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What Could Pop The Everything Bubble?

A crisis that can’t be solved by just printing more dollars

I’ve long held that if a problem can be solved by creating $1 trillion out of thin air and buying a raft of assets with that $1 trillion, then central banks will solve the problem by creating the $1 trillion out of thin air—nothing could be easier.

This is the lesson of the past eight years: if a problem can be solved by creating new money and buying assets, then central banks will solve that problem.

Problem: stock market is declining. Solution: create new money and buy, buy, buy stock index funds. Problem solved! Market stops falling and quickly rebounds as “central banks have our backs.”

Problem: interest rates are inhibiting lending and growth. Solution: create a few trillion units of currency and buy enough sovereign bonds to drop interest rates to near-zero.

Problem: nobody’s left who can afford to buy the new nosebleed-priced flats that underpin China’s miracle-grow economy. Solution: create new currency, lend it to local government agencies who then buy the empty flats.

Problem: stagnant employment and deflation. Solution: create a trillion in new currency, buy a trillion in new government bonds that then fund infrastructure projects, i.e. bridges to nowhere.

And so on. Any problem that can be solved by creating a few trillion out of thin air and buying assets will be solved.  The mechanism to solve these problems—creating currency out of nothing—is like a perpetual motion machine: there are no intrinsic limits on the amount of new money that can created at near-zero interest, as the interest payments can be funded by new money.

Even better, the central bank (the Federal Reserve) buys Treasury bonds with the new currency that generate income, which is then returned to the Treasury: a perpetual-motion money machine!

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

China Proposes Unprecedented Nationalization Of Insolvent Companies: Banks Will Equitize Non-Performing Loans

China Proposes Unprecedented Nationalization Of Insolvent Companies: Banks Will Equitize Non-Performing Loans

In what may be the biggest news of the day, and certainly with far greater implications than whatever Mario Draghi will announce in a few hours when we will again witness the ECB doing not “whatever it takes” but “whatever it can do”, moments ago Reuters reported that China is preparing for an unprecedented overhaul in how it treats it trillions in non-performing loans.

Recall that as we first wrote last summer, and as subsequently Kyle Bass made it the centerpiece of his “short Yuan” investment thesis, the “neutron bomb” in the heart of China’s impaired financial system is the trillions – officially at $614 billion but realistically anywhere between 8% and 20% of China’s total $35 trillion in bank assets – in non-performing loans. It is the unknown treatment of these NPLs that has been the greatest threat to China’s just as vast deposit base amounting to well over $20 trillion, which has been the fundamental catalyst behind China’s record capital flight as depositors have been eager to move their savings as far from China’s domestic banks as possible.

As a result, conventional thinking such as that proposed by Bass, Ray Dalio, KKR and many others, speculated that China will have to devalue its currency in order to inflate away what is fundamentally an excess debt problem as the alternative is unleashing a massive debt default tsunami and “admitting” to the world just how insolvent China’s state-owned banks truly are, not to mention leading to the layoffs of tens of millions of workers by these zombie companies.

However, China now appears to be taking a surprisingly different track, and according to a Reuters report China’s central bank is preparing regulations that would allow commercial banks to swap non-performing loans of companies for stakes in those firms. Reuters sources said the release of a new document explaining the regulatory change was imminent.

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

Fear The Smell Of (Monetary) Napalm In The Morning

Fear The Smell Of (Monetary) Napalm In The Morning

Via ConvergEx’s Nick Colas,

Warm up the choppers and put some Wagner on the loudspeakers – “Helicopter money” is a hot economic topic.

That’s where central banks print money and either hand it to the government for things like infrastructure investment or just send it out to consumers to spend. While that may sound like an extreme measure, advocates of this novel approach argue that it is a valid response to an extreme problem: slowing global growth and central banks with no “Standard” tools left in the shed.

But would it work?  There are two real-world examples in the last 15 years that offer some clues: the 2001 and 2008 tax rebate checks mailed to millions of Americans for up to $600 (2001) and $1,200 (2008). Studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research done in the wake of both events show notable differences.

  • In the first “Drop” (mid 2001), recipients reported spending most (53-73%) of their windfall.
  • In the second (early 2008), the percentage dropped to one third and most recipients reported saving the cash or using it to reduce debt.

The key lesson here: if policymakers are considering “Helicopter money”, they need to have the choppers in the air before a crisis hits. After that, it is too late.

The world’s central bankers are apparently out of ideas for how to stimulate the global economy back to health. Low interest rates?  Check.  Zero interest rates? Check.  Buying bonds to lower long term interest rates?  Big check.  Negative interest rates?  Ditto.  If monetary policy were a theme park, we could safely say we’ve been on every ride in the whole place.

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

NIRP Won’t Work – What Ray Dalio Thinks Central Banks Will Do Next

NIRP Won’t Work – What Ray Dalio Thinks Central Banks Will Do Next

Just as we first warned in September 2013, so it seems the view of “helicopter money” being imminent is now becoming more mainstream as the powers that be slowly propagandize the benefits.
If dropping interest rates to zero was Unorthodox Policy #1 and QE was Unorthodox Policy #2 then it seems very possible Helicopter Money will be Unorthodox Policy #3. Whether this new level of expansionism, with all the hopes and theoretic power it is supposed to hold, can generate growth of the red-hot rather than lukewarm kind remains to be seen.

However in so much as it could potentially raise nominal GDP, it may become an increasingly more attractive policy option around a global economy (especially DM) economy that faces many natural and structural growth concerns in the year ahead.Forcing the nominal economy to grow into the problems of the bubble era could be the most realistic policy choice over the remainder of the decade.

And today, the latest in a long line of realists has now come to the same conclusion that the only thing the central planners have left is a money-drop…

Authored by Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio (via ValueWalk.com),

Monetary Policy 1 was via interest rates. Monetary Policy 2 was via quantitative easing. It will be important for policy makers and us as investors to envision what Monetary Policy 3 (MP3) will look like.

While monetary policy in the US/dollar has not fully run its course and lowering interest rates and quantitative easing can still rally markets and boost the economy a bit, the Fed’s ability to stimulate via these tools is weaker than it has ever been. The BoJ’s and ECB’s abilities are even weaker. As a result, central banks will increasingly be “pushing on a string.” Let’s take just a moment to review the mechanics of why and then go on to see what MP3 will look like.

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

Davos, Dalio, and a Depression?!

Davos, Dalio, and a Depression?!

When Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, referred to a possible economic depression as he was being interviewed at the World Economic Forum at Davos, it does not mean what most people think it means.

Most of us think about recessions and depressions in a linear way. That is, a depression is a really, really bad recession featuring even higher levels of unemployment and lower overall levels of economic activity.

But for Mr. Dalio, recessions are kind of normal, business-cycle related economic events that regularly occur every 5-10 years or so. The economy begins to overheat, the Fed raises rates in response (the removal of the “punch bowl”), business activity slows perhaps a bit too much in response, and voila! A recession results.

Depressions on the other hand are secular or long term, occurring much less frequently. That’s because according to Mr. Dalio, it takes a long time (perhaps decades) to accumulate the excess levels of corporate and government debt that end up triggering this type of economic event. A depression is a condition where more debt cannot be added to the system and instead it must be reduced, or as we say, deleveraging must occur. A depression always threatens systemic solvency.

There are several hallmarks of a systemic deleveraging or depression if you will:

  1. Various asset classes begin to be sold (like oil and gas wells today for example)
  2. As a result of these widespread asset sales, prices decline
  3. Equity levels decline as a result
  4. This triggers more selling of assets
  5. Since there is less worthwhile collateral available credit levels contract
  6. Overall economic activity declines. In short, there isn’t enough cash flow being generated to service all the accumulated debt. As a result assets have to be sold, bankruptcies become more common.

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

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Size matters. Just ask Roy Scheider. As incredulous as it may seem, I only recently sat myself down to watch that American scare-you-out-of-the-water staple Jaws for the first time. As a baby born in 1970, the movie at its debut in 1975 was hugely inappropriate for my always precocious, but nevertheless only five-year old self. And by the time this Texas girl and those Yankee cousins of mine were pondering breaking the movie rules during those long-ago summers in Madison, Connecticut, it was not Jaws but rather Brat Pack movies that tempted us. We started down our road of movie rebellion with St. Elmo’s Fire, then caught up with a poor Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink and then really stretched our boundaries with Less than Zero – you get the picture.

And so finally during this long, hot summer of 2015, a seemingly appropriate time with our country gripped from coast to coast with real-life shark hysteria, I watched Jaws for the first time and heard Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody utter those words, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Prophetically, the reality might just be that the collective “we,” and quite possibly sooner than we think, really will need a bigger boat. That is, as it pertains to the global debt markets, which have swollen past the $200 trillion mark this year rendering the great white featured in Jaws, which can be equated with past debt markets, as defenseless and small as a teensy, striped Nemo by comparison.

The question for the ages will be whether size really does matter when it comes to the debt markets. It’s been more than three years since Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio excited the investing world with the notion that the levered excesses that culminated in the financial crisis could be unwound in a “beautiful” way.


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


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