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The Fed “Just Let The Cat Out Of The Bag”, Admits Being Forced To Fuel Asset Bubble

The Fed “Just Let The Cat Out Of The Bag”, Admits Being Forced To Fuel Asset Bubble

Well the cat’s out of the bag…

The worst kept secret in the financial world is now not only accepted orthodoxy, but finally being discussed openly by, at least some, authorities.

Central bank policies are directly driving asset prices and the bubbles therein. It’s what they do. It has been so stunningly obvious that, at this point, it makes a mockery of things to deny it as an ongoing, and essential, part of how their strategy is implemented. Oddly enough, however, it’s a revelation that is, apparently, coming late to many people with a lot of savings and nothing to show for it. And it is an undeniable factor in this January’s price action.

  • Alan Greenspan knew it to be the case.
  • Ben Bernanke had no problem with it. His strategy required it.
  • Jerome Powell, was probably initially not enamored about it but saw no way around it. It fell on ardent loyalists to take his insistence that it was “not QE” with any seriousness. Otherwise, they would have had to admit to knowing little about financial markets.

In some ways it was refreshing that Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan openly talked about it in an interview Wednesday. Although he did couch it in terms that implied it was a matter of some concern to him. But, of course, he went on to say, “we’ve done what what we need to do up until now.”

“My own view is it’s having some effect on risk assets,” Kaplan said.

“It’s a derivative of QE when we buy bills and we inject more liquidity; it affects risk assets. This is why I say growth in the balance sheet is not free. There is a cost to it.”

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

“This Is Insanity!” – Jim Rogers Warns Of “Horrible Time” Ahead

“This Is Insanity!” – Jim Rogers Warns Of “Horrible Time” Ahead

The Fed has increased its balance sheet over 500% in the past decade; The Bank of Japan is printing money to buy bonds and stock ETFs; and The European Central Bank is mired in insane negative interests. And, according to legendary investor Jim Rogers, they will continue this “madness” as long as its necessary.

In an interview with RT’s Boom Bust, Rogers exclaims, that interest rates around the world have never been this low:

“… this is insanity, that’s not how sound economic systems are supposed to work.”

In 2008, Rogers notes that we had problems because of too much debt, however, “since then the debt has skyrocketed everywhere and it’s going higher and higher. We are going to have a horrible time when this all comes to an end.”

Adding that:

…eventually, the market is going to say: ‘We don’t want this, we don’t want to play this game anymore, and we don’t want your garbage paper anymore’.”

And when that happens, Rogers warns that central banks will print even more and buy even more assets.

“And that’s when we will have very serious problems… We all are going to pay a horrible price someday but in the meantime it’s a lot of fun for a lot of people.”

When it comes to an end, Rogers laments, “it will be the worst of my lifetime.”

Peter Schiff: Jerome Powell Is Resurrecting the Inflation Monster Paul Volcker Slayed

Peter Schiff: Jerome Powell Is Resurrecting the Inflation Monster Paul Volcker Slayed

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker passed away last week. Volker was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, but served most of his term under President Ronald Reagan. Volker was best-known for fighting inflation with interest rate hikes. At the peak, Volker pushed rates all the way to 20%.

Peter talked about Volcker in a recent podcast, noting that he was credited with slaying the inflation monster that today’s Fed seems happy to resurrect.

Volcker took a lot of heat from officials in government for allowing rates to rise so high. Peter said that notably, Reagan was not critical of Volcker’s strategy.

Unlike Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan stood by Paul Volcker. He was his ally and he never criticized Volcker for high interest rates where everybody else was criticizing him, from Main Street, to Wall Street, to the Capitol, but Reagan stood by his Fed chairman.”

In hindsight, Volcker has a lot of respect. Peter said he was the last decent Fed chairman.

I wish he had been a little more critical of his predecessors, but there’s some kind of unwritten rule among Fed chairmen that you never speak ill about anybody who has the job after you. But I wish he had, because I’m sure he had some ill-will, he had some feelings that we were making mistakes, and he could have been more vocal in his criticism.”

Jerome Powell opened up his press conference at the conclusion of last week’s FOMC meeting with a tribute to Volcker. Powell talked about how the former Fed chair slew inflation. Peter called the tribute “ironic.”

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

The Fed Is on High Alert

The Fed Is on High Alert

The Fed Is on High Alert

It’s hard to believe the end of the year is upon us and 2020 is right around the corner.

In many ways, it went by very quickly. For economies and markets, it was a year marked by uncertainty over economic slowdowns, trade wars and a complete pivot in “dark money” policy initiated by the Federal Reserve and subsequently followed by other central banks around the world.

Notably this year, it wasn’t just the major nations that engaged in copycat monetary policy easing. It was a plethora of emerging-market central banks jumping on the same dark money bandwagon.

So as we head into the final FOMC meeting of the year next week, we know one thing for certain: The Fed won’t be cutting rates this time. And it’s recently used some fairly hawkish language.

But reinforcing the dovish outlook it adopted at the start of the year that precipitated three 2019 rate cuts, the Fed remains on high-alert mode.

There are two clear signs why…

First, the Fed keeps creating and dumping money into the front end of the U.S. yield curve through repo operations that it initiated in September.

How healthy is the banking sector overall?

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System recently published their annual Supervision and Regulation Report.

The report measures the financial condition of major U.S. banks, including loan growth and liquidity in the banking system.

Overall, 45% of U.S. banks with more than $100 billion in assets received a supervisory rating of “less than satisfactory.”

That’s not good. As we learned during that crisis, the stability of these large banks is essential to the health of our banking system.

Tellingly, the Federal Reserve report does not say which banks have these less-than-satisfactory ratings.

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…

Costs Are Spiraling Out of Control

Costs Are Spiraling Out of Control

And how do we pay for these spiraling out of control costs? By borrowing more, of course. 

If we had to choose one “big picture” reason why the vast majority of households are losing ground, it would be: the costs of essentials are spiraling out of control. I’ve often covered the dynamics of stagnating income for the bottom 90%, and real-world inflation, i.e. a decline in purchasing power. 

But neither of these dynamics fully describes the relentless upward spiral of the cost basis of our economy, that is, the cost of big-ticket essentials: housing, education and healthcare.

The costs of education are spiraling out of control, stripping households of income as an entire generation is transformed into debt-serfs by student loan debt. The soaring costs of healthcare are a core driver of higher costs in the education complex (and government in general), and to cover these higher costs, counties raise property taxes, which add additional cost burdens to households and enterprises as rents rise. 

Rising rents push the cost structure of almost every enterprise and agency higher.

Then there’s the asset inflation created by central bank ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) which has inflated a second echo-bubble in housing that has pushed home ownership out of reach of many, adding demand for rental housing that has pushed rents into the stratosphere in Left and Right Coast cities.

The increasing dominance of monopolies and cartels has eliminated competition in sector after sector. Monopolies and cartels skim immense profits even as the value, quality and quantity of their products and services decline: The U.S. Only Pretends to Have Free Markets From plane tickets to cellphone bills, monopoly power costs American consumers billions of dollars a year.

Thanks to their political influence, monopolies and cartels have legalized looting, raising prices and evading anti-trust regulations because they can pay whatever it takes in our pay-to-play political system.

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

Ex-BOJ Chief Regrets Not Hiking, Hated QE, Says Sub-1% Interest Rates Don’t Work

Ex-BOJ Chief Regrets Not Hiking, Hated QE, Says Sub-1% Interest Rates Don’t Work

Things are going from bad to worse in Japan: 7 years after BOJ chief Kuroda launched QQE (subsequently with yield curve control) while monetizing tens of billions in ETFs, the central banks has failed to boost either Japan’s economy or its inflation, both a dismal byproduct of Japan’s record debt load. So now that the BOJ has failed to remedy what was the consequence of massive debt loads, Japan has a cunning plan: unleash another tsunami of debt.

According to the Japan Times, Japan is set to “re-embrace the power of public spending” – because apparently the country with the world record setting 250% debt/GDP somehow did not embrace public spending before – with one of its biggest ever stimulus packages. Pointing to slowing global growth, a higher sales tax and a string of natural disasters, policymakers in Tokyo are the latest to join the worldwide shift toward a double-barreled approach of supporting the economy through fiscal measures and ultraloose monetary policy, which as we have noted before is a preamble to MMT and full-blown debt monetization by the government.

That’s good news for the Bank of Japan, which has “appeared” (but only appeared, because it now owns so many of Japan’s ETFs it has to start lending them out to prevent a market freeze) reluctant to ramp up its own massive stimulus program, as it strains at the limits of effectiveness.

As a result, in less than a month, expectations in Japan for a “modest” stimulus package with a face value of ¥5 trillion ($46 billion) have quadrupled to ¥20 trillion, despite having the developed world’s largest public debt load. And there is much more to come.

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

Central Bankers Panic Over Exuberant Financial Market “Fragility”, Warn Risks Are “Underestimated”

Central Bankers Panic Over Exuberant Financial Market “Fragility”, Warn Risks Are “Underestimated”

You know it’s bad when… even the central bankers are warning that the monster they’ve created is out of control.

As stocks have exploded higher in the face of declining earnings…

Source: Bloomberg

And collapsing macro-economic data…

Source: Bloomberg

Policy makers from the world’s central banks are suddenly raising cautionary flags at the potentially unsafe investing environment stoked by their efforts to flood economies with ultra-cheap money.

  • “While vulnerabilities related to low interest rates have the potential to grow, thus calling for caution and continued monitoring, so far, the financial system appears resilient” — Federal Reserve, Nov. 15.
  • “Very low interest rates, coupled with the large number of investors which have gradually increased the duration of their fixed income portfolios, could exacerbate potential losses if an abrupt repricing were to materialize” — ECB, Nov. 20.
  • “This type of environment can lead to an increase in risk‐taking, to assets being overvalued and to indebtedness increasing in an unsustainable manner” — Riksbank, Nov. 20.
  • “Many investors are focused on the search for yield and could be tempted to take on greater risk” — Bundesbank, Nov. 21.

Most notably, Bloomberg reports that the spate of recent financial stability assessments began Nov. 15 with the Fed, which warned that low rates could encourage riskier behavior such as eroding lending standards.

A prolonged period of low rates could also “spur reach-for-yield behavior, thereby increasing the vulnerability of the financial sector to subsequent shocks,” it said.

However, as Bloomberg notes, despite central banks’ qualms about side effects, there’s little sign that they’ll do any more than issue warnings. 

“The Fed since September, the ECB as well, the BOJ, even the central bank of China is starting to provide some more easing,” Kevin Thozet, an investment strategist at Carmignac Gestion, told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.

That’s contributed to “a bull market of everything in 2019.”

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

The Lessons From Japan’s Monetary Experiment

The Lessons From Japan’s Monetary Experiment

A recent article in the Financial Times, “Abenomics provides a lesson for the rich world“, mentioned that the experiment started by prime minister Shinzo Abe in the early 2010s should serve as an important warning for rich countries. Unfortunately, the article’s “lessons” were rather disappointing. These were mainly that the central bank can do a lot more than the ECB and the Fed are doing, and that Japan is not doing so badly. I disagree.

The failure of Abenomics has been phenomenal. The balance sheet of the central bank of Japan has ballooned to more than 100% of the country’s GDP, the central bank owns almost 70% of the country’s ETFs and is one of the top 10 shareholders in the majority of the largest companies of the Nikkei index. Government debt to GDP has swelled to 236%, and despite the record-low cost of debt, the government spends almost 22% of the budget on interest expenses. All of this to achieve what?

None of the results that were expected from the massive monetary experiment, inventively called QQE (quantitative and qualitative easing) have been achieved, even remotely. Growth is expected to be one of the weakest in the world in 2020, according to the IMF, and the country has consistently missed both its inflation and economic growth targets, while the balance sheet of the central banks and the country’s debt soared.

Real wages have been stagnant for years, and economic activity continues to be as poor as it was in the previous two decades of constant stimulus.

The main lessons that global economies should learn from Japan are the following:

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

Chinese Media Stunner: China Will Be The Next Country To Cut Rates To Zero

Chinese Media Stunner: China Will Be The Next Country To Cut Rates To Zero

One week ago, we showed in one chart why the global economic recovery that so many expect is just a few months away, won’t happen: as the chart below shows, China’s credit intensity since 1994 has exploded. This means that before the Global Financial Crisis, China needed on average one unit of credit to create one unit of GDP. Since 2008, 2½ units of credit are required to create one unit of GDP. In other words, that China needs much more credit than 10 years ago to have the exact same amount of GDP. Injecting more credit in the economy is not the miracle solution it used to be, and the disadvantages of credit push tend to surpass the advantages.

This explosion in China’s credit intensity in the past decade has directly fueled China’s debt engine, the same debt engine that single-handedly pulled the world out of a global depression in 2008/2009. Alas, this will not happen again: China’s public and household debts are at their highest historical levels, respectively at 51% of GDP and 53% of GDP, and the private sector debt service ratio is becoming a burden for many companies, reaching on average 19.7% This records an increase from 13% before the crisis. Overall, China’s debt to GDP is fast approaching an unprecedented 320%!

Which brings us to Saxo’s dour conclusion for all those who believe that the global economy is about to enjoy another period of sustainable growth (and has confused the Fed’s QE for economic resilience and fundamentals):

Contrary to previous periods of slowdown, notably in 2008-2010, 2012-2014 and in 2016, China is unlikely to save the global economy once again.

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

Fear of “Reversal Rates” Sets in, Says the Fed

Fear of “Reversal Rates” Sets in, Says the Fed

The fear that today’s negative or low interest rates render central banks helpless in face of the next economic crisis.

There is now a new theory cropping up in Fed-speak and more generally in central-bank speak. It’s not actually a new theory. I have been saying the same thing for years. In fact, it’s not even a theory, but reality. But it’s newly cropping up in reports from the Fed and the ECB. It’s the concept of what is now called “reversal rates.”

It’s an official admission that “reversal rates” exist. The term crops up alongside the fear that countries with negative interest rates are at, or are already beyond, those “reversal rates.”

The idea of interest rate repression is to induce businesses to borrow and invest, and to induce consumers to borrow and spend, and the hope is that all this will crank up the overall economy as measured by GDP.

“Reversal rates” is the term for a situation where interest rates are so low that they’re doing more harm than good to the overall economy, and that lowering rates further will screw up the economy rather than boost it.

Central bank monetary policy, such as cutting interest rates and doing QE, takes wealth and income from one group of people and delivers it to another group of people. This is how monetary policy works. It’s not a secret. In central-bank speak, it’s called the “distributive effects of monetary policy.” The idea is that for the overall economy, this income and wealth transfer from these people over here to those people over there translates into more overall economic activity that adds to GDP.

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

The Next Wave of Debt Monetization Will Also Be A Disaster

The Next Wave of Debt Monetization Will Also Be A Disaster

According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the IIF (Institute of International finance) global debt has soared to a new record high. The level of government debt around the world has ballooned since the financial crisis, reaching levels never seen before during peacetime. This has happened in the middle of an unprecedented monetary experiment that injected more than $20 trillion in the economy and lowered interest rates to the lowest levels seen in decades. The balance sheet of the major central banks rose to levels never seen before, with the Bank Of Japan at 100% of the country’s GDP, the ECB at 40% and the Federal Reserve at 20%.

If this monetary experiment has proven anything it is that lower rates and higher liquidity are not tools to help deleverage, but to incentivize debt. Furthermore, this dangerous experiment has proven that a policy that was designed as a temporary measure due to exceptional circumstances has become the new norm. The so-called normalization process lasted only a few months in 2018, only to resume asset purchases and rate cuts.

Despite the largest fiscal and monetary stimulus in decades, global economic growth is weakening and leading economies’ productivity growth is close to zero. Money velocity, a measure of economic activity relative to money supply, worsens.

We have explained many times why this happens. Low rates and high liquidity are perverse incentives to maintain the crowding out of government from the private sector, they also perpetuate overcapacity due to endless refinancing of non-productive and obsolete sectors t lower rates, and the number of zombie companies -those that cannot pay their interest expenses with operating profits- rises.  We are witnessing in real-time the process of zombification of the economy and the largest transfer of wealth from savers and productive sectors to the indebted and unproductive.

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

One Bank Finally Admits The Fed’s “NOT QE” Is Indeed QE… And Could Lead To Financial Collapse

One Bank Finally Admits The Fed’s “NOT QE” Is Indeed QE… And Could Lead To Financial Collapse

After a month of constant verbal gymnastics (and diarrhea from financial pundit sycophants who can’t think creatively or originally and merely parrot their echo chamber in hopes of likes/retweets) by the Fed that the recent launch of $60 billion in T-Bill purchases is anything but QE (whatever you do, don’t call it “QE 4”, just call it “NOT QE” please), one bank finally had the guts to say what was so obvious to anyone who isn’t challenged by simple logic: the Fed’s “NOT QE” is really “QE.”

In a note warning that the Fed’s latest purchase program – whether one calls it QE or NOT QE – will have big, potentially catastrophic costs, Bank of America’s Ralph Axel writes that in the aftermath of the Fed’s new program of T-bill purchases to increase the amount of reserves in the banking system, the Fed made an effort to repeatedly inform markets that this is not a new round of quantitative easing, and yet as the BofA strategist notes, “in important ways it is similar.”

But is it QE? Well, in his October FOMC press conference, Fed Chair Powell said “our T-bill purchases should not be confused with the large-scale asset purchase program that we deployed after the financial crisis. In contrast, purchasing Tbills should not materially affect demand and supply for longer-term securities or financial conditions more broadly.” Chair Powell gives a succinct definition of QE as having two basic elements: (1) supporting longer-term security prices, and (2) easing financial conditions.

Here’s the problem: as we have said since the beginning, and as Bank of America now writes, “the Fed’s T-bill purchase program delivers on both fronts and is therefore similar to QE,” with one exception – the element of forward guidance.

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

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Nov 15th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Nov 15th 2019

“Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!”

As it’s a Friday I am contractually entitled to have a rant and whine about whatever I want to write about. Which, today, isn’t really the cut and thrust of markets. 

To be brutally frank – we all know what the problems are: Too much money in the markets pushing up the prices of market assets. The fact is too much of that too much money is owned by too few people who use their too much money to buy all these financial assets. These too few people who own all the financial assets get richer everyday as their too much money makes their too many financial assets even more valuable. And these too few people get even richer by getting even more too much money to put into the already too expensive financial markets by “persuading” central banks to keep rates low, to buy financial assets through QE, and get their in-the-pocket politicians to enact tax cuts so their too much money is even more too much money… 

With me so far??

Meanwhile, politicians pay for the too much money they give to too rich people, by taking it away from the much more numerous too many too poor people through Austerity. The too many people who don’t have any assets and owe any money they have to the people who have too much money and too many assets – aren’t happy. They blame society, they blame governments and as they get even more unhappy they get angry. These too poor too angry people then get very angry and start blaming people. which is what is happening across the globe..

Still there?… 

 …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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