Here come the revisionists with new malarkey about the 2008 financial crisis. No less august a forum than the New York Times today carries a front page piece by journeyman financial reporter James Stewart suggesting that Lehman Brothers was solvent; could and should have been bailed out; and that the entire trauma of the financial crisis and Great Recession might have been avoided or substantially mitigated. That is not just meretricious nonsense; its a measure of how thoroughly corrupted public discourse about the fundamental financial and economic realities of the present era has become owing to the cult of central banking. The great error of September 2008 was not in failing to bailout Lehman. It was in providing a $100 billion liquidity hose to Morgan Stanley and an even larger one to Goldman. They too were insolvent. That was the essence of their business model. Fed policies inherently generate runs, and then it stands ready with limitless free money to rescue the gamblers. You can call that pragmatism, if you like. But don’t call it capitalism.
The pool of greater fools willing and able to buy assets at higher prices with leveraged free money has been drained by six years of credit/risk expansion. Those who believe the stock market can continue rising despite the end of the Fed's "free money for financiers" programs are implicitly claiming that the pool of greater fools is still filled to the brim. Simply put, speculating with leveraged free money and extending credit to marginal borrowers is not sustainable or productive, and the stock market seems poised to reflect these three dynamics...
If you want to pinpoint the one dynamic pushing the global economy into not just a prolonged recession but a parallel period of massive social instability, look no farther than the social and financial stagnation that results from optimizing the system to benefit the Elites and the entrenched incumbents who protect them from competition and the dispossessed debt-serf classes below. The incestuous embrace of privilege and power by entrenched, socially isolated Elites characterizes failed states and brittle, doomed regimes throughout history.
The starting point in comprehending the dynamics of modern "markets' is to recognize that once they gain a head of steam, financial bubbles tend to envelope virtually every nook and cranny of the economy, creating terrible distortions and destructive excesses as they rumble forward. In this instance, Wolf Richter explains how Silicon Valley has once again (like 1999-2000) been transformed into a rollicking capital “burn rate” machine that has spawned a whole economy based on striving for bigger losses, not better profits. Even the leading venture capitalists now recognize that the insanity of the dotcom era has re-emerged. One of these days, even the monetary politburo may notice. But by then it will be too late. Again.
In our era of omnipotent central banks worshipped by the Status Quo, we have a goddess of financial transitions--Janus Yellen, the two-faced chair/deity of the Federal Reserve - to usher in the Great Transition from risk-on to risk-off.
Even the most avid Bulls should grasp that market corrections of 10% to 20% are statistical features of all markets. Cranking markets full of financial cocaine so they never correct simply sets up the crash-and-burn destruction of the addict.
The US economy is dead. The Fed has known this for a long time, but pumped it up to where it is now to draw in all the greater fools, the so-called big investors who have made money like honey from QE and ZIRP. They are the greater fools. The American real economy ceased being a consideration long ago. We’re in for big surprises, and they won’t be pretty, they’ll be pretty nasty. There are far too many people who think of themselves as smart who don’t see the difference between a theater play and a reality show. The Fed will raise rates because that will make the biggest banks the most money. There’s nothing else that matters. The Fed can’t revive the US economy, that’s just a foolish notion. But it can suck a lot of wealth out of it.
What will $1 million buy in New York City? A diamond-encrusted Cartier men’s watch. A small fleet of 2014 Bentley Continentals. Or maybe your very own parking spot in SoHo... "Parking is in serious demand and has proven an excellent investment with no sign of a decline."
The dismaying reality: the only purpose of central bank monetary policy is to keep the bloated, corrupt, inefficient and self-liquidating vested interests of the state-cartel crony capitalism from having to suffer the consequences of real reforms. Japan ably serves as Exhibit #1 of this core dynamic.
Although I never thought it was possible, it makes me angry to write this book review. I'm not angry because I don't like the book. On the contrary, this is the best economics book I've ever read. Indeed, it may be the best and most influential book I've ever read in my life. I only wish I had read it the moment it was published in April 2013.
Were this extreme policy to be implemented it would be a further and deliberate debasement of fiat currencies. Alan Greenspan’s warning of “fiat money in extremis” becomes more real by the day. Were this silly proposal ever to become policy, it would significantly increase the risk of inflation and stagflation. In a worst case scenario, it will lead to currency collapse and hyperinflation.
The more the Status Quo pursues the same old Keynesian Cargo Cult script of central planning and free money for financiers, the more self-liquidating the system becomes.
Has Germany had enough? Hot on the heels of Mario Draghi's 'demands' that EU leaders undertake "structural reforms" to boost competitiveness and overcome the legacy of Europe's debt crisis, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble unleashed perhaps the most worrisome statement tonight for all the free-money-party-goers - the music is about to stop. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Schaeuble blasted "Europe needs to find ways to foster growth." In a clear shot across the bow of his 'core' cohort, Schaeuble said he "understood" Hollande's demands but shot back that "monetary policy can only buy time," adding that "the ECB has reached the limit in helping the Euro Area."
How do we know when an asset class is in a bubble? When everyone who stands to benefit from the continuation of the expansion declares it can't be a bubble.
The Status Quo is dysfunctional because its model of how the world works is broken. It won't matter if gridlock remains in place or one of the parties gets to impose its "brand" of policy-tweaks; since no one on the political spectrum has any concept that the current model described in these 12 points is broken, fixing the political dysfunction won't fix the systemic dysfunction.