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Fed and Treasury Steer Their Unsinkable Ship toward Iceberg

Fed and Treasury Steer Their Unsinkable Ship toward Iceberg

Illustration of the Titanic sinking with iceberg in backgroundThis past week we got to observe Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the US stock market andthe US bond market do everything I said they would do in their complicated shuffle of ships-and-icebergs:

“I’m sure many helium-headed stock investors believe the lilly-livered Fed will turn tail and run from its goal of letting inflation rise as soon as bonds begin to clobber stocks more seriously…. I believe the Fed is more committed than ever to raising inflation as it has been saying it wanted to do for years.”

Stocks in Bondage but Fed Not Fazed

While bond yields had already begun to rise and compete against stocks, the Fed stayed the course, iceberg dead ahead. As a result, longterm bond interest rose even more because the Fed did nothing to jawbone the idea of increasing its bond-buying QE to take interest rates back down (which it accomplishes by purchasing US government bonds from banks to take them off the market, putting them on its own balance sheet).

You see, the Fed is — I believe — caught in its own catch-22. Usually, to lower interest (in order to stimulate the economy and hit the higher inflation number the Fed says it is targeting), the Fed would buy more bonds; however, buying bonds and adding them to its balance sheet tends to create more money in the system, and the bond market is already afraid of rising inflation because much of the new money is now going into the hands of average people. (This game only worked when all new money was going into the stock market.)

As a result, aiming for higher inflation by purchasing more bonds will cause the reinvigorated bond vigilantes to up their demand on bond yields to cover inflation, making it impossible to lower longterm yields by purchasing bonds.

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

 

Peter Schiff: The Box That the Federal Reserve Is In

Peter Schiff: The Box That the Federal Reserve Is In

Jerome Powell and Janet Yellen testified jointly before the US Senate last week. Inflation was a big topic of conversation. The Fed chair continued to insist that the central can fight inflation if necessary, but that it really isn’t a problem we need to worry about right now. In his podcast, Peter Schiff said the truth is inflation is a problem. And when it comes to dealing with that problem, the Fed is in a box. It will never pick a fight that it can’t win.

The Federal Reserve balance sheet has swelled to a new record of over $7.72 trillion. It was up another $26.1 billion on the week last week. Peter said he expects this number to continue increasing at an even faster rate in the near future.

I would not be surprised to see the balance sheet hit $10 trillion by the end of 2021 because we have a lot of deficit spending in the pipeline and there is no way to pay for it other than the Federal Reserve.”

One of the questions directed toward Powell was about the Federal Reserve’s independence. Powell talked about how important it is. But Peter said the actions of the Fed chair show there’s really no independence at all.

There’s independence in form only, but not in substance. We pretend we have an independent Fed, but in reality, the Fed acts as if it’s just a branch of the US Treasury Department. The fact that both the secretary of the Treasury and the Fed chairman are testifying together shows a degree of cooperation. They’re working together and it seems that they are trying to coordinate their policies.”

The reason the Fed is keeping interest rates so low and expanding its balance sheet is to accommodate the US government as it spends more and more money.

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

peter schiff, schiff gold, jerome powell, janet yellen, fed, us federal reserve, us treasury department, us senate, inflation, balance sheet

FireEye and US Treasury Department hacked, Russia blamed

FireEye and US Treasury Department hacked, Russia blamed

Security consulting company FireEye has been hacked and their “Red Team” tools, which was their proprietary intrusion detection and testing toolkit has been stolen. In a blog post about the incident the company attributed the breach to a highly skilled nation state actor possessing “world class capabilities.” FireEye’s clients include agencies at all levels of government and Fortune 500 companies globally.

“The stolen “red team” tools — which amount to real-world malware — could be dangerous in the wrong hands,”

FireEye in an effort to mitigate the damage potential of the toolkits being in the wild, giving security teams the ability to build out defences against them.

The attack is being widely attributed to Russia (which I have to admit, kinda gets an eyeroll from me)

As I was writing this, a Washington Post article also trotted out Russian hackers in a piece about a breach at the US Treasury Department which cited, as its source material a one sentence report from Reuters. The entire Reuters report is as follows:

“A sophisticated hacking group backed by a foreign government stole information from the U.S. Treasury Department and a U.S. agency responsible for deciding policy around the internet and telecommunications, according to people familiar with the matter.”

From this sentence, Washington Post ran a story that starts out with “Russian government hackers breached the Treasury and Commerce departments”  attributing the allegation to  “people familiar with the matter.”

Read: https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-cyber-amazoncom-idUSL1N2IT0HS

I find it frustrating that the mainstream media bias is always quick to blame things on Russia and slow to acknowledge documented hostile behaviour from China. It’s just kind of strange.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Administration on Track for $1 Trillion Budget Deficit This Year

Trump Administration on Track for $1 Trillion Budget Deficit This Year

The Trump administration is on track to post a 2019 fiscal year budget deficit of over $1 trillion. These are the kind of budget deficits we would expect to see during a deep recession, not an “economic boom.”

The government got off to a good start at achieving this illustrious achievement last month. According to the Treasury Department report, the deficit came in at $100.5 billion in October. That represents a 58 percent increase from the $63 billion deficit recorded in October 2017. Spending rose 18 percent year-on-year. Revenues only increased by 7 percent.The month-on-month increase was impacted by a quirk in the calendar. Total outlays were much higher this October compared to last year because Social Security payments for October 2017 went out in September due to Oct. 1 falling on the weekend. Nevertheless, we should have seen a decrease in this year’s September outlays compared to last year and that didn’t happen. The September 2018 deficit was significantly bigger (119.116) than September 2017 ($7.886 billion) even without the October Social Security payments falling in September this year. The bottom line is spending is going up year-over-year.

Spending last month continued the pace of the last fiscal year. The federal government ended 2018 with the largest budget deficit since 2012. Uncle Sam ended 2018 $779 billion in the red, adding to the ballooning national debt. The CBO forecast this year’s deficit will come in close to $1 trillion. The current Treasury Department estimate projects a total fiscal 2019 deficit over the $1 trillion mark, coming in at $1.085 trillion.

The national debt expanded by more than $1 trillion in fiscal 2018. It currently stands at over $21.7 trillion. According to data released by the Treasury Department, fiscal 2018 gave us the sixth-largest fiscal-year debt increase in the history of the United States. (If you’re wondering how the debt can grow by a larger number than the annual deficit, economist Mark Brandly explains here.)

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

US Gross National Debt Jumps by $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion

US Gross National Debt Jumps by $1.27 Trillion in Fiscal 2018, Hits $21.5 Trillion

But wait — these are the Boom Times!

The US gross national debt jumped by $84 billion on September 28, the last business day of fiscal year 2018, the Treasury Department reported Monday afternoon. During the entire fiscal year 2018, the gross national debt ballooned by $1.271 trillion to a breath-taking height of $21.52 trillion.

Just six months ago, on March 16, it had pierced the $21-trillion mark. At the end of September 2017, it was still $20.2 trillion. The flat spots in the chart below, followed by the vertical spikes, are the results of the debt-ceiling grandstanding in Congress:

These trillions are whizzing by so fast they’re hard to see. What was that, we asked? Where did that go?

Over the fiscal year, the gross national debt increased by 6.3% and now amounts to 105.4% of current-dollar GDP.

But this isn’t the Great Recession when tax revenues collapsed because millions of people lost their jobs and because companies lost money or went bankrupt as their sales collapsed and credit froze up; and when government expenditures soared because support payments such as unemployment compensation and food stamps soared, and because there was some stimulus spending too.

But no – these are the good times. Over the last 12-month period through Q2, the economy, as measured by nominal GDP grew 5.4%. “Nominal” GDP rather than inflation-adjusted (“real”) GDP because the debt isn’t adjusted for inflation either, and we want an apples-to-apples comparison.

The increases in the gross national debt have been a fiasco for many years. Even after the Great Recession was declared over and done with, the gross national debt increased on average by $954 billion per fiscal year from 2011 through 2017.

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

Donald of Arabia, Oil Sanction Idiocy: Another Oil Shock Coming

I did not believe Trump would be so foolish as to force the entire world to accept Iranian sanctions. I was wrong.

Here’s my general policy: When you are wrong, it’s best to admit it or someone will admit it for you, in a worse way.

I was wrong about how far Trump would carry his foolish policy on Iran.

Hedgeye energy analyst Joe McMonigle got it correct as this Energy Flashback shows.

Choking Point

Yesterday, Trump tightened the noose on Iran. How tight?

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Trump Administration officials have explained that primary and secondary sanctions will be reimposed after 90- or 180-day “wind-down” periods, depending on the business activity, and that failure to halt sanctioned activity by the end of the wind-down period would risk “severe consequences.”

President Trump’s NSPM indicates that “all” of the sanctions waived or lifted under the JCPOA will be reimposed. These changes most likely will be implemented through new Executive Orders (EOs) from the president; termination of the periodic statutory sanctions waivers that have been issued by the Secretary of State; and changes to licenses, licensing policy, and the SDN list that will be made by OFAC. While there are numerous questions still outstanding about how the new sanctions may be implemented on a practical level, it is clear that the greatest impact of the reimposition of the sanctions will be on non-US entities, including non-US entities owned or controlled by US persons.

Sanctions Subject to 90-Day Wind-Down

  • The purchase or acquisition of US dollar banknotes by the Government of Iran
  • Iran’s trade in gold or precious metals
  • The direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes

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

US Treasury Dept Warns Allies Against Accidentally Trading With Iran

US Treasury Dept Warns Allies Against Accidentally Trading With Iran

Companies ‘face substantial risks’ if they’re caught trading with Iran

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday issued a statement directed at allied governments, and private companies operating out of allied countries, warning them against any trade with Iran, warning they “face substantial risks” if they are caught.

Undersecretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker says that the world must “harden your financial networks,” and make sure they have “airtight” procedures in place to prevent even accidental business ties to Iran. He added that nations must make sure “Iran and its proxies are not exploiting your companies to support their nefarious activities.”

Though presented as a warning about being tricked by Iran, the warning is likely primarily directed at EU nations, as the EU has already decided to prohibit its companies complying with US sanctions on Iran. The EU is planning to try to block the US from punishing those companies, but many of the major businesses are being very cautious about new deals with Iran, fearing the US will go after them anyhow.

US sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program are expected to ratchet up in the next several months, after President Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal. Yet the deal remains in place, and many nations may not be willing to follow the US in this crackdown so long as Iran remains compliant.

Treasury Department reports $1.2 TRILLION loss in 2017

Treasury Department reports $1.2 TRILLION loss in 2017

Earlier this month, the United States government released its annual financial report for the year 2017.

This is something the government does every year, similar to how large companies like Apple, or Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, publish their own annual reports.

Unlike Berkshire and Apple, though, whose financial reports typically show strong, positive results, the US government’s financial statements are a complete horror show.

Right at the beginning of the report, the government explains that it’s “net loss” for the year was an unbelievable $1.2 TRILLION.

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Read that number again.

$1.2 trillion. That’s simply staggering.

It’s larger than the size of the entire Australian economy… and constitutes a loss of more than $2.2 million per minute.

This is not a conspiracy theory or irrational fantasy.

This is the Treasury Secretary of the United States of America publicly announcing that the federal government lost $1.2 trillion on page ‘i’ of its annual financial report.

What’s even more alarming is that 2017 was a great year.

There was no war. No recession. No epic financial crisis.

In his introductory letter, in fact, the Treasury Secretary proudly stated that “[t]he country enjoyed a pick-up in [economic] growth in 2017. Unemployment is at its lowest level since February 2001, consumer and business confidence are at two-decade highs, and inflation is low and stable.”

In short, everything was awesome in 2017.

Even the government’s overall revenue was a record high $3.3 trillion for the year.

Yet despite all that good news… despite all those positive developments and record revenue… they STILL managed to lose $1.2 trillion.

 

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

Treasury Slaps Sanctions On China, Russia Entities And Individuals Over North Korea

Treasury Slaps Sanctions On China, Russia Entities And Individuals Over North Korea

In a move that is certain to infuriate China further and result in another deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, moments ago the United States slapped both Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in the Trump administration’s escalating attempts to pressure North Korea to relent and stop its nuclear program and occasional missile launches.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 entities and six individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions.  Today’s sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that (1) assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, (2) deal in the North Korean energy trade, (3) facilitate its exportation of workers, and (4) enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems.

As a result of the latest action, “any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

Speaking on today’s sanctions, Steven Mnuchin who, or rather whose wife today is in the news for an entirely different reason, made the following statement:

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

In “Unprecedented Step” US Sanctions Chinese Entities With Ties To North Korea

In “Unprecedented Step” US Sanctions Chinese Entities With Ties To North Korea

After allegedly pressuring the Chinese government to act first and adopt sanctions against nearly 10 local entities who the US claims provided North Korea with materials used in its nuclear program, the US has decided to act.  In an unprecedented step, the Treasury Department slapped financial sanctions on two Chinese nationals and a Chinese shipping company over their ties to North Korea stemming from its nuclear program, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration also proposed sanctions against a Chinese bank of helping North Korea launder money and cut the institution off from the US financial system, in a major step that at least on the surface, is aimed at convincing China to put more pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its missile and nuclear programs, according to the Financial Times. The US Treasury designated the bank in question, the Bank of Dandong, as a “foreign bank of primary money laundering concern” and also imposed sanctions on two Chinese individuals and one Chinese company.

The Treasury Department said in a statement it was sanctioning Wei Sun for links to the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hong Ri Li for his links to North Korean banking executive Song-hyok Ri, as well as the Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co Ltd of Dalian, China.

The moves come one week after top US and Chinese officials met for strategic talks in Washington in which the US side tried to persuade China to take more action on North Korea. Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, said the US was “sending an emphatic message across the globe that we will not hesitate to take action against persons, companies, and financial institutions who enable this [North Korean] regime”.

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

Is it Safe to Store Gold in a Safe Deposit Box?

QUESTION:  Martin,
Love your blog, especially your historical perspective.
You recently responded to a viewer that we should take precious metals out of safety deposit boxes. Is there a reason for this? To my understanding the bail-in rules for banks in N.america put deposits and bonds at risk only?
Thanks.

1933 Bank HolidayANSWER:  The contents of a safe deposit boxes are not covered by FDIC insurance. Never store a passport or any document you might need to get a hold of in emergency in a safe deposit box. The government can simply close all banks as they did in 1933 in a “Banking Holiday”. At 1:00 a.m. on Monday, March 6, President Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2039 ordering the suspension of all banking transactions, effective immediately. He had taken the oath of office only thirty-six hours earlier.

From March 6 to March 10, banking transactions were suspended across the nation except for making change. Roosevelt presented the new Congress with the EMERGENCY BANKING ACT at this time. The law empowered the President through the TREASURY DEPARTMENT to reopen banks that were solvent and assist those that were not. The House allowed only forty minutes of debate before passing the law unanimously, and the Senate soon followed with overwhelming support.

Banks were divided into four categories. Surprisingly, slightly over half the nation’s banks were deemed first category and fit to reopen. On the Sunday evening before the banks reopened, Roosevelt addressed the nation through one of his signature “FIRESIDE CHATS.” Roosevelt assured sixty million radio listeners that the crisis was over and the nation’s banks were secure. The bank run was over. On June 16, 1933, Roosevelt signed the GLASS-STEAGALL BANKING REFORM ACT, and also created the FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION.  Keep in mind the the government can close all banks for there is precedent. Whatever you have in a safe deposit box can also be seized and inspected.

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

Corrupt US Government Accuses Putin Of Corruption

Corrupt US Government Accuses Putin Of Corruption

The most corrupt government on earth, a government so utterly corrupt that it allows former executives of a handful of corrupt mega-banks to run the economic policy of the US solely in the interest of their banks, denying tens of millions of American retirees any interest income on their savings for 7 years and denying hard-pressed Social Security recipients any cost-of-living adjustments by falsifying inflation measures, a government so totally corrupt that it has destroyed seven countries and millions of Muslims solely on the basis of lies, this irredeemably corrupt government has accused the most admired political leader on earth of corruption.
http://russia-insider.com/en/putin-corrupt-proclaims-most-corrupt-govt-earth/ri12490 

The entire world outside brainwashed America, its EU vassals, and Nazified Ukraine is laughing.

The United States, once admired, then feared, is now the laughing stock of the world. The CIA-controlled German media is being abandoned by the German people who have figured out that their media is nothing but a Washington propaganda operation against Russia. The backlash is so strong that the German media might not survive.  http://russia-insider.com/en/germany/germans-abandon-major-news-sites-anger-over-slanted-russia-coverage/ri885 

Here is Stephen Lendman’s take on Washington’s latest attempt to demonize Putin:

Phony US Claims About Putin’s Corruption

by Stephen Lendman

Relentless US Putin bashing persists, reckless accusations made – including invading Ukraine and murder, evidence backing up claims absent. None exists.

Putin is vilified for forthrightly defending Russian sovereign independence, supporting a multi-polar world, and challenging Washington’s imperial agenda – at the same time seeking world peace and stability along with mutual cooperation among all nations.

Comments by US officials reflect administration policy. Britain’s BBC is state-owned, controlled and operated. Propaganda substitutes for credible news and information.

Its correspondent Richard Bilton asked US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) director Adam Szubin “if Putin is corrupt.”

He lied, saying “(i)n our view, yes. . . He supposedly draws a state salary of something like $110,000 a year.”

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

The War on Cash Destroys a Small Entrepreneur

The War on Cash Destroys a Small Entrepreneur

Lyndon McClellan is a small entrepreneurwho owns and operates L & M Convenience Mart in Fairmont, North Carolina.  L & M comprises a gas station, convenience store, and a small restaurant serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and catfish sandwiches.  One day last July, more than a dozen federal, state and local law enforcement agents swarmed Mr. McClellan’s business, including agents from the FBI and the North Carolina Alcohol and Law Enforcement agency—and they were “asking” for him.  When Mr. McClellan arrived, he was escorted by two federal agents into his stock room for a private chat.  The agents showed him paperwork indicating that he had made two cash deposits totaling $11,400 within a 24-hour period in his bank account at the Lumbee Guarantee Bank.  They informed him that the papers also indicated that he had a history of “consistent cash deposits” of less than  $10,000, which was a violation of the the Federal law against “structuring.”  They also informed him that the IRS had seized all of the $107,702.66 in L & M’s bank account.

What Mr McClellan did not know was that it was against the law to make cash deposits of less than $10,000.  Banks are legally obligated to report any deposit of more than $10,000 to the U.S. Treasury Department.  But if an individual makes several cash deposits of less than $10,000 over an unspecified period of time that total more than $10,000, then he is presumed to be a money launderer or drug trafficker who is committing the dastardly crime of structuring, that is, seeking to circumvent the bank’s reporting requirement and maintaining the privacy of his financial affairs Thus banks are also required to file “suspicious activity reports” on cash deposits of less than $10,000.

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

 

 

 

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