Home » Posts tagged 'monetary policy'

Tag Archives: monetary policy

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Peter Schiff: It’s Game Over if the Markets Call the Fed’s Bluff

Peter Schiff: It’s Game Over if the Markets Call the Fed’s Bluff

The Federal Reserve insists inflation is “transitory” and the economy is making “progress.” Yet, it continues with the extraordinary monetary policy it launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, we’re seeing all kinds of data hinting that the economy may not be as great as advertised. Despite this, and even as prices continue to spiral higher, the Fed’s only monetary policy is talk. Peter breaks it all down on his podcast and drills down to the key question: what happens if the markets call the Fed’s bluff?

The July Federal Reserve meeting took center stage this week, but there was a lot of economic data that got lost in the shuffle. Peter said the data “really evidences the stagflationary environment that we’re in.”

On Wednesday, the trade deficit in goods data came out. It exceeded the high end of estimates and set another record high, rising 3.5% to $91.2 billion. Peter said he doesn’t think this record will last long.

These records are going to fall like dominoes. And this is not happening because we have a strong economy. It’s happening because we have a weak economy.”

A lot of mainstream pundits keep looking at these numbers as if they somehow reflect strength because Americans are buying so much stuff. But as Peter pointed out, the strength of an economy isn’t measured by what you buy but by what you produce.

Strong economies produce more. They don’t simply consume more. We are consuming more despite the fact that our economy is weak. How are we doing that? Well, the Fed is printing money and we are spending it. But that does not constitute strength. That really evidences profound weakness.”

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

While Fed Is in Denial, Hawkish Bank of Russia Sees Inflation as “Not Transitory,” Warns of Possible Shock-and-Awe Rate Hike

While Fed Is in Denial, Hawkish Bank of Russia Sees Inflation as “Not Transitory,” Warns of Possible Shock-and-Awe Rate Hike

US Inflation is almost as hot as in Russia, but the Fed is still blowing it off.

Consumer price inflation in Russia is red-hot, having jumped 6.0% in May compared to a year ago, 2 percentage points above the Bank of Russia’s target of 4.0%. Polls in Russia show that food inflation is a top concern, currently running at 7.4%.

But inflation in the US isn’t lagging far behind: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 5.0% in May. Yet the central banks are on opposite tracks in their approach to inflation.

Federal Reserve governors keep jabbering about this red-hot inflation being “temporary” or “transitory,” and likely to disappear on its own despite huge government stimulus and the Fed’s huge and ongoing monetary stimulus, though some doubts are creeping in among a couple of them. So they’ll keep interest rates at near-zero until at least next year, and they’re still buying $120 billion a month in securities to push down long-term interest rates.

Russia has been on the opposite trajectory, “surprising” economists at every step along the way. This trajectory started on March 19 with a 25 basis point rate hike, to 4.5%, against the expectations of 27 of the 28 economists polled by Reuters, who didn’t expect a rate hike. On April 23, the Bank of Russia hiked its policy rate by 50 basis points, to 5.0%. On June 11, it hiked by another 50 basis points to 5.5%. The next policy meeting is scheduled for July 23.

Is a shock-and-awe rate hike next? Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina is preparing the markets for this possibility – so it won’t be a shock, but just awe.

At the July meeting, the central bank “will consider” an increase in the range from “25 basis points to 1 percentage point,” she told Bloomberg TV in an interview.

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

When Expedient “Saves” Become Permanent, Ruin Is Assured

When Expedient “Saves” Become Permanent, Ruin Is Assured

The Fed’s “choice” is as illusory as the “wealth” the Fed has created with its perfection of moral hazard.

The belief that the Federal Reserve possesses god-like powers and wisdom would be comical if it wasn’t so deeply tragic, for the Fed doesn’t even have a plan, much less wisdom. All the Fed has is an incoherent jumble of expedient, panic-driven “saves” it cobbled together in the 2008-2009 Global Financial Meltdown that it had made inevitable.

The irony is the only thing that will still be rich when the whole rotten, corrupt, fragile financial system of illusory stability collapses in a heap of runaway instability. The irony is that the Fed’s leaky grab-bag of expedient “saves” was not designed to ensure systemic stability, though that was the PR cover story.

The Fed’s leaky grab-bag of expedient “saves” had only one purpose: save the fat-cats, skimmers, scammers, fraudsters and embezzlers who had gotten rich off the Fed’s cloaked transfer of wealth: the purpose of all the 2008-2009 extremes was not to impose the discipline required to truly stabilize the financial system; the purpose was to elevate moral hazard— the separation of risk from the consequences of risk–to unprecedented heights, backstopping every skimmer, scammer, fraudster and embezzler from well-deserved losses as the entire pyramid of fraud collapsed under its own enormous weight of risky bets gone bad.

To save its cronies from the catastrophic losses that should have been taken by those making the bets, the Fed instituted one expedient “save” after another: backstopped global banks with $16 trillion, dropped interest rates to zero, eliminated truthful reporting by ending mark-to-market pricing of risk, flooded the financial system with free money for financiers, all designed to signal that the Fed will never let its cronies suffer the consequences of their risky bets, i.e. the perfection of moral hazard.

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

Translating Yellen-Speak into Golden-Speak

Translating Yellen-Speak into Golden-Speak

Given the increasingly politicized interplay (cancer) of central bank policy and so-called free market price discovery, it’s becoming increasingly more important to track the actions of central bankers rather than just traditional market signals alone.

Like it or not, the Fed is the market.

Toward this end, we’ve had some substantive fun deciphering the past, current and future implications of “forward guidance” from our openly mis-guided crop of central bankers, most notably Greenspan, Bernanke and Powell.

But let’s not forget Janet Yellen.

As we see below, translating Yellen-speak into blunt speak tells us a heck of a lot about the future.

The Open and Obvious Debt Crisis

Back in 2018, Janet Yellen (former Fed Chairwoman and current Treasury Secretary, eh hmmm) along with Jason Furman (current Biden economic advisor) observed in a Washington Post Op-Ed that, “a U.S. debt crisis is coming, but don’t blame entitlements.”

As I like to say, “that’s rich.”

As in all things economic, the motives and thinking coming out of DC are largely political, which means they are self-serving, partisan and predominantly disastrous.

As for translating Yellen’s political-speak into honest English, the motives for this 2018 warning were two-fold: 1) Yellen and Furman were making a partisan attack on Trump’s then $1T budget proposal, and 2) Yellen actually believed what she said and that the US was indeed careening toward “a debt crisis.”

In fact, we were already in a debt crisis in 2018, a crisis which has simply risen to much higher orders of magnitude in the three short years since Yellen’s “warning” was made.

Stated otherwise, Yellen will get her debt crisis. It’s ticking right in front of her.

Tracking the Debt Trail

Ironically, the most obvious metrics of the current and ever-expanding debt crisis began just months after Yellen’s infamous Op-Ed.

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

Is the United States on The Same Calamitous Path as Yugoslavia?

Of all the inflationary disasters in modern economic history, Yugoslavia’s is the one most ignored by the mainstream. To be sure, the collapse of the Eastern European nation was a slow burn, but with a big explosion at the end. Most people are familiar with the Serbian/Croatian war and the genocide that followed, but few people are familiar with the economic crisis that led to the conflict.

I am not here to present an in-depth analysis of the eventual breakup of Yugoslavia, only to examine the conditions that triggered it. I believe there are some interesting similarities to burgeoning conditions within the U.S., along with some distinct differences.

The first stage: inflation

President Josip Broz Tito led the nation in various capacities from 1953 to 1980. He used two powerful tools to clamp down on unrest in the ethnically-diverse nation: large-scale repression of dissenting voices using both police and military forces, and allowing regional foreign borrowing. The latter might not sound particularly important. According to the CIA’s 1983 national intelligence document Yugoslavia: An Approaching Crisis?:

Although self-management in theory permits workers to own and manage their enterprises, in fact the leaders in the six republics and two provinces… became the dominant economic decision makers. They grew increasingly protectionist and isolated from each other in pursuing local interests. Ignoring national economies of scale and ultimate profitability, they built redundant enterprises, blocked competition on the “unified market,” and granted unrealistic price increases and subsidies to favored industries. Thus, by the early 1980s inflation in the 30- to 40-percent range became chronic…

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

Two Pins Threatening Multiple Asset Bubbles

Two Pins Threatening Multiple Asset Bubbles

“Powell Says Fed Policies “Absolutely” Don’t Add To Inequality” -Bloomberg May 2020

The headline above is but one of countless times Fed Chairman Powell and his colleagues confidently said their policies do not result in wealth or income inequality. Their political stature and use of complex economic lingo give weight to their opinions in the media. Nevertheless, a deep examination of the Fed’s practices and their consequences leaves us to think otherwise.

In our opinion, the Fed’s contribution to wealth inequality is significant and grossly misunderstood. We have written articles explaining why QE and low interest rates generally benefit the wealthy and harm the poor. This article backs up those prior arguments with quantitative muscle.

Timely for investors, we also draw some lines between wealth inequality and financial stability and their relationship to monetary policy. We think it is becoming increasingly possible wealth inequality, and in particular, the outsized effect inflation has on the poor, could be the needle to pop many asset bubbles. The other possible needle is the Fed’s wanting for financial stability.

**Due to the importance of monetary policy from economic, societal, and market perspectives we are breaking this article into two. We will share part two next week.

Background

More inflation and financial stability (rising asset prices) are two of the three core tenets backing monetary policy. A strong labor market is the third objective. We focus on inflation in this article and financial stability in part II.

In our article Two Percent for the One Percent, we explain why inflation is detrimental to the poor, while rising asset prices (financial stability) primarily benefit the wealthy. The following paragraphs from the article explain:

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

Monetary Inflation’s Game of Hide-and-Seek

The May 12, 2021, press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the month of April sent the stock markets tumbling for two days and generated fodder for the news pundits with the announcement that the CPI measure of the cost-of-living had increased 4.2 percent at an annualized rate, or nearly 62 percent higher than in March when the annualized rate was 2.6 percent. The era of relatively low rate of price inflation was feared to be ending.

For almost a decade, despite significant increases in the money supply, CPI-measured price inflation remained “tame.” Between March 2011 and March 2021, the M-2 money supply (cash, checking accounts, and small savings) went from $8.94 trillion to $19.9 trillion, or a 222.5 percent increase. Just in 2020, M-2 expanded by nearly 25 percent.

Yet, despite this, the CPI only went up by a little less than 20 percent, from 223 to 266.8 (100 = 1982-1984) between 2011 and 2021. The annual rates of CPI price inflation for this ten-year period were mostly less than 2 percent. What is called “core” price inflation – the CPI minus energy and food prices – averaged each one of these ten years a bit higher most of the time, but not by much in this period. (See my article, “Dangerous Monetary Manipulations and Fiscal Follies”.)

But what, exactly, does the Consumer Price Index tell us? All price indexes, including the CPI, are statistical constructions created by economists and statisticians that, in fact, have very little to do with the actions and decisions of consumers and producers in the everyday affairs of market demand and supply. And they are certainly not accurate and precise guides for central bank monetary policy.

Overall versus “Core” Price Inflation

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

Peter Schiff and Tucker Carlson: The Financial Crisis Will Be Worse Than the Pandemic

Peter Schiff and Tucker Carlson: The Financial Crisis Will Be Worse Than the Pandemic

Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for April came in much hotter than expected. Year-on-year, inflation is up 4.2%. The big number even prompted Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida to say, “We were surprised by higher than expected inflation data.”

Peter Schiff appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show to talk about the consequences of more printed money chasing fewer goods. Peter said inflation is going to hit the middle class harder than the pandemic.

Peter said this hot CPI print is a cause for concern and ultimately it is a tax.

It is the inflation tax. And if you look at how much the cost of living went up, measured by the CPI in the first four months of this year, it’s 2%. So, if you triple that to annualized it, we have consumer prices rising at 6% annually. But if you look at the monthly numbers, every month it accelerates. So, if you extrapolate the trend of the first four months of this year for the entire year, you’re going to get a 20% increase in consumer prices in 2021.”

VIDEO

Tucker asked a poignant question. If the value of the US dollar is falling as quickly as the CPI suggests, why would any country want to invest in US bonds? Doesn’t this threaten to cause a shake-up?

Peter said they won’t want to invest. They’ll be selling US Treasuries.

Anybody that can connect these dots is going to be selling US Treasuries. And the problem is there’s a lot of US Treasuries to be sold.”

Peter noted that a lot of people are talking about a shortage of goods.

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

“Heads, Gold Wins; Tails, Gold Doesn’t Lose” – Jim Rickards

This week, Your News to Know rounds up the latest top stories involving gold and the overall economy. Stories include: How gold could soon break out, U.K.’s Royal Mint experiences peak bullion demand, and why silver can go up much higher.

Heads, Gold Wins; Tails, Gold Doesn’t Lose

As The Daily Reckoning contributor Jim Rickards notes on Zero Hedge, the worst-case scenario for gold appears to be running its course. It’s often stated that the stock market is gold’s primary competitor, but the inverse correlation between the markets has been absent for some years. Instead, bonds position themselves as gold’s archnemesis as investors look at the two and ask themselves: which is the better safe haven?

When the $900 billion December bailout was followed by a $1.9 trillion one and promises of $3 trillion more to be printed, investors were quick to expect inflation, and with good reason. Taking a look at the two safe-havens, Rickards hypothesizes they believed Treasuries were preferable with rates climbing off the floor of 0.508% in August 2020, and bought bonds instead of zero-yield gold.

To Rickards, this is what caused gold to remain rangebound over the past few quarters, (though it’s a pretty good range). The problem is that investors were too hasty in their inflation expectations, while placing too much faith in government bonds.

Rickards believes 10-year Treasury yields peaked at 1.74% on March 31 and are unlikely to spring back up. That view isn’t difficult to corroborate given the dire straits of the global bond market.

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

Karl Marx’s Road to Hell is Paved with Fake Money

Karl Marx’s Road to Hell is Paved with Fake Money

“The way to Hell is paved with good intentions,” remarked Karl Marx in Das Kapital.

The devious fellow was bemoaning evil capitalists for having the gall to use their own money for the express purpose of making more money.

Marx, a rambling busybody, was habitually wrong.  The road to hell is paved with something much more than good intentions.  Grift, graft, larceny, corruption and fake money are what primarily composes the pavement.  Good intentions are merely dusted in to better the aesthetic.

If you want to understand what’s going on with exploding price inflation then you must understand this…

Right now in the United States we have a scam currency that’s controlled by central planners.  Specifically, we have what Marx envisioned in Plank No. 5 of his Communist Manifesto:

“No. 5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

The Federal Reserve System, created by the Federal Reserve Act of Congress in 1913, is indeed a ‘national bank’ and it politically manipulates interest rates and holds a monopoly on legal counterfeiting in the United States.

Without the Fed’s policies of mass credit creation the U.S. government could have never run up a national debt over $28 trillion.  Without the Fed’s policies of extreme credit market intervention the U.S. trade deficit for March of $74.4 billion – a new record – would have never been possible.  Without the Fed’s printing press money the U.S. government could have never run annual budget deficits over $3 trillion.

The fact is centralized credit in the hands of a central bank always leads to money supply inflation.  Asset price inflation and consumer price inflation then follow in strange and unpredictable ways.

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

No inflation? Even used car prices are soaring

We’ve reached a point now where anyone who can’t see inflation is clearly not paying attention.

Inflation has now become so ridiculous that, according to the Wall Street Journal, even the price of a USED car is increasing… by a lot.

Since January 2020, NEW car prices have increased 9.6%. But USED car prices are up 16.7% over the same period.

This is pretty extraordinary given that used cars are supposed to depreciate. According to one used car dealer, “What is normally a depreciable asset has been appreciating. It’s certainly surreal. . .”

It’s not just used cars, of course. Prices across the economy are rising rapidly. NielsenIQ retail price data sets show that consumer goods have been rising in excess of 10% over the last year on everything from beauty products to seafood prices (which have risen by 18.7% over the past three months).

There are lots of reasons for inflation.

For example, there’s plenty of pent-up consumer demand from people having been locked down for more than a year, at a time when many businesses are still closed or operating at below normal capacity.

This combination of high demand and tight supply is causing prices to rise. And in theory that’s a temporary phenomenon.

But there are other, more permanent factors that could continue pushing prices up for a long time.

For starters, governments around the world are proposing higher taxes– carbon taxes, Value-Added Taxes, higher corporate income taxes. This is all inflationary, because eventually these tax costs are passed on to consumers.

The more important contributor to inflation, though, is astonishing quantity of new money in the financial system, thanks in large part to massive government spending.

In the US alone, the federal government is trying to pass spending bills totaling $11+ trillion this year.

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

Jim Grant: The Fed Can’t Control Inflation

Jim Grant: The Fed Can’t Control Inflation

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell insists inflation is “transitory.” As prices have spiked throughout the economy, Powell’s messaging has essentially been, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

Peter Schiff has been saying the central bankers at the Fed can’t actually tell the truth about inflation because even if they acknowledge it’s a problem (and it is) they can’t do anything about it.

In a recent talk, Jim Grant, investment guru and founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, echoed Peter, saying the Fed can’t control inflation.

During a webcast sponsored by State Street SPDR ETFs, Grant said he thinks “there’s a gale of inflation of all kinds in progress,” adding that he believes it will take the Fed by surprise and “overwhelm our monetary masters.” Grant said, inflation is “clear and present and will manifest itself in our everyday lives.”

That sounds like the exact opposite of Powell’s “transitory” mantra.

Peter has said that once the Fed is forced to admit that inflation isn’t transitory, it will be too late to take action. Grant made a similar prediction, saying inflation will “catch the Fed flatfooted. In response it will “prevaricate” – meaning speak or act in an evasive way. In fact, that already seems to be the central bank’s strategy.

The question is can the Fed actually control inflation. Grant doesn’t think so.

I think the Fed is under the misconception that it controls events. Sometimes, events control the Fed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of those times. The Fed thinks that not only can it control events, but it can measure them. It believes it can pinpoint the rate of inflation.”

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

Weekly Commentary: Generational Turning Point

Weekly Commentary: Generational Turning Point

There is an overarching issue I haven’t been able to get off my mind: Are we at the beginning of something new or in the waning days of the previous multi-decade cycle?

May 5 – Wall Street Journal (James Mackintosh): “We could be at a generational turning point for finance. Politics, economics, international relations, demography and labor are all shifting to supporting inflation. After more than 40 years of policies that gave priority to the fight against rising prices, investor- and consumer-friendly solutions are becoming less fashionable, not only in the U.S. but in much of the world. Investors are woefully unprepared for such a shift, perhaps because such historic turning points have proven remarkably hard to spot. This may be another false alarm, and it will take many years to play out, but the evidence for a general shift is strong across five fronts.”

The “five fronts” underscored in Mr. Mackintosh’s insightful piece are as follows: 1) “Central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, are now less concerned about inflation.” 2) “Politics has shifted to spend even more now, pay even less later.” 3) “Globalization is out of fashion.” 4) “Demographics worsen the situation.” 5) “Empowered labor puts upward pressure on wages and prices.”

The analysis is well-founded, as is the article’s headline: “Everything Screams Inflation.” After surging another 3.7% this week (lumber up 12%, copper 6%, corn 9%), the Bloomberg Commodities Index has already gained 20% this year. Lumber enjoys a y-t-d gain of 93% – WTI Crude 34%, Gasoline 51%, Copper 35%, Aluminum 26%, Steel Rebar 32%, Corn 51%, Soybeans 22%, Wheat 19%, Coffee 18%, Sugar 13%, Cotton 15%, Lean Hogs 59%… The focus on inflation is clearly justified. Yet Mackintosh began his article suggesting a “Generational Turning Point for finance” – rather than inflation. Let’s explore…

I mark the mid-eighties as the beginning of the current super-cycle. A major collapse in market yields (following the reversal of Paul Volcker’s tightening cycle) promoted financial innovation and the expansion of non-bank Credit expansion.

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

Investors Do Not See “Transitory” Inflation

Investors Do Not See “Transitory” Inflation

The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank repeat that the recent inflationary spike is “transitory”. The problem is that investors do not buy it.

Inflation is always a monetary phenomenon, and this time is not different. What central banks call transitory effects, and the impact of supply chains are not the real drivers of inflationary pressures. No one can deny certain supply shock impacts, but the correlation and extent of the increase in prices of agricultural and industrial commodities to five-year highs as well as the abrupt rise of non-replicable goods and services to decade-highs have monetary policy to blame.  Injecting trillions of liquidity makes more funds chase fewer goods and the rise in the real inflation perceived by citizens is much larger than the official CPI.

Take food prices. The United Nations Food Price Index is up 30% in the past five years and up 10% year-to-date (April 2021). The rise in food prices already caused protests all over the world in 2018 and it continues to reach new highs. The correlation in the price increase of most agricultural goods also shows that it is a monetary effect.

The same can be said about the Bloomberg Commodity Index which is also at five-year highs and up 15% year-to-date.

Yes, there have been some supply disruptions in a few commodities, but it is not widespread let alone the norm. If anything can be said is that the rise in agricultural and industrial commodities is happening despite the persistent overcapacity that many of these had already before the pandemic. We should also remember that one of the unintended consequences of massive monetary expansion is perpetuation of overcapacity. Excess capacity is refinanced and maintained even in crisis times…

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

Inflation, real interest rates revisited

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase