Friday, October 31, 2014

Madmen and Morons


Stockman's Corner

The BOJ Jumps The Monetary Shark—–Now The Machines, Madmen And Morons Are Raging
by David Stockman • October 31, 2014

This is just plain sick. Hardly a day after the greatest central bank fraudster of all time, Maestro Greenspan, confessed that QE has not helped the main street economy and jobs, the lunatics at the BOJ flat-out jumped the monetary shark. Even then, the madman Kuroda pulled off his incendiary maneuver by a bare 5-4 vote. Apparently the dissenters——Messrs. Morimoto, Ishida, Sato and Kiuchi—-are only semi-mad.

Never mind that the BOJ will now escalate its bond purchase rate to $750 billion per year—-a figure so astonishingly large that it would amount to nearly $3 trillion per year if applied to a US scale GDP. And that comes on top of a central bank balance sheet which had previously exploded to nearly 50% of Japan’s national income or more than double the already mind-boggling US ratio of 25%.

In fact, this was just the beginning of a Ponzi scheme so vast that in a matter of seconds its ignited the Japanese stock averages by 5%. And here’s the reason: Japan Inc. is fixing to inject a massive bid into the stock market based on a monumental emission of central bank credit created out of thin air. So doing, it has generated the greatest front-running frenzy ever recorded.

The scheme is so insane that the surge of markets around the world in response to the BOJ’s announcement is proof positive that the mother of all central bank bubbles now envelopes the entire globe. Specifically, in order to go on a stock buying spree, Japan’s state pension fund (the GPIF) intends to dump massive amounts of Japanese government bonds (JCB’s). This will enable it to reduce its government bond holdings—built up over decades—– from about 60% to only 35% of its portfolio.

Needless to say, in an even quasi-honest capital market, the GPIF’s announced plan would unleash a relentless wave of selling and price decline. Yet, instead, the Japanese bond market soared on this dumping announcement because the JCBs are intended to tumble right into the maws of the BOJ’s endless bid. Charles Ponzi would have been truly envious!

Accordingly, the 10-year JGB is now trading at a microscopic 43 bps and the 5-year at a hardly recordable 11 bps. So, say again. The purpose of all this massive money printing is to drive the inflation rate to 2%. Nevertheless, Japanese government debt is heading deeper into the land of negative real returns because there are no rational buyers left in the market—-just the BOJ and some robots trading for a few bps of spread on the carry.

Whether it attains its 2% inflation target or not, its is blindingly evident that the BOJ has destroyed every last vestige of honest price discovery in Japan’s vast bond market. Notwithstanding the massive hype of Abenomics, Japan’s real GDP is lower than it was in early 2013, while its trade accounts have continued to deteriorate and real wages have headed sharply south.

So there is no recovery whatsoever—-not even the faintest prospect that Japan can grow out if its massive debts. The latter now stands at a staggering 250% of GDP on the government account and upwards of 600% of GDP when the debts of business, households and the financial sectors are included. And on top of that there is Japan’s inexorable demographic bust—–a force which will shrink the labor force and squeeze even further its tepid growth of output as far as the eye can see.

Stated differently, Japan is an old age colony which is heading for bankruptcy. It has virtually no prospect for measurable economic growth and a virtual certainty that taxes will keep rising —since notwithstanding the much lamented but unavoidable consumption tax increase last spring it is still borrowing 40 cents on every dollar it spends.

So 5-year JGBs yielding just 11 bps are an insult to rationality everywhere, and a warning that Japan’s financial system is a disaster waiting to happen. But even that is not the end of it. Having slashed its historic holdings of JCBs, the GPIF will now double it allocation to equities, raising its investment in domestic and international stocks to 24% each.

Stated differently, 50% of GPIF’s $1.8 trillion portfolio will flow into world stock markets. On top of that—the BOJ will pile on too—-tripling its annual purchase of ETFs and other equity securities. This is surely madness, but the point of the whole enterprise explains why the world economy is in such extreme danger. A Japanese market watcher caught the essence of it in his observation about the madman who runs the bank of Japan,


“Kuroda loves a surprise — Kuroda doesn’t care about common sense, all he cares about is meeting the price target,” said Naomi Muguruma, a Tokyo-based economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co., who correctly forecast more stimulus today.

That’s right. Its 2% on the CPI…..come hell or high water. There is not a smidgeon of evidence that 2% inflation is any better for the real growth of enterprise, labor hours supplied and economic productivity than is 1% or 3%. Its pure Keynesian mythology. Yet all the world’s central banks are beating a path toward the same mindless 2% inflation target that lies behind this morning’s outbreak of monetary madness in Japan.

Folks, look-out below. As George W. Bush said in another context…..this sucker is going down!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

$SPX - Reaching for the extreme! on the S&P500 -

$SPX - Reaching for the extreme! on the S&P500 -

Does This Look Like A Housing Recovery To You?

Does This Look Like A Housing Recovery To You?

Plain Financial Fraud


Stockman's Corner

Good Riddance To QE—-It Was Just Plain Financial Fraud
by David Stockman • October 30, 2014

QE has finally come to an end, but public comprehension of the immense fraud it embodied has not even started. In round terms, this official counterfeiting spree amounted to $3.5 trillion— reflecting the difference between the Fed’s approximate $900 billion balance sheet when its “extraordinary policies” incepted at the time of the Lehman crisis and its $4.4 trillion of footings today. That’s a lot of something for nothing. It’s a grotesque amount of fraud.

The scam embedded in this monumental balance sheet expansion involved nothing so arcane as the circuitous manner by which new central bank reserves supplied to the banking system impact the private credit creation process. As is now evident, new credits issued by the Fed can result in the expansion of private credit to the extent that the money multiplier is operating or simply generate excess reserves which cycle back to the New York Fed if, as in the present instance, it is not.

But the fact that the new reserves generated during QE have cycled back to the Fed does not mitigate the fraud. The latter consists of the very act of buying these trillions of treasuries and GSE securities in the first place with fiat credits manufactured by the central bank. When the Fed does QE, its open market desk buys treasury notes and, in exchange, it simply deposits in dealer bank accounts new credits made out of thin air. As it happened, about $3.5 trillion of such fiat credits were conjured from nothing during the last 72 months.

All of these bonds had permitted Washington to command the use of real economic resources. That is, to consume goods and services it obtained directly in the form of payrolls, contractor services, military tanks and ammo etc; and, indirectly, in the form of the basket of goods and services typically acquired by recipients of government transfer payments. Stated differently, the goods and services purchased via monetizing $3.5 trillion of government debt embodied a prior act of production and supply. But the central bank exchanged them for an act of nothing.

Contrast this monetization process with honest funding of government debt in the private market. In the latter event, the public treasury taps savings from producers and income earners and re-allocates it to government purchases rather than private investments. This has the inherent effect of pushing up interest rates and, on the margin, squeezing out private investment. It is a zero sum game in which savings retained from existing production are reallocated.

To be sure, the economic effect is invariably lower investment, productivity and growth down the line, but the process is at least honest. When the public debt is financed from savings, government purchase of goods and services are funded with the fruits of prior production. There is no exchange of something for nothing; there is no financial fraud.

And it is the fraudulent finance of public deficits which is the real evil of QE because the ill effects go far beyond the standard saw that there is nothing wrong with central bank monetization of the public debt unless is causes visible inflation of consumer prices. In fact, however, it does cause enormous inflation, but of financial asset values, not the CPI.

Despite the spurious implication to the contrary, central banks have not repealed the law of supply and demand in the financial markets. Accordingly, their massive purchases of the public debt create an artificial bid and, therefore, false price. Moreover, government debt functions as the “risk free” benchmark for pricing all other fixed income assets such as home mortgages, corporate debt and junk bonds; and also numerous classes of real assets which are typically heavily leveraged such as commercial real estate and leased aircraft.

In short, massive monetization of the public debt results in the systematic repression of the “cap rate” on which the entire financial system functions. And when the cap rate gets artificially pushed down to sub-economic levels the result is systematic over-valuation of all financial assets, and the excessive accumulation of debt to finance non-value added financial engineering schemes such as stock buybacks and the overwhelming share of M&A transactions.

Needless to say, the false prices which result from massive monetization do not stay within the canyons of Wall Street or even the corporate business sector. In effect, they ride the Amtrak to Washington where they also deceive politicians about the true cost of carrying the public debt. At the present time, the weighted average cost of the $13 trillion in publicly held federal debt is at least 200 basis points below a market clearing economic level—–meaning that debt service costs are understated by upwards of $300 billion annually.

At the end of the day, the fraud of massive monetization makes the rich richer because it drastically inflates the value of financial assets—–roughly 80% of which is held by the top 5% of households; and it makes the state more bloated and profligate because its enables the politicians to spend without imposing the pain of taxation or the crowding out effects which result from honest borrowing out of society’s savings pool.

In the more wholesome times before 1914, the Federal government didn’t borrow at all. During the half-century between the battle of Gettysburg and the eve of World War I, the public debt did not rise in nominal terms, and amounted to just $1.5 billion or 4% of GDP at the time of the Fed’s creation. Even then, the Fed was established as only a “bankers bank” which could not own a dime of public debt, but instead existed for the narrow mission of liquefying the banking market by means of discounting solid commercial paper on receivables and inventory for ready cash.

The modern form of monetization arose in the service of financing war bonds, not managing the business cycle, levitating the GDP or boosting the labor market toward the artifice of “full employment”. These latter purposes reflect a century of “mission creep” and the triumph of the statist assumption that governments can actually tame the business cycle and elevate the trend rate of economic growth.

But history refutes that conceit. In the early post-war period, central bank interventions mainly caused short term bouts of unsustainable credit growth and an inflationary spiral which eventually had to be cured by monetary stringency and recession. In the process of repetition over several decades culminating in the 2008 crisis, the household and business leverage ratios were steadily ratcheted upwards until the reached peak sustainable debt.

Now the credit channel of monetary policy transmission is broken and done. The Fed’s most recent massive monetization and “stimulus” has therefore simply inflated financial asset values—-meaning that the Fed has become a serial bubble machine.

There is a better way, and it contrasts sharply with the systematic fraud of QE. That alternative is called the free market, and at the heart of the latter is interest rates which are “discovered” by the market, not pegged and administered by the central bank. Stated differently, the free market requires that all debt and other forms of investment be funded out of society’s pool of honest savings—-that is, income that is retained out of production already made.

Under that regime there is no fraudulent bid for public debt and other existing assets based on something for nothing. Markets clear where they will, and interest rates are the mechanism by which the supply of honest savings and the demand for investment capital, including working capital, are balanced out.

Needless to say, free market interest rates are the bane of Wall Street speculators and Washington spenders alike. They can spike to sudden and dramatic heights when demand for funds to finance government deficits or financial speculation out-run the voluntary pool of savings generated by society. So doing, they bring financial bubbles and fiscal profligacy up short.

In stopping QE after a massive spree of monetization, the Fed is actually taking a tiny step toward liberating the interest rate and re-establishing honest finance. But don’t bother to inform our monetary politburo. As soon as the current massive financial bubble begins to burst, it will doubtless invent some new excuse to resume central bank balance sheet expansion and therefore fraudulent finance.

But this time may be different. Perhaps even the central banks have reached the limits of credibility—- that is, their own equivalent of peak debt.

“I think QE is quite effective,” Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, describing the approach as an option for dealing with an adverse shock to the economy.

Market sets up for another plunge

With bearishness falling off a cliff and bullishness going into pink cloud mode, the market is setting up for one hell of a fall.  Maybe another 100 or 200 points on the Dow, then deja vu 1987.  Most historic extremes have been exceeded, and since nature has not repealed her rules, the rest will follow, as day night.  GL

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rally Over?

As the clock ticks, reality creeps up on the unsuspecting.  High on optimism--the opium of the FED--the bulls poo-poo each dip, but the clock goes on.  Europe too creeps closer to the edge.  But the daze of optimism keeps them buying.  Watch yields rise--not because of the FED--but because deflation will make money costly.  GL

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Albert Edwards on central banks: | InvestmentWatch

 

Albert Edwards on central banks: | InvestmentWatch

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wall Street Is One Sick Puppy—–Thanks To Even Sicker Central Banks | David Stockman's Contra Corner

 

Wall Street Is One Sick Puppy—–Thanks To Even Sicker Central Banks | David Stockman's Contra Corner

Are Put buyers getting it right?

I think so.  This last rally only makes chart formation more bearish, and, accordingly, put buyers saw the same thing.  Also, RUT is again leading the way--down.  While the dollar and yields continue to rise.  Dow is back under 200 DMA, and VIX is rising.  This may be a wild speculation on my part--so you are warned--but what if the major indexes are sporting 1s and 2s, instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, which we may have just finished, today being the start of wave 5 down.  But if it is 1s and 2s, that would mean the market is setting up for a crash--starting tomorrow or next week.  We will know soon.  I only bring this up because it is on my mind.  GL

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Italy Sees Second Straight Month of Deflation

 

Italy Sees Second Straight Month of Deflation

Warning Flags in the Stock Market

 

Warning Flags in the Stock Market

Market Turmoil Ahead? ‘Fear Index’ Shows Unprecedented Activity. Calm Before the Storm? | InvestmentWatch

 

Market Turmoil Ahead? ‘Fear Index’ Shows Unprecedented Activity. Calm Before the Storm? | InvestmentWatch

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Counter-trend Rally Over?

With every one high on today's rally, my gut says it's about over.  Sorry happy people.  The market has done its job--made you complacent again.  With many major indexes popping above their 200 DMA, it interesting to note that the total market cumulative Advance-Decline Ratio did not get over its 200 DMA.  Somebody is not participating.  With the Dow getting close to its 62% retracement of previous wave and every body wild about the rally, I think it's time for new lows, in a wave 5 drop, which, to be sure, will be followed by a big rally, which will be followed by new lows.  GL

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Interview: “We’re seeing deflating assets in a whole host of markets”

 

Interview: “We’re seeing deflating assets in a whole host of markets”

Invixtus

 

Invixtus

The Canary In Big Blue’s Mainframe: Why IBM’s Q3 Bust Marks A Turning Point | David Stockman's Contra Corner

 

The Canary In Big Blue’s Mainframe: Why IBM’s Q3 Bust Marks A Turning Point | David Stockman's Contra Corner

John Hussman: On The Tendency Of Large Market Losses To Occur In Succession | Seeking Alpha

 

John Hussman: On The Tendency Of Large Market Losses To Occur In Succession | Seeking Alpha