All Hail Our Banking Overlords!

There’s simply too much debt and too little cheap oil for there to be any other trajectory to this story. We need to all prepare for the inevitability that, as the rot proceeds, the people of Greece will not be the only casualties of the banks' attempts at self-preservation. They'll try to throw all of us under the bus before taking any losses themselves.

Peak "Reach For Yield"

By removing liquidity via massive purchases of high quality (and in some cases) low quality collateral, the impact on investors of central bank repression of interest rates around the world can be summed up in three simple words: "reach for yield." These three ever-so-simple words provide blanket excuse for 'investors' to pile head long into far riskier investments than they ever would before and considerably lower levels of compensation than they would ever have accepted before... but hey, as long as the central bankers have got their backs, there will always be a greater fool? However, as BofA notes, the mania for "yield reaching" is showing signs of fatigue with the biggest cumulative outflows since 2008...

How Student Loans Create Demand For Useless Degrees

Last week, former Secretary of Education and US Senator Lamar Alexander wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a college degree is both affordable and an excellent investment. He repeated the usual talking point about how a college degree increases lifetime earnings by a million dollars, “on average.” That part about averages is perhaps the most important part, since all college degrees are certainly not created equal. In fact, once we start to look at the details, we find that a degree may not be the great deal many higher-education boosters seem to think it is.

Putin Orders Formation Of New Military Reserve Force

Fifteen years after Vladimir Putin first walked into the Kremlin, Russia’s army is bigger, stronger, and better equipped than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Able to call on three quarters of a million frontline troops, The Telegraph reports, with more tanks than any other country on the planet, and the world’s third largest air force, Russia retains much of the brute force associated with a former superpower. But it has also rapidly modernised, spending millions on rearmament and retraining programmes aimed at professionalising the lumbering, conscript-reliant force it inherited from the Soviet Union. The latest effort, as Reuters reports, Putin has ordered the creation of a new reserve armed force as part of steps to improve training and military readiness at a time of international tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Was Greece Set Up To Fail?

What have the bailouts achieved? Well, the Greek economy is doing worse than ever, and the people are poorer than ever; and both have a lot more bad ‘news’ to come. The bailouts needed to be as big as they were to 1) successfully make the international banks ‘whole’ that had lent as much as they had into the Greek economy, 2) get the IMF involved, 3) and absolve the notorious -and cooperative- domestic oligarchy from any pain. And make all the usual suspects a lot more money in the process. It therefore doesn’t look at all unlikely that Greece was saddled with an artificially raised deficit, and that the intention behind that, all along, was to get the Troika ‘inside’ for the long run. So the country could be stripped of all its assets.

The Greatest Collapse In The History Of The VIX Index

The ongoing decline in the VIX starting last week (and still going) is the largest supernormal volatility collapse in VIX history. Over the past 2 years, we have been experiencing a quantifiable ‘outlier’ or ‘black swan’ decline in the VIX every 6 months as evaluated against history. We can only point to government intervention as the core reason. We firmly believe that this moral hazard produces a hidden leverage and “shadow market gamma” that at some point will result in a sustained volatility outlier event in the opposite direction.

The Bankruptcy Of The Planet Accelerates - 24 Nations Are Currently Facing A Debt Crisis

There has been so much attention on Greece in recent weeks, but the truth is that Greece represents only a very tiny fraction of an unprecedented global debt bomb which threatens to explode at any moment.  The only “solution” under our current system is to kick the can down the road for as long as we can until this colossal debt pyramid finally collapses in upon itself.

Gold, Stocks, Oil... Choose One

Would you rather have one “Share” of the S&P 500 at $2,124, or 41 barrels of crude oil, or 1.86 ounces of gold? Yes, they are all worth the same amount at the moment, but the price relationship between the three has shifted over the decades.

The Fed Is Either Too Late Or Too Early; But Certainly Not Just Right

If market economists have the Fed right, in about 60 days from now Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, will announce the first Federal Reserve rate hike in about 9 years. With the first rate hike pending, an obvious question is - Does the Fed have the timing right? If you're looking at year-over-year growth in Retail Sales, Industrial Production, and Capacity Utilization, the answer is a clear no.

Bonds Are Back: "There Is Too Much Complacency"

Investors are too myopically focused on expectations of a steep rise in bond yields and on using central bank stimulus to pile back into riskier assets. There is too much complacency.  We believe the upside potential for Treasuries prices for the balance of the year is once again being greatly underestimated. The long end should continue to perform well under various scenarios. If the Fed hikes in September or earlier, the back end should perform well.  If the Fed breaks its implicit promise to hike rates in September, its credibility would be damaged:  unless of course, it was due to a significant deterioration in the economic or political landscape.  Either outcome would likely benefit long Treasury security prices.