Tag Archives: Federal Reserve

Peter Schiff: The Bond Market Is Rigged!

The Federal Reserve has its multi-trillion pound thumb on the scale. From Peter Schiff at SchiffGold.com via zerohedge.com:

You may have noticed that the financial media has started talking about inflation. But by and large, it’s not a warning. It’s reassurance. Many analysts are dismissive of any concerns raised about inflationary pressure. They often claim the bond market isn’t signaling inflation. But as Peter Schiff points out in a clip from a recent podcast, the bond market is rigged.

The narrative is that the bond markets aren’t signaling much concern about inflation. Treasury yields have risen in recent weeks with the 10-year rate now above 1%. As Peter pointed out in a more recent podcast, the upward trend does indicate some investors are starting to get nervous about inflation, and at some point, we could see “an explosive move up in interest rates.” But so far, the broader market hasn’t caught on. Even though the trend is up, yields remain historically low and they don’t exactly scream “inflation problem.”

After all, if investors were concerned about inflation, why would they be willing to loan money to the US government for 10 years at 1%?”

Typically, inflation is a major concern for lenders. If you plan to lend somebody money for 10 years, you have to consider what that amount of money will buy when you get it back. In effect, you’re giving up the opportunity to buy something with your money today in order to lend it to somebody else. You’re willing to do this because the borrower is paying you for the service of loaning him that money. But if inflation is going to eat away your purchasing power over time, you will want to charge a higher rate of interest to compensate for that loss.

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Economic and monetary outlook for 2021, by Alasdair Macleod

SLL doesn’t do end-of-the-year review and preview articles, or compile a list of predictions. My prediction for 2021 is that it’s going be a whole lot worse than 2020. Alasdair Macleod agrees. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The most important event in the new year is likely to be the Fed losing control of its iron grip on markets. The dollar’s declining trend is already well established against other currencies and commodities, leading to this outcome.

Events in 2021 will be the consequence of a developing hyperinflation of the dollar. Foreign holders of dollars and dollar assets — currently totalling $27.7 trillion — are sure to increase the pace of reducing their exposure. This is a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of using QE to continually inflate assets in the name of promoting a wealth effect and continuing to finance a rapidly increasing federal government deficit by supressing interest rates.

Bubbles will then pop, leaving establishment investors exposed to a combined collapse of fiat currencies, bonds and equity markets, which could turn out to be very rapid. The question remaining is what will replace collapsing fiat currencies: limited issue distributed ledger cryptos, such as bitcoin, or precious metals, such as gold?

Clearly, when the dust settles, it will be gold for no other reason that central banks already own it in their reserves, and it has a long track record of success as money in the past.

This article examines the 2020 economic and financial background to likely developments in 2021 before arriving at its conclusions.

Introduction

It is that time again when we reflect on recent events and what might be ahead of us in the new year. 2020 was dominated by a pre-March descent into a financial slump, when the S&P500 index lost a third of its value between January and March, until the Fed cut its funds rate to zero on 16 March and followed up with a statement of intent to expand QE without limit on the following Monday.

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Doug Casey on the End of Western Civilization

Western Civilization is faltering because its intellectual foundations—reason and the primacy of the individual—are being ceaseless undermined. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

End of Western Civilization

International Man: The decline of Western Civilization is on a lot of people’s minds.

Let’s talk about this trend.

Doug Casey: Western Civilization has its origins in ancient Greece. It’s unique among the world’s civilizations in putting the individual—as opposed to the collective—in a central position. It enshrined logic and rational thought—as opposed to mysticism and superstition—as the way to deal with the world. It’s because of this that we have science, technology, great literature and art, capitalism, personal freedom, the concept of progress, and much, much more. In fact, almost everything worth having in the material world is due to Western Civilization.

Ayn Rand once said “East minus West equals zero.” I think she went a bit too far, as a rhetorical device, but she was essentially right. When you look at what the world’s other civilizations have brought to the party, at least over the last 2,500 years, it’s trivial.

I lived in the Orient for years. There are many things I love about it—martial arts, yoga, and the cuisine among them. But all the progress they’ve made is due to adopting the fruits of the West.

International Man: There are so many things degrading Western Civilization. Where do we begin?

Doug Casey: It’s been said, correctly, that a civilization always collapses from within. World War 1, in 1914, signaled the start of the long collapse of Western Civilization. Of course, termites were already eating away at the foundations, with the writings of people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx. It’s been on an accelerating downward path ever since, even though technology and science have been improving at a quantum pace. They are, however, like delayed action flywheels, operating on stored energy and accumulated capital. Without capital, intellectual freedom, and entrepreneurialism, science and technology will slow down. I’m optimistic we’ll make it to Kurzweil’s Singularity, but there are no guarantees.

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Can the Fed End Racism? by Ron Paul

The Fed has done a terrible job on the one mission it was charged with at its founding: preserving the value of the dollar. It can beat up banks to lend to minorities, but whether that will increase or decrease racism is not something it can control. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and Senator Elizabeth Warren have introduced the Federal Reserve Racial and Economic Equity Act. This legislation directs the Federal Reserve to eliminate racial disparities in income, employment, wealth, and access to credit.

Eliminating racial disparities in access to credit is code for forcing banks and other financial institutions to approve loans based on the applicants’ race, instead of based on their income and credit history. Overlooking poor credit history or income below what would normally be required to qualify for a loan results in individuals ending up with ruinous debt. These individuals will end up losing their homes, cars, or businesses because banks disregarded sound lending practices in an effort to show they are meeting race-based requirements.

Forcing banks to make loans based on political considerations damages the economy by misallocating resources. This reduces economic growth and inflicts more pain on lower-income Americans.

The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act has already shown what happens when the government forces banks to give loans to unqualified borrowers. This law played a significant role in the housing boom and subsequent economic meltdown. The Federal Reserve Racial and Economic Equity Act will be the Community Reinvestment Act on steroids.

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Exposed, by Sven Henrich

Monetary policy has become exclusively about the care and feeding of the stock market. From Sven Henrich at northmantrader.com:

While this weekend’s headlines are dominated by who got exposed to and infected by Coronavirus from the President on down I want to make sure other key news items are not lost in the shuffle, specifically those that expose a system that has self corrupted itself and is desperately trying to keep the balls in the air while causing ever more long lasting damage to our global economy.

Let’s face it: This week’s market action was dominated by dozens of stimulus headlines. Stimulus progress and markets rip higher, stimulus disagreements and markets dropped lower exposing markets again to be a toy thing of the liquidity game.

Will they or won’t they is the question on everyone’s mind and many bets are placed that they will, for likely they must as the jobs growth picture is slowing dramatically from the summer sugar recovery high and keeping markets and consumer confidence high into the election is a political imperative.

nd don’t think for a second that they are not political imperatives. Market levels are as much a national security imperative as is having a strong military. For the last few years Larry Kudlow’s curiously timed TV appearances have become a fodder of Twitter jokes and yours truly has been at the forefront on Twitter of mocking the ever so obvious attempts to manipulate markets higher at every corner and opportunity.

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Digital Money Is Coming to America, by Bill Bonner

Inflationary regimes have often swapped the old, depreciated-to-next-to-nothing currency for a brand new, nominally revalued and reset currency that soon sinks to next to nothing. Right now the world’s inflationary regimes are scheming to replace currencies, especially that hard to track paper money, with digital, easy to monitor, currencies. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Week 28 of the Quarantine

SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – For half a century, America’s greatest export has been the dollar. So much so that there are now more physical dollars outside the U.S. than in it.

Overseas, people use dollars as an alternative to their own money. Foreigners are more familiar with Ben Franklin than Americans. In many places, people cling to U.S. dollars like a drowning man to driftwood.

Here in Argentina, for example, inflation is already running at about 50% per year. People think it will get a lot worse. So they prepare by trading their pesos for dollars – now at a rate of 150-to-1.

Sinking Dollar

But what happens when the dollar sinks?

The question is premature. Almost naïve.

For the present, the dollar is as buoyant as an empty plastic bottle. The velocity of money – a key component of consumer price inflation – is actually going down.

Americans are happy to get dollars from the government. And foreigners are happy to get them any way they can.

But soon, everyone will see that the U.S. feds are acting like the people who run sh*thole countries. They stifle the economy with laws and regulations – shutdowns, moratoria on evictions, $1,200 checks for everyone – and try to finance it with printing-press money.

We have no superpowers here at the Diary. We cannot climb walls, fly through the air, or see through concrete walls. So we cannot tell you when or how the dollar fails.

But today, we will explore the question of what you should do about it.

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David Stockman on the Economy’s Role in The Upcoming Presidential Election

Will the economy continue to float on a sea of debt through the election? Probably. From David Stockman at internationalman.com:

Presidential Election

International Man: Bill Clinton’s infamous phrase during the 1992 presidential election was “It’s the economy, stupid.” How important of a role do you think the economy and a continued rally in the stock market will play in the outcome of the presidential election?

David Stockman: Well, in the befuddled mind of Donald Trump, probably a considerable role as manifest in his campaign oratory. And since there are less than 50 days left, he might get away with his groundless boasting. That is, we seriously doubt that the great reckoning will commence before November 3, meaning that he will keep peddling the “but for COVID” canard, claiming that, before that, he single-handedly created the Greatest Economy Ever.

Actually, it’s the greatest BS story ever told. It rests on the utterly misleading circumstance that the Donald entered office in month #90 of what became the longest business cycle expansion in history (at 128 months in February).

Consequently, his “record” was artificially flattered by the low U-3 unemployment rates (3.5%) that naturally occur during the last 38 months of the cycle as the inventory of unused labor is finally exhausted. Of course, that’s also exactly what occurred during the final months of the 118-month expansion of the 1990s and the 106-month expansion of the 1960s, when Democrats happened to be incumbent in the Oval Office.

But when measured by something relevant, such as the average real GDP growth rate during his tenure, it turns out that the Donald’s cherished “score” is the very worst among all the presidential terms since 1948.

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China is killing the dollar, by Alasdair Macleod

If a country is clearly bent on depreciating its own currency, why hold either the currency or assets denominated in that currency. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

In the wake of the Fed’s promise of 23 March to print money without limit in order to rescue the covid-stricken US economy, China changed its policy of importing industrial materials to a more aggressive stance. In examining the rationale behind this move, this article concludes that while there are sound geopolitical reasons behind it the monetary effect will be to drive down the dollar’s purchasing power, and that this is already happening. More recently, a veiled threat has emerged that China could dump all her US Treasury and agency bonds if the relationship with America deteriorates further. This appears to be a cover for China to reduce her dollar exposure more aggressively. The consequences are a primal threat to the Fed’s policy of escalating monetary policy while maintaining the dollar’s status in the foreign exchanges.

Introduction

On 3 September, China’s state-owned Global Times, which acts as the government’s mouthpiece, ran a front-page article warning that

“China will gradually decrease its holdings of US debt to about $800billion under normal circumstances. But of course, China might sell all of its US bonds in an extreme case, like a military conflict,” Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics told the Global Times on Thursday”[i].

Do not be misled by the attribution to a seemingly independent Chinese professor: it would not have been the frontpage article unless it was sanctioned by the Chinese government. While China has already taken the top off its US Treasury holdings, the announcement (for that is what it amounts to) that China is prepared to escalate the financial war against America is very serious. The message should be clear: China is prepared to collapse the US Treasury market. In the past, apologists for the US Government have said that China has no one to buy its entire holding. The most recent suggestion is that China’s Treasury holdings will be put in trust for covid victims — a suggestion if enacted would undermine foreign trust in the dollar and could bring its reserve role to a swift conclusion.[ii] For the moment these are peacetime musings. At a time of financial war, if China put her entire holding on the market Treasury yields would be driven up dramatically, unless someone like the Fed steps in to buy the lot.

If that happened China would then have almost a trillion dollars to sell, driving the dollar down against whatever the Chinese buy. And don’t think for a moment that if China was to dump its holding of US Treasuries other foreign holders would stand idly by. This action would probably end the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency with serious consequences for the US and global economies.

There is another possibility: China intends to sell all her US Treasuries anyway and is making American monetary policy her cover for doing so. It is this possibility we will now explore.

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Unspoken Truth, by Sven Henrich

The Fed has become the deity of the financial markets. From Sven Henrich at northmantrader.com:

We all know it yet the unspoken truth deserves to be said out aloud.

You all heard the phrases ‘Don’t fight the Fed’, and ‘ there is no alternative’. Can we be clear what these phrases really mean? They mean people are buying assets at prices they otherwise wouldn’t because a central planning committee is putting in market conditions that changes their market behavior.

People are paying forward multiples that are higher than they would if they earned higher interest income. The ‘desperate search for yield’ they call it. Think of it as a forced auction. You must pay, and you must pay more because you can’t bid on anything else and neither can anyone else hence there are now bidders for ever less available product (i.e. think shrinking share floats) driving prices wildly higher. And as central banks have become permanently dovish over the past decade Fed meetings are the principal impetus for rallies. Indeed most gains in markets come around days that have Fed Day written on them, a well established history going back decades now.

A fact the Fed itself is very well aware of:

“In a 2011 paper, New York Fed economists showed that from 1994 to 2011 almost all the S&P 500’s returns came in the 3 days around an FOMC decision. Over this period the index rose by 270%, and most of those gains happened the before, the day of, and the day after a Fed meeting.”

So Pavlovian has the response become that shorts automatically cover ahead of Fed meetings and investors buy ahead of Fed meetings expecting a positive response. The Fed is the market as it’s driving its entire behavior. The “Fed put” they call it. Another phrase that explicitly acknowledges that investors are orienting their risk profile behavior on what this unelected committee does.

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#MacroView: 5-Reasons The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation, by Lance Roberts

Why unlimited fiat debt doesn’t create unlimited price inflation. From Lance Roberts at realinvestmentadvice.com:

At the recent Jackson Hole Economic Summit, Jerome Powell unveiled the Fed’s new monetary policy designed to create inflation. In today’s #Macroview, we will discuss the 5-reasons why the Fed will not get inflation, and why deflation is the bigger risk.

The current assumption is that the Fed’s new policy will lead to higher inflation.

“The new policy regime is an important evolution in our thinking about how to achieve our goals and another step toward greater transparency, The policy change positions us for success in achieving our maximum employment and price stability goals in the future.” – Fed Reserve Bank of NY, John Williams, via WSJ 

What exactly is this new policy? Well, that’s the interesting part, no one actually knows. However, as noted by the WSJ:

“The Fed said it would now seek to hit its 2% inflation target on average, and that it wouldn’t raise rates just to ward off the theoretical threat of inflation posed by a strong job market. The Fed, however, didn’t say how it would determine the average, and several regional Fed officials suggested that a 2.5% jobless rate was as much as they would tolerate. At the same time, with the economy in deep trouble, there is little expectation inflation will test the Fed’s target for years.”

So, to be clear, the Fed’s new policy is simply to “average the inflation rate” over a period of time and let the unemployment rate fall to as low as 2.5%. The last time the unemployment rate was at 2.5% was for one quarter in 1953 just before the 1954 recession set in.

Fed's New Policy Inflation, #MacroView: 5-Reasons The Fed’s New Policy Won’t Get Inflation

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