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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…

Fed Disaster: S&P Futures Crash, Halted Limit Down; Gold, Treasuries Soar After Historic Fed Panic

Fed Disaster: S&P Futures Crash, Halted Limit Down; Gold, Treasuries Soar After Historic Fed Panic

The Fed may have a very big problem on its hands.

After firing the biggest emergency “shock and awe” bazooka in Fed historyone which was meant to restore not just partial but full normalcy to asset and funding markets, Emini futures are not only not higher, but tumbling by the -5% limit down at the start of trading…

… Dow futures down 1,000 and also limit down…

Mishkin Says the Idea That Fed Solves Everything With Rate Cuts Is ‘Wacky’

… the VIX surging 14%….

… perhaps because the Fed has not only tipped its hand that something is very wrong by simply waiting an additional three days until the March 18 FOMC, but that it can do nothing more to fix the underlying problem, while gold is surging over 3% following today’s dollar devastation (if only until risk parity funds resume their wholesale liquidation at some point this evening)…

… as US Treasury futures soar (which will also likely be puked shortly once macro funds are hit again on their basis trades), as it now appears that the Fed’s emergency rate cut to 0% coupled with a $700BN QE is seen as note enough by a market which is now openly freaking out that the Fed is out of ammo and has not done enough.

In short, with the ES plunging limit down, this has been an absolutely catastrophic response to the Fed’s bazooka; expect negative interest rates across the curve momentarily.

As FX strategist Viraj Patel puts it, “the Fed has thrown a kitchen sink of policy measures that should in theory weaken the US dollar. Problem is the global backdrop due to Covid-19 isn’t conducive to putting money to work in other countries/FX. Fed making US risky assets relatively more attractive may support $USD”

Negative interest rates in the US are virtually guaranteed now

Negative interest rates in the US are virtually guaranteed now

On October 19, 1987, the US stock market suffered the worst crash in its more than 200 year history, dropping more than 23% in a matter of hours.

It wasn’t just in the United States, either. More than 20 major stock markets around the world, from London to Hong Kong to Australia, fell by similar amounts.

And economists estimate that stocks worldwide lost roughly $1.7 trillion of value (approximately 10% of global GDP at the time) during the October 1987 crash.

The next morning on October 20th, the Federal Reserve announced that they would do whatever it takes to support the economy.

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And ten days later they cut interest rates by 0.5%.

Yesterday the Federal Reserve did the same thing. Stock markets worldwide have been jittery lately due to Corona Virus fears, so the Federal Reserve stepped in and cut interest rates by 0.5%.

Honestly there are so many things that are remarkable about this—

First, the Fed already has a regularly scheduled meeting coming up in two weeks on March 17th. But apparently they thought the situation was so severe that they held an emergency meeting yesterday and hastily voted to cut interest rates by 0.5%.

Just think about what that means: 30+ years ago, the Fed cut rates by half a percent after, literally, the worst day in the history of the stock market.

Today’s stock market turmoil is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1987. Sure, the market is down around 10% over the past two weeks.  But where is the law that says the stock market isn’t allowed to fall? Capitalism is all about risk and reward. There are supposed to be periods of decline.

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

Global Demographic Fact Vs. Central Bank Sorcery

Global Demographic Fact Vs. Central Bank Sorcery

Summary

  • The annual growth of the working-age population is the organic baseline for growth in national, regional, and global consumption.
  • However, since World War II, interest rate policy has moved inversely of annual working-age population growth, to incent ever more debt as working-age population growth has decelerated to nothing.
  • Interestingly, total annual change in energy consumption has mirrored annual working-age population growth.except where synthetic growth has been temporarily substituted to maintain the appearance of growth (aka, China).
  • Eventually, the inorganically rising consumption and asset prices will return to their organic baseline.and that will be a very rude new dawn for those who believed in infinite growth.

The 1st world economy lives within a fractional reserve banking system.  In a fractional reserve system, one persons debt is the systems new money, as money is lent into existence. At a progressive rate since 1980, it has been the combination of decelerating working-age population growth, declining interest rates, and ramping utilization of privately loaned debt that has simultaneously been the basis for increasing consumption and the creation of new money.  As borrowers undertook new loans prior to 2008, this borrowing was the primary means of monetary growth.  However, the changing demography since 2008  has changed everything as population growth has shifted from young to old…and federal governments and central banks have taken over money creation via monetization resulting in asset inflation.

  1. New debt is primarily undertaken in the 1st world nations where income and savings are higher but also credit is readily available and standards for this credit vary widely, by asset type (zero for student loans, low for vehicles, moderate to high for homes…since ’07).
  2. It is primarily the working-age population that undertakes new debt while those in the post working age population tend to deleverage and pay down existing loans (this has the opposite monetary effect of destroying money). 

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

Hitting Zero: 700 Years of Declining Global Real Interest Rates

Hitting Zero: 700 Years of Declining Global Real Interest Rates

Are negative interests here to stay?

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Hitting Zero: 700 Years of Declining Global Real Interest Rates</span>

A recent study by Yale economist Paul Schmelzing suggests that global real interest rates “could soon enter permanently negative territory.”

In Mesopotamia around the third millennium B.C. there were two types of money circulating: barley and silver. The interest rate on a barley loan was usually 33%, whereas, on silver, it was 20%. At the time of writing, the interest rate where I live (the Netherlands) on my savings account—technically a loan to the bank—is zero percent. And my country is no exception. An enormous difference compared to the earliest economy we have written evidence of—that of the Sumerians living in Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago.

Schmelzing’s study, titled Eight centuries of global real interest rates, R-G, and the ‘suprasecular’ decline, 1311-2018, illustrates the historical decline in not only nominal interest rates, but also real interest rates. According to Schmelzing, there is a seven-hundred-year declining trend in real rates, which is not likely to reverse course.

In one of my previous articles I showed the (current) correlation between long-term real interest rates on sovereign bonds and the price of gold. I wrote:

One of the key drivers … for the US dollar gold price is real interest rates. It is thought that when interest rates on long-term sovereign bonds, minus inflation, are falling, it becomes more attractive to own gold as it is a less risky asset than sovereign bonds (gold has no counterparty risk).

Regarding this correlation, it’s valuable to get a sense of where real rates are heading.

Schmelzing points out real rates have declined (depending on the type of debt) by 0.006-0.016 % per year since 1311. Remarkably, he states, “that across successive monetary and fiscal regimes, and a variety of asset classes, real interest rates” have been falling.

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

“Last Hurrah” for Central Bankers

“Last Hurrah” for Central Bankers

“Last Hurrah” for Central Bankers

We’ve all seen zombie movies where the good guys shoot the zombies but the zombies just keep coming because… they’re zombies!

Market observers can’t be blamed for feeling the same way about former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke.

Bernanke was Fed chair from 2006–2014 before handing over the gavel to Janet Yellen. After his term, Bernanke did not return to academia (he had been a professor at Princeton) but became affiliated with the center-left Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Bernanke is proof that Washington has a strange pull on people. They come from all over, but most of them never leave. It gets more like Imperial Rome every day.

But just when we thought that Bernanke might be buried in the D.C. swamp, never to be heard from again… like a zombie, he’s baaack!

Bernanke gave a high-profile address to the American Economic Association at a meeting in San Diego on Jan. 4. In his address, Bernanke said the Fed has plenty of tools to fight a new recession.

He included quantitative easing (QE), negative interest rates and forward guidance among the tools in the toolkit. He estimates that combined, they’re equal to three percentage points of additional rate cuts. But that’s nonsense.

Here’s the actual record…

That QE2 and QE3 did not stimulate the economy at all; this has been the weakest economic expansion in U.S. history. All QE did was create asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate that have yet to deflate (if we’re lucky) or crash (if we’re not).

Meanwhile, negative interest rates do not encourage people to spend as Bernanke expects. Instead, people save more to make up for what the bank is confiscating as “negative” interest. That hurts growth and pushes the Fed even further away from its inflation target.

What about “forward guidance?”

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

David Stockman on What Triggers the Next Financial Collapse

David Stockman on What Triggers the Next Financial Collapse

financial collapse

International Man: You have sounded the alarm on a coming financial crisis of historic proportions. How do Trump’s trade policies figure into your view that a crisis is coming?

David Stockman: Trump’s trade policies only create more risk and rot down below.

They’re just kicking the can down the road. With this latest move by the Fed, they have cut the interest rates three times and short-term rates are back at 1.55%. They’re pumping their balance sheet back up—it’s up $300 billion just since September.

The Fed has reverted to all of the things that have created the underlying rot—and that means when finally things break loose, it’s going to be far worse than it would have otherwise been.

Given that they’re kicking the can down the road, they’re building the pressure in the system to really explosive levels.

The trade chaos that Trump’s creating is probably the catalyst that will bring down the whole house of cards.

At end of the day, it’s about the Red Ponzi. The world economy would be not nearly as good as it looks had the Chinese not been borrowing like there’s no tomorrow and building regardless of whether its efficient or profitable.

This has kept the global economy inching forward on a totally artificial basis. You could track it; some people call it the “China credit impulse.” Every time they get into trouble, they turn on the printing press. That causes commodity prices to rise and industrial activity and trade to pick up. It shows up in the GDP numbers, and then everybody gets all excited.

The fear of recession that we had a while back has now abated. We’re back to another global reflation meme, but none of this is sustainable.

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

Peter Schiff: The 20’s Will Be An Explosive Decade for Gold

Peter Schiff: The 20’s Will Be An Explosive Decade for Gold

In 2019, gold had its best year since 2010. Peter Schiff appeared on the RT Dec. 31 and said he thinks the yellow metal should have done even better. And given the current economic conditions, he believes the 20’s will be an explosive decade for gold.

You know, the reason the US stock market went up this year is because the Fed surprised everybody by doing exactly what I had been predicting they would do. They aborted their feigned attempt to normalize their interest rates and shrink their balance sheet. They went back to rate cuts and quantitative easing. This is extremely bullish for gold.”

Peter emphasized that gold should have been up a lot more in 2019, but he thinks it will catch up over the next several years — probably next year in particular.

Gold is going to be one of the best-performing assets classes, if not the best-performing asset class on the planet.”

Peter noted that gold made significant gains in 2019 despite a dollar that was relatively flat.

But the dollar is going to fall through the floor. That means gold prices are going to go through the roof.”

Peter said we are about to enter a new decade of stagflation  – low economic growth and increasing inflation. He said it’s going to be even worse than the stagflation we saw in the 1970s.

This is going to be more like an inflationary depression. So, this century, the depression is going to come a decade early. It’s not going to be the roaring 20s. It’s going to be a decade of inflationary depression in the United States.”

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

Rickards: World on Knife Edge of Debt Crisis

Rickards: World on Knife Edge of Debt Crisis

Rickards: World on Knife Edge of Debt Crisis

Herbert Stein, a prominent economist and adviser to presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, once remarked, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

The fact that his remark is obvious makes it no less profound. Simple denial or wishful thinking tends to dominate economic debate.

Stein’s remark is like a bucket of ice water in the face of those denying the reality of nonsustainability. Stein was testifying about international trade deficits when he made his statement, but it applies broadly.

Current global debt levels are simply not sustainable. Debt actually is sustainable if the debt is used for projects with positive returns and if the economy supporting the debt is growing faster than the debt itself.

But neither of those conditions applies today.

Debt is being incurred just to keep pace with existing requirements in the form of benefits, interest and discretionary spending.

It’s not being used for projects with long-term positive returns such as interstate highways, bridges and tunnels; 5G telecommunications; and improved educational outcomes (meaning improved student performance, not teacher pensions).

And developed economies are piling on debt faster than they are growing, so debt-to-GDP ratios are moving to levels where more debt stunts growth rather than helps.

It’s a catastrophic global debt crisis (worse than 2008) waiting to happen. What will trigger the crisis?

In a word — rates. Low interest rates facilitate unsustainable debt levels, at least in the short run. But with so much debt on the books, even modest rate increases will cause debt levels and deficits to explode as new borrowing is sought just to cover interest payments.

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

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Not Done Cutting Until It Gets to Zero

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Not Done Cutting Until It Gets to Zero

Peter Schiff recently appeared on Kitco news with Daniela Cambone to talk politics, the economy and the Fed. He said that no matter what Jerome Powell is saying, the Fed central bank isn’t finished with rate cuts. 

Lisa started out the interview asking Peter what he thought about the impeachment hearings and Trump’s prospects for reelection. Peter said it certainly looks like the House will impeach Trump. He doesn’t think it’s likely the Senate will remove him from office, but he also doesn’t think the president will be reelected in 2020 unless the economy can hold together.

I thought it was far more likely that he was elected originally, but I don’t think his prospects are as great now as they were then, although the conventional wisdom is the opposite. Most people thought he had no chance of winning last time and they think he can’t lose this time because they think we have this great economy, but we don’t. We just have another stock market bubble.”

Lisa pointed out that unemployment is supposedly at 50-year lows.

Well, sure. The unemployment rate was very low when Obama left office. I mean, the unemployment rate, at least the official rate, was declining for almost the entirety of the Obama presidency, and when Donald Trump ran against low unemployment, he said that the numbers were fake. That they were phony. That it was a fraud. That it was a hoax, and if you look at the real unemployment rate, where you look at all the people that were working part-time that wanted to work full-time, all the discouraged workers who had dropped out of the workforce, that the real unemployment rate was much higher. And that’s still the case today.

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

Trump Urges Fed To Cut Rates, Launch QE To Counter “Strong” Dollar

Trump Urges Fed To Cut Rates, Launch QE To Counter “Strong” Dollar 

President Trump took to Twitter this morning to admonish Fed Chair Powell (something he hasn’t done for a little while).

Trump said “Would be sooo great if the Fed would further lower interest rates and quantitative ease.”

Why? The economy is doing great right?

There’s just two things…

First, the dollar is at 5-month lows having tumbled since the Phase One trade deal was “completed”…

Source: Bloomberg

and Second, The Fed is printing money at its fastest pace since the financial crisis…

Source: Bloomberg

Notably Dallas Fed’s Kaplan hinted briefly in his speech this morning that we should not assume the dollar will be the reserve currency forever.

Is A Global Crash Just Around The Corner? Central Banks Are Cutting At The Fastest Rate Since The Financial Crisis

Is A Global Crash Just Around The Corner? Central Banks Are Cutting At The Fastest Rate Since The Financial Crisis

There is something very fishy about the world’s economic situation. On one hand, US president Trump keeps repeating that the US economy is the strongest it has ever been, with global strategists, economists and officials parroting as much they can, repeating that the world economy is also set to rebound sharply any minute now. And yet, two things stand out.

As we pointed out first last month, and as Convoy Investments echoed last week, with the US economy allegedly doing very well, the Fed’s balance sheet is now expanding at a rate matched only briefly by QE1, and faster than QE2 or QE3, in the aftermath of September’s repo fiasco which provided Powell with an extremely convenient scapegoat on which to hang the return of “NOT QE” (which, we now know, is in fact QE.)

The Fed’s unprecedented balance sheet expansion in a time of alleged economic stability and solid growth is a handy explanation why the S&P has been soaring in the past two months, and as we pointed out, a remarkable correlation has emerged whereby the S&P is up every week the Fed’s balance sheet is higher, and down whenever the balance sheet has declined.

And so, while helping us understand what has been the fuel for the market’s recent blow-off top meltup, the Fed’s emergency intervention does beg the question: is there something amiss more than just the repo market, and is Powell telegraphing that a far more serious crisis may be looming.

It’s not just Powell, however. It’s everyone.

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

Trapped

Trapped

What? You thought a 850+ point drop in the $DJIA would result in a down week? No Sir. The unholy alliance has struck again. Massive jawboning by multiple administration officials about how well the China trade deal was going, a favorable jobs report and above all, the US Federal Reserve, all contributed to a furious rally to make markets green for the week on (when else?) magic risk free Friday.

What was the tell? The same tell it’s been every week since the beginning of October. When the Fed’s balance sheet rises so does the market. One down week in the Fed’s balance sheet coincided with the only down week in markets since then.

Before you know it you have a trend (via zerohedge):

This is how predictable our markets have become. Tell me the size of Fed’s balance sheet next week and I’ll tell you what markets will do next week. Is it really this farcical? It appears so.

By that measure of course we can presume markets will just keep rising until next June as the Fed has indicated “not QE” will continue until then and their daily repo operations are now the ones on autopilot.

Investors are rightfully cheering gains having now realized that nothing matters but the Fed.

But be careful in cheering too much. All this action hides a rather very uncomfortable fact, a fact that may eventually see the air come out of this ballon faster than it is going in.
And that fact is that the Fed, and all other central banks, are trapped. Trapped in a coming disaster of their own making.

And be clear: As we saw this week again, the air can come out quickly. After all 90% of November gains simply disappeared in a matter of a couple of days. The subsequent furious comeback leaving a rather unusual weekly candle on $SPX (I’ll discuss this separately in an upcoming technical update).

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

47 Percent Of GDP – This Is Definitely The Scariest Corporate Debt Bubble In U.S. History

47 Percent Of GDP – This Is Definitely The Scariest Corporate Debt Bubble In U.S. History

We are facing a corporate debt bomb that is far, far greater than what we faced in 2008, and we are being warned that this “unexploded bomb” will “amplify everything” once the financial system starts melting down. Thanks to exceedingly low interest rates, over the last decade U.S. corporations have been able to go on the greatest corporate debt binge in history. It has been a tremendous “boom”, but it has also set the stage for a tremendous “bust”. Large corporations all over the country are now really struggling to deal with their colossal debt burdens, and defaults on the riskiest class of corporate debt are on pace to hit their highest level since 2008. Everyone can see that a major corporate debt disaster is looming, but nobody seems to know how to stop it.

At this point, companies listed on our stock exchanges have accumulated a total of almost 10 trillion dollars of debt. That is equivalent to approximately 47 percent of U.S. GDP

A decade of historically low interest rates has allowed companies to sell record amounts of bonds to investors, sending total U.S. corporate debt to nearly $10 trillion, or a record 47% of the overall economy.

In recent weeks, the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund and major institutional investors such as BlackRock and American Funds all have sounded the alarm about the mounting corporate obligations.

We have never witnessed a corporate debt crisis of this magnitude.

Corporate debt is up a whopping 52 percent since 2008, and this bubble is continually growing.

And actually the 10 trillion dollar figure is the most conservative number out there. Because if you add in all other forms of corporate debt, the grand total comes to 15.5 trillion dollars. The following comes from Forbes

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

The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation

The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation

The launch angle of the U.S. stock market over the past decade has been steep and relentless.  The S&P 500, after bottoming out at 666 on March 6, 2009, has rocketed up over 370 percent.  New highs continue to be reached practically every day.

Over this stretch, many investors have been conditioned to believe the stock market only goes up.  That blindly pumping money into an S&P 500 ETF is the key to investment riches.  In good time, this conditioning will be recalibrated with a rude awakening.  You can count on it.

In the interim, the bull market may continue a bit longer…or it may not.  But, to be clear, after a 370 percent run-up, buying the S&P 500 represents a speculation on price.  A gamble that the launch angle furthers its steep trajectory.  Here’s why…

Over the past decade, the U.S. economy, as measured by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), has increased about 50 percent.  This plots a GDP launch angle that is underwhelming when compared to the S&P 500.  Corporate earnings have fallen far short of share prices.

Hence, the bull market in stocks is not a function of a booming economy.  Rather, it’s a function of Fed madness.  And its existence becomes ever more perilous with each passing day.

Central planners at the Fed – like other major central banks – have taken monetary policy to a state of madness.  Zero interest rate policy, negative interest rate policy, quantitative easing, operation twist, quantitative tightening, reserve management, repo market intervention, not-QE, mass-asset purchases, and more.

These schemes have fostered massive growth in public and private debt with nothing but lackluster economic growth to show.  What’s more, these schemes have produced massive asset bubbles that have skyrocketed wealth inequality and inflamed countless variants of new populism.

…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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