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Bank of England intervenes in bond markets again, warns of ‘material risk’ to UK financial stability

  • “Dysfunction in this market, and the prospect of self-reinforcing ‘fire sale’ dynamics pose a material risk to UK financial stability,” the Bank of England warned.
  • The move marks the second expansion of the central bank’s extraordinary rescue package in as many days, after it increased the limit for its daily gilt purchases on Monday ahead of the planned end of the purchase scheme.
The Bank of England raised rates by 0.5 percentage points Thursday.
The Bank of England raised rates by 0.5 percentage points Thursday.
Vuk Valcic | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

LONDON — The Bank of England on Tuesday announced an expansion of its emergency bond-buying operation as it looks to restore order to the country’s chaotic bond market.

The central bank said it will widen its purchases of U.K. government bonds — known as gilts — to include index-linked gilts from Oct. 11 until Oct. 14. Index-linked gilts are bonds where payouts to bondholders are benchmarked in line with the U.K. retail price index.

The move marks the second expansion of the Bank’s extraordinary rescue package in as many days, after it increased the limit for its daily gilt purchases on Monday ahead of the planned end of the purchase scheme on Friday.

The Bank launched its emergency intervention on Sep. 28 after an unprecedented sell-off in long-dated U.K. government bonds threatened to collapse multiple liability driven investment (LDI) funds, widely held by U.K. pension schemes.

“The beginning of this week has seen a further significant repricing of UK government debt, particularly index-linked gilts. Dysfunction in this market, and the prospect of self-reinforcing ‘fire sale’ dynamics pose a material risk to UK financial stability,” the bank said in a statement Tuesday.

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

Bank of England Now 2nd Central Bank to Taper, After Canada, but Denies Tapering is “Tapering,” also Following Canada

Bank of England Now 2nd Central Bank to Taper, After Canada, but Denies Tapering is “Tapering,” also Following Canada

The Big Taper starts one central bank at a time. But you gotta keep the markets from swooning with a bit of welcome delusion.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) today announced that it voted unanimously to maintain its policy rate at 0.1%. But in terms of its asset purchases, it took the trail the Bank of Canada blazed last November and then widened in April: tapering.

The BoE announced that the blistering pace of its asset purchases would be “slowed somewhat”  – tapering the bond purchases from £4.4 billion a week to £3.4 billion a week – but that this tapering was an “operational decision” that “should not be interpreted as a change in the stance of monetary policy.”

This “is not a tapering decision,” emphasized BoE governor Andrew Bailey during the press conference. The reason this tapering is not “a tapering decision,” he said, is because the BoE left its target for the final level of QE assets unchanged.

Unlike the Fed, the BoE doesn’t have an open-ended QE, but had set a target of bringing its holdings of UK government bonds to £875 billion and its holdings of corporate bonds to £20 billion, for a combined target of £895 billion. And at the meeting, the BoE didn’t change these “fixed amounts,” as Bailey put it.

Obviously, denying that tapering is tapering was designed to mollify the markets with a welcome dose of delusion, and it worked: the UK’s stock index FTSE 100 rose 0.5% for the day.

However, when the members voted on maintaining the target of £895 billion, it wasn’t unanimous, with eight members voting for maintaining it, and one member, outgoing chief economist Andy Haldane, voting to lower it by £50 billion, to £845 billion.

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

 

Dangers Of Programmable Money Explained 

Dangers Of Programmable Money Explained 

Dominic Frisby with Money, Markets & Other Matters talks about the war on cash and central bank digital currency, known as CBDC. He questions if CBDCs are “the final step into the brave new world – Orwellian great reset dystopia – we seem to be heading towards” or are they “the onramp to the Bitcoin motorway.” He said the answer is “both.” 

Frisby points out the biggest issue with CBDCs is that digital money is “programmable,” which means the issuer, such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England, can build specific rules into it. He said cash grants users freedom and power.

Programmable money, such as CBDCs, means the user has even less control over their money. Frisby said almost any kind of rule could be coded into CBDCs. He provides an example of China mulling over the idea of expiry dates for its digital money. This means those holding the programmable money have to spend the money by a specific time or it disappears from their account.

For those who aren’t familiar with Chuck Palahniuk’s 2018 “Adjustment Day” book, a similar concept of expiring money was detailed. Palahniuk is also the writer behind “Flight Club.”

Back to Frisby, who said issuers could manipulate money velocity by changing expiry dates. He said the money could be programmed to work only in certain areas or jurisdictions. He then warned:

“Every transaction ever made will be visible to the all-seeing government.” 

Governments will know your whereabouts and habits at all times simply by tracking your use of funds through the CBDC payment system. This can already be done, to some extent, by tracking credit card transactions, but the CBDC system will make state surveillance more pervasive.

CBDCs also allow the government to have direct access to a person’s wallet to remove taxes and other fines. 

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

BoE Keeps Policy Unchanged, Tells Banks To Start Preparing For Negative Rates “If Necessary” But Sees Spike In Inflation

BoE Keeps Policy Unchanged, Tells Banks To Start Preparing For Negative Rates “If Necessary” But Sees Spike In Inflation

The Bank of England kept its stimulus program unchanged on Thursday. The BoE maintained its Bank Rate at 0.1% and left the size of its total asset purchase programme at 895 billion pounds in a unanimous decision, as expected.

Growth and Inflation

On QE, the BOE said that “if needed, there was scope for the Bank of England to re-evaluate the existing technical parameters of the gilt purchase programme” but that is unlikely since the BOE’s growth forecast was far stronger than previously:

  • UK GDP is expected to have risen a little in 2020 Q4 to a level around 8% lower than in 2019 Q4.
  • This is materially stronger than expected in the November Report.
  • While the scale and breadth of the Covid restrictions in place at present mean that they are expected to affect activity more than those in 2020 Q4, their impact is not expected to be as severe as in 2020 Q2, during the United Kingdom’s first lockdown.
  • GDP is expected to fall by around 4% in 2021 Q1, in contrast to expectations of a rise in the November Report.
  • Global GDP growth slowed in 2020 Q4, as a rise in Covid cases and consequent restrictions to contain the spread of the virus weighed on economic activity. Since the MPC’s previous meeting, financial markets have remained resilient.

The BOE also said that CPI inflation was expected to rise quite sharply towards the 2% target in the spring, as the reduction in VAT for certain services comes to an end and given developments in energy prices. In the MPC’s central projection, conditioned on the market path for interest rates, CPI inflation is projected to be close to 2% over the second and third years of the forecast period.

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

The Fed is Lying to Us

The Fed is Lying to Us

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie”

The recent statements from the Federal Reserve and the other major world central banks (the ECB, BoJ, BoE and PBoC) are alarming because their actions are completely out of alignment with what they’re telling us.

Their words seek to soothe us that “everything’s fine” and the global economy is doing quite well. But their behavior reflects a desperate anxiety.

Put more frankly; we’re being lied to.

Case in point: On October 4, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell publicly claimed the US economy is “in a good place”. Yet somehow, despite the US banking system already having approximately $1.5 trillion in reserves, the Fed is suddenly pumping in an additional $60 billion per month to keep things propped up.

Do drastic, urgent measures like this reflect an economy that’s “in a good place”?

The Fed’s Rescue Was Never Real

Remember, after a full decade of providing “emergency stimulus measures” the US Federal Reserve stopped its quantitative easing program (aka, printing money) a few years back.

Mission Accomplished, it declared. We’ve saved the system.

But that cessation was meaningless. Because the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped right in to take over the Fed’s stimulus baton and started aggressively growing its own balance sheet — keeping the global pool of new money growing.

Let’s look at the data. First, we see here how the Fed indeed stopped growing its balance sheet in 2014:

And we can note other important insights in this chart.

For starters, you can clearly see how in 2008, the Fed printed up more money in just a few weeks than it had in the nearly 100 years of operations prior.

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

Will the Bank of England join the loose money bandwagon?

Will the Bank of England join the loose money bandwagon?

As the year of the 325th anniversary of the Bank of England’s foundation, and as the month of one of the Bank’s more important rate-setting decisions since 2008, September provides a congruous occasion on which to reflect on the history of the BoE and consider what the future holds for it. Founded in 1694 as a private bank to the government, it was in 1998 that the BoE was granted independence from the government in setting monetary policy. Now the UK faces perhaps its greatest political uncertainty in a generation, it is worth asking the question: to what extent will this independence continue? 

We have already seen the effect of populist leaders on central banks that are ostensibly independent. The obvious case is that of the US, but there are other examples to be found of central banks facing political pressure to keep monetary policy easy, from Turkish President Erdogan’s sacking of the then central bank governor, to the ECB’s reaction to persistently low growth in Europe. Even if Trump doesn’t control the Fed directly, he certainly controls the market, which in turn has forced the hand of the central bank and led to the Fed cutting rates with the economy in expansion. And with ever more monetary sweets to choose from in the jar, which politician could resist raiding the cupboard and giving their economy a sugar high of rate cuts, QE and lending? 

Pressure on the Fed is likely only to increase as the 2020 elections approach: if President Trump is able to engineer further cuts, and then get the markets soaring with a trade deal and promises of tax cuts just in time for elections, we might begin to agree he is – in his words – “a very stable genius”.

In Unprecedented, Shocking Proposal, BOE’s Mark Carney Urges Replacing Dollar With Libra-Like Reserve Currency

In Unprecedented, Shocking Proposal, BOE’s Mark Carney Urges Replacing Dollar With Libra-Like Reserve Currency

After Jerome Powell’s neutral-to-slightly-dovish-but-mostly-boring speech on Friday morning, investors could be forgiven for suspecting that this year’s Fed-sponsored gathering in Jackson Hole might be disappointingly dull (especially with all that’s going on in Trump’s twitter feed, the escalating trade war and escalating geopolitical unrest).

Then along came former Goldman banker and current (outgoing) BOE governor, Mark Carney, who in his lunchtime address laid out a shocking, radical proposal – perhaps the most stunning thing to ever be unveiled at Jackson Hole – urging to replace the US Dollar with a “Libra-like” reserve currency in a dramatic revamp of the global monetary, financial and economic order.

While it was unclear if Carney was focusing on Libra as the new reserve currency, or simply was hoping to find something against which the dollar could be devalued, the proposal was clearly shocking as it suggests that the central bank quiet acceptance of cryptocurrencies (especially in Japan) has been what many have speculated all along: a “currency” against which fiat money can be devalued in hopes of sparking fiat hyperinflation that inflates away record amounts of fiat debt.

Of course, such a new system would bring about the end of US hegemony, and effectively end the dollar-based global financial system, dramatically scaling back the US’s influence in the global economy, and making rising powers like China and Russia critical players an increasingly multipolar world…. especially if they propose a gold-backed dollar alternative to the world. That this would quickly emerge as the new reserve currency – together with whatever stablecoin/crypto central bankers deign to be the dollar’s replacement – goes without saying.

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

The Bank’s ‘Stress’ Tests

THE BANK’S ‘STRESS’ TESTS

MY REPORT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND’S LATEST (NOVEMBER 2018) STRESS TESTS WAS PUBLISHED BY THE ADAM SMITH INSTITUTE ON AUGUST 3RD.

The purpose of the stress tests is, in essence, to persuade us that the banking system is in good shape on the basis of a make-believe exercise which purports to show what might happen in the event of a supposed severe stress scenario as modelled by a central bank with a dodgy model and a vested interest in showing that the banking system is in great shape thanks to its own wise policies.

We are expected to believe that the central bank has managed to rebuild the banking system despite enormous pressure placed on it by the institutions it regulates, whose principal objective is to run down their capital ratios (or equivalently, maximise their leverage) in order to boost their returns on equity and resulting short-term profits, and never mind the systemic risks and associated costs imposed on everyone else or the damage their high leverage did in the Global Financial Crisis.

These latest Bank of England’s stress tests were published in the Bank’s November 2018 Financial Stability Report, the core message of which was that the UK banking system was doing just great, but that a No-Deal Brexit would be a disaster. Wrong on both counts.

I will focus here on the first issue, the state of the banking system.

In essence, the Bank paints a reassuring picture of bank resilience. The message is that the UK banking system is now so strong that it could sail through another crisis that is more severe than the last one and still be in good shape. How do we know this? Because the stress tests tell us, claims the Bank. However, the truth is that the Bank’s stress tests are useless at detecting bank fragility.

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

Russia Urges “Independence” From “Imposed World Order” Of US Financial System

Russia Urges “Independence” From “Imposed World Order” Of US Financial System

Following Russia signalling last week, its willingness to join the controversial payments channel Instex – designed to circumvent both SWIFT as well as US sanctions banning trade with Iran – new statements from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called on the international community to free itself from a purely US-controlled international financial system and US dollar dominance. 

“We must protect ourselves from political abuses made with the help of the US dollar and the American banking system,” he said while addressing a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela, according to TASS. “We must turn our dependence in this sphere into independence,” he added.

“Let us be multipolar in the spheres of finance and currency,” he said.

Image via Newsmax

The senior diplomat was specifically addressing US-led sanctions and the tightening economic noose, including a near total oil export blockade, on the Maduro government in Caracas. 

The comments also come after early this year the Maduro regime was stymied in its bid to pull $1.2 billion worth of gold out of the Bank of England, according to a January Bloomberg report. The Bank of England’s (BoE) decision to deny Maduro officials’ withdrawal request was a the height of US coup efforts targeting Maduro.

Specifically top US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, had lobbied their UK counterparts to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets, as we reported at the time. Washington has further lobbied other international institutions, and especially its Latin American allies, to seize Venezuelan assets and essentially hold them for control of Juan Guaido’s opposition government in exile. 

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

“Peak QE”: This Is What Share Of The Market Central Banks Now Own

After a decade of unprecedented liquidity injections by central banks to preserve the western financial system, global QE has peaked.

First, the aggregate balance sheet of major central banks started to shrink earlier in the year, a reversal that took investors many months to notice but judging by recent market volatility, it is finally being fully appreciated.

Second, beginning this month the Fed’s bond portfolio run-offs as part of its QT are roughly offsetting the combined tapered net QE purchases by the ECB and BoJ. Worse, QT is now set to dominate.

Some facts: between mid-2008 and early 2018, the “Big-6” central banks expanded their balance sheets by nearly $15tn, most of it due to explicit targeted purchases of domestic assets (QE) in addition to other forms of liquidity injections (collateralised lending such as the ECB’s TLTROs or FX interventions equivalent to foreign-asset QE).

According to Deutsche Bank estimates, the four major central banks involved in QE (Fed, ECB, BoJ and BoE) are now collectively holding $11.3tn of securities accumulated through their asset purchase programs.

Why is the above important? Because as Deutsche strategist Michal Jezek, now that liquidity is contracting makes for a timely moment for looking at the proportion of relevant asset classes owned by central banks and putting the ECB’s corporate bond holdings into a wider context.

To begin, as Jezek confirms what we have been saying since the start of 2009, “clearly, QE matters.” As central banks reduced the free float of some securities and QE has worked its magic on confidence and growth, asset valuations reached unprecedented levels while volatility became suppressed. A couple of years ago, a quarter of the global bond market was trading with a negative yield. With global QE fading, this proportion has now fallen by half but remains significant.

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

Bank Of England Hikes Rates By 25bps In 7-2 Vote; First Increase In A Decade; Pound Plunges

Bank Of England Hikes Rates By 25bps In 7-2 Vote; First Increase In A Decade; Pound Plunges

Over ten years since the last rate hike by the Bank of England in July 2007 (when incidentally, cable was trading above $2.00), and following years of market expectations of an imminent rate hike that failed to materialize…

…. moments ago the BOE – which had telegraphed the move extensively in recent months despite some dovish misgivings – finally pulled the trigger, and raised rates by 25bps to 0.5% in order to curb the effect of high inflation brought about by the post-Brexit plunge in the pound, squeezing local households and pressuring the UK economy. However, while cable initially spiked higher on the news, it subsequently slumped on the news that the vote was not a unanimous 9-0 decision as some had expected, as would telegraph a normal rate hike cycle, and instead had a decidedly dovish tilt with a far more contested 7-2 vote, with Cunliffe and Ramsden dissenting based on insufficient evidence that domestic costs, particularly wage growth, would pick up in line with central projections.

Here is the BOE assessment:

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sets monetary policy to meet the 2% inflation target, and in a way that helps to sustain growth and employment.  At its meeting ending on 1 November 2017, the MPC voted by a majority of 7-2 to increase Bank Rate by 0.25 percentage points, to 0.5%.  The Committee voted unanimously to maintain the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £10 billion.  The Committee also voted unanimously to maintain the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion.

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

Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Perhaps having grown tired of fighting windmills, it was several weeks since Albert Edwards’ latest rant against central banks. However, we were confident that recent developments out of the Fed and BOE were sure to stir the bearish strategist out of hibernation, and he did not disappoint, lashing out this morning with his latest scathing critique of “monetary schizophrenia”, slamming all central banks but the Fed and Bank of England most of all, who are again “asleep at the wheel, building a most precarious pyramid of prosperity upon the shifting sands of rampant credit growth and illusory housing wealth.”

Follows pure anger from the SocGen strategist:

These of all the major central banks were the most culpable in their incompetence and most prepared with disingenuous excuses. And 10 years on, not much has changed. The Fed and BoE are once again presiding over a credit bubble, with the BoE in particular suffering a painful episode of cognitive dissonance in an effort to shift the blame elsewhere. The credit bubble is everyone’s fault but theirs.

First, some recent context with this handy central bank holdings chart courtesy of Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid which alone is sufficient to make one’s blood boil.

For those familiar with Edwards’ writings over the years, the gist of his note will come as no surprise: after all, how many different ways can you say that central banks have broken the market, have caused a credit bubble, and will be responsible for the crash when they finally run out of cans to kick.

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

Jackson Hole and the Appalachians


Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937
 

The Jackson Hole gathering of central bankers and other economics big shots is on again. They all still like themselves very much. Apart from a pesky inflation problem that none of them can get a grip on, they publicly maintain that they’re doing great, and they’re saving the planet (doing God’s work is already taken).

But the inflation problem lies in the fact that they don’t know what inflation is, and they’re just as knowledgeable when it comes to all other issues. They get sent tons of numbers and stats, and then compare these to their economic models. They don’t understand economics, and they’re not interested in trying to understand it. All they want is for the numbers to fit the models, and if they don’t, get different numbers.

Meanwhile they continue to make the most outrageous claims. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said in early July that “We have fixed the issues that caused the last crisis.” What do you say to that? Do you take him on a tour of Britain? Or do you just let him rot?

Fed head Janet Yellen a few days earlier had proclaimed that “[US] Banks are ‘very much stronger’, and another financial crisis is not likely ‘in our lifetime’. “ While we wish her a long and healthy life for many years to come, we must realize that we have to pick one: it has to be either a long life, or no crisis in her lifetime.

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

Hell To Pay

SkillUp/Shutterstock

Hell To Pay

The final condition for a market crash is falling into place 

Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever going to run out of new things to say about the economy. Nothing interesting has happened in a long time.

Our liquidity-drunk “markets” remain over-priced due to the chronic intervention of the global central banking cartel, which has demonstrated over and over again that it won’t tolerate even the slightest drop in asset prices.

Those familiar with my writing know I put the word “markets” in quotes because we no longer have a financial system where legitimate price discovery is a regular — or even recognizable — feature.

It’s destined to fail. What more can be said about such a flawed system?

Well, a lot as it turns out.

And failure to pay attention at this stage of economic and ecological history will prove to be exceptionally painful.

The Beginning of the End

It’s been a long 7 years for those of us who believe fundamentals matter.  For quite some time they have not.

So we reality-based fundamentalists have largely been reduced to pointing at the parade of policy failures and ham-fisted market manipulations and saying, essentially, That’s just dumb.

But ‘dumb’ mistakes have become ‘stupid’, and ‘stupid’ became ‘idiotic’, and now ‘idiotic’ mistakes are piling up, accumulating into a mountain of stored potential energy that will someday topple destructively across the global markets.  We’ve all known, deep down, that money printing is not the same as capital formation, and that prosperity never truly results from redistributing wealth from one group to another. And yet, far too many have been willing to play along and place their trust in the central banks.

Well, we’ve finally reached the beginning of the end.

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

Italy Granted “Extraordinary ” €150BN Bank Bailout Program To Prevent “Panic, Run On Deposits”

Italy Granted “Extraordinary ” €150BN Bank Bailout Program To Prevent “Panic, Run On Deposits”

 As we noted today, the rumors of an Italian bank bailout, which started on Monday morning, and were promptly shot down by Merkel the next day, got louder after a Reuters report that the Italian government is considering more creative ways to inject liquidity into Italy’s banks. However that was just an appetizer to a main course, which came later today when as the WSJ reported citing a spokeswoman for the European Union’s executive arm that the “European Commission has authorized Italy to use government guarantees to create a precautionary liquidity support program for their banks.”  

How did this happen so quietly under the table and without Merkel’s blessing? WSJ says that the program was approved under the bloc’s “extraordinary crisis rules for state aid.”

And here we thought that Italy’s banks are actually doing so very well.  Oh wait, no we didn’t.

As the WSJ notes, the proposed “crisis” plan is the “other leg of an intervention plan considered by the government” namely, the direct capital injection into Italian banks that would add up to €40 billion in capital to the banking sector”, the one we profiled previously. It is also the plan that Merkel supposedly shut down before it got off the ground. However, Europe had a Plan B up its sleeve.

What are the details of this latest “crisis” program?

According to an EU official, the liquidity support program includes up to €150 billion ($166 billion) in government guarantees. The WSJ adds that the commission spokeswoman declined to comment on the amount of guarantees that were authorized, but said that the budget requested by the Italian government had been found to be proportionate. The Italian economy ministry declined to comment.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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