Since the turn of this century, debt-financed share buybacks have severely tested the character of those charged with growing publicly-traded U.S. firms. Should she ignore the potential for further QE-financed share buybacks to exact more untold economic damage, it would be akin to intentionally corrupting Corporate America. The time, though, has come for these wayward companies’ banker and enabler, the Fed, to hold the line, no matter how difficult the next inevitable test of their character may prove to be. It’s time for the Fed to defend the entire Union and end a civil war that pits a chosen few against the economic freedom of the many.
Heck of a Job ...
In 1922, Germany was up to its eyes in debt, to the point that it was beyond repayment. The government, in attempting to overcome the dire poverty that had developed, decided to print more paper banknotes. The printing didn’t (and couldn’t) solve the problem, so they printed more. Then more again... The reader may say to himself, “When will people learn?” Sadly, they don’t. Incredibly, when the reichsmark collapsed in 1923, no one blamed the excessive printing. In fact, many people felt that if only the printing had continued just a bit longer, everything might have been all right. What we can take away from this is that what happened in Weimar Germany in 1922–1923 is happening now in Venezuela in 2016. (And has happened in some twenty other countries over the last hundred years, most recently in Argentina in 2000 and in Zimbabwe in 2008.) The same will occur in Europe and America in the fairly near future.
Since the beginning of the year, the greenback has shown it's not almighty after all; and gold - the barbarous relic as some have called it - may be en vogue again? Where are we going from here and what are the implications for investors?
The current rash of cautious ignorant optimism is so very reminiscent of the period right after Bear Stearns in 2008. Ben Bernanke as late as June 2008: "The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so." Janet Yellen said, “the strong incoming data on spending eased my fears that we are in or are approaching a recession regime” before expressing confidence in rate hikes starting in December 2008! The mainstream takes the absence of further liquidation as if there will be no more liquidations when in fact the likelihood of more of them only rises the more they are artificially “contained.”
If you want to get a sense of what’s motivating Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders voters, it’s a desire to take people like Robert Shapiro, remove them from the halls of power, and toss them into a cardboard box on the street. Of course, that won’t be happening any time soon, but that’s what a lot of people want. As we detail below, confirmed recently by Congressman X, Washington is infested by the secretive world of the dark money groups representing mercenary hedge funds in their insatiable quest for more and more money. In many ways, it’s merely a microcosm of America in 2016. A culture in which ethics has become so irrelevant, it isn’t even a nuisance; it simply never factors into the equation.
We have referred to the June 2003 FOMC meeting many times before and we suspect that we will continue to do so long into the future. It was one of those events that should be marked in history, truly relevant to the future developments that became panic and now sustained economic decay. It’s as if the committee members at that time anticipated their current powerlessness – yet did nothing about it. Their preferred course from that moment until August 2007 was relieved ignorance, as Greenspan admitted at the time, " I don’t think we know enough about how the private financial system works under these conditions [sub-1% rates], I don’t believe, that we can construct an effective preemption strategy. Well, we can construct a strategy, but I’m fearful that it would not be very useful."
"My fear is that central banks are now taking this too far through negative interest rates in particular and that they’re going to literally destroy their own banking systems. If they’re actually successful in generating higher inflation, then they’re going to destroy their own bond markets... our government officials, and I will include the Federal Reserve in that, have failed the American people."
Today we look back to the recent past with singleness of purpose. Context and edification for the present economy is what we’re after. We have questions... How come the recovery has been so weak? Why is it that, nearly seven years after the official end of the Great Recession, the economy’s still mired in a soft muddy quagmire? Squinting, focusing, and refocusing, there’s one particular week that rises above all others.
Just as people who try heroin for the first time never intend to become drug addicts, neither the Fed nor Jos. A. Bank management wanted to become QE and “buy-one-get-X-free” junkies.
If anyone had wondered if Stanley Druckenmiller's recent bearishness had dissipated, or transformed into at least modest bullishness as a result of the market meltup, we have bad news.
"Money for free! Well not exactly. The Piper that has to be paid will likely be paid for in the form of higher inflation, but that of course is what the central banks claim they want. What they don’t want is to be messed with and to become a government agency by proxy, but that may just be the price they will pay for a civilized society that is quickly becoming less civilized due to robotization. There is a rude end to flying helicopters, but the alternative is an immediate visit to austerity rehab and an extended recession. I suspect politicians and central bankers will choose to fly, instead of die."
The central bank war on savers is rooted in a monumental case of the Big Lie. Here is what a retired worker who managed to save $5,000 per year over a 40 year’s lifetime of toil and sweat in a steel factory now earns in daily interest on a bank CD. To wit, a single cup of cappuccino. Yet the central bankers claim they have absolutely nothing to do with this flaming economic injustice.
If the world’s economies were really out of intensive care, why would ultra-radical monetary policies like helicopter money be increasingly debated at the highest level of governments? Also, how come 70% of Americans believe the US economy is on the wrong course? And why do almost half of US citizens admit they couldn’t come up with $400 to meet an unexpected need? Yes, I know why ask why? And it is what is, and a bunch of other clichés. But this isn’t normal, it isn’t healthy, and - at least in the opinion of this author—it isn’t going to end well.
In Japan, the European Union and Switzerland, where negative nominal interest rates have already been adopted, it was observed that demand for safes and cash increased. At the same time, we learn that negative rates have boosted demand for gold in Japan (sales of gold to Japanese consumers rose to 32.8 metric tonnes in 2015 from 17.9 tonnes a year earlier). According to Takahiro Ito, chief manager at Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo K.K.’s store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, “Many customers are wagering that it’s better to turn their savings to gold as a safe asset rather than deposit money at banks that offer low interest rates."