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Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

Lacy Hunt Blasts MMT and Speaks of Hyperinflation If Implemented

In the Hoisington First Quarter Review, Lacy Hunt blasts MMT as “self-perpetuating” inflation.

Please consider the Hoisington Investment Quarterly Outlook for the first quarter of 2019.

MMT Leads to Hyperinflation

Under existing statutes, Fed liabilities, which they can create without limits, are not permitted to be used to pay U.S. government expenditures. As such, the Fed’s liabilities are not legal tender. They can only purchase a limited class of assets, such as U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities, from the banks, who in turn hold the proceeds from this sale in a reserve account at one of the Federal Reserve banks. There is currently, however, a real live proposal to make the Fed’s liabilities legal tender so that the Fed can directly fund the expenditures of the federal government – this is MMT – and it would require a change in law, i.e. a rewrite of the Federal Reserve Act.

This is not a theoretical exercise. Harvard Professor Kenneth Rogoff, writing in ProjectSyndicate.org (March 4, 2019), states “A number of leading U.S. progressives, who may well be in power after the 2020 elections, advocate using the Fed’s balance sheet as a cash cow to fund expansive new social programs, especially in view of current low inflation and interest rates.” How would MMT be implemented and what would be the economic implications? The process would be something like this: The Treasury would issue zero maturity and zero interest rate liabilities to the Fed, who in turn, would increase the Treasury’s balances at the Federal Reserve Banks. The Treasury, in turn, could spend these deposits directly to pay for programs, personnel, etc. Thus, the Fed, which is part of the government, would be funding its parent with a worthless IOU.

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

A Quarter Century Of Monetary Voodoo

A Quarter Century Of Monetary Voodoo

A Witless Tool of the Deep State?

Finance or politics? We don’t know which is jollier. The Republican presidential primary and Fed monetary policies seem to compete for headlines. Which can be most absurd? Which can be most outrageous? Which can get more page views?

Politics, led by Donald J. Trump, was clearly in the lead… until Wednesday. Then, the money world, with Janet L. Yellen wearing the yellow jersey, spurted ahead in the Hilarity Run.

Yellen_cartoon_08.18.2014

“Cautious Yellen drives global stocks near 2016 peak,” reported a Reuters headline. The story itself was a remarkable tribute to the whole jackass money system.

At first glance, “cautious Yellen” would seem incongruous with stocks rising to “near 2016 peak.” Caution normally means playing it cool, not encouraging speculation.

But it wasn’t so much what Ms. Yellen said that sent stocks racing ahead. It was what she hasn’t done. And she hasn’t done exactly what we thought she wouldn’t do. That is, so far this year, she has not taken a single step in the direction of a “normal” monetary policy; our guess is that she never will.

Why not? Is it because she is a witless tool of Deep State cronies? Is it because her economic theory is silly, superficial, and simpleminded? Or is it because she and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, have done so much damage to the normal world that there is nothing to go back to?

A coo-coo for the stock market…

“Cautious Yellen drives global stocks near 2016 peak,” reported a Reuters headline. The story itself was a remarkable tribute to the whole jackass money system.

At first glance, “cautious Yellen” would seem incongruous with stocks rising to “near 2016 peak.” Caution normally means playing it cool, not encouraging speculation.

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

Japan Goes Full Krugman: Plans Un-Depositable, Non-Cash “Gift-Certificate” Money Drop To Young People

Japan Goes Full Krugman: Plans Un-Depositable, Non-Cash “Gift-Certificate” Money Drop To Young People

The Swiss, the Finns, and the Ontarians may get their ‘Universal Basic Income’ but the Japanese are about to turn the Spinal Tap amplifier of extreme monetary experimentation to 11. Sankei reports, with no sourcing, that the Japanese government plans to unleash “vouchers” or “gift certificates” to low-income young people to stimulate the “conspicuous decline” in consumption among young people. The handouts may not be deposited, thus combining helicopter money (inflationary) and fully electronic currency (implicit capital controls and tracking of spending).

Since Ben Bernanke reminded the world of the existence of government printing-presses, echoed Milton Friedman’s “helicopter drop” solution to fighting deflation, and decried Japan for not being as insane as it could be… it has only been a matter of time before some global central bank decided that the dropping of cash onto the populace was the key to economic recovery. Having blown their wad on QQE (and been left with a quintuple-dip recession) and unleashed NIRP, it appears Japan has reached that limit.

As Bloomberg reports,

The Japanese government plans to include gift certificates for low-income young people in its fiscal 2016 supplementary budget, Sankei reports, without saying who provided the information.

Recipients would be able to use them for daily necessities.

The government sees gift certificates as more effective in stimulating consumption than cash handouts, which may be deposited.

As Sankei reports (via Google Translate),

The government 23 days, as the centerpiece of the 2016 fiscal year supplementary budget to organize because of the economic stimulus, cemented the policy to include the low-income measures for young people. To examine the distribution of vouchers to be devoted to the purchase of such daily necessities.

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

The Monetary Base, Buybacks and the Stock Market

We often see charts comparing the S&P 500 to the growth in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, or more specifically, to assets held by the Fed. There is undeniably a close correlation between the two, but it has struck us as not very useful as a “timing device”, or an early warning device if you will.

Recently we have come across a video of a presentation by Bob Murphy, in which he uses a slightly different comparison that might prove more useful in this respect. Instead of merely looking at Fed assets, he uses the total monetary base. Here is a chart comparing the monetary base to the S&P 500 Index since 2009:

1-Monetary Base vs SPXThe monetary base (red line) vs. the S&P 500 (blue line) – as can be seen, sometimes one or the other series leads, but in recent years the monetary base has been a leading indicator. It probably lagged the market in 2010/11 due to the fact that traders at the time bought stocks in anticipation of more monetary pumping – whereas nowadays the market appears to be reacting with a slight lag to changes in base money – click to enlarge.

Below is a chart that shows consolidated assets held by the Federal Reserve system for comparison. Since the Fed is currently reinvesting funds from MBS and treasuries that mature, its total asset base is basically flat-lining since the end of QE3. Obviously, all that can be gleaned from this fact is that the central bank is currently not activelypumping up the money supply. Currently money supply growth is therefore largely the result of commercial bank credit growth.

2-Fed AssetsAssets held by the Federal Reserve – flat-lining since the end of QE3. Interesting, but not useful as a short term leading indicator of the stock market – click to enlarge.

 

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

Why Helicopter Money Can’t Save Us: We’ve Already Been Doing It For 8 Years

Why Helicopter Money Can’t Save Us: We’ve Already Been Doing It For 8 Years

There’s a lot of talk going around these days about “helicopter money.”

For those unfamiliar, it’s billed as a kind of last Keynesian resort when ZIRP, NIRP, and QE have all failed to boost aggregate demand and juice inflation.

For instance, HSBC said the following late last month: “If central banks do not achieve their medium-term inflation targets through NIRP, they may have to adopt other policy measures: looser fiscal policy and even helicopter money are possible in scenarios beyond QE and negative rates.”

And here’s Citi’s Willem Buiter from Septemeber: “Helicopter money drops would be the best instrument to tackle a downturn in all DMs.”

So what exactly is this “helicopter money” that is supposed to provide a lifeline when all of central banks’ other forays into unconventional policy have demonstrably failed? Well, here’s Buiter to explain how it works in theory (this is the China example, but it’s the same concept everywhere else):

Now whether it’s “fiscally, financially and macro-economically prudent in current circumstances,” (or any circumstances for that matter) is certainly questionable, but what’s not questionable is that it is indeed feasible.

How do we know? Because we’ve been doing it for 8 long years.

If you think about what Buiter says above, it’s simply deficit financing. The government prints one paper liability and buys it from itself with another paper liability that the government also prints.

Sound familiar? It’s called QE.

The first-best would be for the central government to issue bonds to fund this fiscal stimulus and for the PBOC to buy them and either hold them forever or cancel them, with the PBOC monetizing these Treasury bond purchases. Such a ‘helicopter money drop’ is fiscally, financially and macro-economically prudent in current circumstances, with inflation well below target and likely to fall further.

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

“Pandora’s Box Is Open”: Why Japan May Have Started A ‘Silent Bank Run’

“Pandora’s Box Is Open”: Why Japan May Have Started A ‘Silent Bank Run’

As extensively discussed yesterday in the aftermath of the BOJ’s stunning decision to cut rates to negative for the first time in history (a decision which it appears was taken due to Davos peer pressure, a desire to prop up stock markets and to punish Yen longs, and an inability to further boost QE), there will be consequences – some good, mostly bad.

As Goldman’s Naohiko Baba previously explained, NIRP in Japan will not actually boost the economy: “we do have concerns about the policy transmission channel. Policy Board Member Koji Ishida, who voted against the new measures, said that “a further decline in JGB yields would not have significantly positive effects on economy activity.” We concur with this sentiment, particularly for capex. The key determinants of capex in Japan are the expected growth rate and uncertainty about the future as seen by corporate management according to our analysis, while the impact of real long-term rates has weakened markedly in recent years.”

What the BOJ’s NIRP will do, is result in a one-time spike in risk assets, something global stock and bond markets have already experienced, and a brief decline in the Yen, one which traders can’t wait to fade as Citi FX’s Brent Donnelly explained yesterday.

NIRP will also have at most two other “positive” consequences, which according to Deutsche Bank include 1) reinforcing financial institutions’ decisions to grant new loans and invest in securities (if only in theory bnecause as explained further below in practice this may very well backfire); and 2) widening interest rate differentials to weaken JPY exchange rates, which in turn support companies’ JPY-based sales and profit, for whom a half of consolidated sales are from overseas.

That covers the positive. The NIRP negatives are far more troubling. The first one we already noted yesterday, when Goldman speculated that launching NIRP could mean that further QE is all tapped out:

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

 

Helicopter Money Arrives: Switzerland To Hand Out $2500 Monthly To All Citizens

Helicopter Money Arrives: Switzerland To Hand Out $2500 Monthly To All Citizens

With Citi’s chief economist proclaiming “only helicopter money can save the world now,” and the Bank of England pre-empting paradropping money concerns, it appears that Australia’s largest investment bank’s forecast that money-drops were 12-18 months away was too conservative. While The Finns consider a “basic monthly income” for the entire population, Swiss residents are to vote on a countrywide referendum about a radical plan to pay every single adult a guaranteed income of around $2500 per month, with authorities insisting that people will still want to find a job.

The plan, as The Daily Mail reportsproposed by a group of intellectuals, could make the country the first in the world to pay all of its citizens a monthly basic income regardless if they work or not.  But the initiative has not gained much traction among politicians from left and right despite the fact that a referendum on it was approved by the federal government for the ballot box on June 5.

Under the proposed initiative, each adult would receive $2,500 per months, and each child would also receive 625 francs ($750) a month.

The federal government estimates the cost of the proposal at 208 billion francs ($215 billion) a year.

Around 153 billion francs ($155 bn) would have to be levied from taxes, while 55 billion francs ($60 bn) would be transferred from social insurance and social assistance spending.

That is 30% of GDP!!!

The action committee pushing the initiative consists of artists, writers and intellectuals, including publicist Daniel Straub, former federal government spokesman Oswald Sigg and Zurich rapper Franziska Schläpfer (known as “Big Zis”), the SDA news agency reported. Personalities supporting the bid include writers Adolf Muschg and Ruth Schweikert, philosopher Hans Saner and communications expert Beatrice Tschanz. The group said a new survey showed that the majority of Swiss residents would continue working if the guaranteed income proposal was approved.

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

It Begins: Desperate Finland Set To Unleash Helicopter Money Drop To All Citizens

It Begins: Desperate Finland Set To Unleash Helicopter Money Drop To All Citizens

With Citi’s chief economist proclaiming “only helicopter money can save the world now,”and the Bank of England pre-empting paradropping money concerns, it appears that Australia’s largest investment bank’s forecast that money-drops were 12-18 months away was too conservative.

Over the last few months, in a prime example of currency failure and euro-defenders’ narratives, Finland has been sliding deeper into depression. Almost 7 years into the the current global expansion, Finland’s GDP is 6pc below its previous peak. As The Telegraph reports, this is a deeper and more protracted slump than the post-Soviet crash of the early 1990s, or the Great Depression of the 1930s. And so, having tried it all, Finnish authorities are preparing to unleash “helicopter money” to save their nation by giving every citizen a tax-free payout of around $900 each month!

Just over two years ago, when the world was deciding who would be Bernanke Fed Chair replacement, Larry Summers or Janet Yellen (how ironic that Larry Summers did not get the nod just because a bunch of progressive economists thought he would not be dovish enough) we wrote about a different problemwith the end of QE3 upcoming and with the inevitable failure of the economy to reignite (again), we warned that there remains one option after (when not if) QE fails to stimulate growth: helicopter money.

While QE may be ending, it certainly does not mean that the Fed is halting its effort to “boost” the economy. In fact… the end of QE may well be simply a redirection, whereby the broken monetary pathway, one which uses banks as intermediaries to stimulate inflation (supposedly a failure according to the economist mainstream), i.e., “second-round effects”, is bypassed entirely and replaced with Plan Z, aka “Helicopter Money” mentioned previously as an all too real monetary policy option by none other than Milton Friedman and one Ben Bernanke. This is also known as the nuclear option.

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

“There Are No More Dollars In The Central Bank”: Argentina’s New President Confronts Liquidity Crisis

“There Are No More Dollars In The Central Bank”: Argentina’s New President Confronts Liquidity Crisis

On Monday, Mauricio Macri, the son of Italian-born construction tycoon Francesco Macri, beat out Cristina Kirchner’s handpicked successor Daniel Scioli for Argentina’s presidency in what amounted to a referendum on 12 years of Peronist rule.

A legacy of defaults combined with exceptionally high inflation and slow growth finally tipped the scales on the Leftists and now, Macri will try to clean up the mess.

As Citi noted in the wake of Macri’s victory (which was accompanied by some very bad dancing), “the most urgent challenge on the economic front is FX policy.” The President-elect wants to unify the official and parallel exchange rates (~9.60 and 15.50 ARS/USD, respectively) and that will of course entail a substantial devaluation. Just how overvalued is the peso, you ask? “Grossly” so, Citi says. Here’s their take:

Regarding the real overvaluation of the ARS, we estimate that real effective exchange rate has dropped (appreciated) 44% since 2011. Thus, for Argentina to have the same REER than four years ago, the USDARS should stand at 17. A different approach would be to compare the evolution of the real exchange rate vis-à-vis the USD in Argentina and other countries in the region. While the LatAm currencies (BRL, CLP, COP, MXN, PEN and UYU) real exchange rates relative to the USD have increased on average 36% since 2011, the USDARS has dropped 19% in real terms. Thus, from this point of view, the USDARS should stand 68% higher at 16.1.

 

A key figure in the execution of Macri’s currency plan is former JP Morgan global head of FX research Alfonso Prat-Gay who will be Argentina’s finance minister under the new Presdent. Prat-Gay was president of the country’s central bank beginning in 2002 and, as Reuters reminds us, “won widespread acclaim for swiftly taming runaway inflation and championing central bank independence.” If that sounds to you like characteristics that might rub a Peronist the wrong way, you’d be right, and Prat-Gay was ousted by the Kirchners.

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

The IMF Just Confirmed The Nightmare Scenario For Central Banks Is Now In Play

The IMF Just Confirmed The Nightmare Scenario For Central Banks Is Now In Play

The most important piece of news announced today was also, as usually happens, the most underreported: it had nothing to do with US jobs, with the Fed’s hiking intentions, with China, or even the ongoing “1998-style” carnage in emerging markets. Instead, it was the admission by ECB governing council member Ewald Nowotny that what we said about the ECB hitting a supply brick wall, was right. Specifically, earlier today Bloomberg quoted the Austrian central banker that the ECB asset-backed securities purchasing program “hasn’t been as successful as we’d hoped.

Why? “It’s simply because they are running out. There are simply too few of these structured products out there.”

So six months later, the ECB begrudgingly admitted what we said in March 2015, in “A Complete Preview Of Q€ — And Why It Will Fail“, was correct. Namely this:

… the ECB is monetizing over half of gross issuance (and more than twice net issuance) and a cool 12% of eurozone GDP. The latter figure there could easily rise if GDP contracts and Q€ is expanded, a scenario which should certainly not be ruled out given Europe’s fragile economic situation and expectations for the ECB to remain accommodative for the foreseeable future. In fact, the market is already talking about the likelihood that the program will be expanded/extended.

… while we hate to beat a dead horse, the sheer lunacy of a bond buying program that is only constrained by the fact that there simply aren’t enough bonds to buy, cannot possibly be overstated.

Among the program’s many inherent absurdities are the glaring disparity between the size of the program and the amount of net euro fixed income issuance and the more nuanced fact that the effects of previous ECB easing efforts virtually ensure that Q€ cannot succeed.

(Actually, we said all of the above first all the way back in 2012, but that’s irrelevant.)

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

 

 

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