jueves, mayo 07, 2015

VACACIONES MAYO 2015 / GRL

|

VACACIONES MAYO 2015


Jueves 30 de Abril del 2014

Queridos amigos,

Les escribo estas líneas con motivo de mi próximo viaje que me tendrá ausente de la oficina y de nuestras lecturas cotidianas, desde el lunes 4 hasta el miércoles 20 de Mayo próximo.

Durante estos días no tendré acceso regular al Internet ni a mis correos.

Lamentablemente, en los últimos meses la situación internacional se ha seguido complicando tanto social, económica, financiera y geopolíticamente, de acuerdo a lo previsto en mi carta de Setiembre pasado y las anteriores, a pesar de todas las declaraciones y anuncios en contrario por parte de las autoridades de los bancos centrales y los representantes de los gobiernos.  

En realidad no podía ser de otra manera, si tenemos en cuenta que no se ha hecho nada en los últimos años para reparar los profundos desequilibrios estructurales en los fundamentos de la economía global, sino que mas bien, por el contrario, se ha seguido "maquillando" por parte de los bancos centrales la insostenible situación económica y financiera global, profundizando los desequilibrios y la inestabilidad vía el constante crecimiento de las deudas, aumentando las ineficiencias y dilatando el necesario ajuste. El crecimiento estructural de la economía global es cada vez mas frágil, dudoso e insostenible.

Hasta la crisis del 2000 y luego de la del 2008, ahora así llamada la Gran Recesión, la demanda global había sido “subvencionada” por un sistema financiero manipulado e intervenido, creando una demanda y una economía global ficticia, una recuperación así llamada "subprime", liderada por la FED mediante un crecimiento desproporcionado de las deudas, imposible de auto-sustentarse en un crecimiento de la economía real en el largo plazo. 

Deuda, deuda y mas deuda, parece ser el mantra de la FED.

Desde entonces, la FED y el resto los bancos centrales de todos los países más importantes del mundo se han negado y se siguen negando a reconocer esta realidad, aceptando el inicio de un ajuste inevitable y estructural, regresando a un nivel real de la economía global de alguna manera manejable. Aun siguen abocados al esfuerzo de una gran represión financiera, manipulando e inflando irresponsablemente los mercados financieros vía una política monetaria de emisiones inorgánicas de papel moneda sin respaldo y muy bajas tasas de interés.

Las deudas de consumidores, empresas y gobiernos, eran y son insostenibles.

Por ello creemos que los bancos centrales no aumentarán de "motu propio" las tasas de interés de manera importante a corto plazo, salvo que este aumento provenga final y sorpresivamente de una crisis generada por la desaparición de la confianza de los inversionistas globales en los mercados financieros.

Inmediatamente sus deudas se volverían obviamente impagables y la crisis que tanto han tratado de evitar reconocer, sobrevendría inevitable.

Solo para mencionar al país con la economía mas importante, la deuda de los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica ha crecido por encima de los 18 trillones de dólares, a mas del 100% de su PBI. Y si incluimos las deudas contingentes internas, como el Seguro Social y los Fondos de Pensiones, algunos analistas calculan que la deuda norteamericana podría llegar a sumar entre los 80 a 120 trillones de dólares, es decir, entre 5 a 7 veces el producto bruto anual.

Para un análisis detallado del desarrollo de esta problemática y la verdadera situación actual, ver los artículos del blog, aquí, aquí y aquí.

Esta situación se ha seguido agravando en los últimos años y es insostenible en el mediano y largo plazo.  (ver articulo)

Para evitarlo, es que los bancos centrales han tenido que esforzarse en mantener ficticiamente una apariencia de normalidad en el "statu quo", inyectando cantidades innombrables de papel moneda sin respaldo a los mercados financieros y reducido las tasas de interés a niveles nunca vistos por largo tiempo, desde que la historia económica recuerda. (QE1, QE2, QE3, Q4, Abenomics, China, etc….)

Todo ello nos hace presumir que todo ello se lleva a cabo por el fundamentado temor a perder el control del esquema Ponzi mundial, que es lo que son ahora la economía global y los mercados financieros, y por ende se derrumbe el castillo de naipes enfrentando de golpe un ajuste económico enorme y hasta la posibilidad de una revolución social incontenible, guerras, etc.

¿Porqué un ahorrista o un inversionista estaría dispuesto a depositar su dinero en un banco o comprar un bono de un gobierno, que no solamente no le paga ningún interés sino que más bien ahora le cobra por mantener su deposito, o si se lo paga, es un interés muy reducido y hasta negativo?

Ello sucede solo cuando el ahorrista y/o el inversionista esperan una deflación en la economía, i.e. que los precios mañana serán mas bajos que los de hoy, la que sería mayor que el costo de ese depósito, y/o una ganancia potencial en el fortalecimiento de esa moneda, es decir, en ambos casos, a pesar de todo, un aumento del poder adquisitivo de sus inversiones. Y también, cuando además, existe una enorme aversión al riesgo en los mercados financieros "tradicionales". Solo así se puede justificar racionalmente esta realidad por un ahorrista o inversionista que desea mantener su poder de compra, sin tener que enfrentar riesgos desconocidos e incalculables, pero claramente presumibles en los mercados financieros globales. (ver articulo)

El hecho es que el esfuerzo de política monetaria intervencionista llevada a cabo por la mayoría de los bancos centrales del mundo, en los últimos 15 años, más intensa y desproporcionadamente desde los últimos siete años, además, ha producido la transferencia más importante de riqueza que se recuerda en la historia, de manos de los pensionistas y los ahorristas, hacia las clases privilegiadas. 

Mas importante todavía, se ha distorsionado y manipulado fundamentalmente las reglas de la economía del libre mercado con consecuencias funestas y aun impredecibles en el mediano y largo plazo para los consumidores e inversionistas del mundo, incrementando la alocación  ineficiente de los recursos de inversión, además de multiplicar el costo de la inevitable implosión de los mercados financieros, tanto de las acciones, como de los bonos y otros instrumentos de inversión financiera.

Todo esto para no mencionar a los derivados financieros, estimados por algunos analistas en mas de 1 cuadrillón de dólares (1000 trillones de dólares),  que se ciernen como una espada de Damocles, sobre todo el sistema financiero y económico internacional.

Recientemente el FMI ha advertido de la posibilidad que la economía global esta entrando a un periodo de "stagnación" y a una probable nueva recesión, con las consecuencias que ello implicaría. (ver articulo)

El reconocido economista y analista Ricardo Lago hace recientemente en un diario local un excelente resumen de la ultima reunión del FMI y el Banco Mundial en Washington, sus conclusiones e implicancias. (ver articulo

Obviamente estos organismos no pueden decirnos toda la verdad. Ello sería propiciar ellos mismos el adelanto inevitable del descalabro global, el caos y el ajuste sin anestesia, con resultados imprevisibles. 

La pregunta de fondo es ¿hasta cuando se podrá o podrán mantener esta realidad bizarra?
Y eso nadie lo puede responder con seguridad. La confianza de los inversionistas en los mercados financieros es la verdadera incógnita.

¿Existen aun los inversionistas? 

Observan algunos críticos y analistas que los pequeños y medianos inversionistas se han retirado del mercado y todo el movimiento que observamos en los índices, es solo en volúmenes reducidos. Piensan que ello se debe solo a la actuación de unos cuantos brokers y/o "high frequency traders"de los grandes bancos globales que se siguen "alimentando" de las manipulaciones y ventajas, coordinadas y producidas por los bancos centrales.

Hace alrededor de 100 años el asesinato del archiduque Francisco Fernando y su esposa Sofía Chotek en Sarajevo fue el detonante de la primera guerra mundial. Y nadie pensó en ese momento que ese acontecimiento, aparentemente sin importancia global, traería la primera guerra mundial.

Por ello ahora tenemos que preguntarnos seriamente, ¿cuál de todos los potenciales "cisnes negros", conocidos o no, que hoy se ciernen sobre la economía global ,y que son muchos, económicos, sociales y geopolíticos, podrían ser el detonante de la nueva catástrofe?

Solo la historia nos responderá a esta crucial pregunta. No hay cuerda para mucho. Y evidentemente, toda situación que es insostenible, finalmente se caerá.

Tenemos que insistir mas que nunca que la experiencia y la prudencia, el análisis y la inteligencia, la vigilancia y la paciencia, son los socios más importantes en las decisiones de políticas y estrategias de inversión a corto y mediano plazo.

En un cambio importante de ciclos como en el que pensamos que estamos envueltos hoy día, y en el que mas allá de lo circunstancial, el pasado y el futuro se bifurcan y se oponen,  los riesgos para los inversionistas son profundos. (ver articulo)

Con estas  anotaciones y advertencias que espero les sean de utilidad, me despido de Uds. con un cordial abrazo hasta el regreso a mis actividades, Dios mediante, a inicios de la semana del lunes 23 de Mayo próximo, cuando estaré nuevamente a su gentil disposición.

Gonzalo

PD. Algunos días durante mis vacaciones en la medida de lo posible y excepcionalmente publicaré artículos en el blog que podrán leer entrando directamente y/o subscribiéndose al blog:  www.gonzaloraffoinfonews.com

Economic Policy Turned Inside Out

Stephen S. Roach

APR 30, 2015

Japan train subway inside rush hour


NEW HAVEN – The world economy is in the grips of a dangerous delusion. As the great boom that began in the 1990s gave way to an even greater bust, policymakers resorted to the timeworn tricks of financial engineering in an effort to recapture the magic. In doing so, they turned an unbalanced global economy into the Petri dish of the greatest experiment in the modern history of economic policy. They were convinced that it was a controlled experiment.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
The rise and fall of post-World War II Japan heralded what was to come. The growth miracle of an ascendant Japanese economy was premised on an unsustainable suppression of the yen.

When Europe and the United States challenged this mercantilist approach with the 1985 Plaza Accord, the Bank of Japan countered with aggressive monetary easing that fueled massive asset and credit bubbles.
 
The rest is history. The bubbles burst, quickly bringing down Japan’s unbalanced economy.

With productivity having deteriorated considerably – a symptom that had been obscured by the bubbles – Japan was unable to engineer a meaningful recovery. In fact, it still struggles with imbalances today, owing to its inability or unwillingness to embrace badly needed structural reforms – the so-called “third arrow” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic recovery strategy, known as “Abenomics.”
 
Despite the abject failure of Japan’s approach, the rest of the world remains committed to using monetary policy to cure structural ailments. The die was cast in the form of a seminal 2002 paper by US Federal Reserve staff economists, which became the blueprint for America’s macroeconomic stabilization policy under Fed Chairs Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.
 
The paper’s central premise was that Japan’s monetary and fiscal authorities had erred mainly by acting too timidly. Bubbles and structural imbalances were not seen as the problem. Instead, the paper’s authors argued that Japan’s “lost decades” of anemic growth and deflation could have been avoided had policymakers shifted to stimulus more quickly and with far greater force.
 
If only it were that simple. In fact, the focus on speed and force – the essence of what US economic policymakers now call the “big bazooka” – has prompted an insidious mutation of the Japanese disease. The liquidity injections of quantitative easing (QE) have shifted monetary-policy transmission channels away from interest rates to asset and currency markets. That is considered necessary, of course, because central banks have already pushed benchmark policy rates to the once-dreaded “zero bound.”
 
But fear not, claim advocates of unconventional monetary policy. What central banks cannot achieve with traditional tools can now be accomplished through the circuitous channels of wealth effects in asset markets or with the competitive edge gained from currency depreciation.
 
This is where delusion arises. Not only have wealth and currency effects failed to spur meaningful recovery in post-crisis economies; they have also spawned new destabilizing imbalances that threaten to keep the global economy trapped in a continuous series of crises.
 
Consider the US – the poster child of the new prescription for recovery. Although the Fed expanded its balance sheet from less than $1 trillion in late 2008 to $4.5 trillion by the fall of 2014, nominal GDP increased by only $2.7 trillion. The remaining $900 billion spilled over into financial markets, helping to spur a trebling of the US equity market. Meanwhile, the real economy eked out a decidedly subpar recovery, with real GDP growth holding to a 2.3% trajectory – fully two percentage points below the 4.3% norm of past cycles.
 
Indeed, notwithstanding the Fed’s massive liquidity injection, the American consumer – who suffered the most during the wrenching balance-sheet recession of 2008-2009 – has not recovered. Real personal consumption expenditures have grown at just 1.4% annually over the last seven years.
 
Unsurprisingly, the wealth effects of monetary easing worked largely for the wealthy, among whom the bulk of equity holdings are concentrated. For the beleaguered middle class, the benefits were negligible.
 
“It might have been worse,” is the common retort of the counter-factualists. But is that really true? After all, as Joseph Schumpeter famously observed, market-based systems have long had an uncanny knack for self-healing. But this was all but disallowed in the post-crisis era by US government bailouts and the Fed’s manipulation of asset prices.
 
America’s subpar performance has not stopped others from emulating its policies. On the contrary, Europe has now rushed to initiate QE. Even Japan, the genesis of this tale, has embraced a new and intensive form of QE, reflecting its apparent desire to learn the “lessons” of its own mistakes, as interpreted by the US.
 
But, beyond the impact that this approach is having on individual economies are broader systemic risks that arise from surging equities and weaker currencies. As the baton of excessive liquidity injections is passed from one central bank to another, the dangers of global asset bubbles and competitive currency devaluations intensify. In the meantime, politicians are lulled into a false sense of complacency that undermines their incentive to confront the structural challenges they face.
 
What will it take to break this daisy chain? As Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed in a recent interview, the answer is a commitment to structural reform – a strategic focus of China’s that, he noted, is not shared by others. For all the handwringing over China’s so-called slowdown, it seems as if its leaders may have a more realistic and constructive assessment of the macroeconomic policy challenge than their counterparts in the more advanced economies.
 
Policy debates in the US and elsewhere have been turned inside out since the crisis – with potentially devastating consequences. Relying on financial engineering, while avoiding the heavy lifting of structural change, is not a recipe for healthy recovery. On the contrary, it promises more asset bubbles, financial crises, and Japanese-style secular stagnation.
 

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/japan-monetary-policy-reform-by-stephen-s--roach-2015-04#S6tsAXMKEgI66vou.99
 

April 30, 2015 1:01 pm

Dollar bulls retreat as growth hopes fade

Roger Blitz and Robin Wigglesworth

A visitor to Mexico City's Bellas Artes Museum walks between two Andy Warhol "Dollar Sign" paintings August 24. The two paintings are part of the first ever Andy Warhol exhibition in Latin America. Warhol's art is back in fashion, according to museum director Agustin Arteaga, as similar retrospective exhibitions are being held this year in several cities around the world. ??» - RTXJ54A


Dollar bulls are feeling the after-effects of a bleak US winter, and as they exit their holdings of the reserve currency, the consequences are registering across global markets.

Doubts over the apparent strength of the US economy have halted a pronounced dollar bull run in recent weeks, as expectations of tighter policy by the Federal Reserve this year have faded.

Now, much turns on whether the US economy has experienced a temporary soft patch, or faces a further run of lacklustre data that leaves the central bank on hold, with the potential for triggering a far larger shakeout across markets, led by the dollar.

Against a basket of its main rivals, the dollar fell to its lowest level since late February on Thursday, illustrating how the faltering economy has left the market in a state of confusion.
 
There was little to be gleaned from the Federal Reserve statement about the central bank’s policy intentions hours after data showed the US economy expanded just 0.2 per cent for the first quarter. The Fed noted that “economic growth slowed during the winter months”.
 
What is plain, says Luke Bartholomew, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, is that Wednesday’s “ugly” economic data, coupled with anaemic inflation, suggest a June interest rate increase is all but off the table.

“[Fed chair Janet] Yellen has made it abundantly clear that rates will only rise when the economy is strong enough to absorb it, and we’re probably not there yet,” he says.




After heady market chatter in mid-March of parity between the euro and the dollar, the greenback’s reversal has come at a vulnerable juncture when many investors were betting on further strength. The worry is that the dollar could fall a lot further as dollar bulls unwind their bets, sparking a further rise in the euro that tightens financial conditions in the eurozone.

“The tide is shifting,” says Stephen Jen, head of currency hedge fund SLJ Macro.




That may be welcome respite for those for whom the strong dollar has been especially painful — among them US exporters and non-US corporations holding large dollar-denominated debt, particularly in emerging markets.

But with dollar weakness comes gains for other currencies, particularly the euro — and that is not necessarily to the benefit of eurozone countries and some corporations.
 
The monetary easing game plan of Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, is for its $60bn-a-month bond-buying programme to stimulate growth, with help from a weaker euro.

But the euro-dollar cross tore through $1.10 in the wake of the US growth numbers, and then gathered steam. Early on Thursday, it was trading above $1.12, though it fell back to below $1.11 on the back of better than expected US jobless numbers, underlying the sensitivity of the dollar to each and every piece of new data.

As a result, the German DAX index, dominated by companies whose exports have flourished in a climate of a weakening euro, has been hit hard this week. Asian companies are also under pressure from stumbling US growth, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 falling 2.7 per cent on Thursday.

Kit Juckes, currency strategist at Société Générale, says the weaker euro lets European producers compete more for global demand, “but if global demand is just weak, that’s not great”.

Emerging markets, he also points out, had been dependent on the now slowing Chinese economy for growth.
 
Whatever the pressure of a strong dollar on emerging market debt holdings, if faced with a choice between a strong US economy and a weak one “a strong US economy trumps everything else”, says Mr Juckes.

Mr Jen says a faltering US economy is an issue for Europe and the rest of the world.

“The world is quite dependent on US demand growth,” he argues. “What’s not going to happen is the US faltering and Europe recovering.”

With Europe no longer benefiting as much from currency weakness and lower oil prices, Mr Jen warns: “We are drifting away from the sweet spot Europe was in.”
 
The current loss of upward momentum in the dollar could well turn, and quickly should forthcoming US data hint at a spring rebound and validate the Fed’s view that weakness during the first quarter was “transitory”.

Some strategists also argue that the Fed could decide to lift interest rates in July, despite the absence of a press conference at that meeting.

Paul Ashworth, of Capital Economics, leans towards a September increase, but points out that Ms Yellen could use her semi-annual congressional testimony in mid-July to signal a move later that month.

According to Brian Jacobsen, chief strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management, while there is no press conference after the July meeting, “Chair Yellen insists that all meetings are created equal, which means it’s still in play”.

By then, dollar bull traders like Mr Jen will be hoping for some better clarity on the state of the US economy.

“My own problem is I don’t have a narrative,” he says. “I don’t know why the US economy should slow.”

Think Different About Purchasing Power

by: Keith Weiner

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Hidden Monetary Debasement



The dollar is always losing value. To measure the decline, people turn to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or various alternative measures such as Shadow Stats or Billion Prices Project.

They measure a basket of goods, and we can see how it changes every year.

However, companies are constantly cutting costs. If we see nominal -- i.e. dollar -- prices rising, it's despite this relentless increase in efficiency. This graphic illustrates the disparity (I credit Tom Selgas for a brilliant visualization, which I recreated from memory).

CPI measures only the orange zone, the tip of the iceberg. Most people don't see the gray zone, and that's a result of the greatest sleight of hand ever.

We need an accurate way to measure monetary debasement. For example, in retirement planning it's tempting to divide your net worth by the cost of consumer goods. This seems to show your purchasing power. For example, if you have $200,000 and the cost of groceries for a year is $20,000 then you can eat for ten years.

However, this approach is flawed. To see why, let's briefly consider primitive times when there was no lending or banking. People had to set aside some of their income, to buy a durable good like salt or silver -- hoarding. When they could no longer work, they sold a little bit every week to buy food -- dishoarding. People accumulated wealth while working, and dissipated it in retirement.

Life got a lot better with the advent of lending, because interest enables people to live on the income generated by their savings. People no longer consumed their principal, worrying about outliving their savings.

Don't think of capital assets as something to sell in order to eat. An old expression says, if you give a man a fish then he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish then he eats for a lifetime.

Think of a productive asset like a fishery. It should produce for a lifetime. It should not be consumed as a mere fish.

Capital assets should be valued in terms of how many groceries they can buy, not by liquidation, but by production. Unfortunately, monetary policy is making this increasingly difficult. Interest rates have been falling for over three decades, and now there's scant yield to be had anywhere. We are regressing to the dark ages of paying for retirement by dishoarding.

CPI understates monetary debasement, because companies are constantly becoming more efficient. Dividing wealth by CPI compounds the error, because asset prices are rising.

We need a different way of looking at monetary debasement. I propose Yield Purchasing Power (YPP). YPP is the yield on assets divided by the Consumer Price Index (or other index). The idea is to look at the productivity of assets to see what you can really afford.

Let me explain YPP with a simple example. If hamburgers sell for $5 and interest is 10%, then $50 of capital lets you eat one burger per year. Suppose the price of the burger doesn't change, but the interest rate falls to 0.1%. You now need $5,000 in capital to earn that burger.

Unfortunately, if you still only have $50, then you only get one burger every 100 years.

CPI doesn't show this collapse in purchasing power, but YPP does.

Let's take a look at YPP since 1962. The graph is inverted, to make the trend easier to see.



Yield Purchasing Power


It's interesting that the drop in purchasing power (rising in this inverted graph) begins around 1984, when the conventional view said inflation was tamed. CPI may have slowed down, but interest was falling too.

YPP shows us a staggering monetary devaluation -- a classic parabola. The problem isn't skyrocketing prices, but collapsing yields.

You need more and more assets to afford the same lifestyle. If your assets don't keep up, then you have to liquidate your capital.