• EconMatters
    07/13/2014 - 22:47
    Market participants are far too levered up, all on the same side, and well behind the monetary normalization curve of when the first rate hike is actually going to occur. 

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke
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The Emerging Market Collapse Through The Eyes Of Don Corleone





The problem, though, is that once you embrace the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence to "explain" recent events, you can't compartmentalize it there. If the pattern of post-crisis Emerging Market growth rates is largely explained by US monetary accommodation or lack thereof ... well, the same must be true for pre-crisis Emerging Market growth rates. The inexorable conclusion is that Emerging Market growth rates are a function of Developed Market central bank liquidity measures and monetary policy, and that all Emerging Markets are, to one degree or another, Greece-like in their creation of unsustainable growth rates on the back of 20 years of The Great Moderation (as Bernanke referred to the decline in macroeconomic volatility from accommodative monetary policy) and the last 4 years of ZIRP. It was Barzini all along!

 
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Hilsenrath's 729 Word FOMC Post-Mortem (In Under 2 Minutes)





It took Hilsenrath 2 minutes after the FOMC announcement to release the following 729 word analysis of what Bernanke just did. The punchline: "Overall, the Fed changed very little in its statement from the previous month. Neither a disappointing December jobs report nor recent turmoil in emerging markets was enough to diminish their positive outlook for the U.S. economy. The Fed reiterated their view that "risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having become more balanced," language they added to the statement for the first time in December.... The Fed repeated its message that they will likely keep rates at that low level "well past" the unemployment rate reaching 6.5%."

 
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Fed Foward-Guidance Fallacies And The Untenable Status Quo





The FOMC will probably reduce the pace of its asset purchase program by another $10 billion at its meeting today as it continues to move towards using forward guidance as the primary policy tool. However, as we noted in the case of the Bank of England's Mark Carney, New Fed vice-chair Stan Fischer's skepticism, and even Ben Bernanke, forward guidance is losing its luster (as it works in theory but not in practice). Bloomberg's Joseph Brusuelas warns that given the probable direction of the unemployment rate amid a structurally damaged labor market and disinflation, the Fed faces a dilemma in that the status quo is untenable and may soon be challenged by traders and investors eager to move back toward interest rate and policy normalization. Just as Carney lost his credibility, the Fed risks a lot by reversing its taper today.

 
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Should The Fed Stop The Dominoes From Falling?





The forest (the economy) can only remain vibrant and healthy if the dead wood is burned off in bankruptcy and insolvency. Retail commercial real estate is over-built and over-leveraged. If it is allowed to burn off as Nature intended, we can finally move forward.

 
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Frontrunning: January 27





  • Emerging sell-off hits European shares, lifts yen (Reuters) - but not really if you hit refresh since the latest central bank bailout announcement
  • Apple’s Holiday Results to Show Whether Growth Is Back (BBG)
  • Israel attacked Syrian base in Latakia, Lebanese media reports (Haaretz)
  • Abenomics FTW: Japan Posts Record Annual Trade Deficit as Import Bill Soars (BBG)
  • When all else fails, Spain's hope lie in a 16th century saint: Saint “might help Spain out of crisis,” says interior minister (El Pais)
  • Global Woes Fail to Send Cash Into U.S. Stocks (WSJ)
  • IMF's Lagarde sees eurozone inflation "way below target" (Reuters)
  • Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states (AP)
  • AT&T Gives Up Right to Offer to Buy Vodafone Within 6 Months (BBG)
 
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Bank Of England Folds On "Forward Guidance"





Just a week ago, Ben Bernanke stumbled when he almost admitted that "forward guidance worked in theory, but not in practice," and while the Fed is sticking to its guns with lower for longer "forward guidance" to replace "as much money as you can eat" quantitative easing; and the ECB promising moar for longer; the Bank of England's Mark Carney just threw them all under the bus by u-turning on his employment-based forward guidance strategy. Having previously established thresholds for his monetray policy guidance, as the FT reports, he has now ditched those plans (as we warned he might "lose his credibility" here) as the British economy is "in a different place" now. And still, we are supposed to trust these bankers to run the world? Perhaps most interesting is the FT changed its title on the story very quickly!

 
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Creator Of Netscape Praises Bitcoin, Compares It To The Invention Of PCs And The Internet





"A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers. Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it. On the other hand, technologists — nerds — are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it. Eventually mainstream products, companies, and industries emerge to commercialize it; its effects become profound; and later, many people wonder why its powerful promise wasn’t more obvious from the start. What technology am I talking about? Personal computers in 1975, the Internet in 1993, and — I believe — Bitcoin in 2014."

 
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Tracking "Bubble Finance" Risks In A Single Chart





In his 712-page tour de force, The Great Deformation, David Stockman dissects America’s descent into the present era of “bubble finance.” it’s hard to refute Stockman’s perspective on the Fed’s role in the housing bubble. But that won’t stop some from trying, and especially the many academic economists beholden to the Fed. Research papers have stealthily danced around the Fed’s culpability for our crappy economy, as we discussed here. More importantly, if Stockman is right about bubble finance, there’s more mayhem to come. Consider that denying failure and persisting with the same strategy are two sides of the same coin. Just as investors avoid the pain of admitting mistakes by holding onto losing positions, Fed officials who claim to have done little wrong are also more committed than ever to propping up asset markets with cheap money. For those concerned about another policy failure, a key question is:  “As of today, where do we stand with respect to bubbles and bubble finance?”

 
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2014 Outlook: Pandora's Box





As we begin 2014, it is important to recognize the levels of INSANITY currently existent in the world  enabling us to understand the apocryphal nature of the times we live in and prepare ourselves to meet the challenges it represents.  The world is leveraged to an extent that has never before seen in history! Debt now masquerades as NOMINAL growth and REAL growth has ceased.  Headline economic reports are now nothing more than POLITICALLY CORRECT HOAXES to FOOL the public at large and mask the betrayal of the public by the leaders who hold the reins of power.  ECONOMIC Stagnation emerged after the 2008 Global financial crisis and in real terms has NEVER ENDED!
 

 
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IMF Warns These 4 European Nations Are "Potentially Destabilizing" To Global Economy





Europe is recovering, right? Wrong. As Nigel Farage raged last night, things are not what they seem and even the IMF is now beginning to get concerned again (especially after Lagarde's call yesterday for moar from Draghi and every other central banker). As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, it's not just the PIIGS we have to worry about (or not), Denmark, Finland, Norway and Poland have been added to the IMF’s list of countries with the potential to destabilize the global economy.

 
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Ben Bernanke's Final Speech As Fed Chair - Live Feed





In what will likely be the current Federal Reserve chairman's "exit interview", Ben Bernanke will be speaking at the Brookings Institution on "The Fed Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." We are sure there are plenty of messages our readers would like to leave for outgoing chair who Senator Bob Corker described as "the biggest dove since World War II," proclaiming his "degrading effects on our society." Of course, Bernanke will leave knowing he started to exit (and all is well - so what happens next is not his fault) though the following chart may be useful when he, we are sure, reminds the world of his inflation record...

 
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Fed's Fisher Says "Investors Have Beer Goggles From Liquidity", Joins Goldman In Stock Correction Warning





"Continuing large-scale asset purchases risks placing us in an untenable position, both from the standpoint of unreasonably inflating the stock, bond and other tradable asset markets and from the perspective of complicating the future conduct of monetary policy," warns the admittedly-hawkish Dallas Fed head. Fisher goes on to confirm Peter Boockvar's "QE puts beer goggles on investors," analogy adding that while he is "not among those who think we are presently in a 'bubble' mode for stocks or bonds; he is reminded of William McChesney Martin comments - the longest-serving Fed chair - "markets for anything tradable overshoot and one must be prepared for adjustments that bring markets back to normal valuations."

The eye of the needle of pulling off a clean exit is narrow; the camel is already too fat. As soon as feasible, we should change tack. We should stop digging. I plan to cast my votes at FOMC meetings accordingly.

 
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Greenspan Warned Of Housing Bubble... In His PhD Dissertation





Most are aware of Alan Greenspan’s 1966 essay - written when he was an acolyte of Ayn Rand - in which he sang the praises of the gold standard. Obviously, that early work would later prove awkward for Greenspan, as he held the reins of the fiat money engine known as the Federal Reserve. However, a reporter for Barron's unearthed a copy of Greenspan’s NYU doctoral dissertation, which he took great pains to bury, showing that when his professional ambition wasn’t involved, Greenspan could understand perfectly well  (a) the virtues of a commodity money and (b) the dangers of a housing bubble. If the Austrians are right in laying the blame for the housing bubble on Greenspan’s loose monetary policy following the dot-com crash, then Greenspan can’t plead ignorance: He knew what he was doing.

 
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Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like The Fed's Logical Fallacies





Last week, Grant Williams reviewed the equity markets in an attempt to see how equity investors managed to scamper through 2013 with the friskiness of puppies when all about them lay doubt and potential disaster. His answer - of course - quantitative easing. This week Williams takes a deep dive into bonds and bullion in an effort to comprehend how the bond market managed to navigate the same 12-month period and see what can be learned about 2013 in order to forecast for 2014. The effect on the Fed’s balance sheet is plain to see - a very steady, predictable line; and markets love steady and predictable. So what happens when the 'predictability' ends...? The guardians of the global economy are relying on numerous logical fallacies to continue their path to oblivion...

 
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How The College Bubble Will Pop





In 1970, when 11% of adult Americans had bachelor's degrees or more, degree holders were viewed as the nation's best and brightest. Today, with over 30% with degrees, as the WSJ notes, a significant portion of college graduates are similar to the average American - not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined. Furthermore, declining academic standards and grade inflation add to employers' perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness. As we noted recently, change is coming as more and more realize college may not be worth it. Educational entrepreneurship offers hope that creative destruction is coming to higher education. The cleansing would be good for a higher education system still tied to its medieval origins - and for the students it's robbing.

 
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