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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…

Food for Thought – US Population, Employment, Debt, NIRP, Monetization

Food for Thought – US Population, Employment, Debt, NIRP, Monetization

In 2019, US population growth fell to +1.55m or +0.5%…this was due to a trifecta of declining births, lower immigration, and higher deaths than anticipated.  However, as with everything “2020”, all three trends are only intensifying to blow away 2019.  Births are falling faster and further, deaths moving higher with Corona-virus and drug related overdoses, and immigration nearly non-existent.  Thus, US population growth will likely dip below 1 million or +0.3% this year.  And while I anticipate (or think it feasible) that immigration could return to 2019 levels eventually, births will almost surely continue falling and deaths rising more than anticipated.  The simple outcome of this is an ongoing collapse in US population growth which is far larger in scope than the current Corona-virus pandemic.Census Population Estimates…Wildly Overstating GrowthThe chart below shows the 2008, 2014, and 2017 Census US total population projections through 2050.  Some quick math shows that in 9 years time from ’08 to ’17, the Census downgraded US population growth through 2050 by 50 million persons.  But due to the factors mentioned above, the 2020 Census projection through 2050 will need another massive downgrade…I’d suggest something on the order of another 29 million person downgrade.

The most significant contributor to decelerating population growth is declining births.  This is true among the native population and true among immigrants.  On average, they are all having significantly fewer children than anticipated.  As the Census estimates from ’00, ’08, ’12, ’14, and ’17 show…the Census models just can’t fathom the fast declining births taking place in the US.  But each Census estimate is still far too high, and perhaps in ’20 the Census will “fix” their models and portray reality (ok, not likely)…but I offer a more realistic picture below.

However, the downgrades in population are specifically among the younger populations.  Obviously, declining births and immigration means declining young.  The about face from ’08 to ’20 is stunning in the suggestion that the US truly is far more Japanese than immune to depopulation.

…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…

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Not Done Cutting Until It Gets to Zero

Peter Schiff: The Fed Is Not Done Cutting Until It Gets to Zero

Peter Schiff recently appeared on Kitco news with Daniela Cambone to talk politics, the economy and the Fed. He said that no matter what Jerome Powell is saying, the Fed central bank isn’t finished with rate cuts. 

Lisa started out the interview asking Peter what he thought about the impeachment hearings and Trump’s prospects for reelection. Peter said it certainly looks like the House will impeach Trump. He doesn’t think it’s likely the Senate will remove him from office, but he also doesn’t think the president will be reelected in 2020 unless the economy can hold together.

I thought it was far more likely that he was elected originally, but I don’t think his prospects are as great now as they were then, although the conventional wisdom is the opposite. Most people thought he had no chance of winning last time and they think he can’t lose this time because they think we have this great economy, but we don’t. We just have another stock market bubble.”

Lisa pointed out that unemployment is supposedly at 50-year lows.

Well, sure. The unemployment rate was very low when Obama left office. I mean, the unemployment rate, at least the official rate, was declining for almost the entirety of the Obama presidency, and when Donald Trump ran against low unemployment, he said that the numbers were fake. That they were phony. That it was a fraud. That it was a hoax, and if you look at the real unemployment rate, where you look at all the people that were working part-time that wanted to work full-time, all the discouraged workers who had dropped out of the workforce, that the real unemployment rate was much higher. And that’s still the case today.

…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…

How Is Negative Interest Possible?

HOW IS NEGATIVE INTEREST POSSIBLE?

Germany has recently joined Switzerland in the dubious All Negative Club. The interest rate on every government bond, from short to 30 years, is now negative. Many would say “congratulations”, in the belief that this proves their credit risk is … well … umm … negative(?) And anyways, it will let them borrow more to spend on consumption which will stimulate … umm… well… all of the wasteful consumption for which governments are rightly infamous.

While those who are about to borrow may find cause to cheer (as opposed to those who have already borrowed, at higher rates, who are now disadvantaged by this move), the savers are harmed. How can anyone save in an environment where savings has a cost?

John Maynard Keynes called for the “euthanasia of the rentier”. Congratulations, Germany, we say in all sarcastic seriousness. You have gone even beyond Keynes vicious idea. Your rate is now negative!

The Preference of the Savers

Instead of writing more on the destructiveness of this, we want to tackle a different question today. How is this possible? What are the mechanics? Why don’t savers rebel?

We wrote about the Crime of ’33 a few months ago, and it’s worth re-reading before going on. 1933 is when President Roosevelt made the dollar irredeemable. Prior to that, if you didn’t like the interest rate, you could sell the bond and hold gold coins instead. The gold coin has no default risk. And, back then—in the gold standard–it had no price risk.

Today one can own gold, to avoid default risk. This is a big part of why gold is now $1,500. But one takes price risk. And price volatility to be is considered a feature, not a bug, by the gold bugs!

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

More on the puzzle of negative interest rates

More on the puzzle of negative interest rates

Interest rates on many bonds have plunged into negative territory. But why on earth would anyone be willing to save $1000 only to get $999 in the future? Saving up for a rainy day has always gone hand in hand with a positive interest rate, not a negative one.

In my last post I showed how negative real return on saving could emerge. I invoked a certain type of a economy – a dystopic island where castaways like Robinson Crusoe live. The island’s few meagre opportunities to invest have dried up. Technological advancement has halted. To prepare for his retirement Robinson Crusoe stores coconuts, but the constant assault from rodents and insects meant that he’d end up with less resources than he started with.

Crusoe and other castaways his age can also prepare for old age by lending resources to the island’s younger generation. But if the young are dying out, then the much larger cohort of older islanders will have to offer the few remaining young a lower – even negative – interest rate to coax them to borrow.

A tale of two interest rates

Our world is certainly experiencing many problems. But it doesn’t seem to correspond to the grim reality of a decaying Robinson Crusoe world. Sure, we are getting older and having fewer kids. But it’s hard to argue that technological advancement has ground to a halt or that projects are so non-productive that we are content to earn 0%.

For evidence, take a look at a chart of the rate of return on U.S. business capital:

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

History Being Made: Negative Rates, Fake Markets, & The Imminent “Daily Liquidity” Crisis

History Being Made: Negative Rates, Fake Markets, & The Imminent “Daily Liquidity” Crisis

Transformational  Markets: History Being Made​​

No-Bond World And The Risk Of A Daily Liquidity Crisis

Rates hit new lows this month. Symbolically, the 50-year swap rate in Europe dived into negative territory. Bonds as an asset class are in extinction, a major shift in modern finance as we know it, inadvertently turning ‘balanced portfolios’ into ‘long-equity portfolios’. The ‘nocebo effect’ of enduring negative interest rates is such that negative rates are deflationary, hence self-defeating. Meanwhile, they have potent unintended consequences for systemic risk, which spreads around, leading the market into an historical trap. A ‘Daily Liquidity Crisis’ may result. All the while as markets get off the sugar rush of Trump rate cuts, and Europe has his banking sector at risk of implosion.

History Being Made

It must be a great thing to witness history being made during the span of your career, to find yourself in a market where so much happens for the first time in the history of finance, and close to everything else is at an extreme over the past decade. Nothing much is left around us which is trading regularly, or around historical averages.

In no particular order: the whole of the US interest rate curve dropped below 2% in mid-August, for the first time in history. The whole of the German interest rate curve dropped below zero. The Swiss, Swedish, Japanese curves are also negative for their entirety or whereabouts. The 10yr Swiss government bond yields a mind-blowing -1.2%, a sure bet to make no less than 12% in capital losses by maturity. Peripheral Europe joined in: the 10yr Portugal government bond is close to 0% yield now, about to dive in negative land too.

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

How Negative Interest Rates Screw Up the Economy

How Negative Interest Rates Screw Up the Economy

Now they’re clamoring for this NIRP absurdity in the US. How will this end?

Now there is talk everywhere that the United States too will descend into negative interest rates. And there are people on Wall Street and in the media that are hyping this absurd condition where government bonds and perhaps even corporate bonds, and eventually even junk bonds have negative yields. All of that NIRP absurdity is already the case in Europe and Japan.

There is now about $17 trillion – trillion with a T – in negative yielding debt in the world, government and corporate debt combined.

This started out as a short-term emergency experiment. And now this short-term emergency experiment has become the new normal. And now more short-term emergency experiments need to be added to it, because, you know, the first batches weren’t big enough and haven’t worked, or have stopped working, or more realistically, have screwed things up so badly that nothing works anymore.

So how will this end?

The ECB rumor mill over the past two weeks hyped the possibility of a shock-and-awe stimulus package, on top of the shock-and-awe stimulus packages the ECB has already implemented, namely negative interest rates, liquidity facilities, and QE.

The entire German government bond market, even 30-year bonds have negative yields. And the German economy shrank in the last quarter. That gives Germany two out of the last four quarters where its economy shrank – despite negative interest rates from the ECB and despite the negative yields on its government bonds, and despite the negative yields among many corporate bonds.

In other words, the German economy, the fourth largest in the world, is hitting the skids despite or because of negative yields. And now the ECB wants to flex its muscles to get yields to become even more negative.

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

12 Reasons Why Negative Rates Will Devastate The World

12 Reasons Why Negative Rates Will Devastate The World

It has been a thesis over 20 years in the making, but with every passing day, SocGen’s Albert Edwards – who first coined the term “Ice Age” to describe the state of the world in which every debt issue ends up with a negative yield as capital markets and economies collapse into a deflationary singularity – is that much closer to having the victory lap of a lifetime. Although, we doubt he is happy about it.

Commenting on the interest rate collapse he has been (correctly) predicting ever since he first observed Japan’s great bubble bust of the 1980s and which resulted in both NIRP and QE, and which he (correctly) expected would spread across the rest of the world, leading to a “Japanification” of every major bond market…

… Edwards said that what bond markets are telling us is “that the cycle is ending with the central banks having failed to drive core CPI inflation higher. So Japanese-style outright deflation lies ahead at a time when western economies have piled debt sky high.”

Needless to say that’s not good, not least of all because we now live in a world in which the bond universe with negative yields continued to grow at an exponential pace, rising rapidly over the past two weeks and reaching a record $16.4 trillion…

… rising  significantly above the previous mid-2016 record high of around $12.2tr. The expansion of the universe of negatively yielding bonds as a percentage of total is shown below: as of the last week, this proportion increased further to around 30.0%, above the mid-2016 record high of 25.8%.

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

IMF Recommends “DEEP” Negative Interest Rates as the Next Tool

IMF Recommends “DEEP” Negative Interest Rates as the Next Tool 

The IMF has continued to assume that the zero-bound on interest rates can be a serious obstacle for fighting recessions on the part of the central banks. The IMF maintains that the zero-bound is not a law of nature; it is a policy choice. The latest in the IMF papers argue that tools are available to allow central banks to create deep negative rates whenever needed to reverse recessions. They claim that maintaining the power of monetary policy in the future to end recessions within a short time will require deep negative interest rates.

It is really quite astonishing how these people with NO REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE keep trying to maintain the Marxist-Keynesian theory when more than 10 years of negative interest rates have failed.  This is the same theory that dominated medicine for so long. They assumed there was a toxin in the blood, so the cure was to bleed you. If you died, they assumed the reason was that they did not bleed you sooner.

These idiots fail to comprehend that negative interest rates have wiped out pensions. The instruction manual for life was to save for your retirement to be able to live off the interest of your savings. The problem was, those days were based on 8% interest rates. Moving negative will not force people to spend, it merely bankrupts the people.

Nothing Is Guaranteed

Nothing Is Guaranteed

There are no guarantees, no matter how monumental the hubris and confidence.

The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.

Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.

But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical averages, the housing bubble would immediately implode.Hello negative wealth effect, as every homeowner watches their temporary (and illusory) “wealth” dissipate before their eyes.

The Fed’s “fix” to deflationary defaults is equally destructive: bailing out too big to fail lenders will spark a political revolt that could topple the Fed itself, as the populace has finally connected the dots between the Fed bailing out the banks and financiers and the astounding rise in income and wealth inequality.

Other than the phantom “wealth” of real estate and stock bubbles, the vast majority of the ‘wealth” generated by the Fed’s actions of the past 20 years has flowed to the top 0.1%. This will become self-evident once the phantom gains of speculative bubbles vanish.

The Fed’s other “trick” to halt a deflationary collapse is negative interest rates, in effect taxing savers and those holding cash and rewarding those who borrow.Negative interest rates destroy every institution that depends on relatively low-risk interest income via bonds: pension funds, insurance companies, etc.

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

Can the EU Survive the Next Financial Crisis?

Can the EU Survive the Next Financial Crisis?

Despite the ECB’s subsidy of the Eurozone’s banking system, it remains in a sleepwalking state similar to the non-financial, non-crony-capitalist zombified economy. Gone are the heady days of investment banking. There is now a legacy of derivatives and regulators’ fines. Technology has made the over-extended branch network, typical of a European retail bank, a costly white elephant. The market for emptying bank buildings in the towns and villages throughout Europe must be dire, a source of under-provisioned losses. On top of this, the ECB’s interest rate policy has led to lending margins becoming paper-thin. 

A negative deposit rate of 0.4% at the ECB has led to negative wholesale (Euribor) money market rates along the yield curve to at least 12 months. This has allowed French banks, for example, to fund Italian government bond positions, stripping out 33 basis points on a “riskless” one-year bond. It’s the peak of collapsed lending margins when even the hare-brained can see the risk is greater than the reward, whatever the regulator says. The entire yield curve is considerably lower than Italian risk implies it should be, given its existing debt obligations, with 10-year Italian government bonds yielding only 2.55%. That’s less than equivalent US Treasuries, the global risk-free standard.

Government bond yields have been and remain considerably reduced through the ECB’s interest rate suppression and its bond-buying programs. The expansion of Eurozone government debt since the Lehman crisis has been about 50% to €9.69 trillion. This expansion, representing €3.1 trillion, compares with the expansion of the Eurosystem’s own balance sheet of €2.8 trillion since 2009. In other words, the expansion of Eurozone government debt has been nearly matched by the ECB’s monetary creation.

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

Over $10 Trillion In Debt Now Has A Negative Yield

Over $10 Trillion In Debt Now Has A Negative Yield

NIRP is back.

On Friday, when Germany reported disastrous mfg and service PMI prints, the 10Y German Bund finally threw in the towel, with the yield sliding back under zero for the first time in three years. When that happened, and when the 3M-10Y yield curve inverted in the US right around that time, just over $400 billion in global debt changed the sign on its yield from positive to negative.

As a result, the total notional of global negative yielding debt soared on Friday, rising above $10 trillion for the first time Since September 2017, and which according to Bloomberg has intensified “the conundrum for investors hungry for returns while fretting the brewing economic slowdown.”

Paradoxically, the amount of negative-yielding debt has nearly doubled in just six months, and confirms that the global asset bubble is back because as Gary Kirk, a founding partner at London-based TwentyFour Asset Management, said “money managers face increasing pressure to reprise the yield-chasing mentality synonymous with quantitative easing.”

“This obviously tempts those investors holding cash to move along the maturity curve — or down the rating curve — to seek yield, which is once again becoming a scarce commodity,” he said. “It’s a classic late-cycle conundrum.”

Despite the Fed’s renewed herding of investors into the riskiest assets, Kirk is so far “resisting the temptation” to snap up longer-dated credit obligations that will be the first to default when the next recession hits, and prefers duration bets in interest-rate markets.

Others won’t be so lucky: as we noted last Friday, the ‘reverse rotation’, or flood into fixed income instruments, is accelerating and fund flows confirmed the fresh panic for yield just as the specter of QE4 returns as investors in the latest week parked $6.6 billion into investment-grade funds, $3.2 billion into high-yield bonds and $1.2 billion into emerging-market debt, according to EPFR data.

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

The Super Wealthy Are Already Preparing For NIRP and Worse

The Super Wealthy Are Already Preparing For NIRP and Worse

The Global Elite are preparing for Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP) and Wealth Grabs.

How do I know?

They’re moving their money into physical cash.

Physical cash represents one of the rare loopholes in our current financial system. When money is in actual physical cash it can’t be charged interest by a bank engaged in NIRP. It’s also much easier to hide from the Political Class intent of imposing wealth taxes and other capital grabs.

With that in mind, consider that the number of $100 bills in circulation has DOUBLED since 2008. In fact, there are now MORE $100 bills that $1 bills in the financial system.

The number of outstanding U.S. $100 bills has doubled since the financial crisis, with more than 12 billion of them across the world, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. C-notes have passed $1 bills in circulation, Deutsche Bank chief international economist Torsten Slok said in a note to clients this week.

Source: CNBC

Let’s be blunt here, the folks who have a lot of money to hide are usually the ones with the best connections to the elites.

As a result, they typically know what is coming down the pike before the rest of us. Which is why it’s critical to pay attention to what these people DO rather than just say.

Consider the following:

  • The IMF has already called for a wealth tax of 10% on NET WEALTH.
  • More than one Presidential candidate for the 2020 US Presidential Race has already openly called for a wealth tax in the US.
  • Polls suggest that the majority of Americans support a wealth tax.

And if you think this will stop with the super wealthy, you’re mistaken. You could tax 100% of the wealth of the top 1% and it would finance the US deficit for less than six months.

Which means…

 …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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