The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. The wealthiest 1% held 8% of the economic pie in 1975 but now hold over 20%. Most of the literature on income inequalities is written by professors from the sociology departments of universities. They have identified factors such as technology, the reduced role of labor unions, the decline in the real value of the minimum wage, and, everyone’s favorite scapegoat, the growing importance of China. Those factors may have played a role, but there are really two overriding factors that are the real cause of income differentials. One is desirable and justified while the other is the exact opposite.
Things in the country whose central bank assets have climbed to ¥229 trillion, or 48 percent of the nation’s nominal gross domestic product, are about to get very interesting: on one hand, it will have no choice but to slow down monetization under its existing QE program. On the other, pernicious inflation is spreading doubts the BOJ will be able to boost QE in the near-future. What is a country stuck in a vortex between deflation and runaway inflation to do? "It may be too late to prevent long-term rates doing something crazy” should the BOJ hold off on tapering before inflation reaches the target, said Richard Koo, the chief economist in Tokyo at Nomura.
ECB Fails To Sterilize Bond Purchases In 4th Failure Of Last 6 Attempts: Harbinger Of Upcoming Unsterilized QE?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2014 09:18 -0400
The last time we pointed out an ECB bond sterilization failure as part of its legacy SNP program was on December 30 of last year (the third in a row), when a liquidity glut led to the biggest sterilization shortfall, one amounting to €39 billion, when only 89 banks submit bids to absorb paper in exchange for a paltry tip. Moments ago, the ECB reported that in just the third such sterilization auction of the new year there was once again a failure to absorb all the €177.5 billion in outstanding toxic peripheral bonds, when an impressive 126 bidders showed up and yet were only able to generate only €152.1 billion in bids, leaving a €25 billion shortfall.
What could be worse than a falling cost for things that the increasingly cash-strapped consumer desires? We are not entirely sure but Christine Lagarde is deathly afraid of it...
- *LAGARDE SAYS RISING RISK OF DEFLATION MUST BE FOUGHT DECISIVELY
- *LAGARDE URGES OFFICIALS TO `FORTIFY THE FEEBLE GLOBAL RECOVERY' *LAGARDE SAYS U.S. MUST AVOID EARLY WITHDRAWAL OF FED SUPPORT
- *LAGARDE: JAPAN'S INITIAL BOOST FROM `ABENOMICS' WEAKENING A BIT
- *LAGARDE SAYS EURO-AREA MONETARY POLICY `COULD STILL DO MORE'
In other words, 5 years of debt monetization on an unprecedented scale were not enough! Get back to work Mr Draghi, Mrs Yellen, and Mr Kuroda.
Is the U.S. consumer tapped out? If so, how in the world will the U.S. economy possibly improve in 2014? Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is heavily dependent on consumer spending. If average Americans are not out there spending money, the economy tends not to do very well. Unfortunately, retail sales during the holiday season appear to be quite disappointing and the middle class continues to deeply struggle. And for a whole bunch of reasons things are likely going to be even tougher in 2014. Families are going to have less money in their pockets to spend thanks to much higher health insurance premiums under Obamacare, a wide variety of tax increases, higher interest rates on debt, and cuts in government welfare programs. The short-lived bubble of false prosperity that we have been enjoying for the last couple of years is rapidly coming to an end, and 2014 certainly promises to be a very "interesting year".
"The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank... sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world." - Carroll Quigley, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
... we learned what the difference between $85 billion and $75 billion is in the grand scheme of things. Or, in case we haven’t, here is a chart showing just how “vast” the impact of today’s announcement will be on the Fed’s balance sheet at December 31, 2014 when instead of printing well over $5 trillion at its old monetization pace, the Fed’s balance sheet will be only $4.9 trillion.
"I got up this early to talk, not to listen," Jim Grant berates Fed-apologist Steve Liesman as the two go head-to-head over the fallacy that QE has been a success. "The Fed can change how things look, it cannot change what things are," is the single-sentence summation of the mirage that the Fed's "dangerous monetary manipulation" has created...
Since we live in a connected world, in which the central bank "Flow" must, well, flow, one emerging line of thought is that with the Fed set to taper (even by a modest $10 billion per month driven by Treasury market liquidity constraints where the Fed is now monetizing 1% of the entire bond market in 10 Year equivalents every three weeks), the BOJ will have to step in and boost its own monetization by a comparable amount. And as we noted in November, speculation that the BOJ will do just this set off the latest Yen crushing move, which has seen the EURJPY surge higher by a massive 1000 pips all but pricing in any BOJ moves for 2014. However, to be able to do this, Japan will need to provide its central bank with the capacity to monetize as many Treasurys (or more) as possible: after all, Japan like the US is already soaking up a record 70% of all gross issuance. And Japan is ready to comply: as Reuters reports, in the next fiscal year, Japan's budget will exceed 96 trillion yen, or about $930 billion. With Japan's GDP standing currently shy of half a quadrillion Yen (not to be confused with Japan's debt load which is now over the one quadrillion mark), it means the budget will be about 20% of the country's entire economic output.
"If secular stagnation concerns are relevant to our current economic situation, there are obviously profound policy implications... Some have suggested that a belief in secular stagnation implies the desirability of bubbles to support demand. This idea confuses prediction with recommendation. It is, of course, better to support demand by supporting productive investment or highly valued consumption than by artificially inflating bubbles. On the other hand, it is only rational to recognize that low interest rates raise asset values and drive investors to take greater risks, making bubbles more likely. So the risk of financial instability provides yet another reason why preempting structural stagnation is so profoundly important."
Those who adhere to the don’t-stop-til-you-get-enough theory of sovereign borrowing, and by extension argue for a scrapping of the debt ceiling, couldn’t be more misguided. In free markets with no Fed money market distortion, interest rates can be a useful guide of the amount of real savings being made available to borrowers. When borrowers want to borrow more, real interest rates will rise, and at some point this crimps the marginal demand for borrowing, acting as a natural “debt ceiling.” But when markets are heavily distorted by central bank money printing and contrived zero-bound rates, interest rates utterly cease to serve this purpose for prolonged periods of time. What takes over is the false signals of the unsustainable business cycle which fools people into thinking there is more savings than there really is. Debt monetization has a proven track record of ending badly. It is after all the implicit admission that no one but your monopoly money printer is willing to lend to you at the margin. The realization that this is unsustainable can take a while to sink in, but when it does, all it takes is an inevitable fat-tail event or crescendo of panic to topple the house of cards. If the market realizes it’s been duped into having too much before the government decides it’s had enough, a debt crisis won’t be far away.
One of the more vocal members of the ECB's governing council and executive board, 47-year old German Joerg Asmussen, surprisingly announced this morning that he is stepping down for "purely private family reasons." Concurrently, the German who has been a less tenuous version of his far more outspoken and hawkish compatriot Jens Weidmann, announced that he would accept a job as Deputy Labour Ministry job in the new German government. What is surprising is that the German was not appointed finance minister in Merkel's new cabinet, although with Schrodinger Schauble determined to keep his position it is explainable. What is more surprising is that Asmussen replaced none other than Juergen Stark, who once was said to be Trichet's successor, and who dramatically quit the ECB over disagreements on the bank's bond monetization program. One wonders: is Joerg's untimely departure just the latest indication that the ECB is finally preparing to unroll a blanket quantitative easing program, just as BNP predicted it would, in its desperate, last-ditch attempt to defeat Europe's slide into outright deflation and credit-creation collapse? Certainly, if Weidmann were to quietly leave next, then whatever you do, don't stand below the Euro.
While the good times are about to end for the Japanese Bond Market (as shown in yesterday in Counting Down To Japan's D-Day In Two Charts), the reality is that anyone who bet on an surge in Japanese bond yields in the past few years has been carted out feet first. Which is also why shorting the Japanese bond market has been widely known as the "Widowmaker" trade in the investing community. However, according to Charles Gave, another "Widowmaker" has emerged in the past year: "It looks like the euro is competing to grab title for itself. Many traders have been shorting the currency, with poor results so far."
The Fed is absorbing over 0.3% of all Ten Year Equivalents, also known as "High Quality Collateral", from the private sector every week. The total number as per the most recent weekly update is now a whopping 33.18%, up from 32.85% the week before. Or, said otherwise, the Fed now owns a third of the entire US bond market.