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.
Hilsenrath claims a little birdie (Fed insider) told him that rates will be raised later this year. We expect the Fed is just jerking him around. There is nothing fundamentally or otherwise to suggest rates will move up. We're not sure if Hilsenrath is part of the game or just a gullible fool who is being used to keep the market off balance. Why would the Fed want the market off balance? The Fed does so intentionally because theory suggests such a strategy will improve the effectiveness of monetary policy. Regardless of what the Fed says, the reality is that interest rates are not moving up anytime soon. Here's why...
As we detailed previously, the first USD-denominated Chinese corporate bond default last week - of developer Kaisa Group - signals considerably deeper problems in China's economy as one manager noted, "everyone is rethinking risk right now." As Bloomberg reports, Chinese companies comprised 62% of all U.S. dollar bond sales in the Asia-Pacific region ex Japan last year, issuing $244.4 billion and that huge (and illiquid) market "has been too complacent," according to one credit strategist who warned, investors would be “rational to adopt a cautious approach in view of the fact that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime. It would be irrational to continue thinking that after Kaisa none of the companies will see a similar fate."
The structure of history is held together by two essential and distinct kinds of links, two moments in time to which no one is immune: moments of epiphany, and moments of catastrophe. Sometimes, both elements intermingle at the birth of a singular epoch. Men often awaken to understanding in the midst of great crisis; and, invariably, great crises can erupt when men awaken. These are the moments when social gravity vanishes, when the kinetic glue of normalcy melts away, and we begin to see the true foundations of our world, if a foundation exists at all. That time is now...
If this is any indication we should see a big move in Renminbi
"Mutually assured destruction" now best describes the uneasy stand-off between an increasingly indebted US government and an increasingly monetarily frustrated China. So here's a quiz: 1) Which country is the world’s largest sovereign miner of gold? 2. Which country doesn’t allow an ounce of that gold to be exported? 3. Which country has advised its citizenry to purchase gold? Three questions. One answer. In each case: China. Is it plausible that, at some point yet to be determined, a (largely gold-backed) renminbi will either dethrone the US dollar or co-exist alongside it in a new global currency regime?
"Anything that becomes a mania -- it ends badly," warns one bond manager, reflecting on the $550 billion of new bonds and loans issued by energy producers since 2010, "and this is a mania." As Bloomberg quite eloquently notes, the danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt - as HY energy spreads near 1000bps - all thanks to the mal-investment boom sparked by artificially low rates manufactured by The Fed. "It's been super cheap," notes one credit analyst. That is over!! As oil & gas companies are “virtually shut out of the market" and will have to "rely on a combination of asset sales" and their credit lines. Welcome to the boom-induced bust...