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When This Debt Bubble Bursts, Central Banks Will Turn to Money Printing… Again

When This Debt Bubble Bursts, Central Banks Will Turn to Money Printing… Again

Let’s face the facts.

The only reason the financial system has held together so well since 2008 is because Central Banks have created a bubble in bonds via massive QE programs and seven years of ZIRP/NIRP.

As a result of this, the entire world has gone on a debt binge issuing debt by the trillions of dollars. Today, if you looked at the world economy, you’d find it sporting a Debt to GDP ratio of over 327%.

Well guess what? The REAL situation is even worse than this. The Bank of International Settlements (the Central Banks’ Central Bank) just published a report  revealing that globally the financial system has $13 trillion MORE debt hidden via junk derivatives contracts.

Global debt may be under-reported by around $13 trillion because traditional accounting practices exclude foreign exchange derivatives used to hedge international trade and foreign currency bonds, the BIS said on Sunday.

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

As has been the case for every single crisis since the mid’90s, the problem is derivatives.

Consider that as early as 1998, soon to be chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Brooksley Born, approached Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers (the three heads of economic policy) about derivatives.

Born said she thought derivatives should be reined in and regulated because they were getting too out of control. The response from Greenspan and company was that if she pushed for regulation that the market would “implode.”

Fast-forward to 2007, and once again unregulated derivatives trigger a massive crisis, this time regarding the Housing Bubble

And today, we find out that once again, derivatives are at the root of the current bubble (debt). And once again, the Central Banks will be cranking up the printing presses to paper over this mess when the stuff hits the fan.

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

BIS Finds Global Debt May Be Underreported By $14 Trillion

BIS Finds Global Debt May Be Underreported By $14 Trillion

In its latest annual summary published at the end of June, the IIF found that total nominal global debt had risen to a new all time high of $217 trillion, or 327% of global GDP…

… largely as a result of an unprecedented increase in emerging market leverage.

 

While the continued growth in debt in zero interest rate world is hardly surprising, what was notable is that debt within the developed world appeared to have peaked, if not declined modestly in the latest 5 year period. However, it now appears that contrary to previous speculation of potential deleveraging among EM nations, not only was this conclusion incorrect, but that developed nations had been stealthily piling on just as much debt, only largely hidden from the public eye, in the form of swaps and forwards.

* * *

The BIS then provides substantial background data on who, where and how uses FX swaps (as both a lender and borrower), as well as where this “missing debt” can be found when looking away from the balance sheet. Here are the details:

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

Algeria Officially Launches Helicopter Money Amid Sliding Oil Revenue, Budget Crisis

Algeria Officially Launches Helicopter Money Amid Sliding Oil Revenue, Budget Crisis

One year ago, the imminent arrival of helicopter money among endless discussions of pervasive lowflation was all the rage within high-finance policy circles. Then, everything changed as if on a dime, and in recent months the dominant topic has been global coordinated tightening – and in some cases even revisions to central bank mandates and the lowering of inflation targets – perhaps as a result of central banks’ realization that monetizing debt by central banks leads to bad outcomes, not to mention global asset bubbles.

But not everywhere.

On Sunday, Algeria’s prime minister unveiled a plan to plug the country’s budget deficit as the the OPEC member state looks to offset lower oil revenue by directly borrowing from the central bank, while avoiding international debt markets. In other words, direct monetization of debt, which bypasses commercial banks as a monetary intermediate, and is better known as “helicopter money.”

According to Bloomberg, the five-year plan presented by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia aims to balance the budget by 2022, and reverse a deficit that ballooned with the plunge in global crude prices, which also cut foreign reserves by nearly half.

If we turn to external debt, as the IMF suggests, we will need to borrow $20 billion a year to repay the deficit and within four years we will be unable to repay the debt,” Ouyahia said. “This is what made the government look at non-traditional financing.”

With domestic debt currently around 20 percent of gross domestic product, Algeria has room to take on additional borrowing, the IMF has said. Earlier this month, the cabinet authorized the central bank to lend money to the Treasury to narrow the deficit. Businesses and importers would stand to benefit from a cash injection from the regulator, but analysts say the plan has risks.

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

The Confusion in Gold

QUESTION #1: [_____] says that the dollar will collapse because with the debt ceiling gone – no more buyers of Treasuries in the markets and only the Fed Reserve buying – inflation goes to the wazoo. All over USA. care to comment?

ANSWER: Total nonsense. The USA debt of $20 trillion is a tiny fraction of global debt at $160 trillion. This entire theory does not hold up. Just where is all the money going to run? Gold? Institutions do not buy gold and cannot function with gold, which is not legal tender for even paying your taxes. The only thing that matters is the general public confidence. When the average person on the street no longer trusts government, that is the tipping point.

There is a whole series of people given a choice between a bar of chocolate and a bar of silver. They take the chocolate. Kids line up in Starbucks and pay with their phone – not even cash. Not until you shake the confidence of these people will you see the explosion in markets. That is what took place in the late 1970s. I was there. OPEC created the image of wholesale inflation. People were hoarding toilet paper.

QUESTION #2: What will Fed Balance Sheet Shrinkage do to Gold?

ANSWER: The opposite of what people think. Shrinking the Balance Sheet will be anti-inflationary to the standard reasoning and thus gold should collapse with deflation. However, the Fed has turned away from QE because pension funds are at serious risk. They have run off to emerging markets and bought very long-term paper desperately trying to get their yields up. As the stock market rises because there is no alternative, the Fed politically will be forced to raise rates. They will end up creating inflation with rising rates that will blow interest expenditure through the roof.

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

The Cardinal Sin Of Investing: Permanent Impairment Of Capital

Victor Moussa/Shutterstock

The Cardinal Sin Of Investing: Permanent Impairment Of Capital

How to avoid making it
Last week we presented a parade of indicators published by Grant Williams and Lance Roberts that warned of an approaching market correction as well as a coming economic recession.

The key message was: When smart analysts independently find the same patterns in the data, it’s time to take notice.

Well, many of you did, by participating in this week’s Dangerous Markets webinar, which featured Grant and Lance.

In it, both went much deeper into the structural fragility of today’s financial markets and the many reasons why economic growth will remain constrained for years to come.

The excessive build-up of debt in the system — and the absolute dependence on its continued expansion to keep the economy from imploding — is, of course, seen as the prime risk to future growth.

As Lance demonstrates here with several of his excellent charts, so much leverage has been taken on that its servicing is increasingly stealing capital that would otherwise go to savings, consumption and productive investment. Going forward, the demands of the debt service will simply result in less and less capital available left over to grow the economy:

As financial assets are (supposed to be) valued on future growth prospects, lower forecasted growth demands lower valuations. Grant calculates that, should the US see another decade of 2% average annual GDP growth (and it has averaged less than that over the past decade), stock prices should be roughly half of what they are today to be considered fairly valued:

And Lance builds further on this, explaining how this moribund growth, coupled with America’s aging demographic trend, will simply savage the nation’s (already troublesomely underfunded) pension and entitlement systems:

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

The Golden Solution to America’s Debt Crisis

The Golden Solution to America’s Debt Crisis

Right now, the United States is officially $20 trillion in debt. Over half of that $20 trillion was added over the past decade.

And it looks like annual deficits will be at the trillion dollar level sooner than later when projected spending is factored in.

Basically, the United States is going broke.

I don’t say that to be hyperbolic. I’m not looking to scare people or attract attention to myself. It’s just an honest assessment, based on the numbers.

Now, a $20 trillion debt would be fine if we had a $50 trillion economy.

The debt-to-GDP ratio in that example would be 40%. But we don’t have a $50 trillion economy. We have about a $19 trillion economy, which means our debt is bigger than our economy.

When is the debt-to-GDP ratio too high? When does a country reach the point that it either turns things around or ends up like Greece?

Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt.

They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, they found, a turning point arrives…

At that point, a dollar of debt yields less than a dollar of output. Debt becomes an actual drag on growth.

What is the current U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio?

105%.

We are deep into the red zone, that is. And we’re only going deeper.

The U.S. has a 105% debt to GDP ratio, trillion dollar deficits on the way, more spending on the way.

We’re getting more and more like Greece. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. That’s not an opinion; it’s based on the numbers.

How do we get out of it?

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

Pennsylvania Will Run Out Of Cash Tonight, Leaving $860MM Of Bills Unpaid

Pennsylvania Will Run Out Of Cash Tonight, Leaving $860MM Of Bills Unpaid

As equity markets spike to all new highs with each passing day, the number of fiscal crises springing up within local and state governments around the country are reaching somewhat alarming levels, even if they’re being completely ignored by investors.  As Reuters notes this morning, the state of Pennsylvania may become the latest example government failure when it runs out of cash later tonight leaving some $860 million worth of bills unpaid.

Pennsylvania could run out of cash on Friday, leaving $860 million of bill payments up in the air as lawmakers continue to argue over a revenue package that is more than two months overdue.

The state legislature passed a $32.5 billion spending plan on June 30, the end of the fiscal year and the deadline for the current year’s budget.

But it failed to agree on a revenue package to pay for those expenses, and the state has been borrowing money from its own short-term investment pool.

Treasurer Joe Torsella has said he will not issue more such loans and that the state’s general fund will likely run down to zero on Friday.

While Pennsylvania will be able to make some payments – including nearly $102 million of debt service costs due on Friday – it will not be able to pay all the bills that are due, said Treasury spokesman Mike Connolly.

An estimated $860 million of payments for various items, possibly including schools and Medicaid, could be delayed until the legislature fully funds the budget.

PA

Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania’s funding crisis has only been exacerbated by a political dispute over whether the state’s budget gap should be filled with extra taxes and/or expense cuts.

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

To Hell In A Bucket

To Hell In A Bucket

“No one really cares about the U.S. federal debt,” remarked a colleague and Economic Prism reader earlier in the week.  “You keep writing about it as if anyone gives a lick.”

We could tell he was just warming up.  So, we settled back into our chair and made ourselves comfortable.

“The voters certainly don’t care about the federal debt,” he continued.  “They keep electing the same spendthrifts to office.

“And the politicians know the voters don’t care.  They also know that making more and more promises is the formula for getting reelected.

“Deep down, the aging masses know they need massive amounts of government debt to pay their social security, medicare, and disability checks.  On top of that, many of the so-called gainfully employed are really on corporate welfare; they hang their hats on government contracts to fund their paychecks.

“You know as well I do how this crazy debt based fiat money system works.  The debt must perpetually increase or the whole financial system breaks down.  The best we can hope for is that the ongoing currency debasement merely leads to a subtle erosion of living standards.  That’s the best-case scenario.

“But, again, no one except maybe a handful of your readers’ gives a rip about the federal debt.  Plus, if you’re gonna keep writing about it you need to use better terminology.

“The federal debt has grown at such a rapid rate that standard dollar units no longer capture what’s going on.  The debt numbers are so large it is difficult to distinguish between hundreds of billions and tens of trillions of dollars.

Going Broke at Mach 30

“For better perspective, you need to describe the debt growth in astronomical terms.  You see, astronomers use light years to adjust for large distances.  A light year, as its name suggests, is the distance light travels in one year.

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

Bank of America Stumbles On A $51 Trillion Problem

At the end of June, the Institute of International Finance delivered a troubling verdict: in a period of so-called “coordinated growth”, total global debt (including financial) hit a new all time high of $217 trillion in 2017, over 327% of global GDP, and up $50 trillion over the past decade. Commenting then, we said “so much for Ray Dalio’s beautiful deleveraging, oh and for those economists who are still confused why r-star remains near 0%, the chart  below has all the answers.”

Today, in a follow up analysis of this surge in global debt offset by stagnant economic growth, BofA’s Barnaby Martin writes that he finds “that as global debt has been mounting to more than $150 trillion (government, household and non-financials corporate debt), global GDP is just above $60 trillion.” His observation is shown in the self-explanatory chart below.

As a result, both the global economy and central banks are now held hostage by both the unprecedented stock of debt injected into capital markets over recent years to offset the financial crisis depression, and the record low interest rates associated with it.

As Martin writes, “the global fixed income market (as captured by the GFIM index) is now above the $51trillion mark“, which means that “more than $51 trillion at risk if rates vol spikes and yields move higher” and adds that “amid a record amount of assets acquired by the central banks we have seen the global fixed income market growing to the largest size it has ever been.” This is shown in the left panel on the chart below, while the right side chart shows the accompanying housing bubble: “amid record low funding costs the housing market is also experiencing rapid price gains in some regions as prices are now higher than pre-GFC levels. All main housing markets (US, Europe, Japan and UK) are above the 2007 highs, propped-up by record low yield levels.”

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

Former BIS Chief Economist Warns “More Dangers Now Than In 2007”

Former BIS Chief Economist Warns “More Dangers Now Than In 2007”

Having warned in the past that “the system is dangerously unacnhored,” former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, William White, told Bloomberg TV overnight that the current situation “looks very similar to 2008,” adding that OECD sees “more dangers” today than in 2007.

The chairman of Economic and Development Review Committee at OECD, warned that prices are very high – in particular for high yield assets, VIX is very low, house prices are rising strongly, equity markets rising, and all these are a source of concern.

Additionally, White noted:

  • India’s debt problems go back a long way, and there are significant governance issues, including at state-owned banks.
  • China’s debt situation isn’t a lot different to India’s, but the acceleration of loans and credit growth in China is very fast
  • It’s not just the debt level in China that is worrisome, but the speed that it’s accumulating; maybe some of these loans won’t be repaid or serviced.
  • We don’t have a liquidity problem that central banks can solve – if we have too much debt, we have a debt resolution or insolvency problem and only governments can address problems like that.
  • World needs more fiscal expansion, structural reforms, and also have to look closely at debt write-off some of it and maybe recapitalize financial institutions.
  • We have got the mix of income that goes to capital versus labor wrong in many countries, and we need to look at that.
  • Central bank tightening is inevitable, but have to be careful.

“it is every man for himself. And we do not know what the long-term consequences of this will be,”

and it appears to be getting worse.

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

Late yesterday afternoon the federal government of the United States announced that the national debt had finally breached the inevitable $20 trillion mark.

This was a long time coming. It should have happened back in March, except that a new debt ceiling was put in place, freezing the national debt.

For the last six months it was essentially illegal for the government to increase the debt.

This is pretty brutal for Uncle Sam. The US government hasn’t run a budget surplus in two decades; they depend on debt in order to keep everything running.

And without the ability to ‘officially’ borrow money, they’ve basically spent the last six months ‘unofficially’ borrowing money by plundering federal pension funds and resorting to what the Treasury Department itself calls “extraordinary measures” to keep the government running.

Late last week the debt ceiling crisis came to a temporary armistice as the government agreed once again to temporarily suspend the debt limit.

Overnight, the national debt soared hundreds of billions of dollars as months of ‘unofficial’ borrowing made its way on to the official books.

The national debt is now $20.1 trillion. That’s larger than the size of the entire US economy.

You’d think this would be front page news with warnings being shouted from the rooftops of America.

Yet curiously the story has scarcely been covered.

Today’s front page of the New York Times tells us about Hurricane Irma, North Korea, and alcoholism in Iran.

Even the Wall Street Journal’s front page has zero mention of this story.

In fairness, the number itself is irrelevant. $20 trillion is merely a big, round, psychologically significant number… but in reality no more important than $19.999 trillion.

The real story isn’t the number or the size of the debt itself. It’s the trend. And it’s not good.

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

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

The real story behind America’s new $20 trillion debt

Late yesterday afternoon the federal government of the United States announced that the national debt had finally breached the inevitable $20 trillion mark.

This was a long time coming. It should have happened back in March, except that a new debt ceiling was put in place, freezing the national debt.

For the last six months it was essentially illegal for the government to increase the debt.

This is pretty brutal for Uncle Sam. The US government hasn’t run a budget surplus in two decades; they depend on debt in order to keep everything running.

And without the ability to ‘officially’ borrow money, they’ve basically spent the last six months ‘unofficially’ borrowing money by plundering federal pension funds and resorting to what the Treasury Department itself calls “extraordinary measures” to keep the government running.

Late last week the debt ceiling crisis came to a temporary armistice as the government agreed once again to temporarily suspend the debt limit.

Overnight, the national debt soared hundreds of billions of dollars as months of ‘unofficial’ borrowing made its way on to the official books.

The national debt is now $20.1 trillion. That’s larger than the size of the entire US economy.

You’d think this would be front page news with warnings being shouted from the rooftops of America.

Yet curiously the story has scarcely been covered.

Today’s front page of the New York Times tells us about Hurricane Irma, North Korea, and alcoholism in Iran.

Even the Wall Street Journal’s front page has zero mention of this story.

In fairness, the number itself is irrelevant. $20 trillion is merely a big, round, psychologically significant number… but in reality no more important than $19.999 trillion.

The real story isn’t the number or the size of the debt itself. It’s the trend. And it’s not good.

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

In the Dark

The stock market is zooming this morning on the news that only 5.7 million people in Florida will have to do without air conditioning, hot showers, and Keurig mochachinos at dawn’s early light Monday, Sept 11, 2017. I’m mindful that the news cycle right after a hurricane goes kind of blank for a day or more as dazed and confused citizens venture out to assess the damage. For now, there is very little hard information on the Web waves. Does Key West still exist? Hard to tell. We’ll know more this evening.

The one-two punch of Harvey and Irma did afford the folks-in-charge of the nation’s affairs a sly opportunity to get rid of that annoying debt ceiling problem. This is the law that established a limit on how much debt the Federal Reserve could “buy” from the national government. Some of you may be thinking: buy debt? Why would anybody want to buy somebody’s debt? Well, you see, this is securitized debt, i.e. bonds issued by the US Treasury, which pay interest, and so there is the incentive to buy it. Anyway, there used to — back in the days when the real interest rate stayed positive after deducting the percent of running inflation. This is where the situation gets interesting.

The debt ceiling law supposedly set limits on how much bonded debt the government could issue (how much it could borrow) so it wouldn’t go hog wild spending money it didn’t have. Which is exactly what happened despite the debt limit because the “ceiling” got raised about a hundred times though the 20th century into the 21st so that the accumulated debt stands around $20 trillion.

Rational people recognize this $20 trillion for the supernatural scale of obligation it represents, and understand that it will never be paid back, so, what the hell?

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

Debt Nightmare: Does Anyone Actually Care That Our Exploding National Debt Is Destroying Our Future?

Debt Nightmare: Does Anyone Actually Care That Our Exploding National Debt Is Destroying Our Future?

When will America finally wake up?  The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we now have a colossal 20 trillion dollar chain around our collective ankles.  We have willingly enslaved ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, and yet our addiction is so insatiable that we continue to add more than 100 million dollars to our debt load every single hour of every single day.  The national debt is sitting at a grand total of $20,162,176,797,904.13 at this moment, but now that the debt ceiling has been lifted that number is expected to shoot up very rapidly toward 21 trillion dollars by the end of the year.  The national debt had been held down by accounting tricks to keep it under the debt limit for many months, but every time this has happened before we have seen the national debt absolutely explode back to projected levels once the debt ceiling was raised.

But very few of our “leaders” in Washington seem to care that we are in the process of committing national suicide.  There is no possible way that we will be able to continue to be the most powerful economy on the planet if we continue down this road.  During Obama’s eight years in the White House, we added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt.  That certainly improved things in the short-term, because if we could go back and take 9 trillion dollars out of the economy over the past 8 years we would be in an absolutely nightmarish economic depression right now.

But even with all of this borrowing and spending, our economy has still only grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent a year over the last 10 years.

And by going into so much debt, we are literally destroying the future for our children and our grandchildren.

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

America Can’t Afford to Rebuild


Adolphe Yvon Genius of America c1870
A number of people have argued over the past few days that Hurricane Harvey will NOT boost the US housing market. As if any such argument would or should be required. Hurricane Irma will not provide any such boost either. News about the ‘resurrection’ of New Orleans post-Katrina has pretty much dried up, but we know scores of people there never returned, in most cases because they couldn’t afford to.

And Katrina took place 12 years ago, well before the financial crisis. How do you think this will play out today? Houston is a rich city, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of rich people only. Most homeowners in the city and its surroundings have no flood insurance; they can’t afford it. But they still lost everything. So how will they rebuild?

Sure, the US has a National Flood Insurance Program, but who’s covered by it? Besides, the Program was already $24 billion in debt by 2014 largely due to hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. With total costs of Harvey estimated at $200 billion or more, and Irma threating to cause far more damage than that, where’s the money going to come from?

It took an actual fight just to push the first few billion dollars in emergency aid for Houston through Congress, with four Texan senators voting against of all people. Who then will vote for half a trillion or so in aid? And even if they do, where would it come from?

Trump’s plans for an infrastructure fund were never going to be an easy sell in Washington, and every single penny he might have gotten for it would now have to go towards repairing existing roads and bridges, not updating them -necessary as that may be-, let alone new construction.

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

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