Notes From Underground: Draghi, Yellen and Fischer … Oh My

May 27, 2015

As we reflect on the various speeches delivered over the last week there appears to be more questions than answers to the issues that weigh on the markets. Mr. Draghi was the one central banker that had the courage to ponder the issue: What if central banks have misjudged the strength of consumers and the effort to bring DEMAND forward to energize the economies of the developed markets may be flawed? Again, drawing upon the Draghi speech to the IMF on May 14:

“Secondly, there are always distributional consequences to monetary policy decisions. When monetary policy acts to stave off disinflation by lowering interest rates, this has inevitably a distributional effect by reducing the interest income of savers and lowering the debt burden of borrowers. But such interest rate cuts are necessary to raise aggregate demand by encouraging firms and households to bring forward spending decisions–that is, they discourage excessive savings and incentivize investment by lowering the cost of finance.”

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Notes From Underground: The IMF, an Atavistic Vestige of a Structural Colonial World

May 26, 2015

As Notes From Underground has been publishing for five-and-a-half years, a recurring theme has been the ineptness of the IMF. While there are many fine economists and researchers working for the IMF, its history is laden with policies that were devastating for the nations that used its facilities as an act of financial desperation. As the global lender of last resort, the FUND demanded onerous policies of raising interest rates, devaluing currency and undergoing fiscal austerity as a prerequisite for an IMF bail out. The recipients  of most IMF loans were “third world” nations that had run out of alternative creditors. The IMF was the “only game in town.” During the height of the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, many of the Asian Tigers shunned IMF advice and money and operated outside the bounds of the Bretton Woods-IMF system.

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Notes From Underground: It’s An Infamnia

May 21, 2015

As we come to the Memorial Day holiday, the markets are still focused on Greece; the Fed’s desire to raise rates (or not); the ECB and its new policy of front loading its bond purchases to deal with the low volume of the summer months; China’s slowing growth; and the regular array of global macro concerns from politics to the continued role of central bank liquidity programs and the continued impact of QE on global asset prices. Tonight, the Bank of Japan will announce its interest rate decision and it seems that Governor Kuroda will keep the present policy in place: NO RATE CHANGE AND NO INCREASE IN ASSET PURCHASES.

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Notes From Underground: The San Francisco Fed Says It Ain’t Rocket Science … Again

May 19, 2015

The talking heads in the financial media have a great deal to answer in regards to yesterday’s release of the San Francisco Fed’s Economic Letter by Rudebusch, Wilson and Mahedy in which the three researchers said: “We find  that a second round of seasonal adjustment implies that real GDP growth so far this year appears to have been  substantially stronger than the BEA [Bureau of Economic Analysis] initially reported.”

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Notes From Underground: Is There Something Bigger Bothering the Bond Markets?

May 13, 2015

UPDATE: Congress has added a new mandate to the Fed’s responsibilities. Every Sunday during the NFL season the FED will have control of the official balls for all NFL games because the central bank has proved it will never let anything deflate.

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Notes From Underground: From One Italian Crooner to Another, That’s Life

May 12, 2015

The markets are playing with ECB President Mario Draghi. Just a few short weeks ago the suave performer of the ECB press conference only had to be concerned about being doused with paper confetti from an anarchist demonstrator decrying the dictatorial powers of the central bank. Post-ECB meeting, the BUNDS, OATS and BTPs made all-time highs in the futures and yields on German and French 10-year notes touched extreme lows. As the ECB paraded the success of QE the EURO currency was also trading at multi-year lows, 1.06 euros to the U.S. dollar.

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Notes From Underground: Fed Creates Jobs by Printing `Data Dependent’ T-Shirts

May 11, 2015

Today, CNBC‘s Steve Liesman interviewed San Fran Fed President John Williams. In a swipe at Fed gallows humor, President Williams presented Liesman with a T-Shirt that said the Fed was DATA DEPENDENT. The humor part was Williams’s effort to cut-off Steve Liesman’s well choreographed question which amounts to: “Come on, John, share your inside view about the possibility of a RATE RISE at the next FOMC meeting (just between us, John).” So as to make sure that Liesman understands the consistent answer: It is data dependent. If the FED wants to create some jobs it can send everyone with a bank account a free “Data Dependent” shirt, compliments of their regional Federal Reserve. All sarcasm aside, President Williams’s view puts added importance now to the inflation data on Friday and of course the retail sales input on Wednesday. The consensus on the CORE RETAIL SALES is 0.3% increase so a strong number would be above 0.6%. If the theory of data dependence holds then it should be the SHORT END of the curve that gets sold and here is my reasoning: The 2/10 and 5/30 parts of the yield curve have steepened dramatically during the last two months as the market accepts the fact that the recent bout of weak economic data has pushed the FED further away from raising rates.

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Notes From Underground: Will Tomorrow’s Unemployment Provide Certainty?

May 7, 2015

MAYBE. It’s the release of the most important economic data for market watchers, the unemployment report. The JOBS NUMBERS have taken on added importance as the FED has made its data dependent interest rate decision overly reliant on job growth and more importantly, AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS. Last month’s nonfarm payrolls were well below expectations and the market reacted in a HOLIDAY-SHORTENED trading session (Good Friday) with a rally in all ends of the interest rate market and the U.S. dollar being sold in response to a FEDERAL RESERVE remaining at the zero interest rate level for longer than previously anticipated.

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Notes From Underground: Yellen, Draghi and the Markets … Playing Those Mind Games Together

May 6, 2015

In the midst of a dramatic seven-day bond selloff, extending from Tokyo to Frankfurt, London, New York and all bond markets in between, Chair Yellen chose today to add verbal fire to stoke the bond rout. In the early hours GLOBAL BONDS had tried to stage a rally from the previous days of endless selling. (It seems that the ECB was in buying European peripheral bonds from Spain and Italy.) Once Yellen began her remarks the BOND onslaught began anew. The key paragraph in the Yellen interview: “We need to be attentive–and are–to the possibility that when the Fed decides it is time to begin raising rates these term premiums could move up and we could see a SHARP JUMP IN LONG-TERM RATES” (emphasis mine). Upon the utterance of those six words the markets took note and the selling of all bonds in Europe and the U.S. accelerated.

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Notes From Underground: CNBC’s Santelli Exchange — Draghi Will Be `Screaming’

May 6, 2015

Yra & Rick, May 6, 2015

Click on the image to watch me and Rick discuss crude oil, Mario Draghi and why it’s better to be short French OATs, not German bunds.


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