Category Archives: Debt

Global Debt Is Exploding At A Shocking Rate, by Tyler Durden

There is no way this will end well. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The primary reason why the global financial system is on the verge of daily collapse, and is only held together with monetary superglue and central bank prayers thanks to now constant intervention of central banks, is because of debt. And, as BofA’s Barnaby Martin succinctly puts it, much more debt is coming since “the legacy of the COVID shock is debt, debt and more debt.” In short: use even more debt to “fix” a debt probem.

So in this world of explosive credit expansion coupled with tumbling economic output where helicopter money has become the norm, central banks – and specifically the ECB – are scaling their QE policies to monetize and absorb much of this debt (relieving the pressure on private investors to buy bonds), more debt “hotspots” mean more vulnerabilities for the global economy.

We won’t preach about the consequences of this debt binge which has catastrophic consequences – we do enough of that already – but below we lay out some of the more stunning facts of global debt levels at the end of Q1 2020 as compiled by the BIS, courtesy of Martin:

  • Global debt/GDP surged to an all-time high in Q1 ’20, with overall debt for the non-financial sector now worth 252% of global GDP. This is up from 241% at the end of 2019, the biggest quarterly jump ever according to BIS data.

  • The chart also confirms that central bank inflation targets are higher, much higher than the “”official 2%: to erase this debt, central banks needs inflation to be in the 10%+ range. Anything below that would require debt defaults instead of inflation to wipe away the debt… and that is unacceptable.

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How to Tackle the Depression Head On, by MN Gordon

To tackle a depression head on, the first step is to admit its inevitability, and to pretend that government and central bank debt and spending will prevent one only makes the problem worse. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

I want to see people get money.” – Donald J. Trump, U.S. President, September 17, 2020

“Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit or shrinking the Fed balance sheet.” – Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, September 14, 2020

Money for the People

The real viral contagion that has infected the American populace is not an illness of the body.  It’s something far worse than COVID-19.  The American populace is suffering from an illness of the mind.

The general malady, as we diagnose it, is the unwavering belief that the government has an endless supply of free money, and the expectation that everyone, except the stinking rich, has claim to it.  Why pursue self-reliance and independence when a series of stimulus acts promises the more abundant life?  This viral contagion’s really ripped through the population in 2020.

For example, just a year ago, the American populace thought they could all live off the forced philanthropy of their neighbors.  That to pay Paul you had to first rob Peter.  The CARES Act proved to Boobus americanus that, without a shadow of a doubt, there’s free ‘money for the people’ in Washington.  Sí se puede!

This week the Congress did its part to further the greatest show on earth.  The people want stimulus.  Congress intends to get to them, in good time.

Of course, the need to sprinkle the Country with printing press money was already a foregone conclusion.  There was no discussion of the wisdom of not having a stimulus bill.  The debate at hand was centered on how much.

Crazy Nancy wants $3.4 trillion.  Senate Republicans want $500 billion.  Something called the House Problem Solvers Caucus wants $2 trillion.

President Trump wants Republicans to “go for the much higher numbers.”  His rationale: “it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”

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Record Numbers Of Companies Drown In Debt To Pay Dividends To Their Private Equity Owners, by Tyler Durden

One day many of the practices described in this article will be illegal. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

One week ago we used Bloomberg data to report that in the latest Fed-fuelled bubble to sweep the market, now with Powell buying corporate bonds and ETFs, private equity firms were instructing their junk-rated portfolio companies to get even deeper in debt and issue secured loans, using the proceeds to pay dividends to owners: the same private equity companies. Specifically, we focused on five deals marketed at the start of the month to fund shareholder dividends, which accounting for half of the week’s volume, and the most in a week since 2017, according to Bloomberg.

Now, a little over a week late, the FT is also looking at these dividend recap deals which have become all the rage in the loan market in recent weeks, among other reasons because they are “ringing alarm bells since they come on top of already high leverage and weak investor protections and against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.”

Having updated our calculation, the FT finds that in September a quarter (24% to be exact) of all new money raised in the US loan market has been used to fund dividends to private equity owners, up from an average of less than 4% over the past two years: that would be the highest proportion since the beginning of 2015, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

As we wrote a little over a week ago, while the loan market — where PE firms fund the companies they own by selling secured first, second, third and so on lien debt — had until recently not seen the same volume of issuance as other parts of the financial markets. That changed after the Fed stepped into the corporate bond market sending yields crashing to record lows, and forcing US investors into the last corner of the fixed income world to still offer some modest yields: leveraged loans. And since this is the domain of PE firms which desperately need to extract as much cash as they can from their melting ice cubes (another names for single-B and lower rated portfolio companies which will likely all be broke in the next 3-5 years), everyone is rushing to market with dividend recaps to pay as much to their equity sponsor as they can before the window is shut again.

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First CMBS Mega-Casualty On Deck: $700MM Starwood Portfolio On Verge Of Default, by Tyler Durden

A CMBS is a commercial mortgage backed security, a package of commercial mortgages. A big one will soon default, which is how credit crises get started. If this one doesn’t kick the crisis into high gear, another will, and soon. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Over the past 6 months we have repeatedly discussed the plight of commercial real estate which unlike most other financial assets, failed to benefit from a Fed bailout or backstop (but that may soon change). It culminated in June when we wrote that the “Unprecedented Surge In New CMBS Delinquencies Heralds Commercial Real Estate Disaster.” The ongoing crisis in structured debt backed by commercial real estate in general and hotel properties in particular, prompted Wall Street to launch the Big Short 3.0 trade: betting against hotel-backed loans, which had the broadest representation in the CMBX 9 index, whose fulcrum BBB- series has continued to slide even as the broader market rebounded.

Yet while prominent failures within the CMBS universe had so far been rare due to overcollateralization of even highly distressed portfolios, as the economic slump drags on, as various stimulus measures expire and as landlords fail to make rent payment, the various embedded liquidity buffers have been rapidly draining and as a result we are now approaching the moment where one or more prominent names are about to suffer a spectacular blow up.

The first among them will almost certainly be the Starwood Retail Property Trust 2014-STAR, a portfolio which is backed by an almost $700 million defaulted loan which is collateralized by several malls – including The Mall at Wellington Green in Florida – owned by Barry Sternlich’s Starwood Capital, and whose investors are starting to take losses according to Bloomberg, after the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered stores, crippled rental payments and wiped out emergency cash reserves that had been keeping interest payments flowing.

A big reason for the devastation is that The Mall at Wellington Green, the core property of the portfolio and Wellington’s biggest taxpayer, saw its taxable value drop 32% in 2019 to $150 million as a result of the Nordstrom departure, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office. Starwood Retail Partners bought the property in 2014 for $341.1 million, marking the largest real estate deal ever recorded in the county at the time. It is now worth less than half, and that’s before most of its other anchor clients also fled or filed for bankruptcy.

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1920: The Crash That Cured Itself, by Pedro Almeida Jorge

After World War I, there was an epic financial and economic crash that was righted in less than two years. What did the US government do? Very little. From Pedro Almeida Jorge at austriancenter.com:

The Spanish Flu of 1918 is an event that, unsurprisingly, is being revisited by many observers today. And yet, at the same time, another major event occurred a century ago which we would also do well to remember: namely, the largely forgotten economic depression of 1920.

We all hear, from time to time, about the ghost of the 1929 Crash, of the dreadful decade of the Thirties, of the Great Depression from which the world (supposedly) only recovered at the cost of a new World War. It is even likely that, in the COVID-19 context we currently face, many people believe that, unless all national and international governments and organizations move ahead with drastic measures, we are condemned to a similar fate. Nonetheless, the depression of 1920 can provide us with a starkly different picture.

After the end of World War I, some months of high profits and renewed expectations followed. Unfortunately, due to the gigantic inflation and government controls introduced during the war, as well as the deaths caused by that same war and the pandemic that followed, a great economic readjustment was unavoidable, which eventually came along in 1920.

Renowned financial analyst James Grant, author of the book The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself, provides shocking data for the United States. Grant tells us that the Federal Reserve index of industrial production fell by 31.6% from 1920 to 1921. In comparison, in the crisis years 2007-09, it “only” fell by 16.9%. And with respect to the unemployment rate, Grant estimates that it may have reached as high as 15.3%.

Meanwhile, according to Grant, “over the course of 12 months, wholesale prices plunged by 36.8 percent, consumer prices by 10.8 percent and farm prices by 41.3 percent (for speed of decline, not even the Great Depression would match the break of 1920–21). The Dow Jones Industrial Average, then comprising 20 stocks rather than today’s 30, crested in November 1919 at 119.62 and bottomed in August 1921 at 63.9, for a peak-to-trough decline of 46.6 percent.”

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China is killing the dollar, by Alasdair Macleod

If a country is clearly bent on depreciating its own currency, why hold either the currency or assets denominated in that currency. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

In the wake of the Fed’s promise of 23 March to print money without limit in order to rescue the covid-stricken US economy, China changed its policy of importing industrial materials to a more aggressive stance. In examining the rationale behind this move, this article concludes that while there are sound geopolitical reasons behind it the monetary effect will be to drive down the dollar’s purchasing power, and that this is already happening. More recently, a veiled threat has emerged that China could dump all her US Treasury and agency bonds if the relationship with America deteriorates further. This appears to be a cover for China to reduce her dollar exposure more aggressively. The consequences are a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of escalating monetary policy while maintaining the dollar’s status in the foreign exchanges.

Introduction

On 3 September, China’s state-owned Global Times, which acts as the government’s mouthpiece, ran a front-page article warning that

“China will gradually decrease its holdings of US debt to about $800billion under normal circumstances. But of course, China might sell all of its US bonds in an extreme case, like a military conflict,” Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics told the Global Times on Thursday”[i].

Do not be misled by the attribution to a seemingly independent Chinese professor: it would not have been the frontpage article unless it was sanctioned by the Chinese government. While China has already taken the top off its US Treasury holdings, the announcement (for that is what it amounts to) that China is prepared to escalate the financial war against America is very serious. The message should be clear: China is prepared to collapse the US Treasury market. In the past, apologists for the US Government have said that China has no one to buy its entire holding. The most recent suggestion is that China’s Treasury holdings will be put in trust for covid victims — a suggestion if enacted would undermine foreign trust in the dollar and could bring its reserve role to a swift conclusion.[ii] For the moment these are peacetime musings. At a time of financial war, if China put her entire holding on the market Treasury yields would be driven up dramatically, unless someone like the Fed steps in to buy the lot.

If that happened China would then have almost a trillion dollars to sell, driving the dollar down against whatever the Chinese buy. And don’t think for a moment that if China was to dump its holding of US Treasuries other foreign holders would stand idly by. This action would probably end the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency with serious consequences for the US and global economies.

There is another possibility: China intends to sell all her US Treasuries anyway and is making American monetary policy her cover for doing so. It is this possibility we will now explore.

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Unspoken Truth, by Sven Henrich

The Fed has become the deity of the financial markets. From Sven Henrich at northmantrader.com:

We all know it yet the unspoken truth deserves to be said out aloud.

You all heard the phrases ‘Don’t fight the Fed’, and ‘ there is no alternative’. Can we be clear what these phrases really mean? They mean people are buying assets at prices they otherwise wouldn’t because a central planning committee is putting in market conditions that changes their market behavior.

People are paying forward multiples that are higher than they would if they earned higher interest income. The ‘desperate search for yield’ they call it. Think of it as a forced auction. You must pay, and you must pay more because you can’t bid on anything else and neither can anyone else hence there are now bidders for ever less available product (i.e. think shrinking share floats) driving prices wildly higher. And as central banks have become permanently dovish over the past decade Fed meetings are the principal impetus for rallies. Indeed most gains in markets come around days that have Fed Day written on them, a well established history going back decades now.

A fact the Fed itself is very well aware of:

“In a 2011 paper, New York Fed economists showed that from 1994 to 2011 almost all the S&P 500’s returns came in the 3 days around an FOMC decision. Over this period the index rose by 270%, and most of those gains happened the before, the day of, and the day after a Fed meeting.”

So Pavlovian has the response become that shorts automatically cover ahead of Fed meetings and investors buy ahead of Fed meetings expecting a positive response. The Fed is the market as it’s driving its entire behavior. The “Fed put” they call it. Another phrase that explicitly acknowledges that investors are orienting their risk profile behavior on what this unelected committee does.

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Debt is the Real Pandemic, by Ron Paul

Long after coronavirus is but a memory, our children and grandchildren will be paying for it. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) latest “Update on the Budget Outlook,” this year’s $3.3 trillion federal deficit is not just three times larger than last year: it is the largest federal deficit in history. The CBO update also predicts that the federal debt will equal 104 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year and will reach 108 percent of GDP by 2030.

The CBO update also shows that the Social Security, Medicare, and highway trust funds will all be bankrupt by 2031. This will put pressure on Congress to bail out the trust funds thus further increasing the debt.

This year’s spike in federal spending was caused by the multi-trillion dollar coronavirus relief/economic stimulus bills passed by Congress and signed by the president. However, spending had already increased by $937 billion from the time President Trump was sworn in until the lockdown.

Federal spending is unlikely to be reduced no matter who wins the presidential election. Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed increasing spending on everything from Obamacare to militarism to “green” cronyism. Yet some progressives are attacking Biden for being to “stingy” in his spending proposals. Even more distressing is how few progressives are critical of Biden’s support for increasing the military budget.

With some notable exceptions, such as his infrastructure plan, President Trump is not proposing any massive new spending programs. However, he Is not promising to stop increasing, much less cut, federal spending.

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Convergence of Quandaries, by James Howard Kunstler

The shit is hitting the fan all at once. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

And so, America has a new manufactured crisis, ElectionGate, as if all the other troubles piling up like tropical depressions marching across the September seas were not enough. Let me remind you what else is going on. The Wuhan pandemic is still on the scene, the economy is collapsing, a domestic race-war is escalating, the whole west coast is burning, and US oil production is crashing. Oh… and slow-moving tropical storm Sally is forecast to come ashore as a hurricane on the Gulf Coast today, dumping up to two feet of rain.

America needs a constitutional crisis like a hole in the head, and that’s exactly what’s being engineered for the holiday season by the clever folks in the Democratic Party’s Lawfare auxiliary. Here’s how it works: the complicit newspapers and cable news channels publish polls showing Joe Biden leading in several swing states, even if it’s not true. Facebook and Twitter amplify expectations of a Biden victory. This sets the stage for a furor when it turns out that he loses on election night. On cue, Antifa and BLM commence to riot all around the country. Meanwhile, a mighty harvest of mail-in votes pours into election districts utterly unequipped to validate them.

Lawfare cadres agitate in the contested states’ legislatures to send rogue elector slates to the electoral college. The dispute ends up in congress, which awaits a seating of newly-elected representatives on January 4, hopefully for Lawfare, mostly Democrats. Whoops…! Turns out the Dems lost their majority there too. Fighting in the streets ramps up and overwhelms hamstrung police forces in Democratic-run cities. January 20 — Inauguration Day — rolls around and the Dems ask the military to drag Trump out of the White House “with great dispatch!” as Mr. Biden himself put it so nicely back in the summer. The US military breaks into two factions. Voilà: Civil War Two.

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Economic Doom Due to the Covid Response Is on the Horizon and Beyond, by Gary D. Barnett

The coronavirus cure, particularly its economic aspects, will be far worse than the disease. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com:

“Only a psychopath would ever think of doing these things, only a psychopath would dream of abusing other people in such a way, only a psychopath would treat people as less than human just for money. The shocking truth is, even though they now have most if not all of the money, they want still more, they want all of the money that you have left in your pockets, they want it all because they have no empathy with other people, with other creatures, they have no feeling for the world which they exploit, they have no love or sense of being or belonging for their souls are dead, dead to all things but greed and a desire to rule over others.” 

~ Arun D. Ellis, Corpalism

Covid-19 as it is called, was invented for many reasons, none of which are more evident than as cover for the coming economic collapse. Long before the fake pandemic, that collapse was already imminent, but now it can take place in plain sight, as the eyes of the masses will remain blind to the truth. The planned global reset is in the works, and in order to accomplish such a task as this, the current economic system will have to be eliminated in favor of a digitized system designed for total control over the current monetary order and the people themselves. This dystopian nightmare is well underway, but the American people are not prepared for the destruction of the economy at every level from money to food. What is coming is an economic nightmare.

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