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The Fed is Lying to Us

The Fed is Lying to Us

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie”

The recent statements from the Federal Reserve and the other major world central banks (the ECB, BoJ, BoE and PBoC) are alarming because their actions are completely out of alignment with what they’re telling us.

Their words seek to soothe us that “everything’s fine” and the global economy is doing quite well. But their behavior reflects a desperate anxiety.

Put more frankly; we’re being lied to.

Case in point: On October 4, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell publicly claimed the US economy is “in a good place”. Yet somehow, despite the US banking system already having approximately $1.5 trillion in reserves, the Fed is suddenly pumping in an additional $60 billion per month to keep things propped up.

Do drastic, urgent measures like this reflect an economy that’s “in a good place”?

The Fed’s Rescue Was Never Real

Remember, after a full decade of providing “emergency stimulus measures” the US Federal Reserve stopped its quantitative easing program (aka, printing money) a few years back.

Mission Accomplished, it declared. We’ve saved the system.

But that cessation was meaningless. Because the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped right in to take over the Fed’s stimulus baton and started aggressively growing its own balance sheet — keeping the global pool of new money growing.

Let’s look at the data. First, we see here how the Fed indeed stopped growing its balance sheet in 2014:

And we can note other important insights in this chart.

For starters, you can clearly see how in 2008, the Fed printed up more money in just a few weeks than it had in the nearly 100 years of operations prior.

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

The Real “Helicopter Money”: Since 2009, China Has Created $21 Trillion Of New Money, More Than Double The US

The Real “Helicopter Money”: Since 2009, China Has Created $21 Trillion Of New Money, More Than Double The US 

Back in the days of the Fed’s QE, much of thinking analyst world (the non-thinking segment would merely accept everything that the Fed did without question, after all their livelihood depended on it), was focused on how massive, and shocking, the Fed’s direct intervention in capital markets had become. And while that was certainly true, what we showed back in November 2013 in “Chart Of The Day: How China’s Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke’s QE Out Of The Water” is that whereas the Fed had injected some $2.5 trillion in liquidity in the US banking system, China had blown the US central bank out of the water, with no less than $15 trillion in increases to Chinese bank assets, all at the behest of a juggernaut of new credit creation – be it new yuan loans, shadow debt, corporate bonds, or any other form of debt that makes up China’s broad Total Social Financing aggregate.

Now, almost six years later, others are starting to figure out what we meant, and in an Op-Ed in the FT, Arthur Budaghyan, chief EM strategist at BCA Research writes about this all important topic of China’s “helicopter” money – which far more than the Fed, ECB and BOJ – has kept the world from sliding into a depression, and yet is blowing the world’s biggest asset bubble. 

Budaghyan picks up where we left off, and notes that over the past decade, Chinese banks have been on a credit and money creation binge, and have created RMB144Tn ($21Tn) of new money since 2009, more than twice the amount of money supply created in the US, the eurozone and Japan combined over the same period. In total, China’s money supply stands at Rmb192tn, equivalent to $28 TRILLION. Why does this matter?

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

Getting to a Special State of Ugly

Getting to a Special State of Ugly

There are certain phrases – like “trust me” or “I got this” – that should immediately provoke one’s suspicion.  When your slippery contractor tells you, “trust me, your kitchen renovation will be done before Christmas,” you should be wary.  There’s no way it’ll be done until late spring.

Or when your incompetent client says, “I won’t be needing your services at this time, I got this.”  You should expect a panicked phone call at 5pm on Friday.  “This is way more than I can handle,” your client will say, “take care of it.”

On Monday, when the sky was falling, and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, the Chinese yuan weakened to above 7 per dollar for the first time in over a decade.  This prompted U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to waft out a suspicious phrase of his own.  He called China a “currency manipulator.”

Mnuchin’s logic, as far as we can tell, is that China manipulated their currency because their central bank didn’t adequately intervene in foreign exchange markets to prop up the yuan.  Conversely, direct intervention into markets, to maintain a centrally planned price that’s acceptable to Mnuchin, is not currency manipulation.  Go figure!

On Tuesday, to restore confidence in the yuan, and refute accusations of being a malevolent currency manipulator, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced a plan to price fix the yuan.  Specifically, the PBOC will sell 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) of offshore bills in Hong Kong on August 14.  This move is designed to drain liquidity offshore, thus strengthening the yuan against the dollar.

Why bother?

Cooperative Currency Debasement

The world, circa 2019, is a fabricated reality.  Debt, piled upon debt, piled upon debt, ad infinitum, has erected a financial order that’s at perilous odds with the underlying economy.  Central bankers attempt to manipulate fake money and fake foreign exchange rates to keep the debt pile from cascading down.

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

Weekly Commentary: “Hot Money” Watch

Weekly Commentary: “Hot Money” Watch

In the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) Monday daily currency value “fixing,” the yuan/renminbi was set 0.33% weaker (vs. dollar) at 6.9225. Market reaction was immediate and intense. The Chinese currency quickly traded to 7.03 and then ended Monday’s disorderly session at an 11-year low 7.0602 (largest daily decline since August ’15). While still within the PBOC’s 2% trading band, it was a 1.56% decline for the day (offshore renminbi down 1.73%). A weaker-than-expected fix coupled with the lack of PBOC intervention (as the renminbi blew through the key 7.0 level) rattled already skittish global markets.  

Safe haven assets were bought aggressively. Gold surged $23, or 1.6%, Monday to $1,441, the high going back to 2013 (trading to all-time highs in Indian rupees, British pounds, Australian dollars and Canadian dollar). The Swiss franc gained 0.9%, and the Japanese yen increased 0.6%. Treasury yields sank a notable 14 bps to 1.71%, the low going back to October 2016. Intraday Monday, 10-year yields traded as much as 32 bps below three-month T-bills, “the most extreme yield-curve inversion” since 2007 (from Bloomberg). German bund yields declined another two bps to a then record low negative 0.52% (ending the week at negative 0.58%). Swiss 10-year yields fell two bps to negative 0.88% (ending the week at negative 0.98%). Australian yields dropped below 1.0% for the first time.  

It’s worth noting the Japanese yen traded Monday at the strongest level versus the dollar since the January 3rd market dislocation (that set the stage for the Powell’s January 4th “U-turn). “Risk off” saw EM currencies under liquidation – with the more vulnerable under notable selling pressure. The Brazilian real dropped 2.2%, the Colombian peso 2.1%, the Argentine peso 1.8%, the Indian rupee 1.6% and the South Korean won 1.4%. Crude fell 1.7% in Monday trading. Hong Kong’s China Financials Index dropped 2.5%, with the index down 4.4% for the week to the lowest level since January. European bank stocks dropped 4.1%, trading to the low since July 2016.

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

3 Central Bank Shocks Unleash Overnight Yield Crash, With Yuan On Verge Of Collapse

3 Central Bank Shocks Unleash Overnight Yield Crash, With Yuan On Verge Of Collapse

There is just one way to describe the plunge in bond yields overnight and the events behind it: the global race to the currency bottom is rapidly accelerating in its final lap with a global deflationary Ice Age (take a bow Albert Edwards) waiting on the other side.

The main event, of course, was the latest yuan fixing with the PBOC showing a clear sense of humor when it set the currency at 6.9996laughably not to be confused with 7.0000 (for at least another 24 hours that is), but just a fraction of a percent away from the critical threshold, and weaker than the 6.9977 expected. The result was a resumption in the offshore yuan selloff, a hit to US equity futures and a drop in Treasury yields. Of course, once the PBOC does finally fix the yuan on the wrong side of 7, all bets are off and watch as the CNH crashes… as far as 7.70 according to SocGen, especially once Trump hikes tariffs to 25%.

But there was much more in today’s iteration of the global race to the currency bottom, when first New Zealand, then India and finally Thailand shocked investors by being far more dovish than analysts expected. Indeed, the three Asian central banks delivered surprise interest-rate decisions on Wednesday as central bankers not only took aggressive action to counter a worsening global economy, but are now frontrunning each other – and the Fed – in doing so.

As noted last night, New Zealand’s central bank on Wednesday stunned investors by dropping its benchmark rate by 50 basis points, double the expected reduction and sending the kiwi tumbling. Thailand also surprised all but two in a survey of economists, cutting by 25 basis points. Finally, India’s central bank lowered its rate by an unconventional 35 basis points.

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

Chinese Bank With $100 Billion In Assets Is About To Collapse

Chinese Bank With $100 Billion In Assets Is About To Collapse

While the western world (and much of the eastern) has been preoccupied with predicting the consequences of Trump’s accelerating global trade/tech war and whether the Fed will launch QE before or after it sends rates back to zero, Beijing has quietly had its hands full with avoiding a bank run in the aftermath of Baoshang Bank’s failure and keeping the interbank market – which has been on the verge of freezing – alive.

Unfortunately for the PBOC, Beijing was racing against time to prevent a widespread panic after it opened the Pandora’s box when it seized Baoshang Bank, the first official bank failure in an odd replay of what happened with Bear Stearns back in 2008, when JPMorgan was gifted the historic bank for pennies on the dollar.

And with domino #1 down, the question turned to who is next, and could it be China’s Lehman.

As a reminder, back in May, shortly after the shocking failure of China’s Baoshang Bank (BSB), and its subsequent seizure by the government – the first takeover of a commercial bank since the Hainan Development Bank 20 years ago – the PBOC panicked and injected a whopping 250 billion yuan via an open-market operation, the largest since January. Alas, as we said at the time, it was too little to late, and with the interbank market roiling, with Negotiable Certificates of Deposit (NCD) and repo rates soaring (in some occult cases as high as 1000%) we said that it’s just a matter of time before another major Chinese bank collapses.

We Are Neutral on Chinese Equities, Says Bank of Singapore’s Malik

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

Meanwhile In China, Echoes Of Lehman As Interbank Market Freezes

Meanwhile In China, Echoes Of Lehman As Interbank Market Freezes

One month ago we wrote that in the aftermath of the shocking government May 24 seizure of Baoshang Bank – not shocking because the bank failed as most Chinese banks are insolvent if left to their own devices due to the real, and far higher levels of non-performing loans, but because the government allowed it to happen in the open, sparking fears of who comes next (and when) – the PBOC “finally panicked and injected a whopping net 250 billion yuan ($36 billion) into the financial system via open-market operations, as it fills what traders have dubbed a growing funding gap following the Baoshang failure.”

In retrospect, the PBOC failed to restore confidence in the stability of the Chinese banking system, and since then things have taken a turn for the far worse.

Yet with the world fixated on the U.S.-China (Mexico, Europe, etc) trade conflict, it is easy to understand why many have brushed aside the Baoshang harbinger and its consequences which have exposed giant fissures under China’s calm financial facade and are gradually freezing up the Chinese banking system.

As the WSJ writes, on Sunday, China’s securities regulator convened a meeting asking big brokerages and funds to support their smaller peers, according to a meeting summary circulated among industry participants Monday. The briefing cited rising risk aversion in money markets after defaults in the bond repurchase market.

The immediate reaction, which we pointed out back in May, is that some of the key interbank lending rates – those which banks rely on to obtain critical short-term funds – have moved sharply higher in recent weeks, with the 1 month repo soaring, and almost doubling over the past month.

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

China’s Debt Bomb Is Back: Beijing Injects Most Ever Credit For Month Of March

China’s Debt Bomb Is Back: Beijing Injects Most Ever Credit For Month Of March

One month ago, we asked if that was it for China’s “Shanghai Accord 2.0”? Turns out the answer was a resounding “no.

As we noted at the time, one month after the PBOC injected a gargantuan 4.64 trillion yuan ($685 billion) into the economy – more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia – in the month of January in the country’s broadest credit measure, the All-System Financing Aggregate a credit injection that was so massive it even prompted the fury of China’s prime minister Li Keqiang who lashed out at the central bank for its unprecedented debt generosity in a time when China was still pretending to be on a deleveraging path, in February the PBOC again surprised China-watchers, this time to the downside, when the Chinese central bank reported that aggregate financing increased by a paltry 703 billion yuan, roughly half the expected 1.3 trillion, the lowest print in the revised series history.

However, to assuage fears that China was turning off the credit taps just one month after the release of weak February TSF, PBOC governor Yi commented in his press conference during the NPC that (although February TSF data was weak) the data should be viewed in light of strong January data. He also noted that even combined Jan-Feb data could be distorted by the Chinese New Year, and one needed to wait for March data.

Well, we got just that overnight (as reported previously) and it was a monster: just after 4am ET, the S&P futures surged above 2,900 when the PBOC reported that in March, new yuan loans jumped by 1.69 trillion, far above 1.25 trillion estimate, while total social financing in March soared higher 2.86t yuan, the highest March increase on record; smashing the 1.85 trillion yuan estimate, and more than four times the February 703BN yuan increase.

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

Separating truth from fiction in China’s golden game of Poker

Separating truth from fiction in China’s golden game of Poker

This month the Chinese central bank reported that in December 2018, its gold reserve holdings increased by 10 tonnes, the first claimed increase in Chinese monetary gold holdings since October 2016.

Based on previous patterns reporting patterns, a two year hiatus in reporting gold holdings is not unprecedented for the Chinese central bank and its reporting agency SAFE. What is strange, however, is that after an extended absence of reporting, the Chinese are coming back to the table with not a lot to show for it.

It is extremely difficult to believe that the Chinese central bank has not been accumulating gold throughout the last two years. Having said that, the claimed 10 tonne gold addition in December is worthy of analysis in regards to its timing and what it may signal. However, it is also important to keep in mind that there is huge and justified skepticism about the true size of the Chinese State’s monetary gold holdings held through the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), and to this we can probably now add skepticism about the real accumulation pattern of PBoC gold.

A 10 tonne teaser

News of December’s central bank gold purchase was initially published on the web site of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) in it’s December 2018 ‘Official Reserve Assets’ report. Note that SAFE reserve asset updates don’t actually state the quantity of gold the PBoC holds but instead report a US dollar figure valued at the corresponding month-end US dollar gold price.

So for example, the PBoC’s gold holdings were valued at US$ 72.122 billion at the end of November, which at a month-end November gold price of US$ 1217.55 was 1842.5 tonnes, while the stated gold valuation at the end of December was US$ 76.331 billion, which at an end of December LBMA gold price of US$ 1281.65 was 1852.5 tonnes, i.e. a 10 tonne increase.

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

Black Swan Watch: China Has Added Over $50 TRILLION in Financial Assets Since 2014

Black Swan Watch: China Has Added Over $50 TRILLION in Financial Assets Since 2014

The biggest black swan facing the financial system is China.

China has been the primary driver of growth for the global economy since the 2008 Crisis. Despite only accounting for 15% of global GDP, China accounts for 25%-30% of GDP growth.

Put simply, from an economic perspective,  if China catches cold, the world gets sick…  and if China goes into a coma…

Which is why anyone paying attention should be truly horrified by the latest round of data from China’s economy.

In December, China’s Manufacturing PMI came in below 50, signaling a contraction is underway.

This is a massive deal because this was an OFFICIAL data point, meaning one that China had heavily massaged to look better than reality.

Let me explain…

Over the last 30 years China’s economic data has ALWAYS overstated growth. The reason for this is very simple: if you are an economic minister/ government employee who lives in a regime in which leadership will have you jailed or executed for missing your numbers, the numbers are ALWAYS great.

Indeed, this is an open secret in China, to the degree that former First Vice Premiere of China, Li Keqiang, admitted to the US ambassador to China that ALL Chinese data, outside of electricity consumption, railroad cargo, and bank lending is for “reference only.”

With that in mind, we have to ask… how horrific is the situation in China’s financial system that even the heavily massaged data is showing a contraction is underway?

Think “systemic risk” bad.

I’ve already outlined how China is sitting atop 15% of all junk debt in the global financial system, resulting in the country’s “bad debt” to GDP ratio exceeding 80% (a first in history).

However, it now appears that even that assessment was too rosy.

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

A Sign of Things to Come: China Adds 1,853 Metric Tonnes to “Official” Gold Reserves

A Sign of Things to Come: China Adds 1,853 Metric Tonnes to “Official” Gold Reserves

While Western governments continue to ravage each other viciously, seemingly unable to come to terms on even the simplest of agendas, the East, led predominately by the financial juggernaut that is China, continues to chug along, slowly but surely carrying through on their long term plans.

While we look inward and fight among one another, becoming increasingly polarized and isolated into our various political “camps”, ceasing any form of communication with each other, our economic rivals are racing past us, forming partnerships and making plans.

Russia and China are two such countries that I have often talked about in past articles, highlighting how the West has forced these two countries into a partnership that threatens to overtake the West as the economic powerhouse of the world.

While our financial “gurus” continue to shuffle pieces of paper back and forth between each other, trading digital numbers in ever increasingly quantities, as if they had any real, true intrinsic value.

Russia and China are happily making moves around the world, acquiring physical, tangible assets that will play key roles in the coming economic conflict that the world will inevitably face at some point in our not too distant future.

Although their demand for oil, rare earths and various other forms of assets is seemingly insatiable, there is one asset class above all others that I am particularly interested in, precious metals.

Both countries have made it blatantly obvious that they are not happy with the current “status quo” and would love to see an eventual change. That change being a toppling of the US Dollar as the reserve currency of the world.

This has led to a rapid accumulation in precious metals by Russia, who have forecast their purchases on an almost monthly basis.

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

“A Daisy Chain Of Defaults”: How Debt Cross-Guarantees Could Spark China’s Next Crisis

On November 8, China shocked markets with its latest targeted stimulus in the form of an “unprecedented” lending directive ordering large banks to issue loans to private companies to at least one-third of new corporate lending. The announcement sparked a new round of investor concerns about what is being unsaid about China’s opaque, private enterprises, raising prospects of a fresh spike in bad assets.

A few days later, Beijing unveiled another unpleasant surprise, when the PBOC announced that Total Social Financing – China’s broadest credit aggregate – has collapsed from 2.2 trillion yuan in September to a tiny 729 billion in October, missing expectations of a the smallest monthly increase since October 2014.

Some speculated that the reason for the precipitous drop in new credit issuance has been growing concern among Chinese lenders over what is set to be a year of record corporate defaults within China’s private firms. As we reported at the end of September, a record number of non-state firms had defaulted on 67.4 billion yuan ($9.7 billion) of local bonds this year, 4.2 times that of 2017, while the overall Chinese market was headed for a year of record defaults in 2018. Since then, the amount of debt default has risen to 83 billion yuan, a new all time high (more below).

Now, in a new development that links these seemingly unrelated developments, Bloomberg reports that debt cross-guarantees by Chinese firms have left the world’s third-largest bond market prone to contagion risks, which has made it “all the tougher for officials to follow through on initiatives to sustain credit flows”, i.e., the growing threat of unexpected cross- defaults is what is keeping China’s credit pipeline clogged up and has resulted in the collapse in new credit creation.

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

China’s Economic Slump Accelerated In October, Early Indicators Show

As corporate defaults surge, forcing a desperate PBOC to reverse its deleveraging efforts and threaten more interventions to stave off a more serious retrenchment in growth in the world’s second largest economy, it seems like not a day goes by without another warning sign that China’s economic precarious situation is even worse than we thought.

The impact this has had on the mainland investors’ psyche has been obvious to all. Repeated interventions by China’s ‘National Team’ have done little to arrest the inexorable decline in mainland stocks in October, leaving the Shanghai Composite, the country’s main benchmark index, on track for one of its worst months since the financial crisis, and its worst year since 2011. Meanwhile, a flood of FX outflows has pushed the Chinese yuan dangerously close to the 7 yuan-to-the dollar threshold which, if breached, could unleash another wave of chaos across global markets.

And as Chinese policy makers are probably already scrambling to pad the official stats, Bloomberg has released its own proprietary preliminary gauge of Chinese GDP in October which showed that the slowdown unleashed by the US-China trade war worsened in October.

China

The Bloomberg Economics gauge aggregates the earliest-available indicators on business conditions and market sentiment, and unequivocally affirmed that the Communist Party’s efforts to stabilize the country’s economy and markets – the party this month introduced a raft of measures to stabilize sentiment, including steps to boost liquidity in the financial system, new tax deductions for households and targeted measures aimed at helping exporters – haven’t been successful – at least not yet.

BBG

Kyle Bass and the other prominent China bears across the US hedge fund community will be pleased to see the latest early indicator from Bloomberg, which suggests that economic growth in China remained (relatively) sluggish in October after slowing to its weakest level since the crisis during the third quarter.

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

Weekly Commentary: “Whatever They Want” Coming Home to Roost

Weekly Commentary: “Whatever They Want” Coming Home to Roost

Let’s begin with global. China’s yuan (CNY) traded to 6.9644 to the dollar in early-Friday trading, almost matching the low (vs. dollar) from December 2016 (6.9649). CNY is basically trading at lows going back to 2008 – and has neared the key psychological 7.0 level. CNY rallied late in Friday trading to close the week at 6.9435. From Bloomberg (Tian Chen): “Three traders said at least one big Chinese bank sold the dollar, triggering stop-losses.” Earlier, a PBOC governor “told a briefing that the central bank would continue taking measures to stabilize sentiment. We have dealt with short-sellers of the yuan a few years ago, and we are very familiar with each other. I think we both have vivid memories of the past.”
The PBOC eventually won that 2016 skirmish with the CNY “shorts”. In general, however, you don’t want your central bank feeling compelled to do battle against the markets. It’s no sign of strength. For “developing” central banks, in particular, it has too often in the past proved a perilous proposition. Threats and actions are taken, and a lot can ride on the market’s response. In a brewing confrontation, the market will test the central bank. If the central bank’s response appears ineffective, markets will instinctively pounce.

Often unobtrusively, the stakes can grow incredibly large. There’s a dynamic that has been replayed in the past throughout the emerging markets. Bubbles are pierced and “hot money” heads for the exits. Central banks and government officials then work aggressively to bolster their faltering currencies. These efforts appear to stabilize the situation for a period of time, although the relative calm masks assertive market efforts to hedge against future currency devaluation in the derivatives markets.

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

“The Central Bank Will Intervene”: PBOC Said To Sell Reserves If Yuan Drops Below 7.00

According to the latest data from China’s SAFE, net FX outflows from China picked up to US$21BN in September (vs. US$11BN in August) and the highest since mid-2017 with Goldman noting that “outflow might have increased moderately further in October, but has unlikely reached the level seen in late 2015/early 2016 in our view.”

It may not have reached the furious outflows from the peak of the post-depreciation period, but as Goldman concedes, this risk will rise over time if the authorities continue to resist interest rate differential-driven depreciation pressure.

And, to counter the risk of a return to China’s dramatic outflow phase, Reuters writes this morning that China is likely to resume selling some of its vast $3 trillion currency reserves to stop any precipitous fall through the psychologically important level of 7 yuan per dollar “as it could risk triggering speculation and heavy capital outflows.”

Indeed, as noted in our morning wrap, on Friday the yuan hit a fresh 22-month low of 6.9641 against the dollar. Additionally, earlier in the session the offshore Yuan tumbled as low as 6.9769 after the PBOC fixed the onshore Yuan north of 6.95 and weaker than consensus expected, at which point however Beijing intervened, when at least one big China bank sold the US dollar in the afternoon, prompting the yuan to reverse loss, and triggering stop-loss orders by short-sellers of the yuan.

And with the Yuan just inches away from the key level of 7.00 vs the dollar, dropping 6% against the dollar so far this year, reflecting its slowing economy as well as pressure on exports due to an ongoing tariff war with the United States, Beijing is starting to sweat.

…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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