The overnight session has so far been marked with one after another economic debacle out of Asia. First Japan announced that its Q3 GDP fell an annualized 3.5% in Q3, more than the 3.4% expected, the worst decline since last year's earthquake. The drivers were sliding exports and a collapse in consumer spending. The announcement brought on a barrage of platitudes by various Japanese officials who are shocked, shocked, that 32 years of Keynesian miracles have resulted in this horrifying outcome. Of course, everyone knows 33 years is the charm for Keynesian miracles. So much for the boosts from Japan's QE 8 aad QE 9: bring on QE 10. The pundits appear surprised now that Japan is back in a solid recession, which to us is quite surprising as well - does this mean that Japan ever exited the depression? Then China came out with an announcement that its credit growth plunged in October with Chinese banks extended CNY 505bn new yuan loans in October, down from CNY 623bn in September and less than the CNY 590 expected. The trifecta of bad news was rounded off by India, whose Industrial Production joined the rest of the world in global recession, when it dropped 0.4% in September on expectations of a 2.8% rise, even as Consumer prices rose 9.75% Y/Y - the global stagflation wave has arrived... For all those wondering why futures have managed to eek out a modest overnight ramp.
If the citizenry cannot dislodge a parasitic, predatory financial Aristocracy via elections, then "democracy" is merely a public-relations facade, a simulacra designed to create the illusion that the citizenry "have a voice" when in fact they are debt-serfs in a neofeudal State. When the Status Quo remains the same no matter who gets elected, democracy is a sham. The U.S. Status Quo is also like an iceberg: the visible 10% is what we're reassured "we" control, but the 90% that is completely out of our control is what matters. There is another dynamic in a facsimile democracy: the Tyranny of the Majority. When the Central State issues enough promises to enough people, the majority concludes that supporting the Status Quo, no matter how corrupt, venal, parasitic, unsustainable and dysfunctional it might be, is in their personal interests. In this facsimile democracy, citizenship has devolved to advocacy for a larger share of Federal government swag. Is Democracy Possible in a Corrupt Society? No, it is not. Our democracy is a PR sham.
Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann: the favorite solution to the Greek crisis is legally impossible
Does China have what it takes to get from here (industrialized export economy) to there (sustainable growth, widespread prosperity)? The same can be asked of every nation: do they have what it takes to move beyond their current limitations to the next level? Consider corruption. Corruption isn't just a "values" issue: corrupt societies have corrupt economies, and these economies are severely limited by that corruption. A deeply, pervasively corrupt economy cannot get from here to there. Corruption acts as a "tax" on the economy, siphoning money from the productive to the parasitic unproductive Elites skimming the bribes, payoffs, protection money, unofficial "fees," etc. By definition, the money skimmed by corruption reduces the disposable income of households and enterprises, reducing their consumption and investment... Pull aside the curtain and what you find is a China crippled by corruption and debt.
Last night, Japan issued an update of its total public debt. The number was ¥983 as of September 30. Trillion. The bad news is that the long anticipated currency legend which will finally say "¥ in Quadrillions" is once more delayed. The good news, is that with the recently expanded BOJ QE8 and QE9, the excess monetization debt capacity, a lot of its going to sweep the aftermath of Fukushima under the rug, will promptly be filled, and we fully expect the December 31, 2012 debt update to finally bring us to the first instance of the word "quadrillion" used in the context of a modern, developed nation.
Gold is 3.35% higher and silver 4.53% higher this week in US dollars in the aftermath of Obama's re-election. Gold in euros looks set to break out above €1,400/oz and is 4.1% higher and in sterling gold has risen 3.7% so far this week. Silver is 5.25% higher in euros and 4.8% higher in pounds. Gold and silver are set for higher weekly closes in all fiat currencies which may negate the recent bearish short term technical picture and set the precious metals up for the traditional yearend rally. The data clearly shows that November is gold's strongest month and one of silver's strongest months. December, January and February are also strong months - prior to a period of weakness is often seen in March.
Back in the late 1980s, the entire business world was obsessed with Japan. It's no wonder that this was the case: here was a country which had emerged from the ashes of World War 2 and had become the world's second-largest economy. They made high-quality cars, consumer electronics, semiconductors, plus they seemed to have a management style and work ethic that put the "good old USA" to shame.
Perhaps those sage English philosophers 'The Vapors' were on to something 32 years ago when they asked if we were "Turning Japanese" for it seems the following charts from Nomura certainly suggest the US bond market is heading in that direction. From demographics to monetary policy; from investor allocations to flows; and from bond bubbles and volatility to long-term interest-rate paths, it seems we share a lot more than a love for sushi and pachinko with our neigbours across the ocean as we seem to be chasing after many Japanese models (of asset allocation and macro-economics).
Do we have what it takes to get from here to there? This apparently simple question offers profound insights into the dynamics of individuals, households, enterprises and nation-states. If we answer this question honestly, it establishes a "road map" of what must be in place before a progression from here to a more sustainable future ("there") can take place. For most of the world's economies and societies, the answer is a resounding "no." The U.S. Status Quo is as intellectually bankrupt as it is financially bankrupt. Our "leadership" cluelessly clings to the only model they know: incentivize "consumers" into borrowing more money to buy more "stuff" from China, in the magical-thinking belief this churn will somehow lead to sustainable "growth." This is akin to handing a parched alcoholic a fresh bottle of whiskey to wean him of his addiction. There are more than a few lessons to be learned from Japan...
Obama's Back In: Does He Succumb To Popular (Ignorant?) Opinion Like The Europeans Or Make The Tough ChoicesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/08/2012 12:04 -0500
Starving a skinny man doesn't make him healthy, but then again neither does shoving 30lbs of food down his throat. When will TPTB start using their heads? As long as policy mistakes are made, contrarian profits can be made as well.
In what may be the most disturbing news of the day, moments ago the BOE announced it is halting its own version of QE3, and capping the asset purchase program at £375 billion after "some policy makers questioned its effectiveness in supporting a recovery that remains lackluster." Could it be that even that peculiar Homo Sapiens subspecies known as "economist" is starting to realize that when applying the same "remedy" time after time to absolutely no avail, and where even the market no longer responds to unlimited injections of liquidity, then perhaps it is time to end said "remedy" altogether? And how long until the voodoo shamans in the dark lit room at Marriner Eccles follow through? Sadly, if Japan, and its 9 (so far) rounds of easing, is any indication, we have a lot more pain to go before what has been glaringly obvious to every hotdog vendor and shoeshine boy is also understood by Economics Nobel prize winners.
Against the backdrop of a tepid US recovery, Eurozone recession and stuttering growth across emerging markets, investors are beginning to focus on how the 'status quo' outcome impacts the odds of cliff-avoidance; which after all, if there is one thing economists agree on, it is that a US and global recession will ensue if the legislated tax increases and spending cuts worth roughly 3.5% of US GDP take effect next year. UBS believes that if the US economy dips into recession, operating earnings -which are near peak levels - could easily plunge by a fifth. Risk premia would climb, particularly because the US and the world have run out of policies that could lift their economies out of recession. Those factors point to significant downside risk (at least 30%) for global equity markets if the US falls off the 'cliff'. Yet the S&P500 remains within a few percentage points of its cyclical highs. Accordingly, as we have previously concluded, investors assign a very low probability to the ‘cliff’ and a 2013 US recession, which UBS finds 'darn surprising' that this much faith in common sense prevailing in Washington amidst such divisive politics. But for all the attention the ‘cliff’ deserves, UBS notes the fundamental challenge for the US (and many other countries) is to address fiscal stability as a long-term necessity, not a short-term fix.
Do not expect any changes to the trends of polarization and party non-conformists is the message from JPMorgan's CIO Michael Cembalest. As he explains moderates like Blue Dog Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans are now artifacts in the Natural History Museum, having given way to their more ideological offspring (through retirement or after having been beaten in primaries). If anything, Cembalest believes the House may become even more partisan after apparent losses by moderates in both parties. After a better than expected night for Democrats given Senate results, the fiscal cliff looms; With the status quo maintained, a divided government goes back to work to solve the Mutually Assured Fiscal Destruction problem. However, electoral results suggest the country is in no mood to address entitlement issues right now, will defer them to another day, and continue to shift towards a high-Federal debt economic model that bears some resemblance to Europe and Japan. In the 1950’s, the solution to 80% Federal debt was not taxation, austerity or inflation, but growth.
Once upon a time there was a myth that the equity market can only go up, year after year, with the average annual return according to such esteemed counting institutions as Ibbotson, at 10% or more. Then, we got the November 7, 2000 presidential election, which took place when the S&P was 1432. Fast forward to today, skipping the second and third elections in the interim, and going straight to today's fourth presidential election. The closing S&P today? 1428. We have now had four presidential elections... and a funeral - that of the "stock market always rises" myth. But wait, it gets worse. The numbers above are nominal. When adjusting for the real purchasing power lost in the past 12 years, whose best indicator in a regime in which CPI data is constantly fudged and manipulated, is the price of gold, one can see that 3 presidential elections later, the S&P 500, when priced in gold terms, is now 83% lower. In other words, how is that wealth effect working out for you? And where will the stock market be in another 3 presidential elections in either nominal or real terms? One can only hope that Japan is not prologue...
Markets have found a good excuse to be on hold. Elections. No real US figures and a tendency to ignore European ones. No shoe dropping means upside, a little. Core EGBs rather firm nevertheless, for choice. Periphery, in absence of news, trading back and forth, so better today. EZ Q4 growth looks like stalling with a catch-up of a more lenient summer. More to come.
"Elected " (Bunds 1,43% +1; Spain 5,64% -9; Stoxx 2513 +0.5%; EUR 1,281)