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Latest Wealth Data Shows Disproportionate Gains to the Rich During Era of QE

LATEST WEALTH DATA SHOWS DISPROPORTIONATE GAINS TO THE RICH DURING ERA OF QE

The latest ONS Wealth and Assets Survey, released last Thursday, once again showed the sheer extent of wealth inequality in the UK. A comparison of percentile figures with those from the previous wave suggests households in the wealthiest 10% gained on average nearly 700 times as much as the poorest 10% between 2012-2014 and 2014-2016.

The average total wealth of the of the bottom 10 percentile households rose by £330 between 2012-2014 and 2014-2016 (from £5,293 to £5623). The average total wealth of the top 10 percentile households increased by £229,541 over the same period (from £1,663,912 to £1,893,453).

The distribution of total wealth across UK households is extremely unequal. Naturally, so too are the gains in wealth in recent years.

The figures are significant because they are the latest to contradict the position taken by Bank of England governor Mark Carney in a 2016 speech, when he used the ONS data to claim that the “poorest have gained the most” from the Bank’s quantitative easing programme. As Positive Money showed in an analysis from October last year, the Bank painted a misleading picture by using relative rather than absolute figures. Data from the the 2006-08 to 2012-14 waves of the Wealth and Assets Survey showed an absolute gain for the wealthiest 10% almost 200 times greater than that for the poorest.

…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.

Danielle DiMartino Booth: Don’t Count On The Powell Fed To Rescue The Markets

Danielle DiMartino Booth: Don’t Count On The Powell Fed To Rescue The Markets

The new Fed Chair may break from his predecessors

The recent gut-wrenching drop in asset prices began on the first day of the job for new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

How is Mr. Powell likely to react to a suddenly sick-looking market? Will he step in forcefully to reassure investors that there’s a “Powell put” in place as a backstop?

To address these questions, former analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Danielle DiMartino Booth, returns to the podcast this week. In her opinion, having studied Powell’s previous statements, she thinks those expecting him to continue the market support his predecessors provided will likely be quite disappointed.

Powell appears to be no large fan of continued quantitative easing, and has long been on the record as concerned about the eventual pain its unwind will cause. He very well may resist riding to the market’s rescue at this time, allowing natural market forces to finally have their way:

Look, this is a message that market participants do not want to hear: It is not the Federal Reserves job to put a floor under risky asset prices.

Compare and contrast Jerome Powell’s silence in the wake of the flash crash on his first day at work to Alan Greenspan — who got on an airplane the day after the Black Monday crash of 1987, canceling an appearance he was to have made, and reassuring the markets with a statement on Tuesday morning that the Federal Reserve was standing by and ready and willing and available to satisfy any kind of disruption in the banking and financial systems. That was the day — October 20, 1987 — that the Greenspan put was born.

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

A Warning Knell From the Housing Market–Inciting a Riot

  • Global residential real estate prices continue to rise but momentum is slowing
  • Prices in Russia continue to fall but Australian house prices look set to follow
  • After a decade of QE, real estate will be more sensitive to interest rate increases

As anyone who owns a house will tell you, all property markets are, ‘local.’ Location is key. Nonetheless, when looking for indicators of a change in sentiment with regard to asset prices in general, residential real estate lends support to equity bull markets. Whilst it usually follows the performance of the stock market, this time it may be a harbinger of austerity to come.

The most expensive real estate is to be found in areas of limited supply; as Mark Twain once quipped, when asked what asset one should invest in, he replied, ‘Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.’ Mega cities are a good example of this phenomenon. They are a sign of progress. As Ian Stewart of Deloittes put it in this week’s Monday Briefing – How distance survived the communication revolution:-

In 2014, for the first time, more of the world’s population, some 54%, lived in urban than rural areas. The UN forecasts this will rise to 66% by 2050. Businesses remain wedded to city locations. More of the UK’s top companies are headquartered in London than a generation ago. The lead that so-called mega cities, those with populations in excess of 10 million, such as Tokyo and Delhi, have over the rest of the country has increased.

Proximity matters, and for good reasons. Cities offer business a valuable shared pool of resources, particularly labour and infrastructure. Bringing large numbers of people and businesses together increase the chances of matching the right person with the right job. 

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

Weekly Commentary: The Grand Crowded Trade of Financial Speculation 

Weekly Commentary: The Grand Crowded Trade of Financial Speculation 

Even well into 2017, variations of the “secular stagnation” thesis remained popular within the economics community. Accelerating synchronized global growth notwithstanding, there’s been this enduring notion that economies are burdened by “insufficient aggregate demand.” The “natural rate” (R-Star) has sunk to a historical low. Conviction in the central bank community has held firm – as years have passed – that the only remedy for this backdrop is extraordinarily low rates and aggressive “money” printing. Over-liquefied financial markets have enjoyed quite a prolonged celebration.

Going back to early CBBs, I’ve found it useful to caricature the analysis into two distinctly separate systems, the “Real Economy Sphere” and the “Financial Sphere.” It’s been my long-held view that financial and monetary policy innovations fueled momentous “Financial Sphere” inflation. This financial Bubble has created increasingly systemic maladjustment and structural impairment within both the Real Economy and Financial Spheres. I believe finance today is fundamentally unstable, though the associated acute fragility remains suppressed so long as securities prices are inflating.

The mortgage finance Bubble period engendered major U.S. structural economic impairment. This became immediately apparent with the collapse of the Bubble. As was the case with previous burst Bubble episodes, the solution to systemic problems was only cheaper “money” in only great quantities. Moreover, it had become a global phenomenon that demanded a coordinated central bank response.

Where has all this led us? Global “Financial Sphere” inflation has been nothing short of spectacular. QE has added an astounding $14 TN to central bank balance sheets globally since the crisis. The Chinese banking system has inflated to an almost unbelievable $38 TN, surging from about $6.0 TN back in 2007. In the U.S., the value of total securities-to-GDP now easily exceeds previous Bubble peaks (1999 and 2007). And since 2008, U.S. non-financial debt has inflated from $35 TN to $49 TN. It has been referred to as a “beautiful deleveraging.”

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

The Pension Ponzi Scheme is Coming to an End

 

Inevitably, all things must come to an end.  Our entire problem with government is we have ZERO accountability and ZEROqualification standards to even run for office. The Democrats have put forth blacks and women, not because of their abilities, but simply because they want to score votes. The latest proposal was to put Oprah Winfrey up for president. She is black and a woman. This is the qualification requirement? This is like going to Jay Leno for brain surgery. This is why we are in such a crisis. Oprah may be a nice person, but that does not qualify her to make a decision in international relations no less economics.

We impose no qualifications to be a politician. Anyone can run for office. We are in serious trouble because we elect people who have no idea what is going on and just assume everything has been working so why change it? I have warned that the Central Banks in quantitative Easing set the stage for the next crisis. The excessive low-interest rates for nearly 10 years has undermined the pension system while all governments have borrowed like crazy never considering what happens if rates rise?

In Britain, two out of three pension funds are in the deficit. In total, some 3,710 pension schemes are in deficit according to the Pension Protection Fund watchdog. The entire Ponzi Scheme of pension is falling apart. We need crisis management right NOW and there isn’t a hope in hell of moving to such a position of a Crisis Manager. Millions of workers around the world who believed in government are going to see their futures wiped out.

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

Fed’s QE Unwind Accelerates Sharply

Fed’s QE Unwind Accelerates Sharply

With a sense of urgency. No more dilly-dallying around.

The Fed’s balance sheet for the week ending January 31, released this afternoon, completes the fourth month of QE-unwind. And it’s starting to be a doozie.

This “balance sheet normalization” impacts two types of assets: Treasury securities and mortgage backed securities (MBS) that the Fed acquired during the years of QE and maintained afterwards.

The Fed’s plan, as announced in September, is to shrink the balances of Treasuries and MBS by up to $10 billion per month in October, November, and December 2017, then to accelerate the pace every three months. In January, February, and March 2018, the unwind would be capped at $20 billion a month; in Q2, at $30 billion a month; in Q3, at $40 billion a month; and starting in Q4, at $50 billion a month.

According to this plan, balances of Treasuries and MBS will shrink by $420 billion in 2018, by an additional $600 billion in 2019, and by additional $600 every year going forward until the Fed deems the level of its holdings “normal.” Whatever this level may turn out to be, it will be much higher than the level suggested by the growth trajectory before the Financial Crisis.

For January, the plan called for shedding up to $20 billion: $12 billion in Treasuries and $8 billion in MBS.

So how did it go?

On its December 27 balance sheet, the Fed had $2,454 billion of Treasuries. By January 31, it had $2,436 billion: a drop of $18 billion in one month!

This exceeds the planned drop of $12 billion for January. But hey, over the holidays, most folks at the New York Fed, which does the balance sheet operations, were probably off and not much happened. And so this may have been a catch-up action, with a sense of urgency.

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

QE…The Gift That Just Kept Giving…Is Now Taking 

QE…The Gift That Just Kept Giving…Is Now Taking 

I know the Federal Reserve doesn’t effectively create money or directly monetize.  I know this because then Fed chief, Ben Bernanke, told us so (HERE).  But still, something has me wondering about that exchange, now almost a decade ago.  The simplest of math.

The plan to utilize quantitative easing and avoid direct monetization went like this.  The Fed would digitally conjure “money” to buy the US Treasury bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities (remove assets from the market) from the big banks.  However, the Fed would force those banks to deposit the newly conjured “money” at the Federal Reserve.  This would avoid the trillions of newly created dollars from going in search of the remaining assets (particularly levered from somewhere between 5x’s to 10x’s…turning a trillion into five to 10 trillion…or more).

The chart below shows the Federal Reserve balance sheet (red line) and the quantity of those newly created dollars that the recipients of those dollars, the banks, deposited at the Federal Reserve (blue line).  But the green line is the quantity of newly created dollars that have “leaked” out…also known as “monetized”.

The interplay of QE and excess reserves resulted in the peak QE impact taking effect long after QE was tapered and had ceased (chart below).  The trillions in assets remaining with the Fed, but the new cash no longer under lock and key at the Fed.

The impact of $800+ billion of pure monetization from late 2014 through year end 2016 was spectacular.  In the hands of the largest banks (multiplied by “conservative” leverage somewhere between 5 to 10x’s) easily amounting to trillions in new cash looking for assets.  A “bull market” beyond belief should not have been surprising.

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

US National Debt Will Jump by $617 Billion in 5 Months

US National Debt Will Jump by $617 Billion in 5 Months

Just as the Fed accelerates its QE Unwind. Treasuries reacted.

While everyone is trying to figure out how to twist the new tax cut to their advantage and save some money, the US Treasury Department just announced how much net new debt it will have to sell to the public through the second quarter to keep the government afloat: $617 billion.

That’s what the Treasury Department estimates will be the total amount added to publicly traded Treasury securities — or “net privately-held marketable borrowing” — through the end of the second quarter. This will be the net increase in the US debt through the end of Q2. By quarter:

  • During Q1, the Treasury expects to increase US public debt by $441 billion. It includes estimates for “lower net cash flows.”
  • During Q2 – peak tax seasons when revenues pour into the Treasury – it expects to increase US public debt by $176 billion.

It also “assumes” that with these increases in the debt, it will have a cash balance at the end of June of $360 billion.

So over the next five months, if all goes according to plan, the US gross national debt of $24.5 trillion currently – which includes $14.8 trillion in publicly traded Treasury securities and $5.7 trillion in internally held debt – will surge to about $25.1 trillion.

That’s a 4% jump in just five months. Note the technical jargon-laced description for this (marked in green on the chart):

The flat lines in 2013, 2015, and 2017 are a result of the prior three debt-ceiling fights. Each was followed by an enormous spike when the debt ceiling was lifted or suspended, and when the “extraordinary measures” with which the Treasury keeps the government afloat were reversed. And note the current debt ceiling, the flat line that started in mid-December.

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

Will Monetary Policy Trigger Another Financial Crisis?

Getty Images

Will Monetary Policy Trigger Another Financial Crisis?

Sustained unconventional monetary policies in the years after the 2008 global financial crisis created the conditions for the second-longest bull market in history. But they also may have sown the seeds of the next financial crisis, which might take root as central banks continue to normalize their policies and shrink their balance sheets.

LONDON – Former US President Ronald Reagan once quipped that, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Put another way, policymakers often respond to problems in ways that cause more problems.

Consider the response to the 2008 financial crisis. After almost a decade of unconventional monetary policies by developed countries’ central banks, all 35 OECD economies are now enjoying synchronized growth, and financial markets are in the midst of the second-longest bull market in history. With the S&P 500 having risen 250% since March 2009, it is tempting to declare unprecedented monetary policies such as quantitative easing (QE) and ultra-low interest rates a great success.

But there are three reasons for doubt. First, income inequality has widened dramatically during this period. While negative real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates and QE have hurt savers by repressing cash and government-bond holdings, they have broadly boosted the prices of stocks and other risky financial assets, which are most commonly held by the wealthy. When there is no yield in traditional fixed-income investments such as government bonds, even the most conservative pension funds have little choice but to pile into risk assets, driving prices even higher and further widening the wealth divide.

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

‘Perfect storm’: Global financial system showing danger signs, says senior OECD economist

‘Perfect storm’: Global financial system showing danger signs, says senior OECD economist

Nine years of emergency money has had a string of perverse effects and lured emerging markets into debt dependency, without addressing the structural causes of the global disorder.

William White says the lessons from the GFC have been forgotten.

William White says the lessons from the GFC have been forgotten.

Photo: AP

“All the market indicators right now look very similar to what we saw before the Lehman crisis, but the lesson has somehow been forgotten,” said William White, the Swiss-based head of the OECD’s review board and ex-chief economist for the Bank for International Settlements.

The Trump Administration's tax and spending blitz has pushed the US budget deficit toward $US1 trillion.

The Trump Administration’s tax and spending blitz has pushed the US budget deficit toward $US1 trillion.

Professor White said disturbing evidence of credit degradation is emerging almost daily. The latest is the disclosure that distressed UK construction group Carillion quietly raised £112 million ($195 million) through German Schuldschein bonds. South African retailer Steinhoff also tapped this obscure market, borrowing €730 million ($1.11 billion).

Schuldschein loans were once a feature of rock-solid lending to family Mittelstand companies in Germany. The transformation of this corner of the market into a form of high-risk shadow banking shows how the lending system has been distorted by quantitative easing (QE) and negative interest rates. Professor White said there was an intoxicating optimism at the top of every unstable boom when people convince themselves that risk is fading, but that is when the worst mistakes are made. Stress indicators were equally depressed in 2007 just before the storm broke.

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

What Will Rising Mortgage Rates Do to Housing Bubble 2?

What Will Rising Mortgage Rates Do to Housing Bubble 2?

Oops, they’re already rising.

The US government bond market has further soured this week, with Treasuries selling off across the spectrum. When bond prices fall, yields rise. For example, the two-year Treasury yield rose to 2.06% on Friday, the highest since September 2008.

In the chart, note the determined spike of 79 basis points since September 8, 2017. That was the month when the Fed announced the highly telegraphed details of its QE Unwind.

September as month of the QE-Unwind announcement keeps cropping up. All kinds of things began to happen, at first quietly, without drawing much attention. But then the trajectory just kept going.

The three-year yield, which had gone nowhere for the first eight months of 2017, rose to 2.20% on Friday, the highest since October 1, 2008. It has spiked 82 basis points since September 8:

The ten-year yield – the benchmark for financial markets that most influences US mortgage rates – jumped to 2.66% late Friday.

This is particularly interesting because the 10-year yield had declined from March 2017 into August despite the Fed’s three rate hikes last year, and rising short-term yields.

At 2.66%, the 10-year yield has reached its highest level since April 2014, when the “Taper Tantrum” was winding down. That Taper Tantrum was the bond market’s way of saying “we’re shocked and appalled,” when Chairman Bernanke dropped hints the Fed might eventually begin tapering what the market had called “QE Infinity.”

The 10-year yield has now doubled since the historic intraday low on July 7, 2016 of 1.32% (it closed that day at 1.37%, a historic closing low):

Friday capped four weeks of pain in the Treasury market. But it has not impacted yet the corporate bond market, and the spread in yields between Treasuries and corporate bonds, and particularly junk bonds, has further narrowed. And it has not yet impacted the stock market, and there has been no adjustment in the market’s risk pricing yet.

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

Drowning In The Money River

Photobank gallery/Shutterstock

Drowning In The Money River

Why the 99% of us are falling farther behind

It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.
~ George Carlin

If you suspect society is unfair, that there’s a different set of rules the rich live by, you’re right.

I’ve had ample chance to witness first-hand evidence of this in my time working on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley. Simply put: our highly financialized economy is gamed to enrich those who run it, at the expense of everybody else.

The Money River

A recent experience really drove this home for me.

Having received my MBA from Stanford in the late 90s, I remain on several alumni discussion groups. Recently, a former classmate of mine, who now runs her own asset management firm, circulated her thoughts on how today’s graduating students could best access an on-ramp to the ‘money river’.

What’s the ‘money river’? Good question.

The money river is the huge tsunami of investment capital sloshing around the globe, birthed by the historically-unprecedented money printing conducted by the world’s central banks over the past decade. Since 2008, they’ve more than tripled their collective balance sheet:

(Source)

The $13+ trillion in new thin-air money issued to achieve this is truly staggering. It’s so large that the human brain really can’t wrap around it. (For those who haven’t seen it, watch our brief video How Much Is A Trillion? to better understand this.)

But suffice it to say, all that money has to go somewhere. And it first goes into the pockets of those with closest access to it, and of those who direct where it flows.

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

What Has QE Wrought?

What Has QE Wrought?

bubbles_1.PNG

[Editor’s Note: Watch Ron Paul deliver this Special Report here.​]

The Great Recession began in 2007. It didn’t take long for the money managers to recognize its severity, and that a little tinkering with interest rates would not suffice in dealing with the economic downturn. In Dec. 2008, the first of four Quantitative Easing programs began which did not end until Dec. 18, 2013. Some very serious consequences of this policy of unprecedented credit creation have set the stage for a major monetary reform of the fiat dollar system. The dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world will continue to be undermined. This is not a minor matter. As our financial system unravels, the seriousness of it will become evident to all, as the need to pay for our extravagance becomes obvious. This will make the country much poorer, though the elite class that manages such affairs will suffer the least.

By the time the QE’s ended, the Central banks of the world had increased their balance sheet by $8.3 trillion, with only $2.1 trillion worth of GDP growth to show for it. This left $6.2 trillion of excess liquidity in the banking system that did not go where the economic planners had hoped. Central banks now own $9.7 trillion of negative interest yielding bonds. The financial system has been left with a bubble mania, financed by artificial credit and unsustainable debt. The national debt in 2007 was $8.9 trillion; today it’s $20.5 trillion. Rising interest rates will come and that will be deadly for the economy and the Federal budget.

This inflationary policy is generated by the belief that there is no benefit in allowing the needed economic correction to the problems generated by the Fed to occur. The correction is what the market requires, not the resumption and acceleration of the dangerous inflationary policy that caused the bubble economy.

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

QE Party Over, even by the Bank of Japan

QE Party Over, even by the Bank of Japan

First decline in its colossal balance sheet since 2012.

An amazing – or on second thought, given how central banks operate, not so amazing – thing is happening.

On one hand…

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda keeps saying that the BOJ would “patiently” maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy, so too in his first speech of 2018 in Tokyo, on January 3, when he said the BOJ must continue “patiently” with this monetary policy, though the economy is expanding steadily. The deflationary mindset is not disappearing easily, he said.

On December 20, following the decision by the BOJ to keep its short-term interest-rate target at negative -0.1% and the 10-year bond yield target just above 0%, he’d brushed off criticism that this prolonged easing could destabilize Japan’s banking system. “Our most important goal is to achieve our 2% inflation target at the earliest date possible,” he said.

On the other hand…

In reality, after years of blistering asset purchases, the Bank of Japan disclosed today that total assets on its balance sheet actually inched down by ¥444 billion ($3.9 billion) from the end of November to ¥521.416 trillion on December 31. While small, it was the first month-end to month-end decline since the Abenomics-designed “QQE” kicked off in late 2012.

Under “QQE” – so huge that the BOJ called it Qualitative and Quantitative Easing to distinguish it from mere “QE” as practiced by the Fed at the time – the BOJ has been buying Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs), corporate bonds, Japanese REITs, and equity ETFs, leading to astounding month-end to month-end surges in the balance sheet. But now the “QQE Unwind” has commenced. Note the trend over the past 12 months and the first dip (red):

…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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