The Fed's Catch 22 just got catchier. While most attention in the recently released FOMC minutes fell on the return of the taper as a possibility even as soon as December (making the November payrolls report the most important ever, ever, until the next one at least), a less discussed issue was the Fed's comment that it would consider lowering the Interest on Excess Reserves to zero as a means to offset the implied tightening that would result from the reduction in the monthly flow once QE entered its terminal phase (for however briefly before the plunge in the S&P led to the Untaper). After all, the Fed's policy book goes, if IOER is raised to tighten conditions, easing it to zero, or negative, should offset "tightening financial conditions", right? Wrong. As the FT reports leading US banks have warned the Fed that should it lower IOER, they would be forced to start charging depositors.
Another day, another carry currency-driven futures melt-up to daily record highs (the all important EURJPY soared overnight on the return of the now standard overnight Japanese jawboning of the JPY which sent the EURJPY just shy of a new 4 year high of 138 overnight), and another attempt by the ECB to have its record high market cake, and eat a lower Euro too (recall DB's said the "pain threshold" for the EUR/USD exchange rate - the level at which further appreciation impairs competitiveness and economic recovery - is $1.79 for Germany, $1.24 for France, and $1.17 for Italy) this time with ECB's Hansson repeating the generic talking point that the ECB is technically ready for negative deposit rates. However, with the halflife on such "threats" now measured in the minutes, and soon seconds, the European central bank will have to come up with something more original and creative soon, especially since the EURJPY can't really rise much more without really crushing European trade further.
In 'An Open Letter To The FOMC' John Hussman lays out in detail the true state of the world that asset-gatherers and Fed members alike seem blinded to. The intent of his letter is not to criticize, but hopefully to increase the mindfulness of the FOMC as to historical evidence, the strength of various financial and economic relationships, and the potentially grave consequences of further extreme and experimental monetary policy. Crucially, as we have heard numerous times in the last few weeks, the Fed sees no bubble, and so, a courtesy to both the investing public and the gamblers at the Fed, Hussman explains the reason that the Fed does not see an “obvious” stock market bubble (to use a word regularly used by Governor Bullard, as if to imply that misvaluations cannot exist unless they smack their observers with a two-by-four).
We know the ten "people" that run the world, that 25 cities represent over half the world's GDP, and that the world's billionaires control a stunning $33 trillion in net worth... but who controls what the average joe-sixpack on Main Street buys? As PolicyMic notes, these ten mega corporations control the output of almost everything we buy - from household products to pet food and from jeans to jello. The so-called "Illusion of Choice," that these corporations (and their nepotistic inter-relationships) create is remarkable...
"The world has consumed more than it produced for more than a decade," Jim Rogers explains to BoomBust's Erin Ade; but his comments to the leather mini-skirted anchor with regard the actions of the world's central banks bear the most attention. "The world is floating on an artificial ocean of printed money," he blasts,before embarking on a barbaric destruction of the Fed and all it stands for, "the Fed will self-destruct, before the polticians realize what is going on."
And they're back:
2,277 sq.ft. - Median new-home size in 2007
2,306 sq. ft. - Median new-home size in 2012
Just as that crowning achievement of the last housing bubble, the McMansions, have once again returned with the second and final return of the Fed-blown housing bubble, the Bluths picked a perfect time to also come bac on the scene. But instead of analyzing the reasons for just why the US economy now desperately needs to jump from bubble to bubble, we will simply constrain ourselves to discussing... interior decoration. The infographic below from BusinessWeek shows how times, and tastes, how to decorate one's McMansion have changed in the past few years.
Two years ago we looked at the distribution of wealth in America. Today we are looking at income. As we have discussed before, in self-organizing systems, we expect the observations, when plotted on logarithmic axes, to lie on a straight line... analysis of the 'system' would suggest the ultra-wealthy are earning roughly double what they should be based on the earnings at the lower end. The total income of the ultra-rich is about $400 billion. If half of this has been skimmed from the aforementioned 130 million, they would each have to contribute about $1500. But isn't $1500 per year a small price to pay to create a really wealthy super-class?
An Iran deal that is kinda sorta a deal but really is not a deal is all we need in the new normal to justify adding another few fractions onto the equity multiple valuation tree of hope. The S&P is up 9 points, Dow up 70 points, and WTI Crude is down around 1% on the news. Interestingly, stocks have no support from the almost ubiquitous carry traders as this appears more like a rip through the stop order stack more than another greater fool adding to their position.
Until recently, Alan Greenspan’s main argument to exonerate himself of responsibility for the 2007-2009 financial crisis has consisted in the claim that strong Asian demand for US treasury bonds kept interest rates on mortgages unusually low. Though he has not given up on this defense, he is now emphasizing a different tack... His new tack is no better than the old tack.
Anyone suggesting that things are unraveling in fundamental ways quickly encounters a standard reflex response: "same as it ever was."
- Environmental degradation? Same as it ever was: humans have been trashing the environment for thousands of years.
- The influence of money in politics? Same as it ever was: money has always been the mother's milk of politics.
- The dominance of central bankers? Same as it ever was: the banks and the Federal Reserve have been colluding for decades. Income inequality? Same as it ever was: there will always be rich and poor, etc.
- The rise of the National Security State/Empire? Same as it ever was: Manifest Destiny, etc.
History lessons are all well and good, but this constant refrain of "same as it ever was" is actually a pernicious form of perception management, i.e. propaganda. The desperation is obvious, and so is the agenda: mask the reality that things are unraveling, and that it's no longer "same as it ever was."
“We paid our Social Security and Medicare taxes; we earned our benefits.” It is that belief among senior citizens that President Obama was pandering to when, in his second inaugural address, he claimed that those programs “strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers.” If Social Security and Medicare both involved people voluntarily financing their own benefits, an argument could be made for seniors’ “earned benefits” view. But they have not. They have redistributed tens of trillions of dollars of wealth to themselves from those younger. Social Security and Medicare have transferred those trillions because they have been partial Ponzi schemes.
Dear old Larry Summers has come over all Zero Bound constipated, fretting that the natural, real rate of interest has somehow become fixed down there at negative 2%-3% where conventional policy (if you can still remember of what that used to consist) cannot get at it – unless we blow serial bubbles, that is, these episodes in mass folly and gross wastefulness now being raised to the level of such perverse desiderata of which Krugman’s only partly-facetious call for a war on Mars forms an infamous example. In fact, this entire notion is another piece of nonsense to spring from the one of Keynes’ least cogent ramblings, the notoriously insupportable notion of ’Liquidity Preference’ – a logical patch fixed over the lacunae in his reasoning when, having insisted that saving must always equal investment, all he could think of to determine the rate of interest was our collective desire to hold money for its own sake. From such intellectually bastard seed soon sprang, fully-armed like Minerva from the head of our economic Jove, the even worse confusion of the ‘Liquidity Trap.’
"We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is "peace for our time." Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." - Neville Chamberlain, September 30, 1938