Zero Hedge, March 7, 2018: The financial commentariat and the robo-machines are all in a tizzy this morning because Gary Cohn up and quit. But we say good riddance: The man gave Trump bad advice on nearly every single issue---trade, taxes, fiscal policy and the Fed.
We didn't make any bones about that viewpoint during our appearance on Fox Business this AM. When Maria Bartiromo asked us about Cohn's departure, our reply was: Hallelujah, the Goldman Sachs Regency in the White House is finally over!
The fact is, we do have a trade crisis, but Gary Cohn and the Wall Street pseudo-free traders don't care and never have. That's because they fiercely support a perverted, self-serving monetary regime that systematically and massively inflates financial assets, even as it strip mines and deflates the main street economy.
As we have been pointing out in this series, there is a perverse symbiosis between the Fed and the Dirty Float central banks of the 10 major countries (China, Vietnam, Mexico, Japan, etc), which account for 90% of the nation's $810 billion trade deficit (2017). Together they have ripped the guts out of the US industrial economy---effectively sending jobs and production abroad and cash flow and liquidated capital to Wall Street.
For its part, the Fed has monkey-hammered US competitiveness. That's the result of its insensible 2.00% inflation policy, which has fatally inflated nominal dollar wages in a world market drowning in cheap labor priced in artificially under-valued currencies.
At the same time, its massive interest rate repression and price-keeping operations in the stock market have turned the C-suites of corporate America into financial engineering joints. So doing, they have slashed real net business investment by nearly 3o% since the turn of the century, by 20% from the 2007 pre-crisis peak and, actually, to a level in 2016 that barely exceeded real net investment two decades earlier in 1997.
Meanwhile, the C-suites shuttled upwards of $15 trillion of cash flow and debt capacity during the last decade alone into stock buybacks, vanity M&A deals and excess dividends and recaps. As we said in today's Fox interview, America's business leaders will not stop strip-mining their companies in order to juice Wall Street and goose their own stock options until they are taken to the woodshed by a stern task-master at the Fed.
By that we mean a central bank that is willing to get out of the financial asset price propping and pegging business, and to thereby permit the kind of stock market collapse that would finally expose the folly of corporate America's endless financial engineering. Indeed, at this point nothing else will stop them except being run out of their jobs for massive dissipation of corporate resources and piling their balance sheets high with unproductive debt.
Yet until there is a clean sweep at the Fed and a purging of today's crop of financial engineers and speculators from the C-suites, there is no possible way to reverse the nation's faltering trade accounts. Doing so would require a major revival of investment in facilities, equipment, technology, people and business innovation that simply isn't in the cards in today's casino.
Yesterday we mentioned that the US has incurred a massive and widening trade deficit for 43 years running, and that the cumulative shortfall totals $15 trillion. But much of that reflects long-ago dollars that have since been inflated away by the Fed's relentless effort to stimulate more inflation.
Accordingly, if that 43-year string of trade deficits is re-priced in 2016 dollars of purchasing power, the horror shows is just all the more stunning. To wit, the US economy has incurred nearly $19 trillion of cumulative trade deficits since 1975 in today's purchasing power.
Is there any wonder that US manufacturing output is still 2.5% below its pre-crisis level of late 2007, and that total industrial production including energy, mining and utilities has barely returned to the flat line?