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Trump buys into the Krugman con

Trump buys into the Krugman con - Peter Diekmeyer (08/08/2018)

Leading economic indicators suggest that the Republicans are headed into the fall mid-term election season with the wind at their backs.

Real GDP growth hit 4.1% during the second quarter. The unemployment rate recently slipped to 3.9%, and the US Federal Reserve is finally starting to meet its inflation targets.

Things are so good that U.S. president Donald Trump calls it “the greatest economy in the history of America.”

Yet while all appears well on the surface, there are growing concerns among gold investors about the sustainability of the current pick-up.

Works well in practice… but does it work in theory?

Part of the problem relates to the old joke about French university professors. “It works well in practice,” they reportedly ask. “But does it work in theory?”

The same question underlies Trump’s economic practices. They are clearly generating short-term results. But they don’t appear to adhere to any underlying philosophy.

Republicans liken Trump’s tax cuts and his deregulation efforts with policies implemented by the Reagan Administration. However, the comparison is far from perfect.

For one, the Trump Administration’s growing tariffs on imported goods, which amount to hidden sales taxes, are gradually undoing the effects of his earlier tax cuts.

Worse, the Trump Administration’s practice of choosing which sectors will benefit from protective tariffs and which won’t amounts to a drastic increase in government intervention in the economy.

Making government great again

Taking a step back, Trump’s policies incorporate many of the “big government” themes advocated by mainstream economists from both major political parties during much of the past four decades.

Led by Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, New York Times columnist and professor at CUNY, the economics profession has consistently advocated growth in government spending, borrowing and credit creation in the hopes of spurring economic growth.

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

The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind

The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind

Mopping up liquidity.

The Fed’s QE Unwind – “balance sheet normalization,” as it calls this – is accelerating toward cruising speed. The first 12 months of the QE unwind, which started in October 2017, are the ramp-up period – just like there was the “Taper” during the final 12 months of QE. The plan calls for shedding up to $420 billion in securities in 2018 and up to $600 billion a year in each of the following years until the balance sheet is sufficiently “normalized” – or until something big breaks.

Treasuries

In July, the QE Unwind accelerated sharply. According to the plan, the Fed was supposed to shed up to $24 billion in Treasury Securities in July, up from $18 billion a month in the prior three months. And? The Fed released its weekly balance sheet Thursday afternoon. Over the four weeks ending August 1, the balance of Treasury securities fell by $23.5 billion to $2,337 billion, the lowest since April 16, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $129 billion in Treasuries.

The step-pattern in the chart above is a result of how the Fed sheds Treasury securities. It doesn’t sell them outright but allows them to “roll off” when they mature. Treasuries only mature mid-month or at the end of the month. Hence the stair-steps.

In mid-July, no Treasuries matured. But on July 31, $28.4 billion matured. The Fed replaced about $4 billion of them with new Treasury securities directly via its arrangement with the Treasury Department that cuts out Walls Street (its “primary dealers”) with which the Fed normally does business. Those $4 billion in securities, to use the jargon, were “rolled over.” But it did not replace about $24 billion of maturing Treasuries. They “rolled off.”

Mortgage-Backed Securities

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

When LBJ Assaulted a Fed Chairman

When LBJ Assaulted a Fed Chairman

johnson.PNG

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

As an example, Paul mentions the time President Lyndon Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump’s Tweets End the Myth of Fed Independence

Trump’s Tweets End the Myth of Fed Independence

President Trump’s recent Tweets expressing displeasure with the Federal Reserve’s (minor) interest rate increases led to accusations that President Trump is undermining the Federal Reserve’s independence. But, the critics ignore the fact that Federal Reserve “independence” is one of the great myths of American politics.

When it comes to intimidating the Federal Reserve, President Trump pales in comparison to President Lyndon Johnson. After the Federal Reserve increased interest rates in 1965, President Johnson summoned then-Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin to Johnson’s Texas ranch where Johnson shoved him against the wall. Physically assaulting the Fed chairman is probably a greater threat to Federal Reserve independence than questioning the Fed’s policies on Twitter.

While Johnson is an extreme example, history is full of cases where presidents pressured the Federal Reserve to adopt policies compatible with the presidents’ agendas — and helpful to their reelection campaigns. Presidents have been pressuring the Fed since its creation. President Warren Harding called on the Fed to lower rates. Richard Nixon was caught on tape joking with then-Fed chair Arthur Burns about Fed independence. And Lloyd Bentsen, President Bill Clinton’s first Treasury secretary, bragged about a “gentleman’s agreement” with then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

President Trump’s call for low interest rates contradicts Trump’s earlier correct criticism of the Fed’s low interest rate policy as harming middle-class Americans. Low rates can harm the middle class, but they also benefit spend-and-borrow politicians and their favorite special interests by lowering the federal government’s borrowing costs. Significant rate increases could make it impossible for the government to service its existing debt, thus making it difficult for President Trump and Congress to continue increasing welfare and warfare spending.

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

Kass: Tops Are Processes & We May Be In That Process

Kass: Tops Are Processes & We May Be In That Process

The Yield Curve Will Likely Invert by November, 2018

  • Economic growth is less synchronized than the consensus believes
  • On a trending and rate of change basis the economic data is slowing down
  • The Fed’s continued pivot to tighter money will likely lead to curve inversion – which will likely stoke fears of recession

“China, Europe and the Emerging Market Economic Data All Signal Slowdown: It’s in the early innings of such a slowdown based on any realtime analysis of the economic data. The rate of change slowdown (on a trending basis) is as clear as day. A rising US Dollar and weakening emerging market economic growth sows the seeds of a possible US dollar funding crisis.” – Kass Diary, Investors are Not Being Compensated For Risk

At economic peaks everything on the surface looks Rosy (except to some observors like myself and Rosie (David Rosenberg)!) – until it doesn’t.

Towards that end, here is what I wrote yesterday about US and overseas economic growth in my two part opener:

“Global Growth Is Less Synchronized as the trajectory of worldwide growth is becoming more ambiguous. I have featured the erosion in soft and hard high frequency data in the US, Europe, China and elsewhere extensively in my Diary – so I wont clutter this missive with too many charts. But needless to say (and seen by these charts and here), with economic surprises moderating from a year ago and in the case of Europe falling to two year lows – we are likely at ‘Peak Global Growth’ now. (The data is even worse in South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand).

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

Trump vs. The Fed: America Sacrificed At The NWO Altar

Trump vs. The Fed: America Sacrificed At The NWO Altar

There is a disconnect within the liberty movement over the notion of where to find the root source of globalism. A segment of people within the movement seem to think that the fount of globalism resides within America itself; that American imperialism is the foundation of the globalist scheme and the dollar is the single most important mechanism supporting their power. This is an naive oversimplification of the problem.

Numerous misconceptions stem from the idea that globalists actually have loyalty to the U.S. system. For example, over the past several years you might have often heard the argument that the Federal Reserve would “never end QE,” that they would “never let stock markets fall,” that they would “never raise interest rates,” that they would “inevitably go to negative interest rates,” that they would “never cut the balance sheet,” etc. etc. All of these assumptions were based on the idea that central bankers and globalists need the U.S. economy and the dollar system in order to maintain financial control of the world in general.

All of these assumptions also turned out to be completely false as the past couple years of fundamentals show the direct effects of the Fed pulling the plug on its artificial support of the U.S. economy.  Particularly, we have seen a spike in corporate and consumer debt not seen since before the crash of 2008.  Business interests are scrambling to take up the slack left by waning Fed stimulus, and they are digging themselves into a grave-like hole in the process.

Not only this, but we have numerous examples of Fed officials admitting that a crash in markets and the economy would occur if the Fed cut off support.

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

The Fed Is on a Collision Course

The Fed Is on a Collision Course

Is the Trump economic boom a mirage? The data say yes, but the Fed models say no. The Fed has a long track record of sticking to its model-based approach and missing major turns in the U.S. economy.

Current Fed policy will push the U.S. economy to the brink of recession later this year. When that happens, the Fed will have to reverse course and ease monetary policy. This will send the dollar crashing while gold and the euro soar.

At first, the claim that the Trump economic boom is nothing special seems contrary to the happy-talk headlines coming from CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg and other mainstream business media outlets.

Those economic cheerleaders recite the stimulative effects of the Trump tax cuts and point to the Atlanta Fed forecast that second-quarter GDP will be 3.9% (as of the July 11 update).

The Atlanta Fed estimate of 3.9% is in line with forecasts from National Economic Council head Larry Kudlow, Art Laffer (proponent of the eponymous Laffer curve), Steve Moore and others that say Trump’s programs will produce persistent trend growth of 3–4% or higher.

Such growth would break decisively with the weak growth of the Obama years. It would also make the U.S. debt burden, currently at 105% of GDP, more sustainable if GDP were to grow faster than the national debt.

There’s one problem with the happy talk about 3–4% growth. We’ve seen this movie before.

In 2009, almost every economic forecaster and commentator was talking about “green shoots.” In 2010, then-Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner forecast the “recovery summer.” In 2017, the global monetary elites were praising the arrival (at last) of “synchronized global growth.”

None of this wishful thinking panned out. The green shoots turned brown, the recovery summer never came and the synchronized global growth was over almost as soon as it began.

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

Fed Sweeps Yield Curve Under the Rug – What Are They Trying to Hide?

Federal reserve and the yield curve

Fed Sweeps Yield Curve Under the Rug – What Are They Trying to Hide?

A few weeks ago we reported the Fed was getting hawkish despite what they were calling “low inflation.”

In that article, we showed rates possibly being raised more than 4 times in 2019. But more importantly, we warned that anyone investing in the market should start preparing to expect the unexpected.

And right now, it looks like the Fed’s bizarre moves are continuing.

This time it involves the yield curve. The yield curve represents the difference in interest rate paid on short-term Treasury notes and long-term Treasury notes in the bond market.

A common signal of economic health from the bond market involves looking at the difference between the 2-year and 10-year rates (also called the “spread”).

Over the last three decades, when 2-year yields are lower than the 10-year bond yields, it signaled a healthy economic outlook.

But when that “spread” shrinks, the yield curve is said to be flattening. If it “reverses” entirely, the yield curve is inverted (or negative).

Since 1980, an inverted yield curve preceded an economic recession with reliable accuracy (see graph below, red arrows point to 3 recent events):

us treasury yield

So the yield curve is a fairly reliable signal for imminent recession. And notice the downward trend of the yield curve on the right side of the graph. That indicates a flattening yield curve heading towards inversion.

And when we zoom in, the picture looks even more dire.

As of July 11th, 2018 the Treasury reported the difference between the 2-year and 10-year bonds to be 27 basis points (or .27% – see chart below).

This is the lowest spread since the 2008 Great Recession, and already much lower than the historical graph above.

us treasy yield

There is no doubt the yield curve is flattening, and at an alarming pace.

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

Weekly Commentary: Intimidate Nobody

Weekly Commentary: Intimidate Nobody

Strangely perhaps, but late in the week my thoughts returned to James Carville’s 1992 comment: “I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

Things have changed so profoundly since then, though I get no sense that many appreciate the momentous ramifications. It seems like ancient history – the bond market king of imposing discipline. Bonds maintained an intimidating watchful eye. No crazy stuff – from politicians, central bankers or corporate managements. The bond market of old would have little tolerance for $1.0 TN deficits, QE or a prolonged boom in BBB corporate debt issuance. Contemporary markets seem to have only a burgeoning desire to tolerate.

July 19 – Reuters (Trevor Hunnicutt and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed): “Donald Trump’s comments that a strong dollar ‘puts us at a disadvantage’ caused an instant fall in the greenback on Thursday and marked another example of the U.S. president commenting directly – and sometimes contradictorily – on the country’s currency. Talking directly about the dollar is a break with typical practice by U.S. presidents, who are wary of being seen as interfering directly with financial markets… ‘There are certain comments most presidents wouldn’t make,’ said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading. ‘They’d defer monetary policy to the Fed and the dollar to the Treasury secretary. But Donald Trump is not most presidents.'”

July 19 – CNBC (Jeff Cox): “President Donald Trump’s move to criticize the Federal Reserve is almost without precedent in a nation that places a high priority on the independence of monetary policy. Almost all of Trump’s predecessors steered clear of Fed critiques in the interest of making sure that interest rates were set to whatever was best for the economy and not to boost anyone’s political fortunes.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Threatens to Place Tariffs on All $500B China Imports, Blasts Fed Again

Trump blasted the Fed, the EU, China today with threats to put tariffs on everything. China and the EU are manipulators.


….The United States should not be penalized because we are doing so well. Tightening now hurts all that we have done. The U.S. should be allowed to recapture what was lost due to illegal currency manipulation and BAD Trade Deals. Debt coming due & we are raising rates – Really?


President Donald Trump escalated his criticism of the Federal Reserve Friday, saying in a tweet that its efforts to raise short-term interest rates hurt the U.S. economic expansion, and he accused China and the European Union of manipulating their currencies to hurt the U.S. on trade.

The tweets came shortly after CNBC broadcast an interview with Mr. Trump in which the president said he was prepared to raise U.S. tariffs on $500 billion worth of imports from China as part of his push to narrow U.S. trade deficits with China. In the same interview he said he wasn’t happy about Fed rate increases.

The central bank’s campaign to slowly raise interest rates“hurts all that we have done,” he wrote Friday. “The U.S. should be allowed to recapture what was lost due to illegal currency manipulation and BAD Trade Deals. Debt coming due & we are raising rates – Really?”

The president has threatened tariffs on $500 billion in Chinese imports before. On July 6 on Air Force One, the president told reporters that tariffs could eventually hit all U.S. imports from China, affecting nearly $505 billion in imports.

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

Depression then Hyperinflation Coming – Charles Nenner

Depression then Hyperinflation Coming – Charles Nenner


Renowned geopolitical and financial cycle expert Charles Nenner says don’t believe the Federal Reserve when it says it expects “the strong performance of the economy will continue.” According to Nenner, it’s about to go the other way—down. Nenner explains, “Definitely, later this year, the interest rates are going lower, and it could be much lower. We did work on all kinds of economic indicators. Employment is not going to be as good anymore as they say. Inflation is not going to be as strong as they expect. The commodity index is breaking down. Copper cycles are down. Crude oil cycles are down. Soon, everybody is going to wake up again and say hey, what’s going on? It is very interesting how Wall Street is approaching all the indicators. . . . If you do your homework, everything actually looks like the economy is weakening.”

How bad is this financial cycle going to get? Nenner is not afraid to use the “D” word. Nenner contends, “Still, the Fed talks like this could continue forever, and it’s the longest expansion. So, why do you think this time is going to be different? If you start with this low of GDP and interest rates and then you get to recession or depression, then you definitely get into at least disinflation.”

So, does Nenner see an actual depression coming soon? Nenner says, “Yeah, I have been saying that for many years. . . . Yes, if you look at the . . . long term cycles. Yes, we are going to a hyperinflation, but first, we are going to have a deflation scare. . . . We have one more scare of deflation before we get into real big inflation problems. It is a matter of timing. So, it could be a couple of years away.”

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

“It Was Only A Matter of Time”: Trump Sets His Sights on the Fed’s Tightening and the Strong Dollar

“It Was Only A Matter of Time”: Trump Sets His Sights on the Fed’s Tightening and the Strong Dollar

Who says that the President doesn’t – and shouldn’t – pay attention to the U.S. Dollar’s value?

Well – President Trump sure does. . .

Just look at his tweets from this morning. . .

This came just a few hours after Trump criticized the Federal Reserve’s tightening path.

Trump went on to say during an interview with CNBC that he’s “not thrilled” with the Fed’s tightening – potentially slowing the economy.

“I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.” said Trump

His comments shocked many. There’s a tradition – or rather a taboo – that the White House stays away from monetary policy.

But we should know better – Trump will always do what Trump wants.

And it’s clear that what trump wants is a weaker dollar. . .

So far, the Fed’s hiked rates five times since Trump entered office. And from what I can see, the economic growth cycle has peaked and now is heading downwards.

I’ve written that over the last 15 months – the U.S. economy has grown a bit. But that was all from a weakening dollar.

From January 2017 to February 2018 – the USD fell more than 14%. This greatly boosted exports and helped growth – not to mention the massive amount of debt the Treasury piled on and is trickled down into the economy.

But since March, there’s been a massive short-covering rally for the dollar. And that fueled a reflexive short-term feedback loop into an even stronger dollar, all-while decimating Emerging Markets and commodities – basically anything that’s anti-dollar.

Now the rapidly strengthening dollar is becoming a hinderance – especially when Trump has engaged the U.S. into a trade war with the second largest economy in the world – China.

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

Is Trump Starting To Lean On The Fed Or Setting It Up?

Is Trump Starting To Lean On The Fed Or Setting It Up?

President Trump said in an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernan this morning he “does not agree”, is not “thrilled” or “happy” with the FOMC’s interest rate hikes.  The full interview and transcripts will be available tomorrow.

Jul19_Trump Interview

Click here for excerpt of interview

You Heard It Here First

Presidents never, or rarely comment on monetary policy or currency market moves. for that matter,  x/ the hackneyed meme “a strong dollar is the best interest of the United States.”

President Trump hit them all in this interview today, from the Fed to the Euro and Chinese RMB (“dropping like a rock”).  It doesn’t surprise us.

Recall our March 21st post, The Biggest Risk At The Fed.

But this doesn’t concern us as much as the Fed’s independence.

“Just let it rip”

That is we are worried more about the freedom from White House pressure and interference in conducting monetary policy than getting a few bps wrong on the Fed Funds rate.   This is especially true and relevant given the strongman tendencies and  lack of respect for institutional norms of the current president.

Here is Larry Kudlow, the president’s new chief economic adviser:

“Just let it rip, for heaven’s sake,” Kudlow said of economic growth in the U.S., during a more than hour-long interview Wednesday on CNBC. “The market’s going to take care of itself. The whole story’s going to take care of itself. The Fed’s going to do what it has to do, but I hope they don’t overdo it.”  – CNN
– Global Macro Monitor,  March 21, 2018

We were assured by Fed insiders shortly after that post in March Chairman Jerome Powell was tough and we should not underestimate his independence.   He has thus far proven to be an extraordinarily competent Fed leader.

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

Central Banks Are Using The Trade War To Hide Their Direct Influence On Stocks

Central Banks Are Using The Trade War To Hide Their Direct Influence On Stocks

There has been a lot of confusion lately in the mainstream economic media as well as in independent media circles as to the behavior of stock markets in the wake of the recently initiated global trade war. In particular, stocks suffered one of the longest runs of negative days in their history in June, only to then spike just after Donald Trump “officially” began trade war tariffs in July. The expectation by many was that the headlines would cause an immediate and continued downturn in equities markets, but this was not the case. Many analysts have been left bewildered.

This is an issue I have touched on multiple times since the beginning of this year, and it is something I predicted long before Trump’s election in 2016. But it is obvious that the schizophrenic nature of stocks needs to be addressed in a very concise, no-holds-barred fashion, because there are still far too many people who are looking at all the wrong causes and correlations.

First, let’s be clear: stock markets are NOT tracking the news headlines. The past month should have proved this if there was any previous doubt.

It is hard for investors and some analysts to grasp this fact, primarily because for at least the past few years it appeared as though stock markets were utterly dictated by headlines out of Bloomberg, Reuters and other mainstream media outlets. Once investors and analysts became used to this narrative it was difficult for them to adapt when the dynamic changed. They are still living in the past based on an assumption that was never quite correct to begin with.

In reality, headlines never actually dictated stock prices; it was always the Federal Reserve among other central banks.

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

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

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

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

GEithner

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

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

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

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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