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Fed’s Quantitative Easing Strategy Holds Long-Term Benefits for Crypto

Fed’s Quantitative Easing Strategy Holds Long-Term Benefits for Crypto

Fed’s Quantitative Easing Strategy Holds Long-Term Benefits for Crypto

These are perilous times, and it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that the United States Federal Reserve is doing its part to alleviate the suffering — which began with the coronavirus pandemic and has spread to the global economy. It’s printing more money. 

“There is an infinite amount of cash at the Federal Reserve,” Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, told Scott Pelley of CBS on March 22, adding: “We will do whatever we need to do to make sure there is enough cash in the financial system.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve itself reinforced that message on March 23, announcing that it would “continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.”

The death of capitalism?

Reactions to these affirmations of quantitative easing, or QE, have been swift from sectors of the crypto community: “With these words, the last vestige of #capitalism died in the US,” wrote Caitlin Long, who established the first crypto-native bank in the United States. “[The] Fed’s monetization U.S. debt is now unlimited.”

Mati Greenspan, the CEO and co-founder of Quantum Economics told Cointelegraph: “The Fed said it is willing to buy the entire market” if necessary to stabilize markets. Meanwhile, on the fiscal side, Congress’s $2 trillion stimulus package includes handouts like “helicopter money” — i.e., a $1,200 payment to every tax-paying adult who has an annual income below $75,000. “Inflation is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point,” he stated elsewhere.

Garrick Hileman, head of research at Blockchain.com, told Cointelegraph: “The response by central banks to COVID-19 is truly unprecedented, with Fed and Bank of England officials using terms like ‘infinite,’ ‘unlimited’ and ‘radical.’” They’ve been using such extraordinary language in the hope they’ll prevent equity and credit markets from seizing up. “Only time will tell if they have gone too far.”

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

Fed’s Balance Sheet Hits $6 Trillion: Up $1.6 Trillion In 3 Weeks

Fed’s Balance Sheet Hits $6 Trillion: Up $1.6 Trillion In 3 Weeks

“We’re going to need a bigger chart.”

That’s all one can say when seeing what happened to the Fed’s balance sheet in the past week.

According to the Fed’s latest weekly H.4.1 (i.e., balance sheet) update, as of April 1 the Fed’s balance sheet hit a record $5.811 trillion, an increase of $557 billion in just one week. And when one adds the $88.5BN in TSY and MBS securities bought by the Fed today…

… we can calculate that as of close of business Thursday, the Fed’s balance sheet was an unprecedented $5.91 trillion, an increase of $1.6 trillion since the start of the Fed’s unprecedented bailout of everything on March 13 when the Fed officially restarted QE. And since we know that tomorrow the Fed will buy another $90 billion, we can conclude that as of Friday’s close, the Fed’s balance sheet will be a nice, round $6 trillion.

Finally, here is what the Fed’s balance sheet looks like over a longer timeframe: it shows that in just the past 3 weeks, the Fed’s balance sheet has increased by a ridiculous $1.6 trillion – the same amount as all of QE3 did over 15 months  – and equivalent to an insane 7.5% of US GDP. 

One more insane statistic: the Fed’s balance sheet was $3.8 trillion in August 2019 when the shrinkage in reserves supposedly triggered the repo crisis. Fast forward, 6 months, when the Fed’s balance sheet is now 60% higher.

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

The Federal Reserve’s One Last Hail Mary

The Federal Reserve’s One Last Hail Mary

Over the last few weeks, the Federal Reserve has been in utter desperation mode to try to revive and keep the American economy on life support. What many in the mainstream media have failed to include in this recent coronavirus economic narrative is that the virus was just the pin of one the biggest bubbles ever created, which we call the central bank bubble revolving around U.S sovereign bonds.

Before we dive deep into this, let’s start with what the Fed has been doing to combat against the coronavirus and to keep markets alive for the time being. To begin, welcome back to the era of the printing press, but this time they have made it clear they will conduct “QE infinity” if this is a prolonged depression, which it will be. 

For some prospective, previous QE programs were: 

  • QE1: $1.7 Trillion 
  • QE2: $600 Billion 
  • QE3: $1.6 Trillion 

With this latest being: 

  •    QE4:$1.6 Trillion 

An overwhelming number in such a short period, making previous QE programs look like peanuts in comparison. In fact, the Fed printed roughly $970,000 every second last week to keep the market afloat. To validate that the Fed is artificially keeping the market alive, just look at this next chart: 

This chart showcases that while the Fed balance sheet has shot up ($5.2 Trillion), corporate earnings have plummeted. The market is clearly on life support with the Federal Reserve as its temporary backstop. Presently, the aviation, hotel, and automotive industries, to name a few, are in a major crisis. This applies to all businesses, but since 2008 companies have taken advantage of prolonged zero interest rates and have gone on a total debt binge, with the majority of this debt going strictly to share buybacks and dividends to shareholders.

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

Nobody Knows Anything

Nobody Knows Anything

The more I read and observe the clearer the message: Nobody knows anything. And by that I mean nobody truly knows how any of this will turn out and I think this point needs to be driven home more clearly.

Tons of projections of this, that and the other. Just stop. I happen to think there are times to simply step back and not make grand predictions. For us that’s ok because we focus primarily on market technicals and that’s an ever evolving picture that offers us pivot points to decide when and where to get engaged in.

But on the macro? Give me a break. Nobody knows anything. Everybody is just guessing.

Exhibit A: GDP forecast for Q2:

Ok great. How’s that helping anyone in trying to value companies, cash flow, revenues, earnings? It doesn’t. -9% is a completely different planet than -40% and so is everything in between.

How does one qualify central bank and stimulus intervention? It changes every single day. Today the Fed cranked out an international repo program. Global central banks unite I guess. Also today Donald Trump tweeted about a $2 trillion infrastructure program. Who knows if it will happen. The Fed already increased its balance sheet by $1.3 trillion since the same time last year and may well be heading toward $9  or $10 trillion balance sheet position within a year. Last week they added $600B, basically all of QE2 in a week.

These are insane numbers thrown around, all on top of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package just passed. What’s the deficit going to be? I guess it depends on whether GDP drops by 40% or 9%.

Give me a break. How do you make any forecasts that have a predictive meaning whatsoever in this environment? Other than a lucky guess, the answer is nobody. Why? Because nobody knows anything.

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

Fed Launches Repo Facility To Provide Dollars To Foreign Central Bank

Fed Launches Repo Facility To Provide Dollars To Foreign Central Bank

With US dealers no longer using the Fed’s repo facilities (this morning we had another “no bid” overnight repo with just $250MM in MBS submitted for a $500 billion op) as the Fed soaks up all securities via its aggressive QE which is still buying $75BN in paper each day, perhaps Powell felt a bit unloved and at 830am this morning the Fed unveiled yet another “temporary” emergency liquidity providing facility, this time to foreign central banks, in the form of a repo facility targeting “foreign and international monetary authorities”, i.e. foreign central banks which will be allowed to exchange Treasuries held in custody at the Fed for US dollars.

In other words, just a week after the Fed “enhanced” its swap lines with central banks and included a bunch of non G-5 central banks to the list of counterparties, it has found that this is not working – perhaps due to the prohibitive rates on the facility – and is now handing out dollars outright against US denominated securities. We wonder if the central bank uptake will be any higher than the repo facility aimed at US dealers and which is now redundant. Of course, when that fails the Fed can just offer to buy all central bank securities in what even reputable FX strategists now joke is a Fed on full tilt, and intent on buying out all foreign central banks.

And so, just as the financial situation was starting to stabilize, the Fed reminds everyone just how broken everything still is.

Fed launches ANOTHER temporary facility to provide $USD liquidity to foreign central banks (this time foreign central bank holdings of US Treasury’s can be exchanged for dollars).

At this rate, Fed is on course to buy out foreign central banks… and call it an M&A facility pic.twitter.com/iAXRCVoZS9— Viraj Patel (@VPatelFX) March 31, 2020

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

Will Coronavirus End the Fed?

Will Coronavirus End the Fed?

September 17, 2019 was a significant day in American economic history. On that day, the New York Federal Reserve began emergency cash infusions into the repurchasing (repo) market. This is the market banks use to make short-term loans to each other. The New York Fed acted after interest rates in the repo market rose to almost 10 percent, well above the Fed’s target rate.

The New York Fed claimed its intervention was a temporary measure, but it has not stopped pumping money into the repo market since September. Also, the Federal Reserve has been expanding its balance sheet since September. Investment advisor Michael Pento called the balance sheet expansion quantitative easing (QE) “on steroids.”

I mention these interventions to show that the Fed was taking extraordinary measures to prop up the economy months before anyone in China showed the first symptoms of coronavirus.

Now the Fed is using the historic stock market downturn and the (hopefully) temporary closure of businesses in the coronavirus panic to dramatically increase its interventions in the economy. Not only has the Fed increased the amount it is pumping into the repo market, it is purchasing unlimited amounts of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities. This was welcome news to Congress and the president, as it came as they were working on setting up trillions of dollars in spending in coronavirus aid/economic stimulus bills.

This month the Fed announced it would start purchasing municipal bonds, thus ensuring the state and local government debt bubble will keep growing for a few more months.

The Fed has also created three new loan facilities to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in credit to businesses. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has stated that the Fed will lend out as much as it takes to revive the economy.

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

What Will Be the Unintended Consequences of Printing Trillions of Dollars to Backstop the Entire System?

What Will Be the Unintended Consequences of Printing Trillions of Dollars to Backstop the Entire System?

Stocks are up somewhat this morning.

This marks the second Monday stocks will open in the green (last Monday was a green open as well) following two horrifically bad weekend sessions that saw stocks open limit down or close to limit down (March 2nd and 9th).

In the simplest of terms, the panic in the markets appears to be abating. It is clear stocks have broken the downtrend from the panic (blue lines). What is not clear is whether this rally will continue or not.

Stocks stalled out under resistance (red line) last week. A break above that line would open the door to a run to 3,000.

At the end of the day, stocks are actually a minor player in this mess. The BIG story is what happens with the bond markets.

Going into last week, it was clear the financial system was facing a debt crisis. Across the board everything from corporate bonds to municipal bonds were breaking down in a catastrophic fashion.

The Fed managed to stop this massacre by announcing it would backstop everything.  

The question now is whether that will be enough. Bonds have staged a major bounce in the last five days, but what happens if they turn down again?

Will the Fed’s announcement that it intends to buy corporate bonds be enough to stop the $10 trillion corporate bond bubble from imploding? 

What about the $16-$19 trillion commercial real estate market? Will the shutdown, which has closed so many restaurants and retailers, result in a crisis in this market as businesses begin skipping monthly payments or breaking contracts outright?

And what about the $23 trillion U.S. treasury bubble? Will the $2 trillion in stimulus, which both the President and the Democrats have suggested will be the first of several, be what finally pushes the U.S.’s debt loads into a crisis?

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

Weekly Commentary: The Solvency Problem

Weekly Commentary: The Solvency Problem

Being an analyst of Credit and Bubbles over the past few decades has come with its share of challenges. Greater challenges await. I expect to dedicate the rest of my life to defending Capitalism. One of the great tragedies from the failure of this multi-decade monetary experiment will be the loss of faith in free market Capitalism – along with our institutions more generally.  

Somehow, we must convince younger generations that the culprit was unsound finance. And it’s absolutely fixable. Deeply flawed, experimental central banking was fundamental to dysfunctional markets and resulting deep financial and economic structural impairment. The Scourge of Inflationism. If we just start learning from mistakes, we can get this ship headed in the right direction.

Over the years, I’ve argued for “rules-based” central banking that would sharply limit the Federal Reserve’s role both in the markets and real economy. The flaw in “discretionary” central banking was identified generations ago: One mistake leads invariably to only bigger blunders.  

What commenced with Alan Greenspan’s market-supporting assurances of liquidity and asymmetric rate policy this week took a dreadful turn for the worse: Open-end QE, PMCCF, SMCCF, MMLF, CPFF, MSBLP, TALF… They’re going to run short of acronyms. Our central bank has taken the plunge into buying corporate bond ETFs, with equities ETFs surely not far behind. The Fed’s balance sheet expanded $586 billion – in a single week ($1.1 TN in four weeks!) – to a record $5.25 TN. Talk has the Fed’s new “Main Street Business Lending Program” leveraging $400 billion of (this week’s $2.2 TN) fiscal stimulus into a $4.0 TN lending operation. Having years back unwaveringly set forth, the ride down the slippery slope of inflationism has reached warp speed careening blindly toward a brick wall. 

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

#MacroView: The Fed Can’t Fix What’s Broken

#MacroView: The Fed Can’t Fix What’s Broken

“The Federal Reserve is poised to spray trillions of dollars into the U.S. economy once a massive aid package to fight the coronavirus and its aftershocks is signed into law. These actions are unprecedented, going beyond anything it did during the 2008 financial crisis in a sign of the extraordinary challenge facing the nation.” – Bloomberg

Currently, the Federal Reserve is in a fight to offset an economic shock bigger than the financial crisis, and they are engaging every possible monetary tool within their arsenal to achieve that goal. The Fed is no longer just a “last resort” for the financial institutions, but now are the lender for the broader economy.

There is just one problem.

The Fed continues to try and stave off an event that is a necessary part of the economic cycle, a debt revulsion.

John Maynard Keynes contended that:

“A general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.”

In other words, when there is a lack of demand from consumers due to high unemployment, then the contraction in demand would force producers to take defensive actions to reduce output. Such a confluence of actions would lead to a recession.

On Thursday, initial jobless claims jumped by 3.3 million. This was the single largest jump in claims ever on record. The chart below shows the 4-week average to give a better scale.

This number will be MUCH worse next week as many individuals are slow to file claims, don’t know how, and states are slow to report them.

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

Japan’s QE On Verge Of Failure As Nobody Wants To Sell To The BOJ

Japan’s QE On Verge Of Failure As Nobody Wants To Sell To The BOJ

Over a decade since central bankers started a stealthy nationalization of capital markets by purchasing a wide range of securities from Trasuries, to MBS, to corporate bonds, to ETFs and single stocks, their actions are finally catching up to them, and in the process breaking the very markets central bankers have worked so hard to prop up. And nowhere is this more obvious than in Japan, where the shrinking universe of Japanese government bonds (as a reminder the BOJ now owns more than 100% of Japanese GDP in JGBs) is “causing havoc” in Japanese money markets as the Bank of Japan continues to buy while dealers refuse to sell.

The result is that rates in Japan’s repo market, which traditionally connects holders of bonds with investors looking to borrow them, jumped to a record Tuesday (although they since retreated on Wednesday) because as Bloomberg notes, “the introduction of cheaper, more regular dollar-swap auctions has generated huge demand from U.S. currency-starved dealers who are keeping their JGBs to put them down as collateral.”

So here is what the math looks like now that the Fed has launched enhanced swap lines with central banks such as the BOJ, allowing local entities to obtain dollar funding at much lower rates: in last week’s first round of the Fed’s revamped dollar-swap auctions, banks borrowed greenbacks for about 3-months at 0.37%, a massive discount to the near 2% it would cost them in the currency swap market. $32 billion was alloted in the first operation.

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

For An Effective Response To The Upcoming Crisis

For An Effective Response To The Upcoming Crisis

Before analyzing the emergency plans that the global economy needs, we must remember that, as in the past, the prudence and responsibility of the civil society and businesses will help us to get out of this crisis.

In the face of an unprecedented crisis, we have to be realistic, responsible and cautious.

This is a supply shock added to a mandatory shutdown of the economy. As such, a serious response must be supply-side driven. It is ludicrous to try to stimulate demand with printed money and public spending in a forced lockdown where any extra demand will not drive supply up, even may drive it down.

A mandatory shutdown due to a supply shock is not solved with government spending or demand-side measures. Printing money and lowering rates help the already indebted and governments with already historic-low bond yields, deficits are already going to soar due to automatic stabilizers, so governments need to work on three things:

First, make sure that once there is a tested and approved vaccine, the production, distribution, and healthcare networks are going to be adequately prepared to respond to the population requirements.

Second, make sure that businesses don’t collapse due to working capital build in a domino of bankruptcies that leads to mass unemployment.

Third, eliminate all unnecessary spending to effectively use all fiscal space to mitigate the crisis effects and allow the economy to breathe and recover.

Governments that overspent in growth times, massively increased debt and ignored the pandemic risks only to then create a widespread lockdown cannot present themselves as the solution. 

Small and medium enterprises do not need a government to incentivize demand, because this is not a demand problem, the shutdown is imposed by law due to a health epidemic that lawmakers preferred to ignore. 

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

In Unprecedented Move, Fed Unveils Open-Ended QE Including Corporate Bonds

In Unprecedented Move, Fed Unveils Open-Ended QE Including Corporate Bonds

Coming into Monday, the Fed had a problem: it had already used up half of its entire emergency $700BN QE5 announced last weekend.

Which, together with the plunge in stocks, is why at 8am on Monday, just as we expected – given the political cover they have been provided– The Fed unveiled an unprecedented expansion to its mandate, announcing open-ended QE which also gave it the mandate to buy corporates bonds (in the primary and secondary market) to unclog the frozen corporate bond market as we just one step away from a full Fed nationalization of the market (only Fed stock purchases remain now).

As noted elsewhere, the Fed’s new credit facilities carry limits on paying dividends and making stock buybacks for firms that defer interest payments, but have no explicit restrictions preventing beneficiaries from laying off workers.

Additionally, in addition to Treasuries, The Fed will buy Agency Commercial MBS all in unlimited size.

The Fed will buy Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy,” and will also buy agency commercial mortgage-backed securities, according to a statement.

The Fed also said it will support “the flow of credit to employers, consumers and businesses by establishing new programs that, taken together, will provide up to $300 billion in new financing.” It will be backed by $30 billion from the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Coincidentally, this unprecedented action takes place just hours after real estate billionaire Tom Barrack (and friend of Trump) said the U.S. commercial-mortgage market is on the brink of collapse and predicted a “domino effect” of catastrophic economic consequences if banks and government don’t take prompt action to keep borrowers from defaulting.

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

The Global Repricing of Assets Can’t Be Stopped

The Global Repricing of Assets Can’t Be Stopped

All bubbles pop, period.

The financial elites are pushing a narrative that asset prices, sales and profits will all return to January 2020 levels as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic fades. Get real, baby. Nothing is going back to January 2020 levels. Rather than the “V-shaped recovery” expected by Goldman Sachs et al., the crash in asset prices will eventually gather momentum.

Why? It’s simple: for 20 years we’ve over-invested in speculative bubbles and squandered borrowed money on consumption and under-invested in productivity-increasing assets. To understand why the market value of assets will relentlessly reprice lower–a process sure to be interrupted with manic rallies and false dawns of hope that a return to speculative good times is just around the corner–let’s start with the basics: the only sustainable way to increase broad-based wealth is to boost productivity across the entire economy.That means producing more goods and services with less capital, less labor and fewer inputs such as energy.

Rather than boost productivity, we’ve lowered productivity via mal-investment and by propping up unproductive sectors with immense sums of borrowed money–money that accrues interest.

The poster child for this dynamic is higher education: rather than being pushed to innovate as costs skyrocketed, the higher education cartel passed its inefficiencies and bloated cost structure onto students, who have paid for the bloat with $1. 6 trillion in student loans few can afford. (See chart below.)

As for Corporate America squandering $4.5 trillion on stock buybacks (Wolf Richter)– the effective gains on productivity from this stupendous sum is not just zero–it’s negative, as the resulting speculative bubble suckered in institutions and individuals who’d been stripped of safe returns by the Federal Reserve’s low-interest-rates-forever policy.

What could that $4.5 trillion have purchased in terms of increasing the productivity of the entire economy? Considerably more than the zero productivity generated by stock buybacks.

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

The House that Ben Built

The House that Ben Built

Yes, this collapse does portend to be far worse than the last and it’s a very different type of financial collapse too.

After credit markets froze in the subprime crash of 2008-2009 Ben Bernanke and the Fed conjured up a number of monetary tricks to keep the system afloat.  POMO, Twist, QE, TARP, repos, and currency swaps (and other monetary tricks) were used to provide liquidity to an essentially bankrupt system sporting a weaponized US dollar.[1] Even though the monetary tricks worked – or seemed to – they were based on a deeply flawed, immoral, and unlawful prospect: the privatization of profit enabled by the socialization of loss.

So the bubble that burst in 2008-2009 was simply reinflated by the Fed/Treasury with a good bit of collusion among global players… with differences to be addressed.  Trouble has been brewing among Central Banks and their dealers for years; notably HSBC, Deutsche Bank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland with many other structural defects apparent. As such monetary realists have warned for years that the coming economic collapse would be far worse than the last.

Since 2009 we’ve had trade wars, proxy wars, and punishing sanctions. Covert or overt interventionism and weaponization of the US dollar on behalf of war profiteers and economic hitmen — which Washington has blessed as being free market entrepreneurs — is not something that the rest of the world will forgive easily.

Yes, this collapse does portend to be far worse than the last and it’s a very different type of financial collapse too. The difference is remarkable in that global markets have become ever more co-dependent than they were ten years ago still largely relying on a weaponized US dollar as world reserve currency.

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

Covid-19 Helicopter Money: Go Big Now or Go Home

Covid-19 Helicopter Money: Go Big Now or Go Home

This is why it’s imperative to go big now, and make plans to sustain the most vulnerable households and small employers not for two weeks but for six months–or however long proves necessary.

That governments around the world will be forced to distribute “helicopter money” to keep their people fed and housed and their economies from imploding is already a given. Closing all non-essential businesses and gatherings will crimp the livelihood of millions of households and small businesses that lack the financial resources to survive weeks without any revenues.

The only question is whether governments which can borrow or print fresh currency will get ahead of the implosion or fall behind, creating a binary choice: go big now or go home.

Half-measures in helicopter money work about as well as half-measures in quarantine, i.e. they fail to achieve the intended objectives. Dribbling out modest low-interest loans is a half-measure, as is cutting payroll taxes. Neither measure will help employees or small businesses whose income has fallen below the minimum needed to pay essential bills: rent, food, utilities, etc.

Meanwhile, the ruling elites will be under increasing pressure to bail out greedy financial elites and gamblers–the same scoundrels and parasites they bailed out in 2008-09. But this is not just another speculative bubble-pop, this is a matter of life and death and solvency for the masses of at-risk households and small businesses. It is a different zeitgeist and a different crisis, and bailing out greedy parasites (banks, indebted corporations, speculators, financiers, etc.) will not go over big while households and small businesses are going bankrupt.

The Federal Reserve, was just handed a lesson in the ineffectiveness of the usual monetary “bazooka” in bailing out the predatory-parasitic class of overleveraged gamblers.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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