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The Big Reversal: Inflation and Higher Interest Rates Are Coming Our Way

The Big Reversal: Inflation and Higher Interest Rates Are Coming Our Way

This interaction will spark a runaway feedback loop that will smack asset valuations back to pre-bubble, pre-pyramid scheme levels.

According to the conventional economic forecast, interest rates will stay near-zero essentially forever due to slow growth. And since growth is slow, inflation will also remain neutral.

This forecast is little more than an extension of the trends of the past 30+ years: a secular decline in interest rates and official inflation, which remains around 2% or less. (As many of us have pointed out for years, the real rate of inflation is much higher–in the neighborhood of 7% annually for those exposed to real-world costs.)

The Burrito Index: Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001 (August 1, 2016)

Inflation Isn’t Evenly Distributed: The Protected Are Fine, the Unprotected Are Impoverished Debt-Serfs (May 25, 2017)

About Those “Hedonic Adjustments” to Inflation: Ignoring the Systemic Decline in Quality, Utility, Durability and Service (October 11, 2017)

Be Careful What You Wish For: Inflation Is Much Higher Than Advertised (October 5, 2017)

Apparently unbeknownst to conventional economists, trends eventually reverse or give way to new trends. As a general rule, whatever fundamentals are pushing the trend decay or slide into diminishing returns, and new dynamics arise that power a new trend.

I’ve often referred to the S-Curve as one model of how trends emerge, strengthen, top out, weaken and then fade. Trends often change suddenly, as in the phase-shift model, in which the status quo appears stable until hidden instabilities cause the entire “permanent and forever” status quo to collapse in a heap.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) recently issued a report claiming that Demographics will reverse three multi-decade global trends. Here’s a precis of the case for a globally aging populace and a shrinking workforce to reverse the downward trends in inflation and interest rates: New Study Says Aging Populations Will Drive Higher Interest Rates (Bloomberg)

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

Whatever Happened to Inflation after All This Money Printing? It Has Arrived!

Whatever Happened to Inflation after All This Money Printing? It Has Arrived!

Workers, bondholders, savers get sacked. So what would Yellen do?

Consumer prices surged 0.6% in January from December, double the consensus forecast of a 0.3% rise. The sharpest monthly increase since February 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Energy prices jumped 4% month over month, including gasoline which jumped 7.8%. Food prices edged up 0.1%. Within this group, “food at home” was unchanged, but prices for “food away from home” – restaurants, taco trucks, and the like – rose 0.4%. In just one month, the prices of apparel rose 1.4%, of new vehicles 0.9%, of auto insurance 0.8%, of airline fares 2.0%. Shelter rose “only” 0.2%, as the national numbers are now feeling the downward pressure on rents in some of the most expensive rental markets in the US.

This chart  shows just how sharp that jump in monthly price increases is, compared to recent years:

Compared to January a year ago, consumer prices as measured by CPI-U surged 2.5%, after having already jumped 2.1% in December. The rate of inflation has now accelerated for the sixth month in a row. It has surged one full percentage point over the past four months and hit the highest rate since March 2012:

So-called core inflation – which excludes food and energy – jumped 2.3% in January from a year ago. The consensus expected 2.1%. So you can’t just blame the rising costs of energy. This “core” measure of price increases has been above 2% since November 2015. Even during the Financial Crisis, when overall year-over-year CPI dipped briefly into the negative, core CPI remained in positive territory.

However much these inflation measures may understate actual increases in the costs of living that people experience in their daily lives, even those understated measures are now beginning to exude a lot of heat. And afterwards, the consensus will say that no one saw this coming.

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

According To Deutsche Bank, The “Worst Kind Of Recession” May Have Already Started

According To Deutsche Bank, The “Worst Kind Of Recession” May Have Already Started

One week ago, Deutsche Bank’s Dominic Konstam unveiled, whether he likes it or not, what the next all too likely step will be as central bankers scramble to preserve order in a world in which monetary policy has all but lost effectiveness: “It is becoming increasingly clear to us that the level of yields at which credit expansion in Europe and Japan will pick up in earnest is probably negative, and substantially so. Therefore, the ECB and BoJ should move more strongly toward penalizing savings via negative retail deposit rates or perhaps wealth taxes.”

Many were not happy, although in reality the only reason why the DB strategist proposed this disturbing idea is because this is precisely what the central banks will end up doing.

Today, he follows up with an explanation just why the central bankers will engage in such lunatic measures: quite simply, he thinks that economic contraction is now practically assured – and may have already begun – for a simple reason: contrary to popular belief, this particular “expansion” will die of old age after all, and won’t even need the Fed’s intervention to unleash the next recession (if not depression).

There is an old saying amongst market watchers that economic expansions do not die of old age. Rather, during the course of the business cycle dynamics emerge that threaten to become unacceptable from a policy perspective. In the context of economic expansion, that dynamic has been inflation. The conventional pattern has been that as expansions mature, demand for labor outstrips the available supply, creating upward pressure on wages. In the presence of pricing power, higher wages are passed along to end consumers through higher prices.

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

This Is The End: Venezuela Runs Out Of Money To Print New Money

This Is The End: Venezuela Runs Out Of Money To Print New Money

Back in February, when we commented on the unprecedented hyperinflation about the be unleashed in the Latin American country whose president just announced that he would expand the “weekend” for public workers to 5 days

… we joked that it is unclear just where the country will find all the paper banknotes it needs for all its new physical currency. After all, central-bank data shows Venezuela more than doubled the supply of 100-, 50- and 2-bolivar notes in 2015 as it doubled monetary liquidity including bank deposits. Supply has grown even as Venezuela has fewer U.S. dollars to support new bolivars, a result of falling oil prices.

This question, as morbidly amusing as it may have been to us if not the local population, became particularly poignant recently when for the first time, one US Dollar could purchase more than 1000 Venezuela Bolivars on the black market (to be exact, it buys 1,127 as of today).

And then, as if on cue the WSJ responded: “millions of pounds of provisions, stuffed into three-dozen 747 cargo planes, arrived here from countries around the world in recent months to service Venezuela’s crippled economy. But instead of food and medicine, the planes carried another resource that often runs scarce here: bills of Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar.

The shipments were part of the import of at least five billion bank notes that President Nicolás Maduro’s administration authorized over the latter half of 2015 as the government boosts the supply of the country’s increasingly worthless currency, according to seven people familiar with the deals.

More planes were coming: in December, the central bank began secret negotiations to order 10 billion more bills which would effectively double the amount of cash in circulation. That order alone is well above the eight billion notes the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each print annually—dollars and euros that unlike bolivars are used world-wide.

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

JPM, ECB Hint At Arrival Of “Helicopter Money” In Europe Following Next “Significant Downturn”

JPM, ECB Hint At Arrival Of “Helicopter Money” In Europe Following Next “Significant Downturn”

Moments ago, ECB governing council member and Bank of Italy governor Ignazio Visco had some very troubling comments.

He said that while helicopter money is not currently part of the discussion in the Governing Council that “no policy tool within our mandate can or should be dismissed a priori.” The reason for this startling admission is “the importance of expectations of low inflation in determining wage outcomes, and thus giving rise to second- round effects, may be increasing.”

He cited Italy’s recently signed collective contracts where “it was agreed that parts of future pay rises will be revised downwards in the event that the inflation rate falls short of current forecasts” adding that a “a generalized adoption of this type of contract would significantly decrease the rate of growth of wages and this would in turn be reflected in the dynamics of consumer prices.”

He went on to defend existing monetary policy which has so far only resulted in savings hoarding, ongoing deflation and a slammed banking sector, saying that “Regarding Italy, the effects are estimated to be somewhat stronger: absent the monetary impulse, the Italian recession would have ended only in 2017; inflation would have remained negative for the whole three-year period.”

But back to helicopter money: Visco also said that: “such an extreme measure would undoubtedly be subject to operational and legal constraints.

Is the ECB really this cloase to helicopter money? It appears so, because as he notes “the redistributive implications and the close ties with fiscal policy would all make it very complex, all the more so in the euro area given its institutional framework.” He concluded that a discussion on the measure “is noteworthy, not much per se, but because it underlines the concern that monetary policy is left to act in isolation.”

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

Hyperinflating Venezuela Used 36 Boeing 747 Cargo Planes To Deliver Its Worthless Bank Notes

Hyperinflating Venezuela Used 36 Boeing 747 Cargo Planes To Deliver Its Worthless Bank Notes

The weeks ago, when we showed “What The Death Of A Nation Looks Like: Venezuela Prepares For 720% Hyperinflation“, we said that after looking at a chart of Venezuela’s upcoming hyperinflation…

…  a hyperinflation in which the soaring stock market has failed to keep pace with the collapsing currency, thereby mocking all erroneous thought experiments that under hyperinflation being long the stock market is a sure hedge to currency destruction…

… we joked that it is unclear just where the country will find all the paper banknotes it needs for all its new currency.

After all, central-bank data shows Venezuela more than doubled the supply of 100-, 50- and 2-bolivar notes in 2015 as it doubled monetary liquidity including bank deposits. Supply has grown even as Venezuela has fewer U.S. dollars to support new bolivars, a result of falling oil prices.

This question, as morbidly amusing as it may have been to us if not the local population, became particularly poginant yesterday, when for the first time, one US Dollar could purchase more than 1000 Venezuela Bolivars on the black market.

And, as if on cue, the WSJ answered. As it turns out we were not the only ones wondering how the devastated “socialist paradise” gets its exponentially collapsing paper currency, which in just the past month has lost 17% of its value.

The answer: 36 Boeing 747s.

From the WSJ:

Millions of pounds of provisions, stuffed into three-dozen 747 cargo planes, arrived here from countries around the world in recent months to service Venezuela’s crippled economy.

But instead of food and medicine, the planes carried another resource that often runs scarce here: bills of Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar.

 

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

Negative Interest Rates Already In Fed’s Official Scenario

Negative Interest Rates Already In Fed’s Official Scenario

Over the past year, and certainly in the aftermath of the BOJ’s both perplexing and stunning announcement (as it revealed the central banks’ level of sheer desperation), we have warned (most recently “Negative Rates In The U.S. Are Next: Here’s Why In One Chart”) that next in line for negative rates is the Fed itself, whether Janet Yellen wants it or not. Today, courtesy of Wolf Richter, we find that this is precisely what is already in the small print of the Fed’s future stress test scenarios, and specifically the “severely adverse scenario” where we read that:

The severely adverse scenario is characterized by a severe global recession, accompanied by a period of heightened corporate financial stress and negative yields for short-term U.S. Treasury securities.

As a result of the severe decline in real activity and subdued inflation, short-term Treasury rates fall to negative ½ percent by mid-2016 and remain at that level through the end of the scenario.
And so the strawman has been laid. The only missing is the admission of the several global recession, although with global GDP plunging over 5% in USD terms, we wonder just what else those who make the official determination are waiting for.

Finally, we disagree with the Fed that QE4 is not on the table: it most certainly will be once stock markets plunge by 50% as the “severely adverse scenario” envisions, and once NIRP fails to boost economic activity, as it has failed previously everywhere else it has been tried, the Fed will promtply proceed with what has worked before, if only to make the true situation that much worse.

Until then, we sit back and wait.

Here is Wolf Richter with Negative Interest Rates Already in Fed’s Official Scenario

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

More Central Bank Trouble in Canada

More Central Bank Trouble in Canada

14546039298_5ab096c6a8_oYesterday, the Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz surprised many by not lowering the target for the overnight rate to 0.25% from 0.50%. The central bank cut this rate twice last year in an attempt to stimulate the economy. During the past nine months the TSX index has fallen from more than 15,500 to below 11,800, the Canadian dollar has depreciated from US$0.84 to below US$0.69 and crude oil prices have fallen from US$60/bbl to less than US$28/bbl. Consumer prices for imported products are rising quickly and government tax revenues are falling. In other words, the circumstances that usually motivate the Bank of Canada to act did not trigger a response from authorities this time.

The decision on the overnight rate may make the Bank of Canada an exception among other central banks that have reduced their key lending rates to zero or less. Bucking the trend does not mean that Canadians are going to escape the consequences of seven years of an overnight rate of 1.0% or less.

It is widely expected the Federal budget is going to contain borrowing $15 billion in the next fiscal year, ostensibly to “stimulate the economy”. Borrowing by the provincial government in Alberta could easily be more than half the Federal level of borrowing. Incredibly, the provincial government in Quebec may be the most parsimonious of all provincial governments.

Governments have no wealth of their own that is not first taken from someone else. There are only three sources available: current taxpayers, future taxpayers and in the case of the federal government, creating inflation by selling government bonds to the Bank of Canada. Stimulus spending likely means that future taxpayers will be confiscated to a greater extent than they would be otherwise. Inflation will erode further the purchasing power of every Canadian dollar in existence. Initial recipients of stimulus transfers will benefit; most Canadians will not.

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

What Deflation Quacks Like

What Deflation Quacks Like

As yet another day of headlines shows, see the links and details in today’s Debt Rattle at the Automatic Earth, deflation is visible everywhere, from a 98% drop in EM debt issuance to junk bonds reporting the first loss since 2008 to corporate bonds downgrades to plummeting cattle prices in Kansas to China’s falling demand for iron ore and a whole list of other commodities.

The list is endless. It is absolutely everywhere. And it’s there every single day. But how would we know? After all, we’re being told incessantly that deflation equals falling consumer prices. And since these don’t fall -yet-, other than at the pump (something people seem to think is some freak accident), every Tom and Dick and Harry concludes there is no deflation.

But if you wait for consumer prices to fall to recognize deflationary forces, you’ll be way behind the curve. Always. Consumer prices won’t drop until we’re -very- well into deflation, and they will do so only at the moment when nary a soul can afford them anymore even at their new low levels.

The money supply, however it’s measured, may be soaring (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard makes the point every other day), but that makes no difference when spending falls as much as it does. And it does. The whole shebang is maxed out. And the whole caboodle is maxed out too. All of it except for central banks and other money printers.

Everyone has so much debt that spending can only come from borrowing more. Until it can’t. We read comments that tell us the global markets are reaching the end of the ‘credit cycle’, but can the insanity that has ‘saved’ the economy over the past 7 years truly be seen as a ‘cycle’, or is it perhaps instead just pure insanity? There’s never been so much debt on the planet, so unless we’re starting a whole new kind of cycle, not much about it looks cyclical.

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

Brazil Devolves Into Full-Blown Political Crisis With Launch Of Impeachment Proceedings Against President Rouseff

Brazil Devolves Into Full-Blown Political Crisis With Launch Of Impeachment Proceedings Against President Rouseff 

Moments ago Brazil lower house chief Eduardo Cunha announced that he has accepted an impeachment request filed by Helio Bicudo. Cunha told reporters in Brasilia that the decision is not political, and while one can debate that, the implications will have a tremendous impact on both Brazil’s political situation not to mention its already imploding economy.

As Bloomberg adds, Cunha told reporters in Brasilia on Wednesday he “profoundly regrets” what’s happening. “May our country overcome this process.” The impeachment process could take months, involving several votes in Congress that ultimately may result in the president’s ouster. Rousseff would challenge any impeachment proceedings in the Supreme Court, according to a government official with direct knowledge of her defense strategy.

The speaker’s decision will put the president’s support in Congress to a test after government and opposition spent months trying to rally lawmakers to their sides. The move also threatens to paralyze Rousseff’s economic agenda as she focuses on saving her political life rather than reviving growth. Her ouster would mark the downfall of the ruling Workers’ Party that won global renown for lifting tens of millions from poverty before becoming ensnared in Brazil’s largest-ever corruption scandal.

Accusations that top members of her party accepted bribes, coupled with surging consumer prices and rising unemployment, have driven Rousseff’s approval rating to record lows. The majority of Brazilians in public opinion polls agreed that Congress should open impeachment proceedings against the president.

The story gets better because Cunha himself is facing allegations that he accepted kickbacks and hid the money in overseas accounts. The lower house ethics committee is considering whether to open a probe that could result in his removal from office. His decision today comes after Workers’ Party members on the committee agreed Dec. 2 to vote in favor of investigating Cunha. The speaker denies wrongdoing.

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

Global Markets Turmoil After China Extends Currency War To 2nd Day – Devalues Yuan To 4 Year Lows

Global Markets Turmoil After China Extends Currency War To 2nd Day – Devalues Yuan To 4 Year Lows

Chinese stocks opened lower, extending yesterday’s losses, after The PBOC weakened its Yuan FIX dramatically for the 2nd consecutive day(from 6.1162 Monday to 6.2298 last night to 6.3306). Offshore Yuan fell another 9 handles against the USD after China closed but was hovering at 6.40 as the market opens (now at 11 hnadles weaker at 6.51). Bear in mind the utter devastation in Chinese credit markets that data showed occurred in July, it remains ironic that for the 3rd days in a row, Chinese margin debt balances grew. Before the real fun and games started, Chinese officials once again exclaimed that their data is real (denying any mismatches between GDP Deflator and CPI) as China CDS spiked to 2 year highs. US equity futures are tumbling, bonds bid, and gold bouncing off the initial jerk lower.

PBOC makes some comments (like last night’s)…

  • *PBOC SAYS NO ECONOMIC BASIS FOR YUAN’S CONSTANT DEVALUATION
  • *PBOC SAYS YUAN WON’T CONTINUOUSLY DEVALUE
  • *PBOC SAYS MOVE OF YUAN REFERENCE PRICE IS NORMAL
  • *CHINA YUAN MECHANISM CHANGE MAKES FIXING RATES MORE REASONABLE

And then there is this (from Xinhua):

China’s state-owned news 4-year lowsagency Xinhua said: “China is not waging a currency war; merely fixing a discrepancy.”

“The central parity rate revision was designed to make the yuan more market-driven and in line with market expectations,” it said in a comment piece published on its web site.

“The lower exchange rate was just a byproduct, not the goal.”

The “one-off” adjustment has now become two… some context for the size of this move…

  • *MNI: CHINA PBOC WED YUAN FIXING LOWEST SINCE OCT 11, 2012

Onshore Yuan breaks above 6.41 – trades to 4 years lows against the USD…

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

 

I Sure Am Glad There’s No Inflation

I Sure Am Glad There’s No Inflation

I sure am glad there’s no inflation, because these “stable prices” the Federal Reserve keeps jaw-jacking about are putting us in a world of hurt.

We are constantly bombarded with two messages about inflation:

1. Inflation is near-zero

2. This worries the Federal Reserve terribly, because stable prices are deflationaryand deflation is (for reasons that are never explained) like the financial Black Plague that will wipe out humanity if it isn’t vanquished by a healthy dose of inflation (i.e. getting less for your money).

Those of us outside the inner circles of power are glad there’s no inflation, because we’d rather get more for our money (deflation) rather than less for our money (inflation). You know what I mean: the package that once held 16 ounces now only holds 13 ounces. A medication that once cost $79 now costs $79,000. (This is a much slighter exaggeration than you might imagine.)

Our excellent F-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft cost us taxpayers $54 million a piece. Now the replacement fighter, the wallowing collection of defective parts flying in close proximity known as the F-35 costs $250 million each–unless you want an engine in it. That’ll cost you extra, partner.

Despite all these widely known examples of rampant inflation, every month we’re told there’s no inflation. Just to reassure myself there’s no inflation, I looked up a few charts on the St. Louis Fed’s FRED database.

I have to say, I’m scratching my head here because the cost of things has gone up a lot since 2000.

The consumer price index is up 38% from 2000. Now if somebody were to give me a choice between getting 10 gallons of gasoline and 10 gallons minus 3.8 gallons of gasoline, I’d take the 10 gallons. So how the heck can a 38% increase be near-zero inflation?

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

 

Food Prices Grow At Fastest Pace In 3 Years, As Meat Soars

Food Prices Grow At Fastest Pace In 3 Years, As Meat Soars.

Want to save on your food bill? Switch to chicken.

Inflation slowed down in November, thanks primarily to plummeting gas prices, but the rapid rise in meat prices that has stalked consumers this year showed no signs of slowing.

Overall inflation fell to a 2-per-cent pace in November, Statistics Canada reports, below the 2.4-per-cent pace a month earlier and below the 2.2 per cent forecast by economists.

The gas price index fell 7.5 per cent in the space of a month. Prices for clothing and entertainment equipment also fell.

But food prices are up 3.1 per cent on the year, the fastest pace in three years, according to BMO economist Doug Porter.

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

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