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Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Too little, too late?

Desperation is rising in Turkey’s banking sector following months of escalating political and financial instability. Benchmark interest rates have been hiked 10 percentage points so far this year to over 17%, making it much more expensive for companies and families to service their debt. But even that hasn’t stopped the Turkish Lira from plunging almost 25% since March.

“Turkey is going through its first currency crisis of the floating era,” explainedDani Rodik, a Turkish economist and professor at Harvard University. “All the previous ones were when the rate was fixed or managed, and hence unfolded much more quickly. This one is stretched over time, and the government prefers to ignore it.”

The latest spark of concern was the U.S. government’s decision at the weekend to declare sanctions against two Turkish cabinet ministers over the detention of an American pastor. The Trump administration said it was also reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to the U.S. market, which could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports. Bloomberg reported that the US has prepared a broader list of Turkish entities and individuals that could be subject to further sanctions.

On Monday the Lira shed 5.5% of its value to a record low of 5.46 against the dollar, before recovering slightly following intervention from the Bank of Turkey. The central bank changed its rules to loosen the upper limit of banks’ reserve requirements in a desperate bid to support the crumbling currency. The bank announced it was reducing the maximum amount of foreign currency lenders can park at the regulator as part of their required reserves.

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

When LBJ Assaulted a Fed Chairman

When LBJ Assaulted a Fed Chairman

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In his column today, Ron Paul mentions that those who insist the Fed functions with “independence” tend to forget — or at least not bring up — the numerous historical episodes in which the Fed did not exercise any such independence.

As an example, Paul mentions the time President Lyndon Johnson

summoned then-Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin to Johnson’s Texas ranch where Johnson shoved him against the wall. Physically assaulting the Fed chairman is probably a greater threat to Federal Reserve independence than questioning the Fed’s policies on Twitter.

For those unfamiliar with the episode, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of the historical context surrounding the situation. In his book The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan, Sebastian Mallaby writes:

Johnson had pushed Kennedy’s economic policies to their logical extreme. In 1964, he had delivered a powerful fiscal stimulus by signing tax cuts into laws, and he had proceeded to bully the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates as low as possible. When the Fed made a show of resistance [in 1965], Johnson summoned William McChesney Martin, the Fed chairman, to his Texas ranch and physically showed him around his living room, yelling in his face, “Boys are dying in Vietnam, and Bill Martin doesn’t care.”

This was the 1960s version of “you’re either with me or you’re with the terrorists.

Of course, Johnson didn’t stop at pushing around a central banker. Mallaby continues:

If the tax cuts and low interest rates caused inflationary pressure, Johnson believed he could deal with it with more bullying and manipulation. When aluminum makers raised prices in 1965, Johnson ordered up sales from the government’s strategic stockpile to push prices back down again. When copper companies raised prices, he fought by restricting exports of the metal and scrapping tariffs so as to usher in more imports.

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

China Launches Quasi QE To Support Banks And Sliding Bond Market

With the ECB’s QE coming to an end at the end of the year (absent some shock to the market or economy), some traders have already been voicing concerns which central bank will step in and provide a backstop to the global fixed income market, especially once the BOJ joins the global tightening bandwagon (something it will soon have to as Japan is rapidly running out of monetizable securities, and just moments ago the BOJ announced it would trim its purchases of bonds in both the 10-25 and 25+ year bucket).

Today one answer emerged when China’s central bank – three weeks after its latest RRR cut – announced further easing measures, including the introduction of incentives that will boost the liquidity of commercial banks, helping them to expand lending and increase investment in bonds issued by corporates and other entities.

And in a surprising twist, in order to make sure that Chinese banks and financial institutions have ample liquidity, the PBOC appears to have engaged in quasi QE – using monetary policy instruments such as its medium term loan facility (MLF) – to support the local bond market and banks, especially those that have invested in bonds rated AA+ and below. Effectively, China will directly fund banks with ultra cheap liquidity, with one simple instruction: “increase bank lending and bond purchases.” And since all Chinese banks are essentially state owned, what Beijing is doing is launching a form of stealthy QE, only one where it is not the central bank, but the country’s various commercial banks that do the purchases… using central bank liquidity.

As a reminder, one month ago we noted that the spread between China’s AAA and AA- rated bonds has spiked in the past three months, blowing out to levels not seen since August 2016, and an indication of the market’s growing fears about the recent surge in Chinese corporate defaults.

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

Bernanke, Geithner & Paulson Warn: “We’ve Forgotten The Lessons Of The Financial Crisis”

Late last month, the Fed declared that six of the country’s biggest banks needed to scale back their plans for returning cash to shareholders to strengthen their capital buffers, a striking reminder that banks shouldn’t be overeager to put the legacy of the financial crisis behind them. Perhaps this is why, during a private round table discussion last week that Timothy Geithner, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, three officials who helped combat (and many would argue also helped cause) the financial crisis warned that the lessons of the financial crisis are already being forgotten, according to the Associated Press,

Paulson, who was Treasury Secretary when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, said that as banks scramble to return money to their investors, “it’s important that people focus on the lessons” of the crisis. “We are not sure people remember everything they need to remember.”

GEithner

The roundtable took place ahead of a meeting in September at the Brookings Institution (former Fed Chair Bernanke’s current employer) where officials from the Fed, Treasury and other federal agencies will discuss how the US can prepare for the next crisis. The meeting appears to be a counterbalance to the Trump administration’s “deregulatory zeal” as lawmakers and leaders of federal agencies work to undo or sideline some aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. Though all three men agreed that the reversal implemented so far by the Trump administration had been “sensible.”

Still, while the safeguards implemented by the law will help the banking system fend off smaller crises, an extreme crisis could pose an existential threat.

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

Inflation Rearing Its Ugly Head

Inflation Rearing Its Ugly Head

The world of finance and investment, as always, faces many uncertainties. The US economy is booming, say some, and others warn that money supply growth has slowed, raising fears of impending deflation. We fret about the banks, with a well-known systemically-important European name in difficulties. We worry about the disintegration of the Eurozone, with record imbalances and a significant member, Italy, digging in its heels. China’s stock market, we are told, is now officially in bear market territory. Will others follow? But there is one thing that’s so far been widely ignored and that’s inflation.

More correctly, it is the officially recorded rate of increase in prices that’s been ignored. Inflation proper has already occurred through the expansion of the quantity of money and credit following the Lehman crisis ten years ago. The rate of expansion of money and credit has now slowed and that is what now causes concern to the monetarists. But it is what happens to prices that should concern us, because an increase in price inflation violates the stated targets of the Fed. An increase in the general level of prices is confirmation that the purchasing power of a currency is sliding.

According to the official inflation rate, the US’s CPI-U, it is already running significantly above target at 2.8% as of May. Oil prices are rising. Brent (which my colleague Stefan Wieler tells me sets gasoline and diesel prices) is now nearly $80 a barrel. That has risen 62% since last June. If the US economy continues to grow the Fed will have to put up interest rates to slow things down. If it doesn’t, as money-supply followers fear, the Fed may still be forced to put up interest rates to contain price inflation.

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

Michael Pento: When The Yield Curve Inverts Soon, The Next Recession Will Start

Michael Pento: When The Yield Curve Inverts Soon, The Next Recession Will Start

Expected timing: this Fall

Collectively, the world’s major central banks have pumped $1.1 trillion into the markets over the past year.

The result of all this money printing is now well known: massively inflated real estate, stock and bond asset price bubbles, as well as extraordinary wealth and income gaps across society.

Some day all of this insanity will end. But how? Will it unwind in an orderly and polite way, as the world’s central planners hope? Or will be disorderly, resulting in painful portfolio losses and mass layoffs?

Michael Pento, fund manager and author of The Coming Bond Bubble Collapse returns to the podcast this week to offer his prediction that events will most likely take the latter route. In fact, he sees the developing inversion of the yield curve as a dependable precursor to the US economy entering recession as soon as this Fall:

The Fed is now raising rates. They raised rates from 0% up to 2%. They’re supposed to do it again in September/October. And again in December. That will be four hikes this year.

They are also selling assets, aka ‘draining their balance sheet’. I say ‘selling’ because that’s exactly what they have to do. Let’s say the Fed is holding a 10-year note that’s due: if they want to destroy that money, they say “OK, Treasury, give me the principal”. The Treasury doesn’t have any money so it has to go the public and raise money. Well, the Treasury will have to do that to the tune of $50 billion per month come October. Right now it’s $30, it has to go in July to $40 billion a month then it goes to $50 billion. That’s $600 billion a year added to the public supply of Treasurys they have to actually finance at a market rate. That’s on top of the $1.2 trillion debt we’re going to have in fiscal 2019.

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

BIS Confirms Banks Use “Lehman-Style Trick” To Disguise Debt, Engage In “Window Dressing”

Several years ago we showed how the Fed’s then-new Reverse Repo operation had quickly transformed into nothing more than a quarter-end “window dressing” operation for major banks, seeking to make their balance sheets appear healthier and more stable for regulatory purposes.

As we described in article such as “What Just Happened In Today’s “Crazy” And Biggest Ever “Window-Dressing” Reverse Repo?”,Window Dressing On, Window Dressing Off… Amounting To $140 Billion In Two Days”, Month-End Window Dressing Sends Fed Reverse Repo Usage To $208 Billion: Second Highest Ever“, “WTF Chart Of The Day: “Holy $340 Billion In Quarter-End Window Dressing, Batman“, “Record $189 Billion Injected Into Market From “Window Dressing” Reverse Repo Unwind” and so on, we showed how banks were purposefully making their balance sheets appear better than they really with the aid of short-term Fed facilities for quarter-end regulatory purposes, a trick that gained prominence first nearly a decade ago with the infamous Lehman “Repo 105.”

And this is a snapshot of what the reverse-repo usage looked like back in late 2014:

Today, in its latest Annual Economic Report, some 4 years after our original allegations, the Bank for International Settlements has confirmed that banks may indeed be “disguising” their borrowings “in a way similar to that used by Lehman Brothers” as debt ratios fall within limits imposed by regulators just four times a year, thank to the use of repo arrangements.

For those unfamiliar, the BIS explains that window-dressing refers to the practice of adjusting balance sheets around regular reporting dates, such as year- or quarter-ends and notes that “window-dressing can reflect attempts to optimise a firm’s profit and loss for taxation purposes.”

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

The Dollar Dilemma: Where to From Here?

The Dollar Dilemma: Where to From Here?

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 Introduction: Where We Are 

It’s a fallacy to believe the US has a free market economy. The economy is run by a conglomerate of individuals and special interests, in and out of government, including the Deep State, which controls central economic planning.

Rigging the economy is required to prevent market forces from demanding a halt to the mistakes that planners continuously make. This deceptive policy can last only for a limited time. Ultimately, the market proves more powerful than government manipulation of economic events. The longer the process lasts, the greater the bubble that always bursts. The planners in charge have many tools to perpetuate confidence in an unstable system, but common sense should tell us that grave dangers lie ahead.

Their policies strive to convince the unknowing that the dollar is strong and its status as the world’s reserve currency is secure, no matter how many new dollars they create of out of thin air. It is claimed that our foreign debt is always someone else’s fault and never related to our own monetary and economic mismanagement.

Official government reports inevitably claim inflation is low and we must work harder to increase it, claiming price increases somehow mystically indicate economic growth.

The Consumer Price Index is the statistic manipulated to try to prove this point just as they use misleading GDP numbers to do the same. Many people now recognizing these reports are nothing more than propaganda. Anybody who pays the bills to maintain a household knows the truth about inflation.

Ever since the Great Depression, controlling the dollar price of gold and deciding who gets to hold gold was official policy. This advanced the Federal Reserve’s original goal of demonetizing precious metals, which was fully achieved in August 1971.

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

Free Money Calculation: Fed Will Give $36.93 Billion of Taxpayer Money to Banks

The Fed upped the interest it pays on excess reserves to 1.95% today. This is free money (taxpayer funded) to banks.

The Fed bumped up the interest it pays on excess reserves today to 1.95%. Currently, excess reserves sit at $1.894 trillion.

The math is simple enough. At the current rate, the Fed will hand over approximately $36.93 billion of taxpayer money to banks. That assumes the status quo, but things will change.

Factors

  1. The Fed is shrinking its balance sheet slowly. That reduces excess reserves the Fed pays interest rates on.
  2. When the Fed hikes interest rates, it also increases the interest it pays on excess reserves.

The first point acts to reduce free money, the second acts to increase free money.

Note to ECB

If you want to recapitalize Italian banks, just give them free money instead of your profit-reducing policy of holding rates negative.

Taxpayer money?

Yes! Otherwise the Fed would return this money to the US Treasury.

Some claim free money is paying banks to not lend. The claim is fallacious. Banks do not lend from excess reserves.

That was the amount I calculated on April 17, 2017. Interest then was 1.0%.

Even though the Fed’s balance sheet is lower, the increased rate bumped up the free money calculation to $36.93 billion.

No Outrage!

Why isn’t $36.93 billion in free money to banks an outrage?

Ron Paul: “A Cashless Society Is Very, Very Dangerous”

As the global war on cash continues to accelerate, outspoken libertarian Ron Paul summarizes the effort to eliminate cash perfectly – as an “attack on individual freedom.”

Restricting and discouraging the use of cash, suggests Paul, has always been a goal of statists as a means to reduce individuals’ independence.

“A cashless society is very, very dangerous,” continues Paul.

Watch the complete interview, which includes an extensive discussion of economic issues and the Federal Reserve, here:

In September of 2015, Paul further discussed the war on cash at the Ron Paul Liberty Report with Joseph Salerno, a professor of economics at Pace University. Watch that interview here.

So we know how is hurt by the cashless society, consider just who is gaining from this war on cash.

The banks, of course, are charging as many fees as they can think of. More importantly, your cash card leaves a wide data trail detailing your buying preferences, used by merchants and advertisers to entice you into more buying. How convenient. These thoughtful companies even offer reward points every time you use the card. Cash offers the ultimate in privacy. Your cash card might as well be a walking billboard.

The government, of course, is extremely interested in your spending habits. The taxing authorities use an electronic money trail to monitor your spending and ensure against tax evasion. In addition, cards save the government the cost and trouble of printing and storing additional currency.

Your electronic purchase trail is nirvana to large corporations. Knowing your spending habits allows them to customize their ads to an ever-larger consumer base. They know what you need before you do and are ready to entice you with specials, sales and “act now” deals.

Bartlett Naylor: The Banks Are Becoming Untouchable Again

Bartlett Naylor: The Banks Are Becoming Untouchable Again

Regulations? We don’t need no stinking regulations!
When the dust settled after the Great Financial Crisis, we learned that the big banks had behaved in overtly criminal ways. Yet none of their executives would be held criminally accountable.

And while legislation was passed in the aftermath to place restrictions on the ‘Too Big To Jail/Fail’ banks, it was heavily watered down and has been under attack by finanical system lobbyists ever since.

To talk with us today about the perpetual legislative warfare pitting citizens on one side and lobbyists (and many lawmakers) on the other, is Bartlett Naylor. Naylor is a veteran of the Wall Street wars. He spent a number of years as an aid to Senator William Proxmire at a time when Proxmire was head of the Senate Banking Committee. Naylor himself served as that committee’s Chief of Investigations.

Sadly, Naylor sees the banks winning out here. More and more of the prudent restraints placed on the banking system are being dismantled, as further evidenced by the recent bill President Trump just signed:

The President signed S2155 last week. This bill has 40 or so provisions in it. The most troubling one reduces what’s known as enhanced supervision for a class of banks that are between $50 billion and $250 billion in assets.

Enhanced supervision means tighter capital controls. Capital is assets minus liabilities — the amount of net worth, if you will, of the particular bank. You think of banks of being very solid; but in fact, they’re in hock. They are highly leveraged. 95% of their assets are financed by debt. They really don’t own that much. They mostly owe things.

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

Banking System Has Huge Problem – Peter Schiff

Banking System Has Huge Problem – Peter Schiff

Money manager Peter Schiff says even though Deutsche Bank is the most systemically dangerous bank in the world (according to the IMF), that is just the tip of severe global financial problems. Schiff explains, “I think it’s a problem, and it’s not just Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank could be the weak link of a chain. If you remember back to when we had the financial crisis (2008). First, you had the sub-prime mortgages blowing up, and everybody was like don’t worry about it. It’s contained. I said it’s not contained, it’s just showing up first in the sub-prime market because these are the weakest mortgages. The entire mortgage market has a problem.  I think the banking system has a huge problem because it’s lived off of the life support of artificially low interest rates. As that is removed, it’s like pulling the plug off of someone who has lived off life support. The irony is you have so many analysts that think higher rates are good for the banks. . . . Low interest rates saved the banks. You can’t have it both ways. It can’t be low interest rates helped the banks, and high interest rates will help the banks. It’s one or the other. I think higher interest rates are going to crush the banks. I think it’s going to destroy the value of their loans and their collateral. It’s going to lead to defaults . . . All those banks that we’re too big to fail in 2008 are much bigger now, and it’s going to be a lot more difficult to bail them out.”

Schiff issues a stark warning, “This is not going to end well, and I don’t think the Fed is going to be able to save us again. If you get it wrong this time, you’re done. You are down for the count. You just can’t hold and hope.

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

Good as gold: Turkey uses bullion to stabilise its economy

Commercial banks are putting gold into Turkey’s central bank to help deal with rapid inflation

Turkey’s central bank has accumulated an additional 400 metric tonnes of gold since 2011 (Reuters)
Turkey’s economy has been in a tailspin with an inflationary currency, but the country is using something rare to help stabilise itself: gold.

In late 2011, Turkey started to allow commercial banks to use gold instead of the Turkish lira for their required deposits at the central bank. These deposits are known as reserve requirements and help ensure that the banks are capitalised.

Over the past six-or-so years, Turkey’s central bank has accumulated an additional 400 metric tonnes of gold. That’s a lot of yellow bricks – more than what Britain has – and the sizeable stash has the possibility to take the edge off the crisis.

To put the Turkish gold haul in perspective, there are 10 million ounces of gold – roughly 311 tonnes – at the Bank of England, according to the New York-based financial consulting firm CPM Group.

The burgeoning balance of bullion comes as the result of a change in banking rules made earlier this decade.

I thought the Turkish thing was pure genius

– Jeff Christian, CPM Group

“I thought the Turkish thing was pure genius,” says Jeff Christian, founder of CPM Group. “It was using gold in the way that you should use it.”

In the simplest terms, the tweak to the rules allows gold to be used as a financial asset by the banks. In addition, the new regulation helped flush out a lot of gold that was previously held privately.

“This change allowed the government to get hold of the under-the-mattress gold to help stabilise the banks and the underlying economy,” says Ivo Pezzuto, professor of global economics, entrepreneurship, and disruptive innovation at the International School of Management, Paris, France.

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

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Which Banks Are Most Exposed to Italy’s Sovereign Debt? (Other than the Horribly Exposed Italian Banks)

Which Banks Are Most Exposed to Italy’s Sovereign Debt? (Other than the Horribly Exposed Italian Banks)

“Doom loop” begins to exact its pound of flesh.

Risk. Exposure. Contagion. These are three words we’re likely to hear more and more in relation to Europe, as the Eurozone’s debt crisis returns.

On Friday, Italy’s 10-year risk premium — the spread between Italian ten-year bond yields and their German counterparts — surged almost 20 basis points to 212 basis points. This was the highest level since May 2017, when a number of Italy’s banks, including third biggest bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), were on the brink of collapse and were either “resolved” or bailed out. Now, they’re all beginning to wobble again.

Shares of bailed-out and now majority-state-owned MPS, whose management the new government says it would like to change, are down 20% in the last two weeks’ trading. The shares of Unicredit and Intesa, Italy’s two biggest banks, have respectively shed 10% and 18% during the same period.

One of the big questions investors are asking themselves is which banks are most exposed to Italian debt.

A recent study by the Bank for International Settlements shows Italian government debt represents nearly 20% of Italian banks’ assets — one of the highest levels in the world. In total there are ten banks with Italian sovereign-debt holdings that represent over 100% of their tier-1 capital (which is used to measure bank solvency), according to research by Eric Dor, the director of Economic Studies at IESEG School of Management.

The list includes Italy’s two largest lenders, Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, whose exposure to Italian government bonds represent the equivalent of 145% of their tier-1 capital. Also listed are Italy’s third largest bank, Banco BPM (327%), Monte dei Paschi di Siena (206%), BPER Banca (176%) and Banca Carige (151%).

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

Oops, It’s Starting, Says This Chart from the FDIC

Oops, It’s Starting, Says This Chart from the FDIC

And its eerie exhortations to the banks to prepare for a downturn to avoid “undue disruption to the financial system.”

The FDIC’s quarterly report on commercial banks and savings institutions was cited in the media mostly for the $56 billion in profits that FDIC-insured commercial banks and savings institutions made in the first quarter, which was up 27% from a year ago. An estimated $6.6 billion of the profits were due to the tax-law changes.

It remained mostly unmentioned that this increase in profits came after the huge charge-offs banks took in the fourth quarter mostly due to write-downs of tax assets, also a result of the new tax law. These write-downs slashed bank profits in Q4 to $25 billion, the worst quarter since the Great Recession.

Overall, Q1 was really exciting. Banks were firing on all cylinders, according to the FDIC: Net income jumped, loan balances rose, net interest margins improved, and the number of “problem banks” edged down. But worries are creeping up:

The interest-rate environment and competitive lending conditions continue to pose challenges for many institutions. Some banks have responded by “reaching for yield” through investing in higher-risk and longer-term assets.

Going forward, the industry must manage interest-rate risk, liquidity risk, and credit risk carefully to continue to grow on a long-run, sustainable path.

The industry also must be prepared to manage the inevitable economic downturn, whenever it comes, smoothly and without undue disruption to the financial system.

I added the bold. This is a goodie. We had an “undue disruption to the financial system” during the last downturn, and we don’t want another one, the FDIC says.

“Undue disruption” would be when banks stop lending. That’s when credit freezes up in a credit-dependent economy. Everything comes to a halt. Paychecks start bouncing. So, don’t do that again.

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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