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“Financial Crisis” Coming By End Of 2018 – Prepare Urgently

“Financial Crisis” Coming By End Of 2018 – Prepare Urgently

“Financial Crisis Of Historic Proportions” Is “Bearing Down On Us”

John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics latest research note, Prepare for Turbulence, is excellent and a must read warning about the coming financial crisis. Mind refreshed from what sounds like a wonderful honeymoon and having had the time to read some books outside his “comfort zone” he has come to the conclusion that we are on the verge of  a “major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest.”

Source: Financial Times

Mauldin is a New York Times bestselling author and respected investment expert and his excellent analysis concludes with advice to prepare urgently for the financial “crisis of historic proportions” which is “once again bearing down on us”:

“You and I can’t control whether banks are ready, but we can control whether we are ready. I am working on a number of fronts to help you. My brief time away convinced me beyond any doubt that a crisis of historic proportions is once again bearing down on us. We may have little time to prepare. We definitely have no time to waste.

His financial crisis warning is important as Mauldin is no perma-bear. Indeed up until now his central thesis was that we were in the “muddle through economy” and that the U.S. economy and global economy would “muddle” along and we would avoid a financial crisis. So not only has he changed his central thesis but he has gone from being neutral and mildly positive to being very bearish and concerned about a severe financial crisis.

Mauldin is a long time advocate of owning physical gold including gold coins  as financial insurance – taking delivery and secure storage.

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

Why Quantitative Tightening Will Fail

Why Quantitative Tightening Will Fail

After nine years of unconventional quantitative easing (QE) policy the Federal Reserve is now setting out on a new path for quantitative tightening (QT).

QE was a policy of money printing. The Fed did this by buying bonds from the big banks. The banks would then deliver bonds to the Fed, and the Fed would in turn pay them with money from thin air. QT takes a different approach.

Instead, the Fed will set out policy that allows the old bonds to mature, while not buy new ones from the banks. That way the money will shrink the balance sheets ahead of any potential crisis.

For years leaders at the Federal Reserve have been rolling over the balance sheet to keep it at $4.5 trillion.

Here’s what the Fed wants you to believe.

The Fed wants you to think that QT will not have any impact. Fed leadership speaks in code and has a word for this which you’ll hear called “background.” The Fed wants this to run on background. Think of running on background like someone using a computer to access email while downloading something on background.

This is complete nonsense. They’ve spent eight years saying that quantitative easing was stimulative. Now they want the public to believe that a change to quantitative tightening is not going to slow the economy.

They continue to push that conditions are sustainable when printing money, but when they make money disappear, it will not have any impact. This approach falls down on its face – and it will have a big impact.

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

Government Monopoly Money vs. Personal Choice in Currency

For more than two hundred years, practically all of even the most free market advocates have assumed that money and banking were different from other types of goods and markets. From Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, the presumption has been competitive markets and free consumer choice are far better than government control and planning – except in the realm of money and financial intermediation.

This belief has been taken to the extreme over the last one hundred years, during which governments have claimed virtually absolute and unlimited authority over national monetary systems through the institution of paper money.

At least before the First World War the general consensus among economists, many political leaders, and the vast majority of the citizenry was that governments could not be completely trusted with management of the monetary system. Abuse of the monetary printing press would always be too tempting for demagogues, special interest groups, and shortsighted politicians looking for easy ways to fund their way to power, privilege, and political advantage.

The Gold Standard and the Monetary “Rules of the Game”

Thus, before 1914 the national currencies of practically all the major countries of what used to be called the “civilized world” were anchored to market-based commodities, either gold or silver. This was meant to place money outside the immediate and arbitrary manipulation of governments. Any increase in gold or silver money required private individuals to find it profitable to prospect for it in various parts of the world, mine it out of the ground and transport it to where it might be refined into usable forms, and then mint part of any new supplies into coins and bullion, with the rest made into various commercial and industrial products demanded on the market.

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

Will Central Banks Derail The Shale Boom?

Will Central Banks Derail The Shale Boom?

Permian

The U.S. Federal Reserve has already increased interest rates several times, most recently in June, with promises to do much more. Rate hikes pose a problem for the oil industry, which has used debt to underpin a drilling boom across the U.S. shale patch. Higher rates could raise the cost of drilling.

But low oil prices, and few prospects for a strong rebound in the near-term – and possibly even the medium- and long-term – undercut the rationale for higher rates. After all, inflation is soft, and low commodity prices have a lot to do with that.

In fact, the decline of oil prices this year has led to even lower inflation than expected, not just in the U.S., but also in Europe. The Fed has insisted that weak inflation is “transitory,” but more people are starting to wonder if that is true. “There is now a much bigger chance that there will be an important disinflationary impact from lower oil prices,” Thierry Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist for Macquarie, told MarketWatch. With oil prices and broader inflation low, why raise rates?

Still, the Fed seems intent on moving forward. And the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a group of central banks from around the world, urged central banks a few days ago to continue the “great unwinding.” That is, the extraordinary monetary stimulus stemming from the 2008-2009 financial crisis needs to be reined in. Fed chair Janet Yellen has warned about overpriced asset classes, a side effect of loose monetary policy. The hawkish Fed thinks that monetary policy needs to tighten in order to prevent overheating. Related: The Downturn Is Over, But U.S. Oil Companies Face A Huge Problem

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

If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created, Rising Inequality and Social Disorder Are Inevitable

If We Don’t Change the Way Money Is Created, Rising Inequality and Social Disorder Are Inevitable

Centrally issued money optimizes inequality, monopoly, cronyism, stagnation and systemic instability.
Everyone who wants to reduce wealth and income inequality with more regulations and taxes is missing the key dynamic: central banks’ monopoly on creating and issuing money widens wealth inequality, as those with access to newly issued money can always outbid the rest of us to buy the engines of wealth creation.
History informs us that rising wealth and income inequality generate social disorder.
Access to low-cost credit issued by central banks creates financial and political power. Those with access to low-cost credit have a monopoly as valuable as the one to create money.
Compare the limited power of an individual with cash and the enormous power of unlimited cheap credit.
Let’s say an individual has saved $100,000 in cash. He keeps the money in the bank, which pays him less than 1% interest. Rather than earn this low rate, he decides to loan the cash to an individual who wants to buy a rental home at 4% interest.
There’s a tradeoff to earn this higher rate of interest: the saver has to accept the risk that the borrower might default on the loan, and that the home will not be worth the $100,000 the borrower owes.
The bank, on the other hand, can perform magic with the $100,000 they obtain from the central bank. The bank can issue 19 times this amount in new loans—in effect, creating $1,900,000 in new money out of thin air.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Stock Market Crash Scenario

A Stock Market Crash Scenario

The one thing we can know with certainty is it won’t be easy to profit from the crash.
After 8+ years of phenomenal gains, it’s pretty obvious the global stock market rally is overdue for a credit-cycle downturn, and many research services of Wall Street heavyweights are sounding the alarm about the auto industry’s slump, the slowing of new credit and other fundamental indicators that a recession is becoming more likely.
Few have taken the risk of projecting a date for the crash, this gent being a gutsy outlier: Hedge Fund CIO Sets The Day When The Next Crash Begins.
Next February is a good guess, as recessions and market downturns tend to lag the credit market by about 9 months.
My own scenario is based not on cycles or technicals or fundamentals, but on the psychology of the topping process, which tends to follow this basic script:
When there are too many bearish reports of gloomy data, and too many calls to go long volatility or go to cash, the market perversely goes up, not down.
Why? This negativity creates a classic Wall of Worry that markets can continue climbing. (Central banks buying $300 billion of assets a month helps power this gradual ascent most admirably.) The Bears betting on a decline based on deteriorating fundamentals are crushed by the steady advance.
As Bears give up, the window for a Spot of Bother decline creaks open, however grudgingly, as central banks make noises about ending their extraordinary monetary policies by raising interest rates a bit (so they can lower them when the next recession grabs the global economy by the throat).
As bearish short interest and bets on higher volatility fade, insiders go short.

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

BofA: “Central Banks Are Now In A Desperate Dilemma”…”Start Buying Volatility”

BofA: “Central Banks Are Now In A Desperate Dilemma”…”Start Buying Volatility”

One week after the second biggest weekly inflow to Wall Street on record, the “risk on” rotation ended abruptly in the ensuing five days, when as Bank of America writes overnight, it observed “Inflows to structural “deflation”, outflows from cyclical “inflation”; with oil the “poster child” for this trend.”

Half a year after central bankers around the globe rejoiced that the Trump victory may finally spur the long-delayed period of global reflation, that hope is now dead and buried (even as the Fed keeps hiking into some imaginary inflation wave) which BofA’s Michael Hartnett observes not only in asset prices, but also in fund flows.

As the BofA strategist writes in a note aptly titled “Bubble, bubble, oil & trouble”, the big flow message “is structural “deflation” dominating cyclical “inflation” (oil price is the “poster child” for victory of deflation): outflows from TIPS; first outflows from bank loans in 32 weeks; outflows from US value funds in 8 of past the 9 weeks; 1st inflows to REITS in 11 weeks; biggest inflows to utilities in 51 weeks.

More importantly the tsunami of recent inflows, mostly into US equities, appears to finally be slowing: following sizable inflows to equities & bonds last week ($33.5bn in aggregate), a week of modest flows: $5.0bn into bonds, $0.5bn into equities, $0.8bn outflows from gold. Additionally, after the recent “tech wreck”, flows show confirm that contrarians – or simply stopped out algos – have flirted with sector rotation as inflows to energy ($0.4bn) were offset by outflows from tech ($0.2bn) & growth funds ($2.1bn);

Looking at BofA’s client base, Harnett notes that private clients were also sellers of tech past 4 weeks; and adds that despite the 20% YTD decline in oil price, energy funds ($2.8bn) and MLPs ($2.6bn) see inflows in 2017.

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

Mr Creosote is Full

Mr Creosote is Full

Maitre D’: “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.”

Mr Creosote: “No.”

Maitre D’: “Oh, sir! It’s only a tiny little thin one.”

Mr Creosote: “No. F**k off. I’m full…” [Belches]

Maitre D’: “Oh, sir… it’s only wafer thin.”

Mr Creosote: “Look – I couldn’t eat another thing. I’m absolutely stuffed. Bugger off.”

Maitre D’: “Oh, sir, just… just one…”

Mr Creosote: “Oh, all right. Just one.”

Maitre D’: “Just the one, sir… voila… bon appetit…”

[Mr Creosote somehow manages to stuff the wafer-thin mint into his mouth and then swallows. The Maitre D’ takes a flying leap and cowers behind some potted plants. There is an ominous splitting sound. Mr Creosote looks rather helpless and then he explodes, covering waiters, diners, and technicians in a truly horrendous mix of half digested food, entrails, and parts of his body. People start vomiting.]

Maitre D’: [returns to Mr Creosote’s table] Thank you, sir, and now the check.

The Monty Python skit depicted has a lot of truth in it.

Only idiots refuse to acknowledge excess. Society is littered with examples of the consequences. Eating too much results in indigestion and lethargy, and, if done, regularly obesity and an early grave.

We’d be forgiven for thinking that these simple truths don’t or won’t apply to the financial markets.

Indeed, the GFC was but one of the last examples of such excess, and Canada’s own Real estate market is now suffering what Mr Creosote suffered.

There are naturally other examples, many covered in my subscriber-only publication, but there is one elephant in the room worth looking at:

The above graph, which I nicked from Bloomberg, is actually only a few months old… and as such out of date.

How out of date can it actually be, you might ask? Heck, it’s less than a month old.

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

Falling Interest Rates Have Postponed “Peak Oil”

Falling Interest Rates Have Postponed “Peak Oil”

Another group of people who don’t understand the power of interest rates is the group of people who put together the Peak Oil story. In my opinion, the story of finite resources, including oil, is true. But the way the problem manifests itself is quite different from what Peak Oilers have imagined because the economy is far more complex than the Hubbert Model assumes. One big piece that has been left out of the Hubbert Model is the impact of changing interest rates. When interest rates fall, this tends to allow oil prices to rise, and thus allows increased production. This postpones the Peak Oil crisis, but makes the ultimate crisis worse.

The new crisis can be expected to be “Peak Economy” instead of Peak Oil. Peak Economy is likely to have a far different shape than Peak Oil–a much sharper downturn. It is likely to affect many aspects of the economy at once. The financial system will be especially affected. We will have gluts of all energy products, because no energy product will be affordable to consumers at a price that is profitable to producers. Grid electricity is likely to fail at essentially the same time as other parts of the system.

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

Why The Markets Are Overdue For A Gigantic Bust

r.classen/Shutterstock

Why The Markets Are Overdue For A Gigantic Bust

It’s just not possible to print our way to prosperity
Let me begin with a caveat: confirmation bias is an ever-present risk for an analyst such as myself.

If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘confirmation bias’ suggests that once we’ve invested time and emotional energy into developing a worldview, we’ll then seek information to confirm that view.

After writing about the economy for so many years, I’m now so convinced that we can’t print our way to prosperity that I find myself seeing signs confirming this view everywhere, every single day. So that’s the danger to be aware of when listening to me.  I’m going to keep repeating this mantra and Im going to keep finding data that supports this view.

Based on lots of historical inputs, I have concluded that Printing money out of thin air can engineer lots of things, including asset price bubbles and the redistribution of wealth from the masses to the elites.  But it cannot print up real prosperity.

As much as I try, I simply cannot jump on the bandwagon that says that printing up money out of thin air has any long-term utility for an economy. It’s just too clear to me that doing so presents plenty of dangers, due to what we might call ‘economic gravity’: What goes up, must also come down.

Which brings us to this chart:

The 200 bubble blown by Greenspan was bad, the next one by Bernanke was horrible, but this one by Yellen may well prove fatal.  At least to entire financial markets, large institutions, and a few sovereigns.

It’s essential to note that more than two-thirds of the net worth tracked in the above chart is now comprised of ‘financial assets.’  That is, paper claims on real things.

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

The Federal Reserve Is Destroying America

The Federal Reserve Is Destroying America

And wait until you hear what they’re getting away with now

Perhaps I should start with a disclaimer of sorts. Yes, I realize that the people working at the Federal Reserve, as well as the other central banks around the world, are just people.  Like the rest of us, they have egos, fears, worries, hopes, and dreams. I’m sure pretty much all of them go home each night believing they are basically good and caring individuals, doing important work.

But they’re destroying America.  They might have good intentions, but they are working with bad models. Ones that lead to truly horrible outcomes.

One of the chief failings of central banks is that they are slaves to an impossible idea; the notion that humans are free to pursue perpetual exponential economic growth on a finite planet.  To be more specific: central banks are actually in the business of promoting perpetual exponential growth of debt.

But since growth in credit drives growth in consumption, the two are concepts are so intimately linked as to be indistinguishable from each other.  They both rest upon an impossibility.  Central banks are in the business of sustaining the unsustainable which is, of course, an impossible job.

I can only guess at the amount of emotional energy required to maintain the integrity of the edifice of self-delusion necessary to go home from a central banking job feeling OK about oneself and one’s role in the world.  It must be immense.

I rather imagine it’s not unlike the key positions of leadership at Easter Island around the time the last trees were being felled and the last stone heads were being erected.  “This is what we do,” they probably said to each other and their followers.  “This is what we’ve always done.  Pay no attention to those few crackpot haters who warn that in pursuing our way of life we’re instead destroying it.”

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

In Emerging Markets, It’s Time To Dump Most Central Banks, And Their Currencies Too

In Emerging Markets, It’s Time To Dump Most Central Banks, And Their Currencies Too

On March 16th, the New York Times carried reportage by Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough, which was titled “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer.” The theme of their extensive reportage is that U.S. monetary policy is the elephant in the room. It is the elephant that swings exchange rates and capital flows to and fro in emerging-market countries, causing considerable pain.

The real problem that all of the countries mentioned in the New York Times reportage face is the fact that they have central banks that issue half-baked local currencies. Although widespread today, central banks are relatively new institutional arrangements. In 1900, there were only 18 central banks in the world. By 1940, the number had grown to 40. Today, there are over 150.

Before the rise of central banking the world was dominated by unified currency areas, or blocs, the largest of which was the sterling bloc. As early as 1937, the great Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek warned that the central banking fad, if it continued, would lead to currency chaos and the spread of banking crises. His forebodings were justified. With the proliferation of central banking and independent local currencies, currency and banking crises have engulfed the international financial system with ever-increasing severity and frequency. What to do?

The obvious answer is for vulnerable emerging-market countries to do away with their central banks and domestic currencies, replacing them with a sound foreign currency. Panama is a prime example of the benefits from employing this type of monetary system. Since 1904, it has used the U.S. dollar as its official currency. Panama’s dollarized economy is, therefore, officially part of the world’s largest currency bloc.

The results of Panama’s dollarized monetary system and internationally integrated banking system have been excellent (see accompanying table).

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

How to Stick It to Your Banker, the Federal Reserve, and the Whole Doggone Fiat Money System

Somehow, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke found time from his busy hedge fund advisory duties last week to tell his ex-employer how to do its job.  Namely, he recommended to his former cohorts at the Fed how much they should reduce the Fed’s balance sheet by.  In other words, he told them how to go about cleaning up his mess.

Praise the Lord! The Hero is back to tell us what to do! Why, oh why have you ever left, oh greatest central planner of all time. We are not worthy.

We couldn’t recall the last time we’d seen or heard from Bernanke.  But soon it all came back to us.  There he was, in the flesh, babbling on Bloomberg and Squawk Box, pushing the new paperback version of his mis-titled memoir “The Courage to Act.”  Incidentally, the last time we’d heard much out of the guy was when the hard copy was released in late 2015.

With respect to the Fed’s balance sheet, Bernanke remarked that the Fed should cut it from $4.5 trillion to “something in the vicinity of $2.3 to $2.8 trillion.”  What exactly this would achieve Bernanke didn’t say.  As far as we can tell, a balance sheet of $2.8 trillion would still be about 300 percent higher than it was prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Bernanke, by all measures, is an absolute lunatic.  He, more than anyone else, is responsible for the utter mess that radical monetary policies have made of the U.S. economy.  He’s the one who dropped the federal funds rate to near zero and inflated the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet by over 450 percent.

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

A Problem Emerges: Central Banks Injected A Record $1 Trillion In 2017… It’s Not Enough

A Problem Emerges: Central Banks Injected A Record $1 Trillion In 2017… It’s Not Enough

Two weeks ago Bank of America caused a stir when it calculated that central banks (mostly the ECB & BoJ) have bought $1 trillion of financial assets just in the first four months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, “the largest CB buying on record.” 

 

BofA’s Michael Hartnett noted that supersized central bank intervention which he dubbed a “liquidity supernova” is “the best explanation why global stocks & bonds both annualizing double-digit gains YTD despite Trump, Le Pen, China, macro…”

To be sure, Hartnett’s “discovery” did not come as a surprise to regular readers: back in October 2014, Citi’s Matt King calculated that it costs central banks $200 billion per quarter to avoid a market crash, or as he put it:

For over a year now, central banks have quietly being reducing their support. As Figure 7 shows, much of this is down to the Fed, but the contraction in the ECB’s balance sheet has also been significant. Seen from this perspective, a negative reaction in markets was long overdue: very roughly, the charts suggest that zero stimulus would be consistent with 50bp widening in investment grade, or a little over a ten percent quarterly drop in equities. Put differently, it takes around $200bn per quarter just to keep markets from selling off.

Today we showed just what central bank buying looks like in practical terms when we demonstrated that the Swiss national Bank had purchased a record $17 billion in US equities in just the first quarter, bringing its total US equity long holdings to an all time high above $80 billion…

… in the process soaking up nearly 4 million AAPL shares in the first 3 months of the year.

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

Just a quick reminder of who’s really in charge

This happens several times each year as the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee gathers to set monetary policy in the Land of the Free.

To be clear, there is no greater power over a nation than having control of its money supply and interest rates.

Think about it: interest rates influence just about EVERYTHING in the economy.

Changes in interest rates influence housing prices, company stock prices, retail sales, food prices, oil prices, and major business purchases.

Interest rates have a significant impact over employment, business investment, inflation, and the currency’s international exchange rate.

Increases in the interest rate even have the power to bring a government to its knees.

This is pretty extraordinary power. And it has been awarded to an unelected committee that has an astonishing track record of getting it wrong.

Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke famously predicted in January 2008 that “the Federal Reserve is currently NOT forecasting a recession.”

It turns out that the recession had officially started one month before in December 2007.

While that’s just one small example, the numbers show that these guys perpetually miss the mark.

In January 2011 the Fed projected 2011 GDP growth would be 3.7%. It turned out to be 2%. So proportionally speaking they were off by 85%.

In January 2012 they predicted 2.5% growth that year. Actual growth in 2012 was 1.6%, so they were ‘only’ off by 56%.

Their 2016 GDP growth forecast was 2.4%, while actual growth was 1.6%, another 50% error.

And just recently for the first quarter of 2017, the Fed’s predictions were 1.2% growth, while actual GDP growth was just 0.7%… a 70%+ overshoot.

Here’s the funny thing– even the Federal Reserve’s own internal study shows that they consistently miss the mark in their projections.

…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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