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Negative Interest Rates Have Arrived

We are often warned that negative interest rates are an approaching menace — not an immediate menace.

Yet are negative rates already reality in the United States? Has the unholy day already arrived?

Today we don the sleuth’s cap, step into our gumshoes… and unearth evidence that negative interest rates are not the future menace… but the present menace.

What is the evidence? Answer anon.

Under negative interest rates…

Your bank does not compensate you for stabling your money with it. You instead compensate the bank for stabling your money.

A man sinks a dollar into his bank. Under standard rules he hauls out a dollar and change on some distant date — perhaps $1.05.

These days he is of course fortunate to bring out $1.01.

Yet under negative interest rates he endures a rooking of sorts. He pulls out not a dollar and change — but change alone. The bill itself has vanished.

His dollar may be worth 97 cents for example. Thus his dollar — rotting down in his bank — is a sawdust asset, a wasting asset, a minus asset.

Would you willingly hand a bank a dollar today to take back 97 cents next year? You are a strange specimen if you would.

Yet that is precisely as the Federal Reserve would have it…

The Federal Reserve wants your money eternally up and doing, searching, hunting, grasping… adventuring…

It must be forever acquiring, forever chasing rainbows, forever upon the jump.

That is, the Federal Reserve would not allow your money one contemplative moment to sit idle upon its hands… and doze.

For a dollar in motion is a dollar in service — in service to the economy.

The dollar in motion runs down goods and services. It invests in worthwhile and productive enterprises.

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

Bank Of Ireland Is Now Imposing Negative Rates On Cash Held In Pensions

Bank Of Ireland Is Now Imposing Negative Rates On Cash Held In Pensions

If you’re holding your pension with the Bank of Ireland, you are now officially being charged to do so. 

In a move that we’re sure is going to have absolutely no consequences, the bank is starting to impose negative interest rates on cash held in pensions, according to The Irish Examiner. The bank is applying a rate of 0.65% on pension pots, which means customers will now pay the bank $65 on every $10,000 held. 

The bank commented: “European Central Bank interest rates have been negative since 2014. Since then banks have been subject to negative interest rates for holding funds overnight and market indications are that rates will remain low for some time.”

It continued: “As a result, we have applied negative rates on deposits for large institutional and corporate customers since 2016. We recently wrote to 14 investment and pension trustee firms to inform them about a rate change to their accounts, which is reflective of the negative interest rate environment.”

“The average amount held on deposit by investment and pension trustee firms is in excess of around €100m, therefore it is no longer sustainable for the Bank to continue with the current rate of interest. We provided 3 months’ advance notification of this rate change to our investment and pension trustee firm customers,” the bank concluded.

Ulster Bank is also considering similar rates in the future. The bank’s CEO, Jane Howard, said: “In terms of Ulster Bank, we did introduce negative rates earlier this year and we’ve introduced it for larger businesses with balances of over €1m.”

She continued: “As I sit here today we have no plans to charge negative interest rates for our personal customers but given the way everything happens, like Covid, so unexpectedly, it is not something I can rule out forever.”

By now, it feels like it is only a matter of time before the U.S. follows suit. And to think, none of this “prosperity” would be possible without the miracle of modern central banking.

Thanks, Christine.

What Horrified Fund Managers, Banks & UK’s Pension Minister Said About the Bank of England’s Sudden “We Don’t Rule Out” Negative Interest Rates

What Horrified Fund Managers, Banks & UK’s Pension Minister Said About the Bank of England’s Sudden “We Don’t Rule Out” Negative Interest Rates

“The stimulus the country urgently needs is not experimental and dangerous monetary policy.”

Andrew Bailey, the recently appointed governor of the Bank of England (BoE), is considering going where no other BoE governor has ever gone in the central bank’s 325-year history: into negative interest rate territory. On May 20, Bailey told British MPs that the BoE is refusing to rule out cutting the benchmark interest rate below zero in response to the virus crisis.

“We do not rule things out as a matter of principle. That would be a foolish thing to do,” Bailey told MPs. “But that doesn’t mean we rule things in either.”

That statement came just six days after Bailey had told FT readers that negative interest rates are “not something we are currently planning for or contemplating.” Since then, Bailey says he has “changed [his] position a bit.”

Bailey, who replaced Mark Carney as BoE governor just two months ago, is not the only senior BoE official who’s apparently warming to the idea of foisting negative interest rates on the British economy.

So, too, has the central bank’s chief economist Andrew Haldane, who last week said: “The economy is weaker than a year ago and we are now at the effective lower bound, so in that sense it’s something we’ll need to look at – are looking at – with somewhat greater immediacy. How could we not be?”

In the wake of the virus crisis, the Bank of England has already slashed interest rates by 0.65 basis points to 0.1%, its lowest level ever. It has also revved up its swap lines with the Federal Reserve and other central banks, offered billions of pounds of fresh liquidity support to banks, and expanded its QE program by £100 billion to £745 billion and extended what it buys to include corporate bonds.

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

Here’s What Would Happen If The Fed Launched Negative Rates

Here’s What Would Happen If The Fed Launched Negative Rates

On Thursday, May 7, an unprecedented event took place: after a violent repricing in Eurodollar contracts as near as November 2020, for the first time ever the market was pricing in that negative interest rates are not only coming to the US, but would arrive sometime around the presidential election.

This move prompted a barrage of Fed speakers, including the Fed chair, to remind the public that the Fed really, really, really does not believe in negative rates (but never say never), even though one could say the same thing for the BOJ, the ECB and the SNB… and look at them now. In fact, in a world where growth is only possible with trillions in new debt injections – and with debt already at crushing levels, interest rates have to be as close to zero if not below it – the Fed has emerged as the “rational” outlier that refuses to take rates negative.

And yet, in a world where the economy was already sinking ahead of the catastrophic collapse spawned by the coronavirus, there is only so much the Fed can do before it took is dragged into the NIRP vortex.

To be sure, in many ways the market’s expectation for negative rates is rational. As we pointed out overnight, even Goldman is concerned that the Fed is simply not doing enough QE to monetize the massive upcoming treasury flood let along stimulate a global reflationary wave, which leaves it with just one other option: negative rates. Nordea’s Andreas Steno Larsen looked at this dynamic and reached a similar conclusion: “the Fed is still not buying enough to fully re-ignite the global credit cycle.

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

Negative Rates Are Not an Option

Negative Rates Are Not an Option

Today, Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed’s position on negative rates and gave his economic assessment as well.

Economic Outlook “Highly Uncertain”

In a live economic interview with PIIE, Jerome Powell discussed the Fed’s outlook for the economy and the advisability of negative interest rates.

The video interview is above and here is Here is Powell’s Prepared Transcript.

Key Transcript Snips

The scope and speed of this downturn are without modern precedent, significantly worse than any recession since World War II. We are seeing a severe decline in economic activity and in employment, and already the job gains of the past decade have been erased. Since the pandemic arrived in force just two months ago, more than 20 million people have lost their jobs. A Fed survey being released tomorrow reflects findings similar to many others: Among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.

While the economic response has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks. Economic forecasts are uncertain in the best of times, and today the virus raises a new set of questions: How quickly and sustainably will it be brought under control? Can new outbreaks be avoided as social-distancing measures lapse? How long will it take for confidence to return and normal spending to resume? And what will be the scope and timing of new therapies, testing, or a vaccine? The answers to these questions will go a long way toward setting the timing and pace of the economic recovery. Since the answers are currently unknowable, policies will need to be ready to address a range of possible outcomes.

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

992 Billion Reasons Why The Fed Needs Another Market Crash In The Next Few Weeks

992 Billion Reasons Why The Fed Needs Another Market Crash In The Next Few Weeks

Speaking in a video conference organized by the Peterson Institute, turbo money printer Jerome Powell today reassured the market that negative rates are not something the Fed – which expanded its balance sheet by $2.6 trillion in the past two months – is contemplating now. Of course, that will change after the next market crash or if economic shutdowns return, but for now the Fed’s message to traders was clear: don’t push forward fed fund rates negative, which also catalyzed today’s sharp market drop as a key source of potential forced easing was removed.

However, with Powell taking negative rates off the table (for now), it means the Fed has another problem on its hands, one which was first laid out by Deutsche Bank’s credit strategist Stuart Sparks, who in a recent note said that “for all the measures taken by the Fed and fiscal authorities to counter the COVID19 shock, policy remains too tight.” And, as Sparks adds, if the Fed opts to avoid negative policy rates – which appears to be the case – “further easing must be provided by the size and  composition of the Fed’s balance sheet”, meaning more QE.

How much more QE? Well, with short-dated market real yields positive, Deutsche Bank estimates that r*, or the neutral rate of interest, has fallen to around -1%, “suggesting additional accommodation required for policy to be “easy” could be more than 100 bp in terms of “policy rate equivalent.

Previously the Fed had estimated that $100 billion in QE has approximately the same short term impact on growth as 3 bps of rate cuts. This equivalence means that in order to provide a 1% of “rate equivalent” easing, the Fed would need to grow the balance sheet by roughly $3.3 trillion.

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

Negative interest rates in the US are virtually guaranteed now

Negative interest rates in the US are virtually guaranteed now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Schiff Doubles Down on the Dollar

Peter Schiff Doubles Down on the Dollar

Last year at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, Peter Schiff bet Brent Johnson a gold coin that the Fed’s next move would be a rate cut. At this year’s conference, Peter collected his gold coin.

Brent and Peter went on to debate the future of the US dollar. Brent says the dollar will go up this year. Peter thinks it’s going down. Peter put his money where is mouth is and went double or nothing against the dollar. 

Peter’s Highlights from the Discussion

“The central bankers are going to continue pursuing this policy as long as they can do it without some type of a crisis that intervenes. But the problem is the longer they do it the worse it’s going to be.”

“I don’t think it can go on that much longer. Decades – no way! I mean, can it go on four more years. Sure.”

“The US market has never been this overvalued, overpriced as far as I’m concerned. You know, people were optimistic in 2000.”

“The market is very, very dangerous. It can easily go down. Trump will tweet as much as he can to try to prop it up. But whether that and the Fed’s printing press is going to be enough, we’ll see.”

“I think the whole fiat system that we have is nearing the end of its life. And the fact that were at these zero percent rates or negative rates, and all the stuff that’s going on is the death knell of this system, which was doomed from the start.”

“I think gold is going to reassert itself as the primary reserve monetary asset in the world for central banks and that threatens the dollar.”

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

Hitting Zero: 700 Years of Declining Global Real Interest Rates

Hitting Zero: 700 Years of Declining Global Real Interest Rates

Are negative interests here to stay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Sweden Ended Its Negative Interest Rate Experiment

Why Sweden Ended Its Negative Interest Rate Experiment

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists, who start with a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and that therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea.

Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, perpetuating overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity, and zombifying the economy by subsidizing the low-productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it. They do not strengthen the credit capacity of families, because the prices of nonreplicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrockets because of monetary excess, and the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk.

Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions, because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy that they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money.

It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending. They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, which come from using 2001–7 as a “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble.

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

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative Rates, The Destruction Of Money. Sweden Ends Its Experiment.

Negative rates are the destruction of money, an economic aberration based on the mistakes of many central banks and some of their economists who start from a wrong diagnosis: the idea that economic agents do not take more credit or invest more because they choose to save too much and therefore saving must be penalized to stimulate the economy. Excuse the bluntness, but it is a ludicrous idea.

Inflation and growth are not low due to excess savings, but because of excess debt, perpetuating overcapacity with low rates and high liquidity and zombifying the economy by subsidizing the low productivity and highly indebted sectors and penalizing high productivity with rising and confiscatory taxation.

Historical evidence of negative rates shows that they do not help reduce debt, they incentivize it, they do not strengthen the credit capacity of families, because the prices of non-replicable assets (real estate, etc.) skyrocket because of monetary excess, and the lower cost of debt does not compensate for the greater risk.

Investment and credit growth are not subdued because economic agents are ignorant or saving too much, but because they don’t have amnesia. Families and businesses are more cautious in their investment and spending decisions because they perceive, correctly, that the reality of the economy they see each day does not correspond to the cost and the quantity of money. 

It is completely incorrect to think that families and businesses are not investing or spending. They are only spending less than what central planners would want. However, that is not a mistake from the private sector side, but a typical case of central planners’ misguided estimates, that come from using 2001-2007 as “base case” of investment and credit demand instead of what those years really were: a bubble.

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

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken

I say these things because:

  • Money is free for those who are creditworthy because the investors who are giving it to them are willing to get back less than they give. More specifically investors lending to those who are creditworthy will accept very low or negative interest rates and won’t require having their principal paid back for the foreseeable future. They are doing this because they have an enormous amount of money to invest that has been, and continues to be, pushed on them by central banks that are buying financial assets in their futile attempts to push economic activity and inflation up. The reason that this money that is being pushed on investors isn’t pushing growth and inflation much higher is that the investors who are getting it want to invest it rather than spend it. This dynamic is creating a “pushing on a string” dynamic that has happened many times before in history (though not in our lifetimes) and was thoroughly explained in my book Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises. As a result of this dynamic, the prices of financial assets have gone way up and the future expected returns have gone way down while economic growth and inflation remain sluggish. Those big price rises and the resulting low expected returns are not just true for bonds; they are equally true for equities, private equity, and venture capital, though these assets’ low expected returns are not as apparent as they are for bond investments because these equity-like investments don’t have stated returns the way bonds do. As a result, their expected returns are left to investors’ imaginations. 

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

ECB “Whistleblowers” Emerge: Former Central Bankers Cry Out Against Draghi’s Monetary Insanity

ECB “Whistleblowers” Emerge: Former Central Bankers Cry Out Against Draghi’s Monetary Insanity

It’s not just disgruntled CIA officials that have decided the best way to stage a coup is by way of “whistleblowing” – former central bankers are using a similar approach when it comes to the root cause of all of society’s ills: failed central bank policies, and nowhere more so than at the European Central Bank.

On Friday, a group of former senior European central bankers published a memo attacking the unhinged monetary policy of the European Central Bank, which they claim is “based on the wrong diagnosis” and risks ending its independence. Their criticism is in response to a package of massive easing measures announced by the ECB last month, including “open-ended QE” that triggered unprecedented opposition within the top echelons of the central bank, and set up a “resistance” faction within the ECB itself spearheaded by Germany, France and the Netherlands, as it has now emerged that all along Mario Draghi was the central banker of Europe’s insolvent periphery, even as his NIRP policies crushed Europe’s legacy banking system.

The rare public attack on the ECB – in the eyes of the FT – underlined how Christine Lagarde could have a fight on her hands after she takes over from Mario Draghi as president of the bank at the end of this month, when – not if – she decides to loosen monetary policy even more in the face of the eurozone’s mounting economic slowdown.

Commenting on the unprecedented mutiny against the former Goldmanite Mario Draghi, whom the extremely confused socialist elements – desperate for acceptance by some, any echo chamber – have called “legendary” even though it is his policies that have crushed Europe’s working classes, One River CIO Eric Peters said…

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

We Finally Understand How Destructive Negative Interest Rates Actually Are

We Finally Understand How Destructive Negative Interest Rates Actually Are

We are in the midst of a strange economic experiment. Vast quantities of negative-yielding debt are currently sloshing around the global economy. While the amount of negative-yielding bonds has dropped recently from a mind-boggling number in excess of $17 trillion, reinvigorated central bank easing across the globe ensures that this reduction is only temporary.

We are slowly starting to understand how destructive negative interest rates actually are. Central banks control short-term interest rates in an economy by setting the rate banks receive on their deposits, that is, on the reserves they hold at the central bank. A new development is the control central banks now exert over long-term rates through their asset purchase, or “QE” programs.

Banks profit from the interest rate differential between “lending long” but “borrowing short”. Essentially, the difference between lending and deposit rates determine a bank’s profitability. However, with today’s very low interest rates, this difference becomes almost non-existent, and with negative rates, inverts completely.

When a central bank pushes rates to negative, banks need to pay interest on the reserves they hold there. But they are not relieved of the obligation they have to pay interest on customer deposits, who are understandably reluctant to pay interest on money they place at a bank. Consequently, the whole earnings logic of banking goes haywire if banks are required to pay interest on loans and receive interest on deposits. As profit margins of banks are squeezed, profitability falls and lending activities suffer.

However, the problems created by negative interest rates do not stop there. In 2008, an influential article describing the economic malaise in Japan after the financial crash of the early 1990s found that instead of calling-in or refusing to refinance existing debts, large Japanese banks kept loans flowing to otherwise insolvent borrowers.

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

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The Disaster of Negative Interest Rates

The dollar strengthened against the euro in August, merely in anticipation of the European Central Bank slashing its key interest rate further into negative territory. Investors were fleeing into the dollar, prompting President Trump to tweet on Aug. 30:

The Euro is dropping against the Dollar “like crazy,” giving them a big export and manufacturing advantage… And the Fed does NOTHING!

When the ECB cut its key rate as anticipated, from a negative 0.4% to a negative 0.5%, the president tweeted on Sept. 11:

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.

And on Sept. 12 he tweeted:

European Central Bank, acting quickly, Cuts Rates 10 Basis Points. They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the Euro against the VERY strong Dollar, hurting U.S. exports…. And the Fed sits, and sits, and sits. They get paid to borrow money, while we are paying interest!

However, negative interest rates have not been shown to stimulate the economies that have tried them, and they would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, for reasons unique to the U.S. dollar. The ECB has not gone to negative interest rates to gain an export advantage. It is to keep the European Union from falling apart, something that could happen if the United Kingdom does indeed pull out and Italy follows suit, as it has threatened to do. If what Trump wants is cheap borrowing rates for the U.S. federal government, there is a safer and easier way to get them.

The Real Reason the ECB Has Gone to Negative Interest Rates

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

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