These are two areas where the Federal Reserve might want to consider in their overall evaluation of the effectiveness of the ZIRP Experiment. I think the counterfactual case in these two examples is quite compelling.
BREAKING NEWS: A large IDF force has just launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 17, 2014
While the news was reported earlier this week, it is perhaps notable that what was once considered the leading US tech company has also succumbed to the great "jobless" US recovery (in which the US economy is somehow adding 200K+ jobs every month even as it is firing millions). Furthermore, what was supposed to be 6,000 layoffs has just tripled to 18,000, which also happens to be the largest round of layoffs in MSFT history, surpassing the previous record of 5,800 set back in 2009.
The Argentina default battle is in its final fortnight, with a July 30 grace period expiration looming, one which would result in a second bankruptcy in 13 years to formally be written down in the history books, and which could spoil the serene glow all global capital markets have found themselves in thanks to the central bankers' soothing words. As a result, Argentina has resorted to a last ditch strategy to ferret out the full list of holdout creditors (the hedge funds led by Elliott, Aurelius and various other known and unknown bondholders) as well as get a full list of the restructured bondholders (those who are perfectly happy to clip whatever coupon Argentina will pay them instead of seeing their payment stop altogether if and when CFK announces an official default). The logic behind the ruse: to circumvent the court and pay the restructured debtholders in the 11th hour.
Ironically, Carl Icahn - poster-child of the leveraged financial engineering that has overtaken US equity markets on the back of Central Bank largesse - told CNBC that he was "very nervous" about US equity markets. Refelecting on Yellen's apparent cluelessness of the consequences of her actions, and fearful of the build of derivative positions, Icahn says he's "worried" because if Yellen does not understand the end-game then "there's no argument - you have to worry about the excesssive printing of money!" So in 12 hours, we have been told: some sectors are stretched (Yellen), there is a bubble but we don't want to pop it (Fisher), when the Fed ends QE, there'll be abear market (Druckenmiller), and now Icahn is "worried about markets." Cue, Cramer explaining how none of these buffoons know anything about stocks...
This week, 70 years after Bretton Woods, leaders from China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and several other nations are hard at work in Fortaleza, Brazil creating a new development bank that will compete against the US-controlled World Bank. This is a major step in an obvious trend towards a new financial system. Every shred of objective data is screaming for this to happen. It’s a different world. Everyone realizes it except for the US government, which is still living in the past where they’re #1 and get to call all the shots.
Presenting: the Price to Equity ratio. Because stocks are cheap and stuff.
Having sent shockwaves through the "Don't fight the Fed" apologists yesterday by stating that small caps (etc.) have stretched valuations, we suspect today's hearing (assuming the politicians have now read her statement and report) will focus on what the market's gurus is rapidly trying to paper over. Expect more 'uber-dovish if we need to', expect more 'vigilant' of bubbles (but there are none now)... expect more 'rates will rise - so sell your bonds (and patriotically help with the collateral shortage). Presenting Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins part two... facing the Republican-led Financial Services Committee.
The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid (around $86.00) in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. As WSJ reports, The offer was first made orally in June and then with a formal letter in July. Time Warner rejected the offer curtly, after Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes took the proposal to the board. The deal - which valued Time Warner at 12.6x LTM EBITDA - was notably above even recent record high LBO multiples (and would be financed by none other than Goldman). Of course, this deal - should it ever be consummated (as the stock price suggests) would give Murdoch control of both the left and the right propoganda with CNN and Fox.
What’s so amusing about this week’s article from the New York Times titled, At Dinner Tables, Restless President Finds Intellectual Escape, is that the author appears to be quite sympathetic to Obama. She seems to want to portray the President as a real statesman; one who is so far above politics and the pedestrian task of being Commander in Chief that he finds it necessary to flee his responsibilities in order to find intellectual escape while dining extravagantly with “elites” in Europe. In contrast, he merely comes across as the arrogant, disconnected, oligarch coddler he is.
Sometimes, with the stock market doing its best imitation of the Energizer bunny, we forget just how extraordinary are the times in which we live. We’ve been lulled to sleep by the relentless and mesmerizing march higher of stocks and all manner of risky assets. Maybe it’s just that having lived through two booms and busts already that people have come to believe that another boom in risky behavior is not just the new normal but the old one as well. And having survived the last two busts, none the wiser apparently, everyone figures we’ll survive the next one too. Maybe. Or maybe people just don’t realize how truly weird things are right now. Some suggest there is no reason prices can’t continue to go higher; however, the supply of greater fools however is not unlimited and at some point reality and rationality will return, likely with a vengeance.
Vested interests are threatened by the losses generated by small financial fires, so these are systemically suppressed. As a result, the fallen deadwood piles ever higher, creating more fuel for the next random lightning strike to ignite. Once the deadwood piles high enough, the random lightning strike ignites a fire so fast-moving and so hot that it cannot be suppressed, and the entire financial system burns to the ground. So go ahead and keep defending the Status Quo as the best system possible, or believe Elites will keep suppressing fires forever because they're so powerful, or whatever excuse, rationalization or justification you prefer. It won't matter, because the firestorm won't respond to words, beliefs, ideological certainties, reassurances or official pronouncements. It will do what fires do, which is burn all available fuel until there's no fuel left to consume.
If one were so inclined, one could imagine that the relentless barrage of domestic scandals plaguing Obama have been orchestrated with a simple reason: to divert attention from the worst US foreign policy in four decades. And sure enough, even a casual glimpse of all the raging international crises, in which the US is currently embroiled, is enough to make one wonder if the next global crisis will be fought not in the capital markets but in the actual battlefield. As the WSJ recounts, "a convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe, from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South China Sea, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama's foreign policy and reflecting a world in which U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous. The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn't been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam."