eye of the hurricane thanks to this 'cover'" and believes the printing which will ultimately lead to very high inflation once bank lending starts to pick up again. This excellent interview moves from Casey's view of a looming loss of confidence in the dollar (and the impact of mass repatriation) to what must the Keynesians be thinking as the "apparency of prosperity" remains all that we have to lift animal spirits. With an eye to gold (and non-western central banks behavior towards it as they realize "the USD is just an unsecured liability of a bankrupt government"), he evaluates the likelihood of a western economic collapse in 2013 and what that would imply for an implicit gold standard in the world. From Austrian economist Hans Herman-Hoppe's view of a post-Keynesian-crash era to his potential triggers for this collapse (such as gold-energy barter and non-dollar blocs), Casey succinctly reminds us that there is not just one asset-class bubble but that "we are living in the middle of the biggest bubble in history."
It is no secret to anyone that as we said some 3 years ago, the world is now engaged in all out currency warfare whose sole goal is destroying one's own currency faster and more brutally than "the other guy" can. Because while devaluing one's currency is imperative in order to return to a viable debt load, about $40 trillion less than where it is now (as per BCG) by pushing monetary inflation upon one's people and inflating said debt away, just as important is to stimulate one's economy and exports which, all else equal, can only be done by making them cheaper to one's trading partners. It is, after all, a zero sum world. This is precisely the tug of war that the developed world is caught in currently, where every attempt is made to talk down one's currency, and when that fails, to dilute it by printing more of it (the Fed), to backstop it with collateral of every lower quality (the ECB, although in Europe's case it is more of an involuntary phenomenon), or just to talk, and talk, ant talk (Japan). Yet while every country with a self-respecting central bank (i.e., currency printer) hopes that they will be the ultimate winner of the currency debasement export race, what has become obvious over the past 30 years, is that when it comes to specializing in exports, there is just one true winner: a winner which is self-evident from the chart below.
After witnessing the fighting of undeclared never ending wars, passage of freedom destroying legislation like the Patriot Act & NDAA, approval of pork barrel spending to the tune of hundreds of billions, rule by Executive Order, using ZIRP to extract hundreds of billions from senior citizen savers and give it to criminal Wall Street banks, forcing the American people at gunpoint to replenish the Wall Street banks with $700 billion after they had committed the greatest financial fraud in history, and a continuing trampling of the U.S. Constitution, the American people continue to remain willfully ignorant of the truth. The American Dream is dead. We’ve allowed a rich, privileged, elite few to achieve hegemony over our economic and political system with their control of the media and manipulation of our financial markets. They will collapse the country because they will never be satisfied with the amount of wealth and power they’ve accumulated. Their voracious greed will be their downfall.
Sometimes it is useful to reflect back more than a nanosecond to check one's anchoring bias. With US equities back at 2007 levels, we thought it may be instructive to look at what the Fed was thinking - and what the FOMC was looking at - to be better able to judge their 'forecasts' now. To wit Q4 2007, FOMC... "Economic growth was solid in the third quarter, and strains in financial markets have eased somewhat on balance." The reflexivity of the use of market-based measures to preempt their actions is very clear from the presentation materials, as, just like now, there was falling current year EPS expectations but a phoenix-like resurrection due in 2008 based on analyst's expectations. Furthermore, the expectations for rate changes from Q4 2007 to Q4 2008 was remarkably modest (even as they had all the data on subprime delinquencies soaring and monolines collapsing) - and of course, turned out to be absolutely and utterly incorrect. And yet, we listen intently to every forecast word they utter?
The so-called recovery is built on sand, and as stock markets climb and climb, and more traders and investors turn bullish, we come ever-closer to a new 2008-style collapse. Soaring markets, and soaring speculation. Big finance using loopholes to speculate bigger and harder. Mainstream financial journalists becoming more and more complacent about the “recovery”. We’ve been here before. Isn’t repeating the same behaviour and hoping for different results the very definition of insanity?
The market ramped, modestly, on the earlier news that the House would push the debt ceiling by three months with an implied budget/spending cut provision. That the market actually moved on this headline shows front and center just how clueless the algos doing all the trading truly are, because one doesn't need Politico to tell them that this proposal is absolutely DOA and is nothing but more theater. However, those who do need Politico to tell them that, here it is: "House Republicans will vote next week on a bill that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling for three months and attach a provision that would stop pay for members of Congress if the Senate doesn’t pass a budget, GOP officials said Friday. It’s an attempt to force the Senate to lay out a spending plan, but is sure to go nowhere in the Democratic controlled upper chamber."
Keynesian stimulus policies (deficit spending and low-interest easy money) create speculative credit bubbles. The U.S. economy is a neofeudal debt-serf wasteland with few opportunities for organic (non-Central Planning) expansion. The velocity of money is in free-fall, and borrowing, squandering and printing trillions of dollars to prop up a diminishing-return Status Quo won't reverse that historic collapse. Put another way: we've run out of speculative credit bubbles to exploit.
And the game continues as Speaker Boehner appears to be kicking the can across the corridor to the Senate (and implicitly the Democrats) as he quite specifically advises them that with no budget, there is no talk of debt-ceiling extensions. The principle is simple, he notes, "no budget, no pay." As Dow Jones reports, the 'compromise' deal is that the House will propose a three-month extension of the debt-ceiling in exchange for a budget (i.e. spending cuts from the Senate) - which of course is all but impossible given the years of inability to pass a budget anyway. Check to Obama (though we know the response)...
- *U.S. HOUSE WILL PASS 3-MONTH DEBT LIMIT INCREASE NEXT WEEK
- DJN - DJ U.S. HOUSE TO SEEK THREE-MONTH EXTENSION OF DEBT CEILING
- DJN - DJ U.S. REP CANTOR: IF HOUSE AND SENATE DON'T PASS BUDGET IN 3 MONTHS LAWMAKERS WON'T GET PAID