Tag Archives: US dollar

What Is the Shipping Container Shortage Telling Us About the Economy? by Weimin Chen

In the long term, sending US dollars to China in return for their goods cannot coexist with a determined effort to depreciate dollars. From Weimin Chen at mises.org:

Despite the record unemployment rate, widespread hardship to businesses, strains on the healthcare system, political turmoil, and general disruption to daily life in 2020, US consumers have managed to ramp up their habit of buying things. Demand for physical goods replaced some of the previous demand for in-person service-related experiences and much of that demand was met with a surge of imports from China as domestic production slowed down due to lockdown measures. Up until recently, global supply chains managed to find their footing and could meet demand, but news has emerged that reveals stresses on the world’s shipping infrastructure and uncovers clues about the economic outlook.

Container Shortage and Chinese Exports

Global logistical networks recently began to suffer from a shortage of shipping containers as demand has suddenly risen. Freight rates from China to the US have jumped by 300%. The container situation has become so extreme that hundreds of thousands of containers have been sent off empty from US ports, mostly to China as exporters demand empty containers with increasing urgency. An estimated 177,938 containers, were rejected from loading US export items at the ports of Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey alone and then sent across the Pacific.

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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.


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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Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Jeff Thomas

A lot of Americans, particularly the Baby Boomers, have trouble recognizing the limits imposed by reality. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll
The baby-boomer generation were perhaps the most privileged generation that the US has ever spawned.

Their fathers returned from World War II, eager to get married, buy a house and start a family. The economy was booming, as, during the early years of the war, the US wisely stayed out, but provided tanks, helmets and even toothbrushes to those who were directly involved in the fray.

What’s more, they didn’t accept pound notes or francs; they accepted only gold. So, at the end of the war, when the manufacturing cities of Europe had been destroyed by bombs, the male populations decimated and the governments broke, the US was on a roll. They had most of the world’s gold and had first-rate manufacturing facilities that only had to switch from making jeeps and rifles to making cars and televisions.

That wave of wealth allowed the young married couples to spoil their children with whatever they wanted.

The boomer generation reached their teens in the 1960s, and having grown accustomed to receiving whatever they wanted in life, they were young adults and wanted to party. The phrase, “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” was coined and it was an apt one. Young Americans opted for plenty of all three.

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Revolutionary Times and Systemic Collapse – “The System Cannot Handle It”, by Alastair Crooke

After system overload comes chaos, the betting favorite at SLL for a long time. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Some have queried how it could be that President Putin would co-operate with President Trump to have OPEC+ push oil prices higher – when those higher prices precisely would only help sustain U.S. oil production. In effect, President Putin was being asked to underwrite a subsidy to the U.S. economy – at the expense of Russia’s own oil and gas sales – since U.S. shale production simply is not economic at these prices. In other words, Russia seemed to be shooting itself in the foot.

Well, the calculus for Moscow on whether to cut production (to help Trump) was never simple. There were geo-political and domestic economic considerations – as well as the industry ones – to weigh. But, perhaps one issue trumped all others?

Since 2007, President Putin has been pointing to one overarching threat to global trade: And that problem was simply, the U.S. dollar.

And now, that dollar is in crisis. We are referring, here, not so much to America’s domestic financial crisis (although the monetisation of U.S. debt is connected to threat to the global system), but rather, how the international trading system is poised to blow apart, with grave consequences for everyone.

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Goodbye Dollar, It Was Nice Knowing You! by Philip Giraldi

The rest of the world is chipping away at the US dollar’s status as the reserve currency. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

Over the past two years, the White House has initiated trade disputes, insulted allies and enemies alike, and withdrawn from or refused to ratify multinational treaties and agreements. It has also expanded the reach of its unilaterally imposed rules, forcing other nations to abide by its demands or face economic sanctions. While the stated Trump Administration intention has been to enter into new arrangements more favorable to the United States, the end result has been quite different, creating a broad consensus within the international community that Washington is unstable, not a reliable partner and cannot be trusted. This sentiment has, in turn, resulted in conversations among foreign governments regarding how to circumvent the American banking system, which is the primary offensive weapon apart from dropping bombs that Washington has to force compliance with its dictates.

Consequently, there has been considerable blowback from the Make America Great Again campaign, particularly as the flip side of the coin appears to be that the “greatness” will be obtained by making everyone else less great. The only country in the world that currently regards the United States favorably is Israel, which certainly has good reason to do so given the largesse that has come from the Trump Administration. Everyone else is keen to get out from under the American heel.

Well the worm has finally turned, maybe. Even the feckless Angela Merkel’s Germany now understands that national interests must prevail when the United States is demanding that it do the unspeakable. At the recently concluded G20 meeting in Tokyo Britain, France and Germany announced that the special trade mechanism that they have been working on this year is now up and running. It is called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (Instex) and it will permit companies in Europe to do business with countries like Iran, avoiding American sanctions by trading outside the SWIFT system, which is dollar denominated and de facto controlled by the US Treasury.

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War and the Paper Standard, by L. Reichard White

This is the best article posted tonight. It’s long, but it explains much that is hidden about US foreign policy. From L. Reichard White at lewrockwell.com:

Maybe you’ve noticed the frenzied U.S. Government attempt to replace Venezuela’s duly elected hood-ornament — PresideNT Nicolas Maduro — with Juan Guaido, a nearly unknown U.S. prepped Venezuelan politician?

Why are they trying to do that?

With National. Security Advisor John Bolton suggesting a berth at Gitmo for Mr. Maduro if he doesn’t step down and flee the country — and Sen. Marco Rubio implying Muammar Gadaffi’s last minutes of life being intimate with a bayonett as another future for Mr. Maduro — “our” D.C. reprehensibles are displaying their unsavory colors.

Prominently showcasing this level of thuggery, usually hidden from polite society in smoke-filled back rooms, restricted C.I.A. workshops — and censored and classified “above top secret” for decades — marks a whole new phase in international relations.

But why?

With Mr. “Art of the Deal” Trump & Company seriously abusing the standard Games Theory and negotiation baseline — you know, “All options are on the table” — they’ve already (March 3, 2019) played the “suggest a U.S. invasion” card.

And pulling out all the Art of War stops too, Trump & Company — clearly with maximum arm twisting — have wheedled, cajoled, bribed, bullied, and/or threatened about one quarter of the world’s governments into suddenly proclaiming this relatively unknown to be PresideNT of Venezuela. Despite — or maybe because of — Mr. Maduro’s democratic victory last year (May 20, 2018.)

Merely labeling the democratically elected Maduro “dictator” while proclaiming unknown Guaido “PresideNT” — without an invasion or bloody revolution so far or even a vote — though ingenuous is pure Sun Tsu genius. If it works.

But why are they doing that?

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That Time the Dollar Tide Went Out… by Tom Luongo

For almost a decade, the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policies have created an incentive to borrow dollars. This creates a demand for dollars, basically the world is short dollars. Contrary to the wishes of Donald Trump, this is now putting a lot of upward pressure on the dollar. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Welcome to the Dollar Rally to end all rallies. This week’s action in the U.S. dollar puts paid all of the moves by the Fed and the ECB over the past three months to forestall this from coming.

First it was January’s FOMC meeting where the Fed completely reversed course after a very unpopular December rate hike threw equity markets into a tailspin by Christmas.

Of course our Narcissist-in-Chief thought it was all about him and implored the Fed to stop raising rates. It was interfering with his ability to shake down the world at his sanctions and tariffs party.

But it wasn’t about him at all. It was about the Fed’s need to normalize rates into a coming global slowdown after a central-bank-induced, decade-long recovery of dubious merit.

They’d done their job of recapitalizing the banks, somewhat, and now it was time to start trying to address the massive pension system and municipal bond crisis that was on the horizon.

Or at least that’s what they thought.

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The Last Hurrah Before the Dark Years, by Egon von Greyerz

He’s probably right. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

This is it! The autumn of 2018 will be momentous in the world economy, markets and politics.
We are now seeing the Last Hurrah for stocks, bonds, the dollar and most asset markets.

The world economy has been living on borrowed time since the 2006-9 crisis. The financial system should have collapsed at that time. But the massive life support that central banks orchestrated managed to keep the dying patient alive for another decade. Lowering interest rates to zero or negative and printing enough money to double global debt seem to have solved the problem. But rather than saving the world from an economic collapse, the growth of debt and asset bubbles has created a system with exponentially higher risk.

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US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi? by Wolf Richter

The world’s central banks aren’t shedding their dollars for the Chinese currency just yet. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Um, no. Central banks not enthusiastic about the renminbi.

Global central banks are not dumping US-dollar-denominated assets from their foreign exchange reserves. They’re not dumping euro-denominated assets either. And they remain leery of the Chinese renminbi – despite China’s place as the second largest economy in the world and despite all the hoopla of turning the renminbi into a major global reserve currency.

This is clear from the IMF’s just released “Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves” (COFER) data for the first quarter 2018. The IMF is very stingy with what it discloses. The COFER data for each individual country – each country’s specific holdings of reserve currencies – is “strictly confidential.” But it does disclose the global allocation of each major currency.

In Q1 2018, total global foreign exchange reserves, including all currencies, rose 6.3% year-over-year, or by $878 billion, to $11.59 trillion, within the upper range of the past three years (from $10.7 trillion in Q4 2016 to $11.8 trillion in Q3, 2014). For reporting purposes, the IMF converts all currency balances into US dollars. This data was for Q1. The dollar bottomed out in the middle of the quarter and has since been rising.

US-dollar-denominated assets among foreign exchange reserves continued to dominate in Q1 at $6.5 trillion, or 62.5% of “allocated” reserves (more on this “allocated” in a moment).

Over the decades, there have been major efforts to undermine the dollar’s hegemony as a global reserve currency, which it has maintained since World War II. The creation of the euro was the most successful such effort. The plan was that the euro would eventually reach “parity” with the dollar on the hegemony scale. Before the euro, global exchange reserves included the individual currencies of today’s Eurozone members, particularly the Deutsche mark. After the euro came about, it replaced all those. And its share edged up for a while until the euro debt crisis spooked central banks and derailed those dreams.

And now there are efforts underway to elevate the Chinese renminbi to a global reserve currency. This became official on October 1, 2016, when the IMF added it to its currency basket, the Special Drawing Rights. But watching grass grow is breathtakingly exciting compared to watching the RMB gain status as a reserve currency.

To continue reading: US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi?

Crisis Progress Report (5): The Black Hole, by Robert Gore

The world is at the event horizon of the black hole of debt, the point of no return in which the gravitational pull of imploding debt makes escape impossible. Debt has allowed the world’s command and controllers to pretend they could control many important variables, but debt reaches a point where debt service costs outweigh putative benefits. It is then only a matter of time before it collapses, and it doesn’t matter where that collapse begins. The world has $200 trillion of debt, almost three times world GDP, and most financial assets are in fact someone’s debt, or, further down the priority ladder, equity—unsecured ownership claims on corporations. In a world as indebted as ours, an impairment of even a small percentage of debt reverberates globally, as the impairment entails asset mark downs, impairing the debt service capabilities of those asset owners, which means mark downs by their creditors, jeopardizing their debt payments, and so on. Once the black hole forms and exerts its pull, its event horizon expands, sucking in financial instruments, entire companies, and governments.

Back in the days when the Federal Reserve was engaged in Quantitative Easing (QE), depreciating the dollar, countries who wanted to maintain their exports had to depreciate in tandem to maintain their currency’s foreign exchange rate against the dollar. The US was exporting QE, which had all the attendant consequences we’ve come to know and love for the importers: artificially lower interest rates, artificial economic “stimulus,” debt promotion and expansion, and a currency that either kept pace with the dollar’s depreciation or out-depreciated it. QE presented a rare bonanza for the financially connected: borrow US dollars at near zero interest rates, speculate with the proceeds on anything that potentially presented a positive return, and pay back the loan in depreciated dollars. It was a trade that drove equity markets higher, bond yields lower, funded fracking and other low-quality debt, and was the foundation of unknown trillions in all manner of derivative speculation.

Using borrowed dollars meant these trades were short dollars. The end of QE and the dollar’s rally are inflicting massive pain and prompting the unwind of many of them. A 5 percent loss hurts when the speculator has put up the full price, at 10 times leverage it becomes a 50 percent loss, at 20 times the speculator’s equity is wiped out. Putting up full price in modern financial markets is quaintly anachronistic. Almost everyone is leveraged, and 20 times or more is not anomalous. The unwinds contract the debt used to fund the underlying trades, shrinking total debt. In other words, much of the world’s speculative activity is running smack into the event horizon.

What is happening to those countries, many of them emerging market nations, who imported the Fed’s QE? They no longer have to manufacturer their local currencies to buy dollars to depreciate their currencies; the market is taking care of that for them. This serves as an implicit monetary tightening, with the reverse consequences of imported QE. Money becomes less plentiful; interest rates rise and the currency appreciates, which slows or stops export growth and consequently economic expansion. Importantly, it also prompts debt contraction, or more debt at the event horizon.

China is in a league of its own. Its currency, the yuan, has a “soft” peg to the dollar, consequently the yuan has roughly moved with the dollar. When the dollar was weak, China weakened its currency to keep up, accumulating almost $4 trillion as it bought dollars and sold yuan. Selling yuan increases the Chinese money supply—Chinese QE. Exports dominate the economy, promoting a rising standard of living and acquiescent quietude to Communist domination among the Chinese masses. When China’s export markets contracted during the financial crisis, China went on a debt binge, funding unnecessary domestic infrastructure and redundant housing developments. Since 2008, total Chinese credit has quadrupled, reaching 282 percent of GDP.

To maintain the yuan-dollar peg now that the dollar is rising, the Chinese must sell dollar reserves to buy yuan, tightening the domestic money supply. This handicaps Chinese exports, shrinks China’s foreign exchange reserves, and retards economic growth and debt expansion. The yuan is slipping against the dollar, but because the dollar is rising and the world is hell-bent on competitive currency devaluation, the yuan is rising against most other currencies. If the Chinese abandon the peg and let the yuan fall against the dollar and other currencies, they will see an acceleration of already serious capital flight. If they don’t: slowing exports, economic contraction, and potential social unrest. The Chinese leadership has responded as most command and controllers respond when confronted with hard problems that have no easy solutions: it has grown increasingly repressive (see “The Endgame Of Communist Rule In China Has Begun,” by David Shambaugh, The Wall Street Journal, 3/7-8/15, SLL, 3/9/15). Whether or not the peg is abandoned, the Chinese economy is slowing and has a rendezvous with unsustainable debt. Maintaining the peg will only hasten the day.

Debt began collapsing in on itself with last year’s commodity bust. In the fracking “miracle” oil patch, the collapse is well advanced (see “‘Default Monday’: Oil & Gas Companies Face Their Creditors,” by Wolf Richter, SLL, 3/5/15), and will eventually draw non-oil debt into the no-escape vortex. The financial world is holding its breath, waiting to see who the dollar short carries out on a stretcher; who draws the short stick on Greek, Ukrainian, and Austrian debt, (see “Ukraine unofficially has 275 percent inflation!” from The Burning Platform, SLL, 3/10/15, and “Austria is fast becoming Europe’s latest debt nightmare,” by Jeremy Warner, SLL, 3/8/15), and how China will maintain a strong and weak currency at the same time. Now that the event horizon has been breached, the black hole of debt is expanding, exerting its increasingly powerful gravitational pull.


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