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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…

Will The Fed Really “Normalize” Its Balance Sheet?

Will The Fed Really “Normalize” Its Balance Sheet?

Here’s the problem with letting the Treasuries and mortgage just mature:   Treasuries never really “mature.” Rather, the maturities are “rolled forward” by refinancing the outstanding Treasuries due to mature.   The Government also issues even more Treasurys to fund its reckless spending habits.  Unless the Fed “reverse repos” the Treasurys right before they are refinanced by the Government, the money printed by the Fed to buy the Treasurys will remain in the banking system.  I’m surprised no one has mentioned this minor little detail.

The Fed has also kicked the can down the road on hiking interest rates in conjunction with shoving their phony 1.5% inflation number up our collective ass.  The Fed Funds rate has been below 1% since October 2008, or nine years.   Quarter point interest rate hikes aren’t really hikes. we’re at 1% from zero in just under two years. That’s not “hiking” rates.  Until they start doing the reverse-repos in $50-$100 billion chunks at least monthly, all this talk about “normalization” is nothing but the babble of children in the sandbox.  I think the talk/threat of it is being used to slow down the decline in the dollar.

To justify its monetary policy, Yellen stated today that she’s, “very pleased in progress made in the labor market.”  Again, how does one define progress?  Here’s one graphic which shows that the labor market has been and continues to be a complete abortion:

…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…

Why Quantitative Easing In The Eurozone Will Be Extended

Why Quantitative Easing In The Eurozone Will Be Extended

The staff of the European Central Bank has now released the new macro-economic projections for the Eurozone and whilst the introduction sounds optimistic about an ever-increasing GDP and a relatively stable GDP growth rate, reading between the lines suggests we could see an extended Quantitative Easing program.

The ECB is probably correct when it claims the economic recovery will remain ‘robust’, but it also mentions the ‘favorable financing conditions’ as one of the main drivers of this economic recovery. This is quite the ‘catch 22’ scenario. The economy is recovering due to the low interest rate policy of the ECB, but without this ‘easy money policy’, the recovery would be either much slower or non-existing at all. Whilst we have heard several voices from ECB committee members the central bank is getting close to the point it will start to increase the interest rates again, the working paper from the ECB staffers is pretty clear on the need for continuous (monetary) support to protect the current economic recovery.

Source: ECB paper

What’s even more intriguing is the fact the ECB’s assumptions are taking an even LOWER interest rate into account. The study was based on the market circumstances and market expectations as of half August, and back then, the market was taking an average 10 year government bond yield of 1.3% in 2018 and 1.6% in 2019 into consideration. However, this has now been revised downward with approximately 10-20 basis points. This could indicate the market has started to price in a longer period of easy and free money.

And that’s an important starting point. As the loans to businesses (and individuals) are priced based on the anticipated ‘risk-free’ interest rate of a government bond, the lower expectations for sovereign debt yields will trickle down to the ‘real’ economy (underpinning the growth expectations), but it’s unlikely this effect will still be noticeable should the ECB reduce its QE program.

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

Yesterday’s “Watershed” Central Bank Announcement Which Everybody Missed

Yesterday’s “Watershed” Central Bank Announcement Which Everybody Missed

In what may have been a watershed moment in monetary policy – which awkwardly was missed by almost everyone as a result of the concurrent launch of the latest North Korean ballistic missile which immediately drowned out all other newsflow – late on Thursday, the Bank of Canada held a conference on inflation targeting and monetary policy titled “Bank of Canada Workshop “Monetary Policy Framework Issues: Toward the 2021 Inflation-Target Renewal”  in which, in a stunning shift of monetary orthodoxy, BoC Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn A. Wilkins said that Canada was open to changes in the BoC mandate.

  • WILKINS: OPEN TO LOOKING AT `SENSIBLE’ ALTERNATIVES TO MANDATE

Or in other words, lowering or outright abolishing the central bank’s inflation target, or explicitly targeting financial conditions and asset prices.

While still early in the process, the BOC may be setting a precedent, one which other DM central banks may have no choice but to follow: If the Bank of Canada is going to look at alternatives to their mandate (with an emphasis on inflation), it – as several trading desks have suggested – could become the first central bank to officially change its mandate to reflect financial conditions that are too loose in the context of the current low r-star lowflation environment.

In practical terms, this would mean that instead of seeking chronically easier conditions to hit legacy inflation targets around ~2.0% while inflating ever greater asset bubbles, one or more central banks could simply say that 1.5% (or less) is sufficient for CPI and call it a day, in the process soaking up record easy financial conditions and bursting countless asset bubbles.

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

Further Thoughts on Gibson’s Paradox

“The paradox is one of the most completely established empirical facts in the whole field of quantitative economics.” – John Maynard Keynes

“The Gibson paradox remains an empirical phenomenon without a theoretical explanation” -Friedman and Schwartz

“No problem in economics has been more hotly debated.” – Irving Fisher


Introduction

Two years ago, I found a satisfactory solution to Gibson’s paradox.i The paradox is important, because it demonstrated that between 1750-1930, interest rates in Britain correlated with the general price level, and had no correlation with the rate of price inflation. And as Friedman and Schwartz wrote, a theoretical explanation eluded even eminent economists, so economists preferred to assume the quantity theory of money was the correct guide to the relationship between interest rates and prices. Therefore, the consequence of resolving the paradox is that the supposed linkage between interest rates, the quantity of money and the effect on prices is disproved.

Gibson’s paradox tells us that the basis of monetary policy is fundamentally flawed. The reason this error has been ignored is that no neo-classical economist has been able to establish why Gibson’s paradox is valid, as the introductory quotes tell us. Consequently, this little-know but very important subject is hardly ever discussed nowadays, and it’s a fair bet most of today’s central bankers are unaware of it.

The relationship between interest rates and the general level of prices held until the 1970s. This article summarises why Gibson’s paradox functioned, why interest rates do not correlate with price inflation, and the reasons it failed to be evident after the 1970s.

For ease of reference, here are the two charts reproduced from my original paper that the paradox refers to, the first illustrating the correlation between interest rates and the price level, and the second the lack of correlation between interest rates and the inflation rate in Britain, the only country where such a long run of statistics is available.

Gibson's Paradox

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

Oh Canada: An Economic Experiment

http://themacrotourist.com/images/2017/09/BoringSep1217.png

It seems like the only time Canada makes the news is when America elects some right wing President the Hollywood elite don’t like, and they all threaten to move to Canada. We are usually too polite to say something, as it is often clear the Americans are in the midst of quite the family squabble, but what makes these Hollywood shmoes think we want them? Leah Dunham? Alec Baldwin? Whoopi Goldberg? It’s not like we have an open door policy for Hollywood complainers. But while we are on the subject, we would like Seth Rogen back (tell him our pot laws are about to loosen up, that should get him), and my daughters have asked to put in word for the two Canadian Ryan’s to return home (Gosling and Reynolds). America, you can keep Justin Bieber, Howie Mandel and William Shatner.

http://themacrotourist.com/images/2017/09/SethSep1217.png

But that’s often the most news coverage that Canada receives. And in terms of economic news, Canada has trouble making the B segment on even the most boring day of financial network TV. That’s a real shame because there are some interesting economic experiments happening in Canada.

There are two major differences occurring with Canadian economic policy, and many experts are watching with great interest how they play out. The first is on the fiscal side. Canada was at the forefront of electing a leader who promised more infrastructure spending. Before Justin Trudeau, most politicians were running on platforms of promising to balance the budget and cut spending. But Trudeau’s win ushered in a new worldwide wave of politicians advocating the opposite. The second interesting development is Canada’s monetary policy. Bank of Canada Governor Poloz has taken a much different approach than most Central Bankers.

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

See No Evil, Speak No Evil…

The Jackson Hole speeches of Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi last week were notable for the omission of any comment about the burning issues of the day:

…where do the Fed and the ECB respectively think America and the Eurozone are in the central bank induced credit cycle, and therefore, what are the Fed and the ECB going to do with interest rates? And why is it still appropriate for the ECB to be injecting raw money into the Eurozone banks to the tune of $60bn per month, if the great financial crisis is over?i

Instead, they stuck firmly to their topics, the Jackson Hole theme for 2017 being Fostering a dynamic global economy. Both central bankers told us how good they have been at controlling events since the last financial crisis. Ms Yellen majored on regulation, bolstering her earlier-expressed belief that financial crises are now unlikely to happen again, because American banks are properly regulated and capitalised.

Incidentally, more regulation hampers economic dynamism, contra to the subject under discussion, and confirms Ms Yellen has little understanding of free markets. Mario Draghi, however, told us of the benefits of financial regulation and globalisation, and how that fostered a dynamic global economy. But a cynic reading between the lines would argue that Mr Draghi’s speech confirms the ECB is in thrall to Brussels and big business, and is merely representing their interests. And he couldn’t resist the temptation to have a poke at President Trump by expressing the benefits of free trade.

Hold on a moment, free trade? Does Mr Draghi really understand the benefits of free trade?

That’s what he said, but his speech was all about the importance of regulating everything Eurozone citizens can or cannot do. It is permitted free trade in a state-regulated environment. It is a version of free trade according to the EU rule book, agreed with big European business, which advises Brussels, which then sets the regulations. It is a latter-day Comintern that allows you to trade freely only on terms set by the state for prescribed goods with other states of a similar disposition. Draghi’s speech was essentially justifying the status quo laced with Keynesian-based central bank dogma.

Why Governments Expand the Gap Between Rich and Poor

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; You said at your Frankfurt the ECB policy of negative interest rates is actually creating a wider gap between the poor and the rich. Could you elaborate on that comment?

Thank you. Hop you come back to Frankfurt. You do realize that you get twice the crowds here than anyone.

OT

ANSWER: Lowering interest rates to negative was really brain-dead. The rich can move their move and export it to the USA. The poor, lack the sophistication and cannot export their labor no less their meager savings. The people who drive the economy have different roles. The rich provide the capital and create jobs. The middle class to poor are the people who form the foundation and it is their consumer spending that create the underlying economic growth. Attacking the rich always reduces investment and jobs, but lowering the interest rates to negative causes the rich to leave and the poor to middle class suffer lacking the sophistication export both their labor and savings.

The key message from President Mario Draghi’s press conference of the ECB was ro say he was getting ready to slow its QE stimulus, but he’s not in a rush.

Draghi tried to be as vague as possible, because he is trapped. He knows this cannot go on forever. He realizes that once he stops, the bond market crash and there is a risk that the Eurozone government are forced to pay real interest rates and that will blow out the entire EU budget system. Draghi does not know what to do. He confirmed that the governing council had begun ‘very preliminary’ talks about how the quantitative easing might be changed; how much longer it might run, and how much it might pump into the euro economy. He actually said:

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

Central Bankers’ Shifting Goalposts

Central Bankers’ Shifting Goalposts

BRUSSELS – The theme of this year’s meeting of the world’s central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had little to do with monetary policy. “Fostering a Dynamic Global Economy” is, of course, an important topic. But it is telling that the European Central Bank chose, for its own annual gathering, a similar “non-monetary” topic (“Investment and Growth in Advanced Countries”).

There is nothing wrong with central bankers considering challenges in areas like growth, trade, and investment. But central banks were made independent precisely because it was understood that they would be held accountable for achieving their own objective of maintaining price stability, regardless of the economy’s underlying growth rate. So why is it that central bankers would rather look at external issues than focus on their own area of responsibility?

The answer, it seems, is that they cannot quite explain their current approach.

Conditions today are very favorable for monetary policymaking, particularly for the ECB – as a brief look at history makes clear. Since the creation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in January 1999, the ECB has been solely responsible for determining the EMU’s monetary policy. (Although national currencies remained in circulation until 2002, exchange rates were “irrevocably” fixed from 1999.)

The ECB’s job was hard from the beginning. After all, when the euro was born, global financial markets were in turmoil, owing to the Asian crisis of 1997 and the Russian default of 1998. The VIX index, which measures stock-market volatility, had hit 44% in August 1998, and during the euro’s first few years, it hovered around 25-30%, compared to around 12% today. While unemployment in the eurozone was declining, the rate was close to 10%, and it remained higher than today’s level, 9.3%, for all of 1999.

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

Bank of Canada Raises Interest Rates… Again

Bank of Canada Raises Interest Rates… Again

stephen-poloz1-300x225For the second time in less than two months, the Bank of Canada has raised interest rates.

On Wednesday, the central bank raised its overnight lending rate by a quarter per cent to 1 per cent.

The move surprised many who weren’t expecting a rate increase until later this Autumn.

Just like last time, the rationale behind higher rates was centred around the Bank of Canada’s belief that the economy is growing faster than expected.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said, “The level of GDP growth is now higher than the bank expected.”

Of course, this assumes that GDP measures anything.

The Canadian loonie surged after the announcement, climbing to 82 cents U.S.

The decision reinforces the message that easy money and low-interest rates are coming to an end. Of course, the bursting of Canada’s real estate bubble could reverse direction for the bank, using these recent rate gains as leverage to cut rates in order to “stimulate” the deflating economy.

But until then, analysts are expecting more rate hikes since many have confused consumer indebtedness and rising prices as economic strength.

The Bank of Canada won’t confirm these predictions since, according to the central bank’s statement, price controls on interest rates are, “predetermined and will be guided by incoming economic data and financial market developments.”

Of course, the Bank of Canada isn’t clueless when it comes to higher rates and indebted Canadian households. In the rate hike statement, the bank promised that “close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates,” given “elevated household indebtedness.”

The bank’s next scheduled rate-setting is Oct. 25.

All in all, today’s announcement puts interest rates back to where they were in January 2015, before Poloz made two surprising “emergency rate cuts” to deal with falling oil prices.

Loonie Soars After Bank Of Canada Unexpectedly Hikes Rates By 25 bps

Loonie Soars After Bank Of Canada Unexpectedly Hikes Rates By 25 bps 

With only 6 of 33 forecasters predicting a rate hike in today’s Bank of Canada announcement, it was inevitable: the Bank of Canada surprised a good 75% of the market, and triggered massive stop loss orders in the looni, when moments ago it announced it hiked rates by 25bps to 1%, sending the USDCAD lower by nearly 300 pips…

… the biggest spike in the loonie since March 2016, and the highest in two years.

 

According to the BOC statement, “removal of some of the considerable monetary policy stimulus in place is warranted” given stronger than expected economic performance while adding that “future monetary policy decisions are not predetermined” and will be guided by economic data and financial-market developments as they “inform the outlook for inflation.”

The Central bank also said that “close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates” given elevated household indebtedness. The bank will give particular focus to evolution of economy’s potential and labour market conditions, while highlighting that inflation remains below 2% but has evolved “largely as expected” since July MPR.

In the statement the central bank also highlighted that “excess capacity remains in labour market, wage and price pressures more subdued than historical relationships suggest” while “geopolitical risks and uncertainties around international trade and fiscal policies remain.”

Some analysts have highlighted that in the statement’s forward guidance, the central bank removed its inflation outlook, and replaced it with an outlook on potential output and the labor market.

Finally, the bank expects moderation of pace of economic growth in 2H 2017, but GDP level higher than expected in July MPR.

The full statement is below (link):

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

The Canadian Cointoss: Bank Of Canada Monetary Policy Decision Preview

The Canadian Cointoss: Bank Of Canada Monetary Policy Decision Preview

From RanSquawk

  • The majority expects the BoC to leave its overnight rate unchanged at 0.75%. Only 6 of 33 surveyed expect the BoC to hike this time out, while the OIS curve prices in a 45% chance of a hike.
  • A strong Q2 GDP release and the ensuing solid handover to Q3 has put a hike on the table at the upcoming decision.
  • Many are still cautious regarding further hikes owing to a lack of inflationary pressure.

The majority expect the Bank of Canada (BoC) to leave its overnight rate unchanged at 0.75%. Only 6 of the 33 surveyed in the latest Reuters poll are looking for a hike at the upcoming meeting, while 24 expect the BoC to hike at its October meeting. The remainder expect the next hike to come in January. Markets are more aggressive following a strong June retail sales release and impressive Q2 GDP release (4.5% on a QQ annualised basis, which was above the top end of expectations). Swaps are currently pricing in a circa 45% chance of a hike this week (odds stood at circa 20% pre-GDP), with an October hike baked into the curve.

July’s decision saw the BoC raise rates for the first time in 7 years after a slew of central bank rhetoric paved the way for the hike in the weeks running in to the decision, although the initial change of tone caught both markets and economists off guard. The hike still caught some unaware, as many still believed that the central bank lacked evidence of notable inflationary pressure, with the BoC’s 3 core measures all tracking below 2%.

July’s decision was accompanied by the quarterly Monetary Policy Report (MPR) with the latest batch of projections available below.

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

The Normalization Delusion

The Normalization Delusion

LONDON – There is a psychological bias to believe that exceptional events eventually give way to a return to “normal times.” Many economic commentators now focus on prospects for “exit” from nearly a decade of ultra-loose monetary policy, with central banks reducing their balance sheets to “normal” levels and gradually raising interest rates. But we are far from a return to pre-crisis normality.

After years of falling global growth forecasts, 2017 has witnessed a significant uptick, and there is a good case for slight interest-rate increases. But the advanced economies still face too-low inflation and only moderate growth, and recovery will continue to rely on fiscal stimulus, underpinned if necessary by debt monetization.

Since 2007, per capita GDP in the eurozone, Japan, and the United States are up just 0.3%, 4.4%, and 5%, respectively. Part of the slowdown from pre-crisis norms of 1.5-2% annual growth may reflect supply-side factors; productivity growth may face structural headwinds.

But part of the problem is deficient nominal demand. Despite central banks’ massive stimulus efforts, nominal GDP from 2007-16 grew 2.8% per year in the US, 1.5% in the eurozone, and just 0.2% in Japan, making it impossible to achieve moderate growth plus annual inflation in line with 2% targets. US inflation has now undershot the Federal Reserve’s target for five years, and has trended down over the last five months.

Faced with this abnormality, some economists search for one-off factors, such as “free” minutes for US cell phones, that are temporarily depressing US inflation measures. But mobile-phone pricing in the US cannot explain why Japan’s core inflation is stuck around zero. Common long-term factors must explain this global phenomenon.

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

Nomi Prins: Easy Money Policy Allows for Another Crisis

Nomi Prins: Easy Money Policy Allows for Another Crisis

Nomi Prins joined The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo to discuss the banking landscape and state of financial regulations in the Trump era. The central bank historian and financial expert also took a deep dive into the shifting relations between the United States and Japan and what easy money policy has meant for financial markets.

The author began the discussion noting that, “A lot of things have happened in the past months in particular within finance and trade alliances amongst countries in the Trump era.”

Speaking on the recent gathering of world leaders Prins’ notes, “One of the things that came out of the G20 is whether it is America last in terms of the alliances occurring today. The American first policy is pushing new diplomacy and agreements with countries that have not spoken with one another in the past. This is happening for two reasons. One, from a standpoint of protecting the commonality of the world. It is filling the gap between receding powers versus rising power. Two, it is an anti-protectionist move.”

Prins’ then builds on easy money policy stating, “We still have a problem of banks that are too big to fail. We still have a problem where the initial financial crisis that happened ten years ago in the United States, that was the result of the banks being too large and too speculative… in using the guarantees that the U.S government has provided to bank depositors and the provisions provided in the Glass-Steagall. Those deposits have become a guarantee for banks to become bigger and a guarantee for financial crises to become something that the government subsidizes. Our Federal Reserve, our central bank, also subsidizes this.”

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

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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