Tag Archives: central bank policies

The Trump Collapse Scapegoat Narrative Has Now Been Launched, by Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith reiterates his hypothesis that the world’s financial powers that be, including central banks, are conspiring to bring down the world’s financial and economic systems and blame it on Trump and populist movements. From Smith at alt-market.com:

Last week was a rather crazy one for the news feeds, with cyber attacks and “Comey memos” and a host of other wild mayhem, it may have been difficult for many people to keep track of it all. That said, there was one event that I think went partly under the radar, and I think it is an important signal for anyone concerned with the ongoing process of economic collapse in the U.S.

Generally, the American public holds very little vigilance when it comes to economics. They are distinctly unaware of fundamental indicators such as commodities demand, energy usage, manufacturing, imports, exports and international shipping, etc. What they do take note of, and what the mainstream news will tell them about in 30 second blurbs, is the state of unemployment and whether stock markets were down for the day or up for the day. These two “indicators” are the extent of the average person’s exposure to fiscal health.

This is why the Federal Reserve and the establishment have been meticulous over the past several years in their efforts to keep employment statistics highly manipulated to the positive side and why they have been injecting untold trillions into stocks around the world through various measures including no cost overnight loans.

However, over the past couple of years something has changed. As I warned they would do in 2015 in my article The Real Reasons Why The Fed Will Hike Interest Rates, central banks including the Fed have been backing off of stimulus measures and they have now begun a series of interest rate hikes. Look at it this way — imagine the economy has a terminal disease and the only thing keeping it alive is a highly addictive drug called “free money.” It’s a rather terrible life, barely worth living, but the economy still has a faint pulse as long as the drug is administered. Now, what would happen if the Fed suddenly cuts off the drug supply? Well, the economy will die in a very frantic and horrible way.

To continue reading: The Trump Collapse Scapegoat Narrative Has Now Been Launched

 

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State of Denial: The Economy No Longer Works As It Did in the Past, by Charles Hugh Smith

As a general rule, the less a government involves itself with an economy, the better the economy does. The opposite is also true, and the US economy the last twenty years is living proof. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

There’s no Plan B for a state-corporate form of central-planning capitalism that is no longer functioning.
If there is one reality that is denied or obscured by the Status Quo, it is that the economy no longer works as it did in the past. This is the fundamental economic context of our current slide into political-social disintegration.
The Status Quo narrative is: the policies that worked for the past 70 years are still working today. Boiled down to its Keynesian state-corporate essence, the Status Quo economic narrative is simple:
All we need to do to escape a “soft patch” (recession) is for governments to borrow and spend more money to temporarily boost incomes and demand until the private sector gets back on its feet and starts borrowing and spending more.
To help the private sector, central banks lower interest rates so it’s cheaper to borrow and spend.
As soon as the private-sector borrowing and spending rises, we can raise interest rates and trim state fiscal stimulus (i.e. governments borrowing and spending trillions more than they did before the recession).
But the inconvenient reality is these Keynesian policies no longer work. Fiscal stimulus (governments borrowing and spending trillions more than they did before the recession) has continued for a decade–or in Japan’s case, almost three decades.
The Keynesian gods have failed, but the worshippers of these false idols have no other form of black magic to turn to.
Why is fiscal stimulus now a permanent policy? The answer is uncomfortable: if fiscal stimulus is withdrawn (or even trimmed), the economy immediately goes into a self-reinforcing contraction.
As for near-zero interest rates: after 10 years of supposed “recovery,” central banks are terrified of pushing rates higher by quarter-point baby-steps, for the same reason that fiscal stimulus cannot be withdrawn: raising interest rates to historic norms would immediately send the economy into contraction.

The Great Misconception of a Return to “Normal”, by Chris Hamilton

If governments and central banks go deep enough into debt, they can make things look “normal,” at least for a while. But it’s not normal. From Chris Hamilton at economica.blogspot.com:

Since 2009, there has been ongoing discussion of the size & composition of major central bank balance sheets (I’m focusing on the Federal Reserve Bank, European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan) but little discussion of why these institutions felt (and continue to feel) compelled to “buy” assets.  The chart below highlights the ongoing collective explosion of these bank “assets” since 2009 after a previous period of relative stability.
These institutions clearly have the capability and willingness to digitally conjure “money” from nothing and have felt compelled to remove over $10 trillion worth of assets from the markets since 2009.  This swap of illiquid assets for liquid cash had (and continues to have) the effect of squeezing the prices of the remaining assets higher (more money chasing fewer assets=price appreciation). 

A prime example of that squeeze, the US stock market total valuation (represented by the Wilshire 5000, below) is $10 trillion higher than the “bubble” peak of 2008…and $11 trillion higher than the 2001 “bubble” peak.  Likewise, US federal debt since 2008 has increased by…you guessed it, $10 trillion.

The narrative seems to be that 2009 was a one off event and that the central banks role was and still is to “stabilize” the situation until things “normalize”.

But right there…that idea that 2009 was a “one-off” or “abnormal” couldn’t be more wrong.  So what is “normal” growth, at least from a consumption standpoint?  Normal is never the same twice…it is ever changing and must be constantly rediscovered.  To determine “normal” growth in consumption, all we need do is figure the change in the quantity of consumers (annual population growth) and the quality of those consumers (their earnings, savings, and utilization of credit).  The chart below details the ever changing “normal” that is the annual change in the under 65yr/old global population broken down by wealthy consuming nations (blue line) and the rest of the (generally poor) world (red line).  The natural rate of growth in consumption has been declining ever since 1988 (persistently less growth in the population on a year over year basis)…but central banks and central governments have substituted interest rate cuts and un-repayable debt to maintain an unnaturally high consumption growth rate.

To continue reading: The Great Misconception of a Return to “Normal”

A Rising (Central Bank) Tide Turns Everyone into a Genius, by Charles Hugh Smith

Find the few who see the trend turning, at either tops or bottoms, before it actually turns, and that’s the real pool of geniuses. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Until the system implodes–you’re a genius.
So you’ve ridden the markets higher–stocks, housing, commercial real estate, bat guano, quatloos, you name it–everything you touch turns to gold. What can we say, bucko, other than you’re a genius!
It’s a market truism that rising tides lift all boats. But that’s not the really important effect; what really matters is rising tides turn everyone into a genius–at least in their own minds.
Those of us who have been seduced by the Sirens’ songs of hubris know from bitter experience how easy it is to confuse a rising tide with speculative genius. When everything you touch keeps going higher, the only possible cause is…. your hot hand, of course!

 

Stocks–I’m a genius! Housing–I’m a genius! Commercial real estate–yes, well, I suppose the evidence is overwhelming–it does seem I’m a genius.
The only thing better than buy and hold is buy the dips and hold–and use margin or whatever leverage you have to buy more before the price goes even higher.
What can we say other than: this is the strategy of geniuses. The proof is in the charts:
The S&P 500: margin to the hilt and buy every dip: genius!
Housing in Sweden, Toronto, Brooklyn, West L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Shanghai and every other blazing-hot market: borrow more from the shadow banking system, mortgage your house to the hilt, do whatever you have to do to get the down payment and buy another flat: pure genius!

Banks Are Evil, by Adam Taggert

Adam Taggert makes a strong case that modern banking and bankers are indeed evil. From Taggert at peakprosperity.com:

It’s time to get painfully honest about this

I don’t talk to my classmates from business school anymore, many of whom went to work in the financial industry.

Why?

Because, through the lens we use here at PeakProsperity.com to look at the world, I’ve increasingly come to see the financial industry — with the big banks at its core — as the root cause of injustice in today’s society. I can no longer separate any personal affections I might have for my fellow alumni from the evil that their companies perpetrate.

And I’m choosing that word deliberately: Evil.

In my opinion, it’s long past time we be brutally honest about the banks. Their influence and reach has metastasized to the point where we now live under a captive system. From our retirement accounts, to our homes, to the laws we live under — the banks control it all. And they run the system for their benefit, not ours.

While the banks spent much of the past century consolidating their power, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 emboldened them to accelerate their efforts. Since then, the key trends in the financial industry have been to dismantle regulation and defang those responsible for enforcing it, to manipulate market prices (an ambition tremendously helped by the rise of high-frequency trading algorithms), and to push downside risk onto “muppets” and taxpayers.

Oh, and of course, this hasn’t hurt either: having the ability to print up trillions in thin-air money and then get first-at-the-trough access to it. Don’t forget, the Federal Reserve is made up of and run by — drum roll, please — the banks.

How much ‘thin air’ money are we talking about? The Fed and the rest of the world’s central banking cartel has printed over $12 Trillion since the Great Recession. Between the ECB and the DOJ, nearly $200 Billion of additional liquidity has been — and continues to be — injected into world markets each month(!) since the beginning of 2016:

To continue reading: Banks Are Evil

Now That Everyone’s Been Pushed into Risky Assets… by Charles Hugh Smith

Risk can be disguised or hidden, but never eliminated. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

A funny thing happened on the way to a low-risk environment: loans in default (non-performing loans) didn’t suddenly become performing loans.

If we had to summarize what’s happened in eight years of “recovery,” we could start with this: everyone’s been pushed into risky assets while being told risk has been transformed from something to avoid (by buying risk-off assets) to something you chase to score essentially guaranteed gains (by buying risk-on assets).

The successful strategy for eight years has been buy the dips because risk-on assets always recover and hit new highs: housing, stocks, bonds, bat guano futures–you name it.

Those who bought the dip in hot housing markets have seen spectacular gains since 2011. Those who bought every dip in the stock market have been richly rewarded, and those buying bonds expecting declining yields have until recently logged reliable gains.

The only asset class that’s lower than it was in 2011 is the classic risk-off asset: precious metals.

Investors who avoided risk-on assets–stocks, bonds, REITs (real estate investment trusts) and housing in hot markets–have been clubbed, while those who piled on the leverage to buy every dip have been richly rewarded.

Those who bet volatility–once a fairly reliable reflection of risk–would finally rise have been wiped out. By historical measures, risk has fallen to levels not seen since… well, just before the last Global Financial Meltdown.

Globally, financially assets have soared from a 2008 low around $222 trillion to over $300 trillion. Even in today’s financially jaded world, $80 trillion is an impressive number: over 4 times America’s GDP of $18 trillion annually, and roughly equal to global GDP.

To continue reading: Now That Everyone’s Been Pushed into Risky Assets…

Debunking The Big Lie, by Keith Weiner

Can there be a “good” central bank policy, if the conceptual and moral basis for central banking is fundamentally wrong? From Keith Weiner at acting-man.com:

Debunking a Lie

Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute wrote an article, The Myth of Banking Deregulation, to debunk a lie. The lie is that bank regulation is good. That it helped stabilize the economy in the 1930’s. And that deregulation at the end of the century destabilized the economy and caused the crisis of 2008.

As of early 2015, Dodd-Frank had imposed altogether 27,670 new restrictions, more than all other laws passed under Obama combined (that is really saying something, considering the regulatory frenzy let loose by his administration). Note: the law may have “only” 2,300 pages, but more than 10 different regulatory agencies have been producing administrative laws for six years in a row to put it into practice – and they are not finished yet. Don’t you feel safer already?

If deregulation is the problem, then re-regulation is the solution. So, in the wake of the crisis, Congress enacted a 2,300-page monstrosity of regulation known as Dodd-Frank.

Watkins does a good job describing government regulation of finance, in particular addressing the savings and loan industry. He gives an example where people commonly assume that Congress reduced regulation, the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.

The headline is that this law reduced regulation, and allowed banks to be in the securities business. However, the truth is that it mixed in a dollop of increased regulation.

The economic cost of Dodd-Frank (one guess as to who is going to end up paying for this…). Note: this is not cumulative – the cumulative tally so far is a cost of $36 billion (about $310 per household!); it has so far taken 74.8 million paperwork man hours to create this monster. You will be happy to learn that the law not only makes us perfectly safe, but introduces racial and gender quotas as well. The number of final rules exceeds those generated by Sarbanes-Oxley by a factor of 30 – so far.

To continue reading: Debunking The Big Lie