"Can central banks now really do “whatever it takes”? As each day goes by, it seems less and less likely... Six years have passed since the eruption of the global financial crisis, yet robust, self-sustaining, well balanced growth still eludes the global economy. If there were an easy path to that goal, we would have found it by now. Monetary stimulus alone cannot provide the answer because the roots of the problem are not monetary. Many large corporations are using cheap bond funding to lengthen the duration of their liabilities instead of investing in new production capacity...Continued low interest rates and unconventional policies have made it easy for the government to finance deficits, and easy for the authorities to delay needed reforms in the real economy and in the financial system... Overindebtedness is one of the major barriers on the path to growth after a financial crisis. Borrowing more year after year is not the cure...in some places it may be difficult to avoid an overall reduction in accommodation because some policies have clearly hit their limits." - Bank of International Settlements
In the final section of this five-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) on the dismal reality behind the non-recovery, David Stockman explains what lies ahead. He details in his new book 'The Great Deformation', that the mainstream notion that there is a choice between fiscal austerity and fiscal stimulus is wishful thinking. It does not recognize that owing to the triumph of crony capitalism and printing-press money America has become a failed state fiscally. What lies ahead is a continuous, mad-cap cycling back and forth - virtually on an odd-even day basis - between deficit cutting and fiscal stimulus to the GDP. As Stockman notes, the proximate cause of this recession waiting to happen is the federal government’s unfolding encounter with Peak Debt. The latter is not a magical statistical point such as a federal debt ratio of 100 percent of GDP, but a condition of permanent crisis - "no viable economy can survive on chronic fiscal deficits nor can it fail to save at a sufficient rate to fund a healthy level of investment in productive capital assets. The blithe assumption to the contrary which animates current policy rests on self-serving clichés such as “deficits don’t matter” and the Chinese savings glut." So the American economy faces a long twilight of no growth, rising taxes, and brutally intensifying fiscal conflict. These are the wages of five decades of Keynesian sin - the price of abandoning financial discipline.
Earlier we noted the rather peculiarly truthful (lack of optimistically-biased bullshit) annual report from the BIS as reading ZeroHedge-sermon-like. There is a smorgasbord of data, charts, and quotes strewn throughout the 204-page melodrama but one caught our eye. Reflecting on the fact that governments in several major economies currently benefit from historically low funding costs, and yet at the same time, rising debt levels have increased their exposure to higher interest rates, the BIS projects the dismal reality that any rise in interest rates without an equal increase in the output growth rate will further undermine fiscal sustainability. Although predicting when and how a correction in long-term rates will unfold is difficult, it is possible to examine the potential impact on the sustainability of public finances and how any normalization of rates (or Abe's success in creating 2% 'inflation' in Japan) leads the nation's debt-to-GDP ratio to explode to a surely-Krugman-mind-blowing 600% debt-to-GDP.
In 1996, demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe published the book The Fourth Turning. This study of generational cycles ("turnings") in America revealed predictable social trends that recur throughout history, and warned of a coming crisis (a "fourth turning") based on this research. Fourth turnings are defined by disorder and great changes brought on by a breakdown of the systems and operating principles that dominated the prior three turnings. "We cannot possibly afford the government we have promised ourselves. And, that will be a painful process of deleveraging, and it is not just deleveraging the explicit debt that we have already actually formally borrowed, it is all the implicit debt... No one simply solves a terrible problem on a sunny day when they can afford at least for the time being to look the other way. Problems like that are faced when people have no other choice, and it is a really grim day."
Following the 'coup' that led to JPMorgan's Matt Zames running the TBAC (and implicitly the US Treasury and Fed if one were inclined to believe that is where the real smarts are), it seems Goldman Sachs has once again been out-'vampire-squid'-ed as Jacob Frenkel - Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International - is set to take back the reins of the Bank of Israel.
Housing price gains are outpacing fundamentals, as the median new home sale price relative to real disposable income has recent reached all-time high levels (higher than than the admitted bubble of the mid 2000s), and there are several regions around the US that are seeing simply stunning levels of exuberance with regard price changes. That leaves us asking - just which cities are the most bubble-prone? In order to answer that, Bloomberg has quantified the US cities with the most rapid growth in unemployment (not exactly supportive of home price excesses) coupled with the fastest rising prices. The answer - Yuma, Arizona (followed closely by Elmira, NY) is the most housing-bubble-prone city in the US.
From its origins as a management consulting firm, Booz Allen has quietly grown into a government-wide contracting behemoth, fed by ballooning post-Sept. 11 intelligence budgets and Washington’s increasing reliance on outsourcing. With 24,500 employees and 99% of its revenues from the federal government, its growth in the last decade has been stunning (and until very recently with little to no knowledge from the main street that it even exists).
Japanese individuals now make up 43% of total equity volume - up dramatically from a mere 27% in November of last year - with commissions at brokers quadrupling year-over-year and an increasing number of 'get-rich-quick' investors turning to day-trading. Amid the huge volatility induced by Abenomics and deregulation of margin trading - enabling 300% leverage, the 'investing' public's attention span has collapsed to minutes: "winning at stocks is about predicting the future," one trader said, "I have a lot better chance of predicting what’s going to happen in the next few seconds than what will happen in the next six months." The volatility provides more room for these 'day-traders' to make money when they bet correctly (forget about the downside) on a stock's direction - long or short - and "now you can borrow endlessly." What could go wrong? One trader, as Bloomberg notes, leveraged $4.5mm in cash into as much as $67mm in daily stock bets and made $350,000 this year - triple his annual average of the last eight years.
The recent one month spike in interest rates, along with the mind numbing chatter about the end of the "bond bull market," has sent investors scurrying from from the bond market right into the waiting arms of a stock market correction. Will the "bond bull" market eventually come to an end? Yes, it will, eventually. However, the catalysts needed to create the type of economic growth required to drive interest rates substantially higher, as we saw previous to the 1980's, are simply not available currently. This will likely be the case for many years to come as the Fed, and the administration, come to the inevitable conclusion that we are now in a "liquidity trap" along with the bulk of developed countries. While there is certainly not a tremendous amount of downside left for interest rates to fall in the current environment - there is also not a tremendous amount of room for them to rise until they begin to negatively impact consumption, housing and investment. It is likely that we will remain trapped within the current trading range for quite a while longer as the economy continues to "muddle" along.
Meet General Keith Alexander, "a man few even in Washington would likely recognize", which is troubling because Alexander is now quite possibly the most powerful person in the world, whom nobody talks about. Which is just the way he likes it. ... And also meet Bonesaw: "Bonesaw is the ability to map, basically every device connected to the Internet and what hardware and software it is."
Until now, we have refrained from trying to explain Fedspeak to the masses. The truth is it's not opaque. It's not indecipherable. It's simple. Or at least you can choose to believe it is, as we have. At last week’s press conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fielded questions from reporters employed by some of the world's most esteemed news organizations. Here is a summary, translated from Fedspeak into ordinary American English and heavily condensed for easy tweeting.
The Government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. #Snowden
— Ricardo Patiño Aroca (@RicardoPatinoEC) June 23, 2013
China's Mea Culpa: "It Is Not That There Is No Money, But The Money Has Been Put In The Wrong Place"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/23/2013 12:36 -0400
Ten days ago, we penned "Chinese Liquidity Shortage Hits All Time High", in which we predicted ridiculous moves in the Chinese interbank market as a result of short-term funding literally evaporating as a result of the PBOC's stern refusal to step in and bail out its banking sector (despite the occasional rumor of this bank bailed out or that) by injecting trillions in low-powered money. A few days later this prediction was confirmed when the overnight repo and SHIBOR market for all intents and purposes broke down as was also reported here previously. Now, for the first time, China, via the Politburo's Chinese Hilsenrath-equivalent, Xinhua, has provided its own version of events which is as follows: "It is not that there is no money, but the money has been put in the wrong place."