Monday, April 4, 2016

April's Fools

Having been given the green light by Janet Yellen and her uber-dovish comments concerning the relaxed pace of interest rate increases, stocks closed Friday at their best levels of the year, erasing any nasty remembrances of the January and early February slump.

Monday brought the blues, a touch of reality, and maybe a case of buyer's remorse, as the major averages began the first full trading week of the month in a depressed vein.

Leading the charge to the downside was the usual culprit, crude oil, which slipped below $36/barrel on the current contract. The consistency of the oil slump can be attributed to a variety of causes, though the most obvious is slow or absent global economic growth. Major developed nations find themselves in a horrible bind due to limited opportunity for wage growth and slack demand for everything from farm equipment to fancy glasses.

While cheerleaders in the media are reluctant to mention any news which might be construed as even remotely negative, there is no mistaking the demographics of the developed world. Europe, Japan, and increasingly, the United States bear aging populations with no viable means of escape from the financial vortex of ultra-low interest rates except via the ultimate demise, death.

What the central banks and central planners of advanced economies have wrought with their ham-handed zero interest (and lower) environment is a world in which aging people without advancing incomes or prospects for opportunity have no viable means of protecting their savings. For those younger, saving is also crimped by these lower rates, pushing entire populations into risky, often leveraged investment schemes.

Economists have historical reference to ages marked by financial repression such as the current one, and they nearly always end in disaster, war, and a reordering of the global economic condition. Central banks desire inflation anywhere, while the population cries out for avenues for saving, putting the monetary system and the realities of life on a direct collision course.

The central banks must certainly know that there is nowhere out of this condition, but they are reluctant - indeed, they are violently opposed to the idea - to balance growth, productivity, wages and wealth creation. They have become the worst nightmare of the people, bent only toward risk in financial instruments, and against anything that might promote the general well-being. They have become the enemy of savers, anathema to the aging, and a net detraction from productive economies everywhere.

Perhaps it is all part of their plan, but, if it is, such a plan has been well-hidden because nobody with any amount of wealth or savings can see the wisdom of it. Unless stocks continue to rise in value forever - a distinct impossibility - humanity will be at the mercy of a small, useless band of monetarists who have not, as yet, propositioned any plan for the past seven years other than to cut interest rates and hope.

And we all know that hope is not a strategy.

S&P 500: 2,066.13, -6.65 (0.32%)
Dow: 17,737.00, -55.75 (0.31%)
NASDAQ: 4,891.80, -22.75 (0.46%)

Crude Oil 35.81 -2.66% Gold 1,216.90 -0.54% EUR/USD 1.1392 -0.02% 10-Yr Bond 1.78 -0.73% Corn 354.50 +0.14% Copper 2.14 -0.97% Silver 14.94 -0.74% Natural Gas 2.00 +2.45% Russell 2000 1,109.06 -0.77% VIX 14.17 +8.17% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4264 +0.30% USD/JPY 111.3450 -0.28%

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