Just when Japan can least afford it....
Our bullish premise rests on Greece being fixed.
It has only been a week since we discussed the San Francisco Fed's research group admitted that water was wet Fed policy will be unable to impact unemployment since the cyclical changes are more structural leading to jobless recoveries as fat is removed from the system. The powerless Fed now has another well-researched problem. As Daniel Wilson of the FRBSF sheepishly admits (having spent several thousands in taxpayer cash to fund the latest Fed 'white paper') with regard to the impact of fiscal stimulus: It is an inconvenient reality that this literature provides an enormous range of multiplier estimates, ranging from –1 to +3. Critically he notes that the benefits of fiscal stimulus vary with the business cycle and are strongest during recessions. So, given that the US is decoupling and that we are not in a recession, we assume the multiplier effect of the Fed's much-desired fiscal stimulus requests will be at the lower end of the range - either negative or inconsequential?
In other words, for the Fed to get its desired fiscal stimulus from the government they had better engineer, using only the monetary policies up their sleeves, a recession.
Mind versus technicals.
Over the weekend, we commented on Dylan Grice's seminal analysis which excoriates the central planning "fools", who are perpetually caught in the "lost pilot" paradigm, whereby the world's central planners increasingly operate by the mantra of “I have no idea where we’re going, but we’re making good time!” and which confirms that in the absence of real resolutions to problems created by a century of flawed economic models, the only option is to continue doubling down until terminal failure. Basically, the take home message there is that once "economists" get lost in trying to correct the errata their own models output as a result of faulty assumptions (which they always are able to "explain away" as one time events), they drift ever further into unknown territory until finally we end up with such monetary aberrations as "liquidity traps", "zero bound yields" and, soon, NIRP (which comes after ZIRP), if indeed the Treasury proceeds with negative yields beginning in May under the tutelage of the Goldman-JPM chaired Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee. Today, it is Bill Gross who takes the Grice perspective one step further, and looks at implications for liquidity, and the lack thereof, in a world where one of the three primary functions of modern financial intermediaries - maturity transformation (the other two being credit and liquidity transformation) is terminally broken. He then juxtaposes this in the context of Hyman Minsky's monetary theories, and concludes: "What incentive does a US bank have to extend maturity to a two- or three-year term when Treasury rates at that level of the curve are below the 25 basis points available to them overnight from the Fed? What incentive does Pimco or banks have to buy five-year Treasuries at 75bp when the maximum upside capital gain is two per cent of par and the downside substantially more?" In other words, Pimco is finally grasping just how ZIRP is punking it and its clients. It also means that very soon all the maturity, and soon, credit risk of the world will be on the shoulders of the Fed, which in turn labor under a false economic paradigm. And one wonders why nobody has any faith left in these here "capital markets"...
In contrast with better news from macro data, the negotiations about the next Greek package intensified and this will likely remain the key focus in the upcoming week. On one hand, the present value reduction in a PSI has still not been formally agreed. On the other, the Greek Government still has to commit to more reforms in order for the Troika to agree to a new program. A key deadline for this commitment is on Monday at 11am local time in Athens. Eurogroup President Juncker has talked openly about the possibility of a default on Saturday in the German weekly Der Spiegel. Beyond the ongoing focus on Greece, the week sees a relatively heavy concentration in central bank meetings, including the RBA, ECB, BOE, Poland, Indonesia and a few others. On the data side, the focus is likely on the December IP numbers due in a number of countries, including in some key Eurozone countries (Germany, Italy, France).
A one-stop shop summary of bullish and bearish perspectives on this weeks news, data, and markets.
The vast majority of professional investors are unable to contemplate truly dark times for the markets. After all, the two worst items most of them have witnessed (the Tech Bust and 2008) were both remedied within about 18 months and were followed by massive market rallies.Because of this, the idea that the financial system might fail or that we might see any number of major catastrophes (Germany leaving the EU, a US debt default, hyperinflation, etc.) is on par with Bigfoot or Unicorns for 99% of those whose jobs are to manage investors' money or advise investors on how to allocate their capital.
Mike Krieger submits: "I’ve always loved history. Even all the way back to grade school I remember it being my favorite subject. Very early on I noticed certain patterns in history and I wondered why they occurred. When I was first exposed to European history, I recall being absolutely floored by how certain countries could become so rich and powerful and then subsequently collapse so stunningly and rapidly. The one that really boggled my mind was Spain - the homeland of my maternal grandfather who I never met. Here was a country that conquered and viciously looted essentially all South America other than Brazil (thanks to the pope being magnanimous enough to grant that part of the world to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas), Mexico, Central America and parts of the United States. The gold and especially silver that was taken back to Spain was the stuff of legend, yet almost at the same time they had defeated the native peoples overseas their kingdom at home was crumbling. Not to bore anyone with too much history, but by the mid 1500s the Spanish had essentially conquered the Aztecs (Mexico) and the Incas (Peru). At the time, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan was estimated to be larger than any city in Europe. Despite these tremendous “successes” and the riches that came with them, the battle of Rocroi in Northern France in 1643 less than one hundred years later marked the end of Spanish dominance in Europe. What is so fascinating to me is that while the conquistadors were out raping and pillaging halfway around the world the domestic economy was experiencing economic crisis. There were episodes of major currency debasements in the homeland as the crown was forced to fight wars on their borders as well as fund the excursions abroad. It is important to note that the collapse came pretty quickly as it was only in 1627 when things were still looking pretty good for the empire that The Count-Duke Olivares famously stated: “God is Spanish and fights for our nation these days.” Does this story sound familiar?"
With the IMF cutting its global growth forecasts and signs of slowing evident in the dramatic contraction in World Trade Volume in the last few months, it is perhaps no surprise that the central banks of the world have embarked upon what Goldman Sachs calls an 'Unprecedented Alignment of Monetary Policy Across Countries'. Our earlier discussion of the European event risk vs global growth expectations dilemma along with last night's comments on the impact of tightening lending standards around the world also confirms that this policy globalization is still going strong and is likely to continue as gaming out the situation (as Goldman has done) left optimal CB strategy as one-in-all-in with no benefit to any from migrating away from the equilibrium of 'we all print together'. Perhaps gold (and silver's) move today (and for the last few months) reflects this sad reality that all your fiat money are belong to us, as nominal prices rise (but underperform PMs) in equities (and risky sovereigns and financials).
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify at House Budget Committee (Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI) full committee hearing on "The State of the U.S. Economy." The highlight of today's hearing will be watching Bernanke face his nemesis runner up, Paul Ryan, who will surely grill Blackhawk Ben with questions that are far more intelligent than the press corps could come up with during the last FOMC canned remark presentation. Watch the full testimony live at C-Span after the jump.