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Draghi Admits “Growth May Have Peaked”; ECB To Delay QE Unwind

As we have showed repeatedly over the past month, the European economic imploding, and nowhere is this more obvious than the Citi Eurozone Economic Surprise Index why will soon hit its post financial crisis lows.

It appears that after weeks of dithering, someone at the ECB also figured out how to pull up this chart on their Bloomberg because moments ago, and one month after the ECB first admitted that things are not ok when the central bank cut its 2019 inflation forecast, arguably due to protectionism concerns…

… Mario Draghi finally admitted what we all know:

  • ECB’S DRAGHI EURO-AREA GROWTH CYCLE MAY HAVE PEAKED

To be sure, Draghi also brought up the usual spate of platitudes he mentions every time, including that: “Notwithstanding the latest economic indicators, which suggest that the growth cycle may have peaked, the growth momentum is expected to continue”, that protectionism “may have already had some negative impact on global sentiment indicators” and that “while our confidence in the inflation outlook has increased, remaining uncertainties still warrant patience, persistence and prudence with regard to monetary policy.”

His conclusion was the punchline: “An ample degree of monetary stimulus remains necessary.”

Which leads us to the second point. As Draghi was speaking, Bloomberg reported the latest ECB “trial balloon” according to which Central Bank policymakers “see scope to wait until their July meeting to announce how they’ll end their bond-buying program”, according to euro-area officials familiar with the matter.

In other words, so much for the ECB tightening, or being able to tighten, any time soon.

More details:

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

Why Trade Wars Ignite and Why They’re Spreading

Why Trade Wars Ignite and Why They’re Spreading

The monetary distortions, imbalances and perverse incentives are finally bearing fruit: trade wars.
What ignites trade wars? The oft-cited sources include unfair trade practices and big trade deficits. But since these have been in place for decades, they don’t explain why trade wars are igniting now.
To truly understand why trade wars are igniting and spreading, we need to start with financial repression, a catch-all for all the monetary stimulus programs launched after the Global Financial Meltdown/Crisis of 2008/09.
These include zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), quantitative easing (QE), central bank purchases of government and corporate bonds and stocks and measures to backstop lenders and increase liquidity.
The policies of financial repression force risk-averse investors back into risk assets if they want any return on their capital, and brings consumption forward, that is, encourages consumers to borrow and buy now rather than delay purchases until they can be funded with savings.
As Gordon Long and I explain in the second part of our series on Trade Warsfinancial repression generates over-capacity and over-consumption: with credit almost free to corporations and financiers, new production facilities are brought online in the hopes of earning a profit as the global economy “recovers.”
Soon there is more productive capacity than there is demand for the good being produced: this is over-capacity, and it leads to over-production, which as a result of supply and demand, leads to a loss of pricing power: producers can’t raise prices due to global gluts, so they end up dumping their over-production wherever they can.
If the producers are state-owned enterprises subsidized by governments and central banks, these producers can sell at a loss because their only function is to sustain employment; profitability is a bonus.

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

What to Expect From Central Bankers

  • The Federal Reserve continues to tighten and other Central Banks will follow
  • The BIS expects stocks to lose their lustre and bond yields to rise
  • The normalisation process will be protracted, like the QE it replaces
  • Macro prudential policy will have greater emphasis during the next boom

As financial markets adjust to a new, higher, level of volatility, it is worth considering what the Central Banks might be thinking longer term. Many commentators have been blaming geopolitical tensions for the recent fall in stocks, but the Central Banks, led by the Fed, have been signalling clearly for some while. The sudden change in the tempo of the stock market must have another root.

Whenever one considers the collective views of Central Banks it behoves one to consider the opinions of the Central Bankers bank, the BIS. In their Q4 review they discuss the paradox of a tightening Federal Reserve and the continued easing in US national financial conditions. BIS Quarterly Review – December 2017 – A paradoxical tightening?:-

Overall, global financial conditions paradoxically eased despite the persistent, if cautious, Fed tightening. Term spreads flattened in the US Treasury market, while other asset markets in the United States and elsewhere were buoyant…

Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) trended down to a 24-year trough, in line with several other gauges of financial conditions.

The authors go on to observe that the environment is more reminiscent of the mid-2000’s than the tightening cycle of 1994. Writing in December they attribute the lack of market reaction to the improved communications policies of the Federal Reserve – and, for that matter, other Central Banks. These policies of gradualism and predictability may have contributed to, what the BIS perceive to be, a paradoxical easing of monetary conditions despite the reversals of official accommodation and concomitant rise in interest rates.

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

Monetary Policy is a Complete Failure? Will Shutting Down the Fed Solve All the Problems?

I recently did an interview and was asked about the Federal Reserve. There is so much absolute nonsense sophistry that circulates where people think that ending the central bank will somehow cure everything. I really just laid it out plain and simple. The Fed’s balance sheet is a tiny fraction of the economy or the real money supply. Everyone blames the Fed for everything and they NEVER bother to look at (1) the fiscal policy of Congress, and (2) the banking system as a whole.

Even if you want to scream from the top of every hill that $4 trillion worth of Fed’s Quantitative Easing was pure evil and should have created hyperinflation (which it did not), the deficits created by Obama topped $1 trillion per year and those never die whereas the Fed’s QE evaporates as they do let the debt they bought mature and expire without rebuying it again, whereas Draghi and the ECB have conceded they will reinvest their holdings. Look at 2009-2012. Obama created $5.4 trillion that will never expire but will be rolled until there are no more buyers.

So let’s do the math. The entire Federal Reserve QE program was equal to 1/5th of the national debt. The ECB bought 40% of all public debt and the Bank of Japan bought 75% of new debt coming to the market. Yet all we get is dollar bashing and people actually have called the yen the safe-haven play. I really do not know if I am arguing is drunks, people with dementia, or just con-artists. All these people pushing the end of central banks because they are clueless about how the real world functions.

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

 

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central Bank Money Rules the World

Central bank credit that supports markets — is not just creation of the Fed, but by central banks and institutions around the world colluding together. Global markets are too deeply connected these days to consider the Fed in isolation.

Since last month’s correction, the world has been watching the Fed because its policies have global implications. And worldwide sell-offs sent a clear sign to Fed Chair Powell to relax with the rate hikes.

When fears arise that central bank QE will recede on one side of the world, we see more volatility and rumors of hawkishness. To counter those fears, there will be a move toward dovish policy on the other side of the world.

Central banks operate in collusion. When the Fed signals it is raising rates, or markets over-react negatively to the threat, another central bank steps in. By colluding, other central banks offer even more dark money-QE to keep the party going.

The net result is a propensity toward the status quo in global monetary policy: a bullish, asset bubble-inflating bias in the stock markets and caution in the bond markets.

Here’s what’s going on with some of the most powerful central bankers right now, starting with Japan…

While U.S. markets were correcting earlier this month, Japan’s financial benchmark, the Nikkei 225 index fell more than 1,200 points. At the same time, the rumors of Japan’s central bank curbing its dark money-QE programs are just that.

While investors have speculated that the BoJ could be moving towards an exit from dark money policy (despite the BOJ denying this), we know that central banks are too scared of the outcomes.

In an economic pinch, the Bank of Japan (BoJ), will keep dark money flowing.

Confirming my premise, when Japanese Government Bond prices were dipping too fast, the BoJ announced “unlimited” buying of long-term Japanese government bonds. This is simply the continuation of the policy the BoJ already has in place.

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

 

 

The Perfect Storm for 2020: Weidmann at the ECB, Trump’s trade war, Macron’s failure, Italy’s turmoil

The Perfect Storm for 2020: Weidmann at the ECB, Trump’s trade war, Macron’s failure, Italy’s turmoil

Clouds are gathering: Weidmann will end QE while Macron’s reform will not solve any problem whatsoever. It’ll be the final push for a Eurosceptic Italy, where plans for parallel currencies are popping up. Add Trump’s trade war to the soup and 2020 promises to turn nasty.

It is becoming increasingly clear that at the end of 2019 Jens Weidmann, current President of the Bundesbank, will replace Mario Draghi at the helm of the European Central Bank. The change in terms of economic beliefs will be radical and, combined with the other developing issues in Italy and the US, which will be discussed later in the text, might as well put an end to the misery of the Eurozone.

What does Jens Weidmann believe in?
As a typical post-Weimar German, he believes in strong currency and low inflation. The Financial Times carried an interesting interview with him a few weeks ago,1)in which the German financier expressed his opposition to everything that Mario Draghi has stood for in the last few years and made known his wish to stop the quantitative easing program and replace it with raised interest rates. What happens when interest rates increase? If they go up too fast, markets crumble. Low interest rates offered for too long have contributed to the subprime mortgages debacle of 2007-8. In 2012, at the peak of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, Draghi promised to do ”whatever it takes” to preserve the European common currency. Weidmann was the only one on the board of the ECB who was opposed to this too. Draghi’s statement had a therapeutic effect on financial markets which quickly calmed down after it. Once he’s gone, however, Weidmann is unlikely to show the same resolve to indeed do whatever it might take to keep the currency together. Finally, just like most Germans, he is not a fan of Emmanuel Macron’s idea of creating a Eurozone budget because the money transfer is seen as too much of a concession towards “lazy Southerners”. Maybe in the end Weidmann will opt to preserve the status-quo, but if he sticks to his beliefs, rates will increase, markets will fall and it’ll be the end of the Eurozone.

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

Despite Years of ECB’s QE (Ending Soon), Italy’s “Doom Loop” Still Threatens Eurozone Financial System

Despite Years of ECB’s QE (Ending Soon), Italy’s “Doom Loop” Still Threatens Eurozone Financial System

Even banks outside Italy have an absurdly out-sized exposure to Italian sovereign debt.

The dreaded “Doom Loop” — when shaky banks hold too much shaky government debt, raising the fear of contagion across the financial system if one of them stumbles — is still very much alive in Italy despite Mario Draghi’s best efforts to transfer ownership of Italian debt from banks to the ECB, according to Eric Dor, the director of Economic Studies at IESEG School of Management, who has collated the full extent of individual bank exposures to Italian sovereign debt.

The doom loop is a particular problem in the Eurozone since a member state doesn’t control its own currency, and cannot print itself out of trouble, which leaves it exposed to credit risk.

The Bank of Italy, on behalf of the ECB, has bought up more than €350 billion of multiyear Treasury bonds (BTPs) in recent years. The scale of its holdings overtook those of Italian banks, which have been shedding BTPs since mid-2016, making the central bank the second-largest holder of Italian bonds after insurance companies, pension funds and other financials.

But Italian banks are still big owners of Italian debt. According to a study by the Bank for International Settlements, government debt represents nearly 20% of banks’ assets — one of the highest levels in the world. In total there are ten banks with Italian sovereign debt holdings that represent over 100% of their tier 1 capital (or CET1), according to Dor’s research. The list includes Italy’s two largest lenders, Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, whose exposure to Italian government bonds represent the equivalent of 145% of their tier 1 capital. Also listed are Italy’s third largest bank, Banco BPM (327%), MPS (206%), BPER Banca (176%) and Banca Carige (151%).

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

$21 Trillion And Rising: How Central Banks Are LBOing The World In One Stunning Chart

Back in late 2016, we showed the unprecedented domination of capital markets by central banks using a chart from Citi, which had put together a fascinating slideshow asking simply “Where is the utility in marginal QE” and specifically pointing out that the longer unconventional monetary policy such as QE continues, the bigger its marginal cost, until eventually QE becomes a detriment.

A broad criticism of monetary policy, the presentation carried an amusing footnote: “This presentation does not change any of Citi’s existing, published views on the actual future path of monetary policy. It is merely intended as a contribution to the ongoing debate about the efficacy of available policy tools” –  after all, the last thing the market wanted is the realization that even banks no longer have faith in the central planners.

Incidentally, Citi’s broad critique of global QE took place when central banks owned just over $18 trillion in assets.

Fast forward to today when in its latest update of central bank holdings, Citi shows that as of this moment not only has the total increased by another $3 trillion to a grand total of $21 trillion and rising, but that the big six central banks now own over 40% of global GDP, more than double the 17% they held before the financial crisis less than a decade ago.

Which is remarkable in a world where there is still some confusion about what is behind the “global coordinated recovery”, and where there are deluded people who claim that central banks are now out of the picture.

It is also remarkable because now that central banks are gradually phasing out QE, it is the central bankers themselves who are terrified of what happens when the market starts selling; terrified that they have lost control. Recall that following stunning admission from Citi’s Hans Lorenzen last November:

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

Why QE didn’t send gold up to $20,000

Why QE didn’t send gold up to $20,000

Why didn’t quantitative easing, which created trillions of dollars of new money, lead to a massive spike in the gold price?

The Quantity Theory of Money

The intuition that an increase in the money supply should lead to a rise in prices, including the price of gold, comes from a very old theory of money—the quantity theory of money—going back to at least the philosopher David Hume. Hume asked his readers to imagine a situation in which everyone in Great Britain suddenly had “five pounds slipt into his pocket in one night.” Hume reasoned that this sudden increase in the money supply would “only serve to increase the prices of every thing, without any farther consequence.”

Another way to think about the quantity theory is by reference to the famous equation of exchange, or

  • MV = PY
  • money supply x velocity of money over a period of time = price level x goods & services produced over that period

A traditional quantity theorist usually assumes that velocity, the average frequency that a banknote or deposit changes hands, is quite stable. So when M—the money supply— increases, a hot potato effect emerges. Anxious to rid themselves of their extra money balances M, people race to the stores to buy Y, goods and services, that they otherwise couldn’t have afforded, quickly emptying the shelves. Retailers take these hot potatoes and in turn spend them at their wholesalers in order to restock. But as time passes, business people adjust by ratcheting up their prices so that the final outcome is a permanent increase in P.

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

Doug Noland: No Bailouts Anytime Soon, So Let Those Short Bets Run

Doug Noland: No Bailouts Anytime Soon, So Let Those Short Bets Run

Now that equities are behaving the way they should have since, oh, 2013 – volatile with a pronounced down bias – everyone is wondering how far the crazy will go before the Fed starts buying the S&P 500.

Short sellers, of course, want to know when to close out their at-long-last-profitable bets (seeDavid Einhorn). Cautious investors (see Warren Buffett) with money on the sidelines want to know when to step in and buy. And fully invested optimists (the vast majority these days), are wondering if they should keep buying the dips till the cavalry arrives.

Credit Bubble Bulletin’s Doug Noland has been through at least three such cycles in his career as a short seller, and he’s parsed the testimony of new Fed chair Jerome Powell to reach a conclusion that the shorts will love and the longs will hate. Here’s an excerpt from his latest post:

The new Chairman is not in awe and, at least to commence his term, seems disinclined to pander to the markets. With greed waning, the change in tone was difficult for an uncomfortable Wall Street to ignore. Markets have grown too accustomed to central bank chiefs with an academic view of “efficient” markets – scholars wedded to doctrine that it’s the role of central banks to bolster and backstop securities markets. Powell knows better. As the old saying goes, “he knows where the bodies are buried.” Wall Street fancies the naïve. FT: “‘Powell Put’ Assumption Challenged as Fed Chief Shows Hand.”

I believe Powell recognizes the perils associated with backstopping a speculative marketplace. That doesn’t mean he won’t be compelled to do it. At some point, he’ll have little choice. But it likely means he will not act in haste. The Powell Fed will be much more cautious in delivering market assurances.

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

Kuroda Shocks Markets Hinting At QE End; Nikkei, USDJPY Tumble

In addition to the suddenly escalating global trade war, overnight traders had one more thing to worry about: another central bank unwinding its QE program. This happened shortly after midnight ET, when BOJ Governor Kuroda unexpectedly announced that the Bank of Japan will start thinking about how to exit its massive monetary stimulus program around the fiscal year starting in April 2019, and that there could be policy change before the 2% inflation target is achieved, marking the first time he’s provided any clear guidance on timing for normalizing policy.

“Right now, the members of the policy board and I think that prices will move to reach 2 percent in around fiscal 2019. So it’s logical that we would be thinking about and debating exit at that time too,” he said. “I’m not saying that the negative rate of 0.1 percent and the around 0 percent aim for 10-year bond yields will never change, but it is possible. We will be discussing that at each policy meeting.”

In immediate reaction, Japanese shares fell sharply, the Nikkei sliding as much as 2.9% as the Yen surged as much as 0.5%, with the USDJPY tumbling below 106, a 15 month low, while JGB yields jumped across the curve.

“Kuroda’s comments are important because he officially acknowledged a change in policy was likely before the end of fiscal year 2019,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “A move sub-105 yen over the coming days wouldn’t be surprising under the current risk off/trade war concern environment”

In testimony that lasted about three hours, Kuroda seemed to try mitigating the negative market impact by saying that this doesn’t affect his “overshooting commitment,” which pledges the BOJ to continue expanding the monetary base until inflation exceeds 2 percent in a stable manner.

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

It’s Raining Money

It’s Raining Money

With apologies to the Dire Straights:

Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the bull on the fin TV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and stocks for free

After 9 years of artificial liquidity drenching markets the same game continues in 2018: It’s raining money. Again. Still.

Last week we saw the standard script of the last 9 years unfold: Dovish talk by central bankers and artificial liquidity taking over markets. The latest avalanche of free money entering markets are of course buybacks courtesy of tax cuts which now are expected to reach $650B in 2018 announcements coming to $50B a month.

In many cases companies don’t know what to do with all that free cash, but to buy back their own shares. Warren Buffet pretty much spelled it out this weekend and today:

“A large portion of our gain did not come from anything we accomplished at Berkshire,” Buffett wrote.

The firm’s most recent annual letter revealed the investment conglomerate’s net worth surged $65 billion in 2017, with $29 billion of that stemming from tax proceeds. That gain was realized in December, after the passage of the tax plan.

So he has a problem, knowing that stocks are expensive he’s having a hard time investing the cash so he’s opening the door to buy back his own shares over issuing more dividends. None of this creates jobs, jobs, jobs of course, but is a refection of the absurdity of the ill devised tax cuts that will continue to expand wealth inequality but will continue to produce a bid underneath markets until the bitter end.

Lest also not forget that the ECB keeps running QE at 30B Euro a month and overnight the BOJ’s Kuroda announced persistent monetary easing is needed while China injected 150b yuan in overnight liquidity as well and voila a sea of global green:

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

Deutsche Bank: This Does Not Make Sense

Amid the growing debate whether rates will keep rising once they hit 3.00%, or they will fall as asset managers find the new level attractive enough to dip their toes and buy duration, one analyst laughs at everyone calling for lower rates from here onward.

In a note published overnight, Deutsche Bank credit strategist Jim Reid writes that “rates and yields will continue to structurally move higher in the quarters and years ahead regardless of any short-term moves, and we hope policymakers won’t be derailed by the inevitable macro issues that this will bring.”

While we will share some more details from this note, the first in a series of why Deutsche believes that global yields have nowhere to go but up, we wanted to highlight one chart which according to Deustche does not make any sense in the context of the ongoing debate of potentially lower yields: the projection of global debt to GDP forecasts for the next 30 years.

According to Reid, “notwithstanding the short-term low supply expectations in Europe, a real head-scratcher going forward is how the market will cope over the years and even decades to come with the central case scenario of higher and higher government debt around the world. Figure 13 looks at the US, Germany and Japan government debt/GDP with forecasts from the US CBO and BIS.”

And here is the chart that is at the crux of Reid’s conundrum: this is the same chart which prompted Fed president Robert Kaplan to suggest that the US debt trajectory is headed toward unsustainability.

Reid’s summary:

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

It Was Not Effective, But We’ll Do It Again

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren has some interesting comments about QE today.

Although large scale asset purchase programs may not be as effective as previously believed, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said Friday, “it is quite likely” that the programs will be needed in the future.

Crisis-Era Failures

The Federal Reserve’s signature bond buying stimulus program undertaken during and in the wake of the financial crisis was largely a dud for the economy, argues a new paper authored by a group of prominent economists.

The paper, which was to be presented Friday at a conference held in New York by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, takes aim at the central bank’s controversial purchases of long-term Treasury and mortgage debt.

Given the unorthodox nature of the stimulus, arriving in an economy undergoing huge stress, central bankers and academics have long struggled to understand what the Fed got for a policy that took its portfolio of cash and bonds from a pre-crisis level of just over $800 billion in 2007 to a peak of $4.5 trillion.

“We find that Fed actions and announcements were not a dominant determinant of 10-year yields and that whatever the initial impact of some Fed actions or announcements, the effects tended not to persist,” the paper’s authors wrote. Their findings were based on a study of Fed policy announcements referenced against market reactions.

William Dudley of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Eric Rosengren of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston both said on a panel discussing the paper’s findings that they agree it’s hard to understand the exact impact of the bond buying.

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

ECB minutes reveal fears over Trump currency wars

ECB minutes reveal fears over Trump currency wars

 A man wearing a monkey costume passes in front of the old European Central Bank  building in Frankfurt, Germany Photograph: EPA

Account of January meeting also show communications differences on QE

A man wearing a monkey costume passes in front of the old European Central Bank building in Frankfurt, Germany Photograph: EPA

Euro zone concerns over the weakness of the dollar were laid bare in a set of European Central Bank minutes that highlighted fears the Trump administration was deliberately trying to engage in currency wars.

The account of the ECB’s January monetary policy meeting also reveals that its hawkish members pushed for a change in the bank’s communications, arguing economic conditions were now strong enough to drop a commitment to boost the quantitative easing programme in the event of a slowdown.

Mario Draghi, ECB president, last month hit out at US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s claim that a weak dollar was good for the American economy. Mr Draghi said Washington needed to uphold the rules of the international monetary system, which forbid nations from deliberately devaluing their currencies.

Mr Mnuchin’s remarks were seen as a signal that the US could ditch its strong dollar policy – which could lower euro zone exports and make it harder for the ECB to hit its inflation target.

Mr Mnuchin later said his comments were “completely consistent with what I’ve said before” and that he had merely made a “factual statement” that a weaker dollar would help the US on trade in the short term. President Donald Trump has also since reaffirmed the strong dollar policy.

The accounts of the ECB meeting on January 24th -25th, published on Thursday, show Mr Draghi’s fears were widely shared among the bank’s decision makers. “Concerns were…expressed about recent statements in the international arena about exchange rate developments and, more broadly, the overall state of international relations,” the account 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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