Financial Repression is Now 'In-Play'!

By: Gordon Long | Mon, Oct 17, 2016
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Minsky Moment


A Falling Market Cannot be Allowed - at any cost!

The Central Bankers have clearly painted themselves into a corner as a result of their self-inflicted, extended period of "cheap money". Their policies have fostered mal-investment, excessive leverage and a speculative casino approach to investments. Investors forced to take on excess risk for yield  and scalp speculative investment returns, must operate in an unstable financial environment ripe for a  major correction.  A correction because of the  high degree of market correlation that likely would be instantaneously contagious across all global financial markets.

Any correction more than 10% must be stopped. As a result of the level of instability, even a 10% corrective consolidation could get quickly out of control, so any correction becomes a major risk. What the central bankers are acutely aware of is:

As our western society continues to consume more than it consumes, productivity is not increasing at the rate that justifies the developed nations standard of living as well as the current levels of equity markets. A possible corrective draw-down to the degree shown in this chart is simply "out of the question"! The central bankers acutely aware of this.

S&P500 versus US Productivity


Markets Temporarily Held Up

The markets are presently, temporarily held up due primarily to three factors:

Professionals, institutions, hedge funds etc have been steadily lightening up on equity markets (or simply leaving completely) leaving the public holding the back.

It is estimated that the $325B that will leave the US equity markets in 2017 will be replaced by an artificial $450B of corporations buying their stocks. With corporate cash flows now falling and debt burdens triggering potential credit rating downgrades, this game is quickly slowing. The central bankers are aware of this.

Ownership of US Corporate Equity market


Technicals Indicating an End to The Debt Super Cycle

The Market Technicians of all persuasions are almost unanimously calling for a major correction. What is most troubling here is that their indicators are not just short and intermediate term measures but critical long term indicators.

Hierarchy of macroeconomic Cycles

The technicians who study Elliott Wave see clear evidence that we are now completing a multi-decade topping pattern in the form of a classic megaphone top.

The End of The Debt Super Cycle
Chart courtesy of Robert McHugh

The central bankers are aware of this.

I could keep on illustrating the types of warnings we are seeing, but let me share what the central bankers likely most concerned about regarding Correlation, Liquidity and Volatility ETPs.

The markets have become so correlated (think of this as everyone on the same side of the boat) with asset correlations not only being higher, but the correlations themselves are becoming more correlated. While traditionally rising cross-asset volatility has resulted in volatility spikes, that is no longer the case due to outright vol suppression by central banks. While central banks may have given the superficial impression of stability by pressuring volatility, they have also collapsed liquidity in the process, leading to less liquid markets, a surge in "gaps", and "jerky moves" that are typical of penny stocks.

The greater the cross asset correlation, the lower the vol, the greater the repression, the more trading illiquidity and wider bid ask-spreads, and ultimately increased "gap risk", which becomes a feedback loop of its own. Global central banks are now injecting a record $2.5 trillion in fungible liquidity every year - in the process further fragmenting and fracturing an illiquid market which  is only fit for notoriously dangerous "penny stocks."

"More than $50 billion has poured into low-volatility indexed exchange-traded funds over the past five years or so, in the wake of the 2008-09 market meltdown. There are now 14 "lo-vol" ETFs with assets exceeding $100 million each, and many more with less. Whenever the market hits a pothole, these ETFs enjoy a bump-up in assets."

ETFs

Even more concerning are Volatility ETPs (Exchange Traded Products) which are derivative of some underlying asset. Volatility ETFs are particularly strange animals since you're buying a derivative (ETF) on a derivative (the futures contract) which itself is based on a derivative (the implied volatility of options) and those options themselves of course are derivatives which themselves are based on the S&P 500. Getting the picture? The folks at Capital Exploits warn:

....everyone is on the low volatility side of the boat, because the central banks have managed to create a sense of calm in the markets exhibited by record lows in volatility and  investor have used linear thinking extrapolated well into the future assuming ever greater risk ignoring market cycles and extremes at their peril.

Every time you sell volatility you get paid by the counter-party who is typically hedging the volatility (going long) of a particular position and paying you for the privilege. This is not unlike paying a home insurance premium where the insurer takes the ultimate risk of your house burning down and you pay them for the privilege. The difference however between selling volatility in order to protect against an underlying position and selling volatility in order to receive the yield created is enormous. And yet this is the game being played.

The central banks have managed to create a sense of calm in the markets exhibited by record lows in volatility and for their part Joe Sixpack investor has used linear thinking extrapolated well into the future assuming ever greater risk ignoring market cycles and extremes at their peril.

Again, none of this is going unnoticed by t increasingly worried central bankers.


The Next Fed Policy Shift

So what can the central bankers be expected to do? We laid out this road-map at the Financial Repression Authority well over a year ago. We anticipated in our macro-prudential research much of what has now become mainstream discussion:

Central Bank Options

We now believe the Central Bankers and Federal Reserve specifically is preparing for more in the way of Collateral Guarantees.

We believe it will actually take the form of direct buying the US stock market similar to what the Bank of Japan is  already doing with ETFs.


The "Minsky Melt-Up"

My long time Macro Analytics Co-Host, John Rubino concludes in his most recent writing "Flood Gates Begin to Open":

Individual countries have in the past tried "temporarily higher rates of inflation," and the result has always and everywhere been a kind of runaway train that either jumps the tracks or slams into some stationary object with ugly results. In other words, the higher consumption and investment that might initially be generated by rising inflation are more than offset by the greater instability that such a policy guarantees.

But never before has the whole world entered monetary panic mode at the same time, which implies that little about what's coming can be said with certainty. It's at least probable that a combination of massive deficit spending and effectively unlimited money creation will indeed generate "growth" of some kind. But it's also probable that once started this process will spin quickly out of control, as everyone realizes that in a world where governments are actively generating inflation (that is, actively devaluing their currencies) it makes sense to borrow as much as possible and spend the proceeds on whatever real things are available, at whatever price. Whether the result is called a crack-up boom or runaway demand-pull inflation or some new term economists coin to shift the blame, it will be an epic mess.

And apparently it's coming soon.

It is our considered opinion that the monetary policy setters are presently even more worried about the current global economic situation than we are - if that is possible?

This is evident because over the last 14 days Fed Chair Janet Yellen, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and JP Morgan have all been out talking openly and publicly about the possible consideration of policy changes that would allow the Federal Reserve to buy US equitiesThese releases must be seen as trial balloons to condition expectations.

Japan and Switzerland amongst others are already doing it (as we previously reported), while the ECB is also floating its own trial balloon on the same subject.

If you want to know what could create a Minsky Melt-up, this is it!

Here is our latest Financial Repression Authority Macro Map  illustrating what we see unfolding. We believe the dye has been cast!

The US Federal Reserve can soon be expected  to get congressional approval for equity purchases.

Of course this will take a post election scare and a new congress to receive.

Minsky Moment

 


 

Gordon Long

Author: Gordon Long

Gordon T. Long
Publisher - LONGWave

Gordon T. Long

Gordon T. Long has been publically offering his financial and economic writing since 2010, following a career internationally in technology, senior management & investment finance. He brings a unique perspective to macroeconomic analysis because of his broad background, which is not typically found or available to the public.

Mr. Long was a senior group executive with IBM and Motorola for over 20 years. Earlier in his career he was involved in Sales, Marketing & Service of computing and network communications solutions across an extensive array of industries. He subsequently held senior positions, which included: VP & General Manager, Four Phase (Canada); Vice President Operations, Motorola (MISL - Canada); Vice President Engineering & Officer, Motorola (Codex - USA).

After a career with Fortune 500 corporations, he became a senior officer of Cambex, a highly successful high tech start-up and public company (Nasdaq: CBEX), where he spearheaded global expansion as Executive VP & General Manager.

In 1995, he founded the LCM Groupe in Paris, France to specialize in the rapidly emerging Internet Venture Capital and Private Equity industry. A focus in the technology research field of Chaos Theory and Mandelbrot Generators lead in the early 2000's to the development of advanced Technical Analysis and Market Analytics platforms. The LCM Groupe is a recognized source for the most advanced technical analysis techniques employed in market trading pattern recognition.

Mr. Long presently resides in Boston, Massachusetts, continuing the expansion of the LCM Groupe's International Private Equity opportunities in addition to their core financial market trading platforms expertise. GordonTLong.com is a wholly owned operating unit of the LCM Groupe.

Gordon T. Long is a graduate Engineer, University of Waterloo (Canada) in Thermodynamics-Fluid Mechanics (Aerodynamics). On graduation from an intensive 5 year specialized Co-operative Engineering program he pursued graduate business studies at the prestigious Ivy Business School, University of Western Ontario (Canada) on a Northern & Central Gas Corporation Scholarship. He was subsequently selected to attend advanced one year training with the IBM Corporation in New York prior to starting his career with IBM.

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