Furious money printing by the world’s major central banks is not generating real growth and prosperity—–but professional economists never seem to get the word. As shown below, the 2014 outlook for global real growth has been marked down sharply since early 2013. Back then, of course, Abenomics and massive QE by the BOJ was supposed to cause the Japanese economy to soar; Draghi’s “anything it takes” bromide was going to jolt Europe out of its slump; and the elixir of QE3 was certain to finally cause the US economy to attain “escape velocity”.
Its not working out that way. In Japan, import inflation is soaring, real wages are still falling and the economy is entering a new slump in Q2 owing to a tax increase that was unavoidably necessary to pay for its runaway fiscal largesse. In Europe, the Bank Of Italy, Draghi’s home base, has now marked its forecast of 2014 real GDP growth to essentially zero. And in the US after the disastrous first quarter, along with what is shaping up to be a tepid second quarter, real growth will not achieve any kind of velocity, “escape” or otherwise; in fact, consensus real GDP has already been marked down to 1.7%—the lowest rate of expansion since the financial crisis. Accordingly, it is only a matter of time before the global forecast for 2014 shown below below is marked down even further.
It is no mystery as to where all the central bank “stimulus” is going. Since early 2013 fully fourth-fifths of the 40% rise in the S&P 500 is due to multiple expansion, not earnings growth from a tepid economy. This is clearly the effect of massive central bank injections of cash into Wall Street and other financial markets, yet it is especially perverse under current circumstances. Given the massive instabilities and headwinds afflicting the global economy—from the house of cards in China, to the failing retirement colony in Japan, the welfare state fiscal crunch in Europe and the faltering growth of breadwinner jobs and real investment in productive assets in the US—-the capitalization rate of future earnings should be down-rated. That is, future corporate earnings are now worth far less than the historical PE norm, not more. Accordingly, the massive expansion of PEs shown below is yet another expression of the vast financial deformations being caused by monetary central planning.
In any event, the “financialization” brought on by the central banks has had a truly perverse effect. Stock markets and corporate profits are at all time highs. Yet the true measure of main street economic health—-the share of adults who are employed—is at a modern low. It is said by traditionalist believers in sound money that we can not print our way to prosperity. These charts of the week provide some pretty stunning evidence of that truth.