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New Fed Chairman Will Trigger A Historic Stock Market Crash In 2018

New Fed Chairman Will Trigger A Historic Stock Market Crash In 2018

Ever since the credit and equities crash of 2008, Americans have been bombarded relentlessly with the narrative that our economy is “in recovery”. For some people, simply hearing this ad nauseam is enough to stave off any concerns they may have for the economy. For some of us, however, it’s just not satisfactory. We need concrete data that actually supports the notion, and for years, we have seen none.

In fact, we have heard from officials at the Federal Reserve that the exact opposite is true. They have admitted that the so-called recovery has been fiat driven, and that there is a danger that when the Fed finally stops artificially propping up the economy with constant stimulus and near zero interest rates, the whole farce might come tumbling down.

For example, Richard Fisher, former head of the Dallas Federal Reserve, admitted a few years ago that the U.S. central bank has made its business the manipulation of the stock market to the upside:

What the Fed did — and I was part of that group — is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally, starting in 2009.It’s sort of what I call the “reverse Whimpy factor” — give me two hamburgers today for one tomorrow.

I’m not surprised that almost every index you can look at … was down significantly.

Fisher went on to hint at the impending danger (though his predicted drop is overly conservative in my view), saying: “I was warning my colleagues, don’t go wobbly if we have a 10-20% correction at some point…. Everybody you talk to … has been warning that these markets are heavily priced.”

One might claim that this is simply one Fed member’s point of view. But it was recently revealed that in 2012, Jerome Powell made the same point in a Fed meeting, the minutes of which have only just now been released:

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

5 Big Drivers of Higher Inflation Rates Ahead

5 Big Drivers of Higher Inflation Rates Ahead

Investors got lulled into a state of inflation complacency.  Persistently low official inflation rates in recent years depressed bond yields along with risk premiums on all financial assets.

That’s changing in 2018. Five drivers of higher inflation rates are now starting to kick in.

Inflation Driver #1: Rising CPI

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a notoriously flawed measure of inflation.  It tends to understate real-world price increases. Nevertheless, CPI is the most widely followed measure of inflation.  When it moves up, so do inflation expectations by investors.

Insert Junk silver tile – verify the premiums displayed.

On February 13th, the Labor Department released stronger than expected CPI numbers.  Prices rose a robust 0.5% in January, with headline CPI coming in at 2.1% annualized (against expectations of 1.9%).

In response to the inflationary tailwinds, precious metals and natural resource stocks rallied strongly, while the struggling U.S. bond market took another hit.

Inflation Driver #2: Rising Interest Rates

Since peaking in mid-2016, the bond market has been stair-stepping lower (meaning yields are moving higher). In February, key technical levels were breached as 30-year Treasury yields surged above 3%. Some analysts are now calling a new secular rise in interest rates to be underway after more than three decades of generally falling rates.

The last big surge in interest rates started in the mid 1970s and coincided with relentless “stagflation” and soaring precious metals prices. It wasn’t until interest rates hit double digit levels in the early 1980s that inflation was finally quelled and gold and silver markets tamed.

Rising nominal interest rates are bullish for inflationary assets such as precious metals so long as interest rates are following the lead of inflation rates.  Only when interest rates get out ahead of inflation and turn positive in real terms are rising rates bearish.

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

Is The Fed Back To “Quantitative Easing?” 

Is The Fed Back To “Quantitative Easing?” - Dave Kranzler (16/02/2018)

 

The Fed added $11 billion to its SOMA account for the week ending yesterday. It purchased $11 billion in mortgage securities directly from banks. This injects $11 billion into the banking system. Cash is “high powered” money, meaning it can be leveraged 10x (banks need to hold 10% in reserves against “high powered” money. $11 billion is $110 billion of leverage for the banks to use for activities such as propping up the stock market.

This certainly explains why there appears to be another “V” recovery in the stock market after a near-10% drawdown in the Dow and the SPX. This is very similar to the 10% market plunges in August 2015 and January 2016, both of which were followed with highly unusual “V” recoveries.

This is also likely the catalyst that powered gold’s $41 rise since February 9th.

Clearly the Federal Reserve – not withstanding the fecal odor that emanates from Fed officials’ mouths when they speak – has an implicit monetary policy that targets the stock prices.

Furthermore, the Fed must be getting worried about the housing market. Removing $11 billion in mortgage securities from the banking system and replacing those securities with cash was likely a move targeting the rate spread between conventional mortgages and the 10-yr Treasury. Mortgage purchase applications plunged 6% last week. This was without question in response to mortgage rates pushed meaningfully higher by the rising 10yr Treasury yield and the widening of spreads associated with higher volatility in the markets.

I remain highly skeptical that the Fed will actually follow-through with its stated plan to raise monthly its balance sheet reduction to $30 billion this year. In fact, the Fed has yet to disclose a definitive schedule for said balance sheet reduction. I’m taking wagers that we do not see this occur.

How the Fed’s Inflation Policies Crucify Workers in Pictures

Every month, pundits comment on average wages. But median wages best explain how the Fed’s policies crucify workers.

The meme of the day is wage growth is accelerating.

I disputed that notion on February 7, in Acceleration in Wage Growth is a Statistical Mirage.

That penny more a year is by hour, in “real” inflation-adjusted terms. The calculation is from the BLS.

Nonetheless, the Fed is not happy with wage destruction.Various Fed presidents seek still higher inflation.

Inflation Targeting

Instead of using an inflation target of 2%, San Francisco Fed President John Williams proposes the Fed use a price-level target, that would allow inflation to run higher during expansions to make up for prior shortfalls.

We need that discussion, but in the opposite sense because the Fed’s insistence inflation in a disinflationary world has seriously harmed median and average wage earners.

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) from the BLS supports this view.

The following charts are from OES data downloads at the state and national level coupled with additional CPI data from the BLS.

Data for these charts are from May 2005 through May 2016. Those are not arbitrary dates.

The latest OES data is from May of 2016 and prior to May of 2005, the OES used varying months. Having all yearly data from May allows easy comparison of wages vs. year-over-year CPI measurements.

National Hourly Wages

Wage Differentials Mean vs. Median Hourly Wages by State

Every month, analysts track the monthly jobs report for “average” wage increases. Such analysis is misleading because most of the benefits go to the top tier groups.

This behavior is not unexpected, but it makes it very difficult for the bottom half of wage earners who do not own a house, to buy a house.

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

Data-Dependent … on Imaginary Data

Data-Dependent … on Imaginary Data 

Federal Reserve officials like to say their policy course is “data-dependent.” That sounds very cautious and intelligent, but what does it actually mean? Which data and who’s interpreting it? Let’s ask a few questions.


Photo: Federal Reserve Board of Governors

First, how could their policy choices not be data-dependent? The only alternatives would be that they made decisions randomly or that there was an a priori path already determined by previous Fed policymakers that they were forced to comply with. A predetermined path would, of course, eventually be leaked, and then everybody would know the future of Fed policy. Until they changed it.

Of course, they do depend on data, and lots of it, but are they looking at the right data? If it is the right data, theoretically speaking, is it accurate? As we will see, more often than not they are basing their decisions on data created by models that rely on potentially biased assumptions derived from past performance, etc. Often the data they look at is actually a sort of metadata, a kind of second-derivative model, with all sorts of built-in assumptions, quite removed from the actual data.

That approach is actually reasonable when you realize that the amount of data that must be managed is simply too large for any human being to process in a coherent manner. The data has to be massaged, and that means making assumptions that create the models in the programs. Those are assumptions are not made by computers, they are made by human beings who are doing the best they can – using models based on assumptions they build in to guide them as to what assumptions they should make about the data. Convoluted? Yes.

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

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 4: The Folly Of 2.00% Inflation Targeting

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 4: The Folly Of 2.00% Inflation Targeting

The dirty secret of Keynesian central banking is that under current circumstances its interventions have almost no impact on its famous dual mandate—-stable prices and full employment on main street.

That’s because goods and services inflation is a melded consequence of global central banking. The capital, trade, financial and exchange rate movements which result from the tug-and-haul of worldwide central banking policies generate incessant shape-shifting impacts on the CPI; and the ebb and flow of these forces completely dwarfs FOMC actions in the New York money and bond markets.

In today’s world, there is no such thing as inflation in one country. In that regard, the traditional Fed tool of pegging the funds rate is especially obsolete, impotent and ritualistically mindless. After all, if the 2.00% inflation target is meant as a long haul objective, it was achieved long ago. The CPI index for January 2018 at 249.2 compared to a level of 169.3 back in January 2000, thereby representing exactly a 2.17% compound annual gain over the 18 year period.

So where’s the Eccles Building beef about missing its target from below—even if that wasn’t one of the more ludicrous notions of “failure” ever to arise from the central banking fraternity?

On the other hand, if 2.00% is meant as a short-run target, how much more evidence do we need? Since the Fed shifted to deep pegging at or near the zero bound in December 2008, there has been no inflation rate correlation with the funds rate whatsoever.

In the sections below we will resolve the inflation matter once and for all by demonstrating that the very idea of 2.00% inflation targeting (or any other target) is singularly stupid and destructive.

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

The Worst Threat We Face Is Right Here At Home

The Worst Threat We Face Is Right Here At Home

The Federal Reserve is ruining us

Last week, volatility made a long-overdue return to the US and global equity markets.

It began with a 2-day back-to-back violent drop. Day 3 saw a big rebound, swiftly followed by two more days of gut-wrentching losses. And then finally, last Friday, the day saw massive swings both high and low, ending with a huge upside run.

During this period the S&P 500 lost more than 300 points.  Since then, though, the market has been steadily rising.

Is the danger past?  Are the markets safe once more?

And if so, did the markets recover organically? Or were they rescued by The Plunge Protection Team (PPT)?

The answer matters.

If such intervention was rare we could almost justify it, if it took the form of simple, pre-arranged circuit breakers that shut the market down for a “cooling off” after they’ve moved too far, too fast. Indeed, these already exist, and are sufficient in our view.

But if such market interventions are routine, persistent, and generally depended on by the major market participants, then they’re highly destructive over the long term.

Sadly, we live with the latter.

Insiders get stinking rich by front-running the scheme (check). Normal adjustments are prevented (check), allowing dangerous bubbles of extreme overvaluation to form (check), while fostering malinvestment (check).

Do this long enough and you end up with a deformed economy, an eroded social structure, and markets that no longer function as appropriate mechanisms for capital distribution and economic signaling.

This is where we find ourselves today.

Modern-Day Soviet Crop Reports

In the former Soviet Union, the communist method of assuring economic progress was to set targets for production. Famous among them were the crop reports.

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

“Financial Stress” Spikes. Markets, Long in Denial, Suddenly Grapple with New Era

“Financial Stress” Spikes. Markets, Long in Denial, Suddenly Grapple with New Era

Fed’s monetary policy shift is finally taking hold. It just took a while.

The weekly St. Louis Fed Financial Stress index, released today, just spiked beautifully. It had been at historic lows back in November, an expression of ultra-loose financial conditions in the US economy, dominated by risk-blind investors chasing any kind of yield with a passion, which resulted in minuscule risk premiums for investors and ultra-low borrowing costs even for even junk-rated borrows. The index ticked since then, but in the latest week, ended February 9, something happened:

The index, which is made up of 18 components (seven interest rate measures, six yield spreads, and five other indices) had hit a historic low of -1.6 on November 3, 2017, even as the Fed had been raising its target range for the federal funds rate and had started the QE Unwind. It began ticking up late last year, hit -1.35 a week ago, and now spiked to -1.06.

The chart above shows the spike of the latest week in relationship to the two-year Oil Bust that saw credit freeze up for junk-rated energy companies, with the average yield of CCC-or-below-rated junk bonds soaring to over 20%. Given the size of oil-and-gas sector debt, energy credits had a large impact on the overall average.

The chart also compares today’s spike to the “Taper Tantrum” in the bond market in 2014 after the Fed suggested that it might actually taper “QE Infinity,” as it had come to be called, out of existence. This caused yields and risk premiums to spike, as shown by the Financial Stress index.

This time, it’s the other way around: The Fed has been raising rates like clockwork, and its QE Unwind is accelerating, but for months markets blithely ignored it. Until suddenly they didn’t.

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

Fed Warns Inflation Has Arrived: Philadelphia, New York Fed Prices Paid Soar

Just in case the economic data appeared to be coming in as too hot in recent days, today’s two key regional Fed manufacturing indicators sent conflicting signals, with the New York Fed survey sliding from 17.70 to 13.1, and missing expectations of 17.50, while the Philadelphia Fed rose from 22.2 to 25.8, beating exp. of a dip to 21.6

The commentary from both regional Feds was optimistic, although NY conceded a slowdown in January:

Business activity continued to expand in New York State, according to firms responding to the February 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell five points to 13.1, suggesting a somewhat slower pace of growth than in January.

The New York internals, however, were good, especially when it comes to labor: number of employees rose to 10.9 vs 3.8, while work hours rose to 4.6 vs 0.8. Meanwhile, inventory fell to 4.9 vs 13.8. Unlike current conditions, optimism rose with six-month general business conditions up to 50.5 vs 48.6. A potential bottleneck was noted in future delivery times at a record high in Feb, up from 10.9 to 15.3

The Philly Fed meanwhile was stronger across the board:

Results from the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that the region’s manufacturing sector continues to expand in February. The indexes for general activity, new orders, and employment were all positive this month and increased from their readings last month. Price increases for inputs were more widespread this month, according to the respondents. The survey’s future indexes, reflecting expectations for the next six months, suggest continued optimism.

Here, too, the internals were strong:

  • New orders rose to 24.5 vs 10.1
  • Employment rose to 25.2 vs 16.8
  • Unfilled orders rose to 14.5 vs -1.8
  • Shipments fell to 15.5 vs 30.3
  • Delivery time fell to 4.5 vs 6.1

There were some declines:

  • Inventories fell to -0.9 vs 9.4
  • Prices received fell to 23.9 vs 25.1
  • Average workweek fell to 13.7 vs 16.7

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

Central Banks Will Let The Next Crash Happen

Central Banks Will Let The Next Crash Happen

If you have been following the public commentary from central banks around the world the past few months, you know that there has been a considerable change in tone compared to the last several years.

For example, officials at the European Central Bank are hinting at a taper of stimulus measures by September of this year and some EU economists are expecting a rate hike by December. The Bank of England has already started its own rate hike program and has warned of more hikes to come in the near term. The Bank of Canada is continuing with interest rate hikes and signaled more to come over the course of this year. The Bank of Japan has been cutting bond purchases, launching rumors that governor Haruhiko Kuroda will oversee the long overdue taper of Japan’s seemingly endless stimulus measures, which have now amounted to an official balance sheet of around $5 trillion.

This global trend of “fiscal tightening” is yet another piece of evidence indicating that central banks are NOT governed independently from one another, but that they act in concert with each other based on the same marching orders. That said, none of the trend reversals in other central banks compares to the vast shift in policy direction shown by the Federal Reserve.

First came the taper of QE, which almost no one thought would happen. Then came the interest rate hikes, which most analysts both mainstream and alternative said were impossible, and now the Fed is also unwinding its balance sheet of around $4 trillion, and it is unwinding faster than anyone expected.

Now, mainstream economists will say a number of things on this issue — they will point out that many investors simply do not believe the Fed will follow through with this tightening program.

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

Do Financial Markets Still Exist?

Do Financial Markets Still Exist?

For many decades the Federal Reserve has rigged the bond market by its purchases. And for about a century, central banks have set interest rates (mainly to stabilize their currency’s exchange rate) with collateral effects on securities prices. It appears that in May 2010, August 2015, January/February 2016, and currently in February 2018 the Fed is rigging the stock market by purchasing S&P equity index futures in order to arrest stock market declines driven by fundamentals, and to push prices back up in keeping with a decade of money creation.

No one should find this a surprising suggestion.  The Bank of Japan has a long tradition of propping up the Japanese equity market with large purchases of equities. The European Central Bank purchases corporate as well as government bonds.  In 1989 Fed governor Robert Heller said that as the Fed already rigs the bond market with purchases, the Fed can also rig the stock market to stop price declines. That is the reason the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) was created in 1987.

Looking at the chart of futures activity on the E-mini S&P 500, we see an uptick in activity on February 2 when the market dropped, with higher increases in future activity last Monday and Tuesday placing Tuesday’s futures activity at about four times the daily average of the previous month.  Futures activity last Wednesday and Thursday remained above the average daily activity of the previous month, and Friday’s activity was about three times the previous month’s daily average. The result of this futures activity was to send the market up, because the futures activity was purchases, not sales.  http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/equity-index/us-index/e-mini-sandp500_quotes_volume_voi.html 

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

Plunge in Interbank Lending: The Straw that Broke the Fed’s Back

Interbank lending took a historic dive. Readers ask “What’s happening?” Let’s investigate.

Interbank Lending Long Term

The plunge in interbank lending is both sudden and dramatic. What’s going on?

Fed Tightening Two Ways

The short answer is a straw broke the Fed’s back.

A more robust explanation is the Fed is tightening two ways: The first by hiking, the second by letting assets on the balance sheet roll off.

Both measures have a tendency to push up long-term interest rates. This is another explanation for the long-end rising. Despite conventional wisdom, inflation and wages have little to do with it.

We can see the effect in other charts.

LIBOR

Year-Over-Year M2 Growth

Money supply growth is falling as are excess reserves.

Excess Reserves

The Fed started balance sheet reduction in October of 2017. Unwinding the balance sheet escalates greatly in 2018.

  • The treasury unwind started at $6 billion per month, increasing by $6 billion at three-month intervals over 12 months until it reaches $30 billion per month.
  • The mortgage debt unwind started at $4 billion per month, increasing in steps of $4 billion at three-month intervals over 12 months until it reaches $20 billion per month.

Does the Fed Know What It’s Doing?

Janet Yellen answered that question directly in her speech A Challenging Decade and a Question for the Future, at the Herbert Stein Memorial Lecture National Economists Club on October 20, 2017.

The FOMC does not have any experience in calibrating the pace and composition of asset redemptions and sales to actual and prospective economic conditions. Indeed, as the so-called taper tantrum of 2013 illustrated, even talk of prospective changes in our securities holdings can elicit unexpected abrupt changes in financial conditions.

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

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 1: Last Week Wasn’t An Error

Swan Song Of The Central Bankers, Part 1: Last Week Wasn’t An Error

Last week’s twin 1,000 point plunges on the Dow were not errors. Instead, these close-coupled massacres, which wiped out $4 trillion of global market cap in two days, marked the beginning of a bear market that will be generational, not a temporary cyclical downleg.

What hit the casino wasn’t an air pocket; it was a fundamental change of direction, signaling that the three decade long central bank experiment with Bubble Finance has now run its course.

Moreover, this epochal pivot is not tentative or reversible in any near-term time frame that matters. That’s because the arrogant but clueless Keynesian academics and apparatchiks who run the Fed think they have succeeded splendidly and that the US economy is on the cusp of full-employment.

So they’re now hell-bent on positioning the central bank for the next downturn. That is, they are reloading their recession-fighting “dry powder” thru interest rate normalization and a second giant experiment—-this time in shrinking their balance sheet by huge annual amounts under a regime called quantitative tightening (QT).

Needless to say, both the magnitude and the automaticity of this impending monetary shock are being completely ignored by Wall Street in favor of bromides like “the market knows” QT is coming because the Fed has been transparent in its forward guidance.

So what? Knowing the steamroller is coming doesn’t stop you from getting crushed if you remain in its path. In fact, the $600 billion annualized bond dumping rate incepting in October is a fearsome number; it’s larger than the entire $500 billion Fed balance sheet as recently as the year 2000.

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

Conflict between Fiscal & Monetary Policy

We are moving into a crisis of monumental proportions. There has been a serious fundamental problem infecting economic policy on a global scale. This conflict has been between monetary and fiscal policy. While central banks engaged in Quantitative Easing, governments have done nothing but reap the benefits of low-interest rates. This is the problem we have with career politicians who people vote for because they are a woman, black, or smile nicely. There is never any emphasis upon qualification. Every other job in life you must be qualified to get it. Would you put someone in charge of a hospital with life and death decisions because they smile nicely?

Economic growth has been declining year-over-year and we are in the middle of a situation involving low-productivity expansion with high and rapidly rising budget deficits that benefit nobody but government employees.  Once upon a time, 8% growth was average, then 6%, and 4% before 2015.75. Now 3% is considered to be fantastic. Private debt at least must be backed by something whereas escalating public debt is completely unsecured. The ECB wanted to increase the criteria for bad loans, yet if those same criteria were applied to government, nobody would lend them a dime.

Monetary policy, after too long a phase of low-interest rates and quantitative easing, has created governments addicted to low-interest rates. They have expanded their spending and deficits for the central banks were simply keeping the government on life-support – not actually stimulating the private sector. Governments have pursued higher taxes and more efficient tax collection. They have attacked the global economy assuming anyone doing business offshore was just an excuse to hide taxes.

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

Four Rate Hikes in 2018 as US National Debt Will Spike

Four Rate Hikes in 2018 as US National Debt Will Spike

Chorus gets louder. But no one will be ready for those mortgage rates.

It didn’t take long for rate-hike expectations to be jostled further by last week’s “monster” two-year budget bill that Congress passed with its usual gyrations, including a government mini-shutdown, and that Trump signed into law on Friday. The bill increases spending caps by $300 billion over the next two years. It includes an additional $165 billion for the Pentagon and $131 billion for non-defense programs.

The bill comes after the tax cuts slashed expected revenues by $1.5 trillion of the next ten years. So pretty soon this is starting to add up.

Going forward, the US gross national debt will likely balloon at a rate of over $1 trillion a year, every year, even during the best of times. It’s $20.5 trillion currently [update 3 hours later, after debt ceiling suspended: $20.7 trillion]. It will likely be over $21.5 trillion a year from now – and this when the US economy is expected to boom. Any downturn will cause the debt to spike.

And what will the Fed do?

Four rate hikes this year – that’s what Credit Suisse’s US economists said in a research note on Monday. Previously, they’d expected three rate hikes for 2018.

“The FOMC has already boosted their growth outlook for 2018 in light of the tax bill passed in December and we anticipate another upward revision to their growth forecast at the March meeting,” the economists wrote in the research note, according to Reuters.

“With the economy near (or above) full employment, prudent risk management suggests the Fed ought to accelerate their tightening in response to a large positive demand shock,” they said.

…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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