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Challenging the Notion that the Fed will Support Markets to Prevent a Crisis

Challenging the Notion that the Fed will Support Markets to Prevent a Crisis

A pervasive belief throughout both the mainstream and independent media is that when faced with the threat of an economic downturn, central banks will act unconditionally to lower interest rates and inject fresh stimulus into markets by way of quantitative easing. One theory is that they will do this to stave off a collapse of the economy amidst rising trade ‘protectionism‘. But is the idea of central banks enacting policy to avert economic disaster one that stands up to scrutiny?

To gain a broader understanding of how banks behave before and after a financial crisis is triggered, the historical actions of the Federal Reserve are a good place to start.

The Great Depression

In a 2013 article written by Gary Richardson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Richardson candidly explains how in 1928 and 1929 – leading into an impending stock market crash – the Fed were raising interest rates. According to Richardson, they did this ‘in an attempt to limit speculation in securities markets‘.

Conditions at the time included an influx of borrowed money being poured into the stock market, which contributed heavily to the soaring price of shares. A month before the crash that eventually manifested into a depression, the Dow Jones stood at a record high of 381 points.

Today, the Dow Jones is approaching an all time high of 27,000, and since it’s post crisis low of 6,469 has increased by 317%. A combination of ultra accommodative monetary policy and corporate stock buybacks has been responsible for much of this rise.

There were two significant ramifications from the Fed’s decisions to raise rates prior to the Great Depression. The first was that economic activity in the U.S. began to slow and, to quote Richardson, ‘because the international gold standard linked interest rates and monetary policies among participating nations, the Fed’s actions triggered recessions in nations around the globe.’

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

These 8 Red Flags Warn Us We’re Speeding Toward an Economic Collapse RIGHT NOW

These 8 Red Flags Warn Us We’re Speeding Toward an Economic Collapse RIGHT NOW

This isn’t exactly an article loaded with Christmas cheer, but there’s a very good reason that my family has strictly limited our holiday splurges this year. It’s because all the signs right now seem to indicate the US is hurtling toward an economic collapse.

It’s inevitable, of course. Our economy has been artificially propped up for decades, since abandoning the gold standard. We’re $21 trillion dollars in debt, an unfathomable number. The fact that other countries still lend us money boggles the mind. If the United States was a person with such a high ratio of debt that we aren’t paying off, we wouldn’t even be able to buy a car with one of those 25% interest loans, that’s how bad our credit would be.

Not only that, but there are some parties who seem to want to see the economy go belly up for their own greedy and nefarious purposes.

Here are the red flags that have me concerned about an imminent economic collapse.

The stock market is crashing.

Right now, the market is on track for a month that is equivalent to the crash of 1929, when the Great Depression began.  Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are down by 8% during a month that is usually really good. Michael Snyder reported:

The ferocity of this stock market crash is stunning many of the experts, and many investors are beginning to panic.  Back in early October, the Dow hit an all-time high of 26,951.81, but on Monday it closed at just 23,592.98.  That means that the Dow has now plunged more than 3,300 points from the peak of the market, and many believe that this stock crash is just getting started. (source)

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

The Coming Crisis

The Coming Crisis

In a crisis, people either turn to their institutions or they turn to their leaders to provide a path forward through the emergency. This is especially true when the path forward is waiting out the emergency. People respect action, so they have to have faith in their leaders if the right course is patience. Alternatively, if the leaders and institutions are not up to the task, then the people turn on each other.The French Revolution is the perfect example of what happens when leaders and institutions fail in a crisis.

It has been a long time since American faced a real crisis. The closest we came to anything major was the financial crisis a decade ago. For people foolish enough to take on the crazy mortgages, it was a very real emergency, but for most people it was more of an abstraction than a real crisis. Unemployment ticked up and the stock market took a header, but it was not the Great Depression. There was a concern, for sure, that the wheels were about to come off the cart, but it never materialized.

Of course, one could say that the leaders and institutions stepped in and guided the country through the crisis. People tend not to think of the Federal Reserve as an essential institution, but it is probably the most important part of government now. The head of the central bank is every bit as important as the President. In fact, he may be more important, as we saw with Greenspan and George Bush. An overly tight monetary policy led to a slight downturn in the economy at just the right time to sink the Bush election bid.

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

Weekly Commentary: Portending an Interesting Q4

Weekly Commentary: Portending an Interesting Q4

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I’ll add that those that learn the wrong lessons from Bubbles are doomed to face greater future peril. The ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis has generated interesting discussion, interviews and scores of articles. I can’t help but to see much of the analysis as completely missing the critical lessons that should have been garnered from such a harrowing experience. For many, a quite complex financial breakdown essentially boils down to a single flawed policy decision: a Lehman Brothers bailout would have averted – or at least significantly mitigated – crisis dynamics.
I was interested to listen Friday (Bloomberg TV interview) to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s thoughts after a decade of contemplation.

Bloomberg’s David Westin: “It’s been ten years, as you know, since the great financial crisis that you stepped into. Tell us the main way in which the financial system is different today than what you faced when you came into the Treasury?

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson: “Well, it’s very, very different today. So, let’s talk about what I faced. What I faced was a situation where going back decades the government had really failed the American people, because the financial system had not kept pace with the modern financial markets. The protections that were put in place after the Great Depression to deal with panics were focused on banks – protecting depositors with deposit insurance. Meanwhile, the financial markets changed. And when I arrived (2006), half or more of the Credit was flowing outside of the banking system. 

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

Weekly Commentary: Portending an Interesting Q4

Weekly Commentary: Portending an Interesting Q4

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I’ll add that those that learn the wrong lessons from Bubbles are doomed to face greater future peril. The ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis has generated interesting discussion, interviews and scores of articles. I can’t help but to see much of the analysis as completely missing the critical lessons that should have been garnered from such a harrowing experience. For many, a quite complex financial breakdown essentially boils down to a single flawed policy decision: a Lehman Brothers bailout would have averted – or at least significantly mitigated – crisis dynamics.

I was interested to listen Friday (Bloomberg TV interview) to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s thoughts after a decade of contemplation.

Bloomberg’s David Westin: “It’s been ten years, as you know, since the great financial crisis that you stepped into. Tell us the main way in which the financial system is different today than what you faced when you came into the Treasury?

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson: “Well, it’s very, very different today. So, let’s talk about what I faced. What I faced was a situation where going back decades the government had really failed the American people, because the financial system had not kept pace with the modern financial markets. The protections that were put in place after the Great Depression to deal with panics were focused on banks – protecting depositors with deposit insurance. Meanwhile, the financial markets changed. And when I arrived (2006), half or more of the Credit was flowing outside of the banking system. 

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

Comparing Crises: 1929 with 2008 and the Next

Comparing Crises: 1929 with 2008 and the Next

The business and mainstream press this month, September 2018, has been publishing numerous accounts of the 2008 financial crash on its tenth anniversary. This month attention has been focused on the Lehman Brothers investment bank crash that accelerated the general financial system implosion in the US, and worldwide, ten years ago. Next month, October, we’ll no doubt hear more about the crash as it spread to the giant insurance company, AIG, and beyond that to other brokerages (Merrill Lynch), mid-sized banks (Washington Mutual), to the finance arms of the auto companies (GMAC) and big conglomerates (GE Credit), to the ‘too big to fail’ banks like Bank of America and Citigroup and beyond. These ‘reports’ are typically narrative in nature, however, and provide little in the way of deeper historical and theoretical analysis.

Parallels & Comparisons 1929 & 2008

It is often said that the initial months of the 2008-09 crash set the US economy on a trajectory of collapse eerily similar to that of 1929-30. Job losses were occurring at a rate of 1 million a month on average from October 2008 through March 2009. One might therefore think that mainstream economists would look closely at the two time periods—i.e. 1929-30 and 2008-09—to determine with patterns or similar causes were occurring. Or to a deep analysis of the periods immediately preceding 1929 and 2008 to see what similarities prevailed. But they haven’t.

What we got post-2009 from the economic establishment was a declaration simply that the 2008-09 crash was a ‘great recession’, and not a ‘normal’ recession as had been occurring from 1947 to 2007 in the US. But they provide no clarification quantitatively or qualitatively as to what distinguished a ‘great’ from ‘normal’ recession was provided. Paul Krugman coined the term, ‘great’, but then failed to explain how great was different than normal. It was somehow just worse than a normal recession and not as bad as a bonafide depression. But that’s just economic analysis by adverbs.

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

Learning from America’s Forgotten Default

​President Franklin D. Roosevelt​ signs the Gold Bill (also known as the Dollar Devaluation Bill) ​Bettmann/Getty Images

Learning from America’s Forgotten Default

One of the most pervasive myths about the United States is that the federal government has never defaulted on its debts. There’s just one problem: it’s not true, and while few people remember the “gold clause cases” of the 1930s, that episode holds valuable lessons for leaders today.

LOS ANGELES – One of the most pervasive myths about the United States is that the federal government has never defaulted on its debts. Every time the debt ceiling is debated in Congress, politicians and journalists dust off a common trope: the US doesn’t stiff its creditors.

There’s just one problem: it’s not true. There was a time, decades ago, when the US behaved more like a “banana republic” than an advanced economy, restructuring debts unilaterally and retroactively. And, while few people remember this critical period in economic history, it holds valuable lessons for leaders today.

In April 1933, in an effort to help the US escape the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to take the US off the gold standard and devalue the dollar. But this would not be as easy as FDR calculated. Most debt contracts at the time included a “gold clause,” which stated that the debtor must pay in “gold coin” or “gold equivalent.” These clauses were introduced during the Civil War as a way to protect investors against a possible inflationary surge.

For FDR, however, the gold clause was an obstacle to devaluation. If the currency were devalued without addressing the contractual issue, the dollar value of debts would automatically increase to offset the weaker exchange rate, resulting in massive bankruptcies and huge increases in public debt.

To solve this problem, Congress passed a joint resolution on June 5, 1933, annulling all gold clauses in past and future contracts.

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

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