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Entering Period of Perpetual Money Printing – John Williams

Entering Period of Perpetual Money Printing – John Williams

Economist John Williams says be careful what you wish for when it comes to Federal Reserve interest rate cuts. Williams explains, “Unless you can get a good healthy consumer, you are not going to get a good healthy economy. It’s that simple. I think the Fed recognizes that, but they want to get rates higher because that will help the banking system. It will help make lending a little easier and start to return the system to normal. The problem with them backtracking now is the Fed may not ever be able to go back and do what they did before. We may be entering a period of perpetual quantitative easing (money printing). That changes the ballgame, and I am not sure where that’s going to go. It’s not as happy as it would have been if we had gone through a transition where bad parts of the banking system failed and you rebuilt and had a strong buildup from there with the economy and everything else. . . . Perpetual quantitative easing (money printing) is frightening, and it’s a new world. No one has ever seen anything quite like this.”

Williams says all his data is showing the economy is already faltering. Williams point out, “If you believe the GDP numbers, the economy has expanded 25% since the Great Recession, but there is no other number that shows that. . . . I have been contending that we are heading into a new recession. What I am looking at in recovery is that the economy has never really recovered. . . . . The Fed raised rates too much in too fast of a period of time. Had they stretched that over a couple of more years instead of trying to get things back to normal in two years, that might have worked better. What they did was effectively crashed the economy.”

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

Doug Casey: The Deep State Is the Source of Our Economic Problems

Doug Casey: The Deep State Is the Source of Our Economic Problems

Justin’s note: As longtime readers know, Doug Casey says we’re well into what he calls the Greater Depression.

America is headed for trouble… and it’s critical to know exactly what’s going on.

That’s why today’s essay is so important. In it, Doug explains the source behind every negative thing that’s happening right now… and what’s really going on behind the scenes.

It’s one of the most educational and entertaining pieces you’ll read all year.


I’d like to address some aspects of the Greater Depression in this essay.

I’m here to tell you that the inevitable became reality in 2008. We’ve had an interlude over the last few years financed by trillions of new currency units.

However, the economic clock on the wall is reading the same time as it was in 2007, and the Black Horsemen of your worst financial nightmares are about to again crash through the doors and end the party. And this time, they won’t be riding children’s ponies, but armored Percherons.

To refresh your memory, let me recount what a depression is.

The best general definition is: A period of time when most people’s standard of living drops significantly. By that definition, the Greater Depression started in 2008, although historians may someday say it began in 1971, when real wages started falling.

It’s also a period of time when distortions and misallocations of capital are liquidated, and when the business cycle, which is caused exclusively by currency debasement, also known as inflation, climaxes. That results in high unemployment, business failures, uncompleted construction, bond defaults, stock market crashes, and the like.

Fortunately, for those who benefit from the status quo, and members of something called the Deep State, the trillions of new currency units delayed the liquidation. But they also ensured it will now happen on a much grander scale.

The Deep State is an extremely powerful network that controls nearly everything around you. You won’t read about it in the news because it controls the news. Politicians won’t talk about it publicly. That would be like a mobster discussing murder and robbery on the 6 o’clock news. You could say the Deep State is hidden, but it’s only hidden in plain sight.

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

The Pivot Point

The Pivot Point 


The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.

The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.

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

The Rich Get Richer when Central Banks Print Money

The Rich Get Richer when Central Banks Print Money

The Netherlands Central Bank has just published a fascinating new paper, titled “Monetary policy and the top one percent: Evidence from a century of modern economic history”. Authored by Mehdi El Herradi and Aurélien Leroy, (Working Paper No. 632, De Nederlandsche Bank NV: https://www.dnb.nl/en/binaries/Working%20paper%20No.%20632_tcm47-383633.pdf), the paper “examines the distributional implications of monetary policy from a long-run perspective with data spanning a century of modern economic history in 12 advanced economies between 1920 and 2015, …estimating the dynamic responses of the top 1% income share to a monetary policy shock.” The authors “exploit the implications of the macroeconomic policy trilemma to identify exogenous variations in monetary conditions.” Note: the macroeconomic policy trilemma “states that a country cannot simultaneously achieve free capital mobility, a fixed exchange rate and independent monetary policy”.

Per authors, “The central idea that guided this paper’s argument is that the existing literature considers the distributional effects of monetary policy using data on inequality over a short period of time. However, inequalities tend to vary more in the medium-to-long run. We address this shortcoming by studying how changes in monetary policy stance over a century impacted the income distribution while controlling for the determinants of inequality.”

They find that “loose monetary conditions strongly increase the top one percent’s income and vice versa. In fact, following an expansionary monetary policy shock, the share of national income held by the richest 1 percent increases by approximately 1 to 6 percentage points, according to estimates from the Panel VAR and Local Projections (LP). This effect is statistically significant in the medium run and economically considerable. We also demonstrate that the increase in top 1 percent’s share is arguably the result of higher asset prices.

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

Super Mario Draghi’s Day of Reckoning Has Arrived

Super Mario Draghi’s Day of Reckoning Has Arrived

“Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” — MARIO DRAGHI JULY 26TH 2012

No quote better defines Mario Draghi’s seven-plus years as the President of the European Central Bank than that quote. Draghi has thrown literally everything at the deflationary spiral the Euro-zone is in to no avail.

What has been enough has been nothing more than a holding pattern. 

And after more than six years of the market believing Draghi’s words, after all of the alphabet soup programs — ESM, LTRO, TLTRO, OMB, ZOMG, BBQSAUCE — Draghi finally made chumps out of traders yesterday.

Draghi reversed himself after December’s overly hawkish statement in grand fashion but none dare call it capitulation. For years he has patched together a flawed euro papering over cracks with enough liquidity spackle to hide the deepest cracks. 

The Ponzi scheme needs to be maintained just a little while longer.

He’s not alone. In fact, all the major central banks have been working in concert since the day they broke the gold bull market back in September 2011, when the Swiss National Bank pegged the Franc to the euro which began the era of coordinated central bank policy.

And since 2013’s Taper Tantrum when then FOMC-Chair Ben Bernanke  
timidly announced a future without QE the markets have consistently tore at their resolve to normalize monetary policy.

Because when you paper over reality you don’t fix the underlying problems. The losses are still there, hidden in plain sight, held at mark-to-model prices, on central bank balance sheets. 

Ben retired and Janet took over. She held the fort for nearly her entire term, refusing to raise rates while Draghi sent rates negative alongside Japan’s Kuroda. 

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

Weekly Commentary: Dudley on Debt and MMT

Weekly Commentary: Dudley on Debt and MMT

December’s market instability and resulting Fed capitulation to the marketplace continue to reverberate. At this point, markets basically assume the Fed is well into the process of terminating policy normalization. Only a couple of months since completing its almost $3.0 TN stimulus program, markets now expect the ECB to move forward with some type of additional stimulus measures (likely akin to its long-term refinancing operations/LTRO). There’s even talk that the Bank of Japan could, once again, ramp up its interminable “money printing” operations (BOJ balance sheet $5.0 TN… and counting). Manic global markets have briskly moved way beyond a simple Fed “pause.”

There was the Thursday Reuters article (Howard Schneider and Jonathan Spicer): “A Fed Pivot, Born of Volatility, Missteps, and New Economic Reality: The Federal Reserve’s promise in January to be ‘patient’ about further interest rate hikes, putting a three-year-old process of policy tightening on hold, calmed markets after weeks of turmoil that wiped out trillions of dollars of household wealth. But interviews with more than half a dozen policymakers and others close to the process suggest it also marked a more fundamental shift that could define Chairman Jerome Powell’s tenure as the point where the Fed first fully embraced a world of stubbornly weak inflation, perennially slower growth and permanently lower interest rates.”

And then Friday from the Financial Times (Sam Fleming): “Slow-inflation Conundrum Prompts Rethink at the Federal Reserve: Ten years into the recovery and with unemployment near half-century lows, the Federal Reserve’s traditional models suggest inflation should be surging. Instead, officials are grappling with unexpectedly tepid price growth, prompting some to rethink their strategy for steering the US economy. John Williams, the New York Fed president, said on Friday that persistently soft inflation readings over recent years could damage the Fed’s ability to convince the general public it will hit its 2% goal.

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

Bill Dudley Slams MMT: “It Failed In Germany, Venezuela And Zimbabwe”

Bill Dudley Slams MMT: “It Failed In Germany, Venezuela And Zimbabwe”

While there has been much disagreement among the financial elite about the ultimate consequences of central bank activism and market manipulation, with some – usually those who do not manage money for a living and are not paid by investors – predicting fire and brimstone, while a separate, far more optimistic group expects the world’s greatest experiment in monetary policy to somehow have a happy ending, when it comes to socialism disguised as monetary policy, besides a certain, politically-influenced fringe, the condemnation against “helicopter money” wrapped in a convenient political wrapper has mostly been uniform.

We are talking, of course, about MMT, which stands for Modern Money Theory, but would make far more sense if it stood stand for Magic Money Tree, as the theory effectively espouses unlimited money printing and skipping central banks as intermediaries in money creation which, however, the theory claims does not result in hyperinflation because, somehow, taxation manages to limit the amount of money in circulation and the result is monetary utopia.

It is therefore hardly a surprise that MMT has emerged as the pet financial theory for such socialist politicians as Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Jones (the biggest proponent of MMT is finance professor Stephanie Kelton who previously worked on Sanders’ presidential campaign and was a “chief economist for the Dems on the Senate Budget Committee”), who get to promise their potential voters pretty much everything while also vowing not to worry about the insane costs that delivering “everything” would entail (AOC’s Green New Deal is said to cost over $6 trillion and according to some, the bill would be north of $20 trillion).

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

What Happens When More QE Fails to Reverse the Recession?

What Happens When More QE Fails to Reverse the Recession?

The smart money is liquidating assets, paying off debt and moving capital into collateral that isn’t impaired by debt or speculative valuations.

The Federal Reserve’s sudden return to “accommodative” dovishness in response to the stock market’s swoon telegraphs its intent to fire up QE once the recession kicks into gear. QE (quantitative easing) are monetary policies designed to ease borrowing and the issuance of credit, and to prop up assets such as stocks and real estate.

The basic idea is that the Fed creates currency out of thin air and uses the new money to buy Treasury bonds and other assets. This injects fresh money into the financial system and lowers the yield on Treasury bonds, as the Fed will buy bonds at near-zero yield or even less than zero in pursuit of its policy goals of goosing assets higher and increasing borrowing/spending.

This is pretty much the Fed’s only lever, and it pulls this lever at any sign of weakness in stocks or the economy. That sets up an obvious question that few seem to ask: what happens when QE fails? What happens when the Fed launches QE and stocks fall as punters realize the rally is over? What happens when lowering interest rates doesn’t spark more borrowing?

What happens is the smart money sells everything that isn’t nailed down, a process that is arguably already well underway.

Why sell assets when QE has guaranteed gains in the past? Answer: exhaustion. There are limits to everything financial, and once those limits are reached, no amount of goosing will push the limits higher. Rather, further goosing only increases the fragility and vulnerability of the system.Price-earnings ratios only go so high before reversing, rents only go so high before reversing, and so on.

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

‘Modern Monetary Theory’ Is a Joke That’s Not Funny

‘Modern Monetary Theory’ Is a Joke That’s Not Funny

Yes, a government that issues its own currency can pay its bills. But piling up debt for no urgent reason is lunacy.

There’s a theory behind it.     Photographer: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

If you follow the debates over U.S. economic policy, you had probably heard of modern monetary theory well before freshman Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke favorably about it earlier this month.

If you thought from the start that the whole idea sounded like lunacy, you were right, even if it’s possible to admit some sliver of sympathy for it. So why is MMT, as it is known for short, generating such intense interest now?

First, let’s start with the confusion over what it is. The answer seems to depend on which advocate of MMT is being asked. It is sometimes a theory of money. MMT is also being discussed in the context of a political program to justify huge increases in social spending. Finally, there is its role as a prescription for macroeconomic policy.

Even as just an economic theory, it is not settled or fully developed. This makes engaging with it challenging — even, at times, frustrating.

The bedrock observation of MMT is correct: Any government that issues its own currency can always pay its bills. This observation allows policy makers to show less concern about the budget deficit than is typically the case.

In fact, MMT is growing in prominence precisely because of its relative lackof concern about the size of the deficit. In the years immediately after the Great Recession, which started in December 2007, this aspect of MMT stood in favorable contrast to the position of fiscal-policy centrists and many Republican politicians who called for significant reductions in the deficit at a time of very high unemployment.

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

Drain, drain, drain…

Drain, drain, drain…

Money from thin air going back whence it came from – circling the drain of a ‘no reinvestment’ black hole strategically placed in its way by the dollar-sucking vampire bat Ptenochirus Iagori Powelli.

Our friend Michael Pollaro recently provided us with an update of outstanding Fed credit as of 26 December 2018. Overall, the numbers appear not yet all that dramatic, but the devil is in the details, or rather in the time frames one considers.

The pace of the year-on-year decrease in net Fed credit has eased a bit from the previous month, as the December 2017 figures made for an easier comparison – but that is bound to change again with the January data. If one looks at the q/q rate of change, it has accelerated rather significantly since turning negative for good in April of last year.

Below are the most recent money supply and bank lending data as a reminder that   “QT” indeed weighs on money supply growth rates. It was unavoidable that the slowdown in money supply growth would have an impact on asset prices and eventually on economic activity.

Note that in the short to medium term, the effects exerted by money supply growth rates are far more important than any of the president’s policy initiatives, whether they are positive (lower taxes, fewer regulations) or negative (erection of protectionist trade barriers). The effects of changes in money supply growth are also subject to a lag, but in this case the lag appears to be over.

Any effects seemingly triggered by “news flow” are usually only of the very short term knee-jerk variety, and they are often anyway the opposite of what one would normally expect – particularly in phases when news flow actually lags market action (see the recent case of disappointingly weak PMI and ISM data). The primary trend cannot be altered by these short term gyrations.

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

 

It’s official: the Federal Reserve is insolvent

It’s official: the Federal Reserve is insolvent

In the year 1157, the Republic of Venice was in the midst of war and in desperate need of funds.

It wasn’t the first time in history that a government needed to borrow money to fight a war. But the Venetians came up with an innovative idea:

Every citizen who loaned money to the government was to receive an official paper certificate guaranteeing that the state would make interest payments.

Those certificates could then be transferred to other people… and the government would make payments to whoever held the certificate at the time.

In this way, the loan that an investor made to the government essentially became an asset– one that he could sell to another investor in the future.

This was the first real government bond. And the idea ultimately created a robust market of investors who would buy and sell these securities.

When a government’s fortunes changed and its ability to make interest payments was in doubt, the price of the bond fell. When confidence was high, bond prices rose.

It’s not much different today. Governments still borrow money by issuing bonds, and those bonds trade in a robust marketplace where countless investors buy and sell on a daily basis.

Just like the price of Apple shares, the prices of government bonds rise and fall all the time.

One of the most important factors affecting bond prices is interest rates: when interest rates rise, bond prices fall. And when rates fall, bond prices rise.

And this law of bond prices and interest rates moving opposite to one another is as inviolable as the Laws of Gravity.

Back in the 12th century when Venice started issuing the first government bonds, interest rates were shockingly high by modern standards, fluctuating between 12% and 20%. In France and England rates would sometimes rise beyond even 80% during the Middle Ages.

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

Why Everything That Needs to Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken

Why Everything That Needs to Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken

Just in case you missed what’s going on in France: the status quo in Europe is doomed.

The status quo has a simple fix for every crisis and systemic problem:

1. create currency out of thin air

2. give it to super-wealthy banks, financiers and corporations to boost their wealth and income.

One way these entities increase their wealth and income is to lend this nearly free money to commoners at much higher rates of interest. I borrow from central banks at 1% and lend it to you at 4.5%, 7% or even 19% or more. What’s not to like?

If a bank is insolvent, it can borrow money at 1% from central banks. If Joe Blow is insolvent, the only loan he can get is at 23%, if he can get any credit at all.

3. China has a variant fix for every financial crisis: build tens of millions of empty flats only the wealthy can afford as second or third “investment” flats. If the empty flats start dropping in price, government entities start secretly buying flats to support the market.

4. Empty malls, bridges to nowhere and ghost cities are also a standard-issue fix in China. Built it and they will come, until they don’t. But who cares, the developers and local governments (i.e. corrupt officials) already pocketed the dough.

You see the problem: making rich people richer doesn’t actually fix what’s broken, it only makes the problems worse. So why can’t we fix what’s broken?

It’s a question that deserves an answer, and the answer has six parts:

1. Any meaningful systemic reform threatens an entrenched, self-serving interest/elite which has a tremendous incentive to squash, co-opt or water down any reform that threatens their monopoly, benefits, etc.

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

Trend is Clear – Rapid Decline of World Economy – Egon von Greyerz

Trend is Clear – Rapid Decline of World Economy – Egon von Greyerz

Financial and precious metals expert Egon von Greyerz (EvG) says don’t expect the global financial situation to get better anytime soon. EvG says, “You know what the politicians are doing now? Theresa May is my best example. These politicians are just running around posing and acting, but they are not achieving anything, and they are not achieving anything because the world is in a mess. What we are seeing the beginning of is the decline of the western world economy, which means the whole world economy. . . . There is no use in putting a time period on it, that it’s going to happen this year or next year. The trend is clear. We know that the world economy is in a mess. It’s going to decline, and in my view, it’s going to be a rapid decline.. . . Gold will reflect all of this, and currencies will be totally debased. . . . You don’t need a lot, you might only need another few snowflakes to trigger this avalanche. It could come in a month or in three months time because the system is a fake system. . . . I count $2 quadrillion in money. If you add debt, unfunded liabilities and the risk of derivatives, you come up to $2 quadrillion of debt and liabilities. The global GDP is $70 trillion. . . . So, you are talking about 30 times global GDP.”

What could go wrong? EvG says, “You don’t need much to go wrong. It will happen. They have no remedy anymore. 2007 to 2009, I have said many times that was a rehearsal. The real thing is coming now or in the next few years, and no money printing will ever stop it. They will try, but they will fail. This is why you will get the depressionary hyperinflation, and when that fails you get the implosion of the system.

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

A Global Dearth of Liquidity

A Global Dearth of Liquidity

Worldwide Liquidity Drought – Money Supply Growth Slows Everywhere

This is a brief update on money supply growth trends in the most important currency areas outside the US (namely the euro area, Japan and China)  as announced in in our recent update on US money supply growth (see “Federal Punch Bowl Removal Agency” for the details).

Nobody likes a drought. This collage illustrates why.

The liquidity drought is not confined to the US – it is fair to say that it is a global phenomenon, even though money supply growth rates in the euro area and Japan superficially still look fairly brisk. However, they are in the process of slowing down quite rapidly from much higher levels – and this trend seems set to continue.

Euro Area – Money Supply Growth Still High, But Slowing Fast

The chart below shows the euro area’s narrow money supply aggregate M1 (stock) and its year-on-year growth rate. M1 in the euro area is almost equivalent to US TMS-2, which makes it a good enough stand-in (it includes savings deposits that are in practice payable on demand; however, it lacks euro deposits belonging to foreign residents and central government deposits).

It is worth noting that a slowdown to a 0% growth rate triggered crisis conditions in 2008. After a sharp, but short term spike in money supply growth after the ECB made emergency liquidity facilities available to European banks to mitigate the fallout from the US housing bubble implosion, crisis conditions promptly returned when these facilities expired and money supply growth fell to around 1% in 2011.

Euro area, M1 (~TMS-2): Total in millions of EUR (blue line) and y/y rate of change (orange line). We have highlighted the three most recent slowdowns in money supply growth associated with economic crises and declining asset prices.

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

This ‘Deflationary’ Bull Markets Ending – And Here’s What’s Coming Next For Investors

This ‘Deflationary’ Bull Markets Ending – And Here’s What’s Coming Next For Investors

After many years of cheap money and asset bubbles – it looks like the upside is finally over.

That is – the potential upside against the amount of risk taken on – is over.

I often write about investors needing to find asymmetric (low risk – high reward) opportunities. And lately – as I’ve written about earlier this month – many key indicators are now flashing potentially huge downside ahead.

As I wrote then – it’s not like I’m predicting markets to tank tomorrow. Or even next week.

But what I’m getting at is that there’s significantly more risk ahead than reward – at least for the general market and equities.

I’m not alone thinking this way. . .

Bank of America & Merrill Lynch (BAML) recently published a white paper with an interesting trading suggestion. . .

First, they show us that the nearly 10-year monster U.S. bull market has been highlydeflationary. And in case you forgot, deflation refers to when there’s an overall decline in the prices of goods and services.

The ‘deflationary assets’ group includes U.S. investment grade bonds, government bonds, the S&P 500, ‘growth stocks’, U.S. high yield credit, and U.S. consumer discretionary equities (aka non-essential goods – such as luxury goods, entertainment, automobiles, etc.) . . .

And the ‘inflationary assets’ group which includes commodities, developed market stocks (excluding U.S. and Canada), U.S. bank stocks, ‘value stocks’, cash, and treasury inflation protected securities (aka TIPS) . . .

Since the end of the 2008 crash – the Fed embarked on a ‘easy money’ and expansionary path via ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) and QE (quantitative easing; aka money printing).

But even after all this – deflationary assets have seriously outperformed inflationary assets. . .

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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