Category Archives: Economics

The Return Of The Bond Vigilantes, by Doug Kass

The bond vigilantes can’t prevent governments from borrowing, but they can make it more painful for them. From Doug Kass at Seabreeze Partners via zerohedge.com:

  • With mounting private and public debt, the U.S. economy is poorly positioned to reach consensus economic growth expectations
  • The Bond Vigilantes are saddled up and ready to make a comeback – and it’s market unfriendly

“I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.” 
– James Carville

In “The Great Bond Massacre” from late 1993 to late 1994, the yield on the US ten year note rose from 5.2% to 8.0% as investors grew fearful about the implications of large federal spending increases.

For the first time in years the bond vigilantes, “a self-appointed group of citizens – the bond vigilantes – who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate” have surfaced – with the ten year U.S. note yield now approaching three percent.

This morning the yield on the ten year U.S. note has hit a new four year high of 2.99%.

As I see, though rates still appear low by historic standards – the sizable climb in debt loads (in both the private and public sectors) and the continued fiscal profligacy – will likely exacerbate the impact on the recent rise in yields by providing a governor to economic growth and by stirring a number of other adverse outcomes:

Ballooning Deficits and A Large Supply of Treasuries Loom: A $1.2 trillion 2018 U.S. deficit (and borrowing requirement) coupled with $600 billion of the Fed’s Quantitative Tightening means that there will be, according to David Stockman’s most visual phrase, “the bond pits will be flooded with $1.8 trillion of ‘homeless’ government paper.” Never in the history of modern finance has a near decade old domestic economic recovery faced a financing hurdle that represents almost nine percent of GDP. How large is this hurdle relative to history? At the top of the last U.S. economic expansion, the Federal Deficit was 87% lower (at $160 billion) – which represented only one percent of U.S. GDP at a time that the Fed was still buying Treasuries (in 2007 the Fed purchased $15 billion of Treasuries) and not selling them (or letting them rollover without replacing). So, this time around, the flow of Treasuries will represent supply that is nine times larger (relative to GDP) than was the case in 2007.

To continue reading: The Return Of The Bond Vigilantes

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This is Not a Market, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

A supposed market in which the government intervenes to suppress price discovery is not a market. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:


René Magritte La trahison des images 1929“[Price discovery] is the process of determining the price of an asset in the marketplace through the interactions of buyers and sellers”, says Wikipedia. Perhaps not a perfect definition, but it’ll do. They add: “The futures and options market serve all important functions of price discovery.”

What follows from this is that markets need price discovery as much as price discovery needs markets. They are two sides of the same coin. Markets are the mechanism that makes price discovery possible, and vice versa. Functioning markets, that is.

Given the interdependence between the two, we must conclude that when there is no price discovery, there are no functioning markets. And a market that doesn’t function is not a market at all. Also, if you don’t have functioning markets, you have no investors. Who’s going to spend money purchasing things they can’t determine the value of? (I know: oh, wait..)

Ergo: we must wonder why everyone in the financial world, and the media, is still talking about ‘the markets’ (stocks, bonds et al) as if they still existed. Is it because they think there still is price discovery? Or do they think that even without price discovery, you can still have functioning markets? Or is their idea that a market is still a market even if it doesn’t function?

Or is it because they once started out as ‘investors’ or finance journalists, bankers or politicians, and wouldn’t know what to call themselves now, or simply can’t be bothered to think about such trivial matters?

Doesn’t a little warning voice pop up, somewhere in the back of their minds, in the middle of a sweaty sleepless night, that says perhaps they shouldn’t get this one wrong? Because if you think about, and treat, a ‘thing’, as something that it’s not at all, don’t you run the risk of getting it awfully wrong?

To continue reading: This is Not a Market

“Worse Than You Think” – 8 Reality-Checks From Last Week’s CBO Report, by David Nevins

CBO reports on the government’s finances make for grim reading, but probably not grim enough. From David Nevins at ffwiley.com:

For what they’re worth and for anyone who doesn’t mind digging through the weeds, here are my comments on last week’s budget outlook from the Congressional Budget Office, which I previewed here.

  1. In the baseline scenario that’s widely reported in the media (I’ll abbreviate it BS for this post), the CBO shows federal debt held by the public soaring from 76% of GDP at fiscal year-end in 2017 to 96% of GDP at the end of the ten-year forecast horizon in 2028.
  2. The CBO also restored its alternative scenario (AS), which adjusts for certain constraints on what it’s legally allowed to include in the BS, making it more realistic than the BS. Unfortunately, the AS didn’t appear in annual reports between 2014 and 2017—in those years, the CBO highlighted areas where its BS projections were likely to be wrong but without producing an alternative. Even though it gets only a fraction of the attention given the BS, it’s good to see the AS back. It shows debt held by the public rising to 105% of GDP by the end of 2028, compared to the baseline’s 96% of GDP.
  3. But the AS is also optimistic, partly because it uses the same rosy economic assumptions as the BS and partly because it includes less “emergency” spending than the BS.
  4. As for the economic assumptions, the CBO’s unemployment rate projections are lower than they were last year in every projection year. They show an average unemployment rate for the next ten years of 4.4%, which is almost a third lower than the 6.2% historical average over the past forty years (see the chart below) and at least 0.4% lower than in any other ten-year projection the CBO has ever produced.
  5. For perspective, consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows only one historical ten-year period during which the average unemployment rate was as low as the CBO projects today. That one period was from 1948 to 1957, when the unemployment rate averaged 4.4% as in the CBO’s current projection, but it’s hard to imagine the average would have been that low had the Korean War not pushed unemployment firmly below 4% for 35 consecutive months.

To continue reading:  “Worse Than You Think” – 8 Reality-Checks From Last Week’s CBO Report

More Absolutely Crazy Pension News, by John Rubino

One government employee in Oregon receives a pension of $76,111…per month! From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

“War” and “pensions” are conceptually about as different as it’s possible to be. But – in a measure of how far into Crazy Town we’ve wandered – they’re both taking the world in the same direction.

If a Middle East (or Asian!) war doesn’t spike oil prices and push the global economy into recession, then pensions will probably produce the same end result. Here’s an excerpt from a much longer New York Times article that should be read in its entirety for a sense of what public finance has become:

A $76,000 Monthly Pension: Why States and Cities Are Short on Cash

A public university president in Oregon gives new meaning to the idea of a pensioner.

Joseph Robertson, an eye surgeon who retired as head of the Oregon Health & Science University last fall, receives the state’s largest government pension.

It is $76,111.

Per month.

That is considerably more than the average Oregon family earns in a year.

Oregon — like many other states and cities, including New Jersey, Kentucky and Connecticut — is caught in a fiscal squeeze of its own making. Its economy is growing, but the cost of its state-run pension system is growing faster. More government workers are retiring, including more than 2,000, like Dr. Robertson, who get pensions exceeding $100,000 a year.

The state is not the most profligate pension payer in America, but its spiraling costs are notable in part because Oregon enjoys a reputation for fiscal discipline. Its experience shows how faulty financial decisions by states can eventually swamp local communities.

Oregon’s costs are inflated by the way in which it calculates pension benefits for public employees. Some of the pensions include income that employees earned on the side. Other retirees benefit from long-ago stock market rallies that inflated the current value of their payouts.

For example, the pension for Mike Bellotti, the University of Oregon’s head football coach from 1995 to 2008, includes not just his salary but also money from licensing deals and endorsements that the Ducks’ athletic program generated. Mr. Bellotti’s pension is more than $46,000 a month.

The bill is borne by taxpayers. Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System has told cities, counties, school districts and other local entities to contribute more to keep the system afloat. They can neither negotiate nor raise local taxes fast enough to keep up. As a result, pensions are crowding out other spending. Essential services are slashed.

To continue reading: More Absolutely Crazy Pension News

The End of the Debt-As-Currency Era, by Jeff Thomas

The end of that era can’t come too soon. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

Gold is the currency of kings, silver is the money of gentlemen, barter is the money of peasants, but debt is the money of slaves.

—Norm Franz, Money and Wealth in the New Millennium

We are nearing the end of the debt-as-currency era.

This is quite a broad statement and, of course, since debt is the foremost currency of our day, it would be quite understandable if the reader were to regard such a prognostication to be utter nonsense.

Indeed, many would say that, without debt, the world couldn’t function. Debt has always existed and always will. However, in eras past, debt often played a much smaller role, and those eras were marked by greater progress and productivity.

We’re now living in the era of the greatest level of debt mankind has ever created. In fact, we’ve come to regard it as “normal.” Most governments are far beyond broke. And they won’t be saved by confiscation or taxation, as their people and corporations are just as heavily in debt. For this reason, a collapse is inevitable. And, since the severity of a collapse is invariably directly proportional to the severity of the debt, when it arrives, it will be a collapse that eclipses all previous collapses.

The present uncontrolled level of debt is made possible through the ability of central governments to create more currency at will. And this is only possible through the existence of a currency that is fiat in nature—that has no inherent value.

Aristotle was right on the mark when he stated that for something to be appropriate as money, it must have intrinsic value—independent of any other object and contained in the money itself.

The great majority of what passes for money today is digital, although, for daily use, paper currency is still widely used. But it must be said that paper currency is also fiat, having a far lower intrinsic value than the denomination printed on it.

To continue reading: The End of the Debt-As-Currency Era

China’s History of Financial Warfare and The 4 Options They Can Use To Win, by Adem Tumerkan

Wars can be fought on many fronts, including the financial front. Does China have a financial war strategy? From Adem Tumerkan at palisade-research.com:

Last Friday I published an article highlighting the emerging Trade War between China and the United States. As I wrote then, you have the opportunity to position yourself correctly and benefit from their fighting.

But first, I think it’s necessary to take a deeper look at China and understand their strategy. I don’t think many realize what they’ve been up to for the last 20 years while preparing for any potential trade wars.

Also, I list the four things China could do in retaliation of a trade war. All four options would be devastating to the U.S. and global markets.

Let’s look at some history. . .

It started in the late 1990’s.

China realized that modern warfare wouldn’t follow the same path as traditional wars –  swarming troops and tanks and planes into other countries and shooting at one another in attempt to occupy their land.

There’s this little known book that was published two decades ago and explains all the pieces in China’s strategy. . .

The book is called Unrestricted Warfare by Qio Liang and Wang Xiangsui. Both men were Colonels in the air Force for the Chinese military.

In the book, they write about the collapse of Asian economies in 1997 – what’s known as the ‘Asian Contagion Crisis’ – when U.S. hedge funds “attacked” the currencies of Southeast Asia.

This to them was an example of the new generation of warfare. . .

What we call Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction (F.W.M.D).

We’ve seen the U.S. engage in Financial Warfare by using sanctions on countries that don’t play ball with us. An example of this type of warfare are the economic sanctions imposed against Iraq, Iran, Russia, and North Korea.

Cutting them off from world trade, the SWIFT interbank money transfer systems, and curbing their debt markets are some of the weapons used in financial warfare.

After witnessing the Asian Contagion Crisis, China’s military was one of the first to adopt a financial war strategy – years before the U.S. did.

 

To continue reading: China’s History of Financial Warfare and The 4 Options They Can Use To Win

World War III Will Be An Economic War, by Brandon Smith

Everyone fears nuclear war, unaware of the dangers of economic war, especially the kind planned by globalists. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

There is a mass delusion in the mainstream created I think in large part by too much exposure to movie fantasy and TV fiction. It is an immediate assumption; one that I believe is far more dangerous than many people give it credit for. The assumption is that the next great war, should it occur, will inevitably be a nuclear one, and the doom surrounding it will end everything as we know it. Many people even get excited at the idea of World War III and the notion that it will “wipe the slate clean,” setting the stage for a positive human reformation from the ashes. I’m here to say that this is likely not how things will play out.

There are much more precise and effective weapons than nukes in the arsenal of the establishment globalists that manipulate political systems in various nations.

For example, the use of weaponized economics and false paradigms. As I have warned for years now, a conflict between East and West has been engineered to take place, and this conflict will primarily be an economic one. I outlined this dynamic in October 2016 in my article East vs. West Division Is About The Dollar — Not Nuclear War.

The excitement and dread surrounding potential nuclear warfare distracts from the much more legitimate threat of a staged financial war between East and West (as well as regional wars by proxy in Syria and North Korea which could bog the US down in a mire). It is important to remember that all wars are invariably banker wars — that is to say, almost all wars benefit international financiers by creating an environment ripe for centralization of wealth and political power. This notion tends to confuse some analysts and activists in the liberty movement.

There is a strange clinging obsession with these people to the idea that there is true international division and that this division includes Eastern governments on one side verses globalist controlled governments on the other. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Considering the reality that the very same globalist representatives and institutions that permeate Western finance and politics ALSO sit in positions of influence in countries like Russia and China, I find it hard to believe that there is any sort of “division” in the upper echelons of their respective power structures. For all intents and purposes, the same poisonous influences, from Goldman Sachs to JP Morgan to Rothschild run corporations to Henry Kissinger (Mr. “New World Order”), all loom over Eastern economic policy and politics as well.

 

To continue reading: World War III Will Be An Economic War