by ilene - December 5th, 2010 6:48 pm
PIMCO’s Bill Gross’ monthly letter for December is out and it speaks to a lot of themes FMMF has been touching on for years – a very nice read for those of you not familiar with his work. I also embedded a video of an appearance of his yesterday on CNBC.
Full letter below – hit fullscreen to make it easy to read
Some key points:
- The global
economyis suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. With insufficient demand, nations compete furiously for their share of the diminishing growth pie.
- In the U.S. and Euroland, many policies only temporarily bolster consumption while failing to address the fundamental problem of developed economies: Job growth is moving inexorably to developing economies because they are more competitive.
- Unless developed economies learn to compete the old-fashioned way – by making more goods and making them better – the smart money will continue to move offshore to Asia, Brazil and their developing economy counterparts, both in asset and in currency space.
Two ways the U.S. can address this – the hard (but long term healthy) way or the easy (but long term unhealthy) way. You can guess which way we will ultimately go….
The right way:
- The constructive way is to stop making paper and start making things. Replace subprimes, and yes, Treasury bonds with American cars, steel, iPads, airplanes, corn – whatever the world wants that
Paul Farrell On The One Thing Buffett, Gross, Grantham, Faber, And Stiglitz All Agree On: “Bernanke Plan A Disaster”
by ilene - November 2nd, 2010 2:50 pm
Paul Farrell On The One Thing Buffett, Gross, Grantham, Faber, And Stiglitz All Agree On: "Bernanke Plan A Disaster"
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
By now it is more than obvious except to a few economists (yes, we realize this is a NC-17 term) that QE2 will be an absolute and unmitigated disaster, which will likely kill the dollar, send risk assets vertical (at least as a knee jerk reaction), and result in a surge in inflation even as deflation on leveraged purchases continues to ravage Bernanke’s feudal fiefdom. So all the rational, and very much powerless, observers can do is sit back and be amused as the kleptogarchy with each passing day brings this country to final economic and social ruin. Oddly enough, as Paul Farrell highlights, the list of objectors has grown from just fringe blogs (which have been on Bernanke’s case for almost two years), to such names as Buffett, Gross, Grantham, Faber and Stiglitz. And that the opinion of all these respected (for the most part) investors is broadly ignored demonstrates just how unwavering is the iron grip on America’s by its economist overlords. Which brings us back to the amusement part. Here are Farrell’s always witty views on the object which very soon 99% of American society will demand be put into exile: the genocidal Ph.D. holders of the Marriner Eccles building.
From Paul Farrell’s latest: Sell bonds now, Fed’s QE2 is doomed to fail.
Warning, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s foolish gamble to stimulate the economy will backfire, triggering a new double-dip recession. Bernanke is “medding” too much in the economy, say Marc Faber, Bill Gross, Jeremy Grantham, Joseph Stiglitz and others.
The Fed is making the same kind of mistakes Japan made that resulted in its 20-year recession. The Washington Post says Larry Mayer, a former Fed governor, estimates that to work it would take QE2 bond purchases of “more than $5 trillion …10 times what analysts are expecting.”
Bernanke’s plan is designed to fail. And, unfortunately, that will make life far more dangerous for American investors, consumers, taxpayers and voters.
“I’m ultrabearish on everything, but I believe you’ll be better off owning shares than government bonds,” said Hong Kong economist Marc Faber at a recent forum in Seoul. He sees a repeat of dot-com-bubble insanity today. Faber publishes the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
And Warren Buffett agrees,
by ilene - October 27th, 2010 7:46 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
In his latest monthly report Bill Gross says QE is unlikely to work and is essentially ponzi finance. Many of his comments appear contradictory, however. He says the bull market in bonds is over, however, the economy is stuck in a liquidity trap. He also says QE won’t work, but that it is inflationary. Attached is his commentary on CNBC this afternoon:
by ilene - October 27th, 2010 6:26 pm
Courtesy of Mish
It is not often you see bond managers openly embrace Ponzi schemes, but that is exactly what Bill Gross did in his post Run Turkey, Run.
There’s another important day next week and it rather coincidentally occurs on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – when either the Donkeys or the Elephants will be celebrating a return to power and the continuation of partisan bickering no matter who is in charge. Wednesday is the day when the Fed will announce a renewed commitment to Quantitative Easing – a polite form disguise for “writing checks.” The market will be interested in the amount (perhaps as much as an initial $500 billion) as well as the targeted objective (perhaps a muddied version of “2% inflation or bust!”). The announcement, however, has been well telegraphed and the market’s reaction is likely to be subdued. More important will be the answer to the long-term question of “will it work?” and perhaps its associated twin “will it create a bond market bubble?”
The Fed’s second round of QE, therefore, more closely resembles an attempted hypodermic straight to the economy’s heart than its mood elevator counterpart of 2009. If QEII cannot reflate capital markets, if it can’t produce 2% inflation and an assumed reduction of unemployment rates back towards historical levels, then it will be a long, painful slog back to prosperity. Perhaps, as a vocal contingent suggests, our paper-based foundation of wealth deserves to be buried, making a fresh start from admittedly lower levels. The Fed, on Wednesday, however, will decide that it is better to keep the patient on life support with an adrenaline injection and a following morphine drip than to risk its demise and ultimate rebirth in another form.
We at PIMCO join with Ben Bernanke in this diagnosis, but we will tell you, as perhaps he cannot, that the outcome is by no means certain. We are, as even some Fed Governors now publically admit, in a “liquidity trap,” where interest rates or trillions in QEII asset purchases may not stimulate borrowing or lending because consumer demand is just not there. Escaping from a liquidity trap may be impossible, much like light trapped in a black hole. Just ask Japan.
Ben Bernanke, however, will try –
Bill Gross Calls Fed “Most Brazen” Of All Ponzi Schemes, Says 30 Year Bond Market Is Ending, Compares US Economy To Black Hole
by ilene - October 27th, 2010 10:09 am
Bill Gross Calls Fed "Most Brazen" Of All Ponzi Schemes, Says 30 Year Bond Market Is Ending, Compares US Economy To Black Hole
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
A surprising amount of truth from Bill Gross this morning. Now if only Bill Gross would explain why he has been buying MBS on margin last month (in anticipation of the last move higher in the "Sammy" scheme no doubt) we will call it quits.
Run Turkey, Run from PIMCO
They say a country gets the politicians it deserves or perhaps it deserves the politicians it gets. Whatever the order, America is next in line, and as we go to the polls in a few short days it’s incumbent upon a sleepy and befuddled electorate to at least ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?” Democrat or Republican, Elephant or Donkey, nothing much ever seems to change. Each party has shown it can add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt with little to show for it or move our military from one country to the next chasing phantoms instead of focusing on more serious problems back home. This isn’t a choice between chocolate and vanilla folks, it’s all rocky road: a few marshmallows to get you excited before the election, but with a lot of nuts to ruin the aftermath.
Each party’s campaign tactics remind me of airport terminals pre-9/11 when solicitors only yards apart would compete for the attention and dollars of travelers. “Save the Whales,” one would demand, while the other would pose as its evil twin – “Eat Whale Blubber,” the makeshift sign would read. It didn’t matter which slogan grabbed you, the end of the day’s results always produced a pot of money for them and the whales were neither saved nor eaten. American politics resemble an airline terminal with a huckster’s bowl waiting to be filled every two years.
And the paramount problem is not that we contribute so willingly or even so cluelessly, but that there are only two bowls to choose from. Thomas Friedman, the respected author of The World Is Flat, and a weekly New York Times Op-Ed author, recently suggested “ripping open this two-party duopoly and having it challenged by a serious third party” unencumbered by special interest megabucks. “We basically have two bankrupt parties, bankrupting the country,” was the explicit sentiment…
by ilene - October 5th, 2010 3:52 pm
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
Some rather scary predictions out of Paul Farrell today: "It’s inevitable: Wall Street banks control the Federal Reserve system, it’s their personal piggy bank. They’ve already done so much damage, yet have more control than ever.Warning: That’s a set-up. They will eventually destroy capitalism, democracy, and the dollar’s global reserve-currency status. They will self-destruct before 2035 … maybe as early as 2012 … most likely by 2020. Last week we cheered the Tea Party for starting the countdown to the Second American Revolution. Our timeline is crucial to understanding the historic implications of Taleb’s prediction that the Fed is dying, that it’s only a matter of time before a revolution triggers class warfare forcing America to dump capitalism, eliminate our corrupt system of lobbying, come up with a new workable form of government, and create a new economy without a banking system ruled by Wall Street." And just like in the Hangover, where the guy is funny because he’s fat, Farrell is scary cause he is spot on correct.
Handily, Farrell provides a projected timeline of events:
Stage 1: The Democrats just put the nail in their coffin confirming they’re wimps when they refused to force the GOP to filibuster Bush tax cuts for billionaires.
Stage 2: In the elections the GOP takes over the House, expanding its strategic war to destroy Obama with its policy of “complete gridlock” and “shutting down government.”
Stage 3: Post-election Obama goes lame-duck, buried in subpoenas and vetoes.
Stage 4: In 2012, the GOP wins back the White House and Senate. Health care returns to insurers. Free-market financial deregulation returns. Lobbyists intensify their anarchy.
Stage 5: Before the end of the second term of the new GOP president, Washington is totally corrupted by unlimited, anonymous donations from billionaires and lobbyists. Wall Street’s Happy Conspiracy triggers the third catastrophic meltdown of the 21st century that Robert Shiller of “Irrational Exuberance” fame predicts, resulting in defaults of dollar-denominated debt and the dollar’s demise as the world’s reserve currency.
Stage 6: The Second American Revolution explodes into a brutal full-scale class war with the middle class leading a widespread rebellion against the out-of-touch, out-of-control Happy Conspiracy sabotaging America from within.
Stage 7: The domestic class warfare is exaggerated as the Pentagon’s global warnings play out: That by 2020
by ilene - August 26th, 2010 11:36 pm
Courtesy of Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism
Normally, I don’t report on anecdotes from my immediate circle, but a set of conversations in less than a 24 hour period suggests that even those comparatively unaffected by the crisis are bracing themselves for the possibility of sudden, large-scale, adverse changes. And that sort of gnawing worry seems to be growing in New York despite being buoyed by TARP funds and covert bank subsidies.
When out on my rounds the day before yesterday, I ran into an old McKinsey colleague, who had subsequently had impressively titled jobs in Big Firms You Heard Of before semi-retiring to manage family money. He and his very accomplished wife were big Bush donors and had been invited to both inaugurations.
He made short order of niceties and got to the point: “We need more fiscal stimulus. Obama did too little and too much of what he spent on was liberal pork. We could and need to spend a lot on infrastructure. This is looking a lot like 1936. I’m afraid it could get really ugly. And I’m particularly worried that the Republicans will win big this fall. They’ll cut even deeper, that’s the last thing we need right now.”
No I am not making this up, and yes, this is one of the last people I would have expected to express this line of thinking.
Next day, I had lunch with a two long standing, keen observers and participants in the New York scene, as in very involved in some of the city’s important institutions. Both have witnessed the shift in values over the last thirty years and the rising stratification, particularly at the top end (New York has always been plutocratic, but it formerly had a large upper middle class and a much smaller and much less isolated upper crust).
They started by commenting on my Bill Gross post, which had mentioned the appalling Steve Schwarzman contention that taxing private equity overlords more on their carried interest was like HItler invading Poland. Schwarzman is not only not retreating from his remark, he is convinced that the reason the economy is so lousy is that rich men like him are not getting their way (this is if anything an understatement of their account. Both men expect his head to be the first…
by ilene - August 21st, 2010 3:56 pm
Some raids on the US Treasury by America’s crony capitalists are so egregious as to provoke a rant — even if you aren’t Rick Santelli. One such rant-worthy provocation is Pimco’s latest scheme to loot Uncle Sam’s depleted exchequer.
According to Bill Gross, who heads what appears to be the firm’s squad of public policy front runners, the American economy can be saved only through “full nationalization” of the mortgage finance system and a massive “jubilee” of debt forgiveness for millions of underwater homeowners. If nothing else, these blatantly self-serving recommendations demonstrate that Matt Taibbi was slightly off the mark in his famed Rolling Stone diatribe. It turns out that the real vampire squid wrapped around the face of the American taxpayer isn’t Goldman Sachs (GS) after all. Instead, it’s surely the Pacific Investment Management Co.
As overlord of the fixed-income finance market, the latter generates billions annually in effort-free profits from its trove of essentially riskless US Treasury securities and federally guaranteed housing paper. Now Pimco wants to swell Uncle Sam’s supply of this no-brainer paper even further — adding upward of $2 trillion per year of what would be “government-issue” mortgages on top of the existing $1.5 trillion in general fund deficits.
This final transformation of American taxpayers into indentured servants of HIDC (the Housing Investment & Debt Complex) has been underway for a long time, and is now unstoppable because all principled political opposition to Pimco-style crony capitalism has been extinguished. Indeed, the magnitude of the burden already created is staggering. Before Richard Nixon initiated the era of Republican “me-too” Big Government in the early 1970s — including his massive expansion of subsidized housing programs — there was about $475 billion of real estate mortgage debt outstanding, representing a little more than 47% of GDP.
Had sound risk management and financial rectitude, as it had come to be defined under the relatively relaxed standards of post-war America, remained in tact, mortgage debt today would be about $7 trillion at the pre-Nixon GDP ratio. In fact, at $14 trillion or 100% of GDP the current figure is double that, implying that American real estate owners have been induced to shoulder an incremental mortgage burden that amounts to nearly half the nation’s current economic output.
by ilene - July 29th, 2010 5:27 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Bill Gross usually writes an interesting column provided you skip over the first few paragraphs of introduction. His August Investment Outlook regarding population demographics is no different. Please consider Private Eyes.
Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year. Currently, the globe is adding over 77 million people a year at a pace of 1.15% annually, but slowing.
Observers will point out, as shown in the following chart, that global population growth rates have been declining since 1970 with no apparent ill effects. True, until 2008, I suppose. The fact is that since the 1970s we have never really experienced a secular period during which the private market could effectively run on its own engine without artificial asset price stimulation. The lack of population growth was likely a significant factor in the leveraging of the developed world’s financial systems and the ballooning of total government and private debt as a percentage of GDP from 150% to over 300% in the United States, for example. Lacking an accelerating population base, all developed countries promoted the financing of more and more consumption per capita in order to maintain existing GDP growth rates. Finally, in the U.S., with consumption at 70% of GDP and a household sector deeply in debt, there was nowhere to go but down. Similar conditions exist in most developed economies.
The danger today, as opposed to prior deleveraging cycles, is that the deleveraging is being attempted into the headwinds of a structural demographic downwave as opposed to a decade of substantial population growth. Japan is the modern-day example of what deleveraging in the face of a slowing and now negatively growing population can do.
The preceding analysis does not even begin to discuss the aging of this slower-growing population base itself. Japan, Germany, Italy and of course the United States, with its boomers moving toward their 60s, are getting older year after year. Even China with their previous one baby policy faces a similar demographic. And while older people spend a larger percentage of their income – that is, they save less and eventually dissave – the fact is that they spend far fewer dollars per capita than their younger counterparts. No new
by ilene - July 28th, 2010 2:44 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
Interesting new commentary out of PIMCO by Bill Gross. Mr. Gross has popularized the idea of the “new normal”. In this month’s missive he discusses one of the major headwinds that the new global
“The danger today, as opposed to prior deleveraging cycles, is that the deleveraging is being attempted into the headwinds of a structural demographic downwave as opposed to a decade of substantial population growth. Japan is the modern-day example of what deleveraging in the face of a slowing and now negatively growing population can do. Prior deleveraging periods such as what the U.S. and European economies experienced in the 1930s exhibited a similar demographic with the lowest levels of fertility in the 20th century and extremely low population growth. Things did not go well then. Today’s developed economies almost assuredly offer substantially less population growth than the 1.5% rate experienced over the prior 50 years. Even when viewed from a total global economy perspective, population growth over the next 10–20 years will barely exceed 1%.
The preceding analysis does not even begin to discuss the aging of this slower-growing population base itself. Japan, Germany, Italy and of course the United States, with its boomers moving toward their 60s, are getting older year after year. Even China with their previous one baby policy faces a similar demographic. And while older people spend a larger percentage of their income – that is, they save less and eventually dissave – the fact is that they spend far fewer dollars per capita than their younger counterparts. No new homes, fewer vacations, less emphasis on conspicuous consumption and no new cars every few years. Healthcare is their primary concern. These aging trends present a one-two negative punch to our New Normal thesis over the next 5–10 years: fewer new consumers in terms of total population, and a growing number of older ones who don’t spend as much money. The combined effect will slow economic growth more than otherwise.”
Read the full piece at PIMCO.