"A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman's famous "helicopter drop" of money ."
- Ben Bernanke, Deflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here, November 21, 2002
For the right answer, we look to the past....
Stanley Druckenmiller's World View: "Catastrophic" Entitlement Spending, "Bizarre" & "Illusory" Asset Markets, & Beware The TaperSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2013 20:50 -0500
During an extended interview with Bloomberg TV, billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller provided a seemingly fact-based (and non-status-quo sustaining, commission-taking, media-whoring) perspective on a very wide variety of topics. The brief clips below touch the surface, with the detailed annotated transcript below providing details, as Druckenmiller opines on the looming catastrophe in entitlement spending "when you hear about the National debt being $16tn; if you actually took what we promised to seniors and future taxes, present value to both of them, that number is $200tn," why the Fed exit will be a big deal for markets, "it is my belief that QE has subsidized all asset prices and when you remove that, the market will go down," and his changing views on Obama "I was drinking the hope and change Kool-aid... in hindsight, he probably needed more experience for this job." Looking back to the financial crisis, he warns, "...a necessary condition to have a financial crisis, in my opinion, is too loose monetary policy that encourages people to take undue risk and go on the risk curve and do silly things. We should have shut this down in 1998, 1999. The NASDAQ bubble, we should have raised rates, we didn’t. Then we got the implosion."
In the first three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) of this disheartening look back at a century of central banking, income taxing, military warring, energy depleting and political corrupting, we made a case for why we are in the midst of a financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse. In this final installment we’ll give our best estimate as to what happens next. There are so many variables involved that it is impossible to predict the exact path to our world’s end. Many people don’t want to hear about the intractable issues or the true reasons for our predicament. They want easy button solutions. They want someone or something to fix their problems. They pray for a technological miracle to save them from decades of irrational myopic decisions. As the domino-like collapse worsens, the feeble minded populace becomes more susceptible to the false promises of tyrants and psychopaths. Anyone who denies we are in the midst of an ongoing Crisis that will lead to a collapse of the system as we know it is either a card carrying member of the corrupt establishment, dependent upon the oligarchs for their living, or just one of the willfully ignorant ostriches who choose to put their heads in the sand and hum the Star Spangled Banner as they choose obliviousness to awareness. Thinking is hard. Feeling and believing a storyline is easy.
These days, you could put ‘safety and security’ in front of just about anything and get people to readily comply. Well, OK. After all, who is against ‘safety and security’? Only criminal terrorists, apparently. This is now the easiest way for governments to exact their agendas... whether it’s invading new countries, monitoring all Internet activity worldwide, or bailing out the big banks at taxpayer expense. Apparently the citizenry has become so scared that we collectively lay down and let governments walk all over us. At this point, the Founding Fathers’ list of grievances nearly pales in comparison to the indignities and injustices to liberty that people suffer today under their government. We’ve been talking about this trend for four years now. This is no longer theory. It’s real. It’s happening. And it’s coming soon to a bankrupt, insolvent nation near you. Have you hit your breaking point yet?
Emerging markets’ currencies are crashing, and their central banks are busy tightening policy, trying to stabilize their countries’ financial markets. Who is to blame for this state of affairs? The cause of this state of affairs, in one word, is austerity. Weak demand in Europe is the real reason why emerging markets’ current accounts deteriorated (and, with the exception of China, swung into deficit). Thus, if anything, emerging-market leaders should have complained about European austerity, not about US quantitative easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s talk of “tapering” quantitative easing might have triggered the current bout of instability; but emerging markets’ underlying vulnerability was made in Europe.
Preferring to "wait until the dust settles," to make a decision on who will replace Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair, Bloomberg resports. Former Obama advisor David Plouffe notes, "Syria right now has kind of paralyzed the town." It would appear that with the Senate planning to start debating the Syrian strike decision tomorrow, the fed-head is yet another bargaining chip on the table. With Summers still the strong "bookies" favorite, it would seem should the Syrian strike become a protracted conflict then Bernanke will stay since, as the NYTimes notes, Summers has "a reputation that is replete with evidence of a temperament unsuited to lead the Fed."
"What's more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys? Nothing!" What could be better than assembling a long chain of tangled monkeys, each reliant on those either side of it for purchase, with just the one person holding onto a single monkey's arm at the top end of the chain, responsible for all those monkeys dangling from his fingers. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility; and that lone hand at the top of the chain of monkeys has to be careful - any slight mistake and the monkeys will tumble, and that, we are afraid, is the end of your turn. You don't get to go again because you screwed it up and the monkeys came crashing down. On May 22nd of this year, Ben Bernanke's game of Barrel of Monkeys was in full swing. It had been his turn for several years, and he looked as though he'd be picking up monkeys for a long time to come. The chain of monkeys hanging from his hand was so long that he had no real idea where it ended... indeed, "
If the Fed really thinks that the rest of the world will have to "adjust to us" as it insists on draining global liquidity come what may, it may have a very rude surprise, yet again." One false move and all the monkeys may end up in a heap on the floor.
Current US Treasury issuance is relatively low due to sequestration and (at least temporarily) less US warmongering in the Middle East. That's about to change, of course, now that the US is getting ready to launch a Cruise missile attack on Syria (we’re already been arming and financing the opposition rebels, including groups directly linked to al-Qaeda for several years now). Bernanke and the Fed doves would like nothing better than another “controlled” war in the Mideast, because with war comes massive debt issuance, and with massive debt issuance comes the transmission mechanism (QE) for monetizing that debt and mainlining it onto the Wall Street banks' broken balance sheets. And yes, they’re still broken, and Ben is still bailing them out at the expense of the American middle class. Make no mistake, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and every other complicit banker on the Street has no problem with this, or any other, war, regardless of whether such a conflict would destabilize the entire region and would almost assuredly pull Russia and China into the fray. The more the merrier, just keep letting that free QE monopoly money roll in from the 4X weekly Federal Reserve Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO’s). And with the significant financing needs for a large war effort in the Middle East, say good-bye to “Taper.”
The Labor Force Participation Rate - in English, the percent of the population that is either in a job or looking for a job - fell yesterday to fresh 35 year lows. This is not a new trend, in fact since the end of 1999 (the dot-com bust) it has trended lower from well over 67% to the current 63.2%; which means the current unemployment rate would be almost 11% if the labor force was constant from when Obama took office. There appear to be at least four reasons (excuses) put forth for this dismal 'structural' trend but chief among them - and propagandized by most in the mainstream (given its lack of 'blame') - is the so-called 'aging of America' or demographics. There is only one problem with that 'myth'; it's entirely inconsistent with other Western economies who are experiencing exactly the same demographic shift. The collapse in the US labor force is, in fact, due to excess credit having fueled artificial growth for 3 decades; and now a government throwing free money at the population in the form of disability insurance (which has surged) and student loans (which are exponentially exploded). So who (or what) is to blame for the US' collapsing workforce? Simple, the unintended consequences of government interference.
If ever there was an investor reaction that summed up just how much the Federal Reserve has broken the markets it was yesterday morning's post-dismal-jobs-report surge. As John Phelan notes, we now appear to be in a position where the interests of financial markets are precisely at odds with the interests of the rest of the economy; where the good news for us is bad news for them and bad news for us is good news for them. The one way bet of the Greenspan Put maintained, so far, by Ben Bernanke, has created a market of monetary-punch-drunk liquidityholics. On its 100th birthday the Federal Reserve has the tricky task of sneaking the punch bowl out of the party, a task it seems they’ll struggle to manage without starting a riot. They may have printed themselves into a corner.
There's a growing view that America's energy boom will result in a higher U.S. dollar in coming years. There are some key holes in the argument though.
"When it comes to market events, there have been no impactful black swans - the so-called unexpected 'tail events," Mark Spitznagel notes in his excellent new book, The Dao Of Capital: Austrian Investing in a Distorted World, explaining that, "what were unseen by most, were indeed highly foreseeable" by others. The Fed planted the seeds for the last financial crisis and "when you prevent the natural balancing act, you get growth that shouldn't be happening."
The financial crisis of 2008 could have been the wake-up tall that, like the Yellowstone fires of 1988, alerted so-called managers to the dangers of trying to override the natural governors of the system. Instead, the Federal Reserve, with its head "ranger," Ben Bernanke, has deluded itself into thinldng ft has tamped down every little smolder from becoming a destructive blaze, but instead all it has done is poured the unnatural fertilizer of liquidity onto a morass of overgrown malinvestment making a even more highly flammable. One day - likely sooner than later, it will burn, and when that happens, the Fed will be sorely lackng in buckets and shovels and must succumb to the flames.
If there is any one strikingly obvious feature of the U.S. economy in the past 15 years, it's the serial asset bubbles, one after another. So who benefits from serial bubbles? The financial sector and the central government...
1:1 In the beginning, Ben Bernanke hath said, let there be liquidity.
1:6 And so each among them sayeth the following benediction: “May the Fed bless you and keep you; may the Fed extend its balance sheet to shine upon you; and may the Fed lift up asset prices and protect you from harm”