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Doug Duncan: Even US Government Economists Predict Trouble Ahead

Doug Duncan: Even US Government Economists Predict Trouble Ahead

Fannie Mae forecasts an economic slowdown by 2019

Doug Duncan is not your average beltway economist.

The chief economist for Fannie Mae is surprisingly outspoken about the troublesome outlook for the US economy. He’s worried about the rising cost of debt service as outstanding credit continues to mount at the same time interest rates are starting to ratchet higher, too.

He predicts the US will enter recession within a year, concurrent with a topping out of America’s real estate market. It wouldn’t surprise him to see the stock market falter, too, as central banks around the world begin a coordinated tightening of monetary policy and — similar to the thoughts recently expressed within our podcast with Axel Merk — Doug expects Jerome Powell to be much more reluctant to intervene in attempt to support asset prices. Having met personally with Powell, Doug thinks the Fed is now happy to see some of the air come out of the Everything Bubble (just not too much and not too fast) — a market change from past Fed administrations:

Our forecast definitely sees slowing economic activity, particularly in the second half of ’19. Part of it has to do with the length of the expansion. Just because an expansion is long doesn’t mean it’s going to end; but they all have eventually ended, and this one is getting pretty old. I think if it’s not the second longest, it’s getting to be the second longest that we’ve ever had shortly.

The tax bill was viewed differently by different parties, but the capital markets initially took that — plus the $300 billion agreement to get past the expiration of government funding plus the budget agreement — they took all those things as inflationary.

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

Blankfein: “Central Banks All Around The World Are Buying All The Risky Assets”

We can finally put to rest any financial, economic, ideological or simply philosophical debates why stocks have risen over 300% since the March 2009 post-crisis lows of 666, and we have Lloyd Blankfein’s underperformance mea culpa to thank for putting it so simply and succinctly, even a majority of fintwit might actually get it.

From today’s CNBC interview:

Frost: Let’s touch on your earnings yesterday, Lloyd, which was a beat on every line and overall EPS,  let’s talk about first of all about the bounceback in trading. There was a lot of focus on trading last year, back this quarter. Can that last the rest of the year or is it a one quarter bounceback, as it were?

Blankfein: If you asked it the opposite way, “this surely would last forever” I’d also discount that. Look, we don’t know. We’re more in the contingency planning business than the forecasting business but the conditions that prevail we’re not top decile or top quartile conditions in the world so, yes, they’re highly replicable I would say. Kind of feels almost standardish.

What didn’t feel standard were the conditions over the last couple of years. People will debate back and forth what’s normal what’s the new normal but conditions where interest rates are zero, yield curves are flat, there’s no risk premium. Where central banks all around the world are buying all the risky assets which then therefore put a damper on volatility and the opportunities to perform, that’s not a natural state.

We have not reversed all of that, but we’re walking that back and walking to so the first indications of a withdrawal from what is an unnatural state. The market becomes a bit more volatile, people get compensated for the risk that they’re taking.

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

The Central Bank Crisis on the Immediate Horizon

While the majority keep bashing the Federal Reserve, other central banks seem to escape any criticism. The European Central Bank under Mario Draghi has engaged in what history will call the Great Monetary Experiment of the 21st Century – the daring experiment of negative interest rates. A look behind the scenes reveals that this experiment has been not just a failure, it has undermined the entire global economic structure. We are looking at pension funds being driven into insolvency as the traditional asset allocation model of 60% equity 40% bonds has failed to secure the future with negative interest rates. Then, the ECB has exceeded 40% ownership of Eurozone government debt. The ECB realizes it can not only sell any of its holdings ever again, it cannot even refuse to reinvest what it has already bought when those bonds expire. The Fed has announced it will not reinvest anything. Draghi is trapped. He cannot stop buying government debt for if he does, interest rates will soar. He cannot escape this crisis and it is not going to end nicely.

When this policy collapses, forced by the free markets (no bid), CONFIDENCE will collapse rapidly. Once people no longer believe the central banks can control anything, the end has arrived. We will be looking at the time at the WEC. We will be answering the question – Can a central bank actually fail?

“They Know What’s Going To Happen” Governments And Big Banks Are Stockpiling Gold Ahead Of Massive Economic Collapse

“They Know What’s Going To Happen” Governments And Big Banks Are Stockpiling Gold Ahead Of Massive Economic Collapse

The writing is on the wall and major financial institutions across the world are warning about the economic disaster to come. Unabated money printing, tariff trade wars, rising interest rates and retail slowdowns point to one result, and it’s going to be brutal. Big banks and governments know what’s coming and they are preparing for this eventuality by stockpiling huge amounts of “real money” ahead of the crisis.

According to Keith Neumeyer, the CEO of the world’s top primary silver producer First Majestic Silver and chairman of First Mining Gold, the cartels he’s previously reported to the CFTC have continued to manipulate the prices of precious metals while loading up their own vaults with gold and silver. The answer to why they’re doing it is simple, as Neumeyer highlights in a recent interview with SGT Report:

The verdict is still out on whether we’re going into a dis-inflationary or inflationary environment… gold can do well in both environments… the fact of the matter is governments are printing extraordinary amounts of fiat currencies and that is not going to change…

The stage is set for higher gold prices due to the amount of money being printed… I am of the belief a major reset is coming where the governments of the world will need to get rid of their debt by fixing everything to the price of gold… and that’s why governments like China and Russia and other governments around the world are accumulating gold… it’s because they know what’s going to happen over the next several years…


(Watch at Youtube)

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Why Trade Wars Will Unleash Central Banks

Why Trade Wars Will Unleash Central Banks

There’s been an abundance of coverage surrounding the recent steel and aluminum tariffs. Those measures could hurt more sectors than they help within the U.S. In particular, it could damage businesses that require metals because they’ll have to pay more for raw materials.

Trade wars also escalate geopolitical tensions and economic hardships the world over. They have in the past. When the U.S. imposed tariffs in the 1930’s to try to relieve the Great Depression at home, they achieved the opposite effect.

A global trade war flared, governments became isolated and initiated defensive build-ups. The move ultimately resulted in lower production, reduced global trade and a prolonged international depression that gave rise to WWII.

While the early Great Depression period in which President Hoover invoked harsh trade wars might be different than today, the threat of instability remains. What we saw then was a slowdown in the world economy that lead to regional aggressions and ultimately a world war.

The major differences now are that we have central banks financing markets — and by extension a military buildup.

Countries are better insulated today than they were in those days. By insulating themselves, they now have more choices about who their trading partners are, and what regional or multilateral agreements they enter.

That’s one reason China is championing regional trade agreements throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim, and inked bi-lateral deals with Japan and the EU last year.  Those nations are growing less reliant on U.S. trade and, like good portfolio managers, are diversifying their trade partners.

The U.S. tariffs will likely accelerate this trend.

The tariffs, and super-regional build-ups, will also do something else. Trade wars will morph into an acceleration in global military spending. That’s because the tensions from trade wars have military ramifications.

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

Why Trade Wars Ignite and Why They’re Spreading

Why Trade Wars Ignite and Why They’re Spreading

The monetary distortions, imbalances and perverse incentives are finally bearing fruit: trade wars.
What ignites trade wars? The oft-cited sources include unfair trade practices and big trade deficits. But since these have been in place for decades, they don’t explain why trade wars are igniting now.
To truly understand why trade wars are igniting and spreading, we need to start with financial repression, a catch-all for all the monetary stimulus programs launched after the Global Financial Meltdown/Crisis of 2008/09.
These include zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), quantitative easing (QE), central bank purchases of government and corporate bonds and stocks and measures to backstop lenders and increase liquidity.
The policies of financial repression force risk-averse investors back into risk assets if they want any return on their capital, and brings consumption forward, that is, encourages consumers to borrow and buy now rather than delay purchases until they can be funded with savings.
As Gordon Long and I explain in the second part of our series on Trade Warsfinancial repression generates over-capacity and over-consumption: with credit almost free to corporations and financiers, new production facilities are brought online in the hopes of earning a profit as the global economy “recovers.”
Soon there is more productive capacity than there is demand for the good being produced: this is over-capacity, and it leads to over-production, which as a result of supply and demand, leads to a loss of pricing power: producers can’t raise prices due to global gluts, so they end up dumping their over-production wherever they can.
If the producers are state-owned enterprises subsidized by governments and central banks, these producers can sell at a loss because their only function is to sustain employment; profitability is a bonus.

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

Global Debt Hits Record $237 Trillion, Up $21TN In 2017

Last June we reported  that according to the Institute of International Finance – perhaps best known for its periodic and concerning reports summarizing global leverage statistics – as of the end of 2016, in a period of so-called “coordinated growth”, global debt hit a new all time high of $217 trillion, over 327% of global GDP, and up $50 trillion over the past decade.

Six months later, on January 4, 2018, the IIF released another global debt analysis, which disclosed that global debt rose to a record $233 trillion at the end of Q3 of 2017 between $63Tn in government, $58Tn in financial, $68TN in non-financial and $44Tn in household sectors, a total increase of $16 trillion increase in just 9 months.

Now, according to its latest quarterly update, the IIF has calculated that global debt rose another $4 trillion in the past quarter, to a record $237 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017, and more than $70 trillion higher from a decade earlier, and up roughly $20 trillion in 2017 alone.

The IIF report, which also sources data from the IMF and BIS, found that the share of global debt remains well above 300% of global GDP, with mature market, i.e., DM, debt/GDP now at 382%. The silver lining: that number was slightly below recent levels, as increasing GDP growth in DMs helped reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio. However, this was more than offset by a surge in debt in emerging markets, where total debt/GDP is now well above 200%.

The good news, if only temporarily, is that on a consolidated basis, global debt/GDP fell for the fifth consecutive quarter as global growth accelerated: the ratio is now around 317.8%, or 4% points below the all time high hit in Q43 2016. To be sure, even a modest slowdown in GDP growth, let alone a contraction, will promptly send the ratio surging to new all time highs.

 

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Dissecting the Madness of Economic Reason

David Harvey’s latest book provides a riveting reading of Marx’s Capital and a trenchant critique of a political and economic system spiralling out of control.

A decade after the financial crisis of 2008, global capitalism remains in dire straits. Despite central banks providing a steady diet of low interest rates and pumping over $12 trillion of new money into the world economy through quantitative easing, growth remains anaemic, even as debt levels in many countries are back on the rise and inequality rapidly spirals out of control. Secular stagnation now goes hand in hand with the emergence of new speculative bubbles in stocks and housing, raising fears that fresh financial turmoil and further debt crises may only be a matter of time.

With mainstream economics clearly incapable of providing a satisfactory account of capitalism’s inherent tendency towards crisis formation, the past decade has seen a resurgence of interest in the work of Karl Marx, undoubtedly the most astute observer of the system’s internal contradictions. Perhaps no other living scholar has played a more important role in this renaissance of Marxist theorizing than David Harvey, the geographer whose many books and celebrated online course on Capital weaned a new generation of students and activists on an innovative reading of Marx’s critique of political economy.

In his new book, Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason, Harvey provides a concise introduction to Marx’s theoretical framework and a compelling argument for its increasing relevance to the “insane and deeply troubling world in which we live.” Fleshing out a number of ideas first presented as part of a lecture series at the City University of New York, where he is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, the book is characteristic of the “late Harvey”: incisive in its analysis, sweeping in its scope, accessible in its style and laced with profound insights on the madness of the economic system under which we live.

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

What to Expect From Central Bankers

  • The Federal Reserve continues to tighten and other Central Banks will follow
  • The BIS expects stocks to lose their lustre and bond yields to rise
  • The normalisation process will be protracted, like the QE it replaces
  • Macro prudential policy will have greater emphasis during the next boom

As financial markets adjust to a new, higher, level of volatility, it is worth considering what the Central Banks might be thinking longer term. Many commentators have been blaming geopolitical tensions for the recent fall in stocks, but the Central Banks, led by the Fed, have been signalling clearly for some while. The sudden change in the tempo of the stock market must have another root.

Whenever one considers the collective views of Central Banks it behoves one to consider the opinions of the Central Bankers bank, the BIS. In their Q4 review they discuss the paradox of a tightening Federal Reserve and the continued easing in US national financial conditions. BIS Quarterly Review – December 2017 – A paradoxical tightening?:-

Overall, global financial conditions paradoxically eased despite the persistent, if cautious, Fed tightening. Term spreads flattened in the US Treasury market, while other asset markets in the United States and elsewhere were buoyant…

Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) trended down to a 24-year trough, in line with several other gauges of financial conditions.

The authors go on to observe that the environment is more reminiscent of the mid-2000’s than the tightening cycle of 1994. Writing in December they attribute the lack of market reaction to the improved communications policies of the Federal Reserve – and, for that matter, other Central Banks. These policies of gradualism and predictability may have contributed to, what the BIS perceive to be, a paradoxical easing of monetary conditions despite the reversals of official accommodation and concomitant rise in interest rates.

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

The Next Crisis Will Be The Last

The Next Crisis Will Be The Last

It is an interesting thing.

Throughout the last four decades there is a direct link between the actions of the Federal Reserve and the eventual economic and market outcomes due to changes in monetary policy. In every case, that outcome has been negative.

The general consensus continues to be the markets have entered into a “permanently high plateau,” or an era in which asset price corrections have been effectively eliminated through fiscal and monetary policy. The lack of understanding of economic and market cycles was on full display Monday as Peter Navarro told investors to just “buy the dip.”

“I’m thinking the smart money is certainly going to buy on the dips here because the economy is as strong as an ox.”

I urge you not to fall prey to the “This Time Is Different” thought process.

Despite the consensus belief that global growth is gathering steam, there is mounting evidence of financial strain rising throughout the financial ecosystem, which as I addressed previously, is a direct result of the Fed’s monetary policy actions. Economic growth remains weak, wages are not growing, and job growth remains below the rate of working age population growth.

While the talking points of the economy being as “strong as an ox” is certainly “media friendly,” The yield curve, as shown below, is telling a different story. While the spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasury rates has not fallen into negative territory as of yet, they are certainly headed in that direction.

This is an important distinction. The mistake that most analysts make in an attempt to support a current view is to look at a specific data point. However, when analyzing data, it is not necessarily the current data point that is important, but the trend of the data that tells the story.

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

The Risk of the Fed’s Continuous Rate Hikes

The Risk of the Fed’s Continuous Rate Hikes

jerome powell raises rates

This past week, the Fed raised interest rates by 0.25%. The effective Fed fund rate is now 1.63% – the highest since the big market crash of 2008.

However, it could get as high as 3.375% by 2020. The decade 2020 – 2029 could see a high-tech version of the early-1980’s when home loans fetched interest rates up to 18%.

It was only a couple years ago when raising rates seemed like a “boy who cried wolf” idea. Now we’re seeing one rate hike after the other, with two more expected for 2018.

Does the Fed have something up their sleeve, or are they hanging on to false hope?

The Fed is Either in Denial or Misleading Us About the Economy

While the Fed’s decision to raise rates was predictable, the rest of their announcement wasn’t.

In the recent FOMC report the Fed paints a rosy picture about the state of our economic situation. They stated the outlook has “strengthened in recent months.”

Then they claimed a better unemployment rate at 4.1%. And it is, if you’re only reporting the statistics that make things look good.

We know that rate is misleading for one simple fact…

Anyone who is not looking for work is not considered part of the calculation.

As more and more people leave the workforce altogether, and give up looking for work, they get culled from the calculation reported in the media which skews the statistic.

The truth is, the unemployment rate is much higher than the media reports. It’s actually closer to 8.2% as of February 2018.

So is the Fed in denial about the state of our economy? Is it telling white lies? Or a combination of both?

 

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

Wolf Richter: The Era Of The Fed “Put” Is Over

It now wants lower asset prices (just not too fast)

To all those investors expecting the Fed to step in to backstop the recent weakness seen in the stock market, Wolf Richter warns: The cavalry isn’t coming.

After years of force-feeding too much liquidity into world markets, the central banking cartel is now aware of the Franken-markets it has created. And now with a new head at the US Federal Reserve, and soon at the ECB, central bankers have shifted their priority from supporting asset prices to now actively engineering lower prices.

They just don’t want prices to drop too far too fast.

Of course, the big question is: how much control do they really have? The situation may very quickly get out of their hands.

But the big takeaway is to expect lower prices across the board for nearly every “risk on” asset: stocks (including and especially the FANGS), corporate bonds and real estate. The Fed is working to reduce investor exuberance — and as many bloodied contrarian investors will warn you — Don’t fight the Fed:

Now we’re in an environment where we have an Everything Bubble, and even though there’s still a few central bankers out there that say that they can’t see the bubble, others have now acknowledged it. Of course they don’t call it a “bubble”; they say that prices are “elevated”. So they’re seeing this. In my opinion, a lot of the responses from the Fed are not really about inflation; they’re really about trying to avoid the asset bubble from getting any bigger. They’re trying to avoid a deflation of that asset bubble that could be very messy for the financial system.

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

What Kind of Hyper-Enthusiastic Market is this that Blindly Keeps Pursuing Scams to Make a Fortune Overnight, even if They Already Crashed the First Time?

What Kind of Hyper-Enthusiastic Market is this that Blindly Keeps Pursuing Scams to Make a Fortune Overnight, even if They Already Crashed the First Time?

It’ll take many more sell-offs and the collapse of many more iffy stocks before this hyper-enthusiasm, after nine years of central bank nurturing, is finally wrung out of the market.

Shares of “blockchain” company LongFin (LFIN) plunged 17% today to $14.31, the sixth trading day in a row of plunges. Intraday on Friday, March 23, shares still traded at $73. The astonishing thing isn’t that they’ve plunged 81% over those six trading days, but that they had more than doubled over the prior two weeks, and that they’re still trading above penny-stock status to begin with.

LFIN started trading on December 13, following their IPO. On December 15, LongFin announced – with what I called it “a mix of gobbledygook, hype, and silliness” – that it had acquired a “Blockchain-empowered solutions provider,” namely a website that belonged to a Singapore corporation that is 95% owned by Longfin’s CEO and chairman.

Though neither the announcement nor the transaction passed the smell-test, shares skyrocketed 2,700% to an intraday high of $142.55 on December 18, giving it a market cap of $7 billion and making it the role model for a bevy of other “blockchain” companies. Then, as stock jockeys grappled with reality, shares plunged. As did the shares of other “blockchain” companies.

But then on March 12, it started all over again, when index provide FTSE Russell announced that LongFin would be added to some of its indices, including the widely-tracked Russell 2000, effective March 16:

Then all kinds of things happened.

On March 26, short-seller Citron Research tweeted: “If you are fortunate enough to get a borrow, indeed $LFIN is a pure stock scheme. @sec_enforcement should not be far behind. Filings and press releases are riddled with inaccuracies and fraud.”

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

 

Russia Stockpiles Gold, But Why?

Russia Stockpiles Gold, But Why?

The US’s overhang of debt and looming trade war is worrisome on many levels as the value of the dollar keeps decreasing and the national debt spiraling. So, what should we make of the fact that the Central Bank of Russia has been steadily amassing vast gold reserves since 2015? By the end of 2017, its total gold reserves rose to 1,828.56 tons, usurping China’s place as the country with the fifth largest gold reserves.

Russia has been aggressively increasing its gold reserves for a reason. It has seen the US dollar dominate as a global currency and is working with China to end the US/Western currency supremacy. Their strategy appears to be working. Russia and China are in the midst of rumors of introducing gold-backed futures to circumvent the U.S dollar. 

The US dollar has had no gold-backing since 1933, nor has the US increased its gold reserves for a decade. See chart below.

With speculation of Russia and China working on a gold-backed currency, a shift in monetary power from the West to the East seems to be their ambitions. The situation between East and West is exacerbated by recent tensions between Russia and the UK, since the alleged Kremlin poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. British Prime Minister Theresa May has ousted 23 Russian diplomats from Great Britain. Geopolitical tension is once again, high.

It seems Russian may have tossed aside Das Kapital as its economic guidebook. Not only is creating a gold-backed currency appearing more likely month over month, but Russia has also brought inflation way downover the past decade. More importantly, Russia continues to lower their national debt, while the US has been increasing its debt to a record $21 trillion.

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

 

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central bank credit that supports markets — is not just creation of the Fed, but by central banks and institutions around the world colluding together. Global markets are too deeply connected these days to consider the Fed in isolation.

Since last month’s correction, the world has been watching the Fed because its policies have global implications. And worldwide sell-offs sent a clear sign to Fed Chair Powell to relax with the rate hikes.

When fears arise that central bank QE will recede on one side of the world, we see more volatility and rumors of hawkishness. To counter those fears, there will be a move toward dovish policy on the other side of the world.

Central banks operate in collusion. When the Fed signals it is raising rates, or markets over-react negatively to the threat, another central bank steps in. By colluding, other central banks offer even more dark money-QE to keep the party going.

The net result is a propensity toward the status quo in global monetary policy: a bullish, asset bubble-inflating bias in the stock markets and caution in the bond markets.

Here’s what’s going on with some of the most powerful central bankers right now, starting with Japan…

While U.S. markets were correcting earlier this month, Japan’s financial benchmark, the Nikkei 225 index fell more than 1,200 points. At the same time, the rumors of Japan’s central bank curbing its dark money-QE programs are just that.

While investors have speculated that the BoJ could be moving towards an exit from dark money policy (despite the BOJ denying this), we know that central banks are too scared of the outcomes.

In an economic pinch, the Bank of Japan (BoJ), will keep dark money flowing.

Confirming my premise, when Japanese Government Bond prices were dipping too fast, the BoJ announced “unlimited” buying of long-term Japanese government bonds. This is simply the continuation of the policy the BoJ already has in place.

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

 

 

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