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ECB Official: Can Use Portfolio To Combat Climate Change

ECB Official: Can Use Portfolio To Combat Climate Change  

Central banks have been making all kinds of ridiculous climate change statements in the last several quarters. Some monetary authorities have even said, they could also expand balance sheets to purchase climate-related financial investments. 

Sabine Lautenschläger, Member of the Executive Board and Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), was quoted by Bloomberg on Wednesday in Düsseldorf, Germany, as saying the ECB is prepared to use its balance sheet to support the fight against climate change. 

Bloomberg quoted Lautenschläge as saying: 

• Sustainability criteria are already taken into account in our portfolios that are not held for monetary policy purposes: Lautenschlaeger

• The ECB needs to address all citizens, not just an expert audience – without ever becoming political

We’ve suggested in the past, that this is just a giant ruse to sneak through MMT and helicopter money under the virtue-signaling guise of fighting climate change. 

Central banks, who’ve spent a decade expanding balance sheets, have plowed trillions of dollars into financial assets across the world.

The flawed policy lifted financial asset prices but only benefited a few who held stock, bonds, real estate, etc… Everyone else, which is a majority of the global population are considered non-asset holders, didn’t participate in the decades-long orgy of cheap money, thus created a massive wealth gap that can no longer be ignored. 

As a result of the wealth gap, protectionism and nationalism are sweeping across the world. 

Political uncertainty across the world is at the highest levels ever. 

Millions of people are currently protesting from Asia, the Middle East, and South America, calling for change after a decade of flawed monetary policy by global central banks. 

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

Weekly Commentary: Whatever It Takes to Never Give Up

Weekly Commentary: Whatever It Takes to Never Give Up

Any central bank head that passes through an eight-year term without once raising rates has some explaining to do. To leave monetary policy extremely loose for such an extended period comes with major consequences (can we at least agree on that?). So, what went wrong? How did policy measures not operate as expected? With the benefit of hindsight, what could have been done differently?

What will be Draghi’s legacy? How will history view his stewardship over eurozone monetary policy? The years sure pass by. I still ponder how history will judge Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. At this point, with securities prices (equities and bonds) basically at all-time highs, contemporary monetary policy – and its major architects – are held in high regard. I don’t expect this to remain the case following the next crisis.

A reporter question from Draghi’s Thursday press conference: “A recent survey by the Bank of America reveals that impotence and ineffectiveness of central banks, including the ECB, are the second risk perceived by investors. My question is: do you think that these investor concerns are justified? In other words, is there a risk of financial bubbles?”

Mario Draghi: “…You asked whether the expansionary monetary policies of central banks is the second-largest risk. I can answer for the eurozone; in the eurozone, and it’s a question we ask ourselves every day, many times a day, and I’m saying this because we monitor market developments very closely. We see some segments of financial markets where valuations are overstretched. One case is real estate, for example, and especially prime commercial real estate. Now, the causes of these overstretched valuations often don’t lead directly to our monetary policies. For prime commercial real estate, it’s the action of international investors…

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

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…

Central Banks Are Just Getting Warmed Up

Central Banks Are Just Getting Warmed Up

According to all central banks, one of the main problems they are called to solve is that countries cannot reach their inflation target of (close to but below) 2 percent. Even their religious trust in the long-discredited Phillips curve cannot explain why price inflation is low in many countries despite historically low unemployment rates. Nonetheless, central banks still enjoy immense credibility. It’s common to hear such sentences as “never bet against the Fed,” the “ECB has big bazooka primed”… and all market participants monitor each public meeting to understand what the next policy could be and how they should be positioned when it arrives.1

To reach the inflation targets and “stimulate the economy,” central banks regularly meet to devise ever-new stimulus programs, and do not despair when, inevitably, the one-off unconventional interventions quickly become the new normal. For example, the world-famous Quantitative Easing (QE) was supposed to be a one-time emergency response to the 2008 crisis, except it has now become one of the many tools of regular monetary policy, and a key component in market demand for financial assets. An undesired but perfectly predictable side effect of QE is that it allows governments to increase their spending without care for the deficit, and still pay negative interest rates in real terms, so no discipline is imposed, except for some empty promise to reduce the deficit some time in the future, if the opportunity comes. Several Western countries have embarked in QE, some in many consecutive rounds, but there is no mention of a reverse-course, an eventual, opposite Quantitative Tightening (QT). Only the United States have tried QT, and the Fed has even announced that they were on a stable and data-driven process back to normalization, to try to maintain their reputation of scientific management of the monetary aggregates.

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

“Money’s Not Worth Anything Anymore” – Ex-Credit Suisse CEO Blasts “Crazy” Negative Rates

“Money’s Not Worth Anything Anymore” – Ex-Credit Suisse CEO Blasts “Crazy” Negative Rates

Oswald Gruebel, who served as Credit Suisse CEO from 2004 to 2007 and as UBS Group AG’s top executive from 2009 to 2011, has slammed ECB policy in an interview with Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.

“Negative interest rates are crazy. That means money is not worth anything anymore,” Gruebel exclaimed.

“As long as we have negative interest rates, the financial industry will continue to shrink.”

Who can blame him – judging by the all-time low in European inflation expectations, ECB policy has been an utter failure…

Source: Bloomberg

Gruebel is not alone. As European bank bosses cast their eyes at their share prices, they are fighting back, some have said – biting the hand that feeds, in their attack on ECB policies, warning of severe consequences to asset prices and the broader economy.

Source: Bloomberg

As Bloomberg reports, The ECB’s imposition of negative interest rates have created an “absurd situation” in which banks don’t want to hold deposits, rages UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti, arguing that this policy is hurting social systems and savings rates.

Additionally, Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing warned that more monetary easing by the ECB, as widely expected next week, will have “grave side effects” for a region that has already lived with negative interest rates for half a decade.

“In the long run, negative rates ruin the financial system,” Sewing said at the event, organized by the Handelsblatt newspaper.

Another cut “may make refinancing cheaper for states, but has grave side effects.”

…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…

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 Next ECB Stimulus Plan May Fail

Why The Next ECB Stimulus Plan May Fail

Why The Next ECB Stimulus Plan May Fail

In June 2014 I wrote an article called Draghi’s Plan does not fix Europe. In that article, I explained that the structural challenges of the eurozone -high government spending, excessive tax wedge, lack of technology leadership and demographics- were not going to be solved by a round of quantitative easing.

Now, the evidence of the European Union leads the ECB to hint at another stimulus plan. Gone is the triumphalism displayed by of the European Commission on August 2017 (read).  The “strong recovery” they credited to the “decisive action of the European Union” has all but disappeared. 

The slowdown in the eurozone is not similar to other economies. The ECB has slashed growth estimates consistently and currently expects a level of growth that is half of what they had projected eighteen months ago.

It is fascinating because many analysts tend to discuss the European slowdown as if the stimulus had been abandoned. Far from it. Let us remember that the European Central Bank repurchases all debt maturities in its balance sheet and that it has launched a  new liquidity injection (TLTRO) in March this year.

That is why it is appropriate to discuss the severity of the Eurozone slowdown in the context of the chain of fiscal and monetary stimuli that have been implemented. To understand the serious mistake of constantly stumbling on the same stone, we need to understand the size of the fiscal and monetary programs and their underwhelming results.

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

Can the Fed really Control the Economy?

Can the Fed really Control the Economy? 

QUESTION: This whirligig talk of whether the Fed cuts rates by 25 or 50 basis points is carnival-level absurdity. Does the Fed have the “pretense of knowledge,” as F.A. Hayek, said, that they can regulate the economy like turning up or down the thermostat? I know you don’t agree with this, Martin, but then, Wall St. trades on daily sentiment not ideology.

TM

ANSWER: I understand the theory, but where it is seriously flawed is the idea that people will borrow simply because you lower rates. More than 10 years of Quantitative Easing, which has failed, answers that question. The way the Fed was originally designed allowed it to stimulate the economy by purchasing corporate paper directly, which placed it in a better management position. Buying only government paper from banks who in turn hoard the money fails. As Larry Summers admitted, they have NEVER been able to predict a recession even once.

The Fed lowered rates during every recession to no avail just as the ECB has moved to negative rates without success. The central banks are trapped and they are quietly asking for help from the politicians which will never happen.

Signs of recession are hitting Europe. Is its new Central Bank president up for the challenge?

Signs of recession are hitting Europe. Is its new Central Bank president up for the challenge?

If new institutional reform is to come to the Eurozone, it will entail a major paradigmatic shift

We now know that there will be a changing of the guard at the European Central Bank (ECB) in October. The current head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, will succeed current ECB President Mario Draghi at that time.

A known quantity among the political and investor class of Europe, Lagarde seems like a safe choice: she is a lawyer by training, not an economist. Hence, she is unlikely to usher in any dramatic changes, in contrast to current European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, who significantly expanded the ECB’s remit in the aftermath of his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency union (Draghi did this by underwriting the solvency of the Eurozone member states through substantially expanded sovereign bond-buying operations). Instead, Lagarde will likely stick to her brief, as any good lawyer does. There’s no doubt that her years of operating as head of the IMF will also reinforce her inclination not to disrupt the prevailing austerity-based ECB ideology.

Unfortunately, the Eurozone needs something more now, especially given the increasingly frail state of the European economies. The Eurozone still doesn’t have a treasury of its own, and there’s no comprehensively insured banking union. Those limitations are likely to become far more glaring in any larger kind of recession, especially if accompanied by a banking crisis. That is why the mooted candidacy of Jens Weidmann may have been the riskier bet for the top job at the ECB, but ultimately a choice with more political upside. An old-line German central banker might have been able to lay the groundwork for the requisite paradigmatic shift more successfully than a French lawyer, especially now that Germany itself is in the eye of the mounting economic storm.

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

End Game

End Game

Well, here we are. All roads have led to here. The combustion case outlined in April, the technical target zone outlined in January of 2018. Trade wars, 20% correction in between, Fed capitulation in response, slowing growth data, inverted yield curves, political volatility, deficit and debt expansion, buybacks. All the big themes that have dominated the landscape in recent memory, they all have led us to here: Record market highs and high complacency into a historic Fed meeting where once again a new easing cycle begins.

Like flies drawn to a light investors have ignored everything that may be construed as negative as the market’s primary price discovery mechanism, central banks, are once again embarking on a global easing cycle from the lowest bound tightening cycle ever. By far. Many central banks such as the BOJ and ECB have never normalized, the Fed barely raising rates before capitulating once again to macro and market reality:

What’s the end game here? I have to ask given the larger backdrop:

Central banks 2009-2018:
We will print $20 trillion & cut rates to nothing & that will reach our inflation goals.

Central banks 2019: Ok, none of that worked so let’s print more & cut rates again. Trust us we know what we’re doing.

What has all this produced? For one the slowest recovery on record, but also the longest expansion. But this expansion has come at a very steep price as artificial low rates have led to massive record debt expansion, $250 trillion in global debt:

The world is sitting on over $13 trillion in negative yielding debt, corporate debt ballooned to all time highs is keeping zombie companies afloat, the desperate search for yield is forcing pension funds into riskier assets, 100 year bonds, BBB rated credit is the largest component of debt markets, everything is distorted and the desperate search for yield has produced another market bubble.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strait Outta Hormuz

Strait Outta Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz these days seems to be what the streets of Compton used to be in the 90s. Yesterday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it has seized a “foreign vessel” for smuggling fuel. And this morning, news came in that the US has shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, after it allegedly threatened a US warship. About a fifth of global daily oil consumption (c. 21 million barrels) passes through the Strait each day. Moreover, tensions between the US and Iran are more likely to increase than not (don’t forget Iran also shot down a US drone last month). So don’t expect a smooth ride for oil prices this summer.

From the Strait of Hormuz, to back to Europe. According to Bloomberg sources, ECB staff is looking into potentially reforming its inflation target from “below, but close to 2%” to perhaps a policy band around 2%. Such a band would explicitly make the inflation target symmetric (something President Draghi favours), which means that the ECB can better signal willingness to overshoot the target for a short while. As such, it can reinforce inflation expectations if it is seen as a signal of more (or a prolonged period of) loose monetary policy. However, our ECB watcher Bas van Geffen cautions that the risk of such a symmetric band is that the market could also interpret the lower bound as ‘good enough’, especially if inflation keeps undershooting the ECB’s aim. Suppose the band is 0.5%. This implies the ECB might target an inflation rate of 2.5%, but it also implies that an inflation rate of 1.5% is within the ECB’s target band. Hooray, the ECB has achieved its inflation target by simply changing the definition of the target. What does that mean for its credibility? To avoid that situation, a symmetric band should probably be accompanied by more stimulus to rekindle inflation expectations.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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