A few days ago, the BOE's Andy Haldane, rightfully, lamented that the apparent "solution" to the exponentially growing level of complexity in the financial system is more complexity. Alas, there was little discussion on the far more relevant central planning concept of fixing debt with even more debt, especially as the US just crossed $16 trillion in public debt last week, right on schedule, and as we pointed out over the weekend, there has been precisely zero global deleveraging during the so-called austerity phase. But perhaps most troubling is that with 2 days to go to what JPM says 77% of investors expect with be a NEW QE round (mostly MBS) between $200 and $500 billion in QE, the world is, also in the words of JP Morgan, drowning in liquidity. In other words, according to the central planners, not only is debt the fix to record debt, but liquidity is about to be unleashed on a world that is, you guessed it, already drowning in liquidity. The bad news: everything being tried now will fail, as it did before, because nothing has changed, except for the scale, meaning the blow up will be all that more spectacular. The good news: at least the Keynesians (or is it simply Socialists now?) out there will not be able to say we should have just added one more [ ]illion in debt/liquidity and all would have worked, just as our textbooks predicted. Because by the time it's over, that too will have happened.
From JPM's Michael Cembalest:
It has been a strange year. If you were concerned about the global economy this year, you were right:
- Leading indicators of manufacturing, such as new orders, are weakening just about everywhere
- Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese exports are slowing sharply; China may be growing at only 6%
- European growth is ~0%, with the periphery in recession. Germany business surveys also fading
- Last week’s US jobs report was weak across the board (payrolls, work week, labor force participation and wages)
- US capital spending trends are slowing (e.g., capital goods orders ex-aircraft)
- Countries like Brazil are showing signs of industrial fatigue due to an overly strong currency in 2010-2011
- The US election does not look like it will bring clarity to the US fiscal/debt ceiling divide (polls show Democrats keeping the White House and Republicans keeping the House of Representatives)
- US housing is staging a modest recovery, but it’s not a game-changer given its smaller contribution to employment
- Corporate profits are high, but the trend in EPS revisions is negative and profits growth is slowing
However, global equity markets have done well, up 13% so far in 2012. The bottom line: with the world drowning in liquidity, the right portfolio moves this year have been to take advantage of low equity valuations, look through all the economic weakness and expect that continued monetary stimulus will eventually bear fruit. We have done some of that but not as much as we might have, and as things stand now, global equity markets have outperformed what I had expected. The world’s Central Banks have made it clear that inflating their way out is preferable to the alternatives, an environment that is conducive to risky assets that are priced very cheaply, until and unless they lose control of inflation.
For those confused, Cembalest only added "unless" out of political courtesy, because as even the Fed itself admitted last night, first via St. Louis Fed's James Bullard and soon everyone else, the Fed has finally been exposed as being nothing but a puppet tool of politicians, who in turn have always been sponsored muppets of Wall Street (Who can possibly forget Chuck Schumer telling Bernanke to "get to work Mr. Chairman"). In other words, we now know politicians run not only fiscal, but monetary policy. How to hedge against this apocalyptic proposition? Simple. Cue Kyle Bass: "Buying gold is just buying a put against the idiocy of the political cycle. It's That Simple."
It really is.