The Japan Way is for the central bank suppresses interest rates and monetizes debt through its buying of the government’s debt, until interest rates are so low that the bank is the only buyer. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:
The European Central Bank announced a tapering of the repurchase program on September the 9th. One would imagine that this is a sensible idea given the recent rise in inflation in the eurozone to the highest level in a decade and the allegedly strong recovery of the economy. However, there is a big problem. The announcement is not really tapering, but simply adjusting to a lower net supply of bonds from sovereign issuers. In fact, considering the pace announced by the central bank, the ECB will continue to purchase 100% of all net issuance from sovereigns.
There are several problems in this strategy. The first one is that the ECB is unwillingly acknowledging that there is no real secondary market demand for eurozone countries’ sovereign debt at these yields. One would have to think of twice or three times the current yield for investors to accept many eurozone bonds if the ECB does not repurchase them. This is obviously a dangerous bubble.
The second problem is that the ECB acknowledges that monetary policy has gone from being a tool to help implement structural reforms to a tool to avoid them. Even with the strong GDP bounce that the ECB predicts, few governments are willing to reduce spending and curb deficits in a meaningful way. The ECB estimates show that after the massive deficit spending of 2020, eurozone government spending will rise again by 3.4% in 2021 only to fall modestly by 1.2% in 2022. This means that eurozone government spending will consolidate the covid pandemic increase with little improvement in the fiscal position of most countries. Indeed, countries like Spain and Italy have increased the structural deficit.
All central banks can do is create fiat debt instruments. With interest rates rising, they are pm a government debt hamster wheel, continuously creating fiat debt instruments to buy an ever-expanding supply of government debt. It can’t last. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
I don’t know what’s more ludicrous at this point, the amount of central bank intervention or the whining from the markets that there isn’t enough.
We’re headed for the mother of all financial crises and from my chair I can’t for the life of me understand how so many smart market analysts can’t see the way it’s being engineered right in front of their eyes.
Despite the headlines and the ocean of money beginning to flood the landscape from the Fed and the Treasury dept. the Fed wasn’t “uber-dovish” on Wednesday. If anything, FOMC Chair Jerome Powell didn’t give the markets what it wanted at all.
All the Fed did was say we’re going to keep doing what isn’t working until 2023 despite what the bond market thinks we should do. Oh, and we’ll make potential credit lines to the banks deeper.
The response was typical. Everything was golden. Taco Tuesday’s are back on the menu and the Fed has our backs.
Because for a brief few hours the algorithms scanned the headlines and reacted accordingly. The weak dollar is here.
European banks are a strong contender in the contest to see which institution or institutions leads the world into a humongous financial crisis. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
he European Commission is failing. Its response to Brexit and the pandemic, where it is now threatening emergency powers in order to secure vaccines is a latest throw of the political dice. Even before this development markets were getting the message with capital flight worsening.
The only thing that holds the Commission together is the magic money tree that is the ECB.
Following the recent change in the Commission’s leadership, the political dysfunction in Brussels is a new challenge for the ECB. It is already juggling with overindebted member states, a global rise in bond yields, a rotten settlement system and commercial banks both over-leveraged and with mounting pandemic-related bad debts.
It really is a horror show in the making.
This week, the ECB took the next step towards its inevitable destruction of itself, its system and its currency. This ending, a sort of financial suttee where it joins the failing EU Commission on it funeral pyre, is plainly inevitable, and will increasingly be seen to be so.
On 3 March, Bloomberg reported “European Central Bank policy makers are downplaying concerns over rising bond yields, suggesting they can manage the risk to the euro-area economy with verbal interventions including a pledge to accelerate bond-buying if needed.”
Then last week, the story changed: the ECB vowed that: “Based on a joint assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council expects purchases under the PEPP over the next quarter to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of this year”.[i]
Central bankers hate alternative, private mediums of exchange. Don’t take Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies freedom from regulation for granted. From Paul Joseph Watson at summit.news:
“Bitcoin has conducted some funny business.”
Getty Images News
Head of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde has called for global regulations on Bitcoin, labeling the cryptocurrency “reprehensible.”
Lagarde made the comments during a Reuters Next conference earlier today, during which she asserted that Bitcoin was not a currency.
“When you look at the most recent developments upward, and now the recent downward trend … for those who have assumed that it might turn into a currency, terribly sorry but this is an asset and it is a highly speculative asset,” she said.
The former head of the IMF, who was previously found guilty of financial negligence by a French court over a €403 million arbitration deal in favor of businessman Bernard Tapie, went on to accuse Bitcoin of being heavily embroiled in criminal activity.
“(Bitcoin) has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money laundering activity,” said Lagarde.
The ECB head went on to call for Bitcoin to be regulated by financial authorities.
Whatever the central banking cult might believe, issuing endless debt at negative interest rates is not a recipe for last prosperity. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:
One of the great mistakes among economists is to receive the measures of central banks as if it was the revealed truth. It is surprising and concerning that it is considered mandatory to defend each one of the actions of central banks. That, of course, in public. In private, many colleagues shake their heads in disbelief at the accumulation of bubbles and imbalances. And, as on so many occasions, the lack of constructive criticism leads to institution complacency and a chain of errors that all citizens later regret.
Monetary policy in Europe has gone from being a tool to help states make structural reforms to become an excuse not to carry them out.
The steady funding of deficits of countries that perpetuate structural imbalances has not helped strengthen growth, as the Eurozone has seen constant GDP estimate cuts already before the Covid-19 crisis, but it is whitewashing the extreme left populists that defend massive money printing and MMT, threatening the progress and growth of the eurozone. Populism is not fought by whitewashing it, and the medium and long-term impact on the euro area of this misguided policy is unquestionably negative.
Today, citizens are being told by numerous European extreme left politicians that structural reforms and budgetary prudence are things that were implemented by evil politicians with malicious intent, and the message that there is unlimited money for anything, whenever and however is whitewashed by the central bank actions.
It is surprising to hear some serious economists at the European Central Bank or the Federal Reserve say that they do not understand how the idea that money can be printed eternally without risk is spread all over the political debate when it is central banks themselves who are providing that false sense of security. The central bank may disguise risk for a time but does not eliminate it.
The euro will be destroyed by debt and the idea that somebody besides the debtor countries must pay it. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
The Eurozone is bust. The deterioration of TARGET2 imbalances have been hardly noticed, but in recent months it has been alarming. Despite official denials over the years that it is a matter of concern, it is increasingly obvious that the national banks of Italy, Spain and other nations with increasing bad debts are hiding them within the TARGET2 system. The first wave of Covid-19, which is leading to bankruptcies throughout the Eurozone, is now being followed by a second wave, which will almost certainly take out a number of important banks, in which case the cross-border euro system will implode.
If ever there was a political construct the unstated objective of which is to enslave its population, it is the European Union. Its opportunity stems from national governments which, with the exception of Germany and a few other northern states, had driven or were on the way to driving their failed states into the ground. The EU’s objectives were to support the policies of failure by corralling the accumulated wealth of the more successful nations to fund the failures in a socialistic doubling-down, and to accelerate the policies of failure to ensure that all power resides in the hands of statist looters in Brussels.
It is Ayn Rand’s vision of the socialising state as looter in action.[i] All of surviving big business is aligned with it: those who refused to play the game have disappeared. Senior executives with extensive lobbying budgets are no longer at the beck and call of contentious consumers and have hollowed out their smaller competitors. They have opted for the easier non-contentious life of seeking favours of the looters in Brussels, enjoying the champagne and foie gras, the partying with the movers and shakers, and the protection they bribe for their businesses.
It is a corrupt super-state that evolved out of American post-war policy — the child of the American Committee of United Europe. Funded and staffed by the CIA in 1948, the committee’s objectives were to ensure the European countries bought into a US-controlled NATO, in the name of stopping Stalin’s westwards expansion from the post-war boundaries. This was the official story, but it is notable how it formed a template for subsequent American control of other foreign states. It is the action of the jewel wasp that turns a cockroach into a zombie, so that its lava can subsequently feed off it.
Debt reaches a point of diminishing, and then negative, returns, especially when it’s used to fund government and its crony corporations. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:
The ECB balance sheet has risen to 53.9% of GDP in July 2020. This compares to a 32% of the Federal Reserve and 33% of the Bank of England. This means a 1.78 trillion euro increase year-to-date. Furthermore, excess liquidity has soared to 2.9 trillion euro, a 1.2 trillion increase since January.
Added to this unprecedented monetary stimulus, the Eurozone has included a record-high 10% of GDP in various fiscal stimulus programmes. None of it has prevented the economy from showing signs of slowing down in August.
After a strong bounce in May and June, coming from the re-opening of most economies and the base effect, high frequency data compiled by Bloomberg Economics shows an evident slowdown in July and August. All economists that follow the eurozone economy are warning about the worrying weakening of leading indicators. The OECD has also published its July 2020 Leading Indicator Index which shows that economies like Spain are not just showing signs of weaker growth, but contraction. Italy continues to improve but at a slow pace, while France and Germany post declining growth levels.
The reason is evident. All the Eurozone monster stimulus is focused on perpetuating bloated government budgets and incentivising non-economic return or subsidized spending. The entire European Recovery Fund is clearly aimed at promoting white elephants disguised as green projects, but what is more concerning is that the Eurozone green deal includes more taxes and measures to prevent demand growth than productivity-enhancing plans.
The problem with the majority of Europeans is they really think economic growth comes from and is directed by governments and central banks. From Bruce Wilds at brucewilds.blogspot.com:
With so many countries across the world facing difficulties, many people have yet to notice the Euro-Zone has become a place where hope goes to die. The last round of elections in the Euro-Zone should bring little comfort to those supporting a stronger Europe. Huge gains were made by forces seeking more power for the populist agenda. In short, it is a boost for the rights of individual nations to have more say in how they are governed. Two of the most pressing issues are that insolvent Italy struggles with a stagnant economy and Spain is coming apart politically with Catalan separatists defying Spain’s Prime Minister.
To avoid the union coming apart at the seams and a miserable future, the European Commission recently unveiled an unprecedented €750BN CoVid-19 recovery plan. It consists of €500 billion in grants to member states, and €250 billion would be available in loans. This means they are asking for the power to borrow. This is geared to tackle the worst recession in European history and shore up Italy. It would mean transforming the EU’s central finances to allow for it to raise unprecedented sums on the capital markets and hand out the bulk of the proceeds as grants to hard-pressed member states.
European bonds were not a “safe haven” asset last week while equity markets were cratering, which suggests that the world’s creditors are finally rediscovering sovereign risk. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
“The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
— Margaret Thatcher
For months myself and very few others have been warning about the problems in Europe. That the real problem isn’t in the U.S., though it’s certainly a mess, it is in Europe.
It’s why I focused so hard on Brexit. Would the U.K. actually get out of the EU before it all came crashing down around the deaf and now stunned Brussels technocrats?
A U.K. outside of the EU meant localizing a major problem on the backs of those that 1) engineered it and 2) cheered it as they literally stole hundreds of billions of pounds from them.
But while everyone has been focused on the melting equity markets and what the high priests of monetary wizardry at the central banks were going to do, did anyone notice the complete collapse of European bonds last week?
I could go on with this but I think you get the point.
If Brexit and the coronavirus end the EU, then some good will have come from the latter. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
The EU and euro face a sudden deterioration in economic conditions due to the coronavirus, which seems certain to widen the differences between Germany and the spendthrift Mediterranean members. But a more immediate problem is the increasing likelihood that the ECB will lose control over financial asset prices, particularly those of government bonds.
In the short-term, it seems likely the euro will rise against the dollar as currency and financial distortions, principally in the fx swap market, are unwound. However, the eurozone faces a developing financial crisis comprised of the following elements: a collapse in economic activity, escalating payment failures, a drastic contraction of bank credit and a collapse in bond prices, as well as the medium used to buy them (the euro).
Eventually, Germany is could go it alone by introducing a gold-backed mark, which will only happen after the European Project is finally abandoned.
Brexit came as a shock to the political bureaucracy that comprises the European Union. They had, and still have an ostrich-like stance with their heads in the sand and their rear ends exposed to passing dangers. Their economic incompetence has been exposed for all to see as well as their political ineptitude.
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