When two legendary "bears" (actually what they really are is realists who refuse to drink the Fed's, the establishment's, and the media's Kool-Aid) such as Albert Edwards and Bob Janjuah sit down, while the outcome is hardly as dramatic as the Stay Puft marshmallow man emerging, one certainly expects very provocative and contrarian observations to emerge. This is precisely what happened one week ahead of the Fed’s last meeting.
Here is the story as told by Edwards himself in his latest note to SocGen clients:
I enjoyed afternoon tea with my fellow strategist Bob Janjuah of Nomura (aka Bob the Bear). When we occasionally meet up, we lie back and look up for a bit of clear blue sky thinking – okay, I know it’s London and the sky is usually overcast, but that sort of fits in with our bear view of the world! Among other things we wondered why no-one else entertains the possibility that rates might bottom at minus 5% Fed Funds in the coming downturn.
The next US recession will probably arrive a lot sooner than most investors expect and will likely see more desperate monetary experimentation from the Fed. Bob and I thought that this time we would see deeply negative interest rates in the US (and Europe). Sweden has led the way, dipping their toe below the water line with their current -0.35% policy rates but there will be more, much more along these lines. For if -0.35% is possible, why not - 3.5% or less? It goes without saying that deeply negative interest rates would be accompanied by a massively expanded QE4 in the US. The last seven years of exploding central bank balance sheets will seem like Bundesbank monetary austerity compared to what is to come.
And so it came to pass last week – just one negative dot in the Fed policymakers’ projections for interest rates set the markets abuzz that central banks were no longer to be constrained by the zero interest rate bound. The very next day the Bank of England’s chief economist and policy wonk, Andrew Haldane, also raised the possibility of not just negative interest rates, but banning cash if people hoard it in an attempt to attain a heady 0% return – link. Wow, even Bob and I hadn’t thought of that!
Yes, it is odd that when push comes to shove, not even the biggest skeptics could conceive of the world that is about to be unleashed by tenured economists who have never held a real job in their lives, and yet - somehow - are micromanaging the entire world.
Actually, why not all three - after all, what does the Fed have left to lose? It appears gold is finally getting the memo that the final debasement of the reserve currency is about to be unleashed.