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Barron’s Nonsensical Idea: Cut Rates Like Mad to Avoid Recession

Barron’s Nonsensical Idea: Cut Rates Like Mad to Avoid Recession

Barron’s writer Matthew Klein proposes to stop the recession by cutting interest rates like it’s 1995.

Klein says How to Avoid a Recession? Cut Interest Rates Like It’s 1995.

One of the most reliable harbingers of U.S. recession—short-term interest rates on U.S. Treasury debt higher than longer-term yields—has been flashing warning signs for months. That doesn’t mean the economy is doomed to a downturn.

So-called yield-curve inversions have preceded every U.S. downturn since the 1950s, with only one false positive in 1966. This past week, the yield on two-year Treasuries briefly surpassed the yield on 10-year notes for this first time since 2007. The most straightforward explanation is that traders…

Absurd Notion

The rest of the article is behind a paywall, but I can tell you with 100% certainly Klein’s notion is absurd.

Inverted yield curves do not cause recessions. They are symptoms of a buildup of excess debt or other fundamental problems.

Those problems will not not go away if the Fed “cuts rates like 1995” or even like 2008.

If a zero percent interest rate stopped recessions, Japan would not have had a half-dozen recessions in the past decades that it did have, many without inversions.

Not even negative rates can stop recessions.

The Eurozone, especially Germany, has negative rates. Yet, it’s highly likely the Eurozone is in recession now and even more likely Germany is (with the rest of the Eurozone to follow).

Monetary Madness

As a prime example of global monetary madness, witness Inverted Negative Yields in Germany and Negative Rate Mortgages.

Even if the Fed made a 100 basis point cut (four quarter point cuts at once), what the heck would that do?

Stop recession for how long? Zero months? Six months? And at what expense?

What Then?

Yes, what then? Negative mortgages? A 10-year yield of -1.0% like Switzerland.

And if that doesn’t work?

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

Major Recession Alarm Sounds

Major Recession Alarm Sounds

Major Recession Alarm Sounds

Red, red, in every direction we turn today… red.

The Dow Jones shed 800 scarlet points on the day.

Percentage wise, both S&P and Nasdaq took similar whalings.

The S&P lost 86 points. And the Nasdaq… 242.

And so the market paid back all of yesterday’s trade-induced gains — with heaps of interest.

Worrying economic data drifting out of China and Germany were partly accountable.

Chinese industrial production growth has slackened to 4.8% year over year — its lowest rate since 2002.

And given China’s nearly infinite data-torturing capacities, we are confident the authentic number is lower yet.

Meantime, the economic engine of Europe has slipped into reverse. The latest German data revealed second-quarter GDP contracted 0.1%.

Combine the German and Chinese tales… and you partially explain today’s frights.

But today’s primary bugaboo is not China or Germany — or China and Germany.

Today’s primary bugaboo is rather our old friend the yield curve…

A telltale portion of the yield curve inverted this morning (details below).

An inverted yield curve is a nearly perfect fortune teller of recession.

An inverted yield curve has preceded recession on seven out of seven occasions 50 years running.

Only once did it yell wolf — in the mid-1960s.

An inverted yield curve has also foretold every major stock market calamity of the past 40 years.

Why is the inverted yield curve such a menace?

As we have reckoned prior:

The yield curve is simply the difference between short- and long-term interest rates.

Long-term rates normally run higher than short-term rates. It reflects the structure of time in a healthy market…

Longer-term bond yields should rise in anticipation of higher growth… higher inflation… higher animal spirits.

Inflation eats away at money tied up in bonds… as a moth eats away at a cardigan.

Bond investors therefore demand greater compensation to hold a [longer-term] Treasury over a [short-term] Treasury.

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

David Rosenberg: “These Are Truly Historic And Dangerous Times”

David Rosenberg: “These Are Truly Historic And Dangerous Times”

We are living in dangerous times.

Mostly, everyone I speak to lives in the here and now. They seem more interested in telling people how crazy cheap the stock market is and how crazy expensive the ‎Treasury market is, rather than trying to look at the current environment in a historical perspective. We are living through a period of history that will be written about in textbooks in years and decades to come, and the undertones are none too good.

Instead of telling people there is no recession, these bulls should be discussing why the markets are busy pricing one in. What do these pundits know that the markets don’t know? We have a bond market in which a quarter of the universe trades at a negative yield. The long bond yield has gone negative in Germany. More than half of the world’s bond market is trading below the Fed funds rate. Investment grade yields, on average, are below zero in the euro area.

This is completely abnormal because it reflects an abnormal economic, financial and political backdrop. Those who point to the stock market’s performance with glee, because of its V-shaped recovery, don’t bother telling you that in the past 12 months the total return is marginal in real terms and the best performing sectors are the ones you can only typically rely on in a deflationary recession – real estate, utilities and consumer staples.

One of the problems coming out of the most recent recession is that the global debt load is infinitely larger now than it was at the peak of that prior credit-bubble cycle. The world is awash in debt. Years of monetary intervention among the world’s central banks created artificial asset-price inflation and exacerbated wealth inequalities at the same time. Fiscal policy failed to arrest the increasingly wide income disparity, a global dilemma that has become acute in the United States.

If The Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates Now, It Will Be An Admission That A Recession Is Coming

If The Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates Now, It Will Be An Admission That A Recession Is Coming

So there is a lot of buzz that the Federal Reserve is about to cut interest rates – and it might actually happen.  We’ll see.  But if it does happen, it will directly contradict the carefully crafted narrative about the economy that the Federal Reserve has been perpetuating all this time.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. economy is in great shape even when there has been a tremendous amount of evidence indicating otherwise.  And of course President Trump has been repeatedly telling us that this is “the greatest economy in the history of our country”, but now he is loudly calling for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates as well.  Something doesn’t seem to add up here.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, there is no way that the Fed should cut interest rates.  Right now interest rates are already low by historical standards, and theoretically it is during the “boom” times that interest rates should be normalized.  But if the U.S. economy is actually slowing down and heading into a recession, then a rate cut would make perfect sense.  And if that is the reality of what we are facing, then the economic optimists have been proven dead wrong, and people like me that have been warning of an economic slowdown have been proven right.

If the talking heads on television are correct, we’ll probably see a rate cut.  In fact, apparently there are some people that are even pushing “for a 50 basis point cut”

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

Peter Schiff: We’re Heading for Recession No Matter What the Fed Does With Rates

Peter Schiff: We’re Heading for Recession No Matter What the Fed Does With Rates

Jerome Powell took center stage last week and the Federal Reserve chair didn’t do anything to dampen expectations of a rate cut. His comments sent both stocks and gold higher.

Peter Schiff recently appeared on RT Boom Bust with University of Amherst economics professor Richard Wolff to talk about the Fed and its impact on the markets. Pete said no matter what the Fed does, a recession is coming.

Peter opened the interview saying the main reason the Fed is cutting rates is to try to keep the air from coming out of the stock market bubble.

The other reason is they’re trying to keep this so-called expansion going. There they’re going to fail. I think we’re headed for recession regardless of what the Fed does with rates. The only thing the Fed is going to succeed in doing is reviving inflation. The Fed claims inflation is too low and they want to make sure the rate goes up. Well, that’s going to be their only success. But unfortunately, that’s also going to be their biggest failure.”

Wolff agreed with Peter’s view that a downturn is coming, noting that we are overdue for a recession. He said the sudden dovish turn by the Fed is a “desperate move” by to try to postpone the downturn until after the 2020 election.

The host mentioned a tweet Peter put out during Powell’s trip to Capitol Hill.

Peter said he never heard the question asked, but it would have been a great way to put Powell on the spot and ask him if he agrees with the president.

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

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

~ Charles Mackay (1841)

Like me, you may often feel gobsmacked when looking at the world around you.

How did things get so screwed up?

The simple summary is: the world has gone mad.

It’s not the first time.

History is peppered with periods when the minds of men (and women) deviated far from the common good. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the rise of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Great Purge, McCarthy’s Red Scares — to name just a few.

Like it or not, we are now living during a similar era of self-destructive mass delusion. When the majority is pursuing — even cheering on — behaviors that undermine its well-being. Except this time, the stakes are higher than ever; our species’ very existence is at risk.

Bizarro Economics

Evidence that the economy is sliding into recession continues to mount.

GDP is slowing. Earnings warnings issued by publicly-traded companies are at a 13-year high. The most reliable recession predictor of the past 50 years, an inverted US Treasury curve, has been in place for the past quarter.

Yet the major stock indices hit all-time highs earlier this week. And every one of the 38 assets in the broad-based asset basket tracked by Deutsche Bank was up for the month of June — something that has never happened in the 150 years prior to 2019.

It has become all-too clear that markets today are no longer driven by business fundamentals. Only central bank-provided liquidity matters. As long as the flood of cheap credit continues to flow (via rock-bottom/negative interest rates and purchase programs), keeping cash-destroying companies alive and enabling record share buybacks, all boats will rise.

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

Trying To Prevent Recessions Leads To Even Worse Recessions

Trying To Prevent Recessions Leads To Even Worse Recessions

Deutsche Bank strategists Jim Reid and Craig Nicol wrote a report this week that echos what I and other Austrian School economists have been saying for many years: actions taken by governments and central banks to extend business cycles and prevent recessions lead to even more severe recessions in the end. MarketWatch reports – 

The 10-year old economic expansion will set a record next month by becoming the longest ever. Great news, right? Maybe not, say strategists at Deutsche Bank.

Prolonged expansions have become the norm since the early 1970s, when the tight link between the dollar and gold was broken. The last four expansions are among the six longest in U.S. history .

Why so? Freed from the constraints of gold-backed currency, governments and central banks have grown far more aggressive in combating downturns. They’ve boosted spending, slashed interest rates or taken other unorthodox steps to stimulate the economy.

“However, there has been a cost,” contended Jim Reid and Craig Nicol at the global investment bank Deutsche Bank.

“This policy flexibility and longer business cycle era has led to higher structural budget deficits, higher private sector and government debt, lower and lower interest rates, negative real yields, inflated financial asset valuations, much lower defaults (ultra cheap funding), less creative destruction, and a financial system that is prone to crises,’ they wrote in a lengthy report.

“In fact we’ve created an environment where recessions are a global systemic risk. As such, the authorities have become even more encouraged to prevent them, which could lead to skewed preferences in policymaking,” they said. “So we think cycles continue to be extended at a cost of increasing debt, more money printing, and increasing financial market instability.”

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

Waiting For The Black Swan

Waiting For The Black Swan

War with Iran would be the beginning of the end

Two more tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning  (6/13/19) in the Gulf of Oman, and if hostilities advance we could be facing a ‘black swan’ event. One that changes everything, and divides the world into ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods.

A lot of us are waiting for ‘something’ to happen. We know that there are too many unsustainable trends and practices running and we fall into the “let’s just rip the Band-Aid off” camp.   Some, like myself, have lost faith in the political leadership and institutions and doubt they retain any capacity to attend to anything more than their own selfish interests, let alone manage the difficult tasks ahead rooted as they are in systems theory and managing complexity.

So, let’s get on with it already.  Bring it on.  Black swans are welcome to those who feel a swift kick to the behind is sometimes needed to begin setting things straight.

Like many, I am also conflicted because I also know that getting onto a new path will be disruptive and probably quite economically and financially painful for everyone, myself included.  Hoping for ‘something to break’ and hoping nothing breaks hang in an uneasy balance.

Luckily, my hopes and wishes have nothing to do with what’s going to happen, or when.  I might as well be performing a secret hand ritual before the TV in my living room to ensure that my team’s basketball free-throw goes in.  The dry tinder of the next bonfire was laid down over many years and decades and it will catch fire when it does, no matter how much denial or how many superstitious practices we employ.

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

Recession Already in Place, Watch Out – John Williams

Recession Already in Place, Watch Out – John Williams

You might be wondering why the Trump Administration is calling for rate cuts and money printing with all the good news about the economy. Economist John Williams of ShadowStats.com knows why and contends, “We have a recession in place. It’s just a matter of playing out in some of these other funny numbers. The reality is on the downside, where you have mixed pressures right now. People who are really concerned about the economy right now, and that includes President Trump looking at re-election, he’s been arguing that the Fed should lower rates, and I am with him. The Fed created this circumstance. They are pushing for the economy on the upside because they want to continue to keep raising rates. Banks make more money with higher rates, and they are still trying to liquidate the problems they created when they bailed out the banking system back in 2008.”

Williams strips out all the financial gimmicks in his work that make things look better than they really are to give a true picture of the real financial health. Take for example the recent reportedly good news of the trade deficit narrowing. Williams says, “What we saw was the very unusual narrowing of the deficit . . . that’s generally good news . . . but if you look at why the trade deficit was narrowing, it wasn’t that we were having new surging exports . . . instead, we were having collapsing domestic consumption.  People weren’t buying things. People were not buying goods. So, the imports were falling off, and that narrowed the deficit. That is not a healthy sign. The last time you saw something like that was the beginning of the Great Recession (2008–2009). . . . We still haven’t recovered from the Great Recession.”

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

Wealth Bubble Leaves U.S. Economy in Uncharted Territory

wealth bubble

Wealth Bubble Leaves U.S. Economy in Uncharted Territory

There have been numerous signs that the U.S. is likely to go through another major recession at some point. And regardless of when or if a recession happens, it won’t change the fact that the U.S. economy is already in hot water.

At MarketWatch, the “hot water” is explained in terms of a U.S. “wealth bubble” that reveals a peculiar pattern:

Today the United States sits in the midst of the largest wealth bubble in post-World War II history, as measured by household net worth (or wealth) relative to gross domestic product. As I showed in detail recently in the Journal of Business Economics, only two other postwar bubbles come close, with peaks in 1999 and 2006, just prior to the tech stock crash and the Great Recession.

The largest wealth bubble (household net worth relative to GDP) is shown in a chart from the same article. (Shaded areas are recessions):

wealth bubble

As you can see at the bottom, the wealth bubble is “5 times the size” of the GDP.

But notice how the wealth bubble “pops” just before the 2000 and 2008 recessions. If you look at the end of the blue line, it appears the largest wealth bubble since World War II may already be popping.

Also notice how the green line dips before the 2000 tech stock “recession,” and the red line before the 2008 recession (caused mainly by subprime mortgages).

But according to the MarketWatch report, there’s another crucial detail to point out:

In both prior bubbles, the crashes led to a drop in the value of net worth to about 4 times GDP. Even that level remained high relative to prior history, since in no single quarter before 1998 had the household net worth-to-GDP ratio ever reached 4.0 or higher.

With that being said, according to the chart above:

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

List of 24 Points Pressing Hard toward Recession

List of 24 Points Pressing Hard toward Recession 

  • The US stock market is slightly overbought (which is not a positive in terms of head room for more of a rally).
  • It’s massively built up on debt that is now more expensive to maintain and/or obtain.
  • The Fed is still rapidly tightening money supply and says it will continue to do so for several more months.
  • Interest rate increases and money tightening that already happened through this past December will continue to worsen economic conditions until summer because any changes by the Fed have about a half year lag time for the general economy.
  • That also means all the tightening that continues between now and September, will continue to pile more and more weight on top of the economy until next February, which is why the Trump admin. is screaming the Fed went too far.
  • 2019 Q1 US corporate earnings are coming in almost as poorly as economists said they would, and they don’t look set to start rising much in the next quarter … if at all.
  • Measures used to help earnings beat much lower expectations (and not by much) were mostly cost-saving measures, not revenue boosters, or they were mere accounting choices. Earnings are after-tax numbers, so they benefited hugely in 2018 from the Trump Tax Cuts in a way that had nothing at all to do with companies doing better business. They are also reported as a “per share” number, and the main thing that changed was the number of outstanding shares in the denominator as a result of stock buybacks. So, really, earnings were pathetic!
Real Investment Advice
  • Transportation is declining as product shipments decline. West-coast port imports plunged 19% from the previous quarter (3% YoY). Trucking lost ground four months in a row.

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

Japanified World Ahead

Japanified World Ahead

Losing Decades
Too Much, Too Fast
A $10 Trillion Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
Mastering Private Markets
Living on Puerto Rico Time

Regular readers may have noticed me slowly losing confidence in the economy. Your impression is correct and there’s a good reason for it, as I will explain today. The facts have changed so my conclusions are changing, too.

I still think the economy is okay for now. I still see recession odds rising considerably in 2020. Maybe it will get pushed back another year or two, but at some point this growth phase will end, either in recession or an extended flat period (even flatter than the last decade, which says a lot). And I still think we are headed toward a global credit crisis I’ve dubbed The Great Reset.

What’s evolved is my judgment on the coming slowdown’s severity and duration. I think the rest of the world will enter a period something like Japan endured following 1990, and is still grappling with today. It won’t be the end of the world; Japan is still there, but the little growth it’s had was due mainly to exports. That won’t work when every major economy is in the same position.

Describing this decline as “Japanification” may be unfair to Japan but it’s the best paradigm we have. The good news is it will spread slowly. The bad news is it will end slowly, too.

I believe we will avoid literal blood in the streets but it will be a challenging time. We’ll be discussing how to get through it more specifically at the Strategic Investment Conference next month. It is now sold out but you can still buy a Virtual Pass that includes audio and video of almost the whole event. Click here for information.

Losing Decades

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

Zombified Economy: What Will the Next Recession Look Like?

Zombified Economy: What Will the Next Recession Look Like?

The short answer is nothing like the last.

If you search for “next recession” numerous ideas pop up. Many believe there will not be a recession soon.

Condition Comparison

Conditions are radically different than in 2007 and 2000.

The Fed re-blew a housing price bubble but the number of jobs tied to construction, sales, CDOs, agents and even the impact on banks is a shell of what happened then.

Technology is bubbly, but not like 2000. This is how I see things.

  1. We will not have bank failures in the US.
  2. There will be major bank failures or bail-ins in Europe.
  3. Housing will not have a major role but will strengthen the recession.
  4. Millennials simply cannot afford houses so housing will not lead a Fed attempt at a recovery even if interest rates plunge.
  5. Low interest rates will keep zombie companies alive for a while longer .
  6. Proliferation of retail stores, Walmart, Target, everything requires minimum staffing levels no matter how poor sales become.
  7. Unemployment will not rise much like last time. Instead, expect to see hours cut.Also expect for many of those currently working two jobs to lose one of them.
  8. Retail sales will plunge with the reduction in work.
  9. The impact of the above is very weak profits but not massive labor disruption
  10. Stocks will get clobbered as earnings take a huge hit.
  11. Junk bonds also get clobbered on fears of rolling over debt.
  12. This malaise can potentially last for years.

Zombified Economy

Japan is in a state of zombification and Europe is on the verge.

The US may not and likely will not go through Japanese-like extremes just yet. However, the demography setup is poor, the student debt problem is a huge overhang, boomers unprepared for retirement is a huge overhang, and pensions are a huge overhang.

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

Just Before The Great Recession, Mountains Of Unsold Goods Piled Up In U.S. Warehouses – And Now It Is Happening Again

Just Before The Great Recession, Mountains Of Unsold Goods Piled Up In U.S. Warehouses – And Now It Is Happening Again

When economic conditions initially begin to slow down, businesses continue to order goods like they normally would but those goods don’t sell as quickly as they previously did.  As a result, inventory levels begin to rise, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  In fact, the U.S. inventory to sales ratio has risen sharply for five months in a row.  This is mirroring the pattern that we witnessed just prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and it is exactly what we would expect to see if a new recession was now beginning.  In recent weeks, I have been sharing number after number that indicates that a serious economic slowdown is upon us, and many believe that what is coming will eventually be even worse than what we experienced in 2008.

And even though I write about this stuff every day, I was stunned by how rapidly inventory levels have been rising recently.  The following numbers come from Peter Schiff’s website

This comes on the heels of the largest gain in wholesale inventories in more than five years in December.

Inventories rose 7.7% from a year ago in January. Meanwhile, sales only rose by 2.7%. Overall, total inventories were $669.9 billion at the end of January, up 1.2% from the revised December level.

The increase in durable goods inventories at the wholesale level was even starker. These inventories were up 11.7% from January a year ago, and are up 17% from January two years ago, hitting $415 billion, the highest ever.

Businesses don’t like to have excess inventory, because carrying excess inventory is expensive and cuts into profits.  So they try very hard to manage their inventories efficiently, but if the economy slows down unexpectedly that can catch them off guard

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

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed

This past week, on March 20, 2019, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell announced the US central bank would not raise interest rates in 2019. The Fed’s benchmark rate, called the Fed Funds rate, is thus frozen at 2.375% for the foreseeable future, i.e. leaving the central bank virtually no room to lower rates in the event of the next recession, which is now just around the corner.

The Fed’s formal decision to freeze rates follows Powell’s prior earlier January 2019 announcement that the Fed was suspending its 2018 plan to raise rates three to four more times in 2019. That came in the wake of intense Trump and business pressure in December to get Powell and the Fed to stop raising rates. The administration had begun to panic by mid-December as financial markets appeared in freefall since October. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, hurriedly called a dozen, still unknown influential big capitalists and bankers to his office in Washington the week before the Christmas holiday. With stock markets plunging 30% in just six weeks, junk bond markets freezing up, oil futures prices plummeting 40%, etc., it was beginning to look like 2008 all over again. Public mouthpieces for the business community in the media and business press were calling for Trump to fire Fed chair Powell and Trump on December 24 issued his strongest threat and warning to Powell to stop raising rates to stop financial markets imploding further.

In early January, in response to the growing crescendo of criticism, Powell announced the central bank would adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude whether or not to raise rates further. The Fed’s prior announced plan, in effect during 2017-18, to raise rates 3 to 4 more times in 2019 was thus swept from the table. So much for perennial academic economist gibberish about central banks being independent! Or the Fed’s long held claim that it doesn’t change policy in response to developments in financial markets!

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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