"The problem with Cassandras, such as Gross and Jim Grant and Stanley Druckenmiller, among a host of others, is that we/they can be compared to a broken watch that is right twice a day but wrong for the other 1,438 minutes. But believe me: This watch is ticking because of high global debt and out-of-date monetary/fiscal policies that hurt rather than heal real economies. Sooner rather than later, Yellen’s smooth shot from the fairway will find the deep rough."
"She is opening the door to creating even greater asset bubbles as have the BOJ and ECB and SNB by purchasing corporate bonds and stocks," Gross said of Yellen's hint that she may buy even more assets: "This is not capitalism. This is providing a walker or a wheelchair for an ailing economy. It may never walk normally again if monetary policy continues in this direction."
Action this week by Illinois' biggest public pension fund to lower its expected rate of return, could "cripple" the state's already fragile finances, Governor Rauner has warned. "If the (TRS) board were to approve a lower assumed rate of return taxpayers will be automatically and immediately on the hook for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in higher taxes or reduced services... the unforeseen and unknown automatic cost increases would have a devastating impact."
We can pretend fundamentals don’t matter and sure in the day to day profit taking of Citadel and the like they really don’t matter. But, while the PhDs may talk big about this new world economy where a move to universal welfare means jobs and wages don’t matter - well that is nonsense. Jobs and wages matter and they will always matter.
As another week comes to a close, we continue to wrestle with a market that remains detached from underlying economic data and clings to recent levels of over overbought, overextended and low reward/risk outcomes. Of course, in the final stages of a bull market, this is what has historically been the case.
In the US the year-on-year trend for productivity has turned negative . Most central bankers dismiss this fact as a short-term aberration. But the Japanese economy provides an example of what interest rates at or near zero can do to a large, developed economy. The answer is not much: not much real growth; not much inflation - and, together, not enough nominal GDP growth to repay historic debt should yields on sovereign debt ever return to normal.
The looming pension catastrophe is an inconvenient fact for elected officials as well as union bosses and their membership. Rational solutions like cutting benefits are not palatable to employees or the elected officials that require their votes. As such, we suspect the problem will continue to be ignored until it boils over...
“We call ourselves “Generation Screwed” because governments are spending money but leaving the bills behind for the young to pay,” says Gunn. “Apathy is our biggest challenge. Many youth are so burdened with the demands of getting a start in life, they are unaware of the lousy hand they are being dealt.”
"Zero interest rates and negative interest rates and Europe and Asia are a huge signal that we are almost at the point where central banks have lost their tools to perpetuate a sense of confidence, that things are cyclical.... If you were to apply the Bretton Woods model for valuing money today, gold would be up to $15,000 an ounce..."
The Fed's interest rate policy has driven long-term return expectations for investors lower but pensions are slow to update their assumptions to reflect the current "reality"... when/if they do the consequences will be pretty scary