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Yellen Challenges Powell’s Unlimited Control of the Markets

The Fed attempts to maintain control of various rates (including inflation, unemployment and long-term interest rates) through its monetary policy decisions. In the past, poor choices arguably led to both the dot-com bubble and the Great Recession. But that’s old news.

Today, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is trying to get the U.S. economy moving. A combination of near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing,” which means buying bonds directly. Both these interventions increase the amount of money in circulation. Ultimately, this would lead to inflation, as you’d expect.

And of course, inflation is closely tied to market rates. In response to the pandemic, the Fed rate policy that Powell currently advocates is keeping money market rates close to zero for an extended period of time. The Fed also seem to intervene quite a bit, attempting to maintain tight control on those rates.

Powell has to balance economic recovery and employment against market bubbles and excessive inflation. That’s a lot of balls in the air… What if one drops?

Unleashing a “tsunami” of cash

Enter Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who just threw a big monkey wrench in Powell’s plans to maintain any semblance of tight control over rates. What did she say? As Newsmax reported:

Already low short-term interest rates are set to sink further, potentially below zero, after the Treasury announced plans earlier this month to reduce the stockpile of cash it amassed at the Fed over the last year to fight the pandemic and the deep recession it caused.

That sounds sensible, right? There’s just one problem: the Treasury is planning to “unleash what Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Zoltan Pozsar calls a ‘tsunami’ of reserves into the financial system and on to the Fed’s balance sheet.”

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

 

Crazy days for money

Crazy days for money

This article anticipates the end of the fiat currency regime and argues why its replacement can only be gold and silver, most likely in the form of fiat money turned into gold substitutes.

It explains why the current fashion for cryptocurrencies, led by bitcoin, are unsuited as future mediums of exchange, and why unsuppressed bitcoin has responded more immediately to the current situation than gold. Furthermore, the US authorities are likely to suppress the bitcoin movement because it is a threat to the dollar and monetary policy.

This article explains why growth in GDP represents growth in the quantity of money and is not representative of activity in the underlying economy. The authorities’ monetary response to the current economic situation is ill-informed, based on a misunderstanding of what GDP represents.

The common belief in the fund management community that rising interest rates are bad for gold exposes a lack of understanding about the consequences of monetary inflation on relative time preferences. Rising interest rates will be with us shortly, and they will burst the bond bubble with negative consequences for all financial assets and the currencies that have inflated them.

In short, we are sitting on a monetary powder-keg, the danger of which is barely understood by policy makers and which could explode at any time.

Introduction

We have entered a period the likes of which we have never seen before. The collapse of the dollar and dollar assets is growing increasingly certain by the day. The money-printing of the dollar designed to inflate assets will end up destroying the dollar. We know this thanks to the John Law precedent three hundred years ago. I last wrote about this two weeks ago, here. In 1720, it was just France and Law’s livre…

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

The Foundation for Potential Price Hyperinflation is Being Laid

The Federal Reserve sure seems to have a tough time finding and reporting signs of rising inflation — especially when it’s hidden in other sectors like a lack of demand for energy.

A recent example of the Fed’s “inflation blindness” comes from a speech Chairman Jerome Powell gave to the Economic Club of New York. According to a MarketWatch piece that reported on that speech:

Powell said he doesn’t expect “a large nor sustained” increase in inflation right now. Price rises from the “burst of spending” as the economy reopens are not likely to be sustained.

It’s odd that Powell would say he doesn’t expect a sustained increase in inflation, because food price inflation has consistently run 3.5 to 4.5 percent since April last year. That sure seems like a sustained increase in food prices.

What Powell seems to have “forgotten” is that some of the overall inflation includes negative energy price inflation (as low as negative 9 percent at one point). But now that the demand for fuel is returning, the official gasoline index rose 7.4 percent in January.

It will be much more challenging for Powell to keep downplaying the risk of hyperinflation once energy price inflation rises back to “pre-pandemic” levels.

In fact, Robert Wenzel thinks the main inflation event is “just about to hit.” If it does, and inflation does rise past Powell’s two percent target, it isn’t likely to stop there. Jim Rickards thinks that’s when hyperinflation can gain momentum:

If inflation does hit 3%, it is more likely to go to 6% or higher, rather than back down to 2%. The process will feed on itself and be difficult to stop. Sadly, there are no Volckers or Reagans on the horizon today. There are only weak political leaders and misguided central bankers.

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

 

“The Fed’s Monetary Punchbowl Is Fueling Rampant Home Price Appreciation”: AEI

“The Fed’s Monetary Punchbowl Is Fueling Rampant Home Price Appreciation”: AEI

“There is no justification” for continuing the purchases of mortgage-backed securities. The Fed is “misdiagnosing its impact on the housing market.” Pressure rises on the Fed to back off, in face of market craziness.

During the press conference following the FOMC meeting last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell was asked by different reporters about the craziness going on in the stock market, the chaotic thingy with GameStop, corporate debt, and the housing market.

The fact that he was asked several times about the exuberant nuttiness in asset prices shows that by now everyone has picked up on it. And people are increasingly incredulous that the Fed would continue with its monetary policies in face of these markets.

Powell brushed off the GameStop thingy and gave his usual it’s-not-our-fault and it’s-never-ever-our-fault justifications for the exuberant nuttiness in the markets. The near-0% interest rates and $3 trillion in QE in just a few months had nothing to do with anything, but the drivers of the nuttiness have been the “expectations about vaccines” and “fiscal policy,” he said (transcript). “Those are the news items that have been driving asset values in recent months.”

Upon hearing this, people globally were just rolling up their eyes. And a reporter challenged him softly about the housing market – the 9% surge in prices from already lofty levels. “Are you concerned about a bubble forming there yet? And is there a price increase that you’re looking at where it might change the level of mortgage-backed securities the Fed is buying?”

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

Update on Fed’s QE: The Crybabies on Wall Street, which Clamored for More, Are Disappointed

Update on Fed’s QE: The Crybabies on Wall Street, which Clamored for More, Are Disappointed

And five SPVs expired, including the one that bought corporate bonds and bond ETFs.

The Fed has now put on ice five of its SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) which had been designed back in March to bail out the bond market. It unwound its repo positions last June. Its foreign central bank liquidity swaps are now down to near-nothing except with the Swiss National Bank, which seems to have a need for dollars. The Fed has been adding to its pile of Treasury securities at the rate spelled out in its FOMC statements, thereby monetizing part of the US government debt. And it has been adding to its pile of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS).

The result is that total assets on its weekly balance sheet through Wednesday, at $7.4 trillion, are roughly flat with the level in mid-December and are up by $200 billion from early June, with an average growth rate over the six-plus months of $30 billion a month.

And the crybabies on Wall Street that have for months been clamoring for more QE have been disappointed. It’s still a huge amount of QE, but for the crybabies on Wall Street, it’s never enough:

But the long-term chart shows just how hog-wild the Fed had gone, furiously trying to bail out and enrich the asset holders, which are concentrated at the very top, thereby creating in the shortest amount of time the largest wealth disparity the US has ever seen. From crisis to crisis, from bailout to bailout, and even when there is no crisis:

Repurchase Agreements (Repos) remained at near-zero:

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

This is a Recipe for Hot Inflation in 2021

This is a Recipe for Hot Inflation in 2021

Get ready for a tsunami of liquidity to hit the financial system.

President Trump has already signed a COVID-19 stimulus bill that will give $600 to most Americans. The House of Representatives has since passed a bill to increase the amount to $2,000.

So that’s a massive wave of money flowing into the economy.

On top of this, the Fed has just pumped $162 BILLION into the financial system in the last two weeks.

Chart, line chart Description automatically generated

To provide some perspective here.

During the apex of its monetary policy response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, the Fed was printing $80 billion in new money per month.

It just printed $162 billion in 14 days

Again, a tsunami of liquidity is going to hit the financial system in 2021.And unlike in 2008, this time it’s going to unleash hot inflation.

One of the most baffling aspects of policymakers’ response to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 was the total lack of inflation appearing in the broader economy.

After all, in 2008 central banks embarked on the most aggressive monetary easing in history (up until that point). Between 2008 and 2016, central banks:

  1. Cut interest rates over 650 times.
  2. Printed over $12 TRILLION in new money.
  3. And pushed over $10 trillion bond yields into NEGATIVE territory.

And yet, for the most part, inflation was nowhere to be found. Yes, the cost of the living for most Americans continued to rise, but it didn’t rise any faster than it had in the preceding 30 years. Indeed, on a year over year basis, inflation never managed to stay above 2% for very long.

So where was the inflation?

It was in stocks, housing prices, and other assets. All of the money central banks printed never got into the real economy. It went to the banks. And the banks either used it to speculate in the stock market (investment banks) or they sat on it.

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

This Time Is Not Different. More Debt, Less Growth

This Time Is Not Different. More Debt, Less Growth

This Time Is Not Different. More Debt, Less Growth

I remember that in 2009 three messages were constantly repeated: “In this crisis measures are different, because governments are investing in the recovery by increasing public spending,” “the funds from stimulus plans will strengthen the recovery “and “central banks help a stronger recovery by lowering rates and increasing liquidity”. Then, 2010 arrived and the Eurozone entered a deeper crisis. In many aspects, this recession is similar. Many governments are doing the same as they did in 2009. Extend and pretend. Extend structural imbalances and pretend this time will be different.

It is worrying to see the same level of excessive optimism of 2009 these days, and we must prepare for a complex environment and a difficult recovery if we are to emerge from this crisis stronger.

A recent analysis by Ned Davis Research shows that as government debt rises, growth slows, and jobs recovery is weaker. Using a multi-factor mode analysis with data from 1951 to 2020, as government debt to GDP exceeds 100%, real growth per annum falls to 1.6%, non-residential investment falls and non-farm payroll recovery weakens to 0.6% per annum.

Two factors tell us that the recovery in 2021 will likely be disappointing. Massive liquidity injections, with $26 trillion injected by central banks, have been used mostly to perpetuate elevated government spending, fundamentally current spending, and fund public debt. The second is that corporate balance sheets have been damaged to a level that will make it difficult to see a significant growth in investment above depreciation. SP Global expects global capital expenditure to remain weak in 2021.

Global growth estimates look too optimistic. The consensus assumes a recovery of 4% globally in 2021, returning to the GDP of 2019 at the end of 2022. This assumes an extraordinary and unprecedented fiscal multiplier of debt and liquidity…

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

Why M1 Money Supply (Cash) is Skyrocketing Like No Time in History

Why M1 Money Supply (Cash) is Skyrocketing Like No Time in History

Plane made of burning dollar bills symbolizes price inflation and the Fed moving to digital currencyIn my last Patron Post, which I eventually made available to everyone, I revealed a little-known (at the time) fact that M1 money supply (the most liquid forms of cash — bills, checks and basic savings accounts) had grown faster than any time in history. I showed that using a graph like the following, which is now brought up to the most current data:

With part of December now in the picture, you can see the faintest hint at the top of the steep late-November climb that shows the climb may be rounding off.

I noted,

That is a massive amount of new cash money — historically massive — done almost covertly in the quickest burst ever — and yet it did not even cause the stock market to blink!… The graphs … make it clear why inflation under the new regime could become a much more serious problem than the limp moves seen over all the years of the Great Recovery, the difference being how fast the Fed’s QE is now converting into cash

… and I asked,

Why did such an enormous surge in money supply happen in the last two weeks of November with no financial articles being written about it and no statements from the Fed about it? What is going on behind the scenes at the Fed and/or US treasury right now?

…and I promised I would look into and get back to you on it.

I think that I may have found a couple of answers, so I am getting back to you on that as promised.

This could be due to Biden’s promised termination of tax welfare to the rich

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

BREAKING NEWS: Shocking Increase In U.S. Money Supply In Past Two Weeks

BREAKING NEWS: Shocking Increase In U.S. Money Supply In Past Two Weeks

The increase in the U.S. money supply in the past two weeks is absolutely shocking.  Something must be seriously wrong behind the scenes at the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve for the M1 Money Supply to increase more in the past two weeks than it did in six weeks during the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns in late March.

I wrote about this in my last subscriber video, INVESTOR WARNING: Markets Just Propped Up By Half-Trillion In Liquidity, Brace For Major Correction Ahead.  In just one week, the M1 Money Supply surged by $498 billion.  While that was stunning, I was quite shocked to see another huge increase in the past week.

The FRED – St. Louis Federal Reserve just updated their M1 Money Supply figures showing another increase of $312 billion, on top of the $498 billion added the week prior.  So, the total increase in the U.S. M1 Money Supply for Nov 16th to Nov 30th is a shocking $809 billion.  Compare that to the $388 billion increase from Mar 16th to Mar 30th when the pandemic shutdowns first began.

Do you know how much $810 billion equals?  That turns out to be four years of global gold mine supply totaling 440 million or 40 years of global silver mine supply of 32 billion oz.  This is beyond stunning to see this much of an increase without any news release by the U.S. Treasury or Federal Reserve.

Of course, it made sense to see the M1 Money Supply to increase after the pandemic shutdowns and stock market meltdown… BUT WHY NOW???  Take a look at the following chart from the St. Louis Fed (FRED).

From March 16th to April 27th, the U.S. M1 Money Supply increased $773 billion… six weeks.  Why on earth has the M1 Money Supply increased $810 billion… in TWO WEEKS!!!

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

Gold & The Great Reset

The composition of the US dollar, including what it is backed by, has been replaced many times throughout America’s history. And another replacement is currently underway, warns monetary expert Mike Maloney.

After President Nixon fully severed its ties to gold, our government leaders have increasingly relied on expanding the currency supply to paper over (quite literally) today’s problems at the expense of the dollar’s purchasing power tomorrow.

As Mike explains in his excellent video series Hidden Secrets Of Money, such willful debasement of the currency by furtive and shortsighted politicians is nothing new. Over thousands of years, since the Romans intentionally progressively shrank the silver content of their coins, history is replete with such examples.

And now 2020 has arrived. The Federal Reserve’s response to the pandemic-induced economic slowdown has unleashed more ‘thin air’ creation of new dollars than ever seen at any prior moment in history:

21% of all US Dollars have been printed in 2020

And the leading developed countries of the world are now discussing the need for a Great Reset, in which it’s being proposed that new national cryptocurrencies (perhaps laying the groundwork towards a ‘one world currency’) replace the current existing fiat versions.

Using the lens of monetary history, Mike sees all this as simply a modern spin on the same cycles the world has seen before. Politicians will deform and abuse the currency for their own immediate needs until the system collapses, and a new, more sound alternative emerges from the ashes.

Which is why he remains so confident that gold will strengthen dramatically in the coming macro environment, despite being in a short-lived corrective phase at the moment. In fact, he sees today’s weakness as an excellent accumulation opportunity for both current holders as well as those new to owning precious metals.

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

Weekly Commentary: Pondering the New Secretary of the Treasury

Weekly Commentary: Pondering the New Secretary of the Treasury

The U.S. Goods Trade Deficit jumped to a then record $76 billion back in July 2008. A few short months later, financial chaos unleashed the “great recession” economic crisis. Traditionally, large trade deficits are evidence of loose monetary conditions and resulting unsustainable spending patterns. By May 2009 – only 10 months from an all-time record – the Goods Trade Deficit had shrunk to a seven-year low $35 billion. It’s worth noting, as well, that M2 money supply expanded $253 billion, or 3.1%, during 2009.
Fast forward to the current crisis period. M2 has surged $419 billion in only six weeks. Over the past 38 weeks, M2 has expanded an unprecedented $3.60 TN, with year-over-year growth of $3.785 TN, or 24.7%. October’s Goods Trade Deficit was reported Wednesday at $80.3 billion, lagging only August’s record $83.1 billion. Last month’s Trade Deficit was actually 21% ahead of pre-crisis October 2019.

No doubt about it, this crisis period is unique. More than three Trillion worth of Fed liquidity injections coupled with more than a Three Trillion fiscal deficit has thrown traditional crisis dynamics on its head. In this New Age Crisis backdrop, financial conditions have actually dramatically loosened. Money supply has skyrocketed, and stocks have gone on a wild speculative moonshot. Corporate bond issues surged to new records. And, as noted above, booming imports pushed the Goods Trade Deficit to an all-time high. At $170 billion, the second quarter Current Account Deficit was the largest since 2008.

The bloated services sector has accounted for a majority of historic job losses. Massive stimulus has bolstered spending on goods – which has led to the rapid recovery of imports. Home sales have boomed, with the strongest house price inflation in years. It’s only fitting that stimulus-induced “Terminal Phase” Bubble excess now engulfs the housing sector as well. That asset inflation and Bubble excess run rampant in the throes of crisis should have us all worried.

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

Why We Need a Free Market in Money

What is fiat money and what does it do?

This is essential to understand since today’s worldwide unbacked paper, or “fiat,” money regime is an economically and socially destructive scheme—with far-reaching and seriously harmful consequences. There is an answer, though, and this lies in ending the money production monopoly of states.

The Problem of Fiat Money

The US dollar, the Chinese renminbi, the euro, the Japanese yen, the British pound, and the Swiss franc represent fiat money.

Fiat money has three characteristics:

  1. Fiat money is money monopolized by the state’s central bank. It is created by central banks and commercial banks licensed by the state.
  2. Fiat money is mostly produced through bank credit expansion; it is created out of thin air.
  3. Fiat money is dematerialized money, consisting of colorful paper tickets and bits and bytes on computer hard drives.

Fiat money is by no means “harmless.”

Fiat money is inflationary. Its buying power dwindles over time, and history has shown that this entropy is almost as irreversible as gravity. Fiat money makes a select few rich at the expense of many others. The first to get new money benefit to the detriment of those on the bottom rung.

What’s more, fiat money fosters speculative bubbles and capital misallocation, which culminate in crises. This is why economies go through boom and bust cycles. Fiat money lures states, banks, consumers, and firms into the trap of excessive debt. Sooner or later, borrowers find themselves in a deep hole with no way out.

Fiat money is easy to come by, so the government can finance its adventures and misadventures. Easy money; easy come, easy go. And the government keeps growing as it keeps spending…

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

Japan Embraced Debt As a Way Out of Its Budget Crisis. It’s Not Working.

The sudden resignation of Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led to evaluations of his so-called Abenomics. Many have praised Abe’s aggressive monetary policy because the long shopping list of the Bank of Japan (government bonds, corporate bonds, ETFs and real estate investment trusts) has inflated stock and real estate prices (Shirai 2020Financial Times 2020). Concerns remain on the fiscal side since Abe’s consumption tax hikes from 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014 and to 10 percent in 2019 are widely seen as a failure (The Economist 2020). Indeed, Abe resolved Japan’s deep-seated fiscal problems only superficially.

Figure 1: Tax Revenues of Japan’s Central Government

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Source: Ministry of Finance, Japan.

The core of the problem is cheap money issued by the Bank of Japan, which had caused a stock and real estate bubble in the second half of the 1980s. While the bubble had inflated tax revenues, its bursting was followed by an unprecedented economic slump during which the corporate and income tax revenues collapsed from 43 trillion yen (approx. 390 billion dollars) in 1990 to 23 trillion yen (approx. 185 billion dollars) in 2012 (Figure 1), when Abe took office.

Figure 2: Social Security Expenditure and Local Allocation Tax as Share of Total Tax Revenues

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Source: Ministry of Finance, Japan. Central Government.

At the same time Japan’s aging population ballooned the government contributions to the public pension and health insurance system, from 12 trillion yen (approx. 110 billion dollars) in 1990 to 36 trillion yen (approx. 327 billion dollars) in 2019. In addition, the so-called local allocation tax grants of around 16 trillion yen per year (approx. 145 billion dollars) to the economically exhausted Japanese periphery continued to constitute a heavy burden for the central government. In the wake of the global financial crisis, both together had increased far beyond the central governments’ tax revenues (Figure 2).

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

The Hazards of 4 More Years of Jerome Powell

Whether Trump or Biden is elected in November, they will have to decide whether or not to appoint Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to another term.

And if he is appointed again, the way he continues to handle the continuing ripple effects of the COVID-19 “shutdown” economy will be critical.

So let’s examine why the decision to reappoint him is important, then take a quick tour of some of Powell’s recent performance.

piece from Paul R. La Monica provides a take on the importance of Powell’s re-appointment, beginning with the response to the market’s plummet earlier this year:

The Fed quickly lowered rates to zero in March and has since launched trillions of dollars worth of lending programs… Powell’s swift actions have won him praise from many economists and investing experts on Wall Street.

“Powell should get a second term if he wants it. He deserves credit for the speed and magnitude of the Fed’s response to Covid-19,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer of Raymond James.

Mr. Adam and the article are correct on one point. The Powell-authorized “moon shot” in response to a dramatic market drop was certainly a fast move.

George Calhoun, professor of quantitative finance at the Stevens Institute of Technology, agreed with Powell’s quick decision to print trillions:

When the crisis hit, Powell went all out and opened the spigots. I’m not sure what rationale would be to have someone totally different at the Fed. Monetary policy has been effective.

Any person in Powell’s position could have made the same call, of course. We just have to hope that the long-term ripple effects don’t eventually reveal that his reaction was too much, too fast, or perhaps unnecessary.

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

Weekly Commentary: State-Directed Credit Splurge

Weekly Commentary: State-Directed Credit Splurge

New data released Friday confirm ongoing historic Chinese Credit excess. Total Aggregate Financing increased (a ridiculous) $524 billion during August to $40.5 TN, doubling July’s growth and exceeding estimates by almost 40%. It was the strongest monthly gain since March’s record $759 billion. This pushed y-t-d (8-month) growth to $3.828 TN, up 45% from comparable 2019 ($2.650 TN) and 67% ahead of comparable 2018 ($2.297 TN) growth. It’s worth noting Aggregate Financing surged an incredible $2.960 TN over the past six months, 62% ahead of comparable 2019 ($1.823 TN). At 13.3%, year-over-year growth was the strongest in several years.
With 2020 GDP estimates in the 2.0 to 3.0% range, the divergence between Chinese Credit and economic output is unprecedented. That Credit growth has accelerated in the face of rapidly deteriorating economic prospects portends major troubles ahead. China’s “Terminal Phase” excess – including rapid acceleration of late-cycle loans of deteriorating quality – is unparalleled in terms of both degree and duration. Stoking a stock market mania while prolonging a historic apartment Bubble only exacerbates systemic fragility.

August New Bank Loans increased an above forecast $187 billion. This boosted y-t-d loan growth to $2.102 TN, 20% ahead of comparable 2019. Six-month growth ($1.481 TN) was 29% above comparable 2019. Bank Loans were up 13.0% over the past year, 27% in two years, and 84% over five years.

Consumer Loans rose $123 billion during August. Year-to-date growth of $755 billion was 4.7% ahead of comparable 2019. However, six-month Consumer Loan growth of $722 billion was 23% ahead of comparable 2019. Consumer Loans were up 14.5% year-over-year, 33% over two years, 58% in three and 135% over five years.

Corporate Bonds expanded $53 billion. This pushed year-to-date growth to $580 billion, up 80% from 2019 and 133% from comparable 2018 growth.

But the August winner of the Chinese Credit Sweepstakes goes to government finance. Government Bonds jumped $202 billion during the month to $6.362 TN, the largest monthly increase in a data series going back to 2017. At $837 billion, year-to-date growth was 59% ahead of comparable 2019. Government Bonds increased 18.7% over the past year, 38% in two and 66% over three years (5-yr data not available).

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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