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Нил Кашкари
18 января, 14:27

Сегодня в США ожидается публикация данных по потребительской инфляции

В среду, 18 января, в Соединенных Штатах Америки ожидается публикация статистики по потребительской инфляции. В 16:30 МСК будет опубликован индекс потребительских цен без учета продуктов питания и энергоносителей (с учетом сезонности), который, как ожидается, в декабре вырос на 0,2% м/м. Между тем, индекс потребительских цен с учетом сезонности за аналогичный период, продемонстрировал рост на 0,3% м/м. В 22:00 МСК будет обнародована Бежевая книга. Из второстепенной статистики следует отметить ипотечные индексы, а также индекс потребительских цен ФРБ Кливленда за декабрь и индексы сопоставимых продаж крупнейших розничных сетей (Красная книга). Сегодня до открытия рынка будут опубликованы финансовые результаты Citigroup, Fastenal, Goldman Sachs Group и TD Ameritrade, а после закрытия - Netflix. Кроме того, сегодня состоятся выступления главы ФРС Джанет Йеллен и президента ФРБ Миннеаполиса Нила Кашкари.

18 января, 10:29

События сегодняшнего дня:

В 14:00 GMT Член FOMC Роберт Каплан выступит с речью В 15:00 GMT Решение Банка Канады по основной процентной ставке В 16:00 GMT Член FOMC Нил Кашкари выступит с речью В 20:00 GMT Председатель совета управляющих ФРС Джанет Йеллен выступит с речью Ежегодный мировой экономический форум в Давосе. День 2 Информационно-аналитический отдел TeleTradeИсточник: FxTeam

18 января, 08:13

Сегодня в США ожидается публикация данных по потребительской инфляции

В среду, 18 января, в Соединенных Штатах Америки ожидается публикация статистики по потребительской инфляции. В 16:30 МСК будет опубликован индекс потребительских цен без учета продуктов питания и энергоносителей (с учетом сезонности), который, как ожидается, в декабре вырос на 0,2% м/м. Между тем, индекс потребительских цен с учетом сезонности за аналогичный период, продемонстрировал рост на 0,3% м/м. В 22:00 МСК будет обнародована Бежевая книга. Из второстепенной статистики следует отметить ипотечные индексы, а также индекс потребительских цен ФРБ Кливленда за декабрь и индексы сопоставимых продаж крупнейших розничных сетей (Красная книга). Сегодня до открытия рынка будут опубликованы финансовые результаты Citigroup, Fastenal, Goldman Sachs Group и TD Ameritrade, а после закрытия - Netflix. Кроме того, сегодня состоятся выступления главы ФРС Джанет Йеллен и президента ФРБ Миннеаполиса Нила Кашкари.

16 января, 16:43

Key Events In The Coming Week: Trump Inauguration, Davos, Theresa May, ECB, China GDP

The week ahead promises to be a full one, with a plethora of events coming up. The Word Economic Forum in Davos could generate some headlines, with particular focus on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be the first Chinese president to attend. Tuesday brings Theresa May's long-awaited Brexit speech, while of course Friday marks the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th US president. We will also be keeping a weather eye out for the Supreme Court ruling on Article 50, although there is no set date for its announcement. Central Banks: ECB and BOC No policy change is expected from either the ECB or the BoC, but both press conferences will draw attention, particularly that of President Draghi. The market is convinced that Draghi will do his best to be boring. China Economic Update There is a barrage of Chinese data out on Friday, where the most closely followed number will be China's Real GDP for 4Q will be released in China, as well as IP, retail sales, FAI and December property prices. On Monday, Xi Jinping said China's 2016 GDP is expected to be 6.7%. US: CPI, Industrial Production, Housing, Trump Inauguration There is a busy US calendar ahead, with CPI, Empire Manufacturing, industrial production, housing data and Philly Fed reports. There are several scheduled speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including two by Chair Yellen on Wednesday and Thursday. The Beige Book for the January FOMC period will be released on Wednesday. The week culminates in the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th US president. Cabinet confirmation hearings will also be continuing during the week. Eurozone and UK In the Eurozone, the ECB will be the main event, with the German ZEW and final inflation prints the only data releases of note. In the UK, there is an important week ahead with Theresa May’s speech on Brexit the main focus, but also releases of inflation data, retail sales and the labor market report. Keep an eye out out for the UK Supreme Court ruling on Article 50, although there is no set date for the release. Others In Japan, we get machine orders, PPI, tertiary industry index, the final print of November IP and a speech from the BoJ’s Nakaso. In Australia, labor force data is the key release in the week ahead, while housing finance approvals and consumer confidence in both Australia and New Zealand will also be of interest. In Canada, focus will be on the BoC monetary policy meeting, but we also get CPI and retail sales data. It  should be a very quiet week ahead in Switzerland and the Scandies, although we do hear from Norges Bank Governor Olsen, and of course Switzerland hosts the WEF in Davos. There will be monetary policy meetings in Chile, Malaysia and Indonesia. Earnings Earnings will also be in the spotlight with Morgan Stanley tomorrow, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Netflix on Wednesday, IBM on Thursday and Schlumberger and General Electric on Friday due. Davos And Trump Away from that world leaders will also congregate in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum while UK PM Theresa May is due to outline Brexit plans on Tuesday. Clearly the other big focus this week is the inauguration of Donald Trump as US President on Friday. * * * A look at key events by day courtesy of DB: With markets closed in the US today for Martin Luther King Day it’s an unsurprisingly quiet start to the week with just the Euro area trade balance reading in November due. Tuesday kicks off in Japan where industrial production data is due. In Europe there will be plenty of focus on the ECB’s bank lending survey due early on, while the December inflation report in the UK will also be under the spotlight. The January ZEW survey for Germany is also due out. Over in the US tomorrow the only data due out is the January Empire manufacturing print. Turning to Wednesday, Germany and the Euro area will release the final revisions  to December CPI reports while the UK will release the latest labour market data. Over in the US inflation data will also be the focus with the December report due out. Industrial and manufacturing production, as well as the NAHB housing market index will also be due. With little else of note on Thursday morning the main focus will be on the ECB policy meeting. In the US we’ll get housing starts and building permits data as well initial jobless claims and the Philly Fed business outlook print. It’s a blockbuster end to the week in China on Friday with the Q4 GDP print due along with December activity indicators including industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment. During the European session we’ll get PPI in Germany and retail sales in the UK. There’s nothing of note in the US on Friday except for Trump's inauguration of course. There’s also plenty of Fedspeak this week. Both Dudley and Williams are scheduled to speak tomorrow, before Kashkari and Yellen speak on Wednesday. The latter is taking part in a discussion at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco however is also expected to give an economic assessment. The Fed Chair then speaks again on Friday, along with Harker and Williams. The ECB’s Villeroy and Praet also speak today along with the BoE’s Carney while we’ll also get the usual ECB press conference on Thursday. * * * Finally, here is a full breakdown of just US events, together with consensus estimates, courtesy of Goldman Sachs The key economic release this week is CPI on Wednesday. There are several scheduled speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including two by Chair Yellen on Wednesday and Thursday. The Beige Book for the January FOMC period will be released on Wednesday. Monday, January 16 US markets are closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There will be no economic data releases. Tuesday, January 17 08:45 AM New York Fed President Dudley (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley will give a speech on “Evolving Consumer Behavior: A View from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York” at an event sponsored by the National Retail Federation. 08:30 AM Empire manufacturing survey, January (consensus +8.5, last +9.0) 10:00 AM Fed Governor Brainard (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard will give a speech on “The Impact of Fiscal Policy on Monetary Policy” at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. Audience Q&A is expected. 06:00 PM San Francisco Fed President Williams (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams will give the keynote speech at the Sacramento Business Review Economic Forecast at Sacramento State University in California. Audience and media Q&A is expected. Wednesday, January 18 08:30 AM CPI (mom), December (GS +0.29%, consensus +0.30%, last +0.20%); Core CPI (mom), December (GS +0.20%, consensus +0.20%, last +0.15%); CPI (yoy), December (GS +2.1%, consensus +2.1%, last +1.7%); Core CPI (yoy), December (GS +2.2%, consensus +2.2%, last +2.1%): We expect that core CPI rose by 0.20% in December or 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. In the November report, core inflation was softer than expected, mainly due to lower inflation in the categories of apparel, medical care, airfares, and lodging away from home. We expect some payback in the apparel category, in part related to colder-than-average December temperatures. Headline consumer prices likely increased by 0.29% in December. On a year-over-year basis, the headline index likely increased by 2.1%. 09:00 AM Dallas Fed President Kaplan (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan will participate in a panel discussion on “Confidence in Uncertain Times”. Media and audience Q&A is expected. President Kaplan is a voting member of the FOMC this year. 09:15 AM Industrial production, December (GS +1.1%, consensus +0.6%, last -0.4%): Manufacturing production, December (GS +0.4%, consensus +0.5%, last -0.1%); Capacity utilization, December (GS 75.8%, consensus 75.4%, last 75.0%): We expect industrial production to rebound by 1.1% in the December report following two months of weakness, based on our expectation of a rebound in the weather-sensitive utilities category. 10:00 AM NAHB housing market index, January (consensus 69, last 70): Consensus expects the NAHB homebuilders’ index—which we have found to be a decent leading indicator of housing starts—to tick down to 69, though still near post-crisis highs. 11:00 AM Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari will give a speech on economic opportunity and inclusive growth at an event hosted by the Minneapolis Urban League. Audience and media Q&A is expected. President Kashkari will be a voting member on the FOMC this year. 02:00 PM Beige Book, January-February FOMC meeting period: The Fed’s Beige Book is a summary of regional economic anecdotes from the 12 Federal Reserve districts. The December Beige Book reported modestly slower activity in a few districts, stronger consumer spending and residential investment, and mixed manufacturing activity. In the January-February Beige Book, we will look for additional anecdotes related to the state of manufacturing activity, price inflation, and wage growth. 03:00 PM Fed Chair Yellen (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will give a speech on “The Goals of Monetary Policy and How We Pursue Them” in front of the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. Audience Q&A is expected. 04:00 PM Total Net TIC Flows (last +$18.8bn) Thursday, January 19 08:30 AM Housing starts, December (GS +12.0%, consensus +8.6%, last -18.7%); Building permits, December (consensus +1.1%, last -3.8%): We expect housing starts to rebound 12% in December, following a 19% drop in November led by the volatile multifamily category. Despite colder-than-usual December temperatures, favorable single-family fundamentals and a rising backlog of approved permits suggest scope for a meaningful rebound. Consensus expects a more modest rise of 8.6% for housing starts and looks for a 1.1% increase in building permits. 08:30 AM Initial jobless claims, week ended January 14 (GS 265k, consensus 251k, last 247k); Continuing jobless claims, week ended January 7 (last 2,087k): We expect initial jobless claims to rebound 18k to 265k, following two consecutive readings not far from the cycle low. We remain in a period where seasonal adjustment is difficult, and we are hesitant to infer a drop in the trend pace of layoffs based on the most recent two reports. Seasonality-related uncertainty will affect the data for at least two more weeks, and accordingly, confidence around our 265k forecast is low. The drop in initial claims has not yet been mirrored in continuing claims, which have actually risen relative to the levels in early December (as of the week ending December 31). 08:30 AM Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index, January (GS +16.0, consensus +16.0, last +19.7): We expect the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey to pull back to +16.0 following last month’s increase to +19.7, remaining at levels signaling expansion in manufacturing activity. Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conducted its annual historical revision and calculation of new seasonal adjustment factors. For December, the index was revised down modestly to +19.7 from +21.5. 10:00 AM San Francisco Fed President Williams (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams will give the keynote address at the Solano Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Luncheon Meeting in Fairfield, California. Audience Q&A is expected. 08:00 PM Fed Chair Yellen (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will give a speech on the economic outlook and US monetary policy at an event hosted by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Audience Q&A is expected. Friday, January 20 09:00 AM Philadelphia Fed President Harker (FOMC voter) speaks: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker will participate in a discussion on the economic outlook at the New Jersey Bankers Association’s 6th Annual NJ Economic Leadership Forum. Media Q&A is expected. Last week, President Harker reiterated his support for three rate hikes this year. 01:00 PM San Francisco Fed President Williams (FOMC non-voter) speaks: San Francisco Fed President John Williams will give closing remarks at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast event in San Francisco. Audience Q&A is expected. Remarks will likely be similar to those from his speaking engagement on Tuesday. Source: BofA, DB, Goldman

08 января, 14:06

Procrastinating on January 8, 2017

**Over at [Equitable Growth](http://EquitableGrowth.org): Must- and Should-Reads:** * _Middle-Age Mortality_ * **Neel Kashkari**: _[Taylor Rule Would Have Kept Millions Out of Work][]_: "Forcing the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to mechanically follow a rule, such as the Taylor rule... * **Jonathan Bernstein**: _[Republicans Really Can Pretend to Repeal Obamacare][]_: "Sarah...

07 января, 21:17

Fed's Kashkari says he's optimistic about bank plan under Trump

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Neel Kashkari, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank who wants to force U.S. banks to hold more capital in order head off a future financial crisis, on Saturday said he was optimistic about his plan's chances under incoming president Donald Trump.

07 января, 05:10

The Case Against Fed Reform

Submitted by Tho Bishop via The Mises Institute, This week the 115th Congress was sworn in, and there are some indications that Fed reform may be on the agenda. The combination of populist anger fueled by Ron Paul’s Presidential campaigns and the 2008 financial crisis coupled with the repeated failings of the Federal Reserve to meet their projections has created a rare window for monetary policy to be both politically advantageous, as well as so obviously needed that even politicians can see it.   The question now is what sort of reform is on the table. Congressional Reforms Last Congressional session saw proposals from both the House and the Senate.   From the House we have the FORM Act, which would require the Fed to adopt a monetary policy rule and explain to Congress whenever they deviate from that rule. The FORM Act also calls for an annual GAO audit of the Federal Reserve, doubles the number of times the Fed Chairman testifies before Congress, and makes some other tweaks to the makeup and protocol of the Federal Reserve Board. Since the FORM Act passed the House in 2015, there is a good chance we will see it resurrected in 2017. On the Senate side, Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby has pushed for the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act. Not only does it lack a catchy acronym, but its reforms to the Fed are far more modest than the FORM Act. The meat of the bill focuses on changes to the Fed board. The head of the New York Fed would no longer be appointed the banks board of the directors, but would instead be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate – just like the Federal Reserve Chairman. It would also grant powers to the Fed’s regional presidents that currently only reside with the board of directors. Though early drafts of the Senate bill called for the Fed to adopt rules-based monetary policy, this ended up being stripped from the final proposal due to Democratic opposition – largely because much of the Hill focus has been on the Taylor rule, which many Fed advocates fear is too restricting. The Battle Over the Taylor Rule Recently this debate has played out in the pages of the Wall Street Journal with Neel Kashkari and John Taylor exchanging op-eds on the virtues of rules-based policy. Though Kashkari begins with a broad attack on monetary rules, it quickly devolves into a focused attack on the Taylor Rule which he argues “effectively turn[s] monetary policy over to a computer, rather than continue to let Fed policy makers use their best judgment to consider a wide range of data and economic trends.” Of course Kashkari ignores that the “best judgement” of Fed policy makers has been widely criticized – and not just by Austrians who oppose any sort of Fed policy at all. Kashkari’s allusion to a computer-guided monetary policy is may be an attempt to get readers to conflate recent monetary rules proposals to the views of Milton Friedman that have not aged particularly well. In Taylor’s response, he criticized the portrayal for being dishonest while pointing to various analysis critical of the Fed behavior since the crisis. What’s more interesting than the finer details of the debate over the relative virtues of the Taylor rule is how that specific proposal has largely been the single focus of those critical of rules-based policy. Though support for the Taylor rule has become largely split on partisan lines, there is another monetary rule that has growing support from across the ideological spectrum. The Appeal of NGDP Targeting Following 2008, NGDP targeting has grown from a topic of conversation largely limited to blogs such as Scott Sumner’s The Money Illusion, to something discussed openly among central banks, prominent publications, and even Presidential candidates. The proposal would require a central bank to set a nominal goal for GDP – without taking into account inflation or deflation – and allow it to use a variety of tools to reach that goal. Since the policy gives Fed critics a black and white standard to measure its performance, without putting too many restrictions on the Fed as to ruffle the feathers of Fed proponents, it has been able to build a broad coalition of support. As a result, you have progressives such as Christina Romer and Brad DeLong on the same side as the Cato Institute and the Mercatus Center. Of course widespread appeal is not the same thing as sensible policy. As Shawn Ritenour sums up his brilliant refutation of the proposal: NGDP targeting advocates end up fostering the monetary illusion that scarcity can be overcome and prosperity can be achieved via monetary inflation. Unfortunately policy does not have to be sensible to become reality. Should the House succeed in creating pressure on the Senate to act on a version of the FORM Act, it would not be surprising to see the discussion move away from the Taylor rule to NGDP targeting – with advocates selling its broad appeal as its leading virtue. The Fed Audit, which has consistently been fought by the Senate, could easily be dropped – with Republican legislators being able to point to the endorsement of the beltway’s leading libertarian think tanks as evidence of being tough on the Fed. The Real Problem with Rules-Based Monetary Policy Of course no matter if it is NGDP targeting, the Taylor rule, or even a rule that would have the Fed tie itself to gold – the entire debate about rules-based monetary policy ignores the obvious: rules are meant to be broken. We’ve already seen this play out routinely at the Fed, with both sides of the isle usually accusing the Fed of not upholding one side of its current dual mandate. History is littered with examples of government financial institutions ignoring and modifying rules whenever they directly conflict with the judgment of current leaders. As recently as 2015, the IMF arbitrarily changed a long-standing policy on loan requirements so it could help Ukraine. The US government changed long-standing monetary policy rules when faced with a crisis, such as when it cut the dollar’s connection with gold for both domestic and international payments. Be it Constitutional rights, contractual obligations, or its own self-imposed rules, when push comes to shove the government officials have proven they will side with their own judgment – no matter what the rule is. So while there are certainly arguments to be made in favor of a rules-based Fed over the pure discretion of the current PhD standard, such reform should not be viewed as a solution to the real issue, which is a central bank having a monopoly on money at all. Instead of a Fed reform, we need Fed competition: eliminate legal tender laws, remove the burdensome taxes placed on gold, Bitcoin and other potential currencies, and give Americans a true alternative to Federal Reserve notes for those who want it. Anything short of that continues to let the Fed’s monopoly on money continue, and is therefore no real solution at all. 

06 января, 19:36

Без заголовка

**Should-Read:** If the unemployment rate had averaged 1.5% points higher over the past four years, how much lower would inflation be now? That depends on your estimate of the slope of the Phillips Curve. [Blanchard][] tells us that it is currently about 0.18 in the unemployment version of the Phillips...

03 января, 09:45

С 1 января 2017 года произошли изменения в голосующем составе ФРС

В новом 2017 году в голосующем составе ФРС произошли изменения. Теперь не будут иметь права голоса Джеймс Буллард (Сент-Луис), Эстер Л. Джордж (Канзас-Сити), Лоретта Мейстер (Кливленд), Эрик Розенгрен (Бостон). На их место пришли Чарльз Л. Эванс (Чикаго), Патрик Харкер (Филадельфия), Роберт С. Каплан (Даллас), Нил Кашкари (Миннеаполис). Информационно-аналитический отдел TeleTradeИсточник: FxTeam

02 января, 15:50

Links for the Week of January 8, 2017

**Most-Recent Must-Reads:** * **Noah Smith**: _[Who Is Responsible When an Article Gets Misread?][]_: "How much of the responsibility for understanding lies with the writer of an article, and how much with the reader?... * **Nicholas Bloom et al.**: _[Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?][]_: "In many growth models... the long-run...

24 декабря 2016, 00:30

Dave Collum's 2016 Year In Review - "And Then Things Got Really Weird..."

Submitted by Dave Collum via PeakProsperity, A downloadable pdf of the full article is available here, for those who prefer to do their power-reading offline. Background: The Author “The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.” ~William Goldman, novelist I never would have believed it—not in a million years—but it happened: the Cubs won the World Series, and The Donald is our new president. Every December, I write a Year in Review1 that’s first posted on Chris Martenson’s & Adam Taggart’s website Peak Prosperity2 and later at Zero Hedge.3 What started as a few thoughts posted to a handful of wingnuts on Doug Noland’s Prudent Bear message board has mutated into a detailed account of the year’s events. Why write this beast? For me, it puts the seemingly disconnected events that pass through my consciousness, soon to be lost forever, into a more organized and durable form. Somebody said I should write a book. I just did. In a nutshell, this is a story of human follies and bizarre events. There are always plenty of those. Let others tell the feel-good stories. Figure 1. Malcolm McDowell as Alex in A Clockwork Orange. I try to identify themes that evolve. This year’s theme was obviously defined by the election, which posed a real problem. I struggled to detect the signals through the noise. Many of my favorite analysts from whom I extract wisdom and pinch cool ideas spent the year trying to convince the world that one or more of the presidential candidates was an unspeakable wretch. I was groping for a metaphor to capture our shared experiences, rummaging through Quentin Tarantino scripts and Hieronymus Bosch landscapes for inspiration. “Rise of the Deplorables” was tempting. Then it clicked. The term “clockwork orange” is a Cockney phrase indicating a bizarre incident that appears normal on the surface. The phrase was commandeered as the title of a 1971 dystopian film in which Malcolm McDowell’s character Alex is brainwashed by being forced to watch the most grisly and horrifying of spectacles (Figure 1). For us, it was the 2016 presidential election, which created a global mind-purging brain enema. The horror! The horror! (Oops. Wrong movie.) I knew in January that by mid-November we would be unified by our collective distrust of the Leader of the Free World, who would be surrounded by a dozen chalk outlines corresponding to political corpses that nobody wished to resurrect. I have done my best to not marinate you—too much—in tales of sociopathic felons or stumpy-fingered, combed-over letches. I do, however, eventually enter the Swamp. By way of introduction, my lack of credentials—I am an organic chemist—has not precluded cameos in the Wall Street Journal,4 the Guardian,5 Russia Today,6,7,8 a plethora of podcasts,1 and even a couple investment conference talks. Casting any pretense of humble bragging aside, let’s just post this year’s elevator résumé and a few endorsements to talk my book. “We live in a world where some of the best commentary on the global financial markets comes from a frustrated chemistry professor.” ~Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing, former Dillon, Reed & Co., and current president of Solari9 One of the high-water marks was sharing the spotlight with Mark Cuban in a Wall Street Journal article by Ben Eisen on nouveau gold buggery:10 “Dave Collum . . . has been adding to his holdings of physical gold this month, citing, among his concerns, negative interest rates and the growing refugee crisis in Europe. ‘I’m getting apocalyptic,’ he said.” ~Ben Eisen, Wall Street Journal Podcasts in 2016 included Wall St. for Main St.,11 Macro Tourist Hour (BTFD.TV),12 The Kunstlercast,13 Five Good Questions,14 FXStreet,15 and, of course, Peak Prosperity.16 Dorsey Kindler, of a small-town newspaper, the Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA), interviewed me about college in an article titled, “The New McCarthyism” and, in an ironic twist, was soon thereafter fired and his content purged.1 An interview for the Cornell Review, a right-wing student newspaper considered a “rag” by the liberal elite, probed college life and the new activism.17 A cross-posting at Zero Hedge got the Review’s click counts soaring.18 Finally, I chatted on local radio about real estate, the bond market, Hillary, and other rapidly depreciating assets.19 “If you reflect on Prof. Collum’s annual [review], you will realize how far removed from the real world and markets you are. This is a huge deficiency that all of you must work on correcting.” ~Professor Steve Hanke, economist at Johns Hopkins University, in a letter to his students Contents Footnotes appear as superscripts with hyperlinks in the Links section. The whole beast can be downloaded as a single PDF xxhere or viewed in parts via the linked contents as follows: Part 1 Background: The Author Contents Sources On Conspiracy Theorizing Investing U.S. Economy Broken Markets Cash on the Sidelines Pharma Phuckups Gold Energy Real Estate Debt Pensions Inflation/Deflation The Bond Caldera ZIRP and NIRP War on Cash Banks and Bankers The Fed European Central Bankers Europe Brexit Refugee Crisis References Part 1  Part 2 Putin and Russia South America China Japan Middle East Government Folly Panamania Human Achievement Human Folly Civil Liberties Campus Politics Elections Rigged Primaries: RNC Division Rigged Primaries: DNC Division Bernie Hillary Clinton Trump Media Conclusion Books Acknowledgments References Part 2 For historical reasons, the review begins with a survey of my perennial efforts to fight the Fed. I am a fan of the Austrian business cycle theory and remain hunkered down in a cash-rich and hard-asset-laden Bunker of Doom (portfolio). The bulk of the review, however, is really not about bulls versus bears but rather human folly. The links are as comprehensive as time allows. Some are flagged as “must see,” which is true only for the most compulsive readers. The quote porn is voluminous: I like capturing people’s thoughts in their own voices while they do the intellectual heavy lifting. I try to avoid themes covered amply in previous reviews. Some topics resolve themselves. Actually, none ever do, but they do get boring after a while. Others reappear with little warning. Owing largely to central banking largesse, the system is so displaced from equilibrium that something simply has to give, but I say that every year. We seem to remain on the cusp of a recession and the third, and hopefully final, leg of a secular bear market that began in 2000. Overt interventions have kept the walking dead walking. The bulls call the bears Chicken Littles and remind us what didn’t happen. One of my favorite gurus reminds us of a subtle linguistic distinction: “Didn’t is not the same as hasn’t.” ~Grant Williams, RealVision and Vulpes Investment Management I finish with synopses of books I’ve read this year. They are not all great, but my limited bandwidth demands selectivity . They are all nonfiction (to varying degrees). I don’t have time to waste on 50 Shades of Garbage. Sources “As for the national press corps—the Fourth Estate—it has been compromised, its credibility crippled, as some of the greatest of the press institutions have nakedly shilled for the regime candidate, while others have been exposed as propagandists or corrupt collaborators posturing as objective reporters.” ~Pat Buchanan, syndicated columnist and senior advisor to presidents With some notable exceptions, the mainstream media has degenerated into a steaming heap of detritus that is so bad now that it gets its own section. A congenital infobesity has morphed into late-stage disinfobesity. Enter social media—the fever swamp—to fill the void. As we shall see, however, all is not well there either. I sift and pan, looking for shiny nuggets of content that reach the high standards of a rant. Shout-outs to bloggers would have to include Michael Krieger, Charles Hugh Smith, Peter Boockvar, Bill Fleckenstein, Doug Noland, Jesse Felder, Tony Greer, Mike Lebowitz, Mish Shedlock, Charles Hugh Smith, and Grant Williams. News consolidators and new-era media include Contra Corner,20 Real Vision,21 Heatstreet,22 and Automatic Earth.23 A carefully honed Twitter feed is a window to the world and the road to perdition. My actions speak to my enthusiasm for Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart at Peak Prosperity.24 However, if you gave me one lens through which to view the world, I would have to choose Zero Hedge (or maybe LadySonya.com). “You really should be keeping a journal because you are living through momentous times.” ~Chris Martenson, Peak Prosperity On Conspiracy Theorizing “I stopped believing in coincidences this year.” ~Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert Every year I shout out to conspiracy theorists around the world. I am not talking about abductions by almond-eyed aliens with weaponized anal probes (which really hurt, I hasten to add) but rather the simple notion that sociopathic men and women of wealth and power conspire. Folks who could get through 2016 without realizing this are imbeciles. I am talking totally blithering idiots. Markets are rigged. Government stats are cooked. Interest rates are set by fiat. Polls are skewed. E-mails are destroyed. Cover-ups abound. Everybody has an agenda. Watch this d-bag at one of the neocon think tanks—somehow so stupid as to not realize he’s being recorded—talk about how false-flag operations are commonplace.25 Meanwhile, the media conspires to convince us to the contrary. The folks who really piss me off, however, are the glib intellectuals—Nassim Taleb calls them “intellectuals yet idiots” (IYIs)—who suggest that conspiracy theorists are total ret*rds.26 (Saved by the asterisk, which baffles the sh*t outta me why that works.) Does it seem odd that the world’s most prominent detractor of conspiracy loons, Harvardian Cass Sunstein,27 is married to neocon Samantha Power,28 one of the great conspirers? It does to me, but I am susceptible to such dietrologie. “Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth.” ~John Stuart Mill Many will try to shut down open discussions of ideas displaced from the norm by using the word “conspiracy” pejoratively. Their desire for the world to be normal is an oddly child-like cognitive dissonance. In that event, lean over and whisper in their ears, “Keep your cognitive dissonance to yourself, dickweed” while gently nudging them in the groin with your knee. Now, let’s pop a few Tic Tacs, grab a clowder, and get on with the plot, but first . . . *Trigger Warning* If this review is already too raw for your sensibilities, please stop reading. Nobody is making you squander your time on a socially marginal tome of questionable merit. Better yet, seek professional help. Investing “If you pay well above the historical mean for assets, you will get returns well below the historical mean.” ~Paraphrased John Hussman Read that over and over until you understand it. Changes in my 2016 portfolio were more abrupt than those from other years but still incremental. I resumed purchasing physical gold in 2015 after a decade-long hiatus. In 2016, I bought aggressively in January (the equivalent of half an annual salary) and continued incremental buying throughout the year (another half salary). My total tonnage (OK, poundage) increased by an additional 5% of my assets. My cash position shrunk by about 5% accordingly but remains my largest holding. I am in no rush to alter the cash position. For a dozen years, I have been splitting my retirement contributions into equal portions cash and natural gas equities. The latter keeps failing to attain an approximate percentage goal of 25–30% of my assets owing to market forces. My approximate positions are as follows: Precious metals etc.:                27% Energy:                                    12% Cash equivalent (short term):   53% Standard equities:                    8% The S&P, despite a late year rally incorrectly attributed to the Trump victory, appears to be running on fumes or, as the big guns say, is topping. The smart guys (hedge fund managers) continue to underperform, which means the dumb money must be overachieving (blind nuts finding squirrels). This is never a good sign. “We should all own cash, because it is the most hated asset.” ~Jim Rogers, Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests “The great financial success stories are people who had cash to buy at the bottom.” ~Russell Napier, author of Anatomy of the Great Bear (2007) “Cash combined with courage in a time of crisis is priceless.” ~Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Figure 2. Performances of GLD, SLV, XAU, XLE, XNG, and S&P. After a few years of underperformance resulting from the oil and gold drubbing, large gains in the gold equities (60%), gold (6%), silver (15%), generalized energy equities (10%), and natural gas equities (48%) shown in Figure 2 were attenuated by the huge cash position to produce a net overall gain in net worth of 9%. This compares to the S&P 500 (+10% thanks to a hellacious late year rally) and Berkshire Hathaway (25%, wow). (Before you start brain shaming me, that same cash buffer precluded serious percentage losses during the hard-asset beatings in the preceding years.) The most disappointing feature of the year was in the category of personal savings. I have managed net savings every year, including those that included paying for college educations. This year, however, began poorly when my gold dealer got robbed and lost my gold. My losses paled in comparison to his; he committed suicide. I discovered maintenance needs on my house that got really outta control, and a boomerang adult child ended up costing me a bit. All told, I forked over 50% of my annual salary to these unforseeables, which turned overall savings negative (–20% of my salary) and eroded a still-decent annual gain in net worth. Oh well, at least I have my health. Just kidding. I have a 4 centimeter aortic aneurysm, am pissing sand, and have mutated into Halfsquatch owing to congenital lymphedema (Figure 3). (I live-Tweeted a cystoscopy—likely a first for social media.) I have to keep moving here to finish before I pass my expiration date. Figure 3. Sand and Stump. In a longer-term view, large gains in total net worth (>300%) since January 1, 2000 are still fine. I remain a nervous secular precious metal bull and confident equity secular bear. I intend to put the cash to work when Tobin’s Q, price-to-GDP, price-to-book, and Shiller PE regress to and through the mean. When this will occur is anybody’s guess, especially with central bankers determined to make me pay for “fighting the Fed.” I will start buying after a 40% correction brings the S&P to fair value, keep buying as it drops below fair value, and wish I had saved my money by the secular bottom. We return to all this in Broken Markets. Here’s what my dad taught me: you need cash at the bottom to buy up cheap assets. Few will have cash because you have to go to cash at the top, and precious few have the capacity to shake recency bias and exit positions that have performed well. Just like a toaster, your sell order has only two settings: too soon and too late. My far greater concern is that bear markets are as much about time as they are about inflation-adjusted price. The Fed is determined to burn the clock. Nobody wins if we imitate Japan’s 25-year lost decade. “Time takes everybody out. It’s undefeated.” ~Rocky Balboa U.S. Economy “The word ‘maximum employment’ has this connotation that everything is good in the labor market, but everything is not great in the labor market.” ~Loretta Mester, president of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Unemployment is at 4.9%—what’s not to like? Economists have even claimed the “labor market is getting tight.” I scoff. The labor participation rate shows that 38% of working-age adults are not working (Figure 4). Apparently, 33% of working-age adults are neither employed nor unemployed. Hmmm . . . even that’s a little optimistic given that only 50% of adults are employed full-time. The millennials are getting whacked by the boomers who refuse to die (sorry, retire). Figure 4. Unemployment (left; official stats in red; Shadowstats in blue) and labor force participation rate (right). The wealth for middle-class households has dropped 30% since 2000;29 One in five kids lives in poverty,30 46 million folks are on food stamps;31 20% of the families have nobody employed32 (despite the 4.9% number); and almost 50% of all 25-year-olds are living with mom and dad unable to translate that self-exploration major into a job.33 Half of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.34 The once-industrial-juggernaut Rochester of Kodak/Xerox fame has more than 30% of residents living in poverty and another 30% living with government assistance.35 Very Detroit-like but without the Aleppo motif. You can see it in the micro if you drill down. Deindustrialization has been occurring steadily since the late 90s.36 The mining industry lost more this year than it made in the last eight years.37 Sales of industrial-strength trucks have been “dropping precipitously.”38 Sales in general are looking very ’09-ish. Factory orders and freight shipping (Cass Freight Index) have been dropping for two years.39 Catherine Mann of the OECD says that “In terms of actual trade growth, it is extremely grim.” The CEO of Caterpillar finally cashed in his chips after 45 contiguous months of dropping sales.40 Commercial bankruptcies are up 38% year over year,41 whereas 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.42 It seems unlikely the consumer will be buying bulldozers and 18 wheelers in the near future. “This turns out to be the deepest and most protracted growth shortfall on record for the modern-day global economy.” ~Stephen Roach, Yale professor and former chairman and chief economist at Morgan Stanley The economy is in the weakest post-recession recovery in half a century despite protestations to the contrary by Team Obama.43 The 2%-ish growth rate since ‘09 feels like a recession, especially given specious inflation adjustments to get 2%. There isn’t a wave of job cuts yet, but some signs are worrisome. Cisco Systems laid off 20% of its workforce.44 GE cut 6,500 jobs.45 Despite gains in non-GAAP earnings, GE’s GAAP earnings—the non-fabricated earnings—plunged.46 Intel dumped 11% of its workforce but faked a win by dropping its assumed tax rate by 7%.47 This tactic smacks of the same old financial engineering, but maybe it is headed for nonprofit status. One bright spot: the $15 billion vibrator industry is set to grow to $50 billion,48 satisfying consumers in a manufacturing–service industry combo. Speaking of stimulus, what the hell went awry? The Feds drilled the rates to zero (creating a ginormous bond bubble; vide infra) to encourage consumers to do the one thing they cannot afford to do—consume. Global central bankers have cut rates every 3 days since 2008 according to Grant Williams.49 The central bankers dumped tens of trillions of dollars—trillions with a “t” that comes right before gazillions with a “g”—into the global economy. The answer is simple and foreshadowed above: once you blow up a credit bubble, you cannot force consumers to spend. Have ya heard people talking about pulling equity out of their houses lately? Didn’t think so. That numbnut idea proferred by the incoherent Alan Greenspan left consumers with the same houses and twice the debt while poverty-stricken old age looms large. “If a consumer buys a boat today with money made available through a low-interest loan, that’s a boat he won’t buy next year.” ~Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital and Three Comma Club (billionaire) “The decline of the middle class is causing even more economic damage than we realized.” ~Larry Summers, speaking for himself with the royal “we” How could the economists have been so wrong? I have a remarkably simple theory: their models are wrong. They suffer so badly from Friedrich Hayek’s “fatal conceit” that they have become functional nitwits. That’s the best I’ve got. One could argue we have a secular economic problem. As a nation, we exploited cheap labor overseas through immigration during the 16th–20th centuries. The immigrants worked like dogs, got paid squat, and saved so furiously that it became a lot more than squat. Thomas Sowell explains this brilliantly in his writings.50 For the last few decades, however, we exploited cheap overseas labor by exporting jobs. They too worked like dogs, got paid squat, and saved furiously. But that wealth is not here; it’s over there (pointing east). Will new and improved trade policies solve our (U.S.) problems? I don’t think so. As long as there are folks overseas willing to work harder for less, we have some correcting left to do. With that said, I am a free-trade guy and particularly like the trade agreement painstakingly crafted by Mish Shedlock: “Effective immediately, all tariffs and subsidies, on all goods and services, are removed.” ~Mish Shedlock (@MishGEA), blogger How about some more Keynesianism? Former economist Paul Krugman, whose op-eds read like episodes of Drunk History, would say we simply haven’t done enough. (Paul: you have done more than enough.) Modern-day Keynesianism has mutated way past Maynard’s original idea into an unrecognizable metaphysical glob of thinking that boils down to the notion that government knows how to spend better than the private sector does. Is this the same government that included Anthony Weiner, Rick Santorum, and Barbara Boxer? Here is Keynesianism I could live with. Government should spend as little as possible, but there are legitimate roles to be played. Imagine if governments at all levels would simply act like financially interested parties—as a collective, not as slovenly greedy, bribery-prone individuals—and buy necessary goods and services when they are cheap and stop buying when the private sector has bid them up. We would get maximum bang for the tax buck. It would also quite naturally achieve the much ballyhooed counter-cyclicality. But, alas, the moment they start talking “stimulus,” the pay-to-play crowd turns it into a fiasco. As my dad once said, “Never ask government to do anything they don’t have to do, because they will do a terrible job.” Words from the wise. Broken Markets “I don’t think a single trader can tell you what the appropriate price of an asset he buys is, if you take out all this central bank intervention.” ~Axel Weber, former head of the Bundesbank “My thesis now is that central banks believe they can prop up asset prices through a downturn in the business cycle.” [email protected] Whomever @TheEuchre is, I think that is a provocative alternative theory of Fed motivation. Moving along, we seemed to be on the cusp of a recession last year with a number of valuation indicators pointing to a +40% correction simply to regress to the mean. In the absence of such a correction (check) and the absence of explosive growth (check), we are still looking over the precipice (check). Luminaries like Stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros, Sam Zell, and Bill Gross are calling for a zombie apocalypse at some unknowable future date. Paul Tudor Jones appears to be wrapping up in a way that smacks of Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management hedge fund liquidation in ’99. Harvard’s Martin Feldstein says asset prices are “dramatically out of line.” Credit Suisse sees analogies to the tech bubble, whereas Ned Davis Research suggests, “on a revenue basis, U.S. stocks are as expensive as they have ever been.” Chart guru Doug Short created a simple model that averages four common equity valuation techniques (Figure 5). Based on his analysis, the market is 76% overvalued compared with the average dating back to 1900. (Note: a 76% overvaluation is regressed to the mean by a 43% correction, which will be as pleasant as baptizing a cat.) Figure 5. Doug Short composite valuation model. At these valuations, a few shanks at the start of the year were scary, but soon the markets entered the tightest 40-day trading range (2.27%) in more than 100 years—the Horse Latitudes.51 There were a few goofy IPO crack-ups but they stayed subclinical. Even flash crashes raised only a few eyebrows. Knee-slappers elsewhere included a crash of the British pound in the forex markets in under a minute owing to Brexiteers52 (vide infra) and a 6.7% crash in China in less than a minute.53 The misnamed Trump rally—misnamed because it began three days before the election—left some serious skid marks, elevating the market 8% in only a few weeks. This was a short squeeze in conjunction with . . . I don’t really know. It is suggested that central banks and programmed investing have pushed a wall of money at the markets. This credit-based splooge corresponds to debts to be paid back later, but who cares? Over 10,000 mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are feeding off only 2,800 issues on the NYSE. There are now almost twice as many hedge funds as there are Taco Bells54 (which won’t be growing under a Trump presidency). I get a little confused as reported outflows in both equity funds and money market funds argue the contrary. (Even these claims are confusing given that buyers necessarily match sellers; vide infra.) “[I]t’s monetary policy we demonstrate is driving everything. And yet here too, there are worrying signs of what may become a breakdown.” ~Matt King, Citigroup Stock buybacks—in many cases leveraged stock buybacks—continue to levitate the markets. For those not paying attention, companies borrow money to buy back shares to prop up share prices, which serves the dual role of maximizing year-end bonuses and wards off balance sheet crises. Now my head hurts. Baker Hughes announced a $1.5 billion share buyback and $1 billion of debt issue. In the first half of 2016, S&P 500 companies “returned” 112% of their earnings through buybacks and dividends.55 Returned? There is some evidence that buybacks may be subsiding. When they stop buying shares at all-time highs—“buying high”—and their investment unwinds while crushing corporate debt persists, companies will be doing “dilutive share issuance” at fire sale prices—“selling low.” For now, corporate balance sheets hold the dumb money. “The corporate sector today is stuck in a vicious cycle of earnings management, questionable allocation of capital, low productivity, declining margins and growing indebtedness.” ~Stanley Druckenmiller, former head of Duquesne Capital and rock star There are instances of generic idiocy emblematic of deep problems. Eighty-five percent of traders on Wall Street have less than 15 years of experience. Synthetic securitizations are returning.56 Are buyers being paid for the risk? Some have suggested that retail investors should stay away from these (and Fukushima). A managed futures fund was launched by a 17-year-old kid who may not have made it to third base yet.57 A 28-year-old Ukrainian hacker got caught making over $30 million on insider information.58 If he were a bank, he’d have been fined $100K. The “head” of the collapsed Visium Asset Management hedge fund killed himself by slicing his own neck.59 Right. Platinum Partners appears to have been running a Ponzi scheme.60 Vegan food start-up Hampton Creek used $90 million in “seed” money to buy its own products (probably seeds) to generate fake “organic growth.”61 Nintendo spiked on the release of Pokémon, which caused hoards of idiots to chase digital critters to stupid places.62 Even though Nintendo fessed up that their bottom line would not be improved by the craze, some of the gains have stuck as investors keep chasing those digital share prices to stupid places. “Markets don’t have a purpose any more—they just reflect whatever central planners want them to. Why wouldn’t it lead to the biggest collapse? My strategy doesn’t require that I’m right about the likelihood of that scenario. Logic dictates to me that it’s inevitable.” ~Mark Spitznagel, Universa Investments Cash on the Sidelines “Preliminary attempts to clean it up fail as they only transfer the mess elsewhere.” ~Wikipedia on the bathtub ring in The Cat in the Hat In 2011, I used that quote in a different context, but it is a great articulation of the Law of Conservation of Mass.63 There are a lot of memes in the investing community—pithy phrases and ideas for which tangible support is weak or nonexistent. One is the merits of “cash on the sidelines” and its kissing cousin, money “flowing” in and out of asset classes. In the late ‘90s, I tried to ascertain how much cash was generated in sell-offs and soon realized the answer was zero. Others such as Lance Roberts,64 John Hussman,65 Cliff Asness,66 and Mish Shedlock67 have dismembered putty-headed thinking underlying cash on the sidelines. However, there are pockets of holdouts (mostly on CNBC) who subscribe to the flow model. You can hear Maria saying it: “There is so much cash on the sidelines waiting to go into equities.” I am going to take one last crack at it with the aid of some graphical wizardry and grotesque oversimplification. “So if money is coming into the market, where is it going to find a home?…What’s going to get it into the market?” ~CNBC Fast Money Here is the problem with the meme in a nutshell: If I buy, somebody must sell. It’s the Law of Conservation of Cash. If I grab a stack of Tubmans ($20 bills) and buy NFLX, the former owner of NFLX now has the Tubmans, and I have the overpriced shares. Do that all day long, and the cash on the sidelines doesn’t change; it moves around like the bathtub ring. Mutual funds insert middlemen to skim cash, but still no money is destroyed or created. Breathless claims that money is flowing in or out of mutual funds sounds important, but where in this model is cash created or destroyed? The percentage of cash, however, is a huge issue. Let’s look at this graphically and restrict it to a simple binary model (Figure 6). Imagine there is $100 trillion in cash globally and $100 trillion of market cap in equities. Of course different investors have different allocations, but investors have collectively decided that they wish to own 50% cash and 50% equities (labeled 50:50). Figure 6. Equity-to-cash allocations in a non-inflationary world. In a non-inflationary banking system, the cash is static. Along comes legendary wise man John Bogle declaring equities reward risk taking, we should weight our portfolios 60:40, and the world agrees. Investors will bid up equities to higher valuations until, collectively, equities reach the 60:40 proportion for a satisfying 50% gain exclusively through expansion of the numerator. Legendary raging bull Laszlo Birinyi, guided by recency bias, convinces the world stocks are great investments and suggests 80:20 as the right allocation. Investors collectively agree, and they bid shares higher, which completes an overall 300% equity gain from the conservative days of 50:50 allocations. Now we’re rocking! We are just beginning to pull stupidity forward. Jeremy Siegel, self-appointed guru and demagogue, says you simply can’t lose, so you should be 90% stocks, and the world listens because this particular baitfish-smart analyst stays at Holiday Inns and is from Yale! The market has now lost all moorings, pushing the overall gains to 800%! Of course, now cash is trash and investors strive to be 100% in equities. Equity investors now “reach out and touch the face of God” because the prices are heading for infinity. Alas, The Bear appears before that can happen—it always does. It doesn’t have to be an axle-breaking speed bump. The proximate trigger is not important. Spooked investors drop their allocations back to 60:40 and, in the depths of despair, back to 50:50. You will then scoop up cheap equities with inverted baggies from disembowled, toe-tagged investors who need cash. We gave the gains all back . . . or did we? During this round trip, society collectively learned to make goods and provide services much more efficiently. The same amount of effort—the same amount of cash—corresponds to a much higher standard of living. This is good deflation, the kind that James Grant describes because he reads the dusty archives from bygone eras. Most economists nowadays endorse low inflation that roughly matches productivity growth, which causes both the cash and the market cap (equities) to drift gently upward in a feel-good money illusion.68 Don’t we need inflation for growth? Only if you believe the industrial revolution of the nineteenth and early twentieth century was disappointing. For the first half of the twentieth century, the DOW rose 1.3% nominally per annum. However, the modern banking system is most definitely inflationary. Money is created by increased leverage of all kinds—sovereign debt, consumer debt, quantitative easing (QE), and helicopter money all grow the money supply. They grow the denominator (cash) in Figure 6, which is inflation. The overarching model guiding the Fed’s policies seems to be that increasing the denominator will nonlinearly increase the numerator. As inflation lifts equities, animal spirits take hold (the Wealth Effect) and lift them even more. We will go through the four stages of bullishness: Bogle-Birinyi-Siegel-God. The gains will be illusory because real wealth is manufactured, farmed, mined, and maybe programmed. Central bankers will always do something; sitting on their hands (or thumbs) is unnatural. When the markets de-lever, however, cash leaves the system. Business and investing models demanding inflation begin to break. This is bad deflation. It is harsh, abrupt, and dreaded by central bankers, because it is largely their doing. Pharma Phuckups “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” ~P. J. O’Rourke, conservative columnist There seemed to be an epidemic of flatliners in the pharmaceutical industry requiring quarantine (its own section). The big one was Theranos, a company based on miraculously effective lab tests that turned out not to really work.69 The company was quietly outsourcing to labs whose tests did work. When the scam was revealed, the wunderkind CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, watched her Forbes-estimated net worth drop from $4.5 billion in 2015 to “$0” in 2016.70 The corporate digital exam would be familiar to her distant relative John Holmes. Mylan suffered an optics problem when the disappearance of a key competitor allowed it to take a cue from pharma scoundrel Martin Shkreli71 and jack up its EpiPen price 500%,72 which smacked of price gouging. Mylan was protected by government intervention when Teva was denied rights to make a competing product.73 Such mischief in the generic drug market is real. The feds also mandated stocking EpiPens in all schools.73 A million bucks of lobbying money well spent.74 An ode to my new EpiPen It used to cost one, now it’s ten Our merchants of greed Are cheeky indeed These grifters are at it again [email protected] Valeant Pharmaceuticals also reported big losses following big gains. Criminal investigations into Valeant took it 90% off its recent highs (a “tenth bagger”).75 Meanwhile, drug giant Eli Lilly’s share price Felt the Bern in the fall when Bernie Sanders tweeted concerns about the price of insulin rising 700% in 20 years.76 The big-cap drug scoundrels have also been accused of fabricating an ADHD epidemic and causing a global prescription drug addiction. A drum beat to restrain pain meds is getting very loud. Chronic pain patients watch with angst. “Recovery is living long enough to die of something else.” ~Dr. Howard Wetsman (@addictiondocMD), chief medical officer, Townsend Addiction Treatment Centers Oh, those bastards, right? Well, maybe not. I’m gonna take a crack at defending the industry. Mylan has been dead money for 20 years—zero percent return ex-dividends and ex-inflation. The same is true for Merck, Pfizer, Eli Lilly . . . I could go on. Former antimicrobial juggernauts Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb are exiting the antibiotic market because they can’t pay the utility bills with the proceeds. You should worry. “Drug corporations’ greed is unbelievable. Ariad has raised the price of a leukemia drug to almost $199,000 a year,” ~Bernie Sanders Tweet, dropping the shares 20% on the day Where are all the revenues going? Really expensive research and development. Better meds make the world a better place. The life expectancies of AIDS patients with treatment are now three years below those of their uninfected peers. Wow. New-era cancer cures are off-the-charts effective. Pharma creates wealth in the purest sense and employs millions of people. On my consulting gigs, I can see researchers diligently trying to cure major diseases. Operationally, however, big-cap pharmas have been not-for-profit organizations for investors for several decades. When you see the prices get jacked up, don’t mindlessly assume it’s to line the pockets of management or investors. It is claimed rather convincingly that the per-unit cost of health care has not risen, but the volume has soared. My stump/bladder sand /aneurysm mentioned above burned through a lot of health care. Why is health care so cheap elsewhere? My son broke his foot while in Vietnam weeks ago. X-rays, an MRI, surgery with titanium pins, and casting: $1,000. Three days in the hospital: $30 per day. Being invited to stay with the surgeon’s family for two weeks to convalesce: priceless. For a total of about $1,600, my son flew to Vietnam, got excellent surgery, and flew home. That is the essence of the rapidly growing medical tourism industry. How is that possible? The doctor in Vietnam is not wealthy and probably demands few material goods. Torte reform is not needed because caveat emptor reigns. There might even be some Gates Foundation money thrown in. Most important, the profoundly expensive research and development was all done in developed countries and paid for by large revenue streams. “It’s the craziest thing in the world.” ~Bill Clinton on Obamacare Gold “I am leaving the gold equity ‘buying opportunity of a lifetime’ . . . to others; my shrunken stash of equities is it for now. Maybe I just called the bottom.” ~David Collum, 2015 Year in Review Nailed it! That was the bottom. I expect some checks in the mail from nouveau riche gold bugs who got 60% on their XAU-tracking investments. Despite weakness of late, the case for gold is now in place: European and Chinese banking risks, negative interest rates, a war on cash, and omnipresent risks of a hot war in the borderlands of the Middle East and Europe. Estimates suggest 0.3% of investors’ assets are in gold.77 Traditional portfolio theory recommends 5%, offering a better than 15-fold relative performance en route. (Recall that discussion of “flow” from above.) Let’s check in on what some of the wingnuts on the fringe of society are chortling about now: “The world’s central bankers are completely focused on debasing their currencies. If investor’s confidence in central bankers’ judgment continues to weaken, the effect on gold could be very powerful.” ~Paul Singer, Elliott Management Corp Gillian Tett: “Do you think that gold is currently a good investment? Greenspan: “Yes. Economists are good at equivocating, and, in this case, I did not equivocate.” “I can understand why holding gold would seem to be a sensible part of a national portfolio. Because there is clearly a need to take some precautions against an unknowable future.” ~Mervyn King, former head of the Bank of England “I am not selling gold.” ~Jeff Gundlach, DoubleLine and the new “Bond King” “The case for gold is not as a hedge against monetary disorder, because we have monetary disorder, but rather an investment in monetary disorder.” ~James Grant, Founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer “Everyone should be in gold.” ~Jose Canseco, expert on performance enhancement James Grant also went on to say that “gold is like a monetary tonsil,” leading some to speculate that his son, Charley (WSJ), slipped him a pot brownie. Let’s see if we can get the goofs too. We’ll begin by blowing out a few ideas I do not subscribe to. I keep hearing from smart guys that gold is in short supply in the Comex or Shanghai gold exchange, you name it. These stories almost never play out. I am also a huge fan of Rickards and Maloney, but the saying “gold is money” and the notion that its price is actually the movement of the value of the dollar don’t work for me: prices of everything I buy follow the dollar, not gold, on the currency timescales. On long timescales, their assertion may be correct. Someday their assertion may even be correct on short timescales, but that isn’t right now. What a year: I got as many electoral delegates as the bottom ten republican candidates combined, ate python, and own as much gold as the Central Bank of Canada. Per the Bank of Canada, it finished selling off all of its gold,78 probably to ensure that the U.S. didn’t attack. You think I jest? A WikiLeaked e-mail by Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton revealed that France whacked Libya to make sure North Africa distanced itself from a gold dinar currency.79,80 Germany supposedly has half of its requested gold repatriated from the U.S. and France,81 which could be bullish or bearish on the half-full/half-empty logic. Venezuela repatriated 100 tons of gold a few years ago and was squeezed to sell it all back in the heat of a currency crisis.82 The Dutch depatriated their gold this year after repatriating it not long ago.83 The reasons are unclear. Alexei Ulyukayev, first deputy chairman of Russia’s central bank, assured us Russia will continue to buy gold (Figure 7), presumably as a defense against interventions from inside the beltway. Of course, the Fed is silent on the “metal whose name shall never be spoken.” Figure 7. Russian gold reserves. In a shockingly quiet year given how much gold moved to the upside before the post-election monkey hammering, we probably should finish with some generic goofiness. On a few occasions, gold took the beatings that are familiar—huge futures dumps in the illiquid wee hours of the morning when no price-sensitive investor would ever consider selling. It dropped $30 in seconds late on the day before Thanksgiving when nobody was paying much attention. Another hammering came from a $2.25 billion sale84 and another $1.5 billion sale,85 both of which occurred in under 1 minute. Nanex concluded that the algo “gold spoofer” was at play,86 but the 2016 poundings were transitory and toothless compared with their brethren in 2011–2015. Trouble in the ETF market was revealed when BlackRock was overwhelmed by GLD buying.87 It was forced to create more shares in February than it had in a decade. I retain previously stated convictions that GLD is a scam—fractional-reserve gold banking. Deutsche Bank was overwhelmed by requests for physical gold.88 It tried to shake the hook by demanding that such a request must be made at a participating bank.89 Deutsche Bank, the location of the request, is not a participating bank? I imagine it doesn’t have the gold, consistent with its troubles outlined below. A Swedish precious metal vault got its payment mechanism terminated without explanation.90 We can’t close without talking about gold’s kissing cousin—silver. The silver market gets its share of muggings and sustained bashings, at times spanning several weeks. The silver sellers didn’t get full traction either, however, bringing silver off a 50% gain but leaving it up 15% year to date. Silver market treachery got some attention. The London Silver Fix—truth in advertising—at times deviated markedly from the spot price,91 causing consternation among those attempting to fix the price. Deutsche Bank agreed to settle litigation over allegations it illegally conspired with Scotiabank and HSBC Holdings to fix silver prices at the expense of investors.92 A class action suit against Scotiabank suggested that the conspiracy spanned 15 years.93 JPM was cleared of silver manipulation in three lawsuits—all dismissed with prejudice, an altogether different form of “fix.”94 The only remaining question is why they are stockpiling huge stashes of physical silver.95 I’m as sanguine as ever holding large precious metal positions. Gold bugs are reminded, however, of what a big victory will feel like: “Our winnings will come . . . from the people who wake up one morning to find their savings have been devalued or bailed-in. . . . [I]t’s going to come from the pension funds of teachers and firefighters. The irony is that when gold finally pays off, it will not be a cause for celebration.” ~Brent Johnson, Santiago Capital Energy “Why Oil Prices Are About to Collapse” ~Headline from The Oil Drum in January, 2016 You could almost hear the bell ringing on that one. The price of oil promptly went on a 50% rip to the upside. Generally, however, energy was boring (to me) this year, but I keep investing in it. Of course, lower energy prices were hailed as great tax breaks for the consumer, ignoring those who say the economy drives commodity prices not vice versa. Like every other market, however, has been totally financialized. The supply/demand market got replaced with a casino-based futures market, and we know that casinos are trouble. Then there’s that whole petrodollar thingie wherein our alliances in the Middle East keep the dollar at reserve currency status and allow us to sell debt. It also seems to be the proximate cause for bombing vast numbers of Arab countries, but I’m ahead of myself. A few corporation-specific problems gurgled to the surface. Chesapeake Energy got indicted for energy market manipulation, prompting the CEO to off himself in a one-car accident.96 He probably never realized it was a self-driving car (wink). Petrobras canned 11,700 workers.97 Norway’s sovereign wealth fund started tapping principle because Statoil got crushed.98 Statoil says it will pay a dividend . . . by issuing new shares.99 Maybe it should hire more petroleum engineers and fewer financial engineers. The world’s biggest developer (SunEdison) of the world’s most expensive energy (clean energy) had accrued $12 billion in debt after a two-year asset-buying binge. Liquidation revealed a complex web of Ponzi financing.100 Here’s a funny little nugget for intellectually molesting people at cocktail parties: Edward Longshanks outlawed the burning of coal in 1306 because of pollution. Apparently, Hillary was not the first to try to put a few coal miners out of jobs. Coal is truly hated, and the industry is getting annihilated by the switch to natural gas, which is getting annihilated by fracking-based oversupply.101 The mega-miner Arch Coal got oxidized in the energy rout, ironically leaving little residue.102 It’s probably time to invest in coal miners once the market’s beta corrects. (That’s code for a market-wide sell-off.) All of my ideas are contingent on a prefacing market drop in the throes of a recession. One will come like night follows day, and then the merits of cash will be unambiguous. Energy companies getting whacked wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the debt. Life insurers have huge energy-based junk bond exposure.103 Of course, the banks will allow them to hang on to greater risk by not calling in their chits rather than face reality. Zero Hedge reported that the Dallas Fed was telling banks not to push bankruptcy on energy companies.104 Denial by the Dallas Fed confirmed the story.105 (Thou doth protest too much.) Wells Fargo is committed to $72 billion if oil companies draw down their lines of credit,106 and that is just the beginning of its problems (vide infra). Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPM all have spiking numbers of bad energy-sector loans.107 I keep investing in energy, providing my own little Wall of Money to elevate the markets. In 20 years, I’ll know if it’s a smart move. A subset of this plan includes Russia, Iran, coal, and even uranium. Y’all can keep the new-fangled green energy; it’s too political for my tastes. “Fossil fuels have saved more lives than any progressive cause in the history of the universe.” ~Greg Gutfeld, Fox News Real Estate “7:00 PM Sinkhole forms in San Francisco 7:01 PM Thirty-five people on wait list to rent sinkhole” ~Daniel Lin (@DLin71) “House prices can’t be in a bubble because they are only 10% greater than the 2006 peak.” ~Seattle Realtor Thank God the real estate bust is over. That got outta hand fast, but we’ve learned our lesson (sigh.) Of course, it’s not over, and we learned nothing durably. Stupidity doesn’t just rhyme; it repeats. I must confess that I’m unsure how they cleaned up the ’09 bust. Where did the massive inventory go? Some did the full cycle (ashes to ashes). I suspect that many former foreclosures are rentals (Figure 8). Although single-family rentals are a lousy business and represent a dangerous shadow inventory, soaring rental rates may actually make them profitable in the medium term. The authorities also didn’t really clean up the financial mess. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the two toxic government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that nearly destroyed us in ’09—are being considered for bailouts again.108 What? Didn’t we drive wooden stakes through their hearts? No. They got placed in the government protection program under the pseudonym Karen Anne Quinlan living on Maiden Lane. Figure 8. Renter-occupied versus owned houses. Some bubbles didn’t even burst in ’09. Vancouver real estate went bonkers with the influx of Chinese money. The cost of a single-family home in Vancouver surged a record 39% to $1.2 million by midsummer. Mansions were being bought and abandoned (Figure 9). Shacks (tear downs) were selling for millions. Thomas Davidoff, erudite professor  at the University of British Columbia, noted, “These prices are getting pretty freaking nuts.” Figure 9. Abandoned $17.5 mansion,109 $7.2 million mansion for sale,110 and $2.4 million starter home in Vancouver. People were getting rich buying Vancouver houses, but I’ve seen this plot before and know the ending. With everybody on the same side of the boat (boot), it would soon be listing starboard. Is that a blow-off top in Figure 10? Not really. The authorities aggressively scuttled it with a 15% housing tax111 to “cool off the market” (real estate’s version of the ice bucket challenge.) Sales dropped 96% year over year while prices dropped 20% in the blink of an eye.112 Where’d the buyers go? Toronto!113 I suspect Vancouver will retrace a decade (or more) of gains. Figure 10. Vancouver real estate prices 1977–2016. Blue is “detached” in so many ways. Legendary real estate analyst Mark Hanson sees a few frothy domestic markets, too (Figure 11).114 Bloomberg reports that $0 down, 30-year, adjustable-rate, jumbo mortgages are being given to youngsters in Silicon Valley, all backed by stock options.115 The San Francisco Federal Credit Union calls the program POPPY, or Proud Ownership Purchase Program for You because, as Zero Hedge notes, “Steaming Pile of Shit” lacks panache.116 Alan Cohen, former Ithacan and current Florida county planner, told me the Florida real estate bubble was back and bloated. A $95 million tear down in Palm Beach was the sound of a bell ringing.117 Prices of luxury condo sales in Miami have been cut in half.118 A busting golf course bubble is causing problems in Florida and other sand states because the courses are embedded in neighborhoods.119 Smacks of time-share-like legal problems. Some may also recall that a Florida real estate bust prefaced the ’29 collapse.120 Even in New York City the market is softening, as is its bedroom community, Greenwich, CT.117 And $100 million condos are showing evidence of being overpriced.118 Whocouldanode. Aspen witnessed the largest drop—a double-black diamond “freefall”—in years.119 You want some entertainment? Check out this critique of the architectural wizardry behind the ever-popular MacMansion.120 Figure 11. Domestic real estate markets. According to Christie’s International Real Estate, $100 million homes were piling up by mid-year.121 It appears that the UK market (especially London) may finally be softening or, as they say at Bloomberg, “tanking.”122 The largest property fund had to stop redemptions.123 Ironically, they’ll have to sell assets, which I’m sure won’t help the market as the virtuous cycle turns vicious. Prime properties have also dropped in Paris, Singapore, Moscow, and Dubai.124 Some say the global high-end market has completely stalled.125 Australia seems to remain in a bubble.126 You know the picnic is over for the commercial markets when the seven-story office building in Figure 12 gets stale on the market.127 The real estate bears have taken notice. (That was inexcusable.)   Debt “Every cycle in human history has ultimately come to an end. Credit-enhanced cycles come to worse ends than the normal kind.” ~Tad Rivelle, chief investment officer of fixed income at TCW Group Federal debt has climbed 8% annually since 2000,128 but who cares because we have the reserve currency, can print the garbage at will, and are assured by the highest authorities that inflation is good and high inflation is even better. Meanwhile, friend and market maven Grant Williams has created a masterpiece of analysis of our debt problems.129 In the absence of a deflationary collapse, debt is reconciled to the downside at a geologic pace; it almost never happens. (Supposedly the Brits did it in the mid-nineteenth century.130) The problem is exacerbated by an inherently inflationary banking system that requires monotonically rising debt to survive. Where do you think the interest paid on savings comes from (when there is interest, that is)? Despite the current calm—possibly the eye of the storm—there are newsworthy events in the world of debt. The consumer is stretched by having no savings and gobs of debt—huge net debt (Figure 13). An estimated 35% of Americans have debt that is more than 180 days past due.131 They are now buying used cars with 125% loans,132 presumably to cover the negative equity from their previous loan and help pay for repairs. The used car market is priced poorly owing to the overdeveloped credit machine created to sell the trade-ins from rentals. Figure 13. Consumer debt (credit). One of the most oppressive of all debts, high-interest credit card debt, now exceeds $16,000 per household.133 The $2500 per annum interest payments are a death spiral for the average consumer earning less than $30,000 per year. The collective tab is nearing $1 trillion.134 Larry Summers blames the high debt-to-income ratio for the stagnant consumer.135 He may be missing the superimposed realization that they have no pension either (vide infra). “There’s a huge difference between having the money to buy something and being able to afford something.” [email protected] Non-dischargeable student loans continue to climb, now exceeding $1.3 trillion (Figure 14). Can anybody picture the millennials paying this off? A comprehensive White House report lays out the stark details.136 Student debt has grown linearly since ’09—suspiciously linearly. In fact, I don’t trust linearities like that: “A 45-degree angle in finance means one thing—fraud.” ~Harry Markopoulos, Madoff whistleblower I suspect that the federal government is using student loans as a monetary policy tool to methodically jam money into the system not unlike its bond-buying spree in which Andy Husar was instructed to buy $8 billion a day, every day, without fail. Curiously, the White House (metonymically speaking) thinks “student debt helps, not harms, the U.S. economy.” That idea reflects the IQ expected of a house. Figure 14. Just student loans or monetary policy? There are rumors of arrests of student debtors—Operation Anaconda.137 It sounds like Dickensian debtors’ prisons if true. I think it more likely that we are slowly heading toward some form of debt jubilee. It will be highly politicized and unfairly distributed. Hints of one come in the form of disability relief for almost 400,000 students who are said to be disabled but unable to prove it.138 If, however, ADHD or a damaged frontal cortex that allows one to spend $200,000 on an unmarketable education is a disability, 400,000 is an underestimate. Hillary publically promised to give free tuition to students while privately getting caught on a hot mic referring to the millennials’ hopes of free education as “delusional.”139 This point is now moot. “Even with borrowing costs at or near their lowest ever, companies are increasingly unable to pay their debts.” ~Mark Gilbert (@ScouseView), Bloomberg Corporate debt continues to give me fits as companies blow up their balance sheets to buy back shares and pay dividends. This is not self-extinguishing debt. You hear about corporate cash on balance sheets from the media. That cash is stored in metaphorical crocks, because the story is bogus. The top 1% of companies has 50% of the net cash on the balance sheets. (Kinda sounds like the wealth disparity pitch all over again, eh?) Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and Oracle account for 30% of it. The journalists squealing about “cash to be put to work” often fail to look at the net cash (cash minus debt). Total debt on the balance sheets doubled from $2.5 trillion in 2007 to over $5 trillion by early 2016 (Figure 15). That’s 7% per annum according to the 72 rule (interest rate x doubling time ? 72). Meanwhile the cash on the balance sheet rose by a paltry $600 billion. I get lost in the big numbers, but that is a $2 trillion rise in net debt. They’ve got to keep growing it, however, to buy back shares if they wish to prevent their share prices from collapsing. Figure 15. Corporate debt. Isn’t debt a zero-sum game? We owe it to ourselves? In a sense, yes. But when all this debt comes due, we will discover that our shiftless counterparty (us) doesn’t have any money. All that money you think you’ve saved is owed to the millions of people comprising “ourselves.” How much do we owe ourselves? Unfunded liabilities come to a total of $2 million per viable taxpayer ($200 trillion total). You know what you are owed, but do you know how much you owe to the rest of us? Got gold? Pensions “It’s existential. . . . You can pull different levers, but the decline in rates is an existential problem for the entire pension system.” ~Alasdair Macdonald, Willis Towers Watson, an actuarial consultancy Everybody passes pickles over the social security trust fund when, in fact, it doesn’t exist and never did. It is a mathematical certainty that we will default on our obligations, but it will occur in some way invisible to most people, probably via cost of living adjustments that fail to track inflation, means testing, and just printing money. I signed my wife up for social security early (62) on a bet that they would renege somehow. She didn’t earn much; I did. What started as a small payment turned miniscule. Here is her statement: Really? $411 per month was whittled down to $63 per month? The part I cut off was the final clause that said, “Don’t spend it all in one place, bitch.” The risk is in the substrata of the pension system in which bankruptcy and insolvency are smash-mouth realities. I didn’t mention state debt in the previous section because much of it is hiding as unfunded obligations to pensioners. Paying state and municipal employees with pension promises was such an easy way to compensate people without raising the money. Enter reality: public pensions are now $3 trillion in the hole.140 How long would it take to make up $3 trillion? Noooo problem! Simply pay off a million dollars a day for 8,200 years (assuming 0% interest.) Some examples are in order. Oregon’s public employee retirement system has a $21 billion unfunded liability (6 years of payouts), and it’s growing as returns of 2% somehow fall short of assumed returns of 7.7%.141 Those assumed 7–8% returns have never been accurate over the long term when adjusted for inflation, fees, and taxes. Connecticut, Kentucky, and Hawaii have similar problems.142 Illinois is the gold standard of insolvency. The Illinois Teachers Retirement System is only 40% funded and currently assumes annual returns of 7.5%.143 How did this happen? For starters, the employees are the best compensated in the Union, including free health care for life.144 Wrap your brain around that: they work for 20–30 years and get free health care for up to 50–60 more years? Meanwhile, state labor unions are asking for raises out of “fairness.” As you drill down, you find bloodbaths pretty much everywhere in municipalities. Chicago’s pensions in aggregate are 20–30% funded depending on whom you ask.145 Pending legislation, however, will allow the insolvent state of Illinois to bail out the insolvent city of Chicago.146 Isn’t there something you can do? Even if we get serious about savings among, say, the boomers, many are way past their fail-safe points. You can hear the barn door slam. At least those with defined benefit pensions are safe because they are protected by contractual obligations. Legal schmegal: there is no god-damned money! Pension cuts are just beginning but could accelerate. The Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund is looking to cut 400,000 pensions by 55% or go flat broke—zero dollars—by 2026.147 Recent rulings preventing pension cuts are, in my opinion, the courts simply stating that it is illegal to avoid bankruptcy through selective nonpayments. Bankruptcy is about distributing remaining assets in a fair and equitable way to all creditors when there is not enough to go around. There is evidence of an old-school-style run on pensions: workers are retiring in serious numbers to remove their assets from faltering pension programs. I hear rumors of University of Illinois faculty moving to other institutions—five to Georgia Tech alone—to remove their pensions at full value from the Illinois system while it’s still possible. Dallas police and firefighters are leaving the job to grab their full pensions from a dwindling stash.148 It turns out there was also a bit of a Ponzi scheme going on, which caused the mayor to propose a 130% increase in property tax.149 I don’t see a reelection in your future, Mr. Mayor. As seasoned public servants, they might be able to move to Austin or Houston. There is now evidence the withdrawals in Dallas are being shut down.150 I could even imagine claw backs of the rolled-out funds. At the personal level, self-directed defined contribution plans paint a clockwork orange big time. Gundlach says the 40–50 crowd is “broke.” Well he exaggerated: the average American household has $2,500 saved, and the average couple consisting of two 45-year-olds has $5,000.151 Technically speaking, they are not broke, but they are totally screwed. Across all working-age families, more than 50% have no savings whatsoever,152 which is one way to render low returns moot. The 55- to 60-year-olds are positioned closer to the pearly gates but have median retirement nest eggs of $17,000.153 Assuming a couple eats six cans of dog food per day (2 × 3) and they have no other bills, the couple will run out of money in 11 years (which, on the bright side, will seem like eternity). The top 10% have less than $300K.154 The numbers could be skewed to the optimistic side: 20% of all eligible 401(k) participants have loans outstanding against their 401(k) accounts.155 This practice is so egregious that some companies are offering alternative payday loans to their employees, albeit with elevated interest rates, of course.156 I remember reading about company towns in West Virginia coal country paying their employees in company scrip. The practice was outlawed. Of course, I’ve just described a potpourri of anecdotes in the U.S. Maybe it’s better in other countries. Right off our coast we have the tropical paradise of Puerto Rico, which is so up to its ass in debt that creditors essentially own the island.157 “The ECB’s record low interest rates are causing ‘extraordinary problems’ for German banks and pensioners and risk undermining voters’ support for European integration.” ~Wolfgang Schäuble, German financial minister What about Europe? There’s where it gets fugly. The markets in pretty much everything that is bought and sold are at nosebleed valuations. There is little or no room left for gains through changes in valuation. Interest rates on bonds are miniscule, even negative (vide infra.) You won’t make anything on those bonds, but you could lose enormous principle when—not if—interest rates normalize after a 40-year downward march. There is some evidence that the reversal has now started. Equity markets also have a mean regression in their future despite what the proponents of the mathematically sophisticated Greater Fool Theory espouse. If the markets correct—they always do—you can adjust all those numbers I just cited by an arithmetically simple factor of 0.5. Could an industrial revolution save us? The most stupendous industrial revolution in history—the U.S. juggernaut in the twentieth century—returned an inflation-adjusted 4–5% including dividends using the Dow index as a proxy. Unfortunately, I do not believe those returns are corrected for management fees and taxes. I’m thinking 3% is optimistic. I’m thinking Illinois and the rest of the world are still toast. Inflation/Deflation “US deflation is largely a myth, like the Loch Ness monster or North Dakota.” [email protected], undefeated Twitter Snark Champion “The debasement of coinage . . . is noticed by only a few very thoughtful people, since it does not operate all at once and at a single blow, but gradually overthrows governments, and in a hidden, insidious way. ~Copernicus The central bankers and macroeconomists all want inflation. There are media pundits who buy into this metaphysical notion that inflation is good (no offense to the metaphysicists). Dispelling the notion that this quest for inflation is just hyperbole calls for some quotes to capture pundit sentiment: “I think there is a loss of confidence in the ability of central banks in the long run to regenerate inflation.” ~Ken Rogoff, Harvard professor “Deflation . . . is bad news because it makes people less willing to borrow and spend—anticipating lower prices, consumers will put off spending—and could also lead to a fall in wages.” ~IMF economist, still waiting to buy an iPhone and flat-screen TV “All the G7 countries are suffering from a dearth of inflation.” ~Narayana Kocherlakota, former president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve “I think they’re heading intentionally for a higher rate of inflation so that once they’ve gotten to, say, an inflation rate of 3 percent, 3.5 percent, that’s when they can jack up short-term rates.” ~Martin Feldstein, Harvard professor and former president of the National Bureau of Economic Research “Why You Should Hate Low Inflation” ~Time magazine headline “Welcome news for America’s renters could be unhelpful for the Federal Reserve. . . . Any cooling in the most pronounced driver of inflation means the Fed will have to wait even longer to reach their 2 percent price target.” ~Bloomberg “Inflation is not at our stated target, not near our stated target, and hasn’t been so in quite some time.” ~Daniel Tarullo, governor of the Federal Open Market Committee “[T]he ECB needs to signal that it is serious about pursuing its inflation mandate, including via a stepped-up pace of monthly QE purchases.” ~Robin Brooks, Goldman’s chief FX strategist “The elusive quest for higher inflation” ~Yasser Abdih, senior economist at the IMF They may believe that by generating small positive inflation levels that seem to accompany strong economic growth, they will somehow create that growth. More likely, they fear no inflation in an inherently inflationary credit-based banking system. If central bankers furiously debase their currencies with an inflationary tailwind and deflation appears nonetheless, then somebody screwed up (them). I buy this latter thesis. Of course, the measure of inflation has been debated ad nauseam in the context of stats rendered dubious by hedonic adjustments, substitutions, unvarnished fraud, and adjustments based on reading goat entrails. I discussed these frauds years ago.158 Inflation is certainly not 2% but some number much higher if one is measuring what Joe Six-pack is shelling out to exist.159 (Anticipating squeals about MIT’s Billion Price Project, I discussed it in last year’s review: I think it’s bogus.) “The grim reality is that real inflation is 7+% per year, and this reality must be hidden behind bogus official calculations of inflation, as this reality would collapse the entire status quo.” ~Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds blog The fear of deflation is fear of asset deflation. With huge leverage in the system, a collapse in asset prices becomes insolvency and cardiac arrest. The problem is that the Fed’s inflation policies are the root cause of the deflationary risk. To me, the existential risk is hyperinflation, which is in full bloom in Venezuela160 and germinating in Nigeria.161 Closer to home (for Americans), rents have been soaring—13.2% per year in Boston since 2010, for example.162 Health plans are rising double digits per year, looking to jump more than 15% next year.163 College tuition is on a headline-making inflationary trajectory of 6% per annum above the rate of the admittedly dubious inflation rate. “The unproductive buildup of debt caused the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of 2008.” ~Chetan Ahya, Morgan Stanley “If businesses and households were to resume borrowing in earnest, the US money supply could balloon to 15 times its current size, sending inflation as high as 1,500%.” ~Richard Koo, Nomura The Bond Caldera “The bond market’s 7.5% 40-year historical return is just that—history.” ~Bill Gross, Janus Sounds a little ominous. He also notes that “global yields are the lowest in 500 years of recorded history.” Alas, there are other bond doomsters. Paul Singer says “the bond market is broken . . . the biggest bubble in the world . . . never-before seen asymmetry between potential further reward and risk.” Former punk rocker and newly crowned Bond King Jeff Gundlach now moves the markets with his pronouncements. Jeff wails that the current market for 10-year treasuries is the worst opportunity in its long history. He calls it “mass psychosis . . . not guided by the markets.” With a little math wizardry that only a bond king could muster, Jeff says, “a 1% increase in the rates would result in up to $2.4 trillion of losses.”164 I’m not sure investors hiding in the safe haven of bonds are quite ready for those losses. They’re betting that rates will never rise 1%. As I type, that is proving to be wrong—possibly dead wrong.   At some point, this party has (had) to end. In 2014, James Grant of the legendary Interest Rate Observer described three bond bulls in America during the past 150 years—“1865–1900, 1920–1946, and 1981 to the present.” The first two did indeed end, and probably unexpectedly given how long they lasted and investors’ willingness to extrapolate to infinity. The third will end too. The bond market is like the Atlantic conveyor that must keep moving currents around the Atlantic Ocean.165 When the conveyor sputters, we get an ice age. When the bond market sputters, we will get the credit market analogue of an ice age. What’s different this time—a dangerous choice of words—is that the highly financialized markets are not only huge but also highly correlated. The correlation reaches way beyond the conventional debt markets into the shadow debt markets and the $1 quadrillion derivatives market—a quadrillion dollars of the most screwed-up, leveraged investments based on blind faith and confidence the world has ever witnessed. No problemo, say the optimists. We will “net” those puppies. Netting is when you round up investments on each side of the bet and simply cancel them out (like from either side of an equal sign.)166 Ya gotta wonder which genius is going to net $1 quadrillion dollars of derivatives in the midst of a raging inferno. It didn’t work in ’09, and it won’t work the next time, especially in a market so large Avogadro might wince. “They have to normalize interest rates over a period of two, three, four years, or the domestic and global economy won’t function.” ~Bill Gross How crazy has the bond market become? The French sold 50-year bonds.167 Ireland sold its first so-called century bond less than three years after it exited an international bailout program.168 Spanish 10-year interest rates are below those of the U.S., prompting James Grant to suggest “a return to the glory of Rome.” The Eurowankers (European bankers) are monetizing debt by buying corporate bonds to jam money into (1) a system that doesn’t need any more, and (2) the pockets of cronies who always demand more. Shockingly, the cronies front-ran the purchase program by buying existing corporate debt169 and creating new types of corporate debt, all for a tidy profit . . . for now. Taking a cue from the U.S. postal service, Japan is offering “forever bonds”: you get interest—a low 1% interest at that—but you never get paid back your principle.170 The idea that inflation will never rear its ugly head seems presumptuous, even preposterous. It would be safer loaning money to your adult children, who will never pay you back either. You know to the penny your return on that investment. “Bonds are still offering positive yields.” ~CNBC headline Alas, as is often the case, CNBC isn’t even right on what would be a truism in any other era. I could go on talking about ridiculously low yields, but now we get “the rest of the story.” ZIRP and NIRP “It seemed like a good idea at the time: Cut interest rates below zero to revive growth.” ~Bloomberg On April 1, 2006, an article appeared endorsing zero-coupon perpetual bonds.171 You give somebody your money, and they pay you no interest and you don’t get your money back. Irate readers forced this hooligan to “politely point out to them the date of publication” (April 1st). Did you know the word gullible is not in the dictionary? Unbeknownst to the author, the article wasn’t satire; it was foreshadowing. There is no endeavor in which men and women of enormous intellectual power have shown total disregard for higher-order reasoning than monetary policy. We are talking “early onset” something. I am not an economist, but my pinhead meter is pegging the needle. Let’s hop right over ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) because it is so 2014 and head right into NIRP (negative interest rate policy). NIRP is where you pay people to lend them money. (Check the date: it’s December, not April.) You heard that right: you give them money, and they give you back less. “The arrogant, suspender-snapping, twenty-something financial geniuses are yapping in my face. . . . I still can’t fathom ‘negative’ interest rates. It seems the ultimate insanity to say a short sale of a sovereign bond becomes a ‘risk-free’ trade.” ~Mr. Skin, anonymous guru who writes for Bill Fleckenstein Capitalism progressed for 5,000 years without interest rates ever stumbling on the negative sign (which, by the way, was invented by the Arabs more than a millennium ago). You can no longer simply say that bonds are at multi-century highs; it is mathematically impossible to bid rates on normal bonds into negative territory. It takes a special kind of monetary fascism to create negative rates. Japan is at the vanguard. Eight days after Hiruhiko Kuroda, head of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), announced he was not considering negative interest rates, he jammed rates negative.172 That was like a knuckleball from the famous pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Nearly 80% of Japanese and German government bonds are now offering negative yields (whatever “yield” now means).173 Fifty-year Swiss debt has gone negative.174 Early this year, negative yielding global sovereign debt surpassed $10 trillion “for the first time.”175 Really? For the first time? Sovereign debt first dipped below zero only two years ago. An estimated $16 trillion (30%) of sovereign debt is now under the auspices of NIRP (Figure 17).176 Over a half-trillion dollars of corporate debt is also at negative rates.177 Reaching for yield in corporate debt markets always seemed risky, but that’s nuts. By now it could be $1 trillion. I’ve lost track. NIRP has infected the consumer debt market: Denmark and Belgium are offering negative interest rate mortgages.178 (I just soiled my thong.) By the way, you folks with big credit card debt will likely have to wait for relief; your rates are pegged above 20%. Maybe you’ll get some helicopter money. Figure 17. Negative yielding debt with a subliminal flare. These Masters of the Universe, economists and bankers extraordinaire, and their enthusiastic supporters of modern-day monetary theory certainly didn’t leap into the NIRP abyss casually. Let’s listen to the justification in their own voices. While reading, rank their comments as (1) pragmatic resignation, (2) dubious, or (3) delusional rants of the clinically insane: “If current conditions in the advanced economies remain entrenched a decade from now, helicopter drops, debt monetization, and taxation of cash may turn out to be the new QE, CE, FG, ZIRP, and NIRP. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” ~Nouriel Roubini, professor at New York University “Well, let’s face it. They can do whatever they want now.” ~Ken Rogoff, dismissing the risk of government taxation by NIRP “The degree of negative rates introduced by ECB is bigger than Japan. Technically there definitely is room for a further cut.” ~Haruhiko Kuroda, head of the Bank of Japan “It appears to us there is a lot of room for central banks to probe how low rates can go. While there are substantial constraints on policymakers, we believe it would be a mistake to underestimate their capacity to act and innovate.” ~Malcolm Barr, David Mackie, and Bruce Kasman, economists at JPM “Negative Rates Are Better at QE Than Actual QE” ~Wall Street Journal headline “Well, clearly there are different responses to negative rates. If you’re a saver, they’re very difficult to deal with and to accept, although typically they go along with quite decent equity prices. But we consider all that, and we have to make trade-offs in economics all the time and the idea is the lower the interest rate the better it is for investors.” ~Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, based on two years of data on NIRP “The prospect of being charged, say, 6% a year just to hold cash could unsettle people. For such a policy to work as intended, officials would have to do a lot of explaining ahead of time . . . ensuring that the public understands the central bank’s goals and supports its methods of achieving them.” ~Narayana Kocherlakota, former president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, bankersplaining Jedi mind tricks So these paternalistic libertarians are doing it for the children. What’s the problem? Let’s start with savings. There is no income left in fixed income. All those unresilient consumers are getting zip on what money they have. The low rates are designed to get them to spend their paltry savings. Peachy. A USA Today headline read, “How to break Americans of shortsighted saving habits.” Let’s start by giving them a return on their savings, for Pete’s sake. Giving them negative returns, however, in a twisted way is forcing them to save like their parents. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the headline. Maybe it’s excoriating the public for their growing addiction to saving, causing the wholly ludicrous and intellectually impoverished Paradox of Thrift.179 This naturally leads back to the inflation/deflation debate. The inflation that the Fed desires comes, at least in part, from inherently inflationary fractional reserve banking in which interest rates demand net dollars to increase. Negative rates, by contrast, are inherently deflationary. Every year the banking system has less. This doesn’t seem that hard to grasp. “Negative interest rates are ridiculous, particularly in a fight against deflation. They ARE deflation. . . . You are necessitating savings.” ~Jeff Gundlach, DoubleLine Low and negative rates are destroying pension management, insurance, and even banking industries. When your business model is to take in money, make decent returns, pay out a little less, and skim off the difference, then negative, zero, or even low interest rates are deadly. The model fails. This doesn’t seem hard to grasp either. “All pension plans everywhere in the world are being destroyed. Trust funds, insurance companies, endowments—they are all being destroyed.” ~Jim Rogers on NIRP and central bank policies Finally, low interest rates actually hurt the economy by keeping the weak alive, preventing the much needed creative destruction. Unviable companies on the life support of loose credit cannibalize serious businesses measurably, sometimes even fatally. You must cull the herd of the sick and weak. “Insurers have long-term liabilities and base their death benefits, and even health benefits, on earning a certain rate of interest on their premium dollars. When that rate is zero or close to it, their model is destroyed.” ~Bill Gross The big credibility problem is that I’m just a chemist “identifying” as a pundit going toe-to-toe with some serious paid-to-play central bankers and their groupies. To rectify that, let’s listen to some critics of NIRP with gravitas in their own words: “Maybe Italian banks are telling us that central bankers and their negative interest rate policies are actually destroying the Japanese and European banking system. . . . Even if they put [short-term rates] back to zero, imagine the carnage, at least in the short-term bond markets.” ~Peter Boockvar, chief strategist of the Lindsey Group “The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We are therefore in uncharted waters, and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30% of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale.” ~Lord Jacob Rothschild, overpaid blogger “Negative interest rates are the dumbest idea ever. It’s horrible. Look at how badly it’s been working.” ~Jeff Gundlach, DoubleLine “Under a negative rate scenario, the only participant receiving more cash over time is the government. The private sector slowly collapses as we are seeing in Japan and Europe in real time.” ~Michael Green, Ice Farm Capital “If these are the first sub-zero interest rates in 5,000 years, is this not the worst economy since 3,000 BC? . . . The Bank of England is doing things today that it has never done in its history, which is 300 plus years. . . . In finance, mostly nothing is ever new. . . . However, with respect to interest rates and monetary policy, we are truly breaking new ground.” ~The James Grant Anthology “What is currently happening in various bond markets as a result of this and other interventions is simply jaw-dropping insanity. . . . What makes the situation so troubling is the fact that investors seem to be oblivious to the enormous risks they are taking. They are sitting on a powder keg.” ~Pater Tenebrarum, independent market analyst “I think what they’ve done, particularly the unconventional stuff—and there has been so much of it—has led many people into looking upon all of this as experimental policies smacking of panic.” ~William White, senior advisor at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development “Negative and low interest rates around the world are crushing savers, and those policies are going to become the biggest crisis globally. We have become too dependent on central bankers.” ~Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock “Negative interest rates in Japan is blowing my mind.” ~Jose Canseco, designated pundit What’s the end game? My best guess is that the system blows up and a lot of bankers find themselves seriously upside down . . . like Mussolini. The silent bank run is already happening. In a free market, NIRP is precluded by cash and hard assets. NIRP in Japan caused a run on safes for hoarding cash.180 A headline announced, “German Savers Lose Faith in Banks, Stash Cash at Home.”181 I was told by a high-level source that one of the world’s largest insurers was renting vaults to store physical currencies. Commerzbank was considering hoarding billions to avoid European Central Bank (ECB) charges.182 Mark Gilbert of Bloomberg notes that storing $100 million as stacks of bills would basically take a vault the size of a large closet.183 See the theme? The financial intermediaries are storing hard cash. Alas, our central banker overlords won’t stand for it. War on Cash “There is a pervasive and increasing conviction in world public opinion that high-denomination bank notes are used for criminal purposes.” ~Mario Draghi You ever notice the War on Anything never works? Whether it be drugs, terror, poverty, Christmas, hunger, you name it, it becomes an interminable, profoundly costly adventure. Now we have the War on Cash. OK, millennials, listen up. You might like paying for everything with your Swiss Army phones. There are rumors you can even swipe G-strings on pole dancers with your phones, which means you’ve totally lost the plotline. If we go to cashless, you won’t have the scratch needed to buy a cell phone before long. These globalists wish to remove your right to an important civil liberty—to hold and spend wealth outside the view of the government and beyond the control of the banks. “A global agreement to stop issuing high denomination notes would also show that the global financial groupings can stand up against ‘big money’ and for the interests of ordinary citizens.” ~Larry Summers, Harvard professor and former secretary of the treasury The global elite want to eliminate cash so that they can inflict monetary policy without restraint. As Rogoff says, cash gums up the system. When the former secretary of the treasury, Larry Summers, starts supporting the elimination of cash because it will “combat criminal activity . . . for the interests of ordinary citizens” you should sit up and pay attention. He says we “are essentially on a fairly dangerous battlefield with very little ammunition.” He is not talking about the War on Crime but rather efforts to fight the market forces attempting to curb the global banking cartel. Ex-Fedhead Kocherlakota tried to get coy using reverse psychology on free marketeers by arguing that “governments issuing cash . . . is hardly a free market.” As the story goes, the libertarians should support a cashless society by letting currencies compete in the marketplace.184 Very clever, Yankee dog! Of course, he forgot to mention that the government would then shut competitors down like they did to Bernard von NotHaus, who got his assets seized and went to prison for offering such competition. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin founder, is on the lam.185 Your arguments are specious, NK. “In principle, cutting interest rates below zero ought to stimulate consumption and investment in the same way as normal monetary policy. Unfortunately, the existence of cash gums up the works.” ~Ken Rogoff Ken Rogoff carried the standard in the War on Cash this year by hawking his new book, The Curse of Cash. He tirelessly tried to make the case for a cashless, bank-rich society, arguing that “paper currency facilitates racketeering, extortion, drug and human trafficking, the corruption of public officials not to mention terrorism.” He argues that “cash is not used in ordinary retail transactions.” Really? What do stores put in the cash registers, coupons (which are going digital)? To say he supports the termination of cash is not quite fair: he endorses using only low denominations such as $10 bills, which buy you a pack of cigarettes (maybe). Don’t spend it all in one place. On noticing that hundreds of commenters in a Wall Street Journal editorial186 showered him with suggestions on how to render him testicle free, I suggested in a brief e-mail that people are clearly stating that the idiosyncrasies of cash are a small price to pay for personal freedom. He, in turn, suggested I read his book. Not likely. There was pushback, however. Jim Grant used his sharp wit to get Ken halfway to eunuch status.187 When the globalists left Davos,188 the War on Cash seemed to accelerate almost overnight: Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicted that cash won’t exist in 10 years. Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, called for an end to cash. Bloomberg published an article titled “Bring On the Cashless Future.” A Financial Times op-ed titled “The Benefits of Scrapping Cash” advocated the elimination of physical money. Harvardian and ex-Harvard president Peter Sands wrote a paper titled “Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes” in which he waxed on about fighting wars—wars on crime, drugs, and terror. Mario Draghi, head of the ECB, phased out the €500 note—30% of the physical euro notes in circulation: “We want to make changes. But rest assured that we are determined not to make seigniorage a comfort for criminals.” The New York Times called for the termination of high-denomination notes. Again, all of this was within a month of the shrimpfest at Davos. You and your banking buddies are the criminals and seem quite uncomfortable with cash. If you really care about crime, shut down HSBC: With physical cash curtailed, JPM estimates the ECB could ultimately bring interest rates as low as negative 4.5%.189 (Two decimal point precision: nice.) Phasing out the $100 bill would eliminate 78% of all U.S. currency in circulation.189 Hasbro announced that the game Monopoly will replace cash with special bank cards (special drawing rights?) in which players buy and sell with handheld devices. More recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India withdrew all high-denomination bills essentially overnight.190 The results were predictable for a society in which cash really is king: the system shut down. Nearly instantaneously, India’s trucking industry—millions of trucks—were parked on the roadside: out of cash means out of gas.191 As I type, the chaos continues. There are, thankfully, influential supporters of cash. Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele warned that the attempt to abolish and criminalize cash is out of line with freedom.192 Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann said it would be “disastrous” if people started to believe cash would be abolished: “We don’t want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch.”193 Austrian economist Frank Shostak, by no means influential because Austrians are considered to be insane, reminds us that “abolishing cash to permit the central banks to lower interest rates into deeper negative territory will lead to the destruction of the market economy and promote massive economic impoverishment.”194 Maximum mirth came when Jason Cummins, chief U.S. economist and head of research at hedge fund Brevan Howard, stood up at a meeting littered with devout globalists and denounced the War on Cash and quest for inflation as stemming from the “Frankenstein lab of monetary policy.”195 Jason went on a rant: “You are not going to have independent central bankers in the next 10 years if you keep on this path. The economy has rolled over and died in an environment when financial conditions have never been easier. . . . People aren’t consuming, businesses aren’t investing, they aren’t buying houses even with a 3.5% mortgage rate. . . . The maestro culture created by Greenspan has been one of the worst features of central banking. . . . My biggest worry is that the public will conclude that . . . capitalism is just socialism for the rich.” Oops. Too late, dude. Arguments about the insecurity of cash seem specious when you look at how the digital world has fared lately. The thriving sovereign state of Bangladesh was raided for a cool $100 million by a series of unauthorized withdrawals using the global SWIFT check-clearing system.196 One could imagine that third-world safeguards against such a heist might be lax, but the hackers removed the booty from the New York Federal Reserve. A Fed spokesperson offered the official response: “Sorry. Our bad.” Apparently, the Fed has been hacked more than 50 times since 2015. Gottfried Leibbrandt, the CEO of SWIFT, has expressed grave concern about the threat hackers pose to the banking system.197 Ya think? On a more micro scale, six of my colleagues got their paychecks phished. They were tricked into signing into their financial home page. With the passwords in hand, the Nigerian princes rerouted their direct-deposited paychecks. Food stamp computers went down for over a week in June.198 An Ecuadorean bank got clipped for $12 million, blaming Wells Fargo for not plugging a leak.199 It’s probably in the Clinton Foundation. The risks of cash in society seem to pale in comparison with the risks of digits in the banking system. The termination of cash is all some dystopian futuristic abstraction that won’t come to pass, right? No. Brits are complaining that they are being stopped from withdrawing amounts ranging from £5,000 to £10,000: “When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”200 The phrase, “give me my goddamned money before I jump the counter and beat the crap out of you” comes to mind. Better yet, say it’s for Zika medication and start coughing. The €500 note did indeed get abolished.201 Angela Merkel put caps on bank withdrawals. 202 I heard from a friend that Wells Fargo was obstinate about a large money transfer. (We return to Wells Fargo’s disasters in the banking section.) Some restaurants are refusing cash.203 What does “all debts public and private” mean? Nightmare scenarios in a cashless society include: (1) negative interest rates of any magnitude; (2) civil asset forfeiture (but I repeat myself); (3) bank bail-ins; (4) getting booted from or locked out of the system—by mistake or otherwise; (5) sovereigns getting booted from the SWIFT check-clearing system (just ask Pootin); (6) outlawing gold (again); and (6) hackers! We could see a black market based on S&H Green Stamps. Banks and Bankers “The unpalatable truth is that the banking model is broken. The days of generating gobs of cash from “socially useless” financial engineering . . . are over.” ~Mark Gilbert, Bloomberg “It’s the big banks that continue to prefer being highly leveraged. And too many policymakers are deferring to them. Like it or not, that means we are in line for another stomach-turning round on the global economy’s wild ride.” ~Simon Johnson, MIT professor and former IMF chief economist The banking system was not fixed in ‘09. The putrid wound was stitched up without disinfectant by a cabal of bankers and regulators, all agreeing that the system had to retain its current form. The assets of the 10 largest banks—greater than $20 trillion—grew 13% per year in the last 10 years. This is not my idea of mitigating systemic risk. Now we are near the top of an aging business cycle where bad loans start unwinding and bad ideas begin to die. Gangrene is beginning to show. Collateralized debt is picking up because the uncollateralized refuse starts piling up like during a NYC garbage strike.204 Collateralized loan obligations—the dreaded CLOs—are starting to liquidate.205 Banks are rebuilding teams for debt restructurings.206 As noted above, the Dallas Fed is attempting to extend and pretend energy loans.207 Does this kind of crackpottery ever work? Citigroup failed—as in big fat F-like failed—its stress tests.208 Those were the Kaplan practice tests. Many banks will fail when the real stress test arrives. Martin Gruenberg, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, thinks we will unwind banks in an orderly process.209 Of course he does, and of course I don’t. “I don’t trust Deutsche Bank. I don’t trust what they’re saying.” ~David Stockman, former Reagan economic advisor and former Blackstone group partner Although huge problems could be triggered by a default almost anywhere in the system—an internal hedge fund or even an unusual presidential election—the disaster will be global. The first raging inferno is most likely to burn in Europe and will undoubtedly include Deutsche Bank (DB). DB was the most putrid of the ’09 wounds; it never really healed. In 2014, it was forced to raise additional capital by selling stock at a 30% discount. But why?210 This year DB sold $1.5 billion in debt at junk rates (admittedly a paltry 4.25% in this era).211 German Finance Minist

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26 ноября 2016, 01:00

Crisis prevention

One US Federal Reserve bank official, Neel Kashkari, wants his country's banks to keep much higher cash reserves, to reduce the chances of another major financial crisis.

18 ноября 2016, 22:01

President Trump: To Jumpstart the U.S. Economy, Please Honor Your Promise to Break Up the Big Banks!

Donald Trump and the Republican Platform Called for Restoring Glass-Steagall and Breaking Up the Too Big to Fails The Republican platform under Donald Trump called for restoring the Glass-Steagall separation between traditional depository banking and speculative investment banking.  Trump himself has called for it. This would lead to the break up of the giant banks. The New York Times explains: The Republican Party platform calls for breaking up the large banks by restoring the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall Act, which required a separation of investment from commercial banking. The People Want Them Broken Up As Minneapolis Fed President Kaskari points out, a lot of the populist anger which got Donald Trump elected is based on allowing the too big to fail banks to survive: Mr. Kashkari said he traced some of the nation’s current political anger and polarization to how the government responded to the financial crisis — which allowed large banks to survive while thousands of Americans struggled to keep their homes and find new jobs.   “The bailouts violated a core belief that has been handed down from generation to generation in our society that if you take a risk you bear the rewards and consequences of that risk,” he said. “We had to tear that up during the crisis because the biggest banks were going to fail and bring down the U.S. economy. And when you violate the core beliefs of society it does lead to anger and a feeling that this wasn’t fair.” Most Americans opposed the bailouts of the giant banks, and want them broken up. Indeed, the IMF has warned that bank bailouts were so unpopular, that a revolution could occur if more bailouts were given. So Do Economists and Financial Experts Economists and financial experts from across the political spectrum agree that we’ve got to rein in the “too big to fail” banks. Why do so many top bankers, economists, financial experts and politicians say that the big banks should be broken up? Because they’re no longer acting like banks, and are destroying the economy. The best way to jumpstart the economy would be to restore Glass-Steagall and break up the bloated banks. Here’s a sample of economists and financial experts calling for the too big to fails to be broken up or dramatically reined in: Current chair of the Federal reserve, Janet Yellen (and see this) Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker Current President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability – Neel Kashkari Former Secretary of the Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich Current Vice Chair and director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – and former 20-year President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – Thomas Hoenig (and see this) Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz Nobel prize-winning economist, Ed Prescott Nobel prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman Chief Stability Officer at the Bank of England, Andrew Haldane (and see this and this) Former Federal Reserve Bank of New York economist and Salomon Brothers vice chairman, Henry Kaufman Dean and professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, R. Glenn Hubbard Former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, Simon Johnson (and see this) Former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher (and see this) President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, James Bullard Deputy Treasury Secretary, Neal S. Wolin The Congressional panel overseeing the bailout (and see this) The former head of the FDIC, Sheila Bair The head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King The Bank of International Settlements (the “Central Banks’ Central Bank”) The International Monetary Fund The leading monetary economist and co-author with Milton Friedman of the leading treatise on the Great Depression, Anna Schwartz Economics professor and senior regulator during the S & L crisis, William K. Black Leading British economist, John Kay Economics professor, Nouriel Roubini Economist, Marc Faber Professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the Chicago Booth School of Business, Luigi Zingales Economics professor, Thomas F. Cooley Economist Dean Baker Economist Arnold Kling Chairman of the Commons Treasury, John McFall The Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Harvey Rosenblum Director, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, and Professor of Economics, University of Bonn, Martin Hellwig And the head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank – and former Goldman Sachs chief economist – William Dudley says that we should not tolerate a financial system in which certain financial institutions are deemed to be too big to fail. Federal Reserve Board governor Daniel Tarullo also backs a cap on the size of banks, and Former Treasury secretary under Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Nicolas Brady, says that we need to put a cap on leverage. Top Bankers Call for Big Banks to Be Broken Up While you might assume that bankers themselves don’t want the giant banks to be broken up, many are in fact calling for a break up, including: Former Citi CEO Sandy Weill Former Citi CEO John Reed Former Citi chairman Richard Parsons Former Merrill Lynch chairman and CEO David Komansky Former Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell Former managing director of Goldman Sachs – and head of the international analytics group at Bear Stearns in London- Nomi Prins Numerous other bankers within the mega-banks (see this, for example) Founder and chairman of Signature Bank, Scott Shay Former Natwest and Schroders investment banker, Philip Augar The President of the Independent Community Bankers of America, Camden Fine

17 ноября 2016, 18:48

Banks and “too big to fail”: Kash call

Print section Print Rubric:  A veteran of the financial crisis says banks need much more capital Print Headline:  Kash call Print Fly Title:  Banks and “too big to fail” UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The new nationalism Fly Title:  Banks and “too big to fail” Location:  NEW YORK Main image:  20161119_fnp004.jpg SINCE Donald Trump won the election, American bank shares have surged on traders’ hopes of a bonfire of financial regulations. So a proposal from Neel Kashkari, head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, vastly to increase capital requirements looks ill-timed. On the other hand, the plan mimics the direction—if not the extent—of one backed by congressional Republicans. Mr Kashkari is an experienced financial firefighter. An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, best-connected of investment ...

17 ноября 2016, 18:48

Banks and “too big to fail”: Kash call

Print section Print Rubric:  A veteran of the financial crisis says banks need much more capital Print Headline:  Kash call Print Fly Title:  Banks and “too big to fail” UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The new nationalism Fly Title:  Banks and “too big to fail” Location:  NEW YORK Main image:  20161119_fnp004.jpg SINCE Donald Trump won the election, American bank shares have surged on traders’ hopes of a bonfire of financial regulations. So a proposal from Neel Kashkari, head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, vastly to increase capital requirements looks ill-timed. On the other hand, the plan mimics the direction—if not the extent—of one backed by congressional Republicans. Mr Kashkari is an experienced financial firefighter. An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, best-connected of investment ...

17 ноября 2016, 15:44

Frontrunning: November 17

Dollar halts charge as bashed bonds steady (Reuters) BOJ Fires Warning at Bond Market With Unlimited Buying Plan (BBG) Trump Flouts Traditions Heading Into an Office Defined by Them (BBG) Mr. Hedge Fund Goes to Washington, Looking for Ally in Trump (BBG) Donald Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, Could Get Key White House Role (WSJ) U.S. panel urges ban on China state firms buying U.S. companies (Reuters) Why Bond Vigilantes Are Stirring in Age of Trump: QuickTake Q&A (BBG) AT&T Deal to Test Business Climate Under Trump (WSJ) Theranos Whistleblower Shook the Company—And His Family (WSJ) Republicans Now Control Record Number of State Legislative Chambers (CNSNews) Mexico central bank may deliver big rate hike after peso's Trump tumble (Reuters) The Strange Consequences of India’s Banknote Ban (BBG) Yellen Will Talk Trump in Thursday's Testimony (BBG) Yellen Likely to Be Questioned on Impact of Election (WSJ) The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight (Intercept) Apple Wants Cutting-Edge iPhone Screens, But Most Suppliers Aren’t Ready  (BBG) Deutsche Bank could seek repayment of manager bonuses: sources (Reuters) Brazil arrests former Rio governor in corruption probe: police (Reuters) China's interference in Hong Kong reaching alarming levels: U.S. congressional panel (Reuters) Russia starts blocking LinkedIn website after court ruling (Reuters) Philippines' Duterte says may follow Russia's withdrawal from 'useless' ICC (Reuters) EU delays ChemChina/Syngenta merger decision to March 29 (Reuters) Merkel expected to say on Sunday if she'll run for office in 2017 (Reuters) U.S. opens door to oil exports after year of pressure (Reuters)   Overnight Media Digest WSJ - Donald Trump's son-in-law, who became a close adviser in the presidential campaign, is likely to take a top White House job, people familiar with the presidential transition say. http://on.wsj.com/2f22ucL - Tyler Shultz says he wanted to shield the reputation of former Secretary of State George Shultz, a Theranos director and his grandfather. His efforts opened a rift in the family. http://on.wsj.com/2fXhYiS - President-elect Donald Trump is making overtures to Democrats as his transition efforts ramp up, meeting with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and signaling support for a public-works building program similar to one his partisan opponents have long favored. http://on.wsj.com/2eHGKYn - China's currency dropped to the lowest level in eight years Wednesday, extending a rapid decline over the course of a few days and demonstrating what officials and analysts say is the government's increasing tolerance of a cheaper yuan as it combats a lagging economy and growing asset bubbles. http://on.wsj.com/2fVnpjJ - Businesses will watch to see if phone giant AT&T Inc can push its merger with Time Warner Inc through a still-undefined presidency. Cabinet appointments will help determine the outcome. http://on.wsj.com/2eGzOLe - The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a legally armed black motorist during a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Wednesday. http://on.wsj.com/2ghkq8i - Facebook Inc said it has uncovered several more flawed measurements related to how consumers interact with content, raising more questions about the metrics marketers lean on to decide whether to buy ads on the social media network. http://on.wsj.com/2ggxPxx   FT Saudi Arabia is set to disclose how much crude lies beneath the desert kingdom's sands as it prepares to sell shares in Saudi Aramco. Japanese internet retailer Rakuten Inc signed a new four-year deal with Barcelona worth at least 220 million euros ($235.40 million), sealing one of the world's largest football shirt sponsorships. Rio Tinto Plc's former head of energy and mineral division Alan Davies said he "has been left with no option but to take the strongest possible legal action in response" to his dismissal. Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc warned there were challenging conditions ahead for its marine and industrial engine businesses. However, the company said it was on track to meet profit expectations for this year.   NYT - Congressional Democrats, divided and struggling for a path from the electoral wilderness, are constructing an agenda to align with many proposals of President-elect Donald Trump that put him at odds with his own party. http://nyti.ms/2fyMHWX - An emotional Hillary Clinton on Wednesday asked her supporters not to lose heart after a crushing election loss and to continue working for a better country. http://nyti.ms/2fyH0be - President-elect Donald Trump said his transition was not in disarray, assailing news media reports about firings and infighting and insisting in an early-morning Twitter burst that everything was going "so smoothly". http://nyti.ms/2fyMLpw - Over the past few months, a laid-off Wal-Mart employee named Wang Shishu, has helped organize a national movement in China against the retail giant. http://nyti.ms/2fyOniO - The federal authorities will announce a roughly $264 million settlement with the JP Morgan Chase and its Hong Kong subsidiary, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. tp://nyti.ms/2fyG7zq - Wall Street banks are still too big to fail, and the hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations created in the eight years since the crisis are not adequate protection against another financial shock, says Neel Kashkari of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. http://nyti.ms/2fyOZp1   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL ** Bombardier Inc raised $1.4 billion in its first return to the bond market in 21 months, refinancing some debt and buying more time for its turnaround plan. https://tgam.ca/2fzkaQP ** The Bank of Canada says it won't necessarily move in lockstep with the Federal Reserve if the U.S. central bank moves to hike its key interest rate next month, as widely expected. https://tgam.ca/2fzoJdT ** A committee of Performance Sports Group Ltd's shareholders has filed a legal objection to a proposed auction of the insolvent company's assets, arguing the bidding structure makes it too hard for anyone to compete with an offer tabled by a group led by Sagard Capital Partners LP. https://tgam.ca/2fzkUW1 ** Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canada is ready to discuss difficult trade issues with the new U.S. administration, including softwood lumber and livestock, and he is confident of finding a "win-win" solution. https://tgam.ca/2fzmWW6 NATIONAL POST ** The International Energy Agency's latest World Energy Outlook expects Canadian output to grow to 6.1 million bpd by 2040 if governments stick to their Paris agreement pledges - but that is 1.5 million bpd lower than the IEA's "Current Policies Scenario", which assumes there are no new international policy measures to combat climate change. http://bit.ly/2fzlmDH ** Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was foolish to signal his willingness to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, former U.S. senator and Donald Trump insider Rick Santorum said on Wednesday. http://natpo.st/2fzeiHn ** Canada and Cuba are on a good footing to enhance an already-good relationship with a visit to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week, say experts, despite uncertainty around the policy of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. http://natpo.st/2fzlfbg   Britain The Times * Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Warren East, whose company's shares have fallen 27 percent since April last year, said to investors that after thousands of job cuts, including hundreds in senior management, he is focusing his attention on the company's future strategy. http://bit.ly/2f22pWm * UK's Financial Conduct Authority said Wednesday that they would put safeguards in place before launching a new savings product, Lifetime Isas, for the under-40s just days after it was dubbed as 'a mis-selling scandal waiting to happen.' http://bit.ly/2f260UB The Guardian * Labour party parliamentarian Frank Field, also the chairman of the House of Commons work and pensions select committee, has asked HM Revenue & Customs for an immediate probe into tax avoidance scheme used by recruitment agencies that is depriving the taxpayer of "hundreds of millions" of pounds. http://bit.ly/2f2079Z * Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc could face a settlement of more than $12 billion in a decade old mis-selling scandal in the United States, said the UK Financial Investments, which controls the taxpayer's stake in RBS, to the Treasury Select Committee. http://bit.ly/2f1XTXX The Telegraph * Rio Tinto Plc has fired two executives amid an investigation over illegal payments of $10.5 million to a consultant related to an iron ore project in Guinea. http://bit.ly/2f1YKYT * Brexit is unlikely to lead to a sudden decline in London's status as one of the leading centres for the global capital markets, Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley has predicted. http://bit.ly/2f21uVT Sky News * Ralf Speth, chief executive of Britain's biggest car maker Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, has said that the company would have to "see the facts" before deciding whether to continue manufacturing in the United Kingdom. http://bit.ly/2f1WD78 * Royal Dutch Shell Plc announced closure of its Glasgow operation with the loss of 380 jobs as a new report from the International Energy Agency warns of a "boom/bust" cycle in the oil industry. http://bit.ly/2f1U1pT The Independent * The Treasury said that the Bank of England has been conferred formal powers to control lending in the fast-growing buy-to-let mortgage market. http://ind.pn/2f1W5hR * The United Kingdom's unemployment rate has come down to 4.8 percent in September, from 4.9 percent previously, the lowest since the summer of 2005, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics. http://ind.pn/2f1ZQUo  

16 ноября 2016, 19:15

Fed's Kashkari Releases Plan To End "Too Big To Fail", Compares Banks To Terrorists

In the latest reminder that 7 years after the financial crisis, the US banking system still remains a systemic risk, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari today released four-step plan to end too-big-to-fail problem. In his speech to the economic club of New York, the former Goldman banker said that while significant progress has been made to strengthen U.S. financial system, biggest banks continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy. Under the “Minneapolis Plan,” there would be “fewer mega banks,” community banks would thrive, and mid-sized banks would make up larger share of system. A summary of the proposed Fed plan argues that large banks already under shareholder pressure to reorganize will face increased pressure to consider breaking themselves up. The plan, which will naturally be ignored by the banks themselves and the authorities, is culmination of efforts since February that brought together experts on financial crises and bank regulation, such as former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and ex-central bankers Roger Ferguson and Randall Kroszner according to Bloomberg. Largest banks “refused to participate” for fear their presence would be viewed as acknowledgment that TBTF problem exists. The first two steps would be to increase capital requirements for banks with assets of more than $250b to 23.5% of risk- weighted assets, and to have Treasury secretary either certify that large banks are no longer systemically important or subject those institutions to increases in capital requirements of as much as 38% over time. Additionally, the minneapolis Fed plan would only count common equity as capital. The threat of massive increases in capital will provide strong incentives for largest banks to restructure so that they are no longer systemically important. The proposed approach is similar to those regulators have taken with nuclear power plants, imposing such tight restrictions so as to minimize risk of failure. The other two steps would be to impose tax on borrowings of shadow banks with assets over $50b, and reducing regulatory burden on community banks. Kashkari defended his plan by saying that most companies outside financial services industry have much bigger buffers than banks. Under his plan, which requires bigger buffers, “some banks would probably have business models that don’t work. They probably already have business models that don’t work,” he says, adding: “That’s not our problem.” It is however, the banks' problem, and is another reason why the plan will be soundly ignored. "My hope is that there’s interest on both sides of the aisle for this type of work and analysis." Wrong. Undeterred, Kashkari went on to say that his plan “would require legislation” and in case there was confusion, he said that “what we are proposing is a major restructuring of our financial sector." Too bad such a "restructuring" will not take place until after the next crisis. The plan's four proposed steps are the following: Step 1. Dramatically increase common equity capital, substantially reducing the chance of bailouts   We will require covered banks to issue common equity equal to 23.5 percent of risk-weighted assets, with a corresponding leverage ratio of 15 percent. This level of capital nearly maximizes the net benefits to society from higher capital levels. This first step substantially reduces the chance of public bailouts relative to current regulations from 67 percent to 39 percent. This substantial improvement in safety comes at a relatively low cost of gross domestic product (GDP). Covered banks will have five years to come into compliance with this requirement   Step 2. Call on the U.S. Treasury Secretary to certify that covered banks are no longer systemically important, or else subject those banks to extraordinary increases in capital requirements, leading many to fundamentally restructure themselves   Once the new 23.5 percent capital standard has been implemented, we will call on the Treasury Secretary to certify that each covered bank is no longer systemically important. Our proposal gives the Treasury Secretary the discretion to make this determination so that it can rely on the best information and analysis available. We suggest that the Treasury start by reviewing existing metrics of systemic risk used to determine current GSIB surcharges. The Treasury will also have the authority to look beyond covered banks in making its determination. If the Treasury refuses to certify that a covered bank is no longer systemically important, that bank will automatically face increasing common equity capital requirements, an additional 5 percent of risk-weighted assets per year. This process will begin five years after enactment of the Minneapolis Plan. The bank’s capital requirements will continue increasing either until the Treasury certifies it as no longer systemically important or until the bank’s capital reaches 38 percent, the level of capital that reduces the 100-year chance of a crisis below 10 percent.   Step 2 is a critical step for ending TBTF. Under the current regulatory structure, there is no explicit timeline for ending TBTF, and regulators never have to formally certify that large banks and shadow banks are no longer systemically important. Instead, banks and designated nonbank financial firms can continue to operate under their explicit or implicit status as TBTF institutions potentially indefinitely. The Minneapolis Plan reverses this approach and gives the Treasury Secretary a new mandate with a hard deadline. Five years after enactment of the Minneapolis Plan, the Treasury either will certify that large banks are no longer systemically important or those banks will face extraordinary increases in equity capital requirements.   We believe that these automatic increases in capital requirements will lead banks to restructure themselves such that their failure will not pose the spillovers that they do today and lead to future bailouts. We chose the capital level that reduces the probability of a bailout in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to 10 percent or below while keeping total costs below benefits. This level of capital is appropriate for the largest banks that remain systemically important, as their failure alone could bring down the banking system.   The only banks that could remain systemically important after the Minneapolis Plan has been fully implemented would have 38 percent common equity capital, with a risk of failure that is exceptionally low. This is a similar approach regulators have taken with nuclear power plants: While not risk free, they are so highly regulated that the risks of failure are effectively minimized. Step 2 of the Minneapolis Plan reduces the chance of future bailouts to 9 percent over 100 years.   Step 3. Prevent future TBTF problems in the shadow financial sector through a shadow banking tax on leverage   We discourage the movement of activity from the banking to shadow banking sector by levying a shadow bank tax. The tax equalizes the funding costs between the two sectors. The tax will have two rates. To equalize funding costs with a 23.5 minimum equity requirement, we would levy a tax on shadow bank borrowing of 1.2 percent. This tax rate would apply to shadow banks that do not pose systemic risk as judged by the Treasury Secretary. A tax rate equal to 2.2 percent would apply to the shadow banks that the Treasury refuses to certify as not systemically important. Thus, the shadow bank tax regime mirrors our two-tier capital regime. These taxes should reduce the incentive to move banking activity from highly capitalized large banks to less-regulated firms that are not subject to such stringent capital requirements. Nonbank financial firms that fund their activities with equity do not pay the tax. Shadow banks will have five years from enactment of the Minneapolis Plan before they begin paying the shadow bank tax. The Treasury Secretary will start making certifications as to the systemic importance of shadow banks at that point. Here, too, we grant the Treasury discretion to look across all nonbank financial firms in its certification process.   Step 4. Reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on community banks   Ending TBTF means creating a regulatory system that maximizes the benefits from supervision and regulation while minimizing the costs. The final step of the Minneapolis Plan would allow the government to reform its current supervision and regulation of community banks to a system that is simpler and less burdensome while maintaining its ability to identify and address bank risk-taking that threatens solvency. * * * One interesting section lays out the MN Fed's calculation of a probability of bailout in the next 100 years: Alongside this, Kashkari lays out not only the change of a bailout in the next 100 years, but the overall cost of this as a percentage of GDP. We have developed a framework for assessing safety and costs. The first column says “Chance of a Bailout in the Next 100 Years.” The IMF has compiled a database of financial crises around the world that we use to assess how frequently financial crises have happened in the past and what regulations were in place when those crises happened. Fortunately, financial crises are infrequent events, but that makes them hard to predict, like terrorist events or earthquakes. This IMF database contains the best data available to look at the history of financial crises and make informed estimates about their future likelihood. We look at a 100-year time horizon because the Great Depression took place in the 1930s and the recent financial crisis in 2008, approximately 80 years later. Aiming to prevent financial crises over a 100-year time horizon seems like a reasonable goal, given how devastating crises are when they hit.   On the right side of the table, we list costs. Here we calculate the present value of future costs, using a similar method as do regulators around the world.   We set as a baseline the capital regulations that existed in 2007, before the onset of the recent financial crisis. An examination of the IMF database of crises and the regulations that existed in 2007 implies an 84 percent chance of a crisis in the following 100 years. Obviously, the crisis in fact happened the next year. The database offers a view of how likely crises are to happen, not when exactly they will happen. In terms of costs, we set the 2007 regulations as a baseline, so we assume those costs are zero for comparison purposes.   Next we look at the current capital regulations, which have increased capital requirements relative to 2007. As you can see from the table, the probability of a future financial crisis has been reduced, from 84 percent to 67 percent over the next 100 years. That is a modest improvement in safety at a cost of 11 percent of GDP. Is 11 percent of GDP a lot or a little?   Here we see that the Bank for International Settlements’ consensus estimate for the typical cost of a banking crisis is 158 percent of GDP, which for the U.S. economy equals roughly $28 trillion. This is the present value of the long-term effects of a banking crisis. As we have seen since the recent crisis, the U.S. economy has been growing much more slowly than had been previously expected. These long-term effects are fairly typical for financial crises, which as you can see, are extraordinarily costly for society. Against that enormous cost, 11 percent of GDP seems to me to be a small price to pay for a modest increase in safety. * * * Ultimately, the goal of Minneapolis Plan is to "educate public and elected representatives about options." Amusingly, in doing so Kashkari ends up comparing American banks to terrorists: One useful analogy that helps highlight the trade-off of costs and benefits is the risk of terrorism. Intuitively, the public understands that we as a society cannot eliminate all risk of a future terrorist attack. It is simply impossible to make that risk zero. And the public intuitively understands that increased physical safety isn’t free. There are costs associated with hiring additional law enforcement officers, for example, or installing more metal detectors. Since we cannot eliminate all risk, we have to decide how much safety we want and what price we are willing to pay for that safety. The same is true for financial crises. We cannot make the risk zero, and safety isn’t free. Regulations can make the financial system safer, but they come with costs of potentially slower economic growth. Ultimately, the public has to decide how much safety they want in order to protect society from future financial crises and what price they are willing to pay for that safety. An apt analogy, if perhaps not one the banks will be particularly delighted with. Kashkari's full speech can be found here, while readers can access the full 53 page plan at the following URL.

16 ноября 2016, 14:43

Global Bonds Plunge As "Trumpflation" Rally Returns, Dollar Jumps

After taking a one day breather, the "Trumpflation" Rally returned with a vengeance as global government bonds tumbled and the dollar rose on renewed speculation the economic outlook is strong enough to allow the Federal Reserve to hike in December (odds are now 94%). Asian shares rose, industrial metals and crude oil fell, European shares and US equity futures were pressured. As reported last night, the latest bond selloff started in Japan where JGB futures slid after a BOJ buying operation was poorly received, and yields on both the 2Y and 5Y rose to or above the BOJ's -0.1% interest rate. 10 year Japanese yields have edged back above zero intra-day for the first time since September 21st and the market will at some stage focus on whether the BoJ will defend the zero level, especially if the global yield sell-off gathers pace over the coming weeks and months. It would be a strange decision to abandon the new policy so soon after announcing it so assuming global yields remain elevated they may be forced to buy more JGBs than they thought when the new scheme was announced. As DB's Jim Reid observes, if the BoJ sticks to defending zero in a world where the US is likely to increase fiscal spending then you could make an argument that there is full blown helicopter money except that the BoJ is flying the copter over the US and may be about to become the new US government’s best friend. Without them, and without the ECB, it might be that Trump would be less able to spend freely on the fiscal side as yields would be less supported globally. Certainly one way to think of in our opinion. The selling shifted over to Portuguese and Italian debt which led declines in Europe, while Treasuries also fell. Russia’s ruble lost the most among emerging-market currencies as the dollar rallied. Crude oil reversed an earlier gain with U.S. stockpiles forecast to increase and optimism waning that OPEC’s latest push for a production-cutting deal will pay off. Zinc fell from a six-year high as industrial metals sank. European shares advanced for a third day, helped by technology and telecommunications companies.rate. As even Bloomberg notes, the "Trumpflation" move has "defied expectations" and forced Wall Street to make a complete U-turn on its forecasts. While analysts spent early November warning a Trump administration would hurt economic outlook and slow the pace of rate increases, his election has instead made Fed action a near certainty. The odds of an increase in interest rates by December have risen to about a 94 percent probability, the highest level this year, from 68 percent at the start of November, on speculation the Republican’s policies will boost inflation. "The narrative on the dollar is strong," said Simon Smith, chief economist at FXPro. "A move higher in interest rates next month is now a near dead cert, with the implied path for rates next year also moving higher and providing further support for the dollar." “The inflation story is still in play,” said Birgit Figge, a fixed-income strategist at DZ Bank AG in Frankfurt. “The market is expecting an interest-rate hike in December, and there is no fundamental reason for the Fed” to disappoint, she said. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said there’s a chance the U.S. economy could get a medium-term boost if Trump increases infrastructure spending and tax reforms. The overnight session in stocks has been mostly subdued, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent, paring gains of as much as 0.6 percent. Nokia Oyj rebounded from a three-day losing streak, pacing technology stocks higher. Bayer AG sank 1.6 percent, dragging chemical companies to the worst performance on the Stoxx 600, after issuing 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) of convertible bonds. Among stocks moving on corporate news, Wirecard AG, a German payments provider, gained 6.1 percent as the top end of its 2017 profit forecast exceeded some analysts’ estimates. Hugo Boss AG slipped 6.9 percent after saying it will eliminate two brands and slow down expansion of its store network. S&P 500 Index futures slipped 0.1 percent, after the equity gauge rose 0.8 percent Tuesday. As earnings season winds up, Lowe’s Cos. and Target Corp. will be in focus for indications of the health of the U.S. consumer. About 76 percent of S&P 500 members that have reported so far beat profit projections and 56 percent topped sales estimates. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 percent. Japan’s Topix index rallied to a nine-month high, driven by gains in banking stocks as investors bet earnings at financial companies will benefit from the recent pickup in bond yields. The Topix Banks Index has jumped more than 20 percent in five days, the steepest surge since 2008. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose for a second day, adding 0.3 percent. But the big move was again in bond yields and currencies, which resumed their levitation higher, further pressuring financial conditions, which as reported yesterday tightened to the highest level since Marc. The yield on 10Y Treasuries rose six basis points to 2.28 percent as of 10:41 a.m. London time, after retreating from its highest level of the year in the last session. It’s up more than 40 basis points since Trump’s election, having surged amid growing speculation the Fed will boost interest rates next month and beyond. The bond-market rout pushed Bank of America Corp.’s Global Broad Market Index down 1.5 percent in November, heading for the biggest monthly decline since May 2013. The renewed selloff spread to Europe, with the yield on Portugal’s 10-year bonds adding 19 basis points to 3.68 percent. Italy’s 10-year yield increased nine basis points to 2.05 percent, while that on similar-maturity German bunds climbed three basis points to 0.34 percent. Japan’s 10-year government bonds fell for a fifth day, lifting their yield to 0.035 percent. Tuesday marked the end of almost eight weeks of negative rates, the first time the bond market has tested the Bank of Japan’s resolve to contain 10-year yields since it shifted its focus to controlling the benchmark yield around zero. The BOJ said after its September meeting that it could carry out unlimited bond-buying operations at a set rate, if needed, in order to control yield levels. After that meeting, the bond market rallied in search of a floor for the 10-year note yield, eventually settling just above the minus 0.1 percent policy rate. the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index reversed Tuesday's losses and rose 0.3%. It slipped on Tuesday after surging more than 3 percent in the four trading days following the Nov. 8 U.S. election. A bout of USD buying was observed just around the time of the European open, which send the USDJPY to new highs, rising just why of 110, down some 9% since last election's lows, and last trading at 109.70. Currencies of commodity-producing nations, including the Australian dollar and South African rand, were among the biggest losers. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index declined 0.3 percent and Russia’s ruble dropped 1.9 percent, after jumping 2.9 percent on Tuesday, the most since February. Turkey’s lira, Poland’s zloty and Mexico’s peso all dropped at least 0.7 percent as higher U.S. yields boosted the dollar. The yuan fell to 6.8729 against the dollar, the weakest since December 2008. Fed Presidents Neel Kashkari and Patrick Harker are both scheduled to speak Wednesday and may shed more light on the likely trajectory of borrowing costs in the world’s biggest economy. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to testify to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on Thursday. Bulletin Market Summary from RanSquawk European equities enter the North American crossover relatively mixed while fixed income markets have centred around JGB's which slipped overnight following a poor bank buying operation FX trade continues the strong USD theme, led by USD/JPY pressing higher in the quest to test (through) 110.00. Looking ahead, highlights include UK jobs data, US PPI, DoE's, Fed's Bullard, Harker, Kashkari and BoE's Cunliffe Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 2176 Stoxx 600 up less than 0.1% to 339 FTSE 100 down 0.3% to 6775 DAX down 0.4% to 10692 German 10Yr yield up 2bps to 0.33% Italian 10Yr yield up 9bps to 2.05% Spanish 10Yr yield up 8bps to 1.53% S&P GSCI Index down 0.2% to 358.5 MSCI Asia Pacific up 0.4% to 135 Nikkei 225 up 1.1% to 17862 Hang Seng down 0.2% to 22281 Shanghai Composite down less than 0.1% to 3205 S&P/ASX 200 up less than 0.1% to 5328 US 10-yr yield up 4bps to 2.26% Dollar Index up 0.09% to 100.32 WTI Crude futures down 0.7% to $45.50 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $46.78 Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,227 Silver spot down 0.2% to $17.03 Top Global News Snapchat Said to File Confidentially for Public Offering: Company could sell shares as soon as first quarter of 2017 Fed’s Bullard Sees Medium-Term Boost From Trump Economic Policy: Rate increase in December still Bullard’s favored option China’s Yuan Tumbles to Eight-Year Low as Banks Weaken Forecasts: Lenders cite risk of imminent Fed rate increase, Trump concern Another China Red Flag Rises With Loans on Track to Top Deposits: Broad loan-to-deposit ratio at 80% for top 50 China banks, S&P says Modi’s Money Crackdown Threatens India Corporate Profit Recovery: Earnings at consumer companies, developers seen impacted Wesfarmers Said to Start $1.5 Billion Australian Coal Sale: Conglomerate is gauging interest in Curragh, Bengalla mines Trump Takeover Won’t Speed Bank-Mortgage Talks, DOJ’s Baer Says: Deutsche Bank among lenders seeking to resolve mortgage cases Ted Cruz Said to Be Considered by Trump for Attorney General: Cruz was at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday Microsoft Offers Concessions in EU Review of LinkedIn Bid: Microsoft had Nov. 15 deadline to submit remedies to regulator Options Traders Say Red-Hot Small Cap Rally Has Further to Run: Hedging costs on Russell 2000 subdued despite recent gains Singapore Bond ‘Open Bar’ Ending as Borrowing Costs Surge: Companies face S$28.2 billion of bond maturities in four years * * * Looking at regional markets, we start in Asia where markets traded mostly higher following a positive lead from the US where tech rebounded and the energy sector outperformed amid 5.8% gains in oil, while the Dow also posted a 7th consecutive increase, hitting a fresh record high for the 4th straight day. Nikkei 225 (+1.1%) was once again the outperformer in the region on the back of continued JPY weakness, while financials have extended on the moves seen post-US election. ASX 200 (+0.0%) closed flat as weakness in materials and mining names capped upside following a 7% drop in iron ore prices, while China traded mixed as the Hang Seng (+0.1%) conformed to the upbeat tone, while weakness was seen in the Shanghai Comp (-0.1%) amid a slump in iron ore prices and a weaker liquidity operation by the PBoC. 10yr JGBs traded down by as much as 50 ticks with demand dampened amid gains in riskier assets and after a poor BoJ "rinban" buying operation. This resulted in the 10yr yield rising to as much as 0.034% with the curve flatter amid underperformance in the short-end, while analyst at Informa also noted real-money accounts and Japanese banks selling in 5yr-10yr. PBoC injected CNY 110bIn 7-day reverse repos and CNY 30bIn in 14-day reverse repos and set the mid-point at 6.8592 (Prey. 6.8495). Top Asian News China’s Yuan Tumbles to Eight-Year Low as Banks Weaken Forecasts: Lenders cite risk of imminent Fed rate increase, Trump concern Another China Red Flag Rises With Loans on Track to Top Deposits: Broad loan-to-deposit ratio at 80% for top 50 China banks, S&P says Modi’s Money Crackdown Threatens India Corporate Profit Recovery: Earnings at consumer companies, developers seen impacted Wesfarmers Said to Start $1.5 Billion Australian Coal Sale: Conglomerate is gauging interest in Curragh, Bengalla mines Singapore Bond ‘Open Bar’ Ending as Borrowing Costs Surge: Companies face S$28.2 billion of bond maturities in four years In Europe, equities (Euro Stoxx 50: -0.2%) traded mixed with notable underperformance in the health care sector on the back of Bayer (-5%) issuing EUR 4bIn worth of convertible bonds to help fund its proposed acquisition of Monsanto. Elsewhere, WTI and Brent crude futures have extended on overnight losses amid the fall out of the latest API crude report which showed inventories rose 3.65m1n barrels, subsequently weighing on energy names. Focus in fixed income markets have centred around JGB's which slipped overnight following a poor bank buying operation in 1-3yrs and as such this led to selling in the short-end and the belly of the curve. This led to spillover selling in bunds which slightly dipped below the 160.00 level, consequently this saw a pull back from yesterday's gains. Top European News Hugo Boss to Reduce Brands, Limit Store Expansion in Revamp: Clothesmaker trims luxury ambitions, plans online expansion Delta Lloyd Sees $215 Million Annual Cost Savings From NN Tie-Up: Delta Lloydconfirmed a target for operational expenses of EU610m in 2016, lowering its target for 2018 by EU30m Bouygues Shares Jump on Improved Telecom Profit Margin: CFO says construction may get North America infrastructrure boost Iliad Sales Rise as Niel’s Phone Carrier Wins Mobile Clients: Promotions helped carrier gain 305,000 wireless subscribers U.K. Labor Market Shows Signs of Cooling in Wake of Brexit Vote: Jobless rate fell to 4.8% from 4.9% q/q London Land Values Fall Most in Five Years as Banks Lend Less: Shares in developers with central London home sites lag index In currencies, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index reversed Tuesday's losses and rose 0.3%. It slipped on Tuesday after surging more than 3 percent in the four trading days following the Nov. 8 U.S. election. Currencies of commodity-producing nations, including the Australian dollar and South African rand, were among the biggest losers. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index declined 0.3 percent and Russia’s ruble dropped 1.9 percent, after jumping 2.9 percent on Tuesday, the most since February. Turkey’s lira, Poland’s zloty and Mexico’s peso all dropped at least 0.7 percent as higher U.S. yields boosted the dollar. The yuan fell to 6.8729 against the dollar, the weakest since December 2008 and beyond a Bloomberg survey’s year-end median estimate of 6.8. Standard Chartered Plc on Wednesday joined at least four other banks in lowering its forecasts for the yuan, predicting a year-end level of 6.9, compared with 6.75 earlier. In commodities, crude oil fell 0.9 percent to $45.42 a barrel in New York, after earlier rising as much as 0.8 percent. Oil retreated for the past three weeks amid skepticism about the ability of OPEC to implement a deal at its Nov. 30 meeting. The group is seeking to trim output for the first time in eight years as Iran boosts production and Iraq seeks an exemption because of war with Islamic militants. Prices will probably remain around current levels if OPEC fails to cut, according to BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley. U.S. crude stockpiles expanded by 3.65 million barrels last week, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report Tuesday. Government data Wednesday is forecast to show supplies rose by 1 million barrels. Copper and aluminum declined in London, extending their retreats from one-year highs reached last week, and zinc retreated from its highest close since 2010. Metals rallied last week on a combination of increased speculative interest in China and optimism Trump’s pledge to spend as much as $1 trillion on infrastructure will boost demand. The 14-day relative strength index for the London Metal Exchange Index climbed as high as 87 last week, well above the 70 threshold that signals to some traders prices may have risen too far, too fast. “Investors took the opportunity to lock in gains after some big moves over the past week,” ANZ Bank said in a note on Wednesday. “Skepticism grew about the impact that Trump’s infrastructure spending program would have on demand.” Looking at US events today, it’s another busy day: we kick off with the October PPI print where expectations are for a +0.3% mom rise in the headline but a slightly lower +0.2% mom print for the core, before we then get last month’s industrial and manufacturing production readings, both of which are expected to have risen modestly, along with the capacity utilization reading. Later on we’ll then get the NAHB housing market index for this month. Away from the data we’ve got Kashkari (7.45am) and Harker (5.30pm) all on the cards for today. US Event Calendar 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, Nov. 11 (prior -1.2%) 7:45am: Fed’s Kashkari speaks in New York 8:30am: PPI Final Demand m/m, Oct., est. 0.3% (prior 0.3%); PPI Ex-Food and Energy m/m, Oct., est. 0.2% (prior 0.2%) 9:15am: Industrial Production m/m, Oct., est. 0.2% (prior 0.1%) Capacity Utilization, Oct., est. 75.5% (prior 75.4%) Manufacturing (SIC) Production, Oct., est. 0.3% (prior 0.2%) 10am: NAHB Housing Market Index, Nov., est., 63 (prior 63) 10:30am: DOE Energy Inventories 4pm: Total Net TIC Flows, Sept. (prior $73.8b) 5:30pm: Fed’s Harker speaks in Philadelphia * * * DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap as usual Have been reading a steady stream of commentators speculate in recent days that there could be a global regime shift following Trump’s victory last week. This is something we discussed as our base case back in early September in our latest long-term study "An Ever Changing World". Back then we suggested that a 35-year super cycle of politics, policy, globalisation and ever lower inflation and yields were about to reverse and that 2016 would be seen as an inflection point in years to come. At the time the biggest push back was on inflation and yields with most thinking that they would remain low for many years to come. Whilst we think nominal yields will eventually be capped by central banks at relatively low levels to pay for higher fiscal spending in the years ahead, negative real returns in government bonds should be a regular feature going forward. Staying with yields, although we saw a reversal in the four-day bond sell-off yesterday (more below) there are some interesting dynamics emerging post the sell-off. One such theme is that with 10 year Japanese yields briefly edging back above zero intra-day yesterday and again this morning (currently 0.020%) for the first time since September 21st the market will at some stage focus on whether the BoJ will defend the zero level, especially if the global yield sell-off gathers pace over the coming weeks and months. It would be a strange decision to abandon the new policy so soon after announcing it so assuming global yields remain elevated they may be forced to buy more JGBs than they thought when the new scheme was announced. Where this gets more interesting though is what it means internationally. If the BoJ sticks to defending zero in a world where the US is likely to increase fiscal spending then you could make an argument that there is full blown helicopter money except that the BoJ is flying the copter over the US and may be about to become the new US government’s best friend. Without them, and without the ECB, it might be that Trump would be less able to spend freely on the fiscal side as yields would be less supported globally. Certainly one way to think of in our opinion. Back to those moves for bonds yesterday. Indeed it was the countries that had been most beaten up in the prior four days which saw the biggest reversals yesterday. In Europe that was the case for the periphery where 10y BTP’s rallied back -11.6bps, compared to Bunds which were down just -1.1bps. In the EM space similar tenor hard currency bonds for Mexico (-18.4bps), Brazil (-26.3bps) and Argentina (-18.8bps) were mopped up while across the Treasury curve the peak low in yield for the benchmark 10y actually came during the Asia session yesterday (around 2.180%) before yields finished at 2.220% last night and which is where they hover this morning too, albeit still -4.3bps lower from Monday’s close. Some better than expected US retail sales data – which was good enough to see the Atlanta Fed lift their Q4 GDP forecast to 3.3% from 3.1% - seemingly shut the door on yields drifting much lower. More on the data later. In fact it was a day of reversals across most markets yesterday. With the US Dollar rally taking a breather the outperformers in FX included the Russian Ruble (+2.93%), Mexican Peso (+2.10%), South African Rand (+1.83%) and Canadian Dollar (+0.81%). WTI Oil surged +5.75% and back above $45/bbl for its best-one day gain since April 8th as a fresh set of headlines suggested that OPEC nations were making a final diplomatic push towards sealing an output cut deal. Gold (+0.60%) also rose for the first time since Wednesday while US HY spreads tightened 21bps and are pretty much back to where they were last Tuesday again. Meanwhile equity markets continue to trudge along resiliently. The Stoxx 600 finished up +0.27% while across the pond the Dow (+0.29%) marked a fourth consecutive record high and the S&P 500 finished +0.75% despite Banks finally pausing for breath and being little changed. Instead it was the turn of energy and telecoms stocks to lead the move higher. This morning in Asia most equity markets are generally taking their cue from the gains on Wall Street last night. The Nikkei (+1.21%), Hang Seng (+0.61%) and Kospi (+0.75%) are higher while bourses in China and Australia are little changed. The latter has seen the mining sector take a bit of a hammering this morning after iron ore followed a near -3% decline on Monday with another -7% decline yesterday. Meanwhile, aside from the move higher in yield for JGB’s, most major bond markets are a little firmer this morning while Oil is little changed following the big rally yesterday. Moving on. So with the US signaling a significant rotation towards fiscal policy, there is a chance for a new trend to express itself in the UK Autumn Statement (a mid-year Budget) on 23 November. Overnight our economists published a preview. The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has reduced expectations for the volume of his fiscal ‘reset’. Resources are not unlimited. Even with a modest relaxation, our economists expect a GBP30bn increase in Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB) on average over the 5-year planning period given the general deterioration in public finances (GBP10bn in 2017/18). They also expect Hammond to say there is some “fiscal space” in reserve if needed. There may be some space relative to the UK’s low Gross Financing Needs, but the more Hammond uses this fiscal space, the steeper the debt trajectory. The more credible the fiscal down-payment, the easier it will be to convince the markets of sustainability if the policy needs to be scaled up later. Credibility is a function of how well the policy targets the problems and the balance Hammond’s new fiscal rules achieve between flexibility and commitment. The Chancellor’s ability to target spending at boosting potential GDP growth (e.g. infrastructure spending) and protect it in weaker-than-expected economic scenarios will determine the success and sustainability of the Autumn Statement. Staying with the UK, the October consumer inflation data out yesterday came in a touch on the softer side compared to what most in the market expected. Headline CPI printed at +0.1% mom (vs. +0.3% expected) which had the effect of lowering the YoY rate to +0.9% from +1.0% in September. The core also dropped to +1.2% yoy from +1.5%. Headline RPI also missed (0.0% mom vs. +0.2% expected) although PPI output prices (where Sterling depreciation had a clearer impact) did rise a little bit more than expected (+0.6% mom vs. +0.4% expected) last month. BoE Governor Carney said following the data not to ‘take a steer from the October numbers’ and that instead the consequence of the move in the exchange rate means inflation will go up and that ‘we do want it back towards 2%’ and that ‘we’re willing to tolerate an overshoot for broader reasons’. Yesterday was actually a fairly busy data for newsflow in the UK. There was some early focus on an apparent leaked memo by Deloitte which was picked up by the FT (but later downplayed) suggesting that the UK government has no overall Brexit plan and that given the complexity facing the process of leaving, may need an additional 30,000 civil servants to deal with it. Later on the BBC then reported that the government was looking at drawing up a very narrow bill after the Supreme Court decision to trigger Article 50 which would limit parliament’s ability to attach conditions to their negotiating position and so begin the Brexit process, allowing PM May to meet her March deadline. Finally late last night Sky News was then out with headlines suggesting that Brexit could be delayed for ‘as long as two years’ with a Supreme Court Judge suggesting that “comprehensive” legislation would be required for triggering Article 50. The key takeaway from the story was the suggestion that the Supreme Court ‘could adjudicate not just the validity of the Government’s appeal against the ruling, but also the precise remedy the Government must offer to the claimants if it loses its appeal’. Needless to say, Sterling had a choppy session yesterday but it finished a touch lower (-0.26%) at $1.2457 and is hovering around those levels this morning. Over in the US yesterday it was that aforementioned retail sales data which stood out. Headline sales rose a better than expected +0.8% mom in October (vs. +0.6% expected) while the September data was also revised up to +1.0% from +0.6%. Both the ex-auto (+0.8% mom vs. +0.5% expected) and ex auto and gas (+0.6% mom vs. +0.3% expected) prints surprised to the upside while the GDP sensitive control group component rose a bumper +0.8% mom too (vs. +0.4% expected). Indeed much of the commentary was focused on the impressive breadth in the growth of sales last month. Elsewhere, the NY Fed’s manufacturing survey for November was also better than the market pegged after rising 8.3pts to +1.5 (vs. -2.5 expected) and the highest level since June. The remaining data was largely second tier with business inventories up +0.1% mom in September and the import price index rising +0.5% mom in October. Along with those retail sales numbers, the Fedspeak did little to dampen a now well priced in Fed rate hike next month. The usually dovish Fed Governor Tarullo said that ‘the discussion of when is the appropriate moment for raising rates in order to prevent the economy from overheating too much is now, from my point of view, more on the table than it may have been before’. The Boston Fed’s Rosengren said prior to this that ‘I felt that the changes in the FOMC statement were well aligned with the notion of a high likelihood of tightening in December’ and ‘as a result, I did not dissent’. The market implied December odds for a Fed hike now sit at 94% compared to 84% pre-election. In terms of the other interesting newsflow yesterday, there was some focus on the conflicting reports concerning German Chancellor Merkel and whether or not she had committed to a fourth term as Chancellor at the elections next year. Initially CNN ran a story suggesting that she would run for Chancellor, quoting one of her CDU party lawmakers. Following that however we heard from one of Merkel’s spokesman who denied Merkel had come to such a decision and instead said that Merkel would comment ‘at the appropriate time’. That didn’t come as a huge surprise as our Economists weren’t expecting to hear anything until perhaps the CDU party conference early next month. Meanwhile in Italy another referendum poll was released yesterday (Tecne institute poll) and it showed that 53.5% of Italians would reject the constitutional referendum compared to 46.5% who would vote Yes. That poll was conducted post the US Election on November 12th and shows that the proportion of those who would reject is up 0.5% compared to the previous poll run by the same pollsters on November 8th (and pre election). Wrapping up the remaining economic data yesterday, there were no surprises in the preliminary Q3 GDP print for the Euro area which came in at +0.3% qoq as expected and +1.6% yoy. There was some disappointment in Germany however where Q3 GDP surprised to the downside (+0.2% qoq vs. +0.3% expected) which has had the effect of nudging annual growth down to +1.7% yoy from +1.8%. Meanwhile the November ZEW survey for Germany was a bit more mixed however. While the current situations index was down a modest 0.7pts to 58.8, the expectations component was up a bumper 7.6pts to 13.8 and the highest since June. Looking at today’s calendar, this morning we’re kicking off in the UK where we’ll get the September and October employment data including the ILO unemployment rate, average weekly earnings and claimant count print. This afternoon in the US it’s another reasonably busy diary. We kick off with the October PPI print where expectations are for a +0.3% mom rise in the headline but a slightly lower +0.2% mom print for the core, before we then get last month’s industrial and manufacturing production readings, both of which are expected to have risen modestly, along with the capacity utilization reading. Later on we’ll then get the NAHB housing market index for this month. Away from the data we’ve got the Fed’s Bullard (8.05am GMT), Kashkari (12.45pm GMT) and Harker (10.30pm GMT) all on the cards for today. The ECB’s Lautenschlaeger is also due to make an appearance this morning. The French National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, is also due to inaugurate her presidential-election campaign headquarters today which could be worth keeping an eye on.

14 ноября 2016, 18:39

Мировые рынки: Дональд Трамп неожиданно нокаутировал Хиллари Клинтон

На текущей неделе участникам рынка стоит обратить внимание на выступления целого ряда представителей ФРС, в частности, Роберта Каплана, Эрик Розенгрена, Нила Кашкари, Джеймса Булларда, Эстер Джордж и Джеффри Лэкера. Вполне вероятно, что тон выступлений большинства членов ФРС будет ястребиным в преддверии декабрьского заседания ФРС. Отметим, что на текущий момент вероятность денежно-кредитного ужесточения в декабре оценивается в 81,1%. Также инвесторам стоит обратить внимание на тон их комментариев относительно победы Дональда Трампа на президентских выборах. . Читать далее... Свои мнения и замечания Вы можете оставлять в рамках чата этого раздела или присылать на наш электронный адрес .

14 ноября 2016, 18:16

Мировые рынки: Дональд Трамп неожиданно нокаутировал Хиллари Клинтон

На текущей неделе участникам рынка стоит обратить внимание на выступления целого ряда представителей ФРС, в частности, Роберта Каплана, Эрик Розенгрена, Нила Кашкари, Джеймса Булларда, Эстер Джордж и Джеффри Лэкера. Вполне вероятно, что тон выступлений большинства членов ФРС будет ястребиным в преддверии декабрьского заседания ФРС. Отметим, что на текущий момент вероятность денежно-кредитного ужесточения в декабре оценивается в 81,1%. Также инвесторам стоит обратить внимание на тон их комментариев относительно победы Дональда Трампа на президентских выборах. . Читать далее... Свои мнения и замечания Вы можете оставлять в рамках чата этого раздела или присылать на наш электронный адрес .