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The COVID Class War

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The COVID Class War

The European Union’s proposed recovery fund to counter the pandemic’s economic fallout seems destined to leave the majority in every member state worse off. Finance will again be protected, if badly, while workers are left to foot the bill through new rounds of austerity.

ATHENS – The euro crisis that erupted a decade ago has long been portrayed as a clash between Europe’s frugal North and profligate South. In fact, at its heart was a fierce class war that left Europe, including its capitalists, much weakened relative to the United States and China. Worse still, the European Union’s response to the pandemic, including the EU recovery fund currently under deliberation, is bound to intensify this class war, and deal another blow to Europe’s socioeconomic model.

If we have learned anything in recent decades, it is the pointlessness of focusing on any country’s economy in isolation. Once upon a time, when money moved between countries mostly to finance trade, and most consumption spending benefited domestic producers, the strengths and weaknesses of a national economy could be separately assessed. Not anymore. Today, the weaknesses of, say, China and Germany are intertwined with those of countries like the US and Greece.

The unshackling of finance in the early 1980s, following the elimination of capital controls left over from the Bretton Woods system, enabled enormous trade imbalances to be funded by rivers of money created privately via financial engineering. As the US shifted from a trade surplus to a massive deficit, its hegemony grew. Its imports maintain global demand and are financed by the inflows of foreigners’ profits that pour into Wall Street.

This strange recycling process is managed by the world’s de facto central bank, the US Federal Reserve. And maintaining such an impressive creation – a permanently imbalanced global system – necessitates the constant intensification of class war in deficit and surplus countries alike.

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

The #1 Question I am Receiving From Readers

The #1 Question I am Receiving From Readers

Could the markets crash again?

This is the #1 question I’m receiving from subscribers. When I ask them why they’re concerned, the #1 explanation is that the economy is in a recession/depression and yet stocks are close to or have already hit new all-time highs.

Let’s dissect this way of thinking…

First and foremost, we need to dispel the myth that the stock market and the economy are closely related.

As Puru Saxena has noted, between 1972 and 1982, the US economy nearly tripled in size from $1.2 trillion to $3.2 trillion. And yet, throughout that entire period the stock market traded sideways for ZERO GAINS!

In contrast, from 1982 to 2000, the US economy again nearly tripled in size from $3.2 trillion to $10 trillion. But during this particular time, the stock market exploded higher rising nearly 1,500%!

So, we have two time periods in which the economy nearly tripled in size. During one of them, the stock market went nowhere, while during the other, the stock market rose nearly 1,500%.

Again, stocks have little if any correlation to the economy. There are times when stocks will care a lot about the economy, but those time periods are usually short and due to an unexpected surprise (like the surprise of the economy being shut down to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic).

So, what do stocks care about?

Liquidity.

Historically, whenever central banks start printing money at a rapid clip, stocks do well. A great example of this is the time period from 2008 to 2016 when the economy was weak at best and flatlining at worst. But because the Fed printed over $3.5 trillion during this time period, socks soared, rising over 100%.

Which brings us to today… stocks are rallying hard yet again, despite the economy being extremely weak.

The reason for this is because of the TSUNAMI of liquidity policymakers are throwing at the financial system.

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

Can Too Big For Fed & ECB

CAN TOO BIG FOR FED & ECB

There are lies, damned lies, and economists. Whether these economists work for the government or a bank, they spend all their time on the computer extrapolating current trends with minor adjustments. 

If you want to understand the future, don’t spend your life preparing and constantly revising an Excel sheet with masses of economic data. Collective human behaviour is extremely predictable. But not by spreadsheet analysis but by studying history. 

HISTORY IS A BETTER FORECASTER THAN ECONOMISTS

There just is nothing new under the sun. So why is there so much time and money wasted around the world to make economic forecasts that are no better than a random job by a few chimps?

Instead, give some lateral thinkers a few history books and let them study the rise and decline of the major empires in history. That will tell them more about long term economic forecasts than any spreadsheet. 

After a 50 year decline of the US economy and the dollar, we still hear about the V-shaped recovery being imminent. 

On what planet do these people live who believe that a world on the cusp of an economic and social collapse is going to see a miraculous recovery out of the blue. 

This is the problem with a system that is totally fake and dependant on constant flow of stimulus even though it has zero value. Most people are fooled and believe it is for real.

ALL EMPIRES END WITH COLLAPSING CURRENCY AND SURGING DEBTS

We are now in the final stages of the end game. The end of the end could be extended affairs or they could be extremely quick. Most declines of major cycles are drawn out and this one has lasted half a century. During that time the dollar is down 50% against the DM/Euro and 78% vs the Swiss franc. And US debt has gone up 65x since 1971 from $400B to $26T. A collapsing currency and surging debts are how all empires end.

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

Plot Thickens on End of QE & Start of Shedding Assets

Plot Thickens on End of QE & Start of Shedding Assets

Fed leads in trimming its balance sheet; Bank of England governor publishes the reasoning for central banks to shed assets – before raising interest rates. A big shift!

The Fed has been cutting back for weeks on its asset purchases, and on its last weekly balance sheet, its total assets actually fell by $74 billion. Now Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey published a piece on Bloomberg Opinion today in which he wrote that these massive central-bank balance sheets – he was talking in global terms – “mustn’t become a permanent feature.”

“As economies recover, it’s likely that some of the exceptional monetary stimulus will need to be withdrawn,” he said. And this shedding of part of the bonds that had been purchased would happen before the central bank raises interest rates, he said.

This is the opposite of how the Fed did it last time: It started raising rates in December 2015 and started shedding Treasury securities and MBS in October 2017.

This time, the Fed front-loaded $2.8 trillion in QE and has already started shedding some of it even as FOMC members don’t see interest rate hikes through 2022. This is a big shift, of reducing the balance sheet first, and then raising rates.

In Bailey’s piece, there was no word of negative interest rates or yield curve control. What he is saying is that the balance sheet became the primary tool for adding stimulus and will become the primary tool for withdrawing stimulus, as interest rates remain near-zero.

And he is saying that the BOE’s balance sheet isn’t going to stay this massive for long and that it will undo some of the accommodation as the economy figures out where the new normal is.

The Fed is leading. The BOE is publishing the reasoning for other central banks to do the same.

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

Central Bank Crisis Expanding

Central Bank Crisis Expanding

QUESTION: Hi Marty.
You mentioned in the blog that all European sovereign debt may end up being converted into perpetual bonds. Will it be through debt mutualization or will each country have each own Consol? Could you please elaborate on how this conversion would affect pension funds, banks, social security and individual investors? Knowing that the ECB already owns 33% of all government bonds in the Euro Zone, can it (ECB) be the buyer of last resort to avoid liquidity issues for all these investors (pension funds, banks, social security and individual investors)? What would make the ECB fail?
Regards

AMD

ANSWER: They will most likely provide no warning and they will simply announce what they have done to prevent anyone from trying to liquidate. The ECB will have it as reserves so that will not change. They were rolling the debt anyway because they cannot sell it without causing interest rates to rise.

The Federal Reserve is buying up corporate bonds to the point that there is now a shortage. They are doing this in a desperate measure to try to prevent interest rates from rising, which will in turn put pressure on the ECB and Emerging Markets. This is demonstrating that the central banks are fearful of the market pushing rates higher because of CREDIT RISK.

“A Staggering Number”: Over $18 Trillion In Global Stimulus In 2020, 21% Of World GDP

“A Staggering Number”: Over $18 Trillion In Global Stimulus In 2020, 21% Of World GDP

On Friday, we relayed the latest observations from BofA chief investment officer, Michael Hartnett who concluded that there is just one bull market to short – namely credit – “and the Fed won’t let you” by which he means all central banks. As the following table shows, the balance sheet of the G-6 central banks has exploded, with the Fed’s total asset expected to double in 2020 amid an avalanche of money printing.

And visually:

Of course, it’s not just central banks: as Hartnett also explained there is also the 2020 fiscal bazooka which has a way to go, with the massive fiscal stimulus unleashed post-covid taking 3 forms in 2020: spending, credit guarantees, loans & equity.

Hartnett also noted that according to BIS data, US & Australia lead spending (>10% GDP), Europe is using aggressive credit guarantees (e.g. Italy 32% GDP), while Japan/Korea are stimulating via government loans/equity injections.

But the most staggering fact was when one puts it all together.

According to BofA calculations, in addition to the record 134 rate cuts YTD, the amount of total global stimulus, both fiscal and monetary, is now a “staggering” $18.4 trillion in 2020 consisting of $10.4 trillion in fiscal stimulus and $7.9tn in monetary stimulus – for a grand total of 20.8% of global GDP, injected mostly in just the past 3 months!

And to think none of this would have been possible if officials had not collectively decided to shutdown the global economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the interested, here is a full breakdown of all the fiscal and monetary stimulus as compiled by BofA:

History Tells Us to Own Gold When Central Banks Run Out of Control

HISTORY TELLS US TO OWN GOLD WHEN CENTRAL BANKS RUN OUT OF CONTROL

“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” happen with regular intervals as Charles Mackay wrote about. It seems that the world experiences more delusions and madness than truth and sanity. 

The pattern is always the same. The economy is never in equilibrium but moves in cycles of boom and bust. If these cycles were allowed to take their natural course, they would move up and down in a steady rhythm without reaching extremes at the top or bottom. 

GOVERNMENTS’ PRIME OBJECTIVE IS TO BE REELECTED BY BUYING VOTES

But human psychology and hunger for power prevent these natural cycles from taking place. Most leaders, whether they are kings or presidents, all have fear of failure combined with illusions of grandeur. As the economy peaks and the good times come to an end, they know that the best chance of not being ejected is for the good times to continue. Today’s leaders’ primary objective is to hang on to power by buying votes. 

And how can they buy votes when the economy is turning down and the coffers are empty? Easy! You just print money out of thin air, as I discussed in my article a couple of weeks ago. The Romans did it, and so did the French, the Brits, Germans, Argentinians, and everyone else. 

PRICES DON’T GO UP – VALUE OF MONEY GOES DOWN

Initially, when a country prints money to extend the prosperity, nobody notices that it is fake. After all, they are still called dollars or pounds. But gradually things become more expensive. The popular interpretation of increasing prices is calling it inflation. Nobody actually notices or understands that it is not prices going up but the value of the money going down as more and more which has zero value is issued.

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

Governments Have Crippled the World’s Economies. Revolution May Soon Follow.

GOVERNMENTS HAVE CRIPPLED THE WORLD’S ECONOMIES. REVOLUTION MAY SOON FOLLOW.

The world seems to be on fire. A couple of months ago, the economic upswing was still firmly established, production expanded, and unemployment was declining. It all changed with the advent of the coronavirus or, to be precise: things turned really sour with the politically dictated lockdowns. As a reaction to the spread of the virus, governments in many countries ordered shops and firms to shut down and people to stay home. The inevitable result was a close to complete breakdown of the economic system. Hundreds of millions of people were thrown into outright despair; in India alone 120 million workers lost their jobs in April 2020.

The economic collapse sent the unbacked paper money system into a tailspin. Borrowers were unable to service their debt, and banks unwilling to roll over maturing loans, let alone extend new funds to struggling debtors. The entire credit pyramid was about to come crashing down. To prevent this from happening, governments and their central banks went “all in,” providing huge amounts of money to pay for people’s lost incomes and firms’ evaporating profits. Of course, governments do not have the money that they have promised to spend.

Central banks have started running the electronic printing presses, issuing great amounts of newly created money into the banking and financial sector and also injecting new balances into people’s accounts held with banks. In other words: as production contracts heavily, the quantity of money is rising strongly. This is, no doubt, an inflationary policy, for, if anything, inflation must be understood as an increase in the quantity of money. One possible outcome of a policy of increasing the quantity of money is price inflation: the increase in the money prices of goods and services.

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

Here Is The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking

Here Is The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking

Several years ago, when conventional wisdom dictated that to push inflation higher and jumpstart lethargic economies, central banks have to push rates so low as to make saving punitive and force consumers to go out and spend their hard earned savings, several central banks including the ECB, SNB and BOJ crossed into the monetary twilight zone by lowering overnight rates negative.

Then, year after year, we would hear from the likes of Kuroda and Draghi how the BOJ and ECB will continue and even extend their insane monetary policy, which now includes the purchase of 80% of all Japanese ETFs…

… until the central banks hit their inflation targets of 2%.

And yet, year after year, the BOJ would not only not hit its inflation target but appeared to drift ever lower, as did the ECB, SNB and any other bank that had gone NIRP, confounding all economists and central bankers: why was this happened if rates were negative? Why were consumers not taking their money out of the bank and spending it, pushing inflation higher?

Nobody had an answer, until in late 2015, we offered a glimpse into what was structurally flawed with this “model”: using a report by Bank of America, we showed that not only had household savings rates not declined in countries with negative rates, they had in fact risen. There was a simple reason for this, as the BIS had highlighted: ultra low rates may perversely be driving a greater propensity for consumers to save as  retirement income becomes more uncertain.

What logically followed from this is that inflation would also track rates lower, resulting in a crushing blow to economic orthodoxy where the only weapon central banks had left to spark an economic – read inflationary – recovery was to ease monetary conditions even more in hopes that eventually they would drop low enough to spark the long-awaited recovery.

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

The path to monetary collapse

The path to monetary collapse

Few mainstream commentators understand the seriousness of the economic and monetary situation. from a V-shaped rapid return to normality towards a more prolonged recovery phase.

The fact that a liquidity crisis developed in US money markets five months before the virus hit America has been forgotten. Only a rising gold price stands testament to a deeper crisis, comprised of contracting bank credit while central banks are trying to rescue the economy, fund government deficits and keep the market bubble inflated.

The next problem is a crisis in the banks, wholly unexpected by investors and depositors. At a time when lending risk is soaring off the charts, their financial condition is more fragile than before the Lehman crisis. Failures in European G-SIBs in the next month or two are almost impossible to avoid, leading to a full-blown monetary and credit crisis which promises to undermine asset values, government financing and fiat currencies themselves.

We can now discern the path leading to the destruction of fiat currencies and take reasonably guesses as to timing.

How central banks view the current situation.

The financial world is bemused: what is it to make of the economic effects of the coronavirus? The official answer, it seems, is on the lines of don’t panic. The earliest fears of millions of deaths have subsided and in the light of experience, a more rational approach of easing lockdown rules is now being implemented in a number of badly hit jurisdictions. Whether this evolving policy is right will be proved in due course. But the motivation is moving from saving lives to restricting the economic damage.

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

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 11th 2020 – Bond Triggers Tumble

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 11th 2020 – Bond Triggers Tumble

“When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious…. “

After last night’s Boris announcement on not reopening the economy, it clearly doesn’t need any further explanation.. (US Readers – complex sarcasm alert.)

Over the course of the lockdown, I’ve been brushing up on Quantum Entanglement Theory and almost accidently I’ve created a time machine. I’m not quite sure how it works – so I reckon that qualifies me a job in Whitehall – but I was able to download The Morning Porridge from May 2021….. 

*********************

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 2021

“Sell in May – oh don’t bother – you are already away…” 

It’s just over a year since 20mm Americans lost their jobs in a single month and United Airline’s failed $2 bln bond issue in the first week of May 2020 became the unstable pebble that triggered the most devasting landslide in financial market history. 

All around the globe, bond investors woke up to their doubts on just how much government QE programmes, miniscule yields, and the value of their collateral of unproductive obsolete economic assets could be. Equity holders caught the whiff of panic – figuring out rising P/E’s in a crashing global economy meant nothing – even if central banks were promising to intervene. Sovereign debt buyers went on immediate strike, citing concerns on debasement, inflation, and the implausible promises being made. 

The result was the most precipitious tumble in history – everyone tried to exit the markets and discovered the truth: “there are many ways to buy, but only one exit marked sell.” 

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

Silver Coin Premiums Soar: Signal “Alt-Money” Demand As Re-Opening Recovery Hype Fades

Silver Coin Premiums Soar: Signal “Alt-Money” Demand As Re-Opening Recovery Hype Fades

Silver is the matrix of precious metals:

  • on the one hand, it is an industrial metal, critical to the production process in many of the world’s most in-demand products;
  • and on the other hand, it has been ‘money’ for millennia, playing second-fiddle as a spending ‘asset’ relative to gold’s ‘wealth’.

The question is always, which of these demand/supply attributes is more prevalent at any one time.

Right now, is it the “blue pill” of blissful ignorance that an economic recovery is imminent and v-shaped; or is it the unpleasant truth of the “red pill” that this is the beginning of the end of the current system and a post-COVID world will look very different (and require protection).

Well, we may have the answer.

The price of silver coins is surging (‘Monetary’ demand) as futures prices sink (‘industrial’ demand), somewhat shunning the hope-filled hyping of stocks’ recovery off the lows in March…

And in fact, this is the largest (physical) silver coin premium since Bernanke disappointed the markets in 2011 and since Lehman sent investors scrambling

Additionally, the demand for “monetary” silver may be driven by the fact that it has never been cheaper relative to gold

In ancient Greece during the age of Pericles, gold was valued at 14x silver. In ancient Rome, Julius Caesar valued gold at 12x silver.

It remained this way for centuries.

Even in the earliest days of the United States, eighteen centuries after Caesar, The Coinage Act of 1792 established a ratio of 15:1.

(According to the law, one US dollar is supposed to be 24.1 grams of silver, or 1.6 grams of gold. So those pieces of paper in your wallet are not dollars– they are technically “Federal Reserve Notes”.)

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

Someday They Are Going To Write Books About This!

Someday They Are Going To Write Books About This!

What is occurring today is absolutely mind-boggling. Someday they are going to write books about this! While there have been some messed up financial conundrums over the years none rival the current situation now before us. The dilemma before us is a fast-moving enigma wrapped in a gossamer cloak. Not only are the players that make up the global political-financial complex busy buying up bad debt, stocks, and bailing out those they deem too big to fail, they have destroyed the concept of real interest on loans. They have trampled all over true price discovery the basis of a free market.

The budget forecast be damned, its full speed ahead. The only justification we need is saying it will be far worse if we do nothing.The bungled response of a delusional government so obsessed with the idea that by simply passing legislation they can make things happen should not be overlooked. The Paycheck Protection Program or PPP was originally funded with $350 billion but the money was soon gone. Of the thirty million small businesses in America, only 1.7 million received money from the 2.3 trillion dollar aid package passed to help sustain America during this difficult time.

This resulted in more funding but still, the last report I saw indicated only around 13% of the, less than half the businesses that were eligible, were approved before the fund was again depleted and 60% of these had yet to receive any money.  Just as poorly handled was rapidly getting out money promised to individuals and creating a system where many people could receive more money by collecting unemployment than returning to work. The problem is that when all is said and done, large businesses with access to cheap capital will again be the winners and the big losers are the middle-class, small businesses, and social mobility.

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

This Isn’t Just Another Crash

This Isn’t Just Another Crash

This Isn’t Just Another Crash

Like addicts who cannot control their cravings, financial analysts cannot stop themselves from seeking some analog situation in the past which will clarify the swirling chaos in their crystal balls.

So we’ve been swamped with charts overlaying recent stock market action over 1929, 1987,2000 and 2008 — though the closest analogy is actually the Oil Shock of 1973, an exogenous shock to a weakening, fragile economy.

But the reality is there is no analogous situation in the past to the present, and so all the predictions based on past performance will be misleading. The chartists and analysts claim that all markets act on the same patterns, which are reflections of human nature, and so seeking correlations of volatility and valuation that “worked” in the past will work in 2020.

Does anyone really believe the correlations of the past decade or two are high-probability predictors of the future as the entire brittle construct of fictional capital and extremes of globalization and financialization all unravel at once?

Here are a few of the many consequential differences between all previous recessions and the current situation:

1. Households have never been so dependent on debt as a substitute for stagnating wages.

2. Real earnings (adjusted for inflation) have never been so stagnant for the bottom 90% for so long.

3. Corporations have never been so dependent on debt (selling bonds or taking on loans) to fund money-losing operations (see Netflix) or stock buybacks designed to saddle the company with debt service expenses to enrich insiders.

4. The stock market has never been so dependent on what amounts to fraud — stock buybacks — to push valuations higher.

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

Fed Drastically Slashed Helicopter Money for Wall Street. QE Down 86% From Peak Week in March

Fed Drastically Slashed Helicopter Money for Wall Street. QE Down 86% From Peak Week in March

Fed shed MBS. Loans to “SPVs” flat for fifth week. Repos in disuse. Fed still hasn’t bought junk bonds, stocks, or ETFs. But it sure sent Wall Street dreaming.

Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet rose by only $83 billion during the week ending April 29, to $6.656 trillion. That $83 billion was the smallest weekly increase since this show started on March 15, and down by 86% from peak-bailout in the week ended March 25. This chart shows the weekly increases of total assets on Fed’s balance sheet:

The Fed is thereby following its playbook laid out over the past two years in various Fed-head talks that it would front-load the bailout-QE during the next crisis, and that, after the initial blast, it would then cut back these asset purchases when no longer needed, rather than let them drag out for years.

On January 1, the balance sheet stopped expanding as the Fed’s repo market bailout had ended. However, in late February, all heck was breaking loose, and the Fed first increased its repo offerings and then on March 15, started massively throwing freshly created money at the markets, peaking with $586 billion in the single week ended March 25.

But since then, the Fed has slashed its weekly increases in assets, which shows up in the flattening curve of the Fed’s total assets in 2020:

The Fed cut its purchases of Treasury securities. The balance of its mortgage-backed securities (MBS) actually fell. Repurchase agreements (repos) have fallen into disuse. Lending to Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) has not gone anywhere in five weeks. And foreign central bank liquidity swaps, after spiking in the first two weeks, only rose modestly, with most of the increase coming from the Bank of Japan, which is by far the largest user of those swaps.

…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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