Big Europe Makes The Move…Hopelessly

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This weekend, the Eggs Benedict Presidency himself, Mr. Francois Hollande, is calling for a new government to unite all of Europe. This is the last ditch effort of redlining welfare states to avoid change. If they can create a unified government, the Greeks, Spanish, Italians and French can have a fair shot of papering over their floundering social nets without being forced to undertake any meaningful reforms.

And they have no chance of pulling it off. The mood has decidedly swung against “Europe”. Plus Germany isn’t that stupid.

But it’s quite amazing that we’ve gotten to this point at all and it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about the progression itself. Because just fifty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an elected leader of a European country to call for full integration of the continent.

It’s worth starting the narrative after the end of World War 2; mostly because so many people were dead at that point that it was essentially a complete reset of the culture anyway. History before World War 2 exists as a sort of odd, discolored picture in time…one who’s inhabitants are almost forgotten.

And as Europe began to pick up the pieces, ghastly images began to emerge of a culture that did unspeakable acts. The death and carnage was so pervasive that it had the almost singular effect of destroying one of the more popular scientism movements – eugenics – practically overnight. As word of the concentration camps that the Axis had erected spread, very uncomfortable associations between our own work with forced sterilizations and gene and culture control here at home began to creep up, and almost instantaneously no one had ever believed in eugenics (despite it being almost blasphemy to argue against it just years early). Michael Crichton had a very excellent speech on this subject and if you haven’t read it, I recommend it in its full form.

And a major knock off effect of this self reflection was a Europe which had become more afraid of its own citizens than ever. I recently read another article (I couldn’t track it down, leave a link if you know the one) that I feel convincingly argued that much of the current EU form was erected to overrule democracy in favor of technocratic decision making by an “enlightened” class. If you want an example of how this plays out, consider that in the UK upwards of half of all new laws originate from Brussels. Lawmaking of this variety clearly denies basic rights of representation; and indeed that is the whole point.

Per this argument, the EU’s terror of its own citizens – which is at the heart of the EU rule making process – is a cultural development in response to the acts of populist movements across Europe in the prior generation.

But this is something of a contradiction. It wasn’t exactly democratic actions that committed those atrocities. Certainly a very vocal and nationalist undercurrent of supporters set those things in motion. But talking to the survivors of those years, one fairly consistent theme is that the common citizens that formed the backbone of the democracies had almost no idea of what was going on.

Rather, it was the very same form of technocrats, withholding information and utilizing propaganda, that had carried out the worst human rights violations. A lack of information stifled the ability of democracy to react, until much later, after the veil of ignorance was lifted by warfare, and the sights and accounts were allowed to flow through the populace.

And so it is also worth considering that it would be exceedingly difficult for any atrocity on the scale of the early 20th century to happen again in our history, so long as the information sharing which is reshaping our society is allowed to spread unhindered. With so much access to free information, even unwilling participants accessory to such crimes would be able to anonymously spread the word.

Which leaves the EU in its current form of stifling, undemocratic processes. And one has to wonder, “what’s the point of this?”

The EU is predominantly about the euro, which is the second layer of trouble. The modern welfare state also evolved in response to the end of the World Wars; a period of time when starvation and economic poverty was running rampant across war torn nations and when modern political movements were asking how they could avoid letting events like that ever replay themselves. The proposed solution was to directly aid citizens, which would have the secondary effect of giving everyone an incentive not to participate in forms of political upheaval or risk losing those benefits.

But the heart of the welfare state is a type of nationalism; open borders and free moving populations make for trouble when trying to run national benefits.

Which makes it so odd that welfare states in the 90’s decided to adopt a common currency that they have no direct control over. The welfare state de facto playbook is to address any inevitable economic stagnation, recession or depression with new economic equilibrium, rather than economic reform. The entire point of practical political welfare is to entrench interests of a political majority and avoid challenges. The other guys get to deal with economic variability. See public sector labor unions for an idea of how that works.

By switching to the euro, perhaps unknowingly, the welfare state model sold out its most powerful tool to achieve that outcome. Modern problems are very much a product of adopting the euro. Pro-welfare commentators in the media take it a step further by pinning the fault of those problems on the euro as well. That belies a bias towards a welfare model of government. You could easily argue that the welfare model is itself the problem and that the euro was just a monumentally stupid strategic move on the part of the major players. In either case, the common currency without political union is causing fissures to form across Europe, for the better part of 5 years now. We’ve sort of beat this theme to death by now, so I’ll cut more commentary short here.

And so now, in 2015, we have the president of France actually considering a political union with old cultural enemies Germany and the UK, and Greece immediately trying to undo the effects of a referendum they themselves wanted to have. It’s almost preposterous, if not for the desire to preserve the welfare programs. That’s the only driving force holding this thing together at this point.

So on a warm weekend in July, Francois Hollande is making a last ditch and desperate appeal that amounts to selling out everything French about France, just to avoid the discomfort of some relatively modest cuts and the bravery required to trust his own citizens.

You have to wonder if even Friedman would have seen that coming.

In short order, as the euro collapses towards dollar parity, this call will be picked up by the globalists here in the US as well. It will be their one chance, for perhaps hundreds of years, to stitch the US into the European framework. God willing we crush them without much trouble when that happens.

To Be Clear, The Fed Dropping Guidance Was A Big Deal

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So here we are the week after the Fed announced on April 9 that they’re just going to throw out that guidance that they’ve been spending the last three years meticulously articulating to the public, and we remain in a down market.

End of the world?

Hardly.

This is exactly what happened following the announcements of QE’s I, II, and III. The market continued to be slaughtered following the announcement, market “professionals” and “experts” lamented the end of global civilization and then…it stopped.

No, it didn’t just stop. It lampooned the detractors, dragging anyone short equities into obscene losses, while making those with blind faith quite wealthy.

What the Fed is really communicating here is that the game will remained rigged for as long as it takes. And since what the Fed is doing doesn’t seem to be making a difference (free money tends to get doled out to those closest to the trough, not those that actually need it), well then that’s just a another way of communicating that the game is going to be rigged forever, isn’t it?

Forever or until the guns come out.

So we’re seeing the monthly POMO purchases dropping another $10 billion and people are ever so afraid – but think about this rationally. From $80 billion a month, we were buying up $960 billion annually in effectively newly issued currency. That’s idiotic, QE I levels of program. I mean, QE II was only a $600 billion program, not counting the reinvestment of proceeds (which was really going to happen anyway, they just publicized it).

So $55 billion in new asset purchases are still on the table, which is for the moment still $660 billion every year. After the next $10 billion drop, we’ll still be at an annualized $540 billion every year. I mean, look, the numbers being thrown around here still equate to another QE II every 12 months.

I do some quick back of the envelope math and pretty quickly work out that QE III, from its inception on September 13, 2012, was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

So I’m supposed to lose my grip now that that’s being slowed to a “paltry” $600 billion? Let’s be straight here, just winding down QE III is going to be another QE II.

You know, because we’re winding it down permanently, really.

Or not, really.

Whatever…

And – oh yeah – your expectations that interest rates were rising next year are also premature. In a $17.4 trillion economy, a 1% rise in interest rates NOT materializing by itself is good for probably $150-200 billion a year worth of market forces. Multiply that by every percent financial institutions were expecting.

My point is this; right now everything is super scary, market short sellers are behaving like gigantic dicks, and The Fly’s comment section is haunted hourly by scum. But I’m thinking this is just the same story we’ve seen play out on at least three separate occasions already.

The fear is drawing everyone in. But the victory blow has already been struck – point Yellen.

But you can’t have a fox hunt without a fox; so we’re pressing downward. Make no mistake though, death awaits all short sellers. Before this is over, even just having too much cash on the sidelines will be grounds for humiliation, and short sellers should just actively start picking out that special “last rights” shotgun now.

BAS Is Returning 7% Today Alone

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Although my 40% cash position may create the illusion that I am missing out, such a view would be misplaced. Careful allocation and selection on my part is gifting me full participation in today’s excess in spite of recent reservation.

BAS is up 7.29% at the time of this writing, as the natural gas cycle makes full leaps and bounds forward. As I told you it would transpire, this is where your money must be at for the next 10 years. Companies and partnerships like BAS and HCLP will grow at unprecedented rates, facilitating the United States of America back to Her rightful status as Greatest Country and Loan Superpower on planet Earth.

HCLP is also up 2% and taken altogether, my portfolio is up .9%.

As for the excitement about Yellen, I don’t fully understand the sentiment. If you go back and read or listen to anything from Yellen, it’s pretty clear she has been consistently more in favor of Federal Reserve supporting markets and the economy than Bernanke was.

Despite that, there is good reason to believe a deep pullback may come soon enough (first half of 2014). We can’t all be millionaires.

UPDATE If you followed my initial purchase of BAS on 8/16/2012, you are presently up 65% on the position. If you’ve been trading along with me inside The PPT, you are up far more.

Monetary Policy Remains Overwhelmingly Accommodative (And Outlook)

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The fed decision to test the waters with a taper while I was away did surprise me, somewhat. Yet it did not phase me much and so I elected to remain on vacation, silent on the issue.

I would state now in hindsight that a $5B per month taper (with as much as another $5-10B in the works) would still put the Federal Reserve on path to add another ~$800B to its balance sheet in 2014. This remains colossal and would have the Fed assets outstanding at just under $5 Trillion by 2015.

They may very well have tapered by $5B/month just because they were running out of things to buy…(laughter)

If I were to state things that concern me as potential impediments to the US economy and growth, they would list (1) consumer slowdown from budget impacts (pension, healthcare costs, rents/mortgage, increased retirement contributions, etc), (2) foreign existential shocks (EU breakup, Asian crisis, similar collapse that disrupts foreign trade) – where exactly did the EU government debt go and why is it now suddenly not an issue? Who is buying it (ECB, Fed, banking scheme, inter-government trade imbalances, etc)? And what stops non-payment concerns from popping up again in the future? and (3) the election of a Republican majority

But banking solvency just isn’t on that list right now. Neither is inflation, really, although long term prospects of an uncontrollable outbreak of inflation remains a viable possibility. With credit expansion in this country limited to growth of government balance sheets, deflationary pressure is set to commence…until it doesn’t. In the meantime, another ~$1 Trillion of free money to those closest to the trough will keep a major disruption of financial assets here at home as a low probability outcome. Of course, this bodes ill for the “wealth equality” lot, but they’re too dumb to call the system out on that, so we maintain the course.

Concerns aside, I am optimistic. Recessions don’t last forever, and my concerns are outweighed by hope in outlook. I am very long (no margin) and prepared to reap the rewards of economic growth. It’s been almost six years; the system has been on a hyperactive outlook for problems which greatly reduces the likelihood that a real “Black Swan” manages to crop up. It could still happen of course, but with hundreds of thousands of financial professionals calling bubbles as quickly as problems crop up, and a full time central banking staff armed with an unlimited supply of money attacking them at first sight, how exactly is a crisis supposed to materialize from all of this?

The only room for crisis in the US is rampant commodity/asset appreciation, which remains benign. That or an elsewise major shock to the consumer. Financial assets and liquidity issues are covered.

Now, that being said, historically we haven’t had a period longer than 10 years without a recession since at least 1789 (and probably not since long before that either – I just lack records to verify a more robust claim). I’d say the expectation of a correction since the Great Depression is 5-10 years with occasional 1-3 year shocks intermittently. We’re past the small shocks phase, which would put the expectation at right about where we’re at.

These times are unprecedented and the support the Fed is willing to lend the markets (unlike any time in recorded history) makes me think we blow through the averages. I want to say this ship will have the wind to sail to years seven, eight or nine, uninterrupted. We may even match the record holder of 10 or above.

However, it would be foolhardy to doubt another recession will most likely crop up before 2020. The ever growing levels of margin debt to buy equities may well be the first sign of the beginning of the final run before that. Of course it could be nothing.

My belief then is that a long commitment remains the way to go. I have been positively surprised by recent developments that have overridden prior comments on wanting to have a larger cash position by about this time (end of 2013) that I made late last year. However, as gains are taken, a portion should begun to be set aside, starting sometime mid 2014 to early 2015. This should create a reserve build-up of steadily marching intervals (10-20%, with a 1-2% increase every month topping out at around 40-50% of ones account value) sometime around late 2015 to early 2016.

At such time, a second hard look should be had. Earlier and exceptional strength should trigger a reassessment of these statements. Casual to quality growth does not necessarily change them. A major weakness (such as a shock of a GOP majority and fear of monetary policy interference) of course may necessitate a sudden course change.

My most hated places to invest are land/real estate (excluding multifamily or renting derived), oil companies (excluding natural gas predominated), and retail (excluding facilitation to the ultra-rich).

My favorite places center around natural gas production expansion, uranium, coal, multifamily REITs, and I remain interested in holding physical precious metals in a full position in the event an inflation shock from significant expansion in credit hits the economy.

I’m indifferent to the insurance market – especially health insurance. It could swing either way; they crawled into bed with the devil so it’s all political at this point. On the one hand, the entire market is shifting in wild and unpredictable ways. On the other, the feds are rigging the game in the insurance companies favor. Just stay away.

Yellen Is Come

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Praise the heavens! Life up your voices and give thanks to our new Fed overlord!

Buy stocks and let not a drop of red hit the indices on this day. Even Tesla must trade higher, though it vexes me. Everything must end higher to celebrate and sanctify this glorious occasion.

There will be no tapering, soft child. That was just a ruse to speed up the confirmation process. Rather, we must have more intervention. It is both just and right, as you are too feeble and weak to be entrusted the hard task of survival alone.

Prepare the offering stone, for the new Bearded One. Do not question where she keeps her beard, unless you beckon to feel the cold, loveless kiss of the back of her hand.

Those of us that have made horrible decisions are entitled to free money, to aid us in the process of unwinding those discretions. In fact, if I were to lose the possessions I rightfully took (executive privilege) with borrowed funding, it would be nothing shy of a travesty of justice.

In truth, the only horrible decision is refusing to make horrible decisions. Load up on stolen property, with Yellen’s blessing and 3% funding. Then keep it for yourself. The finest trimmings are available to you. Buy GM stock, on triple margin, funded with credit card debt. It is your birth right.

Of Course Yellen Brought The Sugar

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I don’t know what idiots started the rumors that Yellen was a hawk, but they should have their reputations destroyed on live television. I can’t think of a single moment when Yellen skewed hawkish in Fed minutes or anywhere else in the body of her work over the last 5 years.

Consider this speech titled Perspectives On Monetary Policy she delivered last June to the Boston Economic Club.

She starts off:

Economic Conditions and the Outlook

In my remarks tonight, I will describe my perspective on monetary policy. To begin, however, I’ll highlight some of the current conditions and key features of the economic outlook that shape my views. To anticipate the main points, the economy appears to be expanding at a moderate pace. The unemployment rate is almost 1 percentage point lower than it was a year ago, but we are still far from full employment. Looking ahead, I anticipate that significant headwinds will continue to restrain the pace of the recovery so that the remaining employment gap is likely to close only slowly. At the same time, inflation (abstracting from the transitory effects of movements in oil prices) has been running near 2 percent over the past two years, and I expect it to remain at or below the Federal Open Market Committee’s (the FOMC’s) 2 percent objective for the foreseeable future. As always, considerable uncertainty attends the outlook for both growth and inflation; events could prove either more positive or negative than what I see as the most likely outcome. That said, as I will explain, I consider the balance of risks to be tilted toward a weaker economy.

She then goes on for some time, eventually remarking on the tools the Fed has been using to try and correct the sluggish economic recovery:

The Conduct of Policy with Unconventional Tools

Now turning to monetary policy, I will begin by discussing the FOMC’s reliance on unconventional tools to address the disappointing pace of recovery. I will then elaborate my rationale for supporting a highly accommodative policy stance.

As you know, since late 2008, the FOMC’s standard policy tool, the target federal funds rate, has been maintained at the zero lower bound. To provide further accommodation, we have employed two unconventional tools to support the recovery–extended forward guidance about the future path of the federal funds rate, and large-scale asset purchases and other balance sheet actions that have greatly increased the size and duration of the Federal Reserve’s portfolio.

Yellen then launches into a long explanation of the rationale for “Highly Accomodative Policy”, describing the statistical indicators and rules based decision making she likes to use to determine how accomodative policy should be extended. Finally, she wraps up her speech as such:

…On the one hand, our unconventional tools have some limitations and costs. For example, the effects of forward guidance are likely to be weaker the longer the horizon of the guidance, implying that it may be difficult to provide much more stimulus through this channel. As for our balance sheet operations, although we have now acquired some experience with this tool, there is still considerable uncertainty about its likely economic effects. Moreover, some have expressed concern that a substantial further expansion of the balance sheet could interfere with the Fed’s ability to execute a smooth exit from its accommodative policies at the appropriate time. I disagree with this view: The FOMC has tested a variety of tools to ensure that we will be able to raise short-term interest rates when needed while gradually returning the portfolio to a more normal size and composition. But even if unjustified, such concerns could in theory reduce confidence in the Federal Reserve and so lead to an undesired increase in inflation expectations.

On the other hand, risk management considerations arising from today’s unusual circumstances strengthen the case for additional accommodation beyond that called for by simple policy rules and optimal control under the modal outlook. In particular, as I have noted, there are a number of significant downside risks to the economic outlook, and hence it may well be appropriate to insure against adverse shocks that could push the economy into territory where a self-reinforcing downward spiral of economic weakness would be difficult to arrest.

Conclusion
In my remarks this evening I have sought to explain why, in my view, a highly accommodative monetary policy will remain appropriate for some time to come. My views concerning the stance of monetary policy reflect the FOMC’s firm commitment to the goals of maximum employment and stable prices, my appraisal of the medium term outlook (which is importantly shaped by the persistent legacy of the housing bust and ensuing financial crisis), and by my assessment of the balance of risks facing the economy. Of course, as I’ve emphasized, the outlook is uncertain and the Committee will need to adjust policy as appropriate as actual conditions unfold. For this reason, the FOMC’s forward guidance is explicitly conditioned on its anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run.”23 If the recovery were to proceed faster than expected or if inflation pressures were to pick up materially, the FOMC could adjust policy by bringing forward the expected date of tightening. In contrast, if the Committee judges that the recovery is proceeding at an insufficient pace, we could undertake portfolio actions such as additional asset purchases or a further maturity extension program. It is for this reason that the FOMC emphasized, in its statement following the April meeting, that it would “regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability.”

Her “one hand” of comment seems to be the closest she comes, throughout the entire length of this speech, to suggesting that there could be drawbacks to “Highly Accomodative Policy”. That’s it; more of a formality than anything. Hell, she immediately says she disagrees with that point of view. The entire content of the speech was “we can do more.”

Yellen has consistently been on the record stating, “we can do more.”

Yellen has pushed for “we can do more.”

This was only a year ago. The recovery hasn’t dramatically improved since then. And this speech is just one example of Yellen being on the record dismissing concerns that Fed policy might become a double edged sword.

Yellen strikes me as the kind of Fed head that will be prone to taking Fed policy too far, into the danger zones of monetary interventionism, if anything. She believes in the notion that the Fed can actively micro-manage accomodative policy, with limited trade offs. While she is very much aware of the long term unpredictability of monetary policy tools, she is dismissive of the concerns.

And yesterday, Yellen was so kind to remind the people labelling her a hawk that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Those comments had no support from any observable Yellen comments or actions.

Appropriately, I really don’t think any taper is coming at any point over the next several years. Or, under Yellen’s discretion, any Fed actions, when taken in aggregate, will skew net dovish, with new programs more than overcompensating any individual restraining or contractionary policy move.

Big Europe Makes The Move…Hopelessly

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This weekend, the Eggs Benedict Presidency himself, Mr. Francois Hollande, is calling for a new government to unite all of Europe. This is the last ditch effort of redlining welfare states to avoid change. If they can create a unified government, the Greeks, Spanish, Italians and French can have a fair shot of papering over their floundering social nets without being forced to undertake any meaningful reforms.

And they have no chance of pulling it off. The mood has decidedly swung against “Europe”. Plus Germany isn’t that stupid.

But it’s quite amazing that we’ve gotten to this point at all and it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about the progression itself. Because just fifty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an elected leader of a European country to call for full integration of the continent.

It’s worth starting the narrative after the end of World War 2; mostly because so many people were dead at that point that it was essentially a complete reset of the culture anyway. History before World War 2 exists as a sort of odd, discolored picture in time…one who’s inhabitants are almost forgotten.

And as Europe began to pick up the pieces, ghastly images began to emerge of a culture that did unspeakable acts. The death and carnage was so pervasive that it had the almost singular effect of destroying one of the more popular scientism movements – eugenics – practically overnight. As word of the concentration camps that the Axis had erected spread, very uncomfortable associations between our own work with forced sterilizations and gene and culture control here at home began to creep up, and almost instantaneously no one had ever believed in eugenics (despite it being almost blasphemy to argue against it just years early). Michael Crichton had a very excellent speech on this subject and if you haven’t read it, I recommend it in its full form.

And a major knock off effect of this self reflection was a Europe which had become more afraid of its own citizens than ever. I recently read another article (I couldn’t track it down, leave a link if you know the one) that I feel convincingly argued that much of the current EU form was erected to overrule democracy in favor of technocratic decision making by an “enlightened” class. If you want an example of how this plays out, consider that in the UK upwards of half of all new laws originate from Brussels. Lawmaking of this variety clearly denies basic rights of representation; and indeed that is the whole point.

Per this argument, the EU’s terror of its own citizens – which is at the heart of the EU rule making process – is a cultural development in response to the acts of populist movements across Europe in the prior generation.

But this is something of a contradiction. It wasn’t exactly democratic actions that committed those atrocities. Certainly a very vocal and nationalist undercurrent of supporters set those things in motion. But talking to the survivors of those years, one fairly consistent theme is that the common citizens that formed the backbone of the democracies had almost no idea of what was going on.

Rather, it was the very same form of technocrats, withholding information and utilizing propaganda, that had carried out the worst human rights violations. A lack of information stifled the ability of democracy to react, until much later, after the veil of ignorance was lifted by warfare, and the sights and accounts were allowed to flow through the populace.

And so it is also worth considering that it would be exceedingly difficult for any atrocity on the scale of the early 20th century to happen again in our history, so long as the information sharing which is reshaping our society is allowed to spread unhindered. With so much access to free information, even unwilling participants accessory to such crimes would be able to anonymously spread the word.

Which leaves the EU in its current form of stifling, undemocratic processes. And one has to wonder, “what’s the point of this?”

The EU is predominantly about the euro, which is the second layer of trouble. The modern welfare state also evolved in response to the end of the World Wars; a period of time when starvation and economic poverty was running rampant across war torn nations and when modern political movements were asking how they could avoid letting events like that ever replay themselves. The proposed solution was to directly aid citizens, which would have the secondary effect of giving everyone an incentive not to participate in forms of political upheaval or risk losing those benefits.

But the heart of the welfare state is a type of nationalism; open borders and free moving populations make for trouble when trying to run national benefits.

Which makes it so odd that welfare states in the 90’s decided to adopt a common currency that they have no direct control over. The welfare state de facto playbook is to address any inevitable economic stagnation, recession or depression with new economic equilibrium, rather than economic reform. The entire point of practical political welfare is to entrench interests of a political majority and avoid challenges. The other guys get to deal with economic variability. See public sector labor unions for an idea of how that works.

By switching to the euro, perhaps unknowingly, the welfare state model sold out its most powerful tool to achieve that outcome. Modern problems are very much a product of adopting the euro. Pro-welfare commentators in the media take it a step further by pinning the fault of those problems on the euro as well. That belies a bias towards a welfare model of government. You could easily argue that the welfare model is itself the problem and that the euro was just a monumentally stupid strategic move on the part of the major players. In either case, the common currency without political union is causing fissures to form across Europe, for the better part of 5 years now. We’ve sort of beat this theme to death by now, so I’ll cut more commentary short here.

And so now, in 2015, we have the president of France actually considering a political union with old cultural enemies Germany and the UK, and Greece immediately trying to undo the effects of a referendum they themselves wanted to have. It’s almost preposterous, if not for the desire to preserve the welfare programs. That’s the only driving force holding this thing together at this point.

So on a warm weekend in July, Francois Hollande is making a last ditch and desperate appeal that amounts to selling out everything French about France, just to avoid the discomfort of some relatively modest cuts and the bravery required to trust his own citizens.

You have to wonder if even Friedman would have seen that coming.

In short order, as the euro collapses towards dollar parity, this call will be picked up by the globalists here in the US as well. It will be their one chance, for perhaps hundreds of years, to stitch the US into the European framework. God willing we crush them without much trouble when that happens.

To Be Clear, The Fed Dropping Guidance Was A Big Deal

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So here we are the week after the Fed announced on April 9 that they’re just going to throw out that guidance that they’ve been spending the last three years meticulously articulating to the public, and we remain in a down market.

End of the world?

Hardly.

This is exactly what happened following the announcements of QE’s I, II, and III. The market continued to be slaughtered following the announcement, market “professionals” and “experts” lamented the end of global civilization and then…it stopped.

No, it didn’t just stop. It lampooned the detractors, dragging anyone short equities into obscene losses, while making those with blind faith quite wealthy.

What the Fed is really communicating here is that the game will remained rigged for as long as it takes. And since what the Fed is doing doesn’t seem to be making a difference (free money tends to get doled out to those closest to the trough, not those that actually need it), well then that’s just a another way of communicating that the game is going to be rigged forever, isn’t it?

Forever or until the guns come out.

So we’re seeing the monthly POMO purchases dropping another $10 billion and people are ever so afraid – but think about this rationally. From $80 billion a month, we were buying up $960 billion annually in effectively newly issued currency. That’s idiotic, QE I levels of program. I mean, QE II was only a $600 billion program, not counting the reinvestment of proceeds (which was really going to happen anyway, they just publicized it).

So $55 billion in new asset purchases are still on the table, which is for the moment still $660 billion every year. After the next $10 billion drop, we’ll still be at an annualized $540 billion every year. I mean, look, the numbers being thrown around here still equate to another QE II every 12 months.

I do some quick back of the envelope math and pretty quickly work out that QE III, from its inception on September 13, 2012, was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

So I’m supposed to lose my grip now that that’s being slowed to a “paltry” $600 billion? Let’s be straight here, just winding down QE III is going to be another QE II.

You know, because we’re winding it down permanently, really.

Or not, really.

Whatever…

And – oh yeah – your expectations that interest rates were rising next year are also premature. In a $17.4 trillion economy, a 1% rise in interest rates NOT materializing by itself is good for probably $150-200 billion a year worth of market forces. Multiply that by every percent financial institutions were expecting.

My point is this; right now everything is super scary, market short sellers are behaving like gigantic dicks, and The Fly’s comment section is haunted hourly by scum. But I’m thinking this is just the same story we’ve seen play out on at least three separate occasions already.

The fear is drawing everyone in. But the victory blow has already been struck – point Yellen.

But you can’t have a fox hunt without a fox; so we’re pressing downward. Make no mistake though, death awaits all short sellers. Before this is over, even just having too much cash on the sidelines will be grounds for humiliation, and short sellers should just actively start picking out that special “last rights” shotgun now.

BAS Is Returning 7% Today Alone

321 views

Although my 40% cash position may create the illusion that I am missing out, such a view would be misplaced. Careful allocation and selection on my part is gifting me full participation in today’s excess in spite of recent reservation.

BAS is up 7.29% at the time of this writing, as the natural gas cycle makes full leaps and bounds forward. As I told you it would transpire, this is where your money must be at for the next 10 years. Companies and partnerships like BAS and HCLP will grow at unprecedented rates, facilitating the United States of America back to Her rightful status as Greatest Country and Loan Superpower on planet Earth.

HCLP is also up 2% and taken altogether, my portfolio is up .9%.

As for the excitement about Yellen, I don’t fully understand the sentiment. If you go back and read or listen to anything from Yellen, it’s pretty clear she has been consistently more in favor of Federal Reserve supporting markets and the economy than Bernanke was.

Despite that, there is good reason to believe a deep pullback may come soon enough (first half of 2014). We can’t all be millionaires.

UPDATE If you followed my initial purchase of BAS on 8/16/2012, you are presently up 65% on the position. If you’ve been trading along with me inside The PPT, you are up far more.

Monetary Policy Remains Overwhelmingly Accommodative (And Outlook)

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The fed decision to test the waters with a taper while I was away did surprise me, somewhat. Yet it did not phase me much and so I elected to remain on vacation, silent on the issue.

I would state now in hindsight that a $5B per month taper (with as much as another $5-10B in the works) would still put the Federal Reserve on path to add another ~$800B to its balance sheet in 2014. This remains colossal and would have the Fed assets outstanding at just under $5 Trillion by 2015.

They may very well have tapered by $5B/month just because they were running out of things to buy…(laughter)

If I were to state things that concern me as potential impediments to the US economy and growth, they would list (1) consumer slowdown from budget impacts (pension, healthcare costs, rents/mortgage, increased retirement contributions, etc), (2) foreign existential shocks (EU breakup, Asian crisis, similar collapse that disrupts foreign trade) – where exactly did the EU government debt go and why is it now suddenly not an issue? Who is buying it (ECB, Fed, banking scheme, inter-government trade imbalances, etc)? And what stops non-payment concerns from popping up again in the future? and (3) the election of a Republican majority

But banking solvency just isn’t on that list right now. Neither is inflation, really, although long term prospects of an uncontrollable outbreak of inflation remains a viable possibility. With credit expansion in this country limited to growth of government balance sheets, deflationary pressure is set to commence…until it doesn’t. In the meantime, another ~$1 Trillion of free money to those closest to the trough will keep a major disruption of financial assets here at home as a low probability outcome. Of course, this bodes ill for the “wealth equality” lot, but they’re too dumb to call the system out on that, so we maintain the course.

Concerns aside, I am optimistic. Recessions don’t last forever, and my concerns are outweighed by hope in outlook. I am very long (no margin) and prepared to reap the rewards of economic growth. It’s been almost six years; the system has been on a hyperactive outlook for problems which greatly reduces the likelihood that a real “Black Swan” manages to crop up. It could still happen of course, but with hundreds of thousands of financial professionals calling bubbles as quickly as problems crop up, and a full time central banking staff armed with an unlimited supply of money attacking them at first sight, how exactly is a crisis supposed to materialize from all of this?

The only room for crisis in the US is rampant commodity/asset appreciation, which remains benign. That or an elsewise major shock to the consumer. Financial assets and liquidity issues are covered.

Now, that being said, historically we haven’t had a period longer than 10 years without a recession since at least 1789 (and probably not since long before that either – I just lack records to verify a more robust claim). I’d say the expectation of a correction since the Great Depression is 5-10 years with occasional 1-3 year shocks intermittently. We’re past the small shocks phase, which would put the expectation at right about where we’re at.

These times are unprecedented and the support the Fed is willing to lend the markets (unlike any time in recorded history) makes me think we blow through the averages. I want to say this ship will have the wind to sail to years seven, eight or nine, uninterrupted. We may even match the record holder of 10 or above.

However, it would be foolhardy to doubt another recession will most likely crop up before 2020. The ever growing levels of margin debt to buy equities may well be the first sign of the beginning of the final run before that. Of course it could be nothing.

My belief then is that a long commitment remains the way to go. I have been positively surprised by recent developments that have overridden prior comments on wanting to have a larger cash position by about this time (end of 2013) that I made late last year. However, as gains are taken, a portion should begun to be set aside, starting sometime mid 2014 to early 2015. This should create a reserve build-up of steadily marching intervals (10-20%, with a 1-2% increase every month topping out at around 40-50% of ones account value) sometime around late 2015 to early 2016.

At such time, a second hard look should be had. Earlier and exceptional strength should trigger a reassessment of these statements. Casual to quality growth does not necessarily change them. A major weakness (such as a shock of a GOP majority and fear of monetary policy interference) of course may necessitate a sudden course change.

My most hated places to invest are land/real estate (excluding multifamily or renting derived), oil companies (excluding natural gas predominated), and retail (excluding facilitation to the ultra-rich).

My favorite places center around natural gas production expansion, uranium, coal, multifamily REITs, and I remain interested in holding physical precious metals in a full position in the event an inflation shock from significant expansion in credit hits the economy.

I’m indifferent to the insurance market – especially health insurance. It could swing either way; they crawled into bed with the devil so it’s all political at this point. On the one hand, the entire market is shifting in wild and unpredictable ways. On the other, the feds are rigging the game in the insurance companies favor. Just stay away.

Yellen Is Come

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Praise the heavens! Life up your voices and give thanks to our new Fed overlord!

Buy stocks and let not a drop of red hit the indices on this day. Even Tesla must trade higher, though it vexes me. Everything must end higher to celebrate and sanctify this glorious occasion.

There will be no tapering, soft child. That was just a ruse to speed up the confirmation process. Rather, we must have more intervention. It is both just and right, as you are too feeble and weak to be entrusted the hard task of survival alone.

Prepare the offering stone, for the new Bearded One. Do not question where she keeps her beard, unless you beckon to feel the cold, loveless kiss of the back of her hand.

Those of us that have made horrible decisions are entitled to free money, to aid us in the process of unwinding those discretions. In fact, if I were to lose the possessions I rightfully took (executive privilege) with borrowed funding, it would be nothing shy of a travesty of justice.

In truth, the only horrible decision is refusing to make horrible decisions. Load up on stolen property, with Yellen’s blessing and 3% funding. Then keep it for yourself. The finest trimmings are available to you. Buy GM stock, on triple margin, funded with credit card debt. It is your birth right.

Of Course Yellen Brought The Sugar

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I don’t know what idiots started the rumors that Yellen was a hawk, but they should have their reputations destroyed on live television. I can’t think of a single moment when Yellen skewed hawkish in Fed minutes or anywhere else in the body of her work over the last 5 years.

Consider this speech titled Perspectives On Monetary Policy she delivered last June to the Boston Economic Club.

She starts off:

Economic Conditions and the Outlook

In my remarks tonight, I will describe my perspective on monetary policy. To begin, however, I’ll highlight some of the current conditions and key features of the economic outlook that shape my views. To anticipate the main points, the economy appears to be expanding at a moderate pace. The unemployment rate is almost 1 percentage point lower than it was a year ago, but we are still far from full employment. Looking ahead, I anticipate that significant headwinds will continue to restrain the pace of the recovery so that the remaining employment gap is likely to close only slowly. At the same time, inflation (abstracting from the transitory effects of movements in oil prices) has been running near 2 percent over the past two years, and I expect it to remain at or below the Federal Open Market Committee’s (the FOMC’s) 2 percent objective for the foreseeable future. As always, considerable uncertainty attends the outlook for both growth and inflation; events could prove either more positive or negative than what I see as the most likely outcome. That said, as I will explain, I consider the balance of risks to be tilted toward a weaker economy.

She then goes on for some time, eventually remarking on the tools the Fed has been using to try and correct the sluggish economic recovery:

The Conduct of Policy with Unconventional Tools

Now turning to monetary policy, I will begin by discussing the FOMC’s reliance on unconventional tools to address the disappointing pace of recovery. I will then elaborate my rationale for supporting a highly accommodative policy stance.

As you know, since late 2008, the FOMC’s standard policy tool, the target federal funds rate, has been maintained at the zero lower bound. To provide further accommodation, we have employed two unconventional tools to support the recovery–extended forward guidance about the future path of the federal funds rate, and large-scale asset purchases and other balance sheet actions that have greatly increased the size and duration of the Federal Reserve’s portfolio.

Yellen then launches into a long explanation of the rationale for “Highly Accomodative Policy”, describing the statistical indicators and rules based decision making she likes to use to determine how accomodative policy should be extended. Finally, she wraps up her speech as such:

…On the one hand, our unconventional tools have some limitations and costs. For example, the effects of forward guidance are likely to be weaker the longer the horizon of the guidance, implying that it may be difficult to provide much more stimulus through this channel. As for our balance sheet operations, although we have now acquired some experience with this tool, there is still considerable uncertainty about its likely economic effects. Moreover, some have expressed concern that a substantial further expansion of the balance sheet could interfere with the Fed’s ability to execute a smooth exit from its accommodative policies at the appropriate time. I disagree with this view: The FOMC has tested a variety of tools to ensure that we will be able to raise short-term interest rates when needed while gradually returning the portfolio to a more normal size and composition. But even if unjustified, such concerns could in theory reduce confidence in the Federal Reserve and so lead to an undesired increase in inflation expectations.

On the other hand, risk management considerations arising from today’s unusual circumstances strengthen the case for additional accommodation beyond that called for by simple policy rules and optimal control under the modal outlook. In particular, as I have noted, there are a number of significant downside risks to the economic outlook, and hence it may well be appropriate to insure against adverse shocks that could push the economy into territory where a self-reinforcing downward spiral of economic weakness would be difficult to arrest.

Conclusion
In my remarks this evening I have sought to explain why, in my view, a highly accommodative monetary policy will remain appropriate for some time to come. My views concerning the stance of monetary policy reflect the FOMC’s firm commitment to the goals of maximum employment and stable prices, my appraisal of the medium term outlook (which is importantly shaped by the persistent legacy of the housing bust and ensuing financial crisis), and by my assessment of the balance of risks facing the economy. Of course, as I’ve emphasized, the outlook is uncertain and the Committee will need to adjust policy as appropriate as actual conditions unfold. For this reason, the FOMC’s forward guidance is explicitly conditioned on its anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run.”23 If the recovery were to proceed faster than expected or if inflation pressures were to pick up materially, the FOMC could adjust policy by bringing forward the expected date of tightening. In contrast, if the Committee judges that the recovery is proceeding at an insufficient pace, we could undertake portfolio actions such as additional asset purchases or a further maturity extension program. It is for this reason that the FOMC emphasized, in its statement following the April meeting, that it would “regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability.”

Her “one hand” of comment seems to be the closest she comes, throughout the entire length of this speech, to suggesting that there could be drawbacks to “Highly Accomodative Policy”. That’s it; more of a formality than anything. Hell, she immediately says she disagrees with that point of view. The entire content of the speech was “we can do more.”

Yellen has consistently been on the record stating, “we can do more.”

Yellen has pushed for “we can do more.”

This was only a year ago. The recovery hasn’t dramatically improved since then. And this speech is just one example of Yellen being on the record dismissing concerns that Fed policy might become a double edged sword.

Yellen strikes me as the kind of Fed head that will be prone to taking Fed policy too far, into the danger zones of monetary interventionism, if anything. She believes in the notion that the Fed can actively micro-manage accomodative policy, with limited trade offs. While she is very much aware of the long term unpredictability of monetary policy tools, she is dismissive of the concerns.

And yesterday, Yellen was so kind to remind the people labelling her a hawk that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Those comments had no support from any observable Yellen comments or actions.

Appropriately, I really don’t think any taper is coming at any point over the next several years. Or, under Yellen’s discretion, any Fed actions, when taken in aggregate, will skew net dovish, with new programs more than overcompensating any individual restraining or contractionary policy move.

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Pared Down BAS
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