by David Haggith, The Great Recession Blog:
Summer vacation is here, and the whole global family has arrived at Central-Bank Wonderland, the upside-down, inside-out world that banksters and their puppet politicians call “recovery.” Everyone is talking about it as wizened traders puzzle over how stocks and bonds soared, hand-in-hand, in face of the following list of economic thrills:
Britain voted to exit the EU, and a handful of other nations are talking openly along similar lines. One major crack in the European Union just happened, and others are forming. (Brexit is the name of this new Earthquake ride near the gates of Wonderland.)
Italy’s oldest bank (also the world’s oldest bank, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena) faces bankruptcy unless it gets bailed out. The bank that has survived the greatest tests of time (founded in 1472 before Columbus sailed the ocean blue) is going down unless it finds a savior! Italy’s prime minister is screaming for tax-payer bailouts. At the same time, one of Germany’s oldest banks and one of the largest — Deutsche Bank — has just about become a penny stock and faces the likelihood of imminent collapse if not bailed out, too. (Welcome to Wonderland’s zombie freak show of the world’s oldest walking-dead banks dying again.)
Gold and silver have been soaring as though people are fleeing to safety (in Wonderland’s Bouncy House of Coins).
People are also fleeing to safety in bonds, bringing the US 10-year bond down to a 1.318% yield, its lowest yield in history. (Hit me on the head with a hammer like a pop-up gopher, and watch me smile.)
In many nations around the world, government bonds have been selling hotter than bombs in Syria even with negative interest rates, meaning you lose money every day you hold them. (The bonking game of bigger gophers for the near-sighted so that Wonderland remains handicap accessible.)
In Switzerland, people are cuing up in the ticket line to give the government their money to hold for a fifty year ride now that the Swiss 50-year bond has turned negative. (Wonderland’s biggest gopher for the totally blind. You don’t just hit this one; it takes you the ride of your life for the rest of your life. We call it “Gopher Broke.”)
US jobs crashed in May, causing stocks to drop, but rebounded in June, causing stocks to rise, so that May is now seen as an unexplained anomaly. (Welcome to Ripley’s House of Unexplained Economic Mysteries.)
The Great Britain Pound crashed to a thirty-year low against the dollar. (Enjoy your ride on the currency bumper cars!)
Japan’s decade of quantitative wheezing has accomplished so little that they’re going to cough up more of the same all over again because it was so much fun the first five times. (House of Bodily Humors and Horrors.)
Central banks in Europe say they need to and will crank their own quantitative easing back up, so effective have all previous rounds been. (And, so, the merry-go-round spins and the calliope plays its happy music in Euro Dizzyland.)
Falling oil prices, which contributed significantly to January’s spectacular stock market plunge, are going back down the pipeline while oversupply is building rapidly at the bottom again with the buildup reaching its highest point in ten weeks. (Wonderland’s log ride through oil with more than one crude splash.)
Venezuela and Brazil are collapsing into economic chaos. (It’s more fun than that bungy-jumping vehicle for two at the carnival.)
Etc. (I know, darn! Just as he was on a roll. Well, hang on…)
Yet, the S&P 500 and Dow have soared to all-time record highs! Whoohoo! Hold onto your safety harness and try not to choke on your popcorn for the fun never ends in Bankster Wonderland!
What’s up with stocks and down with bond yields?
US Stocks are flying high at the same time demand for sovereign bonds is soaring and precious metals are experiencing a bull market. That says to me that money is fleeing to safety, and the apparent irrational exuberance in the stock market, considering all the flights to safety, is partially fueled by foreign investors fleeing to US investments now that Europe’s cracks are showing like Frankensteins body seams.
This chart from David Stockman’s Contra Corner shows how people are piling into bonds right now:
As a result, US bond interest rates are the lowest they have been in the history of this nation! Here’s another chart from Contra Corner:
Whoohoo! Two massive records in one week. Highest stock market prices and lowest bond rates in the history of the United States! Does it get any better than this? Geez, I love this place!
We have never seen anything like this
Stocks are setting all-time record highs, and interest on US bonds is hitting all-time record lows. Money is running to gold and silver. Money is running to long-term sovereign bonds. And money is running to the US stock market all at the same time. Heck, money is running all over the place! What is there not to be happy about?
However, before you think, Whoo! the stock market is going up; there’s no crash happening, ask yourself what the heck is happening. We’ve never before seen either of these two extremes where stocks are free of all bondage and all bonds are free of their stocks. Only during the years of quantitative easing and zero-interest-rate policy have we seen bonds and stocks play together, but never to this extreme. So, when all the gauges on the instrument panel are pegging their needles past the red zone, including the one that says “We’re going super fast now,” you might want to say, “Whoa! What’s going on?” Maybe the engineer on this train has fallen dead over the throttle.
As Jesse Felder said on Contra Corner, “We’re witnessing the greatest dichotomy in the history of financial markets.” Interest rates on bonds have now gone below any low of any recession … ever. Far, far below. We’re digging out the sub basement to find where the money is buried. If you were to gauge the economy’s future based on where bonds have gone, you’d have to say, “This must be the scariest future ever because there has never been such a flight to presumably safe vehicles at any cost.”
At the same time, stocks have never been more overpriced than they are today. They hit their highest price ever during a period in which earnings have been flagging for many months. So, they’re not rising because, “Woohoo! Businesses are making bank!” No, they’re making new heights in spite of the fact that sales are down, profits are down, and wholesale inventories have remained locked in a highly backed-up position that is comparable only to the Great Recession and the dot-com crash … and while things are not looking generally good in the world economically. So, there is not a lot of reason to think sales will grow to fit the high stock values. In other words, median price-to-sales ratio (price of stocks compared to sales of the businesses) has also hit an all-time record high.
Three all-time records in one week! This is the funnest place in the universe!
Is this irrational euphoria among investors? Is it even people who are buying the bonds? Is it people who are buying the stocks? Or is it entities like central banks and their proxies — not buying them as investments, but buying them in mass to shore up the entire global economy and stop the crash that started right after Brexit … or that started right after December 16, 2015? (It’s just one crash right after another here at Wonderland’s National Demolition Derby.) Are central banks firing up all engines to stop a crash in its tracks with a massive coordinated salvo of purchases?
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