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Gold Is Going Higher – But Brace Yourself For Volatility

Short of a raid orchestrated by the central planners to fasten tighter the cap on gold (which remains a real possibility given the historical record), the yellow metal shouldn’t encounter much price resistance until above $1,500/oz.  – Adam Taggart, Peak Prosperity

I agree with the statement above from Adam Taggart but an aggressive price attack by the banks who operate the Comex is inevitable.  In fact, based on the big jump in gold contract open interest and the spike up in EFP/PNT transactions – Privately Negotiated Transactions /Exchange for Physicals – it’s likely the banks have been setting the trap for another massive open interest liquidation price control operation.

Let me explain.  The banks are unconstrained by the amount of paper contracts they print and feed into the market to supply the demand from the hedge funds, who are the primary buyers. By unconstrained, I mean that the amount of gold represented by paper derivative open interest is far greater than the amount of actual physical gold held in Comex vaults.  Gold and silver are the ONLY commodity contract products for which this disparity between open interest and underlying supply of the physical commodity is allowed to occur.

As an aside, if the Comex were a true price discovery market, the amount of gold/silver represented by the paper contracts would be tied closely to the amount of gold held in Comex vaults.  When hedge funds rush in to buy futures, the market makers would then be required to wait until an entity holding contracts was willing to sell. This is how a bona fide price discovery market functions using price to clear the market’s supply and demand.

Instead, with CME gold and silver contracts, the banks print up new paper contracts to satiate buying demand.

Last week when the price of gold began to spike higher in response the FOMC policy statement released on Wednesday, the price of gold began soar.  Between Wednesday and Friday, the open interest in gold contracts spiked up by over 50,000 contracts – nearly 10%. This amount of paper represents over 5 million ozs of gold. As of Friday, the Comex warehouse report shows just 322,910 ozs of gold available for delivery (“registered”) and 7.6 million total ozs of gold. But the total open interest is 572,000 contracts, or 57.2 million ozs of gold, nearly 8x the amount of total gold held in Comex vaults.

But wait, there’s more.  During periods of aggressive price control, the activity of PNT/EFP’s also soars.  These transactions avoid settlement in 100 oz Comex bars per basic contract terms. Instead, it’s way for the banks to “deliver” under the terms of the Comex contract without producing and delivering the actual physical bar, recording the serial number on the bar under the receiving party’s name and moving the bar into an allocated account. It’s an extension of the fractional bullion system that is used to manipulate the gold price. It allows the banks to deliver phantom gold in lieu of delivering real bars.

On Tuesday the PNT/EFP volume was 8k and 5.9k respectively. On Wednesday the volume was 11.5k and 9.1k. On Thursday, when gold was soaring over $1400, the volume in PNT/EFP’s was  30k and 22k respectively.  On Friday the volume was 21k and 11.3.

On average, the daily volume of these two transactions is typically under 10k – except when the banks are aggressively implementing price management operations.

The banks use these transactions, along with feeding tens of thousands of newly printed gold contracts to the hedge funds. This drives up the open interest.  On Friday, May 31st, the open interest in Comex gold was 465k contracts.  The current open interest of 572k is approaching the level at which the price of gold was attacked on the Comex in each of the last three years.

The process is set up by letting the hedge fund algos chase the price higher and accumulate an excessively large net long position in gold contracts,  At the same time, the banks feed contracts into the buying frenzy and accumulate an offsetting net short position.  As the operation cycles through, the banks force the price lower by attacking the stop-loss levels set by the hedge funds as they chase the price higher.  The banks use the concomitant hedge fund selling to cover their shorts, thereby reaping enormous profits.

In September 2016, gold ran higher during the summer and the open interest had reached close to 600k. The price gold was dropped from $1200 to $1070.  In September 2017, the gold contract o/i reached over 580k and gold subsequently was taken down from the high $1300’s to $1125.  Then, in January 2018, the open interest once again was over 580k contract and the gold price was taken down from $1350 to $1200.

In all three price control cycles, the open interest fell below 500k as the banks unloaded long positions and the banks covered their shorts.

This is a long-winded way of explaining why I believe that sometime in the next 10 trading days  the market should expect an aggressive attempt by the banks to attack the gold price on the Comex – and to some degree on the LBMA.  We’ll know I’m right if we get a series of “fishing line” price drops sometime between now and the July 4th holiday. Fridays and pre-holiday trading days, when volume is light, is a favorite time for the banks to begin taking down the gold price.

The good news is, if you follow the sequence I described above from 2016 to now, the price of gold is establishing a series of higher highs and higher lows.  This tells us that the western Central Bank/bullion bank effort to control the price of gold is limited in its success.  This is likely because of immense demand from eastern hemisphere buyers (Central Banks, investors, citizens) who require actual physical delivery.

Furthermore, if I’m wrong about an imminent price attack to take the price of gold lower, it means that the Central Banks/bullion banks have lost control of the market – at least for the time being – and the market is experiencing Bill “Midas” Murphy’s “commercial signal failure.”  If this turns out to be the case, and it is ultimately an inevitability, strap in for some fun if you own physical gold, silver and mining stocks.

ZIRP And QE Won’t Save The Economy – Buy Gold

It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all…  – “Chernobyl” episode 1 opening monologue

I’ve been discussing the significance of the inverted yield curve in the last few of my Short Seller’s Journal. Notwithstanding pleas from the financial media and Wall Street soothsayers to ignore the inversion this time, this chart below illustrates  my view that cutting interest rates may not do much  (apologies to the source – I do not remember where I found the unedited chart):

The chart shows the spread between the 2yr and 10yr Treasury vs the Fed Funds Rate Target, which is the thin green line, going back to the late 1980’s. I’ve highlighted the periods in which the curve was inverted with the red boxes. Furthermore, I’ve highlighted the spread differential between the 2yr/10yr “index” and the Fed Funds target rate with the yellow shading. I also added the descriptors showing that the yield curve inversion is correlated with the collapse of financial asset bubbles. The bubbles have become systemically endemic since the Greenspan Fed era.

As you can see, during previous crisis/pre-crisis periods, the Fed Funds target rate was substantially higher than the 2yr/10yr index.  Back then the Fed had plenty of room to reduce the Fed Funds rate. In 1989 the Fed Funds Rate (FFR) was nearly 10%; in 2000 the FFR was 6.5%; in 2007 the Fed Funds rate was 5.25%. But currently, the FFR is 2.5%.

See the problem? The Fed has very little room to take rates lower relative to previous financial crises. Moreover, each successive serial financial bubble since the junk bond/S&L debacle in 1990 has gotten more severe. I don’t know how much longer the Fed and, for that matter, Central Banks globally can hold off the next asset collapse. But when this bubble pops it will be devastating. You will want to own physical gold and silver plus have a portfolio of shorts and/or puts.

The Fed is walking barefoot on a razor’s edge with its monetary policy. Ultimately it will require more money printing – with around $3.5 trillion of the money printing during the first three rounds of “QE” left in the financial system after the Fed stops reducing its balance sheet in October – to defer an ultimate systemic collapse.

But once the move to ZIRP and more QE commences,  the dollar will be flushed down the toilet. This is highly problematic given the enormous amount of Treasuries that will be issued once the debt ceiling is lifted (oh yeah, most have forgotten about the debt ceiling limit).  If the Government’s foreign financiers sense the rapid decline in the dollar, they will be loathe to buy more Treasuries.

The yellow dog smells a big problem:

It’s been several years since I’ve seen gold behave like it has since the FOMC circus subsided. To be sure, part of the move has been fueled by hedge fund algos chasing price momentum in the paper market. But for the past 7 years a move like the last three days would be been rejected well before gold moved above $1380, let alone $1400, by the Comex bank price containment squad.

While the financial media and Wall Street “experts” are pleading with market participants to ignore the warning signals transmitted by the various yield curve inversions (Treasury curve, Eurodollar curve, GOFO curve) gold’s movement since mid-August reflects underlying systemic problems bubbling to the surface. The rocket launch this week is a bright warning flare shooting up in the night sky.

…What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth, and content ourselves instead…with stories. (Ibid)

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a miniumum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

“Dave mate. You’re making me rich. I don’t know what’s going on with Gold Fields but they’ve spiked up 33% and my calls are going ballistic.” – Mining Stock Journal subscriber in Australia

The Fed Is Running Out Of Bullets

“The latest University of Michigan consumer confidence report noted that its index tracking those who think it’s a good time to buy a home has fallen by a hefty eight points in the past two months even as mortgage rates have dropped.” – Danielle DiMartino Booth, “The Fed Can’t Help Housing Or Autos At This Point

I’m not the only analyst who has concluded that lower rates likely will not re-stimulate housing market activity. As I’ve argued in my Short Seller’s Journal, the “pool” of potential homebuyers who can qualify for a mortgage has greatly diminished. In fact, mortgage delinquencies are rising because many who stretched to buy a home in the past several years are struggling with the all-in cost of home ownership. Stagnant wages and the rising cost of necessities are largely the culprits.

“Despite lower mortgage rates, home prices remain somewhat high relative to incomes, which is particularly challenging for entry-level buyers.” – NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. That quote accompanied the NAHB’s release of its Housing Market Index, which used to be called the Homebuilder Sentiment Index because it’s a “how do you feel?” survey.

The Housing Market index fell to an index level of 64 in June from 66 in May. Wall St’s finest were looking for a consensus 67. All three sub-indices declined: current sales conditions, buyer traffic and expectations for the next six months. Buyer traffic has been below 50 for two months in a row. This is despite more than a 1% decline in the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage during the last 7 months.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how homebuilders “feel” about the sales environment now or in six months, declining foot traffic translates into decline sales volume. The quote above reinforces my theory that the “pool” of potential homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, who can qualify for a mortgage and afford the monthly cost of home ownership is drying up. Lower interest expense somewhat offsets high prices relative to income. However, the general cost of home ownership other than debt service is rising beyond the spending budgets of many potential home owners.

Quant-oriented perma-bulls, like Josh Steiner at Hedge Eye, understand the extent to which easy credit has fueled the housing market since 2010. You can’t necessarily call it a “housing bull market” because the until sales level is not even remotely close to the previous peak in 2005. New single family home sales peaked at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.39 million in July 2005. The current SAAR is 673,000.

Furthermore, the Government “pulled forward” future demand when it began to lower the bar to qualify for a FNM/FRE mortgage. The demand pool Steiner probably imagines is out there for starter homes has mostly already bought OR can’t qualify. This is why that huge drop in the 10yr has not stimulated housing sales.

The rate on a 30yr fixed mortgage has dropped over 100 basis points since November, yet housing sales have been declining. It would be interesting to know to what extent home sales would have have declined over the last few months if rates had not fallen over 1% in 7 months.  Just look at the big gap down in mortgage purchase applications reported this week despite a 10yr yield that has fallen relentlessly.

It doesn’t really matter what the Fed does today with the Fed Funds rate policy decision. To be sure, if the FOMC postures toward take rates to zero if necessary it might juice the stock market temporarily.  But it won’t take long for brains to take over from the algos and interpret the message that would be transmitted by the FOMC  as extraordinarily bearish.

Any attempt at holding off the economic catastrophe creeping into view would require massive money printing.  But given that some FOMC members consider a $3 trillion balance sheet to be “normalized,” I’m not sure at the margin to what degree more money printing  will save the economy.  Perhaps a Debt Jubilee for all households…

The above commentary includes excerpts from my Short Seller’s Journal, a weekly newsletter  ideas for those looking to short stocks – including options strategies – based on fundamental analysis. You can learn more or subscribe using this link:  Short Seller’s Journal information.

Can Western Central Banks Continue Capping Gold At $1350?

“Shanghai Gold will change the current gold market with its ‘consumed in the East but priced in the West’ arrangement. When China has the right to speak in the international gold market, the true price of gold will be revealed.” – Xu Luode, Chairman, Shanghai Gold Exchange, 15 May 2014

The price of gold has jumped 5.8% in a little over 3 weeks. This is a big move in a short period of time for any asset. Two factors fueled the move. The first is the expectation that Central Banks globally will revert back to money printing and negative interest rate policies to address a collapsing global economy. The second factor, more technical in nature, pushing gold higher is hedge funds chasing the upward price-momentum in the Comex and LBMA paper gold markets.

The gold price was smashed in the paper gold market on Friday right as the stock market opened. 9,816 Comex paper gold contracts representing nearly 1 million ozs of gold were thrown onto the Comex in a five minute period. This is more than 3 times the amount of gold designated in Comex warehouses as available for delivery and 28% more than the total amount of gold held in Comex vaults per Friday’s Comex warehouse report.

Judging from the latest Commitment of Traders Report, which shows the Comex bank net short position growing rapidly, there’s no question that Friday’s activity was an act of price control. Furthermore, it’s common for the price of gold to be heavily managed on summer Fridays after the physical gold buyers in the eastern hemisphere have retired for the weekend. The motivation this Friday is the fact that the gold price had popped over $1350 on Thursday night. For now $1350 has been the price at which price containment activities are readily implemented.

The price of gold is most heavily controlled just before, during and after the FOMC meeting. The next meeting begins tomorrow and culminates with the FOMC policy statement to be released just after 2 p.m. EST. The event has become the caricature of a society that takes official policy implementation seriously. This includes the journalistic and analytic transmission of the event, which is literally a Barnum and Bailey production.

It seems the number one policy goal of the Fed and the Trump Administration is to keep the stock market from collapsing. But the Fed has very few rate cut “bullets” in its chamber to help accomplish this policy directive. Moreover, a study completed by the Center for Financial Research and Analysis showed that the S&P 500 Index fell 12.4% in the first six months after cuts started in 2007. The drop broke a post-World War II record decline of 9.5% set in 2001, when the Fed’s previous series of rate reductions got under way. Declines in the S&P 500 also followed moves toward lower rates that began in 1960, 1968 and 1981.

This suggests to me that the Fed will have to start printing more money. The only question  is with regard to the timing.  Judging from the steady stream of negative economic reports – a record drop in the NY Fed’s regional economic activity index released today, for instance – it’s quite possible the printing press will be fired up before year-end.

The rapid price rise in gold from $700 to $1900 between late 2008 and September 2011 was powered by global Central Bank money printing and big bank bailouts. We know money printing is on the horizon. But so are bank bailouts – again. The curious and highly opaque announcement that Deutsche Bank was going to create a “bad bank” for its distressed assets, which are losing half a billion dollars annually, suggests that the German Government and/or ECB is prepared to monetize DB’s bad assets while enabling the bank’s basic banking and money management business survive on its own.

This is just the beginning of what will eventually turn out to be a period of epic money printing and systemic bailouts by Central Banks in conjunction with their sovereign lap-dogs. Only this time the scale of the operation will dwarf the monetization program that began in 2008. The price of gold more than doubled with ease the first time around. In my mind there’s no question that the $1350 official price-cap will fail. At that point its anyone’s guess how high the price will move in U.S. dollars. But the price of gold is already breaking out in several currencies other than the dollar.

Tesla: Lies And Fraud Engulfed In Elon Musk’s Hubris

Elon Musk should have considered a career as a children’s fairytale author. He would have made multiples of his current net worth selling his amazing fantasies and optioning the movie and tv series rights. He’s spent the better part of the last few years spinning fantasies as a means of addressing the growing army of analysts and truthseekers who report the facts about Tesla. He’ll say anything in an attempt to drive the stock price higher. The “funding secured” $420 buyout fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, if not wholly emblematic of Musk’s desperation to succeed.

At the shareholder’s meeting on Tuesday Musk referenced an alleged shortage of batteries that was constraining the ability to make deliveries and to bolster his claim that demand is strong.  Of course, the facts say otherwise about demand (see this, for instance:  Q1, April, May EU deliveries) . The battery claim will serve the purpose of Musk’s excuse for falling short of his assertion last week that Tesla “might” set a record in deliveries.

As his remedy to the battery shortage lie, Musk said “We might get into the mining business, I don’t know, maybe a little bit at least.” In some ways, that statement is just as shocking as the “funding secured” tweet. Mining companies spend years and millions looking for mineable deposits of cobalt and lithium. Then if a company is lucky enough to find a deposit, there’s several more difficulties to overcome in order to get a mine operating. Musk’s assertion minimized the cost and effort required to “get into the mining business.” He made it sound like anyone can make it happen. It’s the definition of hubris.

The “mining business” pronouncement typifies the degree to which Musk will say anything to fortify his lies – his fraudulent narrative – surrounding Tesla’s inability to execute a business model successfully. The fact that journalists, the financial media and Wall Street analysts refuse to hold Musk accountable for his chicanery enable its perpetuation. The victims are the people who die in car accidents connected to the unregulated mechanical failures with Musk’s products and the investors who are blind to his deceit.

It’s mind-blowing to me that the Musk/Tesla faithful continue to follow him off the cliff. His track record of failure to deliver on promises is unparalleled in history. In truth, beneath the facade of fraud and fairytales, is a poorly run business operation that bleeds billions in cash and will never achieve true profitability. The Model 3 is produced in a glorified Coleman tent, for god sakes. Make no mistake, the GAAP “profits” reported in 2018 were nothing short of outright and blatant accounting deception. Anyone who still believes those numbers is living with their eyes wide shut. Anyone who takes Elon Musk at face value is either tragically naive or catastrophically stupid.

But then again, Tesla and Elon Musk is the poster-child for the degree to which the U.S. economic and political system has gone down the rabbit hole and has become an empty shell of greed-driven fraud and corruption…

A Sinking Economy: Is It The Trade War Or Debt?

In April credit card debt was once again the largest contributor to the new all-time high in consumer debt, increasing by $7 billion vs. a decline of $2 billion in March. Student loan and auto debt hit all-time highs of $1.6 trillion and $1.16 trillion, respectively. I found the credit card debt numbers interesting because a report released by Experian showed that 23% of Americans need credit card debt to pay for food and rent – i.e. make ends meet.

The Achilles Heel of the U.S. economic and financial system is debt. Easy credit artificially stimulated the U.S. economy (and global economy) for the last 8 years. Most households are running out of their capacity to take on more debt, which means consumption – 70% of economic activity – is going to contract.

Rethinking The Dollar invited me to discuss the trade war, the economy and precious metals and why stock market catastrophe is baked into the cake:

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a minimum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

Something May Have Blown Up Already In The Financial System

The price of gold ran higher eight days in a row before today’s interventionist price smack. Technically, whatever that means, the gold price was likely due for a healthy pullback anyway. The price of gold is responding to what appears to be the Fed’s decision to begin cutting interest rates, though maybe not at the June meeting. Also, the Fed’s Jame Bullard commented that a $3 trillion Fed balance sheet should be considered the “new normal.” This means that close to 75% of the QE program was outright money printing.  Hello Weimar-style printing, so long U.S. dollar…

In 2007 the Eurollar futures curve was steeply inverted by late summer 2007. Back then Ben Bernanke assured the world that “subprime debt was contained.” In truth, it was already blowing up. Currently, the Eurodollar futures curve inversion is steeper now than it was in 2007 (graphic from Alhambra Investments, with my edits).

Silver Doctor’s James Anderson invited me to be his debut guest from his new perch in Panama. He had just set up his office rig and the internet connection was a bit choppy.  But we chatted about why the various inverted yield curves and the recent rise in the price of gold may be telling us that the brown stuff could already be connecting with the fan blades in the financial system. Here’s the link: Something Has Blow Up In The Financial System or click on the video below:

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You can learn more about  Investment Research Dynamics newsletters by following these links (note: a minimum subscription period beyond the 1st month is not required):  Short Seller’s Journal subscription information   –   Mining Stock Journal subscription information

Gold, Silver And The Mining Stocks Are Showing Signs Of Life

“Shanghai Gold will change the current gold market with its ‘consumed in the East but priced in the West’ arrangement. When China has the right to speak in the international gold market, the true price of gold will be revealed.” – Xu Luode, Chairman, Shanghai Gold Exchange, 15 May 2014

The quote above is for the benefit of anyone who refuses to acknowledge or accpet that the price of gold is manipulated by western Central Banks, led by the BIS, using the paper gold derivatives traded on the LBMA and the Comex as well as using “structured notes” in the OTC derivatives market. Those who assert that the precious metals market is not manipulated do so from a position of either complicity or ignorance.

The price of gold began spiking higher on Thursday, May 30th. Over that time period the front-month futures contract (August) has run from $1280 to $1340. I believe this is being driven primarily by the market’s perception – in response the steeply inverted Treasury and Eurodollar futures curves – that a significant problem or problems is/are occurring in the global financial system.

The idea for this chart came from a  chart I saw posted by @StockBoardAsset (he had it labeled “Gold/Silver”). The chart shows the XAU index since inception to the present on a monthly basis. I also edited the labels and added the British pound crisis label.

I like it because it shows why it’s highly probable that the precious metals and mining stocks – especially the mining stocks – are near the bottom of a long-term trading pattern that goes back 35 years. The low end happens to correlate with a period in which the stock market was at or near a top followed by a significant sell-off in stocks.

If I spent the time to create a chart showing the SPX to XAU ratio, it would look somewhat like the inverse of the chart above. I’m encouraged by the move in gold and silver over the last week. At some point there will be a pullback/ consolidation of the sharp price-rise. But if you study the chart above, it would appear that the mining stocks have the potential to make a big move in the 2nd half of 2019 and that move may be starting.

One of the “tells” which indicate the fundamental underpinnings are in place for a big move in the sector is the escalation in the frequency and intensity of price manipulation on the Comex.  The banks have been significantly enlarging their net short position in gold contracts plus the volume of PNT and EFP transactions (Privately Negotiated Trades and Exchange For Physicals) has increased substantially over the last couple of weeks. There’s a high correlation between the volume of PNT/EFP transactions and the price-capping efforts exuded by the Comex price-action.

Note: PNT/EFPs are a way for the banks to “deliver” under the terms of the Comex contract without producing and delivering an actual physical Comex bar, recording the serial number on the bar under the receiving party’s name and moving the bar into an allocated account. It’s an extension of the fractional bullion system that is used to manipulate the gold price. It allows the banks to deliver phantom gold in lieu of delivering real bars.

Sorry Permabulls, It’s Not Different This Time – Got Gold?

An inverted yield curve has historically been the most accurate indicator of an impending or concurrent recession. The inversion during late 2006 and most of 2007 is a good example. Studies have shown that curve inversions precede a recession anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. I would argue that, stripping away the affects of inflation and data manipulation, real economic activity has been somewhat recessionary for several years.

The shelf-life of financial topics is about as long as the lifespan of a mayfly (about 24  hours). Several months ago, a debate raged about the significance of the inverted yield curve (short term rates are higher than longer term rates). Most perma-bull pundits who populate mass financial media advised their minions to ignore the yield inversion because “it’s different this time.”

The inverted yield curve discussion disappeared soon after the stock market responded to the stock market intervention after the Christmas massacre. However, over the past  several days, the yield curve has “collapsed” in the sense that yields at the long end (10-years and beyond) have fallen more sharply than at the front end of curve, resulting in a yield curve inversion that is now at its steepest since 2007 (measured using the 3-month T-bill rate vs the 10-year Treasury yield).

The chart to the right was prepared by Phoenix Capital (with my edits). It shows the SPX from 1999 to present on a weekly basis vs the the yield curve (3-month T-bill minus the yield on the 10-yr Treasury bond). When the blue line in the bottom panel goes below the black line (the black line is my edit to clarify when the spread between the 3mo Bill and 10yr Treasury has gone negative), the yield on the 3-mo Bill is higher than the yield on the 10yr Treasury.

The chart must have been prepared prior to the holiday weekend because the 3-mo/10yr has been inverted since Monday. But more to the point, you’ll note that this particular “flavor” of inversion was accompanied by a sharp drop in the stock market from 2000-2003 and from 2007-2009. The yields have been inverted between other segments of the curve (1yr to 5yr, for instance) nearly continuously since last summer.  The curve is even more inverted now than when I wrote this commentary for my Short Seller’s Journal subscribers last week.  The 5yr Treasury is well below 2%.  The 3mo/5yr inversion is close to half a percentage point (46 basis points).

In addition, the upper bound of the Fed Funds rate “target” (2.25-2.50%) is now above the entire yield curve out to 10 years. The bond market is signaling to the Fed that the economy sucks and the Fed Funds rate needs to be reduced down to at least 2%. The term “bond market vigilantes” was coined originally by Ed Yardeni in the early 1980’s to convey the idea the bond market could be used to “guide” the Fed’s monetary policy implementation. The “bond vigilantes” right now are “screaming” at the Fed to reduce the Fed Funds rate and to ease monetary policy.

While the market can’t dictate the Fed Funds rate, big bond funds with a total rate of return mission will pile into the Treasury bonds at the longer end of the curve, driving down yields (bond prices rise) in the expectation that the Fed will have to cut rates sooner or later. This is the market dynamic that induces an inverted curve.

Whether or not the Fed will “listen” to the bond market and cut the Fed Funds rate at the midJune FOMC meeting remains to be seen. To be sure, the researchers at the Fed who advise on policy know that the real rate of inflation is significantly higher than CPI-measured inflation. They also know the economy is reeling. But the Fed has to balance easier monetary policy with setting policy that supports the U.S. dollar.

Maintaining a stable dollar is critical to inducing foreign money to buy Treasuries, the supply of which will soar once the debt ceiling is lifted. If the Fed cuts rates too soon or too quickly, especially relative to the ECB or PBoC, the dollar could experience a not insignificant sell-off. This in turn would cause further damage to the economy.

The above commentary is an excerpt from my latest Short Seller’s Journal. Each week I present detailed analysis of weekly economic reports. In addition, I provide specific short ideas along with suggestions for using options to short stocks synthetically. You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal information

But We Were Told “It’s Different This Time”

“U.S. Officials Meet in Secret Over Junk-Loan Frenzy as Recession Alarms Flash”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday led a secret meeting of top U.S. financial regulators on the risks to global markets from the recent surge in corporate borrowing…”No details were provided on the gist of the discussion, though according to the statement the panel heard an ‘update from Craig Phillips, a counselor to Mnuchin, on recent market developments involving corporate credit and leveraged lending'”. – Article link

Something(s) is(are) starting to melt-down “behind the scenes” in the global financial system.  The meeting referenced above is the “tell.”  Craig Phillips, “counselor to Mnuchin,” was formerly a managing director and member of the Global Operating Committee of BlackRock.   It’s quite likely that Phillips’ former colleagues have put Phillips on high alert about problems developing in the credit markets, both domestically and globally.

Even more interesting is that fact that Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, gave a speech recently in which he denied that credits risks are mounting in the system:  “Business debt does not present the kind of elevated risks to the stability of the financial system that would lead to broad harm to households and businesses should conditions deteriorate.”

Powell’s assertion eerily echoes a similar comment made by then-Fed Head, Helicopter Ben Bernanke in mid-2007 about subprime mortgage risk being “contained.”  But Powells’ statement followed by a meeting convened by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin under the advisement of a former BlackRock hatchet-man is the silent scream of insiders who see the probability of another financial system tsunami forming…

Of course, the yield curve has been sending these warnings for about a year.  But they keep telling us it’s different this time…