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The Federal Reserve Seems Quite Serious About Tapering – So What Comes Next?

The Federal Reserve Seems Quite Serious About Tapering – So What Comes Next?.

 By Michael Snyder, on March 19th, 2014 

DollarsWill this be the year when the Fed’s quantitative easing program finally ends?  For a long time, many analysts were proclaiming that the Fed would never taper.  But then it started happening.  Then a lot of them started talking about how “the untaper” was right around the corner.  That hasn’t happened either.  It looks like that under Janet Yellen the Fed is quite determined to bring the quantitative easing program to a close by the end of this year.  Up until now, the financial markets have been slow to react because there has been a belief that the Fed would reverse course on tapering the moment that the U.S. economy started to slow down again.  But even though the U.S. middle class is in horrible shape, and even though there are lots of signs that we are heading into another recession, the Fed has continued tapering.

Of course it is important to note that the Fed is still absolutely flooding the financial system with money even after the announcement of more tapering on Wednesday.  When you are talking about $55,000,000,000 a month, you are talking about a massive amount of money.  So the Fed is not exactly being hawkish.

But when Yellen told the press that quantitative easing could end completely this fall and that the Fed could actually start raising interest rates about six months after that, it really spooked the markets.

The Dow was down 114 points on Wednesday, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries shot up to 2.77%.  The following is how CNBCdescribed the reaction of the markets on Wednesday…

Despite a seemingly dovish tone, markets recoiled at remarks from Yellen, who said interest rate increases likely would start six months after the monthly bond-buying program ends. If the program winds down in the fall, that would put a rate hike in the spring of 2015, earlier than market expectations for the second half of the year.

Stocks tumbled as Yellen spoke at her initial post-meeting news conference, with the Dow industrials at one point sliding more than 200 points before shaving those losses nearly in half. Short-term interest rates rose appreciably, with the five-year note moving up 0.135 percentage points. The seven-year note tumbled more than one point in price.

But this is just the beginning.  When it finally starts sinking in, and investors finally start realizing that the Fed is 100% serious about ending the flow of easy money, that is when things will start getting really interesting.

Can the financial markets stand on their own without massive Fed intervention?

We shall see.  Even now there are lots of signs that a market crash could be coming up in the not too distant future.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Is ‘Dr. Copper’ Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

And what is going to happen to the market for U.S. Treasuries once the Fed stops gobbling them up?

Where is the demand going to come from?

In recent months, foreign demand for U.S. debt has really started to dry up.  Considering recent developments in Ukraine, it is quite certain that Russia will not be accumulating any more U.S. debt, and China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves” and China actually dumped about 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December alone.

Collectively, Russia and China account for about a quarter of all foreign-owned U.S. debt.  If you take them out of the equation, foreign demand for U.S. debt is not nearly as strong.

Will domestic sources be enough to pick up the slack?  Or will we see rates really start to rise once the Fed steps to the sidelines?

And of course rates on U.S. government debt should actually be much higher than they are right now.  It simply does not make sense to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of money at interest rates that are far below the real rate of inflation.

If free market forces are allowed to prevail, it is inevitable that interest rates on U.S. debt will go up substantially, and that will mean higher interest rates on mortgages, cars, and just about everything else.

Of course the central planners at the Federal Reserve could choose to reverse course at any time and start pumping again.  This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t have a true free market system.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of the economic and financial problems of this country.  When the Fed intervenes and purposely distorts the operation of free markets, the Fed creates economic and financial bubbles which inevitably burst later on.  We saw this happen during the great financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again.

This is what happens when you allow an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners to have far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

Most people don’t realize this, but the greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

We don’t need a Federal Reserve.  In fact, the performance of the Federal Reserve has been absolutely disastrous.

Since the Fed was created just over 100 years ago, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 96 percent of its value, and the size of the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.  The Fed is at the very center of a debt-based financial system that has trapped us, our children and our grandchildren in an endless spiral of debt slavery.

And now we are on the verge of the greatest financial crisis that the United States has ever seen.  The economic and financial storm that is about to unfold is ultimately going to be even worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Things did not have to turn out this way.

Congress could have shut down the Federal Reserve long ago.

But our “leaders” never seriously considered doing such a thing, and the mainstream media kept telling all of us how much we desperately needed central planners to run our financial system.

Well, now those central planners have brought us to the brink of utter ruin, and yet only a small minority of Americans are calling for change.

Soon, we will all get to pay a great price for this foolishness.  A great financial storm is fast approaching, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

China's Credit Nightmare Explained In One Chart | Zero Hedge

China’s Credit Nightmare Explained In One Chart | Zero Hedge.

Everyone knows that after years of kicking the can and resolutely sticking its head in the sand, China is finally on the verge, if hasn’t already crossed it, of a major credit event, confirmed by the first ever corporate bond default which took place a week ago. Few, however, know just why China is in this untenable position. If we had to select one data point with which to explain it all, it would be the following: just in the fourth quarter of 2013, Chinese bank assets rose from CNY147 trillion to CNY151.4 trillion, or, in dollar terms, an increase of almost exactly $1 trillion!

By comparison, US bank assets in the same period rose by just over $200 billion, a number which consists almost entirely of the reserves injected by the Fed.

And if we had to show it in one chart, it would be the following comparison of total Chinese and US bank assets: the two lines shown below are on the same axis, and at the end of 2009, the US had just a fraction more assets than China. Since then the US has added $2.3 trillion in bank assets, exclusively thanks to the Fed’s reserve creation. As for China… total bank assets more than doubled from $11.5 trillion to a record $25 trillion! This is a number that is nearly double that of the US, and represents a pace of $3.5 trillion per year – or nearly four concurrent QEs – a rate of “financial asset” addition five times greater than in the US!

 

Another way of showing just the past three years:

 

What’s worse: China is now hooked to a “flow” pace of $3.5 trillion each and every year, just to generate an annual GDP of about 8% and declining with every passing year. Any reductions in the pace of monetary flow will have magnified implications on China’s growth, and from there, social, and globa, stability.

But what does this really mean? Simple: in this epic, unprecedented, feverish pace to “grow” the economy and create hot, if worthless, money out of assets, all assets, even “magic” assets (i.e. thin air), the following took place:

CITIC Trust tried to auction the collateral but failed to do so because the developer has sold the collateral and also mortgaged it to a few other lenders.

Until now nobody cared because defaults were prohibited in China and nobody really cared what was underneath the hood. Now, defaults are allowed and, in fact, are encouraged. Which is why suddenly everyone is starting to cast curious glances into the dark shadows where the engine is supposed to be.

They won’t like what they find.

Curious for more: read Chart Of The Day: How China’s Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke’s QE Out Of The Water, and Some Stunning Perspective: China Money Creation Blows US And Japan Out Of The Water

China’s Credit Nightmare Explained In One Chart | Zero Hedge

China’s Credit Nightmare Explained In One Chart | Zero Hedge.

Everyone knows that after years of kicking the can and resolutely sticking its head in the sand, China is finally on the verge, if hasn’t already crossed it, of a major credit event, confirmed by the first ever corporate bond default which took place a week ago. Few, however, know just why China is in this untenable position. If we had to select one data point with which to explain it all, it would be the following: just in the fourth quarter of 2013, Chinese bank assets rose from CNY147 trillion to CNY151.4 trillion, or, in dollar terms, an increase of almost exactly $1 trillion!

By comparison, US bank assets in the same period rose by just over $200 billion, a number which consists almost entirely of the reserves injected by the Fed.

And if we had to show it in one chart, it would be the following comparison of total Chinese and US bank assets: the two lines shown below are on the same axis, and at the end of 2009, the US had just a fraction more assets than China. Since then the US has added $2.3 trillion in bank assets, exclusively thanks to the Fed’s reserve creation. As for China… total bank assets more than doubled from $11.5 trillion to a record $25 trillion! This is a number that is nearly double that of the US, and represents a pace of $3.5 trillion per year – or nearly four concurrent QEs – a rate of “financial asset” addition five times greater than in the US!

 

Another way of showing just the past three years:

 

What’s worse: China is now hooked to a “flow” pace of $3.5 trillion each and every year, just to generate an annual GDP of about 8% and declining with every passing year. Any reductions in the pace of monetary flow will have magnified implications on China’s growth, and from there, social, and globa, stability.

But what does this really mean? Simple: in this epic, unprecedented, feverish pace to “grow” the economy and create hot, if worthless, money out of assets, all assets, even “magic” assets (i.e. thin air), the following took place:

CITIC Trust tried to auction the collateral but failed to do so because the developer has sold the collateral and also mortgaged it to a few other lenders.

Until now nobody cared because defaults were prohibited in China and nobody really cared what was underneath the hood. Now, defaults are allowed and, in fact, are encouraged. Which is why suddenly everyone is starting to cast curious glances into the dark shadows where the engine is supposed to be.

They won’t like what they find.

Curious for more: read Chart Of The Day: How China’s Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke’s QE Out Of The Water, and Some Stunning Perspective: China Money Creation Blows US And Japan Out Of The Water

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: How The Fed Has Failed America, Part 2

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: How The Fed Has Failed America, Part 2.

The only way to eliminate the financial parasites is to stop subsidizing their skimming and scamming, and the only way to stop subsidizing the financial parasites is to shut down the Fed.

Before I explain how the Federal Reserve has failed America, let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s imagine that instead of creating $3.2 trillion and giving it to the banking sector to play with–funding carry trades and high-frequency trading, for example–the Fed had invested in carry trades itself and returned the profits directly to taxpayers.

Before we go through the math, let’s recall how a carry trade works: Financiers borrow billions at near-zero interest from the Fed and then use the free money to buy bonds in other countries where the return is (say) 5%. The financiers are skimming 4.75% or more for doing nothing other than having access to the Fed’s free money.

If the bonds rise in value (because interest rates decline in the nation issuing the bonds), the financiers skim additional profit. If the trade can be leveraged via derivatives, then the annual return can be bumped up from 5% to 10%.

OK, back to the experiment. The Fed created $3.2 trillion in its quantitative easing (QE) programs. let’s say the Fed’s money managers (or gunslingers hired by the Fed to handle the trading) earn around 5% annually with various low-risk carry trades.


That works out to an annual profit of $160 billion (5% of $3.2 trillion). Now let’s say the Fed divvied the profit up among everyone who paid Social Security taxes the previous year. That’s around 140 million wage earners. Every person who paid Social Security taxes would receive $1,100 from the Fed’s carry trade profits.

The point of this experiment is to suggest that there were plenty of things the Fed could have done with its $3.2 trillion that would have directly benefited taxpaying Americans, but instead the Fed funneled all those profits to financiers and banks.

The Fed apologists claim that lowering interest rates to zero benefited American who saw their interest payments decline. Nice, but not necessarily true. Try asking a student paying 9% for his student loans how much his interest rate dropped due to Fed policy. Or ask someone paying 19.9% in credit card interest (gotta love that .1% that keeps it under 20%)–how much did your interest drop as a result of Fed policy?

Answer: zip, zero, nada. The Fed’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP)funneled profits to the banks, not to borrowers.

And let’s not forget that many Americans chose not to borrow at all. What did the Fed do for them? It stole the interest they once earned on their savings. Estimates vary, but it is clear that the Fed’s ZIRP transferred hundreds of billions of dollars in interest to the banking sector, income forceably “donated” by savers to the banks.

Lowering interest rates to zero is effectively a forced subsidy of borrowers by savers. But that’s not the only subsidy: who makes money from originating and managing loans? Banks. The more loans that are originated, the higher the transaction fees and profits flowing to banks. So incentivizing borrowing generates more profits for banks.

Humans make decisions based on the incentives and disincentives in place at the time of their decision. Lowering the cost of money (interest) to zero creates an incentive to gamble the money on low-yield bets. After all, if you can earn 3% on the free money, then why not skim the free 3%?

If speculators had to pay 6% for money and 7.5% for mortgages (the going rate in the go-go 1990s), then the number of available carry trades plummets. The only carry trades that make sense when you’re paying 6% for money are those with yields of 10%–and any bond paying 10% carries a high risk of default (otherwise, the issuer wouldn’t have to offer such a high rate of interest to lure buyers).

All of these incentives to borrow money at zero interest rate are only available to banks and financiers. And that’s the point of the Fed’s policies: to stripmine the bottom 99.5% and transfer the wealth to banks and financiers. Lowering interest rates to zero incentivizes carry trades and speculative bets that do absolutely nothing for America or the bottom 99.5% of taxpayers.

A self-employed worker pays 50% more tax than a hedge funder skimming billions of dollars in carry trades. A self-employed worker pays 15.3% in Social Security and Medicare taxes and a minimum of 15% Federal income tax for a minimum of 30.3%. (The higher your income, the higher your tax rate, which quickly rises to 25% and up.) The hedge funder pays no Social Security tax at all because the carry trade profits are “long-term capital gains” which are taxed at 15% (20% if the Hedgie skims more than $400,000 a year).

Despite the Fed apologists’ claims that ZIRP and free money handed to banks and financiers create jobs and start businesses, there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. The only beneficiaries of Fed policies are tax accountants for the banks and financiers and luxury auto dealerships. Since Porsches and Maseratis are not made in the U.S., the benefits of the top .5% buying costly gew-gaws and evading taxes is extremely limited.

Attention, all apologists, lackeys, toadies, minions and factotums of the Fed: is there any plausible explanation for the wealthiest .5% pulling away from everyone else since the Fed launched ZIRP and QE other than Fed policies? And while we’re at it, how about publishing a verifiable list of companies that were founded and now employ hundreds of people because the owners could borrow millions of dollars at zero interest?



Get real–no new business can borrow Fed money for zero interest. The only entities that can borrow the Fed’s free money are banks and other financial parasites.

The truth is the Fed incentivizes and rewards the most parasitic, least productive sector of the economy and forcibly transfers the interest that was once earned by the productive middle class to the parasites. Though the multitudes of apologists, lackeys, toadies, minions and factotums of the Fed will frantically deny it, the inescapable truth is that the nation and the bottom 99.5% would be instantly and forever better off were the Fed closed down and its assets liquidated.

The only way to eliminate the financial parasites is to stop subsidizing their skimming and scamming, and the only way to stop subsidizing the financial parasites is to shut down the Fed.


Source: Wealth, Income, and Power (G. William Domhoff)

The Chart That Really Has The Fed Worried | Zero Hedge

The Chart That Really Has The Fed Worried | Zero Hedge.

While complaining (just this morning once again) that its fiscal policy that is dragging growth, we suspect The Fed knows full well just how screwed the US is. The following chart comparing GDP growth to the elder demographic of the population offers some serious doubts that the Fed will ever be able to step away. With the Boomers retiring en masse, 65-or-overs will represent over 20% of the population within a decade and thus no economic growth. Japanization here we come… and no end to QE or the entire status quo is over.

 

GDP growth correlates strongly with the percent of population over 65 (with Greece, depression and Japan, hyper-QE the stand-outs)

 

It doesn’t look good for the US…

 

You can’t print more young people to change this percentage… so they’ll have to keep printing money to prop up asset markets to maintain the bumpy illusion of growth.

 

Chart: @M_McDonough

Activist Post: 20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire

Activist Post: 20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire.

Michael Snyder
Activist Post

If you have been waiting for the “global economic crisis” to begin, just open up your eyes and look around.  I know that most Americans tend to ignore what happens in the rest of the world because they consider it to be “irrelevant” to their daily lives, but the truth is that the massive economic problems that are currently sweeping across Europe, Asia and South America are going to be affecting all of us here in the U.S. very soon.

Sadly, most of the big news organizations in this country seem to be more concerned about the fate of Justin Bieber’s wax statue in Times Square than about the horrible financial nightmare that is gripping emerging markets all over the planet.  After a brief period of relative calm, we are beginning to see signs of global financial instability that are unlike anything that we have witnessed since the financial crisis of 2008.  As you will see below, the problems are not just isolated to a few countries.  This is truly a global phenomenon.

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve and other global central banks have inflated an unprecedented financial bubble with their reckless money printing.  Much of this “hot money” poured into emerging markets all over the world.  But now that the Federal Reserve has begun “tapering” quantitative easing, investors are taking this as a sign that the party is ending.  Money is being pulled out of emerging markets all over the globe at a staggering pace and this is creating a tremendous amount of financial instability.  In addition, the economic problems that have been steadily growing over the past few years in established economies throughout Europe and Asia just continue to escalate.

The following are 20 signs that the global economic crisis is starting to catch fire…

#1 The unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 28 percent.

#2 The youth unemployment rate in Greece has hit a brand new record high of 64.1 percent.

#3 The percentage of bad loans in Italy is at an all-time record high.

#4 Italian industrial output declined again in December, and the Italian government is on the verge of collapse.

#5 The number of jobseekers in France has risen for 30 of the last 32 months, and at this point it has climbed to a new all-time record high.

#6 The total number of business failures in France in 2013 was even higher than in any year during the last financial crisis.

#7 It is being projected that housing prices in Spain will fallanother 10 to 15 percent as their economic depression deepens.

#8 The economic and political turmoil in Turkey is spinning out of control.  The government has resorted to blasting protesters with pepper spray and water cannons in a desperate attempt to restore order.

#9 It is being estimated that the inflation rate in Argentina is now over 40 percent, and the peso is absolutely collapsing.

#10 Gangs of armed bandits are roaming the streets in Venezuela as the economic chaos in that troubled nation continues to escalate.

#11 China appears to be very serious about deleveraging. The deflationary effects of this are going to be felt all over the planet. The following is an excerpt from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s recent article entitled “World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice“…

China’s Xi Jinping has cast the die. After weighing up the unappetising choice before him for a year, he has picked the lesser of two poisons.

The balance of evidence is that most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong aims to prick China’s $24 trillion credit bubble early in his 10-year term, rather than putting off the day of reckoning for yet another cycle.

This may be well-advised for China, but the rest of the world seems remarkably nonchalant over the implications.

#12 There was a significant debt default by a coal company in China last Friday

A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China’s shadow bank sector.

#13 Japan’s Nikkei stock index has already fallen by 14 percent so far in 2014.  That is a massive decline in just a month and a half.

#14 Ukraine continues to fall apart financially

The worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability.

#15 The unemployment rate in Australia has risen to the highest level in more than 10 years.

#16 The central bank of India is in a panic over the way that Federal Reserve tapering is affecting their financial system.

#17 The effects of Federal Reserve tapering are also being felt in Thailand

In the wake of the US Federal Reserve tapering, emerging economies with deteriorating macroeconomic figures or visible political instability are being punished by skittish markets. Thailand is drifting towards both these tendencies.

#18 One of Ghana’s most prominent economists says that the economy of Ghana will crash by June if something dramatic is not done.

#19 Yet another banker has mysteriously died during the prime years of his life.  That makes five “suspicious banker deaths” in just the past two weeks alone.

#20 The behavior of the U.S. stock market continues to parallel the behavior of the U.S. stock market in 1929.

Yes, things don’t look good right now, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning.

This is just the leading edge of the next great financial storm.

The next two years (2014 and 2015) are going to represent a major “turning point” for the global economy.  By the end of 2015, things are going to look far different than they do today.

None of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.  Global debt levels have grown by 30 percent since the last financial crisis, and the too big to fail banks in the United States are 37 percent larger than they were back then and their behavior has become even more recklessthan before.

As a result, we are going to get to go through another “2008-style crisis”, but I believe that this next wave is going to be even worse than the previous one.

So hold on tight and get ready.  We are going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati considers the reforms that emerging economies must undertake to succeed in the post-QE era. – Project Syndicate

Sri Mulyani Indrawati considers the reforms that emerging economies must undertake to succeed in the post-QE era. – Project Syndicate.

FEB 4, 2014 2

The Global Economy Without Steroids

WASHINGTON, DC – Economic growth is back. Not only are the United States, Europe, and Japan finally expanding at the same time, but developing countries are also regaining strength. As a result, world GDP will rise by 3.2% this year, up from 2.4% in 2013 – meaning that 2014 may well be the year when the global economy turns the corner.

The fact that the advanced economies are bouncing back is good news for everyone. But, for the emerging and developing economies that dominated global growth over the last five years, it raises an important question: Now, with high-income countries joining them, is business as usual good enough to compete?The simple answer is no. Just as an athlete might use steroids to get quick results, while avoiding the tough workouts that are needed to develop endurance and ensure long-term health, some emerging economies have relied on short-term capital inflows (so-called “hot money”) to support growth, while delaying or even avoiding difficult but necessary economic and financial reforms. With the US Federal Reserve set to tighten the exceptionally generous monetary conditions that have driven this “easy growth,” such emerging economies will have to change their approach, despite much tighter room for maneuver, or risk losing the ground that they have gained in recent years.

As the Fed’s monetary-policy tightening becomes a reality, the World Bank predicts that capital flows to developing countries will fall from 4.6% of their GDP in 2013 to around 4% in 2016. But, if long-term US interest rates rise too fast, or policy shifts are not communicated well enough, or markets become volatile, capital flows could quickly plummet – possibly by more than 50% for a few months.

This scenario has the potential to disrupt growth in those emerging economies that have failed to take advantage of the recent capital inflows by pursuing reforms. The likely rise in interest rates will put considerable pressure on countries with large current-account deficits and high levels of foreign debt – a result of five years of credit expansion.

Indeed, last summer, when speculation that the Fed would soon begin to taper its purchases of long-term assets (so-called quantitative easing), financial-market pressures were strongest in markets suspected of having weak fundamentals. Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, India, and South Africa – dubbed the “Fragile Five” – were hit particularly hard.

Similarly, some emerging-market currencies have come under renewed pressure in recent days, triggered in part by the devaluation of the Argentine peso and signs of a slowdown in Chinese growth, as well as doubts about these economies’ real strengths amid generally skittish market sentiment. Like the turbulence last summer, the current bout of market pressure is mainly affecting economies characterized by either domestic political tensions or economic imbalances.

But, for most developing countries, the story has not been so bleak. Financial markets in many developing countries have not come under significant pressure – either in the summer or now. Indeed, more than three-fifths of developing countries – many of which are strong economic performers that benefited from pre-crisis reforms (and thus attracted more stable capital inflows like foreign-direct investment) – actually appreciated last spring and summer.

Furthermore, returning to the athletic metaphor, some have continued to exercise their muscles and improve their stamina – even under pressure. Mexico, for example, opened its energy sector to foreign partnerships last year – a politically difficult reform that is likely to bring significant long-term benefits. Indeed, it arguably helped Mexico avoid joining the Fragile Five.

Stronger growth in high-income economies will also create opportunities for developing countries – for example, through increased import demand and new sources of investment. While these opportunities will be more difficult to capture than the easy capital inflows of the quantitative-easing era, the payoffs will be far more durable. But, in order to take advantage of them, countries, like athletes, must put in the work needed to compete successfully – through sound domestic policies that foster a business-friendly pro-competition environment, an attractive foreign-trade regime, and a healthy financial sector.

Part of the challenge in many countries will be to rebuild macroeconomic buffers that have been depleted during years of fiscal and monetary stimulus. Reducing fiscal deficits and bringing monetary policy to a more neutral plane will be particularly difficult in countries like the Fragile Five, where growth has been lagging.

As is true of an exhausted athlete who needs to rebuild strength, it is never easy for a political leader to take tough reform steps under pressure. But, for emerging economies, doing so is critical to restoring growth and enhancing citizens’ wellbeing. Surviving the crisis is one thing; emerging as a winner is something else entirely.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/sri-mulyani-indrawati-considers-the-reforms-that-emerging-economies-must-undertake-to-succeed-in-the-post-qe-era#TDimksyJSLIH6RAo.99

charles hugh smith-Doomed If We Do, Doomed If We Don’t

charles hugh smith-Doomed If We Do, Doomed If We Don’t.

February 12, 2014

Even if we used a 10:1 fractional reserve ratio, the Fed’s $85 billion per month QE was creating $10 trillion per year in liquidity.

The point to understanding the Status Quo financial system is doomed is not to revel in the doom but to understand why we have to look past the current corrupt, predatory, parasitic system to a better arrangement. That’s positive.

Longtime correspondent Harun I. submitted this quote from John Ing and a commentary on simple arithmetic. In “We Are Nowhere Near The Chaos That I Expect”, John Ing observes the consequences of deleveraging a highly leveraged system:

 

“We have already had $3 trillion in stock market capitalization wiped out. It is amazing that just a $20 billion tapering has been enough to cause all of this chaos around the globe.”

Harun then explained why it isn’t amazing at all–it’s entirely predictable:

 

Simple arithmetic will do. The Fed is leveraged 72:1. For every dollar it removes, it actually removes 72. The product of 72 and 20 is 1,440. The Fed has actually removed nearly $1.5 trillion of liquidity with its $20 billion tapering.It is a mathematical certainty that this geometric progression of debt growth will end (remember, for everything that is growing geometrically, that upon which the growth is dependent is contracting at the same rate). The contraction (deleveraging) must necessarily be as geometric as the expansion (leveraging).

The Fed can try to keep interest rates at zero but there will be dire consequences. The Fed can try to “taper” but there will be dire consequences.

What I find amazing is that even if we used a 10:1 fractional reserve ratio, the Fed’s $85 billion per month QE was creating $10 trillion per year in liquidity.

The World Economic Forum reported in 2011 that $100 trillion in new credit would be needed for world growth going forward. How long does anyone think tapering will last?

Over US$ 100 Trillion Additional Credit Needed to Support Global Growth(World Economic Forum)

Trying to force simplistic results out of complex systems inevitably generates unintended consequences. Liquidity and credit expansion act like pressure in a closed system; central planners look at the site of the last financial break and see no leaks, so they assume they’ve got the system under control.

But the next failure in the system will occur where no one is looking–the points in the system that everyone assumes are “safe.”

The system is doomed if central banks continue creating trillions of dollars in new leveraged credit and liquidity to keep the system from imploding, and it is also doomed if they cease creating new leveraged credit (i.e. taper their geometric expansion of credit). Doomed if you do taper, doomed if you don’t taper.

Here’s the Fed balance sheet. If you get a magnifying glass, you might discern some tapering.

Geometric expansion of credit is visible throughout the system. Never mind the infamous shadow banking system–look at the insane expansion of credit/debt in student loans:

Of related interest:

Resolution #1: Let’s Call Things What They Really Are in 2014 (January 15, 2014)

The Federal Reserve’s Nuclear Option: A One-Way Street to Oblivion (February 5, 2014)

Want to Reduce Income/Wealth Inequality? Abolish the Engine of Inequality, the Federal Reserve (January 28, 2014)

China Spurs Market Rout Blamed on Fed, Goldman Sachs AM Says – Bloomberg

China Spurs Market Rout Blamed on Fed, Goldman Sachs AM Says – Bloomberg.

By Benjamin Purvis and Candice Zachariahs  Feb 7, 2014 12:56 AM ET

China’s policy shifts are a bigger driver of the selloff in emerging markets than the Federal Reserve’s decision to dial back stimulus, according to Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Volatility will rise toward its long-term average and that means an increase in risk premiums, said Philip Moffitt, head of fixed income in Sydney for Asia and the Pacific at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, which had $991 billion of assets under supervision worldwide as of September. The risks for different emerging economies will become more idiosyncratic and Mexico presents a buying opportunity following the rout, he said.

Markets from Turkey to South Africa and Argentina were roiled during the past month as investors sold off emerging-economy currencies, stocks and bonds, prompting emergency measures from governments and central banks. The bout of risk aversion follows the Fed’s decision to scale back asset purchases and China’s pledge to rein in leverage and give market forces a more decisive role in allocating resources.

“The selloff in emerging markets has much more to do with China than with Fed tapering,” Moffitt said yesterday in an interview in Sydney. “China’s such a big source of global demand, in particular for other emerging markets, uncertainty’s going to stay high and risk premiums should be expanding.”

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Philip Moffitt, head of fixed income in Sydney for Asia and the Pacific at Goldman… Read More

Credit Boom

The worst isn’t over for emerging markets, Mark Mobius, who oversees more than $50 billion in developing nations as an executive chairman at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said in an interview. Prices can decline further or take time to stabilize, he said.

China’s policy makers have attempted to rein in the unprecedented credit boom they unleashed in 2008-2009 amid the global financial crisis. Money market rates in China have surged, the cost of insuring against credit default by banks has increased and payment difficulties are emerging in the country’s $6 trillion shadow-banking industry.

“They’re looking to create a market that prices credit risk, rather than having prices imposed,” Moffitt said. “In the absence of a strong mechanism for pricing credit risk, there’s likely to be a lot of uncertainty and volatility.”

The world’s second-largest economy is predicted to expand by 7.4 percent this year, the slowest pace since 1990, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey.

Diverging Outlooks

The slowdown in China comes as the U.S. economy is showing signs of a pickup, allowing the Fed to trim its monthly bond purchases to $65 billion from $85 billion. U.S. growth is expected to accelerate to 2.8 percent in 2014 from 1.9 percent last year, according to a another Bloomberg poll.

Moffitt said investing in Mexico would be his top trade at the moment because the country’s fundamental outlook is strong even though it has been affected by the global selloff.

“There’s been outflow from emerging-market assets and when you get that kind of flow people sell what they can sell, often high-quality assets,” he said. “It will benefit from the strong U.S. growth we’re expecting and there’s the prospect for rate cuts, so Mexico stands out to us on both value and fundamentals.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Benjamin Purvis in Sydney at bpurvis@bloomberg.net; Candice Zachariahs in Sydney at czachariahs2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net; Garfield Reynolds at greynolds1@bloomberg.net

Gamblernomics | Zero Hedge

Gamblernomics | Zero Hedge.

By Chris Andrew and Mustafa Zaidi at Clarmond

Gamblernomics

The concept of continuously doubling down in order to achieve financial and economic goals is now a respectable and established norm. Takahashi’s Wager of 1930s Japan shows that such a policy, while initially successful, can remove all sensible restraints

For a gambler on a losing streak the classic trap is to borrow money, trying to break even. Doubling down, time and time again, becomes routine as all caution is discarded; this does not make for sound financial planning.

In ‘Resurrecting Reflation’ (November 2012) we highlighted when this policy was first attempted; in 1931 Finance Minister of Japan, Takahashi Korekiyo, paid for Japan’s invasion of Manchuria whilst countering the collapse of capitalism around Japan with unorthodox measures of massive QE and deficit spending. These twin policies were heralded as a great success 70 years later by Governor Ben Bernanke and a decade after that by Prime Minister Abe.

‘Takahashi’s Wager’ led to a tripling of the Japanese stock market, a 40% currency devaluation and warfare spending that rose from 30% to 70% of the national budget. Having taken the gamble to reflate, the octogenarian established the principle that capital is costless and unlimited; doubling down had become routine.

This band-aid boom ended in a calamitous collapse years later; by then Takahashi was long gone…literally, as he had belatedly tried to slow the handout-hooked warfare train. In 1937 another ‘routine’ incident occurred at the Marco Polo Bridge, which gave Japan the excuse to invade the rest of China. This was, in effect another ‘doubling down’, but by this time Japanese economic statistics had plateaued, war casualties had hit a 100,000 and warfare spending comprised nearly the entire government budget. But the unorthodox ‘policy genie’ was out of the bottle, as Takahashi had demonstrated, one could double down again and again, as the goalposts for success were simply moved and all gambles appeared sane.

Loaded Dice

Modern day Japan finds itself in a similar predicament, but instead of warfare the Japanese leadership is confronting the dual burdens of welfare spending and interest payments, which, at current interest rates, now account for 60% of the budget.

The Bank of Japan’s unconventional policy of massive QE, which is nearly 18% of GDP, is intended to ignite inflation and break the twenty-year deflationary cycle. This scheme, put in place by the current Prime Minister, has been dubbed ‘Abenomics’. Given zero interest rates for last 15 years, and the occasional bout of QE, ‘Abenomics’ is another ‘doubling down’ but, this time, it has staked everything on this one final throw of the financial dice. Perhaps ‘Gamblernomics’ may be a more reasonable nomenclature.

On the surface ‘Gamblernomics’, like the ‘Takahashi Wager’, appears successful – the equity market has risen substantially, the currency has fallen, and government bond yields remain low. So far, so good.

How is the government gauging the success of this dice roll? They are looking for two percent inflation, a positive growth number, and have committed to two years of massive QE to achieve these goals. As time passes and these targets are not met, the policy makers will double down again, by which point interest payments and welfare spending are likely to comprise most of the budget. Emergency shall have become routine and all further gambles shall appear sane.

Lessons

All gamblers are aware of their accumulated losses, in economic parlance this means their ‘sunk costs.’  Today’s adherents of ‘Gamblernomics’ are not only found in Tokyo, but also reign in all major financial capitals, each playing their own version of a similar wager. All believe that doubling down is a sober strategy given the sunk costs of lost growth.  As a new generation of gamblers sit at the table, ghosts of gamblers past whisper – “Place your bets.”

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