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“Virtually Everybody Knew This Was Coming”

Was it Turkey’s “executive presidency” and its unwillingness to hike rates in the face of soaring inflation? Or maybe the record global debt accumulated over the past decade? Maybe the artificially low interest rates? Or perhaps it was the pervasive current account deficits amid easy outside capital. How about the rapid slowdown in China, its escalating trade war with the US, and the Yuan devaluation? Or perhaps it’s just the rising US interest rates and global quantitative tightening soaking up billions in excess liquidity?

However one justifies the current emerging market crisis, one thing is clear “virtually everybody knew this was coming.

At least that’s the common theme according to SocGen’s Albert Edwards, who after an extended absence has returned, with a new note looking at the turmoil gripping the EM sector. It’s hardly new territory for the SocGen strategist, who prior to his current role, was most famous for his correct predictions and observations on the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Fast forward some 21 years, when the veteran SocGen strategist believes the current turmoil boils down to two things: the Fed’s ongoing tightening – a point we discussed earlier this week in “Forget About Turkey: Asia Is The Elephant In The Room” – and China’s rapid devaluation. Turmoil, which as Nedbank noted previously, is about much more than just Turkey, which is merely the symptomatic “tip of the iceberg.”

Here’s Edwards’ take on where we stand:

Many commentators have thought for some time that Turkey was a macro-accident waiting to happen. But the key issue is not Turkey’s idiosyncratic macro problems. The unfolding crisis in EM is the direct result of Fed tightening and the strong dollar. The Fed always raises rates until something breaks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peter Schiff: ‘We Are Seeing A Lot Of Warning Signs’ Of A Financial Crisis

Peter Schiff: ‘We Are Seeing A Lot Of Warning Signs’ Of A Financial Crisis

Just like the financial crisis of 2008 which investor Peter Schiff accurately predicted, there are warning signs again that are being ignored.  “We are seeing a lot of warning signs people should be worried about, but again they’re dismissing them, much the way they did 10 years ago,” Shiff said.

Schiff is known for his “doom and gloom” market predictions, yet he’s been spot on in the past.  And our current debt-based system is unsustainable to the point that asevere global economic crisis is imminent – we just don’t know when the global bubble will burst. Once again, Schiff is trying to warn people, because the signs are there, but who’s listening?

We’re seeing a lot of warning signs people should be worried about, but again they’re dismissing them, much the way they did 10 years ago. You know, we’re getting close to the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis. Remember, the whole thing started in August of 2008. Here we are August 2018, 10 years later. I think we’re heading for an even bigger crisis and the same people are even more clueless.”Peter Schiff

A big problem that could compound the next financial crisis is one Schiff continues to point out: Americans are flat broke. Wages have been stagnant especially in the face of inflation. Rising interest rates will also harm those already living paycheck to paycheck.  There are a lot of people buying stuff on credit. In fact, the entire economy is built on working-class debt and a system which transfers wealth to the elites from the workers. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No Seller, Let Alone China, Can Disrupt US via Selling US Treasury’s…But the “Why” Ain’t Good

No Seller, Let Alone China, Can Disrupt US via Selling US Treasury’s…But the “Why” Ain’t Good

I often read that China may retaliate against US trade sanctions by further decreasing their US Treasury holdings, sending Treasury yields significantly higher, thus blowing out US deficit spending on interest payments.  Trouble is, Chinese Treasury holdings peaked in 2014 (on an annualized basis) and have been declining since.  The Chinese have not only ceased accumulating US Treasury debt, despite continued record trade surplus’ with the US resulting in significant dollar surplus’, but have been decreasing their holdings.  All this, according to the Treasury International Capital (TIC) system.

But this postulation that the Chinese could wound the US via selling a portion (or all) of its Treasury holdings (as Russia recently did) is submarined by the recent actions of the Federal Reserve.  I say this based on the magnitudes greater accumulation and subsequent dumping of specific maturities of US Treasury debt done by the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve accumulated almost $800 billion in 7 to 10 year US Treasury debt (red line, chart below) from 2009 to 2013, and then subsequently dumped $600 billion from early 2014 through the most present August 2018 data.  And the impact on the 10 year yield (blue shaded area, chart below)…essentially zero.  Yes, while the Fed rolled off and/or sold off 7 to 10 year holdings, they were busy buying short term debt.  But this still meant someone had to step up in duration and buy all that longer duration debt the Fed no longer wanted.

To put the relative size of China’s 7 to 10 year holdings in perspective to the Fed’s like holdings, the chart above estimates that a third of Chinese Treasury holdings (likely an overestimation) were of the 7 to 10 year variety (gold line).  The Fed has already rolled off / sold off 1.5x’s more 7 to 10 year debt than the Chinese even have.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hyperinflation Has Destroyed Venezuela

Hyperinflation Has Destroyed Venezuela

Venezuela is in crisis mode. Ninety percent of citizens live in poverty conditions. Most of them have lost up to 25 pounds due to lack of food. Call it the Maduro Quick Weight-Loss Plan. President Maduro, who has blamed everything but his own socialist policies for the economic disaster, points out that he has raised the minimum wage to 3 million bolivars. For Venezuelans, this is utterly meaningless when prices are doubling every 18 days. Economists predict that hyperinflation will hit an unprecedented 1,000,000 percent by the end of the year. The Bolivar can be officially considered without value.

It is easy to forget that just a few decades ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries in South America. It had the world’s largest oil reserves and plenty of gold. Along came President Chavez and his populist policies and schemes to retribute the wealth. Following years of overspending and inflation, his successor, President Maduro, has continued those policies, except there is no more wealth left to distribute. In a recent election many consider rife with fraud, Maduro’s win has ensured six more years of hellish disaster for Venezuela. He has announced that he intends to fight hyperinflation by removing five zeroes from the bolivar. His announcement did not include an explanation of how devaluating the valueless Bolivar, even more, will help the country.

Venezuela has gone beyond an economic disaster and is now in a humanitarian crisis. Without food or medicine, the country won’t be able to survive. At this time, it is being propped up by Russian and Chinese aid.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey Rules Out Capital Controls As Germany Says IMF Bailout “Would Be Helpful”

During this morning’s conference call organized by Citi, HSBC and other banks with “thousands”  of investors, Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak – the Jared Kushner of Turkey  – eased nerves when in an attempt to bolster confidence, said that capital controls were ruled out as a policy option for Turkey. As a reminder, capital controls are widely seen as the “worst case scenario” for Turkey as they could precipitate “self-fulfilling contagion”, and lead to broader capital flight from the EM space.

Albayrak also said that reining in inflation and narrowing the current-account deficit were policy priorities, although he provided no details on how we would do that absent raising interest rates – an outcome that Erdogan has decried as unlikely – with both an IMF bailout and capital controls off the table.

Discussing Turkey’s runaway inflation, Albayrak said the central bank alone wouldn’t be able to rein it in without tighter fiscal policy, although he has yet to provide any details on what options are on the table. In the meantime, GDP is set to slow further in the medium term from 7.4% expansion last year.

Still, after losing as much as a quarter of its value in the past few weeks after the U.S. sanctioned members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, it continued to recover losses both before and after this morning conference call, rising to the highest level since last Friday, after Turkey cracked down on short sellers. Albayrak’s speech appears to have been successful, and the lira gained trading 4.0% stronger at 5.70 per dollar.

Meanwhile, as Albayrak was hoping to preserve some stability, a German government source told Reuters on Thursday that “the Federal Government believes that an IMF program could help Turkey.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Patrick Barron–My letter to the NY Times re: Typical Keynesian Whitewash

Patrick Barron–My letter to the NY Times re: Typical Keynesian Whitewash

Dear Sirs:
Fareed Zakaria’s review of the Adam Tooze book Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World is a typical Keynesian whitewash of a deeply flawed monetary and regulatory system. Like Tooze, Zakaria sees the Federal Reserve Bank as the hero in “saving the financial system” that was going into free fall in 2008. But why was it going into free fall, and was the Fed’s massive, multi-trillion dollar bailout really the answer? To agree with Tooze and Zakaria is to condone monetary counterfeiting pre-2008 and even more monetary counterfeiting thereafter. One of the prime purposes of sound, as opposed to fiat, money is to allocate scarce resources. The Keynesians do not admit that resources are scarce. They equate the medium of exchange, in this case fiat dollars, with real capital. Yes, fiat dollars can be increased to unlimited amounts at the click of a Federal Reserve Bank computer, but real resources and real capital must be accumulated by hard-working people. Zakaria and Tooze–and the rest of the Keynesian dominated Main Stream Media like the New York Times–fail spectacularly to understand the distinction.

Always Blame Your Enemy – Turkey is Endangering the Entire World Economy

COMMENT: Marty,

On Aug 12/18 you wrote about “Iran and & Turkey Ripe for Revolution?” and in that blog, you mentioned … They will both turn toward Russia for help and portray their political crisis as a CIA plot.
When watching the news the other night, I noticed this is exactly what Turkey is doing; turning to Russia and blaming the USA (in this case Trump). It’s ridiculous how countries turn to the USA for help but then when the USA doesn’t answer these prayers, these countries demonize the USA. This is akin to praying to God to give you millions of dollars and then when you don’t magically win the lottery, you blame God even though he provided you with opportunities and skills that you ignored.
Once again,
Marty, you called it.
Cheers from Calgary.

REPLY: The real crazy thing is this is so standard, it is not even taking a guess. Erdogan hasthreatened to walk into the arms of Russia and Erdogan is simply not someone the West should trust. I have been warning that NATO should absolutely withdraw from Turkey. Until the people overthrow this guy, he should be distanced RIGHT NOW!!!!! He has been against Greece and Israeli. He is by no means of a particular side. He has been fixed on his vision of restoring the Ottoman Empire and he has ruined the economy of Turkey. Erdogan is far more dangerous than any other world leader and the West had better wake up before it is too late.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Are ATMs Disappearing at an Alarming Rate after a Wave of Branch Closures?

Why Are ATMs Disappearing at an Alarming Rate after a Wave of Branch Closures?

Banks are curtailing “cash services.” But why?

In Australia, banks are reducing ATMs by about 8% a year. In the UK, ATMs — or cashpoint machines, as they’re termed locally — are disappearing at a rate of around 300 per month, leaving consumers in rural areas struggling to access cash, according to a new report by the consumers’ association, Which? The rate of closures has increased sixfold in the period from November 2017 to April this year from a steady pace of 50 per month since 2015.

Banks in Spain have closed around 40% of their branches over the past ten years, on the back of unprecedented industry consolidation and cost cutting. In Barcelona, there are now less than half the number of branches there were in 2008. But it’s in small towns and villages where the impact is being felt most keenly. According to new research, by 2016 as many as 4,114 municipalities — the equivalent of 50.7% of all urban settlements — had no bank branches at all.

Banks in Spain are are also shutting down many of their ATMs. In 2017, the biggest lenders withdrew over 1,100 cash machines — around 3% of the national total. BBVA, Spain’s second biggest lender mothballed 192 ATMs (2.9% of its total stock) last year; Bankia, 301 (4.8%); Caixabank, 47 (0.5%), and Banco Sabadell 541 cash machines, the equivalent of 15% of its total stock.

This is all happening at a time when banks in Spain are making it more and more difficult to access cash from the branches that remain open. As we previously reported, Spain’s third largest lender, CaixaBank, last year launched a pilot project in Madrid aimed at limiting cash services in their branches to less than three hours a day, from 8:15 am to 11 am.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

From “Doom Loop” To Just “Doom”: Italian Debt Faces A “Huge Structural Shift”

At the start of July, we revealed that a familiar force had returned to Europe.

According to ECB data, during May when the market saw unprecedented Italian government bond turmoil, Italian bank holdings of domestic government bonds showed record buying over the month at €28.4bn, higher inflows than those seen during the European sovereign debt crisis of 2012. Visually, this is what the single biggest month of Italian bank purchases of BTPs in history looked like.

This vicious circle of Country X banks (in this case Italy) buying Country X bonds during times of stress – with the backstop of the ECB –has for years been Europe’s dreaded sovereign bank doom loop. And, as Italy clearly demonstrated, repeated and aggressive attempts by European regulators and policymakers to finally break the doom loop, most recently with the introduction of the 2014 BRRD directive, which sought which sought to remove the need for and possibility of bank bailouts, and instead ushered in bail ins, have been an abject failure.

It is also a major problem.

In a note published by Goldman on Wednesday, the bank’s Italy analyst Matteo Crimella writes that “regulatory and supervisory changes, together with the risk of a deterioration in banks’ capital ratios/ratings owing to weaknesses in the sovereign market could, all together, raise the bar for domestic banks to step in as buyers.

In other words, Italian lenders may no longer be as willing to snap up domestic government bonds during market stresses, something which Bloomberg calls “a potentially huge structural shift in demand in the euro area’s second-most indebted nation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Boiling A Turkey

Boiling A Turkey

There is an age old fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will try and save itself. However, if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The metaphor is often ascribed to the inability, or unwillingness, of people to react to or be aware of threats which arise gradually rather than suddenly.

This metaphor was brought to mind as I was writing last weekend’s newsletter discussing the issue of Turkey and the potential threat posed to the global economy. Specifically, I was intrigued by the following points from Daniel Lacalle:

“The collapse of Turkey was an accident waiting to happen and is fully self-inflicted.”

It is yet another evidence of the train wreck that monetarists cause in economies. Those that say that ‘a country with monetary sovereignty can issue all the currency it wants without risk of default’ are wrong yet again. Like in Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Venezuela, monetary sovereignty means nothing without strong fundamentals to back the currency.

Turkey took all the actions that MMT lovers applaud. The Erdogan government seized control of the central bank, and decided to print and keep extremely low rates to ‘boost the economy’ without any measure or control.

Turkey’s Money Supply tripled in seven years, and rates were brought down massively to 4,5%.

However, the lira depreciation was something that was not just accepted by the government but encouraged.  Handouts in fresh-printed liras were given to pensioners in order to increase votes for the current government, subsidies in rapidly devaluing lira soared by more than 20% (agriculture, fuel, tourism industry) as the government tried to compensate the loss of tourism revenues due to security concerns with subsidies and grants.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chart Of The Day: Australia’s Record Household Debt Is A Ticking Time Bomb

The Australian household debt to income ratio has ballooned to shocking levels over the past three decades as Sydney is ranked as one of the most overvalued cities in the world.

According to the Daily Mail Australia, credit card bills, home mortgages, and personal loans now account for 189 percent of an average Australian household income, compared with just 60 percent in 1988, as Callus Thomas, Head of Research of Topdown Charts, demonstrates that record high household debt is a ticking time bomb:

The average Australian credit card bill is roughly $3,272.70 as average income earners spend at least $2,000 a month on mortgage repayments, which has contributed to the affordability crisis, said the Daily Mail Australia. The average Australian holds about a $400,000 mortgage after they put down 20 percent deposit for a $500,000 property. The paper notes that the loan would barely buy a one-bedroom unit in most outer suburbs, as full-time workers take in about $82,000 salary per annum and spend an alarming 40 percent on mortgage repayments.

With household debt at crisis levels, CoreLogic said Australian home prices experienced their sharpest monthly drops in July since late 2011 as declines gathered momentum in Sydney and Melbourne (Sydney and Melbourne cover about 60 percent of Australia’s housing market by value and 40 percent by number). Nationally, the index of home prices dropped .60 percent in July from June, leading to an annual fall of 1.6 percent.

The brunt of the slowdown has been most significant in Sydney, where values were lower 5.4 percent in the year to July, while Melbourne slid 0.5 percent. Home price declines were the sharpest in expensive regions, while the affordable housing segment of the market experienced less stress.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

All-Time Low Spare Capacity Could Send Oil To $150

All-Time Low Spare Capacity Could Send Oil To $150

markets

While the oil market and analysts are trying to guesstimate how much Iranian oil the U.S. sanctions will stifle later this year, they all agree that the return of the sanctions is the market’s key bullish driver as well as the largest ‘known unknown’ for oil prices later this year and into 2019.

Some ultra-bullish hedge funds think that the U.S. sanctions will remove much more than 1 million bpd of Iranian oil from the market. Considering the low spare capacity for a quick ramp-up of production elsewhere, some hedge fund managers expect oil prices to jump to as high as $150 a barrel in 18 to 24 months.

“Our view is that by November 4, we will have lost between 1.3 and 1.4 million barrels [of output] a day. It is a very big number. That’s based on the view that the U.S. will allow a few temporary exception waivers,” Jean-Louis Le Mee, CEO at London-based Westbeck hedge fund told Reuters. “Ultimately, we could see losses from Iran exceed 2 million barrels a day,” Le Mee said.

According to Pierre Andurand, who manages the US$1.2-billion Andurand Commodities Fund, the world’s spare capacity is at its lowest ever, and this will be a real issue with global oil supply.

Replying to one of President Trump’s tweets blaming OPEC for the “too high” oil prices, Andurand said in mid-June that “OPEC has the lowest spare capacity ever right now. There is going to be a real issue. Prices will be above $150 in less than 2 years. Eventually higher prices will bring more supply. But right now too little supply coming over the next few years despite US supply growth.”

Generalist investors don’t have such bullish views, but “this is going to catch everybody by surprise,” Westbeck’s chief investment officer Will Smith told Reuters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our “Prosperity” Is Now Dependent on Predatory Globalization

Our “Prosperity” Is Now Dependent on Predatory Globalization

Nowadays, trade and “prosperity” are dependent on currencies that are created out of thin air via borrowing or printing.

So here’s the story explaining why “free” trade and globalization create so much wonderful prosperity for all of us: I find a nation with cheap labor and no environmental laws anxious to give me cheap land and tax credits, so I move my factory from my high-cost, highly regulated nation to the low-cost nation, and keep all the profits I reap from the move for myself. Yea for free trade, I’m now far wealthier than I was before.

That’s the story. Feel better about “free” trade and globalization now? Oh wait a minute, there’s something missing–the part about “prosperity for all of us.” Here’s labor’s share of U.S. GDP, which includes imports and exports, i.e. trade:

Notice how labor’s share of the economy tanked once globalization / offshoring kicked into high gear? Now let’s see what happened to corporate profits at that same point in time:

Imagine that–corporate profits skyrocketed once globalization / offshoring kicked into high gear. Explain that part about “makes us all prosperous” again, because there’s no data to support that narrative.

What’s interesting about all this is the way that politicians are openly threatening voters with recession if they vote against globalization. In other words, whatever “prosperity” is still being distributed to the bottom 80% is now dependent on a predatory version of globalization.

Let’s rewind to the era of truly free trade, from the late Bronze Age up to the Roman Era. In the late Bronze Age (circa 1800 to 1200 B.C.), vigorous trade tied together the ancient empires and states of the Mideast and the Mediterranean. In the Roman Era, trade in silk and other luxuries tied China, India, Africa, the Mideast and the Roman Mediterranean together in a vast trading network.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gold, Silver, Shale Oil Industry & The Economy: My Interview With James Kunstler

Gold, Silver, Shale Oil Industry & The Economy: My Interview With James Kunstler

How insane are the markets today?  Well, it’s always a pleasure to discuss this and other topics with James Howard Kunstler.  Jim and I had a lively conversation about gold, silver, the shale oil industry and the overall economy in his most recent KunstlerCast.  James is one of the few that understands the dire energy predicament we face.

I started following James Kunstler after listening to an interview he had with Art Bell on Coast-To-Coast AM, back in 2005.  James is way ahead of his time and in his book, “The Long Emergency” and in the video, “End of Suburbia” he describes what the world looks like after peak oil… and it isn’t pretty.

During our interview, James and I chatted about precious metals manipulation, the soon-to-be disintegrating shale oil industry, the insanely overvalued markets, peak oil, and many other topics.  One of the more important items I brought up was the incorrect notion that the Central banks can continue to rig the markets indefinitely.  They can’t.

And why is that?  Because Central banks can’t continue to prop up the market with paper when the problem is one based on a limitation of PHYSICAL OIL.  If the Central banks want to really solve our problems, they have to find a lot more oil… but there just really isn’t much left to find.

So, there lies the rub

To listen to my interview with James Howard Kunstler, please click on the link below:

KunstlerCast 306 — Gold, Silver, and Oil with Steve St. Angelo

Also, please check out James Kunstler’s website as he is a prolific writer and has many interesting books on his website.

The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images

The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

LONDON – Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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