In a new study, the IMF asks whether there's a global slump in real private investment (spoiler alert: yes there is and it's broad-based and endemic in advanced economies) and also suggests that productivity growth across the globe is likely to remain constrained for the foreseeable future.
"This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system... With US commitments unhonoured and US-backed policies blocking the kinds of finance other countries want to provide or receive through the existing institutions, the way was clear for China to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," the former Treasury Secretary says, in a sharp rebuke of US foreign policy.
The USA set the tone for 21st century magical finance, in which “wealth” was “created” by digital accounting fraud. The effects at home are visible on our landscape of suburban hyperwaste and decrepitating older towns and cities.
"I'm not sure [European QE] is going to do anything - certainly, nothing that's good. The fundamental problem here, as I see it anyway, is that the European banking system is still broken... I think, increasingly, bankers are discomforted more than anything else (it's not just the ex central bankers but increasingly the people that are still holding the levers)... they are starting to ask whether they have somehow been backed into a place where they don't really want to be.... Unfortunately, [it] is getting bigger and bigger. There is a possibility at least that this whole exercise could end very badly."
Echoing former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers’ quip, “There is surely something odd about the world’s greatest power being the world’s greatest debtor,” it appears that economic reality is finally beginning to set in for Americans... Only hours ago, Gallup released a new poll showing that only a small minority (just 17%) of Americans still view the US as the world’s economic superpower.
If, as Kyle Bass so eloquently noted previously, "buying gold is just buying a put against the idiocy of the political cycle. It's That Simple," then recent (post-QE3) activity suggests the narrative is changing fast... Perhaps Larry Summers was right last week in Davos, "we have to recognize that the era when central bank improvisation can be the world’s growth strategy is coming to an end."
The world of investing as we’ve come to know it is over. Financial markets have been distorted to such an extent by the activities, the interventions, of central banks – and governments -, that they can no longer function, period. The difference between the past 6 years and today is that central banks can and will no longer prop up the illusionary world of finance. And that will cause an earthquake, a tsunami and a meteorite hit all in one. If oil can go down the way it has, and copper too, and iron ore, then so can stocks, and your pensions, and everything else.
From Bill Gross: "I’ll leave the specific forecasting for a few weeks’ time and sum it up in a few quick sentences for now: Beware the Ides of March, or the Ides of any month in 2015 for that matter. When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over.... Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed."
Martin Armstrong, Max Keiser and High-Level Economists Weigh In
Goldman head Lloyd Blankfein was completely wrong when he declared his firm was doing “god’s work”. That couldn’t be. In fact, Goldman and its principal competitors have become nothing less than the devils workshop during the modern era of Keynesian central banking instigated by Alan Greenspan. Greenspan’s “committee to save the world” did no such thing. What it did was bury the American middle class in debt, while massively outsourcing US goods production capacity to China and elsewhere in the EM.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
One thing is certain about the ensuing “race to the bottom”. Japan’s retirement colony will end up with the hindmost. And they will surely burn professors Krugman and Summers in effigy—-even if driftwood is the only fuel they have left.
“Can a debt crisis be cured with more debt?” it is difficult to envision a return to normalcy within my lifetime (shorter than it is for most of you). I suspect future generations will be asking current policymakers the same thing that many of us now ask about public smoking, or discrimination against gays, or any other wrong turn in the process of being righted. How could they? How could policymakers have allowed so much debt to be created in the first place, and then failed to regulate their own system accordingly? How could they have thought that money printing and debt creation could create wealth instead of just more and more debt? How could fiscal authorities have stood by and attempted to balance budgets as opposed to borrowing cheaply and investing the proceeds in infrastructure and innovation? It has been a nursery rhyme experience for sure, but more than likely without a fairytale ending.