Tag Archives: central bank policy

Janet Yellen’s Shame, by Bill Bonner

The contrast between honest capitalism and inherently dishonest central banking. From Bill Bonner at acting-man.com:

Playing Politics

In honest capitalism, you do what you can to get other people to voluntarily give you money. This usually involves providing goods or services they think are worth the price. You may get a little wild and crazy from time to time, but you are always called to order by your customers.

In the market economy, consumers reign supreme. There is no such thing as a “lost” vote in the marketplace; every penny spent affects production. Mises noted: “Consumers ultimately determine not only the prices of consumers’ goods, but no less the prices of all factors of production. They determine the income of every member of the market economy. The consumers, not the entrepreneurs, ultimately pay the wages earned by every worker, the glamorous movie star as well as the charwoman. With every penny spent, consumers determine the direction of all production processes and the minutest details of the organization of all business activities.”

That is true of honest banking, too. Back when such a thing existed, the job of an honest banker was to aggregate people’s savings and lend them to worthy borrowers. You make too many mistakes, your customers leave and you go broke.

Politics is a different game altogether. It produces no wealth of any sort. So the only way you can prosper in politics is to connive, cheat, and steal – manipulating your friends… sidelining your enemies… and exploiting the public.

It is a game of taking wealth, not making it. And you have no customers, so there’s not much of a check on how out-of-order you can get. Still, a politician is not always lying, not always stealing – and not always wrong. Occasionally, he blunders into honesty and slips into truth.

On Monday, for example, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Fed chief Janet Yellen should be ashamed of herself for what she was doing to Americans and for creating a “false stock market.

US monetary base vs. the S&P 500 Index. Although base money growth has leveled out since 2014, the money supply has continued to grow since then due to commercial bank credit expansion. Since 2008 the broad true US money supply has increased by 128%, and this chart is a reminder that the money didn’t just “print itself”.  A great deal of it was created directly by the Fed, which the rapid growth in base money demonstrates. Newly created money doesn’t affect all prices simultaneously or to the same extent and for a variety of reasons, asset prices are always likely

US monetary base vs. the S&P 500 Index. Although base money growth has leveled out since 2014, the money supply has continued to grow since then due to commercial bank credit expansion. Since 2008 the broad true US money supply has increased by 128%, and this chart is a reminder that the money didn’t just “print itself”. A great deal of it was created directly by the Fed, which the rapid growth in base money demonstrates. Newly created money doesn’t affect all prices simultaneously or to the same extent and for a variety of reasons, asset prices are always likely to be at the top of the list (in other words, the above correlation is not a coincidence)

The financial press was quick to condemn Mr. Trump for “undermining confidence” in the Fed and the stock market. It was “irresponsible” to question the Fed’s integrity and its non-partisan mission, said the pundits.

Widely dismissed was the idea that Ms. Yellen was “playing politics” with the Fed by supporting the stock market to embellish President Obama’s last months in office and help Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton slide into the White House after him. But Mr. Trump is right: Politics is the Fed’s game.

 

To continue reading: Janet Yellen’s Shame

 

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The Federal Reserve’s Strange Behavior Makes Perfect Sense, by Brandon Smith

What if the Federal Reserve is trying to destroy the American economy? A plausible argument can certainly be made that it is, just from the results of its policies. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

I have made this comment many times in the past, but I think it needs to be stated again here: If you think the Federal Reserve’s goal is to maintain or repair the U.S. economy, then you will never understand why they do the things they do or why the economy evolves the way that it does. The Fed’s job is not to protect the U.S. economy. The Fed’s job is to DESTROY the U.S. economy to make way for a truly global system.

There seems to be a collective delusion within certain parts of the liberty movement that the “globalists” (the banking and political elites that promote total global centralization of finance and power) are a purely American or Western problem, and that they have some kind of loyalty to the success, or perceived success, of the U.S. “empire.” This is nonsensical when you look at the progression of the American fiscal system after the Fed was established over a century ago.

In the past 100 years, the U.S. has suffered a gradual but immense devaluation in the dollar’s real buying power. We witnessed the first long-term fiscal depression in the nation’s history. We saw the removal of the gold standard. We saw the dismantling of the greatest industrial base in the history of the world. We have struggled through the implosion of the derivatives and credit bubble, which Fed officials have openly admitted responsibility for. And now, we are on the verge of the final implosion of a massive equities bubble and the collapse of the dollar itself.

All of these developments require careful planning and staging, not recklessness or random chance. Free-market economies tend to heal and adapt over time. Only constant negative manipulation could cause the kind of steady decline plaguing the U.S. ever since the Federal Reserve was forced into being.

The Fed has had multiple opportunities to strengthen the economic lifespan of America, but has ALWAYS chosen to take the exact opposite actions needed, guaranteeing an inevitable outcome of crisis. The goal of internationalists and international bankers is to acquire ever more centralized authority, and thus, ever more centralized power. The U.S. is an appendage to the great vampire squid, an expendable tool that can be sacrificed today to gain greater treasures tomorrow. Nothing more.

But this reality just does not seem to sink into the skulls of certain people. They simply cannot fathom the idea that the Fed is a saboteur. Not a bumbling greed fueled monster, or even a mad bomber, but a careful and deliberate enemy agent with precise destruction in mind.

Case in point; the recent institution of the Fed rate hike program. No one really gets it and no one is asking the right questions. Why, for example, did the Fed begin raising rates in December? No one asked them to take such measures. Certainly not day traders in the market casino; they were too busy enjoying the fiat inflation of biggest equity bubble in the encyclopedia of humanity. The politicians weren’t demanding any drawback of Fed stimulus, they were too busy enjoying the fraudulent recovery afforded by the recapitalization of too-big-to-fail banks. So, again, why bother promoting rate hikes that are essentially guaranteed to cause a market crisis?

To continue reading: The Federal Reserve’s Strange Behavior Makes Perfect Sense

 

Helicopter Money Drops on Europe, But Not for ‘Normal’ Folks, by Don Quijones

Helicopter money is probably the next stupid, bound-to-fail idea central banks and governments will implement. It’s a toss-up whether it comes first to Europe or Japan (see next article). From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

And not for small companies either.

Money for nothing, for everyone: This is supposedly the next stage of the treatment program for today’s debt-addicted economic system. Milton Friedman’s hypothetical scenario of giving every citizen direct money transfers in a desperate bid to stoke inflation is gaining traction with growing legions of mainstream economists.

In their theory-addled brains, a massive one-off injection of central bank-conjured money into people’s bank accounts would do wonders for the real economy — in particular a terminally stagnating one like Europe’s. Rather than creating asset price inflation, as QE has done, it would fuel consumer price inflation. This is seen as the solution to the recently created and now unpayable mountain of debt: the central bank would simply erode it away via inflation.

In April, however, the ECB dashed such hopes, at least for the immediate future. “It’s not on the table,” ECB Executive Board member Peter Praet told a bunch of economists who’d been pushing for an answer at a conference organized by the Center for Financial Studies in Frankfurt.

That’s not to say that the ECB is opposed on principle to the idea of showering people with money they’ve done nothing to earn. It just depends what kind of people.

Indeed, in many ways the central bank is about to do just that, but the lucky people on the receiving end will not be normal, everyday people; they will be corporate persons, including some of the richest, most powerful companies in Europe as well as the European subsidiaries of huge foreign multinationals.

The amount of free money these corporations are about to receive will be counted not in the hundreds or thousands of euros, but in the millions or billions. And instead of transferring money into their corporate accounts, the ECB will just buy up to 70% of any new corporate bond issuance.

The ECB unveiled its latest cunning plan some months ago, when global investors were begging for a bone to chew on, but the bond purchases are scheduled to begin in earnest next Thursday. To be eligible for this new central banking welfare scheme, the bonds must be issued by non-bank corporations established in the euro area. But just as with everything the ECB does, the conditions could change at any time.

Indeed, they already have.

Back in March the central bank stated that it would buy only investment grade rated debt, but then concerns were raised about what might happen if a name they owned was downgraded to below investment grade. Today a representative of the bank put such fears to rest by announcing that it “is not required to sell its holdings in the event of a downgrade” to junk, the FT reports, raising the prospect of it holding so-called “fallen angels.”

To continue reading: Helicopter Money Drops on Europe, But Not for ‘Normal’ Folks

 

Watch Japan – For All Is Not Well In The Land Of The Rising Sun, by Michael Snyder

From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapse.com:

One of the epicenters of the global financial crisis that started during the second half of last year is Japan, and it looks like the markets in the land of the rising sun are entering yet another period of great turmoil. The Nikkei was down another 390 points last night, and it is now down more than 1,300 points since a week ago. Why this is so important for U.S. investors is because the Nikkei is often an early warning indicator of where the rest of the global markets are heading. For example, the Nikkei started crashing early last December about a month before U.S. markets started crashing really hard in early January. So the fact that the Nikkei has been falling very rapidly in recent days should be a huge red flag for investors in this country.

I want you to study the chart below very carefully. It shows the performance of the Nikkei over the past 12 months. As you can see, it kind of resembles a giant leaning “W”. You can see the stock crash that started last August, you can see the second wave of the crash that began last December, and now a third leg of the crash is currently forming…

And of course the economic fundamentals in Japan continue to deteriorate as well. GDP growth has been negative for two out of the last three quarters, Japanese industrial production just experienced the largest one month decline that we have seensince the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has sunk to a three year low.

The third largest economy on the entire planet is in a comatose state at this point, and Japanese authorities have been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it in an attempt to revive it. Government stimulus programs have pushed the debt to GDP ratio to 229 percent, and the quantitative easing that the Bank of Japan has been engaged in has made the Federal Reserve look timid by comparison.

To continue reading: Land Of The Sinking Sun—-A Survey Of The BOJ’s Destruction

 

The ECB’s Insane Monetary Policy is Creating a Rush Into Derivatives, by Michael Krieger

From Micheal Krieger at liberty blitzkrieg.com:

One of the most catastrophic things central banks have done in the post financial crisis period is destroy financial markets. Investors are no longer investors, they’re merely helpless rats running around the lunatic central planning maze desperately attempting to survive by front running the latest round of central bank purchases.

While actual macroeconomic and corporate fundamentals do still exert influence on financial asset prices from time to time, the far bigger driver of performance over the past several years is central bank policy. To understand just how destructive this is, recall what we learned in last month’s post, Japan’s Bond Market is One Gigantic Joke – “No One Judges Corporate Credit Risks Seriously Anymore”:

TOKYO — Fixed-income investors in Japan are increasingly assessing bonds based on their likelihood of being bought by the central bank, rather than the creditworthiness of the issuers.

Still, the fund manager desperately wanted to get hold of the bond because he bets that debt issued by Mitsui and other trading houses will be picked up by the Bank of Japan in its bond purchase program.Even if an investor buys a bond with a subzero yield, the investor could sell it to the central bank for a higher price, the thinking goes.

“It goes to show that no one judges corporate credit risks seriously anymore,” said Katsuyuki Tokushima at the NLI Research Institute.

As insane as it may be, investors now acknowledge that fundamental analysis is merely an afterthought when compared to the far bigger influence of central bank buying. While this destroys free markets, fuels malinvestment bubbles and rewards cronyism, it doesn’t stop central planners — it merely emboldens them. The latest example of such hubris was on full display last month when the ECB’s Mario Draghi increased QE by a third. Here’s some of what’s happened since.

To continue reading: The ECB’s Insane Monetary Policy is Creating a Rush Into Derivatives

Yelling ‘Stay’ In A Burning Theater—–Yellen Ignites Another Robo-Trader Spasm, by David Stockman

From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner.com:

Simple Janet has attained a new milestone as a public menace with her speech to the Economic Club of New York. It amounted to yelling “stay” in a burning theater!

The stock market has been desperately trying to correct for months now because even the casino regulars can read the tea leaves. That is, earnings are plunging, global trade and growth are swooning and central bank “wealth effects” pumping has not trickled down to the main street economy. Besides, there are too many hints of market-killing recessionary forces for even the gamblers to believe that the Fed has abolished the business cycle.

So by the sheer cowardice and risibility of her speech, Simple Janet has triggered still another robo-trader spasm in the casino. Yet this latest run at resistance points on a stock chart that has been rolling over for nearly a year now underscores how absurd and dangerous 87 months of ZIRP and wealth effects pumping have become.

As we have indicated repeatedly, S&P 500 earnings—–as measured by the honest GAAP accounting that the SEC demands on penalty of jail——-have now fallen 18.5% from their peak. The latter was registered in the LTM period ending in September 2014 and clocked in at $106 per share.

As is shown in the graph below, the index was trading at 1950 at that time. The valuation multiple at a sporty 18.4X, therefore, was already pushing the envelope given the extended age of the expansion.

Indeed, even back then there were plenty of headwinds becoming evident. These included global commodity deflation, a rapid slowdown in the pace of capital spending and the vast build-up of debt and structural barriers to growth throughout China and its EM supply train, as well as Japan, Europe and the US.

In the interim it has all been downhill on the profit and macroeconomic front. By the March 2015 LTM period, S&P reported profits had dropped to $99 per share and have just kept sliding, posting at only $86.44 per share for the December 2015 LTM period just completed.

So there you have it. The casino has actually been trying to mark-down the Bubble Finance inflated stock prices that the Fed’s wealth effects lunacy has generated since the great financial crisis. Yet our Keynesian school marm and her posse just keep finding one excuse after another to feed the algos.

Indeed, Yellen had barely ambled up to the rostrum, and they had the market back up to 2065. After Friday’s further bump to 2072, the math of that is a round 24X earnings.

That’s right. With ample evidence of financial risk and bubbles cropping up everywhere during the past 18 months, Simple Janet stood there at the New York Economics Club podium and threw the robo-traders a big sloppy wet one!

To continue reading: Yelling ‘Stay’ In A Burning Theater—–Yellen Ignites Another Robo-Trader Spasm

April Fools in March, by Peter Schiff

From Peter Schiff at europac.com:

It may be almost impossible to underestimate the gullibility of professional Fed watchers. At least Lucy van Pelt needed to place an actual football on the ground to fool poor Charlie Brown. But in today’s high stakes game of Federal Reserve mind reading, the Fed doesn’t even have to make a halfway convincing bluff to make the markets look foolish.

Just two weeks ago, the release of the Fed’s March policy statement and the subsequent press conference by Chairwoman Janet Yellen should have made it abundantly clear that the Central Bank policy had retreated substantially from the territory it had previously staked out for itself. In December it had anticipated four rate hikes in 2016, but suddenly those had been pared down to two. Based on the conclusion that the era of easy money had been extended for at least a few more innings, the dollar sold off and stocks and commodities rallied.

But in the two weeks that followed the dovish March guidance, some lesser Fed officials, including those who aren’t even voting members of the Fed’s policy-setting Open Market Committee, made some seemingly hawkish comments that convinced the markets that the Fed had backed off from its decision to back off.

The campaign began on March 19 when St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said that the Fed had largely met its inflation and employment goals and that it would be “prudent to edge interest rates higher.” (H. Schneider, Reuters) Two days later Bloomberg reported that Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart had said, “There is sufficient momentum…to justify a further step…possibly as early as April,” (J. Randow, S. Matthews, 3/21/16)

And it didn’t stop there. On March 22, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said,“there is a strong case that we need to continue to raise rates…I think we need to get on with it.” (J. Spicer, Reuters) On March 24, Bullard chimed in again, saying that rate hikes “may not be far off,” appearing to back Lockhart’s suggestion for a surprise April hike. Suddenly, chatter erupted on Wall Street that the April FOMC meeting should be considered a “live” one, where a rate hike was possible. With such caution spreading, the markets reacted predictably: the dollar rallied, gold and stocks declined.

At the time I said, as I have been saying all year, that the Fed never had an intention to tighten further, and that it would continue to talk up the economy just to create the impression of health. But many believed that Janet Yellen would use her speech this week at the New York Economic Club (her first public comments since her March press conference) to underscore the comments made by her colleagues in the past two weeks. Instead she delivered a double-barreled repudiation of any potential hawkish sentiment. In fact, her talk could be viewed as the most dovish she has ever delivered since taking the Chair.

The market reaction was swift. In fact, as the text of her address was released a few minutes before she hit the podium, gold jumped and the dollar dropped even before she started speaking. The only surprise was that there was any surprise at all.

If market watchers actually looked at economic data instead of trying to parse the sentence structure of Fed apparatchiks, they would know that the economy is rapidly decelerating, and most likely heading into recession (if it’s not already in one). These conditions would prohibit an overtly dovish Fed from any kind of tightening. Just this week February consumer spending increased at a tepid .1%, in line with very modest expectations (Bureau of Economic Analysis). But to get to that flaccid figure, the much more robust .5% growth rate originally reported for January had to be revised down to .1%. If that major markdown had not occurred, February would have come in as a contraction. The sleight of hand may have fooled the markets, but the Fed’s own bean counters had to take it seriously. The figures were the primary justification for the Atlanta Fed’s decision to slash its first quarter GDP estimate to just .6%. That estimate had been as high as 1.4% last Thursday and 2.7% back in February. Clearly something isn’t working. But whatever it is, Janet Yellen won’t speak its name.

To continue reading: April Fools in March