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The Fed Is Winging It: A 75 Basis-Point Hike “Seemed Like the Right Thing”

The Fed Is Winging It: A 75 Basis-Point Hike “Seemed Like the Right Thing”

powell

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) today announced an increase of 75 basis points to the target federal funds rate, raising the rate to 1.75% from 1%. June’s meeting today was the third meeting this year at which the FOMC has raised rates. Coming into the March meeting this year, however, the FOMC had not raised the target rate since March of 2020, even though price inflation began to accelerate during the second half of 2021.

fomc

Today’s 75-basis-point increase is the largest increase since late 1994 when the FOMC raised the target rate from 4.75% to 5.5%.

Notably, however, this increase comes mere weeks after the Fed Chair Powell slapped down the idea of a 75-basis point increase in June. As reported by Reuters on May 4, Powell had insisted “A 75 basis point increase is not something that the committee is actively considering.”

That didn’t last long.

The fact that the Fed was forced to hike the target rate by higher than it had suggested was even possible earlier in the year is a reminder that the Fed and its economists are simply in a reactionary mode when it comes to the US economy’s problem with mounting price inflation.

fomc

As even Powell admitted during today’s press conference, the Fed was surprised by how high price inflation has grown. The Fed then had to pivot in order to answer calls that the central bank “do something” about price inflation.

But when it comes to the Fed’s decisions about setting target rates, it is I increasingly obvious there is no model. The “plan,” to the extent one exists at all, amounts to “let’s see how bad inflation is, and then we’ll pick a target rate and hope that solves the problem.”

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

ECB Holds Emergency Meeting To Discuss Market Turmoil

ECB Holds Emergency Meeting To Discuss Market Turmoil

Last week, shortly after the ECB’s latest meeting disappointed markets and concluded without a discussion of Europe’s growing bond market fragmentation (which is to be expected since QE – the glue that held the Euro area’s bond market together – is ending) and which has since sent Italian bond yields soaring above 4%, we joked that “at this rate the ECB would make an emergency rate cut” just hours after announcing an end to QT and guiding to a July rate hike.

Once again, our “joke” was spot on because on Wednesday morning, just hours before the Fed’s first 75bps rate hike sine 1994, and with Italian bonds in freefall, European Central Bank “unexpectedly” announced it would hold an emergency, ad hoc meeting of its rate-setters starting 11am CET in which it would “discuss current market conditions.” It wasn’t immediately clear if a statement would be published after the confab.

The meeting, which comes less than a week after the rate-setting governing council’s last vote, raised investor expectations that the central bank is preparing to announce a policy instrument to stave-off another debt crisis in the region, which can only come in the form of more QE… which is ironic at a time when the ECB just announced it was phasing out all QE!

Italian government bonds rallied in price following news of the planned meeting, reversing some of the recent sell-off that analysts said brought the country’s borrowing costs towards the “danger zone”. Gilles Moec, chief economist at Axa, an insurer, said the “stakes are high” for the ECB “now that everyone is dusting off their debt sustainability spreadsheets for Italy, they probably need to go up an extra notch”.

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

The Mayhem Below the Surface of the Stock Market Seeps to the Surface: Now it’s the Giants that Topple

The Mayhem Below the Surface of the Stock Market Seeps to the Surface: Now it’s the Giants that Topple

The market finally gets it: The Fed is going to tighten to get a handle on its massive inflation problem.

Since February last year, the hottest most hyped stocks, many of them recent IPOs and SPACS, have been taken out the back and brutalized, either one by one or jointly. The stocks that have by now crashed 60%, 70%, 80%, or even 90% from their highs include luminaries such as Zoom, Redfin, Zillow, Compass, Virgin Galactic, Palantir, Moderna, BioNTech, Peloton, Carvana, Vroom, Chewy, the EV SPAC & IPO gaggle Lordstown Motors, Nikola, Lucid, and Rivian, plus dozens of others. Some of these superheroes are tracked by the ARK Innovation Fund, which has crashed by 55% from its high last February.

This mayhem has been raging beneath the surface of the market since February last year, and in March, I mused, The Most Hyped Corners of the Stock Market Come Unglued. They have since then come unglued a whole lot more. But the surface itself remained relatively calm and the S&P 500 Index set a new high on January 3 this year because the biggest stocks kept gaining or at least didn’t lose their footing.

But now even the giants too are going over the cliff. Combined by market cap, the seven giants, Apple [AAPL], Amazon [AMZN], Meta [FB], Alphabet [GOOG], Microsoft [MSFT], Nvidia [NVDA], and Tesla [TSLA] peaked on January 3, and in the 13 trading days since then have plunged 13.4%. $1.6 trillion in paper wealth vanished (stock data via YCharts):

This is obviously still no big deal, a 13.4% decline, after this huge gigantic run-up. During the March 2020 crash, these giants plunged 28%. But it’s the first time since then that this unappetizing event has occurred.

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

Peter Schiff: The Fed Made This Bed and Now We Have to Lie In It

Peter Schiff: The Fed Made This Bed and Now We Have to Lie In It

Inflation is running hot. Economic data is running cold. Stocks and bonds are under pressure. The Fed is scrambling. In his podcast, Peter Schiff talked about the trajectory of the economy. He said we’re on the cusp of the most obvious crisis that virtually nobody saw coming. The Federal Reserve made this bed. Now we have to lie in it.

Stocks and bonds are off to a rough start in 2022 with the expectation of rate hikes on the horizon. In fact, many analysts now think that the Fed could raise interest rates five times in 2022. And some also think the first hike in March could be 50 basis points.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman called a .5% rate hike “shock and awe.”

Peter called this “ridiculous.”

It’s not shock and awe. When you’re talking about 7% inflation, a move from zero to 50 basis points is still recklessly low interest rates. And for a Fed that’s actually serious about fighting inflation, raising interest rates to 50 basis points is not nearly enough for the task at hand.”

Even so, a .5% rate hike could have a profound impact and pop the bubble economy.

Given the incredible amount of leverage that’s in the system, a 50 basis point rate hike can still do a lot of damage. And I think Bill Ackman is underestimating the extent of the damage. But not just the damage from the initial hike, but from all the subsequent hike, which aren’t going to do any good about slowing down this inflation freight train.”

Peter noted the price of oil hit has continued its upward trajectory this week. The price of oil is at a seven-year high with plenty of room to keep running up. In 2021, a lot of producers ate their rising costs

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

Peter Schiff: The Fed Can’t Do What It’s Saying It Will Do

Peter Schiff: The Fed Can’t Do What It’s Saying It Will Do

The Fed FOMC minutes came out last week, signaling tighter monetary policy. Peter Schiff talked about the minutes in his podcast, arguing that the Fed can’t do what it says it’s going to do. If it does, it will crash the markets and the economy. And it won’t lower inflation.

The Fed minutes were widely viewed as even more hawkish than the messaging coming out of the December meeting. Peter said the minutes even surprised him a bit. But he reminded us that when he’s talking about a “hawkish” Fed, he’s not really talking about hawks.

They’re extinct. They may as well be the dodo bird at the Federal Reserve. Everybody is a dove. We’re just talking about degrees of dovishness. And so, the Fed was less dovish than the markets had expected.”

The minutes indicated we could now see four interest rate hikes this year. Three hikes were widely anticipated after the meeting. That would push rates up to about 1% by the end of the year. In the big scheme of things, and against the backdrop of the current economic data, that’s not a lot.

You cannot describe those itsy-bitsy moves in any way ‘hawkish.’”

But comments regarding quantitative tightening – shrinking the balance sheet – really roiled the markets.

In other words, they’re going to go from being a massive buyer in US Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to a seller of those securities. And that’s what really spooked the markets. Because that sent the bond markets tanking.”

Yields on the 10-year Treasury hit a 52-week high and briefly pushed above 1.8%.

If the Fed is going to shift from buying bonds to selling, clearly, that will put heavy pressure on the bond market. But Peter said there is one thing that the markets don’t seem to comprehend.

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

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments Almost Certainly Await”: Nomura Fears ‘Collateral’ Damage From The QE-to-QT Transition

“Minsky Moments” almost certainly await, warns Nomura’s Charlie McElligott in his latest note as he reflects on a massive week ahead for markets.

With Powell testimony and bunches of Fed speakers, along with US economic releases headlined by the market’s most important datapoint in the CPI release Wednesday, in addition to PPI, Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment over the course of the week, plus two Duration-heavy auctions ($36B of 10Y and $22B 30Y, on top of tomorrow’s $52B 3Y),… and finally, US corporate earnings season kickoff (highlighted by JPM, C and WFC this upcoming Friday), it is no wonder that investors are degrossing still…

While the long-end of the curve is reversing modestly – after some more ugliness overnight – STIRs continue to grind hawkishly higher with March now consolidating around a 90% chance of a rate-hike

McElligott raises some worries of a rapid ‘reversal’ risk in bonds – via “market tantrum” forcing the Fed to yet-again “Bend the Knee” – as market positioning in bonds is extreme to say the least.

Looking at the QIS CTA Trend model to get a sense of the “bearish momentum” and asymmetry within Fixed-Income positioning, we currently see the net exposure across G10 Bonds is back to 10 year historical “extreme Short” at just 2.2%ile overall exposure since 2011; further, the aggregate $notional position across the agg G10 Bond positions is now greater that -2 SD rank (i.e. very “net Short”) dating all the way back to 2002.

Similarly, the Nomura MD notes that eventually, the more this selloff in legacy long / crowded hyper Growth Tech extends, there is ultimately a mounting risk of a sharp counter-trend rally in beaten-down Nasdaq, particularly considering the extremely magnitude of the Dealer “short Gamma” profile in QQQ ($Gamma -$476mm, 3.4%ile since 2013…

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

Peter Schiff: Less Loose Fed Monetary Policy Isn’t Tight Fed Monetary Policy

Peter Schiff: Less Loose Fed Monetary Policy Isn’t Tight Fed Monetary Policy

There’s been a lot of talk about the Federal Reserve tapering its asset purchases. Peter Schiff talked about it during his podcast, saying even if the Fed does getting around to tapering, that doesn’t equate to a legitimately tight monetary policy. Furthermore, any tapering today sows the seeds for its own destruction.

The minutes from the July Federal Reserve meeting came out last week. They revealed the Fed is starting to talk about tapering asset purchases later this year. That sent stocks lower as traders continue to anticipate Fed monetary tightening. The hardest-hit sectors were economically sensitive cyclical stocks and anything that was part of the reflation trade.

Peter said there was really nothing new in the minutes.

The Fed did not reveal anything that hadn’t already been revealed by other FOMC members in their various talks.”

Nevertheless, according to all the experts, the Fed is Johnny on the spot. It is now tightening. And because it is tightening, inflation is no longer a concern.

Peter said the markets are reacting to this anticipated tightening cycle in the same way they have to past tightening cycles without appreciating the difference between this tightening cycle and those that preceded it. In fact, it’s hard to call the Fed’s next step a “tightening cycle.”

So far, the only thing that has happened during this cycle is that the Fed has talked. That’s it. It’s all talk and no action.”

Peter conceded that the central bank may well taper and slow down quantitative easing.

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

Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Climax

FOURTH TURNING ACCELERATING TOWARDS CLIMAX

“At some point, America’s short-term Crisis psychology will catch up to the long-term post-Unraveling fundamentals. This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on. Every slide in asset prices, employment, and production will give every generation cause to grow more alarmed.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Economists Predict Great Depression II for US Economy: Fast or V ...

I’ve been writing articles about the Fourth Turning for over a decade and nothing has happened since its tumultuous onset in 2008, with the global financial collapse, created by the Federal Reserve and their Wall Street co-conspirator owners, that has not followed along the path described by Strauss and Howe in their 1997 book – The Fourth Turning.

Like molten lava bursting forth from a long dormant (80 years) volcano, the core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to flow along channels of distress, long ago built by bad decisions, corrupt politicians and the greed of bankers. The molten ingredients of this Crisis have been the central drivers since 2008 and this second major eruption is flowing along the same route. The core elements are debt, civic decay, and global disorder, just as Strauss & Howe anticipated over two decades ago.

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

These Are The Banks Where The Fed’s $1.4 Trillion In Reserves Are Parked

These Are The Banks Where The Fed’s $1.4 Trillion In Reserves Are Parked

Over the past few days there has been much confusion over the repocalpyse that shook the overnight funding market, and just as much confusion over the definition of reserves which some banks were unwilling to part with, other banks were desperate for, and in the end both Powell and the former head of the NY Fed’s markets desk admitted that Quantitative Tightening had been taken too far, and the total amount of reserves in the system was too low and will be increased (welcome back QE).

Yet while the book has yet to be written on the causes for last week’s shocking move higher in repo rates, which sent general collateral as high as 10%, a record print in a time of $1.4 trillion in excess reserves, we can shed some clarity on the definition of “reserves.” While there is a universe of semantic gymnastics when it comes to explaining what reserves are, the  most basic definition is quite simply “cash”, however not cash in circulation but rather cash (and deposits) held in the bank’s account with the Federal Reserve (which the US central bank’s name comes from).

This means that there should be a de facto identity between the total amount of cash in the US banking system and the amount of total (minimum required plus excess) reserves. Sure enough, if only looks at the Fed’s weekly H.8 statement, which lists the “Assets and Liabilities of Commercial Banks in the United States“, and adds across the various banking cash aggregates in the US, what one gets is precisely the total amount of reserves.

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

For The First Time In 6 Years, No Central Bank Is Hiking

For The First Time In 6 Years, No Central Bank Is Hiking

The global central bank experiment with renormalization is officially over.

After roughly half the world’s central banks hiked rates at least once in 2018, the major central banks have returned to easing mode, and as the chart below shows, for the first time since 2013, not a single central bank is hiking rates.

Commenting on the violent reversal away from tightening financial conditions which emerged following the Q4 2018 selloff, Goldman’s Jan Hatzius writes that “The FOMC looks set to cut the funds rate next week, the ECB today sent a strong signal that action in September is likely, and China has resumed easing policy after a spring pause. With global growth running at a below-trend rate of 2¾%—down from about 4% a year ago—a synchronized tilt towards easing looks like a natural response to a weaker outlook.”

Yet even Goldman can’t help but ask just why the Fed is rushing to commence the first easing cycle in years, pointing out that “the US economy is in decent shape, with a tight labor market, inflation close to target and— in our forecast— growth running a little above 2% both this year and next. We are modestly above consensus because we expect the negative inventory cycle to end and final demand to continue growing robustly on the back of easier financial conditions.”

This, according to the Goldman economist, should limit Fed easing to two 25bp insurance cuts, one next week and another in September, although the bank, which until very recently did not expect any rate cuts at all, fails to justify just why the Fed is doing what it is about to do, unless of course Powell is merely folding to Trump pressure.

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

The Federal Reserve’s Controlled Demolition Of The Economy Is Almost Complete

The Federal Reserve is an often misunderstood entity, not only in the mainstream, but also in alternative economic circles. There is this ever pervasive fantasy on both sides of the divide that the central bank actually “cares” about forever protecting the US economy, or at least propping up the US economy in an endless game of “kick the can”. While this might be true at times, it is not true ALL the time. Things change, agendas change, and sometimes the Fed’s goal is not to maintain the economy, but to destroy it.

The delusion that the Fed is seeking to kick the can is highly present today after the latest Fed meeting in which the central bank indicated there would be a pause in interest rate hikes in 2019. As I have noted in numerous articles over the past year, the mainstream media and the Fed have made interest rates the focus of every economic discussion, and I believe this was quite deliberate. In the meantime, the Fed balance sheet and its strange relationship to the stock market bubble is mostly ignored.

The word “capitulation” is getting thrown around quite haphazardly in reference to the Fed’s tightening policy. And yet, even now after all the pundits have declared the Fed “in retreat” or “trapped in a Catch-22”, the Fed continues to tighten, and is set to cut balance sheet assets straight through until the end of September. Perhaps my definition of capitulation is different from some people’s.

One would think that if the Fed was in retreat in terms of tightening, that they would actually STOP tightening. This has not happened. Also, one might also expect that if the Fed is going full “dovish” that they would have cut interest rates in March instead of holding them steady at their neutral rate of inflation.

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

We Are Entering The “Quantitative Failure” Narrative

For a decade, the world brushed off any concerns about soaring global debt under the rug for a simple reason: between the Fed, the ECB and the BOJ, there was always a buyer of last resort, providing an implicit or, increasingly explicit backstop to bond prices, in the process creating the biggest asset bubble in history as investors seeking return were forced to buy first fixed income securities and then equities and other, even riskier securities.

However, as BofA’s Barnaby Martin is the latest to point out, “early 2019 will be uncharted territory for the market” because after years of central bank purchases crowding investors into risky assets, this dynamic will now reverse. As Zero Hedge readers have observed on countless occasions, the yearly growth of central bank balance sheets is now turning negative as shown in the following chart.

The upshot of this, in Martin’s view, is that markets will continue to experience more “corrections” than normal, leading to bigger and fatter trading ranges for credit spreads in Europe this year.

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

Monday Musings on Monetization and Markets (or Fundamentals Don’t Matter, Liquidity Does)

Monday Musings on Monetization and Markets (or Fundamentals Don’t Matter, Liquidity Does)

Being I’m not an economist nor associated with any financial or investment institutions nor do I have anything for you (dear reader) to buy or sell, I have total freedom to say what I please and freedom to share what I see.

In that spirit, I round back on the Federal Reserves balance sheet versus the curious case of excess reserves of the mega-banks.  Last week I detailed that every time the Fed has ceased adding to its balance sheet or outright reduced, the outcome has been decidedly negative for asset prices (HERE).  However, like everything, there is a little more to the story.

The chart below shows the rise in the Fed’s Treasury’s (blue line), Mortgage Backed Securities (red line), and rise plus fall of Bank Excess Reserves.  What is so interesting is that bank excess reserves didn’t begin declining when the Fed’s Quantitative Tightening began, but immediately upon the conclusion of QE in late 2014.  And excess reserves have already declined by $1.2 trillion while the Fed’s balance sheet has declined by “only” about $400 billion.

Now, if I were cynical, I’d say it’s almost like the Fed’s plan with the excess reserves was to use them like a sponge to soak up liquidity during QE and then continue releasing liquidity long after QE ended…and even well after QT was underway (actually, I’m quite cynical).  The term for this is “monetization”, something the Fed said it would “never do”.

The chart below shows the massive rise in the Fed’s balance sheet (white line), bank excess reserves (black line), and the quantity of monetization (yellow line) floating in the system just waiting to be leveraged into 5x’s or 10x’s or perhaps even 20x’s that amount.

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

Fed’s Balance Sheet Reduction Reaches $402 Billion

Fed’s Balance Sheet Reduction Reaches $402 Billion

The QE unwind has started to rattle some nerves.

For the past two months, the sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Fed’s QE unwind has been deafening. The Fed started the QE unwind in October 2017. As I covered it on a monthly basis, my ruminations on how it would unwind part of the asset-price inflation and Bernanke’s “wealth effect” that had resulted from QE were frequently pooh-poohed. They said that the truly glacial pace of the QE unwind was too slow to make any difference; that QE had just been a “book-keeping entry,” and that therefore the QE unwind would also be just a book-keeping entry; that QE had never caused any kind of asset price inflation in the first place, and that therefore the QE unwind would not reverse that asset-price inflation, or whatever.

But in October last year, when all kinds of markets started reversing this asset price inflation, suddenly, the QE unwind got blamed, and the Fed – particularly Fed Chairman Jerome Powell – has been put under intense pressure to cut it out. Yet it continues:

The Fed shed $28 billion in assets over the four weekly balance-sheet periods of December. This reduced the assets on its balance sheet to $4,058 billion, the lowest since January 08, 2014, according to the Fed’s balance sheet for the week ended January 3. Since the beginning of this “balance sheet normalization,” the Fed has now shed $402 billion.

According to the Fed’s plan released when the QE unwind was introduced, the Fed is scheduled to shed “up to” $30 billion in Treasuries and “up to” $20 billion in MBS a month – now that the QE unwind has reached cruising speed – for a total of “up to” $50 billion a month. So how did it go in December?

Treasury Securities

…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…

 

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