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Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Perhaps having grown tired of fighting windmills, it was several weeks since Albert Edwards’ latest rant against central banks. However, we were confident that recent developments out of the Fed and BOE were sure to stir the bearish strategist out of hibernation, and he did not disappoint, lashing out this morning with his latest scathing critique of “monetary schizophrenia”, slamming all central banks but the Fed and Bank of England most of all, who are again “asleep at the wheel, building a most precarious pyramid of prosperity upon the shifting sands of rampant credit growth and illusory housing wealth.”

Follows pure anger from the SocGen strategist:

These of all the major central banks were the most culpable in their incompetence and most prepared with disingenuous excuses. And 10 years on, not much has changed. The Fed and BoE are once again presiding over a credit bubble, with the BoE in particular suffering a painful episode of cognitive dissonance in an effort to shift the blame elsewhere. The credit bubble is everyone’s fault but theirs.

First, some recent context with this handy central bank holdings chart courtesy of Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid which alone is sufficient to make one’s blood boil.

For those familiar with Edwards’ writings over the years, the gist of his note will come as no surprise: after all, how many different ways can you say that central banks have broken the market, have caused a credit bubble, and will be responsible for the crash when they finally run out of cans to kick.

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

Why Economic Data No Longer Matters

Why Economic Data No Longer Matters

Back in mid-2009, we said that with the Fed and central banks nationalizing capital markets, macro and even micro data and newsflow will matter increasingly less and less, and the only thing that does matter is the Fed’s weekly H.4.1 statement, showing the changes to the Fed’s balance sheet. It also means that so-called “data dependency” is a farce (it is, and has always been “Dow dependency”), and that the impact of incremental newsflow will shrink with every passing week until virtually nobody pays attention (we have largely reached this state now).

Since then it has been entertaining to watch how one after another stoic trader and commentator has thrown in the towel on conventional market orthodoxy to adopt precisely this kind of “tinfoil” thinking, the latest example being Bloomberg’s macro commentator Mark Cudmore, who in his overnight Macro View writes that “traders should should spend less time studying economic releases and listen to the clear guidance from officials instead.”

The relevance of data is declining. Policymakers around the world are trying to make crystal clear that they’ll ignore that which doesn’t fit their narrative. Many financial commentators have failed to make the transition and are incorrectly transfixed by each data release.

Or, in short, data no longer matters in a world of central planning.

Here is his latest Macro View in which Cudmore explains why “It’s Time for Traders To Listen Rather Than Watch

Data-dependency is becoming passé for global policymakers. Traders should should spend less time studying economic releases and listen to the clear guidance from officials instead.

For years, policymakers have been emphasizing data dependency. Investors took a while to fully register the message and, as a result, often got whipsawed by throwaway comments from officials.

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

This Fed is on a Mission

This Fed is on a Mission

QE Unwind starts Oct. 1. Rate hike in Dec. Low inflation, no problem.

The two-day meeting of the FOMC ended on Wednesday with a momentous announcement that has been telegraphed for months: the QE unwind begins October 1. It marks the end of an era.

The unwind will proceed at the pace and via the mechanisms announced at its June 14 meeting. The purpose is to shrink its balance sheet and undo what QE has done, thus reversing the purpose of QE.

Countless people, worried about their portfolios and real estate investments, have stated with relentless persistence that the Fed would never unwind QE – that it in fact cannot afford to unwind QE.

The vote was unanimous. Even no-rate-hike-ever and cannot-spot-housing-bubbles Neel Kashkari voted for it.

The Fed also telegraphed that it could raise its target range for the federal funds rate a third time this year, from the current range of 1.0% to 1.25%. There is only one policy meeting with a press conference left this year: December 13, when the two-day meeting ends, remains the top candidate for the next rate hike.

This has been the routine since the rate hike last December: The FOMC decides to change its monetary policy at every meeting with a press conference: December, March, June, today, and December.

Even hurricanes won’t push the Fed off track.

The Fed specifically mentioned Harvey, Irma, and Maria. No matter how destructive, they won’t impact the economy “materially” over the “medium term” and therefore won’t impact the Fed’s policies:

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have devastated many communities, inflicting severe hardship. Storm-related disruptions and rebuilding will affect economic activity in the near term, but past experience suggests that the storms are unlikely to materially alter the course of the national economy over the medium term.

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

Today the music stops

Today the music stops

Today’s the day.

After months of preparing financial markets for this news, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce that it will finally begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

I know, that probably sound reeeeally boring. A bunch of central bankers talking about their balance sheet.

But it’s phenomenally important. And I’ll explain why-

When the Global Financial Crisis started in 2008, the Federal Reserve (along with just about every central bank in the world) took the unprecedented step of conjuring trillions of dollars out of thin air.

In the Fed’s case, it was roughly $3.5 trillion, about 25% of the size of the entire US economy at the time.

That’s a lot of money.

And after nearly a decade of this free money policy, there is more money in the financial system than ever before.

Economists have a measure for money supply called “M2”. And M2 is at a record high — nearly $9 trillion higher than at the start of the 2008 crisis.

Now, one might expect that, over time, as the population and economy grow, the amount of money in the system would increase.

But even on a per-capita basis, and relative to the size of US GDP, there is more money in the system than there has ever been, at least in the history of modern central banking.

And that has consequences.

One of those consequences is that asset prices have exploded.

Stocks are at all-time highs. Bonds are at all-time highs. Many property markets are at all-time highs. Even the prices of alternative assets like private equity and artwork are at all-time highs.

But isn’t that a good thing?

Well, let’s look at stocks as an example.

As investors, we trade our hard-earned savings for shares of a [hopefully] successful, well-managed business.

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

Fed’s Asset Bubbles Now At The Mercy Of The Rest Of The World’s Central Bankers

Fed’s Asset Bubbles Now At The Mercy Of The Rest Of The World’s Central Bankers

“Like watching paint dry,” is how The Fed describes the beginning of the end of its experiment with massively inflating its balance sheet to save the world. As former fund manager Richard Breslow notes, however, Yellen’s decision today means the risk-suppression boot is on the other foot (or feet) of The SNB, The ECB, and The BoJ; as he writes, “have no fear, The SNB knows what it’s doing.”

As we reported previously, In the second quarter of the year, one in which unlike in Q1 fund flows showed a persistent and perplexing outflow from US stocks, a trading desk rumor emerged that even as institutional traders dumped stocks and retail investors piled into ETFs, a “mystery” central bank was quietly bidding up risk assets by aggressively buying stocks.

The answer was revealed this morning when the hedge fund known as the “Swiss National Bank” posted its latest 13-F holdings. What it showed is that, as rumored, the Swiss National Bank had gone on another aggressive buying spree in the second quarter, and following its record purchases in the first quarter, the central bank boosted its total equity holdings to an all time high $84.3 billion, up 5% or $4.1 billion from the $80.4 billion at the end of the first quarter.

Via Bloomberg,

So here we go with the latest installment of the Fed’s will they or won’t they show. It seems from reading all the insights that we’re meant to expect a dovishly spun hawkish move.

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

Federal Reserve Will Continue Cutting Economic Life Support

Federal Reserve Will Continue Cutting Economic Life Support

I remember back in mid-2013 when the Federal Reserve fielded the notion of a “taper” of quantitative easing measures. More specifically, I remember the response of mainstream economic analysts as well as the alternative economic community. I argued fervently in multiple articles that the Fed would indeed follow through with the taper, and that it made perfect sense for them to do so given that the mission of the central bank is not to protect the U.S. financial system, but to sabotage it carefully and deliberately. The general consensus was that a taper of QE was impossible and that the Fed would “never dare.” Not long after, the Fed launched its taper program.

Two years later, in 2015, I argued once again that the Fed would begin raising interest rates even though multiple mainstream and alternative sources believed that this was also impossible. Without low interest rates, stock buybacks would slowly but surely die out, and the last pillar holding together equities and the general economy (besides blind faith) would be removed. The idea that the Fed would knowingly take such an action seemed to be against their “best self interest;” and yet, not long after, they initiated the beginning of the end for artificially low interest rates.

The process that the Federal Reserve has undertaken has been a long and arduous one cloaked in disinformation. It is a process of dismantlement. Through unprecedented stimulus measures, the central bank has conjured perhaps the largest stock and bond bubbles in history, not to mention a bubble to end all bubbles in the U.S. dollar.

Stocks in particular are irrelevant in the grand scheme of our economy, but this does not stop the populace from using them as a reference point for the health of our system. This creates an environment rife with delusion, just as the open flood of cheap credit created considerable delusion before the crash of 2008.

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

Lies, Lies & OMG More Lies

LIES, LIES & OMG MORE LIES

“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Every month the government apparatchiks at the Bureau of Lies and Scams (BLS) dutifully announces inflation is still running below 2%. Janet Yellen then gives a speech where she notes her concern inflation is too low and she needs to keep interest rates near zero to save humanity from the scourge of too low inflation. I don’t know how I could survive without 2% inflation reducing my purchasing power.

This week they reported year over year inflation of 1.9%. Just right to keep Janet from raising rates and keeping the stock market on track for new record highs. According to our beloved bureaucrats, after they have sliced, diced, massaged and manipulated the data, you’ve experienced annual inflation of 2.1% since 2000. If you believe that, I’ve got a great real estate deal for you in North Korea on the border with South Korea.

“Lies sound like facts to those who’ve been conditioned to mis-recognize the truth.”DaShanne Stokes

CPI and Core CPI

Ignore that silly Shiller PE ratio far surpassing 1929 and 2007 levels. Ignore every historically accurate valuation method showing the stock market 70% to 129% overvalued. Wall Street shysters like Jamie Dimon, faux financial analysts, corporate media talking heads and even Donald Trump tell you this time is different. Tax cuts, amnesty for illegals, more wars, and eliminating the debt ceiling will surely spur massive economic growth. Trillion dollar deficits are always bullish. Making America Great with More Debt should drive the stock market to 30,000 in no time.

All is well. Real median household income just surpassed the level achieved in 1999. Think about that for a second. It took seventeen years for the average American family to get back to a household income of $59,000.

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

What Does the QE Experience Say About Rates in a Shrinking Fed Balance Sheet World?

What Does the QE Experience Say About Rates in a Shrinking Fed Balance Sheet World?

The Federal Reserve is likely to decide next week to begin letting assets roll of its balance sheet as bonds mature, instead of reinvesting the proceeds. This means that the balance sheet will begin to shrink in size and other market participants will be forced to absorb the supply of new issuance of treasury and mortgage backed securities. Conventional analysis of supply and demand dynamics might suggest the exiting of a large marginal buyer of these securities would cause yields to rise to some higher equilibrium level, but the QE experience suggests something else entirely. When the Fed was engaged in asset purchases and the rate of change in the Fed’s balance sheet was rising (late 2010, mid 2012 through early 2013) long-term treasury yields rose on the back of juiced growth and inflation expectations produced by the stimulus. When the rate of change in the Fed’s balance sheet would flat line or fall (most of 2010, most of 2013 through 2014) treasury yields fell on the back of subdued growth and inflation expectations. Importantly, it was both real rates (TIPS) and breakeven inflation that followed this pattern, which is indicative of the level of economic stimulus produced by QE. Chart 1 below shows 10-year nominal rates (red line, right axis) overlaid on the three month difference in the Fed’s balance sheet (blue line, left axis). Chart 2 below shows 10-year real rates (red line, right axis) overlaid on the three month difference in the Fed’s balance sheet (blue line, left axis). Chart 3 below shows 10-year implied breakeven inflation expectations (red line, right axis) overlaid on the three month difference in the Fed’s balance sheet (blue line, left axis).

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

 

 

Gold Jumps After Mnuchin Says “Less Concerned About Inflation Than Economic Growth”

Gold Jumps After Mnuchin Says “Less Concerned About Inflation Than Economic Growth”

In a potentially revealing glimpse of what is to come from the next Fed head, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking during a Politico forum, told the audience:

“Although we respect the Fed’s independence, we are concerned about economic growth. We’re doing everything we can — whether it’s tax reform, whether it’s regulatory relief, whether it’s trade — to create economic growth. And we’re less concerned about inflation at the moment.”

Seemingly suggesting that the administration will do “whatever it takes” to get economic growth (cough QE moar cough), no matter what inflationary impact.

The reaction was quick – Gold jumped to the high of the day and USDJPY spiked lower – but no follow through for now…

Mnuchin also replayed Trump’s comments on Yellen, saying he “respected her” and “enjoys working with her” perhaps in some further conditioning for the market that Yellen may be asked to stay around (as long as she remains uber-dovish, perhaps).

“Bad Options” Regarding 2% Inflation Targets (And Other Silly Notions)

“Bad Options” Regarding 2% Inflation Targets (And Other Silly Notions)

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both posted ridiculous articles regarding today regarding inflation.

The former was on “bad options” the latter on “inflation expectations”.

Let’s take a look at both articles because both represent widely believed nonsense.

In Bad Options for Addressing Too-Low Inflation, Wall Street Journal writer Greg Ip says the Fed’s choice is to overheat the economy or give up its 2% target.

Unemployment and inflation are near their lowest levels in decades. Who wouldn’t love that?

Janet Yellen, for starters.

What looks like a dream economy could be a nightmare for the Federal Reserve chairwoman. Ms. Yellen’s worldview assumes that when unemployment is this low—4.4% in August—inflation should move up to the Fed’s target of 2%. Instead, it may have stabilized around 1.5%. That presents the Fed with some unpalatable options: deliberately overheat the economy for years to get inflation back up, then potentially induce a recession to stop it from overshooting; or give up on the 2% target, which could hobble its ability to combat future recessions.

This isn’t scaremongering: It’s the logical consequence of how central banks believe inflation operates. At the center of their model is the Phillips curve, according to which inflation edges lower when unemployment is above its natural, equilibrium level and putting downward pressure on prices and wages. Below that natural rate, also known as full employment, inflation crawls higher.

Until recently, Fed officials scoffed at the possibility [Trend inflation has fallen]. They noted surveys that suggest the public still expects inflation to return to 2% and credit their oft-repeated promise to hit their 2% target. But are they fooling themselves? Expectations of inflation are determined in great part by what inflation actually has been, and after every recession since 1982, core inflation has averaged less than in the previous business cycle: 4.1% in the 1980s, 2.1% in the 1990s, 1.9% in the 2000s, and 1.5% since 2009.

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

Julian Robertson: “There’s A Bubble” And “It’s The Federal Reserve’s Fault”

Julian Robertson: “There’s A Bubble” And “It’s The Federal Reserve’s Fault”

Call it the “bearish billionaire” curse. One month ago, MarketWatch penned “7 billionaires who are worried about a stock-market correction” which listed Carl Icahn, David Tepper, Howard Marks, George Soros, Jeff Gundlach, Warren Buffett and Eliot Singer as some of the world’s wealthiest people who are losing sleep over the S&P trading at all time highs.

Today we can add another investing billionaire – one of the original hedgers, Tiger Management co-founder Julian Robertson – who spoke to CNBC’s Kelly Evans, and stated in no uncertain words that the market is a bubble and that “it’s the Federal Reserve’s fault, and the Federal Reserves all over the world.”

KELLY EVANS: … I just wonder what you think generally of where we are in the equity market today, where we are in the stock market in terms of valuation.

JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, we’re very, very high — have very high valuations in most stocks. The market, as a whole, is quite high on a historic basis. And I think that’s due to the fact that interest rates are so low that there’s no real competition for the money other than art and real estate. And so I think that’s why the valuations are so high. I think when rates do start to go up and the bonds become more attractive to investors, it will affect the margins.

KELLY EVANS: Do you think they’re dangerously high right now?

JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, that’s a — you know, it’s pretty — they’re high.

KELLY EVANS: Is it the Federal Reserve’s fault or…

JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yes. It’s the Federal Reserve’s fault, and the Federal Reserves all over the world. I mean, in Germany, in order to buy a bond, until recently, you actually had to pay interest.

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

Swamp Fever

Further proof, as if more were needed, that God is rather cross with the world’s number one exceptional nation: Hurricane Irma is tracking for a direct hit on Disney World. In the immortal words of the Talking Heads: This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.

Houston is still soggy and punch-drunk, with a fantastic explosion of breeding mosquitoes, and otherwise it’s not even in the news anymore. This week, the cable networks had their scant crews of reporters scuttling around Florida, asking the people here and there about their feelings. “What’s gonna happen is gonna happen….” I think I heard that one about sixty times, and there’s actually no disputing the truth of it.

For the moment, though (Friday morning), it’s a little hard to calculate the effect of a complete scrape-off, wash, and rinse of the state of Florida vis-à-vis the ongoing viability of the US economy. There’s going to be a big hole with dollars rushing into it and that will likely prompt the combined powers of the US Treasury, congress, and the Federal Reserve to materialize tens of billions of new dollars. Overnight the DXY plunged to a new low for the year.

Am I the only observer wondering if Irma may be a fatal blow to the banking system? The mind reels at the insurance implications of what’s about to happen. Urgent obligations triggered by an event of this scale can’t possibly be serviced. Look for it to snap the chain of counterparty leverage that has been propping up the banks, insurers, and pension funds on mere promises for years on end. Finance, both private and public, has been feeding off unreality since well before the tremor of 2008. The destruction of Florida (and whatever else stands in the way up the line) will be as real as it gets.

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

“10-Year Treasury Yields Headed to Zero Percent” Saxo Bank CIO

“10-Year Treasury Yields Headed to Zero Percent” Saxo Bank CIO 

In his latest Email article, Steen Jakobsen, Saxo Bank Chief economist and CIO has a bold prediction about interest rates.

With nearly everyone, even Janet Yellen at the Fed, predicting wage-induced inflation, Jakobsen makes a bold call in the opposite direction.

This is a guest post by Steen Jakobsen

Steen’s Chronicle: All Great Things are Simple, Except Right Now

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope” — Winston Churchill

Let’s start with what is currently simple, and what has been simple all year.

  • The US dollar has peaked and started a multi-year cycle lower as both US and world growth can’t work without a weaker dollar (a stronger dollar kills growth through debt service, emerging markets, and commodities).
  • Everything is deflationary: demographics, technology, energy, and the debt mountain.
  • The credit impulse peaked in late 2016/early 2017 leaving global growth vulnerable in the fourth quarter of 2016 and into Q1’17.
  • US interest rates are headed to 0% in 10-year government yields by the end of 2018, early 2019.

I am enclosing the word “simple” between a generously-sized pair of quotation marks because nothing is truly simple. But the themes outlined above have served us well throughout 2017 with the market having now given up on the Federal Reserve hiking rates beyond December.  This is because inflation in the US (and Europe) is more likely to hit 1% than 2%, and because growth – despite certain green shoots – remains considerably below historically normal recovery levels.

Meanwhile, most central banks – most prominently the Fed – continue to believe in the old-school Phillips curve model, and through this mistake, they misguide markets on both inflation and growth – a classically dogmatic, bureaucratic way of thinking whose limits in a world of ever-changing technology are obvious.

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

The world’s most powerful bank issues a major warning

The world’s most powerful bank issues a major warning

In 1869, a 48-year old Jewish immigrant from the tiny village of Trappstadt in Germany’s Bavaria region hung a shingle outside of his small office in lower Manhattan to officially launch his new business.

His name was Marcus Goldman, and the business he started, what’s now known as Goldman Sachs, has become the preeminent investment bank in the world with nearly $1 trillion in assets.

They didn’t get there by winning any popularity contests.

Goldman Sachs has been at the heart of nearly every major banking scandal in recent history.

The company has settled lawsuits on countless charges, ranging from exchange rate manipulation, stock price manipulation, demanding bribes from their own clients, front-running retail customers, and just about every shady business practice that would put money in their pockets.

Yet throughout it all, Goldman Sachs has been protected from any serious punishment by its friends in highest offices of government.

Four out of the last eight US Treasury Secretaries, including the current one, have formerly been on the payroll of Goldman Sachs.

Three current Federal Reserve Bank presidents are Goldman Sachs alumni.

The current president of the European Central Bank and the current head of the Bank of England are both former Goldman Sachs employees.

You get the idea.

On its face, there’s nothing wrong with government staffing its departments with top executives from the private sector; taxpayers would probably rather have someone who knows what s/he’s doing behind the desk rather than some random guy off the street.

But the consequent favoritism that results from this revolving door is blatant and repulsive.

Case in point: in 2008 when the financial system was going up in flames and most banks were suffering enormous losses, the government orchestrated a sweetheart bailout deal, of which Goldman was the primary beneficiary.

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

The Insanity of Pushing Inflation Higher When Wages Can’t Rise

The Insanity of Pushing Inflation Higher When Wages Can’t Rise

In an economy in which wages for 95% of households are stagnant for structural reasons, pushing inflation higher is destabilizing.
The official policy goal of the Federal Reserve and other central banks is to generate 3% inflation annually. Put another way: the central banks want to lower the purchasing power of their currencies by 33% every decade.
In other words, those with fixed incomes that don’t keep pace with inflation will have lost a third of their income after a decade of central bank-engineered inflation.
There is a core structural problem with engineering 3% annual inflation. Those whose income doesn’t keep pace are gradually impoverished, while those who can notch gains above 3% gradually garner the lion’s share of the national income and wealth.
As I showed in Why We’re Doomed: Stagnant Wages, wages for the bottom 95% have not kept pace with official inflation (never mind real-world inflation rates for those exposed to real price increases in big-ticket items such as college tuition and healthcare insurance).
Most households are losing ground as their inflation-adjusted (i.e. real) incomes stagnate or decline.
As I’ve discussed in numerous posts, the stagnation of wages is structural, the result of multiple mutually reinforcing dynamics. These include (but are not limited to) globalized wage arbitrage (everyone in tradable sectors is competing with workers around the world); an abundance/ oversupply of labor globally; the digital industrial revolution’s tendency to concentrate rewards in the top tier of workers; the soaring costs of labor overhead (healthcare insurance, etc.) that diverts cash that could have gone to wage increases to cartels, and the dominance of credit-capital over labor.
In an economy in which wages for 95% of households are stagnant for structural reasons, pushing inflation higher is destabilizing. The only possible output of pushing inflation higher while wages for the vast majority are stagnating is increasing wealth-income inequality–precisely what’s happened over the past decade of Federal Reserve policy.

…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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