Tag Archives: Fed intervention

Is Fed Pumping Stocks To Keep Pensions Solvent?

The pension crisis is inching closer by the day. @CalPERS just voted to increase the amount cities must pay to the agency. Cities point to possible insolvency if payments keep rising but CalPERS is near insolvency itself. It may be reform or bailout soon. – Steve Westly, former California controller and CalPERS board member.

1.5 MILLION RETIREES AWAIT CONGRESSIONAL FIX FOR A PENSION TIME BOMB

In a story buried in the business section of the February 18th NY Times, it was reported that the spending budget passed by Congress included a provision that creates a 16-member bipartisan congressional committee to craft legislation that would provide for the potential bailout of as many as 200 multi-employer” pension plans. Like most State public pension plans most of these multi-employer plans are about to hit the wall of insolvency. A multi-employer plan is a union pension plan that covers employees of union working at different companies.   This minor little detail was not reported anywhere else.

A good friend of mine who works at a public pension did an internal study of all major State pension plans and determined that a 10% or more decline in the stock market for an extended period of time would blow up every single public pension in the country.  “Extended period of time” was defined as more than 3-4 months.  Every pension fund he studied is a monthly net seller of assets in order to fund beneficiary payouts – i.e. the cash contributions from current payees into the fund plus investment returns on capital is not enough to fund current beneficiary payouts.  Think about that for a moment.

As such, State pensions have dramatically ramped up their risk profile and most now invest at least 40-50% of their assets in stocks.  If you include private equity allocations, the overall exposure to equity investments is 70-80%.  CalPERS allocates 50% of its AUM to the stock market; the State of Kentucky  is now at 60%. Historically, pension stock allocations have typically – and prudently – ranged from 25-35%.

The stock market has now experienced three 9-10% drawdowns since August 2015. Assuming the “V” move  higher from the latest market plunge continues, each drawdown has been aggressively and swiftly negated by obvious Fed intervention.  The Fed does not deny this allegation and even subtly alludes to a non-explicit goal of targeting asset prices.

With pensions now 50% or more invested in stocks, it seems pretty obvious that one way to inflate away the looming pension catastrophe is for the Fed to inflate the stock market.  Two weeks ago the Fed reflated its balance sheet by increasing its SOMA holdings with $11 billion in mortgages. The SOMA account is the Fed’s QE account.  An $11 billion SOMA injection to the banks translates into $100 billion in liquidity – through the magic of the fractional banking system – that can be pumped into the stock market.  Who needs retail stool pigeons to chase extreme valuations even higher?

Most, if not all, pensions are quickly reallocating their equity investments for active to passive funds. “Passive” = indexing.  This means that the Fed only has to worry about inflation the broad indices like the Dow, SPX and Nasdaq.  That’s why an increasingly few number of stocks, like AMZN and Boeing, are driving the indices.  There’s still plenty of stocks that continue to decline – GE, for instance.

I laugh and sometime sneer at those who think new Fed Head Jerome Powell will impose monetary discipline by raising interest rates at least up to the real rate of inflation and reduce the Fed’s balance sheet according the schedule as laid out by Yellen.  After all, Powell is heavily invested in Carlyle Group, which  owns many companies that are covered by union pension plans.  He’s incentivized personally  to keep the monetary gerbil running on the wheel.

And better yet, if the Fed can keep the pensions thinly solvent by pumping up the stock market, Congress and State Governments can defer the inevitable taxpayer bailout of public pension funds – for now.

Brexit To Catalyze Economic Collapse?

The global financial system is collapsing – not just Europe. If the Central Banks stepped away from both their observable and covert money printing, the system would collapse tomorrow. Brexit is not the catalyst and it’s not the cause. Brexit is nothing more than the cover story – the device used to deflect the public’s attention away from truth.

The truth is that the western Central Banks (let’s leave China aside for now) have created the biggest asset bubble in history. And the time has come for it to pop. It’s been a divisive, albeit brilliant, wealth confiscation mechanism.

Elijah Johnson invited me onto his Finance and Liberty podcast show to discuss Brexit, precious metals and the ongoing systemic collapse, which will be more catastrophic than the 2008 collapse financial crisis:

One of the immediate consequences of the BREXIT has been the “gating” of six UK property investment funds. Investors threw money at these funds and helped inflate a massive property bubble in the UK, similar to the one in the U.S. And now investors are trapped because the funds are unable to sell illiquid, overvalued real estate in order to meet redemptions. The same exact process will occur in the U.S. My view is that investors in mutual funds will get what they deserve because blogs like mine have been warning about this for several years now.

On another note, one of the stocks featured in my Mining Stock Journal is up over 7% today. It’s trading at a market cap that is about 10% of the potential valued of this Company’s primary gold property. It also looks like one of its strategic investors is starting to make a move to eventually acquire the entire Company. New subscribers to my Mining Stock Journal currently receive all of the back-issues when they subscribe, including the above-described company which was an early pick and is still highly undervalued. You can subscribe by clicking here: Mining Stock Journal.

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U.S. Economy Appears To Be Headed For The Cliff

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook for February plunged to -11.2 from -4.4 in January.  Wall Street Einsteins were expecting -2.8;  Philly Fed Survey fell to 5.2 vs. 8.2 expected but the 6-month outlook “index” plunged to 29.7 from 50.9 December; the Empire State Fed survey was weaker than January but the “new orders” index fell to 1.22 from 6.09 and future business expectations plunged from 48.3 to 25.58.  Everyone already knows that retail sales were negative in December (-.9) and January (-.8) – that’s with inflation – real retail sales (better measure of unit volume) were even more negative.

I wrote an article for Seeking Alpha in which I make the case that the U.S. economy is headed into a recession, if we’re not technically in one already.   You can read the article here:  The U.S. Economy May Be Headed For A Big Collapse.

This is an excellent graphic portrayal of the current situation in the U.S.  economy.  “U.S. Macro” is an index compiled by Bloomberg which measures the difference between the economic data as reported vs. the consensus estimates for that data (click to enlarge):

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By now I think almost everyone knows that the Fed has been pushing the stock market inexorably higher on a sea tide of printed money.  I think everyone understands that history has shown that market interventions always fail.  When the stock market intervention fails, it will trigger a collapse that will likely make the 1929 crash look tame…