St Louis Fed
?Economics is like a Monet painting. Stand too close and all you see is a bunch of seemingly random paint strokes. Back up a few steps and an image emerges. The painting of bubblenomics started with the Plaza Accord, September 1985, where five nations agreed to manipulate the dominant currencies at the time. Japan enjoyed a 50% devaluation of the US$ vs the yen, artificially enriching its citizens so they could travel the world in busloads with eighty pounds of cameras around their necks. The consequences of that bubble have yet to be corrected. Based on healthy guidelines, the price of real estate is far too expensive today, or, more precisely, the cost of housing is too high but we may need another crisis before the market will wake up to the needed changes. In the meantime, money printing and hype will continue.
Feeling stressed? Worried about the financial markets? Don't be - the Fed has an index for that. The St. Louis Fed 'financial stress index', constructed from 18 weekly data series (6 interest rates, 6 yield spreads, and 5 others) fell to a record low for the 3rd week in a row signaling all-clear... right? Just one thing, in a world entirely disintermediated by central banking largesse, just how relevant are these 'market' indications of financial stress? As Bloomberg warns, the financial stress index has now been below zero for 130 consecutive weeks, the longest period since 2008.
It stands to reason that when the Fed eventually lifts interest rates, we’ll see the usual effects. After a sustained rise in rates, you can safely bet on: Fixed investment and business earnings dropping sharply; GDP growth following investment and earnings lower; Many people losing their jobs; and Risky assets performing poorly. These consequences follow not only from the arithmetic of debt service and present value calculations, but also from the mood swinging psychology of entrepreneurs, lenders and investors. Yet, policy economists claim that interest rates can be “normalized” at no cost. Our conclusion is to reject forecasts calling for the economy to power right through interest rate hikes without stumbling. A more likely scenario is that policy “normalization” leads us directly into the next bust.
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 15:11 -0400
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
What happens when huge, reckless buyers with nearly endless resources cut back after a phenomenal binge? Well, we know what happened in 2008.
One major factor to the slow growth/low inflation in the U.S. is the Wall Street Yield Trade. By incentivizing unproductive use of capital, low interest rate via monetary policy is actually deflationary.
The tidal patterns of this market have become so well-known to even the least observant: push the USDJPY (or other JPY carry pairs) higher starting around 6am Eastern, then ramp it just before US open to launch cross-asset momentum ignition algos in FX which then carry over to spoos and the broader "market." In the meantime, overnight selling of USDJPY allows a reset before ensuing buying during the US daytime session. Rinse. Repeat. Sure enough, just after 6 pm Eastern, the same USDJPY which catalyzed yet another all time high close had been sold off, leading to a 0.85% drop in the Nikkei and US equity futures which are showing an unprecedented ungreen color. Don't worry though: the pattern is too well-known and practiced by now, and we fully expect USDJPY levitation to pick up shortly, which is the only signal ES-algos need, trampling over any kind of newsflow both good and bad, and leading to yet another all time record high which it goes without saying is completely detached from any underlying reality at this point and at any time over the past 5 years.
Having spent the last few years blowing away the importance of the unemployment rate propaganda as participation rates have now become mainstream media discussion points, we were not surprised when the Fed admitted that it uses a "dashboard" of various employment measures (even if the world watches payrolls data as if there life depended upon it). As The Fed's Jim Bullard shows in his latest presentation, there are 13 variables the Fed follows. As the following chart shows, the surge in temporary help services hardly supports the great news that Friday's jobs data appeared to be (given stock market reactions).
Moments ago, St. Louis Fed president Bullard gave one of his signature yellow-backgrounded presentations to the Tennessee Bankers Association Annual Meeting taking place at the favorited by 1%-ers everywhere Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. The bulk of his presentation is the usual trite platitudes, but he did have some chose comments, such as:
- BULLARD: FED SHOULDN'T BE `INTERVENING' ALL THE TIME IN MARKETS
So just intervene from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm in the US equity market? But what will those who have been screaming about rigged, manipulated, broken US equity markets rail about if the Fed isn't intervening all the time in "markets", and if some semblance of normalcy, even if highly crashy, returns?
As the U.S. Greater Depression progresses, depicted most vividly in the collapse in the “civilian participation rate” (the number of people working in the economy) and the “velocity of money” (the heartbeat of the economy) - indicating an economy which is not merely in decline, but rather is being sucked downward in a terminal (and accelerating) death-spiral. There is another even more concerning statistic: U.S. “gasoline consumption” – as measured by the U.S. EIA itself – has plummeted by nearly 75%, from its all-time peak in July of 1998. A near-75% collapse in U.S. gasoline consumption has occurred in little more than 15 years... "recovery"
It is only one word, but it has been repeated so many times by FOMC members in the past year or so it has taken on the imprimatur of officialdom vernacular. Whenever speaking of bubbles, these policymakers inevitably include the word, “obvious.” Long is the list of internal literature that purports to place bubbles in the same category with the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography – we know it only when we see it. In that respect, “obvious” is the perfect qualifier that situates even the brightest of the PhD’s in the same herd as the little guy investor. It would be hard to blame them in disaster if that were actually the case since “everyone” else missed it too. The “good” news is that we will know for sure, including Yellen and her FOMC conspirators, at some point once it all becomes perfectly clear in hindsight. What a way to craft scarily intrusive policy!
As we noted earlier this week, the Fed is growing increasingly concerned of a bubble forming in the financial markets. Previously we noted that Janet Yellen was issued warnings regarding this.
Does anything about 2014 remind you of 2008? The long lists of visible stress in the global financial system and the almost laughably hollow assurances that there are no bubbles, everything is under control, etc. etc. etc. certainly remind me of the late-2007-early 2008 period when the subprime mortgage meltdown was already visible and officialdom from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan on down were mounting the bully pulpit at every opportunity to declare that there was no bubble in housing and the system was easily able to handle little things like defaulting mortgages. The party, once again, is clearly ending and raises the question: "If asset bubbles no longer boost full-time employment or incomes across the board, what is the broad-based, “social good” justification for inflating them?"
In the aftermath of the recent Wall Street Journal profile piece that, rather meaninglessly, shifted attention to Bill Gross as quirky manager (who isn't) to justify El-Erian's departure and ignoring Bill Gross as the man who built up the largest bond fund in the world, the sole head of Pimco was eager to return to what he does best - thinking about the future and sharing his thoughts with one of his trademark monthly letters without an estranged El-Erian by his side. He did that moments ago with "The Second Coming" in which the 69-year-old Ohian appears to have pulled a Hugh Hendry, and in a letter shrouded in caveats and skepticism, goes on to essentially plug "risk" assets. To wit: "As long as artificially low policy rates persist, then artificially high-priced risk assets are not necessarily mispriced. Low returning, yes, but mispriced? Not necessarily.... In plain English – stocks, bonds and other “carry”-sensitive assets would outperform cash."