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.
Who though that a term we coined over a month ago would suddenly get so much airplay: why, it was none other than billionaire hedge fund investor David Tepper who said days later (and just in time to top tick the market) not to fear the taper, that it is a bullish sign. Looks like it wasn't. But at least Tepper sold everything he had to sell by now so someone is happy. As for what happens next, nobody still has any idea, although the first, and so far best, post-mortem of Bernanke's predicament comes from SocGen, whose opionion is simple enough: FOMC on track for September tapering.
Three years ago we wrote "On The New York Fed's Editorial Influence Over The WSJ" in which we observed, courtesy of declassified documents by the Sigtarp exposing the involvement of then-Goldman and New York Fed director Stephen Friedman in relation to his infamous purchase of Goldman Stock so well memorialized by none other than Jon Hilsenrath (a story which made him a Loeb award finalist when he actually did investigative work instead of merely convey messages from the Fed), just how extensive the relationship between Jon Hilsenrath, the WSJ and the New York Fed was. But instead of regurgitating all the minutae covered in the original post (read it here), we will cut to the chase and present the declassified emails between the WSJ team in April/May 2009, and the NY Fed's Calvin Mitchell, then-EVP of the Communications Group, as well as the Fed's internal involvement of the FRBNY's General Counsel Thomas Baxter. We have highlighted the NY Fed "suggestions" - they are self-explanatory.
While all eyes and ears will conveniently and expectedly be on the Fed announcement and press conference in a few hours, the real action continues to take place in China, where the liquidity crunch is becoming unbearable for the local banks (and will only get worse the longer Bernanke and Kuroda keep their hot money policies). The CNY benchmark money-market one-week repo rate was 138bp higher overnight to a 2 year high of 8.15%. The 7 day Interest-Rate swap rose for a record 13th day in a row jumping +10 bps to 4.08%, the highest since September 2011. China sold 10 Year bonds at a 3.50% yield, above the 3.47% expected, and at a bid to cover of 1.43 which was the lowest since August 2012. Moody’s commented that local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) pose significant risks to Chinese banks. LGFVs accounted for 14% of loan portfolios at end-2012 according to Moody’s.
As noted yesterday, and perhspa even more prescient now Anastasiades is back with the begging bowl, the debt crisis in Cyprus and the subsequent "bail-in" confiscation of bank depositors' money matter for two reasons: 1. The banking/debt crisis in Cyprus shares many characteristics with other banking/debt crises. 2. The official Eurozone resolution of the crisis may provide a template for future resolutions of other banking/debt crises. It also matters for another reason: not only is the bail-in a direct theft of depositors' money, the entire bailout is essentially a wholesale theft of national assets. This is the inevitable result of political Elites swearing allegiance to the European Monetary Union.
Few others are better equipped to comprehend both the insider's and outsider's perspective on what the government, the Fed, and the banks are doing in this so-called 'recovery' we are experiencing than David Stockman. Nowhere does he detail this better than Chapter 31 of his new book 'The Great Deformation'. In this first part (of a four-part series), he explains just what happened after the US economy liquidated excess inventory and labor and hit its natural bottom in June 2009. Embarking upon a halting but wholly unnatural "recovery," doing nothing but igniting yet another round of rampant speculation in the risk asset classes. The precarious foundation of the Bernanke Bubble is starkly evident in the internal composition of the jobs numbers.
Is recent market behavior the beginning of a market turndown? No one knows, although it is easy to find people providing “answers.” The value of these predictions approach those of astrologers and fortune-tellers.
The Military mind is a dangerous mind. It promotes a lack of critical thinking.
Almost three years ago we first highlighted the real math behind the surging entitlement class that America has become. So why does a large portion of the population choose not to work when there are many jobs available? The answer is simple. If you can receive 2-3 times as much money from unemployment, disability, and/or welfare benefits (subsidized housing, food stamps, free cellphones, etc.) as you can from a temporary or part-time job, and live a life of leisure, why work? This is the ugly reality we illustrated just six months ago and the situation - amid what is apparently called a 'recovery' remains a depressingly real sign of the times. The political allure of free is so strong that an alarming number of people choose to become wards of the entitlement/welfare state rather than captain their own destiny. Indeed, while many are 'proud', 49% of American households now receive one or more government transfer benefits amounting to 18% of all personal income and a burden of $7,400 for every American - seemingly threatening the supposed self-reliance that has long characterized the American national psyche.
There can be no doubt that the global growth, earnings, incomes and fundamental story remains very subdued. But at the same time financial markets, hooked on central bank ‘heroin’, have created an enormous and – in the long run – untenable gap between themselves and the real economy’s fundamentals. This gap is getting to dangerous levels, with positioning, sentiment, speculation, margin and leverage running at levels unseen since 2006/2007. ‘Tapering’ is going to happen. It will be gentle, it will be well telegraphed, and the key will be to avoid a major shock to the real economy. But the Fed is NOT going to taper because the economy is too strong or because we have sustained core (wage) inflation, or because we have full employment - none of these conditions will be seen for some years to come. Rather, we feel that the Fed is going to taper because it is getting very fearful that it is creating a number of significant and dangerous leverage driven speculative bubbles that could threaten the financial stability of the US. In central bank speak, the Fed has likely come to the point where it feels the costs now outweigh the benefits of more policy.
It is a fact that COMEX gold inventories are falling and silver inventories are rising. Why and does this help predict the next price move?
Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.