Keynesian fiscal policies and central banking regimes have buried the public sectors of most of the world’s major economies in unsustainable debt. Now they propose to double down on more of the same because an entire generation of politicians have been house-trained in permanent fiscal profligacy and endless kicking of the fiscal can down the road. To be sure, in perhaps putting off Japan’s day of fiscal reckoning once again, Prime Minister Abe is proving himself to be a certifiable madman. In short order, however, he will have plenty of company all around the planet.
Instead of reading between the lines of the 28 page FOMC minutes, we have The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath to explain to us what we should believe. His message is not dovish. Despite tumult in financial markets, weak economic conditions abroad, and risks that low inflation could drift lower, Hilsenrath notes that the Fed forged ahead with a decision to end the central bank’s bond-buying program because the domestic economy and labor market appeared to be on course for further improvement. Furthermore, officials added a new twist: a debate about whether they should add new information in their official policy statement on how quickly rates will rise once increases commence.
The financial system is lurching towards the next round of the Great Crisis that began in 2007.
If one were to look up the definition of hypocrisy, the image of BoJ head Kuroda should be front-and-center. Having tripled-down on his money-printing and ETF-buying largesse just last week, he came out swinging last night at the government's fiscal irresponsibility blasting Abe's policies by saying Japan's fiscal health "is the responsibility of parliament and the government, not an issue for the central bank to be held responsible for." Aside from the fact that he is directly monetizing all JGB issuance - thus enabling Abe's arrogant fiscal stimulus plan (by issuing 30Y and 40Y debt), Bloomberg notes that "Kuroda is making it crystal clear the government has to tackle the debt problem and if fiscal trust is lost that’s not going to be on the BOJ." The world has truly gone mad.
Once again all eyes are on the carry-trade driving Yen, whose avalance into oblivion is picking up speed, and where the formerly unimaginable USDJPY level of 120 as presented here in September, is now looking like this week's business, with the only question how long until Albert Edwards' next target of 145 is hit leading to nuclear currency warfare between Japan, Korea, China and ultimately, the US and Europe. Unfortunately, for Japan, at this point the terminal currency collapse will do nothing to incrementally boost exports or its economy, and the former Japan finmin was on the tape warning again that the Japanese recession will persist as USDJPY over 115 is now hurting Japan, something which should by now have been clear to most.
What is it with us? Don’t we want to understand? Japan announced on Monday that its economy is in hopeless trouble and back in recession (as if it was ever out). And what do we see? ‘Experts’ and reporters clamoring for more stimulus. But if Japan has shown us anything over the past years, and you’re free to pick any number between 2 and 20 years, it’s that the QE-based kind of stimulus doesn’t work. Not for the real economy, that is.
The global power shift from the West to the East is alive and well
3 days and 1400 NKY points roundtrip and all is once again well in the world according to Abe. The Nikkei 225 has just recovered all its losses from the dismal GDP downside 'surprise' thanks to a never-ending levitation in USDJPY back over 117.00. For now, the momentumn has stalled for stocks... but we are sure another regurgitated headline-full of Japanese policy-maker bullshit will send USDJPY to 120 and NKY back to 40,000 any day now - thus proving to all that Japan is indeed 'recovered'.
Despite the apparent economic and profit news improvements recently, JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest notes there are a few instances where people are still flipping out. It’s worth reviewing them, he suggests, as they're indicative of risks and opportunities in financial markets heading into 2015, and of the continued presence of central banks affecting asset prices.
If you were forced to admit that everything you believed about markets and monetary policy was in fact completely fallacious, as this week's Japanese GDP collapse proved of Abenomics and devaluing yourself to prosperity, could you do it? Or would you stick to your blinkered views of the world... The following characters continue to have faith in the self-proclaimed ponzi scheme...
“If [They're] Right, Everything The Fed Has Been Doing To Try To Stimulate The Economy Isn’t Just Useless — It’s Backward”
"My premise hasn’t really changed since I published my paper explaining why I had become more constructive towards risk assets this time last year. That is to say, the structural deficiency of global demand continues to radicalise the central banking community. I believe they are terrified: the system is so leveraged and vulnerable to potentially systemic price reversals that the monetary authorities find themselves beholden to long only investors and obliged to support asset prices. However, I clearly confused everyone with my choice of language. What I should have said is that investors are perhaps misconstruing rising equity prices as a traditional bull market spurred on by revenue and earnings growth, and becoming fearful of a reversal, when instead the persistent upwards drift in stock markets is more a reflection of the steady erosion of the soundness of the global monetary system and therefore the rise in stock prices is something that is likely to prevail for some time."
While we no longer live in a world in which debt matters - because central banks will just monetize it in their ongoing and no longer covert effort to reflate the final bubble - and thus debt ratings are an irrelevant anachronism from a bygone era, we can't help but recall a certain statement by S&P from September of last year, in which the rating agency reminded everyone just why Japan has to proceed with both its first sales tax hike from 5% to 8%, (which, together with weather, has now been blamed on Japan's shocking quadruple-dip recession), but also the follow up from 8% to 10%, which as we now know, has been delayed indefinitely, and which was supposed to prefund welfare spending for Japan's demographic disaster which with every passing day gets closer and closer.
While the argument that declines in energy and gasoline prices should lead to stronger consumption sounds logical, the data suggests that this is not actually the case.
"Just when did Central Bankers become world media superstars and when do we get to put them back in their box?" Strutting the world stage, flitting from press conference to rubber chicken dinner, dispensing what passes for wisdom and prognosis as if the court astrologers have toppled the mighty Nebuchadnezzar and now rule in his place. Whatever happened to discreetly overseeing the balance of payments and facelessly staunching the worst panics only when absolutely necessary? This is clearly Japan’s last stand and there is no real exit strategy except to explicitly default on its debt. But an economic collapse and a sovereign debt default on the world’s third largest economy will contain massive economic ramifications on a global scale.