Central bankers are going to destroy the “enfeebled” global economy, and cause chaos across the world, according to notorious perma-bear Albert Edwards.
Edwards, a strategist with Societe Generale is about as bearish as they come.
So far this year he has predicted that the US stock market will fall by 75%, argued that we might be heading for another massive global recession, said China will be forced to float the renminbi, and predicted a “tidal wave” of corporate defaults in the US.
As the voice of the market bears — people who think imbalances in the financial system will lead to a collapse — Edwards is latest apocalyptic prediction focuses on the role of central bankers in what he sees as an inevitable economic collapse.
In a note sent to clients by Societe Generale on Friday, Edwards doesn’t hold back, saying that he is “utterly depressed.” He calls the ECB’s QE programme quick fix “nonsense”, and stating wearily “I’m not really sure how much more of this I can take.”
The subject of Edwards’ ire are the world’s central bankers, who have “painted themselves into a corner with their overconfident rhetoric and monetary experiments”. Here’s Edwards’ introduction (emphasis ours):
I am neither monetarist nor Keynesian. I see merit and demerit in both sides of a very fractious argument. But what I do know is when in the last few weeks I have heard that Janet Yellen sees no bubble in the US, when Ben Bernanke hones and restates his helicopter money speech, and when Mario Draghi says that the ECB’s policy of printing money and negative interest rates was working, I feel utterly depressed (I could also quote similar nonsense from Japan, the UK and China). I have not one scintilla of doubt that these central bankers will destroy the enfeebled world economy with their clumsy interventions and that political chaos will be the ugly result. The only people who will benefit are not investors, but anarchists who will embrace with delight the resulting chaos these policies will bring!
Edwards continues (emphasis ours):
I’m not really sure how much more of this I can take. So here we are 5, 6 or is it now 7 years into this economic recovery and it still remains pathetically weak. And so it should in the wake of one of the biggest private sector credit bubbles in history. The de-leveraging hangover was always going to be massive and so it is.
Central banks across the globe are currently battling to stimulate inflation and growth by using near- and even sub-zero interest rates, and huge programmes of quantitative easing. So far nothing seems to be the silver bullet for growth, with negative interest rates in particular seen as something of a failure. Edwards argues that as well as failing to help normal people, monetary policy is making the rich richer, stirring anger and resentment amongst normal people.
“Quick-fix monetary QE nonsense has made virtually no difference to the economic recoveries other than to inflate asset prices, make the rich richer, inequality worse and make Joe and Joanna Sixpack want to scream in rage.”
He goes on to argue that the anger people are feeling about the weak economic recovery is being translated into support for populist political parties across Europe, echoing the comments of German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, who last week blamed the ECB’s policies for helping encourage the rise of the extremist Alternative for Germany party.
Schauble reportedly said that he told Mario Draghi “you can attribute 50% of the results of a party that seems to be new and successful in Germany to the design of this [monetary] policy.” Draghi rebuffed that accusation strongly at yesterday’s ECB press conference, and restated the ECB’s independence saying: “We obey the law. Not politicians.”
However, Edwards backs up Schaeuble’s claim, saying: “The people are angry and they are lashing out” adding that people are “rejecting the establishment political parties and candidates at almost every electoral turn and seeking out more extreme alternatives at both ends of the political spectrum.”
The note finishes with Edwards reassert his belief that: “Central bankers are surely taking us down the road to perdition.”