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For Freak’s Sake, People, Even the Crash Test Dummies Are Nervous

For Freak’s Sake, People, Even the Crash Test Dummies Are Nervous

Those trusting the Fed to be visibly weak, corrupt and incompetent forever might be in for an unwelcome surprise.

When even the crash test dummies are nervous, it pays to pay attention. Being in a mild crash isn’t too bad if all the protective devices inflate as intended. But in a horrific crash where nothing goes as planned, it’s like speeding in a ready-to-explode Pinto and being side-swiped by a semi on Dead Man’s Curve.

The stock market is in the Pinto, and the smell of gasoline is so strong it’s overpowering the smell of old Cheetos and stale beer. The Federal Reserve is driving, and it’s got a crazy glint in its eyes that everyone dismisses– to their immense regret when the Pinto goes off the cliff and flames envelop the wreckage.

We’re talking metaphorically here. The pain of catastrophic financial losses isn’t physical. But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt for years or even decades.

Here’s a brief recap: The Fed says inflation is under control, will soon subside, and is no biggie.

In other words, the Fed believed it wielded Jedi Mind Tricks (to convince the masses that there was nothing to worry about as “this isn’t the inflation you’re looking for”) and that it was living in a Wizard of Oz world in which it possessed supernatural powers: if we say inflation is declining, it will decline.

Put simply, the Fed is completely delusional. If you need more proof, consider their risible claim that Fed policies aren’t the cause of soaring wealth inequality, when the evidence that the Fed has destabilized society by boosting wealth inequality to new heights is incontestable to all but con artists and the delusional.

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

Fed Chair Faces the Ultimate Lose-Lose Decision

Fed Chair Faces the Ultimate Lose-Lose Decision

Photo by Vadim Sadovski

The U.S. economy teeters between two catastrophes: wild and untamed hyperinflation that turns cash into wallpaper, or an epic crash that would make 2008 look like a day at the beach. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has led the U.S. government’s monetary policy to this point.

Now he’s attempting a nearly impossible feat…

He will need to thread the needle between the two economic disasters, between the frying pan and the fire, to return the U.S. economy to any form of sustainable prosperity.

Is that kind of miracle even possible?

The frying pan: 40-year-record-high inflation

We will start with the obvious issue: December’s inflation report of 7% year-over-year price increases. That’s at the end an entire year where inflation rose steadily for eleven of twelve months. August, the exception, saw a 0.1% decline.


Source

In addition, what Powell endlessly assured us was merely “transitory” inflation, a “blip,” caused by “supply chain snarls” and so on? It’s the highest we’ve seen in 40 years.

Most of our readers who have a little gray in their hair may remember how grim the stagflationary crisis of the late 70s and early 80s was. However, the average American is only 38 years old. They most likely have no idea what we’re facing, even while watching their personal expenses go up month after month.

And make no mistake, those expenses have gone up quite a bit for virtually everyone.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) report revealed the prices that rose the most in December 2021 :

  • Gasoline +49.6%
  • Fuel oil, and other fuels for heating +48.9% (just in time for the coldest days of winter, too)
  • Natural gas: +24.1%
  • Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs: +12.5%
  • Electricity: +6.3%
  • Housing +4.1%

If you find this list depressing, I’m afraid your solace isn’t immune to this trend… Distilled spirits (excluding whiskey) rose 3.4% in price.

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

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments” almost certainly await, warns Nomura’s Charlie McElligott in his latest note as he reflects on a massive week ahead for markets.

With Powell testimony and bunches of Fed speakers, along with US economic releases headlined by the market’s most important datapoint in the CPI release Wednesday, in addition to PPI, Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment over the course of the week, plus two Duration-heavy auctions ($36B of 10Y and $22B 30Y, on top of tomorrow’s $52B 3Y),… and finally, US corporate earnings season kickoff (highlighted by JPM, C and WFC this upcoming Friday), it is no wonder that investors are degrossing still…

While the long-end of the curve is reversing modestly – after some more ugliness overnight – STIRs continue to grind hawkishly higher with March now consolidating around a 90% chance of a rate-hike

McElligott raises some worries of a rapid ‘reversal’ risk in bonds – via “market tantrum” forcing the Fed to yet-again “Bend the Knee” – as market positioning in bonds is extreme to say the least.

Looking at the QIS CTA Trend model to get a sense of the “bearish momentum” and asymmetry within Fixed-Income positioning, we currently see the net exposure across G10 Bonds is back to 10 year historical “extreme Short” at just 2.2%ile overall exposure since 2011; further, the aggregate $notional position across the agg G10 Bond positions is now greater that -2 SD rank (i.e. very “net Short”) dating all the way back to 2002.

Similarly, the Nomura MD notes that eventually, the more this selloff in legacy long / crowded hyper Growth Tech extends, there is ultimately a mounting risk of a sharp counter-trend rally in beaten-down Nasdaq, particularly considering the extremely magnitude of the Dealer “short Gamma” profile in QQQ ($Gamma -$476mm, 3.4%ile since 2013…

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

Is the Crack-up Boom Here?

Is the Crack-up Boom Here?

Bloomberg News recently solicited advice from Argentinians who lived through that country’s high inflation on how Americans should cope with rising inflation. The Argentinians suggested Americans spend their paychecks as fast as possible to avoid future price increases. They also suggested taking out loans that can be paid back later in devalued currency.

These strategies may make sense for individuals. However, encouraging debt and discouraging savings is disastrous for the country. Relying on debt and spending one’s paycheck immediately encourages people to seek instant gratification instead of planning for the future. This depletes both economic and moral capital.

November’s 9.6 percent increase in the producer price index, combined with the consumer price index’s increase to levels not seen since the early 1980s, shows why fears of inflation have become the public’s number one concern. Even the Federal Reserve has acknowledged that inflation is not just “transitory.”

The Fed recently announced it is accelerating the timetable to reduce its monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. The Fed also announced it is planning three interest rate increases next year. However, the Fed plans to increase rates by no more than one percent. So even if the Fed does follow through on its promise to hike rates, it will do little if anything to combat rising prices. If the Fed allowed interest rates to rise to anything approaching market levels, it would make the federal government’s debt servicing costs unsustainable. This puts tremendous pressure on the Fed to maintain low rates.

The biggest victims of the Federal Reserve’s erosion of the dollar are lower- and middle-class Americans whose paychecks do not keep pace with the Fed-caused price increases. Yet many progressives still cling to the fallacy that average workers somehow benefit from continued dollar devaluation.

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

The Taper Next Door: Bank of Canada Cuts Bond Purchases by 25%. Total Assets Drop by 13%. Rate Hikes Moved Forward, Possibly July 2022

The Taper Next Door: Bank of Canada Cuts Bond Purchases by 25%. Total Assets Drop by 13%. Rate Hikes Moved Forward, Possibly July 2022

Housing craziness is front and center.

The Bank of Canada, which already holds over 40% of all outstanding Government of Canada (GoC) bonds – compared to the Fed, which holds less than 18% of all outstanding US Treasury securities – announced today that it would reduce by one-quarter the amount of GoC bonds it adds to its pile, from C$4 billion per week currently, to C$3 billion per week beginning April 26.

In its statement, it pointed at the craziness in the Canadian housing market – “we are seeing some signs of extrapolative expectations and speculative behavior,” it said.

Back in October, the BoC made the first reduction, tapering purchases of GoC bonds from C$5 billion per week to C$4 billion, and it had stopped adding mortgage-backed securities, of which it had never bought many to begin with.

In March, the BoC announced that it would unwind its liquidity facilities, thereby reducing its total assets by about 17%, from C$575 billion at the time, to C$475 billion by the end of April. And this has progressed as planned.

The BoC cited “moral hazard” associated with this central bank craziness as one of the reasons for the unwinding of its liquidity facilities, what are now mostly repurchase agreements (repos) and short-term Government of Canada Treasury bills. Its total assets dropped by 13% over the past month, to C$501 billion on its most recent balance sheet through the week April 14:

The total amount of the assets has declined because the BoC is unwinding its liquidity facilities. The largest remaining categories are the term repos and the short-term Treasury bills. As they mature, the BoC gets its money back, but doesn’t replace those securities, and the balance declines…

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

QE During the “Everything Mania”: Fed’s Assets at $7.7 Trillion, up $3.5 Trillion in 13 months

QE During the “Everything Mania”: Fed’s Assets at $7.7 Trillion, up $3.5 Trillion in 13 months

But long-term Treasury yields have surged, to the great consternation of our Wall Street Crybabies.

The Fed has shut down or put on ice nearly the entire alphabet soup of bailout programs designed to prop up the markets during their tantrum a year ago, including the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) that bought corporate bonds, corporate bond ETFs, commercial mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities, municipal bonds, etc. Its repos faded into nothing last summer. And foreign central bank dollar swaps have nearly zeroed out.

What the Fed is still buying are large amounts of Treasury securities and residential MBS, though no one can figure out why the Fed is still buying them, given the crazy Everything Mania in the markets.

But for the week, total assets on the Fed’s weekly balance sheet through Wednesday, March 31, fell by $31 billion from the record level in the prior week, to $7.69 trillion. Over the past 13 months of this miracle money-printing show, the Fed has added $3.5 trillion in assets to its balance sheet:

One of the purposes of QE is to force down long-term interest rates and long-term mortgage rates. But long-term Treasury yields started rising last summer. The 10-year Treasury has more than tripled since then and closed today at 1.72%. Mortgage rates started rising in early January. Bond prices fall as yields rise, and the crybabies on Wall Street want the Fed to do something about those rising long-term yields and the bloodbath they have created in the prices of long-term Treasury securities and high-grade corporate bonds.

But instead, the Fed has said in monotonous uniformity that rising long-term yields despite $120 billion of QE a month are a welcome sign of rising inflation expectations and a growing economy:

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

wolf richter, wolfstreet, qe, quantitative easing, money printing, credit expansion, fed, us federal reserve, central bank, interest rates, wall street

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

There’s a Serious Flaw to the Team Powell-Yellen Inflation Scheme

If you’re a wage earner, retiree, or a lowly saver, your wealth is in imminent danger.

A lifetime of schlepping and saving could be rapidly vaporized over the next several years.  In fact, the forces towards this end have already been set in motion.

Indeed, there are many forces at work.  But at the moment, the force above all forces is the extreme levels of money printing being jointly carried out by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.

Fed Chairman Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have linked arms to crank up the printing presses in tandem.

This is what’s driving markets to price things – from copper to digital NFT art – in strange and shocking ways.  But what’s behind the money printing?

Surely it’s more than progressive politics – under the guise of virus recovery – run amok.

Where to begin?

The U.S. national debt is a good place to start.  And the U.S. national debt is now over $28 trillion.  Is that a big number?

As far as we can tell, $28 trillion is a really big number…even in the year 2021.  How do we know it’s a big number, aside from counting the twelve zeros that fall after the 28?

We know $28 trillion is a big number based on our everyday experience using dollars to buy goods and services.  You can still buy a lot of stuff with $28 trillion.  In truth, $28 trillion is so big it’s hard to comprehend.

Nonetheless, $28 trillion is not as big a number today as it was in 1950.  Back then, the relative bigness of $28 trillion was much larger.  It was unfathomable.

Crime of the Century

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

economic prism, mn gordon, janet yellen, inflation, jerome powell, fed, us federal reserve, central bank, stimulus, government stimulus, united states

The Fed Wrecked the World’s Most Important Market

The Fed Wrecked the World’s Most Important Market

Do you wish to know where the economy is heading? The bond market holds the answer, say the veterans.

The birds of the moment, the flighty birds, flock to the stock market. But the owls nest in the bond market.

The owls are the wiseacres.

The Federal Reserve’s hocus-pocus fails to trick them. They know the card is up the sleeve. And they enjoy exposing the fraud.

New York Times economics reporter Neil Irwin:

Savvy economic analysts have always known the bond market is the place to look for a real sense of where the economy is going, or at least where the smart money thinks it is going.

For example: Is inflation ahead? The bond market will tell you — Treasury bonds in particular.

Bonds and Inflation

Longer-dated Treasury notes will telegraph the signal. If they wire an inflationary message, their prices will fall. And their yields will rise.

(Bonds operate as seesaws operate. When prices go up, yields go down. When yields go up, prices go down).

Yields would rise because inflation would eat into the bond’s value… as the termite eats into wood. Under inflation a bond is a sawdust asset.

Bond purchasers would demand a higher yield to compensate them for inflation’s ravages.

That is, they would demand insurance against the termite’s evils.

The Message of the Bond Market

Does today’s bond market indicate inflation is ahead?

It does not. 10-year Treasury notes presently yield under 1% — 0.923%.

These are historic lows. 10-year yields average 4.40% across time.

In brief… the bond market indicates no inflationary menace. Inflation is as tame as a tabby.

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

China’s Rapidly Expanding Credit Affects Global Markets

China’s Rapidly Expanding Credit Affects Global Markets

We again are seeing how rapidly expanding credit in China is spilling over into the global market. In reaction to its economy being slammed by covid-19, China like many countries has unleashed several massive stimulus programs to start things moving. Unfortunately for the Chinese people, they have also been dealing with other issues putting their system under stress. Not only is the trade war and a high level of political stress putting China to the test but it is in the midst of the worst flooding in decades and this is also adding to the pressure.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Chinese authorities have issued 4.75 trillion yuan ($683 billion) in local and national debt with most of that earmarked for infrastructure projects to boost construction. China is far from transparent and making it difficult to know what exactly is happening. This is also true when it comes to imports which are sometimes stored away rather than used. Speculation and projections of future use all play into this. Whether we are talking about grain prices, oil, or metal, China is a bigger user of commodities and the demand flowing from China affects prices. Factor into this the notion that China is big in projecting a positive narrative of economic growth and the spillover becomes clear.

An example of this can be seen as iron ore prices hit a six and a half year high on Thursday as the Chinese construction and manufacturing sector claims to be experienced levels of activity not seen for almost a decade. Fastmarkets MB reported that benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $129.92 a tonne on Tuesday, up 2.1% on the day. That would be the highest level for the steel-making raw material since mid-January 2014 and put gains for 2020 to over 40%. 

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

ECB v Fed

ECB v Fed

QUESTION: Martin,

You mentioned in a recent blog post that the ECB, unlike the FED, can go bankrupt.

Can you explain further?

Not sure where you get the time, energy and resources to research and write all that you do buy it is truly amazing.

Regards,

M

ANSWER: The Federal Reserve does not need permission to create elastic money. It has the authority to expand or contract its balance sheet. However, it cannot simply print money out of thin air. The ECB is the only institution that can authorize the printing of euro banknotes. The Federal Reserve must back the banknotes by purchasing US government bonds. The Fed buys and sells US government bonds to influence the money supply whereas the ECB influences the supply of euros in the market by directly controlling the number of euros available to eligible member banks. This structure was created because of Germany’s obsession with its own hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Each member state retained its central bank and those central banks issue the banknotes — not the ECB. Therefore, the ECB works with the central banks in each EU state to formulate monetary policy to help maintain stable prices and strengthen the euro. The ECB was created by the national central banks of the EU member states transferring their monetary policy function to the ECB, which in effect operates on a supervisory role.

There are four decision-making bodies of the ECB that are mandated to undertake the objectives of the institution. These bodies include the Governing Council, Executive Board, the General Council, and the Supervisory Board.

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China’s Central Bank Vows To Expand Total Credit By 30% Of GDP In 2020

China’s Central Bank Vows To Expand Total Credit By 30% Of GDP In 2020

One of the curiosities about the current global financial crisis is that unlike the global financial crisis of 2008 when a massive credit injection by China sparked a generous reflationary wave around the world which pulled it out of a deflationary slump, this time around China has been far more modest as the following chart shows.

All that may be about to change.

Speaking in a financial forum in Shangha, China’s central bank governor Yi Gang said that China will keep liquidity ample in the second half of the year, but it should consider in advance the timely withdrawal of policy measures aimed at countering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The financial support during the epidemic response period is (being) phased, we should pay attention to the hangover of the policy,” Yi said. “We should consider the timely withdrawal of policy tools in advance.”

In other words, just like the Fed, China is pretending that whatever is coming will be temporary. Which, in a world of helicopter money will never again be the case.

But more importantly, we know that in order to boost its stagnating economy, China is about to unleash a historic credit injection: Yi said that new loans are likely to hit nearly 20 trillion yuan ($2.83 trillion) this year, up from a record 16.81 trillion yuan in 2019, and total social financing could increase by more than 30 trillion yuan ($4.2 trillion), or about 30% of GDP. A similar number for the US would be about $7 trillion which is more or less what the US deficit will be over the next 12 months.

In other words, we’re going to need a much bigger chart of China’s broad credit.

Yi added that the bank’s balance sheet remains stable around 36 trillion yuan.

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

No to the ECB madness

No to the ECB madness

The latest ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court is a drop of bitterness in the idyll of the ECB’s excessive money printing. What Super Mario (Draghi) did and what the IMF-imported Christine Lagarde mercilessly continues – 2.6 trillion euros (since 2015), invested in government, corporate and other securities to boost the economy and inflation – are a blessing for financiers and their customers (plutocracy) and a curse for savers and future pensioners. Roughly speaking, the ECB is buying up the debts of banks and large corporations, but is not worried about citizens’ savings melting away as a result of the negative interest rate, while the bubble is growing in markets overheated by cheap money (including the property market). The owners of real assets are benefiting, while owners of financial assets are losing. Companies that would not have been able to survive under any other circumstances remain in the market as zombies, reducing productivity, the rate of return on capital in the eurozone and their competitiveness in the world.

These trillions of euros are therefore ineffective. After all, the eurozone economy weakened significantly much earlier, before the outbreak of the so-called pandemic. Now the bubble has burst on the stock markets and Lagarde immediately started to take new “measures” from her ivory tower in Frankfurt: money presses are running at full speed, markets are recovering, the economy is still at its worst since the end of the Second World War, unemployment rates very high everywhere, but never mind all that, “The show must go on”, until one day, oh, how unpleasant these German judges!

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

Powell Needs To Immediately Address Negative Rates Or He Will Lose Control

Powell Needs To Immediately Address Negative Rates Or He Will Lose Control

Today was a historic day, not for the latest algo-driven meltup in stocks, but because for the first time ever, fed fund futures priced in negative rates, first in January 2021 and shortly after,  as recently as November 2020.

In response to the dramatic move which reverberated across asset classes, sending stocks and gold sharply higher, and 2Y yields plunging to record lows as markets suddenly realized that NIRP may be coming in just a few months, Richmond Fed president Thomas Barkin said that it’s not worth trying negative rates in the US:

“I think negative interest rates have been tried in other places, and I haven’t seen anything personally that makes me think they’re worth a try here.” He then added that “if you looked at data as of today, you’d see it about as low as it’s going to go. We’ll be bringing people back to work, and eventually hopefully people back to stores and the like, in the coming weeks and months, and I would expect the data to go up from here.”

But one look at fed funds after Barkin’s comments showed that markets barely noticed, with December implied rates still in negative territory.

Which means that only Powell addressing this issue – immediately – can reverse the market’s test of the Fed’s resolve to go from ZIRP to NIRP, because the longer Powell does nothing, the more negative rates will become widely accepted, and any “unexpectedly” denials by Powell in the coming months would be seen as  hawkish reversal and lead to another market crash, which the Fed will argue nobody could have possibly seen and be forced to cut to negative anyway.

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

They’re All High on Fed Fairy Dust

They’re All High on Fed Fairy Dust

Everybody realizes the US economy is in a bad spot. But most people still seem to believe it will bounce right back once we deal with the coronavirus.

They’re all high on Federal Reserve fairy dust.

US GDP contracted by 4.8% in the first quarter. It was the first negative GDP reading since a 1.1% decline in the first quarter of 2014 and it was the lowest level since the 8.4% plunge in Q4 of 2008.

And the worst is yet to come.

The Q1 GDP number only captures the first couple of weeks of coronavirus-inspired government lockdowns of the economy. In fact, in January Donald Trump and others were telling us that it was the best economy in the history of the world. That was also in the first quarter.

The first-quarter GDP print came in even worse than expected. Economists were projecting a contraction of 3.5 to 4%. The precipitous and rapid plunge in economic activity not only reflects the impacts of turning off the economy in the midst of coronavirus; it also reveals just how fragile the economy was before the pandemic.

Back in January, President Trump called it the greatest economy in history. Trump continued to talk up the economy during the State of the Union address, taking credit for the “strong” economic growth. At the time, Peter Schiff said nobody should be taking credit for the condition of the US economy. In fact, economic growth wasn’t much different than it was when Obama was president.

The only difference is we had to borrow even more money to achieve the same level of fake GDP growth that we did under Obama. The reality is nobody should be taking credit for the current US economy. The question is who deserves the blame?”

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

Worse Than 2008: We Are Being Warned That The Coronavirus Shutdown “Could Collapse The Mortgage Market”

Worse Than 2008: We Are Being Warned That The Coronavirus Shutdown “Could Collapse The Mortgage Market”

The cascading failures that have been set into motion by this “coronavirus shutdown” are going to make the financial crisis of 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.  As you will see below, it is being estimated that unemployment in the U.S. is already higher than it was at any point during the last recession.  That means that millions of American workers no longer have paychecks coming in and won’t be able to pay their mortgages.  On top of that, the CARES Act actually requires all financial institutions to allow borrowers with government-backed mortgages to defer payments for an extended period of time.  Of course this is a recipe for disaster for mortgage lenders, and industry insiders are warning that we are literally on the verge of a “collapse” of the mortgage market.

Never before in our history have we seen a jump in unemployment like we just witnessed.  If you doubt this, just check out this incredible chart.

Millions upon millions of American workers are now facing a future with virtually no job prospects for the foreseeable future, and former Fed Chair Janet Yellen believes that the unemployment rate in the U.S. is already up to about 13 percent

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told CNBC on Monday the economy is in the throes of an “absolutely shocking” downturn that is not reflected yet in the current data.

If it were, she said, the unemployment rate probably would be as high as 13% while the overall economic contraction would be about 30%.

If Yellen’s estimate is accurate, that means that unemployment in this country is already significantly worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

And young adults are being hit particularly hard during this downturn…

…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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