Home » Posts tagged 'central banks'

Tag Archives: central banks

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

The Battle of the ‘Flations has Begun

The Battle of the ‘Flations has Begun

Inflation? Deflation? Stagflation? Consecutively? Concurrently?… or from a great height (apologies to Tom Stoppard).

We’ve reached a pivotal moment where all of the narratives of what is actually happening have come together. And it feels confusing. But it really isn’t. 

The central banks have run out of room to battle deflation. QE, ZIRP, NIRP, OMT, TARGET2, QT, ZOMG, BBQSauce! It all amounts to the same thing. 

How can we stuff fake money onto more fake balance sheets to maintain the illusion of price stability? 

The consequences of this coordinated policy to save the banking system from itself has resulted in massive populist uprisings around the world thanks to a hollowing out of the middle class to pay for it all. 

The central banks’ only move here is to inflate to the high heavens, because the civil unrest from a massive deflation would sweep them from power quicker. 

For all of their faults leaders like Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini and even Boris Johnson understand that to regain the confidence of the people they will have to wrest control of their governments from the central banks and the technocratic institutions that back them.

That fear will keep the central banks from deflating the global money supply because politicians like Trump and Salvini understand that their central banks are enemies of the people. As populists this would feed their domestic reform agendas.

So, the central banks will do what they’ve always done — protect the banks and that means inflation, bailouts and the rest. 

At the same time the powers that be, whom I like to call The Davos Crowd, are dead set on completing their journey to the Dark Side and create their transnational superstructure of treaties and corporate informational hegemony which they ironically call The Open Society.

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

3 Central Bank Shocks Unleash Overnight Yield Crash, With Yuan On Verge Of Collapse

3 Central Bank Shocks Unleash Overnight Yield Crash, With Yuan On Verge Of Collapse

There is just one way to describe the plunge in bond yields overnight and the events behind it: the global race to the currency bottom is rapidly accelerating in its final lap with a global deflationary Ice Age (take a bow Albert Edwards) waiting on the other side.

The main event, of course, was the latest yuan fixing with the PBOC showing a clear sense of humor when it set the currency at 6.9996laughably not to be confused with 7.0000 (for at least another 24 hours that is), but just a fraction of a percent away from the critical threshold, and weaker than the 6.9977 expected. The result was a resumption in the offshore yuan selloff, a hit to US equity futures and a drop in Treasury yields. Of course, once the PBOC does finally fix the yuan on the wrong side of 7, all bets are off and watch as the CNH crashes… as far as 7.70 according to SocGen, especially once Trump hikes tariffs to 25%.

But there was much more in today’s iteration of the global race to the currency bottom, when first New Zealand, then India and finally Thailand shocked investors by being far more dovish than analysts expected. Indeed, the three Asian central banks delivered surprise interest-rate decisions on Wednesday as central bankers not only took aggressive action to counter a worsening global economy, but are now frontrunning each other – and the Fed – in doing so.

As noted last night, New Zealand’s central bank on Wednesday stunned investors by dropping its benchmark rate by 50 basis points, double the expected reduction and sending the kiwi tumbling. Thailand also surprised all but two in a survey of economists, cutting by 25 basis points. Finally, India’s central bank lowered its rate by an unconventional 35 basis points.

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

For The First Time In 6 Years, No Central Bank Is Hiking

For The First Time In 6 Years, No Central Bank Is Hiking

The global central bank experiment with renormalization is officially over.

After roughly half the world’s central banks hiked rates at least once in 2018, the major central banks have returned to easing mode, and as the chart below shows, for the first time since 2013, not a single central bank is hiking rates.

Commenting on the violent reversal away from tightening financial conditions which emerged following the Q4 2018 selloff, Goldman’s Jan Hatzius writes that “The FOMC looks set to cut the funds rate next week, the ECB today sent a strong signal that action in September is likely, and China has resumed easing policy after a spring pause. With global growth running at a below-trend rate of 2¾%—down from about 4% a year ago—a synchronized tilt towards easing looks like a natural response to a weaker outlook.”

Yet even Goldman can’t help but ask just why the Fed is rushing to commence the first easing cycle in years, pointing out that “the US economy is in decent shape, with a tight labor market, inflation close to target and— in our forecast— growth running a little above 2% both this year and next. We are modestly above consensus because we expect the negative inventory cycle to end and final demand to continue growing robustly on the back of easier financial conditions.”

This, according to the Goldman economist, should limit Fed easing to two 25bp insurance cuts, one next week and another in September, although the bank, which until very recently did not expect any rate cuts at all, fails to justify just why the Fed is doing what it is about to do, unless of course Powell is merely folding to Trump pressure.

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

World’s Central Banks End Pact That Limited Selling Of Gold

World’s Central Banks End Pact That Limited Selling Of Gold

In a surprising announcement on Friday morning, the European Central Bank said the 21 signatories of the 4th Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) “no longer see the need for formal agreement” as the market has developed and matured, and as a result the signatories “decided not to renew the Agreement upon its expiry in September 2019.”

For readers unfamiliar, the first CBGA was signed in 1999 to coordinate planned gold sales by the various central banks. When it was introduced, the ECB notes that “the Agreement contributed to balanced conditions in the gold market by providing transparency regarding the intentions of the signatories. It was renewed three times in 2004, 2009 and 2014, gradually moving towards less stringent terms.”

The fourth CBGA, which expires on 26 September 2019, was signed by the ECB, the Nationale Bank van België/Banque Nationale de Belgique, the Deutsche Bundesbank, Eesti Pank, the Central Bank of Ireland, the Bank of Greece, the Banco de España, the Banque de France, the Banca d’Italia, the Central Bank of Cyprus, Latvijas Banka, Lietuvos bankas, the Banque centrale du Luxembourg, the Central Bank of Malta, De Nederlandsche Bank, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, the Banco de Portugal, Banka Slovenije, Národná banka Slovenska, Suomen Pankki – Finlands Bank, Sveriges Riksbank and the Swiss National Bank.

The simplest reason why the agreement is no longer needed, is that whereas central banks used to sell gold in the 1990s and early 2000s, most famously the UK’s sale of 401 tonnes of gold of its total 715 tonne holdings under Gordon Brown, broadly seen as one of the “worst investment decisions of all time“, currently they are buying at an unprecedented pace, and in 2018, central bank gold demand was the highest in the “modern” era, or since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971.

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

U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses

U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses

Photograph Source: Trending Topics 2019 – CC BY 2.0

Today’s world is at war on many fronts. The rules of international law and order put in place toward the end of World War II are being broken by U.S. foreign policy escalating its confrontation with countries that refrain from giving its companies control of their economic surpluses. Countries that do not give the United States control of their oil and financial sectors or privatize their key sectors are being isolated by the United States imposing trade sanctions and unilateral tariffs giving special advantages to U.S. producers in violation of free trade agreements with European, Asian and other countries.

This global fracture has an increasingly military cast. U.S. officials justify tariffs and import quotas illegal under WTO rules on “national security” grounds, claiming that the United States can do whatever it wants as the world’s “exceptional” nation. U.S. officials explain that this means that their nation is not obliged to adhere to international agreements or even to its own treaties and promises. This allegedly sovereign right to ignore on its international agreements was made explicit after Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright broke the promise by President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker that NATO would not expand eastward after 1991. (“You didn’t get it in writing,” was the U.S. response to the verbal agreements that were made.)

Likewise, the Trump administration repudiated the multilateral Iranian nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration, and is escalating warfare with its proxy armies in the Near East. U.S. politicians are waging a New Cold War against Russia, China, Iran, and oil-exporting countries that the United States is seeking to isolate if cannot control their governments, central bank and foreign diplomacy.

* Keynote Paper delivered at the 14th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy, July 21, 2019.

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

Are Central Banks Losing Their Big Bet?

Are Central Banks Losing Their Big Bet?

Following the 2008 global financial crisis, central banks bet that greater activism on the part of other policymakers would be their salvation, helping them to normalize their operations. But that activism never came, and central bankers are now facing a lose-lose proposition.

ZURICH – In recent years, central banks have made a large policy wager. They bet that the protracted use of unconventional and experimental measures would provide an effective bridge to more comprehensive measures that would generate high inclusive growth and minimize the risk of financial instability. But central banks have repeatedly had to double down, in the process becoming increasingly aware of the growing risks to their credibility, effectiveness, and political autonomy. Ironically, central bankers may now get a response from other policymaking entities, which, instead of helping to normalize their operations, would make their task a lot tougher.

Let’s start with the US Federal Reserve, the world’s most powerful central bank, whose actions strongly influence other central banks. Having succeeded after 2008 in stabilizing a dysfunctional financial system that had threatened to tip the world into a multiyear depression, the Fed was hoping to begin normalizing its policy stance as early as the summer of 2010. But an increasingly polarized Congress, exemplified by the rise of the Tea Party, precluded the necessary handoff to fiscal policy and structural reforms.

Instead, the Fed pivoted to using experimental measures to buy time for the US economy until the political environment became more constructive for pro-growth policies. Interest rates were floored at zero, and the Fed expanded its non-commercial involvement in financial markets, buying a record amount of bonds through its quantitative-easing (QE) programs.

This policy pivot was, in the eyes of most central bankers, born of necessity, not choice. And it was far from perfect.

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

“She Has A Flair For Darkness” – Meet The Woman Tasked With Predicting How The Fed Will Blow Up The World

“She Has A Flair For Darkness” – Meet The Woman Tasked With Predicting How The Fed Will Blow Up The World

Central bankers have two key roles: the first, and more trivial one, is to set the price of money by adjusting short-term interest rates, something they have been doing since the advent of central banking; the second and far more important role (especially in recent asset bubble-bust history) is to preserve the public’s confidence in a financial system that is effectively a ponzi scheme, reliant on both the constant creation of money in the form of new debt and society’s willingness to spend and not save said money, by propping up asset prices or vowing to do everything in their power to avoid another Lehman-type financial catastrophe. Here one need only recall the immortal warning of Mario Draghi to support the artificial European currency at its moments of greatest despair, “whatever it takes.”

It is this second key role that also has forced central bankers to attain an aura of infallibility: after all, if central bankers admit they don’t know what they are doing, how can they convince others that “all shall be well.” Here, too, one can recall Mario Draghi’s vows – which we now know were lies – that the ECB “does not have a Plan B” in case Greece exits the Eurozone, as the mere contemplation of such a worst-case scenario would create the self-fulfilling reality that central bankers are trying to avoid. Another such example is Ben Bernanke’s iconic prediction from 2007 that “subprime is contained.” Everyone remembers what happened next.

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

Battle for Control

Battle for Control

Markets are engaged in a clear battle for control: An active Fed eager to extend the business cycle using asset price inflation as its primary means to generate further debt financed growth on the one hand and deteriorating fundamentals and technicals gnawing at an artificial market construct on the other.

Let’s call a spade a spade: Markets would not be anywhere near new highs were it not for a Fed flip flopping and racing from dovish media event to dovish media event. I’ve been very vocal in my criticisms of their efforts and sense they are playing a dangerous game here. Hence I don’t want to belabor the point here today. But as a follow up: Friday’s desperate efforts on the side of the Fed to backtrack market expectations for a 50bp rate cut at the coming July meeting, which they themselves caused on Thursday with multiple Fed speakers, has revealed again the Fed’s singular role it has to devolved into: The market’s primary price discovery mechanism. As markets dropped below $SPX 3,000 this week dovish Fed speakers caused a renewed rally above 3,000 and as soon as they tried to walk it back with a conspicuous WSJ Journal article on Friday markets again soon rolled over.

That’s the circus atmosphere they have created and appear to be supportive of. The Fed is very aware of its role in all of this and it’s shameful. Like Alan Greenspan or not, but at least he was a cryptic speaker that left markets guessing and played his cards close to the vest. But over the years the Fed has devolved itself into this clown show we have now, a day to day manager of markets. And markets have learned to react to every single pronouncement and utterance.

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

We’ve Arrived At The End Of The Road

We’ve Arrived At The End Of The Road

Decades of central bank intervention have left us with an unavoidable insolvency crisis

When Richard Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971, fully severing the US dollar from its gold standard, the Federal Reserve and other world central banks found themselves liberated. No longer was their ability to provide liquidity constrained by the physical limitations of the gold supply.

The Fed started intervening more and more during times of slowing growth to goose the economy back to vigor. Cheered and further egged on by politicians happy for easy solutions and desperate to avoid having to make tough calls, central banks have been increasingly willing to provide liquidity in good times and bad.

Akin to removing the limit on a teenager’s credit card, with access to so much cheap money, the US went on a debt bender. One that has lasted for nearly half a century:

FRED chart Total Us Debt Outstanding

Here we stand today with the national debt at over $22 trillion, total US debt outstanding of $70 trillion (shown in the above chart), and unfunded national liabilities of over $200 trillion. And we add to this every year with an annual deficit now exceeding $1 trillion.

This gigantic accretion of debt will never be repaid. And as the pile grows higher, the burden of servicing it — even at today’s historically low interest rates — is placing an increasingly heavy drag on economic growth.

To date, the central banks have gotten away with their easy money policies because they could. The day of reckoning could always be pushed further out via a fresh round of liquidity. But, as Brien Lundin says in the video below, the reckoning is “no longer simply inevitable, it is imminent. We are reaching the End of the Road.”

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

Who Bails Out Central Banks in Coming Chaos –James Rickards

Who Bails Out Central Banks in Coming Chaos –James Rickards

Best-selling financial author James Rickards says “We are still in the aftermath of the 2008 – 2009 financial crisis.” In the up-coming book titled “Aftermath: Seven Secrets of Wealth Preservation in the Coming Chaos,” the crisis of the Great Recession may be over, but “nothing is fixed.” Rickards explains, “I understand the economy has been expanding for 10 years, and we are not in a liquidity crisis at the moment and unemployment is low. We have come a long way from that. The fundamental problems that gave rise to that have not been solved. . . . So, unlimited guarantees, unlimited money printing and unlimited currency swaps and, yeah, they truncated the crisis, but all that happened was the bad debts, the leverage and the problems were now lifted up to the central bank level. You’ve got this progression. First, it is the hedge fund. Then, it’s Wall Street. Now, it’s the central banks. Who is going to bail out the central banks? That problem has not been solved, and it’s still on the table.”

Rickards says don’t think the Federal Reserve is going to come in and ride to the rescue in what Rickards is predicting to be a “coming chaos.” Rickards contends, “Interest rates are 2.25%, but that is not what you need to get out of a recession. I am not predicting one, but if the U.S. economy went into a recession . . . history in economics says you need to cut interest rates 4% to 5% to get the U.S. out of a recession. How do you cut interest rates 4% when you are at 2.25%? You can’t because there is not enough room.

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

Weekly Commentary: Central Banker to the World

Weekly Commentary: Central Banker to the World

July 11 – Bloomberg (Rich Miller): “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is starting to sound a bit like he’s the world’s central banker. In Congressional testimony this week, he repeatedly cited a slower global economic expansion in laying out the case for easier U.S. monetary policy. ‘There’s something going on with the growth around the world, particularly around manufacturing and investment and trade,’ he told the House Financial Services Committee… as he all but promised an interest-rate cut at the end of this month.”

Chairman Powell was decisive. While not directly announcing an imminent cut, he essentially pre-committed to reducing rates at the July 31st meeting. Record stock prices don’t matter. Booming corporate Credit is no issue. June’s big gain in payrolls and a 3.7% unemployment rate are not part of the decision function. A Friday afternoon Bloomberg headline resonated: “A Stock Market Dying to Know What Powell Knows About the Economy.”

The so-called “insurance” rate cut is all about the global environment, with monetary policy’s traditional domestic focus relegated to history. The reduction will be justified by “crosscurrents,” “uncertainties” and below-target inflation. But is the global economy really in such bad shape to warrant preemptive monetary stimulus during a period of market ebullience? What Does Powell – and his cadre of global central bankers – Know?

China’s GDP is expected to expand between 6.0% and 6.5% this year. While slowing, growth throughout EM is forecast between three and four percent.  Nothing to write home about, but euro zone GDP is expected to exceed 1.0% this year. Japan could see 3.0% 2019 GDP growth. Bank American Merrill Lynch today lowered their forecast for 2019 global GDP growth to 3.3% from 3.6%. Deserving of even lower rates and more QE?

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

How Long Can Artificially Low Interest Rates be Maintained?

How Long Can Artificially Low Interest Rates be Maintained? 

QUESTION:

Dear Martin,

First let me thank you for your paradigm shifting blog and the incredible conferences you and your team put together. They really are on a level all their own.

As we approach the next turning points in the ECM it seems that there are tremendous cross currents favoring both inflation and deflation. Given the extremely high debt rates of nearly every country in the world and even a large swath of the corporate world, some degree of moderate to even high inflation coupled with continuing low interest rates seems like the most likely path that central banks and governments will attempt to engineer. This path would avoid the deflation and societal instability that massive defaults would bring while quietly erasing the debt burden. I recognize, this path still leaves the pensions in a crisis, but that is a long slow problem primarily effecting a population group well past their prime years for fomenting revolt.

Of course the historical record shows that inflation is generally, perhaps even always, accompanied by high interest rates in the market.
I was wondering if there has been a historical precedent for moderate inflation (say 8-10% per year) combined with low interest rates on debt (sub 5%). It seems this would be the goldilocks path out of the increasingly ugly position in which the world finds itself. Leaving one to wonder if anyone has ever been able to accomplish such a combination for long? Any ideas how such a strategy would be accomplished, and what the probabilities are that our central bank and government will be able to pull it off?

Sincerely,

JU

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

The Four Dimensions of the Fake Money Order

The Four Dimensions of the Fake Money Order

A Good Story with Minor Imperfections

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there,” is a quote that’s oft misattributed to Lewis Carrol. The fact that there is ambiguity about who is behind this quote on ambiguity seems fitting. For our purposes today, the spirit of the quote is what we are after. We think it may help elucidate the strange and confusing world of fake money in which we all travel.

Consumer price index, y/y rate of change – the Fed is not satisfied with the speed at which monetary debasement raises everybody’s cost of living lately. And no, they don’t think said speed should be lowered. [PT]

For example, the monetary policy outlook immediately following last month’s FOMC meeting was as clear as a flawless (FL grade) diamond. The principal message, if you recall, was that inflation was muted and the Fed, after suffering an overt beating from President Trump, would soon be shaving basis points off the federal funds rate. You could darn near take it to the bank.

Wall Street took the news and acted upon it with conviction.  Investors piled into stocks and bonds without pausing to take a closer look for imperfections.  Why worry when fortune favors the bold?

From June 19 through Wednesday July 3, everything held up according to plan.  The S&P 500 rallied 2.5 percent to close at a new all-time high of 2,995. The yield on the 10-Year Treasury note, over this period, dropped 13 basis points, as mindless buyers positioned to front run the Fed.

But then, in the form of Friday’s job’s report, several feathers of imperfection were identified.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 224,000 jobs in June. This far exceeded the consensus estimates of 160,000 new jobs.  As this week began, doubt and hesitation crept into the market.  What to make of it?

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

Distortion

Distortion

This week we entered the Sell Zone as I called it last weekend. Overnight today $ES hit nearly 3004 and is currently 23 handles lower on the news that the latest NFP report beat while unemployment ticked slightly higher. Whether the sell is now in full swing or more highs are still to come is an open question, after all it’s like arguing with drunks at the bar, you never know what they’ll do next and how far they take the binge. But note what we’re witnessing here is historic but not unprecedented.

The most deceitful time in a cycle is the end of a cycle. Unemployment is low & stock markets keep making new highs despite underlying signals showing reasons for concern which are largely ignored by investors, namely bond yields sinking, yield curves inverting, growth slowing, participation waning, internals weakening. And when that happens new highs may prove to be a great selling opportunity.

I submit we may be seeing all these things now, but perhaps even in a more deceiving manner than ever before.

Why? Because of central banks are desperately trying to extend the business cycle and are thereby distorting markets.

Let’s take note of some facts:

Stock indexes are not making new highs because of revenue and earnings growth. Quite the opposite, earnings growth is negative. The global growth picture is regressive. PMIs have overtly dropped into contraction territory, even in the US key indicators are showing negative growth, durable goods, construction spending, you name it and even employment growth is slowing which is typically what happens at the end of a cycle.

These data trends are reflective of the warning signs coming from the bond market. The German 10 year is -0.4%, The US 10 year has dropped to 1.95%, a full 40% collapse since the November highs (not a single economist had predicted that, they were all above 2.5%-3.5%) and we have inverted yield curves with $13 trillion in global negative yielding debt floating about.

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

French Bond Yields Slide Below Zero, Hit All Time Record Lows

French Bond Yields Slide Below Zero, Hit All Time Record Lows

Ten days ago when global bond yields tumbled amid renewed fears that the global economy was headed for a recession, we reported that a record $13 trillion in global sovereign debt was trading with a negative yield.

And while we don’t have the latest numbers from Bloomberg, pending their EOD update at the close, it is safe to say that as of this moment, there is a new all time high in negative yielding debt, because while German yields tumbled deeper into record negative territory this morning following abysmal global PMIs and comments from the ECB that the central bank was prepared for any contingency (i.e., ready to cut rates even more), it was the turn of France to follow Germany into sub-zero territory as the French 10Y yield just dropped below 0%, assuring that the total amount of negative-yielding debt just rose by a few hundred billion.

Meanwhile, the disconnect between global bonds – which are now screaming “recession is coming” – and global stocks which are partying as if the Fed can’t wait for S&P 3,000 to cut rates not by 25bps but 50bps, if not more, has never been greater.

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase