The IMF failures in Greece bring back vivid memories of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98... As the Indonesian episode should teach us, the IMF’s management can be very political and often neither trustworthy nor competent. Greece offers yet another chapter.
"The modern financial animal is wont to assume that he or she lives in an age of science. The truth is we live in an age of pseudoscience. Far from dealing in science, central bankers, and, to a degree, investment bankers and security analysts, employ magical thinking... For an individual to fix Libor is a crime. For a central bank to suppress European bond yields is an act of financial statesmanship..."
Greece’s lesson for Russia, and for China and Iran, is to avoid all financial relationships with the West. The West simply cannot be trusted. The “globalism” that is hyped in the West is inconsistent with Washington’s unilateralism. No country with assets inside the Western system can afford to have policy differences with Washington. It is testimony to the insouciance of our time that the stark inconsistency of globalism with American unilateralism has passed unnoticed.
"Merkel's fear was that Athens would be unable to overcome its problems even with an additional haircut, since it would not be able to handle the remaining debt... Within the German cabinet, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schnaeuble alone continued to strongly back another haircut... with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde described as undecided on the issue."
The last time the Fed tried to exit a period of massive balance sheet expansion coupled with ZIRP - back in 1937 - its strategy completely failed. The Fed tightening in H1’37 was followed in H2’37 by a severe recession and a 49% collapse in the Dow Jones. This is the ghost of 1937 and it is about to make a repeat appearance.
If it is indeed deja vu, all over again, look for bond yields to tumble over the next 6 months.
We got a glimpse of just what Yellen has in mind for the next 'monetary transmission mechanism' yesterday, when a mystery drone appeared above the Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan and literally rained down money on the people below, leading to what the Mail describes as a "cash-grabbing frenzy."
The big news overnight was neither the Chinese manufacturing PMI miss nor the just as unpleasant (and important) German manufacturing and service PMI misses, but that speculation about a rate hike continues to grow louder despite the abysmal economic data lately, with the latest vote of support of a 25 bps rate increase coming from Goldman which overnight updated its "Fed staff model" and found surprisingly little slack in the economy suggesting that the recent push to blame reality for not complying with economist models (and hence the need for double seasonal adjustments) is gaining steam, and as we first suggested earlier this week, it may just happen that the Fed completely ignores recent data, and pushes on to tighten conditions, if only to rerun the great Trichet experiment of the summer of 2011 when the smallest of rate hikes resulted in a double dip recession.
The punchline from the most recent San Fran Fed "research" paper is that since Glenn "double seasonal adjustment" Rudebusch is one of Yellen's favorite hometown economists, she now has the green light to completely ignore the weakest economic print since last Q1, and to focus entirely on the best economic print in the US: the surge in part-time senior citizen workers, pardon, the "zero slack" unemployment rate of 5.4%. She also has the justification why to ignore it: the bad data wasn't seasonally adjusted enough (the good data was seasonally-adjusted just right).
If the Fed indeed raises rates in June, we're likely to begin to see periphery sovereign debt defaults
We have been living in a new era of “fantasy finance” since the Fed officially intervened massively, in 2009, and since the non-official control of the gold price, in 2013. Investors are now thinking that everything is possible: stocks rising into infinity, oil being given to us by producers and refiners almost for free (it sells cheaper than mineral water), countries that can borrow at historically ri-di-cu-lous rates, and, no later than just a few days ago, a bank in Denmark that pays people to contract a real estate loan (negative rates) ! The financial world, with its lies and immoral management, has been transformed into a Pinocchio’s Enchanted Island... for adults !
Curency wars are zero-sum. Interest rate race is not.
Cry if you want to, but the dollar is stronger. Deny it if you want to, but the US economy is more vibrant now than the Europe or Japan. This is what is shaping the investment climate, if you are interested.
"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.