A Great Big Dud

Many of today’s economic troubles are due to a fantastic guess.  That the wealth effect of inflated asset prices would stimulate demand in the economy.

The premise, as we understand it, was that as stock portfolios bubbled up investors would feel better about their lot in life.  Some of them would feel so doggone good they’d go out and buy 72-inch flat screen televisions and brand-new electric cars with computerized dashboards on credit.

 

The Wilshire 5000 total market index vs. federal debt and real GDP (indexed, 1990=100) – mainly there is an ever wider gap between asset prices and the underlying economic output, and although federal debt has grown by leaps and bounds in the Bush-Obama era, it can’t hold a candle to asset price inflation either. If asset prices were an indication of how an economy is doing, we would have arrived in Utopia by now. Unfortunately that is not the case, as asset prices primarily reflect monetary inflation. Just consider the extreme example of Venezuela’s IBC General Index, which went from 40,000 to 120,000 points, while the economy contracted by 21% in real terms (officially, that is. If one were to apply private sector estimates of inflation, it would look a lot worse). It is certainly true that economic aggregates are benefiting from bubble conditions to some extent, but that is essentially phantom prosperity. If you burn all your furniture, your home will be warm – that this might be problematic only becomes glaringly obvious once all the furniture is gone, because then it will not only be cold, but there will be nothing left to sit on either. When the red line on this chart reverts to the mean (or the “other extreme”), there will be a lot of gnashing of teeth, as many of the mistakes made during the bubble era will be unmasked. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

Before you know it, gross domestic product would go up – along with wages – and unemployment would go down.  A self-sustaining economic boom would follow.

This fantastic guess, however, has proven to be a critical error in judgment.  Asset prices bubbled up, flat screen televisions and new cars were bought in record numbers, and the unemployment rate – according to the government’s statistics – went down.

On the flip side, real GDP growth only marginally lurched upward, never eclipsing 3 percent during a calendar year, and the great big economic boom that was supposed to save the economy from itself turned out to be a great big dud.

At the same time, the general aura of the Federal Reserve Chair, once held up on high by Bob Woodward, has slipped into irreparable decline.  No public relations exploit or press briefing can correct the damage.  No policy adjustment or balance sheet modification can return the Fed to its former glory.

Quite frankly, the state of disrepute of present Fed Chair Janet Yellen appears to be that of a larcener, near comparable to a United States Congressman.  The transition from maestro to scoundrel in just over a decade has been a sight to behold.  ZIRP, QE, operation twist… you name it.  There’s been one absurdity after another.

 

Consider how much attention is paid to central bankers and their policies these days, as exemplified by how many cartoons about them are drawn about them. In times past no-one thought much about central banks, they were considered boring. That has certainly changed after the introduction of the pure fiat money system in the early 70s and the massive bubbles and busts their policies have triggered in the wake of this event. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

Sanitized for Public Consumption

No doubt, the Fed has brought their shame upon themselves.  They’ve made their bed.  But they don’t want to lay in it.

Earlier this week the June FOMC meeting minutes were released.  According to the minutes, some FOMC members acknowledged that “equity prices were high when judged against standard valuation measures.”  Some are even “concerned that subdued market volatility, coupled with a low equity premium, could lead to a buildup of risks to financial stability.”

Unfortunately, the minutes are prepared and provided for public consumption in a cleanly sanitized summary form.  Names are not tied to individual discussion points.  Moreover, name calling and vulgarities are omitted from the official record.

Perhaps, good manners and erudite etiquette have been preserved in the hallowed halls of an FOMC meeting.  However, this is highly unlikely.  Because over the last decade or so, in nearly all social dealings, both professional and public, good old-fashioned human decency has devolved to barroom decorum.

 

We hope they haven’t removed the laugh track… (this is from an article we posted in 2014) [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

Thus we’ve taken it upon ourselves to round out a brief excerpt of the FOMC discussion, adding back the warts to better demonstrate the meeting’s dialogue.  What follows, in the best interest of reader edification, is a fictitious adaptation of true events that occurred at the June 14 FOMC meeting.  Enjoy!

 

The most recent laugh track chart we could find is from 2011 – and it is telling as well. The mood turned very somber in November of that year. We will have to hunt for a more recent update. Presumably the laugh track continues to mimic the trend in the stock market. [PT]

 

Tales from the FOMC Underground

“What should we do?” began Yellen.  “A decade of easy monetary policies has turned financial markets into a Las Vegas casino while the economy’s lazed around like my smelly house cats. What the heck was Bernanke thinking?”

“Hell, Janet,” remarked New York Fed President William Dudley.  “He wasn’t thinking.  He soiled his pantaloons and then he soiled them again.”

“So now we must clean up his stinky pile while he promotes his revisionist courage to act shtick.  The reality is we must orchestrate a take-down of financial markets, and we must do it by year’s end.”

“Well, gawd damn Bill!” barked St. Louis Fed President James Bullard.  “With the exception of Neel, the $700 billion dollar bailout boy, don’t you think we all know that?”

“Hey, now!” interjected Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari.  “Don’t blame me.  I was just carrying out Hank Paulson’s will, right Bill?  Saving our boys’ bacon back at Goldman so they could continue doing god’s work.”

“Besides Fish, it was you all who lined up behind Bernanke and tickled the poodle with his crazy QE experiment while I was busy chopping wood at Donner Pass and getting my fanny spanked in the California Governor’s race by retread Jerry Moonbeam Brown, of all people.”

“Fair enough,” continued Bullard.  “The point is, taking down the stock market will cause an extreme upset to the economy’s applecart.  The mobs will come after us with torches and pitchforks.”

“You see, the real trick is to do the dirty deed then disappear behind a fog of confusion.  That’s what Greenspan would do.  How can we pull that off?”

 

The maestro is still up to his old tricks… [PT]

 

After a moment of silent contemplation, and a licked finger held up to the cool political winds drafting across the country…

“Eureka!  We can pin it on President Donald J. Trump!” exclaimed Chicago Fed President Charles Evans.  “Could our good fortune be any better?  Not since Herbert C. Hoover has there been a more perfect scapegoat for an economic depression of the Fed’s making.”

“Hear, hear!” approved Yellen.

“Damn the economy,” they bellowed in harmony… minus Kashkari.  “This one’s on Trump!”

 

Blaming ye olde Trump asteroid should be easy, since he has made the grievous mistake of taking credit for the run-up in the stock market on Twitter. Now he “owns” the bubble he previously denounced – at the very least he has become its co-owner. [PT]

 

“Bill, one last thing,” closed Yellen.  “After the meeting, remember to give the public that shake n’ bake you dreamed up about crashing unemployment.  We have to give off an air of being data dependent.”

“That misdirection should twist them up until NFL football starts.  Shortly after that, our work will be done…”

“…and by the New Year, Congress and Joe public will be begging us to rescue the economy from the Fed’s… I mean… Trump’s disastrous economic program.”

 

[Ed. note: in the original version of this article Richard Fisher was used in the section about the fictional meeting. We replaced him with James Bullard, as Fisher has retired from the Fed. Besides, we always thought Fisher was one of the more thoughtful Fed presidents; inter alia he was one of the handful of FOMC members who regularly dissented from Ben Bernanke’s mad-cap money printing schemes]

 

Charts by St. Louis Fed, Bianco Research, Bloomberg

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

MN Gordon is President and Founder of Direct Expressions LLC, an independent publishing company. He is the Editorial Director and Publisher of the Economic Prism – an E-Newsletter that tries to bring clarity to the muddy waters of economic policy and discusses interesting investment opportunities.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • How to Survive the Winter
      A Flawless Flock of Scoundrels One of the fringe benefits of living in a country that’s in dire need of a political, financial, and cultural reset, is the twisted amusement that comes with bearing witness to its unraveling.  Day by day we’re greeted with escalating madness.  Indeed, the great fiasco must be taken lightly, so as not to be demoralized by its enormity.   Symphony grotesque in Washington [PT]   Of particular note is the present cast of characters. ...
  • Credit Spreads: The Coming Resurrection of Polly
      Suspicion isn't Merely Asleep – It is in a Coma (or Dead) There is an old Monty Python skit about a parrot whose lack of movement and refusal to respond to prodding leads to an intense debate over what state it is in. Is it just sleeping, as the proprietor of the shop that sold it insists? A very tired parrot taking a really deep rest? Or is it actually dead, as the customer who bought it asserts, offering the fact that it was nailed to its perch as prima facie evidence that what...
  • The Strange Behavior of Gold Investors from Monday to Thursday
      Known and Unknown Anomalies Readers are undoubtedly aware of one or another stock market anomaly, such as e.g. the frequently observed weakness in stock markets in the summer months, which the well-known saying “sell in May and go away” refers to. Apart from such widely known anomalies, there are many others though, which most investors have never heard of. These anomalies can be particularly interesting and profitable for investors – and there are several in the precious metals...
  • A Falling Rate of Discount and the Consumption of Capital
      Net Present Value Warren Buffet famously proposed the analogy of a machine that produces one dollar per year in perpetuity. He asks how much would you pay for this machine? Clearly it is worth something more than $1.00. And it’s equally clear that it’s not worth $1,000. The value is somewhere in between. But where?   We are not sure why Warren Buffett invoked a money printing machine of all things – another interesting way of looking at the concept is by e.g....
  • Business Cycles and Inflation – Part I
      Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting Q4 2017 -  Special Guest Ben Hunt, Author and Editor of Epsilon Theory The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Fund's Advisory Board took place on October 10 and we had the great pleasure to be joined by special guest Ben Hunt this time, who is probably known to many of our readers as the main author and editor of Epsilon Theory. He is also chief risk officer at investment management firm Salient Partners. As always, a transcript of the discussion is...
  • What President Trump and the West Can Learn from China
      Expensive Politics Instead of a demonstration of its overwhelming military might intended to intimidate tiny North Korea and pressure China to lean on its defiant communist neighbor, President Trump and the West should try to learn a few things from China.   President Trump meets President Xi. The POTUS reportedly had a very good time in China. [PT] Photo credit: AP   The President’s trip to the Far East came on the heels of the completion of China’s...
  • Is Fed Chair Nominee Jay Powell, Count Dracula?
      A Date with Dracula The gray hue of dawn quickly slipped to a bright clear sky as we set out last Saturday morning.  The season’s autumn tinge abounded around us as the distant mountain peaks, and their mighty rifts, grew closer.  The nighttime chill stubbornly lingered in the crisp air.   “Who lives in yonder castle?” Harker asked. “Pardon, Sire?” Up front in the driver's seat it was evidently hard to understand what was said over the racket made by the team of...
  • Business Cycles and Inflation, Part II
      Early Warning Signals in a Fragile System [ed note: here is Part 1; if you have missed it, best go there and start reading from the beginning] We recently received the following charts via email with a query whether they should worry stock market investors. They show two short term interest rates, namely the 2-year t-note yield and 3 month t-bill discount rate. Evidently the moves in short term rates over the past ~18 - 24 months were quite large, even if their absolute levels remain...
  • A Different Powelling - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      New Chief Monetary Bureaucrat Goes from Good to Bad for Silver The prices of the metals ended all but unchanged last week, though they hit spike highs on Thursday. Particularly silver his $17.24 before falling back 43 cents, to close at $16.82.   Never drop silver carelessly, since it might land on your toes. If you are at loggerheads with gravity for some reason, only try to handle smaller-sized bars than the ones depicted above. The snapshot to the right shows the governor...
  • Heat Death of the Economic Universe
      Big Crunch or Big Chill Physicists say that the universe is expanding. However, they hotly debate (OK, pun intended as a foreshadowing device) if the rate of expansion is sufficient to overcome gravity—called escape velocity. It may seem like an arcane topic, but the consequences are dire either way.   OT – a little cosmology excursion from your editor: Observations so far suggest that the expansion of the universe is indeed accelerating – the “big crunch”, in...
  • Claudio Grass Interviews Mark Thornton
      Introduction Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute and our good friend Claudio Grass recently discussed a number of key issues, sharing their perspectives on important economic and geopolitical developments that are currently on the minds of many US and European citizens. A video of the interview can be found at the end of this post. Claudio provided us with a written summary of the interview which we present below – we have added a few remarks in brackets (we strongly recommend...
  • Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      A Different Vantage Point The prices of the metals were up slightly this week. But in between, there was some exciting price action. Monday morning (as reckoned in Arizona), the prices of the metals spiked up, taking silver from under $16.90 to over $17.25. Then, in a series of waves, the price came back down to within pennies of last Friday’s close. The biggest occurred on Friday.   Silver ended slightly up on the week after a somewhat bigger rally was rudely interrupted...

Support Acting Man

Top10BestPro
j9TJzzN

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com