The popular view concerning the Fed is that it is apolitical. Anyone who considers the timing of the Fed’s actions knows this is false. However, for the vast majority of Americans, including financial professionals, the Fed is thought to be an apolitical entity focusing exclusively on economic and financial matters.
That 4% market correction was quick and virtually painless. Not missing a beat after the market briefly tested 1900, the dip buyers came roaring back - gunning for the 2000 marker on the S&P 500, confident that longs were not selling and that shorts had long ago been obliterated. Needless to say, bubblevision had its banners ready to crawl triumphantly across the screen. When the algos finally did print the magic 2000 number, it represented a 200% gain from the March 2009 lows. And to complete the symmetry, the S&P 500 thereby clocked in at exactly 20X LTM reported earnings based on consistent historical pension accounting. The bulls said not to worry because the market is still “cheap” - like it always is, until it isn’t. To be sure, the Fed is a serial bubble machine. But even it cannot defy economic gravity indefinitely.
Janet Yellen has essentially confirmed QE’s demise; good riddance. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the final end of QE in America, just as it hasn’t been the end time after time in Japan (and perhaps now Europe treading down the same ill-received road). The secular stagnation theory, that we think has been fully absorbed in certainly Yellen’s FOMC, sees little gain from it because, as they assume, the lackluster economy is due to this mysterious decline in the “natural rate of interest.” Therefore QE in the fourth iteration accomplishes far less toward that goal, especially with diminishing impacts on expectations in the real economy, other than create bubbles of activity (“reach for yield”) that always end badly. What Krugman and Summers call for is a massive bubble of biblical proportions that “shocks” the economy out of this mysterious rut, to “push inflation substantially higher, and keep it there.” In other words, Abenomics in America. Japanification is becoming universal, and the more these appeals to generic activity and waste continue, the tighter its “mysterious” grip.
The Fed likes to claim that its policies are aimed at helping Main Street. Ben Bernanke began this argument when he was still Fed Chairman. Janet Yellen has since taken it a step further claiming that she comes from an “intellectual tradition” that it is important to use “public policy” to “make the world a better place.”
Would Salvador Dali make a better Federal Reserve Chairman than Janet Yellen or Ben Bernanke before her?
Even Hellicopter Ben would have balanced remarks. However, Janet Yellen has taken dovishness to an all-time high or low dpending on your perspective.
Good thing the Federal Reserve isn`t worried about inflation, another 2% rise is just noise. But when the Fed does start worrying about inflation, not only is it too late, it is 1970s too late!
The current US air strikes in Iraq are unlikely to have a significant impact on defense spending or oil prices, Goldman Sachs writes, unless the scale of the conflict changes considerably. Evidence from past US conflicts that were similar in scale also suggests little impact on confidence and at most mixed evidence of a flight-to-safety effect in financial markets. The exchange of sanctions with Russia - a relatively minor US trading partner - is also likely to have only a modest impact on the US economy. Of course, Goldman caveats, both situations are highly unpredictable; as they expect little reaction to recent events from Fed officials, who have generally not discussed conflicts of this magnitude unless accompanied by other economic concerns, such as a large rise in oil prices.
While there have been many socio-economic 'explanations for the recent events in Ferguson, many of which have exceeded the realm of the factual and have brazenly encroached on feelings, emotions, heartstrings, and so on, the unpleasant reality is that much of what has transpired not only in the small 21,000-person St. Louis suburban community, but what is taking place across all of America has to do with a far simpler phenomenon: the rise of poverty and the destruction of America's middle class.
The ragged Keynesian excuse that all will be well in Japan once the jump in the consumption tax from 5% to 8% is fully digested is false. Here’s the problem: this is just the beginning of an endless march upwards of Japan’s tax burden to close the yawning fiscal gap left after the current round of tax increases, and to finance its growing retirement colony. There is no possibility that Abenomics will result in “escape velocity” Japan style and that Japan can grow its way out of it enormous fiscal trap. Instead, nominal and real growth will remain pinned to the flatline owing to peak debt, soaring retirements, a shrinking tax base and a tax burden which will rise as far as the eye can see. Call that a Keynesian dystopia. It is a cautionary tale for our times. And Japan, unfortunately, is just patient zero.
"Far away from Congress is the real forgotten man, the taxpayer who foots the bill... For if human liberty is to survive in America, we must win the battle to restore honest money."
"the paper money disease here may take many years to run its course...but when that day arrives, our political rulers will probably find that foreign war and ruthless regimentation is the cunning alternative to domestic strife."
Empires are not the result of conscious thought; they happen when a group is large enough and powerful enough to impose itself on others. But empires are expensive. They are typically financed by theft and forced tribute. The imperial power conquers... steals... and then requires that its subjects pay “taxes” so that it can protect them. The US never got the hang of it. It conquers. But it loses money on each conquest. How does it sustain itself? With debt.
The failure to understand money is shared by all nations and transcends politics and parties. The destructive monetary expansion undertaken during the Democratic administration of Barack Obama by then Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke began in a Republican administration under Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Republican Richard Nixon’s historic ending of the gold standard was a response to forces set in motion by the weak dollar policy of Democrat Lyndon Johnson. For more than 40 years, one policy mistake has followed the next. Each one has made things worse. What they don’t understand is that money does not “create” economic activity.
"If this is the beginning of a more important, intermediate term, correction; how large could it be?" There is one important truth that is indisputable, irrefutable, and absolutely undeniable: "mean reversions" are the only constant in the financial markets over time. The problem is that the next "mean reverting" event will remove most, if not all, of the gains investors have made over the last five years. Hopefully, this won't be you.
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.