Ray Dalio recently described the characteristics of a “beautiful deleveraging” in which equal doses of austerity, write-downs, and inflation gradually lighten the load of impaired debt. Two things can turn beautiful inflation into ugly inflation: Wages don’t inflate along with prices and the currency depreciates as money is printed excessively. This might not matter for a nation that is a net exporter of goods and services. But for nations that import essentials such as oil and grain, this is a catastrophe, as wages are flat while the cost of imported energy and food skyrocket. Households have less money to spend, and servicing debt becomes increasingly burdensome. Welcome to the United States of Ugly Inflation. Real household income (i.e., adjusted for official inflation) has declined 8% since 2007; the cost of oil, medical care and higher education has climbed; and government revenues have stagnated even as demand for government services has increased. As a result, the entire beautiful deleveraging scenario is at risk.
Today's quote of the day award goes to...
- AHMADINEJAD SAYS SITUATION IN IRAN `NOT SO DIRE'
- AHMADINEJAD SAYS IRAN ECONOMY `CERTAINLY BETTER' THAN U.S., EU
The irony of course is that absent the trillions in fiat created out of thin air by the "developed world's" central banks, and the destruction of the purchasing power of their populations, he would be absolutely right. The bigger irony is that the Iran is by far winning the global race to debase, with its currency hitting a new record low of 26,500 vs the USD just yesterday, and has lost more than half of its value in the past year. Needless to say, Iran's epic ability to destroy its currency with such utter disdain is making central bankers around the world green with envy.
There has been a lot of ink spilled about how the stock market performs during Presidential election years generally leaning to why investors should be fully invested to the hilt. The current election year, with just three months remaining, has certainly played out to historical norms with the markets advancing on expectations of continued government interventions even as economic and fundamentals deteriorate. To wit Bespoke Investment Group wrote back in July: "We have highlighted the similarities between this year and prior Presidential Election years numerous times. Most recently, in early July we noted the fact that based on the historical pattern, the S&P 500 could see a modest pullback in mid-July coinciding with the kick-off of earnings season. Sure enough, the market saw some choppiness about a week and a half ago and subsequently rebounded in the middle of last week. Holding to the historical pattern, that rebound came right at the same time that the market historically sees its summer low. If the pattern continues, the S&P 500 could be set up for a nice rally to end the Summer. Will it hold? Only time will tell, but if the historical pattern has worked so far, what's to stop it from continuing?"
It's becoming clear that there is only one sensible solution ahead of us as the Eurozone’s problems evolve: Germany and the other countries suited to a strong currency should leave. If they do, the European Central Bank (ECB) will be free to pursue the easy money policies recommended by Keynesians and monetarists alike. It's increasingly clear that Germany has no option but to behave like any creditor seeking to protect its interests – and do its best to defuse the growing resentment against her from the Eurozone’s debtors. If Germany is to abandon the euro, it has to do so as quickly and elegantly as possible. It must be able to demonstrate that it has no alternative and that it is the best solution for all parties involved. Germany’s politicians know this. For the moment they are frozen in a state of inaction, but there is a general election to concentrate their minds in about a year’s time - and Germany’s electorate is becoming acutely aware of the enormity of the task. It has become obvious to many people from all walks of life in Germany that the euro has done them no good, and, far from reaping benefits, they are actually less wealthy as a result of it.
Never try to teach a pig to sing, advised Robert Heinlein. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig. Similarly, never try to convince a central banker that his policies are destructive. After five years of enduring crisis, market prices are no longer determined by the considered assessment of independent investors acting rationally (if indeed they ever were), but simply by expectations of further monetary stimulus. So far, those expectations have not been disappointed. The Fed, the ECB and lately even the BoJ have gone “all- in” in their fight to ensure that after a grotesque explosion in credit, insolvent governments and private sector banks will be defended to the very last taxpayer. Conventional wisdom is that such moves are justified during this period of economic slowdown, as everyone agrees that the market is ’deleveraging’. But as the consistently excellent Doug Noland points out, this idea of deleveraging (i.e. reduction of available credit) in the US is a myth.
Some wonder why we have been so convinced that no matter what happens, that the Fed will have no choice but to continue pushing the monetary easing pedal to the metal. It is actually no secret: we explained the logic for the first time back in March of this year with "Here Is Why The Fed Will Have To Do At Least Another $3.6 Trillion In Quantitative Easing." The logic, in a nutshell, is simple: everyone who looks at modern monetary practice (as opposed to theory) through the prism of a 1980s textbook is woefully unprepared for the modern capital markets reality for one simple reason: shadow banking; and when accounting for the ongoing melt of shadow banking credit intermediates, which continues to accelerate, the Fed has a Herculean task ahead of it in restoring consolidated credit growth. Shadow banking, as we have explained many times most recently here, is merely an unregulated, inflationary-buffer (as it has no matched deposits) which provides the conventional banking credit transformations such as maturity, credit and liquidity, in the process generating term liabilities. In yet other words, shadow banking creates credit money which can then flow into monetary conduits such as economic "growth" or capital markets, however without creating the threat of inflation - if anything shadow banks are the biggest systemic deflationary threat, as due to the relatively short-term nature of their duration exposure, they tend to lock up at the first sing of trouble (see Money Markets breaking the buck within hours of the Lehman failure) and lead to utter economic mayhem unless preempted. Well, preempting the collapse in the shadow banking system is precisely what the Fed's primary role has so far been, even more so than pushing the S&P to new all time highs. The problem, however, as we will show today, is that even with the Fed's balance sheet at $2.8 trillion and set to rise to $5 trillion in 2 years, it will not be enough.
The single most often broached argument that Liberty Movement writers, analysts, and strategists are confronted with by skeptics alongside well meaning but cynical newcomers is the assertion that while we happen to be very effective at pointing out the dangers of globalism and centralization, we rarely seem to take the initiative to offer “solutions” to the problem. This same argument is also used by establishment shills as a way to distract the public’s attentions from the very real despotic enterprises of their elitist employers. In reality, the contention that the Liberty Movement offers no solutions is entirely false. We have constructed many. The problem is that these solutions are not the kind that the general American public wants to entertain. The bottom line is that there is little time left for top-down political fairytale dreams, and little utility left in standard street actions. The real solutions require blood, sweat, and tears, starting with a method I have discussed for quite some time: Decentralization.
Since the very beginning of my public writings, I have leaned heavily towards the path of inflation, by which I mean money printing or its electronic equivalent, because even a cursory review of history will show that leaders have always chosen a little money printing today and the possibility of inflation tomorrow over the immediate pain of having to live within their means or with the consequences of their poor decisions. That was just a fancy way of saying 'humans will be humans,' and while our technology has advanced tremendously over the past few decades, our DNA blueprints are virtually identical to those found in people living 50,000 years ago. History can tell us much. Our current predicament has its roots way back in the early 1980s, when something changed in our collective psyches that allowed us to abandon thrift and savings in favor of spending and borrowing.
Since 2007 our analysis has suggested the likelihood of economic outcomes that most have considered unlikely: significant and ongoing monetary inflation, policy-administered currency devaluation, substantial global price inflation, and an eventual change in how the forty year old global monetary system is structured. Most observers have viewed such outlooks as tail events – highly unlikely, unworthy of serious consideration or a long way off. We remain resolute, and believe last week’s movements in Frankfurt and Washington towards perpetual quantitative easing confirmed and accelerated the validity of our outlook. With QBAMCO's view that $15,000 - $19,000 Gold is possible, timing of the catch-up phase is impossible - though they suspect last week's events may be the catalyst that begins to raise public awareness of the link between monetary inflation and price inflation.
Some Shocking Perspectives On Inflation And Currency Destruction By None Other Than The Federal ReserveSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/18/2012 11:46 -0400
Going back to the FOMC's own archives reveals some truly stunning disclosures arising from none other than the Federal Reserve on the topics of inflation, currency "debauching", money creation, and what it would take for the Communists and Stalin to win. "I agree with you entirely that the Soviet dictators would like to bring about our economic collapse and, as you know, inflation is perhaps the greatest force for arraying the various sectors of a capitalistic economy against each other. John Maynard Keynes stated in his 'Economic Consequences of the Peace' (1919): 'Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency...Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of Society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.'"
If the Federal Reserve’s nightmare comes true and deflation occurs, something else happens that the banks fear and loathe: marginal borrowers default on all their debts. Rather than being easier to pay, the debts become more difficult to pay as money gains value. Marginal borrowers no longer get the “boost” of inflation, so they increasingly default on their loans. How is it bad for hopelessly over-indebted, overleveraged households to default on all their debt and get a fresh start? Exactly why is that bad? What is the over-indebted household losing other than a lifetime of debt-serfdom, stress and poverty? The banks have to absorb the losses, and since they are so highly leveraged, the losses drive the banks into insolvency. They are bankrupt and must close their doors. Note that 99.9% of the people benefit when bad banks absorb losses and close their doors. Only the bank managers, owners and bond holders lose, and everyone else gains as an unproductive, poorly managed bank no longer burdens the economy with its malinvestments and risky bets. The Federal Reserve’s policy of protecting the wealth and power of the banks while stealing from wage earners via inflation is a catastrophe for the nation and the 99.9% who are not financiers, politicians and lobbyists.
If you want to do something for the poor and middle class, encourage deflation.
Connecting the dots between my anecdotal observations of suburbia and a critical review of the true non-manipulated data bestows me with a not optimistic outlook for the coming decade. Is what I’m seeing just the view of a pessimist, or are you seeing the same thing? A few powerful men have hijacked our economic, financial and political structure. They aren’t socialists or capitalists. They’re criminals. They created the culture of materialism, greed and debt, sustained by prodigious levels of media propaganda. Our culture has been led to believe that debt financed consumption over morality and justice is the path to success. In reality, we’ve condemned ourselves to a slow painful death spiral of debasement and despair.
“A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, and fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” – Chris Hedges
Well, my fellow Slope-a Dopes, your favorite intrepid seafaring Frenchman got blown out of the water by Benjamin Moby-Dick Bernanke once again. I have to hand it to captain grey beard, for a guy with a curiously quivering lower lip, who seems so utterly unsure of himself every time he opens his moronic mouth, he sure does have some pair of ballistic brass balls. Not only did he delivered on his QE3 promise, but he actually turbo charged it into a terrifying trifecta! Boatswain BDI was left for dead, desperately drowning in a sea of red DOOMs (Deep Options Out of the Money). So now that Moby Dick has breached and surged the equity waves to new highs, where do we sail from here?
From Egan-Jones, which downgraded the US for the first time ever last July, two weeks ahead of S&P: "Up, up, and away - the FED's QE3 will stoke the stock market and commodity prices, but in our opinion will hurt the US economy and, by extension, credit quality. Issuing additional currency and depressing interest rates via the purchasing of MBS does little to raise the real GDP of the US, but does reduce the value of the dollar (because of the increase in money supply), and in turn increase the cost of commodities (see the recent rise in the prices of energy, gold, and other commodities). The increased cost of commodities will pressure profitability of businesses, and increase the costs of consumers thereby reducing consumer purchasing power. Hence, in our opinion QE3 will be detrimental to credit quality for the US."
"Everything will collapse" is the consequence Gloom, Boom, & Doom's Marc Faber sees from the Fed's latest 'stimulus' (and the fallacy and misconception of how money-printing can help employment). In a wondrously clarifying interview on Bloomberg TV this morning, Faber explained why he was 'happy', since "the asset values of his holdings will go up" but as a responsible citizen he is worried because "the monetary policies of the US will destroy the world." It truly is class warfare under a veil of 'its good for you' as he notes: "the fallacy of monetary policy in the U.S. is to believe this money will go to the man on the street. It won't. It goes to the Mayfair economy of the well-to-do people and boosts asset prices of Warhols." Congratulations, Mr. Bernanke.