Home » Posts tagged 'us federal reserve'

Tag Archives: us federal reserve

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

The Flim-Flam Men

The Flim-Flam Men

I suspect if average Joe or Jane were asked to identify modern examples of ‘Flim-Flam Men’, many would point to Bernie Madoff or Allen Stanford. (Remember them from the last “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008?) Or even to a long list of Too Big To Fail bank CEO’s past and present, plus various corporate, government and Federal Reserve officials who’ve graced our lives over the last twenty or more years.

And you know what? I couldn’t argue with them for a second because they’d be correct. But do those examples really illustrate the deeper, more mundane meaning of the common street hustle or financial confidence game? And are we in denial of our own critical role in ‘The Big Con‘?

Madoff and Stanford (and the Federal Reserve of course) would fall into the category of ‘The Big Con’ since they successfully roped thousands, even tens of thousands, of people into their web of deceit. More importantly, they fleeced their ‘marks’ for years, decades even, and every single mark was smiling right up until the end. Why? Because everyone thought they were on the inside track to a sweet heart deal that paid better than average returns. In other words, they were ‘chosen’ (usually because of their own self described brilliance) and thus they had a leg up on everyone else. That is, until reality rushed in to fill the vacuum and their glorious illusion imploded.

What I wish to explore here is some of the emotional and psychological components of the common confidence game (professional money management subdivision, three-card Monte category) perpetrated on the public by the political and financial ‘industry’ in general, and some of our local money managers/financial advisors in particular. It’s one thing to run a onetime financial con on an individual or small group of people and another entirely to do so consistently, ‘professionally’ and as an accepted member of society.

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

Citibank Joins Mainstream Gold Bulls Forecasting Record Prices

Citibank Joins Mainstream Gold Bulls Forecasting Record Prices

Citibank has joined other mainstream gold bulls calling for record gold prices.

Citi raised its gold price forecast this week. It now projects a three-month price of $1,825 per ounce and for the yellow metal to head into record territory in 2021. Citi analysts expect gold to eclipse the $2,000 mark early next year.

Citibank joins several other mainstream players that now project record gold prices in the coming months. Last week, we reported Goldman Sachs now forecasts record gold prices within the next 12 months and Bank of America released a note saying gold could break its US dollar record by the end of the year if it continues to breach key resistance levels.

Meanwhile, SGMC Capital Founder & CEO Massimiliano Bondurri told Bloomberg he thinks gold may hit close to $2,000 by the end of this year and could rally further due to dollar weakness.

It can rally much, much further than here, for a number of reasons. First of all, we expect dollar depreciation to continue, so that’s likely to benefit gold.”

And Edison Investment Research is even more bullish, saying gold has the potential to go as high as $3,000.

Gold has been on a strong run over the last couple of weeks as the number of coronavirus cases has surged. Bullion is up better than 12% in this quarter.

Safe-haven demand has given gold a boost, but the big driver is the Federal Reserve and its unprecedented money printing. As US Global CEO Frank Holmes recently pointed out, there is a strong correlation between the expansion of the central bank’s balance sheet and the price of gold. We’ve already seen the balance sheet balloon by over $3 trillion in response to the coronavirus pandemic and it currently stands at over $7 trillion. Holmes said he thinks the central bank will likely grow its balance sheet to $10 trillion before all is said and done. If history is any teacher, that could mean $4,000 gold.

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

The Fed Isn’t a Magic Money Tree

The Fed Isn’t a Magic Money Tree

The Fed Isn’t a Magic Money Tree

There seems to be no end to the Federal Reserve’s arrogance. Fed officials believe that through their wise actions, they can eliminate the business cycle, lower unemployment and make society prosperous.

But it’s actually much more limited in what it can do.

All the Fed can reliably do is stop bank runs and limit liquidity panics. It can also fund (or “monetize”) the U.S. federal deficit, as it has done in recent months.

By buying essentially the same amount of U.S. Treasury securities the government has issued, the Fed has taken pressure to fund mammoth federal deficits off of the private sector.

But such actions are not cost-free.

They store up trouble for the future. These actions swell the Fed’s balance sheet, which will limit the Fed’s flexibility and its willingness to tighten policy during the next inflation spike.

The more the Fed intervenes, the harder it is for it to reverse course without causing damage.

By promising the public that it can do anything more than offer dollar liquidity, the Fed is setting up both investors and workers for disappointment.

Yet it’s going to try anyway. And it’ll only undermine its limited reputational capital in the process.

“Yield Curve Control”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Fed is considering implementing “yield curve control” in the Treasury market. This policy hasn’t been used since WWII and the early postwar period.

It essentially funded the war effort. If unleashed today, it wouldn’t be done to support a civilization-saving war effort but to maintain the debt-saturated economy to which we’ve become accustomed.

Here’s how it would work in practice:

The Fed would set a target range, or cap, on yields for Treasury bonds of a specific maturity — say, 3-, 5- or 7-year Treasuries.

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

Into Darkness: Where The Fed Is Leading Us

Into Darkness: Where The Fed Is Leading Us

The system is hurtling towards breakdown. Protect yourself now.

As you may know, I was one of the very first voices publicly reporting on covid-19, issuing an alert that the virus was a significant pandemic event on Jan 23rd, 2020.

This was long before most media outlets even managed to write their first “It’s just the flu, bro!” article.

Using the same logic and scientific methodology I was trained in as a PhD, I was able to “predict” things well in advance of nearly every official or mainstream news source.

I’m using quotation marks around the word  “predict” because it’s not really a prediction when you’re just extrapolating trends that are already underway.

Just as it’s not really a “prediction” to estimate where a thrown pitch will travel, it wasn’t much of a prediction to state that a novel virus with an R-Naught (R0) of well over 3 would be extremely difficult to contain once it arrived in a country.  Note that I didn’t say impossible — South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam all get high marks for containment — but certainly difficult.

The US and the UK proved this in spades, as they’re both led by below-average ‘managers’ rather than leaders.

Leaders make tough decisions based on imperfect information.  Managers dither and hedge and only make up their minds after the facts are already in and events well underway.  Naturally, the US/UK managers were simply no match for the exponential rate that the Honey Badger Virus (aka Covid-19) spreads at.

I call it the Honey Badger virus because of its incredible ability to evade quarantine, as eagerly and easily as Stoeffle, as seen in this short enjoyable video:

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

ECB v Fed

ECB v Fed

QUESTION: Martin,

You mentioned in a recent blog post that the ECB, unlike the FED, can go bankrupt.

Can you explain further?

Not sure where you get the time, energy and resources to research and write all that you do buy it is truly amazing.

Regards,

M

ANSWER: The Federal Reserve does not need permission to create elastic money. It has the authority to expand or contract its balance sheet. However, it cannot simply print money out of thin air. The ECB is the only institution that can authorize the printing of euro banknotes. The Federal Reserve must back the banknotes by purchasing US government bonds. The Fed buys and sells US government bonds to influence the money supply whereas the ECB influences the supply of euros in the market by directly controlling the number of euros available to eligible member banks. This structure was created because of Germany’s obsession with its own hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Each member state retained its central bank and those central banks issue the banknotes — not the ECB. Therefore, the ECB works with the central banks in each EU state to formulate monetary policy to help maintain stable prices and strengthen the euro. The ECB was created by the national central banks of the EU member states transferring their monetary policy function to the ECB, which in effect operates on a supervisory role.

There are four decision-making bodies of the ECB that are mandated to undertake the objectives of the institution. These bodies include the Governing Council, Executive Board, the General Council, and the Supervisory Board.

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

American Exceptionalism Is on the Ropes and the End of the Petrodollar Is Nigh

American Exceptionalism Is on the Ropes and the End of the Petrodollar Is Nigh

From the border wall rhetoric to trade wars, Trump is effectively setting up the implosion of the dollar and couching it as pseudo nationalistic populism.

The pressure on the global economy imposed by the measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to erode whatever confidence the world still has in the U.S. dollar as a viable reserve currency. A shortfall in U.S. domestic savings, dropping to 1.4 percent of national income, brought on by the drawn-out shutdowns and structural changes to the ways of doing business, such as the phasing out of brick-and-mortar business establishments and the substitution of human labor with robotics, may be the canary in the coal mine of the upcoming economic paradigm shift.

Among the visible signs that a global monetary reset is in the offing is the state of currency speculation markets, which are progressively moving away from the dollar as illustrated by the $1.5 billion slash in short positions in the previous week, the largest in six weeks. A more inconspicuous red flag might be the decreasing power of the U.S. Federal Reserve to affect markets as it has over its relatively short existence with a mere word here or the moving of an interest rate point there.

Just five days ago, Fed chair Jerome Powell declared in a press conference that the U.S. banking system was “so much better capitalized, so much stronger, better aware of its risks, better at managing its risks, [and] more highly liquid…”, that it represented a “source of strength” in this environment of widespread economic pain. In former years, just these words from the head of the U.S. central bank would have been enough to shore up any misgivings by market participants. But exactly the opposite occurred.

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

After the Fed Punts, the ECB Throws Another Hail Mary

After the Fed Punts, the ECB Throws Another Hail Mary

Last week FOMC Chair Jerome Powell and company did, essentially nothing, at their June meeting. They held interest rates at 0.25%, did not expand QE nor did they indicate any changes.

This wasn’t what the market wanted, as the bond were pushing the Fed to take rates negative and further open up the liquidity spigots.

Rates would be lower for longer and central bank swap lines would remain open. Other than that, the Fed didn’t give the markets what it wanted.

There were plenty of dollars in the system. That dynamic immediately changed after the FOMC meeting.

By punting the Fed put the ball back in the hands of the ECB who had been enjoying the dynamic of a weaker dollar to alleviate offshore dollar liquidity concerns.

It didn’t hurt that political instability here in the U.S. is at a high not seen since the 1860’s.

The stronger euro was assisting the ECB in selling their balance sheet expansion.

The ECB then announced it’s latest TLTRO-3 Auction for this quarter. The total amount of the auction was a stunning $1.3 trillion, which broke down into $550 billion in new lending and $760 billion in rollovers.

And it means the total TLTRO outstanding balance is already at all-time high levels and nothing has been solved yet.

But, as Goldman Sachs through Zerohedge points out, these loans were at incredibly generous rates:

Given improved terms (-1% for YR1 until June 2021, and -0.5% for YR2-3 if lending benchmarks criteria are met) starting with this auction, banks were expected to repay some outstanding TLTRO-II early to refinance at cheaper rates. Taken together, this still leaves some €550bn of net new take-up.

This gives banks the great incentive to get paid to borrow in euros and get the yield spread against other currencies like the dollar or the Japanese yen.

The size of this issuance is your proof that there simply aren’t enough dollars out there to soak up demand or banks wouldn’t have fed so deeply at the trough.

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

Weekly Commentary: Extraordinary Q1 2020 Z.1 Flow of Funds

Weekly Commentary: Extraordinary Q1 2020 Z.1 Flow of Funds

Financial crisis erupted in March. The Fed slashed rates at a March 3rd emergency meeting – and then began aggressively expanding its holdings/balance sheet (creating market liquidity). Even from a “flow of funds” perspective, it was one extraordinary quarter.

Total Non-Financial Debt (NFD) surged a nominal $1.597 TN during the first quarter ($6.379 TN seasonally-adjusted and annualized!) to $54.325 TN. This was the strongest quarter of NFD growth on record (blowing past Q1 2004’s $1.234 TN). Indeed, Q1 growth surpassed full-year NFD expansions for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. This pushed one-year growth to $3.271 TN (6.2%), significantly exceeding 2007’s record $2.521 TN expansion. NFD increased $20.857 TN, or 59%, since the end of 2008. NFD as a percentage of GDP rose to a record 260%. This compares to previous cycle peaks of 226% (Q4 ‘07) and 183% (Q4 ’99).

Financial Sector borrowings jumped $963 billion during Q1, surpassing the previous record $656 billion from Q3 ’07. This pushed one-year Financial Debt growth to $1.247 TN (7.6%), the strongest expansion since ‘07’s $2.065 TN.

Total Credit (Non-Financial, Financial and Foreign) surged nominal $2.391 TN for the quarter to $77.861 TN, surpassing previous record growth from Q1 ‘04 ($1.512 TN). One-year growth of $4.790 TN was the strongest since 2007. Total Credit jumped to 362% of GDP, the high going back to 2010.

Federal Liabilities (excluding massive “contingent”/off balance sheet liabilities) jumped to $22.0 TN during Q1. At 102%, Federal Liabilities surpassed 100% of GDP for the first time in at least six decades. For perspective, Federal Liabilities ended the seventies at 50% of GDP; the eighties at 63%; the nineties at 59%; and 2010 at 85%. It would not be surprising to see this ratio approach 150% over the next three to five years.

Outstanding Treasury Securities jumped nominal $500 billion during the quarter to a record $19.518 TN. This pushed one-year growth to a staggering $1.612 TN (9.0%) and two-year growth to $2.472 TN (14.5%). Treasuries ballooned $13.467 TN, or 223%, since the end of ’07. Treasuries-to-GDP jumped to 91%, more than doubling the 41% from the end of 2007.

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

The Fed Just Pulled Off Another Backdoor Bailout of Wall Street

The Fed Just Pulled Off Another Backdoor Bailout of Wall Street

Source: Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve has authorized 11 financial bailout programs thus far. Despite Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s reassurances at his press conferences that these programs are to help American families, a full 10 of these programs are actually bailouts of Wall Street banks or their trading units.

The latest Wall Street bank bailout to come out of hiding is the Fed’s Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF). This program was supposed to buy up corporate bonds in the secondary market in order to help corporate bond markets regain liquidity. Thus far, the only thing the SMCCF has bought up are Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) holding investment grade and junk-rated bonds.

The SMCCF program began operations on May 12. By May 18 the Fed had spent $1.58 billion buying up ETFs. The ultimate goal of the facility, at this point, is to spend $250 billion on ETFs and secondary market corporate bonds. The U.S. Treasury Department was supposed to hand over $25 billion of taxpayer money to eat losses on the SMCCF program. Instead, without explanation, the latest data from the Fed shows that the Treasury deposited $37.5 billion into the SMCCF, suggesting the program is expecting losses of greater than $25 billion.

The bulk of the purchases of ETFs were those issued by BlackRock, the company to whom the New York Fed has outsourced the program. The Fed is allowing BlackRock to buy up its own, previously sinking, ETFs as well as those of other ETF issuers. The New York Fed gave BlackRock a no-bid contract to run the program as investment manager. But that’s far from the only outrage.

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

Making Sense Of An Increasingly Insensible World

Making Sense Of An Increasingly Insensible World

Creating purpose and fulfillment within a failing system

What the heck is going on?

I hear this a lot these days. Developments are happening too quickly to process for many folks, creating a persisting cloud of confusion.

Even focusing down on any particular single event often gets nowhere because so much of what’s going on simply makes so sense

Take for example, the W.H.O. which as recently as two weeks ago recommended that only sick people should wear masks.  What? We’ve known for months that people can spread Covid-19 when they are asymptomatic.  How can a ‘sick person’ wear a mask if they are sick but even they don’t know that? It just makes no sense.  What is even going on?

Or take Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, who defiantly declared that the Federal Reserve “absolutely does not” contribute to the wealth inequality gap:

(Source)

Say what?

The Fed is busy buying distressed financial assets for far more than they are worth from the largest and wealthiest of stock and bondholders.  That absolutely contributes to inequality.

So does juicing the stock market, or ““market”” as I like to term it (because it’s so distorted it needs two sets of quote marks).

So does appointing Blackrock – the world’s largest private asset manager – to select which private assets should be bought with the freshly-invented currency emanating from the Fed’s electronic printing presses.  Should we really be shocked to learn that Blackrock chose their own distressed assets, like the junk bond fund JNK, for the Fed to buy first?

It’s a bald-faced lie for Jay Powell to claim anything other than the Fed is the #1 contributor to inequality.  And that’s by a country mile.

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

Central Banks Bailed Out Markets To Avoid Trillions In Pension Losses

Central Banks Bailed Out Markets To Avoid Trillions In Pension Losses

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published a report showing how pension funds in OECD countries recorded a massive loss of approximately $2.5 trillion during the stock market meltdown in February through late March. Shortly, after that, central banks intervened with monetary cannons to rescue stock markets and other financial assets to avoid pension returns from going negative. 

The spread of COVID-19 worldwide and its knock-on effects on financial markets during the first quarter of 2020 are likely to have reversed some of these gains. Early estimates suggest that pension fund assets at the end of Q1 2020 could have dropped to USD 29.8 trillion, down 8% compared to end-2019 [or about a $2.5 trillion loss]. 

The drop in pension fund assets is forecast to stem from the decline in equity markets in the first quarter of 2020. Returns, inclusive of dividends and price appreciation, were negative on the MSCI World Index in the first quarter of 2020 (-20%), and between -11% and -24% on the MSCI Index for Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States.

An increase in the price of government bonds that pension funds own could partly offset some of the losses that pension funds experienced on equity markets in Q1 2020. Some Central Banks, such as the Federal Reserve in the United States, cut interest rates in 2020 to support the economy. The fall in interest rates may lead to an increase in the price of government bonds in the portfolios of pension funds as the yields of newly issued bonds decline. – OECD

Bloomberg’s Lisa Abramowicz pointed out in a tweet, “this report [referring to the OECD report] shows the massiveness of pension assets & points to why central banks are tethered to bailing out markets: social infrastructures depend on their not going down too much.” 

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

Fed Warns of High Downside Risks

Fed Warns of High Downside Risks

In its semiannual monetary report to the Senate Finance Committee the Fed warns of six downside risks.

The risks are not spread evenly. Low wage earners and small businesses are particularly vulnerable.

Please consider the Fed’s Monetary Policy Report to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and to the House Committee on Financial Services.

The report is 66 pages long and is full of interesting charts and comments. 

Let’s start with Powell’s statement on risk: “Despite aggressive fiscal and monetary policy actions, risks abroad are skewed to the downside.”

Six Downside Risks 

  1. The future progression of the pandemic remains highly uncertain.
  2. The collapse in demand may ultimately bankrupt many businesses.
  3. Unlike past recessions, services activity has dropped more sharply than manufacturing—with restrictions on movement severely curtailing expenditures on travel, tourism, restaurants, and recreation and social-distancing requirements and attitudes may further weigh on the recovery in these sectors. 
  4. Disruptions to global trade may result in a costly reconfiguration of global supply chains. 
  5. Persistently weak consumer and firm demand may push medium- and longer-term inflation expectations well below central bank targets.
  6. Additional expansionary fiscal policies— possibly in response to future large-scale outbreaks of COVID-19—could significantly increase government debt and add to sovereign risk.

Labor Market

The severe economic repercussions of the pandemic have been especially visible in the labor market. Since February, employers have shed nearly 20 million jobs from payrolls, reversing almost 10 years of job gains. The unemployment rate jumped from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February to a post–World War II high of 14.7 percent in April .

Unemployment Rate by Race 

Unemployment Rate by Race - Monetary Policy Report

Labor Force Participation Rate

Labor Force Participation Rate - Monetary Policy Report

Employment Declines by Wage Group 

Employment Declines - Monetary Policy

Low Wage Earner Employment

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

Unintended Consequences of Monetary Inflation

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF MONETARY INFLATION

“In short, the Fed is committed to rescue businesses from the greatest economic catastrophe since the great depression and probably even greater than that, to fund the US Government’s rocketing budget deficits, fund the maintenance of domestic consumption directly or indirectly through the US Treasury, while pumping up financial markets to achieve these objectives and preserve the illusion of national wealth.

“Clearly, we stand on the threshold of an unprecedented monetary expansion.”

Introduction

President Reagan memorably said that the nine words you don’t want to hear are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Governments in all the major jurisdictions are now making good on that unwanted promise and are taking responsibility for everything from our shoulders.

Those receiving subsidies and loan guarantees are no doubt grateful, though they probably see it as the government’s duty and their right. But someone has to pay for it. In the past, by the redistribution of wealth through taxes it meant that the haves were taxed to give financial support to the have-nots, at least that was the story. Today, through monetary debasement nearly everyone benefits from monetary redistribution.

This is not a costless exercise. Governments are no longer robbing Peter to pay Paul, they are robbing Peter to pay Peter as well. You would think this is widely understood, but the Peters are so distracted by the apparent benefits they might or might not get that they don’t see the cost. They fail to appreciate that printing money is not just the marginal source of finance for excess government spending, but it has now become mainstream.

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

The Fed Just Got the Perfect Cover for the Collapse of the U.S. Economy

The Fed Just Got the Perfect Cover for the Collapse of the U.S. Economy

misdirection

The scapegoating has already started. In almost every sector of the economy that is collapsing, the claim is that “everything was fine until the pandemic happened”. From tumbling web news platforms to small businesses to major corporations, the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent national riots will become the excuse for failure. The establishment will try to rewrite history and many people will go along with it because the truth makes them look bad.

And what is the truth? The truth is that the U.S. economy – and in some ways, the global economy – was already collapsing. The system’s dependency on ultra-low interest rates and central bank stimulus created perhaps the largest debt bubble in history – the Everything Bubble. And that bubble began imploding at the end of 2018, triggered primarily by the Federal Reserve raising rates and dumping its balance sheet into economic weakness, just like it did at the start of the Great Depression. Fed Chair Jerome Powell knew what would happen if this policy was initiated; he even warned about it in the minutes of the October 2012 Federal Open Market Committee, and yet once he became the head of the central bank, he did it anyway.

For a year leading up to the pandemic, the Fed was struggling to maintain and suppress a repo market liquidity crisis. National debtcorporate debt and consumer debt were at all-time highs. Companies were desperate for new stimulus, and they were getting crumbs from the Fed, rather than the tens of trillions that they needed just to stay afloat. The central bank had sabotaged the economy, but they had to keep it in a state of living death until they had a perfect cover event for the collapse. The pandemic and inevitable civil unrest do the job nicely.

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

Here Is The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking

Here Is The Stunning Chart That Blows Up All Of Modern Central Banking

Several years ago, when conventional wisdom dictated that to push inflation higher and jumpstart lethargic economies, central banks have to push rates so low as to make saving punitive and force consumers to go out and spend their hard earned savings, several central banks including the ECB, SNB and BOJ crossed into the monetary twilight zone by lowering overnight rates negative.

Then, year after year, we would hear from the likes of Kuroda and Draghi how the BOJ and ECB will continue and even extend their insane monetary policy, which now includes the purchase of 80% of all Japanese ETFs…

… until the central banks hit their inflation targets of 2%.

And yet, year after year, the BOJ would not only not hit its inflation target but appeared to drift ever lower, as did the ECB, SNB and any other bank that had gone NIRP, confounding all economists and central bankers: why was this happened if rates were negative? Why were consumers not taking their money out of the bank and spending it, pushing inflation higher?

Nobody had an answer, until in late 2015, we offered a glimpse into what was structurally flawed with this “model”: using a report by Bank of America, we showed that not only had household savings rates not declined in countries with negative rates, they had in fact risen. There was a simple reason for this, as the BIS had highlighted: ultra low rates may perversely be driving a greater propensity for consumers to save as  retirement income becomes more uncertain.

What logically followed from this is that inflation would also track rates lower, resulting in a crushing blow to economic orthodoxy where the only weapon central banks had left to spark an economic – read inflationary – recovery was to ease monetary conditions even more in hopes that eventually they would drop low enough to spark the long-awaited recovery.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase