Tag Archives: Fed funds rate

Will The Fed Really “Normalize” Its Balance Sheet?

To begin with, how exactly does one define “normalize” in reference to the Fed’s balance sheet?  The Fed predictably held off raising rates again today.  However, it said that beginning in October it would no longer re-invest proceeds from its Treasury and mortgage holdings and let the balance sheet “run off.”

Here’s the problem with letting the Treasuries and mortgage just mature:   Treasuries never really “mature.” Rather, the maturities are “rolled forward” by refinancing the outstanding Treasuries due to mature.   The Government also issues even more Treasurys to fund its reckless spending habits.  Unless the Fed “reverse repos” the Treasurys right before they are refinanced by the Government, the money printed by the Fed to buy the Treasurys will remain in the banking system.  I’m surprised no one has mentioned this minor little detail.

The Fed has also kicked the can down the road on hiking interest rates in conjunction with shoving their phony 1.5% inflation number up our collective ass.  The Fed Funds rate has been below 1% since October 2008, or nine years.   Quarter point interest rate hikes aren’t really hikes. we’re at 1% from zero in just under two years. That’s not “hiking” rates.  Until they start doing the reverse-repos in $50-$100 billion chunks at least monthly, all this talk about “normalization” is nothing but the babble of children in the sandbox.  I think the talk/threat of it is being used to slow down the decline in the dollar.

To justify its monetary policy, Yellen stated today that she’s, “very pleased in progress made in the labor market.”  Again, how does one define progress?  Here’s one graphic which shows that the labor market has been and continues to be a complete abortion:

The labor force participation rate (left y-axis) has been plunging since 2000. It’s currently below 63%. This means that over 37% of the working age population in the United States is not considered part of the labor force. That’s close to 100 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 who, for whatever reason, are not looking for a job or actively employed. A record number of those employed are working more than one part-time job in order to put food on table and a roof over the heads of their household. Good job Janet! Bravo!.

The blue line in the graph above shows the amount of dollars spent by the Government on welfare. Note the upward point acceleration in the rate of welfare spending correlates with the same point in time at which the labor force participation rate began to plunge. Again, nice work Janet!

The labor force participation rate is much closer to the true rate of unemployment in the United States.  John Williams of Shadowstats.com has calculated the rate of unemployment using the methodology used by the Government a couple of decades ago and has shown that a “truer” rate of unemployment is closer to 23%.

The true level of unemployment  is definitively the reason why the rate of welfare spending increased in correlation with the decline in those considered to be part of the labor force.   It could also be shown using the Fed’s data that another portion of the plunging labor force participation rate is attributable to the acceleration in student loans outstanding.  I would argue that part of the splurge in student loan funding, initiated by Obama, was used to keep potential job-seekers being forced by economic necessity from  seeking jobs and therefore could be removed from the labor force definition, which in turn lowers the unemployment rate.

As I write this, Yellen is asserting that “U.S. economic performance has been good.”  I’d like to get my hands on some of the opioids she must be abusing.  Real retail sales have been dropping precipitously (the third largest retail store bankruptcy in history was filed yesterday), household debt is at an an all-time high, Government debt hits an all-time high every minute of the day and interest rates are at 5,000 year lows (sourced from King World News)

Note to Janet:   near-zero cost of money is not in any way an attribute of an economy that is “doing well.” In fact, record levels of systemic debt and rising corporate and household bankruptcies are the symptoms of failed Central Bank economic and monetary policies. This is further reinforced by the record level of income disparity between the 1% highest income earners and the rest of the U.S. labor force.

The entire U.S. economic and financial system is collapsing.  If the Fed truly follows through on its threat to “normalize” its balance sheet and raise rates, the U.S. will likely collapse sometime in the next couple of years. On other hand, up to this point since Bernanke’s famous “taper” speech in May 2013, most of the Fed’s statements with regard to hiking rates (hiking them for real) and reducing its balance sheet has been nothing but hot air.  And in fact, unless the Fed reverse repos its balance sheet back to the banks, it’s assertion of “balance sheet normalization” is nothing more than another in long series of lies.

“Low Inflation” In Not “Good” – It’s Pure Propaganda

Analysts who advocate a monetary policy that targets “low inflation” are the equivalent of chickens in the barnyard rooting for Colonel Sanders to succeed.   This idea that a low level of inflation being good for the economy is beyond moronic.

The fiat currency money system era was accompanied by the erroneous notion that a general increase in the price of goods and services is “inflation.”  But technically this definition is wrong.  “Inflation” is the “decline in the purchasing power of currency.”  This decline occurs from actions that devalue a currency.  Rising prices are the visible evidence of ongoing currency devaluation.

Currency devaluation occurs when the rate of growth in a country’s money supply exceeds the rate of growth in real wealth output.   Simply stated, it’s when the amount of money created exceeds the amount of “widgets” created, where “widgets” is the real wealth output of an economic system.

In ancient Rome, the currency devaluation occurred when the Roman Government began to “shave” gold and silver coins which enabled it to increase the amount of coins produced from mined gold and silver in order to finance Government spending.  When spending continued to exceed the amount of currency produced, the Government increased the money supply by diluting gold and silver coins with cheaper and more abundant metallic additives.

In the United States currently, currency devaluation occurs through both money printing, which has been cleverly disguised for propaganda purposes as “quantitative easing,” and by the continuous growth in credit creation.   Debt issued behaves exactly the same as printed currency until that time at which the debt is repaid, not by more debt issued, but from money that has been accumulated by the debtor in order to repay and retire the debt.

The U.S. Government has not reduced the amount of debt issued for decades.  Apologists will look at the Treasuries outstanding chart on the Fed’s website and argue that the debt level declined ever so slightly in the late 1990’s.  But this was achieved through accounting gimmicks, not an outright reduction in Federal debt outstanding.

Notwithstanding this, the total level of debt in the U.S. system has been continuously increasing for many decades.  While it’s argued that this is debt and not money supply, it is a fact that debt issued spends just like printed money until the debt is repaid and retired. Thus, currency devaluation has been occurring in the United States on a continuous basis since at least 1913 (founding of the Fed).

Back to the erroneous idea that “low inflation is desirable.”  I defy anyone to research this and present a rational explanation that has ever been offered.  The best I could come up with is “low inflation is good for the economy.”  That is unadulterated ignorance.  That phrase means that “it is good for the Government to devalue the currency.”  Why is it “good” for a consumer to pay higher prices, i.e. more money for goods and services on an ongoing basis?

Inflation, where “inflation” means the true definition, is a subtle mechanism by which the elitists redistribute wealth.   Printing money  benefits those who are closest to the money faucet to the detriment of those who are “downstream” from the flow of new money supply (or credit created).  The banks are always first in line at the money faucet.  The Federal Reserve was erected for that purpose.  The creators of the Fed were all owners of the biggest banks in the U.S. at the time plus the political puppets of those owners.   Go look up the roster of men who founded the Fed for yourself if you don’t believe me.

After the banks, the Government is next in line.  And after that all of the companies that benefit from Government largess.  Inflation, even “low inflation” is not beneficial to anyone other than those who are in a position to take advantage of the currency devaluation mechanism.  Period.  Anyone who tries to argue that “low inflation is good” and that a low inflation target should be a primary goal of the Fed’s monetary policy is either someone who is in position to benefit from that policy (banks, politicians, big corporations etc) or is tragically stupid.

The Public Is Getting Pissed – Ignoring Rule Of Law

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”   – George Orwell

There’s a narrative here that the Government, the Fed, the Trump Administration, etc conveniently ignored.  Here’s the headline list this morning:

  • GM Extends Plant Shutdowns
  • 2nd Quarter GDP Hit As Inventories Tumble In April
  • Retail Sales Tumble Most Since January 2016
  • Pension Crisis Escalates
  • House Majority Whip Shot At Congressional Baseball Practice

Real Clear News reported that Representative De Santis stated to police that the shooter asked “whether Republicans or Dems were on the field before shooting.”  Fox News has confirmed  the report.

The public is getting pissed.  It is told daily, on no uncertain terms, by the White House that the economy is rapidly improving.  The Fed confirms that the economy is improving.  Wall Street chimes in confirming that “narrative.”

The public is told that the unemployment rate is under 5% and the labor market is tight.  But 95 million people in the working age population don’t have jobs.  They are not considered part of the “Labor Force” and have been removed from the statistics altogether by some BLS bureaucrat’s pencil eraser. To be sure, maybe 1/3 or even 1/2 of those people don’t want to work or need to work for some reason (wealthy, wealthy and lazy, inherited income, public assistance of some form, etc).  But 1/2 to 2/3’s of those people would like to find a job that doesn’t entail delivering pizza or washing dishes – in other words, jobs that pay to support a family.

A growing portion of the population understands the underlying truth about the economy that exists behind the propaganda and lies. And they are getting pissed. It’s become clear to anyone desperate enough in their fight to get by that the politicians, corporate elitists and Wall Street crooks are no longer beholden to Rule of Law.   The conclusion for the growing legion of desperate is obvious:  “why should we adhere to Rule of Law?”

At least this time the Deep State can’t shove the “it was ISIS” narrative down our collective gullets.

Gold Continues To Defy Fed’s Attempt To Control The Price

Bloomberg News admitted that it is aware of the Fed’s “hidden” mandate to control the price of gold when it published an article last Sunday titled, “Yellen Can’t Halt Trump Gold Rally That Funds Bet Against” – Bloomberg/Yellen/Gold.

That title, combined with the content of the article, implied that the journalists and editors at Bloomberg are aware that the Fed actively manipulates the price of gold.  It’s hard to know if this admission was put forth intentionally or unwittingly. But the headline outright acknowledges that the Fed’s goal with respect to the price of gold is to prevent it from moving higher. The Fed’s current tool for this purpose is the “good cop/bad cop” routine played out on a daily basis between the Fed Governors who purport the need for more interest rate hikes and the Fed Heads who advocate waiting until the economy improves.

Lost in the smoke of Orwellian propaganda is the absurd notion that the two “rate hikes” were a mere quarter of a percentage point in magnitude.  This can hardly be described as “raising interest rates.”  It certainly is not even remotely close to the concept of “interest rate normalization,” whatever that is supposed to mean.   In mid-2007, about a year before the financial system nearly collapsed, the Fed Funds rate was 5.25%.   A little more than a year later it had been dropped to near zero.

If the financial analyst “Einsteins” define “rate normalization” as the 5.25% level in 2007, it will take about about 20 years using the speed of rate hikes by the Fed over the last two years.   On the other hand, going back to 1954, which is as far back as the Fed’s database takes us for the Fed funds rate, the median level for the Fed Funds rate is somewhere around 7%.   Is THAT level how one would define “normalized rates?”  You can do the math on how long it would take thereby to achieve “normalized interest rates” if 7% is the goal.

Since mid-December 2016, when gold appears to have bottomed out from the manipulated price “correction” that began in August, gold has been trading in defiance of the Fed’s attempts at price control.  Yesterday’s (Wednesday, Feb 22nd) trading action is point in case.  Gold was slammed for about $9 right after the paper trading market on the Comex floored commenced.  This is standard operating procedure.  But about 5 1/2 hours later, when the Fed released the minutes from its last meeting, gold spiked up and reclaimed the full $9 price take-down.    Today gold has soared another $16.

At the Shadow of Truth, we suspect both Yellen and the editorial staff at Bloomberg News are mumbling to themselves.  In today’s episode, we discuss the trading action in gold and the potential more interest rate hikes this year:

Who Is Buying China’s Dumped Treasuries?

According to the latest Treasury International Capital report (for October), China unloaded nearly $42 billion in Treasuries in October. In the last 12 months, China has unloaded nearly $150 billion in Treasuries, equivalent to more than one month’s worth of new Treasury issuance by the U.S. Government.

The Zerohedge/mainstream financial media narrative is that China is selling Treasuries to defend the yuan. They hold reserves other than dollars. Why not sell those? They are trying to unload their Treasuries w/out completely trashing the market. Imagine what would happen to the bond market if China announced a bid wanted in comp for $1.1 trillion in Treasuries. They are working with Russia to remove the dollar’s reserve status and the U.S. doesn’t like it which is why there is an escalating level of military aggression toward Russia and China by the U.S.

Too be sure, China’s Treasury selling has contributed heavily to surprising spike up in long term Treasury yields.  But who is buying what China is selling?  Japan has been unloading Treasuries every month since July.  On a net basis, foreigners unloaded $116 billion Treasuries in October.  A colleague in the pension industry told me today that pensions are not buying Treasuries because the yield is too low.

Phil and John (Not F) Kennedy invited me on to their engaging and entertaining podcast show to discuss the chaos that has enveloped the global financial markets including the Fed rate hike, the manipulated take-down of gold and silver and the deleterious effects from the spike up in interest rates.

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Adios To The Housing Market

That popping sound you just heard is the Fed popping the housing bubble.  The housing bubble that it inflated with ZIRP and zero-bound credit requirements to qualify for a mortgage.    But first, let’s get this out of the way:  Goldman’s Jan Hatzius – apparently the firm’s chief clown economist commented that the Fed’s “faster pace” of rate hikes reflects an economy close to full employment.  That statement is hand’s down IRD’s winner of “Retarded Comment of the Year by Wall Street.”

I guess if an economic system in which 38% of the working age population is not working can be defined as “full employment” then monkeys are about to crawl of out Janet Yellen’s ass.  I guess we’ve witnessed more stunning events this year…

Before we start assuming the Fed will raise rates three times in 2017, let’s consider that Bernanke’s “taper” speech was delivered in May 2013.  3 1/2 years later, the Fed Funds rate has been nudged up a whopping 50 basis points – one half of one percent.

I hope the Fed does start raising rates toward “normalized” rates, whatever “normalized” is supposed to mean.  Certainly there’s nothing “normalized” about an economic system in which real rates are negative – that is to say, an economic system in which it’s cheaper to borrow money and spend it than it is to save.

Having said all that, put a big pitch-fork into the housing market.  Notwithstanding the highly manipulated “seasonally adjusted annualized rate” data puked on a platter  and served up warm by the National Association of Realtor and the Census Bureau – existing and new home sales data, respectively – the housing market in most areas of the country is deteriorating at an increasing rate.    I review this data extensively and in-dept in my Short Seller’s Journal.

Even just marginally higher mortgage rates will choke off the ability of most buyers to qualify for anything less than an conventional mortgage with 20% down and a 720 or better credit score.   With a rapidly shrinking full-time workforce – the Labor Department reported that last month the economy lost 100,000 full-time jobs – the percentage of the population that has a 720 credit rating and can afford 20% is dwindling rapidly.

The Dow Jones Home Construction index is down 2.5% today.  What will happen to the stocks in that index when the Fed cranks back up it’s “we’re raising again” song and dance?

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Despite the rampant move in the Dow/SPX since the election = while the Dow and SPX were hitting all-time highs almost daily – the momentum was not enough to propel the homebuilder stocks even remotely close to a 52-week high.  Hell, the 50 dma (yellow line) has remained well below the 200 dma (red line) and has not even turned up.  THAT is the market sending a message.

Here’s a weekly version of the same graph that goes back to 2005, when the DJUSHB hit an all-time high:

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When looked at it in that context, one has wonder where this great housing boom has been hiding? The stock market certainly didn’t price in a booming housing market. That’s because the truth is that the housing market since 2008 has been driven by massive Fed and Government intervention. The intervention enabled a segment of the population to buy a home that could not have otherwise afforded to buy a home. It was really not much different than the previous bubble fueled by liar loans and 125% loan-to-value mortgages. As I detailed yesterday, the system is now re-entering a cycle of delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures.

If you are thinking about buying a home – primary, vacation or investment – wait.  You will be happy you waited.  Prices have been pushed up to near-record levels by 3% down payment mortgages and credit assessment that gears the amount of mortgage available to a buyer based on maximizing the monthly payment based on monthly gross income.  That system is over now.  Prices and volume are going to spiral south.

If you need to sell your home, you better list it as soon as possible.  You will find that you will be competing with a surge in new sellers that descend like locusts.  “Price reduced” signs will blossom everywhere.  Just like 2008…

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Operation Mockingbird And The Mainstream Media

Notice how EVERYTHING – even the most trivial of events – on Fox News/Business, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN and MSNBC is “BREAKING NEWS?” The presentation of the news and the exploitation of sensationalism has itself become an insidious form of propaganda.

Operation Mockingbird was implemented by the CIA in the early 1950’s as operation to influence the media.  The idea is that, regardless of the truth, the first headline read by the public in the media was the version of the news that would stick with the public.  As an example, whenever a bomb explodes somewhere in the U.S., the first headlines that hit the newswires blame it on ISIS.

The genesis of this propaganda tool was Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud), who is credited with being “the guy” behind Joseph Goebbels and the father of the “Virginia Slims Girl,” among another nefarious accolades.

In this latest episode of the Shadow of Truth, we discuss the reasons why that, for almost anything connected with politics and economics, the opposite of anything reported by the mainstream media likely the truth.

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FOMC No Rate Hike: Gold, Silver, Miners Pop – Stocks Drop

We’re very bullish on gold, which is the anti–paper money, of course, and is underowned by investors around the world.   – Paul Singer, Elliot Management Corp

Predictably, the Fed did not raise the Fed Funds rate by a piddly one-quarter of one percent today.  It’s not because the economy is crashing – which it is – but because the foundation of the massive, money-printing inflated asset bubble in the U.S. and globally rests on the teetering foundation of zero-percent interest rates.

Negative rates rates presents another dilemma:  a western financial system that is completely dysfunctional from over eight years of bombarding the western economies with ZIRP and money printing.  At least most of the eastern hemisphere countries have Central Bank lending rates well above zero.  China’s is 4.35%;  Russia’s is 10.5%.

This blog unequivocally said three weeks ago, when the usual Fed clowns began their routinized interest-rate hike threat that the FOMC would whiff again.  What the heck happened to today’s meeting be in “live,”  John (SF Fed’s John Williams)?  Now that the Fed balked once again at nudging rates 25 basis points closer to China’s overnight Central Bank lending rate, does that mean that today’s meeting was not “live?”

Interestingly, stocks were pushed higher overnight and gold was pushed lower.   When I saw it at 5:30 a.m. EST, gold was down $7 from where it opened the overnight CME Globex electroning session (6:00 p.m . EST).

After the “not live” meeting was over and the results hit the tape, both gold and the stock market popped.  But the stock market apparently saw through the transparency of Yellen’s smoke-blowing and interpreted another “dead” meeting to mean the economy is indeed dead.  While gold ramped up toward $1300, the S&P 500 plunged 11 points in the last 28 minutes of trading.

I have been suggesting to my Short Seller’s Journal subscribers that the S&P 500 is starting to tip over – finally.  I think there’s a better that 50/50 chance that the S&P 500 repeats the same kind of cliff dive it took in August 2015 and the beginning of 2016.

On the other hand, it seems that a lot of western money – wealthy individuals and smart hedge fund managers – are beginning to plow a lot of money into physical gold.  Why? Because the price-movement of paper gold relative to the size of the Comex open interest is running in higher in defiance.   This is something that has not occurred in the last 15 years and it’s caught a lot of market analysts wrong-footed.

The character of the market has changed.  I don’t know how much leverage the Fed/bullion banks have to push gold a lot lower at these levels.  We’ll find out as gold challenges $1300 again and we get closer to BREXIT.  The Fed/ECB/BOE are making it clear that they will do their best to manage the price of gold into this potential event.

For anyone interested in opportunities to profit from getting in on the early stage of this next leg of gold’s bull market, check out my Mining Stock Journal.  I present long term view ideas on high potential junior micro-cap mining stock ideas.

I present the views. My service is research-based, not trading-based. Everyone has to
buy/hold/sell according to their own risk/return preferences and tolerances.  I buy LONG term core positions in my ideas and trade in and out of maybe 20% of the position but not very often.  You don’t get rich trading the market. You get rich finding very undervalued ideas and holding them until they are overvalued. We are 90% away from juniors being overvalued.   You can subscribe using this link:  Mining Stock Journal.  You will start with the current issue plus get all of the back-issues (it’s bi-monthly).

 

Is The Fed Beginning To Lose Control?

I enjoyed Stockman’s piece on Dec. 30th – LINK – concerning the impact of the meltdown in the commodity industries. I think people are seriously underestimating the impact.  –  New Year’s Day email from John Embry

I would like to point out that John and I always discuss a few pleasant topics as well as plot the demise of the global economy.   On that note:  Happy New Year everyone (Buon Anno a tutti).

I pointed out to John that Stockman’s analysis did not include any consideration of the amplification caused by derivatives on the destruction to the world/U.S. economy that is going to be felt from the price collapse of oil and basic industrial commodities.   In fact, I would argue, though it’s next to impossible to prove, that the Fed spends a significant amount of time working to prevent any evidence of the brewing derivatives nightmare from reaching overt public view,  in conjunction with the ECB, BoE and U.S. Treasury (the exchange stabilization fund).

An interesting event first brought at least to my attention by Zerohedge occurred on December 31.  The Fed funds (FF) rate plunged significantly below the lower bound of the Fed’s .25-.50% FF rate to the rate set that day at .12% (source:  Zerohedge, with my edits in black) click to enlarge:

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The question is, why did this happen?  To begin with, although it went largely unnoticed, the Fed also jacked up the interest it pays on bank excess reserves (IOER) from .25% to .50% at the same time it nudged up the FF rate.   Let’s first review what Fed funds are and how they work mechanically.

The Fed funds is the mechanism by which banks who have cash in excess of what they need to meet reserve requirements lend these “excess” reserves to banks who might need a temporary loan in order meet reserve requirements.  It is thus a system by which banks with extra liquidity make short term loans to banks who need liquidity.  The Fed funds rate is the rate at which excess funds are loaned out. The FF rate is set in a competitive bidding process each day based on the supply of funds made available to lend and the demand to borrow these funds.

In theory the Fed is supposed to be able to “control” the FF rate by regulating the amount of ready-liquidity in the banking system.  The Fed “adjusts” systemic liquidity using the reverse repo and repo “tools” (it can also adjust the minimum reserve ratio but this is rare). If the FF rate is headed above its target range, the Fed repos cash liquidity into the banking system.  Conversely, it uses the reverse repo if the FF rate is headed below the lower bound of its target range in order to remove systemic liquidity.

The IOER “mechanism” was put in place when the Fed began using its “helicopter” to dump printed money into the banking system.  Note:  half of the printed money either remained inside the banking system, which is a closed system, or went to the U.S. Treasury via transmission through the banking system;  the other half of the printed money was injected into the mortgage banking system through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA via the banking system.  The latter form of helicopter money ignited the mini-housing bubble and has led to mortgage and derivative products similar to the same products presented in “The Big Short.”

Prior to the Fed’s paying interest on excess reserves, banks were not earning any interest on their excess reserves at the Fed unless they lent out that money to other banks via the Fed funds mechanism.

The justification used by the FOMC in implementing the IOER was that it would enable the Fed to control the lower bound of the FF rate despite the flood of bank excess liquidity sitting at the Fed.  This is because if the FF rate were to slip too far below the IOER rate, banks would keep their excess liquidity sitting in the excess reserve account rather than make those funds available for interbank lending.   In the current framework for this interest rate management model, the FF target range is .25-.50% and the IOER is .50%.  A further elaboration of this idea can be found here:  LINK.

Without getting too theoretical, in theory the FF rate should be slightly below the IOER rate.  This is because Fed funds are collateralized by Treasuries and triple-A mortgage paper.  The IOER is “collateralized” by the Fed’s balance sheet, which has a tiny book value in relation to the size of the balance.  In other words, on a “risk-adjusted” basis, a Fed funds loan is slightly less risky than a deposit sitting in a Federal Reserve account. Therefore, the Fed funds rate, everything else being equal, should be slightly lower than the IOER rate.

This brings us to the Friday event, when the Fed funds rate crashed below the .25% lower bound of the current FF rate policy, indicating that the amount of liquidity made available for Fed funds borrowing was well in excess the amount demanded to be borrowed and well in excess of the Fed’s ability to keep the FF rate at the .25% lower bound.

Why did this occur?  The simplest explanation is that the Federal Reserve is losing control of the amount of liquidity sloshing around the banking system and therefore is losing control of interest rates.  Yet, on Friday, the FF rate was set not only significantly  below the IOER rate but it also plummeted below the Fed’s “lower bound” rate.  This means that some banks chose to lend to other banks at a rate that was significantly below the IOER rate.  Bernanke’s Fed told us this would not happen.

It’s possible that this will be attributed to an end of year technical glitch.  As Zerohedge points out in the article linked above, the FF rate dropped at month end every month in 2015.  But it remained within the Fed’s lower bound of 0%.

The Fed could have prevented this from occurring if it had removed significantly more than $105 billion in liquidity from the banking system when it nudged up the FF rate (using the reverse repo tool).  In fact, some estimates were that the Fed would need to remove up to $1 trillion in reserves in order to maintain the lower bound of the FF rate target range.

There must be some reason that the Fed did not remove more liquidity from the system.   This line of reasoning further points to the probability something might collapse if the Fed were to remove the amount of liquidity from the system necessary to keep the FF rate from dropping below the lower bound.  It also suggests that the Fed is losing control of its ability to manage the massive liquidity monster it has created.

I want to close out this post with a quote from someone (I’ll refer to him as “MC”) with whom I was discussing this subject yesterday afternoon.  We both agreed that the Zerohedge post, while informative, was missing some key ingredients in its description of what had occurred.   It was MC’s comment below that led me to meditate further on this ordeal and the more I ponder the “ingredients” which went into Wednesday’s events, the  more I believe MC is on the right track here:

If I had to choose between excess liquidity or a bank that can’t afford a rate in the channel [i.e. the Fed fed funds target range] it would be the latter.  But really?  [The Fed] must be going to extreme measures to avoid any appearance of stress somewhere in the system.

Flexing my conspiracy theory brain cells, it must be something big like JPM where it is big enough to have a real demand for funds where these small differentials [i.e. the difference between the .25% lower bound for the FF rate and the lower rate of .12 at which the FF rate was set on Wednesday Dec 31] could matter and is systemically important and they don’t want attention drawn, yet… Like going to the discount window, etc

Stick A Fork In The United States

The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the cloak of anti-Communism.  – Adlai Stevinson, Speech to the American Legion Convention, 1952

Today the climate of fear being fomented is concealed under the cloak of terrorism/ISIS. Severe repression is coming.  The policies and laws implemented since the inauguration of Bush 2 in 2000 have been slowly strangling the middle class, financially and legally.  The affects of the latter are about to become more apparent and more painful for everyone.

The American public has stood by passively in complete acceptance of the horrendous acts of brutality, savagery and wealth confiscation thrown at it since the passage of the Patriot Act.  We stood by and watched as our Government implemented an illegal attack into Iraq predicated on blatant lies, conducted unimaginable acts of torture on illegally detained prisoners of “war,” bombed weddings and funerals (Hillary Clinton:  “oops, my bad”) – the list seems endless.  The U.S. Government shamelessly throws propaganda in our face which turns the truth inside-out.  Everyone else is the bad guy.  The U.S. is exceptional and therefore entitled to trample over the rest of the world.

Perhaps the most egregious crimes have been right under our own noses, where the elitists have been openly wiping the last crumbs of middle class wealth off the table and into their own pockets.  You really think your retirement fund or pension money will be there when you retire?  That’s laughable.

I’m still trying to sort out and understand the exact reason why the Fed decided to push up the Fed funds rate from zero to not-much-more-than-zero.  What you might of missed is that the Fed raised the interest it is paying to the Too Big To Fail banks who have $2.4 trillion in cash given to them from QE that is earning interest in the Fed’s “Excess Reserve Account.”  The rate was raised from .25% to .50%, effectively doubling the amount of free cash flowing into the banks from their Excess Reserve largesse.   On the other side of this, consumer borrowing rates were immediately raised.

The only conclusion that can be reasonably drawn by the Fed’s move is that the noose described above – put in place quietly over and with no resistance over the last 15 years – is now being tightened.