Yellen's Conundrum: Forestall Monetary Mayhem Or Release Political Pandemonium
Regardless of who wins the election, one thing is certain: the vote that takes place in December within the confines of the Eccles Building cast by a dozen un-elected, Ivy Leagued, academic bankers whose combined real world business experience is near nonexistent (less for that read in some wood-paneled library) will decide monetary policy that will have more implications for not only the U.S., but the world as a whole. Effecting not only the global financial markets, but quite possibly, the entire international political stratum as well. And the new President (as well as every other world leader) will have to adjust to that outcome.
November 8th is only the first-act of this very real, “landmine” infested global drama playing out on the world stage. On December 14th the world will truly witness just how much power has really been transferred to this unelected cohort.
And when that final curtain is both lifted, then lowered? The calls coming forth from the “audience” might not be what these once regarded “maestros” ever dreamed possible.
Yes, at first it might appear the “audience” is standing, and cheering. However, upon further scrutiny, one might find, it may not be in ovation. Rather, for something else entirely.
This is the true economic/political risk coming, and it’s in December regardless of any spin to the contrary by the main-stream financial/business outlets, be it from their gaggle of Ivory Towered academics, Think Tank dwellers, or next in rotation fund managers.
And if you think this is all hyperbole? Explain why the markets have been deflating (albeit subtle – but nonetheless) in ways that once again allows the term “record” attached to them? And remember: we’re only in the “dress rehearsal” stages.
So let’s put this into a little context as to think-through what we all might be in-store for, not only here in the U.S., but globally as well.
When it comes to trying to discern, or figure out, what the intent of the Fed. is today based on what they have, or have not said as of late? You’d be better off making up your own answers based on what temperature your morning coffee was served at. For it seems Fed. members are pretty much doing the same, and all from different pots.
Currently we hear “hawkish” tones coming from this Fed. speaker, or that. Then, we’ll hear the Chair, Ms. Yellen not only throw cold water on such, but make “dovish” statements that make even a real dove blush. (need I remind you of The Fed. buying stocks “Is a good thing to think about”)
Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is flatly convinced the Fed. will raise rates this December. Personally, I’m not so convinced, while I’ll also add I’m more in the “will not” camp today than I was previous. i.e., I’m at about 80/20% plus today favoring they won’t. And here’s why….
At this last slated meeting and resolution the Fed., once again, chose inaction for action, keeping interest rates unchanged. Yet, we are told (by both the Fed. and their “watchers/pundits”) that the Fed. is “ready to move” and that “this December it’s really a go!” and more.
Fair enough, but if that is true: Then how does supposedly “encouraging” and “improving” data that swayed one of the more birds-of-a-feather doves (Boston Fed. president Eric Rosengren) to cast a dissenting vote in the previous meeting just 60 days later to change his stance? (e.g., back to should not raise from should)
Again, to make this point more clear: All when in less than 30 days – they are said – to really, really, really just going to “do it” this time?
It doesn’t make a lick of sense for any coherent communication based strategy, as well as projected policy stance. Period. Unless – that’s precisely (and I’ve argued exactly that) what you want. i.e., Never-ending obfuscation, and confusion. All wrapped in incoherent, nonsensical policy mumbo-jumbo.
However, that all ends in December, where the “rubber” as they say, will hit the road. Only this time there’s a fork in that road. And just which road they’ll travel, taking everyone along with them for the ride, is the only real question at hand.
Either one harbors serious consequences. Neither one will be smoothed, or paved with well intentions. It will be riddled with a series of never-ending ruts filled with calamities many felt were behind us. And some, depending on severity, might make the road impassable both for forward progress, as well as backtracking. These are perilous times. And I’m sorry for sounding hyperbolic, but it is – what it is.
Currently the “markets” are setting up for the possible raising of interest rates. And the “set-up” for that possible outcome: Is to sell.
Pundits will scream (and they are) it’s all because of this candidate, or that candidate’s possible win. Sure, there’s some of that. However, I’m more convinced that’s far less of the reason than the Fed. raising rates. As I implied earlier – I believe this is the “dress rehearsal” for a more sustained move in the very near future. Whether made entirely by the Fed. itself, or exacerbated by others (“others” being other governments and/or central banks) as a consequence of it.
For if the “markets” react in a sustained sell-off after the election, regardless of who wins: How will the Fed. suddenly find “the courage” to raise rates in the teeth of what could amount to a sizable sell off?
Again, regardless of which candidate is elected: The markets are going to continue to react as if the Fed. will raise in December. And that reaction will be more in line with “Get the h-ll out of Dodge!” before the meeting than it will “Let’s wait around and see, first.”
So if that were to take place: Can you see The Fed. raising during this?
Combine this with an election result of Mr. Trump. If he were to be elected, with what he has stated as his regard for not only the Fed. itself, but for its policies: The anger, angst, and accusations that will be made from the “bully pulpit” along with the pent-up anger of the citizenry that elected him will in no doubt hit the Fed. (and it’s participants) in ways never dreamed of. The demonization, and class warfare that will be argued will turn central bankers from financial “maestros” into monetary “pariahs” near overnight.
Think that through no matter what you may think of his chances. This is something central bankers have never dealt with in recent memory.
The Fed. (and quite possibly central bankers everywhere) could suddenly find themselves no longer in the “hallowed halls” of the Ivory Towers in the eyes of the public. But instead: suddenly looked upon as meddling financiers that need to be abolished from public life.
And make no mistake about it: this is what truly concerns, as well as keeps bankers up at night. i.e., Making sure their own hides remain protected, and will be invited to the same conferences, and cocktail parties with the reverence they’ve now become all too familiar with.
With all that said: A Clinton win doesn’t make it any the more easy, hence the reason for the conundrum….
If the “markets” do in fact continue their slide after the election, and pick up any steam whether it be in reaction to the upcoming rate rise domestically, or worse, is precipitated via an outright upheaval in markets reacting globally (think China as in a capital outflow dam burst for example) a raising during this period would be disastrous.
Yet, the public outcry (from not only within the U.S. but elsewhere) will bring calls of “manipulation” or worse “idiocy” from every corner of the globe when other nations and central banks are left to have deal with the ramifications and upheavals on their own markets and currencies from a Fed. that quite simply has “cried wolf” far too many times too their own detriment.
Respect, credibility, along with civility will go right out the open window of that Ivory Tower along with the “chamber pot” of failed monetary projections, theories, and more expelled over the years.
The cries and howls of a “politicized Fed.” will be unrelenting. And if they do raise? The screams and cries for their
heads replacements will come from those whom always seem first to have their back – unless they’re not doing what they are being told suggested to do instead. If you want proof: Hint, you might want to revisit “Get to work Mr. Chairman” as a refresher.
How will we get a glimpse into which way (or how disrupting) this may, or may not work out, and hopefully be in a position as to either sidestep or prosper? I’m of the opinion, again, regardless of who is elected, is whether or not in the subsequent weeks after the election to be on alert for one of two things happening….
One: Immediately after the election is there a bounce in the “markets” of a sizable measure that isn’t in response to a Fed. official speaking or otherwise, but rather, is objectively attributed as a result of the election? And more importantly; does that bounce hold for the remainder of the month?
If it does not, and is entirely erased before the month ends? I think we will be setting up for a very precipitous decline with an outlier shock-to-the-system angst overhang until the meeting results are made known.
Or, Two: If there is no election bounce, again, regardless of candidate, and we get a continuation of this protracted sell off? I’m of the opinion that out-of-the-blue outlier moves from “if” to when status, and “when” moves to before the Dec. meeting. And if so, I believe all bets are off, and no one knows what happens next. And I mean just that – no one.
With that said, there is one thing as certain as a central banker obfuscations: If the Fed. does in fact choose inaction for action once again? Expect a Santa Claus rally the likes of even ole St. Nick never fathomed.
How high, and how long it lasts – just like snow – will be anyone’s guess. But one thing will be certain….
Winter will be upon us.