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Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making

An unusual Steen’s Chronicle today… as I will share the piece with my friend Professor Mark M McNabb, PhD, CFA from Wake Forest University….Mark and I had exchange on how the Fed has become utterly predictable….here is Mark’s take which for the record I share 100%

 

Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making

Mark M McNabb, PhD, CFA

 

The FOMC has in less than nine months has destroyed what little credibility remained after QE Twist and the programs that preceded it.  In the name of transparency and full employment, the FOMC’s rate decisions have been hollow and predictable.  Even the September 2015 refusal, which sent markets into dislocation, was apparent to the Fed Funds futures market a month ahead.  What economic game is the FOMC playing?

Should one brush off a text on game theory in order to understand this FOMC committee?  No, and not because the underlying assumptions require an intelligent, rational agent.  Going back over several hundred years of economic history and recalling the importance of the first word in “political economics” studies would be of greater use.

I am certain, we could map out a group of central bankers who revere the economic beauty of the prisoner’s dilemma, or at least caught the movie.  They would celebrate the central finding that if one were to break ranks of global accommodation that eternal damnation and depression would follow.  The nascent recovery in economies would reverse into a deflationary spiral even if the first order effect would be to slow the misallocation of financial assets.

 

Instead, central bankers have chosen to collude in the greatest mispricing of cash flows throughout the bond tenor in a rationale born of a political calculus rather than economic.

 

Why Janet Yellen is so predictable:

  1. Overt focus on one data point

2  Complicit w/ Draghi on the notion that negative rates are acceptable

3  Swayed easily by external events that are political not economic

4  Political leanings to full employment at any cost

5  Lack of a policy

6  Difficult to be transparent and the bearer of bad news

7  Swayed by the expectations poll for hike among peer economists

 

Great insight from Mark and writing this the day before the day….of course I am referring to the Brexit vote in the UK is abundantly clear that ANYTHING which create more of the same will kill growth and spin us towards recession. Charles Gave of Gavekal Research has been flagging recession risk for a long time (and I have agreed…) now the data is beginning to prove the point:

Steen's Chronicle - Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making - US production

What I find remarkable in the Brexit debate is how REMAIN camp talks about capital flight, recession risk and lack of investment IF UK votes leave, however this is already happening and in a big way – the Brexit vote has become yet another excuse not to ramp up capital expenditure…..

 

This is Bank of England UK Mortgage approvals & OECD Leading Indicator which many allocation managers use as benchmark for their work…..both shows significant slowdown..

 

Steen's Chronicle - Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making - UK mortgage

I remain faithful to my risk allocation which has been in place since late April…

Steen's Chronicle - Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making - portfolio

And our 401K allocation model continues to be churn out good performance being long Gold, FI and EQ…..

Steen's Chronicle - Transparent Janet is Imprisoned by a Dilemma of Her Own Making - equities and gold

Finally,

 

I can’t wait for the Brexit vote to be done with…….back to basics hopefully… I will let Bob Dylan have the final words: ‘Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain’

 

Safe travels,

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