Tag Archives: central bank policies

What Has QE Wrought? by Ron Paul

To summarize: QE has screwed up the economy and financial markets and will lead to disaster. From Ron Paul at lewrockwell.com:

The Great Recession began in 2007. It didn’t take long for the money managers to recognize its severity, and that a little tinkering with interest rates would not suffice in dealing with the economic downturn. In Dec. 2008, the first of four Quantitative Easing programs began which did not end until Dec. 18, 2013. Some very serious consequences of this policy of unprecedented credit creation have set the stage for a major monetary reform of the fiat dollar system. The dollar’s status as the reserve currency of the world will continue to be undermined. This is not a minor matter. As our financial system unravels, the seriousness of it will become evident to all, as the need to pay for our extravagance becomes obvious. This will make the country much poorer, though the elite class that manages such affairs will suffer the least.

By the time the QE’s ended, the Central banks of the world had increased their balance sheet by $8.3 trillion, with only $2.1 trillion worth of GDP growth to show for it. This left $6.2 trillion of excess liquidity in the banking system that did not go where the economic planners had hoped. Central banks now own $9.7 trillion of negative interest yielding bonds. The financial system has been left with a bubble mania, financed by artificial credit and unsustainable debt. The national debt in 2007 was $8.9 trillion; today it’s $20.5 trillion. Rising interest rates will come and that will be deadly for the economy and the Federal budget.

This inflationary policy is generated by the belief that there is no benefit in allowing the needed economic correction to the problems generated by the Fed to occur. The correction is what the market requires, not the resumption and acceleration of the dangerous inflationary policy that caused the bubble economy. It’s like giving a case of beer to an alcoholic to calm his nerves as he attempts to stop drinking. It should not surprise anyone that perpetuating a problem won’t solve the problem.

The obsession with a QE monetary policy has created a bubble economy of enormous size which one day will burst. The warning signs are everywhere, yet ignored. Political demands control policy; not common sense or sound economics. All major decisions are bipartisan and guarantee a continuation of current spending, taxing, inflationism, welfarism, and warfarism until the giant bubble bursts.

To continue reading: What Has QE Wrought?

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Eight Axioms to Understand the Fake Economy, by Bill Bonner

The picture peddled by the government and MSM of the economy is a mirage. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – What have we learned so far?

Let’s spell it out as a series of axioms.

  1. Real money must be connected to the real economy of energy, time, and resources. Traditionally, gold makes the connection. (In the case of bitcoin, electricity is the connector.)
  2. Time, energy, and resources are limited; money must be limited, too. Real wealth is based on real things. The feds cannot command real wealth to increase, so they cannot increase the supply of real money, either. They can increase only the supply of fake money – the new elastic currency put in place in 1971.
  3. The financial world is cyclical, governed by markets and manias. The economic world is incremental and made up of real things. Markets can reverse suddenly. Prices can collapse. But farms, factories, and films rarely disappear.
  4. Government is always a way for the few to take advantage of the many. While the rest of society engages (mostly) in win-win deals, the feds rely on win-lose deals. Controlling money is a way to force win-lose deals onto people (usually without them realizing how they are being flimflammed).
  5. Things have no inherent price or value. Instead, markets discover what they are worth as people bid for them. If markets are not allowed to function freely, honest price discovery doesn’t happen… and no one knows what anything is really worth.
  6. Interest rates should be discovered, too, honestly… in a free market. Since 1987, the feds have diddled interest rates… forcing them down into the sweet mud of fantasyland, where time runs backwards and risks decline as time passes.
  7. Driving interest rates down to ultra-low levels, the feds have falsified all asset prices.
  8. The Fed is reversing the policy of the last three decades. Instead of adding to liquidity, it is subtracting from it. (By the end of 2018, the Fed says it will be draining about $600 billion a year from the U.S. money supply.) Instead of pushing down interest rates, it is pushing them up. Instead of supporting the stock and bond markets as the world’s number one buyer, it will become the world’s number one seller.

To continue reading: Eight Axioms to Understand the Fake Economy

You’re Just Not Prepared For What’s Coming, by Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson sings the same tune SLL has been singing for months, and for much the same reasons. From Martenson at peakprosperity.com:

I hate to break it to you, but chances are you’re just not prepared for what’s coming. Not even close.

Don’t take it personally. I’m simply playing the odds.

After spending more than a decade warning people all over the world about the futility of pursuing infinite exponential economic growth on a finite planet, I can tell you this: very few are even aware of the nature of our predicament.

An even smaller subset is either physically or financially ready for the sort of future barreling down on us. Even fewer are mentally prepared for it. 

And make no mistake: it’s the mental and emotional preparation that matters the most. If you can’t cope with adversity and uncertainty, you’re going to be toast in the coming years.

Those of us intending to persevere need to start by looking unflinchingly at the data, and then allowing time to let it sink in.  Change is coming – which isn’t a problem in and of itself. But it’s pace is likely to be. Rapid change is difficult for humans to process.

Those frightened by today’s over-inflated asset prices fear how quickly the current bubbles throughout our financial markets will deflate/implode. Who knows when they’ll pop?  What will the eventual trigger(s) be? All we know for sure is that every bubble in history inevitably found its pin.

These bubbles – blown by central bankers serially addicted to creating them (and then riding to the rescue to fix them) – are the largest in all of history. That means they’re going to be the most destructive in history when they finally let go.

Millions of households will lose trillions of dollars in net worth. Jobs will evaporate, causing the tens of millions of families living paycheck to paycheck serious harm.

These are the kind of painful consequences central bank follies result in. They’re particularly regrettable because they could have been completely avoided if only we’d taken our medicine during the last crisis back in 2008.  But we didn’t. We let the Federal Reserve –the instiution largely responsible for creating the Great Financial Crisis — conspire with its brethern central banks to ‘paper over’ our problems.

To continue reading: You’re Just Not Prepared For What’s Coming

Lemmings In Full Stampede Toward The Fiscal Cliff, by David Stockman

The fiat debt which has sustained rallies in everything from fine art to cryptocurrencies to financial assets is slowly being withdrawn. This does not portend well for the inflated prices of said assets. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

The lemmings are now in full stampede toward the cliffs. You can literally hear the cold waters churning, foaming and crashing on the boulders far below.

From bitcoin to Amazon, the financials, the Russell 2000 and most everything else in between, the casinos are digesting no information except the price action and are relentlessly rising on nothing more than pure momentum. The mania has gone full retard.

Certainly earnings have nothing to do with it. As of this morning, the Russell 2000, for instance, was trading at 112X reported LTM earnings.

Likewise, Q3 reporting is all over except for the shouting and reported LTM earnings for the S&P 500 came in $107 per share. That’s of signal importance because fully 36 months ago, S&P earnings for the September 2014 LTM period posted at $106 per share.

That’s right. Three years and $1 of gain. They talking heads blather about “strong earnings” only because they think we were born yesterday.

What happened in-between, of course, was the proverbial pig passing through the python.

First, the global oil, commodities and industrial deflation after July 2014 took earnings to a low of $86.44 per share in the March 2016 LTM period.

After that came the opposite—the massive 2016-2017 Xi Coronation Stimulus in China. The new Red Emperor and his minions pumped out an incredible $6 trillion wave of new credit, thereby artificially stimulating a global rebound and a profits recovery back to where it started three years ago.

The difference of course is that $106 of earnings back then were priced at an already heady (by historical standards) 18.6X, whereas $107 of earnings today are being priced at a truly lunatic 24.6X.

After all, nothing says earnings bust ahead better than an aging business cycle, a cooling Red Ponzi, an epochal shift toward central bank QT (quantitative tightening) and a massive Washington Fiscal Cliff. Yet every one of those headwinds are self-evident and have made their presence known with a loud clang in the last few days.

To continue reading: Lemmings In Full Stampede Toward The Fiscal Cliff

The Mother Of All Irrational Exuberance, by David Stockman

Right now, we are living through the most irrational of irrational exuberances. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

You could almost understand the irrational exuberance of 1999-2000. That’s because everything was seemingly coming up roses, meaning that cap rates arguably had rational room to rise.

But eventually the mania lost all touch with reality; it succumbed to an upwelling of madness that at length made even Alan Greenspan look like a complete fool, as we document below.

So doing, the great tech bubble and crash of 2000 marked a crucial turning point in modern financial history: It reflected the fact that the normal mechanisms of honest price discovery in the stock market had been disabled by heavy-handed central bankers and that the natural balancing and disciplining mechanisms of two-way markets had been destroyed.

Accordingly, the stock market had become a ward of the central bank and a casino-like gambling house, which could no longer self-correct. Now it would relentlessly rise on pure speculative momentum—- until it reached an asymptotic top, and would then collapse in a fiery crash on its own weight.

That’s what subsequently happened in April 2000 when the hottest precincts of the stock market—the NASDAQ 100 stocks—-began a perilous 80% dive; and it’s also what happened in the broader markets—–including the S&P 500—in 2008-2009, when a thundering 60% plunge unfolded in a hardly a year’s time.

So with the market raging in self-fueling momentum at the 2600 mark on the S&P 500, we reflect back to the great dotcom crash for vivid reminders of what happens next. That earlier meltdown is especially pertinent because in many ways today’s stock market mania is far less justified than the one back then.

Moreover, the dotcom version was also the first great central bank fueled bubble of modern times—a creature that market participants understandably did not fully grasp. Yet to its everlasting blame, the Fed’s subsequent experiments in reflationary bailouts of the casino gamblers has only caused Wall Street’s muscle memory to atrophy further.

Indeed, after 30 years of Greenspan-style Bubble Finance and two devastating crashes, Wall Street is even more credulous today than it was on the eve of the tech crash. Back then, in fact, there was a considerable phalanx of Wall Street old-timers who warned about the dotcom insanity. Now almost no one sees this one coming.

To continue reading: The Mother Of All Irrational Exuberance

 

Whose Private-Sector Debt Will Implode Next: US, Canada, China, Eurozone, Japan? by Wolf Richter

Who wins the race to insolvency? From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Canadians, fasten your seat-belt. Here are the charts.

The Financial Crisis in the US was a consequence of too much debt and too much risk, among numerous other factors, and the whole house of cards came down. Now, after eight years of experimental monetary policies and huge amounts of deficit spending by governments around the globe, public debt has ballooned. Gross national debt in the US just hit $20.5 trillion, or 105% of GDP. But that can’t hold a candle to Japan’s national debt, now at 250% of GDP.

And private-sector debt, which includes household and business debts — how has it fared in the era of easy money?

In the US, total debt to the private non-financial sector has ballooned to $28.5 trillion. That’s up 14% from the $25 trillion at the crazy peak of the Financial Crisis and up 63% from 2004.

In relationship to the economy, private sector debt soared from 147% of GDP in 2004 to 170% of GDP in the first quarter of 2008. Then it all fell apart. Some of this debt blew up and was written off. For a little while consumers and businesses deleveraged just a tiny little bit, before starting to add to their debts once again.

But the economy began growing again too, and private-sector debt as a percent of GDP fell to a low of 148% in Q1 2015. It has since picked up steam, growing once again faster than the economy, and now is at 151.7% of GDP, back where it was in 2005. This chart shows US private sector debt to the non-financial sector, in trillion dollars (blue line, left scale) and as a percent of GDP (red line, right scale):

In the Eurozone, the pattern looks similar before the Financial Crisis, with total debt growing sharply both in euros and as a percent of GDP. But after the Financial Crisis, private-sector debt continued to grow in euro terms. As a percent of GDP, it largely leveled off, and as the economy picked up steam over the past two years, this debt declined to 163% of GDP:

To continue reading: Whose Private-Sector Debt Will Implode Next: US, Canada, China, Eurozone, Japan?

 

How Corporate Zombies Are Threatening The Eurozone Economy, by Tyler Durden

Part of capitlism’s survival of the fittest is allowing the unfit to die. Precisely what Europe has not done since the last financial crisis. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The recovery in Eurozone growth has become part of the synchronised global growth narrative that most investors are relying on to deliver further gains in equities as we head into 2018. However, the “Zombification” of a chunk of the Eurozone’s corporate sector is not only a major unaddressed structural problem, but it’s getting worse, especially in…you guessed it…Italy and Spain. According to the WSJ.

 The Bank for International Settlements, the Basel-based central bank for central banks, defines a zombie as any firm which is at least 10 years old, publicly traded and has interest expenses that exceed the company’s earnings before interest and taxes. Other organizations use different criteria. About 10% of the companies in six eurozone countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain are zombies, according to the central bank’s latest data. The percentage is up sharply from 5.5% in 2007. In Italy and Spain, the percentage of zombie companies has tripled since 2007, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated in January. Italy’s zombies employed about 10% of all workers and gobbled up nearly 20% of all the capital invested in 2013, the latest year for which figures are available.

The WSJ explains how the ECB’s negative interest rate policy and corporate bond buying are  keeping a chunk of the corporate sector, especially in southern Europe on life support. In some cases, even the life support of low rates and debt restructuring is not preventing further deterioration in their metrics. These are the true “Zombie” companies who will probably never come back from being “undead”, i.e. technically dead but still animate. Belatedly, there is some realisation of the risks.

Economists and central bankers say zombies undercut prices charged by healthier competitors, create artificial barriers to entry and prevent the flushing out of weak companies and bad loans that typically happens after downturns. Now that the European economy is in growth mode, those zombies and their related debt problems could become a drag on the entire continent.

“The zombification of the corporate sector and banks (is) a risk for future living standards,” Klaas Knot, a European Central Bank governor and the head of the Dutch central bank, said in an interview.

In some ways, zombie firms are an unintended side effect of years of easy money from the ECB, which rolled out aggressive stimulus policies, including negative interest rates, to support lending and growth. Those policies have been sharply criticized in some richer eurozone countries for making it easier for banks to keep struggling corporate borrowers alive.

To continue reading: How Corporate Zombies Are Threatening The Eurozone Economy