Following this evening's lengthy finger-pointing lecture from Argentina's Kicillof, Argentina formally defaulted. Shortly thereafter the hoped-for private bank bailout deal also failed leaving the default process likely to take a while. So how has Argentina defaulted three times in the last 28 years? Simply put, the problem is not Judge Griesa’s ruling. The problem is that Argentina had decided to once again prefer deficits and unrestrained government spending to paying its obligations.
This is it! The holy grail of forecasting, Jeffrey Kleintop has discovered it. You'll never have to worry about actual earnings reports, a massive bubble in junk debt, the sluggishness of the economy, new record levels in sentiment measures and margin debt, record low mutual fund cash reserves, the pace of money supply growth, or anything else again. Just watch the yield curve! Unfortunately, as we showed here in the US, this advice could turn out to be extremely dangerous for one's financial health - and has been across many nations throughout time. People remain desperate for excuses as to why the latest bit of asset boom insanity will never end
The US is tapering, with the Fed knowing any further monetization of private sector bonds will lead to a crash in the already illiquid bond market; Japan is stuck with its massive QE, jawboning every day a rumor that first appeared in November of 2013 (and which sent the USDJPY 500 pips higher and has so far been nothing but a lie) that it may do more, but has unleashed such a firestorm of imported inflation, plunging real wages and collapsing exports that there is nothing Abe or Kuroda can do to boost the Nikkei "wealth effect" or halt what now appears an almost certain 2014 recession. Europe, too, saw a rumor emerge in November 2013 that it would also launch QE, however it won't: instead the ECB just went NIRP and is threatening to do ABS purchases, which just like the OMT pipedream will never happen simply because there aren't enough unencumbered assets to monetize (most of which are already have liens with local banks) while an outright QE would require redrafting Article 123. So what is a world starved for "outside money" to do? Why make up another rumor, this time focusing on the last possible source of QE: China.
In the mid-sixties at the height of the “social revolution” the line between democratic benevolence and outright communism became rather blurry. The Democratic Party, which controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, was used as the springboard by social engineers to introduce a new era of welfare initiatives enacted in the name of “defending the poor”, also known as the “Great Society Programs”. These initiatives, however, were driven by far more subversive and extreme motivations, and have been expanded on by every presidency since, Republican and Democrat alike.At Columbia University, sociologist professors Richard Cloward and Francis Fox Piven introduced a political strategy in 1966 that they believed would eventually lead to the total transmutation of America into a full-fledged centralized welfare state (in other words, a collectivist enclave). The spearpoint of the Cloward-Piven strategy involved nothing less than economic sabotage against the U.S..
No change... no change. Draghi's back and, just like RBA's Stevens last night, is ready to talk (but not jawbone) his currency down; explaining that any day now we might - just might - unleash a treaty-busting monetization of more debt that won't actually reach the real economy but will provide more ammo for carry-traders to leverage longs in peripheral nations sovereign debt. Since the last ECB NIRP unleashing, things have got worse for Europe... but it will take time we are sure... just wait until H2 2014...
There is far less on the ECB table today compared to a month ago when expectations were massive and Draghi didn't fail to satisfy (with the usual set of half-baked, non-existant programs a la the OMT which still doesn't technically exist, 2 years after it was first revealed) and nobody expects any major announcements out of Mario Draghi. If anything, the market hopes the ECB head will use the press conference today to elaborate on the missing technicalities of the TLTRO. With inflation printing at 0.5% again, concerns of deflation will likely be mentioned once again. When it comes to the EUR reaction, the most bearish case would be for Draghi to discuss QE, and providing details of how a bond monetization operation would look like. More than the EURUSD, a bigger risk lies for peripheral bonds which are at risk if Draghi unveils details of TLTRO today that could hurt the periphery carry trade.
With GoPro up over 100% since its IPO (which the mainstream media decides indicates massive demand for the 'future' infrastructure monetization of camera-on-a-stick clips), it appears there is another much clearer reason for the surge. As WSJ reports, the utilization level - the percentage of shares available to loan that are actually being borrowed - is near 100%. As Astec Anaytics notes, it's rare for a stock to have such a high utilization level as the cost of borrowing GoPro shares, a proxy for short-selling activity, has “immediately become one of the highest in our system." It appears the squeeze has come and gone and today 9% tumble may just be the start...
The Great Depression did not represent the failure of capitalism or some inherent suicidal tendency of the free market to plunge into cyclical depression - absent the constant ministrations of the state through monetary, fiscal, tax and regulatory interventions. Instead, the Great Depression was a unique historical occurrence - the delayed consequence of the monumental folly of the Great War, abetted by the financial deformations spawned by modern central banking. But ironically, the “failure of capitalism” explanation of the Great Depression is exactly what enabled the Warfare State to thrive and dominate the rest of the 20th century because it gave birth to what have become its twin handmaidens - Keynesian economics and monetary central planning. Together, these two doctrines eroded and eventually destroyed the great policy barrier - that is, the old-time religion of balanced budgets - that had kept America a relatively peaceful Republic until 1914. The good Ben (Franklin that is) said,” Sir you have a Republic if you can keep it”. We apparently haven’t.
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
Ghandi was once asked, "What do you think about Western Civilization?" to which he famously replied "I think it's a good idea." He may as well have been talking about free market capitalism. Capital in the 21st Century has hit the world like a new teen idol sensation. Everybody is drinking the Kool-Aid and it's being held up as the most important book ever written on the subject of how runaway capitalism leads to wealth inequality. Paul Krugman of course, loves it. As does every head of state and political hack in the (formerly) free world. So let's do something different here and accept a core premise of Capital, and say that wealth inequality is increasing, and that it's a bad thing. Where the point is completely missed is in what causes it (ostensibly "free market capitalism") and what to do about it (increase government control, induce more inflation and raise taxes). The point of this essay is to assert that it is not unchecked capital or runaway free markets that cause increasing wealth inequality, but rather that the underlying monetary system itself is hard-coded by an inner temple of ruling elites in a way which creates that inequality.
Overnight saw China spook its markets by weakening the CNY (and breaking the trend again) and suffering a failed bond auction and that led on to weakness across Europe as USDJPY toyed with 102 and dragged stocks and peripheral bonds down. The US opened weak, saw the usual buying spree jerked higher by JPY then as the budge deficit hit (reducing room for monetization money) stocks tumbled to the session's lows and red fo rthe week. Of course that will never do and at around 330ET, as usual, the buying panic began (though in a tiny range). US cash equity markets saw a double dump-and-pump but were unable to scramble back to the green by the close. The USD closed unchanged as EUR tested once again down to Draghi spike lows. Gold and silver closed unch (with a midday dump of $175 million notional in gold futs); oil flatlined (iraq vs world bank) and copper slid (China). Treasury yields closed 2bps lower with the belly outperforming. VIX was slammed at 330 but stocks could not hold their gaisn as The Dow had its worst day in 3 weeks.
You can smell this one coming a mile away... the ECB is now energetically trying to revive the a market for asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) - the very kind of “toxic-waste” that allegedly nearly took down the financial system during the panic of September 2008. The ECB would have you believe that getting more “liquidity” into the bank loan market for such things as credit card advances, auto paper and small business loans will somehow cause Europe’s debt-besotted businesses and consumers to start borrowing again - thereby reversing the mild (and constructive) trend toward debt reduction that has caused euro area bank loans to decline by about 3% over the past year. What they are really up to, however, is money-printing and snookering the German sound money camp.
The Keynesians have failed. Japan has proved it. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world… and the markets catch on.
It is not too early to ask how the present US business cycle expansion, already more than five years old, will end. The history of the last great US monetary experiment in “quantitative easing” (QE) from 1934-7 suggests that the end could be violent. Autumn 1937 featured one of the largest New York stock market crashes ever accompanied by the descent of the US economy into the notorious Roosevelt Recession. As we noted previously - it's never different this time...
On the surface, the economic atmosphere of the U.S. has appeared rather calm and uneventful. Stocks are up, employment isn’t great but jobs aren’t collapsing into the void (at least not openly), and the U.S. dollar seems to be going strong. Peel away the thin veneer, however, and a different financial horror show is revealed. With the Ukraine crisis now escalating to fever pitch, BRIC nations are openly discussing the probability of “de-dollarization” in international summits, and the ultimate dumping of the dollar as the world reserve currency. The U.S. is in desperate need of a benefactor to purchase its ever rising debt and keep the system running. Strangely, a buyer with apparently bottomless pockets has arrived to pick up the slack that the Fed and the BRICS are leaving behind. But, who is this buyer? At first glance, it appears to be the tiny nation of Belgium. Clearly, this is impossible, and someone, somewhere, is using Belgium as a proxy in order to prop up the U.S. But who?