• Tag Archives Central Bank
  • From Crypto To Qatar – These Were The Best & Worst Assets In 2017

    2017 saw global central bank balance sheets explode almost 17% higher (in USD terms) – the biggest annual increase since 2011 – and while correlation is not causation, one can’t help but see a pattern in the chart below…
    Global stocks up, Global bonds up, Global commodities up, Financial Conditions easier (despite 3 Fed rate hikes), and Dollar down (most since 2003)…
    As we noted earlier, Craig James, chief economist at fund manager CommSec, told Reuters that of the 73 bourses it tracks globally, all but nine have recorded gains in local currency terms this year.
    ‘For the outlook, the key issue is whether the low growth rates of prices and wages will continue, thus prompting central banks to remain on the monetary policy sidelines,’ said James. ‘Globalization and technological change have been influential in keeping inflation low. In short, consumers can buy goods whenever they want and wherever they are.’
    Still, the good times may not last: an State Street index that gauges investor risk appetite by what they actually buy and sell, suffered its six straight monthly fall in December, Reuters reported.
    “While the broader economic outlook appears increasingly rosy, as captured by measures of consumer and business confidence, the more cautious nature of investors hints at a concern that markets may have already discounted much of the good news,’ said Michael Metcalfe, State Street’s head of global macro strategy.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.


  • Global Stocks Set To Close 2017 At All Time Highs, Best Year For The Euro Since 2003

    With just a few hours left until the close of the last US trading session of 2017, and most of Asia already in the books, S&P futures are trading just shy of a new all time high as the dollar continued its decline ahead of the New Year holidays.
    Indeed, markets were set to end 2017 in a party mood on Friday after a year in which a concerted pick-up in global growth boosted corporate profits and commodity prices, while benign inflation kept central banks from snatching away the monetary punch bowl. As a result, the MSCI world equity index rose another 0.15% as six straight weeks and now 13 straight months of gains left it at yet another all time high.
    In total, world stocks haven’t had a down month in 2017, with the index rising 22% in the year adding almost $9 trillion in market cap for the year.
    Putting the year in context, emerging markets led the charge with gains of 34%. Hong Kong surged 36%, South Korea was up 22% and India and Poland both rose 27% in local currency terms. Japan’s Nikkei and the S&P 500 are both ahead by almost 20%, while the Dow has risen by a quarter. In Europe, the German DAX gained nearly 14% though the UK FTSE lagged a little with a rise of 7 percent.
    Craig James, chief economist at fund manager CommSec, told Reuters that of the 73 bourses it tracks globally, all but nine have recorded gains in local currency terms this year.
    ‘For the outlook, the key issue is whether the low growth rates of prices and wages will continue, thus prompting central banks to remain on the monetary policy sidelines,’ said James. ‘Globalization and technological change have been influential in keeping inflation low. In short, consumers can buy goods whenever they want and wherever they are.’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.


  • The EU Bad Loan Crisis to Get Much Worse – The Solution = Financial Pandemic

    The bad loan (‘non-performing loan’ (NPL)) crisis in Europe is well known and many have been calling for this issue to be addressed. In Italy, the bad loan crisis has reached 21% of GDP. While NPLs dropped to 4.8% of all loans in the EU as a whole during the first quarter of 2017, they remained well above 40% in Greece and Cyprus, at 18.5% in Portugal, and 14.8% in Italy according to the European Banking Authority.
    Now comes the bureaucrats with zero experience to save the day – or is that to create a financial pandemic in the EU? The EU Commission (EUC) along with the European Central Bank (ECB), want to ensure that banks promptly sell real estate, stocks, bonds and other assets that serve to collateralize loans according to their Mid-term Review of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan. Member States are required to adopt laws that facilitate the central directive. At this time, any bank cannot just sell a property that secures a loan. The problem is, all loans, whether secured or not, are valued the same.

    This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 29, 2017.


  • Trump Tax Cuts – The Spark That Burns Down The EU

    Authored by Tom Luongo,
    For most of this year I’ve been wondering what would the spark that would set off a banking panic in the European Union.
    I know, but what do I do for fun, right?
    I’ve chronicled the political breakdown of the EU, from Brexit to Catalonia to Germany’s bitch-slapping Angela Merkel at the ballot box. All of these things have been open rebukes of EU leadership and it’s insane neoliberal push towards the destruction of national sovereignty and identity.
    And what has propped up this slow train-wreck to this point has been the world’s financial markets inherent need to believe in the relative infallibility of its central bankers.
    Because without competent people operating the levers of monetary policy, this whole thing loses confidence faster than you can say, ‘Bank run.’
    The confluence of these things with the big changes happening politically here at home with President Trump are creating the environment for big trend changes to begin unfolding.
    And, as always, you have to look to the sovereign bond and credit markets to see what’s coming.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.


  • The Fed Plays the Economy Like an Accordion

    We talk a lot about how central banks serve as the primary force driving the business cycle. When a recession hits, central banks like the Federal Reserve drive interest rates down and launch quantitative easing to stimulate the economy. Once the recovery takes hold, the Fed tightens its monetary policy, raising interest rates and ending QE. When the recovery appears to be in full swing, the central bank shrinks its balance sheet. This sparks the next recession and the cycle repeats itself.
    This is a layman’s explanation of the business cycle. But how do the maneuverings of central banks actually impact the economy? How does this work?
    The Yield Curve Accordion Theory is one way to visually grasp exactly what the Fed and other central banks are doing. Westminster College assistant professor of economics Hal W. Snarr explained this theory in a recent Mises Wire article.
    The yield curve (a plot of interest rates versus the maturities of securities of equal credit quality) is a handy economic and investment tool. It generally slopes upward because investors expect higher returns when their money is tied up for long periods. When the economy is growing robustly, it tends to steepen as more firms break ground on long-term investment projects. For example, firms may decide to build new factories when the economy is rosy. Since these projects take years to complete, firms issue long-term bonds to finance the construction. This increases the supply of long-term bonds along downward-sloping demand, which pushes long-term bond prices down and yields up. The black dots along the black line in the figure below gives the 2004 yield curve. It slopes upward because a robust recovery was underway.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 27, 2017.


  • The Dark Power Behind the Financial Asset Bubbles – Whose Fool Are You?

    “While everyone enjoys an economic party the long-term costs of a bubble to the economy and society are potentially great. They include a reduction in the long-term saving rate, a seemingly random distribution of wealth, and the diversion of financial human capital into the acquisition of wealth.
    As in the United States in the late 1920s and Japan in the late 1980s, the case for a central bank ultimately to burst that bubble becomes overwhelming. I think it is far better that we do so while the bubble still resembles surface froth and before the bubble carries the economy to stratospheric heights. Whenever we do it, it is going to be painful, however.’
    Larry Lindsey, Federal Reserve Governor, September 24, 1996 FOMC Minutes
    ‘I recognise that there is a stock market bubble problem at this point, and I agree with Governor Lindsey that this is a problem that we should keep an eye on…. We do have the possibility of raising major concerns by increasing margin requirements. I guarantee that if you want to get rid of the bubble, whatever it is, that will do it.’
    Alan Greenspan, September 24, 1996 FOMC Minutes
    “Where a bubble becomes so large as to pose a threat the entire economic system, the central bank may appropriately decide to use monetary policy to counteract a bubble, notwithstanding the effects that monetary tightening might have elsewhere in the economy.
    But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financi

    This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 27 DECEMBER 2017.


  • From ‘Definitely Transitory’ to ‘Imperfect Understanding’ In One Press Conference

    This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Alhambra Investments. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
    When Janet Yellen spoke at her regular press conference following the FOMC decision in September 2017 to begin reducing the Fed’s balance sheet, the Chairman was forced to acknowledge that while the unemployment rate was well below what the central bank’s models view as inflationary it hadn’t yet shown up in the PCE Deflator. Of course, this was nothing new since policymakers had been expecting accelerating inflation since 2014. In the interim, they have tried very hard to stretch the meaning of the word ‘transitory’ into utter meaninglessness; as in supposedly non-economic factors are to blame for this consumer price disparity, but once they naturally dissipate all will be as predicted according to their mandate.
    That is, actually, exactly what Ms. Yellen said in September, unusually coloring her assessment some details as to those ‘transitory’ issues:
    For quite some time, inflation has been running below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective. However, we believe this year’s shortfall in inflation primarily reflects developments that are largely unrelated to broader economic conditions. For example, one-off reductions earlier this year in certain categories of prices, such as wireless telephone services, are currently holding down inflation, but these effects should be transitory. Such developments are not uncommon and, as long as inflation expectations remain reasonably well anchored, are not of great concern from a policy perspective because their effects fade away.
    Appealing to Verizon’s reluctant embrace of unlimited data plans for cellphone service was more than a little desperate on her part. Even if that was the primary reason for the PCE Deflator’s continued miss, it still didn’t and doesn’t necessarily mean what telecoms were up to was some non-economic trivia.

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 26, 2017.


  • Citi’s “What If?” Scenarios: Part 2

    Yesterday we published the first set of 7 “What If” scenarios that didn’t make it into the Citi Credit team’s (already rather gloomy) year-ahead forecast. Because while Citi’s “base case” was clearly bearish (our summary can be found here), what was left unsaid was even more unsettling, if not troubling. As the bank’s credit team wrote “what about the outcomes that didn’t quite make it into our base case? The scenarios that aren’t central, but which aren’t entirely implausible either – both bullish and bearish.” Citi then listed the following 7 scenarios in the first part of its quasi-forecast:
    idiosyncratic risk is returning to credit? European corporates get more aggressive? global growth & commodity prices disappoint? inflation accelerates as output gaps close? the US yield curve inverts? central bank tapering really is a non-event? the market doesn’t like the choice of ECB successor?” A full discussion of the above scenarios was posted yesterday.
    Today, we follow up with part 2, or the second set of 7 hypothetical questions for 2018, which shifts away from economics and finance, and focuses on politics and Europe. As Citi’s credit team writes “you tend to worry less about your leaky roof when the sun is shining. And at the moment the cyclical economic upturn is beaming across Europe. Yet there are clouds which might conceivably hold moisture – or as our economists have put it: political risk is not dead in Europe.”

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.


  • Doug Noland: Epic Stimulus Overload

    This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
    Ten-year Treasury yields jumped 13 bps this week to 2.48%, the high going back to March. German bund yields rose 12 bps to 0.42%. U. S. equities have been reveling in tax reform exuberance. Bonds not so much. With unemployment at an almost 17-year low 4.1%, bond investors have so far retained incredible faith in global central bankers and the disinflation thesis.
    Between tax legislation and cryptocurrencies, there’s been little interest in much else. As for tax cuts, it’s an inopportune juncture in the cycle for aggressive fiscal stimulus. And for major corporate tax reduction more specifically, with boom-time earnings and the loosest Credit conditions imaginable, it’s Epic Stimulus Overload. History will look back at this week – ebullient Republicans sharing the podium and cryptocurrency/blockchain trading madness – and ponder how things got so crazy.
    From my analytical vantage point, the nation’s housing markets have been about the only thing holding the U. S. economy back from full-fledged overheated status. Sales have been solid and price inflation steady. While construction has recovered significantly from the 2009/2010 trough, housing starts remain at about 60% of 2004-2005 period peak levels. It takes some time for residential construction to attain take-off momentum. Well, liftoff may have finally arrived. As long as mortgage rates remain so low, we should expect ongoing housing upside surprises. An already strong inflationary bias is starting to Bubble. Is the Fed paying attention?

    This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 23, 2017.


  • In Unprecedented Intervention, Swiss Central Bank Bails Out Firm That Prints Swiss Banknotes

    In the most ironic story of the day, the company that makes the paper that Swiss banknotes are printed on was just bailed out by the money-printing, stock-purchasing, plunge-protecting, savior-of-global equities…Swiss National Bank.
    ***
    While The SNB has a long and checkered history of buying shares in companies… as we have detailed numerous times, it is no stranger to pumping money into companies all over the world…

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.


  • Why it’s essential you keep a portion of your savings in physical cash

    [Editor’s Note: As we’re coming up on the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to republish some of our most popular articles. Today’s was originally published on January 6, 2016]
    Think of the word ‘money’ for moment. What’s the first image that comes to mind?
    Perhaps the folded paper in your wallet. Or the balance in your bank account.
    Or perhaps the investments in your brokerage account.
    In our modern financial system where unelected central bankers wield totalitarian control over the financial system, all three of these are forms of money.
    But the relationship between them is very tenuous, and very risky. I’ll explain:
    1) Physical cash No matter where you live in the world, just about every civilized nation on the planet has some form of physical currency in various denominations. Dollars. Pounds. Euros. Yen. Renminbi.
    We pass around these pieces of paper as a medium of exchange.

    This post was published at Sovereign Man on December 21, 2017.


  • 2018’s Number One Risk

    To find the market’s biggest weakness, a good place to look is at the most crowded movie theater with the smallest exit.
    European bonds.
    ***
    You’ve probably seen the charts of European high yield floating around, so I won’t reproduce it here. Yields in the low 2s for BB credits. There was also a European corporate issuer that managed to issue BBB bonds at negative yields a few weeks ago. I think that might have been the top.
    No shortage of stupid things these days:
    Bitcoin Litecoin Pizzacoin Canadian real estate Swedish real estate Australian real estate FANG Venture capital But European bonds are potentially the stupidest. Maybe even stupider than bitcoin!
    Although there is nothing stupid about it – the ECB has been buying every bond in sight, and there’s lots of money to be made frontrunning central banks.

    This post was published at Mauldin Economics on DECEMBER 21, 2017.


  • “In The End, There Was Absurdity” – The Great Crash Of 2018?

    Crises always take longer to arrive than you think, and then happen much quicker than they ought to.
    – Rudiger Dornbusch
    An eerie calm has taken over the world markets. Volatility is crashing, and economic and political shocks come and go without any noticeable effect on the asset markets. Inflation and interest rates are also low. So ‘Goldilocks’ is here, right?
    Well, no. I have written a collection of dark pieces about the world economy this year. They have followed the tone set in our business cycle forecasts. In March, we took a deep dive behind the faade of the economic expansion to discover the sources of growth. We found them to be unstable, depending on political decisions and thus prone to crash.
    In our latest forecast, we envisaged how the world economy would respond if the foundations of global growth would break. It was not pretty. Here I present the main takeaways.
    I consider the Figure 1 (below) to give the most compelling picture on the absurdity we have arrived to. It presents the yield of the US 10 year treasury bond, the yield of Italian 10 year bond and yields of junk bonds of European and US companies as well as the QE:s of the ECB and the Fed. It implies that the default probability of an average European junk-rated company is smaller than that of the US government. This, naturally, is just absurd and it only tells the tale of a massive central bank induced market distortion. The pricing of risk in the normal sense does not exist in the capital markets anymore.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.


  • 2017 Has Been The Best Year For The Stock Market EVER

    We have never seen a better year for stocks in all of U. S. history. Just five days after Donald Trump entered the White House, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the 20,000 mark for the first time ever. On Monday, the Dow closed at 24,792.20, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the rally in sight. Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 5,000 points so far in 2017, and that absolutely shatters all of the old records. Previously, the most that the Dow had risen in a single year was 3,472 points in 2013.
    Yes, I know that it may seem odd for a website that continually chronicles our ongoing ‘economic collapse’ to be talking about a boom in stock market prices. But of course there has not been a corresponding economic boom to match the rise in stock prices. This artificial stock market bubble has been created by unprecedented central bank intervention, and every previous stock market bubble in our history has ended with a horrible crash.
    But for the moment, it is certainly appropriate to be in awe of what has transpired in the financial markets in 2017. Never before have we seen the Dow close at a record high 70 times in a single year, and we still have almost two weeks to go.
    Stocks have risen every single month in 2017, and that is the very first time that has ever happened as well. No matter how much bad news has come out, stock prices have just kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
    Since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory last November, the Dow is up a whopping 34 percent.
    34 percent!

    This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on December 18th, 2017.


  • Key Events In The Last Week Before Christmas

    It might be the last full week before Christmas – with both newsflow and trading volumes set to slide substantially – but there’s still a few interesting events and data releases to look forward to next week. Among the relatively sparse data releases schedule, we get US GDP, core PCE, housing and durable goods orders in the US, as well as CPI and GDP across Euro area and UK PMI. After last week’s central bank deluge, there are a handful of leftover DM central bank meetings include the BOJ and Riksbank, with rates expected to remain on hold for both. In Emerging markets, there will be monetary policy meetings in Czech Republic, Hungary, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
    Perhaps the most significant will be in China when on Monday the three-day Central Economic Work Conference kicks off. This event will see Party leaders discuss economic policies for the next year and the market will probably be most interested in the GDP growth target. Deutsche Bank economists have noted that it will be interesting to see if the government will change the tone on its growth target by lowering it explicitly from 6.5% to 6% or fine-tuning the wording to reflect more tolerance for slower growth.
    Away from this, tax reform in the US will once again be a topic for markets to keep an eye on with final votes on the Republican legislation in the Senate (possibly Monday or Tuesday) and House (possibly Tuesday or Wednesday) tentatively scheduled. Also worth flagging in the US is Friday’s release of the November personal income and spending reports and the Fed’s preferred inflation measure – the core PCE print. Current market expectations are for a modest +0.1% mom rise in the core PCE which translates into a one-tenth uptick in the YoY rate to +1.5%.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.


  • Economic Stimulus Alive and Kicking in EU

    Janet Yellen and company pretty much followed the script during last week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, raising interest rates another .25 percent and signaling three rate hikes in 2018.
    We tend to focus primarily on Federal Reserve actions, but it’s important to remember the Fed isn’t the only central bank game in town. While it nudges interest rates slowly upward, the European Central Bank is standing pat on economic stimulus. And there’s no indication that is going to change in the near future.
    With its latest rate hike, the Federal Reserve has pushed the Federal Fund Rate to 1.5%. That’s the highest we’ve seen since 2008. Even at that, we’re still well below the 5.25% peak hit during the last expansion.
    Meanwhile, ECB chair Mario Draghi announced back in October that quantitative easing would live on in the EU.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 18, 2017.


  • Rising Interest Rates Starting To Bite

    We have long held that interest rates have been so low (especially real rates) that it will take some time to reach a level for them to really matter and impact markets. The 2-year yield crossing over the S&P500 dividend yield this past week for the first time in the last ten years is unlikely to slow the momentum driving risk markets. Nevertheless, they are getting closer to the zip code – after two years since the tightening cycle began – where they will begin to impact fundamental valuations (what is the fundamental value of Bitcoin?) and the relative pricing of risk assets. Keep it on your radar.
    Long-term rates are so utterly distorted by the central banks we are not sure if the markets even pay attention anymore. Pancaking of the yield curve? Not the signal it used to be. Meh!

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.


  • Bank of Canada’s Poloz Is Right to Be Worried

    Three possibilities come to mind. By Peter Diekmeyer, Canada, for Sprott Money: Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz cited numerous worries plaguing the economy during his speech to Toronto’s financial elites at the prestigious Canadian Club. However, the title of Poloz’s presentation, ‘Three things keeping me awake at night’ seemed odd, given positive recent Canadian employment, GDP and other data.
    Poloz highlighted high personal debts, housing prices, cryptocurrencies and other causes for concern, along with actions that the BoC is taking to alleviate them. His implicit message was (as always) ‘We have things under control.’ But if that’s all true, then Canada’s central bank governor should be sleeping like a baby. So, what is really keeping Mr. Poloz up at night? Three possibilities come to mind.

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 17, 2017.


  • The Yield Curve And The Boom-Bust Cycle

    The central bank is not the root cause of the boom-bust cycle. The root cause is fractional reserve banking (the ability of banks to create money and credit out of nothing). The central bank’s effect on the cycle is to extend the booms, make the busts more severe and prevent the investment errors of the boom from being fully corrected prior to the start of the next cycle. Consequently, there are some important relationships between interest rates and the performance of the economy that would hold with or without a central bank, provided that the practice of fractional reserve banking was widespread. One of these relationships is the link between a reversal in the yield curve from flattening to steepening and the start of an economic recession/depression.
    Unfortunately, the data we have at our disposal doesn’t go back anywhere near as far as we’d like, where ‘as far as we’d like’ in this case means 150 years or more. For example, the data we have for the 10year-2year spread, which is our favourite indicator of the US yield curve, only goes back to the mid-1970s.
    For a longer-term look at the performance of the US yield curve the best we can do on short notice is use the Fed’s data for the 10year-3month spread, which goes back to the early-1960s. However, going back to the early-1960s is good enough for government work and is still satisfactory for the private sector.
    As explained in many previous commentaries, the boom phase of the cycle is characterised by borrowing short-term to lend/invest long-term in order to take advantage of the artificial abundance of cheap financing enabled by the creation of money and credit out of nothing. This puts upward pressure on short-term interest rates relative to long-term interest rates, meaning that it causes the yield curve to flatten.

    This post was published at GoldSeek on Sunday, 17 December 2017.


  • Goldman: These Are the Hottest Commodities in 2018

    Goldman Sachs continues to ratchet up predictions for commodities, laying out a bullish case for commodities of all stripes in 2018.
    The investment bank said that its forecast a year ago for higher commodity prices ‘played out much better than expected.’ The bank pointed to industrial metal prices, which are up 24 percent this year, plus the 13 percent increase in oil prices.
    But looking forward, Goldman sees plenty of room to run. ‘The demand backdrop today is now even stronger than a year ago, with robust and synchronous global growth clearly evident,’ Goldman analysts, led by Jeffrey Currie, wrote in a December 11 research note. The extension of the OPEC deal also led the bank to revise up its forecast for oil prices, as inventories should continue to fall throughout 2018.
    There are other reasons to be bullish on commodities. The investment bank argues that commodities tend to outperform other asset classes when central banks move to tighten rates. That is because rate hikes typically occur when demand is exceeding supply – the higher prices resulting from that mismatch are why central banks are trying to raise rates, but it is those higher prices that support the investment case into commodities.
    The report concluded that “a positive carry in key commodity markets and already strong global demand growth across the commodity complex reinforces the case for owning commodities. And hence we maintain our 12-month overweight recommendation, now with a forecasted return of almost 10 percent.”

    This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/15/2017.