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The Fed is Lying to Us

The Fed is Lying to Us

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie”

The recent statements from the Federal Reserve and the other major world central banks (the ECB, BoJ, BoE and PBoC) are alarming because their actions are completely out of alignment with what they’re telling us.

Their words seek to soothe us that “everything’s fine” and the global economy is doing quite well. But their behavior reflects a desperate anxiety.

Put more frankly; we’re being lied to.

Case in point: On October 4, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell publicly claimed the US economy is “in a good place”. Yet somehow, despite the US banking system already having approximately $1.5 trillion in reserves, the Fed is suddenly pumping in an additional $60 billion per month to keep things propped up.

Do drastic, urgent measures like this reflect an economy that’s “in a good place”?

The Fed’s Rescue Was Never Real

Remember, after a full decade of providing “emergency stimulus measures” the US Federal Reserve stopped its quantitative easing program (aka, printing money) a few years back.

Mission Accomplished, it declared. We’ve saved the system.

But that cessation was meaningless. Because the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped right in to take over the Fed’s stimulus baton and started aggressively growing its own balance sheet — keeping the global pool of new money growing.

Let’s look at the data. First, we see here how the Fed indeed stopped growing its balance sheet in 2014:

And we can note other important insights in this chart.

For starters, you can clearly see how in 2008, the Fed printed up more money in just a few weeks than it had in the nearly 100 years of operations prior.

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

For The First Time Ever, Greece Issues Negative Yielding Debt

For The First Time Ever, Greece Issues Negative Yielding Debt

As armies of fixed income strategists battle over whether US Treasuries are facing higher or lower yields, Greece has no such qualms and in a historic shift today, the former bond market pariah and Eurozone’s most indebted nation, joined the exclusive club of negative-yielding European nations when bond investors lined up to pay the nation that was at the heart of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

A sale of €487.5 million of 13-week bills on Wednesday drew Greece’s first-ever negative yield of minus 0.02% as investors now pay Athens for the privilege of lending it cash, as Bloomberg first reported. Greece joins the likes of Ireland, Italy and Spain – not to mention virtually all core Eurozone nations – which benefit from the ECB’s insane monetary policy and deepening fears of a global recession.

It’s been an unprecedented turnaround for twice bankrupt Eurozone member, whose bondholders suffered massive losses back in March 2012 when the country was forced to accept the biggest bond restructuring in history, bringing the Eurozone to the verge of collapse.

Just a few years and several trillions in bond purchases by the ECB later, the region is grappling with an altogether different problem – the spread of negative yields, which reduces borrowing costs for governments in a form of soft default, one which is crushing savers, pension funds and insurers, and which has prompted some of the most respected names in finance to shriek in terror as the cost of money in even Europe’s most insolvent nations is now negative.

Jon Day, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Newton Investment Management, said the move was “another symptom” of the “global grab for yield, especially in euro-denominated bonds,” pointing out that short-dated Greek bonds were previously one of the few government markets where a positive return was on offer. 

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

ECB “Whistleblowers” Emerge: Former Central Bankers Cry Out Against Draghi’s Monetary Insanity

ECB “Whistleblowers” Emerge: Former Central Bankers Cry Out Against Draghi’s Monetary Insanity

It’s not just disgruntled CIA officials that have decided the best way to stage a coup is by way of “whistleblowing” – former central bankers are using a similar approach when it comes to the root cause of all of society’s ills: failed central bank policies, and nowhere more so than at the European Central Bank.

On Friday, a group of former senior European central bankers published a memo attacking the unhinged monetary policy of the European Central Bank, which they claim is “based on the wrong diagnosis” and risks ending its independence. Their criticism is in response to a package of massive easing measures announced by the ECB last month, including “open-ended QE” that triggered unprecedented opposition within the top echelons of the central bank, and set up a “resistance” faction within the ECB itself spearheaded by Germany, France and the Netherlands, as it has now emerged that all along Mario Draghi was the central banker of Europe’s insolvent periphery, even as his NIRP policies crushed Europe’s legacy banking system.

The rare public attack on the ECB – in the eyes of the FT – underlined how Christine Lagarde could have a fight on her hands after she takes over from Mario Draghi as president of the bank at the end of this month, when – not if – she decides to loosen monetary policy even more in the face of the eurozone’s mounting economic slowdown.

Commenting on the unprecedented mutiny against the former Goldmanite Mario Draghi, whom the extremely confused socialist elements – desperate for acceptance by some, any echo chamber – have called “legendary” even though it is his policies that have crushed Europe’s working classes, One River CIO Eric Peters said…

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

What the Hell is the ECB Doing?

What the Hell is the ECB Doing?

Danielle DiMartino poses an interesting question regarding the ECB. I have a set of answers.

What is the ECB Doing?

I started thinking about that question weeks ago.

I have a set of answers and even started writing this post before DiMartino brought it to the forefront.

There are only two answers. One of them is very unsettling.

  1. Ignorance
  2. On Purpose

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s razor is a principle from philosophy. Suppose there exists two explanations for an occurrence. In this case the one that requires the least amount of assumptions is usually correct. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation.

Occam’s Razor typically eliminates most conspiracy theories. It’s not that conspiracies don’t happen, but that simpler solutions are far more likely.

My corollary to the theory is very easy to understand: If stupidity is one of the possible answers, it is the most likely answer.

I am a normally a big fan of Occam’s Razor.

But this is so bizarre that I have my doubts.

Importantly, this may not be a conspiracy at all. Mario Draghi can easily be acting alone.

My Lead Question

How stupid can things get before one starts believing something else is in play?

I had already been thinking about that question when not only did ECB president Mario Draghi further push interest rates into negative territory but he also said it was a good idea for the ECB to think about MMT.

Shocking ECB Dissent

Dissent at the Fed happens all the time. It is rare at the ECB. The ECB builds a consensus and it is typically unanimous.

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

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The dollar strengthened against the euro in August, merely in anticipation of the European Central Bank slashing its key interest rate further into negative territory. Investors were fleeing into the dollar, prompting President Trump to tweet on Aug. 30:

The Euro is dropping against the Dollar “like crazy,” giving them a big export and manufacturing advantage… And the Fed does NOTHING!

When the ECB cut its key rate as anticipated, from a negative 0.4% to a negative 0.5%, the president tweeted on Sept. 11:

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.

And on Sept. 12 he tweeted:

European Central Bank, acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports…. And the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!

However, negative interest rates have not been shown to stimulate the economies that have tried them, and they would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, for reasons unique to the U.S. dollar. The ECB has not gone to negative interest rates to gain an export advantage. It is to keep the European Union from falling apart, something that could happen if the United Kingdom does indeed pull out and Italy follows suit, as it has threatened to do. If what Trump wants is cheap borrowing rates for the U.S. federal government, there is a safer and easier way to get them.

The Real Reason the ECB Has Gone to Negative Interest Rates

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

‘Vaguely Troubling’: BIS Warns Of Financial Disaster Amid $17 Trillion In Negative-Yield Debt

‘Vaguely Troubling’: BIS Warns Of Financial Disaster Amid $17 Trillion In Negative-Yield Debt 

When the central bank for central banks publishes its quarterly review, the world should take note.

Claudio Borio, Head of the Monetary and Economic Department at the BIS, published the BIS Quarterly Review, September 2019on Sunday, revealing how the increasing acceptance of negative interest rates has reached “vaguely troubling” levels. 

The statement comes after the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB) cut interest rates to flight a global manufacturing slowdown — Borio said that the effectiveness of monetary policy is severely waning and might not be able to counter the global downturn, in other words, JPMorgan Global Composite PMI might print sub 50 for a considerable period of time. 

“The room for monetary policy maneuver has narrowed further. Should a downturn materialize, monetary policy will need a helping hand, not least from a wise use of fiscal policy in those countries where there is still room for maneuver.”

The BIS, known as the ‘central bankers’ bank,’ said the recent easing by the Fed, ECB, and PBOC, has pushed yields lower across the world, contributing to the more than $17 trillion in negative-yielding tradeable bonds. 

From Germany to Japan, 10-year government debt rates have plunged into negative territory, in recent times. 

“Against this backdrop, sovereign bond yields naturally declined further, at times driven by the prospect of slower economic activity and heightened risks, at others by central banks’ reassuring easing measures. At one point, before the recent uptick in yields, the amount of sovereign and even corporate bonds trading at negative rates hit a new record, over USD 17 trillion according to certain estimates, equivalent to roughly 20% of world GDP. Indeed, some households, too, could borrow at negative rates. A growing number of investors are paying for the privilege of parting with their money. 

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

Stunning Consensus Emerges: Fed May Announce Launch Of QE In Just A Few Hours

Stunning Consensus Emerges: Fed May Announce Launch Of QE In Just A Few Hours

It was back on August 6, in an article titled “Forget China, The Fed Has A Much Bigger Problem On Its Hands“, where we explained why in response to the coming dollar funding shortage and liquidity crunch (we warned about this month’s repo crash over a month ago), we first said that Fed will likely resume QE as soon as the fourth quarter. Needless to say, with the Fed having only just cut rates for the first time in over a decade just a week earlier, others looked at us funny, even though just two days later we got the clearest sign yet that the Fed was indeed contemplating QE when we described a very odd email we received from a Fed researcher in “When You Get An Email Like This From The Fed, It May Be Time To Panic.”

In any event, virtually no ‘serious’ Wall Street analyst predicted that QE would be on traders lips in the immediate future, and certainly nobody predicted the coming “dollar funding storm”, which we warned readers about just last Friday.

Fast forward to today when one analyst after another is scrambling to “predict” that today, with its repo operations woefully inadequate to calm the storm that has gripped the funding markets and the dollar shortage, the Fed may go so far as to expend its balance sheet by announcing the launch of permanent open market operations, i.e., the monetization of bonds.

Just please don’t call it QE.

ECB Restarts QE, Lowers Deposit Facility Rate to -0.5%

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

Will the Bank of England join the loose money bandwagon?

Will the Bank of England join the loose money bandwagon?

As the year of the 325th anniversary of the Bank of England’s foundation, and as the month of one of the Bank’s more important rate-setting decisions since 2008, September provides a congruous occasion on which to reflect on the history of the BoE and consider what the future holds for it. Founded in 1694 as a private bank to the government, it was in 1998 that the BoE was granted independence from the government in setting monetary policy. Now the UK faces perhaps its greatest political uncertainty in a generation, it is worth asking the question: to what extent will this independence continue? 

We have already seen the effect of populist leaders on central banks that are ostensibly independent. The obvious case is that of the US, but there are other examples to be found of central banks facing political pressure to keep monetary policy easy, from Turkish President Erdogan’s sacking of the then central bank governor, to the ECB’s reaction to persistently low growth in Europe. Even if Trump doesn’t control the Fed directly, he certainly controls the market, which in turn has forced the hand of the central bank and led to the Fed cutting rates with the economy in expansion. And with ever more monetary sweets to choose from in the jar, which politician could resist raiding the cupboard and giving their economy a sugar high of rate cuts, QE and lending? 

Pressure on the Fed is likely only to increase as the 2020 elections approach: if President Trump is able to engineer further cuts, and then get the markets soaring with a trade deal and promises of tax cuts just in time for elections, we might begin to agree he is – in his words – “a very stable genius”.

Turkey Exposes Central Bank Incompetence

Turkey Exposes Central Bank Incompetence

Last year I asked whether Turkey would be “City Zero in Global Contagion.” That question was based on the crisis unfolding in the Turkish lira which materially threatened a number of major European banks, especially those in Italy.

This week highlighted something really interesting for me that, I think, sets in motion a similar thesis about Turkey but for much different reasons. The sovereign debt crisis will come about purely because of a failure of confidence in institutions.

Competence is the key to staying at the top of human dominance hierarchies, not force. Those built on competence tend to last and those built on force are, at best, meta-stable for a specific period of time.

The difference between what’s happening in Turkey with President Erdogan taking control of the Turkish central bank and the end of Mario Draghi’s term heading the ECB cuts to the heart of this issue of competence versus force.

The Draghi Put-on

Draghi has projected this aura of the ever-in-control competent manager of Europe’s finances while steadfastly holding to policy ideas which have done nothing but destroy capital formation within the Eurozone. 

His last statement and policy decision this week are emblematic of his inflexibility both intellectually and politically.  And it’s clear that he’s trapped at whatever negative-bound he’s got in his head, handing off a Europe on the verge of collapse to his sister-in-tyranny, Christine Lagarde.

Draghi just fired his “Cheap Money Bazooka” on his way out the door to kick the can down the road another few months.

He’s setting the stage for the full-blown monetization and collapse of the European banking system under his successor, former IMF chief Christine Lagarde. What hasn’t worked for Europe for the past 11 years was just introduced again as the only way to save the situation.

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

US Equity Futures Trade Near All Time High After ECB Goes All In

US Equity Futures Trade Near All Time High After ECB Goes All In

If it was Powell’s intention to have the S&P trade at an all time when he cuts rates by another 25bps next Wednesday, he achieved it.

S&P futures rose alongside Asian and European stocks as shares globally headed for a third weekly gain and a six week high as markets cheered signs of progress in US-China trade talks and the ECB’s just launched open-ended QE. Treasury yields climbed, with the US 10Y rising as high as 1.81%; the dollar slipped while the yuan rose and pound soared on easing no-deal Brexit fears.

 The resurgent risk appetite was largely the result of renewed trade war optimism after President Trump said on Thursday he was potentially open to an interim trade deal with China, although he stressed an “easy” agreement would not be possible.

Following a muted Asian session where many markets in the region were closed, we saw a groggy start in European trading after Bloomberg reported that most core European nations did not want to restart the ECB’s money printing program, the main bourses eventually traded well in the green, as basic resources and auto sectors outperformed, adding to what was already set to be a fourth straight week of gains.

“We have quite an interesting reaction to the ECB meeting with the sense of the pushback from the core countries, and that essentially that the ECB has now thrown its last cards in,” said John Hardy, head of FX strategy at Saxo bank. “It looks like we are also getting to some pretty interesting levels for yields. If the consolidation continues, at some point you have to question whether the easing (from the central banks) is actually there.”

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

Trump Praises ECB For “Depreciating The Euro”, Slams The Fed For Doing Nothing

Trump Praises ECB For “Depreciating The Euro”, Slams The Fed For Doing Nothing

When discussing the barrage of easing unleashed by the ECB moments ago, we said that as “we prepare for the ECB press conference in 30 minutes, that will be nothing compared to the angry twitter tirade we expect by president Trump who will demand that Powell immediately match everything that Powell has done.

And sure enough, just about half an hour after the ECB announcement, Trump praised the European Central Bank, for “acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports….” And, as expected, the president lashed out at the Fed again, saying that “the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!”


European Central Bank, acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports…. And the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!


Draghi Goes All Out: ECB Cuts Rates, Restarts Open-Ended QE, Changes Forward Guidance, Eases TLTRO, Introduces Tiering

Draghi Goes All Out: ECB Cuts Rates, Restarts Open-Ended QE, Changes Forward Guidance, Eases TLTRO, Introduces Tiering

With the market worried that Mario Draghi could surprise hawkishly in his parting announcement…

… that is how the market initially interpreted today’s ECB press release, which cut already negative deposit rates for the first time since 2016 to stimulate the sagging European economy, but by a smaller than expected 10bps to -0.50% while restarting QE but by “only” €20 billion, less than the €30 billion baseline.

However, there was more than enough offsetting dovish bells and whistles, because while the restarted QE (or the Asset Purchase Program) was smaller than expected, it will be open-ended, and the ECB will run it “for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.” Of course, the question here is how long can a safe-asset constrained Europe run an “open-ended” QE, and the answer is it depends on what the issuer limit by nation is, with Frederik Ducrozet observing that “at €20bn/month, assuming up to €5bn in corporate bonds, QE can run for ~9 months under current limits… and for more than 7 years if limits are raised to 50%!” So look for more information on that angle.


 · 43m

OPEN-ENDED QE. Let that sink in. Much more important than the monthly pace of asset purchases, i.e. even better than we hoped.

At €20bn/month, assuming up to €5bn in corporate bonds, QE can run for ~9 months under current limits… and for more than 7 years if limits are raised to 50%!
We might get details about issuer limits in the separate press releases and/or the press conference.

View image on Twitter

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

Why the ECB should raise, not cut rates

Why the ECB should raise, not cut rates

Negative rates are likely one of the reasons behind the lacklustre European growth. Negative rates have worked as a tool to transfer wealth from savers to the indebted governments that have abandoned all structural reforms, while these extremely low rates have also perpetuated overcapacity, incentivised the refinancing of zombie companies and effectively worked as a disguised subsidy on low productivity. Not only those measures have damaged banks, but they have also created very dangerous collateral impacts (read “Negative Rates Have Damaged Banks But This Is Not The Worst Effect”).

In recent weeks we have heard of a likely new stimulus plan that would include a new repurchase program and further rate cuts. A new asset purchase program is completely unnecessary and unlikely to spur growth when all Eurozone countries already have sovereign debt with negative yields in 2-year maturities and the vast majority have negative real or nominal yields in the 10-year bonds.  Why would the ECB repurchase corporate and sovereign bonds when the issuers are already financing themselves at the lowest rates in history?  Furthermore, by reading some statements one would believe that the ECB has stopped supporting the economy. Far from it, when it repurchases all debt maturities in its balance sheet and has implemented another liquidity injection TLTRO in March 2019.

The main problem of those who defend further purchases and more negative rates is one of diagnosis. The central planners believe the Eurozone problems come from lack of demand, and that investment and credit growth are not what they would want them to be only because investors and corporates believe that rates will ultimately rise, leading to defensive positioning.

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

Blackrock CIO: The Endgame Is Coming And Central Banks Will Debase Everything To Spark Inflation

Blackrock CIO: The Endgame Is Coming And Central Banks Will Debase Everything To Spark Inflation

Blackrock’s Chief Investment Officer, Rick Rieder, best known perhaps for recently suggesting that the ECB should monetize stocks, writes in the Blackrock blog today and highlights the economic policy state-of-play today, and where it may lead to should economic growth falter, productivity not materialize, and populism continue to thrive.

* * *

The major global central banks continue to draw bigger guns in their battle against deflation, yet in some places, it appears to be of no avail. The fact is that the share of sovereign yields that are in negative territory keeps increasing and the average level of these interest rates becomes ever more negative. Further, quantitative easing (QE) purchases of sovereign debt have transitioned to purchases of corporate debt, and in some places equities; with inflation still elusive and improved growth prospects in question. That all leads one to wonder where (and how) these policies end? What is today’s monetary policy endgame?

Turn to economic history for perspective

In order to envision the monetary policy endgame several years (or a decade) from now, let’s start by stepping back and examining two of the foundational tenets that have driven the global economy and financial markets since the 1970s. The first principle is that the major central banks embraced a roughly 2% inflation target (implicit for the Federal Reserve since, at least, 1995 and explicitly stated since 2012), and the second factor is the end of the Bretton Woods monetary system; marking the shift away from the gold standard and into a world of fiat currency fluctuation.

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

Lagarde Praises Negative Rates, Study Shows They Reduce Lending

Lagarde Praises Negative Rates, Study Shows They Reduce Lending

Incoming IMF chief Christine Lagarde says negative rates have helped Europe more than they’ve hurt. I disagree.

The nearly always wrong Christine Lagarde is wrong once again.

Today she claims Negative Rates Have Helped Europe More Than They’ve Hurt.

The next head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, appears to be as much of a fan of negative interest rates as the current chief, Mario Draghi.

European banks have complained about the impact on profitability, but even there the current managing director of the International Monetary Fund defended the move.

“On the one hand, banks may decide to pass the negative deposit rate on to depositors, lowering the interest rates the latter get on their savings,” she wrote. “On the other hand, the same depositors are also consumers, workers, and borrowers. As such they benefit from stronger economic momentum, lower unemployment and lower borrowing costs. All things considered, in the absence of the unconventional monetary policy adopted by the ECB – including the introduction of negative interest rates – euro area citizens would be, overall, worse off.”

Negative Rates Actually Cut Lending

Research shows Negative Rates Actually Cut Lending.

Central banks’ negative interest rates were supposed to increase spending, stop deflation and stimulate the economy. They may have done the exact opposite.

According to research from the University of Bath, central banks charging commercial banks to hold excess cash reserves have actually decreased lending. That’s because the additional costs reduce banks’ profit margins, leading to a drop in loan growth.

“This is a good example of unintended consequences,” said Dr. Ru Xie of the university’s School of Management, one of the study’s authors. “Negative interest rate policy has backfired, particularly in an environment where banks are already struggling with profitability.”

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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