It is undeniable that America is thoroughly addicted to fiat stimulus. Every aspect of our economy, from stocks, to bonds, to banks, and by indirect extension main street, is now utterly dependent on the continued 24/7 currency creation bonanza. The stock market no longer rallies to the tune of increased retail sales, growing export markets or improved employment expectations. In fact, “good” economic news today is met with panic and market sell-offs! Why? Because investors and banks still playing equities understand full well that any sign of fiscal improvement might mean the end of the private Federal Reserve’s QE pajama party. They know that without the Fed’s opiate-laced lifeline, the economy dies a fast and painful death. All mainstream economic news currently revolves around the Fed, as pundits clamor to divine whether the latest signals mean the free money will flow, trickle, or dry up. At the edge of the Federal Reserve’s 100th anniversary, it is vital that we see the current developments for what they really are – history changing, in a fashion so violent they are apt to scar America forever.
A decisive tipping point in the evolution of American capitalism and democracy - the triumph of crony capitalism - took place on October 3, 2008. That was the day of the forced march approval on Capitol Hill of the $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bill to bail out Wall Street. This spasm of financial market intervention, including multi-trillion-dollar support lines provided to the big banks and financial companies by the Federal Reserve, was but the latest brick in the foundation of a fundamentally anti-capitalist régime known as “Too Big to Fail” (TBTF). It had been under construction for many decades, but now there was no turning back. The Wall Street bailouts of 2008 shattered what little remained of the old-time fiscal rules. There was no longer any pretense that the free market should determine winners and losers and that tapping the public treasury requires proof of compelling societal benefit.
"When it comes to market events, there have been no impactful black swans - the so-called unexpected 'tail events," Mark Spitznagel notes in his excellent new book, The Dao Of Capital: Austrian Investing in a Distorted World, explaining that, "what were unseen by most, were indeed highly foreseeable" by others. The Fed planted the seeds for the last financial crisis and "when you prevent the natural balancing act, you get growth that shouldn't be happening."
The financial crisis of 2008 could have been the wake-up tall that, like the Yellowstone fires of 1988, alerted so-called managers to the dangers of trying to override the natural governors of the system. Instead, the Federal Reserve, with its head "ranger," Ben Bernanke, has deluded itself into thinldng ft has tamped down every little smolder from becoming a destructive blaze, but instead all it has done is poured the unnatural fertilizer of liquidity onto a morass of overgrown malinvestment making a even more highly flammable. One day - likely sooner than later, it will burn, and when that happens, the Fed will be sorely lackng in buckets and shovels and must succumb to the flames.
While unlikely to surprise too many people, the chairman of the ironically-named "MainStreet Bank" used over one-third of the TARP-supplied funds his bank received to buy himself a luxury home. Darryl Woods plead guilty to using $381,000 of the TARP funds to buy waterfront Florida property "at a time when many Americans were losing their homes," the US District Attorney exclaimed. Disgustingly, Mr Woods had previously written to TARP regulators describing Mainstreet as a small community bank and saying the funds "will provide vitally needed infusions to a bleeding patient." As The BBC reports, his wrongdoing was uncovered when regulators began examining how the money was used - which has so far uncovered 140 cases of misused funds...
Traditionally, metals markets are supposed to be a solid fundamental signal of the physical and psychological health of our overall economy. Steady but uneventful commodities trade meant a generally healthy industrial base and consumption base. An extreme devaluation was a signal of deflation in consumer demand and a flight to currencies. Extreme price hikes meant a flight from normal assets and currencies in the wake of possible hyperinflation. This is how gold and silver markets were originally designed to function – however, welcome you to the wacky world of 2013, where bad financial news is met with the cheers of investors who believe stimulus will last forever, where foreign investors dump the U.S. dollar in bilateral trade while mainstream dupes argue that the Greenback is invincible, and where everyone and their uncle seems to be buying precious metals yet the official market value continues to plunge. The reason our entire fiscal system now operates in a backwards manner is due to one simple truth - every major indicator of our economy today is manipulated by our central bank...
When Bad Government Policy Leads to Bad Results, the Government Manipulates the Data … Instead of Changing PolicySubmitted by George Washington on 07/30/2013 14:09 -0500
Problem ... What Problem?
Last week: “A culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world.” Now: a quixotic moment for those senators from both sides of the aisle
- Detroit ‘Gut Kick’ Poses New Test for Long Suffering City (BBG)
- Florida lawmakers urge overhaul of 'Stand Your Ground' law (Reuters)
- Investors pour huge sums into US equity funds (FT)
- Snowden Standoff Threatens Obama-Putin Moscow Summit (BBG)
- China, U.S. companies' great hope, now a drag (Reuters)
- Morgan Stanley stock traders rebuild burned bridges (Reuters)
- Huawei spied for China, claims ex-CIA head Michael Hayden (FT)
- Gorilla Flipping Homes as Rebound Revives Rapid Trades (BBG)
- BRICS joint action at G20 summit may be wishful thinking (Reuters)
"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
Many people believe there is a significant risk that the Irving Fisher debt-deflation theory of great depressions is still an economic threat today. They overlook the fact that Fisher published his theory examining debt-deflation events under a gold standard, which does not apply today. Financial credit contractions therefore take a different appearance. It is indicative of our economic biases that we completely overlook the differences between the sound money of 1929/30 and the infinitely expandable money of 2008/09. We make this error because today’s economists lead us astray with a fundamental belief that the state through monetary intervention can fix everything. Even though today’s economists are a broad church they follow beliefs instead of well-reasoned economic theory. Beliefs are better left to clerics.
Extreme Developed Market (DM) monetary policy (read The Fed) has floated more than just US equity boats in the last few years. Foreign non-bank investors poured $1.1 trillion into Emerging Market (EM) debt between 2010 and 2012 as free money enabled massive carry trades and rehypothecation (with emerging Europe and Latam receiving the most flows and thus most vulnerable). Supply of cheap USD beget demand of EM (yieldy) debt which created a supply pull for EM corporate debt which is now causing major indigestion as the demand has almost instantly dried up due to Bernanke's promise to take the punchbowl away. From massive dislocations in USD- versus Peso-denominated Chilean bonds to spiking money-market rates in EM funds, the impact (and abruptness) of these colossal outflows has already hit ETFs and now there are signs that the carnage is leaking back into money-market funds (and implicitly that EM credit creation will crunch hurting growth) as their reaching for yield as European stress 'abated' brings back memories of breaking-the-buck and Lehman and as Goldman notes below, potentially "poses systemic risk to the financial system."
This past March, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the finance ministers of the eurozone, shocked the markets with seemingly off-the-cuff comments suggesting that the Cyprus banking solution will, “serve as a model for dealing with future banking crises.”1 Depositors across Europe took a collective gasp of horror – could banks possibly confiscate depositors’ funds in a form of daylight robbery? Indeed they could, and last week the Bank for International Settlements (“BIS”), the Central Bank's Central Bank, published what we have referred to as ‘the template’; a blueprint outlining the steps to handle the failure of a major bank and the conditions to be met before ‘bailing-in’ deposits.
The market is having a difficult time trying to figure out what Fannie is worth these days.
Since Mr. Krugman tells us all this spending and debt issuance/guarantees are not only good and necessary but in the long run, painless, why are we bothering with personal income taxes?
The US government will collect approximately $2.0bn this year in Personal Income and Payroll taxes. But why? Why are we even bothering with this when today’s leading economists and politicians are telling us that debts/deficits don’t matter and running up astronomical debts is a long-term painless process? It’s practically patriotic. So why shouldn’t we just add our tax burden to the list of items the Fed should be monetizing? Seriously. Why not relieve the burden on every tax paying citizen in the United States (about 53% of us according to Mitt Romney)? You want an economic recovery? Reduce my taxes to zero and see how fast I go out and start spending some of that extra income.