Almost exactly 8 years after Greenspan's now infamous "conundrum" comments about the unprecedented persistence of low, long-term interest rates, Bernanke is now "puzzled" at the dramatic rise in interest rates following his recent Taper remarks. Have no fear though, just as Greenspan noted, "I'm reasonably certain we would not automatically assume that it would mean what it meant in the past, " Bernanke said today that the "sharp rise in rates", was not about the Taper but "due to other factors, including optimism about the economy." Perhaps more importantly, today for the first time someone, not Hilsenrath of course, had the guts to ask Bernanke the hardest question: is the Fed's "Stock not Flow" worldview broken, and was it wrong all along? Of course, the implications of the Fed being wrong on this most critical aspect of monetary theory opens up a hornet's next of Pandora's boxes: just what else is the Fed wrong about, and how much will Bernanke be "puzzled" when one by one all of his flawed theories are revealed to be nothing but religious dogma.
It seems liquidity (or counterparty mistrust) is beginning to reach extreme levels in China as the nation's banking system is now quoting overnight repo transactions at 25%. The explosion in funding costs echoes the collapse in trust (and surge in TED spread) among US banks in the run-up to the Lehman bankruptcy. MSCI Asia-Pac stocks are down over 3% with China's Shanghai Composite -2.5% at seven-month lows.
- China’s 1-day Repo Rate Climbs to Highest Since at Least 2006
- MNI - CHINA OVERNIGHT REPO FIXING AT RECORD HIGH
UPDATE: China 7-day repo +374bps to 12%! China Flash PMI 48.2 (49.1 exp) - lowest in 9 months; worst 3-month plunge since Feb 2011.
Following the hushed-up default by Everbright Bank last week, the liquidity situation in China has gone from bad to worse - with 1Y IRS now at all-time record highs. Many are now questioning whether the dramatic elevation in short-term financing rates is "here to stay," and with the Chinese yield curve now inverted in a similar fashion (and period) as the US Treasury market prior to the US recession in 2007, the clarion call for government stimulus is loud from the addicts. However, as HSBC notes today, since the government is now putting more emphasis on balanced growth and market reforms, it will tolerate GDP growth in the 7-7.5% range and will therefore take no strong measures to boost growth unless there is a risk of growth slowing to 7%. The red flags are piling up in the world's supposed growth engine...
Every night Americans prove that they are willing to do absolutely horrible things to their fellow human beings. Most of the time, we never even hear about the sick and twisted things that happen on the side streets and dark alleys of America. Once in a while a particularly twisted story will get picked up by the news, but usually most Americans are pretty much able to isolate themselves from the depravity that is happening all around them. Unfortunately, the social decay that is eating away at our society like cancer is spreading. America is not the kind, loving and gentle place that is portrayed in our movies and on our television shows. The sad truth is that America is becoming colder and meaner with each passing day. Yes, there are definitely some Americans that are kind and compassionate, but they are in the minority. As our economic decline becomes even more severe, the hearts of even more Americans are going to grow cold.
The biggest bond fund manager on the planet likely had a bad day today and judging by his comments during the following Bloomberg TV interview, he is not too impressed with the current Fed head, who is "driving in a fog," or the front-runner to fill Ben's shoes, Yellen "is a Siamese twin in terms of policy... [preferring someone] who would emphasize Main Street as well as Wall Street - which has been the emphasis for the past three or four years." The mistake the Fed is making, Gross explains, "is blaming lower growth on fiscal austerity and expects towards the end of the year once that is gone, all of the sudden the economy will be growing at 3%," or more simply the error of their policy-making ways is "to think that is a cyclical as opposed to a structural problem in terms of our economy." The bottom-line is that Gross sees less Taper (due to disinflation) and warns "those who are selling treasuries in anticipation that the Fed will ease out of the market might be disappointed."
Over the course of decades we have allowed ourselves to be corrupted by the love of material possessions, the lure of a debt based faux wealth, the money for nothing entitlement promises of dishonorable politicians, the evil of currency debasement, the effectiveness of mass media propaganda, and the belief that we could sacrifice freedom and liberty for promises of safety and security made by a cabal of powerful rich men. Power has been concentrated into the hands of the few, who operate in secrecy and despise the people. They don’t want transparency or open debate. Freedom of speech is nothing but a thorn in their side. They believe they are smarter than the serfs and have no morality when it comes to committing illegal acts and disregarding the Constitution. They are not acting in the public interest. Their abuse of power and looting of the national wealth have put us on a path towards a bloody revolution. This is not a time for conformity, obedience or submission. It’s time to stand up and expose the evil doers. It’s time to rally around those who care about this country. Who are the real traitors? You know the answer.
With Bernanke now making it extremely clear that housing is all we have, the following may raise a few eyebrows. Accommodate, accommodate, accommodate, accommodate... that was and is the mantra. It did not matter whether it was the S&L fiasco, 9/11, the sub-prime bubble or the Lehman collapse, the Fed's policy is to accommodate. All good things must come to an end. Look at that chart. We are about to go off the page. With QE-to-infinity, Bernanke is spent. Each new iteration of accommodation is bringing in less results.
Following Part 1's exposure to the faux-prosperity of the post-2009 'recovery' and the precariousness of the Bernanke bubble, Part 2 of the series explained the dismal internals of the jobs numbers the utterly politicized calculation of the “unemployment rate” that disguises the jobless nature of the rebound (as breadwinner jobs languish). In Part 3, David Stockman (from his new book "The Great Deformation") starts an explanation of the why. As he notes, the Fed’s post-crisis money-printing polices gifted Wall Street speculators, as intended, but they also delivered an utterly botched recovery on Main Street. The reason the Main Street economy refused to follow the Keynesian script, however, could not be found in the texts of the master or any of the vicar’s uncles. The Keynesian catechism has no conception that balance sheets matter, yet Main Street America is flat broke, and that is the primary thing which matters.
A suddenly seemingly hawkish Ben Bernanke may be giving the impression he is preparing to taper because he feels confident enough about the recovery (just don't ask him about sudden dramatic rises in yields: that "puzzles" him). Yet as those who have been reading Zero Hedge for the past three years know, this jobs "recovery" is purely quantitative (not to mention seasonally adjusted): the quality of jobs regained is, in a word, abysmal, with the bulk of new job creation benefiting part-time and minimum-wage jobs. If anything, this loss of saving power, is the backdrop not for a recovery, but for a depression far more acute than the current "sugar-high" one when the Fed finally pulls the training wheels off, and when the US consumer realizes that all purchasing power is gone, all gone, and in exchange the only valuable and competitive job skills gained have been, well, absolutely none.
One of the enduring analogies of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE) program is that the stock market is now addicted to this constant injection of free money. The aptness of this analogy has never been more apparent than now, as the market plummets on the mere rumor that the Fed will cut back its monthly injection of financial smack. (The analogy typically refers to crack cocaine, due to the state of delusional euphoria QE induces in the stock market. But the zombified state of the heroin addict is arguably the more accurate analogy of the U.S. stock market.)But like all highs based on addictive substances, the stock market high cannot be sustained without an increase in the drug. But there is a diminishing-return dynamic to ever higher doses of QE smack--the higher doses are no longer generating the same highs. The addict (the stock market) has become desensitized to the QE free money injections, and higher doses no longer generate the desired state of bullish euphoria. The more Ben talks about eventually decreasing the injection of financial smack, the more panicky the addict becomes.
Things are escalating quickly... with US Treasuries beginning to look a lot like JGBs: the 5Y soared +18bps to the highest since August 2011, the 10Y +13.5bps touches 2.32% widest since March 2012, 30Y +8bps, and credit markets are getting monkey-hammered. There is no joy in Newport Beachville.
If you thought the US was the king of shale, we are sorry to burst your bubble... it no longer wears the crown. China has more proven oil reserves than the US. As the following chart shows - from the EIA's 730-page report, which assesses the shale formations of 41 countries - the global race for shale development has started. As Casey Research's energy report discusses, countries that are not now known for their oil and gas production are showing much shale oil and gas promise.
The Brazilian protests, which swept through the country with the raging bear market (and the pulled mega-IPO) over the past week, and which had the goal of reducing a recent bus-fare increase among other assorted protest goals, appear to have succeeded. At least when it comes to the fare increase. As for the other protester demands, listed below, it may take a little longer.
One word can describe performance across all asset classes today: clobbered. Stocks tumble, Commodities slide and Bonds crash, with the 5 year suffering the biggest intraday percentage jump in yields... ever! And why? Because Bernanke confirmed what everyone thought they knew, namely that the Fed will start tapering (how else can the Fed match the reduction in gross Treasury issuance at auction without taking over the private market entirely) eventually. Or at least that's what the market read between the Chairman's lines. In reality, Bernanke himself is more dazed and confused than anyone out there and just like Europe, is making it up one day at a time.
The economic and asset bubble in Japan burst in 1990, at roughly the same time as its demographic structure reached a tipping point. As UBS' George Magnus notes, the working age population began to fall, marking the start of a relentless rise in both the total and old age dependency ratios; and, he adds, a comparable phenomenon occurred in the US and Europe between 2005-2010. On current trends, Magnus warns, China will replicate at least the demographic part of this phenomenon between now and 2016, against a backdrop of rising concern about the structural nature of the slowdown in economic growth, along with rising credit intensity, indebtedness, and misallocation of resources.