Home » Posts tagged 'central banks'

Tag Archives: central banks

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

World faces wave of epic debt defaults, fears central bank veteran

World faces wave of epic debt defaults, fears central bank veteran

Exclusive: Situation worse than it was in 2007, says chairman of the OECD’s review committee

Burning euro notes

The next task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs without setting off a political storm Photo: Rex

The global financial system has become dangerously unstable and faces an avalanche of bankruptcies that will test social and political stability, a leading monetary theorist has warned.

“The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up,” said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD’s review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

“Emerging markets were part of the solution after the Lehman crisis. Now they are part of the problem, too.”
William White, OECD

“Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief,” he said.

“It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something,” he told The Telegraph on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians.”

The next task awaiting the global authorities is how to manage debt write-offs – and therefore a massive reordering of winners and losers in society – without setting off a political storm.

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

Bank Of America Analyst: A ‘Flash Crash’ In Early 2018 ‘Seems Quite Likely’

Bank Of America Analyst: A ‘Flash Crash’ In Early 2018 ‘Seems Quite Likely’

Is the stock market bubble about to burst?  I know that I have been touching on this theme over and over and over again in recent weeks, but I can’t help it.  Red flags are popping up all over the place, and the last time so many respected experts were warning about an imminent stock market crash was just before the last major financial crisis.  Of course nobody can guarantee that global central banks won’t find a way to prolong this bubble just a little bit longer, but at this point they are all removing the artificial support from the markets in coordinated fashion.  Without that artificial support, it is inevitable that financial markets will experience a correction, and the only real question is what the exact timing will be.

For example, Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett originally thought that the coming correction would come a bit sooner, but now he is warning of a “flash crash” during the first half of 2018

Having predicted back in July that the “most dangerous moment for markets will come in 3 or 4 months“, i.e., now, BofA’s Michael Hartnett was – in retrospect – wrong (unless of course the S&P plunges in the next few days). However, having stuck to his underlying logic – which was as sound then as it is now – Hartnett has not given up on his “bad cop” forecast (not to be mistaken with the S&P target to be unveiled shortly by BofA’s equity team and which will probably be around 2,800), and in a note released overnight, the Chief Investment Strategist not only once again dares to time his market peak forecast, which he now thinks will take place in the first half of 2018, but goes so far as to predict that there will be a flash crash “a la 1987/1994/1998” in just a few months.

That certainly sounds quite ominous.

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

How Uncle Sam Inflates Away Your Life

How Uncle Sam Inflates Away Your Life

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,” once remarked economist and Nobel Prize recipient Milton Friedman.  He likely meant that inflation is the more rapid increase in the supply of money relative to the output of goods and services which money is traded for.

As more and more money is issued relative to the output of goods and services in an economy, the money’s watered down and loses value.  By this account, price inflation is not in itself rising prices.  Rather, it’s the loss of purchasing power resulting from an inflating money supply.

Indeed, Friedman offered a shrewd insight.  However, he also accompanied it with an opportunist mindset.  Friedman saw promise in the phenomenon of monetary inflation.  Moreover, he saw it as a means to improve human productivity and economic growth.

You see, a stable money supply was not good enough for Friedman.  He advocated for moderate levels of monetary growth, and inflation, to perpetually stimulate the economy.  By hardwiring consumers with the expectation of higher prices, policy makers could compel a relentless consumer demand.

This desire to harness and control the inflation phenomenon has infected practically every government economist’s brain since the early 1970s.  Over the decades they’ve somehow come to a consensus that 2 percent price inflation is the idyllic rate for provoking economic nirvana.  The Fed even tinkers with its federal funds rate for the purpose of targeting this magic 2 percent rate of price inflation.

Shadow Stats

On Wednesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published its October Consumer Price Index (CPI) report.  According to the government number crunchers, consumer prices are increasing at an annual rate of 2 percent.  Of course, anyone who lives and works in the real world knows prices are rising much faster.

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

Draghi Speech: Everything Is Awesome In Europe, No Signs Of Systemic Risks

Draghi Speech: Everything Is Awesome In Europe, No Signs Of Systemic Risks

Mario Draghi gave the keynote speech at the Frankfurt European Banking Congress this morning in which he focused on the strong outlook for the Eurozone economy and how his monetary policy is playing a vital role. The speech was peppered with upbeat phrases and adjectives like solid, robust, unabated, endogenous propagation, resilient, remarkable and ongoing. According to Draghi.

The euro area is in the midst of a solid economic expansion. GDP has risen for 18 straight quarters, with the latest data and surveys pointing to unabated growth momentum in the period ahead. From the ECB’s perspective, we have increasing confidence that the recovery is robust and that this momentum will continue going forward.

Draghi is confident that future growth will be unabated for three reasons.

  • Previous headwinds have dissipated;
  • Drivers of growth are increasingly endogenous rather than exogenous; and
  • The Eurozone economy is more resilient to new shocks.

In terms of previous headwinds, Draghi notes that global growth and trade have recovered, while the eurozone has de-leveraged.

For some years global growth and world trade have been a drag on the recovery. Now, we are seeing signs of a sustained expansion. Global PMIs remain strong. The share of countries in which growth has been improving relative to the previous three years has risen from 20% in mid-2016 to 60% today. And this has fed through into a rebound in world trade, which is growing at its strongest annual rate in six years, and may well become a tailwind going forward.

Domestically, a key headwind in the past has been the necessary deleveraging by firms and households. But this is also now diminishing as debt returns to more sustainable levels.

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

The Last Time These 3 Ominous Signals Appeared Simultaneously Was Just Before The Last Financial Crisis

The Last Time These 3 Ominous Signals Appeared Simultaneously Was Just Before The Last Financial Crisis

We have not seen a “leadership reversal”, a “Hindenburg Omen” and a “Titanic Syndrome signal” all appear simultaneously since just before the last financial crisis.  Does this mean that a stock market crash is imminent?  Not necessarily, but as I have been writing about quite a bit recently, the markets are certainly primed for one.  On Wednesday, the Dow fell another 138 points, and that represented the largest single day decline that we have seen since September.  Much more importantly, the downward trend that has been developing over the past week appears to be accelerating.  Just take a look at this chart.  Could we be right on the precipice of a major move to the downside?

John Hussman certainly seems to think so.  He is the one that pointed out that we have not seen this sort of a threefold sell signal since just before the last financial crisis.  The following comes from Business Insider

On Tuesday, the number of New York Stock Exchange companies setting new 52-week lows climbed above the number hitting new highs, representing a “leadership reversal” that Hussman says highlights the deterioration of market internals. Stocks also received confirmation of two bearish market-breadth readings known as the Hindenburg Omen and the Titanic Syndrome.

Hussman says these three readings haven’t occurred simultaneously since 2007, when the financial crisis was getting underway. It happened before that in 1999, right before the dot-com crash. That’s not very welcome company.

In fact, every time we have seen these three signals appear all at once there has been a market crash.

Will things be different this time?

We shall see.

If you are not familiar with a “Hindenburg Omen” or “the Titanic Syndrome”, here are a couple of pretty good concise definitions

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

Central Bank Group Think: Convince the Public More Inflation is Coming 

Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans is worried about the lack of inflation primarily because he is clueless about where to find it. As further proof of his economic illiteracy, Evans says “Low inflation expectations keep inflation down”.

The Federal Reserve should take a more aggressive stance toward boosting inflation and stop talking so much about using interest rates to ensure financial stability, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said.

Evans expressed concerns Wednesday that the public was losing faith in policy makers’ commitment to bring inflation back up to their 2 percent target.

The central banker has consistently argued for a slower pace of interest-rate increases than many of his colleagues on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

“In order to dispel any impression that 2 percent is a ceiling, our communications should be much clearer about our willingness to deliver on a symmetric inflation outcome, acknowledging a greater chance of inflation at 2.5 percent in the future than what has been communicated in the past,” he said in remarks prepared for a speech in London.

Two Asinine Economic Theories

  1. There is a need for inflation
  2. The Fed can achieve it by talking about it

For proof of number 2, look at Japan.

In regards to point number 1, the BIS agrees that routine price deflation may be beneficial.

BIS Deflation Study

The BIS did a historical study and found routine price deflation was not any problem at all.

“*Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive*,” stated the study.

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

Central Bank Group Think: Convince the Public More Inflation is Coming 

Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans is worried about the lack of inflation primarily because he is clueless about where to find it. As further proof of his economic illiteracy, Evans says “Low inflation expectations keep inflation down”.

The Federal Reserve should take a more aggressive stance toward boosting inflation and stop talking so much about using interest rates to ensure financial stability, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said.

Evans expressed concerns Wednesday that the public was losing faith in policy makers’ commitment to bring inflation back up to their 2 percent target.

The central banker has consistently argued for a slower pace of interest-rate increases than many of his colleagues on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

“In order to dispel any impression that 2 percent is a ceiling, our communications should be much clearer about our willingness to deliver on a symmetric inflation outcome, acknowledging a greater chance of inflation at 2.5 percent in the future than what has been communicated in the past,” he said in remarks prepared for a speech in London.

Two Asinine Economic Theories

  1. There is a need for inflation
  2. The Fed can achieve it by talking about it

For proof of number 2, look at Japan.

In regards to point number 1, the BIS agrees that routine price deflation may be beneficial.

BIS Deflation Study

The BIS did a historical study and found routine price deflation was not any problem at all.

“*Deflation may actually boost output. Lower prices increase real incomes and wealth. And they may also make export goods more competitive*,” stated the study.

For a discussion of the BIS study, please see Historical Perspective on CPI Deflations: How Damaging are They?

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

Close to the Edge

“Look at it this way. In 100 years, who’s gonna care ?”

  • Nancy, waitress, in ‘The Terminator’ (screenplay by James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd).

Imagine that a cyborg from 10 years into the future paid you a visit back in 2007. Here is what is going to happen, he says, in a thick Austrian accent, his body looking like a condom stuffed with walnuts. After deregulation and a gaudy credit boom, Wall Street will face an extinction level event. So will the City of London. As a result, interest rates will be driven down to zero and kept there for a decade as a “temporary” emergency measure. The UK will vote to leave the European Union. Donald Trump will be elected US President. On the basis of these facts alone, what do you think would happen to global stock markets ? Would they be higher, or lower – and perhaps much lower ?

Since we know the answer, it’s hardly a fair question, and there can in any case be no counter-factual. But this thought experiment does reveal the vulnerability of ‘global macro’ investing in a world in which central banks are almost exclusively calling the shots. Which might explain why an increasing number of ‘global macro’ managers are quietly folding up their tents.

The first requirement to harvest superior long-term returns from the markets is to have some kind of edge. If you do not know what your edge is, you do not have one. It is difficult to see how many (or any) ‘global macro’ managers can possess any form of edge when the financial markets are largely at the mercy of the arbitrary behaviour of monetary central planners, either adding or withdrawing liquidity as they see fit. Which is just one of the reasons why we don’t invest in ‘global macro’ funds.

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

This Is What A Pre-Crash Market Looks Like

This Is What A Pre-Crash Market Looks Like

The only other times in our history when stock prices have been this high relative to earnings, a horrifying stock market crash has always followed.  Will things be different for us this time?  We shall see, but without a doubt this is what a pre-crash market looks like.  This current bubble has been based on irrational euphoria that has been fueled by relentless central bank intervention, but now global central banks are removing the artificial life support in unison.  Meanwhile, the real economy continues to stumble along very unevenly.  This is the longest that the U.S. has ever gone without a year in which the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and many believe that the next recession is very close.  Stock prices cannot stay completely disconnected from economic reality forever, and once the bubble bursts the pain is going to be unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

If you think that these ridiculously absurd stock prices are sustainable, there is something that I would like for you to consider.  The only times in our history when the cyclically-adjusted return on stocks has been lower, a nightmarish stock market crash happened soon thereafter

The Nobel-Laureate, Robert Shiller, developed the cyclically-adjusted price/earnings ratio, the so-called CAPE, to assess whether stocks are likely to be over- or under-valued. It is possible to invert this measure to obtain a cyclically-adjusted earnings yield which allows one to measure prospective real returns. If one does this, the answer for the US is that the cyclically-adjusted return is now down to 3.4 percent. The only times it has been still lower were in 1929 and between 1997 and 2001, the two biggest stock market bubbles since 1880. We know now what happened then. Is it going to be different this time?

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

The Kids Are Not Alright

The Kids Are Not Alright

Debt initially dazzles and deceives, then it disappoints, disillusions, devastates, and destroys.

The thing governments do best is borrow. Performance varies across the range of their purported functions—warfare, maintenance of public order, provision of goods and services, redistribution, regulation—but they all go into debt. The structure of governments and their underlying philosophies also vary, but there’s one commonality. They are set up to optimize their own borrowing. Thus, central banks are essential.

There is a cottage industry devoted to the minutia of central bank personnel, policies, and pronouncements and what they mean for humanity’s future. Actually, cottage industry is not a correct characterization. No cottage industry could generate the kind of money paid to central banking’s acolytes.

After months of speculation, President Trump named Jerome Powell as the next Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. If you know why the Fed exists and how it operates, the speculation was so much dross. The Federal Reserve exists to “facilitate” the US government’s issuance of debt. Mr. Powell will do what Janet Yellen, Benjamin Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volker, G. William Miller, Arthur Burns, and every chairperson has done on back to the first one, Charles Hamlin: make it easier for the government to borrow. All of the other candidates would have done the same.

Central banks, their fiat debt, and ostensibly private banking systems that either control or are controlled by governments (take your pick) have facilitated unprecedented global governmental indebtedness. Suppressed interest rates and pyramiding debt via fractional reserve banking, securitization, and derivatives have led to record private indebtedness as well. The totals so dwarf the world’s productive capacities as measured, albeit imperfectly, by gross domestic product figures that the comparison yields an inescapable conclusion: most of this debt cannot be repaid.

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

Caution: Slowdown

Caution: Slowdown

Many of you know I keep posting charts keeping taps on the macro picture in the Macro Corner. It’s actually an interesting exercise watching what they do versus what they say. Public narratives versus reality on the ground.

I know there’s a lot of talk of global synchronized expansion. I call synchronized bullshit.

Institutions will not warn investors or consumers. They never do. Banks won’t warn consumers because they need consumers to spend and take up loans and invest money in markets. Governments won’t warn people for precisely the same reason. And certainly central banks won’t warn consumers. They are all in the confidence game.

Well, I am sending a stern warning: The underlying data is getting uglier. Things are slowing down. And not by just a bit, but by a lot. And I’ll show you with the Fed’s own data that is in stark contrast to all the public rah rah.

Look, nobody wants recessions, They are tough and ugly, but our global economy is on based on debt and debt expansion. Pure and simple. And all that is predicated on keeping confidence up. Confident people spend more and growth begets growth.

But here’s the problem: Despite all the global central bank efforts to stimulate growth real growth has never emerged. Mind you all this is will rates still near historic lows:

And central banks supposedly are reducing the spigots come in 2018:

I believe it when I see it. In September the FED told everyone they would start reducing their balance sheet in October. It’s November:

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

The Promise of Fiscal Money

Bank of EnglandNur Photo/Getty Images

The Promise of Fiscal Money

One of the few remaining sacred cows of Western capitalism is the independence of central banks from elected governments. But in an age when fiscal policy has become an essential factor in determining the quantity of money lubricating the system, an independent monetary authority no longer makes sense.

ATHENS – Western capitalism has few sacred cows left. It is time to question one of them: the independence of central banks from elected governments.

Setting aside the political controversy, central bank independence is predicated on an economic axiom: that money and debt (or credit) are strictly separable. Debt – for example, a government or corporate bond that is bought and sold for a price that is a function of inflation and default risk – can be traded domestically. Money, on the other hand, cannot default and is a means, rather than an object, of exchange (the currency market notwithstanding).

But this axiom no longer holds. With the rise of financialization, commercial banks have become increasingly reliant on one another for short-term loans, mostly backed by government bonds, to finance their daily operations. This liquidity acquires familiar properties: used as a means of exchange and as a store of value, it becomes a form of money.

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

How Central Banks Widen Wealth and Income Gaps

How Central Banks Widen Wealth and Income Gaps

burn money_0.PNG

The Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, according to Federal Reserve Governor Brainard, shows that the share of income held by the top 1 percent of households has risen from 17 percent in 1988 to 24 percent in 2015, and that the wealth held by that same group rose from 30 percent in 1989 to 39 percent in 2016.

There are many explanations of why the gap between the rich and the poor widens. Governor Brainard attributes some of it to labor market disparities relating to geography and to race and ethnicity. She and Robert Frank say it results from the wealthiest households being much more likely to invest additional money received than those in other income groups. Vincent Del Giudice and Wei Lu blame automation and robotics. John Tamny says it is a consequence of the explosion in entrepreneurship that has benefited us all. A Tax Policy Center report concludes that it will widen even more if the president’s income tax overhaul is enacted.

The Brookings Institute held a conference to explore whether monetary policy widens the wealth gap. Mainstream economists support expansionary monetary policy because the income gap closes after mortgage payments are lowered when homes are refinanced at lower interest rates. However, a conference panelist and former Federal Reserve (Fed) board member Kevin Warsh referred to the Fed’s monetary policy during the financial crisis as being “reverse Robin Hood.” This view has merit because the Fed’s purchases of securities push interest rates down and expand the money supply. The expansion of money then inflates the prices of financial assets, which are disproportionately owned by the rich.

In a previous article for Mises Wire, I discussed data that seems to support both sides of the Brookings debate.

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

700 Years Of Data Suggests The Reversal In Rates Will Be Rapid

700 Years Of Data Suggests The Reversal In Rates Will Be Rapid

Have we been lulled into a false sense of security about the future path of rates by ZIRP/NIRP policies? Central banks’ misguided efforts to engineer inflation have undoubtedly been woefully feeble, so far. As the Federal Reserve “valiantly” raises short rates, markets ignore its dot plot and yield curves continue to flatten. And thanks to Larry Summers, the term “secular stagnation” has entered the lexicon.  While it sure doesn’t feel like it, could rates suddenly take off to the upside?

A guest post on the Bank of England’s staff blog, “Bank Underground”, answers the question with an unequivocal yes. Harvard University’s visiting scholar at the Bank, Paul Schmelzing, normally focuses on 20th century financial history. In his guest post (see here), he analyses real interest rates stretching back a further 600 years to 1311. Schmelzing describes his methodology as follows.

We trace the use of the dominant risk-free asset over time, starting with sovereign rates in the Italian city states in the 14th and 15th centuries, later switching to long-term rates in Spain, followed by the Province of Holland, since 1703 the UK, subsequently Germany, and finally the US.

Schmelzing calculates the 700-year average real rate at 4.78% and the average for the last two hundred years at 2.6%. As he notes “the current environment remains severely depressed”, no kidding. Looking back over seven centuries certainly provides plenty of context for our current situation, where rates have been trending downwards since the early 1980s. According to Schmelzing, we are in the ninth “real rate depression” since 1311 as shown in his chart below. We count more than nine, but let’s not be picky.

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

Ron Paul: We Are Reaching A Point Of No Return

Ron Paul: We Are Reaching A Point Of No Return

When the system will break no matter what the Fed tries

Ron Paul Book: The Revolution At Ten Years

Dr. Ron Paul has long been a leading voice for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, sound money, civil liberty, and non-interventionist foreign policies.

Dr. Paul served as the US Representative for Texas’s 27th Congressional District from 1976 to 1985. He then represented the 14th district from 1977 to 2013. He ran for the office of US President, three times, most recently in the 2012 Republican primaries. Dr. Paul also had a long career as an OBGYN over which he delivered more than 4,000 babies.

The recent author of the book, The Revolution At Ten Years, Dr. Paul looks ahead at the future of the movement he helped launch — tackling central planning, the military empire, cultural Marxism, the surveillance state, the deep state, and the real threats from these institutions to our civil liberties.

As a multi-term member of Congress, Dr. Paul knows the players and policies responsible for the growing unfairness and inequality now rampant in society. He does not expect the offenders will reform willingly. Instead, he predicts the system will collapse under its own unsustainability — offering a rare and valuable chance then for more sound and fair solutions to prevail:

Wealth doesn’t come from the creation of money, especially a fiat system. With too much fiat money and all this credit, eventually the economy becomes exhausted and engulfed with debt and mal-investments. The treatment for this is a correction; you have to allow the debt to be liquidated. You have to get rid of the mal-investment and you have and to allow real economic growth to start all over again. But that wasn’t permitted in ’08 and ’09, which is why there’s been stagnation.

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase