The fact that naturally scarce currencies like gold do not hyperinflate — even in times of extreme economic stress — suggests that the underlying mechanism here is of an extreme exogenous event causing a severe drop in productivity. Governments then run the printing presses attempting to smooth over such problems — for instance in the Weimar Republic when workers in the occupied Ruhr region went on a general strike and the Weimar government continued to print money in order to pay them. While hyperinflation can in theory arise either out of either ?Q or ?M, government has no reason to inject a hyper-inflationary volume of money into an economy that still has access to global exports, that still produces sufficient levels of energy and agriculture to support its population, and that still has a functional infrastructure. This means that the indicators for imminent hyperinflation are not economic so much as they are geopolitical — wars, trade breakdowns, energy crises, socio-political collapse, collapse in production, collapse in agriculture. While all such catastrophes have preexisting economic causes, a bad economic situation will not deteriorate into full-collapse and hyperinflation without a severe intervening physical breakdown.
On ECB Q&A: Yawn! Can’t always be a rainmaker and light fireworks every month.
Take-aways? None really.
The mainstream media is attempting once again to draw the public’s opinion towards issues that are ultimately fringe issues that impact a small percentage of us in order to ignore the large-scale major issues that affect all of us.
Tonight's session has been even more boring than yesterday's, when nothing happened. Several data points came out of Europe, some better than expected, some worse, but all massively beaten down to where any uptick is merely a dead cat bounce. Retail sales in the euro zone rose 0.1 percent in August from July, when they also gained 0.1 percent. From a year earlier, sales dropped 1.3 percent. A composite PMI of manufacturing and services industries in the euro area fell to 46.1 in September from 46.3 in August, Markit Economics said. That’s above an initial estimate of 45.9. The problem is that the PMIs of the most notable countries: Germany (at 49.7 on expectations of 50.6, lowest since March 2006), France (45.0, down from 46.1, and below consensus of an unchanged print -keep a close eye on this suddenly fast-motion trainwrecking economy), Spain, UK and Sweden all missed badly. In the U.K., where the services PMI dropped to 52.2 in September from 53.7 in August. But don't call it a stagflation: it's been here for years - U.K. retail prices rose 1 percent in September from a year earlier after a 1.1 percent gain in August, the British Retail Consortium said. Some additional data via BBG - Britons injected a net 9.8 billion pounds into their housing equity in the second quarter, the Bank of England said. Elsewhere, one central bank that refuses to join the global easefest is, not surprisingly, Iceland’s central bank kept the sevenday collateral lending rate unchanged at 5.75 percent for a second meeting. None of this has been able to move the futures which are net flat with Treasuries steady, before the US ISM Services number (est. 53.4 from 53.7), the total joke of an indicator which is the ADP Employment (est. 140k from 201k) but which wrong as it always is, is the only advance hint into Friday as traders prepare for Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report (est. 115k, unemployment rate rising to 8.2%).
Our analysis of the physical gold market shows that central banks have most likely been a massive unreported supplier of physical gold, and strongly implies that their gold reserves are negligible today. If Frank Veneroso’s conclusions were even close to accurate back in 1998 (and we believe they were), when coupled with the 2,300 tonne net change in annual demand we can easily identify above, it can only lead to the conclusion that a large portion of the Western central banks’ stated 23,000 tonnes of gold reserves are merely a paper entry on their balance sheets – completely un-backed by anything tangible other than an IOU from whatever counterparty leased it from them in years past. At this stage of the game, we don’t believe these central banks will be able to get their gold back without extreme difficulty, especially if it turns out the gold has left their countries entirely. We can also only wonder how much gold within the central bank system has been ‘rehypothecated’ in the process, since the central banks in question seem so reluctant to divulge any meaningful details on their reserves in a way that would shed light on the various “swaps” and “loans” they imply to be participating in. We might also suggest that if a proper audit of Western central bank gold reserves was ever launched, as per Ron Paul’s recent proposal to audit the US Federal Reserve, the proverbial cat would be let out of the bag – with explosive implications for the gold price.... We realize that some readers may scoff at any analysis of the gold market that hints at “conspiracy”. We’re not talking about conspiracy here however, we’re talking about stupidity. After all, Western central banks are probably under the impression that the gold they’ve swapped and/or lent out is still legally theirs, which technically it may be. But if what we are proposing turns out to be true, and those reserves are not physically theirs; not physically in their possession… then all bets are off regarding the future of our monetary system.
The problem we are going to face at some point as a nation and in fact as a civilization is this: there is no well-developed economic theory inside the corridors of power that will explain to the administrators of a failed system what they should do after the system collapses. This was true in the Eastern bloc in 1991. There was no plan of action, no program of institutional reform. This is true in banking. This is true in politics. This is true in every aspect of the welfare-warfare state. The people at the top are going to be presiding over a complete disaster, and they will not be able to admit to themselves or anybody else that their system is what produced the disaster. So, they will not make fundamental changes. They will not restructure the system, by decentralizing power, and by drastically reducing government spending. They will be forced to decentralize by the collapsed capital markets. The welfare-warfare state, Keynesian economics, and the Council on Foreign Relations are going to suffer major defeats when the economic system finally goes down. The system will go down. It is not clear what will pull the trigger, but it is obvious that the banking system is fragile, and the only thing capable of bailing it out is fiat money. The system is sapping the productivity of the nation, because the Federal Reserve's purchases of debt are siphoning productivity and capital out of the private sector and into those sectors subsidized by the federal government.
Just in case there are still any hopes that the FT, or any other credible media outlet, may come up with a story, like it used to do almost daily back in 2011 and early 2012, that China, whose stock market continues to plumb 3 year lows, has some capacity to inject cash (that it doesn't have) into a broke continent (which would never repay said cash even if it existed), here comes none other than China's Sovereign Wealth Fund to make sure there is never again a rumor that China will bail out Europe. From Reuters: "China would be interested in buying into a Eurobond backed by core euro zone countries and considers investment in bonds issued by heavily indebted European countries unrealistic, a senior official with China's $480 billion sovereign wealth fund said. Jin Liqun, chairman of the supervisory board of the China Investment Corporation (CIC), said until fundamental problems of fiscal, social and monetary policies in euro zone countries burdened by debt are solved, there could be no investment." They never will be so scratch that possibility out. Now we can limit the universe of idiotic Europe is saved (it isn't - it is only a matter of time now before the ship sinks) rumors to at least one less.
So, Jamie, you still think that Bear Stearns is not material to JPM investors?
Leading up to the American Financial Crisis. We all had the data, we all saw the sub-prime mess, we all saw the leverage, we all saw the money handed out for nothing and the non-disclosure documents, we all saw the lack of credible ratings supplied by the ratings agencies and yet we went on like it would all continue forever. We ignored it all. We turned our backs but then; we got scalped and so the prime questions must be asked: Are we wise men or are we fools? Did we learning anything from the last go round? Should we act now before we are scalped again considering we only have one head? Since the American Financial Crisis the world has lived off the largesse of the major central banks. It has been a slippery slope and each capital injection or “save the world” speech has been met by risk-on and higher markets as liquidity floods the system. It is a judgment call on our part but we think we are about done with the effectiveness of moves by the central banks.
For all the obvious reasons, China's ruling elites will do their best in the next few months to project an image of unity and self-confidence, and to convince the rest of the world that the next generation of leaders is capable of maintaining the party's political monopoly. That is, unfortunately, a tough sell. Confidence in the party's internal cohesion and leadership has already been shaken by the Bo affair, endemic corruption, stagnation of reform in the last decade, a slowing economy, deteriorating relations with neighbors and the United States, and growing social unrest. The questions on many people's minds these days are how long the party can hold on to its power and whether the party can manage a democratic transition to save itself. China is in a socioeconomic environment in which autocratic governance becomes increasingly illegitimate and untenable as its rapid economic development has thrust the country past what is commonly known as the 'democratic transition zone' where autocratic regimes face increasing odds of regime change as income rises.
A month ago, when we first presented the dwindling Spanish treasury cash position, we wrote: "once the next Spanish State Liability update is posted, we wouldn't be surprised to see this number plunge to a new post-Lehman low. Yet what is scariest is that all else equal (and it never is), at the current run rate Spain may well run out of cash by the end of the year even assuming it manages to conclude all its remaining auctions through year's end without a glitch." The August cash balance update was just released by the Banco de Espana, and there's good news, unsurprising news and bad news.
The world's largest hedge fund is not located in the top floor of some shiny, floor-to-ceiling glass clad skyscraper in New York, London, Hong Kong or Shanghai. It isn't in some sprawling mansion in Greenwich or Stamford which houses a state of the art trading desk behind a crocodile-filled moat. Instead it can be found in tiny, nondescript office in Suite 225 located on 730 Sandhill Road in Reno, Nevada.
One by one all the money-laundering loopholes in a broke world are coming to an end. First it was Swiss bank accounts, which for centuries guaranteed the depositors absolute secrecy, and as a result saw money inflows from all the wealthiest savers in the world, who felt truly safe their wealth (obtained by legal means or otherwise) would not be redistributed forcefully. In the ecosystem of finance, Switzerland was the depositor bank. Then 2008 happened, and starting with the US, shortly to be followed by every other insolvent country, demands were issued for a full list of people who had used Zurich and Geneva bank vaults to avoid the risk of asset taxation, capital controls and confiscation on their own native soil. The result was the end of the Swiss banking sector as the ultimate target of all global money laundering. In the ensuing power vacuum, others have sprung up to take its place, most notably Singapore, but its days as a tax-haven are numbered by how long it takes China to fall face first into a hard landing at which point no saving on the Pacific seaboard will be safe.
Now, it is the turn of real estate.
The biggest (non) news of the day was Oliver Wyman ("OW") conducting an "independent" audit of the Spanish banking system to validate the previously disclosed funding needs of Spain's banks which were announced back in June (just a week after Mariano Rajoy "insisted" no bank bailouts are needed). What OW really did was exercise 1 in a financial analyst's playbook: to goal seek a number in excel using a variety of input variables, especially several fudge factors that are tangential to the matter at hand, yet which provide the biggest bang for the buck. In this case the target of the goalseeking exercise was to get a final headline number for bank capital needs to be just as expected, or €60 billion. Sure enough it the number was €59.3 billion, just a little bit less than consensus. This is the total number of cash the bank system will need in order to be considered viable, and unless something has changed drastically, the cash will come from new debt issued by Spain, which in turn funds its bank bailout fund, the FROB (a process explained here). While it is a given that several months from now we will go through this whole entire exercise to find out how much more cash Spain's banks will need, for now what is curious is to understand what the fudge factor was that OW abused to allow it to get the desired result. That fudge factor is what is known as "excess capital buffer", whose usage in the model to plug a major capital shortfall gap is non-sensical and shows that the real funding needs of Spain's banks will be far greater, even absent future deterioration.