Advertisements

Hidden Money – Mike Maloney

Comments Off on Hidden Money – Mike Maloney

Advertisements

QE, Its Shit or Bust Now

Comments Off on QE, Its Shit or Bust Now

If you are wondering when Central Banker or politicians will ever end QE, think again. Since Bernanke said on 22 May that the Fed may taper back QE. Within a few weeks over $2.5 trillion has being wiped from the value of equities across the globe. Despite what has been said about trying to get a recovery going, the stock markets will be kept propped up as long as the global ponzi debt scheme can be fed because the alternative to them is unthinkable. Unfortunately for the rest of us the alternative will one day become a reality and that’s a mathematical certainty. All fiat currencies end in disaster and this time is no different.

printingThe Federal Open Market Committee meets next week after the Bank of Japan this week left its lending program unchanged. Global stocks have plunged 5.2 percent from their May 21 peak this year on speculation the Fed may ease stimulus.

“People are still trying to assess the prospects, likelihood, and timing of tapering from the Federal Reserve,” Chris Green, an Auckland-based strategist at First NZ Capital Ltd., a brokerage and wealth management firm, said. “Markets want stability in the economy but they also want unlimited stimulus. The two can’t continue to exist together.”

Trillions Erased

More than $2.5 trillion has been erased from the value of global equities since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said May 22 the Fed could scale back stimulus efforts should employment show “sustainable improvement.”

………

To summarize: after three years of the most aggressive deficit spending and monetary ease in human history, the global economy is…slowing down. Meanwhile, central bankers, finally realizing that their random lever-pulling has created asset bubbles without any actual new wealth, and that the likely (very ugly) aftermath might make them unpopular in retirement, are trying to untangle the mess they’ve created.

But even hinting that they might, at some point in the distant future, consider planning to discuss a timetable for eventually gradually phasing in a slightly lower heroin dosage has sent the global financial junkie into a fit of anticipatory withdrawal. Like any good enabler, the bankers will of course respond that they were misquoted and that easy money is now a permanent feature of the modern world. So relax, everything’s going to be okay. Go back to your derivatives trading, and have a little more leverage on us.

Now, there’s no way to know if this is that time, but a time is coming when things are so complex and the moving parts are moving so quickly and erratically that no policy response will make a difference. When that time finally comes it will look a lot like tonight’s Asian markets.

Source: Dollar Collapse

Stock Market Exit Up Ahead

1 Comment

Is it time to exit the stock market now? Soros has dumped 80% of his stock holdings. Well smart money seems to think so. The relationship between earnings and the stock prices suggest that the DOW should be over 200 points lower so maybe it time for and adjustment.

If wonderful times are ahead for U.S. financial markets, then why is so much of the smart money heading for the exits?  Does it make sense for insiders to be getting out of stocks and real estate if prices are just going to continue to go up?  The Dow is up about 17 percent so far this year, and it just keeps setting new record high after new record high.  U.S. home prices have risen about 11 percent from a year ago, and some analysts are projecting that we are on the verge of a brand new housing boom.  Why would the smart money want to leave the party when it is just getting started?  Well, of course the truth is that the “smart money” is regarded as being smart because they usually make better decisions than other people do.  And right now the smart money is screaming that it is time to get out of the markets.  For example, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  The smart money is busy selling even as the dumb money is busy buying.  So precisely what does the smart money expect to happen?  Are they anticipating a market “correction” or something bigger than that?

Those are very good questions.  Unfortunately, the smart money rarely divulges their secrets, so we can only watch what they do.  And right now a lot of insiders are making some very interesting moves.

For example, George Soros has been dumping almost all of his financial stocks.  The following is from a recent article by Becket Adams

Everyone’s favorite billionaire investor is back in the spotlight, and this time he has a few people wondering what he’s up to.

George Soros has dumped his position with several major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Capitol One, SunTrust, and Morgan Stanley. He has reduced his exposure to Citigroup and decreased his stake in AIG by two-thirds.

In fact, Soros’ financial stock holdings are down by roughly 80 percent, a massive drop from his position just three months ago, according to SNL Financial.

So exactly what is going on?

Why is Soros doing this?

Well, there is certainly a lot to criticize when it comes to Soros, but you can’t really blame him if he is just taking his profits and running.  Financial stocks have been on a tremendous run and that run is going to end at some point.  Smart investors lock in their profits while they still can.

And without a doubt, stocks have become completely divorced from economic reality in recent months.  For example, there is usually a very close relationship between corporate earnings and stock prices.  But as CNBC recently reported, that relationship has totally broken down lately…

That trend disrupted a formerly symbiotic relationship between earnings and stock prices and is indicating that the bluechip average is in for a substantial pullback, according to Tom Kee, who runs the StockTradersDaily investor web site.

“They’ve been moving in tandem since 2009, until recently. Earnings per share for the Dow Jones industrial average have flatlined and the price has taken off,” Kee said. “There is something happening here that defines a bubble.”

At some point there will be a correction.  If the relationship between earnings and stock prices was where it should be, the Dow would be  around 13,500 right now.  That would be a fall of nearly 2,000 points from where it is at the moment.

And we appear to be entering a time when revenues at many corporate giants are actually declining.  As I noted in a previous article, corporate revenues are falling at Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks, AT&T, Safeway, American Express and IBM.

Of course a stock market “correction” can turn into a crash very easily.  Financial markets in Japan are already crashing, and many fear that the escalating problems in the third largest economy on the planet will soon spill over into Europe and North America.

And things in Europe just continue to get steadily worse.  In fact, the New York Times is reporting that the European Central Bank is warning that the risk of a “renewed banking crisis” in Europe is rising…

The European Central Bank warned on Wednesday that the euro zone’s slumping economy and a surge in problem loans were raising the risk of a renewed banking crisis, even as overall stress in the region’s financial markets had receded.In a sober assessment of the state of the zone’s financial system, the E.C.B. said that a prolonged recession had made it harder for many borrowers to repay their loans, burdening banks that had still not finished repairing the damage caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

And there are many financial analysts out there that are warning that their cyclical indicators have peaked and that we are on the verge of a fresh global downturn

“We see building evidence of a cyclical downturn,” said Fredrik Nerbrand, HSBC’s global asset guru. “We find it highly troubling that the eurozone is still marred in a recession at the same time as our cyclical indicators appear to have peaked.”

In the United States, a lot of the smart money has also decided that it is time to bail out of the housing market before this latest housing bubble bursts.  The following is one example of this phenomenon that was discussed in a recent Businessweek article

Hedge fund manager Bruce Rose was among the first investors to coax institutional money into the mom and pop business of single-family home rentals, raising $450 million last year from Oaktree Capital Group LLC.Now, with house prices climbing at the fastest pace in seven years and investors swamping the rental market, Rose says it no longer makes sense to be a buyer.

“We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest,” Rose, 55, chief executive officer of Carrington Holding Co. LLC, said in an interview at his Aliso Viejo, California office. “There’s a lot of — bluntly — stupid money that jumped into the trade without any infrastructure, without any real capabilities and a kind of build-it-as-you-go mentality that we think is somewhat irresponsible.”

So what does all of this mean?

Is there a reason why the smart money is suddenly getting out of stocks and real estate?

It could just be that the insiders are simply responding to market dynamics and that many of them are just seeking to lock in their profits.

Or it could be something much more than that.

What do you think?

Why are so many insiders heading for the exits right now?

Canada Plans To Use Cyprus Model For Broken Banks – Rob The Depositors

Comments Off on Canada Plans To Use Cyprus Model For Broken Banks – Rob The Depositors

Looks like the Cypriot model of using depositors money to bailout insolvent banks is being adopted by Canada. New Zealand has similar plans and if you listen to the Dutch Finance Minister, eurozone countries willsimilarly being robbing your money when banks are finally allowed to announance they are bust.

SD has been alerted to an alarming provision that has been buried deep inside the official 2013 Canadian Budget that will result in depositor haircut bail-ins jumping to this side of the pond during the next bank crisis!
Titled ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN 2013 and tabled in the House of Commons by Minster of Finance James Flaherty on March 21st, the official 2013 Canadian budget contains an explicit provision that Canada will pursue the bail-in model for systemically important banks for future bank failures!

Depositor haircuts have just jumped to this side of the pond, effective the next bank crisis/ failure:
From Page 144:

“The Government also recognizes the need to manage the risks associated with systemically important banks—those banks whose distress or failure
could cause a disruption to the financial system and, in turn, negative impacts on the economy. This requires strong prudential oversight and a robust set of
options for resolving these institutions without the use of taxpayer funds, in the unlikely event that one becomes non-viable.”

Translated, Without the use of taxpayer funds means via depositor funds.

And the meat of the provision, from Page 145:

The Government proposes to implement a bail-in regime for systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital.
This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada.
Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected institutions, investors and other market participants…

Confiscating wealth from depositors will reduce risks for taxpayers???  Only those with 100% of their assets in physical gold and silver, or those Canadian depositors who are somehow not also taxpayers perhaps!
The bail-in provision in Canada’s 2013 budget can be found on pages 144,145:
http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/doc/plan/budget2013-eng.pdf

Source: Silver Doctors

Venezuela Devalues By 46%

Comments Off on Venezuela Devalues By 46%

Venezuela was ahead of the rest when Chavez repatriated the country’s gold. Now it looks to have stolen a lead in the currency wars. If history has thought us anything it’s that those who devalue fair best. The question remains who will be next to devalue so openly or will nations continue to do so via stealth mode via money printing.

While the rest of the developed world is scrambling here and there, politely prodding its central bankers to destroy their relative currencies, all the while naming said devaluation assorted names, “quantitative easing” being the most popular, here comes Venezuela and shows the banana republics of the developed world what lobbing a nuclear bomb into a currency war knife fight looks like:

  • VENEZUELA DEVALUES FROM 4.30 TO 6.30 BOLIVARS
  • VENEZUELA NEW CURRENCY BODY TO MANAGE DOLLAR INFLOWS
  • CARACAS CONSUMER PRICES ROSE 3.3% IN JAN.

And that, ladies and gents of Caracas, is how you just lost 46% of your purchasing power, unless of course your fiat was in gold and silver, which just jumped by about 46%. And, in case there is confusion, this is in process, and coming soon to every “developed world” banana republic near you.

From Bloomberg

Venezuela devalued its currency for the fifth time in nine years as ailing President Hugo Chavez seeks to narrow a widening fiscal gap and reduce a shortage of dollars in the economy.

The government will weaken the exchange rate by 32 percent to 6.3 bolivars per dollar, Finance Minister Jorge Giordani told reporters today in Caracas. The government will keep the currency at 4.3 per dollar for some products, he said.

A spending spree that almost tripled the government’s fiscal deficit last year helped Chavez win his third term. Chavez ordered the devaluation from Cuba, where he is recovering from cancer surgery, Giordani said. Venezuela’s fiscal deficit widened to 11 percent of gross domestic product last year from 4 percent in 2011, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

The move can help narrow the budget deficit by increasing the amount of bolivars the government gets from taxes on oil exports. While a weaker currency may fuel annual inflation of 22 percent, it may ease shortages of goods ranging from toilet papers to cars.

In the black market, the bolivar is trading at 18.4 per dollar, according to Lechuga Verde, a website that tracks the rate. Venezuelans use the unregulated credit market because the central bank doesn’t supply enough dollar at the official rates to meet demand.

Source: ZeroHedge, Bloomberg

2013: Let The Currency Wars Truely Begin

Comments Off on 2013: Let The Currency Wars Truely Begin

Up until now the G20 countries were shafting each other quietly through various means of currency devaluation. Many new terms for printing money were added to the lexicon. Lately the rhetoric has begun to get more aggressive. ZeroHedge writes of the Russia’s Central Bank Chief’s warning that “the world is on the brink of a fresh currency war”. Along with gold repatriation stories, 2013 is shaping up to be a tough year ahead for Central Bankers.

It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent more than a few cursory minutes reading ZeroHedge over the past few years (back in 2009, then 2010, and most recently here, and here) but the rolling ‘beggar thy neighbor’ currency strategies of world central banks are gathering pace. To wit, Bloomberg reports that energy-bound Russia’s central bank chief appears to have broken ranks warning that “the world is on the brink of a fresh ‘currency war’.” With Japan openly (and actively) verbally intervening to depress the JPY and now Juncker’s “dangerously high” comments on the EUR yesterday, it appears 2013 will be the year when the G-20 finance ministers (who agreed to ‘refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies’ in 2009) tear up their promises and get active. Rhetoric is on the rise with the Bank of Korea threatening “an active response”, Russia now suggesting reciprocal devaluations will occur (and hurt the global economy) as RBA Governor noted that there is “a degree of disquiet in the global policy-making community.” Critically BoE Governor Mervyn King has suggested what only conspiracists have offered before: “we’ll see the growth of actively managed exchange rates,” and sure enough where FX rates go so stocks will nominally follow (see JPY vs TOPIX and CHF vs SMI recently).

Via Bloomberg:

The world is on the brink of a fresh “currency war,” Russia warned, as European policy makers joined Japan in bemoaning the economic cost of rising exchange rates.

Japan is weakening the yen and other countries may follow,”

 …

 The push for weaker currencies is being driven by a need to find new sources of economic growth as monetary and fiscal policies run out of room. The risk is as each country tries to boost exports, it hurts the competitiveness of other economies and provokes retaliation.

 Yesterday “will go down as the first day European policy makers fired a shot in the 2013 currency war,” said Chris Turner, head of foreign-exchange strategy at ING Groep NV in London.

 …

 The skirmish may lead to a clash of G-20 finance ministers and central banks when they meet next month in Moscow, three months after reiterating their 2009 pledge to “refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.”

 While emerging markets have repeatedly complained about strong currencies as a result of easy monetary policies in the west, the engagement of richer nations is adding a new dimension to what Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega first dubbed a currency war in 2010.

Source: ZeroHedge

Bill Gross: Fort Knox Gold A Fairy Tale

Comments Off on Bill Gross: Fort Knox Gold A Fairy Tale

Bill Gross (PIMCO) has penned an article entitled “Money for nothin’ writing checks for free”. In it he criticizes the Fed for creating money out of thin air using the fairy tale of gold in Fort Knox as a backup.

Long term creation of debt has serious consequences through inflation. In other words the Governments may have found a way of creating debt for free but ultimately the people pay the price.

It was Milton Friedman, not Ben Bernanke, who first made reference to dropping money from helicopters in order to prevent deflation. Bernanke’s now famous “helicopter speech” in 2002, however, was no less enthusiastically supportive of the concept. In it, he boldly previewed the almost unimaginable policy solutions that would follow the black swan financial meltdown in 2008: policy rates at zero for an extended period of time; expanding the menu of assets that the Fed buys beyond Treasuries; and of course quantitative easing purchases of an almost unlimited amount should they be needed. These weren’t Bernanke innovations – nor was the term QE. Many of them had been applied by policy authorities in the late 1930s and ‘40s as well as Japan in recent years. Yet the then Fed Governor’s rather blatant support of monetary policy to come should have been a signal to investors that he would be willing to pilot a helicopter should the takeoff be necessary. “Like gold,” he said, “U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.

 
Mr. Bernanke never provided additional clarity as to what he meant by “no cost.” Perhaps he was referring to zero-bound interest rates, although at the time in 2002, 10-year Treasuries were at 4%. Or perhaps he knew something that American citizens, their political representatives, and almost all investors still don’t know: that quantitative easing – the purchase of Treasury and Agency mortgage obligations from the private sector – IS essentially costless in a number of ways. That might strike almost all of us as rather incredible – writing checks for free – but that in effect is what a central bank does. Yet if ordinary citizens and corporations can’t overdraft their accounts without criminal liability, how can the Fed or the European Central Bank or any central bank get away with printing “electronic money” and distributing it via helicopter flyovers in the trillions and trillions of dollars?
 
Well, the answer is sort of complicated but then it’s sort of simple: They just make it up. When the Fed now writes $85 billion of checks to buy Treasuries and mortgages every month, they really have nothing in the “bank” to back them. Supposedly they own a few billion dollars of “gold certificates” that represent a fairy-tale claim on Ft. Knox’s secret stash, but there’s essentially nothing there but trust. When a primary dealer such as J.P. Morgan or Bank of America sells its Treasuries to the Fed, it gets a “credit” in its account with the Fed, known as “reserves.” It can spend those reserves for something else, but then another bank gets a credit for its reserves and so on and so on. The Fed has told its member banks “Trust me, we will always honor your reserves,” and so the banks do, and corporations and ordinary citizens trust the banks, and “the beat goes on,” as Sonny and Cher sang. $54 trillion of credit in the U.S. financial system based upon trusting a central bank with nothing in the vault to back it up. Amazing!
Basically the Governments fund their debt for free.
But the story doesn’t end here. What I have just described is a rather routine textbook explanation of how central and fractional reserve banking works its productive yet potentially destructive magic. What Governor Bernanke may have been referring to with his “essentially free” comment was the fact that the Fed and other central banks such as the Bank of England (BOE) actually rebate the interest they earn on the Treasuries and Gilts that they buy. They give the interest back to the government, and in so doing, the Treasury issues debt for free. Theoretically it’s the profits of the Fed that are returned to the Treasury, but the profits are the interest on the $2.5 trillion worth of Treasuries and mortgages that they have purchased from the market. The current annual remit amounts to nearly $100 billion, an amount that permits the Treasury to reduce its deficit by a like amount. When the Fed buys $1 trillion worth of Treasuries and mortgages annually, as it is now doing, it effectively is financing 80% of the deficit for free.
 

The BOE and other central banks work in a similar fashion. British Chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to our Treasury Secretary) George Osborne wrote a letter to Mervyn King, Governor of the BOE (equivalent to our Fed Chairman) in November. “Transferring the net income from the APF [Asset Purchase Facility – Britain’s QE] will allow the Government to manage its cash more efficiently, and should lead to debt interest savings to central government in the short-term.” Savings indeed! The Exchequer issues gilts, the BOE’s QE program buys them and then remits the interest back to the Exchequer. As shown in Chart 1, the world’s six largest central banks have collectively issued six trillion dollars’ worth of checks since the beginning of 2009 in order to stem private sector delevering. Treasury credit is being backed with central bank credit with the interest then remitted to its issuer. Should interest rates rise and losses accrue to the Fed’s portfolio, they record it as an accounting liability owed to the Treasury, which need never be paid back. This is about as good as it can get folks. Money for nothing. Debt for free.

Investors and ordinary citizens might wonder then, why the fuss over the fiscal cliff and the increasing amount of debt/GDP that current deficits portend? Why the austerity push in the U.K., and why the possibly exaggerated concern by U.S. Republicans over spending and entitlements? If a country can issue debt, have its central bank buy it, and then return the interest, what’s to worry? Alfred E. Neuman for President (or House Speaker!).
So whats the problem of issuing debt for free?
The future price tag of printing six trillion dollars’ worth of checks comes in the form of inflation and devaluation of currencies either relative to each other, or to commodities in less limitless supply such as oil or gold. To date, central banks have been willing to accept that cost – nay – have even encouraged it. The Fed is now comfortable with 2.5% inflation for at least 1–2 years and the Bank of Japan seems willing to up their targeted objective to something above as opposed to below ground zero. But in the process, zero-bound yields and their QE check writing may have distorted market prices, and in the process the flow as well as the existing stock of credit. Capital vs. labor; bonds/stocks vs. cash; lenders vs. borrowers; surplus vs. deficit nations; rich vs. the poor: these are the secular anomalies and mismatches perpetuated by unlimited check writing that now threaten future stability.

Ben Bernanke has publically acknowledged these growing disparities. “We are quite aware,” he said in November 2011, “that very low interest rates, particularly for a protracted period, do have costs for a lot of people… I think the response is, though, that there is a greater good here, which is the health and recovery of the U.S. economy… I mean, ultimately, if you want to earn money on your investments, you have to invest in an economy which is growing.”

That growth now is to be measured each and every employment Friday via an unemployment rate thermostat set at 6.5%. We at PIMCO would not argue with that objective. Yet we would caution, as Bernanke himself has cautioned, that there are negative consequences and that when central banks enter the cave of quantitative easing and “essentially costless” electronic printing of money, there may be dragons.

Investment conclusions
Investors should be alert to the longterm inflationary thrust of such check writing. While they are not likely to breathe fire in 2013, the inflationary dragons lurk in the “out” years towards which long-term bond yields are measured. You should avoid them and confine your maturities and bond durations to short/intermediate targets supported by Fed policies.

Source: PIMCO

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: