Tag Archives: stock bubble

Stocks Bubble Up From More Money Printing

The stock market spiked up last week as Trump started in with his trade war optimism tweets, which excited the algos and momentum chasers. As Monday rolled around, however,  it was determined that a “Phase 1” trade agreement amounted to nothing more than a commitment from China to buy some farm products. On Tuesday China made the purchases contingent on Trump removing tariffs. So there is no “Phase 1” trade deal.

But the hedge fund computers don’t care.  Now the market is bubbling higher on the reimplementation of Federal Reserve money printing. Call it whatever your want – QE, balance sheet growth, term repos, whatever. But the bottom line is that Fed is printing money and injecting it into the banking system, which thereby acts as a transmission mechanism channeling some portion of this liquidity into the stock market.

The semiconductor sector is traveling higher at the fastest rate as hedge fund computers and daytraders are chasing the highest beta stocks up the most. The SOXX index is pressing its all-time today.   This is in complete disregard to underlying fundamentals in the sector which are melting down precipitously.

For the 1st ten days of October, exports from South Korea fell 8.5% YoY with chip exports down a staggering 27.2%. Remember back in January when the CEO of Lam Research forecast an upturn in 2H of 2019? Does that look like an industry upturn? Two of the world’s five largest chip manufacturers are based in S Korea:  Samsung is the world’s largest and Hynix is ranked fourth.

Today the Fed’s daily money printing repo program surged to $87.7 billion, which is the highest since “QE Renewed”  began in mid-September.  Recall back then the popular Orwellian narrative explained that the “temporary” funding was necessary  to address quarter-end cash needs by corporations and banks.  Well, certainly the banks need the money…

But on Friday the Fed announced that it was going to extend the overnight and term repo operations at least until January. In addition, the Fed added a  $60 billion per month T-bill purchasing program. The Fed explained that it was implementing the  operation to supplement the liability side of its balance sheet.  Besides currency and coin issued by the Fed, deposits from “depository institutions” –  aka demand deposits from banks – represent the largest liability on the Fed’s balance sheet.

This means that this liability account needs more funding because either bank customers are holding less cash at banks OR banks need to increase reserves to maintain regulatory reserve ratios. The latter issue would imply that bank assets – aka loans – are deteriorating more quickly than the banks can raise the funds needed to meet reserve requirements. Given the recent data on MZM, it would appear that customer cash deposits at banks have increased recently. This implies that banks are experiencing stress in the performance of the loans and derivatives on their balance sheet, thereby requiring more reserve capital.

Money printing apologists want to point at DB or JPM as the target of the Fed’s money printing.  And I’m certain they are among the largest contributors to the problem.   But GS, MS, BAC, HSBC, C should be included in there as well.  They’re all connected via derivatives and I’m guessing subprime asset exposure at all the big banks is blowing up,  causing cash flow shortfalls and counterparty derivatives defaults on credit default and interest rate swaps.  Just look at the dent  WeWork is putting into the exposure to the failed unicorn at JPM and GS.  Then there’s the melt-down going in energy/shale sector debt…

Eventually the Fed will have to announce that it is permanently implementing temporary liquidity relief programs – or “organic” balance sheet growth operations.  Jerome Powell will take painstaking measures to assure the market this is not Quantitative Easing.   And he’ll be right. That’s because it is outright money printing.

I expect the stock markets to get a temporary “meth” fix that pushes the SPX back up to the 3,000 area of resistance.  I also expect that it will fail there again, triggering a sharp sell-off into the end of the year, similar to last year. The risk the Fed is running here by using more money printing to juice the stock market is that eventually – like all heroin or meth addicts – stocks will become immune to increasing doses of the happy drug.   At what point will the Fed be forced administer a dosage level that kills the market?

Massive Bull Run In Gold And Silver Is Just Starting

Several Central Banks already buy stocks and bonds with printed money, including the Bank of Japan, Swiss National Bank and the PBoC.  It now looks like Germany’s Bundesbank is going to begin dabbling in the German stock market, extending  its market invention beyond the bond market.

I’m certain the United States’ Exchange Stabilization Fund buys at least stock index futures, if not the shares of companies deemed essential to “national security.”   Given Trump’s tendencies toward dictatorial decrees (see “The Wall” debacle), I suspect eventually he’ll order the Fed to print money and buy stocks directly rather than by proxy via the ESF in an effort to keep the stock bubble from blowing up in the context of a deepening economic recession.

Bill Powers invited me onto his Mining Stock Education podcast to discuss why I believe the move in the precious metals this summer is just beginning.  We also discuss why it will pay off to focus on junior exploration “venture capital” companies, many of which will throw off 50-1000% returns (or more) if gold and silver continue to move higher:

If I’m right, and if the metals continue moving a lot higher, we should start to see stocks like AG move well above their 2016 highs. Eventually many of the juniors will be 3-5x higher than their current level. We got a taste of the type of moves juniors will start to make this week.

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The Mining Stock Journal  covers several mining stocks that I believe are extraordinarily undervalued relative to their upside potential. I also present opportunistic recommendations on select mid-tier and large-cap miners that should outperform their peers.  You can learn more about this newsletter here:   Mining Stock Journal information.

Everything Is Worse Now Than In 2007

Does anyone seriously believe that in the next global recession equity markets will not collapse? Do market participants really believe fiscal stimulus and helicopter money will save us from a gut-wrenching global bust that will make 2008 look like a picnic? Has the longest US economic cycle in history beguiled investors into soporific complacency? I hope not. – Albert Edwards, Market Strategist at Societe Generale

Friday’s 625 point plunge in the Dow capped off another volatile week. Three of the top 20 largest one-day point declines in the Dow have occurred during this month. Remarkably, the Dow has managed to hold the 200 dma 5 times in August. The SPX similarly has managed to hold an imaginary support line at 2,847, about 40 SPX points above the 200 dma. The Russell 2000 index looks like death warmed-over and it’s obvious that large funds are unloading their exposure to the riskier small-cap stocks.

The randomness of unforeseen events causing sudden market sell-offs is starting to occur with greater frequency. Friday’s sell-off was triggered by disappointment with Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole followed by an escalation of the trade war between China and Trump. Given the response of the stock market to the day’s news events, I’m certain no one was expecting a less than dovish speech by the Fed Head at J-Hole or the firing of trade war shots.

It’s laughable that the stock market soars and plunges based on whether or not the Fed will cut rates, and by how much, at its next meeting. At this point, only stocks and bonds will respond positively to the anticipation of more artificial Central Bank stimulus. And the positive response by stocks will be brief.

Morgan Stanley published a table of 21 key global and U.S. economic indices – ranging from the Market Global PMI manufacturing index to the Goldman Sachs US financial conditions index – and compared the current index levels to the same indices in September 2007. Every single economic index was worse now than back in late 2007. September 2007 was the first time the Fed cut rates after a cycle of rate hikes.

But there’s a problem just comparing a large sample of economic indices back then and now. By the time the Fed started to take rates down again in 2007, it had hiked the Fed funds rate 425 basis points from 1% to 5.25%. This time, of course, the Fed started at zero and managed to push the Fed funds rate up only 250 basis points to 2.5%. Not only is the economy in worse shape now than at the beginning of the prior financial crisis but the Fed funds rates is less than 50% as high as it was previously.  For me this underscores that fact that everything is worse now than in 2007.

The commentary above is an excerpt from the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal. Each issue contains economic and market analysis short sell ideas based on fundamental analysis, including ideas for using puts and calls to express a short view. You can learn more about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal Information.

Thanks Dave for the TREE recommendation. I covered in the high $200’s for a very profitable trade after it cracked finally – subscriber “Daniel”

Inching Toward The Cliff – Why Gold Is Soaring

The global economy is headed uncontrollably toward the proverbial cliff. Although the Central Banks will once again attempt to defer this reality with more money printing and currency devaluation, systemic collapse is fait accompli.

Gold and silver are behaving in a way I have not observed in over 18 years of active participation in the precious metals sector. It’s quite possible that the is being driven by the physical gold and silver markets, with the banks losing manipulative control over precious metals prices using derivatives.

Silver Doctors invited me to discuss a global economy headed for economic and financial disaster; we also discuss the likely reintroduction of gold into the global monetary system:

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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

The Economy Is Starting To Implode

Regardless of the Fed Funds rate policy decision by the FOMC today, the economy is spinning down the drain. Lower rates won’t help stimulate much economic activity. Maybe it will arouse a little more financial engineering activity on Wall Street and it might give a temporary boost to mortgage refinancings. But the economic “recovery” of the last 8 years has been an illusion based on massive money printing and credit creation. And credit creation is de facto money printing until the point at which the debt needs to be repaid. Unfortunately, the system is at the point at debt saturation. That’s why the economy is contracting despite the Fed’s best efforts to create what it incorrectly references as “inflation.”

The Chicago PMI released today collapsed to 44.4, the second lowest reading since 2009 and the sharpest monthly decline since the great financial crisis. The index of business conditions in the Chicago area has dropped 5 out of 7 months in 2019. New orders, employment, production and order backlogs all contracted.

The Chicago Fed National Activity index for June remained in contraction at the -0.02 level, up slightly from the reading in May of -0.03. The 3-month average is -0.26. This was the 7th straight monthly decline for the index – the longest streak since 2009. This index is a weighting of 85 indicators of national economic activity. It thus measures a very wide range of economic activities.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing survey index fell off a cliff per last week’s report. The index plunged from 2 in June to -12. The June level was revised down from 3. Wall Street was looking for an index reading of 5. It was the biggest drop in two years and the lowest reading on the index since January 2013. Keep in mind the Fed was still printing money furiously in 2013. The headline index number is a composite of new orders, shipments and employment measures. The biggest contributor to the drop was the new orders component, as order backlogs fell to -26, the lowest reading since April 2009. The survey’s “business conditions” component dropped from 7 to -18, the largest one-month drop in the history of the survey.

Existing home sales for June declined 1.7% from May and 2.2% from June 2018 on a SAAR (seasonally adjusted annualized rate) basis. This is despite the fact that June is one of the best months of the year historically for home sales. Single family home sales dropped 1.5% and condo sales fell 3.3%.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, existing home sales were down 2.8% from May and down 7.5% from June 2018. The unadjusted monthly number is perhaps the most relevant metric because it removes both seasonality and the “statistical adjustments” imposed on the data by the National Association of Realtors’ number crunchers.

The was the 16th month in a row of year-over-year declines. You can see the trend developing. June 2018 was down 5% from June 2017 (not seasonally adjusted monthly metric) and June 2019 was down 7.5% from June 2018. The drop in home sales is made more remarkable by the fact that mortgage rates are only 40 basis points above the all-time low for a 30-yr fixed rate conforming mortgage. However, this slight increase in interest expense would have been offset by the drop in PMI insurance charged by the Government for sub-20% down payment mortgages.

The point here is that pool of potential home buyers who can afford the monthly cost of home ownership is evaporating despite desperate attempts by the Fed and the Government to make the cost of financing a home as cheap as possible. 

New home sales for June were reported to be up 6.9% – 646k SAAR from 604k SAAR – from May. However, it was well below the print for which Wall St was looking (660k SAAR). There’s a couple problems with the report, however, aside from the fact that John Williams (Shadowstats.com) referenced the number as “worthless headline detail [from] this most-volatile and unstable government housing-statistic.” May’s original number of 626k was revised lower to 604k. Furthermore, the number reported is completely dislocated from mortgage application data which suggests that new home sales were lower in June than May.

The new home sale metric is based on contract signings (vs closings for existing home sales). Keep in mind that 90% of all new home buyers use a mortgage for their purchase.
Mortgage applications released Wednesday showed a 2% drop in purchase applications from the previous week. Recall, the previous week purchase apps were down 4%. Purchase apps have now been down 6 out of the last 9 weeks.

Because 90% of new home buyers use a mortgage, the new home sales report should closely correlate with the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage purchase application data. Clearly the MBA data shows mortgage purchase applications declining during most of June. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion. However, I suspect that when July’s number is reported in 4 weeks, there will a sharp downward revision for June’s number. In fact, the Government’s new home sales numbers were also revised lower for April and May. The median price of a new home is down about 10% from its peak in November 2017.

The shipments component of Cass Freight index was down 3.8% in June. It was the seventh straight monthly decline. The authors of the Cass report can usually put a positive spin or find a silver lining in negative data. The report for June was the gloomiest I’ve ever read from the Cass people. Freight shipping is part of the “central nervous system” of the economy. If freight shipments are dropping, so is overall economic activity. Of note, the price index is still rising. The data shows an economic system with contracting economic activity and infested with price inflation.

The propagandists on Capitol Hill, Wall Street and the financial media will use the trade war with China as the excuse for the ailing economy. Trump is doing his damnedest to use China and the Fed as the scapegoat for the untenable systemic problems he inherited but made worse by the policies he implemented since taking office. Trump has been the most enthusiastic cheerleader of the biggest stock market bubble in history. This, after he fingered his predecessor for fomenting “a big fat ugly bubble” when the Dow was at 17,000. If that was a big fat ugly bubble in 2016, what is now?

Modern Monetary Theory, Centralized Control And Gold

My friend and colleague, Chris Powell, Treasurer of GATA, wrote a compelling essay on Modern Monetary Theory. MMT has been in operation by the western Central Banks since Bretton Woods. The “QE” program that began in 2008 is the most recent and blatant implementation of MMT. This is a must-read if you are interesting in understanding the hidden mechanism at work that is destroying the United States.

Modern Monetary Theory, which has been getting much attention lately, is so controversial mainly because it is misunderstood. It is misunderstood first because it is not a theory at all but a truism.

That is, MMT holds essentially that a government issuing a currency without a fixed link to a commodity like gold or silver is constrained in its currency issuance only by inflation and devaluation.

This is a very old observation in economics, going back centuries, even to the classical economist Adam Smith, and perhaps first formally acknowledged by the U.S. government with a speech given in 1945 by the chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Beardsley Ruml. The speech was published in 1946.

Ruml said:

“The necessity for a government to tax in order to maintain both its independence and its solvency is true for state and local governments, but it is not true for a national government. Two changes of the greatest consequence have occurred in the last 25 years which have substantially altered the position of the national state with respect to the financing of its current requirements.

“The first of these changes is the gaining of vast new experience in the management of central banks. The second change is the elimination, for domestic purposes, of the convertibility of the currency into gold. Final freedom from the domestic money market exists for every sovereign national state where there exists an institution which functions in the manner of a modern central bank and whose currency is not convertible into gold or into some other commodity.”

Ruml noted that in a fiat currency system such as the United States had adopted by 1945, government did not need to tax to raise revenue but could create as much money as it wanted and deploy it as it thought best, using taxes instead to give value to its currency and implement social and economic policy.

MMT does not claim that the government should create and deploy infinite money. It claims that money can be created and deployed as much as is necessary to improve general living conditions and eliminate unemployment until the currency begins to lose value.

The second big misunderstanding about MMT is that it is not a mere policy proposal but is actually the policy that has been followed by the U.S. government for decades without the candor of Ruml’s 1945 acknowledgment.

The problem with MMT is that, in its unacknowledged practice, it already has produced what its misunderstanding critics fear it for: the creation and deployment of infinite money and credit by central banks as well as vast inflation.

In accordance with MMT, this creation of infinite money and credit has necessitated central banking’s “financial repression” — its suppression of interest rates and commodity prices through both open and surreptitious intervention in bond and futures markets and the issuance of financial derivatives.

That is, since money creation in the current financial system is restrained only by inflation, this restraint can be removed or lessened with certain price controls, which, to be effective, must be disguised, lest people discern that there are no markets anymore, just interventions.

The British economist Peter Warburton perceived this in his 2001 essay, “The Debasement of World Currency — It Is Inflation, But Not As We Know It“:

“What we see at present is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts. On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur. On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities, or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value.

“Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value not only of the U.S. dollar but of all fiat currencies. Equally, they seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets. [EMPHASIS ADDED.]

“Central banks have found the battle on the second front much easier to fight than the first. Last November I estimated the size of the gross stock of global debt instruments at $90 trillion for mid-2000. How much capital would it take to control the combined gold, oil, and commodity markets? Probably no more than $200 billion, using derivatives.

“Moreover, it is not necessary for the central banks to fight the battle themselves, although central bank gold sales and gold leasing have certainly contributed to the cause. Most of the world’s large investment banks have overtraded their capital so flagrantly that if the central banks were to lose the fight on the first front, then the stock of the investment banks would be worthless. Because their fate is intertwined with that of the central banks, investment banks are willing participants in the battle against rising gold, oil, and commodity prices.”

This “financial repression” and commodity price suppression have channeled into financial and real estate assets — the assets of property owners — the vast inflation resulting from the policy of infinite money creation, thereby diverting inflation from assets whose prices are measured by government’s consumer price indexes. Meanwhile those indexes are constantly distorted and falsified to avoid giving alarm.

As a result the ownership class is enriched and the working class impoverished. Of course this is exactly the opposite of what MMT’s advocates intend.

But while the monetary science conceived by MMT people well might develop a formula for operating a perfect monetary system with full employment and prosperity for all, the monetary system always will confer nearly absolute power on its operators, and as long as the operators are human, such power will always corrupt many of them — even MMT’s advocates themselves.

That’s why market rigging is the inevitable consequence of MMT as it is now practiced and why the world is losing its free and competitive markets to monopoly and oligopoly and becoming less democratic and more totalitarian.

So what is the solution?

Maybe some libertarianism would help: Let governments use whatever they want as money, but let individuals do the same and don’t mess with them. Gold, cryptocurrencies, seashells, oxen, whatever — leave them alone.

Most of all, require government to be completely transparent in whatever it does in the markets. If government wants to rig markets, require that it be done in the open and reported contemporaneously.

After all, the world can hardly know where to go when it isn’t permitted to know where it is.

The U.S. (and Global) Economy Is In Trouble

Jerome Powell will deliver the Fed’s semi-annual testimony on monetary policy (formerly known as the Humphrey-Hawkins testimony)  to Congress this week.  He’ll likely bore us to tears bloviating about “low inflation” and a “tight labor market” and a “healthy economy with some downside risks.”  Of course everyone watching will strain their ears to hear some indication of when the Fed will cut rates and by how much.

But the Fed is backed into a corner.  First, if it were to start cutting rates, it would contradict the message about a “healthy economy.”  Hard to believe someone in control of policy would lie to the public, right?  Furthermore, the Fed is well aware that it has created a dangerous financial asset bubble and that price inflation is running several multiples higher than the number reported by the Government using its heavily massaged CPI index.

Finally, the Fed needs to keep support beneath the dollar because, once the debt ceiling is lifted again, the Treasury will be highly dependent on foreign capital to fund the enormous new Treasury bond issuance that will accompany the raising, or possible removal, of the debt ceiling.  If the Fed starts slashing rates toward zero, the dollar will begin to head south and foreigners will be loathe buy dollar-based assets.

However, if the Fed does cut rates at the July FOMC meeting, it’s because Powell and his cohorts are well aware of the deteriorating economic conditions which are driving the data embedded in these charts which show that US corporate “sentiment” toward the economy and business conditions is in a free-fall:

The chart on the left is Morgan Stanley’s Business Conditions index. The index is designed to capture turning points in the economy. It fell to 13 in June from 45 in May. It was the largest one-month decline in the history of the index. It’s also the lowest reading on the index since December 2008.

The chart on the right  shows business/manufacturing executives’ business expectations (blue line) vs consumer expectations. Businesses have become quite negative in their outlook for economic conditions. You’ll note the spread between business and consumer expectations (business minus consumer) is the widest and most negative since the tech stock bubble popped in 2000.

Regardless of the nonsense you might read in the mainstream media or hear on the bubblevision cable channels, the U.S. and global economies are spiraling into a deep recession.  Aside from the progression of the business cycle, which has been hindered from its natural completion since 2008 by money printing and ZIRP from Central Banks, the world is awash in too much debt,  especially at the household level. The Central Banks can stimulate consumption if they want to subsidize negative interest rates for credit card companies.  But short of that, the economy is in big trouble.

I publish the Short Seller’s Journal, which features economic analysis similar to the commentary above plus short selling opportunities to take advantage of stocks that are mis-priced based on fundamentals.  You can learn more about this weekly newsletter here: Short Seller’s Journal information.

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

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

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