Category Archives: Debt

Will the Federal Reserve Cause the Next Riots? by Ron Paul

What the Fed is doing now will be the final nail in the coffin for the economy, and it’s hard not to see how the coming Greater Depression won’t spark riots. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly both recently denied that the Federal Reserve’s policies create economic inequality. Unfortunately for Powell, Daly, and other Fed promoters, a cursory look at the Fed’s operations shows that the central bank is the leading cause of economic inequality.

The Federal Reserve manipulates the money supply by buying and selling government securities. This means that when the Fed decides to pump money into the economy, it does so by putting it in the pockets of wealthy, and oftentimes politically-connected, investors who are able to spend the new money before the Fed’s actions result in widespread inflation. Wealthy individuals also tend to be among the first to invest in the bubbles that form when the Fed distorts interest rates, which are the price of money. These investors may lose some money when the bubble bursts, but these losses are usually outweighed by their gains, so they end up profiting from the Fed-created boom-bubble-bust cycle.

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The World Is Drowning In Debt, by Daniel Lacalle

The numbers are terrifying, and their real-world consequences will be even more so. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:

According to the IMF, global fiscal support in response to the crisis will be more than 9 trillion US dollars, approximately 12% of world GDP. This premature, clearly rushed, probably excessive, and often misguided chain of so-called stimulus plans will distort public finances in a way in which we have not seen since World War II. The enormous increase in public spending and the fall in output will lead to a global government debt figure close to 105% of GDP.

If we add government and private debt, we are talking about 200 trillion US dollars of debt, a global increase of over 35% of GDP, well above the 20% seen after the 2008 crisis, and all in a single year.

This brutal increase in indebtedness is not going to prevent economies from falling rapidly. The main problem of this global stimulus chain is that it is entirely oriented to support bloated government spending, and artificially low bond yields. That is the reason why such a massive global monetary and fiscal response is not doing much to prevent the collapse in jobs, investment, and growth. Most businesses, small ones with no debt and no assets, are being wiped out.

Most of this new debt has been created to sustain a level of public spending that was designed for a cyclical boom, not a crisis and to help large companies that were already in trouble in 2018 and 2019, the so-called ‘zombie’ companies.

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The new deal is a bad old deal, by Alasdair Macleod

The Internet’s best economist explains why the New Deal was a huge mistake, and why we’re about to repeat it, except this time only huger. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

So far, the current economic situation, together with the response by major governments, compares with the run-in to the depression of the 1930s. Yet to come in the repetitious credit cycle is the collapse in financial asset values and a banking crisis.

When the scale of the banking crisis is known the scale of monetary inflation involved will become more obvious. But in the politics of it, Trump is being set up as the equivalent of Herbert Hoover, and presumably Joe Biden, if he is well advised, will soon campaign as a latter-day Roosevelt. In Britain, Boris Johnson has already called for a modern “new deal”, and in his “Hundred Days” his Chancellor is delivering it.

In the thirties, prices fell, only offset by the dollar’s devaluation in January 1934. This time, monetary inflation knows no limit. The wealth destruction through monetary inflation will be an added burden to contend with compared with the situation ninety years ago.

Introduction

Boris Johnson recently compared his reconstruction plan with Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. Such is the myth of FDR and his new deal that even libertarian Boris now invokes them. Unless he is just being political, he shows he knows little about the economic situation that led to the depression.

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The Great American Shale Oil & Gas Massacre: Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debts, Worthless Shares, Collapsed Prices of Oil & Gas. by Wolf Richter

The carnage in the oil and gas patch has been gruesome. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The bankruptcy epicenter is in Texas.

The Great American Oil Bust started in mid-2014, when the price of crude-oil benchmark WTI began its long decline from over $100 a barrel to, briefly, minus -$37 a barrel in April 2020. Bankruptcies of US companies in the oil and gas sector started piling up in 2015. In 2016, the total amount of debt listed in these filings hit $82 billion. Bankruptcy filings continued, with smaller dollar amounts of debt involved. In 2019, the shakeout got rougher.

And this year promises to be a banner year, as larger oil-and-gas companies with billions of dollars in debt collapsed, after having wobbled through the prior years of the oil bust.

The 44 bankruptcy filings in the first half of 2020 among US exploration and production companies (E&P), oilfield services companies (OFS), and “midstream” companies (gather, transport, process, and store oil and natural gas) involved $55 billion in debts, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone. This first-half total beat all prior full-year totals of the Great American Oil Bust except the full-year total of 2016:

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Major Tax Increases are About to Slam America as Cities and States Want You to Pay for Covid Fallout, by Isaac Davis

Cities and states have locked down economies and allowed rioters to destroy businesses, and now they want their taxpayers to pick up the tab. They can’t squeeze blood from stones, though. From Isaac Davis at wakingtimes.com:

Just prior to the global Coronavirus outbreak, serious signs of an emerging financial crisis began to emerge. As people were beginning to realize that yet another central bank engineered ‘bust’ was coming down on us, we were thrown into lockdown, shuttering millions of businesses and sending millions of people to the unemployment line.

Now, a few months later, we are starting to realize just how deep the economic fallout will be, and Americans are scrambling to adjust their lifestyles to a totally new world order. At the top of the food chain, though, is government. City, county, state and federal.

In the midst of such a bizarre and frightful socioeconomic crisis, the tax man is hurting too. Tax revenues at all levels of government have plummeted like never before, and the pain is especially acute for city budgets who’ve seen sales tax revenue nosedive. While the American citizenry is seeing a drastic drop in income, so is Uncle Sam and all of his bureaucratic agencies.

Take a look at some of the numbers.

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Strange Days, by the Zman

It’s impossible to get your bearings in the current confusion and chaos. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

Way back in the time before corona, it was conventional wisdom that shutting down the economy would have dire consequences for the economy. Whether you were on the panic side or the skepticism side, you were sure that locking down the economy was going to be bad for the economy. The stock market losing a third of its value in a week seemed to confirm it. No matter the truth of the virus, the consequences was going to be an unprecedented economic depression.

Here we are four months on and the world does not look like anyone imagined it when this all started. The promised bodies in the streets never materialized. The virus has thus far been a sever flu season hyped up by mass media. The promised depression has not made an appearance. The streets are still mostly empty during the work day and many businesses are still closed. Those that are open have all sorts of restrictions and they seem to have fewer customers.

What we don’t have is people out banging their pots and pans demanding the government do something about the economy. A lifetime ago a handful of white people showed up at state capitols demanding the end of the lock downs, but that soon gave way to swarms of blacks and Antifa promising to burn the cities. Otherwise, the productive portion of society seems to have gone back to sleep. Those working from home, work from home and those not working stay home.

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Federal Reserve: Everything is fine. Just like in 2008, by Simon Black

The last group of people’s economic prognostications that you would want to put any stock in are the seers and geniuses at the Federal Reserve. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

It’s nothing but rosy news coming from the Federal Reserve.

Recently the Fed released this reassuring statement:

“The banking system remains well-capitalized under even the harshest of these downside scenarios. . .”

In other words, everything is just fine.

Yet at the same time, the Fed also announced that it would impose restrictions on bank dividends and stock buybacks, essentially preventing banks from passing along their profits to shareholders.

If those two statements strike you as completely contradictory, you’re right.

If the Fed isn’t worried in the slightest because the banking system remains strong ‘even under the harshest downside scenarios’, then why restrict what banks can/cannot do with their private profits?

This forked tongue communication style is becoming somewhat of a trend.

Back in March, the head of the FDIC released a video asking Americans to NOT withdraw their money from the banks.

“Your money is safe at the banks,” she said, with soft piano music in the background. “The last thing you should be doing is pulling your money out of the banks thinking it’s going to be safer somewhere else.”

This reminds me of back when Ben Bernanke repeatedly told the public, and Congress, that housing prices would continue rise, and that a subprime mortgage meltdown would not affect the broader economy.

Or in July 2007 when Bernanke said: “Overall, the U.S. economy seems likely to expand at a moderate pace over the second half of 2007, with growth then strengthening a bit in 2008.”

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No V-Shaped Recovery for Airlines. Ticket Sales Slide Again. United Announces 36,000 “Involuntary Furloughs” by Wolf Richter

The airline industry has gotten slaughtered in the coronavirus panic. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

“Increase in Covid-19 cases negatively impacting industry demand”: United

With Covid-19 cases surging in the US and in other countries, airline industry ticket sales for both domestic and international flights are declining again, as demand has turned south, according to a presentation to employees by United Airlines, filed with the SEC on July 7.

UA’s presentation included the two charts below of new ticket sales for future travel, by “all carriers and sales channels,” based on data by Direct Data Solutions (DDS) through July 2. They show the percentage decline in industry-wide ticket sales for domestic and international travel from the same period last year (in a 7-day moving average). The charts are titled, “Increase in Covid-19 cases negatively impacting industry demand”:

The first chart shows the decline in ticket sales for domestic flights, in terms of the number of passengers (blue line) and dollar revenues by the industry (purple line):

This second chart shows the decline in international ticket sales in terms of the number of passengers:

So that’s the end of any pretense of a “V-shaped” recovery of ticket sales. And it’s likely that not just airlines are impacted by this resurgence in Covid-19 cases. But airlines are already teetering on the edge.

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Pandemic Compresses Brick & Mortar Meltdown: Brooks Brothers Files for Bankruptcy, Ascena (Ann Taylor, etc.) Prepares to File, Tailored Brands (Men’s Wearhouse, etc.) Not Far Behind, by Wolf Richter

The headline is annoying—it’s not the pandemic causing all these retailers to go bankrupt (many of them were headed that way before the coronavirus outbreak). It’s the response to the pandemic that’s administered the coup de grace. Nevertheless, the story is stark and frankly, frightening. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

A dozen major brands, thousands of stores, after years of struggling. Work-from-home is annihilating casual and formal office attire.

The brick-and-mortar retailer bankruptcy plot continues to progress relentlessly. Today, it’s Brooks Brothers, the oldest men’s clothier in the US that also diversified over the decades into women’s attire, sportswear for college kids, and the like. Owned and run by Claudio Del Vecchio – often labeled “billionaire” whose dad founded Italian eyeglass maker Luxottica – Brooks Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on Wednesday.

Brooks Brothers has around 500 stores globally and 200 remaining stores in North America. Unlike other American brands that have off-shored all manufacturing of clothing to cheap-labor countries decades ago, Brooks Brothers has continued to operate three plants in the US that make suits, ties, and shirts, accounting for about 7% of its sales. The rest of its merchandise is manufactured in cheap-labor countries.

Brooks Brothers, like other retailers, has been caught up in the brick-and-mortar meltdown. It has tried to get on the bandwagon, and about a quarter of revenues are from ecommerce – but that’s not helpful for its expensive-to-operate stores. In addition, it has gotten hammered by the years-long structural shift away from its costly suits to casual office attire, where it competes with everyone out there.

In November 2019 already, the company hired investment bank PJ Solomon to explore strategic alternatives, according to sources cited by fashion magazine WWD  at the time. Rumors that Del Vecchio was trying to sell the company had been swirling around for a long time, which he had downplayed in 2018, saying he was “not trying to dump the company. People come to me and inquire all the time. But are we trying to sell the company? No.”

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Mall and Hotel Loans Are Blowing up Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities, by Wolf Richter

The debt implosion is just getting started, but in the commercial mortgage-backed securities market it’s picking up steam. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

CMBS delinquency rates for retail properties spiked to 18% and for hotel properties to 24%.

he delinquency rate for Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) spiked by 317 basis points to 10.3% in June, after having spiked by 481 basis points in May, which had been the largest month-to-month spike in the data going back to 2009, according to Trepp, which tracks securitized mortgages for institutional clients.

Another 4.1% of the underlying loans missed the June payment deadline. Because they’re not yet 30 days past-due – they’re marked in “grace” period or “beyond grace” period – they’re not yet included in the delinquent pile. A loan that is in the “grace” period or in the “beyond grace” period could revert to “current” in July without a payment being made, if the borrower enters into a forbearance agreement with the loan servicer. If the borrower fails to obtain a forbearance agreement, the loan will be added to the pile of 30-plus days delinquent loans:

Trepp suggested that this still might get a little worse, but more slowly, and not much worse. “So perhaps we have reached terminal delinquency velocity,” as the report put it, where “most of the borrowers that felt the need for debt service relief have requested it.”

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