Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As Usual, Government Solutions Are Wrong, Damaging the Economy as COVID-19 Ravages the Planet

The trading desk at the NY Fed apparently bought everything, all day long.

That's not a joke. It's probably much closer to the truth than many would believe.

Since the Fed took steps to backstop every bond, loan, or financial obligation on the planet over the past two weeks, and the Congress and President passed a $2.2 trillion rescue relief bill last week, stocks have done nothing but shoot the moon higher as four of the past five trading sessions have been positive for the Dow, S&P and NYSE Composite, and three of five for the NASDAQ.

Amid a crisis condition across the country and around the globe, this kind of action - with similar moves in international markets as well - is completely devoid of any fundamental pricing structure. Simply throwing more good money after bad seems to be the only way the Fed operates, as if it were in a void zone and it's the worst kind of malinvestment, chasing away the demon of real price discovery by throwing more fake, phony, fiat currency at it.

At current levels, the major indices have achieved bear market territory and are about as likely to escape it as President Trump is to refrain from tweeting. With giant swaths of the economy shut down for the past two weeks and looking forward to another month of idleness, stocks should be going down, not up. Even down as much as 60% from their recent peak, many stocks are still overvalued and the main indices are settled in at or near levels that are 40-60% (NASDAQ) higher than prevailing levels in 2007 prior to the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), indicating that stocks, rather then stabilizing at current levels, hav emuch further to fall.

The degree of decline should be back to levels below the lows of 2008-09, since the issues which caused the crash then were never addressed in any meaningful manner, instead just kicked down the road. Banks and corporations have re-leveraged well beyond any reasonable price, using nearly-free money from the Fed to perform stock buybacks, boosting prices to extremes.

Initially, the cascading waterfall of falling stock prices as COVID-19 panic became evident was justifiable, more extreme than the beginning of any bear market including 1929, 2000, and 2008, ending nowhere near a bottom.

The Fed's bazooka-style blitzkrieg has blown up the markets, exacerbated by the rescue relief package. It won't last. Eventually, the near-term lows will be tested, re-tested, and finally exceeded as the long, slow grind of a second phase bear market assumes command. All the money in the world - and that's how much the Fed has at its disposal - cannot prevent another wave of selling, and another, and another, nor can it limit the size and scope of the global tragedy that will unfold in coming months and years.

In its latest attempt to curry favor from the masses, the CDC proposed a best-case prognosis of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, but that number pales by comparison to the economic and social damage the policies of demand isolation, shuttering of businesses, and crushing unemployment will produce over the next 12-18 months.

Government policy promoting social distancing, travel restrictions, and business closures are misguided and harmful, will not contain the virus to satisfactory levels and are likely to foment a Greater Depression worse than 1929 in terms of unemployment, poverty, and malnourishment. Sadly, almost all other developed and developing nations have taken a similar approach, a groupthink solution that isn't a solution at all, but rather a quest for more control, more power, and more curtailment of civil liberties by the authorities currently in charge.

Other approaches are better suited to achieve better results, especially ones suggested in a brilliant essay by Percy Carlton for the Saker Blog, titled Covid-19 Derangement Syndrome: A World Gone Mad.

Carlton relies upon logic and science to achieve his solutions, rather then the over-emotional reaction of today's government incompetents. It is a must read for everyone, especially those who value freedom of choice, liberty, and thoughtful self-expression over government controls, socialized solutions, pharmacological mandates, pseudo-science, and pathological lies.

Laid bare before the American public and the world is the staggering incompetence and outrageous insolence of world "leaders." Beyond that lies an unpromising land of replete with shortages, monetary imbalances, fiscal irresponsibility, societal dislocation, rioting, looting, starvation, and death which could have been avoided.

Lack of advance planning and reliance on extreme measures adopted from China's experience with coronavirus, combined with political grandstanding and media obsession and obfuscation of facts have the world lumbering toward desperation. The longer the general public is subjected to the dictates of the administration the worse the condition will become.

Defeating the disease is the easy part. Putting back together the pieces of a broken global economy figures to be a more difficult task, one which sovereign governments and a central banking cartel are not well-suited to handle.

Meanwhile, the treasury curve flattens out, with the 10-year note yield slipping to 0.70% on Monday. Gold and silver remain difficult to obtain at prices well above the futures levels. Crude oil has fallen to 18-year lows with the price of gasoline falling in line.

The recent rally has nowhere to go under current conditions and should not have happened in the first place even under the best of circumstances, which are certainly not prevalent.

At the Close, Monday, March 30, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,327.48, +690.70 (+3.19%)
NASDAQ: 7,774.15, +271.77 (+3.62%)
S&P 500: 2,626.65, +85.18 (+3.35%)
NYSE: 10,434.75, +247.54 (+2.43%)

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