Inflation is once again soaring in the US. Oil is back above $100 per barrel. Stocks have more than tripled from their 2008 lows, and housing is now more expensive relative to incomes than it was in 2007 for some markets.
Let’s be blunt here. The Fed has engaged in the single largest monetary experiment in history, betting the US economy and banking system on misguided theories that have little to no evidence of success.
What is stunning, especially in light of recent revelations that the most clueless economist of them all, Ben Bernanke, now commands a fee of $250,000 per speech (and just happens to be "off the chart"), is just how much these constantly wrong weathermen are paid to spread their particular dose of voodoo. So, without further ado, prepare to be dumbfounded.
“Go and get educated, you weakly fools, learn to compete; it’s a tough world out there.” And with that push by the Knightly Elite, Americans by the millions have entered a path offering them skills or greater opportunity, instead of taking the alternate route to an almost guaranteed permanent welfare. In their obsequious tradition of creating self-serving opportunities and promoting waste, legislators have allowed the creation of a field of uncontrolled helter-skelter, unqualified schools (new or existing) offering shelter to mostly unemployed or unemployable men and women wearing student uniforms. Yet, as this throw-away part of society gets “educated” there are none-to-few jobs waiting for them. These “money advances,” appear as the only way to subsist. For now... we’ll just wait until this bubble bursts.
"The responsibility of any central bank is price stability. I was at the helm at that time. Price stability is two percent inflation, which we can’t closely control anyway. They ought to make sure that they are making policies that are convincing to the public and to the markets that they’re not going to tolerate inflation... The responsibility of the government is to have a stable currency. This kind of stuff that you’re being taught at Princeton disturbs me. Your teachers must be telling you that if you’ve got expected inflation, then everybody adjusts and then it’s OK. Is that what they’re telling you? Where did the question come from?"
- ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS PROFESSOR WITH DIVINITY DEGREE
- FAN OF AYN RAND
- ARGUED RELIGION PLAYS ROLE IN ECONOMIC GROWTH RATES
- OPPONENT OF IMMIGRATION REFORM
- FACE-OFF AGAINST FELLOW FACULTY MEMBER
- WAS CRITICIZED BY CANTOR FOR BEING A LIBERAL
The recent decline in US yields appears to have run its course and given Citi's outlook for a better employment dynamic in the US, they expect yields to trend higher at this point. Citi's FX Technicals group remain of the bias that the normalization of labor markets (and the economy) will lead to a normalization in monetary policy and as a result significantly higher yields in the long run. Might the shock be that the Fed could be grudgingly tightening by late 2014/early 2015 (an equal time line to the 1994-2004 gap would suggest end November 2014) just as it was grudgingly easing by late 2007 despite being quite hawkish earlier that year? However, given the "treacherous market conditions" we suspect Citi's hoped-for normalization won't go quite as smoothly as The Fed hopes.
By any measure, New York City’s homelessness crisis broke every record during the final year of the Bloomberg administration. The already record-high homeless shelter population soared even higher, to more than 50,000 people per night. There are, of course, numerous reasons for this disastrous situation but we suspect the following chart, from the coalition of the homeless, may just be enough to wake up the average American to the reality of this 'recovery'.
Everywhere you look, Americans appear to be extremely obsessed with wealth and money. As a society we love money, and we are not ashamed to admit it. In fact, there are times we absolutely revel in it. For example, Time Magazine published an article this year entitled "Science Proves It: Greed Is Good" and hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow. But where will America's sick obsession with wealth and money end? Could it end up destroying us?
It would appear the Fed, after being angry at itself for creating the "complacency" evident in the markets globally has reached the pinnacle of critically circular logic in its defense of policies that are aimed at financial stability (i.e. prices flat or rising but absolutely not falling). Fed's Williams, a la Greenspan's "a-ha" moment, appears to have realized that investors are not always 'rational' and "bull markets may cause investors to get ‘carried away’ over time and confuse what is a one-time, perhaps transitory, shift in fundamentals for a new paradigm of rising asset prices."
The Rich Get Richest: Household Net Worth Rises To All Time High Courtesy Of $67 Trillion In Financial AssetsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/05/2014 13:33 -0500
Another quarter, and another confirmation that in the New Normal only the rich get richer, pardon: richest.
Borrowing heavily from Albert Edwards "Ice Age" analogy of our new normal, PIMCO's Bill Gross, after explaining why he does not have a cell phone, discusses the "frigidly low" levels of "The New Neutral" in this week's letter. Confirming Ben Bernanke's "not in my lifetime" promise for low rates and a lack of normalization, Gross explains that the "the new neutral" real policy rate will be close to 0% as opposed to 2-3% (just as in Japan) leaving an increasingly small incremental rise in rates as potentially responsible for popping the bubble. Gross concludes, "if 'The New Neutral' rates stay low, it supports current prices of financial assets. They would appear to be less bubbly," clearly defending the valuation of bonds knowing that he can't expose stocks as 'bubbly' without exposing his firm to more outflows.
With Thomas Piketty's book on inequality topping the charts among the book-reading common-folk, ambitious ex-bankers are enjoying the high-life in ways not even Gordon Gecko could have dreamed up. If greed is good, then this is better as former Lehman execs sell the first ".luxury" website domain names and ex-Goldmanites pitch "curated environments that optimize health" for home living with 'Vitamin-C-infused showers'. Of course, as one banker opines philosophically, "it's all about balance...it's important that people who have the capital are making it as useful as possible."
Has the next major economic downturn already started? The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live. If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not. In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming. But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class.
One of the most important, but difficult to measure, concepts in macroeconomics is the natural or equilibrium real interest rate. This is the rate of interest consistent with full employment and stable inflation. The last few weeks have seen bond yields tumble and a rising cacophony of market participants questioning both the Fed's central tendency of terminal or natural rates (around 4%) and the market's perception of how fast we get there. SF Fed Williams models see a 1.8% natural rate, BofA also believes it is between 1.5 and 2%; and now Citi admits, "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants judged them to be."