Tag Archives: Federal Reserve

Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy, by Michael Hudson

Debt as the solution to a debt collapse only harms the economy and sets it up for an even bigger fall later on. From Michael Hudson at counterpunch.org:

Photo Source futureatlas.com | CC BY 2.0

Today’s financial malaise for pension funds, state and local budgets and underemployment is largely a result of the 2008 bailout, not the crash. What was saved was not only the banks – or more to the point, as Sheila Bair pointed out, their bondholders – but the financial overhead that continues to burden today’s economy.

Also saved was the idea that the economy needs to keep the financial sector solvent by an exponential growth of new debt – and, when that does not suffice, by government purchase of stocks and bonds to support the balance sheets of the wealthiest layer of society. The internal contradiction in this policy is that debt deflation has become so overbearing and dysfunctional that it prevents the economy from growing and carrying its debt burden.

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10 Years Later, No Lessons Learned, by Jim Quinn

The too big to fails in 2008 are bigger, the debt pile is higher, and policymakers are at least as stupid, if not stupider. From Jim Quinn at theburningplatform.com:

“A variety of investors provided capital to financial companies, with which they made irresponsible loans and took excessive risks. These activities resulted in real losses, which have largely wiped out the shareholder equity of the companies. But behind that shareholder equity is bondholder money, and so much of it that neither depositors of the institution nor the public ever need to take a penny of losses. Citigroup, for example, has $2 trillion in assets, but also has $600 billion owed to its own bondholders. From an ethical perspective, the lenders who took the risk to finance the activities of these companies are the ones that should directly bear the cost of the losses.”John Hussman – May 2009

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Wall Street/Fed/Treasury created financial disaster of 2008/2009. What should have happened was an orderly liquidation of the criminal Wall Street banks who committed the greatest control fraud in world history and the disposition of their good assets to non-criminal banks who did not recklessly leverage their assets by 30 to 1, while fraudulently issuing worthless loans to deadbeats and criminals. But we know that did not happen.

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Looming Dollar Shortage Getting Worse As Emerging Markets Implode, by Adem Tumerkan

US deficits and the Federal Reserve’s quantitative tightening are sucking dollars out of the international financial system, to the detriment of emerging markets. From Adem Tumerkan at palisade-research.com:

One of the most important macro-situations that’s developing right now is the looming U.S. dollar shortage.

I don’t mean in the sense that banks don’t have enough dollars to lend out – I’m talking about the foreign sovereign markets.

Here are some of the things that’s causing liquidity to dry up. . .

1. Soaring U.S. deficits – the United States’ need for constant funding is requiring huge amounts of capital

2. A strengthening U.S. Dollar – which is weakening the rest of the worlds currencies

3. Rising U.S. short-term rates and LIBOR rates – courtesy of the Federal Reserve’s tightening

4. The Fed’s quantitative tightening program – unwinding their balance sheet by selling bonds

These four things are making global markets extremely fragile. . .

I’ve written about this dollar shortage before – but things are getting much worse.

As a recap of why this all matters – when the U.S. buys goods from abroad, they are taking in goods and sending out dollars. Otherwise said, they are selling dollars out of the country in return for goods.

Those countries that sold to America now have dollars in return. But since countries don’t have a mattress to store their money under – they must find liquid and ‘safe’ places to put it.

With the dollar as the world’s reserve currency – and U.S. treasury market being the most liquid – countries usually take the dollars and funnel them back into the U.S. via buying bonds.

Since the U.S. is a net-debtor – inflows of new money is constantly required to pay out outstanding bills. So there’s always fresh debt that foreigners can buy.

And if you haven’t checked lately, the national debt is over $21 trillion – and growing faster. The latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report stated that at the current rate – U.S. debt-to-GDP will be over 100% by 2028 (if not sooner).

So how does this tie into a dollar shortage?

Let me break it down. . .

The always-rapidly-growing U.S. deficit requires constant funding from foreigners. But with the Federal Reserve raising rates and unwinding their balance sheet through Quantitative Tightening (QT) – meaning they’re sucking money out of the banking system.

These two situations are creating the shortage abroad. The U.S. Treasury’s soaking up more dollars at a time when the Fed is sucking capital out of the economy.

Not too mention the strengthening dollar and higher short-term yields are making it more difficult for foreigners to borrow in dollars. Especially at a time when Emerging Market’s are imploding.

To continue reading: Looming Dollar Shortage Getting Worse As Emerging Markets Implode

How Long Can The Federal Reserve Stave Off the Inevitable? by Paul Craig Roberts

It’s inevitable, we just don’t know when. If Paul Craig Roberts or anyone else gets the correct answer, an incalculable fortune can be made by Big Shorting equity and debt markets. From Roberts at paulcraigroberts.com:

When are America’s global corporations and Wall Street going to sit down with President Trump and explain to him that his trade war is not with China but with them? The biggest chunk of America’s trade deficit with China is the offshored production of America’s global corporations. When the corporations bring the products that they produce in China to the US consumer market, the products are classified as imports from China.

Six years ago when I was writing The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, I concluded on the evidence that half of US imports from China consist of the offshored production of US corporations. Offshoring is a substantial benefit to US corporations because of much lower labor and compliance costs. Profits, executive bonuses, and shareholders’ capital gains receive a large boost from offshoring. The costs of these benefits for a few fall on the many—the former American employees who formerly had a middle class income and expectations for their children.

In my book, I cited evidence that during the first decade of the 21st century “the US lost 54,621 factories, and manufacturing employment fell by 5 million employees. Over the decade, the number of larger factories (those employing 1,000 or more employees) declined by 40 percent. US factories employing 500-1,000 workers declined by 44 percent; those employing between 250-500 workers declined by 37 percent, and those employing between 100-250 workers shrunk by 30 percent. These losses are net of new start-ups. Not all the losses are due to offshoring. Some are the result of business failures” (p. 100).

In other words, to put it in the most simple and clear terms, millions of Americans lost their middle class jobs not because China played unfairly, but because American corporations betrayed the American people and exported their jobs. “Making America great again” means dealing with these corporations, not with China. When Trump learns this, assuming anyone will tell him, will he back off China and take on the American global corporations?

The loss of middle class jobs has had a dire effect on the hopes and expectations of Americans, on the American economy, on the finances of cities and states and, thereby, on their ability to meet pension obligations and provide public services, and on the tax base for Social Security and Medicare, thus threatening these important elements of the American consensus. In short, the greedy corporate elite have benefitted themselves at enormous cost to the American people and to the economic and social stability of the United States.

To continue reading: How Long Can The Federal Reserve Stave Off the Inevitable?

Critical Mass: When Will Investors Care About The Dollar Shortage Crisis? by Adem Tumerkan

Investors may not care about an impending dollar shortage until there aren’t enough dollars around to drive markets higher. From Adem Tumerkan at palisade-research.com:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman – Ben ‘Helicopter’ Bernanke – just threw cold water on the mainstream growth narrative. He said the economy by 2020 is going to go right over the cliff.

Although rarely – I do agree with Helicopter Ben about something. . .

President Trump’s $1.5 trillion in personal and corporate tax cuts – plus $300 billion in increased federal spending – was done at the “very wrong moment.”

The huge tax cuts and government spending requires a significant amount of new debt to be issued, all while the Fed’s tightening and unwinding their balance sheet via Quantitative Tightening (QT). 

This is going to cause an evaporation of dollar liquidity – making the markets extremely fragile.

Putting it simply – the soaring U.S. deficit requires an even greater amount dollars from foreigners to fund the U.S. Treasury. But if the Fed is shrinking their balance sheet, that means the bonds they’re selling to banks are sucking dollars out of the economy (the reverse of Quantitative Easing which was injecting dollars into the economy). This is creating a shortage of U.S. dollars – the world’s reserve currency – therefore affecting every global economy.

This illiquidity is going to cause the oil that greases the wheels of markets to dry up – fast.

So, with the dollar shortage making matters worse – we also have that there’s never been a time when the Fed began tightening and it didn’t lead to negative economic growth or a market crisis.

The historic evidence of the Fed’s rate hikes – and the inverting yield curve – right before a recession is irrefutable.

Take a look at over the last 40 years. . .

As the Fed continues their rate hikes and QT, the over-indebted system becomes illiquid and more fragile. Things will eventually crack.

The protégé of Austrian Economist Ludwig Von Mises – Murray Rothbard – once asked a series of questions that stumped many economists defending the Fed.

From his book America’s Great Depression, he called these ‘The Sudden Cluster of Errors’, which were. . .

1. Most businesses in the economy generate steady profits and can service their debts fine. Then suddenly, without warning, conditions change, and the bulk of businesses begin posting huge losses and can’t pay their creditors.

2. How did all these astute business men, MBA graduates, and ‘professional’ forecasters make such huge errors together. And – most importantly – why did it all suddenly happen at this particular time?

3. Why do the capital goods industries – raw materials, construction, etc – fluctuate much more wildly than the consumer goods industries? During recessions you see home construction firms belly up, but places like GAP and Hollister survive.

The explanation is the Fed’s artificial moving of rates up after keeping them down for years triggers the harsh bust.

To continue reading: Critical Mass: When Will Investors Care About The Dollar Shortage Crisis?

The Myth that Central Banks Assure Economic Stability, by Richard M. Ebeling

Central banks promote economic instability; just check their record. From Richard M. Ebeling at fff.org:

The world has been plagued with periodic bouts of the economic rollercoaster of booms and busts, inflations and recessions, especially during the last one hundred years. The main culprits responsible for these destabilizing and disruptive episodes have been governments and their central banks. They have monopolized the control of their respective nation’s monetary and banking systems, and mismanaged them. There is really nowhere else to point other than in their direction.

Yet, to listen to some prominent and respected writers on these matters, government has been the stabilizer and free markets have been the disturber of economic order. A recent instance of this line of reasoning is a short article by Robert Skidelsky on “Why Reinvent the Monetary Wheel?” Dr. Skidelsky is the noted author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes and a leading voice on public policy issues in Great Britain.

Skidelsky: Central Banking Equals Stable Prices and Markets

He argues against those who wish to denationalize and privatize money and the monetary system. That is, he criticizes those who want to take control of money and monetary affairs out of the hands of the government, and, instead, put money and the monetary order back into the competitive, private market. He opposes those who wish to separate money from the State.

Skidelsky sees the proponents of Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrences” as “quacks and cranks.” He says that behind any privatization of the monetary system reflected in these potential forms of electronic money may be seen “the more sordid motives” of “Friedrich Hayek’s dream of a free market in money.” The famous Austrian economist had published a monograph in 1976 on theDenationalization of Money, in which Hayek insisted that governments have been the primary cause behind currency debasements and paper money inflations through the centuries up to our own times. And this could not be brought to an end without getting government out of the money controlling and the money-creating business.

In Skidelsky’s view, any such institutional change would be a disaster. As far as he is concerned, “human societies have discovered no better way to keep the value of money roughly constant than by relying on central banks to exercise control of its issue and to act directly or indirectly on the volume of credit created by the commercial banking system.”

To continue reading: The Myth that Central Banks Assure Economic Stability

Deutsche Bank CoCo Bonds Plunge, Shares Hit Record Low, after US Entity Makes FDIC’s “Problem Bank List”, by Wolf Richter

Who’s going to “win” the race to the bottom of the banking pile: Italy’s banks or Germany’s Deutsche Bank? It could be a dead heat. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The old question: When will she buckle?

Shares of Deutsche Bank fell 7.2% today in Frankfurt to €9.16, the lowest since they started trading on the Xetra exchange in 1992. They’re now lower than they’d been during its last crisis in 2016. And they’re down 71% from April 2015.

This came after leaked double-whammy revelations the morning: One reported by the Financial Times, that the FDIC had put Deutsche Bank’s US operations on its infamous “Problem Bank List”; and the other one, reported by the Wall Street Journal, that the Fed, as main bank regulator, had walloped the bank last year with a “troubled condition” designation, one of the lowest rankings on its five-level scoring system.

The FDIC keeps its “Problem Bank List” secret. It only discloses the number of banks on it and the amount of combined assets of these banks. A week ago, the FDIC reported that in Q1, combined assets on the “Problem Bank List” jumped by $42.5 billion to $56.4 billion (red bars, right scale), the first such surge since 2008, as I mused…  Oops, It’s Starting, Says This Chart from the FDIC:

That increase in assets of $42.5 billion on the “Problem Bank List” nearly matches the assets of Deutsche Bank’s principle subsidiary in the US, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (DBTCA) of $42.1 billion as of March 31. And this has now been now confirmed by the sources: it was DBTCA that ended up on the “Problem Bank List.”

The Fed’s downgrade a year ago of Deutsche Bank’s US operations to “troubled condition” was what apparently nudged the FDIC in Q1 to put the bank on its Problem Bank List. The Fed’s ranking of banks is also a secret – for a good reasons: When these things come out, shares plunge and investors lose what little confidence they have left, as we’re seeing today. This loss of trust can entail larger problems that then coagulate into a self-fulfilling prophesy that perhaps should have self-fulfilled itself years ago.

In addition to the shares sinking to a new low, Deutsche Bank AG’s contingent convertible bonds, one of the instruments with which the German entity has increased its woefully drained Tier 1 capital after the Financial Crisis are now plunging again. The 6% CoCos dropped 3.6% today, to 90.12 cents on the euro. They’re now down 15% from the beginning of the year:

To continue reading: Deutsche Bank CoCo Bonds Plunge, Shares Hit Record Low, after US Entity Makes FDIC’s “Problem Bank List”