Presented without comment - adding anything to this concise summation of the state of the union is superfluous...
Gross: Whew! It’s over. To the victor belongs the spoils of political power but to the US voter only continuing frustration will accrue.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) November 6, 2012
"Obama/Romney, Romney/Obama – the most important election of our lifetime? Fact is they’re all the same – bought and paid for with the same money. Ours is a country of the SuperPAC, by the SuperPAC, and for the SuperPAC. The “people” are merely election-day pawns, pulling a Democratic or Republican lever that will deliver the same results every four years. “Change you can believe in?” I bought that one hook, line and sinker in 2008 during the last vestige of my disappearing middle age optimism. We got a more intelligent President, but we hardly got change. Healthcare dominated by corporate interests – what’s new? Financial regulation dominated by Wall Street – what’s new? Continuing pointless foreign wars – what’s new? I’ll tell you what isn’t new. Our two-party system continues to play ping pong with the American people, and the electorate is that white little ball going back and forth over the net. This side’s better – no, that one looks best. Elephants/Donkeys, Donkeys/Elephants. Perhaps the most farcical aspect of it all is that the choice between the two seems to occupy most of our time. Instead of digging in and digging out of this mess on a community level, we sit in front of our flat screens and watch endless debates about red and blue state theologies or listen to demagogues like Rush Limbaugh or his ex-cable counterpart Keith Olbermann."
"The price action over the past few weeks in the wake of the markets getting more from the Fed than they could have ever expected heading into an election is a clue that the times indeed could be a changing. The 1987 paradigm underwent a similar period of choppy trade before melting down. Of course, crashes by their nature are a rare breed and the probability of one occurring is astronomically low. That said, should the S&P 500 fail to hold the 1400 level over the next few days (especially on a closing basis) we wouldn’t wait around too long in anticipation that the modern day version of LOR will save the day. The chart makes it clear that quantitative easing has diminishing returns. Soon they could be negative."
They may yield nothing (technically 0.295% nominal yield), and they may be still sold by the Fed, but today's 2 Year bond auction had a blistering metric that showed that something is very much unwell with the market. Coming at a Bid to Cover of 4.02, broad demand for today's $35 billion in 2 years was the second highest only below November 2011's 4.07. What happened on November 21, 2011? Well, the world was ending for one, or if not the entire world, then certainly Europe which for those who remember, had to be rescued one short week later courtesy of a coordinated global central bank intervention when the Fed and Europe not only renewed their FX swaps, but lowered the rate paid to OIS+50. So do the bondholders know something about today's market plunge that is not being said? We will find out soon.
Bill Gross has become quite the expert at explaining the Fed's flawed, ruinous and destructive "policies" in 140 characters or less. Today is no exception.
Gross: Fed merry-go-round: inflate stocks til 2000. Then inflate housing til 2007. Then inflate stocks til 2012. Now inflate housing again.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) October 22, 2012
What takes other Political Journalism majors (and CTRL-C/V minors) pages and pages of verbose essays full of acronyms and meaningless gibberish to refute, Bill Gross asserts in less than 140 characters.
Gross: The crash on Oct 19 1987 showed that portfolio insurance puts were dangerous. R central bank “puts” in the same category?Very likely
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) October 19, 2012
Needless to say, he is absolutely correct.
Imagine if in 2007, Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King, Jean Claude Trichet et al, had actually possessed the analytical foresight to see what was coming, organised a meeting with the world's media and explained how, using their collective wisdom, they would solve the problem.
"There's going to be a massive global crisis, but there's no need to worry. We're just going to print money."
"Is that it?"
How would most people have reacted then? We think they would have laughed out loud. Why are so many of us reacting differently now? The nature of markets is that they periodically forget the lessons of history. Confidence in the status quo seems as entrenched now as it was in 2007 but Gold appears to be exhibiting 'Giffen-like' behavior where, instead of falling, demand is rising as prices rise.
A mere three weeks ago we noted that Tim Geithner is preparing to transition to a Blackrock cubicle...
Geithner Reiterates Refusal to Talk About Monetary Policy. Or which floor of Blackrock his cubicle will be on
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 25, 2012
Today, it seems, the FT has finally got the memo as they note that Mr. Fink (Geithner's new boss?) trumped Mr. Rubin (Geithner's old boss?) as the most frequent 'can-I-phone-a-friend' call - speaking 49 times over 18 months (once every 11 days). We wonder if this is simply a 'rotation' discussion/interview process as Fink transitions to Geithner's little seat at Treasury and Geithner slides into his capacity as official guard of the Blackrock Stapler in the 3rd sub-basement.
At least he did not say Tungsten...
Gross: Stock and bond managers today must be alchemists: turn lead into gold. NOT likely. Too much lead (bubbled assets).
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) October 9, 2012
Given the Fed's ZIRP impact on expected returns, PIMCO notes that those approaching retirement have three choices: a) save more, b) work longer, or c) tighten their belts in retirement. If everyone saves more, we consume less, and therefore GDP growth slows down. Anemic growth leads to a Fed on hold for a prolonged period - and even further lowered return expectations in an ugly paradox-of-thrift-like feedback loop. PIMCO has found a concerning empirical link between lower rates and longer periods in the workforce as a higher fraction of older Americans remain employed. This has the structurally dismal impact of reducing (implicitly) the level of 'prime working age' employment and has 'convexity' - in other words, the lower rates go, the greater the inertia of the elderly to stay in the workforce. Intuitively, low rates leading to longer work lives just makes sense – especially in an era where fewer retirees will draw defined benefit pensions. This is why some of us are wondering if the Fed is spinning its wheels by sticking to the old model of trying to stimulate growth. So expect lower-rates and longer working years or go all-in on HY CCC debt with 20% of your savings.
In a post entitled 'Mugabenomics: Inflation in UK Higher than in Zimbabwe,' Guido Fawkes points out how the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable once warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics.” This was prior to coming to power and a swift u-turn which would make even the most slippery politician proud. Remember when Vince Cable warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics”? Vince flip-flopped on that even before he joined the coalition. Guido Fawkes then reminds its readers about the time when George Osborne said “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.” Alas as the blog rightly warns, "In government Osborne has overseen the printing of more money than any other Chancellor in British history. A quarter of the national debt – all this government’s overspending – has been bought by the Bank of England via QE." “So it is not a shock that inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is now lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012).” Those who have been warning about this monetary madness for some years are gradually being proved right
Our analysis of the physical gold market shows that central banks have most likely been a massive unreported supplier of physical gold, and strongly implies that their gold reserves are negligible today. If Frank Veneroso’s conclusions were even close to accurate back in 1998 (and we believe they were), when coupled with the 2,300 tonne net change in annual demand we can easily identify above, it can only lead to the conclusion that a large portion of the Western central banks’ stated 23,000 tonnes of gold reserves are merely a paper entry on their balance sheets – completely un-backed by anything tangible other than an IOU from whatever counterparty leased it from them in years past. At this stage of the game, we don’t believe these central banks will be able to get their gold back without extreme difficulty, especially if it turns out the gold has left their countries entirely. We can also only wonder how much gold within the central bank system has been ‘rehypothecated’ in the process, since the central banks in question seem so reluctant to divulge any meaningful details on their reserves in a way that would shed light on the various “swaps” and “loans” they imply to be participating in. We might also suggest that if a proper audit of Western central bank gold reserves was ever launched, as per Ron Paul’s recent proposal to audit the US Federal Reserve, the proverbial cat would be let out of the bag – with explosive implications for the gold price.... We realize that some readers may scoff at any analysis of the gold market that hints at “conspiracy”. We’re not talking about conspiracy here however, we’re talking about stupidity. After all, Western central banks are probably under the impression that the gold they’ve swapped and/or lent out is still legally theirs, which technically it may be. But if what we are proposing turns out to be true, and those reserves are not physically theirs; not physically in their possession… then all bets are off regarding the future of our monetary system.
When it comes to investing in gold, investors often see the world in black and white. Some people have a deep, almost religious conviction that gold is a useless, barbarous relic with no yield; it’s an asset no rational investor would ever want. Others love it, seeing it as the only asset that can offer protection from the coming financial catastrophe, which is always just around the corner. PIMCO's views are more nuanced and, we believe, provide a balanced framework for assessing value. Their bottom line: given current valuations and central bank policies, we see gold as a compelling inflation hedge and store of value that is potentially superior to fiat currencies.
We discussed the unintended consequence of QEternity previously as we noted the massive front-running of the Fed's MBS buying program that was occurring as 30Y current coupon mortgage bond yields were tumbling. While the last week or so has seen Treasury yields reverse their rising trend, the trend of front-running the Fed has not abated. In what, quite frankly, stunned us more than Sofia Vergara's wardrobe malfunction this weekend, we note that today the spread between the 30Y FNMA CurCpn mortgage bond (at 1.66%) and 10Y US Treasuries has smashed to incredible all-time lows of around 3bps. The day before QEternity, this spread was 60bps - having been over 100bps at the start of June 2012. The previous low from July 2010 of 54bps has been obliterated as Bernanke has managed to remove one more market from the lexicon of risk (and in the meantime, PIMCO's Bill Gross has earned back his 'bond guru' title by making a killing). Can we see Mortgage yields trade inside of Treasury yields?
The old 'new normal' bond guru succinctly sums up Bernanke's failed logic with QEternity in 80 characters...
Gross: Fed buys Mtges but banks fail to pass through lower yields to future home buyers.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) September 21, 2012