Recently Bill Gross warned of the “credit Supernova” whereby we could see a looming explosion that could see investors lost in space. James Howard Kunstler laughs at the Fed’s money printing which will ultimately cause huge damage to the bond market as investors move towards stocks in their droves.
How hilarious is the Federal Reserve’s cattle drive of cash money (i.e. “liquidity”) into the stock markets? I’ll tell you: if that cash is outflow from bonds that pay ZIRP interest rates, then this attempt to stampede investment into the stock market is only going to succeed in ravaging the bond market and by extension the credibility of the dollar, the US banking cartel, and then the world financial system as a whole.
If bond-dumpers rush into stocks, then who are the next bond buyers at ZIRP? The USA can’t keep going without continuous bond selling. Somebody has to buy the darn things. The Federal Reserve is now buying around 70 percent of US issue — a lot of it via secondary market pass-thru shenanigans involving “Primary dealers” (a.k.a. Too Big To Fail banks, who get to cream off a premium when they flip bonds to the Fed — tidy little racket). If the other 30 percent of issue can’t find willing buyers at ZIRP then interest rates will have to go up. If interest rates go up, then interest paid out on bonds (that is “debt service”) by the US government will go up catastrophically, because the aggregate debt is so colossal and most of the debt is short term, meaning that in a post-ZIRP world the interest rate ratchets up automatically every 13 weeks as bonds roll over. The US will then only be able to pretend that it can service the debt at higher interest rates. Everybody in the world will recognize this — surely only increasing the velocity of the stampede away from bonds. The question is: how long can pretending to service debt go on before it is just called by it’s real name: default? Or, if countered with additional furious computer “money” creation: hyperinflation? Either way, of course, you end up broke.
Deliberate intention to pretend all is well.
This cattle drive into stocks is strictly a political gambit. The cattle are being driven to the slaughterhouse. It’s discretionary strategic national financial suicide. They’re driving up the stock markets for cosmetic purposes, to make it appear that an economic recovery is going on, and with the aim of setting in motion a self-reinforcing financial feeding frenzy in this rush to “equities.” By the way, in case my manner seems didactic today I am attempting to define my terms as I go along because most other financial bloggers seem to assume that ordinary people understand all their jargon, which I am quite sure they do not.
Returning to my point… the Fed and their auditors on Wall Street and in government, are jacking up the stock markets in the hopes of stirring up “animal spirits,” as the financial psychologists say, to put over the story that it equals a vibrant economy — which is nonsense, of course, to anyone who shoots a casual glance at the economic wreckage all around them. Anyway, since the stock market action these days is dominated by high frequency trading robots running on algorithms, where exactly would animal spirits even factor in? If anything the absence of real animal spirits in this action also implies the absence of its counterpart, animal survival instinct, of which human intelligence is an order. What can come of stirring up animal spirits among robots? A train wreck is exactly what.
Now, I ask you: at a moment in history when vast interlinked global financial markets have never been so unstable, so primed for unintended consequences courtesy of the diminishing returns of technology, so ripe for a massive, cascading “accident,” is it a prudent thing to fuck around with such crude PsyOps?
Gross isn’t quite as specific as Kunstler but does warn of the credit bubble running out of energy.
Pimco’s Bill Gross looks at the investing universe and sees a dangerous supernova – a looming explosion that could see investors lost in space.
The head of the Pacific Investment Management bond giant has issued an ominous forecast in which he worries that the global central bank-induced credit bubble “is running out of energy and time.” (Read More: Federal Reserve Should Do Less, Not More: Morici)
As a result, investors will have to get used to an atmosphere of diminishing returns and portfolios that will hold more hard assets like commodities and fewer less-tangible financial assets like stocks.
“Our credit-based financial markets and the economy it supports are levered, fragile and increasingly entropic,” Gross said in his February newsletter.
Gross recommends gold, commodities and other currencies.
“When does money run out of time? The countdown begins when investable assets pose too much risk for too little return; when lenders desert credit markets for other alternatives such as cash or real assets,” he added.
Gross advocates investors turn to gold and other commodities for inflation protection and currencies and assets in other countries that don’t have such active central banks and huge debt loads. He favors Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.
All this money printing but where is the growth?
In the U.S. alone, the Federal Reserve has created a shade under $3 trillion in new money to buy more than $1.7 trillion in Treasurys and $968 billion in mortgage-backed securities, according to the most recent Fed balance sheet. The Fed will be buying $85 billion a month of the two debt instruments as it seeks to continue stimulating the slow-growth economy, which actually contracted 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.
The inability of central banks to generate robust growth despite all the money-printing has stoked concern about future returns by Gross and Pimco, which manages $1.92 trillion for clients.
“Unless central banks and credit extending private banks can generate real or at second best, nominal growth with their trillions of dollars, euros, and yen, then the risk of credit market entropy will increase,” Gross said.
His “credit supernova” metaphor describes a condition in which “our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence” similar to the physical universe.
That expansion to $56 trillion, though, has generated consistently lower results, he said. Consequently, the investor base needed for the expansion to continue may not last.
“The end of the global monetary system is not nigh. But the entropic characterization is most illustrative,” Gross said. “Appreciate the supernova characterization of our current credit system. At some point it will transition to something else.”