Bill Blain: There Is A “Last Days Of Rome” Feel To The News These Days…

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
By Paul Martin

By Bill Blain of Mint Partners
Aug 22, 2017

Blain’s Morning Porridge – August 22nd 2017

“”Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.… ”

I’m wondering if I’ve stumbled into a parallel universe after coming back to the office yesterday. Its too damn quiet out-there! Everybody else is apparently still on holiday. It’s scary. Every headline is about thin markets or how markets have shrugged off last week’s sell off.. (what about next week’s?) There doesn’t seem to be anyone actually at their desks… That’ll change…

This week? Since no one is out there.. I can say what I like.. It’s no wonder news flow noise is being magnified out of proportion..

It used to be the summer was the right time for big Jackson Hole style gatherings – safe on the basis holiday markets weren’t paying much attention. Central bankers/economists/investors and other influencers could gab and pontificate without upsetting anyone. But today.. well maybe there are just too many journalists, bloggers and other market parasites just desperately keen to make sure folk are acting upon their supremely important insights into what Stephen Mnuchin’s wife was wearing during his visit to Fort Knox and what it means for global asset prices.

There is a “last days of Rome” feel to the news these days…

But some stuff is still well worth thinking about, so I have to comment on a great Bloomberg Article this morning: “Unintended Consequences of Quantitative Easing” by Jean-Michel Paul.

Regular readers of the morning porridge will know I’ve been deeply suspicious about QE since Day 1. I’ve been writing about the dangers of QE and asset price inflation, for years. Cassandra like, I’m probably right to be concerned, but was anyone listening?


The end of QE is now very much “of the moment”; central bankers around the globe are finally waking up to the threats and understanding just why Normalisation is now so critical. That is what the real sub-text at Jackson Hole will be about this week.. although I doubt we’ll hear much about it.. its just too scary..

Can you imagine how global market sentiment would react if a phalanx of Central Bankers were suddenly to admit.. “Er.. we’ve just figured out we’ve profoundly broken the global economy through unforeseen financial asset price inflation, while negative interest rates have killed capitalism and destroyed the underlying processes of market based economies?”

Believe me… that would not go down particularly well…

I’ve long argued it’s the unintended consequences of QE, aka: massive financial asset price inflation, that are storing up enormous trouble for the future – including breaking the current financial system. Mr Paul points out the value of “investible assets” (broadly parallel, I suppose, to what I call “financial assets”, ie bonds and listed stocks) has grown by 40% from $350 trillion to $500 trillion since 2008. He notes the real assets behind these numbers have barely changed… meaning we don’t have $150 bln of new airports, planes, roads, ports, factories, etc actually visible.

But that cash has to be somewhere…

The reality is simple. In 2008 the global economy just about crashed and burned. It was saved because Governments (the Authorities) poured aid into the broken financial system at enormous expense to tax-payers. Following the crisis, sage politicians announced they would never, ever, never again give tax-payer cash to bankers or financial markets.

Yet, subsequently, while trying to financial engineer recovery and financial stability, what they did was pump massive amounts of cash into the financial system. At what point did they not figure out that would 1) create massive inflation, and 2) build up enormous future tax obligations as central bank balance sheets expanded like balloons (hold that vision).

What has QE created? Massive Financial Asset Price Inflation – which is just as pernicious and damaging as any other form of inflation eating away real value. In fact, it’s causing untold additional unintended consequences – including a massive explosion of wealth and income inequality.

The Rest…HERE

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