Posts Tagged ‘deflation’
Inflation: An Expansion of Counterfeit Credit
The Keynesians and Monetarists have fooled people with a clever sleight of hand. They have convinced people to look at prices (especially consumer prices) to understand what’s happening in the monetary system.
Anyone who has ever been at a magic act performance is familiar with how sleight of hand often works. With a huge flourish of the cape, often accompanied by a loud sound, the right hand attracts all eyes in the audience. The left hand of the illusionist then quickly and subtly takes a rabbit out of a hat, or a dove out of someone’s pocket.
Japan's Scary Budget
While all over Europe, governments are forced to face up to the fact that the markets have suddenly become alert to the dangers posed by the huge debt loads carried by modern-day welfare states, Japan's government just piles on more and more debt on its existing debtberg with seeming impunity.
In Italy, Mario Monti's 'honeymoon' is already over. He just passed a fairly strict 'austerity' budget (recently denounced by the Northern League as a 'recessionary budget' – and rightly so, as it leaves the bulk of spending untouched and mostly imposes new taxes), but Italian bond yields are already back on the rise. Note here as an aside that the current level of the yield on Italy's 10 year note is not directly comparable to the time when a similar level was first reached, as the benchmark bond used by data providers has in the meantime been changed to a higher-yielding one – alas, it is the direction in which yields are heading that is relevant. Monti's real fight meanwhile is still ahead – he will have to challenge powerful vested interests as he attempts to implement structural reform.
Central Bank Pumping Expectations
Not only is the ECB expected to deliver fresh easing measures when it meets on December 8, but we are now getting rather precise forecasts as to the expected size of the upcoming 'QE3' MBS monetization program by the Fed as well.
A Paucity of Imagination
We want to return to a theme we have recently discussed in these pages, namely the allegedly exhaustive hypotheses regarding the possible solutions to the euro area's problems that are regularly presented to us in the media.
Leading intellectuals and economists usually list a set of choices based on the views of the current economic orthodoxy, which choices they insist are all that is possible or even imaginable.
The main problem from our point of view is of course that no-one in the mainstream has as of yet really given voice to the so-called 'unthinkable', which in a way demonstrates what it really consists of (if it weren't 'unthinkable', they would have thought of it).
The FOMC Decision – Some Advance Kremlinology
We have tried to get an idea of what to expect from the FOMC on Wednesday, but must admit we couldn't really make up our mind. One line of argument goes 'Ben Bernanke will try to shock the markets by doing much more than most people currently expect'.
Both Rosenberg and Fleckenstein are quite capable analysts of the economy and financial markets, so it is certainly worth considering what they are saying. Here is what we like about their idea, aside from the reasons they have laid out themselves: First of all, it is notable for being a minority view at the moment. This is at least our opinion from observing anecdotal evidence and a recent Bloomberg survey confirms that the vast majority of economists expects 'only' a variation of 'Operation Twist' ('OT') to be announced, whereby the Fed will simply alter the term structure of its balance sheet by selling shorter term and buying longer term debt. The aim would be to lower long term interest rates (this is to say, the operation would tend to flatten the yield curve).
More Inflation Please!
The world is waiting with bated breath for the annual gathering of monetary cranks at Jackson Hole, as depicted here by William Banzai7. The most closely observed speech will be that of the bearded wonder, that 'expert on the Great Depression', Ben Bernanke, the world's foremost money helicopter pilot. The man who alternately is, or isn't printing money, depending on the year in which you ask him about it.
Will he or won't he shower us with more monetary heroin? Wounded stock market bulls would dearly like to know (mostly, they want to know when, see further below). Since Bernanke used last year's gathering at Jackson Hole to prepare the markets for the policy failure known as 'QE2', it is widely hoped that he will once again rise to the occasion and promise more inflation.
… but it stands on a weak foundation.
The expected rebound in stocks and commodities has continued on Monday, but there are a number of signs that this is not much more than a short covering rally that is unlikely to last. Although yields on euro area government bonds and CDS on them have continued to decline (we will update the euro area charts tomorrow), the fact remains that the economy is under pressure, so bounces in stocks have to be approached with great caution – they are more likely to represent selling opportunities than a reason to buy at this stage. Notably the recent rally has inter alia been triggered by a short selling ban in several European countries. Short selling bans have historically always been medium term bearish events – they can trigger a bounce lasting for a few days, but in the long run they are extremely counterproductive, as they lower liquidity and hinder the price discovery process. By taking away the opportunity to hedge, they ultimately create even more selling pressure than would have appeared otherwise. This latest short selling ban is thus likely destined to fail as well – one wonders why the authorities even bother.
Markets Post FOMC – The Rebound Begins
Today's FOMC statement was widely expected to contain some announcement that would help to 'stabilize the markets', but we would note that it contained actually no such thing. The market was so severely oversold that it would have rebounded soon anyway – whether on Tuesday or on Wednesday was not really very relevant.
Just a Flesh Wound
'Doctor, how am I? Tell me the truth.'
'Well, you have a mild case of cardiac arrhythmia, your cholesterol is about thrice of what it should be, your blood pressure is off the scales, and if I'm not mistaken, there's a spot of beginning, how shall I put it? Kidney and liver failure. Alas, unless your heart actually stops beating, I think you'll be fine. Of course that brain tumor might get you as well, but a committee of doctors is currently busy solving that particular problem, so we can safely ignore it for the time being. As causes of death go, it's too improbable anyway, right? I therefore pronounce thee to be in ruddy health. Take two aspirin and call me tomorrow.'
Free Money in Temporary Abeyance
Yesterday's FOMC statement can be read in its entirety here. Just as we noted yesterday, it contained no surprises. Essentially it was a carbon copy of its predecessors, although it adopted – not unexpectedly – a somewhat more cautious tone regarding the state of the 'recovery'. And yet, in spite of there not being any surprises, the stock market initially registered its disapproval by declining. The sell-off accelerated markedly when Ben Bernanke began his post meeting press conference. A video of the press conference is available here. On Thursday, the market once again sold off, only with even more gusto at first.
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Insanity, Oddities and Dark Clouds in Credit-Land
Insanity Rules Bond markets are certainly displaying a lot of enthusiasm at the moment – and it doesn't matter which bonds one looks at, as the famous “hunt for yield” continues to obliterate interest returns across the board like a steamroller. Corporate and government debt have been soaring for years, but investor appetite for such debt has evidently grown even more. The perfect investment for modern times: interest-free risk! Illuustration by Howard...
- A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
President Nixon’s Decision to Abandon the Gold Standard Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Japanese “surprise” attack on the U.S. occupied territory of Hawaii and its naval base Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.” Similar words should be used for President Nixon’s draconian decision 45 years ago this month that removed America from the last vestiges of the gold standard. Nixon points out where numerous evil speculators were suspected to be...
- US Economy – Something is not Right
Another Strong Payrolls Report – is it Meaningful? This morning the punters in the casino were cheered up by yet another strong payrolls report, the second in a row. Leaving aside the fact that it will be revised out of all recognition when all is said and done, does it actually mean the economy is strong? Quo vadis, economy? Image credit: Paul Raphaelson As we usually point out at this juncture: apart from the problem that US labor force participation has...
- Trump's Tax Plan, Clinton Corruption and Mainstream Media Propaganda
Fake Money, Fake Capital OUZILLY, France – Little change in the markets on Monday. We are in the middle of vacation season. Who wants to think too much about the stock market? Not us! Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to reform the U.S. tax system. This should actually even appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders: the lowest income groups will be completely exempt from income and capital gains taxes under Trump's plan. We expect to hear...
- The Great Stock Market Swindle
Short Circuited Feedback Loops Finding and filling gaps in the market is one avenue for entrepreneurial success. Obviously, the first to tap into an unmet consumer demand can unlock massive profits. But unless there’s some comparative advantage, competition will quickly commoditize the market and profit margins will decline to just above breakeven. Example of a “commoditized” market – hard-drive storage costs per GB. This is actually the essence of economic...
- Bank of England QE and the Imaginary “Brexit Shock”
Mark Carney, Wrecking Ball For reasons we cannot even begin to fathom, Mark Carney is considered a “superstar” among central bankers. Presumably this was one of the reasons why the British government helped him to execute a well-timed exit from the Bank of Canada by hiring him to head the Bank of England (well-timed because he disappeared from Canada with its bubble economy seemingly still intact, leaving his successor to take the blame). This is how Mark Carney is seen by...
- An Old Friend Returns
A Rare Apparition An old friend suddenly showed up out of the blue yesterday and I’m not talking about a contributor who had washed out and, after years of ‘working for the man’, decided to return for another whack at beating the market. Instead I am delighted to report that I am looking at a bona fide confirmed VIX sell signal which we haven’t seen for ages here. Hello, old friend. Professor X and Magneto staring each other down in the plastic...
- The Fabian Society and the Gradual Rise of Statist Socialism
The “Third Way” “Stealth, intrigue, subversion, and the deception of never calling socialism by its right name” – George Bernard Shaw An emblem of the Fabian Society: a wolf in sheep's clothing The Brexit referendum has revealed the existence of a deep polarization in British politics. Apart from the public faces of the opposing campaigns, there were however also undisclosed parties with a vested interest which few people have heard about. And...
- Retail Snails
Second Half Recovery Dented by “Resurgent Consumer” We normally don't comment in real time on individual economic data releases. Generally we believe it makes more sense to occasionally look at a bigger picture overview, once at least some of the inevitable revisions have been made. The update we posted last week (“US Economy, Something is Not Right”) is an example. Eager consumers storming a store Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg We'll make an...
- The Fed’s “Waterloo” Moment
Corrupt and Unsustainable James has been a big help. Trying to get him to sleep at night, we have been telling him fantastic and unbelievable bedtime stories – full of grotesque monsters... evil maniacs... and events that couldn’t possibly be true (catch up here and here). He turned his head until his gaze came to rest on the barred windows of the main building. Finally, he spoke; as far as I was aware these were the first words he had uttered in more than five years....
- Good Money and Bad Money
Confidence Gets a Boost OUZILLY, France – Last week’s U.S. jobs report came in better than expected. Stocks rose to new records. As we laid out recently, a better jobs picture should lead the Fed to raise rates. This should cause canny investors to dump stocks. Canny investors at work (an old, but good one...) Cartoon via Pension Pulse But the stock market paid no attention. It follows logic of its own. Headlines told us that last Friday’s report “boosted...
- News from TINA Land
Distortions and Crazy Ideas We have come across a few articles recently that discuss some of the strategies investors are using or contemplating to use as a result of the market distortions caused by current central bank policies. Readers have no doubt noticed that numerous inter-market correlations seem to have been suspended lately, and that many things are happening that superficially seem to make little sense (e.g. falling junk bond yields while defaults are surging; the yen rising...