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Over $10 Trillion In Debt Now Has A Negative Yield

Over $10 Trillion In Debt Now Has A Negative Yield

NIRP is back.

On Friday, when Germany reported disastrous mfg and service PMI prints, the 10Y German Bund finally threw in the towel, with the yield sliding back under zero for the first time in three years. When that happened, and when the 3M-10Y yield curve inverted in the US right around that time, just over $400 billion in global debt changed the sign on its yield from positive to negative.

As a result, the total notional of global negative yielding debt soared on Friday, rising above $10 trillion for the first time Since September 2017, and which according to Bloomberg has intensified “the conundrum for investors hungry for returns while fretting the brewing economic slowdown.”

Paradoxically, the amount of negative-yielding debt has nearly doubled in just six months, and confirms that the global asset bubble is back because as Gary Kirk, a founding partner at London-based TwentyFour Asset Management, said “money managers face increasing pressure to reprise the yield-chasing mentality synonymous with quantitative easing.”

“This obviously tempts those investors holding cash to move along the maturity curve — or down the rating curve — to seek yield, which is once again becoming a scarce commodity,” he said. “It’s a classic late-cycle conundrum.”

Despite the Fed’s renewed herding of investors into the riskiest assets, Kirk is so far “resisting the temptation” to snap up longer-dated credit obligations that will be the first to default when the next recession hits, and prefers duration bets in interest-rate markets.

Others won’t be so lucky: as we noted last Friday, the ‘reverse rotation’, or flood into fixed income instruments, is accelerating and fund flows confirmed the fresh panic for yield just as the specter of QE4 returns as investors in the latest week parked $6.6 billion into investment-grade funds, $3.2 billion into high-yield bonds and $1.2 billion into emerging-market debt, according to EPFR data.

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

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

This past week, on March 20, 2019, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell announced the US central bank would not raise interest rates in 2019. The Fed’s benchmark rate, called the Fed Funds rate, is thus frozen at 2.375% for the foreseeable future, i.e. leaving the central bank virtually no room to lower rates in the event of the next recession, which is now just around the corner.

The Fed’s formal decision to freeze rates follows Powell’s prior earlier January 2019 announcement that the Fed was suspending its 2018 plan to raise rates three to four more times in 2019. That came in the wake of intense Trump and business pressure in December to get Powell and the Fed to stop raising rates. The administration had begun to panic by mid-December as financial markets appeared in freefall since October. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, hurriedly called a dozen, still unknown influential big capitalists and bankers to his office in Washington the week before the Christmas holiday. With stock markets plunging 30% in just six weeks, junk bond markets freezing up, oil futures prices plummeting 40%, etc., it was beginning to look like 2008 all over again. Public mouthpieces for the business community in the media and business press were calling for Trump to fire Fed chair Powell and Trump on December 24 issued his strongest threat and warning to Powell to stop raising rates to stop financial markets imploding further.

In early January, in response to the growing crescendo of criticism, Powell announced the central bank would adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude whether or not to raise rates further. The Fed’s prior announced plan, in effect during 2017-18, to raise rates 3 to 4 more times in 2019 was thus swept from the table. So much for perennial academic economist gibberish about central banks being independent! Or the Fed’s long held claim that it doesn’t change policy in response to developments in financial markets!

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

Weekly Commentary: Doing Harm with Uber-Dovish

Weekly Commentary: Doing Harm with Uber-Dovish

This week’s FOMC meeting will be debated for years – perhaps even decades. The Fed essentially pre-committed to no rate hike in 2019. The committee downgraded both its growth and inflation forecasts. Having all at once turned of little consequence, we can now dismiss the 3.8% unemployment rate and the strongest wage growth in a decade. Moreover, the Fed announced it would be scaling back and then winding down balance sheet “normalization” by September. This put an impressive exclamation point on a historic policy shift since the December 19th meeting. At least for me, it hearkened back to a Rick Santelli moment: “What’s the Fed afraid of?”

Markets came into the meeting fully anticipating a dovish Fed. Our central bank returned to the old playbook of beating expectations. In the process, the Federal Reserve doused an already flaming fixed-income marketplace with additional fuel. 

After trading to 3.34% during November 8th trading, ten-year Treasury yields ended this week a full 90 bps lower at 2.44%, trading Friday at the lowest yields since December 2017. Yields were down 15 bps this week – 17 bps from Tuesday’s (pre-Fed day) close – and 28 bps so far in March. And with three-month T-bill rates at 2.40%, the three-month/10-year Treasury curve flattened to the narrowest spread since 2007 (briefly inverting Friday). Five-year Treasury yields ended the week inverted 16 bps to three-month T-bills – and two-year Treasuries were inverted about eight bps.

Collapsing sovereign yields were a global phenomenon. Japan’s 10-year JGB yields declined four bps Friday to negative eight bps (-0.08%), the lowest yields since September 2016. With Germany’s Markit Manufacturing index sinking to the lowest level since 2012 (44.7), bund yields dropped seven bps to negative 0.015% – also lows going back to September 2016. Swiss 10-year yields sank 12 bps this week to negative 0.45%. Two-year German yields closed out the week at negative 0.57%. UK 10-year yields dropped 20 bps (1.01%), Spain 12 bps (1.07%) and France 11 bps (0.35%).

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

The Reckoning

The Reckoning

The big macro wheels are turning and everybody better pay very close attention. The Reckoning is coming. Best hope for a substantive China trade deal and a last minute save on Brexit to perhaps delay the inevitable: The Coming Recession.

This week’s full frontal capitulation by the Fed has not only removed a key buying carrot, but also has brought about the inversion of the yield curve, a classic confirming warning sign that a recession is coming. The key question of course: The when and the how. Bulls will want to hope the recession is at least another year or two away to engage participants in a final game of musical chairs before the rug gets pulled. Bears will point to structural forces and factors that suggest that a recession may come a lot sooner than anyone expects.

In this edition of the Weekly Market Brief I’ll outline some key macro risk factors and dissect some key technical developments I think everyone should be aware of.

Before I do that a quick announcement: After considering all the feedback I’ve received (thanks by the way) I’ve decided to continue to provide a video component as part of the Weekly Market Briefs whenever possible. They truly help provide context and color to the charts. If you want get notifications of the videos you can subscribe via my channel here: NT YouTube Channel.

Now onto markets:

Let’s me get something straight here: Bulls continue to be wrong on the macro and bears continue to be right.

Fact: All the glorious projections made by bulls about growth and earnings continue to get overrun by the deteriorating macro reality. The same folks that didn’t forecast the 2015/2016 earnings recession also didn’t predict the 2019 earnings recession (or the 2018 20% market drubbing for that matter) and are once again clinging to dovish central banks to bail them out.

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

Fed Can’t Get Out – Buy Gold Now – Jim Rickards

Fed Can’t Get Out – Buy Gold Now – Jim Rickards

Four time best-selling author Jim Rickards says the Fed “throwing in the towel” on rate hikes is signaling a big problem for the economy. Rickards says, “The Fed was tightening to get ready for the next recession. . . . You need to cut interest rates somewhere between 4% and 5% to get out of a recession. How do you cut interest rates 4% if you are only at 2.25%? The answer is you can’t. You have to get to 4% before you can cut 4%, and that’s what the Fed was trying to do. . . . How do you raise rates in weakness to get ready for the next recession without causing the next recession that you are preparing to cure? That was the conundrum. I never thought they would get it right . . . and, as of now, it looks like they didn’t get it right. Meaning, they tightened so much to get ready for the next recession they slowed the economy.”

Rickards says, “Bernanke painted them into a corner, and they can’t get out. There is no escape from the room. By the way, one of the reasons gold is preforming so well, the Fed has proved that they can’t get out of this. They got into it, but they can’t get out of it because every time they try, they sink the stock market. They sink the housing market. They raise the specter of recession. They slow economic growth. They don’t want that. So, they sort of pause and maybe tiptoe back into it, but they really can’t get out of it.”

On gold, Rickards says, “People always say there is not enough gold to support commerce and trade and the money supply. I always remind them that is nonsense.

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

The Fed’s Failures Are Mounting

The Fed’s Failures Are Mounting

In the decade between “60 Minutes” interviews, the central bank has sparked a recovery without inflation but not much else. 

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has his work cut out for him.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has his work cut out for him. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former adviser to the president of the Dallas Fed, is the author of “Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve Is Bad for America,” and founder of Quill Intelligence.

Friday marks the 10-year anniversary of the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s groundbreaking “60 Minutes” interview. To listen to current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on the same show a decade later, the central bank’s best laid plans since then would seem to have played out according to script with one glaring exception: the Fed’s balance sheet.

When “60 Minutes” reporter Scott Pelley asked Bernanke if the Fed was printing money, his reply was, “Well, effectively. And we need to do that, because our economy is very weak, and inflation is very low. When the economy begins to recover, that will be the time that we need to unwind those programs, raise interest rates, reduce the money supply, and make sure that we have a recovery that does not involve inflation.”

If the primary goal was recovery without inflation, the Fed delivered. Since the onset of recovery in June 2009, the core personal consumption expenditures index, which measures the prices paid by consumers for goods and services net of food and energy prices that tend to be more volatile, has been above 2 percent in just five months in 2018, four in 2012 and one in 2011.

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

The Federal Reserve: A Failure of the Rule of Law

The Federal Reserve: A Failure of the Rule of Law

“Money is power.” We’ve all heard this aphorism many times before. Too often it’s a lazy shorthand dismissal of the finding of mainstream economics, which show that the pursuit and possession of money often entails innocuous or even beneficial consequences for society. Dr. Johnson was right after all: “There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money.”

But there are some contexts in which the saying is apt. An obvious case is the Federal Reserve. The Fed has a monopoly on the creation of base money, the fundamental asset underlying the banking and financial system. And over decades, with each instance of financial turbulence, the Fed has become less constrained in how, when, and why it creates base money. Since the Great Recession, the Fed has been able to bestow purchasing power, liquidity, and solvency on just about any financial organization it pleases. If that isn’t power, there’s no such thing.

The Federal Reserve System was created in 1913. It was intended to be a formalization of the interbank clearing system that then existed in the National Banking System. It was not intended to be a central bank. Even in the early 20th century, economists and politicians had some idea of what central banks did and how they behaved, and the existence of such an institution was widely regarded as inherently un-American, in the sense that it could not be reconciled with a self-governing society. That’s why so many proponents of the Federal Reserve System bent over backward to insist they were not advocating the creation of a central bank. And at the time, their repudiations were reasonable; there was no reason the Federal Reserve System had to acquire the powers it did.

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

Federal Reserve Chairman Appears on 60 Minutes – Why Now?

Federal Reserve Chairman Appears on 60 Minutes – Why Now?

One of the most famous, and prescient, financial cartoons in American history is the above depiction of the Federal Reserve Bank as a giant octopus that would come to parasitically suck the life out of all U.S. institutions as well as free markets. 

The image is taken from Alfred Owen Crozier’s U.S. Money Vs Corporation Currency, “Aldrich Plan,” Wall Street Confessions! Great Bank Combine, published in 1912, just a year before the creation of the Federal Reserve. 

Last night, the current high priest of money printing, asset bubbles and inequality, Jerome Powell, appeared on 60 Minutes. Interviewer Scott Pelley mentioned the fact that such discussions are rare and noted the last time a Fed head appeared for such a chat was Ben Bernanke back in 2010.

As such, what I find most interesting about this event wasn’t Powell’s boilerplate, bureaucratic propaganda about how the economy’s doing fine and how much central bankers love average Americans, but why he and the institution he heads felt a need to do this now.

There’s no doubt something has the Fed spooked otherwise Powell never would have done this. One factor is they know the economic ground’s starting to shift beneath them, and they need to push a particular narrative ahead of time so central bankers can once again do as they please when “the time to act” arrives.

This is why Powell pushed the blame on the current economic slowdown on China and Europe. The Fed is no different than your average politician. It takes full credit when things go well, but endlessly deflects and blames outside forces when things fall apart.

Rule number 1 of the Federal Reserve:  It’s never the Fed’s fault.
Rule number 2 of the Federal Reserve:  It’s never the Fed’s fault.
Rule number 3 of the Federal Reserve

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

Ides and Tides

Ides and Tides


Just as presidents are expected to act presidentially, Federal Reserve chairpersons are expected to act oracularly — as semi-supernatural beings who emerge now and again from some cave of mathematical secrets to offer reassuringly cryptic utterances on mysteries of the economy. And so was Jerome Powell wheeled out on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night, like a cigar store Indian at an antique fair, so vividly sculpted and colorfully adorned you could almost imagine him saying something.

Maybe it was an hallucination, but I heard him say that “the economy is in a good place,” and that “the outlook is a favorable one.” Point taken. Pull the truck up to the loading dock and fill it with Tesla shares!  I also thought I heard “Inflation is muted.” That must have been the laugh line, since there is almost no single item in the supermarket that goes for under five bucks these days. But really, when was the last time you saw a cigar store Indian at Trader Joes? It took seventeen Federal Reserve math PhD’s to come up with that line, inflation is muted.

What you really had to love was Mr. Powell’s explanation for the record number of car owners in default on their monthly payments: “…not everybody is sharing in this widespread prosperity we have.”  Errrgghh Errrgghh Errrgghh. Sound of klaxon wailing. What he meant to say was, hedge-funders, private equity hustlers, and C-suite personnel are making out just fine as the asset-stripping of flyover America proceeds, and you miserable, morbidly obese, tattooed gorks watching this out on the Midwestern buzzard flats should have thought twice before dropping out of community college to drive a forklift in the Sysco frozen food warehouse (where, by the way, you are probably stealing half the oven-ready chicken nuggets in inventory).

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

Central Banks Cave, Usher In The Crack-Up Boom

Central Banks Cave, Usher In The Crack-Up Boom

This was going to be the year when the other big central banks joined the Fed in “normalizing” interest rates and reversing the past decade’s QE experiment. Instead, the other central banks blinked and went back to aggressive ease, and the Fed is following them. This is a very big deal. 

Let’s consider some before-and-after stories: 

In September 2018, the European Central Bank began tightening: 

European Central Bank to take next step in tapering stimulus

(AP) – The European Central Bank is expected to ratchet back its stimulus efforts again on Thursday as it gingerly phases out extraordinary support for the economy left over from the Great Recession and the euro currency union’s debt crisis.

The bank’s 25-member governing council is expected to cut its monthly bond-purchase stimulus to 15 billion euros ($17.4 billion) a month from 30 billion a month, on the way to ending the purchases at the end of the year.

Reinhard Cluse, chief European economist for UBS, said that after the June meeting “the ECB is now essentially on autopilot.” Cluse said that the ECB can phase out the bond purchases and then decide the exact timing of next year’s first rate increase in the summer or fall.

But before any actual tightening took place, the EU economy slowed and turmoil flared in Italy and France. This week: 

European Central Bank announces major policy reversal

(WSWS) – The European Central Bank has reversed its policy of slight monetary tightening and announced a new stimulus package in the face of data which show a sharp downturn in growth in the euro zone. The unanimous decision was taken at the meeting of the ECB’s governing council held in Frankfurt yesterday.

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

The Super Wealthy Are Already Preparing For NIRP and Worse

The Super Wealthy Are Already Preparing For NIRP and Worse

The Global Elite are preparing for Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP) and Wealth Grabs.

How do I know?

They’re moving their money into physical cash.

Physical cash represents one of the rare loopholes in our current financial system. When money is in actual physical cash it can’t be charged interest by a bank engaged in NIRP. It’s also much easier to hide from the Political Class intent of imposing wealth taxes and other capital grabs.

With that in mind, consider that the number of $100 bills in circulation has DOUBLED since 2008. In fact, there are now MORE $100 bills that $1 bills in the financial system.

The number of outstanding U.S. $100 bills has doubled since the financial crisis, with more than 12 billion of them across the world, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. C-notes have passed $1 bills in circulation, Deutsche Bank chief international economist Torsten Slok said in a note to clients this week.

Source: CNBC

Let’s be blunt here, the folks who have a lot of money to hide are usually the ones with the best connections to the elites.

As a result, they typically know what is coming down the pike before the rest of us. Which is why it’s critical to pay attention to what these people DO rather than just say.

Consider the following:

  • The IMF has already called for a wealth tax of 10% on NET WEALTH.
  • More than one Presidential candidate for the 2020 US Presidential Race has already openly called for a wealth tax in the US.
  • Polls suggest that the majority of Americans support a wealth tax.

And if you think this will stop with the super wealthy, you’re mistaken. You could tax 100% of the wealth of the top 1% and it would finance the US deficit for less than six months.

Which means…

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

Bubble 3.0: No Way Out

BUBBLE 3.0: NO WAY OUT

“We’re paddling against the current in trying to sustain public faith in the Fed.”
–Federal Reserve Chairman JEROME (JAY) POWELL

“The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s key rate-setting entity) is in panic mode now, facing the Frankenstein monster balance sheet it has created. The FOMC has come to the realization that it cannot unwind it.”
–Jones Trading’s chief strategist MIKE O’ROURKE 

“The Fed today is as much a prisoner of the market as the market today is a prisoner of the Fed.”
–Epsilon Theory’s BEN HUNT

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of 2018, we initiated a new EVA series titled “Bubble 3.0” with excerpts from David Hay’s upcoming book titled “Bubble 3.0: How Central Banks Created the Next Financial Crisis”.

If you are just joining us in the middle of this ongoing series, which will eventually culminate in a full-length publication, please take a few moments to review the prior installments in the series:

In this month’s edition, David looks at how a recent policy pivot from the Fed could create a longer-term crisis with no way out for the US economy or stock market. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

BUBBLE 3.0, CHAPTER 10: NO WAY OUT

“Big hat, no cattle”. “All sizzle, no steak”. “Talks a good game”. Those and other popular sound-bites are meant to refer to someone who is, to use another colloquialism, “all bark and no bite”. When it comes to most of the world’s central banks, all of those quips apply. 

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

Weekly Commentary: Dudley on Debt and MMT

Weekly Commentary: Dudley on Debt and MMT

December’s market instability and resulting Fed capitulation to the marketplace continue to reverberate. At this point, markets basically assume the Fed is well into the process of terminating policy normalization. Only a couple of months since completing its almost $3.0 TN stimulus program, markets now expect the ECB to move forward with some type of additional stimulus measures (likely akin to its long-term refinancing operations/LTRO). There’s even talk that the Bank of Japan could, once again, ramp up its interminable “money printing” operations (BOJ balance sheet $5.0 TN… and counting). Manic global markets have briskly moved way beyond a simple Fed “pause.”

There was the Thursday Reuters article (Howard Schneider and Jonathan Spicer): “A Fed Pivot, Born of Volatility, Missteps, and New Economic Reality: The Federal Reserve’s promise in January to be ‘patient’ about further interest rate hikes, putting a three-year-old process of policy tightening on hold, calmed markets after weeks of turmoil that wiped out trillions of dollars of household wealth. But interviews with more than half a dozen policymakers and others close to the process suggest it also marked a more fundamental shift that could define Chairman Jerome Powell’s tenure as the point where the Fed first fully embraced a world of stubbornly weak inflation, perennially slower growth and permanently lower interest rates.”

And then Friday from the Financial Times (Sam Fleming): “Slow-inflation Conundrum Prompts Rethink at the Federal Reserve: Ten years into the recovery and with unemployment near half-century lows, the Federal Reserve’s traditional models suggest inflation should be surging. Instead, officials are grappling with unexpectedly tepid price growth, prompting some to rethink their strategy for steering the US economy.

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

The Birth of a Monster

The Birth of a Monster

The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended — the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

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

Doug Noland: Central Banks Are “Hostages Of Market Bubbles”

Doug Noland: Central Banks Are “Hostages Of Market Bubbles”

Doug Noland’s weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin is always required reading. The latest – befitting the amazing things that have happened lately – is more necessary than usual. But at 10,000 words it’s also a lot longer than usual. So while everyone should definitely read the whole thing, here are some excerpts to get you started:

I wonder if the Fed is comfortable seeing the markets dash skyward – the small caps up 16.4% y-t-d, the Banks 15.9%, the Transports 15.2%, Biotechs 18.5% and Semiconductors 17.0%. Or, perhaps, they’re quickly coming to recognize that they are now fully held hostage by market Bubbles.

Similarly, I ponder how Beijing feels about January’s booming Credit data – Aggregate Financing up $685 billion in the month of January. Do officials appreciate that they are completely held captive by history’s greatest Credit Bubble? 

Bubbles have become a fundamental geopolitical device – a stratagem. Things have regressed to a veritable global Financial Arms Race. As China/U.S. trade negotiations seemingly head down the homestretch, each side must believe that rallying domestic markets beget negotiating power. Meanwhile, emboldened global markets behave as if they have attained power surpassing mighty militaries and even nuclear arsenals.

China’s banks made the most new loans on record in January – totaling 3.23 trillion yuan ($477bn) – as policymakers try to jumpstart sluggish investment and prevent a sharper slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

January’s record China new bank loans were 11.4% higher than the previous record from January 2018 – and 15% above estimates. Total Bank Loans expanded 13.4% over the past year; 28% in two years; 45% in three years; 91% in five years; and an incredible 323% over the past decade.

“The San Francisco Fed put out a white paper about the benefits of negative interest rates. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but we can only cut rates about 225/250 bps to be at zero” — Kyle Bass, Hayman Capital Management.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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