After failing to criminally prosecute any of the financial firms responsible for the market collapse in 2008, former Attorney General Eric Holder is returning to Covington & Burling, a corporate law firm known for serving Wall Street clients. The move completes one of the more troubling trips through the revolving door for a cabinet secretary. Holder worked at Covington from 2001 right up to being sworn in as attorney general in Feburary 2009. And Covington literally kept an office empty for him, awaiting his return. When the firm moved to a new building last year, it kept an 11th-story corner office reserved for Holder.
Nobody apparently learned much from the whole bubble-bust affair as banks and financial firms are at it again, this time in corporate debt. The artificial suppression of default, in no small part to perceptions of those bank reserves under QE (just like perceptions of balance sheet capacity pre-crisis), has turned junk debt into the vehicle of choice for yet another cycle of “reach for yield.” In the past two bubble cycles, we see how monetary policy creates the conditions for them but also in parallel for their disorderly closure. It isn’t money that the FOMC directs but rather unrealistic, to the extreme, expectations and extrapolations. Once those become encoded in financial equations, the illusion becomes real supply.
The US Federal Reserve has been universally lauded for the apparent success of its extreme monetary policy of recent years. With key world stock markets near record highs, traders universally love the Fed’s zero-interest-rate and quantitative-easing campaigns. But this celebration is terribly premature. The full impact of these wildly-unprecedented policies won’t become apparent until they are fully normalized. The most-extreme monetary experiment by far in US history is just at half-time now, the fat lady hasn’t even taken the stage. The full normalization of ZIRP and QE is likely to be as negative for stock and bond prices as its ramping up proved positive for them.
Spin revolving door, spin...
Whether, or not, a Greek exit from the Eurozone or a potential debt default is "the thing" that sparks the next major correction in the markets is unknown. Historically, such a widely "known" event is generally already factored into the markets and has much less of an impact when that event eventually comes to fruition. As Art Cashin suggested this morning: "I think China may be more important than Greece. Stick with the drill – stay wary, alert and very, very nimble."
It’s happening. As expected, dynastic politics is prevailing in campaign 2016. After a tease about as long as Hillary’s, Jeb Bush (aka Jeb!) officially announced his presidential bid last week. Ultimately, the two of them will fight it out for the White House, while the nation’s wealthiest influencers will back their ludicrously expensive gambit. And here’s a hint: don’t bet on Jeb not to make it through the Republican gauntlet of 12 candidates (so far). After all, the really big money’s behind him.
The Fed's QE policies of recent years have, for all intents and purposes told the world that “the dollar is our currency and your problem.” And, in recent years, the dollar has been a genuine problem for a number of emerging countries. Following this traumatic event, and the change in the perception of US stability, China went around the world and invited the likes of Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey and Korea to shift some of their China trade away from the dollar and into renminbi. China started doing this in 2011 and, as we see it, the renminbi’s attempt to become a trading currency is potentially one of the most important financial developments. Yet no-one seems to care.
Surely the “world-beating” Chinese equity rally and the paper profits it’s generated have had a decisively positive effect on the spending habits of the millions of housewives and banana vendors who have pyramided borrowed money into small fortunes. Or maybe not...
The phenomenon of homeowners objecting to new development is called NIMBYism, which stands for "Not In My Back Yard." The premise behind this is that homeowners don't want to risk any changes that could adversely affect their living space or the value of their property. However, it's easy to see another motive behind NIMBYism: greed. As an investor of a highly leveraged asset, the average homeowner has every reason to inflate the price of their home as much as they can. NIMBYism also contributes to inequality... and perpetuates the two-class society that we see today.
"I was appalled to hear of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's decision last week to demote Alexander Hamilton from his featured position on the ten dollar bill... a better solution is available: Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill. Given his views on central banking, Jackson would probably be fine with having his image dropped from a Federal Reserve note."
This is the REAL issue with interest rates, NOT the economy.
"Both the US and China have a vital interest in reaching an understanding because the alternative is so unpalatable," Soros wrote in an article for the New York Review of Books, with the danger imminent if Chinese economic reforms fail forcing President Xi Jinping to "foster some external conflicts to keep the country united and maintain himself in power." These "conflicts" would present themselves in the form of a Sino-Russo alliance which could draw the entire world into war.
Haven’t you ever sat there in hindsight, drinking history down retrospectively like an already-bad whisky that has been mixed with some equally worse soda and a couple of rocks thrown in for good measure and wondered what life would be like if this or that event hadn’t actually happened?
The serial bubbles of the 2000’s are nothing more than what was wrought of the 1920’s, in general. The monetary character of both is not coincidence, as the failures that bookend each of these ages induces the transformation: from monetary to fiscal and back to monetary again. That looks like progress and accountability, but in each it only leads to more extreme measures (relative to the last) to still achieve what Robert Owen and Karl Marx conceived more than a century and a half ago. That leads us to 2015 and what is certainly the ragged end of the eurodollar standard. The third socialist age was undone by August 2007, but that did not stop its proprietors of “eurodollar socialism” under the name “investor capitalism” from trying to rebuild and restore it to full capacity. The groundwork has already been laid, and it is exactly what you would expect given the history since 1907. There are no widespread details about a return to capitalism and sound money practices, only how to overcome the third installation of that timeless barrier thrown down in the collapse of each of the asset bubbles so far – value.