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Guest Post: Get Ready For An Epic Fiat Currency Avalanche

What is it that makes Keynesians so insanely self destructive?  Is it their mindless blind faith in the power of government?  Their unfortunate ignorance of the mechanics of monetary stimulus?  Their pompous self-righteousness derived from years of intellectual idiocy?  Actually, I suspect all of these factors play a role.  Needless to say, many of them truly believe that the strategy of fiat injection is viable, even though years of application have proven absolutely fruitless.  Anyone with any sense would begin to question what kind of madness it takes to pursue or champion the mindset of the private Federal Reserve bank… Quantitative easing has shown itself to be impotent in the improvement of America’s economic situation.  Despite four years of free reign in central banking, employment remains dismal in the U.S., the housing market continues its freefall, and, our national debt swirls like a vortex at the heart of the Bermuda Triangle.  Despite this abject failure of Keynesian theory, the Federal Reserve is attempting once again to convince you, the happy-go-lucky American citizen, that somehow, this time around, everything will be “different”.

The One Big Problem With QE To Infinity

There is one big problem with the Fed's announcement of Open-Ended QE moments ago: it effectively removes all future suspense from FOMC announcements. Why? Because the Fed has as of this moment exposed its cards for all to see from here until the moment it has to start tightening the money supply (which may or may not happen; frankly we don't think the Fed tightens until hyperinflation sets in at which point what the Fed does is meaningless). It means easing is now effectively priced into infinity. Now rewind back to that one certain paper by the New York Fed, which laid it out clear for all to see, that if it wasn't for the expectation of easing in the 24 hour period ahead of the FOMC meeting, the market would be 50% or lower than where it is now, and would have been effectively in negative territory in the aftermath of the Lehman collapse. What Bernanke did is take away this key drive to stock upside over the past 18 years, because going forward there is no surprise factor to any and all future FOMC decisions, as easing the default assumption. It also means that Bernanke may have well fired his last bullet, and it, sadly, is all downhill from here, as soaring input costs crush margins, regardless of what revenues do, and send corporate cash flow to zero. Unfortunately, not even in the New Normal can companies operate without cash flow.

Foreclosure Stuffing

Back in November 2010, the robosigning scandal hit in which it was made clear that when it comes to keeping track of mortgage titles, nobody really knows what belongs to whom, except maybe for Linda Green. The immediate result of this was a complete collapse in the foreclosure process as banks no longer had leverage to evict those who don't pay their monthly mortgage bills, since the banks couldn't confirm they actually had rights to the underlying mortgage, and the total monthly foreclosure total dropped from a ~330,000 average houses/month to roughly 250,000. Then in February, to much administration fanfare, the banks, and the attorneys general, signed what we dubbed the Robo-settlement: an event which was supposed to be the "resolution" to the robosigning scandal, and which should once again unclog the foreclosure pipeline. This did not happen. Instead, as RealtyTrac has been diligently reporting month after month, the monthly foreclosure total has continued to decline, and in August hit a level of 193,508 total foreclosures. The immediately spin is that this was a 1% improvement from July's 191,925. The reality is that it was a drop of 15.1% from a year earlier. As the chart below shows, ever since the advent of fraudclosure, the average monthly foreclosure total has dropped from a 330K/month average to just 219K. And declining. So why did the robosettlement not undo the robosigning foreclosure crunch? Simple - foreclosure stuffing.

Why The ECB's OMT Will Not Lead To European "Stabeeleetee"

You could be forgiven for believing that the ECB's talk/plans have indeed solved the European problems. The market's reaction appears to confirm all anchoring bias and thanks to overly bearish positioning (and thin summer markets) has sent all but the long-term-est bears scurrying for their rabbit-holes - as once again 'tail-risk has been removed' - just like LTRO, the SGP, and The Grand Plan before it. However, as BofAML notes in this must read note, we do not believe the ECB move will necessarily lead to a permanent stable equilibrium for the euro area for two reasons: 1) a stable equilibrium would require certainty about the ability of countries to restore debt sustainability, i.e. that they will respect an agenda of economic policy reforms and/or; 2) certainty about the ECB course of action, i.e. that the ECB will purchase bonds in such a way that we will not observe renewed financial market stress as we did this summer. Such certainty would require both Spain and Italy to put their faith in the Troika’s hands and the ECB to pre-commit in return, which seems to us very unlikey at this time. The ECB’s conditional backstop is some way from the “bazooka” that many were expecting

Guest Post: The Federal Reserve's Cargo Cult Magic: Housing Will Lift the Economy (Again)

I have often identified Keynesian economists and the Federal Reserve as cargo cults. After the U.S. won World War II in the Pacific Theater, its forces left huge stockpiles of goods behind on remote South Pacific islands because it wasn’t worth taking it all back to America. After the Americans left, some islanders, nostalgic for the seemingly endless fleet of ships loaded with technological goodies, started Cargo Cults that believed magical rituals and incantations would bring the ships of “free” wealth back. Some mimicked technology by painting radio dials on rocks and using the phantom radio to “call back” the “free wealth” ships. The Keynesians are like deluded members of a Cargo Cult. They ignore the reality of debt, rising interest payments and the resulting debt-serfdom in their belief that money spent indiscriminately on friction, fraud, speculation and malinvestment will magically call back the fleet of rapid growth. To the Keynesian, a Bridge to Nowhere is equally worthy of borrowed money as a high-tech factory. They are unable to distinguish between sterile sand and fertilizer, and unable to grasp the fact that ever-rising debt leaves America a nation of wealthy banks and increasingly impoverished debt-serfs.

Frontrunning: September 11

  • Germany says U.S. debt levels "much too high" (Reuters)
  • Netanyahu ramps up Iran attack threat (Reuters)
  • Burberry plummets by most ever, slashes guidance, rattles Luxury-Goods Industry as Revenue Growth (Bloomberg)
  • FoxConn Again Faces Labor Issue on iPhones (NYT)
  • Southern whites troubled by Romney's wealth, religion (Reuters)
  • China's Xi not seen in public because of ailment (Reuters)
  • Another California muni default: Oakdale, Calif., Restructuring Debt, Planning Rate Raise After Default (Bond Buyer)
  • Spain's PM expects "reasonable" terms for any new aid (Reuters)
  • Bernanke Proves Like No Other Fed Chairman on Joblessness (Bloomberg) - Ineffective like no other?
  • John Lennon’s Island Goes on Sale as Irish Unpick Property Boom (Bloomberg)

Guest Post: How Draghi Opened The Door To Hyperinflation And Denied The Fed An Exit Strategy

We will mince no words: Mr. Draghi has opened the door to hyperinflation. There will probably not be hyperinflation because Germany would leave the Euro zone first, but the door is open and we will explain why. To avoid this outcome, assuming that in this context the Eurozone will continue to show fiscal deficits, we will also show that it is critical that the Fed does not raise interest rates. This can only be extremely bullish of precious metals and commodities in the long run. In the short-run, we will have to face the usual manipulations in the precious metals markets and everyone will seek to front run the European Central Bank, playing the sovereign yield curve and being long banks’ stocks. If in the short-run, the ECB is the lender of last resort, in the long run, it may become the borrower of first resort!

Previewing The Dutch Elections

Even in the face of worsening odds of re-election (no sitting government has been returned to power in EU elections since the start of the crisis) one would expect national governments to do what is necessary to maintain current stability. The ultimate arbiter of burden sharing capacity, or whether the Euro will continue on the steady incremental path to integration, is whether regular voters vote for it. Hence the importance of elections, like the Dutch election this week. The anti-austerity Socialist Party (SP) has gained significant ground on the incumbent VVD party - focusing the market's attention on the willingness of the Dutch to meet the 3% of GDP deficit targets in 2013. The two 'extreme' parties look set to gain considerably more seats, and either a very broad coalition would be required, including a tail of small parties, or all four mainstream parties will have to participate in the new government: either way, government stability might be questionable. The scenario troubling markets is the potential for a long government formation process coinciding with the euro area’s need to fight the crisis and progress communal policies - though in the last week or two, support for the SP has declined. With the 2013 budget an immediate test, a 'new' Dutch government faces decisions over Greece, Cyprus, EFSF bond buying, and a common-bank supervisory body - none of which have anything like majority support across the coalitions.

There Must Be Some Way Out Of Here

There is a Transfer Union underway in Europe. While Germany has tried to avoid this at all costs, Europe, has found a clever way of implementing such a program and keeping it under the radar from the German citizens. In Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy the ECB has implemented a program where the sovereign guarantees some bank’s bonds. The bank then pledges them as collateral at the ECB and gets cash. The bank then turns around and lends the money back to the sovereign nation and provides liquidity and economic sustenance. The Transfer Union is completed as Germany guarantees 22% of the ECB and the European Central Bank is nothing more than a conduit to lend money to the various nations. This contrivance is also not sterilized so that the ECB is, in fact, printing money. In a very real sense the ECB is the only fully operational part of the European construct at present as the European Union does not have the “political will” to carry out its mandate.