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The Fed Just Admitted It Won’t Stop Printing Money For YEARS… Here’s How to Profit From This

The Fed Just Admitted It Won’t Stop Printing Money For YEARS… Here’s How to Profit From This


The Fed will soon be buying stocks.

Earlier this week, the Fed announced that it will begin buying corporate bonds from individual companies. Before this announcement, the Fed was already involved in the:

  • The Treasury markets (US sovereign debt)
  • The municipal bond markets (debt issued by states and cities)
  • The corporate bond markets by index (debt issued by corporations)
  • The commercial paper markets (short-term corporate debt market)
  • And the asset-backed security markets (everything from student loans to certificates of deposit and more).

With the introduction of individual corporate bonds, the Fed is now one step closer to buying stocks outright.

Indeed, the Fed has made ZERO references to stopping its monetary madness. Just yesterday Fed Chair Jerome Powell emphasized to Congress that the Fed is “years away from halting its assets monetization scheme.” 

Again, the Fed is explicitly telling us that it plans on buying assets (Treasuries, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, etc.) for years to come.

The next step will be for the Fed to buy stocks.

It won’t be the first central bank to do so…

The central bank of Switzerland, called the Swiss National Bank has been buying stocks for years. Yes. It literally prints money and buys stocks in the U.S. stock markets.

Then there’s Japan’s central bank, called the Bank of Japan. It also prints money and buys stocks outright. As of March 2019, it owned 80% of Japan’s ETFs.

Yes, 80%.

The BoJ is also a top-10 shareholder in over 50% of the companies that trade on the Japanese stock market.

If you think this can’t happen in the US, think again. The Fed told us in 2019 that it would be forced to engage in EXTREME monetary policies during the next downturn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blain’s Morning Porridge – November 11th 2019

BLAIN’S FINANCIAL PORRIDGE – NOV 11TH 2019

“Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well. He rained us with bullets and showered us with shell. In five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell. . ”

Last week stock markets staged a spectacular rally off the back of the “improved” trade outlook. Bonds have reversed. But despite equities sitting at all-time highs, it’s time to step back and focus on where this goes next.  Next few days will see the US impeachment hearings ratchet up – raising the prospect of market dislocation.  I’ve been reading missives from Republican and Democrat supporting chums and the issue of either getting behind Trump (no matter how bad he is) to keep the Democrats out, or TINA to getting rid of Trump. It looks as polarising as Brexit has become in the UK.  The threat of politics overtaking reality is worrying – and the market doesn’t seem that bothered about the implications for The US’ credibility, the Fed and the dollar.  Are we bothered? Slightly. 

Political instability remains the name of the game from the US, Hong Kong, The UK, and this morning, Spain. (And, add Italy and Germany to the list..) 

One of the key factors driving stocks higher in the wake of a trade “accommodation” rather than a peace treaty is momentum – markets want to go higher, anticipating growth. But the market is equally driven by the volume of cash ready to be thrown at it.  There is no shortage of ready liquidity – in this sense of too much easy money chasing too few assets, rather than liquidity: “who wants to buy this” conundrum.  When there is too much cash around the market can remain irrational for longer…

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

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

I say these things because:

  • Money is free for those who are creditworthy because the investors who are giving it to them are willing to get back less than they give. More specifically investors lending to those who are creditworthy will accept very low or negative interest rates and won’t require having their principal paid back for the foreseeable future. They are doing this because they have an enormous amount of money to invest that has been, and continues to be, pushed on them by central banks that are buying financial assets in their futile attempts to push economic activity and inflation up. The reason that this money that is being pushed on investors isn’t pushing growth and inflation much higher is that the investors who are getting it want to invest it rather than spend it. This dynamic is creating a “pushing on a string” dynamic that has happened many times before in history (though not in our lifetimes) and was thoroughly explained in my book Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises. As a result of this dynamic, the prices of financial assets have gone way up and the future expected returns have gone way down while economic growth and inflation remain sluggish. Those big price rises and the resulting low expected returns are not just true for bonds; they are equally true for equities, private equity, and venture capital, though these assets’ low expected returns are not as apparent as they are for bond investments because these equity-like investments don’t have stated returns the way bonds do. As a result, their expected returns are left to investors’ imaginations. 

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

What Would Stocks Do in “a World Without Buybacks,” Goldman Asks

What Would Stocks Do in “a World Without Buybacks,” Goldman Asks

Companies buying back their own shares has “consistently been the largest source of US equity demand.” Without them, “demand for shares would fall dramatically.” Too painful to even imagine.

Goldman Sachs asked a nerve-racking question and came up with an equally nerve-racking answer: What would happen to stocks “in a world without buybacks.” Because buybacks are a huge deal.

In the fourth quarter 2018, share repurchases soared 62.8% from a year earlier to a record $223 billion, beating the prior quarterly record set in the third quarter last year, of $204 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices on March 25. It was the fourth quarterly record in a row, the longest such streak in the 20 years of the data. For the whole year 2018, share buybacks soared 55% year-over-year to a record $806 billion, beating the prior record of $589 billion set in 2007 by a blistering 37%!

Share buybacks had already peaked in 2015 and ticked down in 2016 and 2017. Then the tax reform act became effective on January 1, 2018, and share buybacks skyrocketed.

The record buybacks in Q4 came even as stock prices declined on average 5.3%, according to S&P Down Jones Indices. On some bad days during the quarter, corporations were about the only ones left buying their shares.

For the year 2018, these were the top super-duper buyback queens:

  • Apple: $74.2 billion
  • Oracle: $29.3 billion
  • Wells Fargo $21.0 billion
  • Microsoft: $16.3 billion
  • Merck: $9.1 billion

But who, outside of corporations buying back their own shares, was buying shares? Goldman Sachs strategists answered this question in a report cited by Bloomberg, that used data from the Federal Reserve to determine “net US equity demand.” These are the largest investor categories other than corporate buybacks, five-year totals:

  • Foreign investors shed $234 billion.
  • Pension funds shed $901 billion, possibly to keep asset-class allocations on target as share prices soared.
  • Stock mutual funds shed $217 billion.
  • Life insurers added 61 billion
  • Households added $223 billion.

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

“Past Is Not Prologue” But Over The Long-Run, We’re All Skeptical

“Past Is Not Prologue” But Over The Long-Run, We’re All Skeptical

The last 20 years have been the toughest stretch for US stocks since the Great Depression into World War II. The next 5 years will either confirm investors’ worst fears that stocks are no longer “for the long term” or begin to re-instill confidence in the asset class. 

The fulcrum issue: avoiding a +10% annual drawdown any time between now and the end of 2023.

Over the last 20 years US equity investors have seen the worst aggregate returns since the period that includes the Great Depression and World War II. We’ve covered this topic a few times before, but here is a quick reprise:

  • The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for the S&P 500 from 1999 – 2018 is 5.6% on a total return basis. (Data courtesy of NYU professor Aswath Damodaran.)
  • That is the lowest 20-year trailing return since the period ending 1950, which had a 3.7% CAGR.
  • Adjusting for CPI inflation, 20-year trailing returns ending 2018 are 3.0%. The last time inflation-adjusted returns were lower than that was 1998, thanks primarily to the double-digit inflation of the 1970s.

In our view, the fact that 20-year S&P real returns are at +60 year lows explains more about the current market environment than any other single statistic. Capital moves to passive, low fee investment products when returns are this low, because every basis point of expenses matters. Rate-of-return-targeting capital (i.e. pension and sovereign wealth funds) shifts to riskier asset classes like venture capital and private equity in an attempt to juice portfolio returns. Everything from the dramatic growth of ETFs to SoftBank’s $100 billion VC fund ties right back to that paltry 5.6% long run return on the S&P 500.

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

Is The Long-Anticipated Crash Now Upon Us?

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Is The Long-Anticipated Crash Now Upon Us?

Is this the market’s breaking point?

I admit: I’m a permabear.

This is no surprise to those who know and have followed me over the years. But I’m publicly proclaiming my ‘bearishness’ because doing so might open up a needed and long overdue dialog.

Here’s my fundamental position:  Infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. 

Cutting to the chase, this is why I predict a major crash/collapse across stocks, bonds and real estate is on the way.

The recent market weakness seen over the past two weeks is nothing compared to what’s in store.  As we’ve been carefully chronicling, bubbles burst from ‘the outside in’, starting at the weaker places at the periphery before progressing to the center.

Emerging market equities are now down -26% from their January highs and -18% year-to-date.  China’s stocks market is down -32%, even with substantial intervention by the government to prop things up.

The periphery has been weakening all year, and the contagion has now spead worldwide.

Taken as a whole, global equities have shed some $13 trillion of market capitalization for a -15% decline:

The rot has spread to the core with surprising speed. Now even the formerly bullet-proof US equity markets are stumbling.

The S&P 500 is now negative on the year:

It’s been obvious for a long time to those who have watched The Crash Course that endless growth is simply not possible. Not for a bacteria colony in a petrie dish, not for an economy, not for any species on the planet. Eventually, when finite resources are involved, limits matter.

But the vast majority of society pretends as if this isn’t true.

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

Saxo Q4 Outlook: A New Easing Cycle Based on Ugly Realities

Saxo Q4 Outlook: A New Easing Cycle Based on Ugly Realities

Saxo Bank, the online trading and investment specialist, has today published its Q4 2018 Quarterly Outlook for global markets, including trading ideas covering equities, FX, currencies, commodities, and bonds, as well as a range of macro themes impacting client portfolios.

“We are clearly at a crossroads on many fronts: globalisation, geopolitics and economics”, says Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist and CIO, Saxo Bank.

The next quarter will either see dampening of volatility by a less aggressive Fed, more active easing in China, and a compromise on the European Union budget… or a further escalation in tensions between all three areas. I would not bet against the latter into Q4, but I remain confident that we stand only a few months away from the beginning of a new easing cycle based on ugly realities, not the hope expressed by politicians and often market consensus.

”For now, we estimate that the US economy has peaked – the powerful expansionary cocktail of unfinanced tax cuts, repatriation of capital, and fiscal spending ramped up growth in the US, but these one-off effects will peter out as the year ends. Already the US housing market is showing signs of strain as the higher marginal cost of capital (the higher yield on mortgages, more specifically) is starting to have a material impact on future growth.

”As certain as we are about the US having peaked, we are less certain as to how soon China will reach the bottom of its deleveraging process and begin to expand more forcefully again.”

Against this uncertain backdrop, Saxo’s main trading ideas for Q4 include:

Equities – Setting the stage for a comeback in value stocks

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

Bank of Japan Buys Record Amount of Equity ETFs: Once Upon a Time

The Japanese stock market fell, so the Bank of Japan bought more equity funds.

After cornering the bond market, the Bank of Japan has its sight on the stock market with a Record Buying Binge in March.

The Bank of Japan spent 833 billion yen ($7.8 billion) on exchange-traded funds tracking the country’s shares last month, the largest amount ever according to data back to 2010. The BOJ stepped in as the Japanese market slumped and its benchmark Topix index inked its first back-to-back monthly declines since the start of 2016. Haruhiko Kuroda’s bank is now ahead of its scheduled goal to spend about 6 trillion yen a year on ETFs. “If the market keeps on falling, there will be the problem of what they do next,” said Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer for the Japan arm of Allianz Global Investors.

Problem? What Problem?

Just buy them all. 100% of every ETF. Given the Bank of Japan has cornered the bond market, it’s simply the logical next step.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, I seem to recall central banks discussing and setting monetary policy in a very strange way.

For those of you not old enough to remember, the Fed and other central banks actually discussed the growth rate of money supply at monetary policy meetings.

How peculiar, to actually discuss money at monetary policy meetings. Those silly days are gone.

New Normal

  • Central banks now sponsor negative interest rates, something that could never happen in the real world.
  • The Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank are playing roulette with the stock market.
  • The Fed embarked on three rounds of QE to force bond yields lower.
  • The ECB is still at it, in a clear attempt to keep Italy on life support.

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

Stock Market Leverage Spikes. Sparks Already Flew. Brokerage Regulator “Concerned.” But Hey, Nothing’s Going to Happen.

Stock Market Leverage Spikes. Sparks Already Flew. Brokerage Regulator “Concerned.” But Hey, Nothing’s Going to Happen.

Resting Happily on Smoldering Powder Keg.

There is nothing like a big shot of leverage to fire up the stock market. And that’s what the market got in 2017, when the S&P 500 surged 26%, and in January 2018, when the index soared another 7.5% through January 26 – until suddenly something happened.

One measure of leverage in the stock market is margin debt – the amount individual and institutional investors borrow from their brokers against their portfolios – which surged $22.9 billion in January to a new record of $665.7 billion, according to FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), which regulates member brokerage firms and exchange markets, and which has taken over margin-debt reporting from the NYSE.

For the 12-month period through January, margin debt soared $112.2 billion, among the largest 12-month gains in the history of the data series, behind only the 12-month periods ending in:

  • December 2013 ($123 billion)
  • July 2007 ($160 billion)
  • March 2000 ($133.7 billion)
  • November 1997 ($132 billion).

But it’s not just the recent surge; it’s the length of the surge. With only a few noticeable down periods, margin debt has soared for nine years in a row and now exceeds the prior peak of July 2007 ($416 billion) by 60%.

By comparison, over the same period, nominal GDP (not adjusted for inflation) has grown 32%, and the Consumer Price Index has grown 20%. In other words, margin debt has ballooned twice as fast from peak to peak as GDP and three times as fast as the Consumer Price Index.

The chart below shows margin debt based on the FINRA data, which includes margin debt from its own member firms and from NYSE Member firms, and is therefore more complete and larger than the NYSE data was. For example, NYSE margin debt in November 2017, the last month available, was $580.9 billion while FINRA’s data for November showed margin debt of $627.4 billion.

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

Find The Sentence That Dooms Pension Funds (Don’t Worry, It’s Highlighted)

Find The Sentence That Dooms Pension Funds (Don’t Worry, It’s Highlighted)

The “pension crisis” is one of those things — like electric cars and nuclear fusion — that’s definitely coming but never seems to actually arrive. However, for pension funds the reason a crisis hasn’t yet happened is also the reason that it will happen, and soon:

The Risk Pension Funds Can’t Escape

(Wall Street Journal) – Public pension funds that lost hundreds of billions during the last financial crisis still face significant risk from one basic investment: stocks.That vulnerability came into focus earlier this month as markets descended into correction territory for the first time since February 2016. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the U.S., lost $18.5 billion in value over a 10-day trading period ended Feb. 9, according to figures provided by the system.

The sudden drop represented 5% of total assets held by the pension fund, which had roughly half of its portfolio in equities as of late 2017. It gained back $8.1 billion through last Friday as markets recovered.

“It looks like 2018 is likely to be more turbulent than what we have experienced the last couple of years,” the fund’s chief investment officer, Ted Eliopoulos, told his board last Monday at a public meeting.

Retirement systems that manage money for firefighters, police officers, teachers and other public workers are increasingly reliant on stocks for returns as the bull market nears its ninth year. By the end of 2017, equities had surged to an average 53.6% of public pension portfolios from 50.3% one year earlier, according to figures released earlier this month by the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.

Those average holdings were the highest on a percentage basis since 2010, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service data, and near the 54.6% average these funds held at the end of 2007.

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

The End of (Artificial) Stability

The End of (Artificial) Stability

The central banks’/states’ power to maintain a permanent bull market in stocks and bonds is eroding.
There is nothing natural about the stability of the past 9 years. The bullish trends in risk assets are artificial constructs of central bank/state policies. As these policies are reduced or lose their effectiveness, the era of artificial stability is coming to a close.
The 9-year run of Bull-trend stability is ending as a result of a confluence of macro dynamics:
1. Central banks are under pressure to reduce, end or reverse their unprecedented monetary stimulus, and the consequences are unpredictable, given the market’s reliance on the certainty that “central banks have our back” is ending.
2. Interest rates / bond yields may well plummet in a global recession, but if we look at a 50-year chart of interest rates, we see a saucer-shaped bottoming in play. Technician Louise Yamada has been discussing the tendency of interest rates/bond yields to trace out a multi-year saucer bottom for over a decade, and we can now discern this.
Even if yields plummet in a recession, as many analysts predict, this doesn’t necessarily negate the longer term trend of higher yields and rates.
3. The global economy is overdue for a business-cycle recession, which is characterized by a retrenchment of credit and the default of marginal debt. The “recovery” is the weakest recovery in the past 60 years, and now it’s the longest expansion.
4. The mainstream financial media is telling us that everything is going great in the global economy, but this sort of complacent (or even euphoric) “it’s all good news” typically marks the top of stocks, just as universal negativity marks secular lows.
5. What happens to markets characterized by uncertainty? Once certainty is replaced by uncertainty, markets become fragile and thus exposed to sudden shifts of sentiment. This destabilization is expressed as volatility, but it’s far deeper than volatility as measured by VIX or sentiment indicators.

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

This Year’s Stock Buybacks Are Already Bigger Than All Of 2009’s

While there is still some fringe debate what companies will do with the hundreds of billions in offshore funds repatriated to the US as part of the recently passed Trump tax reform, the discussion is largely over, especially after last week’s Cisco results. The company, which has $68 billion of overseas cash, third after AAPL and MSFT, announced that it would raise its buyback authorization by $25 billion, and revealed plans to repurchase its entire authorization of $31 billion during the next 6-8 quarters, equal to roughly 15% of its current market cap.

Call it a partial LBO, courtesy of Donald Trump.

In other words, those who said that companies will use virtually all repatriated proceeds for buybacks, congratulations, you were right, or as the FT humorously put it:

Flush with cash after the Republican tax cuts, Cisco announced on Wednesday that it was building gleaming factories across the US, employing hundreds of thousands of workers to make the latest cutting-edge routers.

Sorry, of course not. The money is going back to shareholders.

Don’t believe it? Here’s what Goldman’s David Kostin said in his latest Weekly Kickstart report:

Since December, S&P 500 firms have announced buybacks totaling $171 bn. YTD announcements of $67 bn represent a 22% increase versus the same period in 2017. The buyback window has re-opened and firms are taking advantage of the recent correction; the GS Buyback Desk reported that last week was the most active week in its history.

The $171 billion in YTD stock buyback announcements is the most ever for this early in the year. In fact, it is more than double the prior 10 year average of $77 billion in YTD buyback announcements.

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

China’s Plunge Protection Team Arrives: Urges Companies To Boost Stocks, “Avoid Selling”

Over the weekend, we along with Bank of America and probably most carbon-based traders wondered if any central bank or government official would step up on Monday and intervene in the markets, either verbally or directly. The answer emerged overnight, when China officially urged controlling investors in listed companies to boost their holdings and told some mutual funds to limit equity selling this week, Bloomberg reported,  citing sources.

The directive from the Chinese Plunge Protection Team was sent out over the weekend, when the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and other regulators “advised and encouraged” some major stockholders to purchase more shares in the mainland-listed firms they invest in. The regulators also called on some mutual funds to avoid being net sellers of equities as well.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange said on Friday that it has issued warnings and limited intraday trading to prevent large equity sales that affected the market’s stability. Meanwhile, the China Securities Investment Services Center — a body serving smaller investors that’s managed by the CSRC — said major shareholders can boost investor confidence by purchasing stocks, Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday.

Additionally, the CSRC, which is also known as the “National Team” once it begins manipulating markets, told Chinese brokerages to provide trading summaries from last week to the regulator as well as trading plans and previews for this week.

To some, the intervention was only a matter of time: Chinese shares on the mainland plunged the most in two years amid last week’s global market turbulence, fueling speculation the government would step in to calm trading, as it did repeatedly during past selloffs in 2005 and 2006 as well as ahead of the 2007 Party Congress.

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

Jim Rogers: “Next Bear Market Will Be Worst In My Lifetime”

For months now, Jim Rogers has been talking to anybody (who cares to listen) about the coming equity crash, which he said would be the “worst in his lifetime” – and he’s a spry 75 years old.

Today, in his latest pessimistic prognostication, the co-founder of George Soros’ Quantum Fund told Bloomberg  that the fact that the total US debt pile has only increased since the financial crisis threatens to upend stocks, and that he believes the current turmoil will continue  until Jerome Powell and company hike rates next month. Or alternatively, it could just make the crash that much worse: as volatility surges and investors in certain highly risky volatility-linked products have seen all of their savings wiped out, the new Fed chair could rethink a hike, for fear of exacerbating the selloff.

“When we have a bear market again, and we are going to have a bear market again, it will be the worst in our lifetime,” Rogers said. “Debt is everywhere, and it’s much, much higher now.”

Rogers has seen severe bear markets, including the most recent crash when the Dow plunged more than 50% during the financial crisis, from a peak in October 2007 through a low in March 2009. It sank 38% from its high during the IT bubble in 2000 through a low in 2002.

“Jim has been talking about severe corrections since I started in business over 30 years ago,” said Alibaba Group President Mike Evans, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker. “So I’m sure he’ll be right at some point.”

* * *

Ok, so we know the magnitude, we just don’t know the timing: why not also give a time frame for this next “epic” market crash? Simple: Rogers admits he’s terrible at timing selloffs, which – of course – is just as important as getting the event right.

“I’m very bad in market timing,” Rogers said. “But maybe there will be continued sloppiness until March when they raise interest rates, and it looks like the market will rally.”

Listen to the interview below:

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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