"BEST OF THE WEEK "
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||TIPPING POINT or 2013 THESIS THEME
Existing home sales fell 3.2 percent month-over-month, the second straight monthly decline.
U.S. consumer prices fell last month 0.1 percent; with inflation running at its lowest rate in 4 years, deflation is a possibility.
Philly Fed index plummets to 6.5 in November, down from 19.8 in October.
Fed officials expect tapering “in coming months” -- removing an enormous source of liquidity for risk assets like stocks.
AII bearish sentiment is near historic lows, a negative contrarian signal.
Mortgage rates rise to 5 week high; refi applications fall 6.5 percent to two month lows as we have the third straight weekly decline. (Purchase applications to buy a home rose did rise 5.8 percent.)
China’s private sector weighted HSBC manufacturing index fell 0.5 pt in November to 50.4; Still above above 50 but just barely.
Read more at http://www.ispyetf.com/view_article.php?slug=Federal_Reserve_Source%3A_QE_May_Increase_26%25_in_201&ID=285#YeIXmVCKcVRtMCyQ.99
|MOST CRITICAL TIPPING POINT ARTICLES THIS WEEK - November 17th - November 23rd
LEVERAGE LOANS - Now 55% "COV-LITE" versus 29% Prior to the Financial Crisis
As we warned two months ago, the bubble in credit markets (which if you ask anyone at the Fed, except Jeremy Stein, does not exist) is nowhere more evident than in the explosive growth of so-called cov-lite loans. While total volumes of cov-lite loans are already at record, as the FT reports, we now have 55% of new leveraged loans come in “cov-lite” form, far eclipsing the 29% reached at the height of the leveraged buyout boom just before the financial crisis. LBO multiples have reached record highs and demand for secutizations of these levered loans (CLOs) has surged on the back of the Fed's repressive push of investors into more-levered firms and more-levered instruments.
Via The FT,
The amount of riskier loans offering fewer protections to lenders contained in packages of debt sold to investors have hit record levels, amid resurgent lending markets and a continued thirst for higher returns.
as “covenant-lite” loans, or loans that come with fewer protections for lenders, have this year become the norm in the US, CLO managers have been forced to relax the limits on the percentage of the loans that can go into their deals.
Already, 55 per cent of new leveraged loans come in “cov-lite” form, eclipsing the 29 per cent reached at the height of the leveraged buyout boom just before the financial crisis.
“CLO managers have clearly taken notice of this trend, and structures have come with more relaxed caps on cov-lites this year.”
While the majority of CLOs sold last year had a 40 per cent limit on the amount of cov-lite loans that could be bought by the vehicles, a 50 per cent cap has become the industry standard in 2013, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.
At least three deals have come to market this year with a 70 per cent limit.
So wondering where the leverage is building this time? Well, record high margin debt in stocks and record high exposure to the riskiest (and least protected) credit structures once again... but it's different this time (as Moodys told us).
|1 - Risk Reversal
FAILURES - Market, Policy and Institutional
The Capital-Flow Conundrum 11-08-13 Eswar Prasad Brookings
In recent months, emerging economies have experienced capital-flow whiplash. Indications that the US Federal Reserve might “taper” its quantitative easing (QE) drove investors to reduce their exposure to emerging markets, sharply weakening their currencies and causing their equity prices to tumble. Now that the taper has been postponed, capital is flowing back in some cases. But, with little influence, much less control, over what comes next, emerging economies are still struggling to figure out how to protect themselves from the impact of a Fed policy reversal.
When the Fed initially hinted at its intention to taper QE, policymakers in some emerging economies cried foul, but were dismissed by advanced-economy officials as chronic complainers. After all, they initially rejected the very policies that they are now fighting to preserve.
But emerging-market policymakers’ criticisms do not reflect an inconsistent stance; in both cases,
the crux of their complaint has been volatility.
They have already attempted to erect defenses against the potentially destabilizing effects of advanced-country monetary policy by
- FX RESERVES: Accumulating foreign-exchange reserves and
- CAPITAL CONTROLS: Establishing capital controls.
- SHORT TERM RATES: Now they are calling on their central banks to ensure stability by, for example, raising short-term lending rates.
But this approach fails to address the underlying issue – and misdiagnosing the problem could have far-reaching consequences, not only leading to ineffective solutions, but also possibly causing severe distortions for specific economies and the global financial system as a whole. In order to design effective remedies, it is useful to distinguish among three types of failures that impede financial-market functioning.
The three types of failures that impede financial-market functioning.
First, there are market failures, which occur when, for example,
- Investors display herd behavior,
- Information asymmetries exist, or
- The structure of incentives for investment managers encourages excessive risk-taking.
Second, there are policy failures, which occur when
- Undisciplined macroeconomic policies and
- Inconsistent or ineffective financial regulatory policies heighten the risks associated with volatile capital flows.
The third – and currently most problematic – failure is one of national or international institutions.
Using monetary policy to compensate for deficiencies in other policy areas constitutes an institutional breakdown: monetary policymakers are not necessarily getting it wrong, but they are constrained by the configuration of other policies.
Domestic monetary policy has become the first and last line of defense against growth slowdowns and financial panics, enabling policymakers to avoid pursuing other important, but far more difficult measures.
Using monetary policy to compensate for deficiencies in other policy areas constitutes an institutional breakdown: monetary policymakers are not necessarily getting it wrong, but they are constrained by the configuration of other policies.
GLOBAL GOVERANCE FRAMEWORK
The inadequacy of the current framework for global governance compounds the problem. The grim reality is that, with financial markets becoming increasingly interconnected, monetary-policy measures taken by any of the major economies have international spillover effects. An effective governance mechanism or reliable institution is needed to help emerging markets cope with these effects.
The lack of effective global economic governance has important implications for capital flows.
Emerging-market policymakers believe that they lack recourse to safety nets that would cushion the impact of volatile flows. Their efforts to “self-insure,” by, say, building up their foreign-exchange reserves, perpetuate global economic imbalances.
So how can policymakers address these failures? There has been some progress at the international level on regulatory reforms aimed at addressing market failures, though such efforts have been limited by strident resistance from financial institutions.
Solutions for policy failures are not difficult to discern.
- Flexible currencies,
- More transparent monetary frameworks, and
- Sound long-term fiscal policies can serve as buffers against capital-flow volatility.
Moreover, the functioning of emerging-economy financial markets should be improved, with policies aimed at
- Institutional development and
- Improved regulatory capacity.
While the right policies cannot eliminate risk, they can ameliorate the cost-benefit tradeoff from capital flows.
Fixing institutional failures is the most important – and the most difficult – step. Successful reform requires, first and foremost, finding the right mix of domestic policies. In the advanced economies, in particular,
- A sharper focus on long-term debt reduction, rather than short-term fiscal austerity, is needed, along with
- Structural reforms to labor, product, or financial markets, depending on the country.
In many of the troubled emerging economies, however, monetary policy has shouldered the burden of
- controlling inflation,
- managing the local currency’s value, and
- supporting growth.
This balancing act is difficult to maintain, leaving these economies vulnerable when the external environment turns unfavorable.
In India, for example, increasing productivity and long-term growth require fiscal discipline and a raft of financial- and labor-market reforms. But the central bank is being asked to do all the heavy lifting. In other emerging markets, too, the main challenge is to ensure that all macroeconomic and structural policies advance common goals.
At the same time, the governance structure of multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund must be reformed, in order to bolster their legitimacy in emerging markets. Otherwise, these institutions will remain ineffective in confronting collective problems related to macroeconomic-policy spillovers, and in providing insurance against crises.
Policymakers in advanced and emerging countries alike should
Focus on the underlying failures that destabilize their economies and impede growth, rather than trying to treat the symptoms by manipulating monetary policy or capital controls.
Unless they are supported by strong institutional structures at all levels, such measures will prove futile in managing capital flows.
||9 - Global Governance Failure
LEADERSHIP - 'Value Transformer' Politicians are avoiding politics OR the voters are rejecting
The Three Types Of Politicians 11-13-13 OfTwoMinds Charles Hugh Smith
Solving profoundly structural problems by establishing a new foundation of values that most can embrace positively is the hallmark of leadership.
We can usefully classify politicians into three categories: caretakers, practical visionaries and values-transformers.
CARETAKERS maintain the status quo, a task that boils down to throwing a fiscal bone to every politically powerful constituency and doing so in a manner that does not create career-threatening blowback.
Caretaker politicians may or may not have what President George H.W. Bush famously called "the vision thing," but their actions are all of the caretaker variety, regardless of their soaring rhetoric.
Caretaker politicians take credit for things that would have happened even if they'd lost the election and some other caretaker politician had held the office: the new school would have built anyway, the strike settled one way or another, and the nation would have exited from the unpopular discretionary war.
The signature accomplishments of caretaker politicians always leave the status quo power structure and constituencies firmly in place; ObamaCare is an excellent example.
PRACTICAL VISIONARIES use their political capital to push through long-term, unsexy infrastructure projects that do not necessarily have powerful constituencies pushing for them and may have politically potent enemies. Examples include rebuilding or extending sewer systems, systemwide renovation of water works or power transmission lines, etc.
These long-term projects require major commitments of funds and competent long-term management, both of which must be cultivated by the practical visionary politician. They may also require overcoming significant political resistance from constituencies who are not benefiting (at least in their view) from the immense investment of public treasure.
Where the caretaker is happy to glad-hand his/her way through the short-term fray of competing demands, putting our fires and resolving minor battles, the practical visionary must have the vision and fortitude to keep investing effort and political capital in long-term projects that may not be sexy or popular.
The signature accomplishments of practical visionaries tend to be large-scale projects that were not slam-dunks: caretakers do not risk their political capital on long-term, unsexy projects, nor do they have the persistence, vision and character needed to work diligently for years to persuade or cajole doubters and then ensure the project is competently managed to completion.
Practical visionaries have "the vision thing" for concrete projects: revamp teacher education from the ground up, a new water treatment plant, an interstate highway system, etc. Their values are oriented toward improving the basics of civilization: water, waste, transport, education, etc. in fundamental, long-term ways.
Practical visionaries are often under-appreciated in their own time; they may only be appreciated long after they have retired or passed on.
Practical visionaries are also capable of wreaking great damage because they grind through even formidable opposition: those pushing "urban renewal" projects that bulldozed "slums" (i.e. affordable housing for marginalized populations) so freeways could tear the heart out of neighborhoods were convinced that making it easier for suburbanites to drive to their jobs in the city was worth far more than intact neighborhoods. Their confidence in that suburban mindset laid waste to many U.S. urban centers.
VALUES TRANSFORMERS: The third category of politician is very rare: those who can change the values of the populace and thereby transform the political landscape.
This type of politician is adept at transforming what appears to be unresolvable conflicts by establishing a values-based common ground that enables warring constituencies to bypass the old battle lines. This rare breed is not ideological, as ideologies are what create and solidify the conflicts and battle lines.
Values-transformers find a way to make every constituency feel as if they have participated in the solution, or even better, that the solution arose from their core values. Those constituencies that lose power as a result are treated with respect rather than denigration.
Solving profoundly structural problems by establishing a new foundation of values that most can embrace positively is the hallmark of leadership.
Either those with these leadership skills are avoiding politics or the voters are rejecting them in favor of caretakers who are incapable of challenging political powerful constituencies or finding common ground for desperately needed systemic reforms.
||9 - Global Governance Failure
POLITICAL FAILURE - The Consequences Of A Dysfunctional Political System
The Consequences Of A Dysfunctional Political System 11-18-13 Marc Faber via The Daily Reckoning blog,
As H.L. Mencken opined,
'The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.'
It is no wonder that, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in early October, a record-low 14% of Americans thought that the country was headed in the right direction, down from 30% in September. That's the biggest single-month drop in the poll since the shutdown of 1990. Some 78% think the country is on the wrong track.
Some readers will, of course, ask what this expose about the political future has to do with investments. It has nothing to do with what the stock market will do tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in the next three months. But it has a lot to do with the future of the US (and other Western democracies where socio-political conditions are hardly any better).
I have written about the consequences of a dysfunctional political system elsewhere. In May 2011 I explained how expansionary monetary policies had favoured what Joseph Stiglitz called 'the elite' at the expense of ordinary people by increasing the wealth and income of the 'one percent' far more than that of the majority of the American people.
click to enlarge
I also quoted at the time Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813), who opined as follows:
'A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship'.
Later, Alexis de Tocqueville observed:
'The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.'
To be fair to Mr. Obama, the government debt under his administration has expanded at a much slower pace in percentage terms than under the Reagan administration and the two Bush geniuses. In fact, as much as I hate to say this, Mr. Obama has been (or has been forced to be) a fiscal conservative.
click to enlarge
However, what 18th and 19th century economists and social observers failed to observe is that democracies can also collapse over loose monetary policies. And in this respect, under the Obama administration, the Fed's balance sheet has exploded. John Maynard Keynes got it 100% right when he wrote:
'By a continuing process of inflation, Governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some...
'Those to whom the system brings windfalls...become 'profiteers' who are the object of the hatred... The process of wealth getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery... Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.'
The Fed takes great pride in the fact that US household wealth has now exceeded the 2007 high. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I recently attended a presentation by Larry Lindsey, at my friend Gary Bahre's New Hampshire estate. He unmistakably showed, based on the Fed's own Survey of Consumer Finance and Flow of Funds, that the recovery in household wealth has been extremely uneven.
click to enlarge
Readers should focus on the last column of Table 1, which depicts the change in household wealth between 2007 and 2013 by wealth percentile. As can be seen, the bottom 50% of the population is still down more than 40% in terms of their 'wealth' from the 2007 high. (Lindsey is a rather level-headed former Member of the Board of the Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which capacity he served between 1991 and 1997.)
Besides the uneven recovery of household wealth among different wealth groups, a closer look at consumer credit, which is now at a record level, is also revealing. Furthermore, consumer credit as a percentage of disposable personal income is almost at the pre-crisis high.
But what I found most interesting is how different income and wealth groups adjusted their outstanding total debt (including consumer credit, mortgage debt, etc.) following the crisis.
Larry Lindsey showed us a table - again based on the Fed's own Survey of Consumer Finance and Flow of Funds data - which depicts total debt increases and decreases (in US$ billions) among these different income and wealth groups.
I find it remarkable that the lower 40% of income recipients and the lower 50% of wealth owners actually increased their debts meaningfully post-2007. In other words, approximately 50% of Americans in the lower income and wealth groups who are both voters and consumers would seem to be more indebted than ever. A fair assumption is also that these people form the majority of the government's social benefits recipients.
Now, since these lower income and wealth groups increased their debts post-2007 and enjoyed higher social benefits, they were also to some extent supporting the economy and corporate profits. But what about the future?
Entitlements are unlikely to expand much further as a percentage of GDP, and these lower-income recipients' higher debts are likely to become a headwind for consumer spending. Simply put, in my opinion, it is most unlikely that US economic growth will surprise on the upside in the next few years.
It is more likely there will be negative surprises.
||9 - Global Governance Failure
| TO TOP
|MACRO News Items of Importance - This Week
GLOBAL MACRO REPORTS & ANALYSIS
US ECONOMIC REPORTS & ANALYSIS
|CENTRAL BANKING MONETARY POLICIES, ACTIONS & ACTIVITIES
FEDERAL RESERVE - False Media Reporting
Federal Reserve Source: QE May Increase 26% in 2014 11-20-13 Simon Maierhofer
How much QE is enough? Based on the latest statement by a Federal Reserve president, the Fed may beef up QE by another 26% in 2014. However, there’s also another interpretation, which would nail the financial media for shoddy reporting.
Charles Evans is the ninth president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He tweeted the following on Tuesday, November 19:
“Our purchases will continue to be open ended. We may need to purchase 1.5 trillion in assets until January 2015”
As a Federal Reserve president Mr. Evens is fluent in the art of sending cryptic messages. The above tweet is no different.
Deciphering the Modern Day Enigma
What could Mr. Evans have meant?
Currently the Federal Reserve is buying $85 billion worth of assets per month. That’s $1.02 trillion per year or $1.19 trillion until January 2015. Going from the current pace of $1.19 trillion to $1.5 trillion in asset purchases is an increase of 26%.
Is Mr. Evans saying that the Fed may have to further beef up QE?
Enough to Buy 8% of ALL U.S. Stocks Every Year
$1.5 trillion is an incredible amount of money. How incredible?
According to the World Bank, the total market capitalization of the U.S. stock market was $18.67 trillion in 2012. Total market cap includes the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and every other U.S. index you can think of.
'$1.5 trillion is enough to buy 8% of all U.S. traded stocks. No wonder the S&P 500 and Dow Jones have nowhere to go but up. Comparing the Fed’s current $4 trillion balance sheet with the total U.S. market cap (projected to be $21.4 trillion in 2013) almost allows the conclusion that the Federal Reserve conceivably financed 17% of all U.S. stock purchases.
When considering the size of the Fed’s balance sheet and active purchases in correlation to the total U.S. stock market, it seems almost inconceivable for the S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), Dow Jones Diamonds ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) and any other broad market ETF or index to catch a sustainable down draft.
Media Omission May Solve The 'Evans Enigma'
There is another explanation for the $1.5 trillion ‘Evans Enigma.’ The Federal Reserve is already buying more than $85 billion worth of assets every single month, but the financial media largely omits the real scope of all QE-like programs. How much is the Federal Reserve really spending every single month?
REFERENCE ARTICLE --- Glaring but Misunderstood QE – How Much the Fed is Really Spending
QE1, QE2, QE3, expiring Operation Twist, and now QE4. Which of those programs are "sterilized" (non-inflationary) and which ones devalue the dollar? If you've lost track, here's a quick visual summary.
Will Operation Twist be replaced by outright QE was a question addressed here early in December. As it turns out, the Fed decided to do just that. We now have multiple layers of QE working simultaneously. What’s the total amount being spent and will inflation finally take off?
There are three official tranches of quantitative easing (QE):
1) QE3, announced on September 13, 2012. The Federal Reserve will buy $40 billion per month worth of mortgage-backed securities.
2) QE4, announced on December 12, 2012. The Federal Reserve will buy $45 billion per month worth of longer term Treasuries (corresponding ETF: iShares Barclays 20+ Treasury ETF – TLT).
QE4 will be replacing Operation Twist in 2013. Operation Twist is considered “sterilized” or cash neutral QE. Operation Twist simply reshuffled the balanced sheet (sell shorter term in favor of longer term maturities). It did not expand the balance sheet.
Unlike Operation Twist, QE4 will be financed by “non-sterilized” or freshly printed money. This process increases the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and the amount of money in circulation.
3) Reinvestment of maturing securities. In a December 12 press release, the Federal Reserve stated: “The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings mortgage-backed securities and, in January, will resume rolling over maturing Treasury at auction.” This amounts to roughly $25 billion/month of sterilized QE.
In total, the Federal Reserve will buy $110 billion worth of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities every month until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5% and inflation remains below 2.5%.
The chart below illustrates QE3, QE4, and reinvestments separately and how the three layers combined compare with QE1 and QE2.
QUANTITATIVE EASING -Look for QE to 'Morph' to -> Quantitative Education
Did Bill Dudley Just Unveil The Fed's Real Taper "Scapegoat" Plan? 11-20-13 Zero Hedge
That the Fed has a problem is increasingly well known - despite the blather from the mainstream media that QE monetization can continue ad infinitum. Their problem, of course, is running out of government-provided liabilities to monetize (as deficits shrink and their ownership of the entire Treasury complex surges). They face other problems (as we have noted before) but the admission that they are boxed in would have major ramifications in the market's faith. So, how does the Fed, faced with the knowledge that they have created asset bubbles, broken the bond market, and are boxed in by their own excess still meet the market's undying desire to keep the flow going? Bill Dudley just, perhaps inadvertently, dropped a hint of the next 'market/scapegoat' for monetization - Student loans.
Bear in mind that the "taper" is all about economic cover for a forced move the Fed has to make, because:
1. Deficits are shrinking and the Fed has less and less room for its buying
2. Under the surface, various non-mainstream technicalities are breaking in the markets due to the size of the Fed's position (repo markets, bond specialness, and fail-to-delivers among them).
3. Sentiment is critical; if the public starts to believe (as Kyle Bass warned) that the central bank is monetizing the government's debt (which it clearly is), then the game accelerates away from them very quickly - and we suspect they fear we are close to that tipping point
4. The rest of the world is not happy. As Canada just noted, the US monetary policy will be discussed at the G-20
Simply put, they are cornered and need to Taper; no matter how bad the macro data and we are sure 'trends' and longer-term horizons will come to their rescue in defending the prime dealers' clear agreement that it is time...
So they need a scapegoat!
- *DUDLEY SEES `VERY RAPID RISE IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT'
Yes - Mr. Dudley - Very Very Rapid indeed...
As we recently noted, student and car loans are responsible for 99% of all consumer credit created this year.
Thank you Uncle Sam for making yet another generation of indentured servants who are studying geology on the taxpayers' dime, who will never get a job, who are up to their neck in debt, but at least can afford a Chevy Silverado.
And while the Fed itself is responsible for the $1trillion bubble that has grown in easy cheap student loan debt...
as the NY Fed disclosed moments ago, federal student loans officially crossed the $1 trillion level for the first time ever. Notably: the quarterly student loan balance has increased every quarter without fail for the past 10 years!
It would appear Mr. Dudley is getting the joke that a younger generation burdened with debt is a problem...
- *DUDLEY: RISE IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT COULD IMPAIR ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
and, as we notd here, the delinquency rate on student loans is soaring and has just hit an all time high of 11.83%, an increase of almost 1% compared to last quarter. Even according to just the government lax definition of delinquency, a whopping $120 billion in student loans will be discharged. Thank you Uncle Sam for your epically lax lending standards in a world in which it is increasingly becoming probably that up to all of the loans will end up in deliquency.
and furthermore, as we noted here, of the 28 million Americans with federal student loans, 60%, or 17 million, don't pay the US government a single cent!
Hopefully this highlights just how acute the severity of the student loan bubble is when stripped of all spin and mitigating rhetoric.
So where does that leave us?
1. The Fed knows it needs to taper at some point - no matter what the rhetoric, unless the Fed admits the US is still in crisis mode, it risks losing its credibilit entirely (and control of the bond market) if it does not taper.
2. Smaller deficits mean the Fed is boxed in with its ability to monetize Treasuries and keep the "flow" flowing...
How to escape that box?
1. Identify a bubble (but it cannot be an asset-bubble because if it were then the collateral chains and rehypothecation would contagiously collapse every other asset class).
2. Scapegoat that 'Bubble' as potentially a headwind for growth that needs to helped by government intervention.
3. "Help" the people by monetizing that bubble (and implicitly keeping the "flow" flowing)
The Answer - as Bill Dudley just opined - is Student Loans.
1. A perfect bubble (forget about who created it) that needs to be popped by a responsible overseer
2. Lots of debt to monetize (keep the "flow" flowing)
3. A perfect excuse to slow Treasury buying (economy stabilizing, jobs stabilizing, stocks doing well)
4. A voter-friendly way of "helping" those in need that does nothing but enable more flow.
How will they monetize Student Loans? No one is sure yet, but Dudley's comments on Human Capital
- *DUDLEY: `BUILDING HUMAN CAPITAL' IMPORTANT FOR FUTURE ECONOMY
make one think of the book "The Unincorporated Man"
The Bottom Line - Bill Dudley just floated a strawman that the Fed will taper Treasuries and the scapegoat will be Student Loans - which they will directly monetize to save us all from ourselves (and the problem they created).
(as an addenda - we warn of the unintended consequence of this action - should they do it - that will merely encourage banks to securitize student loans and flip them to the government en masse, creating demand for moar student loans and enabling supply - ths growing the bubble ever larger).
|FED POLICY - The Unintended Consequiences of it all
The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP 11-16-13 John Mauldin
Yellen's coronation was this week. Art Cashin mused that it was a wonder some Senator
did not bring her a corsage: it was that type of confirmation hearing. There were a few interesting
questions and answers, but by and large we heard what we already knew. And what we know is
that monetary policy is going to be aggressively biased to the easy side for years, or at least that is
the current plan. Far more revealing than the testimony we heard were the two very
important papers that were released last week by the two most senior and respected Federal
Reserve staff economists. As Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs reasoned, it is not credible to believe
that these papers and the thinking that went into them were not broadly approved by both Ben
Bernanke and Janet Yellen.
Essentially the papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of
very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed
from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later
but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP
(zero interest rate policy). In this week's letter we are going analyze these papers, as they are
critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we'll look at
what I think may be some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.
We are going to start with an analysis by Gavyn Davies of the Financial Times. He writes
on macroeconomics and is one of the more of the astute observers I read. I commend his work to
you. Today, rather than summarize his analysis, I feel it is more appropriate to simply quote parts
of it. (I will intersperse comments, unindented.) The entire piece can be found here.
While the markets have become obsessively focused on the date at which the Fed will start to taper its asset purchases, the Fed itself, in the shape of its senior economics staff, has been thinking deeply about what the stance of monetary policy should be after tapering has ended. This is reflected in two papers to be presented to the annual IMF research conference this week by William English and David Wilcox, who have been described as two of the most important macro-economists working for the FOMC at present. At the very least, these papers warn us what the FOMC will be hearing from their staff economists in forthcoming meetings.
The English paper extends the conclusions of Janet Yellen's "optimal control speeches" in 2012, which argued for pre-committing to keep short rates "lower-for-longer" than standard monetary rules would imply. The Wilcox paper dives into the murky waters of
"endogenous supply", whereby the Fed needs to act aggressively to prevent temporary
damage to US supply potential from becoming permanent. The overall message implicitly seems to accept that tapering will happen broadly on schedule, but this is offset by superdovishness on the forward path for short rates.
The papers are long and complex, and deserve to be read in full by anyone seriously
interested in the Fed's thought processes. They are, of course, full of caveats and they
acknowledge that huge uncertainties are involved. But they seem to point to three main conclusions that are very important for investors.
1. They have moved on from the tapering decision
Both papers give a few nods in the direction of the tapering debate, but they are written with the unspoken assumption that the expansion of the balance sheet is no longer the main issue. I think we can conclude from this that they believe with a fairly high degree of certainty that the start and end dates for tapering will not be altered by more than a few months either way, and that the end point for the total size of the balance sheet is therefore also known fairly accurately. From now on, the key decision from their point of view is how long to delay the initial hike in short rates, and exactly how the central bank should pre-commit on this question. By omission, the details of tapering are revealed to be secondary.
Yellen said as much in her testimony. In response to a question about QE, she said, "I
would agree that this program [QE] cannot continue forever, that there are costs and risks
associated with the program."
The Fed have painted themselves into a corner of their own creation. They are clearly very
concerned about the stock market reaction even to the mere announcement of the onset of tapering.
But they also know they cannot continue buying $85 billion of assets every month. Their balance
sheet is already at $4 trillion and at the current pace will expand by $1 trillion a year. Although I
can find no research that establishes a theoretical limit, I do believe the Fed does not want to find
that limit by running into a wall. Further, it now appears that they recognize that QE is of limited
effectiveness with market valuations where they are, and so for practical purposes they need to
begin to withdraw QE.
But rather than let the market deal with the prospect of an end to an easy monetary policy
(which everyone recognizes has to draw to an end at some point), they are now looking at ways to
maintain the illusion of the power of the Federal Reserve. And they are right to be concerned about
the market reaction, as was pointed out in a recent note from Ray Dalio and Bridgewater, as
analyzed by Zero Hedge:
"The Fed's real dilemma is that its policy is creating a financial market bubble that is
large relative to the pickup in the economy that it is producing," Bridgewater notes, as the relationship between US equity markets and the Fed's balance sheet (here and here for example) and "disconcerting disconnects" (here and here) indicate how the Fed is "trapped." However, as the incoming Yellen faces up to her "tough" decisions to taper or not, Ray Dalio's team is concerned about something else – "We're not worried about whether the Fed is going to hit or release the gas pedal, we're worried about whether there's much gas left in the tank and what will happen if there isn't."
Dalio then outlines their dilemma neatly. "…The dilemma the Fed faces now is that the
tools currently at its disposal are pretty much used up, in that interest rates are at zero
and US asset prices have been driven up to levels that imply very low levels of returns
relative to the risk, so there is very little ability to stimulate from here if needed. So the Fed will either need to accept that outcome, or come up with new ideas to stimulate
The new ideas that Bridgewater and everyone else are looking for are in the papers we are
examining. Returning to Davies work (emphasis below is mine!):
2. They think that "optimal" monetary policy is very dovish indeed on the path for rates.
Both papers conduct optimal control exercises of the Yellen-type. These involve using
macro-economic models to derive the path for forward short rates that optimise the
behaviour of inflation and unemployment in coming years. The message is familiar: the Fed should pre-commit today to keep short rates at zero for a much longer period than exceed 2 per cent, and unemployment would drop below the structural rate. This induces the economy to recover more quickly now, since real expected short rates are reduced.
Compared to previously published simulations, the new ones in the English paper are even more dovish. They imply that the first hike in short rates should be in 2017, a year later than before. More interestingly, they experiment with various thresholds that could be used to persuade the markets that the Fed really, really will keep short rates at zero, even if the economy recovers and inflation exceeds target. They conclude that the best way of doing this may be to set an unemployment threshold at 5.5 per cent, which is 1 per cent lower the best mix of inflation and unemployment in the next few years. Such a low unemployment threshold has not been contemplated in the market up to now.
3. They think aggressively easy monetary policy is needed to prevent permanent
supply side deterioration.
This theme has been mentioned briefly in previous Bernanke speeches, but the Wilcox
paper elevates it to center stage. The paper concludes that the level of potential output has been reduced by about 7 per cent in recent years, largely because the rate of productivity growth has fallen sharply. In normal circumstances, this would carry a hawkish message spare capacity available in the economy in the near term.
However, the key is that Wilcox thinks that much of the loss in productive potential has
been caused by (or is "endogenous to") the weakness in demand. For example, the paper to recover more rapidly, as would part of the decline in the labour participation rate. In a reversal of Say's Law, and also a reversal of most US macro-economic thinking since Friedman, demand creates its own supply.
This concept is key to understanding current economic thinking.
The belief is:
- Demand is the issue and that lower rates will stimulate increased demand (consumption),
presumably by making loans cheaper for businesses and consumers.
- More Leverage is needed!
The Misperception is:
- Current policy apparently fails to grasp that the problem is not the lack of consumption: it is the Lack of Income.
- Income is produced by productivity. When leverage increases productivity, that is
good; but when it is used simply to purchase goods for current consumption, it merely brings
future consumption forward.
- Debt incurred and spent today is future consumption denied.
Back to Davies:
This new belief in endogenous supply clearly reinforces the "lower for longer" case on
short rates, since aggressively easy monetary policy would be more likely to lead to
permanent gains in real output, with only temporary costs in higher inflation. Whether or not any of this analysis turns out to be justified in the long run, it is surely important
that it is now being argued so strongly in an important piece of Fed research.
Read that last sentence again. It makes no difference whether you and I might
disagree with their analysis. They are at the helm, and unless something truly unexpected
happens, we are going to get Fed assurances of low interest rates for a very long time. Davies
The implication of these papers is that these Fed economists have largely accepted in their own minds that tapering will take place sometime fairly soon, but that they simultaneously believe that rates should be held at zero until (say) 2017. They will clearly have a problem in convincing markets of this. After the events of the summer, bond traders have drawn the conclusion that tapering is a robust signal that higher interest rates are on the way. The FOMC will need to work very hard indeed to convince the markets, through its new thresholds and public pronouncements, that tapering and forward short rates really do need to be divorced this time. It could be a long struggle.
On a side note, we are beginning to see calls from certain circles to think about also
reducing the rate the Fed pays on the reserves held at the Fed from the current 25 basis points as a
way to encourage banks to put that money to work, although where exactly they put it to work is
not part of the concern. Just do something with it. That is a development we will need to watch.
The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP
Off the top of my head I can come up with four ways that the proposed extension of ZIRP
can have consequences other than those outlined in the papers. We will look briefly at each of
them, although they each deserve their own letter.
1. The large losses from the continued FINANCIAL REPRESSION of interest rates on savers and pension funds
Simply put, ultra-low interest rates mean that those who have saved money in whatever
form will be getting less return on that money from safe, fixed-income investments. We're talking
about rather large sums of money, as we will see. Ironically, this translates into a loss of
consumption power when the Federal Reserve is supposedly concerned about consumption and
requires increased savings at a time when the Fed is trying to boost demand. This is robbing Peter
to favor an already well-off Paul.
A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute examines the distributional effects of
these ultra-low rates. It finds that there have been significant effects on different sectors in the
economy in terms of income interest and expense. From 2007 to 2012, governments in the
Eurozone, the United Kingdom, and the United States collectively benefited by $1.6 trillion, both
through reduced debt-service costs and increased profits remitted by central banks (see the chart
below). Nonfinancial corporations – large borrowers such as governments – benefited by $710
billion as the interest rates on debt fell. Although ultra-low interest rates boosted corporate
profits in the United Kingdom and the United States by 5 percent in 2012, this has not
translated into higher investment, possibly as a result of uncertainty about the strength of the
economic recovery, as well as tighter lending standards. Meanwhile, households in these
countries together lost $630 billion in net interest income, although the impact varies across
groups. Younger households that are net borrowers have benefited, while older households with
significant interest-bearing assets have lost income.
McKinsey estimates that households in the US have lost a cumulative $360 billion.
Meanwhile, banks and businesses have done very well.
This loss of household income requires tightened spending by retirees and means that those
facing retirement have to spend less and save more in order to make sure they will have enough to
live on. It also requires the older generation to work longer, which is demonstrably keeping jobs
away from the younger generation, as I've documented clearly in past letters.
ZIRP means that the pension funds and insurance companies responsible for your annuities
are making significantly less on their portfolios than they had hoped. There are lots of ways to
express this loss, but I will offer three charts that will give us some indication of the magnitude of
the loss over a period of 30 years.
Most public pension funds work with some variation of the traditional 60-40 portfolio, that
is to say, 60% in equities and 40% in fixed income. They also target anywhere from 7 to 8.5%
returns from their portfolios over the next 30 years in order to be able to generate the money they
will need to pay retirees. The amount of assets they have today in their accounts is quite small in
comparison to future requirements, and thus they are depending upon the magic of compound
interest in order to be able to deliver the needed pension funds to their clients.
The next three graphs show what happens if interest rates are held near zero for three more
years, six more years, and ten more years. I assume that in the low-interest-rate environment
returns from investment portfolios will be less than 3.5% after expenses and then rise back to the
more typical (but optimistic) 7% level. What we see is that there are significant cumulative return
shortfalls after 30 years because of the initial period of low interest rates, with the shortfalls
ranging from 9% to 28% of the final needed assets, depending on how long ZIRP persists. Those
losses can be made up only by additional contributions from retirees and/or governments or by
some magical increase in expected returns.
Please note that there is nothing critical about the assumptions of 3.5% or 7% – you can
make whatever assumptions you like, but the simple fact is that there will be a cumulative shortfall
in later years as a result of a ZIRP environment in the initial years. Thus pensions will require
more funding by the pensioners at some point, which means that their future consumption will be
reduced. Once again we are borrowing from our future in order to finance ephemeral consumption
2. The creation of a carry trade and MISALLOCATION OF CAPITAL
There is no question in my mind that many of my friends in the hedge fund and investment
world will see an extended zero interest rate policy as a gift horse. If you tell a rational investor
that he or she will be able to borrow money at very low rates for four or five years, then you are
inviting all manner of financial transactions to take advantage of low borrowing rates. If, as an
investor, you can borrow at 3% and get a 6% return, then a modest four times leverage gets you a
12% return on your capital. The financial engineering made possible by guaranteed low rates is
really rather staggering. Whole books could be (and probably are being) written about all the ways
to take advantage of such an environment. But also, the overall return from risk assets will be
reduced as investors look to create carry trades and leverage up.
So the very policy of encouraging investors to move out the risk curve in fact reduces the returns on the risks taken, especially for the average investor who can't take advantage of the financial engineering available to sophisticated investors. Wall Street makes a bundle, and Main Street gets stuck with higher risks and lower returns.
This is simply a trickle-down monetary policy by another name. The Federal Reserve
hopes to inflate wealth assets and thereby encourage the wealthy to spend more, which will
somehow trickle down to the average investor and worker on Main Street. This approach
exacerbates the rich/poor divide even further. This is not a design flaw or an unintended
consequence; it is the very essence of the policy. The fact that significant research shows that the
wealth effect is minimal seems to be lost in the policy debates. This is infuriating beyond my
ability to adequately express my frustration, but it is a clear result of the capture of the Federal
Reserve by academic economists and the implementation of the interesting theory that 12 people
can make better decisions than the market can about the value of money and the proper
environment for investments. This is the philosopher king writ large.
As Dylan Grice wrote so eloquently this week in the Outside the Box I sent you,
From these observations can be derived a straightforward corollary on economic policy
makers: trying to control a variable you can't measure (inflation) with a tool you don't fully understand (money) in a complex system with hidden, unobservable and non-linear interrelationships (the economy) is a guaranteed way to ensure that most things which happen weren't supposed to happen.
3. What happens when the VELOCITY OF MONEY turns around?
We have no credible idea what drives movement in the velocity of money. As the chart shows below, it topped out in the '90s and has been dropping rather precipitously ever since. Charts that estimate the velocity of money back to the beginning of the 20th century show that we are close to all-time lows. One of the things we do know is that the velocity of money is mean reverting.
It will begin to go back up. The fact that it is been dropping has allowed the Federal Reserve to print money in a rather aggressive fashion without stimulating inflation. When the velocity of money starts back up, inflation could become a problem rather quickly. I have no idea when that might happen or why it would start to happen anytime soon. But one day it will happen. That's just the way of things. Central banks that might be comfortable with 2-3% or even 4% inflation will find themselves dealing with much higher inflation than they had anticipated. Janet Yellen told us she would be capable of raising rates to fight inflation if need be, just as Volcker did. Let's hope she doesn't have to prove it.
4. The misallocation coming from rates being held below the natural rate of interests
I have written on this in the past. When interest rates are held lower than the "natural rate
of interest," it becomes more efficient for companies and investors to use money for financial
transactions such as buying other companies rather than for productive purposes such as increasing
capacity and competing for customers and sales. Why take the risk of competition, which is
fraught with problems, when it is so much cheaper to simply borrow money and buy your
competition? There is a reason that so many industries have effectively ended up as duopolies
since the advent of low rates 12 years ago. While ZIRP makes money for those who have access to
capital and for those who can sell their assets, it does not create new productive capacity and thus
jobs, let alone help to create more efficient markets and pricing.
Psst, Buddy, Would You Like to Buy a Model?
As Jonathan Tepper and I write in Code Red, the Fed has elaborate models of the economy,
which they use to make projections about its performance. Sadly, the Fed's forecasting track record
is very poor. Now, they are giving us models in the papers we reviewed that suggest the proper
direction of monetary policy is toward an extended regime of ZIRP.
Think about that for a minute. We are about to base our monetary policy once again on
models built by a Fed that has repeatedly struck out in the forecasting game and whose models do
not inspire great confidence. Like previous policy approaches, this new one is almost sure to
produce unintended consequences and market disturbances.
The best and the brightest assure us they have the situation under control. How's that
working out with regard to Obamacare?
As investors and money managers, we have no choice but to play the cards we are dealt. Demanding new cards is not an option when you don't own the dealer or make the rules of the
game. There are ways to play even the poorest of hands, but it would be nice not to have to try to
manufacture returns from so little, with the rules of the game thwarting your efforts.
|TECHNICALS & MARKET ANALYTICS
COMPLACENCY - VXV / VIX Ratio Sending A Clear Signal
BofAML Warns "Don't Get Complacent" 11-17-13 BoAML
In the near term, BofAML's Macneil Curry warns "we are growing a bit cautious/nervous, as US equity volatility is flashing a warning sign of market complacency that has often preceded a correction or a pause in trend." This 'red flag' is asterisk'd appropriately in the new normal with "to be clear, the balance of evidence is still very much US equity positive, but the near term downside risks have increased."
Via BofAML's MacNeil Curry,
We are bullish stocks, with the S&P500 targeting 1844 into year end [ZH: which sounds awfully close to an extraplotaed protjection of where the Fed's balance sheet implies year-end target].
However, in the near term, equity volatility warns of complacency and the potential for a correction lower.
Specifically, the VXV/VIX ratio (VXV is the BBG ticker for 3m SP500 Volatility) has reached levels that have often led to a market pause/correction.
While such a pullback would ultimately be corrective, Be Alert!
CURRENCIES - Near Term $ Weakness on Euro & Sterling Strength & Yen Cross Weakness
Dollar Remains Fragile 11-16-13 Marc To Market via ZH
The US dollar looks vulnerable to additional losses. Generally speaking, the technical outlook for the greenback has soured and, in fact, warn of some risk accelerated losses in the period ahead. Nor can participants count on the economic calendar to stem the dollar's rout. The US has a slate of economic reports next week as the government catches up with the delay from the shutdown, but nothing to put the tapering back into December.
At the same time, while there is some expectation the ECB may do something more in a few weeks, following up on the recent repo rate cut, it is still far too early to expect the ECB to adopt what we have dubbed as "nuclear options", such as
- A negative deposit rate or
- Quantitative easing.
Since it just
- Adjusted the price of money (theoretically),
- the next step will likely seek to influence the Quantity, perhaps a change in
- collateral rules or
- a reduction in reserve requirements.
The euro's resilience in the face of the repo rate cut is demonstrated by its 1% rise on a trade-weighted basis, which is the key metric of its potential economic impact. EONIA is essentially unchanged (about half of a basis point lower) since the rate cut (which is one should have expected, as EONIA trades closer to the zero deposit rate than the repo rate).
The euro has recorded higher lows for six consecutive sessions It tested the $1.35 in the second half of last week, but did not manage to close about it. This corresponds to a retracement objective of the nearly 5.5 cent decline beginning Oct 25. Assuming this level is convincingly breached, we see scope for the euro to rise 1% next week toward $1.3630. A move below $1.34 would weaken the outlook, but it probably requires a close below the 100-day moving average, which held on this basis, despite some intra-day penetration recently. It is near $1.3365 now.
Sterling made new highs for the month ahead of the weekend and now seems poised to re-challenge what appeared to have been a double top made in Oct near $1.6260. Sterling had gone through the neckline (~$1.5890) early in the week, though not on a closing basis and the quickly rebounded, thanks to a favorable employment report and more optimistic BOE. Its resilience was reflected in the speed at which the market shrugged off the weak retail sales report (-0.7% rather than flat as the consensus expected).
The dollar did rise to two month highs against the yen and finished the last week with two consecutive closes (of the North American session) above the JPY100 for the first time in four months. Contrary to the general assertion, it cannot be simply attributed to Fed tapering ideas. The yen's 1.1% loss against the dollar occurred as the US premium over Japan (10-year interest rate differential) actually fell roughly 9 bp last week, slipping lower in three consecutive sessions before the weekend.
The key test for the dollar is awaiting closer to the JPY100.60, the September high, which is just below the high from the second half of July set near JPY100.85. A break of this would bring into view the early July high near JPY101.55, which is the high posted since the decline from the year's high set in May (~JPY03.75) to the early June low (just below JPY94). Support has been established around JPY99 and it may require a break of that to signal a high is in place.
Yen weakness is more pronounced on the crosses than against the dollar. Indeed, the yen's weakness appears to be, at least in part, not a dollar story. It has fallen nearly 2% on a trade-weighted basis so far this month. Sterling is trading a multi-year highs against the yen and euro is testing the year's high. The New Zealand dollar is testing the JPY84 level that held in both Sept and Oct. The Canadian dollar is at two-month highs against the yen.
With the third arrow of Abenomics still apparently a work in progress, any appearance of relying on currency depreciation may face criticism by the US and Europe. Chinese official silence on the issue is noteworthy. Perhaps, its refrains from criticizing so as not to encourage criticism of its exchange rate policy, though that doesn't stop the PBOC from time to time of being critical of the US (market determined) exchange rate stance.
Turning to the dollar-bloc, from a technical perspective the US dollar is set to fall further. The head and shoulders topping pattern we discussed last week proved for naught. Even though the $0.8200 neckline was violated on Nov 12, there was no follow through selling and the Kiwi rebounded smartly (almost 2%) to vie with the euro as the strongest of the major currencies on the week. It seems that the rule here, and in sterling, is play the range until convincingly violated. If applied to the yen, it would seem to warn against playing the break out.
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR IN A RANGE BOUND BASING PROCESS
The Australian dollar was largely range bound for most of last week, but this is increasingly looking like a base, rather than a pause before the next leg lower. The key may be the downtrend line drawn off the Oct 23 high near $0.9760 and Nov 6 high near $0.9545. It comes in near $0.9400 on Monday, though falls toward $0.9325 by the end of the week. Technically, a move above $0.9400 could spur another 1.0-1.5 cent advance.
CANADIAN DOLLAR WEAKENESS
The move above CAD1.05 on Nov14 appeared to have exhausted the USD bulls. A break now of CAD1.0430 (where a retracement objective and 20 day moving average lay) would confirm a near-term greenback high), and ideally CAD1.04, would suggest a move toward at least the lower end of the 5-month trading range (~CAD1.0250-CAD1.03).
The Mexican peso's 1.75% rise last week edged out the South African rand as the strongest of the emerging market currencies. The US dollar's decline brought it within a spitting distance of the uptrend line drawn off the Sept and mid- and late-Oct lows. It comes in near MXN12.91 on Monday. A break may signal another 1% decline in the dollar.
Observations from the speculative positioning in the CME currency futures:
1. As was the case during the last reporting period, the two significant adjustments to speculative position were cut of gross long euro positions (by 17.2k contracts) and the jump in gross short yen positions (23.6k contracts). Gross long euro positions were cut by 50k contracts over the past two week and as of Nov 12, were the lowest since mid-September (86.1k). The gross short yen positions have increased by 37k contracts over the same period (to 116.1k).
2. The gross long Swiss franc positions have been cut by a third in the past two weeks (to 14.1k contracts). At 43.9k contracts, the gross long sterling position was the smallest in two months. The Australian dollar saw the largest jump in gross shorts (8.9k contracts) since May and at 56.3k contracts is the most in two months.
3. The net long euro position has been cut by 80% since late October (now stands at 16.8k contracts). The net short yen position is the largest since May (to 95.1k contracts).
|COMMODITY CORNER - HARD ASSETS
|COMMODITY CORNER - AGRI-COMPLEX
2013 - STATISM
2012 - FINANCIAL REPRESSION
2011 - BEGGAR-THY-NEIGHBOR -- CURRENCY WARS
2010 - EXTEND & PRETEND
|NATURE OF WORK -PRODUCTIVITY PARADOX
|GLOBAL FINANCIAL IMBALANCE - FRAGILITY & INSTABILITY
|CENTRAL PLANINNG -SHIFTING ECONOMIC POWER
|SECURITY-SURVEILLANCE COMPLEX -STATISM
|STANDARD OF LIVING -GLOBAL RE-ALIGNMENT
|CORPORATOCRACY -CRONY CAPITALSIM
CORRUPTION & MALFEASANCE -MORAL DECAY - DESPERATION, SHORTAGES..
MISINFORMATION - The Big Political Crime Against Americans Presently Being Committed
The following are five massive economic lies that the government has been telling you...
1. "The Unemployment Rate Has Been Steadily Going Down"
2. "Inflation Is Low"
3. "Quantitative Easing Is Economic Stimulus"
4. "Obamacare Is Going To Be Good For Middle Class Americans"
5. "The U.S. National Debt Is Under Control"
According to a whistleblower that has recently come forward, Census employees have been faking and manipulating U.S. employment numbers for years. In fact, it is being alleged that this manipulation was a significant reason for why the official unemployment rate dipped sharply just before the last presidential election. What you are about to read is incredibly disturbing. The numbers that the American people depend upon to make important decisions are being faked. But should we be surprised by this? After all, Barack Obama has been caught telling dozens of major lies over the past five years. At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of his mouth. And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us.
Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years. Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust.
The whistleblower that I mentioned above has been speaking to John Crudele of the New York Post. In his new article entitled "Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report", he says that the huge decline in the unemployment rate in September 2012 was "manipulated"...
In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.
The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.
Two years earlier, the Census had actually caught an employee "fabricating data", but according to this whistleblower the corruption at the Census Bureau goes much deeper than that...
And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.
“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.
The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.
Well, is it really such a big deal that some of the unemployment numbers were faked?
After all, hasn't the unemployment rate been consistently going down anyway?
Unfortunately, as you will see below, that is simply not the case.
1. "The Unemployment Rate Has Been Steadily Going Down"
According to the official government numbers, the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen all the way down to 7.3 percent.
That sounds really good, and it would seem to imply that a higher percentage of the American people are now working. Sadly, that is not the truth at all. Posted below is one of my favorite charts. The employment-population ratio measures the percentage of the working age population that actually has a job. As you can see, this number fell dramatically during the last recession and since the end of 2009 it has remained remarkably flat.
In fact, it has stayed between 58 and 59 percent for 50 months in a row...
At the moment, the employment-population ratio is just one-tenth of one percent above the lowest level that it has been throughout this entire crisis. So are we in an "employment recovery"? Absolutely not, and anyone that tries to tell you that is lying to you.
So how is the government getting the unemployment rate to go down? Well, they are accomplishing this by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans have disappeared from the labor force. According to the government, the percentage of Americans that want to work is now supposedly at a 35 year low...
If the labor force participation rate was still exactly where it was at when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, the official unemployment rate would be about 11 percent right now. People would be running around going crazy and wondering when the "economic depression" would finally end.
But when people hear "7.3 percent", that doesn't sound so bad. It makes people feel better.
Of course if you are currently unemployed and looking for a job that doesn't exactly help you. At this point there is intense competition even for minimum wage jobs in America. For example, according to Business Insider you actually have a better statistical chance of getting into Harvard than you do of being hired at a new Wal-Mart that is opening up in the Washington D.C. area...
The store is currently combing through more than 23,000 applications for 600 available positions, reports NBC Washington.
That means that Wal-Mart will be able to hire one person for every 38 applications it receives — i.e., just 2.6% of applicants will walk out with a job.
That's more difficult than getting into Harvard. The Ivy League university accepts 6.1% of applicants.
2. "Inflation Is Low"
This is another lie that government officials love to tell. In particular, the boys and girls over at the Federal Reserve love to try to convince all of us that inflation is super low because it gives them an excuse to recklessly print lots more money. But anyone that goes to the grocery store or pays bills on a regular basis knows that there is plenty of inflation in the economy. And if we were being given honest numbers, they would show that.
According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the U.S. inflation rate was still calculated the exact same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.
But the Federal Reserve certainly doesn't want everyone running around talking about "Jimmy Carter" and "stagflation" because then people would really start pressuring them to end their wild money printing schemes.
And without a doubt, what the Fed is doing is absolutely insane. The chart posted below shows that the M1 money supply has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2008...
3. "Quantitative Easing Is Economic Stimulus"
How many times have you heard the mainstream media tell you something along these lines...
"The Federal Reserve decided today that the economic stimulus must continue."
There is just one thing wrong with that statement.
As I showed in a previous article, it is a total hoax.
In fact, a former Federal Reserve official that helped manage the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program during 2009 and 2010 is publicly apologizing to the rest of the country for being involved in "the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time"...
I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Yes, quantitative easing has most certainly helped Wall Street (at least temporarily).
Meanwhile, median household income in the U.S. has fallen for five years in a row.
Meanwhile, the federal government is now spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare.
Meanwhile, 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are now homeless. In fact, that number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
4. "Obamacare Is Going To Be Good For Middle Class Americans"
There were three giant promises that were used to sell Obamacare to the American people...
#1 We would all be able to keep our current health insurance plans.
#2 Millions more Americans were going to be covered by health insurance.
#3 Most Americans would be paying lower health insurance premiums.
Well, it turns out that all of them were lies.
At this point, approximately 4 million Americans have already had their health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare, and according to Forbes that number could ultimately reach 93 million.
And so far only about 100,000 Americans have actually signed up for Obamacare, so that means that the number of Americans with health insurance has dropped by about 3.9 million since the beginning of October.
Good job Obama.
Meanwhile, Americans all over the country are being hit with a massive case of sticker shock as they start to realize what Obamacare is going to do to their wallets.
According to one study, health insurance premiums for men are going to go up by an average of 99 percent under Obamacare and health insurance premiums for women are going to go up by an average of 62 percent under Obamacare.
And if you are a young man, you are going to get hit particularly hard. At this point, it is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by an average of 260 percent.
But you don't have to be young to pay higher premiums. As I mentioned the other day, one couple down in Texas was recently hit with a 539 percent rate increase.
5. "The U.S. National Debt Is Under Control"
The mainstream media would have us believe that the budget deficit is now under control and the U.S. national debt is not a significant problem any longer. But that is not the truth.
The truth is that we are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.
Every single hour of every single day, our politicians are stealing about $100,000,000 from future generations of Americans. It is a crime so vast that it is hard to put into words, and it is literally destroying the economic future of this country.
Over the last 13 and a half months, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than 1.12 trillion dollars.
If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.
And most Americans don't realize this, but the U.S. government must borrow far more than a trillion dollars each year. Trillions more in existing debt must be "rolled over" just to keep the game going.
For example, the U.S. government rolled over more than 7.5 trillion dollars of existing debt in fiscal 2013.
So what is going to happen someday when the rest of the world pulls out and stops lending us trillions of dollars at ridiculously low interest rates that are way below the real rate of inflation?
Our financial system is far more vulnerable than we are being told. We are in the terminal phase of the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and when this bubble bursts it is going to be an absolutely spectacular disaster.
Please don't believe the mainstream media or the politicians when they promise you that everything is going to be okay.
CORRUPTION & MALFEASANTS
|SOCIAL UNREST -INEQUALITY & BROKEN SOCIAL CONTRACT
QE - INEQUALITY
Where QE Cash Ends Up Tells Us Who Benefited 11-19-13 Zero Hedge
One can debate whether QE has benefitted Main Street or Wall Street until one is blue in the face, even though five years later, the answer is perfectly clear to all but the staunchest Keynesians and monetarists (and if it isn't, just pay attention to the 3:30 pm S&P ramp every day). One thing, however, that is undisputed is what the market itself says about where the QE money ends up when it is being spent by its recipients. And that story is so simple even a Keynesian would get it.
Stated briefly, luxury retailers such as Tiffany, Coach and LVMH are now up 500% since the Lehman lows, and about 30% above the prior cycle highs. On the other hand, regular retailers such as Macy's, Kohl's and JC Penney are barely up 100% from the crisis lows, and still more than 30% below the last bubble highs.
And that, in a nutshell, is precisely how the money from QE has been distributed.
|CATALYSTS -FEAR & GREED
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