St Louis Fed
When it comes to deflation, mainstream economics becomes not the science of common sense, but the science of nonsense. Most economists today are quick to say, “a little inflation is a good thing,” and they fear deflation. Of course, in their personal lives, these same economists hunt the newspapers for the latest sales. The person who epitomizes this fear of deflation best is Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.
In the real economy on Main Street, the circumstances are different. If you want to buy a house in the US and you need a conventional mortgage, and if you are not a speculator and want to live in dwelling, your costs have now risen substantially.
They’re worried the system might break down if the bond bubble were allowed to inflate further only to implode in a “disorderly” manner.
The 'Hilsenramp' is here. As US equities look set to test previous all-time highs and important support (100DMA), the mouthpiece of the Fed proved his worth:
*WSJ's HILSENRATH: Analysis: Overlooked 'Dovish' Signals In Bernanke Press Conference
*WSJ's HILSENRATH - Analysis: Markets Might Be Misreading The Fed's Messages
Apparently, everyone messed up - there is nothing but good news for the money-printing-addicts. Hilsenrath's "New York Fed" sources have yet to leak the 2013 year-end price target for the S&P 500 (though we expect that next).
As noted previously, in the latest FOMC decision the St. Louis Fed's James Bullard joined the ranks of the dissenters currently held only by Kansas Fed's George. Today he explains why: it appears that he had an issue with what most have already pointed out: the Fed's lowering of its economic forecasts, even as it represented a "tapering" of monetary injections. To wit: "The Committee was, through the Summary of Economic Projections process, marking down its assessment of both real GDP growth and inflation for 2013, and yet simultaneously announcing that less accommodative policy may be in store." In other words the debate can end: Bernanke did signal tapering.
Overnight, following the disappointing BOJ announcement which contained none of the Goldman-expected "buy thesis" elements in it, things started going rapidly out of control, and culminated with the USDJPY plunging from 99 to under 96.50 as of minutes ago, which was the equivalent of a 2.3% jump in the Yen, the currency's biggest surge in over three years. Adding insult to injury was finance ministry official Eisuke Sakakibara who said that further weakening of yen "not likely" at the moment, that the currency will hover around 100 (or surge as the case may be) and that 2% inflation is "a dream." Bottom line, NKY225 futures have had one of their trademark 700 points swing days, and are back knocking on the 12-handle door. Once again, the muppets have been slain. Golf clap Goldman.
A harbinger of things to come in other markets
In a weekend dominated by discussion of the "Taper Tantrum", i.e., interpretations of what Hilsenrath "said" after the close on Friday, what the Fed wanted him to say, what the market's response to what he said or did not say would be, and what the next steps may be, we present this convenient annotation of Hilsenrath's complete recital courtesy of Mike O'Rourke from Jones Trading.
This may be a trick question.
If this chart is in any way indicative of what is truly going on behind the scenes of the US economy, then watch out below...
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases. Also - from Citi's Steven Englander - what to worry about from this weekend's G-20 extravaganza...
According to dictionary.com, Deflation is “a fall in the general price level or a contraction of credit and available money.” Falling prices. That sounds good, especially if you have set some cash set aside and are thinking about a major purchase. But as some additional research with Google would seem to demonstrate, that would be a naïve and simple-minded conclusion. According to received wisdom, deflation is a serious economic disease - St.Louis Fed: "...discourages spending and investment because consumers, expecting prices to fall further, delay purchases, preferring instead to save and wait for even lower price..." The problem with deflation, then - we are told, is that it feeds on itself, destroying the economy along the way. Deflation is far worse than its counterpart, inflation, because the Fed can fight inflation by raising interest rates. Deflation is nearly impossible to stop once it has started because interest rates can only be cut to zero, no lower. In case you’re not already scared straight, the deflationary doomsday has already happened in America when (according to the New York Times) it caused the Great Depression. I hope that everyone is clear on this. Now that you understand the basics, I have some questions for the people who came up with this stuff.
Back in June 2011 Zero Hedge broke a very troubling story: virtually all the reserves that had been created as a result of the Fed's QE2, some $600 billion (which two years ago seemed like a lot of money) which was supposed to force banks to create loans and stimulate the US (not European) economy, ended up becoming cash at what the Fed classifies as "foreign-related institutions in the US" (or "foreign banks" as used in this article) on its weekly update of commercial banks operating in the US, or said simply, European banks..... With the Fed's open-ended QE in place for over 3 months now, or long enough for the nearly $200 billion in MBS already purchased to begin settling on Bernanke's balance sheet, we decided to check if, just like during QE2, the Fed was merely funding European banks' US-based subsidiaries with massive cash, which would then proceed to use said fungible cash to indicate an "all clear" courtesy of Bernanke's easy money. Just like in 2011.
The answer, to our complete lack of surprise, is a resounding yes.
No commentary necessary, although we will add one word: "unsustainable." We will also add that apparently not one economist could factor the simplest human behavioral response: "hey, lets pay ourselves dividends today to avoid the dividend tax hike tomorrow" into their models, which is why reality smashed the "estimate" by about 6 standard deviations. Ah, economists.
As soon as the much-weaker-than-expected GDP print hit the tape this morning, precious metals began to rise. Led by Silver, it appears the physical demand of recent weeks is creeping into the reality of prices (suppressed or otherwise) as bad is good enough for moar help from Ben and his buddies. The upward move in the PMs is as good a predictor of what to expect (i.e., not even a hint of tightening) as the sell-side crew, which is expecting merely another boring FOMC statement - as Goldman notes, following the substantial policy changes announced in December - including the shift to outcome-based forward guidance and the introduction of open-ended Treasury purchases - Goldman expects the January meeting will likely be relatively uneventful with few changes to the economic assessment.