It appears The US Ministry of Truth has been hard at work this week...
The final Q1 GDP revision was just released and we saw that GDP has again missed expectations by such a large margin that 2015 is another write off for a 3% growth year. Almost comically we heard the same excuses we got last year. “Weather was wintery and next year is going to be the turnaround year”. So in order to explain to these supposed economic and market ‘experts’ who seem wholly incapable of understanding economic and market forces with any sense of accuracy, let’s run through a few fundamentals.
Global debt has expanded by $35 trillion since the credit crisis and as Lacy Hunt exclaims, "that's a net negative, debt is an increase in current consumption in exchange for a decline in future spending and we are not going to solve this problem by taking on more and more debt." "This process is far from over," Hunt concludes, "rates will move irregularly lower and will remain depressed for several years." Santelli sums up perfectly, "we're all frogs in boiling water," as we await the consequences of central planning.
March was a record month for CLO issuance with $15.2 billion in deals coming to market, bringing the YTD total to $29 billion and making Q1 2015 the best first quarter in history for CLO new issue volume. And while a JPM analyst who spoke to Bloomberg says managers “want to get deals done early before risk retention kicks in,” we're confident that it’s all about keeping credit flowing to deserving borrowers and not at all about a desire to keep exposure to 5% of a collateral pool littered with loans to “companies that are of lower credit quality or that do not have a third-party evaluation of the likelihood of timely payment of interest and repayment of principal” off of the books.
Confidence in the system likely hangs by a much thinner thread than is currently widely perceived. Since “risk asset” prices are soaring in much of Europe, the underlying currents of suspicion are well masked, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist. While we believe that central bank and regulatory interventions in the market are a major reason why so many bond yields have dropped into negative territory, the role played by distrust in the banking system is probably quite large as well – a suspicion that seems to be confirmed by the strength of the euro-denominated gold price.
“In my 30-year career, it’s one of the most unattractive risk-return propositions that I’ve seen,” DoubleLine's Bonnie Baha says. Between abysmally low yields, heightened rate sensitivity heading into a rate hike cycle, and balance sheet re-leveraging on the part of US corporations, it’s a bad time to be betting on corporate credit.
Americans still say they believe in free markets, democracy and financial rectitude. But only as platitudes and hypocrisies... the free market was one of the first casualties of the post-1971 fiat money period. In a free market, people earn money by working (income) or by saving and investing it (capital growth). But credit-based money needed neither work nor saving; you just had to know the right people.
“Government can have no more than two legitimate purposes,” wrote the 18th-century English political philosopher William Godwin, “the suppression of injustice against individuals within the community and the common defense against external invasion.” But the US system of government – nourished by the almost unlimited credit that its money gives it – has swelled to a shape that would have been grotesque and unrecognizable to Godwin. To those who still maintain some romantic attachment to the ideals of the American Revolution, it is merely repulsive.
"Central banks are not all singing and all dancing," and cannot avoid the consequences of what they are doing, concluding, "you and I have got grandstand seats here [to an imminent market shock]," and investors are about to "find out just how illiquid it really is out there."
The world economy stands on the brink of a second credit crisis as the vital transmission systems for lending between banks begin to seize up and the debt markets fall over. The latest round of quantitative easing from the European Central Bank will buy some time but it looks like too little too late.
...but it's different this time.
The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
2015 will be a year of shattered illusions; social, political, as well as economic. The common claim today is that the QE of Japan and now the ECB are meant to take up the slack left behind in the manipulation of markets by the Fed. I disagree. As I have been saying since the announcement of the taper, stimulus measures have a shelf life, and central banks are not capable of propping up markets for much longer, even if that is their intention (which it is not). Why? Because even though market fundamentals have been obscured by a fog of manipulation, they unquestionably still apply. Real supply and demand will ALWAYS matter – they are like gravity, and we are forced to deal with them eventually. The elites hope that this will be enough to condition the public to support centralized financial control as the only option for survival... It is hard to say what kind of Black Swans and false flags will be conjured in the meantime, but I highly doubt the shift away from the US Dollar will take place without considerable geopolitical turmoil.