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Buffalo banker: Small businesses must protect cashflow as economic concerns mount

The Fed’s aggressive rate hike creates the need for a proactive response from business leaders, according to a local business banking exec......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 23rd, 2022

The Engineered Stagflationary Collapse Has Arrived – Here"s What Happens Next

The Engineered Stagflationary Collapse Has Arrived – Here's What Happens Next Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us In my 16 years as an alternative economist and political writer I have spent around half that time warning that the ultimate outcome of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus model would be a stagflationary collapse. Not a deflationary collapse, or an inflationary collapse, but a stagflationary collapse. The reasons for this were very specific – Mass debt creation was being countered with MORE debt creation while many central banks have been simultaneously devaluing their currencies through QE measures. On top of that, the US is in the unique position of relying on the world reserve status of the dollar and that status is diminishing. It was only a matter of time before the to forces of deflation and inflation met in the middle to create stagflation. In my article ‘Infrastructure Bills Do Not Lead To Recovery, Only Increased Federal Control’, published in April of 2021, I stated that: “Production of fiat money is not the same as real production within the economy… Trillions of dollars in public works programs might create more jobs, but it will also inflate prices as the dollar goes into decline. So, unless wages are adjusted constantly according to price increases, people will have jobs, but still won’t be able to afford a comfortable standard of living. This leads to stagflation, in which prices continue to rise while wages and consumption stagnate. Another Catch-22 to consider is that if inflation becomes rampant, the Federal Reserve may be compelled (or claim they are compelled) to raise interest rates significantly in a short span of time. This means an immediate slowdown in the flow of overnight loans to major banks, an immediate slowdown in loans to large and small businesses, an immediate crash in credit options for consumers, and an overall crash in consumer spending. You might recognize this as the recipe that created the 1981-1982 recession, the third-worst in the 20th century. In other words, the choice is stagflation, or deflationary depression.” It’s clear today what the Fed has chosen. It’s important to remember that throughout 2020 and 2021 the mainstream media, the central bank and most government officials were telling the public that inflation was “transitory.” Suddenly in the past few months this has changed and now even Janet Yellen has admitted that she was “wrong” on inflation. This is a misdirection, however, because the Fed knows exactly what it is doing and always has. Yellen denied reality, but she knew she was denying reality. In other words, she was not mistaken about the economic crisis, she lied about it. As I outlined last December in my article ‘The Fed’s Catch-22 Taper Is A Weapon, Not A Policy Error’: ‘First and foremost, no, the Fed is not motivated by profits, at least not primarily. The Fed is able to print wealth at will, they don’t care about profits – They care about power and centralization. Would they sacrifice “the golden goose” of US markets in order to gain more power and full bore globalism? Absolutely. Would central bankers sacrifice the dollar and blow up the Fed as an institution in order to force a global currency system on the masses? There is no doubt; they’ve put the US economy at risk in the past in order to get more centralization.’ The Fed has known for years that the current path would lead to inflation and then market destruction, and here’s the proof – Fed Chairman Jerome Powell actually warned about this exact outcome in October of 2012: “I have concerns about more purchases. As others have pointed out, the dealer community is now assuming close to a $4 trillion balance sheet and purchases through the first quarter of 2014. I admit that is a much stronger reaction than I anticipated, and I am uncomfortable with it for a couple of reasons.First, the question, why stop at $4 trillion? The market in most cases will cheer us for doing more. It will never be enough for the market. Our models will always tell us that we are helping the economy, and I will probably always feel that those benefits are overestimated. And we will be able to tell ourselves that market function is not impaired and that inflation expectations are under control. What is to stop us, other than much faster economic growth, which it is probably not in our power to produce? When it is time for us to sell, or even to stop buying, the response could be quite strong; there is every reason to expect a strong response. So there are a couple of ways to look at it. It is about $1.2 trillion in sales; you take 60 months, you get about $20 billion a month. That is a very doable thing, it sounds like, in a market where the norm by the middle of next year is $80 billion a month. Another way to look at it, though, is that it’s not so much the sale, the duration; it’s also unloading our short volatility position.” As we all now know, the Fed waited until their balance sheet was far larger and until the economy was MUCH weaker than it was in 2012 to unleash tightening measures. They KNEW the whole time exactly what was going to happen. It is no coincidence that the culmination of the Fed’s stimulus bonanza has arrived right after the incredible damage done to the economy and the global supply chain by the covid lockdowns. It is no coincidence that these two events work together to create the perfect stagflationary scenario. And, it’s no coincidence that the only people who benefit from these conditions are proponents of the “Great Reset” ideology at the World Economic Forum and other globalist institutions. This is an engineered collapse that has been in the works for many years. The goal is to “reset” the world, to erase what’s left of free market systems, and to establish what they call the “Shared Economy” system. This system is one in which the people who survive the crash will be made utterly dependent on government through Universal Basic Income and one that will restrict all resource usage in the name of “carbon reduction.” According to the WEF, you will own nothing and you will like it. The collapse is engineered to create crisis conditions so frightening that they expect the majority of the public to submit to a collectivist hive mind lifestyle with greatly reduced standards. This would be accomplished through UBI, digital currency models, carbon taxation, population reduction, rationing of all commodities and a social credit system. The goal, in other words, is complete control through technocratic authoritarianism. All of this is dependent on the exploitation of crisis events to create fear in the population. Now that economic destabilization has arrived, what happens next? Here are my predictions… The Fed Will Hike Interest Rates More Than Expected, But Not Enough To Stop Inflation Today, we are witnessing the poisonous fruits of a decade-plus of massive fiat money creation and we are now at the stage where the Fed will reveal its true plan. Hiking interest rates fast, or hiking them slow. Fast hikes will mean an almost immediate crash in markets (beyond what we have already seen), slow hikes will mean a drawn out process of price inflation and general uncertainty. I believe the Fed will hike more than expected, but not enough to actually slow inflation in necessities. There will be an overall decline in luxury items, recreation commerce and non-essentials, but most other goods will continue to climb in cost. It is to the advantage of globalists to keep the inflation train running for another year or longer. In the end, though, the central bank WILL declare that the pace of interest rates is not enough to stop inflation and they will revert to a Volcker-like strategy, pushing rates up so high that the economy simply stops functioning altogether. Markets Will Crash And Unemployment Will Abruptly Spike Stock markets are utterly dependent on Fed stimulus and easy money through low interest rate loans – This is a fact. Without low rates and QE, corporations cannot engage in stock buybacks. Meaning, the tools for artificially inflating equities are disappearing. We are already seeing the effects of this now with markets dropping 20% or more. The Fed will not capitulate. They will continue to hike regardless of the market reaction. As far as jobs are concerned, Biden and many mainstream economists constantly applaud the low unemployment rate as proof that the American economy is “strong,” but this is an illusion. Covid stimulus measures temporarily created a dynamic in which businesses needed increased staff to deal with excess retail spending. Now, the covid checks have stopped and Americans have maxed out their credit cards. There is nothing left to keep the system afloat. Businesses will start making large job cuts throughout the last half of 2022. Price Controls I have no doubt that Joe Biden and Democrats will seek to enforce price controls on many goods as inflation continues, and there will be a handful of Republicans that will support the tactic. Price controls actually lead to a reduction in supply because they remove all profits and thus all incentive for manufacturers to keep producing goods. What usually happens at that point is government steps in to nationalize manufacturing, but this will be substandard production and at a much lower yield. In the end, supplies are reduced even further and prices go even higher on the black market because no one can get their hands on most goods anyway. Rationing Yes, rationing at the manufacturing and distribution level is going to happen, so be sure to buy what you need now before it does. Rationing occurs in the wake of price controls or supply chain disruptions, and usually this coincides with a government propaganda campaign against “hoarders.” They will hold up a few exaggerated examples of people who buy truckloads of merchandise to scalp prices on the black market. Then, not long after, they will accuse preppers and anyone who bought goods BEFORE the crisis of “hoarding” simply because they planned ahead. Rationing is not only about controlling the supply of necessities and thus controlling the population by proxy; it is also about creating an atmosphere of blame and suspicion within the public and getting them to snitch on or attack anyone that is prepared. Prepared people represent a threat to the establishment, so expect to be demonized in the media and organize with other prepared people to protect yourself. Be Ready, It Only Gets Worse From Here On It might sound like I am predicting success of the Great Reset program, but I actually believe the globalists will fail in the end. That’s not going to stop them from making the attempt. Also, the above scenarios are only predictions for the near term (within the next couple of years). There will be many other problems that stem from these situations. Naturally, food riots and other mob actions will become more commonplace, perhaps not this year, but by the end of 2023 they will definitely be a problem. This will coincide with the return of political unrest in the US as leftist factions, encouraged by globalist foundations, demand more government intervention in poverty. At the same time, conservatives will demand less government interference and less tyranny. At bottom, the people who are prepared might be called a lot of mean names, but as long as we organize and work together, we will survive. Many unprepared people will NOT survive. Understand that the economic conditions ahead of us are historically destructive; there is no way that serious consequences can be avoided for a large part of the population, if only because they refuse to listen and to take proper steps to protect themselves. The denial is over. The crash is here. Time to take action if you have not done so already. Tyler Durden Fri, 06/17/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 18th, 2022

Stocks Stage Feeble Attempt At Dead Cat Bounce After Losing $1.3 Trillion In One Day

Stocks Stage Feeble Attempt At Dead Cat Bounce After Losing $1.3 Trillion In One Day US index futures staged a feeble, fading attempt to bounce on Tuesday, following Monday's crash that wiped out $1.3 trillion in market cap and topped a furious 4-day selloff that was the worst since March 2020 and culminated in a bear market amid expectations - even from permabull Goldman - that the Fed's now accepted 75bps rate hike on Wednesday will hurl the economy into a recession. Futures on the S&P 500 rebounded more than 1% in early trading before fading the gain to just 0.24%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.5%. US stocks plunged on Monday to the lowest level since January 2021 and closed more than 20% below its January record high, triggering Joe Biden first official bear market. Global equities sold off after an unexpectedly strong reading Friday on US inflation sparked concern that the Fed will go too far in raising interest rates to tame soaring prices. Bond yields dipped after soaring to a peak last seen in 2011. The yield curve remained flat, however, underscoring worries about an economic downturn sparked by tighter monetary policy, with the 2s10s curve just 1bps away from inverting again.  Cryptocurrencies, meanwhile, plunged with bitcoin puking more than 10% to below $21,000 before paring much of the slide as dip buyers emerged. UBS said most long-term owners are now in the red and warned of more losses if coin miners buckle under the pressure and start selling. The dollar was steady near a two-year high. In Japan, the central bank boosted bond-purchase operations to keep yields in check. The yen hovered near a 24-year low against the greenback. “We remain bearish on equity outlook,” said Marija Veitmane, a senior strategist at State Street Global Markets. “Inflation is still a huge problem and central banks need to be very aggressive to fight it. This is a very negative outlook for stocks, so we would be sellers of any rally.” Among notable premarket movers, shares of megacap tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Tesla and Meta Platforms were slightly higher and poised to recoup some of the losses from Monday: Apple (AAPL US) +1.4%, Amazon (AMZN US) +1.7%, Alphabet (GOOGL US) +1.5%, Meta Platforms (META US) +1.9% and Nvidia (NVDA US) +1.8% in premarket trading. Oracle shares rose 13% in premarket trading after the software company reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter results. Here are the most notable premarket movers: AMC Entertainment (AMC US) shares rise as much as 3.7% in US premarket trading, in line with a broader rebound in risk assets, and after the movie theater operator said that last weekend’s admission revenues beat that of the same weekend of 2019. Adobe (ADBE US) slides 4.2% in premarket trading as Citi cut its price target on the company to $425, the lowest on Wall Street, citing weaker consumer spending and potentially rising competition. US-listed Chinese stocks post broad-based gains in premarket trading, on track to rebound from a three-day drop, as sentiment toward tech stabilizes: Alibaba (BABA US) shares rise 3.8%, Baidu (BIDU US) +4%, Pinduoduo (PDD US) +4.2%, JD.com (JD US) +3.2% and Li Auto (LI US) +6.1% Braze (BRZE US) shares jump 8% in premarket trading after the company’s first-quarter revenue beat estimates, and full-year guidance also topped expectations. Arista (ANET US) shares decline 4.1% in US premarket trading as Morgan Stanley says in a note that the company, as well as Wiwynn and memory stocks such as SK Hynix and Micron (MU US) are among those most at risk in the semiconductor and networking equipment space when tech firms cut spending on data centers. Kaival Brands (KAVL US) shares surge as much as 57% in US premarket trading, after the vaping products distributor reached deal with Philip Morris to distribute electronic nicotine delivery systems products outside of the US. Outset Medical (OM US) shares fall 4.6% in premarket trading as their price target was cut to a Street-low at Cowen, after the medical technology firm halted shipments on its Tablo Hemodialysis System for home use. The company also suspended guidance for the year. US Silica (SLCA US) shares may be in focus after they were upgraded to outperform from inline at Evercore ISI following the conclusion of the industrial minerals firm’s review of its Industrial & Specialty Products (ISP) segment. With just two weeks left until the end of Q2, a dismal picture emerges: this quarter is set to deliver the biggest combined loss for global bonds and stocks on record, according to Bloomberg. The highest inflation in a generation, stoked by supply-chain and commodity-market disruptions amid China’s Covid struggles and the war in Ukraine, is roiling the outlook. According to Bloomberg,  the big question is whether the Fed and other major central banks will tip their economies into recession as they tighten financial conditions. We disagree: a recession is now assured; the real big question is how sparking a recession in the US will force Putin to pump more gas. European gains were shorter-lived: Euro Stoxx 50 reverses a 1.1% bounce to trade down 0.2%, extending its decline to a sixth day, on track for the longest losing streak since the start of the pandemic and the lowest closing level in 15 months. Retail, media and travel are the weakest Stoxx 600 sectors with broad-based sectoral gains fading as the session progresses. Bonds in most of Europe edged lower, but gilts bucked the trend after data showed spending power of UK households plunged as inflation eroded wage increases. Here are the biggest European movers: Fortum shares rose as much as 9.5%, while Uniper gained 6.1% as Finland is prepared to give Fortum time to sell its Russian power plants and follow other western energy companies out of Russia. Rates-sensitive banking stocks in Europe outperform Tuesday as Treasury yields drop following four consecutive days of increases that lifted the 10-year to the highest level since 2011. HSBC shares gain as much as 3.2%, Standard Chartered +3.2%, Nordea Bank +2.7%, ING +2.8% Wizz Air shares rise as much as 6.2% after Berenberg upgraded the airline to buy from hold, citing the long-term potential of its business, despite numerous recent challenges. Go-Ahead rises as much as 15% amid a potential bidding war. The company accepted a £648m takeover bid from an investor group backed by Australian rival Kinetic, while Kelsian is assessing whether to make offer. Saipem gains as much as 8.5% after five sessions of declines; the company and Trevi signed memorandum of understanding for foundation drilling solutions and services for offshore wind farm projects. Atos shares plunge as much as 27% after the company announced the departure of newly arrived CEO Rodolphe Belmer and a separation into two publicly listed companies. Akzo Nobel shares decline as much as 6.1% after the company reduced 2Q forecasts due to China lockdowns and slower start to EMEA DIY season. Air France-KLM shares fall as much as 13% after the company raised EU2.3b in a deeply discounted rights offering to help repay state aid received during the pandemic. Earlier in the session, Asian stock market indexes hit bleak milestones in quick succession on Tuesday as investor concerns worsened that aggressive interest rate increases in the US could erode corporate earnings. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 2% to its lowest level in a month after the world equities gauge entered a bear market overnight before paring losses. New Zealand’s stock index extended its decline to 20% from a peak reached last year, entering a bear market, while Singapore’s measure wiped out its gains for 2022. Traders are betting that the Fed will deliver a 75-basis-point rate increase in this week’s meeting -- the biggest since 1994 -- after US inflation hit a four-decade high in May. This is further muddying the economic outlook at a time supply chains are snarled, weighing on the valuation and profit estimates for the MSCI Asia index, which has lost 17% this year. “Bets are off for all asset classes as investors brace themselves for tough action from the Fed to counter higher-than-expected inflation,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore. “The renewed lockdowns in China are also not going to be helpful.” Central banks from South Korea and Australia to India have been raising rates in response to accelerating inflation, with the latter two announcing 50-basis-point increases in their latest decisions. China’s persistent zero-Covid strategy is another factor disproportionately affecting companies in Asia. Singapore’s Straits Times Index is near a correction, down 9.7% from an April high, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index has dropped 12% over a similar period. Elsewhere, the MSCI Asean Index is inching closer to a 20% drop from a peak reached in January 2021, while South Korea’s Kospi remains mired in a bear market.  Still, investors have identified some potential areas of outperformance, as Asia’s stock measure has held up better than global peers as it continues to trade at a lower forward price-to-earnings ratio. And while China has walked back on loosening some Covid-19 restrictions in Beijing and Shanghai, traders see the country’s fiscal and monetary easing stance giving its beleaguered stocks a further boost.  “China might outperform global equities, as it did in May and early June,” if consumption resumes in the coming months after a relaxation in lockdowns, said Herald van der Linde, head of APAC equity strategy at HSBC Holdings Plc. Meanwhile, commodity-exporting Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, which are also benefiting from border reopenings, are expected to continue to shine. The Jakarta Composite Index rose on Tuesday, taking its advance to 7.1% this year. India was no exception to the global rout, and stock gauges fell to their lowest levels in 11-months as inflation and interest-rate concerns continued to fuel selloffs across global equity markets.  The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.3% to 52,693.57 in Mumbai after rising as much as 0.5% during the session. The NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped by an similar measure to its lowest since July 28. Both benchmarks have dropped more than 14% from October peaks. Foreign institutional investors have taken out $24.2 billion from local stocks this year through June 10, and the selloff is headed for its ninth consecutive month. However, the key indexes have still outperformed Asia Pacific and emerging-market peers this year, helped by net $26.4 billion of stock purchases by domestic investors, which include mutual funds and insurance companies. Consumer-price inflation in India has stayed above the central bank’s target in May while wholesale prices accelerated for a third-straight month as input costs continue to rise for manufacturers. “High inflationary environment, fresh curbs in China and rising crude oil prices are likely to keep the markets under pressure for a while,” Motilal Oswal analyst Siddhartha Khemka wrote in a note.  Reliance Industries contributed the most to the Sensex’s decline, decreasing 1.3%. Among the 30 shares in the Sensex Index, 15 rose, 14 fell and one was unchanged. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell as the greenback weakened against most of its Group-of-10 peers.  The euro rose from a one-month low against the dollar but still failed to retrace the recent plunge in a meaningful way. German June ZEW expectations came in at -28.0 versus estimate -26.8. Norway’s krone slumped to a fresh 4-week low against the euro after Norges Bank’s regional network report showed businesses were expecting growth to slow. Sweden’s krona got a temporary boost after inflation figures for May came in higher than the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. A Riksbank survey showed businesses, which are seeing sharp cost increases, are concerned that the coming wage bargaining rounds will lead to higher salary costs than in previous collective agreements. The Swiss franc led G-10 gains as it pared most of yesterday’s drop against the dollar. The pound edged up from a two-year low against the dollar. Sterling remained on the back foot after UK labour market data showed limited further tightening in the jobs market, suggesting that the BOE may raise interest rates by 25bps this week, rather than 50bps. Australian sovereign bonds plunged in catch-up to a two-day rout in Treasuries as the specter of a 75bps Fed hike on Wednesday loomed large. Aussie steadied following a bounce in US stock futures. USD/JPY consolidated. The Bank of Japan ramped up the defense of its policy framework after yields came under renewed upward pressure, unveiling a further set of unscheduled buying operations, including purchases of much longer maturities In rates, treasuries bull steepened with front-end yields richer by 8.5bp on the day into US morning session. S&P futures slightly higher, although remain near Monday session lows as investors continue to position ahead of Wednesday’s Fed decision. Swaps market prices in just under 200bp of rate hikes over the next three meetings with 70bp priced into Wednesday’s decision. Three-month Libor fix jumps over 17bp. US yields richer by 8.5bp to 5bp across the curve with front-end led gains steepening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 2.1bp and 1.5bp; 10-year yields around 3.30% and outperforming bunds by 7bp on the day. IG dollar issuance slate; projections for the session remain murky amid markets turmoil and after a number of deals were put on ice Monday. Gilts put in a ~6bps parallel richening move across the curve. Bunds buck the trend, bear-steepening ahead of scheduled comments from ECB’s Schnabel on euro-area bond market fragmentation due later. In commodities, oil held above $120 a barrel as investors evaluated a tight supply outlook and the impact of China’s eventual return from virus curbs. WTI adds 0.7% to trade near $121.71, Brent holds above $123. Spot gold trades a narrow range, fading after hitting $1,830/oz. Base metals are mixed; LME tin falls 5.1% while LME zinc gains 0.3%. To the day ahead now. The ECB’s Schnabel speaks, while in data we get UK jobless claims, ILO unemployment rate, ZEW surveys for the Eurozone and Germany, US NFIB small business optimism and PPI, and Canadian manufacturing sales. Hold on to your hats. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.1% to 3,790.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 413.07 MXAP down 0.9% to 159.98 MXAPJ down 0.6% to 529.25 Nikkei down 1.3% to 26,629.86 Topix down 1.2% to 1,878.45 Hang Seng Index little changed at 21,067.99 Shanghai Composite up 1.0% to 3,288.91 Sensex down 0.2% to 52,743.72 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 3.5% to 6,686.03 Kospi down 0.5% to 2,492.97 Brent Futures up 0.7% to $123.15/bbl Gold spot up 0.6% to $1,829.72 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.34% to 104.72 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.62% Euro up 0.6% to $1.0473 Brent Futures up 0.7% to $123.17/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The latest jumps in consumer prices and inflation expectations will probably spur Federal Reserve officials to consider the biggest interest-rate increase since 1994 when they meet this week, after Chair Jerome Powell previously signaled a smaller move was the likely outcome JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are withdrawing from handling trades of Russian debt after the Biden administration’s surprise announcement last week it’s banning US investors from scooping up such assets As the BOJ escalates attempts to keep a lid on bond yields, BlueBay is betting the central bank will be forced to abandon a policy that’s increasingly out of sync with global peers. The BOJ’s so- called yield curve control is “untenable,” according to Mark Dowding, BlueBay’s London-based chief investment officer Investor fears of stagflation are at the highest since the 2008 financial crisis, while global growth optimism has sunk to a record low, according to Bank of America Corp.’s monthly fund manager survey A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pacific stocks were pressured following the global stock and bond slump as the aftershock from recent hot US inflation reverberated across risk assets and spurred further expectations for a 75bps Fed rate hike this week. ASX 200 was the worst performer as the losses caught up to the index on return from the extended weekend and with the declines led by underperformance in tech and metals. Nikkei 225 extended its declines despite the BoJ’s efforts to cap yields and with the recent rapid currency moves adding to the uncertainty. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were negative as lockdown concerns lingered with China’s Vice Premier Sun suggesting it is necessary to strengthen COVID-19 prevention and control of key places, while Shanghai's Minhang district plans to conduct mass testing on Saturday. Top Asian News Shanghai's Minhang district is planning mass COVID-19 testing on Saturday, according to Bloomberg. BoJ announced additional bond purchases for Wednesday in which it will increase purchases of JGBs across several maturities, while it will continue to conduct additional buying as needed, according to Reuters. European bourses began on the front-foot but quickly slipped into negative territory, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8%; since the post-open dip, price action has steadily deteriorated further. However, while US futures are directionally in-fitting they remain in positive territory, ES +0.3%; albeit, well of highs and the ES resides around 3760 currently awaiting Fed clarity amid increasing speculation for 75bp. Oracle Corp (ORCL) Q4 2022 (USD): Adj. EPS 1.54 (exp. 1.37), Revenue 11.8bln (exp. 11.66bln). Cloud License And On-Premise License: 2.54bln (exp. 2.19bln). Cloud Services And Licenses Support: 7.6bln (exp. 7.77bln). Total Hardware Revenues: 856mln (exp. 857.71mln). Total Services Revenues: 833mln (exp. 847.89mln). Added USD 15.8bln after Cerner acquisition and it expects cloud business to grow by over 30% in FY23; Co. expects Q1 rev. including Cerner to grow 17%-19%. (PR Newswire) +12% in the pre-market. German cartel office has commenced proceedings against Apple (AAPL) re. tracking regulations for 3rd party apps, via Reuters. Top European News The EU is set to launch three separate lawsuits against the British government after it published its plans to override the protocol, according to the Telegraph. One option would reportedly see the EU end financial equivalence for the City of London. US urged the UK and EU to return to talks to resolve differences over the Northern Ireland Protocol and said it remains a priority to protect gains of the Good Friday Agreement. White House said proposed changes to N. Ireland Protocol won't be an impediment to potential US-UK trade deal or trade dialogue talks in Boston, according to Reuters. UK PM Johnson is not looking to lower household taxes until inflation is brought under control, as such action is unlikely before next year, according to the Telegraph. FX Dollar consolidates after Monday’s melt up to new multi year peaks as clock ticks down to FOMC and US PPI data; DXY hovers around 105.00 and just shy of new 105.290 YTD high. Franc outperforms following suspension of trade in Russia against Rouble and Greenback; Usd/Chf probes 0.9000 to downside after pulling up only pips short of parity yesterday. Euro rebounds amidst more hawkish commentary from ECB’s Knot and irrespective of German ZEW survey misses; EUR/USD back above 1.0400 and decent option expiries between 1.0420-15. Aussie undermined by waning risk appetite and ongoing covid outbreaks in China, but underpinned by RBA Governor Lowe underlining determination to get inflation back to target, AUD/USD towards lower end of 0.6970-18 range. Pound fades after brief upturn in bigger than expected rise in UK employment as other labour market metrics fall short of expectations and EU rift over NI protocol persists; Cable on the cusp of 1.2100 after fleeting breach of round above, EUR/GBP crosses 0.8600 to set fresh 2 month apex. Fixed Income Recovery in EZ debt derailed by supply and hawkish remarks from ECB's Knot as Bunds retreat to 145.00 within a 145.58-144.51 range Gilts and 10 year T-note hold up better between 112.97-29 and 116-03/115-01+ parameters in consolidation after Monday's rout and ahead of US PPI data ** BTP/Bund** spread blows out beyond 250 bp in advance of ECB's Schnabel on fragmentation in bond markets Commodities WTI and Brent are firmer by circa. USD 1.0/bbl at present and reside towards the mid-point of a USD ~2.00/bbl range with specific newsflow thin and broader developments on familiar themes. Themes which include China COVID and travel demand, for instance; but, factors which are overshadowed by broader anticipation going into Wednesday's FOMC. US and Saudi Arabia will announce on Tuesday that US President Biden will visit Saudi Arabia on July 15th and 16th, according to NBC's Pegram citing sources. China's state planner is to increase retail prices of gasoline and diesel by CNY 390/tonne and CNY 375/tonne respectively as of June 15th, via NDRC. Spot gold is essentially unchanged on the session around USD 1820/oz after falling below the 10-, 21- & 200-DMAs yesterday; Copper softer amid broader risk. US Event Calendar 08:30: May PPI Final Demand MoM, est. 0.8%, prior 0.5%; YoY, est. 10.9%, prior 11.0% 08:30: May PPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 0.4%; YoY, est. 8.6%, prior 8.8% 08:30: May PPI Final Demand DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Where do we start this morning after as action packed a 24 hours as I can remember. The global equity and bond sell-off would have been bad anyway but the late US session headlines from a WSJ article (written by a journalist close to the Fed) that suggested the FOMC may need to surprise with a +75bp hike tomorrow was the last straw. Before we delve into the article and more detail on markets let’s take a one para overview of all the main market highlights. To start with, 2yr USTs capped their largest two-day move (+54.3bps, +29.1bps yesterday), since the week following Lehman’s collapse, while 10yr Treasuries have risen +31.8bps over the last two days (+20.4bps yesterday), the largest such move since December 2010, bringing the 10yr to 3.36%, the highest since 2011. Meanwhile, the 2s10s yield curve swung around violently before closing in inverted territory (-0.3bps) again for the first time since the first days of April and for only the 15th day out of the 3907 business days since May 2007. The historic moves didn’t end with the Treasury market, as Italian 10yr BTP yields (+26.2bps) crossed 4.0% for the first time since 2014, the crossover index widened +32.3bps to 534bps, its widest level since 2012 outside of peak initial Covid widening, Bitcoin fell -15.13% to its lowest since late 2020 and is down another -5.23% this morning, the S&P 500 (-3.88%) finally entered bear market territory (-21.8% from its YTD peaks), while the dollar index surged to its highest level since 2002. So quite a ride although as we'll see below risk is doing a bit better this morning with yields relatively flat. Going through things in more detail, the Treasury market has been at the epicentre of this sell-off after the shocking CPI from last Friday. Yields were drifting higher all day as some on the Street officially updated their call for +75bp on Wednesday and openly considered whether the Fed will need a +100bp hike. The WSJ report then later threw gasoline on the already raging fire, noting the Fed was indeed “considering surprising markets with a larger-than expected” +75bp hike as early as this week given Friday’s alarming CPI and inflation expectations data. All-in, Fed funds futures moved to price in a 94% chance of a +75bp hike on Wednesday. So a +75bp hike on Wednesday won’t come as a surprise anymore. At the end of the day, 2yr yields gained +29.1bps yesterday and +25.2bps Friday, bringing the rate to 3.35%. The 2s10s yield curve inverted, closing the day at -0.3bps, as 10yr yields climbed +11.4bps Friday and +20.4bps yesterday, bringing rates to 3.36%, their highest level since April 2011. As we go to press this morning, 2yr yields are up another 2bps with 10yr yields fractionally higher, thus inverting the curve a little more. US PPI today will be closely watched for the next inflation impulse. The policy rate at end 2022 implied by fed funds futures closed at 3.72%, its highest to date by some margin, and implies just shy of +300bps of tightening over 5 meetings. Markets also moved to price in a terminal rate above 4% in the middle of next year, closer to DB's call which has been the most aggressive on the street. It’s perhaps an understatement to say the market will be hyper focused on how the Fed communicates the near-term path of policy at this week’s FOMC, especially including what size rate hikes they’re considering as adequate for the rest of the year. The selloff was echoed in Europe, where 10yr bunds (+11.5bps), OATs (+15.4bps), and BTPs (+26.2bps) all soldoff, even before the blockbuster WSJ report. ECB speakers returned to the docket after last week’s meeting, where Governing Council member Kazmir noted there was a clear need for a +50bp hike in September, in line with our European economics team’s call. Kazmir went on to warn that the economy faces weak growth for several quarters, piling onto what the market had already deduced – the sharp global repricing in monetary policy would weigh on growth. One of the major fears following the ECB meeting was that absent a new tool designed to stem fragmentation, peripheral spreads would widen out, and yesterday brought a fresh round of peripheral widening, with 10yr Italian spreads widening +14.6bps to bunds, with Spanish bonds widening +9.9bps. Indeed, 10yr BTPs crossed 4.0% for the first time since 2014. Equity markets got the message, selling off across the Atlantic, with the S&P 500 falling -3.87% into bear market territory, down -21.82% from the all-time highs reached in early January, with the STOXX 600 down -2.41%. At one point, every single share in the S&P 500 was lower, though the index staged a heroic rally leaving 5 shares higher on the day. That’s the lowest amount since June 11, 2020 when only one share advanced. Unsurprisingly, every S&P 500 sector was lower, with all but two sectors declining by more than 3%. The NASDAQ fell -4.68% on the hit from higher discount rates, now -32.68% from its November high. Mega-cap shares bore the brunt of higher discount rates, with the FANG+ falling -6.50%, its worst day since September 2020, and -40.98% lower from its own all-time highs reached in November. Markets are trying to bounce this morning with S&P 500 futures +1% and Nasdaq futures +1.15% As we discussed yesterday, this sharp rates repricing is partly due to another attempt at forward guidance from the Fed. Having signalled 50bps at the next two meetings a few weeks ago they reduced volatility. However when it became clear that this guidance may be insufficient it has opened up a market attack. The last man standing continues to be the BoJ and to be honest the more the market attacks the Fed and the ECB the more likely it is that the BoJ own forward guidance (in the form of YCC) will end very messily with huge implications for global rates. If the BoJ throws in the towel in H2 then global bond markets lose a huge anchor. Certainly one to watch for every morning when you wake up! Indeed the BOJ ramped up its scheduled purchases of 5-to-10-year debt today from an expected ¥500 billion to ¥800 billion as the yield on the 10yr JGBs jumped to 0.255%, edging past the upper end of the central bank’s 0.25% target range. Talking of Asia, equity markets are lower this morning but markets are trying to fight back. The Nikkei (-2.00%) is the largest underperformer with the Hang Seng (-1.15%) and Kospi (-1.11%) also lagging. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (-1.60%) and CSI (-1.86%) are also lower. Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 is -4.54% lower after returning to trade following a holiday yesterday. In such a broad-based selloff, many would have been interested in how crypto assets would hold up, supposedly uncorrelated with traditional assets. However, digital assets did not escape the wrath of plummeting risk sentiment, with bitcoin falling -15.13% and down another -5.28% this morning as we type. At one point this morning, Bitcoin fell about -10% to trade at $20,823 before recovering a little. There were reports that some exchanges were having trouble liquidating holdings of various crypto assets. This is a classic deleveraging and unwinding of a bubble trade. To the day ahead now. The ECB’s Schnabel speaks, while in data we get UK jobless claims, ILO unemployment rate, ZEW surveys for the Eurozone and Germany, US NFIB small business optimism and PPI, and Canadian manufacturing sales. Hold on to your hats. Tyler Durden Tue, 06/14/2022 - 07:49.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 14th, 2022

Protection From A Currency Collapse

Protection From A Currency Collapse Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, While markets seem becalmed, financial conditions are rapidly deteriorating. Last week Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase gave the clearest of signals that bank credit is beginning to contract. Russia has consolidated its rouble, which has now become the strongest currency by far. The Fed announced the previous week that its balance sheet is in negative equity. And there’s mounting evidence that we have a nascent crack-up boom. Russia now appears to be protecting the rouble from these developments in the West, while previously she was only attacking the dollar’s hegemony. China has yet to formulate a defensive currency policy but is likely to back the renminbi with a commodity basket, at least for foreign trade. If it is taken up more widely by the members if the Shanghai Cooperation organisation and the BRICS, the development of a new commodity-based super-currency in Central Asia could end the dollar’s global hegemony. These are major developments. And finally, due to widespread interest in the subject, I examine the outlook for residential property values in the event of a collapse of Western fiat currencies. The mechanics of an apocalypse Against the grain of the establishment, for years I have been warning that the world faces a fiat currency collapse. The reasoning was and still is because that’s where monetary and economic policies are taking us. The only questions arising are whether the authorities around the world would realise the dangers of their inflationary and socialistic policies and change course (extremely unlikely) and in that absence in what form would the final crisis take. History tells us that fiat currencies always fail, only to be replaced by Mankind’s sound money — metallic gold, and silver. And now that fiat currencies have seen a rapid debasement followed by soaring commodity and raw material prices, interest rates should be considerably higher. Yet, in the Eurozone and Japan they are still suppressed in negative territory. The reluctance of the ECB and the Bank of Japan to permit them to rise is palpable. Worse still, even with just the threat of a slowdown in the issuance of extra credit by the commercial banks, we suddenly face a sharp downturn in economic and financial activities. Commercial banks in the Eurozone and Japan are uncomfortably leveraged and unlikely to survive the mixture of higher interest rates, contracting bank credit, and an economic downturn without being bailed out by their respective central banks. But so massive are the central banks’ own bond positions that the losses from rising yields have put them in negative equity. Even the Fed, which is in a far better position than the ECB and BOJ, has admitted unrealised losses on its bond portfolio are $330bn, wiping out its balance sheet equity six times over. So, without the injection of huge amounts of new capital from their existing shareholders the major central banks are bust, the major commercial banks soon will be, and prices are rising uncontrollably driving interest rates and bond yields higher. And like a hole in the head, all we now need to complete the misery is a contraction in bank credit. On cue, last week we got a warning that this is also on the cards, when Jamie Dimon, boss of JPMorgan Chase, the largest commercial bank in America and the Fed’s principal conduit into the commercial banking network, upgraded his summary of the financial scene from “stormy” only nine days before, to “hurricane”. That was widely reported. Less observed were his remarks about what JPMorgan Chase was going to do about it. Dimon went on to say the bank is preparing itself for “a non-benign environment” and “bad outcomes”. We can be sure that the Fed will have spoken to Mr Dimon about this. JPMorgan’s chief economist, Bruce Kasman was then urgently tasked with rowing back, saying he only saw a slowdown. No matter. The signal is sent, and the damage is done. We are unlikely to hear from Dimon on this subject again. But you can bet your bottom dollar that the cohort of international bankers around the world will have taken note, if they hadn’t already, and will be drawing in their lending horns as well. The importance of monitoring bank credit is that when it begins to contract it always precipitates a crisis. This time the crisis revolves more around financial assets than in the past, because for the last forty years, bank credit expansion has increasingly focused not on stimulating production of real things — that has been chased overseas, but the creation of financial ephemera, such as unproductive debt, securitisations of securities, derivatives, and derivatives of derivatives. If you like, the world of unbacked currencies has generated a parallel world of purely financial assets. This is now changing. Commodities are creeping back into the monetary system indirectly due to sanctions against the world’s largest commodities exporter, Russia. Financing for speculation is already contracting, as shown in Figure 1. Given recent equity market weakness this is hardly surprising. But it should be borne in mind that this is unlikely to be driven by speculators cleverly taking profits at the top of the bull market. It is almost certainly forced upon them by margin calls, a fate similarly suffered by punters in cryptos. Bank deposits, which are the other side of bank credit, make up most of the currency in circulation. Since 2008, dollar bank deposits have increased by 160% to nearly $19.5 trillion (M3 less bank notes in circulation). But there is the additional problem of shadow bank credit, which is unknowable and is likely to evaporate with falling financial asset values. And Eurodollars, which similarly are outside the money supply figures will likely contract as well. We are now moving rapidly towards a human desire to protect what we have. This is fear, instead of the desire to make easy money, or greed. We can be reasonably certain that with the reluctance of banks to even maintain levels of bank credit the move is likely to be swift, catching the wider public unawares. It is the stuff of an apocalypse. A financial and economic crisis is now widely expected. Everyone I meet in finance senses the danger, without being able to put a finger on it. They are almost all talking of the authorities taking back control, perhaps of a financial reset, without knowing what that might be. But almost no one considers the possibility that this time the authorities will fail to stop a crisis before it turns our world upside down. Nevertheless, a crisis is always a shock when it comes. But its timing is always anchored in what is happening to bank credit. The bank credit cycle The true role of banks in the economy is as creators of and dealers in credit. The licence granted to them by the state allows them to issue credit where none had existed before. Initially, it stimulates economic activity and is welcomed. The negative consequences only become apparent later, in the form of a fall in the expanded currency’s purchasing power, firstly on the foreign exchanges, followed in markets for industrial commodities and raw materials, and then in the domestic economy. The seeds for the subsequent downturn having been sown by the earlier expansion of credit. As night follows day it duly follows and is triggered by credit contraction. Since the end of the Napoleonic wars, this cycle of credit expansion and contraction has had a regular periodicity of about ten years —sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. A cycle of bank credit is a more relevant description of the origin of periodic booms and slumps than describing them as a trade or business cycle, which implies that the origin is in the behaviour of banking customers rather than the banking system. How it comes about is important for an understanding of why it always leads to a contractionary crisis. The creation of bank credit is a simple matter of double entry bookkeeping. When a bank agrees to lend to a borrower, the loan appears on the banker’s balance sheet as an asset, for which there must be a corresponding liability. This liability is the credit marked on the borrower’s deposit account which will always match the loan shown as an asset. This is a far more profitable arrangement for the bank than paying interest on term deposits to match a bank’s loan, which is the way in which banks are commonly thought to originate credit. The relationship between his own capital and the amount of loan business that a banker undertakes is his principal consideration. By lending credit in quantities which are multiples of his own capital, he enhances the return on his equity. But he also exposes himself to a heightened risk from loan defaults. It follows that when he deems economic prospects to be good, he will lend more that he would otherwise. But bankers though their associations and social and business interactions tend to share a common view of economic prospects at any one time. Furthermore, they have their own sources of economic intelligence, some of which is shared on an industry-wide basis. They are also competitive and prepared to undercut rivals for loan business in good times, reducing their lending rates to below where a free-market rate would perhaps otherwise be. Being dealers in credit and not economists, they probably fail to grasp the fact that improving economic conditions — growth in Keynesian jargon — is little more than a reflection of their own credit expansion. The currency debasement from extra credit results in prices and interest rates rising, especially in fiat currencies, undermining business calculations and assumptions. Bankruptcies begin to increase as the headline below from last Monday’s Daily Telegraph shows: While this headline was about the UK, the same factors are evident elsewhere. No wonder Jamie Dimon is worried. As a rule of thumb, bank credit makes up about 90% of the circulating media, the other 10% being bank notes. Today in the US, bank notes in circulation stand at $2.272 trillion, and M3 broad money, which also contains narrower forms of money stands at $21.8 trillion, so bank notes are 10.4% of the total. The ratio in December 2018 following the Lehman crisis was 10.7%, similar ratios at different stages of the credit cycle. Therefore, at all stages of the cycle, it is the balance between greed for profit and fear of losses in the bankers’ collective minds that set the prospects for boom and bust, and not an increase in the note issue. A further consideration is the lending emphasis, whether credit has been extended primarily to manufacturers of consumer goods and providers of services to consumers, or whether credit has been extended mostly to support financial activities. Since London’s big-bang and America’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the major banks have increasingly created credit for purely financial activities, leaving credit for Main Street in the hands of smaller banks. Because credit expansion has been aimed at supporting financial activities, it has inflated financial assets values. So, while central banks have been suppressing interest rates, the major banks have created the credit for buyers of financial assets to enjoy the most dramatic, widespread, and long-lasting of investment bubbles in financial history. Now that interest rates are on the rise, the bubble environment is over, to be replaced with a bear market. The smart money is leaving the stage, and the public faces an unwinding of the bubble. The combination of rising interest rates and contracting bank credit is as bearish as falling interest rates and the fuel of expanding bank credit were bullish. As loan collateral, banks have retained financial assets to a greater extent than in the past, and their attempts to protect themselves from losses by fire sales of stocks and bonds when they no longer cover loan obligations can only accelerate a financial market collapse. Russia’s new priority is to escape from the West’s crisis While the financial sanctions imposed on Russia have led to a tit-for-tat situation with Russia saying it will only accept payments in roubles from the “unfriendlies”, there can be little doubt that sanctions have come at an enormous cost to the imposers. In a recent interview, Putin correctly identified the West’s inflation problem: “In a TV interview that followed his meeting with the African Union head Macky Sall in Sochi, Putin added that attempts to blame Ukraine's turmoil for the West's skyrocketing cost of living amount to avoiding responsibility. Almost all governments used the fiscal stimulus to help people and businesses affected by the Covid-19 lockdowns. Putin stressed that Russia did so "much more carefully and precisely," without disrupting the macroeconomic picture or fuelling inflation. In the United States, by contrast, the money supply increased by 38% – or $5.9 trillion – in less than two years, in what he referred to as the ‘unprecedented output of the printing press’." This is important. While the West’s monetary authorities and their governments have suppressed the connection between the unprecedented increase in currency and credit and the consequence for prices, if the quote above is correct, Putin has nailed it. In all logic, since the Russians clearly understand the destabilising ramifications of the West’s monetary policies, it behoves them to protect themselves from the consequences. They will not want to see the rouble sink alongside western currencies. And indeed, the policy of tying Russian energy exports to settlements in roubles divorces the rouble from the West’s mounting financial crisis. It is further confirmation that Zoltan Pozsar’s description of a Bretton Woods 3, whereby currencies are moving from a world of financial activity towards commodity backing, is correct. It’s not just a Russian response in the context of a financial war, but now it’s a protectionist move. Russia enjoys the position of the world’s largest exporter of energy and commodities. For the West to cut itself off from Russia may be justifiable in the narrow political context of a proxy war in Ukraine, but it is madness in the economic perspective. The other nation upon which the West heavily relies, China, has yet to formulate a proper currency policy response. But the alacrity with which China began stockpiling commodities and grains following the Fed’s reduction of interest rates to the zero bound and its increase of QE to $120bn monthly in March 2020 shows she also understands the price consequences of the West’s inflationism. The difference between China and Russia is that while Russia is a commodity exporter, China is a commodity importer. Her currency position is therefore radically different. The Chinese advisers who have absorbed Keynesian economics will be arguing against a stronger currency relationship with the dollar, particularly at a time of a significant slowing of China’s GDP growth. They might also argue that they have preferential access to discounted Russian exports, the benefits of which would be squandered if the yuan strengthened materially. One can imagine that while Russia is certain about her “Bretton Woods 3 strategy”, China has yet to take some key decisions. But everything is relative. It is true that China is offered substantial discounts on Russian energy and other commodities. It is in her interests to accumulate as much of Russia’s commodities as she can — particularly energy. But it must be paid for. Broadly, there are two sources of funding. China can sell down its US Treasury holdings, or alternatively issue additional renminbi. The latter seems more likely since it would keep the dollar well away from any Chinese-Russian trade settlements and could accelerate the start of a new offshore renminbi market. All these moves are responses to a crisis brought about by Western sanctions. Given the history of price stability for energy and most other commodities measured in gold grammes, Russia’s move represents a barely transparent move away from the world of fiat and its associated financial ephemera to a proxy for a gold standard. It is a statist equivalent of the latter, whereby Russia uses commodity markets without having to deliver anything monetary. While protecting the rouble from a collapsing western currency and financial system it works for now, but it will have to evolve into a monetary system that is more secure. One possibility might be to use the new commodity-based trade currency planned for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which is likely to rope in all the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation network, and possibly the commodity-exporting BRICS as well. It has been reported that even some Middle Eastern states have expressed interest though that’s hard to verify. In the financial war against the dollar, the announcement of the new currency’s terms would represent a significant escalation, cutting the dollar’s hegemony down at a stroke for over half the world’s population. It would also raise a question mark over the estimated $33 trillion dollars of US financial assets and bank deposits owned by foreigners. Timing is an issue, because if the new EAEU trade currency is introduced following a crisis for the dollar, the move would be protectionist rather than aggressive, but it seems likely to trigger substantial dollar liquidation in the foreign exchanges either way. The elephant in the currency room is gold. It is what Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse terms “outside money”. That is, money which is not fiat produced by central banks by keystrokes on a computer, or by expansion of bank credit. A basket of commodities for the proposed EAEU trade currency is little more than a substitute for linking their currencies with gold. So, why don’t Russia and China just introduce gold standards? There are probably three reasons: A working gold standard, by which is meant an arrangement where members of the public and foreigners can exchange currency for coin or bullion takes away control over the currency from the state and places it in the hands of the public. This is a course of action that modern governments will only consider as a last resort, given their natural reluctance to cede control and power to the people. Nowhere is this truer than of dictatorial governments such as those governing Russia and China. It could be argued that to introduce a working gold standard would give America power to disrupt the currency by manipulating gold prices on international markets. But it is hard to see how any such disruption would be anything other than temporary and self-defeating. Proceeding nakedly into a gold standard, when America has spent the last fifty years telling everyone gold is a pet rock, yet at the same time grabbing everyone else’s gold (Germany, Libya, Venezuela, Ukraine… the list is pretty much endless) is probably the financial equivalent of a nuclear escalation, only to be considered as a last resort. Clearly, it is the most sensitive subject and a frontal challenge to the dollar’s post-Bretton Woods hegemony. The flight into real assets While national governments are considering their position in the wake of sanctions against Russia, the status of their reserves, and how best to protect themselves in a worsening financial conflict between Anglo-Saxon led NATO and Russia, ordinary people are acting in their own interest as well. Most of us are aware that second hand values for motor cars have soared, in many cases to levels higher than new models. The phenomenon is reported in yachts and power boats as well. And on Tuesday, it was reported that US citizens had escalated their credit card spending to unexpected heights. Is this evidence of a flight from zero-yielding bank deposits, or the emergence of wider concerns about rising prices and the need to acquire goods while they are available at anything like current prices? When it comes to their own interests, people are not stupid. They understand that prices are rising and there is no sign of this ending. Their mantra is to buy now before prices rise further, while they can be afforded and the liquidity is to hand. While it is probably too dramatic to call this behaviour a crack-up boom, unless something is done to stop it a crack-up boom appears to be developing. But the asset which is on many peoples’ minds is residential property. Where residential property prices are dependent on the availability and cost of mortgage finance, rising interest rates will undermine property values. Given that the loss of currencies’ purchasing power fails to be reflected yet in sufficiently high interest rates, mortgage rates for new and floating rate loans can be expected to rise substantially, driving residential property prices lower. But this assumes that a financial and currency crisis won’t occur before interest rates have risen sufficiently to discount future losses of a currency’s purchasing power. It seems unlikely that that will happen. It is more likely that increases of not more than a few per cent will be sufficient to destabilise the West’s monetary order, with systemic risk spreading rapidly from the weakest points — the Eurozone and Japan, where interest rates rising from negative values will expose as demonstrably insolvent the ECB and the Bank of Japan, while major commercial banks in both jurisdictions are the two most highly leveraged cohorts. That being the case, and if a banking crisis originating in a deflating financial asset bubble requires insolvent central banks to rescue commercial banks, there is a significant risk that the West’s fiat currencies could lose credibility and collapse as well. Therefore, as well as the effect of rising mortgage costs (which will probably be capped by the emerging crisis) we must consider residential property values measured in currencies which have imploded. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that measured nominally in fiat currencies, after a brief period of uncertainty property prices might rise. A million-dollar house today might become worth many millions, but many millions might buy only a few ounces of gold. That appears to have been the situation in 1923 Germany, reported by Stefan Zweig, the Austrian author who in his autobiography recounted that at the height of the inflation US$100 could buy you a decent town house in Berlin. It might have been several hundred million paper marks, but at the time US$100 was the equivalent of less than five ounces of gold. Any investor in real assets such as real estate and farmland must be prepared to look through a collapse of financial asset values and a currency crisis. For a time, they will have to suffer rents which don’t cover the costs of maintaining property. But the message from Germany in 1923 is that it is far better to hoard what the Romans told us is legally money, that is everlasting physical gold. And the lessons of history backed up by pure logic tell us loud and clear that gold is not a portfolio investment. It is no more than money. An incorruptible means of exchange to be hoarded and spent after all else has failed. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/11/2022 - 19:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 11th, 2022

Recession, Prices, & The Final Crack-Up Boom

Recession, Prices, & The Final Crack-Up Boom Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Initiated by monetarists, the debate between an outlook for inflation versus recession intensifies. We appear to be moving on from the stagflation story into outright fears of the consequences of monetary tightening and of interest rate overkill. In common with statisticians in other jurisdictions, Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility is still effectively saying that inflation of prices is transient, though the prospect of a return towards the 2% target has been deferred until 2024. Chancellor Sunak blithely accepts these figures to justify a one-off hit on oil producers, when, surely, with his financial expertise he must know the situation is likely to be very different from the OBR’s forecasts. This article clarifies why an entirely different outcome is virtually certain. To explain why, the reasonings of monetarists and neo-Keynesians are discussed and the errors in their understanding of the causes of inflation is exposed. Finally, we can see in plainer sight the evolving risk leading towards a systemic fiat currency crisis encompassing banks, central banks, and fiat currencies themselves. It involves understanding that inflation is not rising prices but a diminishing purchasing power for currency and bank deposits, and that the changes in the quantity of currency and credit discussed by monetarists are not the most important issue. In a world awash with currency and bank deposits the real concern is the increasing desire of economic actors to reduce these balances in favour of an increase in their ownership of physical assets and goods. As the crisis unfolds, we can expect increasing numbers of the public to attempt to reduce their cash and bank deposits with catastrophic consequences for their currencies’ purchasing power. That being so, we appear to be on a fast track towards a final crack-up boom whereby the public attempts to reduce their holdings of currency and bank deposits, evidenced by selected non-financial asset and basic consumer items prices beginning to rise rapidly. Introduction In the mainstream investment media, the narrative for the economic outlook is evolving. From inflation, by which is commonly meant rising prices, the MSIM say we now face the prospect of recession. While dramatic, current inflation rates are seen to be a temporary phenomenon driven by factors such as Russian sanctions, Chinese covid lockdowns, component shortages and staffing problems. Therefore, it is said, inflation remains transient — it’s just that it will take a little longer than originally thought by Jay Powell to return to the 2% target. We were reminded of this in Britain last week when Chancellor Sunak delivered his “temporary targeted energy profits levy”, which by any other name was an emergency budget. Note the word “temporary”. This was justified by the figures from the supposedly independent Office for Budget Responsibility. The OBR still forecasts a return to 2% price inflation but deferred until early 2024 after a temporary peak of 9%. Therefore, the OBR deems it is still transient. Incidentally, the OBR’s forecasting record has been deemed by independent observers as “really terrible”. Absolved himself of any responsibility for the OBR’s inflation estimates, Sunak is spending £15bn on subsidies for households’ fuel costs, claiming to recover it from oil producers on the argument that they are enjoying an unexpected windfall, courtesy of Vladimir Putin, to be used to finance a one-off temporary situation. That being the case, don’t hold your breath waiting for Shell and BP to submit a bill to Sunak for having to write off their extensive Russian investments and distribution businesses because of UK government sanctions against Russia. But we digress from our topic, which is about the future course of prices, more specifically the unmeasurable general price level in the context of economic prospects. And what if the OBR’s figures, which are like those of all other statist statisticians in other jurisdictions, turn out to be hideously wrong? There is no doubt that they and the MSIM are clutching at a straw labelled “hope”. Hope that a recession will lead to lower consumer demand taking the heat out of higher prices. Hope that Putin’s war will end rapidly in his defeat. Hope that Western sanctions will collapse the Russian economy. Hope that supply chains will be rapidly restored to normal. But even if all these expectations turn out to be true, old-school economic analysis unbiased by statist interests suggests that interest rates will still have to go significantly higher, bankrupting businesses, governments, and even central banks overloaded with their QE-derived portfolios. The establishment, the mainstream media and government agencies are deluding themselves over prospects for prices. Modern macroeconomics in the form of both monetarism and Keynesianism is not equipped to understand the economic relationships that determine the future purchasing power of fiat currencies. Taking our cue from the stagflationary seventies, when Keynesianism was discredited, and Milton Friedman of the Chicago monetary school came to prominence, we must critically examine both creeds. In this article we look at what the monetarists are saying, then the neo-Keynesian mainstream approach, and finally the true position and the outcome it is likely to lead to. Since monetarists are now warning that a slowdown in credit creation is tilting dangers away from inflation towards recession, we shall consider the errors in the monetarist approach first. Monetary theory has not yet adapted itself for pure fiat Monetarist economists are now telling us that the growth of money supply is slowing, pointing to a recession. But that is only true if all the hoped-for changes in prices comes from the side of goods and services and not that of the currency. No modern monetarist appears to take that into account in his or her analysis of price prospects, bundling up this crucial issue in velocity of circulation. This is why they often preface their analysis by assuming there is no change in velocity of circulation. While they have turned their backs on sound money, which can only be metallic gold or silver and their credible substitutes, their analysis of the relationship between currency and prices has not been adequately revised to account for changes in the purchasing power of pure fiat currencies. It is vitally important to understand why it matters. A proper gold coin exchange standard turns a currency into a gold substitute, which the public is almost always content to hold through cycles of bank credit. While there are always factors that alter the purchasing power of gold and its relationship with its credible substitutes, the purchasing power of a properly backed currency and associated media in the form of notes and bank deposits varies relatively little compared with our experience today, particularly if free markets permit arbitrage between different currencies acting as alternative gold substitutes. This is demonstrated in Figure 1 below of the oil price measured firstly in gold-grammes and currencies under the Bretton Woods agreement until 1971, and then gold-grammes and pure fiat currencies subsequently. The price stability, while economic actors accepted that the dollar was tied to gold and therefore a credible substitute along with the currencies fixed against it, was evident before the Bretton Woods agreement was suspended. Yet the quantity of currency and deposits in dollars and sterling expanded significantly during this period, more so for sterling which suffered a devaluation against the dollar in 1967. The figures for the euro before its creation in 2000 are for the Deutsche mark, which by following sounder money policies while it existed explains why the oil price in euros is recorded as not having risen as much as in sterling and the dollar. The message from oil’s price history is that volatility is in fiat currencies and not oil. In gold-grammes there has been remarkably little price variation. Therefore, the pricing relationship between a sound currency backed by gold differs substantially from the fiat world we live with today, and there has been very little change in monetarist theory to reflect this fact beyond mere technicalities. The lesson learned is that under a gold standard, an expansion of the currency and bank deposits is tolerated to a greater extent than under a pure fiat regime. But an expansion of the media of exchange can only be tolerated within limits, which is why first the London gold pool failed in the late 1960s and then the Bretton Woods system was abandoned in 1971. Under a gold standard, an expansion of the quantity of bank credit will be reflected in a currency’s purchasing power as the new media is absorbed into general circulation. But if note-issuing banks stand by their promise to offer coin conversion to allcomers that will be the extent of it and economic actors know it. This is the basis behind classical monetarism, which relates with Cantillon’s insight about how new money enters circulation, driving up prices in its wake. From John Stuart Mill to Irving Fisher, it has been mathematically expressed and refined into the equation of exchange. In his earlier writings, even Keynes understood monetarist theory, giving an adequate description of it in his Tract on Monetary Reform, written in 1923 when Germany’s papiermark was collapsing. But even under the gold standard, the monetarist school failed to incorporate the reality of the human factor in their equation of exchange, which has since become a glaring omission with respect to fiat currency regimes. Buyers and sellers of goods and services do not concern themselves with the general price level and velocity of circulation; they are only concerned with their immediate and foreseeable needs. And they are certainly unaware of changes in the quantity of currency and credit and the total value of past transactions in the economy. Consumers and businesses pay no attention to these elements of the fundamental monetarist equation. In essence, this is the disconnection between monetarism and catallactic reality. Instead, the equation of exchange is made to always balance by the spurious concept of velocity of circulation, a mental image of money engendering its own utility rather than being simply a medium of exchange between buyers and sellers of goods and services. And mathematicians who otherwise insist on the discipline of balance in their equations are seemingly prepared in the field of monetary analysis to introduce a variable whose function is only to ensure the equation always balances when without it, it does not. Besides monetarism failing to account for the human actions of consumers and businesses, over time there have been substantial shifts in how money is used for purposes not included in consumer transactions — the bedrock of consumer price indices and of gross domestic product. The financialisation of the US and other major economies together with the manufacture of consumer and intermediate goods being delegated to emerging economies have radically changed the profiles of the US and the other G7 economies. To assume, as the monetarists do, that the growth of money supply can be applied pro rata to consumer activity is a further error because much of the money supply does not relate to prices of goods and services. Furthermore, when cash and bank deposits are retained by consumers and businesses, for them they represent the true function of money, which is to act as liquidity for future purchases. They are not concerned with past transactions. Therefore, the ratio of cash and instant liquidity to anticipated consumption is what really matters in determining purchasing power and cannot be captured in the equation of exchange. Monetarists have stuck with an equation of exchange whose faults did not matter materially under proper gold standards. Besides ignoring the human element in the marketplace, their error is now to persist with the equation of exchange in a radically different fiat environment. The role of cash and credit reserves In their ignorance of the importance of the ratio between cash and credit relative to prospective purchases of goods and services, all macroeconomists commit a major blunder. It allows them to argue inaccurately that an economic slowdown triggered by a reduction in the growth of currency and credit will automatically lead to a fall in the rate of increase in the general price level. Having warned central banks earlier of the inflation problem with a degree of success, this is what now lies behind monetarists’ forecasts of a sharp slowdown in the rate of price increases. A more realistic approach is to try to understand the factors likely to affect the preferences of individuals within a market society. For individuals to be entirely static in their preferences is obviously untrue and they will respond as a cohort to the changing economic environment. It is individuals who set the purchasing power of money in the context of their need for a medium of exchange — no one else does. As Ludwig von Mises put it in his Critique of Interventionism: “Because everybody wishes to have a certain amount of cash, sometimes more sometimes less, there is a demand for money. Money is never simply in the economic system, in the national economy, it is never simply circulating. All the money available is always in the cash holdings of somebody. Every piece of money may one day — sometimes oftener, sometimes more seldom — pass from one man’s cash holding to another man’s ownership. At every moment it is owned by somebody and is a part of his cash holdings. The decisions of individuals regarding the magnitude of their cash holdings constitute the ultimate factor in the formation of purchasing power.” For clarification, we should add to this quotation from Mises that cash and deposits include those held by businesses and investors, an important factor in this age of financialisation. Aside from fluctuations in bank credit, units of currency are never destroyed. It is the marginal demand for cash that sets it value, its purchasing power. It therefore follows that a relatively minor shift in the average desire to hold cash and bank deposits will have a disproportionate effect on the currency’s purchasing power. Central bankers’ instincts work to maintain levels of bank credit, replacing it with central bank currency when necessary. Any sign of a contraction of bank credit, which would tend to support the currency’s purchasing power, is met with an interest rate reduction and/or increases in the note issue and in addition today increases of bank deposits on the central bank’s balance sheet through QE. The expansion of global central bank balance sheets in this way has been mostly continuous following the Lehman crisis in 2008 until March, since when they began to contract slightly in aggregate — hence the monetarists’ warnings of an impending slowdown in the rate of price inflation. But the slowdown in money supply growth is small beer compared with the total problem. The quantity of dollar notes and bank deposits has tripled since the Lehman crisis and GDP has risen by only two-thirds. GDP does not account for all economic transactions — trading in financial assets is excluded from GDP along with that of most used goods. Even allowing for these factors, the quantity of currency liquidity for economic actors must have increased to unaccustomed levels. This is further confirmed by the Fed’s reverse repo balances, which absorb excess liquidity of currency and credit currently standing at about $2 trillion, which is 9% of M2 broad money supply. In all Western jurisdictions, consuming populations are collectively seeing their cash and bank deposits buy less today than in the past. Furthermore, with prices rising at the fastest rate seen in decades, they see little or no interest compensation for retaining balances of currencies losing purchasing power. In these circumstances and given the immediate outlook for prices they are more likely to seek to decrease their cash and credit balances in favour of acquiring goods and services, even when they are not for immediate use. The conventional solution to this problem is the one deployed by Paul Volcker in 1980, which is to raise interest rates sufficiently to counter the desire of economic actors to reduce their spending liquidity. The snag is that an increase in the Fed funds rate today sufficient to restore faith in holding bank deposits would have to be to a level which would generate widespread bankruptcies, undermine government finances, and even threaten the solvency of central banks, thereby bringing forward an economic and banking crisis as a deliberate act of policy. The egregious errors of the neo-Keynesian cohort Unlike the monetarists, most neo-Keynesians have discarded entirely the link between the quantity of currency and credit and their purchasing power. Even today, it is neo-Keynesians who dominate monetary and economic policy-making, though perhaps monetarism will experience a policy revival. But for now, with respect to inflation money is rarely mentioned in central bank monetary committee reports. The errors in what has evolved from macroeconomic pseudo-science into beliefs based on a quicksand of assumptions are now so numerous that any hope that those in control know what they are doing must be rejected. The initial error was Keynes’s dismissal of Say’s law in his General Theory by literary legerdemain to invent macroeconomics, which somehow hovers over economic reality without being governed by the same factors. From it springs the belief that the state knows best with respect to economic affairs and that all the faults lie with markets. Every time belief in the state’s supremacy is threatened, the Keynesians have sought to supress the evidence offered by markets. Failure at a national level has been dealt with by extending policies internationally so that all the major central banks now work together in group-thinking unison to control markets. We have global monetary coordination at the Bank for International Settlements. And at the World Economic Forum which is trying to muscle in on the act we now see neo-Marxism emerge with the desire for all property and personal behaviour to be ceded to the state. As they say, “own nothing and you will be happy”. The consequence is that when neo-Keynesianism finally fails it will be a global crisis and there will be no escape from the consequences in one’s own jurisdiction. The current ideological position is that prices are formed by the interaction of supply and demand and little else. They make the same error as the monetarists in assuming that in any transaction the currency is constant and all the change in prices comes from the goods side: money is wholly objective, and all the price subjectivity is entirely in the goods. This was indeed true when money was sound and is still assumed to be the case for fiat currencies by all individuals at the point of transaction. But it ignores the question over a currency’s future purchasing power, which is what the science of economics should be about. The error leads to a black-and-white assumption that an economy is either growing or it is in recession — the definitions of which, like almost all things Keynesian, are somewhat fluid and indistinct. Adherents are guided religiously by imperfect statistics which cannot capture human action and whose construction is evolved to support the monetary and economic policies of the day. It is a case of Humpty Dumpty saying, “It means what I chose it to mean —neither more nor less” Lewis Caroll fans will know that Alice responded, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things”. To which Humpty replied,” The question is which is to be master —that’s all.” So long as the neo-Keynesians are Masters of Policy their imprecisions of definition will guarantee and magnify an eventual economic failure. The final policy crisis is approaching Whether a macroeconomist is a monetarist or neo-Keynesian, the reliance on statistics, mathematics, and belief in the supremacy of the state in economic and monetary affairs ill-equips them for dealing with an impending systemic and currency crisis. The monetarists argue that the slowdown in monetary growth means that the danger is now of a recession, not inflation. The neo-Keynesians believe that any threat to economic growth from the failures of free markets requires further stimulation. The measure everyone uses is growth in gross domestic product, which only reflects the quantity of currency and credit applied to transactions included in the statistic. It tells us nothing about why currency and credit is used. Monetary growth is not economic progress, which is what increases a nation’s wealth. Instead, self-serving statistics cover up the transfer of wealth from the producers in an economy to the unproductive state and its interests through excessive taxation and currency debasement, leaving the entire nation, including the state itself eventually, worse off. For this reason, attempts to increase economic growth merely worsen the situation, beyond the immediate apparent benefits. There will come a point when the public wakes up to the illusion of monetary debasement. Until recently, there has been little evidence of this awareness, which is why the monetarists have been broadly correct about the price effects of the rapid expansion of currency and credit in recent years. But as discussed above, the expansion of currency and bank deposits has been substantially greater than the increase in GDP, which despite its direction into financial speculation and other activities outside GDP has led to an accumulation of over $2 trillion of excess liquidity no one wants in US dollar reverse repos at the Fed. The growth in the level of personal liquidity and credit available explains why the increase in the general price level for goods and services has lagged the growth of currency and deposits, because at the margin since the Lehman crisis the public, including businesses and financial entities, has been accumulating additional liquidity instead of buying goods. This accelerated during covid lockdowns to be subsequently released in a wave of excess demand, fuelling a sharp rise in the general level of prices, not anticipated by the monetary authorities who immediately dismissed the rise as transient. The build-up of liquidity and its subsequent release into purchases of goods is reflected in the savings rate for the US shown in Figure 2 below. The personal saving rate does not isolate from the total the accumulating level of spending liquidity as opposed to that allocated for investment. The underlying level of personal liquidity will have accumulated over time as a part of total personal savings in line with the growth of currency and bank deposits since the Lehman crisis. The restrictions on spending behaviour during lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 exacerbated the situation, forcing a degree of liquidity reduction which drove the general level of prices significantly higher. Profits and losses resulting from dealing in financial assets and cryptocurrencies are not included in the personal savings rate statistics either. This matters to the extent that bank credit is used to leverage investment. Nor is the accumulation of cash in corporations and financial entities, which are a significant factor. But whatever the level of it, there can be little doubt that the levels of liquidity held by economic actors are unaccustomedly high. The accumulation of reverse repos representing unwanted liquidity informs us that the public, including businesses, are so sated with excess liquidity that they may already be trying to reduce it, particularly if they expect further increases in prices. In that event they will almost certainly bring forward future purchases to alter the relationship between personal liquidity and goods. It is a situation in America which is edging towards a crack-up boom. A crack-up boom occurs when the public as a cohort attempts to reduce the overall level of its currency and deposits in favour of goods towards a final point of rejecting the currency entirely. So far, economic history has recorded only one version, which is when after a period of accelerating debasement of a fiat currency the public finally wakes up to the certainty that a currency is becoming worthless and all hope that it might somehow survive as a medium of exchange must be abandoned. To this, perhaps we can add another: the consequences of a collapse of the world’s major monetary institutions in unison. How excess liquidity is likely to play out We have established beyond reasonable doubt that the US economy is awash with personal liquidity. And if one man disposes of his liquidity to another in a transaction the currency and bank deposit still exists. But aggregate personal liquidity can be reduced by the contraction of bank credit. As interest rates rise, thereby exposing malinvestments, the banks will be quick to protect themselves by withdrawing credit. As originally described by Irving Fisher, a contraction of bank credit risks triggering a self-feeding liquidation of loan collateral. Initially, we can expect central banks to counter this contraction by redoubling efforts to suppress bond yields, reinstitute more aggressive QE, and standing ready to bail out banks. These are all measures which are in the central banker’s instruction manual. But the conditions leading to a crack-up boom appear to be already developing despite the increasing likelihood of contracting bank credit. The deteriorating outlook for bank credit and the impact on highly leveraged banks, particularly in Japan and the Eurozone, is likely to accelerate the flight out of bank deposits to — where? Regulators have deliberately reduced access to currency cash so a bank depositor can only dispose of larger sums by transferring them to someone else. Before an initial rise in interest rates began to undermine financial asset values, a transfer of a bank deposit to a seller of a financial asset was a viable alternative. That is now an increasingly unattractive option due to the changed interest rate environment. Consequently, the principal alternative to holding bank deposits is to acquire physical assets and consumer items for future use. But even that assumes an overall stability in the public’s collective willingness to hold bank deposits, which without a significant rise in interest rates is unlikely to be the case. The reluctance of a potential seller to increase his bank deposits is already being reflected in prices for big ticket items, such as motor cars, residential property, fine and not-so-fine art, and an increasing selection of second-hand goods. This is not an environment that will respond positively to yet more currency debasement and interest rate suppression as the monetary authorities struggle to maintain control over markets. The global financial bubble is already beginning to implode, and the central banks which have accumulated large portfolios through quantitative easing are descending into negative equity. Only this week, the US Fed announced that it has unrealised portfolio losses of $330bn against equity of only $50bn. The Fed can cover this discrepancy if it is permitted by the US Treasury to revalue its gold note to current market prices – but further rises in bond yields will rapidly wipe even that out. Other central banks do not have this leeway, and in the cases of the ECB and the Bank of Japan, they are invested in considerably longer average bond maturities, which means that as interest rates rise their unrealised losses will be magnified. So, the major central banks are insolvent or close to it and will themselves have to be recapitalised. At the same time, they will be required to backstop a rapidly deteriorating economic situation. And being run by executives whose economic advisers do not understand both economics nor money itself, it all amounts to a recipe for a final cock-up crack-up boom as economic actors seek to protect themselves. As the situation unfolds and economic actors become aware of the true inadequacies of bureaucratic group-thinking central bankers, the descent into the ultimate collapse of fiat currencies could be swift. It is now the only way in which all that excess faux liquidity can be expunged. Tyler Durden Sat, 06/04/2022 - 13:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 4th, 2022

Broker Confidence Ticked Up in May

RISMedia’s Broker Confidence Index reveals a shift in sentiment during the height of the spring market. The post Broker Confidence Ticked Up in May appeared first on RISMedia. Residential real estate brokers are feeling better about the state of their industry, albeit only a little bit. This was the key takeaway from RISMedia’s Broker Confidence Index (BCI) survey in May. The monthly survey polls more than 3,000 of the nation’s top brokers to gauge their overall confidence in their respective markets. After a 50-basis point drop from March to April (7.5 to 7.0), the BCI score trended back upward to 7.2 in May. Scores can range from 0-10, so even with some recent monthly volatility, confidence has remained relatively high. This should be welcome news to real estate professionals who have reasonable angst about some of the very real headwinds facing real estate that include higher interest rates, rising inflation that’s amplified by fuel prices, a gross lack of housing inventory and international turmoil. Still, the BCI score does reflect macro-level anxiety, as it has fallen 100 basis points since the study launched in December of last year. That said, the BCI shows that the mood has lightened some since April. “[ The ] Trends are good,” remarked Ron Sweeney, managing partner at Coldwell Banker Heritage REALTORS® in Dayton, Ohio. “Inventory has increased allowing more buyers to enter the market that have been patiently waiting.” Several other respondents also suggested that their businesses have remained healthy and that they are riding a spring market wave of success. This potentially transitory success is likely responsible for the small uptick in confidence, especially as economic concerns continue to mount. Given these concerns, RISMedia wanted to explore the implications of a cooling market after months of frenzy. We asked brokers if their agents were prepared for a frostier market. Less than half (40%) of respondents said their agents are “very” prepared to weather whatever storm may lie ahead. More than half (55%) of respondents said their agents are “somewhat” prepared. Only 5% of brokers expressed a pessimistic “not at all” outlook. Across the board, whether or not brokers stated they were confident in their agents, most attributed communication, education and experience as the determining factors of what will impact their success in new market conditions. Broker/Owner Jim Fite of CENTURY 21® Judge Fite Company in Dallas, Texas emphasized why his agents and brokerage will be ready for whatever comes next. “Train, train, train. Being an 85-year-young company we have a lot of people with a lot of experience in slowing markets.” Another broker who wished to remain anonymous shared a similar point of view and offered advice to those who may be concerned about their agents’ readiness. “We are actively coaching our agents on how to prepare for deceleration in the market. Focus on listings, save more commission income and prepare effective marketing.” The post Broker Confidence Ticked Up in May appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJun 3rd, 2022

Rabo: The Fed"s Bullard Had A Revelation Yesterday, Though Some Will Say He Was Tripping

Rabo: The Fed's Bullard Had A Revelation Yesterday, Though Some Will Say He Was Tripping By Michael Every of Rabobank The Doors Of Perception The recent Davos summit didn’t have many answers to the list of conflating problems currently facing us. At least we had ‘The Psychedelic House of Davos’, an unofficial satellite event running alongside it, fodder for the comedians who noticed it. (As if there aren’t literally rich pickings there anyway.) The Guardian quotes Stephen Colbert on the topic: “Oh good, just what billionaires need: a looser grip on reality.” He was referring to a “shamanic investing” expert, whom Bloomberg described as having “deep expertise in ayahuasca and experience managing family investments”. Back to Colbert: “Hopefully at the same time. ‘We split your investments between high yield stocks, medium yield bonds and the sense-memory of your wronged ancestors, who will appear to you as a wolf with your father’s voice. Now walk with me into the fire, where we will itemize your deductions.’” Yet those versed in Huxley, Leary, Castaneda, Dick, and Groff would agree that encouraging the box-thinkers, box-tickers, and misquoted-dead-economists and line-on-chart worshippers among the market masses to open up their Doors of Perception would be no bad thing. “Most lead lives at worst so painful, at best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principle appetites of the soul,” wrote Huxley. They just generally opt to spin, not psilocybin. The Fed’s Bullard had a revelation yesterday, though some will say he was tripping. (If so, the BoC may have dosed him with their 50bps hike.) “The current US macroeconomic situation is straining the Fed's credibility with respect to its inflation target,” he said, adding that the cause of inflation is central bank policy, and so it is up to central banks to bring it under control. He wants Fed Funds at 3.50% by the end of the year, so another 250bps in hikes from here. That’s a stance adjacent to but entirely consistent with the hypothesis here – that the Fed needs to get serious about rates to deal with the commodity upswing and the ongoing geopolitical shift away from using the dollar towards dollar-priced barter trade. Other things are secondary. Take down commodities, especially oil, and you take down inflation and blow up commodity barter trade, and certain EM (and DM) currencies. Suddenly, mocking the US, the US dollar, or holding a physical cargo in the shadow banking system --which the Fed was recently warning us about-- or a ‘new world order’, will look as inflation- and volatility-proof as crypto. (As Solana goes all Icarus.) That may necessitate US actions outside blinkered perceptions of central-bankery. Indeed, oil is off sharply this morning on an FT report that the Saudis will agree to pump more: if they are, it is not about the ‘US dollar weapon’ but US weapons, directly or indirectly. You don’t have to drop a tab to know that this is how the world actually works. We just choose not to see. Of course, in his solipsistic, long, hard stare into the mirror at his own dilated pupils, Bullard overlooks that there are structural factors at play that rates alone cannot address: Fiscal policy, as subsidies are rolled out to deal with rising energy and food prices – where the latter have a lot further to rise. Even in China, albeit at the margin, local governments are playing around with giving consumers vouchers to buy locally-made goodies. Supply chains, where although the key Federal Maritime Commission report into recent logistical problems just declared they were due to “unprecedented consumer demand”, few on the ground, or at sea, concur. We argued in ‘In Deep Ship’ that it’s not industry collusion, as the White House alleges, so much as massive money being made by systemic inefficiencies there are high incentives not to deal with. Indeed, even as consumer demand eases, ‘Long-term contracted ocean freight rates set ‘staggering’ new records’. The 30.1% hike just seen means long-term rates are up 150.6% y-o-y, and in 2022 have climbed by 55%. Similarly, the Dallas Fed survey this week saw 30.5% of Texas-based manufacturers experiencing procurement-related problems vs. 25.8% three months ago, and 14.7% a year ago. The war in Ukraine, where Kyiv says it is losing around 100 soldiers a day, perhaps 50,000 died in Mariupol, and the US and Germany just pledged to send medium-range rocket systems and anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems despite Russian objections. Nonetheless, if it is “rates or nothing” then it needs to be much more than nothing on rates. The Fed’s Beige Book reported “strong or robust price increases,” especially for goods businesses need, which will have to be passed. Several districts said inflation had slowed a bit and others said customers were starting to resist price hikes, or had cut back on purchases or sought out cheaper alternatives. However, the Fed is likely to read this as ‘keep going’. Every region said labor markets were tight and some companies could not produce enough to meet customer demand as a result. (And this is not a US thing: have you tried to fly from the UK or Europe recently?!) Some businesses said they had put hiring freezes in place, others the big wage increases over the past year were beginning to level off. However, the Fed is still likely to read this as ‘keep going’. Notably, three Fed regional districts saw contacts express concerns about a recession when none did last month: “Rising prices and recession fears have turned consumers and firms more cautious,” the Philadelphia Fed said; “While many contacts remained optimistic, an increasing number expected a recession by year’s end,” the Boston Fed said. Is the Fed still likely to read this as ‘keep going’? It’s perhaps not a surprise that Jamie Dimon, whose 10-year Treasury yield forecast might finally be right years late (US 10s at 2.90% at time of writing), is warning of an “economic hurricane” ahead for the US. I say not just for the US, or just *in* the US. Or just in the economy: Israel is drilling for a possible attack on Iran and Hezbollah, while launching an anti-missile laser system vastly cheaper than Iron Dome. (Marjorie Taylor-Greene will be having a breakdown.) President Erdogan of Turkey is about to move deeper into northern Syria, and has broken off high-level contacts with Greece over an Aegean island territorial dispute, warning, “You keep putting on shows for us with your planes. What are you doing? Pull yourself together. Do you not learn lessons from history? Don’t try to dance with Turkey.” That’s two NATO allies by the way. The Australia press says ‘Penny Wong ramps up Pacific lobbying effort as she flies out to Samoa and Tonga: Foreign affairs minister tells regional leaders “we understand we need to work together like never before” as battle for influence with China intensifies’. The Kiwi press says, ‘Expert warns NZ could face trade implications after China slams Jacinda Ardern's statement with Joe Biden over Xinjiang, Hong Kong’. Full disclosure – I am not said expert event though I had already said it yesterday when the NZ-US headline broke. The Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand has warned against a "democracies versus autocracies" view of the world and that countries grouping up into "exclusive circles" could be a "dangerous slippery slope to unmitigated disasters". Helpfully, ‘China says it will work with Russia to promote “real democracy”’, repeating the Beijing line that "monopolising" the definition of democracy and human rights to influence other nations was a tactic "doomed to fail." Let’s have a vote on it to decide, perhaps? As Huxley argued, “Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.” That is almost certainly an exaggeration: I can’t remember where I left my glasses half the time. However, equally exaggerated is how overly-focused those in markets are on their narrow here-and-now specifics at the expense of the general and the what-could-be. Nobody but yourself is stopping you from reading from a different newspaper or a broader selection of voices on social media; or about a different market than your own line on a screen; or even a different academic discipline that might impact on your ‘siloed’ area of expertise. The hurricane ahead, and how we may avoid the worst of it, was and is most visible to those whose doors of perception are at the very least ajar. Blinkers off; seat-belts and crash helmets on; and eyes, and consciousnesses, open. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/02/2022 - 11:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 2nd, 2022

"Shark Tank" investor Robert Herjavec warns stocks could plunge another 30% - and says the market is gripped by fear and doubt

The cybersecurity boss emphasized that small businesses are still battling labor shortages, and noted COVID-19 has accelerated technology adoption. Robert Herjavec."Shark Tank"/ABC Robert Herjavec expects stocks to fall another 20% to 30% before the market downturn ends. The "Shark Tank" star flagged high levels of fear, uncertainty, and doubt among investors. Herjavec noted small businesses are facing labor shortages, and COVID-19 has sped up tech adoption. Beaten-down US stocks are likely to tumble again before the current sell-off ends, Robert Herjavec warned in a recent Fox Business interview."We think there's still about 20% to 30% of bottom to come," the "Shark Tank" investor said. The higher end of his estimate would put the benchmark S&P 500 index at about 2,900, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index at 8,500 points — their lowest levels since the pandemic tanked markets in the spring of 2020."There's a lot of FUD in the market," Herjavec explained, using an acronym for fear, uncertainty, and doubt.Indeed, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have slumped 13% and 23% respectively this year. The downturn reflects the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in a bid to curb soaring inflation, supply-chain disruptions sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, and mounting concerns of a global economic slowdown.Herjavec is the CEO of Cyderes, one of the world's largest cybersecurity companies. He also holds stakes in dozens of private enterprises, and underlined the challenges facing them during the Fox Business interview."Small business don't know what to do," he said. "Interest rates are going up, but the bigger issue is getting workers.""They just can't get workers, they can't get people to show up," he continued. "It's going to take a few months for that to work itself through the system."Herjavec also emphasized the need for hospitals and other organizations to modernize their systems and embrace cloud computing to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Moreover, he described the pandemic as the "greatest accelerator of business cycles in history.""Cloud, e-commerce, digital infrastructure — we all knew that was going to happen," he said. "We didn't think it was all going to happen in two years."Herjavec isn't alone in predicting further pain for the stock market. Michael Burry, the fund manager of "The Big Short" fame, recently suggested the S&P 500 could sink below 1,900 points.Jeremy Grantham, the GMO cofounder and market historian, echoed Burry's prediction for the S&P 500, and warned the Nasdaq could plummet nearly 75% to 3,100.Read more: The stock market's plunge is ending, and investors should buy these 15 stocks that will outperform in the rally that follows, Evercore ISI says.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 31st, 2022

...Turns Out Keynes Was A Commie

...Turns Out Keynes Was A Commie Authored by Mark Jeftovic via BombThrower.com, Why The Cantillon Effect Creates Communism Awareness of the centuries old concept of The Cantillion Effect has been experiencing a revival of late, particularly since the extraordinary acceleration of monetary injections that occurred under COVID. Named for the French-Irish economist who died in 1734 (he was murdered), the Cantillon Effect is when you create a bunch of new money and inject it into an economy. What happens is the people at the front of the line who receive the new money first become wealthier, while the people at the end of the line who receive it last are further impoverished. The Cantillon Effect This is not peculiar to the post-Covid era. For more than a decade I’ve been describing how rampant money creation and credit expansion skews formerly free markets into a kind of economic vampirism, without actually knowing there was a term like this to describe it. From my vantage-point as a tech CEO running a company that has never taken on VC funding, it unfolded as having to compete with multiple deep-pocketed 800lb gorillas and billion dollar unicorns who were losing money on every transaction and driving a race to the bottom across the entire industry. Companies like ours have to be profitable or perish. Serially funded unicorns just have to keep their burn rate below their fund-raising tempo. Marc Andreesen, the noteworthy VC icon touched on it with his famous “Software is eating the world” euphemism, but it failed to capture the financialization aspect of it. It’s more like “serial up-rounds are eating the world”. The dynamic intensified dramatically under COVID. Not only were the monetary injections accelerating, but governments globally shut down small and independent businesses for nearly two years, and then central banks went out and bought the bonds of the quasi-monopolies who were left. Via Statista – the Fed purchased bonds of companies controlled by every person on this list. But even if the people at the front of the line have a privileged position, why does this necessarily translate into them either using that position to launch, fund and flip money-losing unicorns, or hollowing out via financial engineering what would have otherwise been long term viable businesses? It’s the currency debasement, stupid When the cost of capital is cheap, like near-zero cheap, companies never have to be profitable. In fact if the capital pool is growing faster than the operating earnings are, you’re actually incentivized to eschew profits in favour of taking on funding – provided you have a short-term time horizon. Here’s the thing about printing money: because it devalues the currency, it compresses time horizons. If you think of currency as “shares” in the economy they denominate, then it should be easy to grasp that by increasing the number of currency units, you aren’t magically growing the economy. You’re just increasing the numerator (the currency units) while keeping the denominator (the actual goods and services available) the same. If the numerator grows, that means it takes more currency to buy the same goods and services, so it is experienced as variations of “number go up”: For people who are already wealthy: assets increase in “value” because they are being measured in more units For everybody else: food, shelter and essentials get more expensive, same reason. In fact government metrics that define some arbitrary “poverty line” as being based on some level of income almost completely misses the point. The line between poverty and wealth should more accurately be measured in terms of net assets. The wealthy have assets – that compound. The poor have bills – that get more expensive. Whenever the monetary authorities increase the currency supply or expand credit, it is always proffered as a necessity of saving the system. The fact that the reason the system needed saving in the the first place was a direct consequence of previous expansions is ignored or shouted down. There are only three real moves in the central banker toolbox: print money, expand credit, suppress interest rates. The intellectual basis of this approach is often rationalized as a prescription dictated by  “Keynesianism” or “Keynesian economics”, after John Maynard Keynes, the intellectual father of mainstream “economics” as it is known today. Keynes was a bit of a mixed bag. Though often cited for his “gold as a barbarous  relic” quote, he ended up heavily allocated in South African gold miners years after he wrote that. Mid-way through his career he swore off macro investing, coming to the opinion that no amount of macro knowledge would give you an edge at the company level: he had become a sort of proto-value investor. He was also a pederast, having kept detailed records of  numerous young, mostly male partners, their names and ages, which are preserved still in the archives at King’s College, Cambridge …he was a Malthusian believing it was “the salvation of the British economy” and eugenicist – having served on the board of the British Eugenics Society. …and, as it turns out, Keynes was a raving pinko. Full blown Commie. The Socialist scaffolding of Keynesian Economics Vladimir Lenin is often attributed as saying “the best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.” However the quote is possibly apocryphal, because the earliest reference to it is a citation by Keynes in his Economic Consequences of Peace.  Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. … As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless;… Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose. Keynes is describing The Cantillon Effect, and yet, as we’ll see, Keynes may not have been viewing this as a bad thing. While Keynes clearly understood that government spending and money creation drove wealth inequality, it seems as though he viewed this as a beneficial dynamic, because it would inexorably lead toward the ultimate wealth inequality: Communism. Contrary to the popular platitudes that socialism and communism are about achieving equality for all, going so far to prescribe absurdities like “equality of outcome”. The reality, documented by the likes of Dr. Kristian Niemietz in his “Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies”, is that the only equality brought about by collectivism is where everybody beneath the thin scab of elites and their apparatchiks are equally mired in poverty and servitude. In Edward W Fuller’s “Was Keynes a socialist” paper, published 2019 in The Cambridge Journal of Economics, Fuller looked at whether John Maynard Keynes, the chief architect behind the entire edifice of conventional economics (and arguably it’s intellectual descendants like Modern Monetary Theory) was a socialist. He compared the defenses of Keynes as “a liberal who wanted to save Capitalism” against various writings, correspondence and accounts of Keynes himself and from those who knew him, including his own father. John Neville Keynes,  journaled on Sept 6, 1911 ‘Maynard avows himself a Socialist and is in favour of the confiscation of wealth’. Turns out this was not a passing fad, it was a lifelong devotion. Young Keynes first came out as a socialist in February 1911, declaring that: “the progressive reorganization of Society along the lines of Collectivist Socialism is both inevitable and desirable” Over the course of his career Keynes authored numerous odes to socialism, fraternized with notorious socialists like George Bernard Shaw (head of the Fabian Society) and Owen Mosley, who founded the socialist New Party in 1931, which later morphed into The British Union of Fascists. Keynes supported the Bolshevik Revolution, even though it had seized power in a coup d’etat against what was then the only democratically elected government in Russia’s history (“the only course open to me is to be a buoyantly bolshevik”.) Keynes became a regular attendee at the 1917 Club, a Soho meeting place in vogue amongst socialists of the day, named to honour the year of the revolution. It was at the 1917 Club where members of The Fabian Society met. The Fabians wanted to usher in global communism, but instead of doing that through, sudden, violent revolutions (a la Marx) they would take their time. They thought in generational increments and proposed the slow, steady infiltration of higher education, government bureaucracies, cultural chokepoints (theatre, pop-culture, the media and the press), and posited that over time they could pull society toward collectivism without anyone realizing it. Their emblem was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As per Keynes: “Socialism can be introduced gradually... the economic transition of a society [into Socialism] is a thing to be accomplished slowly”. Fuller’s paper concludes that Keynes was a non-Marxist socialist, meaning he eschewed the obsession with the idea of class struggle and focused his thinking around increased State control over the economy. If Keynes was a commie, why does it matter? In a previous incarnation of this blog, I wrote about Keynes’s predictions of a theoretical future where humanity would be freed from all care of day-to-day concerns through expert management of the economic cycle by credentialed technocrats. He called this future state “Bliss” and described it in his essay The Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren (coincidentally cited via marxists.org) The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things – our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three. Economic bliss sounds a lot like fully automated luxury communism. But you can’t get there if the rabble is still making economic decisions for itself. Free markets must be destroyed, and only credentialed elites can be permitted economic autonomy. (That’s why nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe whenever the World Economic Forum is in session). Keynes laid out a path to get there. Through endless money printing, the Cantillon Effect would lead to the destruction of the middle class. By wrapping it within a cloak of crypto-socialism, he gave it a veneer of intellectual acceptability: “The work of monetary cranks like John Maynard Keynes taught in the modern universities the notion that government spending only has benefits, never costs. The government, after all, can always print money and so faces no real constraints on its spending, which it can use to achieve whatever goal the electorate sets for it” - Saifedean Ammous, The Bitcoin Standard. In Saifedean’s follow up, The Fiat Standard, Keynes and Marxism are mentioned as having large areas of overlap, goals and practically identical results: “The number and influence of third-world leaders who were educated in British and American universities from the 1930s onward is staggering…anyone familiar with the economic history of developing countries, or with the rhetoric of any development agency or ministry in a developing country, will see this influence in the distinct stench of Marxist and Keynesian notions of central planning.The entire framing of the notion of economic development is driven ultimately by a highly socialist view of how an economy works.” “By the 1970s, the development failures piled high, and a lot of soul-searching within the misery industry would lead to more government control and more centralized economic planning. As the “dependency school” approach became more popular, government central planning became far more pervasive. The combination of global easy money, following the U.S. government’s decision to suspend gold redeemability, and governments and international bureaucracies staffed with Keynesians and Marxists proved disastrous.” Fuller’s paper goes a long way in providing an explanation on why collectivism and Keynesianism seem to resemble each other: it’s the same thing. It is all statist, centralized technocracy under the guise of a) high-minded collectivism for the useful idiots of the working class, and b) high-powered intellectual macro-economic policy for the useful idiots in the universities and think tanks. This could be why we’re demonizing capitalism, energy, self-reliance, family, spirituality and anything else that falls to the right of Stalin. This is why Big Tech unicorns are by their own admission “commie as f*ck”, and why many of the celebrity class these days are self-proclaimed “woke” socialists. Especially the super-rich ones. The good news There was a time, especially under lockdowns, when I looked at the direction things were going, and I thought the Fabians had achieved complete victory. World socialism was practically here, having arrived under banners with names like The Great Reset, The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Stakeholder Capitalism. Even worse, large swaths of the public seemed to be clamouring for it. COVID stimulus showed how the lubricant for a globalized socialism was the monetary printing press. In his day, Friedrich Hayek (the anti-Keynes) realized this as well and was similarly pessimistic. “I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something they can’t stop.” - Hayek, quoted in The Bitcoin Standard, p72 Enter, Satoshi. The epiphany I had, and I’m not alone, is that we are not entering an age of centralized, technocratic authoritarianism, we are in the process of departing from it. We’re in the end game now. The crescendo of an age which has been unfolding for over a century – the era of the welfare state. With the arrival of the Internet, and then Bitcoin, we’re undergoing a phase shift into the decentralized era of network states and micro-sovereigns. The near universal mismanagement of COVID, from the possibility of a lab leak in the first place to being absolutely wrong about everything after that, pulled forward about 20 years of this tension and crammed it into 18 months. Too much, too soon. We were on track to gradually transition to a decentralized society via an interim phase of technocratic authoritarianism that could have lasted for decades, before giving away to the inevitable decentralized society. But now, we’re looking instead at a disorderly phase shift into deglobalization and decentralization. It’s already happening. We’re at a point where reality is intervening with ideology and it was the pandemic that brought us here a few decades before I would have otherwise expected it. The conventional COVID narrative has all but broken down completely. Trust in institutions and experts is plummeting, the corporate media is a joke. We may have already blundered our way into World War 3, while incumbent politicians around the world are being swept out of office on a wave of public backlash. Then there’s the economic and physical consequences of batshit policies that threaten to overwhelm our supply chains and energy availability everywhere. Woke capitalism is being exposed as a sham. The public increasingly sees The Party at Davos as saturated with hypocrisy and arrogance. Make no mistake, we’re talking about the end of an epoch and the demise of the legacy power structure. Not only in terms of who the incumbents are, but the very architecture and fabric of how geopolitical and economic power is configured. The old guard will not go down without a fight, and for the moment, they have the institutions and the media, but that is already changing. “We’re all Keynesians now” was the intellectual rallying cry of the fiat era. Laser eyes will be the defining meme of the next one. If I had to offer advice to anybody who was looking for ways to pivot their existing affairs and navigate the coming changes I would bullet point them as follows: Do not be reliant on government entitlements: these will soon be delivered via CBDCs and be full-throated social credit systems Turn off your TV, cancel all mainstream media subscriptions: read more books, get your news through alternative / indie media channels (start with The Sovereign Individual, both Saifedean Ammous books, and George Gilder’s Life After Google) If you’re a business owner: start taking crypto payments and HODL them If you’re not a business owner: Start one. Even a kitchen table business that you can grow over time. And stack sats. Always be stacking sats. Buying Bitcoin is calling bullshit on everything — Interstellar (@InterstellarBit) May 27, 2022 We’re going through a Fourth Turning-style phase shift. It will be turbulent, violent and at times terrifying.  But it will also bring boundless opportunity. Never before have we lived in age where nearly anybody can go from a standing start to spectacular success in the shortest amount of time with the lowest barriers to entry. This dynamic will only intensify over the coming years and in the long run, this is what will propel a quantum leap in the human endeavour. *  *  * The world is undergoing a monetary regime change. Get the Crypto Capitalist Manifesto free, when you join the Bombthrower mailing list. Follow me as @bombthrower on Gettr or if you haven’t been kicked off Twitter (yet), @StuntPope Tyler Durden Sun, 05/29/2022 - 17:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 29th, 2022

The Era Of A Financialized Fiat-Dollar Standard Is Ending

The Era Of A Financialized Fiat-Dollar Standard Is Ending Authored by Alasdair Macleod via Goldmoney.com, In recent articles I have argued that the era of a financialised fiat dollar standard is ending. This article takes my hypothesis further and explains that it is not just the emergence of new commodity backed currencies in Asia that will threaten the dominance of Western currencies, but the Fed’s failing monetary policies and those of the other major central banks. An unstoppable rise in interest rates will in large part be responsible for their demise. Financial markets in thrall to the state underestimate the forces collapsing the financial bubble. Even the existence of the bubble is disputed by those within its envelope. But financial assets represent most of the collateral securing the banking system, and their collapse triggered by higher interest rates will take out businesses, banks, even central banks and make financing of soaring government deficits impossible without accelerated currency debasement. Will central banks try to preserve financial asset values to stop the West’s financial system from imploding? Keynesian theory demands increased deficit spending to counteract the contraction of bank credit. As long as this is the case, the planners will destroy their currencies - confirmed by the John Law episode in 1715-1720 France. It is from this fate that China, Russia, and the architects planning a new Central Asian trade currency are planning their escape. End of an era and how it all started It’s all about interest rates. Rising interest rates undermine financial asset values and falling rates increase them. From 1981 until March 2020, the trend has been for the inflation of prices to subside and interest rates to decline with them. And following Paul Volcker’s interest rate hikes at that time, this is when the era of economic financialisation commenced. In the early eighties, London underwent a financial revolution with banks taking over stockbrokers and jobbers. It was the end of single capacity, whereby you were either a principal or agent, but never both. America responded to London’s big-bang by rescinding the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment from commercial banking following the 1929—1932 Wall Street Crash. Money-centre banking was about to go all-in on financialisation. Increasingly, manufacturing of consumer goods was moving from America and Europe to China and the Far East. The Wall Street megabanks had less of this business as a proportion of total American and European economic activities to finance. Small, local banks, particularly in Europe, continued to be the financing backbone for small enterprises. Banking had begun to split, with financial activities increasingly dominating the business of the larger banks. The rise of derivatives, firstly on new regulated exchanges and then in unregulated over-the-counter markets became a major activity. They promised that risk was eliminated by being hedged — there was a derivative to cover anything and everything. Securitisations became all the rage: mortgage-backed securities, collateralised debt obligations and CDOs-squared. So great was the demand for this business that banks were financing it off-balance sheet due to lack of adequate capital, until the Lehman speedbump temporarily knocked the wheels off from under this business. Since then, government spending has dominated financing requirements, providing high quality collateral for yet further credit expansion, much of it in shadow banking, and leading to a veritable explosion in the size of central bank balance sheets. The decline in interest rates from Paul Volcker’s 20% in 1980 to zero in 2020 drove financial asset values forever upwards, with only brief interruptions. Crises such as in Russia, Asia, the Long-Term Capital Management blow-up, and Lehman merely punctuated the trend. Despite these hiccups the character of collateral for bank lending became increasingly financial as a result. Expanding credit on the back of rising collateral values had become a sure-fire money-spinner for the banks. The aging Western economies had finally evolved from the tangible to ethereal. For market historians it has been an instructive ride, contemporary developments that have matched or even exceeded bubbles of the past. What started as the emergence of yuppies in London wearing red braces, sporting Filofaxes, and earning previously undreamed-of bonuses evolved into a money bubble for anyone who had even a modest portfolio or could get a mortgage to buy a house. The trend of falling interest rates has now ended, and the tide of financialisation is on the ebb. Recent events, covid lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and sanctions against Russia provide the tangible evidence that this must be so. You do not need to be a seer to foretell a commodity price crisis and the prospect of widespread starvation from grain and fertiliser shortages this summer. Common sense tells us that the end of the financialisation era will have far-reaching consequences, yet the outlook is barely discounted in financial markets. With their noses firmly on their valuation grindstones, analysts do not have a grasp of this bigger picture. That is beginning to change, as evidenced by Augustin Carsten’s mea culpa over inflation. Carsten is the General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements, commonly referred to as the central bankers’ central bank, which takes a leadership role in coordinating global monetary policy. The objective of his speech was to assist central banks in coordinating their policy responses to what he belatedly recognises is a new monetary era. Inflation is not about prices: it’s about currency and credit One of the fatal errors made by the macroeconomic establishment is about inflation. The proper definition is that inflation is the debasement of a currency by increasing its quantitiy. It is not about an increase in the general level of prices, which is what the economic establishment would have us believe. The reason this is particularly relevant is because governments through their central banks have come to rely on increases in the quantity of currency and credit to supplement taxes, allowing governments to spend more than they receive in terms of revenue. To properly describe inflation draws unwelcome attention to the facts. Since the Lehman failure in 2008, the combined balance sheets of some of the major central banks have increased from just under $7 trillion to $31 trillion (Fed + ECB + BOJ + PBOC, according to Yardini Research). The steepest part of the rise was from March 2020, when assets for the Fed and ECB soared. While justified, perhaps, by the covid pandemic the effect has been to dilute the purchasing power of each currency unit. And as that dilution works its way into the economy it is reflected in higher prices. That bit is familiar to monetarists. What monetarists fail to account for is the human reaction to the currency dilution. When the public becomes aware that for whatever reason prices are rising at a faster pace, they will increase the ratio between goods purchased and therefore in hand to that of their available currency resources. That drives prices even higher still and there is then a risk that price rises will escalate beyond the authorities’ ability to control them. This phenomenon has been a particular weakness of American and British consumers, who have a low level of savings priority. When Paul Volcker raised interest rates to a penalising 20% in 1980 it was to reverse the tendency for individuals to dispose of their personal liquidity in favour of goods. The sanctions against Russia sent a clear signal to western consumers about rising energy costs, and already they are seeing the impact across a wide range of consumer products. Nothing could be more calculated to convince consumers that they should anticipate and satisfy their future needs now instead of risking yet higher prices and shortages of available goods. And we can be equally sure that governments and their central banks stand ready to ensure that no one need go without. That this has come as a surprise to central banks indicates an appalling failure to anticipate the entirely predictable consequences of inflationary monetary policies. Additionally, central banks have failed to grasp the true relationship between money and interest rates. The errors of interest rate policies Central banks use interest rates as their primary means of managing monetary policy. They make the error of assuming that interest rates are no more than the price of money. If they are raised, demand for money is meant to decrease and if they are lowered demand for money is expected to increase. And through demand for money, demand for goods and their prices can be managed. Therefore, it is assumed that inflation and economic performance are controlled by managing interest rates. This flies in the face of the evidence, as the chart in Figure 1 shows, which is of the relationship between the rate of inflation and interest rates in the form of wholesale borrowing costs in Britain, before the Bank of England muddied the waters by using interest rates to manage monetary and economic outcomes. The correlation was between the general price level and interest rates instead of between the rate of change and interest rates. The distinction might not at first be obvious, but the two are entirely different. Keynes, and all other eminent economists were unable to explain the phenomenon, attributed by Keynes to Arthur Gibson as Gibson’s paradox. The explanation is simple. In his business calculations, an entrepreneur must estimate the price his planned manufactured product would obtain, based on current prices. All his calculations hang on that assessment. It sets the basis of his affordable financing costs, from which he could estimate the profitability of an investment in production after his other costs. If prices were high, he could afford to pay a higher rate of interest and would be willing to bid up interest rates accordingly. If they were low, he could only afford a lower rate. That is why interest rate levels tended to track wholesale price levels and not their rate of change. Thus, it was entrepreneurial borrowers in their business calculations who set interest rates, not, as Keynes assumed, the idle rentier deriving an unearned income by demanding usurious rates of interest from hapless borrowers. If anything, fluctuations in the price level (ie the rate of price inflation) destabilised business calculations. To an investing entrepreneur, interest is certainly a cost. But the position for a lender is entirely different. When he lends money, its usefulness is lost to him over the term of a loan, for which he reasonably expects compensation. This is known as time-preference. Additionally, there is the risk the money might not be returned, if for example, the borrower defaults. This is the risk involved. And in these times of fiat currency, there is the further consideration of its potential debasement by the end of the loan. Unless all these issues are satisfied in the mind of the lender, the availability of monetary capital from savings for business investment and for cash flow purposes will be hampered. Under a gold standard, the debasement issue does not generally apply. An indication of the sum of time preference and lending risk can be judged from the coupons paid on government debt, which in the case of the British government in the nineteenth century was 3% on Consolidated Loan Stock issued between 1751 and 1888, subsequently reduced to 2.75% and then 2.5% in 1902. Even when a currency in which a loan is struck is gold backed, an interest rate of two or three per cent for a prime borrower was shown to be appropriate. For them to go any lower implies, as John Law stated in the quote later in this article, that currency is being expanded with a view to driving interest rates below a natural level. Not only are central bank interest rate policies founded on a misconception proved by Gibson’s paradox and its explanation, but the entire operation distorts economic outcomes and cannot ever succeed in their objective. And as for distortions taking bond yields into unnatural negative territory as has been the case in Japan and the Eurozone, the unwinding thereof promises to result in economic and monetary catastrophe, because borrowers, including governments, have been hoodwinked into irresponsible borrowing for borrowing’s sake. The monetary myths shared by Law and Keynes We know that financial asset values are going to fall, because with consumer and producer prices rising strongly, interest rates and bond yields will continue to rise. So far, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note has risen from 0.5% in August 2020 to 2.9% this week. The value destruction for this indicator has been over 20% from par so far. But according to government statistics, US consumer prices are rising at 8.5%, and likely to increase at an even faster rate when the consequences of Russian sanctions begin to do their work. Therefore, the yield on US Treasuries of all maturities is set to increase considerably more. Unless, that is, the Fed adopts the policy of the Bank of Japan and intervenes to stop yields rising. We are witnessing the effect of yield suppression on the Japanese yen, which since 4 March has fallen over 12% against the dollar. The relationship between a central bank rigging financial asset values and the effect on the currency is being demonstrated. In 1720 France John Law similarly tried to stop his Mississippi shares from falling by issuing unbacked livres expressly to buy shares in a support operation. It is worth drawing attention to the similarities of that experience with current developments in markets and currencies. Like Keynes over two centuries later, Law believed in stimulating an economy with credit and by suppressing interest rates. Keynes formulated his approach as a response to the great depression, despite (or because of) the US Government’s attempts to fix it having continually failed. Keynes in effect started again, dismissing classical economics and invented macroeconomics in its place. Law similarly recommended a reflationary solution to a struggling French economy burdened by the bankruptcy of royal finances. Law proposed to stimulate it by issuing a new currency, livres, as receipts for deposits in coin. The convenience of notes, which would be accepted as settlement for taxes and other public payments, was expected to ensure they would replace coin. Keynes’ version was the bancor, which was not adopted, but the US dollar acted as the vehicle for global stimulation in its place. Both currency proposals were not overtly inflationary at the outset, nor was the adoption of the dollar in the bancor’s place. But they gave the issuers the flexibility to gradually loosen them from the discipline of metallic money. In October 1715 at a special session at the chateau de Vincennes, Law made his proposal to the Council of Finances, stressing that his proposed bank would only issue notes in return for deposits of coin. In other words, it would be a deposit bank only. The Council turned down Law’s proposal, but in May 1717, he finally got the go-ahead to establish a “general bank”. That became the Royal Bank the following year, a forerunner of today’s central banks. It was then to be merged with Law’s Mississippi venture in February 1720. The Mississippi venture included two other companies which all together represented a monopoly on France’s foreign trade and Law needed to raise funds to build ships. Having obtained his original banking licence, Law proceeded to inflate a financial bubble to finance his project, and to create sufficient revenues to pay down the royal debts. His appointment to the official role of Controller General of Finance in early 1720 enabled him to finance the bubble by expanding a combination of credit and paper currency without having to clear the expansion of currency through Parliament, which was the procedure until then. In late 1719, Law was already buying Mississippi shares using new currency, an action which foreshadowed today’s quantitative easing. Central to Law’s strategy was the suppression of interest rates. As early as 1715, he wrote: “An abundance of money which would lower the interest rate to 2% would in reducing the financing costs of the debts and public offices etc, relieve the King. It would lighten the burden of the indebted noble landowners. This latter group would be enriched because agricultural goods would be sold at higher prices. It would enrich traders who would then be able to borrow at a lower interest rate and give employment to the people.” Today, we know this as Keynesian economic theory. The expansion of the currency was especially dramatic in early-1720, with an already bloated one billion livres in circulation at the end of 1719 from a standing start in only thirty months. In a desperate attempt to support the shares in a falling market, this had expanded to 2.1 billion livres by the middle of May. The addition of all this paper and credit led to prices of goods rising at a monthly rate of over 20% by January 1720. Unsurprisingly, Law refused to pay out gold and silver for the supposedly backed livres, and the collapse of the whole scheme ensued. By September, the Mississippi shares had fallen from 10,000L to 4,000L, but the currency in which the shares were priced was worthless on the London and Amsterdam exchanges. The lessons for today cannot be ignored. Law ruined the French economy with his proto-Keynesian policies. Today, with quantitative easing the same policies are a global phenomenon. Law’s support operations for royal finances are no different from today’s suppression of government bond yields. And now that prices for goods are beginning to rise, in all certainty there will be an even greater crisis for food prices in the coming months, just as there was widespread starvation in France in the summer of 1720. How to profit from these mistakes Not only do we have in 1720s France a precedent for today’s economic and financial conditions, but Richard Cantillon gave us a strategy of how to profit from the situation. He showed that it was not sufficient just to sell financial assets for currency, but the currency itself presented the greater danger of losses. Today, Cantillon is known for his Essay on Economic Theory and the Nature of Trade in General. The Cantillon effect describes how currency debasement gradually progresses through the economy, driving up prices as it enters circulation. Cantillon operated as a banker in Paris during the Mississippi bubble, dealing in both the shares and the currency. He traded both Mississippi shares in Paris and South Sea Company shares in London on the bull tack, selling out before they collapsed. He proved to be an accomplished speculator in these bubble conditions. As a banker, Cantillon extended credit to wealthy speculators, taking in shares as collateral. From the outset he was sceptical of Law’s scheme and would sell the collateral in the market after prices had risen without informing his customers. When Law’s scheme collapsed, he benefited a second time by claiming the debts owed from the original loans, claims that were upheld in a series of court cases in London, because the shares being unnumbered were regarded as fungible property which like money itself could not be specifically identified and reclaimed by an earlier owner. His second fortune was from shorting the currency on the exchanges in London and Amsterdam by selling the livre forward for other currencies which were encashable for specie. And it is that action which can guide us through the end of the era of the dollar’s financialisation and the likely consequences for the currency. Today, the other side of the dollar’s difficulties is the availability of alternatives. Gold is still legally true money in coin form, and it can be expected to protect individual wealth in a livre-style collapse. Today, there are cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, but they will never be legal tender and because previous ownership can be traced through the blockchain they can be seized if identified as stolen property. Then there are central bank digital currencies, planned to be issued by the organs of the state that have already made a mess of fiat currencies. Whichever way this question is considered, we always return to gold as the sound money chosen by its users — and that was what Cantillion effectively bought in selling livres for specie-backed currencies. In the current context the concept that future currencies will relate to commodities and not financial assets is particularly interesting. This thinking appears to be embodied in a new pan-Asian replacement for the dollar as a payment medium. The Eurasia Economic Union Russia, China and the members, associates and dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation organisation appear to understand the dangers to them from a currency collapse of the dollar, other Western currencies and of associated financial assets. There are three pieces of evidence that this may be so. Firstly, China responded to the Fed reducing its funds rate to zero and the introduction of monthly QE of $120bn in March 2020 by stockpiling commodities, raw materials, and grains. Clearly, China understood the implications for the dollar’s purchasing power. By backing its economy with commodity stocks she was taking steps to protect her own currency from the dollar’s debasement. Secondly, sanctions against Russia rendered the dollar, euro, yen, and pounds valueless in its national reserves. At the same time, sanctions have pushed up commodity prices measured in those currencies. Russia has responded by insisting on payments for energy from “unfriendly nations” in roubles, while the central bank has resumed buying gold from domestic producers. Again, the currency is reflecting its commodity features. And lastly, the Eurasia Economic Union, which combines Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, has proposed a new currency in conjunction with China. Details are sketchy, but we have been told that the new currency will combine the national currencies of the nations involved and twenty exchange-traded commodities. It sounds like it will be a statist version of earlier gold standards, with perhaps 40-50% commodity backing, presumably to be fixed against national currencies daily. Like the SDR, it will be supplemental to national currencies, but used for cross-border trade settlement. The involvement of both China and Russia suggests that it might be adopted more widely by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, representing 40% of the world’s population and freeing them from the dollar’s hegemony. The original motivation was to remove a weaponised dollar from pan-Asian trade, but recent developments have imparted a new urgency. Rapidly rising prices, in other words an accelerating loss of the dollar’s purchasing power, amounts to a transfer of wealth from dollar balances in Asian hands to the US Government. That is undesirable for the EAEU members. Furthermore, the flaws in the yen and the euro have become obvious as well. All Western currencies will almost certainly be undermined by their central banks’ resistance to rising bond yields as the John Law experience Mark 2 plays out. It might prove impractical for westerners to access this new currency to escape the collapse of their own national currencies. Anyway, a new currency must become established before it can be trusted as a medium of exchange. But the concept appears to be in line with Sir Isaac Newton’s rule of a 40% gold backing for a currency to be always maintained. The difference is that instead of the issuer lacking the flexibility to inflate the currency at will, the composition of the proposed Eurasian currency can be altered by the issuer. Putting this objection to one side, prices of commodities measured in goldgrams appear to have been remarkably stable over long periods of time. Certainly, wholesale prices in nineteenth century Britain under its gold standard confirm this is so. Figure 2 shows a remarkable stability of prices for a century under an uninterrupted gold coin exchange standard. The variations, most noticeable before the 1844 Bank Charter Act, are due to a cycle of expansion and contraction of bank credit. And the gentle increase from the late-1880s reflected the increased supply of gold from the Witwatersrand discoveries in South Africa. Whisper it quietly, but this remarkable price stability, coupled with technological developments, with minimum government saw a relatively small nation come to dominate world trade. If the Eurasia Economic Union manages to establish a stable currency similarly backed by commodities as the British pound was by gold, a pre-industrialised Central Asia holds out the promise of a similar economic advancement. But that will also require a hands-off approach to markets, which is not in character for any government, let alone the authoritarians in Central Asia. The value destruction ahead So far, this article has drawn attention to the ending of an era of fiat currency financialisation, the monetary policy errors, and the contrasting developments in Asia, where a preference for commodity backing for roubles, yuan and a new Eurasian currency is emerging. The success of the Asian currencies is set to destabilise those of the West. But irrespective of the future for Asian currencies, the West’s currencies bear the seeds of value destruction within themselves, simply because their evolution has nowhere further to go other than downhill. There is a complacent assumption that central banks are in control of interest rates and always will be. What is missing is an understanding of markets, which ultimately reflect human action. It is an error which eventually leads to states’ combined actions failing completely. We saw this in the 1970s, after the last vestiges of gold backing for the dollar were abandoned with the suspension of the Bretton Woods Agreement. Not only did the dollar lose its tie to gold, but all other currencies from that moment lost it as well. Consequently, inflation in the form of consumer prices began to rise shortly thereafter, fuelled by a combination of monetary expansion and loss of faith in currencies’ purchasing power — the latter particularly from OPEC members who demanded substantially higher dollar prices for crude oil. Despite the prospects for North Sea oil, the consequences for the UK’s government finances were catastrophic, leading to a bailout from the IMF in September 1976 (IMF bailouts were exclusively for third-world nations — for the UK this was beyond embarrassing). And the Labour government was forced to issue gilts bearing coupons of 15%, 15 ¼%, and 15 ½%. Globally, we have a similar situation today, except instead of entering the post-Bretton Wood years with the US dollar’s Fed Funds Rate at 6.62%, we have entered the new commoditisation era with the FFR at zero. We exited the 1970s with a FFR of over 19%. In August 1971 when the Bretton Woods Agreement was suspended the yield on the 10-year US Treasury constant maturity note was 6.86%. By September 1981 it stood at 15.6%. In August 2020 it was at an unnatural 0.5%, going to —who knows? In 1980, Paul Volker slayed the inflation dragon by hiking interest rates to economically destructive levels. It is hard to envisage a similar action being taken by the Fed today. But what we can see is the potential for consumer prices to rise, driven by currency debasement, to at least similar if not greater levels seen during the 1970s decade. Accordingly, bond yields have much, much further to rise. The bankruptcies of over-indebted businesses, their bankers, the central banks loaded with failing financial assets, and governments themselves all beckon. Financial assets are at the top of their bubble, of that there should be little doubt. As interest rates rise, all financial assets will begin to collapse in value. That cannot be denied. And where financial assets interact with the real world, such as mortgage finance, the disruption will undermine values of physical assets as well. Financial assets represent a higher level of collateral backing for bank credit than on previous credit cycles. Forced collateral liquidation will also drive financial asset prices lower. The potential for a crash on the scale of Wall Street between 1929—1932 should be obvious. Equally obvious is the likely reaction of central banks, which will surely redouble their efforts to prevent it happening. Quantitative easing is set to increase to finance all spendthrift government spending shortfalls, which can only escalate in these conditions. Central banks will be doing it not just because they want to preserve a “wealth effect” for the private sector, but to save themselves from the consequences of earlier currency debasement. The central banks of Japan, the euro system, the UK and the US have all loaded up on government bonds, whose prices are just beginning to collapse, if the higher bond yields seen in the 1970s return. Central bank liabilities are beginning to exceed their assets, a situation which in the private sector requires directors to admit to bankruptcy and cease trading. In most cases, recapitalising a central bank is a simple operation, whereby the central bank makes a loan to its government, and though double entry bookkeeping, instead of the government being credited as a depositor it is credited as a shareholder. Simple, but embarrassing in the middle of a developing financial crisis. When pure fiat currencies are involved. Undoubtedly, this is what the Bank of Japan will be forced to do, but for now it is refusing to accept the reality of higher interest rates and the effect on its extensive portfolio of JGBs, corporate bonds and equity ETFs. Consequently, its currency, the yen, is collapsing. The position of the ECB is more complex because its shareholders are the national central banks in the euro system which in turn will need bailing out. The imbalances in the TARGET2 settlement system are an additional complication, and outstanding repos last estimated at €8.725 trillion are there to be unwound. Between Japan and the Eurozone, we can expect to see their currencies collapse first. Initially, the dollar will appear strong on the foreign exchanges reflecting their decline. But foreigners possess financial assets and deposits totalling over US$33 trillion on current valuations. If the Fed is unable to prevent bond yields from soaring much above current levels, most of this, including the $15 trillion invested in equities, will be wiped out. The destruction of value measured in collapsing currencies will be economically catastrophic. It is to avoid this fate that first China, and now Russia are commoditising their currencies and even planning for a new cross-border settlement medium tied partially to commodity values. They hope to escape from interest rates rising in fiat currencies as they lose purchasing power. If the global conflict is financial, the West has lost it already. The geopolitical consequences are another story for a later day. Tyler Durden Sun, 04/24/2022 - 16:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 24th, 2022

Futures Recover Losses After Netflix Disaster; 10Y Real Yields Turn Positive

Futures Recover Losses After Netflix Disaster; 10Y Real Yields Turn Positive US index futures were little changed, trading in a narrow, 20-point range, and erasing earlier declines as a selloff in bonds reversed with investors also focusing on the catastrophic Q1 earnings report from Netflix. Nasdaq 100 Index futures slipped 0.2% by 7:15 a.m. in New York, recovering from an earlier drop of as much as 1.2%; the Nasdaq 100 has erased $1.3 trillion in market value since April 4 as bond yields have been surging on fears of rate hikes. S&P 500 futures also recouped losses to trade little changed around 4,460. Treasuries rallied and 10Y yields dropped to 2.86% after hitting 2.98% yesterday. The dollar dropped for the first time in 4 days after hitting the highest level since July 2020, and gold was flat while bitcoin rose again, hitting $42K. In perhaps the most notable move overnight, US 10-year real yields turned positive for the first time since March 2020, signaling a potential return to the pre-pandemic normal. But that was quickly followed by a global drop in bond yields as investors assessed growth challenges from the Ukraine war and the potential for a peak in inflation. “Real yields matter for equities,” Esty Dwek, chief investment officer at Flowbank SA, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “It’s another aspect for the valuation picture that isn’t helping. It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see real yields are back closer to zero again. We’re pricing in so much bad news already between inflation and the hikes and war and supply chains.” 10-year Treasurys yield shed 7 basis points in choppy session after as money managers from Bank of America to Nomura indicated the panic over inflation has gone too far: “Our forecasts point to inflation peaking this quarter and falling steadily into 2023,” BofA analysts including Ralph Axel wrote in a note. “We believe this will reduce the panic level around inflation and allow rates to decline.”  Bank of America also said it has turned long on 10-year Treasuries. Elsewhere, Japan's 10-year yield holds at 0.25%, the top of Bank of Japan’s trading band as the central bank resumes massive intervention. Despite the BOJ's dovish commitment to keep rates low, the Japanese yen rebounded from a 13-day slump and gold extended its decline. Going back to stocks, Netflix shares which have a 1.2% weighting in the Nasdaq, sank 27% in premarket trading after the streaming service said it lost customers for the first time in a decade and forecast that the decline will continue. The shares were downgraded at many firms including UBS Group AG, KGI Securities and Piper Sandler. Other streaming stocks including Walt Disney and Roku also slipped. IBM, on the other hand, rose 2.5% after reporting revenue that beat the average analyst estimate on demand for its hybrid-cloud offerings. Analysts acknowledged the strong quarter of revenue performance. A dimmer outlook for corporate earnings as well as the rise in yields have dented demand for risk assets, with investors preferring defensive stocks such as healthcare to growth-linked stocks, which come under greater pressure from higher interest rates. Some other notable premarket movers: Interactive Brokers (IBKR US) shares fell 1.1% in after-market trading as net income missed analysts’ consensus estimates. Still, analysts at Piper Sandler and Jefferies are positive. Omnicom (OMC US) shares jumped 3.7% in postmarket. Its cautious outlook for the rest of the year could bring some positive surprises, according to analysts, after the company’s 1Q revenue beat estimates In Europe, the Stoxx 600 rose 0.8%, led by banking and technology shares while miners underperformed as metals fell, as investors assessed a mixed bag of corporate results and the outlook for France’s presidential-election runoff on Sunday.  There’s a divergence in performance of European stocks; Euro Stoxx 50 rallies 1.2%. FTSE 100 lags, adding 0.4%. Danone SA rose after reporting its fastest sales growth in seven years, and Heineken NV advanced after sales climbed. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: ASML shares rise as much as 8% with analysts saying the semiconductor-equipment group’s earnings show demand remains strong, even if a timing issue meant its outlook missed expectations. Danone shares gain as much as 9% following a French financial newsletter report that rival Lactalis may be interested in buying its businesses and after the producer of Evian reported a surge in bottled water revenue. Just Eat Takeaway shares rise as much as 7.7% after the company gave mixed guidance and said it is considering selling Grubhub. While analysts note the growth looks weak, they highlight the focus on profitability and the strategic review of Grubhub are positives. Vopak shares rise as much as 7.2%, most since March 2020, after the tank terminal operator reported higher revenues and Ebitda for the first quarter. Heineken shares rise as much as 5% after the Dutch brewer reported 1Q organic beer volume that beat analyst expectations and said net revenue (beia) per hectolitre grew 18.3%. Analysts were impressed by the company’s price-mix during the period. Rio Tinto shares fall as much as 3.9%. A production miss for 1Q could prevent the miner’s shares from recovering after recent underperformance, RBC Capital Markets says. Credit Suisse declines as much as 2.8% after the bank said it anticipates a first-quarter loss owing to a hit to revenue from Russia invading Ukraine and an increase in legal provisions. Oxford Biomedica drops as much as 10% after reporting full-year revenue that was below consensus. RBC Capital said reasons for the revenue miss were “unclear,” adding that there was no new business development news. Asian stocks rose as Japanese equities rallied on the back of a weaker yen, which will support exports. Shares in China fell as investors were disappointed by the decision among banks to keep borrowing rates there unchanged. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 0.9% and was poised to snap a three-day losing streak. Japanese exporters including Toyota and Sony helped lead the way, with shares also stronger in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.  “It looks like the cheap yen may continue for a longer period than originally expected,” said Bloomberg Intelligence auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida. “The weaker yen is good for all Japanese automakers.” China’s benchmarks bucked the uptrend and dipped more than 1%, as lenders maintained their loan rates for a third month despite the central bank’s call for lower borrowing costs to help an economy hurt by Covid-19 and geopolitical headwinds.  China’s rate stall, together with last week’s smaller-than-expected cut in the reserve requirement, has led some investors to believe broad and significant policy easing is unlikely. “Doubts about access to easier funding remain a bugbear despite headline easing,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note. “Inadvertent restraints on actual lending may mute intended stimulus, revealing risks of ‘too little too late’ stimulus.” In positive news, daily covid cases in Shanghai were in downtrend in recent days and number of communities with more than 100 daily infections fell for three consecutive days, Wu Qianyu, an official with Shanghai’s health commission, says at a briefing. Financial stocks outside of China gained after U.S. 10-year Treasury real yields turned positive for the first time since 2020 as traders continue to bet on a series of aggressive Federal Reserve rate hikes. This may pose more headwinds for Asian tech stocks, which have dragged the broader market lower this year. Japanese equities rose for a second day after the yen weakened against the dollar for a record 13 straight days. Automakers were the biggest boost to the Topix, which climbed 1%. Financials advanced as yields gained. Fast Retailing and SoftBank Group were the largest contributors to a 0.9% gain in the Nikkei 225. The yen strengthened slightly after shedding nearly 6% against the dollar since the start of the month. “It looks like the cheap yen may continue for a longer period than originally expected,” said Bloomberg Intelligence auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida. “The weaker yen is good for all Japaneseautomakers, “no one loses,” he added. Indian equities snapped their five-day drop as energy companies advanced on expectations of blockbuster earnings, driven by wider refining margins. Software exporters Infosys, Tata Consultancy and lender HDFC Bank bounced back from a slump, triggered by weaker results.  The S&P BSE Sensex gained 1% to 57,037.50 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index rose 1.1%. The two gauges posted their biggest surge since April 4. Thirteen of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of automobile companies. “A series of sharp negative reactions to minor misses in earnings from large caps points to a precarious state of positioning among investors,” according to S. Hariharan, head of sales trading at Emkay Global Financial. He expects corporate commentary on the margin outlook for FY23 to be key to investors’ reaction to other quarterly results, which will be released over the next couple of weeks. The benchmark Sensex lost about 5% in the five sessions through Tuesday, dragged lower by a selloff in software makers, a slump in HDFC Bank and its parent Housing Development Finance Corp. Foreign investors, who have been net sellers of Indian stocks since the start of October, have withdrawn $1.7 billion from local equities this month through April 18. The IMF slashed its world growth forecast by the most since the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and projected even faster inflation. It expects India’s economy to grow by 8.2% in fiscal 2023 compared with an earlier estimate of 9%. Reliance Industries contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 3%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 20 rose, while 10 fell. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.4%, its first drop in four days, after yesterday reaching its highest level since July 2020, as the greenback weakened against all Group-of-10 peers. Scandinavian and Antipodean currencies led gains followed by the yen, which halted a 13-day rout. The euro advanced a second day and bunds extended gains, underperforming euro-area peers as money markets pared ECB tightening wagers. The yen snapped a historic declining streak amid short covering after the currency approached a key level of 130 per dollar. The Bank of Japan stepped in to cap 10-year yields for the first time since late March as it reiterated its ultra loose monetary policy with four days of unscheduled bond buying. The Australian and New Zealand dollars gained as risk sentiment improved after a selloff in Treasuries paused. The Aussie was supported by offshore funds buying into contracting yield spreads with the U.S. and on demand from exporters for hedging at the week’s low, according to FX traders. The pound edged higher against a broadly weaker dollar, but lagged behind the rest of its Group-of-10 peers, with focus on the risks to the U.K. economy. In rates, Treasuries advanced, reversing a portion of Tuesday’s sharp selloff which pushed the 10Y as high as 2.98%, with gains led by belly of the curve amid bull-flattening in core Focal points of U.S. session include Fed speakers and $16b 20-year bond reopening. US yields were richer by ~7bp across belly of the curve, 10-year yields around 2.87% keeping pace with gilts while outperforming bunds, Fed-dated OIS contracts price in around 222bp of rate hikes for the December FOMC meeting vs 213bp priced at Monday’s close; 49bp of hikes remain priced in for the May policy meeting. Japan 10-year yields held at 0.25%, the top of Bank of Japan’s trading band as the central bank resumes massive intervention. Australian and New Zealand bonds post back-to-back declines. Coupon issuance resumes with $16b 20-year bond sale at 1pm New York time; WI yield at around 3.10% sits ~45bp cheaper than March result, which stopped 1.4bp through.  IG dollar issuance slate includes Development Bank of Japan 5Y SOFR, Canada 3Y and ADB 3Y/10Y SOFR; six deals priced almost $19b Tuesday, headlined by financials including JPMorgan and Bank. In commodities, crude futures advance. WTI trades within Tuesday’s range, adding 1.1% to around $103. Brent rises 0.9% to around $108. Most base metals trade in the red; LME lead falls 1.6%, underperforming peers. Spot gold falls roughly $4 to trade near $1,946/oz. Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases include German PPI for March, Euro Area industrial production for February, US existing home sales for march, and Canadian CPI for March. From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Bostic, Evans and Daly, as well as the ECB’s Rehn and Nagel, whilst the Federal Reserve will be releasing their Beige Book. Earnings releases include Tesla, Procter & Gamble, and Abbott Laboratories. Finally, French President Macron and Marine Le Pen will debate tonight ahead of Sunday’s presidential election. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 4,443.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 458.21 MXAP up 0.5% to 171.88 MXAPJ up 0.2% to 570.00 Nikkei up 0.9% to 27,217.85 Topix up 1.0% to 1,915.15 Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 20,944.67 Shanghai Composite down 1.3% to 3,151.05 Sensex up 0.9% to 56,945.14 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,569.23 Kospi little changed at 2,718.69 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.88% Euro up 0.3% to $1.0823 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $108.27/bbl Brent Futures up 1.0% to $108.27/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,943.30 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.28% to 100.67 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg On the surface the yen looks like the perfect well for carry traders to dip into, under pressure from a Bank of Japan determined to keep local yields anchored to the floor even as interest rates around the world push higher. But despite consensus building for further losses -- peers look like better funding options on certain key metrics Almost eight weeks after Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, with military losses mounting and Russia facing unprecedented international isolation, a small but growing number of senior Kremlin insiders are quietly questioning his decision to go to war French President Emmanuel Macron and nationalist leader Marine le Pen are gearing up for their only live TV debate on Wednesday evening, a high-stakes event just days before the final ballot of the presidential election this weekend China will continue strengthening strategic ties with Russia, a senior diplomat said, showing the relationship remains solid despite growing concerns over war crimes in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks eventually traded mostly positive after the firm handover from the US despite continued upside in yields. ASX 200 was led by the healthcare sector as shares in Ramsay Health Care surged due to a takeover proposal from a KKR-led consortium, but with gains capped by miners after Rio Tinto's lower quarterly iron ore production and shipments. Nikkei 225 was underpinned by the initial currency depreciation and with the BoJ defending its yield cap. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were mixed with the mainland subdued after the PBoC defied expectations for a cut to its benchmark lending rates and instead maintained the 1yr and 5yr Loan Prime Rates at 3.70% and 4.60%, respectively. Top Asian News Fed’s Aggressive Rate Hike Plans Jolt Policy in China and Japan BOJ Further Boosts Bond Buying as Yields Advance to Policy Limit Sunac Bondholders Say They Haven’t Received Interest Due Tuesday Regulators Under Pressure to Ease Loan Curbs: Evergrande Update China Buys Cheap Russian Coal as World Shuns Moscow European bourses and US futures were choppy at the commencement of the European session, but, have since derived impetus in relatively quiet newsflow amid multiple earnings and as yields continue to ease; ES Unch. Currently, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.8%, while US futures are little changed on the session but rapidly approaching positive territory ahead of key earnings incl. TSLA. Netflix Inc (NFLX) - Q1 2022 (USD): EPS 3.53 (exp. 2.89), Revenue 7.87bln (exp. 7.93bln), Net Subscriber Additions: -0.2mln (exp. +2.5mln). Q1 UCAN streaming paid net change -640k (exp.+87.5k). Co. lost 640k subscribers in US/Canada, 300k in EMEA, and 350k in LatAm. Co. Said macro factors, including sluggish economic growth, increasing inflation, geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and some continued disruption from COVID are likely having an impact, via PR Newswire. Click here for the full breakdown. -26% in the pre-market. Chinese Civil Aviation publishes prelim report looking into the China Eastern Airline crash; still recovering and analysing damaged black boxes from the plane: there was no abnormal communication between air crew and air controllers before the aircraft deviated from cruising altitude; no dangerous weather, goods or overdue maintenance. Top European News Le Pen Upset Would Be as Big a Shock to Markets as Brexit Macron and Le Pen Set for High Stakes French Debate Riksbank Governor Leaves Door Open for String of Rate Hikes Danone Gains on Lactalis Takeover Speculation, Evian Rebound Heineken Rises; MS Says Results Were Widely Expected FX: Buck concedes ground to recovering Yen as US Treasury yields recede, USD/JPY over 150 pips below new 20 year high circa 129.42. Yuan on the rocks after PBoC set a soft onshore reference rate and regardless of unchanged LPRs, USD/CNH eyes 6.4500 after breach of 200 DMA. Aussie back in pole position as high betas benefit from Greenback retreat and Kiwi in second spot ahead of NZ CPI data; AUD/USD rebounds through 0.7400 and NZD/USD from under 0.6750. Loonie also bouncing before Canadian inflation metrics, with Usd/Cad closer to 1.2550 than 1.2625, while Euro and Pound are both firmer on 1.0800 and 1.3000 handles respectively as DXY dips below 100.500. Rand shrugs aside mixed SA CPI prints as correction from bull run continues and Gold slips under Usd 1950/oz, USD/ZAR holds above 15.0000. ECB's Kazaks says a rate hike is possible as soon as July this year; ending APP early in Q3 is possible and appropriate; zero is not an a cap for the deposit rate, via Bloomberg. Adds, a gradual approach does not mean a slow approach, do not need to wait for stronger wage growth. Fixed Income: Debt redemption, as futures retrace following tests/probes of cycle lows. Lack of concession not really evident at longer-dated German and UK bond sales, but 20 year US supply may be a separate issue. BoJ ramps up intervention and aims to anchor rather than cap 10 year JGB yield around zero percent, while BoA suggests contra-trend position in 10 year UST to target 2.25% from current levels close to 3.0%. Commodities: Crude benchmarks are firmer on the session in what is more of a consolidation from yesterday's pressured settlement than a concerted effort to move higher, also benefitting from broader equity action. Currently, WTI and Brent reside at the top-end of USD 2/bbl parameters; focus very much on China-COVID, Iran, Libyan supply and Ukraine-Russia developments. US Private Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude -4.5mln (exp. +2.5mln), Cushing +0.1mln, Gasoline +2.9mln (exp. -1.0mln), Distillate -1.7mln (exp. -0.8mln). Spot gold/silver are contained at present but have seen bouts of modest pressure, including the loss of the USD 1946.45/oz 21-DMA at worst. US Event Calendar 07:00: April MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -1.3% 10:00: March Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -4.1%, prior -7.2% 10:00: March Home Resales with Condos, est. 5.77m, prior 6.02m 14:00: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book Central Bank Speakers 11:25: Fed’s Daly Discusses the Outlook 11:30: Fed’s Evans Discusses the Economic and Policy Outlook 13:00: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Equity in Urban Development DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It took me a while to adjust to being back to the office yesterday after two and a half weeks off. No screaming kids, no stealing half their food as I made their meals, and no stepping on endless lego and screaming myself. My team at work are much better behaved, protect their food, and clear up after playing with their toys. Talking of lego, the first day of the holiday was spent in a snow blizzard at LEGOLAND and the last day in shorts and t-shirt on a family bike ride on the Thames. No I haven't been off for that long just a typical April in the UK. When I left you, I was in constant agony due to sciatica in my back and a knee that was very fragile post surgery. On my last day I had a back injection that I wasn't that hopeful about as three previous ones hadn't done anything. However after a second opinion and a new consultant, this injection hit the spot and my sciatica has completely gone and I'm just back to the long-standing normal wear and tear related back stiffness. The consultant can't tell me how long it'll last so Reformer Pilates starts next week. My knee is slowly getting better via some overuse flare ups. So until the next time, I'm in as good a shape as I have been for quite some time! It's hard to guage how good a shape the market is in at the moment as there are lots of conflicting forces. Since I've been off global yields have exploded higher, the US yield curve has resteepened notably and risk is a bit softer. As regular readers know I think a late 2023/early 2024 US recession is likely in this first proper boom and bust cycle for over 40 years. However we're still in some kind of boom phase and I've been trying not to get too bearish too early. While I was off, I published our latest credit spread forecasts and having met our earlier year widening targets, we've moved more neutral for the rest of the year. However into year end 2023, we now have a very big widening of spreads in the forecasts to reflect the likely recession. See the report here. Also while I've been off, the House View is now also that we'll get a US recession at a similar point which as far as I can see is the first Wall Street bank to officially predict this. See the World Outlook here for more. On the steepening I don't have a strong view but ultimately I think 2 year yields will probably have to rise again at some point after a recent pause as the risks are skewed to the Fed having to move faster than the market expects. The long end is complicated by QT but generally I suspect the curve will be fairly flat or inverted for most of the next few months. Coming back after my holidays and the long Easter weekend, the bond market sell-off resumed yesterday with yields climbing to fresh highs. In fact, the losses for Treasuries so far in April now stand at -2.95% on a total return basis, just outperforming the -3.04% decline in March that itself was the worst monthly performance since January 2009, back when the US economy started emerging from the worst phase of the GFC. Elsewhere the US yield curve flattened for the first time in six sessions, with 2yr yields climbing +14.4bps to 2.59%, their highest level since early 2019. Yields on 10yr Treasuries rose +8.3bps to 2.94%, a level unseen since late 2018, on another day marked by heightened rates volatility. Meanwhile 30yr yields breached 3.00% intraday for the first time since early 2019, climbing +5.4bps. And what was also noticeable was the continued rise in real yields, with the 10yr real yield closing at -0.009% yesterday, and briefly trading in positive territory for the first time since March 2020 in early trading this morning. Bear in mind that the 10yr real yield has surged roughly 110bps in around 6 weeks, and since we’ve been able to calculate real yields using TIPS, the only faster moves over such a short time period have been during the GFC and a remarkable 2-week period in March 2020 around the initial Covid-19 wave. On the other hand, as I pointed out in my CoTD yesterday (link here), the 10yr real yield based on spot inflation is currently around -5.6%, so still incredibly negative. The latest moves come ahead of the Fed’s next decision two weeks from now, where futures are placing the odds of a 50bp hike at over 100% now. We’ve been talking about 50bps for some time, and we’d probably have had one last month had it not been for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it would still be a historic moment if it happens, since the last 50bp hike was all the way back in 2000. Nevertheless, we could be about to see a whole run of them, with our economists pencilling in 50bp hikes at the next 3 meetings, whilst St Louis Fed President Bullard (the only dissenting vote at the last meeting who wanted 50bps) said on Monday night that he wouldn’t even rule out a 75bps hike, which probably gave some fuel to the subsequent front end selloff. The bond selloff also took hold in Europe yesterday, where yields on 10yr bunds (+6.9ps), 10yr OATs (+5.0bps) and BTPs (+6.2bps) all hit fresh multi-year highs. Indeed, those on 10yr bunds (0.91%) were at their highest level since 2015, having staged an astonishing turnaround since they closed in negative territory as recently as March 7. Rising inflation expectations have been a driving theme behind this, and yesterday we saw the 5y5y forward inflation swap for the Euro Area close above 2.4%, which is the first time that’s happened in almost a decade, and just shows how investor confidence in the idea of “transitory” inflation is becoming increasingly subdued given that metric is looking at the 5-10 year horizon. Those moves higher in inflation expectations came in spite of the fact that European natural gas prices fell to their lowest level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began yesterday. By the close, they’d fallen -1.94% to €93.77/MWh, whilst Brent crude oil prices were down -5.22% to $107.25/bbl. In Asia, oil prices are a touch higher, with Brent futures +0.82% higher as we go to press. Whilst bonds sold off significantly on both sides of the Atlantic, equities put in a much more divergent performance, with the US seeing significant advances just as Europe sold off. By the close of trade, the S&P 500 (+1.61%) had posted its best day in more than a month, as part of a broad-based advance that left 446 companies in the index higher on the day, the most gainers in a month. Tech stocks outperformed in spite of the rise in yields, with the NASDAQ (+2.15%) and the FANG+ index (+1.81%) posting solid advances, and the small-cap Russell 2000 (+2.04%) also outperformed. In Europe however, the STOXX 600 shed -0.77%, with others including the DAX (-0.07%), the CAC 40 (-0.83%) and the FTSE 100 (-0.20%) also losing ground. The S&P was higher despite a day of mixed earnings. Of the ten companies reporting during trading yesterday, only 4 beat both sales and earnings expectations. After hours, Netflix was the main story, losing subscribers for the first quarter in over a decade and forecasting further declines this quarter, which sent the stock as much as -24% lower in after hours trading. It’s 2 bad earnings releases in a row for the world’s largest streaming service, who saw their stock dip -21.79% the day after their fourth quarter earnings in January. Asian equity markets are mixed this morning as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) defied market expectations by keeping its benchmark lending rates steady. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (-0.21%) and the CSI (-0.43%) are lagging on the news. Bucking the trend is the Nikkei (+0.57%) and the Hang Seng (+0.66%). Outside of Asia, stock futures are indicating a negative start in the US with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.35%) and Nasdaq (-0.75%) both trading in the red partly due to the Netflix earnings miss. Separately, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) reiterated its commitment to purchase an unlimited amount of 10-yr Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) at 0.25% to contain yields, underscoring its desire for ultra-loose monetary settings, in contrast to the global move in a more hawkish direction. The yen has moved slightly higher (+0.3%) after depreciating for 13 straight days, a streak which hasn’t been matched since the US left the gold standard in the early 70s and effectively brought the global free floating exchange rate regime into being. The pace and magnitude of the depreciation has brought some expressions of consternation from Japanese officials, but no official intervention. The reality is, it would be extraordinarily difficult to credibly support the currency at the same time as maintaining strict control of the yield curve. 10yr JGBs continue to trade just beneath the important 0.25% level. Over in France, we’re now just 4 days away from the French presidential election run-off on Sunday, and tonight will see President Macron face off against Marine Le Pen in a live TV debate. Whilst that will be an important moment, recent days have seen a slight widening in Macron’s poll lead that has also coincided with signs of an easing in market stress, with the spread of French 10yr yields over bunds coming down to its lowest level since the start of the month yesterday, at 46.7bps. In terms of yesterday’s polls, Macron was ahead of Le Pen by 56-44 (Opinionway), 56.5-43.5 (Ipsos), and 55-54 (Ifop), putting his lead beyond the margin of error in all of them. Elsewhere, the IMF released their latest World Economic Outlook yesterday, in which they downgraded their estimates for global growth in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They now see global growth in both 2022 and 2023 at +3.6%, down from estimates in January of +4.4% in 2022 and +3.8% in 2023. Unsurprisingly it was Russia that saw the biggest downgrades, but they were broadly shared across the advanced and emerging market economies, whilst inflation was revised up at the same time. Otherwise on the data side, US housing starts grew at an annualised rate of 1.793m in March (vs. 1.74m expected), which is their highest level since 2006. Building permits also rose to an annualised rate of 1.873m (vs. 1.82m expected), albeit this was still beneath its post-GFC high reached in January. To the day ahead now, and data releases include German PPI for March, Euro Area industrial production for February, US existing home sales for march, and Canadian CPI for March. From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Bostic, Evans and Daly, as well as the ECB’s Rehn and Nagel, whilst the Federal Reserve will be releasing their Beige Book. Earnings releases include Tesla, Procter & Gamble, and Abbott Laboratories. Finally, French President Macron and Marine Le Pen will debate tonight ahead of Sunday’s presidential election. Tyler Durden Wed, 04/20/2022 - 08:02.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 20th, 2022

Amazon CEO: Employees Are Better Off Not Joining A Union

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) airing today, Thursday, April 14th. Following are links to video on CNBC.com: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: This Has Been A Time Of Extraordinary Growth Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: Employees Are Better […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) airing today, Thursday, April 14th. Following are links to video on CNBC.com: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: This Has Been A Time Of Extraordinary Growth Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: Employees Are Better Off Not Joining A Union ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Welcome back to “Squawk Box.” We are live in Seattle at Amazon’s headquarters this morning where Amazon CEO Andy Jassy just published his first shareholder letter since taking the helm of the company last summer. Andy Jassy joins me right now in an exclusive interview right here in a room by the way we were talking about this earlier. This has posters of basically with signatures of every frankly new product that’s been developed at the company over the many years. Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more ANDY JASSY: A lot of them. Thanks for having me. SORKIN: It’s very nice to have you here on what’s turned out to be a very jam packed news day and I want to talk about your letter in just a moment because it is a major piece of the news in the morning. But the other big piece of the news that we’ve been talking about all morning is Elon Musk who does sort of loom large here in certain ways given that you’re now competing with him when it comes to space or at least Jeff is on that front and Kuiper with the satellites and also know Zoox with with your vehicles. What do you make of this this Twitter bit? JASSY: I don’t know. I woke up just sort of I don’t know how you wake up at this hour every day but, and just heard the news and it’s interesting we all use Twitter obviously to some degree and it’s it’s a very interesting service and capability. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. SORKIN: Do you, would you ever think Amazon should own a Twitter? I ask because I think of Walmart at one point wanted to get involved with TikTok and social medias, the next thing. JASSY: It sounds like somebody else is gonna own Twitter. SORKIN: You think Elon Musk is gonna ultimately be the buyer? JASSY: I don’t know. That’s, that’s the rumor. That’s what you guys are all talking about that. SORKIN: That’s what we’re talking about. Let me talk about your letter and let me talk and let’s talk about what’s going on right now because one of the things that’s so fascinating in this letter this morning is just what’s happened during this company, to this company during your new time here. I mean, you’ve been here for a very, very long time, but in this new role, and we’re all now talking about supply chain issues, the pandemic seemed to be over and now we have issues in China and what that’s going to mean, big inflationary pressures. How do you, how do you just see things as they are right now? JASSY: Well, it’s quite an interesting time and and, you know, we we grew three times faster than we expected in 15 months. We had a fulfillment center network that we built in, it’s a pretty big network that we built over 25 years that we had to double in 24 months. So it’s really been a time of extraordinary growth. And at the same time when you grow that fast and with some of the things happening in a world, there are also challenges. You know, we had, we had to double our fulfillment center network. We hired about 300,000 people last year alone which was a lot of people but at the same time, even though we hired a lot of people, we couldn’t hire all the people we needed in all the places that we needed and so that created all sorts of challenges in placing inventory close to our customers as we typically do and when you have to place it a little bit further away, it means you have longer transportation costs to get there. All the rate of Transportation has gone up over the last number of months. And, you know, then you see what’s happened with the war in Ukraine where it’s created a bunch of inflationary pressure. If you look at the cost of fuel, look at the cost of metal and building just very different and, you know, then you look at some of the supply chains as you mentioned, you know, it’s, there are, there are certain items that are very difficult to get, you know, we all are have a lot more demand for chips than there is supply right now. And, you know, because we design our own chips and we buy a lot of chips for the things we do in AWS and our devices, even in our vehicles, we get a fair share of those but still it’s not fast enough and it’s not enough and I think some of the issues happening right now in China where, you know, as there are variants and as they’re being very conservative and locking down production creates some issues and getting products as fast as we need and it’s still more expensive and more time consuming to get products into the country so there’s still supply chain challenges. SORKIN: So, when you have to plan out how are you even planning at this point, in terms of just how transitory or not these inflationary pressures are. I know you just added a 5% surcharge for third party sellers to deal with the fuel cost. Do you think that that is a long-term situation? Do you think that that shifts back? JASSY: I hope not. You know, it’s the last thing we ever want to do is have to raise costs for our sellers and sellers for us are so important and so critical to the business and in the early part of the pandemic with all the costs I talked about earlier, right or wrong, we just absorbed all those costs for sellers, but in part because we thought some of those would attenuate as we got to the beginning of this year and some of the impacts on COVID change, but with the war in Ukraine and then all the inflationary pieces that happened there after, at a certain point you can’t keep absorbing all those costs and run a business that’s economic and so I think that, you know, we’re very aware that we them, that sellers have costs as well. They’re very important customers for us and partners and we’ll keep looking at how costs evolve and revisit. SORKIN: You talked about chips being a major issue. What do you think we should be doing here in the United States about manufacturing those chips and does Amazon have a role in that long-term you think? JASSY: Well, I think it’s, it’s, it should concern people that so much of the chip production is concentrated in one place, and there’s, you know, there are a lot of geopolitical things that could happen. And so I think it’s quite wise for the US to be thinking about creating more production here and, you know, I’m very happy about the CHIPS act that we’ve been working on in the country. It’s a lot of money, it’s $35, $40 billion and yet, it’s probably not enough. I think we probably are going to need even more than that to have the ability to withstand some kind of shock to production in a particular part of the world. But I think it’s very important. I, you know, we design our own chips and we’re big buyers of chips and we’re big customers of some of the big chip companies as well as producers ourselves so there could be a role for us to play. We certainly want to help and we certainly want to partner. SORKIN: Do we believe that the companies in America and I know Intel is trying to do this, but do we have enough know how in this in the country to actually do the manufacturing piece of this do you think? JASSY: I think it’s a good question. I think we have a start. I mean, Intel obviously has been doing this for a long time. And you know, Pat Gelsinger has been a partner, you know, first on the VMware side now with Intel for a long time and I have confidence in their ability to produce and but they have work to do  as they know and and we’re going to need additional providers I think to be where we ultimately want to be. SORKIN: And what are you seeing in terms of wages at this point, in terms of wages going up? JASSY: Yeah. Well, they certainly have gone up over the last two years. And, you know, some of which we did ourselves. You know, we championed the $15 minimum wage which is more than double the federal minimum wage, which it’s high time that that change too by the way, but— SORKIN: What do you think it should become? JASSY: I don’t know the exact number but below $7.50 to me feels very wrong. You know, I think it should be closer to to the $15 minimum wage that that, you know, we started a few years ago— SORKIN: And now about 18. JASSY: Yeah, our average starting salary now is over $18. And so, wages have continued to go up. You know, when you run a retail business like we do, it’s true for all retailers, they’re relatively low operating margin businesses. So there’s really only so far you can go and have an economic business that makes sense, but we’ve continued to see wages go up. There’s been a very significant acceleration the last two years and I, you know, it’s hard to tell how much more they’ll go up. I don’t think we’ll go backwards though. SORKIN: In that context, how do you see the union movement that’s taking place, frankly, around the country, but clearly aimed in certain places and I’m thinking about New York, where I’m from at Amazon? JASSY: Well, I mean, I’d say a few things. You know, first of all, of course, it’s its employees’ choice whether or not they want to join a union. We happen to think they’re better off not doing so for a couple of reasons at least. You know, first, at a place like Amazon that empowers employees, if they see something they can do better for customers or for themselves, they can go meet in a room, decide how change it and change it. That type of empowerment doesn’t happen when you have unions. It’s much more bureaucratic, it’s much slower. I also think people are better off having direct connections with their managers. You know, you think about work differently. You have relationships that are different. We get to hear from a lot of people as opposed to it all being filtered through one voice. If you want to keep the construct that we’ve had for for this long, you have to have, you know, competitive and compelling benefits though for for employees and it’s why we champion the $15 minimum wage a few years ago and we’re up over $18 now. It’s why we have full insurance, why 401k, 20 weeks of paid leave and our Career Choice Program where in our fulfillment center for our employees who want to get a college education, we’ll pay for their full tuition, so those things really matter. The one thing regardless of how it all evolves is we just won’t compromise on the customer experience. That for us, you know, is paramount and— SORKIN: What did you think when you heard President Biden effectively say, and this is regard to the unions around Amazon, here we come? JASSY: Well, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and you know, we we have a lot of things that we I think have supported the administration on and agree with them on, you know, some of the way that we’ve tried to help with COVID and with immigration and, you know, the chips piece that we’re talking about, the Infrastructure bill. We won’t agree on everything, though. SORKIN: When you look at one of the issues that the unions have raised as you know so well are safety issues, and you’ve addressed this to some degree in this morning’s letter. But I’m hoping you can speak to it because there was some data out just about two days ago that seemed to suggest and this was data put together by I think some of the Union advocates that there were more, even double the number of injuries at Amazon facilities relative to their peers. JASSY: Well look, there’s a lot of ways you can spin the safety data and some special interests folks like you’re talking about with this case, will do it for their own interests. That that data is not really accurate. You know what I would say is a few things. You know, first of all, for anybody that had hired a lot of people during the pandemic like we did, and there are plenty of others who did as well, their incident rates, their recordable incidents which what OSHA asked everyone to report on, went up in 2021 versus 2020 because he had a lot of new people. In our case, we hired about 300,000 people just in 2021, most of whom had never worked in this type of manual and industrial space, and who had to be trained and all the data we have says that the incidence of injury in the first six months is always much higher than thereafter. So we have a lot of new people, you’ll have more incidents. But that said, if you if you look at the the injury data and safety data, you know, for us, we we have a few macro areas in which we do work. We have what OSHA calls warehousing. We have what OSHA calls messengers and couriers, messengers and couriers, and then we have grocery and if you look at the industry average versus our numbers, we’re a little bit higher than average in warehousing, we’re a little bit lower than average in both messenger and couriers and grocery. So we’re about average, which, frankly, I take no solace in. We don’t aspire to be average. You know, we’re trying to be the best in the industry and it’s why we’re spending, you know, we have we spent about $300 million on safety last year alone. We have about 8,000 people who just work with safety and we’re trying all sorts of things and work in all sorts of all sorts of things. We have a rotational program we built where we’ve built sophisticated algorithms to try to predict when somebody’s doing something too, too frequently and rotate their jobs and rotate what they’re working on. We have wearables that we’re investing in that send haptic signals when we believe you’re making a dangerous movement. We have, you know, new shoes that we’ve had everybody wear that, you know, protect your toes and avoid slips. We do training on body mechanics and wellness. So we’re working on a lot of those things, but the reality is that we will not be happy until we’re the best in the industry and and even then, I won’t be happy because I’m gonna know there are things that we could be doing better. This is important to me, it’s important to— SORKIN: How do you think about this? So one of the things that Jeff said in his letter last year was that one of the missions of Amazon now is to be Earth’s best employer and Earth’s safest place to work. How do you think about that relative to the priority of serving the customer? JASSY: I don’t think they have to be at odds. And in fact, I think they’re very complimentary. When you take care of employees and employees are safe and they love working where they work, they stay longer. They tend to be happier, they tend to be more productive. And all those things improve the customer experience. So I see them as very complimentary. SORKIN: Want to also talk to you about – I mentioned third party sellers and the fuel surcharge, but also want to talk to you about third party sellers because there are investigations going on as you know and other concerns about Amazon doing what might be described as white label products that compete with third party sellers. How do you think about that relationship? And also, how do you think about either being able to use or not use data that you have, about what selling in one place or how a product is working or not working and then making a similar competitive product? JASSY: Well, I think you’re really talking about private brands or private labels. And as you know, we didn’t invent private label. That’s a many decades long practice that all the big retailers have participated in for a long period of time. And I think when you decide to build private label in particular areas, for us, it’s almost always driven by customers who say, “I like this particular product, but I want an alternative that’s more cost effective.” And so we have, for us, it’s a part of our business. It’s a smaller part of our business than it is for most retailers. But what we always are going to show customers is what we think they most want. So if a customer is used to buying a particular brand in a particular area, that’s what we tend to show them as long as it’s in stock, and we can get it to them quickly and customer reviews are good. But we’re always going to optimize to show customers what we think would be best for them to buy. SORKIN: But how should a third party seller think about that? Because – and I ask because some of them will build a product and then think to themselves, “Well, if Amazon decides that they’re going to also make the same product, that’s going to be a problem for me.” JASSY: Well, it’s, you know, third party sellers and their products are the majority of units that we sell in the store today. And so if you build a great product, with a great price and high quality, you’re going to perform well. Like everybody else, you have to find ways to get awareness. But if you have that product, there’s only so many things that any company is going to manufacture. We tend to focus in areas that tend to be the, you know, kind of the everyday household pieces that people want and need. But if you build a great product, you’re going to have a business over time. And that’s what we see borne out in the numbers, which is, you know, sellers continue to do very well in our store. They’re the majority of our units. SORKIN: Talking about products – and we’re going to talk about a couple of the sort of component parts of Amazon. But in the retail piece, I have a Prime question for you, which is what do you think the elasticity is long term on the Prime price? We talked about this on the air actually when you raised the price on it last year. In terms of if you’re a family of four, it might be able to go very high. If you’re a family of one, maybe it can’t. I don’t know. JASSY: It’s a good question. And I don’t know if anybody knows the answer to it. I think that the value of Prime today when you think about what’s in it, the you know, the all you can eat two day shipping, that you know, increasingly we’re moving more and more shipments to one day shipping. What you get in Prime video with, you know, our originals and all the products that you know we have a channels program where third party entertainment companies are selling subscriptions and channels to people. We got the whole catalog in music. You know, what we’ve got on the gaming side with all the gaming benefits. The grocery benefits – it’s a, you know, and then you layer in some of the things that we keep adding really every month. I mean, just look at what we have coming the rest of the year in Prime video with you know, a new Jack Ryan season. A new The Boys season. The new Lord of the Rings, which you know is over Labor Day. And football. I mean you know, and so we keep adding value to Prime. I think it’s you know, I think it is a great value today. And we don’t plan on stopping adding value in Prime. SORKIN: What, by the way, is the aspiration in media? I ask in large part we’ve been talking all week about WarnerMedia just merged with Discovery+. Everybody’s trying to understand what the streaming wars ultimately look like. When you think about it as an economic matter, and this is interesting because I think people want to understand, is this a component part of Prime or is the economics of it independent of Prime? And I ask that because, you know, do these other businesses ultimately subsidize the streaming business? There’s a lot of people in Hollywood who are trying to understand what it’s all going to look like. JASSY: Well I think it’s still pretty early days for us in entertainment and we’ve invested– SORKIN: You just merged with MGM. JASSY: We, yes, we just acquired MGM and it’s very early days for us in entertainment. We’ve invested a lot of money there and a lot of resources and I think you should expect will continue to do so. We’re very optimistic about what’s possible. And you know today, what we find is, so many people are starting Prime because they see some show that they love in Prime Video. And then they oftentimes once they start Prime, they use the shipping benefit and buy retail products. So they, you know, and vice versa. So I think that today, it really connects that Prime value proposition and I think people get a lot of value from those collected pieces. As we keep adding more and more content as you see what we’re doing with sports and we’re pretty early in what we’ll add. It’s possible we’ll explore other models as well but today it’s part of that Prime – SORKIN: It’s part of Prime. Not something you want to spin off just yet. JASSY: No. SORKIN: By the way, talking about spin offs. Obviously you’ve heard speculation for years now about whether certain parts of Amazon should get broken up and spun off, either for regulatory reasons or even economic reasons. How do you think about that? JASSY: Well, did Jon Fortt put you up to this? SORKIN: He did not. He did not. JASSY: Jon asks me this every time I see him. But you know, I think that you always have to decide, you know, when you’re going to choose to spin something – why you’d want to spin something off. Typically it’s when you know when companies need more money to be able to invest in a particular business and or if they want to get something off their balance sheets and their financial statements. We just don’t find that to be the case. You know, our consumer businesses have a lot of connectivity between them. We were just talking about an example of that with Prime Video and in our retail business, and, you know, in the case of AWS, we haven’t had any issues with respect to being able to fund that business the way it’s needed to be funded to grow. So we just haven’t found a compelling reason to do so. SORKIN: You recently announced the 20-for-1 stock split. What was the rationale from your prospective to do that? JASSY: Well, you know, there’s obviously no substantive, quantitative reason to do it. And so, it wasn’t for any of those types of reasons. It was really because of that, it meant you could keep it the way you were running it or you can change it. And we just kind of looked at it and thought it might provide more flexibility for our employees. And there’s a bunch of small but meaningful examples including, you know, when your stock price is over $3,000, If you have an employee who wants to sell for whatever reason they need to sell but they don’t need to dispose of $3,000 they have to sell a whole share as opposed to when your stock price is more like $150 and you need to sell share because you need something that’s $500 or $1,000, you know, it’s more flexible, more convenient for them. So we just at the end of the day felt like it would provide a little bit more flexibility for our employees. SORKIN: One of the things we bat around on this show virtually every day – it’s hard to get through an interview without mentioning the word crypto. As a payment platform and you actually have a huge payment platform unto itself. How do you think about crypto today? JASSY: Well, I think it’s an emerging area obviously. And there’s a lot of – it’s very interesting and there’s a lot of discussion about it. And yeah, I think NFTs have really started to take off and you know – SORKIN: Do you own any? JASSY: I don’t own any NFTs myself. SORKIN: Any Bitcoin? JASSY: I don’t have Bitcoin myself. So, you know, I think I expect that NFTs will continue to grow very significantly. We’re not probably close to adding crypto as a payment mechanism in our retail business. But I do believe over time that you’ll see crypto become bigger and it’s possible. SORKIN: Could you see yourself selling NFTs? JASSY: Yeah, I think it’s possible down the road. SORKIN: On the platform. Before we let you go, it’s been 10 months now in this new role. And I’m curious what the relationship is like with Jeff, how much time you guys spend together, what does he think of all of this? We were actually mentioning we thought your letter was a little Bezosian in some respects. What’s it been like? JASSY: Well, I have a great relationship with Jeff and, you know, I’ve known him for a long time and I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him. And we talk regularly, we talk weekly and it’s great to have a sounding board and he’s got so much wisdom. And you know, I think both of us share a lot of excitement and optimism for the future. We’re so early in all of our businesses. I mean, even in our retail business, which people think as kind of our most mature business. You know, we’re about 1% of the worldwide retail market segment and 85% of retail still lives offline. So we’re so early in all of these areas. You know, AWS is a $70 billion revenue run rate business growing, you know, about 37% year over year in 2021. And still 95% of the world’s IT spend is on premises and not in the cloud. So, all of these areas you go through it with Alexa has the chance to be kind of, you know, the best personal assistant which changes your life. And entertainment as we just talked about. Our advertising business is early. Kuiper, you know, we’re building a low Earth orbit satellite. And Robotaxi business in Zoox. I mean, we’re so early in these areas that I think we both share a lot of optimism that there’s an opportunity to change a lot of customer experiences over a long period of time. SORKIN: It’s still day one. Are you going to space? Will you go on – JASSY: I’m not going anytime soon. SORKIN: You don’t want to go up with him? JASSY: I didn’t say I didn’t want to go up. I’m just saying I’m not going anytime soon. SORKIN: Andy Jassy, thank you so much. JASSY: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. SORKIN: On a very newsy day. Congratulations on the letter. And we hope to do this more often. Thank you again. Guys, I’m going to send it back to you in the studio. Updated on Apr 14, 2022, 1:40 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkApr 14th, 2022

Planet Earth’s Future Now Rests in the Hands of Big Business

On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another.… On a brisk Monday in Houston in early March, dozens of protesters gathered across the street from the giant Hilton hotel hosting CERAWeek, the energy industry’s hallmark annual conference. Their signs accused the corporate executives inside of betraying humanity in pursuit of financial return. STOP EXTRACTING OUR FUTURE, read one. PEOPLE OVER PROFIT, read another. Two days later, inside a standing-room-only hotel ballroom, Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. secretary of energy, offered a different message to the executives: the Biden Administration needs your help to tackle climate change. The scene encapsulated this moment in the fight to address global warming: some of the most ardent activists say that companies can’t be trusted; governments are saying they must play a role. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] They already are. The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with private companies to bolster the clean energy supply chain, expand electric-vehicle charging, and commercialize new green technologies, among a range of other initiatives. In total, the agency is gearing up to spend tens of billions of dollars on public-private partnerships to speed up the energy transition. “I’m here to extend a hand of partnership,” Granholm told the crowd. “We want you to power this country for the next 100 years with zero-carbon technologies.” Across the Biden Administration, and around the world, government officials have increasingly focused their attention on the private sector—treating companies not just as entities to regulate but also as core partners. We “need to accelerate our transition” off fossil fuels, says Brian Deese, director of President Biden’s National Economic Council. “And that is a process that will only happen if the American private sector, including the incumbent energy producers in the United States, utilities and otherwise, are an inextricable part of that process—that’s defined our approach from the get go.” Photo illustration by C.J. Burton for TIME For some, the emergence of the private sector as a key collaborator in efforts to tackle climate change is an indication of the power of capitalism to tackle societal challenges; for others it’s a sign of capitalism’s corruption of public institutions. In the three decades since the climate crisis became part of the global agenda, scientists, activists, and politicians have largely assumed that government would need to dictate the terms of the transition. But around the world, legislative attempts to tackle climate change have repeatedly failed. Meanwhile, investors and corporate executives have become more aware of the threat climate change poses to their business and open to working to address its causes. Those developments have laid the foundation for a new approach to climate action: government and nonprofits partnering with the private sector to do more—a new structure that carries both enormous opportunity and enormous risk. Read More: This Mining Executive Is Fighting Her Own Industry to Protect the Environment Just 100 global companies were responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, according to data from CDP, a nonprofit that tracks climate disclosure, and pushing the private sector to step up is already showing dividends. Last fall, more than 1,000 companies collectively worth some $23 trillion set emissions-reduction goals that line up with the Paris Agreement. “We are in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude and scale of the Industrial Revolution,” says Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice President who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. “In every sector of the economy, companies are competing vigorously to eliminate unnecessary waste to become radically more energy efficient, and focus on the sharp reduction of their emissions.” Despite that momentum, risks abound. Companies have an incentive to make big commitments, but they need a credible system to set the rules of the road and ensure that those pledges can be scrutinized. Even then, corporate progress is unlikely to add up to enough without clear policy that incentivizes good behavior and/or punishes bad behavior. “To catalyze business, we need governments to lead and set strong policies,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple and a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “That’s just what the science says.” Nor are companies built to address the array of social challenges—millions displaced, millions more with livelihoods destroyed, the escalating health ailments—that will arise from climate change and the transition needed to address it. “The private sector has been surprisingly aggressive on climate in the last 12 months,” says Michael Greenstone, former chief economist in Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “But that is a very misshapen approach: there’s no real substitute for a coherent climate policy.” It’s increasingly hard to imagine how we find such a policy in time. In February, the IPCC, the U.N.’s climate science body, warned of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future.” Emissions need to peak by 2025 in order to have a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. In a landmark report outlining the possible levers to cut global emissions, the IPCC found that private sector initiatives, if followed through, could make a “significant” contribution to that goal. The group assessed the impact of 10 private sector initiatives, and found they could result in a total of 26 gigatonnes in reduced or avoided emissions by 2030—equivalent to more than five years of U.S. carbon pollution. How this partnership between government and industry plays out will shape not just the trajectory of emissions over the coming years and decades but also the future of democratic governance and how society will manage the now inevitable social disruption that will result from climate change. To understand how we got here, it’s helpful to look back to a remarkable coincidence of history. Climate change entered public consciousness at the same time that, in the U.S., the zeitgeist turned against government’s playing a robust role in society. In 1988, when then NASA scientist James Hansen offered his now famous warning that the planet was already warming as a result of human activity, and TIME soon after named the “Endangered Earth” as “Planet of the Year,” American voters had spent eight years hearing President Ronald Reagan tell them that government lay at the root of society’s problems. So it’s perhaps no wonder that in the decades that followed, government attempts to tackle a new problem, unprecedented in scope and scale, encountered roadblocks. That effort began in earnest in 1992 as heads of government from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro to inaugurate a new U.N. framework to address climate change. Every year since, with the pandemic-related exception of 2020, countries have met to hash out solutions to the problem. But, in the first two decades of talks, a comprehensive solution failed to break through. In the U.S., the lagging climate policy can in large part be attributed to the then pervasive free-market ideology, which dictated that businesses exist to make a profit. From the 1990s, and into the new century, fossil-fuel companies as well as heavy industry spent millions denying the existence of the problem and funding organizations that opposed climate rules. Other firms remained on the sidelines of an issue that seemed unrelated to their core business. The results in the political arena were clear. President Bill Clinton tried to pass an energy tax in Congress, but a concerted lobbying effort from manufacturers and the energy industry doomed the plan. George W. Bush publicly questioned the science of climate change and appointed executives from the oil and gas industry into senior positions in his Administration. Barack Obama pursued comprehensive climate legislation that would have capped companies’ emissions in 2009; the legislation failed to make it to the floor of the Senate after a prominent group of businesses condemned it. Christophe Archambault—Pool/ReutersThe launch of a key climate coalition for businesses in 2017 with Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and others But around that time, many business leaders began to feel pressure to do something on climate for the first time. Prioritizing environmental, social, and corporate governance concerns in investing, or ESG for short, had risen from a niche idea in the early 1990s to a mainstream approach to investment two decades later. At that point, a growing flow of reports from financial institutions warned of the economic consequences of inaction. And key voices in the business community—from Michael Bloomberg to Bill Gates—took the message on the road, telling CEOs to take climate change seriously. From 2012 to 2014, the value of investment in the U.S. earmarked for sustainable funds that took into account ESG issues close to doubled, to nearly $7 trillion, according to data from the U.S. SIF Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable investment strategies. To foster this momentum, government leaders sought to bring business into the policymaking conversation. Their goal was to create what is often referred to as a virtuous cycle: if they could get commitments from the private sector on climate issues, they argued, it would, theoretically, push government to do more, which in turn would push companies to double down. In 2015, that approach was put into practice as a group of business leaders showed up in Paris to talk with government officials. The result: CEOs declared their commitment to reducing emissions, and the final text of the Paris Agreement created a formalized framework for involving private companies in the official U.N. process. Just a year later, the U.S. elected Donald Trump as President and began to unravel the country’s environmental rules. Five months into office, he announced that he would take the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Within hours, 20 Fortune 500 companies declared that they were “still in” the global climate deal and would cut their emissions in hopes of keeping the U.S. on track. By the time Trump left office, more than 2,300 American companies had joined the coalition. For many pushing climate action, working with the private sector became the best path forward. “More and more power is distributed in societies,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. Secretary-General, told me in 2019, explaining his extensive outreach to the business community on climate. “If you want to achieve results, you need to mobilize those that have an influence in the way decisions are made.” The most important private-sector push came from the institutional investors at the center of the global economy, who control trillions of dollars in assets and are invested in every sector and essentially every publicly traded firm. When you own a little bit of everything, the scenarios portending climate-driven economic decline are terrifying. “We’re too big to just take all of our hundreds of billions, and try to find a nice safe place for that money,” Anne Simpson, then-director of board governance and sustainability at CalPERS, California’s $500 billion state pension fund, told me in 2019. “We’re exposed to these systemic risks, so we have to fix things.” With the U.S. government on the sidelines, these investors joined together to send a signal. When French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a climate summit in Paris in December 2017, he brought together a group of investors controlling $68 trillion in assets to launch Climate Action 100+. In the beginning, this consortium used their status as high-profile investors to push emissions reductions in 100 publicly traded companies through one-on-one engagements with high-level executives. “All of this made for a reorganization of the politics of climate,” says Laurence Tubiana, a key framer of the Paris Agreement who now heads the European Climate Foundation. “It has now crystallized into something new: a strong coalition between business, financial institutions, investors, and governments.” All these threads came to a head last year in Glasgow at the U.N. climate conference. Walking around the Scottish Events Center last November, it would have been easy to forget that the conference was ostensibly for government officials. An attendee could easily spot, among the 40,000 attendees, high-profile business leaders mingling in the hallway. And by many accounts, the most significant news involved the private sector. Six major automakers joined with national governments to declare that they would produce 100% zero-emissions passenger vehicles no later than 2035. A group of financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets committed to aligning its investments and operations with the Paris Agreement. What sort of emissions reduction does this all add up to? The truth is no one really knows. An analysis of more than 300 member companies of the Science Based Targets initiative, a leading voluntary program for corporations to set emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, found that, on average, each company succeeded in reducing their direct emissions annually by more than 6% between 2015 and 2019. But the global framework for emissions reduction centers on country-level commitments, and in its most recent report, the IPCC noted the ability to track corporate progress separate from national-level commitments remains “limited.” The multilateral system for addressing climate change inaugurated in Rio, created by government for government, has evolved into something else. And, in the assessment of many activists, the result has left out concerns about justice in the transition. In Glasgow, activists and civil-society groups complained about being excluded from negotiating rooms while business leaders were ushered onstage. “It now looks more like a trade summit, rather than a climate convention,” says Asad Rehman, who organized for the COP26 Coalition, a climate-justice group. These activists worry about what the resulting government decisions look like when they’re made hand in hand with businesses. “The very people who created this crisis are now positioning themselves as the people who will solve it,” says Rehman. “The decisions being made seem very much to be locking us into a particular approach to solve the crisis—and, of course, that approach is not necessarily in the best interest of the people.” Last December, just a few weeks after returning to the U.S. from Glasgow, I caught a flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on what United Airlines billed as the first flight operated with an engine running on only a lower-carbon alternative to jet fuel. As we approached Reagan Airport, Scott Kirby, the airline’s CEO, told me about the coalition—including companies like Deloitte, HP, and Microsoft—he has formed to help bring the fuel to market. “This is not just about United Airlines; this is about building a new industry,” Kirby told me. “To do that, we’ve got to have a lot of airlines participate, we’ve got to have partners participate… and we’ve got to have government participate.” Kirby had chosen Washington as the destination for this flight for a reason: to truly deploy the technology would require some help from the U.S. government. The Biden Administration has been eager to serve as a partner, proposing a tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel and using the bully pulpit to tout United’s work—and aviation is just the tip of the iceberg. The administration has sought to partner on climate with companies across the country and across industries. It almost goes without saying that Biden has been the most aggressive U.S. president yet on the climate issue. His administration has introduced or tightened more than 100 environmental regulations; worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change; and put climate at the center of “Build Back Better,” its signature $2 trillion spending package that failed to pass Congress last year. He has worked with activists to address the inequalities worsened by climate change. But engagement with the private sector offers a different avenue to push for emissions reduction, and, administration officials say, it has been a key part of his climate strategy. “That’s him availing every tool he’s got,” says Ali Zaidi, Biden’s Deputy National Climate Advisor, of Biden’s private sector engagement. “One of those superpowers that he has is the ability to meet people where they are and bring them along.” Jeff J Mitchell—Getty ImagesGreenpeace activists protest corporate involvement at the COP26 U.N. climate talks, in November 2021 That approach is also based in a sense of realism: the technologies we need to cut emissions over the next decade exist today and any reasonable consideration of how the world can cut carbon emissions means deploying those technologies as quickly as possible—largely by getting companies to adopt them. We need “to take the technology that DOE has spent so many years working on and actually get it in the hands of consumers,” says Jigar Shah, who runs the department’s Loan Program Office. I met Shah, who previously ran a clean energy investment fund, in a small conference room in Houston where he had been taking meetings with a range of companies to convince them to do business with his agency—and more broadly the federal government. Shah has $40 billion at his disposal to invest in promising companies and projects. The idea, he says, is if business and government work together, they can move quickly to build a low-carbon economy by restoring the country’s ability to do big things. “We actually haven’t done these big things for 30 years,” he says. “America truly has sort of lost this general understanding of, like, how does an airport add a runway? How does a road get widened? Who makes the decision on upgrading our wastewater treatment plant?” The business-oriented approach to climate change permeates the Biden Administration. Last September, I watched in the back of the room in Geneva as John Kerry, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, pitched the Administration’s approach to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, presenting more than 30 slides detailing a new government program to catalyze production of clean technologies, in sectors ranging from air travel to steel manufacturing. Instead of government mandates, Kerry proposed that companies themselves take the lead by making deals to purchase clean technology. “Because we’re behind, we have got to find ways to step up,” he told the gathered CEOs. Read More: Biden Wants an American Solar Industry. But It Could Come at an Emissions Cost Kerry’s approach echoes the realism of the Biden Administration’s. The truth is that in 2022 Big Business has the power to influence—and halt—much of what the government does. “I’m convinced, unless the private sector buys into this, there won’t be a sufficient public-sector path created, because the private sector has the power to prevent that,” Kerry told me in September. “The private sector has enormous power. And our tax code reflects that in this country. And what we need is our environmental policy to reflect the reality.” It makes sense then that from the outset the Biden Administration’s climate-spending plan has focused primarily on carrots rather than sticks. That is, it included a laundry list of rewards for companies doing positive things—namely tax credits for clean energy and subsidies for technologies like electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the two key policies that would have penalized businesses for their emissions—a fee for methane emissions and a tax when power companies failed to meet emissions-reductions targets—were abandoned after industry pushback. Despite those concessions, the most influential trade groups that lobby in Washington on behalf of big businesses still refused to back the overall legislation—because it required an increase in corporate taxes. It’s a reality that climate advocates readily decry as hypocrisy, and an indicator that business isn’t serious about climate change. In the coming weeks, as negotiations for a revamped climate-spending bill accelerate, businesses will have another chance to show they are serious about climate policy. It brings to mind a key moment in a panel I moderated in April last year with Granholm, and a handful of top corporate executives’ work to reduce their companies’ emissions. “You are visionaries and you are leading, and there’s so many thousands of other businesses that can learn from your example, and there are a lot of members of Congress that could learn from your words. And it’s not to get political, but sometimes folks just need to hear,” she told them. “To the extent you can, we’d be really grateful because we feel like our hair is on fire.” They can still help, but the clock is ticking. Even before Joe Biden took office, the American auto industry had begun to adopt the President-elect’s ambition of a rapid transition to electric vehicles. Within weeks of the election, GM dropped a lawsuit that sought to block more stringent fuel-economy standards. Two months later, it said it would go all electric by 2035. Meanwhile, Biden committed to a federal-government purchase of hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles. Since then, the U.S. auto industry has become an electric-vehicle arms race, with companies left and right announcing new capital expenditures to advance the national electric-vehicle fleet. GM says it will spend $35 billion in the effort over the next few years. Ford says it’s spending $50 billion. “The biggest thing that’s happening here is there’s a realization, on the part of both labor and business now, that this is the future,” Joe Biden said as he stood with auto industry executives, union leaders and administration officials on the White House lawn last August. Last year, I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee to see firsthand how the pressing questions about this transformation were playing out on the ground in the cities and towns that have relied on the auto industry for decades. In conversations with workers and local officials, I could sense excitement, but also consternation. Building an electric vehicle requires less labor than does its old-fashioned counterpart, and there’s no guarantee that new jobs created will be covered with a union. “There’s just going to be a lot less people building cars,” Dave Green, a GM assembly worker who previously led a local UAW branch in Ohio, told me at the time. The green transition will also displace oil, gas, and coal workers. Entire cities in flood and fire zones will be dislocated. Diseases will spread more quickly. How will society manage such problems, accounting for a diverse array of interests, without a comprehensive, government-led approach to the transition? Not well, if past transitions are any indicator. Inequality soared during the Industrial Revolution, and the U.S. is still dealing with the economic fallout of globalization in the 2000s, when many blue collar jobs were outsourced. To make up for the slow pace of government policy to guarantee an equitable transition, many activists have set their sights on influencing corporations directly. In 2019, for example, hundreds of Amazon employees walked out of work, insisting that the company do more to address climate change. Across a range of industries, corporate leaders now say that climate change is a top concern for recruits. Consumers, too, have begun to push companies to change, largely through the power of their dollars, by refusing to buy from companies with poor labor and environmental practices. “It’s not perfect,” says Michael Vandenbergh, a law professor at Vanderbilt University Law School who served as chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Clinton. But “it will buy us time until the public demands that government actually overcome some of the democracy deficits that we face.” As challenging as it may be in these polarizing times, overcoming that democracy deficit is necessary, not just to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels but also to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and to the necessary changes ahead. It’s for that reason that the upswing in climate-activist movements—from the youth’s marching for a Green New Deal to the union members’ joining with climate activists to push for a just transition—matters beyond any policy platform. Climate change will reshape the lives of people everywhere. A truly just transition will require people to engage in the fight to fix it. —With reporting by Nik Popli and Julia Zorthian......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

4 Electronics Stocks to Escape Pandemic-Led Disruptions

The pandemic-led disruptions hurt the Zacks Electronics-Miscellaneous Components industry. Industry players like TEL, LFUS, BWXT and CTS are set to gain from IoT and automation prospects. Worldwide supply-chain disruptions and end-market dynamics, owing to the pandemic, have affected the Zacks Electronics - Miscellaneous Components industry. Depressed automotive, industrial and linear markets are weighing heavily on the industry’s prospects.Nevertheless, the underlined industry has been benefiting from the ongoing automation drive and increased spending by manufacturers of semiconductors, automobiles, machinery and mobile phones. Industry participants like TE Connectivity TEL, Littelfuse LFUS, BWX Technologies BWXT and CTS Corporation CTS remain well-poised to benefit from the solid adoption of AI and the democratization of IoT techniques, which are transforming robotics, industrial automation, transportation systems, retail and healthcare.Industry DescriptionThe Zacks Electronics - Miscellaneous Components industry primarily comprises companies that provide a wide range of accessories and parts used in electronic products. The industry participants’ offerings include power control and sensor technologies to mitigate equipment damage, testing products for safety, and advanced medical solutions. They cater to varied end markets such as telecommunications, automotive electronics, medical devices, industrial, transportation, energy harvesting, defense and aerospace electronic systems, and consumer electronics. Its customers are mainly original equipment manufacturers, independent electronic component distributors and electronic manufacturing service providers.4 Trends Shaping the Future of Electronics - Miscellaneous Components IndustrySupply-Chain Disruptions Remain Worrisome: The industry players are reeling under the coronavirus-induced macroeconomic woes. Supply chains have been disrupted by the social-distancing and shelter-in-place measures due to the pandemic, which have severely impacted the industry participants. Although economies are gradually reopening in several parts of the world, production delays remain a major concern. The pandemic has aggravated the concerns related to the economic downturn, which continues to affect new bookings of the industry players. The emergence of new variants has made people more apprehensive about further disruptions, hurting their spending patterns.Labor Shortages Concern: The pandemic-induced labor shortages are continuously impacting the production capacity of electronic companies. The companies are struggling to meet the rising demand due to the reopening of economies, owing to worker absenteeism and short-term shutdowns. Labor shortages are dampening the growth prospects of the industry participants by increasing their lead times.Automation Boom Act as a Tailwind: The requirement for faster, more powerful and energy-efficient electronics is leading to increased automation. The use of control systems such as computers and robots, as well as information technologies for handling different processes and machinery, is driving the industry. The growing installation of collaborative robots, which add efficiency to production processes by working with production workers, will benefit industry participants. IoT-supported factory-automation solutions are other contributing factors. The evolution of smart cars and autonomous vehicles is expected to drive growth of the industry.Miniaturization Remains a Key Factor: The industry participants are benefiting from the ongoing transition in semiconductor manufacturing technology. The demand for advanced packaging, which enables the miniaturization of electronic products, remains strong. The consistent shift to smaller dimensions, the rapid adoption of new device architectures like FinFET transistors and 3D-NAND, and the increasing utilization of new manufacturing materials to increase transistor and bit density are driving the demand for solutions provided by the industry players.Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bleak ProspectsThe Zacks Electronics – Miscellaneous Components industry is housed within the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank #209, which places it in the bottom 18% of more than 250 Zacks industries.The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bearish near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.Despite the gloomy industry outlook, a few stocks have the potential to outperform the market based on a strong earnings outlook. But before we present the top industry picks, it is worth taking a look at the industry’s shareholder returns and current valuation first.Industry Lags Sector and S&P 500The Zacks Electronics - Miscellaneous Components industry has underperformed the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector and S&P 500 composite over the past year.The industry has lost 24.3% over this period against the S&P 500’s rally of 6.9%. Notably, the broader sector has declined 9.2%.One-Year Price Performance Industry's Current ValuationOn the basis of forward 12-month price to earnings, which is a commonly used multiple for valuing electronics - miscellaneous components stocks, the industry is currently trading at 16.39X versus the S&P 500’s 19.1X and sector’s 22.46X.Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 25.33X, as low as 14.56X and recorded a median of 18.45X, which is depicted in the charts below.Price/Earnings Ratio (F12M)4 Electronics - Miscellaneous Components Stocks to WatchBWX Technologies: The Lynchburg, VA-headquartered company is benefiting from strengthening momentum across its core business on the back of continued progress on Technetium-99m generator commercialization and multiple microreactor design programs. Further, opportunities with small modular reactors in Canada, Poland and the United States remain noteworthy.The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company provides safe and effective nuclear solutions for global security, clean energy, environmental remediation, nuclear medicine and space exploration. It is likely to remain on the growth trajectory, owing to the solid momentum across fuel and fuel handling, medical isotope and field service activity.BWX Technologies has lost 18.3% in the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its 2022 earnings has been revised 0.6% upward to $3.15 per share over the past 30 days.Price and Consensus: BWXTCTS Corporation: The Lisle, IL-based company is expected to keep benefiting from solid momentum across end-markets and winning businesses. The solid execution of the business diversification strategy and disciplined capital allocation remain major positives.The Zacks Rank #2 company is a manufacturer of sensors, connectivity components and actuators. It remains well-positioned to sustain the end-market momentum on the back of strategic acquisitions. The TEWA Temperature Sensors buyout has strengthened CTS’ presence in Europe.CTS has gained 13.3% in the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its 2022 earnings has been unchanged at $2.13 per share over the past 30 days.Price and Consensus: CTSTE Connectivity: The Switzerland-based company is well-poised to gain from strong momentum across data centers. The solid demand for data and devices in cloud applications and data centers, courtesy of the increasing work-from-home trend due to the pandemic, is likely to drive growth. Solid content growth, benefits from the First Sensor buyout, growing automotive and commercial transportation sales, and strength across auto applications remain major positives.This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company manufactures and designs products that connect and protect the flow of power and data inside millions of products used by consumers and industries. It is likely to continue gaining from the growing proliferation of autonomous features, and hybrid and electric vehicle technology.TE Connectivity has lost 5.2% in the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its fiscal 2022 earnings has been revised 0.5% downward to $7.18 per share over the past 30 days.Price and Consensus: TELLittelfuse: The Chicago, IL-based company is benefiting from strong product demand, solid execution and disciplined cost-management actions. Solid demand in automotive, and strength in several electronics and industrial markets are also driving its growth. The higher-than-expected demand for electronics from the ongoing work, study and stay-at-home trends is a key catalyst.The Zacks Rank #3 company is well-positioned to benefit from robust design activity, given several strategic wins in high-growth industrial, electronics and transportation applications. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Littelfuse has lost 14.4% in the past year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its 2022 earnings has been revised 0.8% downward to $13.95 per share over the past 30 days.Price and Consensus: LFUS Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top picks for the entirety of 2022? From inception in 2012 through 2021, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolios gained an impressive +1,001.2% versus the S&P 500’s +348.7%. Now our Director of Research has combed through 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank and has handpicked the best 10 tickers to buy and hold. Don’t miss your chance to get in…because the sooner you do, the more upside you stand to grab.See Stocks Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report TE Connectivity Ltd. (TEL): Free Stock Analysis Report CTS Corporation (CTS): Free Stock Analysis Report Littelfuse, Inc. (LFUS): Free Stock Analysis Report BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksApr 14th, 2022

Yen At Risk Of "Explosive" Downward Spiral With Kuroda Trapped... And Why China May Soon Devalue

Yen At Risk Of "Explosive" Downward Spiral With Kuroda Trapped... And Why China May Soon Devalue The yen's recent nosedive has heightened fears of a vicious cycle as Japan's worsening current-account balance threatens to spur more selling while the BOJ's dovish scramble to prevent rates from blowing out means that even modest countertrend buying will promptly reverse. While a soft yen has long been seen as a boon to Japan's economy, not to mention the stock market, and was one of the key drivers behind the launch of Abenomics whose anchor pillar was printing ginormous amounts of yen (and monetizing just as massive amounts of JGBs to monetize Japan's prodigious deficit), now that benefits have tilted toward certain exporters and the wealthy while individuals and small businesses feel the pain of higher commodity prices, Japan may need to rethink a fundamental assumption of its economic approach. After touching 125.1 to the dollar on Monday - its weakest point since August 2015 and approaching that year's nadir of 125.86 - the yen rebounded slightly in volatile trading Tuesday to about 123 to 124 in Tokyo. According to Nikkei Asia, an estimate of the yen's theoretical value may have fallen beyond 120 to the greenback, pointing to deeper problems than short-term speculation. The immediate cause of the yen's weakness has been a split in monetary policy between Japan and the U.S., with the BOJ re-emphasizing its commitment to super-loose policy as 10Y JGB yields nearly tripped 0.25%, the upper boundary of its Yield Curve Control corridor. If rise above, the central bank's credibility in the bond market would be crushed. As a result, the Bank of Japan on Monday and Tuesday offered to buy unlimited amounts of Japanese government bonds to tamp down interest rates at a time when U.S. Treasury yields have soared as the Federal Reserve tightens policy to rein in inflation, encouraging traders to sell yen for dollars. Whereas on previous occasions the mere threat of buying debt was sufficient, this time the central bank found willing sellers to the tune of roughly $4 billion, also a first. Then on Wednesday, it unexpectedly offered to buy bonds in an unscheduled market operation. But the softening trend in yen began before that, rooted in the more fundamental issue of Japan's changing trade position. As Nikkei report, in January, Japan's current-account deficit topped 1 trillion yen ($8 billion). Imports in value terms have been ballooning amid coronavirus-related supply constraints and a commodities rally fueled by the war in Ukraine. Japan's terms of trade, or the ratio between its export and import prices, have deteriorated, and more of the country's income has flowed overseas as import costs have swelled. These factors affect the underlying value of the yen. The Nikkei equilibrium exchange rate calculated by Nikkei and the Japan Center for Economic Research stood at 105.4 yen to the dollar in the third quarter of 2021. Adjusting for shifts in Japan's current-account balance and terms of trade since then puts the equilibrium rate at 121.7. Market exchange rates often differ from the theoretical figure, reflecting short-term speculative trading and day-to-day conditions. Based on the average deviation between past equilibrium and market rates, the yen still has room to soften to about 130 against the dollar. What is more, there remains a risk that Japan's worsening current-account balance and terms of trade could bring on more yen selling in a vicious cycle. Importers selling yen for dollar funds is "a root cause of the yen's accelerating depreciation," a bank executive tole Nikkei. A weaker currency in turn drives up the cost of imports in yen terms, which can further widen the current-account deficit. Worse terms of trade also make Japanese companies less competitive and add to the downward pressure on the yen. BOJ governor Kuroda has stressed that the central bank has not changed its basic position that a weak yen is favorable for Japan's economy and prices. But - as we have said since 2012 when the BOJ launched its latest and greatest monetary debasement experiment - the benefits tend to go mainly to a few exporters and affluent individuals with overseas assets. The vast majority of people and smaller businesses are likely to feel the pinch, and a yen-depreciation spiral would aggravate the pain. Recent Japanese economic policy - particularly the catastrophic Abenomics policy of the now former prime minister - has centered on boosting corporate profits via a weak yen and waiting for the benefits to trickle down to households. But this approach has been a disaster in bringing meaningful wage growth, just as we said it would be. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeks to tackle rising prices with measures including extending fuel subsidies, an approach criticized by some analysts. "It's just treating the symptoms," said Tohru Sasaki, head of Japan market research at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Tokyo. "Simple fiscal expansion while the BOJ continues to buy government bonds could bring on more depreciation." In a recent note published by SocGen's resident skeptic Albert Edwards and titled "Something huge is happening in FX world, and it's not the dollar" (available to pro subs in the usual place), the strategist writes that "despite core CPI inflation surging in the US and the eurozone, Japan remains locked in deflation with core CPI there (excluding fresh food and energy) falling 1.0% yoy" and he observes that "surging commodity prices just do not seem to have the impact in Japan that they do in the west"  (another SocGen strategist, Kit Juckes, thinks he may have found an explanation why with the BoJ publishing a paper this week on the topic of the contrasting Phillips Curves in the US and Japan - link.) Albert then goes on to note that by capping the 10y JGB at 0.25% the BoJ has committed itself to unlimited intervention – and if yields continue to rise elsewhere, that will likely accelerate QE to pin JGB 10y yields at 0.25% (now 0.23% after rising as high as 0.248%). "The further widening of the yield spread and QE/QT contrast with the US can only weigh heavily on the yen" he notes. What does this mean in pratical terms? Well, since Japan is the one country where rates are never allowed to normalize - since the country has so much accumulated sovereign debt even a modest rise in rates would lead to an instant debt crisis - at a time when other central banks are tightening more aggressively in a tacit acknowledgement that rising bond yields reflect valid inflation concerns, "the BoJ may perversely be forced to accelerate QE as JGB yields attempt to rise above 0.25%. It’s a strange world" as Edwards puts it. And this is where the second massive implication of the BoJ relative easing of policy comes in. Extending on this article, Edwards warns that "as the yen declines, the trend becomes a self-perpetuating phenomenon known as the ‘carry trade’ where participants actively borrow in a depreciating yen to fund higher yielding investments abroad. The appetite for such trades increases markedly when – as last week – the yen breaks below key support levels and begins to decline sharply: in short, the fundamentals combine with the technical, leading to an explosive expansion of the carry trade." We have seen this before, most notably in the years before the Global Financial Crisis. Typically, the cheap yen funds are invested into similar instruments like higher yielding US Treasuries but as risk appetites mount, this extends into whatever momentum trade is dominant at the time. That may be commodities or it may be equities. Of course, ultimately it ends in tears (as it did in 2008 when it unwound), but as this new carry trade re-emerges, it means that the yen could fall an awfully long way from here – the ramifications of this might surprise investors. So are we about to see another roll of the dice in Japan embracing (by default) another period of super-loose yen policy, Edwards asks. This effectively would mean that Japan is willing to soak up the west’s runaway inflation via higher import prices in the hope of kickstarting that wage / price spiral that (as we correctly predicted) never materialized in 2013 onwards. Or as the SocGen strategist rhetorically puts it: Can a surge in Japan’s headline CPI this time around break the entrenched deflationary psychology of Japanese households? We’ll see. We, for one, doubt it. Japan, as the premier exhibit of the insanity that is MMT, is coming to its inevitably monetary collapse. Which also means that the yen will drop much, much lower. Edwards agrees, and writes that "despite the yen being undervalued and over-sold, it is entirely plausible that it could fall a long way from here as traders get the bit between their teeth. Is Y150/$ possible? It is, because when the yen breaks, it moves sharply (eg in 2013 from 80 to 100, and again in 2015 from 100 to 120)." But while Japan may be a lost cause, a bigger question emerges: how will Japan's latest devaluation impact its fellow exporting powerhouse competitors, i.e., China, and as Edwards frames it, "this beggars the question how will China react? Maybe just like they did in August 2015 when the PBoC devalued? Back then persistent yen weakness had dragged down other competing regional currencies and left the renminbi overvalued." Wait, yen weakness leading to China devaluation? According to Edwards, that indeed was the sequnece: as he shows in the chart below, the super weak yen of 2013-15, by driving down other competing Asian currencies, ultimately led us to the August 2015 renminbi devaluation. Fast forward to today when the aggressive relative easing of the BoJ comes at a time when the PBoC also sticks out as a central bank unwilling to join the global tightening posture and instead is shifting towards an easier stance (after all, China has an imploding property sector it must stabilize at any cost). Edwards concludes that the one thing to watch out for, especially in the current febrile geopolitical environment, is if China once again is ‘forced’ to devalue because of the weak yen. Economists will tell you that cutting interest rates or the reserve requirement ratio (RRR- r/h chart below) is neutralized when you have a strong currency. Albert's last word: "watch the renminbi – and watch the BoJ – whose lack of action is just as important as the Fed’s actions." More in Albert's full note available to pro subs in the usual place. Tyler Durden Wed, 03/30/2022 - 15:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 30th, 2022

Macleod: The End Of Fiat Is Hoving Into View...

Macleod: The End Of Fiat Is Hoving Into View... Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Tragic though the situation in Ukraine has become, the real war which started out as financial in character some time ago has now become both financial and about commodities. Putin made a huge mistake invading Ukraine but the West’s reaction by seeking to isolate Russia and its commodity exports from the global marketplace is an even greater one. Furthermore, with Ukraine being Europe’s breadbasket and a major exporter of fertiliser, this summer will bring acute food shortages, worsened by China having already accumulated the bulk of the world’s grains for its own population. Inflation measured by consumer prices has only just commenced an accelerated rise. Because they discount falling purchasing power for currencies, rising interest rates, and collapsing bond prices are now inevitable. Being loaded up with bonds and financial assets as collateral, the consequences for the global banking system are so significant that it is virtually impossible to see how it can survive. And if the banking system faces collapse, being unbacked by anything other than rapidly disappearing faith in them fiat currencies will fail as well. Unforeseen financial and economic consequences Back in the 1960s, Harold Wilson as an embattled British Prime Minister declared that a week is a long time in politics. Today, we can also comment it is a long time in commodity markets, stock markets, geopolitics, and almost anything else we care to think of. The rapidity of change may not be captured in just seven calendar days, but in recent weeks we have seen the initial pricking of the fiat currency bubble and all that floats with it. This is turning out to be an extreme financial event. The background to it is unwinding of economic distortions. Through a combination of currency and credit expansion and market suppression, the difference between state-controlled pricing and market reality has never been greater. Zero and negative interest rates, deeply negative real bond yields, and a deliberate policy of artificial wealth creation by fostering a financial asset bubble to divert attention from a deepening economic crisis in recent years have all contributed to the gap between bullish expectations and market reality. Today, almost no one thinks that our blessèd central banks and their governments can fail, let alone lose control over markets. And if you walk like a Keynesian, talk like a Keynesian you are a Keynesian. Everyone does — even the gait of mathematical monetarists is indistinguishable from them in their support of inflationism. And Keynesians believe in the state theory of everything, despising markets and now fearing their reality. This week sees growing concerns that American-led attempts to kick Putin’s ass comes with consequences. Put to one side the destruction wreaked on the Ukrainian people as the two major military nations wage yet another proxy war. This one is in Europe’s breadbasket, driving wheat prices over 50% higher so far this year. Having laid waste over successive Arab nations since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the people who have survived American-led wars in the Middle East and North Africa and not emigrated as refugees are now going to face starvation. Fuelled by the expansion of currency and credit, it is not just wheat prices which are soaring. Other foodstuffs are as well. And we learn through various sources that the Chinese have been prescient enough to stockpile enormous quantities of grains and other comestible materials to protect their citizens from a summer food crisis. Twenty per cent of the world’s population has secured more than half the globe’s maize and other grains (Nikkei Asia, 23 December – see Figure 1). And that was two months before Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which has made the position over global food supplies even worse. And China’s dominant position in maize will hit sub-Saharan Africa especially hard, while global shortages of rice will hit Southern and East Asian nations. All we need now is crop failures. Speaking of which, fertiliser shortages, exacerbated by the Ukraine war and high gas prices, are bound to affect global food production adversely for this year’s harvest. And well done to our elected Leaders for imposing sanctions on Russian exports of fertiliser, which added to China’s conservation of its supplies will ensure our poor, and everyone else’s poor, face soaring food prices and even starvation in 2022. Yet, few seem aware of this developing crisis. While Ukraine is an obvious factor driving up food and energy prices, the root cause has been and will continue to be monetary policies driving the leading currencies. History is littered with examples of currency debasement leading to a food crisis and civil unrest: the Emperor Diocletian’s edict controlling prices in 301AD; coin debasement leading to soaring food prices in 1124AD at the time of England’s Henry I; the collapse of John Law’s livre in 1720 France, to name but a few. From the dollar as the reserve currency, to euros, yen, pounds, and the rest, all of them have been debased in what used to be called the civilised world. And an understanding of money and the empirical evidence both point to a consequential food crisis this summer. How will we pay for the higher prices? Well, no one need go without, because it will be a Keynesian designated slump. And the authorities will be onto it. Your central bank will simply issue more currency and you might even get some helicoptered to you. Price controls will prove irresistible to our leaders, and just as Diocletian penalised butchers and bakers who raised their prices under pain of death, today’s providers of life’s essentials will be accused of profiteering and taxed accordingly. And how do we ensure our lifestyles will be not undermined? We can borrow more to pay for cars and holidays. And how do we ensure we preserve our wealth? Your central bank will suppress interest rates to keep stock markets bubbling. It is, in essence, a trick played on us all by using fiat currency masquerading as traditional money. The risk is that the investing public, and then the public on Main Street, will twig it. First the financial asset bubble pops and then we will be unable to feed ourselves. Those who vaguely see the danger by projecting known factors think that decline is a gradual process. The mistake they make is a human element, which results in unforeseen consequences in the form of a sudden financial and economic crisis. This article is about the approaching financial and banking crises, which we can now say will likely overwhelm us sooner rather than later. We start with a reality check on the current state of the commodity, financial and economic war. That is raging now, and it will almost certainly destabilise the current world order. And the consequences for interest rates will require the entire global financial system to be recapitalised, starting with the central banks. The developing commodity and financial crisis If Putin had stuck to his original objective of driving a wedge between Europe and America, he would have been able to push up natural gas prices in Western Europe without resorting to any other economic weapons. Events have dictated otherwise. And now America in kick-ass mode has united its NATO European members to drive up energy prices beyond Europe and food prices globally by proscribing all financial payments with Russia. The wider economic concern is that soaring commodity, energy, and food prices will lead to a worldwide slump. Driven by an initial flight by investment funds away from risk towards safety, bond yields were initially driven lower from recent highs. Figure 2 shows how bond yields for the 10-year bonds in America, Germany, and Japan had declined from recent peaks earlier this week. Though yields have risen slightly since, these declines were something of a lifeline for the Fed, ECB, and BOJ, and it would be convenient for them if they were to stabilise at current levels. It fits their preferred narrative, which is that inflation, by which they mean rising consumer prices, is fuelled by temporary factors which will diminish in time. And when Putin is forced to give up his aggression against Ukraine, prices will normalise. Western policy planners see signs that their economies are being undermined by these developments and expect the outlook will change from inflation to recession. Therefore, central bankers and economists are beginning to think that to raise interest rates would prove to be an error of policy which could drive a mild recession into a possible slump. Currencies are also affected by the flight to safety. The conventional view is that the safest currency is the dollar, and that has rallied sharply, as shown in Figure 3. But it should be noted that foreign ownership is already heavily skewed into US dollars and US dollar assets. According to the latest US Treasury TIC figures, Long-term and short-term securities and bank deposits owned by foreigners totalled $34 trillion last December. This represents about 150% of US GDP and has almost certainly risen further since. By any measure, the US dollar is over-owned by foreigners. The current wave of foreign currency deposits fleeing into dollars is storing up trouble for the dollar in future, because they either represent inefficiently deployed liquidity for foreigners accounting in other currencies or they are invested in over-valued financial assets. But for now, not only is the dollar the king of currencies, but the proximity of the Eurozone to Ukraine and the commercial links to Eastern Europe in the wider sense undermines confidence in the euro. The euro is the largest component of the dollar’s trade-weighted index in Figure 3 above. But the flight to safety in currencies and bonds is a temporary step driven by investors in thrall to Keynesian macroeconomics. Having been educated exclusively in Keynesianism they lack an understanding of gold and its monetary role. When freely exchangeable for gold coin, only then does a currency take on gold’s monetary qualities. It has been eighty-nine years since the dollar enjoyed this status, and for the last fifty-one years it has been totally fiat, taking all other currencies off gold with it. In fact, the temporary suspension of the Bretton Woods agreement has been replaced with American anti-gold propaganda in to secure dollar hegemony. The few people who both understood money as opposed to fiat currencies and manage financial assets have long since retired. All currencies are now state-issued fiat, vulnerable to a schism between their purchasing power and that of gold. The escape from these unsound characteristics will undoubtedly be into metallic money, that is gold and silver, when public confidence in fiat finally disappears. That is not yet the current situation. Russia’s central bank will be considering its position The position in Russia is contrastingly different. Over the last two years its M2 money supply has increased by 27% compared with 41% for the dollar. The rouble has not been driven down so much by inflationary policies but by an external threat to it. This has led to cash withdrawals from their bank accounts by middle-class Russians, reflecting an erosion of domestic confidence in the commercial banks. On the foreign exchanges, the rouble has almost halved against the dollar. The Russian Central Bank will be considering its reserves policy, beyond its initial response of raising interest rates to 20% and imposing restrictive foreign exchange controls. Of the RCB’s total foreign reserves, about $500bn equivalent is in foreign currencies and $130bn is in gold. Sanctions against it have rendered the foreign currency element valueless, at least so long as sanctions are enforced. The difference between fiat currency and gold has been clearly demonstrated. Only physical gold reserves, which have no counterparty risk, has any value to the Russian state. The question now faced by the RCB is how to stabilise the currency and return public confidence in it. It has some high-value cards in its hand. The run on the banks is likely to diminish in time and the rouble should stabilise after the initial fall on the foreign exchanges. A period of currency stability will take the pressure off the banking system as the panic recedes. The increase in global commodity prices will go a long way towards stabilising Russia’s finances, despite Western sanctions. Russia will adapt to sanctions and find ways to export energy and raw materials. Whenever sanctions have been imposed, such as against South Africa in the apartheid years, after an initial shock the nation emerges stronger. And in the near term, labour costs have been halved relative to commodity outputs. Meanwhile, a consequence of the failure to take Ukraine will increase the likelihood that Putin will escalate the energy and commodity crisis as a means of destabilising Russia’s Western enemies. He has been forced into a corner in this respect, and we have not yet seen his response. The intriguing question is what Russia will do about gold. Clearly, with the bulk of its currency reserves sanctioned by the West, gold has become the stand-out asset. And if the RCB feels the need to stabilise the rouble in the longer term, then its gold reserves could be deployed to stabilise the currency and insure it against future hostilities. To advance a gold policy, the RCB might want to drive the dollar gold price higher before fixing a rate for the rouble, which would also have the effect of increasing the value of its gold reserves relative to roubles in circulation. It could do this through Asian markets, particularly the Shanghai Gold Exchange, deploying its yuan reserves. For the moment, any such action is merely conjecture. But the consequences for the West and its dollar-based currency system would likely be to see confidence in its fiat money system undermined, making it an interesting option for Putin. Together with rising commodity and energy prices rising gold prices would draw attention to the counterparty risks faced by holders of currencies in the foreign exchanges. The West’s response is likely to be hampered by the mindset of fifty-one years of American anti-gold propaganda. And the lack of physical bullion in the US Treasury’s possession to sell into the markets could become widely suspected — this was exposed by the difficulties Germany had in getting the Federal Bank of New York to return a minor portion of its earmarked gold back in 2013. If gold became an issue, doubtless America would apply pressure on the Europeans to supply some of their gold into bullion markets to drive the price down. But this would probably play into Putin’s hands because the European central banks, facing their own difficulties (more on this below) are unlikely to cooperate. That would drive the wedge between America and Europe, which before his mistaken invasion of Ukraine was Putin’s real objective. Despite what might happen on gold, if interest rates in Western currencies are not permitted to rise, their purchasing power will be undermined at an increasing pace. Let it be explained for our Keynesian friends: interest rates are not the price of money, but compensation demanded by markets for expectations of a currency’s loss of purchasing power. Withhold that compensation and your currency is toast. Recapitalising the West’s global banking system The flight into government bonds and the dollar shown above in Figures 2 and 3 respectively is merely an initial market response seeking safety and to preserve fiat liquidity. And bond yields remaining low are consistent with unrealistic expectations that the outlook will become less inflationary and more recessionary over time. This appears to reflect hope that Putin will fail in his attack on Ukraine, and the crisis will soon be over. A proper understanding of the crisis in prices is that they are fuelled not by war itself, but by currency debasement. Following both the Lehman failure and covid lockdowns global currency debasement in the Western partnership has been both substantial and universal, and the fallout from Putin’s war can only increase it further. Therefore, measures of inflation will not decline back towards the 2% target but increase substantially. Following the initial commodity and financial crisis, driven by market expectations interest rates are bound to rise significantly despite central bank suppression. The effect of higher interest rates on the banking system will be materially different from past cycles. US commercial banks have not increased their lending to Main Street materially in recent years, focusing on credit creation for the financial sector and the Federal Government. According to the Fed’s H.8 Table, since 11 March 2020 (before the Fed reduced its funds rate to zero and instituted QE of $120bn per month) the expansion of bank credit in favour of securities in bank credit has increased by 32%. The increase in favour of loans and leases has been only 6%. We can assume that the cycle of bank credit in its contraction phase will be driven more by rising bond yields and collapsing stock markets than by conventional business credit contraction. Central banks have become similarly vulnerable themselves. They have taken on the role of investors in government and agency debt, and the Bank of Japan has also accumulated equities through exchange traded funds. So not only will commercial banks suffer losses that threaten to wipe out their equity, but the major central banks face the same problem when rising interest rates getting beyond their control undermine the value of their investments. Rising interest rates mean that the entire Western banking system will need to be bailed out by a recapitalisation. It may surprise those unfamiliar with the differences between money, currency, and credit, that new capital for a bank is always financed from its own balance sheet. In effect, temporary credit is turned into permanent capital. This is because either a deposit from an existing customer is re-allocated, or one is paid in from another bank creating a new deposit. Alternatively, and this is usually the case today, an agent is appointed to arrange subscriptions for the new capital, be it in the form of a rights issue or placing. On completion, the agent transfers subscribers’ deposits to a deposit account created for the purpose at the recapitalising bank. The deposit is then exchanged for the extra capital promised to the depositors under the terms of subscription. Understanding the process is important. Most people would think that money or currency is involved when it never is. Bank capital is always provided out of bank credit. A central bank raises capital by the same means but has the additional facility of creating and then redeeming its own bank notes, swapping them across its books for permanent capital. For this reason, a note issuing bank or central bank is never stuck for permanent capital. Furthermore, when you read that a bank has permanent capital of a billion dollars, most people think it is paid up in hard money. But it is an illusion funded entirely by bank credit — credit created by the bank itself. To explain the mechanics, we can refer to how the Bank of England’s capital was increased in 1697. The Bank was founded in 1694 to act as banker to the government with an original capital of £1,200,000. In the second half of 1696 the Bank had stopped payment due to a depositor’s run on its stocks of silver, brought about by a shortage of new coin following the Recoinage Act of January that year, and its circulating notes fell to a discount of 20% to their face value. To restore public credit in the Bank, Parliament in 1697 determined to increase the capital of the bank by £1 million (the actual figure in the Bank’s records was £1,001,171 10s[i]) but no part of the increased capital was actually paid up in money, which was silver (England was on a silver standard at that time). In pursuance of the Act £800,000 were paid in Exchequer tallies (effectively a loan issued to the Treasury by the Bank to allow the Treasury to subscribe for stock) and £200,000 in the bank’s own depreciated notes which were taken at the full value in cash. Thus, at the first increase of capital from the original £1,200,000, £200,000 of the capital consisted of its own depreciated bank notes. And the Bank was then authorised to issue its own banknotes to the amount of this portion of the increase in capital, so that the quantity of circulating banknotes remained the same. Such are the methods by which the capital of a bank which issues notes may be increased. But the capital of a bank which does not issue notes may be increased by similar means. The essence of banking is to make advances by creating credits or deposits, and they can be used to increase its capital. The method was proved in the case of the Bank of Scotland when it increased its capital in 1727. Suppose that a bank wishes to increase its capital and its customers wish to subscribe. In theory, they may pay in currency (that is bank notes) but today that never happens. But they can give the bank a check drawn on their account. This is the same thing as paying the bank in its own debt to subscribe for capital. It is the release of a debt owed by the bank to its customer, and that debt released then becomes a matching increase of capital. The recently agreed procedures for bank bail-ins, whereby a failing bank is recapitalised by exchanging bond obligations and large deposits for equity stock, accords entirely with these principals and is the way in which the capital of all commercial banks is increased. Having clarified the procedures, we can now understand how the global banking system can be recapitalised and the potential difficulties. The consequences of a mass bank recapitalisation The recapitalisation of commercial banks which are not irretrievably bankrupt has been not uncommon in the past. For the first time, we are likely to see additional losses on central bank bond investments at all the major central banks (excepting China and Russia) which on a mark-to-market basis will wipe out their notional equity, leaving balance sheet liabilities exceeding their assets. And because this will occur as interest rates rise and bond prices fall, it is likely to occur when commercial banks need rescuing from the same effects of rising interest rates on loan collateral and their bond investments, along with the complications of the usual cyclical contraction of commercial bank credit. In 1697 the recapitalisation of the Bank of England was to stop the run on silver coin. No specie was involved in the recapitalisation. The outward appearance of the bank’s stability was enhanced which removed the embarrassing discount on its bank notes, making them acceptable as a substitute for silver coin. Today, the objective of a mass central bank recapitalisation will be so that their credit as issuers of fiat currencies can be maintained. The obvious concern becomes how such an exercise will affect confidence in their currencies. With the Fed, the ECB, the BOJ, and the BOE all technically bust and with no money backing them (that is physical gold), the fiat currencies they issue rely on confidence in the issuer and its currency. The losses on their bond investments from rising interest rates and the need for their recapitalisation will be synchronised by circumstances. How this plays out in terms of public confidence in financial markets and currencies for now is a matter of speculation. But we should bear in mind that while the other central banks can perform a modern version of the Bank of England’s 1697 recapitalisation, the ECB has no government treasury ministry to act as the principal counterparty. Its shareholders are the nineteen national central banks in the euro system. Nearly all the national central banks have liabilities in excess of their assets as well or will have on just a small increase in euro-denominated bond yields. There is the further complication that through the TARGET2 settlement system some NCBs are creditors of the ECB already, and most of them owe euro credits to Germany’s Bundesbank, that of Luxembourg, Finland, and a few others. A further concern will be about the survival of commercial banks in a higher interest rate environment. Of the expansion of commercial bank credit in the US since March 2020, the overwhelming majority has been into government and agency debt. The average balance sheet leverage of the US’s global systemically important banks (the G-SIBs) is about eleven times, so a rise in interest rates sufficient to discount the falling purchasing power of the dollar will wipe out the capital in all of these banks, even before other negative effects of a collapse of financial collateral values are accounted for. The commercial banking networks with the highest leverage are in the Eurozone with its G-SIBs asset to equity ratios averaging over 21 times, with some considerably higher. The Japanese banks are also at about 21 times. Both the ECB and the BOJ have imposed negative interest rates, so the rise in global interest rates are bound to wipe out commercial bank capital in these jurisdictions first. These problems are only defrayed for as long as the Keynesian establishment, including the investment community, is unaware of the consequences of currency inflation past, present, and future. When it has become clear that whatever happens in Ukraine only aggravates a situation over food, energy, and other prices with their knock-on effects we will have seen bond prices already collapsing, taking down the whole banking system from top to bottom. Full faith and credit in fiat currencies is bound to evaporate, repeating on a global scale what happened in John Law’s France in 1720. Tyler Durden Sat, 03/12/2022 - 12:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 12th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears ease" optimism to "vaccines won't work" pessimism, before futures took a sudden leg lower, dropping into the red just after 530am ET, following news that UK's Boris Johnson would introduce new restrictions in England to curb Omicron spread, sparking fears that Omicron is more dangerous that expected (and than futures reflected). However, this episode of pessimism proved short-lived because just an hour later, the WSJ confirmed that Omicron is really just a pitch for covid booster shots when it reported that even though the covid vaccine loses significant effectiveness against Omicron in an early study, this is miraculously reversed with a booster shot as three doses of the vaccine were able to neutralize the variant in an initial laboratory study, and the companies said two doses may still protect against severe disease. Futures quickly shot up on the news, spiking above the gamma "all clear" level of 4,700 in a move best summarized with the following chart. And so, after going nowhere, S&P futures climbed for a third day, last seen 12 points, or 0.3% higher, just around 4,700 after rising the most since March on Tuesday. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose following the biggest jump in more than a year. In addition to the omicron soap opera, which as we noted yesterday turns out was just one staged covid booster shot advertisement (because Pfizer and Moderna can always do with a bigger yacth), sentiment was also lifted by Chinese authorities' reversal to "easing mode" and aggressive efforts to limit the fallout from property market woes which lifted risk assets in Asia even as key debt deadlines at China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. passed without any sign of payment. "Clearly in the very short term uncertainty has risen over the Omicron virus... but overall at this stage we do not believe it will derail the macro picture in the medium-term," said Jeremy Gatto, multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion. Treasury yields were little changed after rising across the curve Tuesday. The VIX spiked first on the FT news, then dropped back into the red, while the dollar was flat and crude rose after turning red. Besides macro, micro was also in play and here are some other notable premarket movers Apple (AAPL US) ticks 1% higher in premarket trading following a Nikkei report that the tech giant told suppliers to speed up iPhone output for Nov.-Jan, citing people it didn’t identify. Amazon.com (AMZN US) shares in focus after an Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation Stitch Fix (SFIX US) tumbles 25% in U.S. premarket trading after a 2Q forecast miss that analysts called “surprising,” while customer additions also disappointed Pfizer (PFE US) shares drop 2% in U.S. premarket trading after an early study showed that the company’s vaccine provides less immunity to the omicron variant Dare Bioscience (DARE US) soars 41% in premarket trading after Xaciato gets FDA approval for treating bacterial vaginosis EPAM Systems (EPAM US) soars 8% in premarket after S&P Dow Jones Indices said co. will replace Kansas City Southern in the S&P 500 effective prior to the opening of trading on Dec. 14 Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT US) upgraded to buy from hold and target boosted to Street-high $32 from $29 at Deutsche Bank with the company seen as a major beneficiary from the shift to electric vehicles. Shares up 4.3% in premarket trading NXP Semiconductor (NXPI US) shares slide 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the chipmaker got a new sell rating at UBS Dave & Buster’s (PLAY US) gained 3.5% postmarket after the dining and entertainment company reported EPS that beat the average analyst estimate and authorized a $100 million share buyback program "Every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won't be the curveball to throw the recovery off course," wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially drifted both higher and lower then bounced 0.3% on the favorable Pfizer and BioNTech news one day after posting its bigger surge in a year. European benchmark index earlier rose as much as 2%, dropped 2.1%. Health care sub-index leads gains, rising 1.2%, followed by travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 closed 2.5% higher on Tuesday, biggest gain since November 2020 Earlier in the session, Asia stocks also rose for a second day as concerns about the omicron variant and China’s economic slowdown eased. The MSCI AsiaPacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% after capping its biggest one-day gain in more than three months on Tuesday. Technology and health-care shares provided the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in New Zealand and India -- where the central bank held rates at a record low -- were among the day’s best performers. “The biggest point appealing to investors is that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to be too fatal,” which is encouraging to those who had been going short to close out their positions, said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Tokyo. “Worry that the Chinese economy will lose its growth momentum has subsided quite a bit.” Thus far, Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals while vaccine developments indicate some promise in dealing with the variant. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new strain, protection can be fortified with boosters. The two-day rally in the Asian stock benchmark marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. Stocks in China also climbed for a second day. The nation’s central bank said Monday it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost and helping restore investor confidence In FX, news on the Omicron variant rippled through G-10 currencies after a report the Pfizer vaccine could neutralize the Omicron variant boosted risk appetite. The pound underperformed other Group-of-10 peers, extending declines after reports that the U.K. government is poised to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions.  A gauge of the dollar’s strength fluctuated as Treasuries pare gains and stocks rally after a report that said Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.1277; USD/NOK falls as much as 0.8% to 8.9459, lowest since Nov. 25 Sterling fell against the euro and the dollar, as traders pare bets on the path of Bank of England rate hikes following reports that the U.K. could introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions such as working from home and vaccine passports for large venues. Money markets pare rate hike bets, with just six basis points of interest rate hikes priced in for the BOE meeting next week. GBP/USD falls as much as 0.6% to 1.3163, testing the key level of 1.3165, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of gains since March 2020. EUR/GBP gains as much as 0.7% to 0.85695, the highest since Nov. 11. “The market will probably see this as more U.K. specific and therefore an issue for the pound at least in the short term,” said Stuart Bennett, FX strategist at Santander. In rates, Treasuries were mixed with markets reacting in a risk-on manner to the Dow Jones report that Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. Yields remain richer by less than 1bp across long-end of the curve while front-end trades cheaper on the day, flattening curve spreads. Session’s focal points include $36b 10-year note reopening at 1pm ET, following Tuesday’s strong 3-year note auction. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.475%, near flat on the day; gilts outperform slightly after Financial Times report that further Covid restrictions will be announced imminently to curb the variant’s spread. U.S. 2-year yields were cheaper by 1bp on the day, rose to new 2021 high following Pfizer vaccine report; 2s10s spread erased a flattening move In commodities, crude futures turned red, WTI falling 0.8%, popping back below $72. Spot gold holds Asia’s modest gains, adding $8 to trade near $1,792/oz. Looking at the day ahead, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,693.75 STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 480.55 MXAP up 0.7% to 194.84 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 632.78 Nikkei up 1.4% to 28,860.62 Topix up 0.6% to 2,002.24 Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,996.87 Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,637.57 Sensex up 1.8% to 58,654.25 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,405.45 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,001.80 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,790.33 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.17% to 96.20 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.38% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1286 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19 must inflict significant damage on the euro-area economy for European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to back additional stimulus “The current phase of higher inflation could last longer than expected only some months ago,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos says at event The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new Covid-19 restrictions in England, known as “Plan B,” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reported, citing three senior Whitehall officials familiar with the matter. French economic activity will continue to rise in December, despite another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh uncertainty over the omicron variant, according the Bank of France The Kingdom of Denmark will sell a sovereign green bond for the first time next month to help the Nordic nation meet one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets Tom Hayes, the former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader who became the face of the sprawling Libor scandal, has lost his bid to appeal his U.K. criminal conviction Poland is poised for a hefty increase in interest rates after a spike in inflation to a two- decade high convinced central bankers that spiraling price growth isn’t transitory. Of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 20 expect a 50 basis-point hike to 1.75% today and 10 see the rate rising to 2%. The other two expect a 25 basis-point increase Australia is weighing plans for a central bank-issued digital currency alongside the regulation of the crypto market as it seeks to overhaul how the nation’s consumers and businesses pay for goods and services Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya dropped a strong hint that big firms are in less need of funding support, a comment that will likely fuel speculation the BOJ will scale back its pandemic buying of corporate bonds and commercial paper A detailed summary of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded positively as the region took impetus from the global risk momentum following the tech-led rally in the US, where Apple shares rose to a record high and amid increased optimism that Omicron could be less dangerous than prior variants. This was after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID and NIH's Fauci also suggested that Omicron was 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, although there were some slight headwinds in late Wall Street trade after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. The ASX 200 (+1.3%) was underpinned in which tech led the broad gains across sectors as it found inspiration from the outperformance of big tech stateside, and with energy bolstered by the recent rebound in underlying oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) conformed to the upbeat mood although further advances were capped after USD/JPY eased off the prior day’s highs and following a wider-than-expected contraction to the economy with the final annualised Q3 GDP at -3.6% vs exp. -3.1%. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.2%) were less decisive and initially lagged behind their peers as sentiment was mired by default concerns due to the failure by Evergrande to pay bondholders in the lapsed 30-day grace period on two USD-denominated bond payments and with Kaisa Group in a trading halt after missing the deadline for USD 400mln in offshore debt which didn’t bode well for its affiliates. Furthermore, China Aoyuan Property Group received over USD 650mln in repayment demands and warned it may not be able to meet debt obligations, while a subdued Hong Kong debut for Weibo shares which declined around 6% from the offer price added to the glum mood for Hong Kong’s blue-chip tech stocks, as did reports that China is to tighten rules for tech companies seeking foreign funding. Finally, 10yr JGBs languished after spillover selling from T-notes and due to the heightened global risk appetite, but with downside stemmed by support at the key psychological 152.00 level and amid the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.0tln of JGBs. Top Asian News China Clean Car Sales Spike as Consumers Embrace Electric Gold Edges Higher as Traders Weigh Vaccine Efficacy, Geopolitics Paint Maker Avia Avian Falls in Debut After $763 Million IPO Tokyo Prepares to Introduce Same-Sex Partnerships Next Year Equities in Europe shifted to a lower configuration after a mixed open (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.1%) as sentiment was dented by rumours of tightening COVID measures in the UK. Markets have been awaiting the next catalyst to latch onto for direction amidst a lack of fresh fundamentals. US equity futures have also been dented but to a lesser extent, with the YM (-0.1%) and ES (Unch) straddling behind the NQ (+0.2%) and RTY (+0.2%). Sources in recent trade suggested an 85% chance of the UK implementing COVID Plan B, according to Times' Dunn; reports indicate such restrictions could be implemented on Thursday, with the potential for an announcement today. In terms of the timings, the UK cabinet is penciled in for 15:45GMT and presser for 17:30GMT on Plan B, according to BBC's Goodall. Note, this will not be a formal lockdown but more so work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightlife and numerical restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings. APAC closed in the green across the board following the tech-led rally in the US. The upside overnight was attributed to a continuation of market optimism after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID, albeit after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. Participants will be closely watching any updates from the vaccine-makers, with the BioNTech CEO stating the drugmaker has data coming Wednesday or Thursday related to the new COVID-19 variant, thus markets will be eyeing a potential update this week ahead of the Pfizer investor call next Friday. Back to European, the UK’s FTSE 100 (Unch) and the Swiss SMI (+0.8%) are largely buoyed by their defensive stocks, with sectors seeing a defensive formation, albeit to a slightly lesser extent vs the open. Healthcare retains its top spot closely followed by Food & Beverages, although Personal & Household Goods and Telecoms have moved down the ranks. On the flip side, Retail, Banks and Travel & Leisure trade at the bottom of the bunch, whilst Tech nursed some earlier losses after opening as the lagging sector. In terms of individual movers, Nestle (+1.8%) is bolstered after announcing a CHF 20bln share repurchase programme alongside a stake reduction in L'Oreal (+1.0%) to 20.1% from 23.3% - worth some EUR 9bln. L’Oreal has shrugged off the stake sale and conforms to the firm sectoral performance across the Personal & Household Goods. Meanwhile, chip names are under pressure after Nikkei sources reported that Apple (+0.8% pre-market) was forced to scale back the total output target for 2021, with iPhone and iPad assembly halted for several days due to supply chain constraints and restrictions on the use of power in China, multiple sources told Nikkei. STMicroelectronics (-1.7%) and Infineon (-5.0%) are among the losers, with the latter also weighed on by a broker downgrade at JPM. Top European News ECB’s Kazaks Sets High Bar for Omicron-Driven Extra Stimulus Biden Is Left Guessing Over Putin’s Ultimate Aim in Ukraine Byju’s Buys Austria’s GeoGebra to Bolster Online Math Courses Scholz Elected by Parliament to Take Charge as German Chancellor In FX, the Dollar index continues to hold above 96.000, but bounces have become less pronounced and the range so far today is distinctly narrower (96.285-130) in fitting with the generally restrained trade in pairings within the basket and beyond, bar a few exceptions. Price action suggests a relatively muted midweek session unless a major game-changer arrives and Wednesday’s agenda does not bode that well in terms of catalysts aside from JOLTS and the BoC policy meeting before the second leg of this week’s refunding in the form of Usd 36 bn 10 year notes. AUD/EUR - Notwithstanding the largely contained currency moves noted above, the Aussie is maintaining bullish momentum on specific factors including strength in iron ore prices and encouraging Chinese data plus PBoC easing that should have a positive knock-on effect for one of its main trading partners even though diplomatic relations between the two nations are increasingly strained. Aud/Usd has also cleared a couple of technical hurdles on the way up to circa 0.7143 and Aud/Nzd is firmer on the 1.0500 handle ahead of the RBA’s latest chart pack release and a speech by Governor Lowe. Elsewhere, the Euro has regained composure after its sub-1.1250 tumble on Tuesday vs the Buck and dip through 0.8500 against the Pound, but still faces psychological resistance at 1.1300 and the 21 DMA that comes in at 1.1317 today, while Eur/Gbp needs to breach the 100 DMA (0.8513) convincingly or close above to confirm a change in direction for the cross from a chart perspective. CHF/CAD/JPY/GBP/NZD - All sitting tight in relation to their US counterpart, with the Franc paring some declines between 0.9255-30 parameters and the Loonie straddling 1.2650 in the run up to the aforementioned BoC that is widely seen as a non-event given no new MPR or press conference, not to mention the actual changes in QE and rate guidance last time. Nevertheless, implied volatility is quite high via a 63 pip breakeven for Usd/Cad. Meanwhile, Sterling lost grip of the 1.3200 handle amidst swirling speculation about the UK reverting to plan B and more Tory MPs calling for PM Johnson to resign, the Yen is rotating around 113.50 eyeing broad risk sentiment and US Treasury yields in context of spreads to JGBs, and the Kiwi is lagging after touching 0.6800 awaiting independent impetus from NZ manufacturing sales for Q3. SCANDI/EM - The Nok extended its advantage/outperformance against the Sek as Brent rebounded towards Usd 76/brl in early trade and Riksbank’s Jansson retained reservations about flagging a repo rate hike at the end of the forecast horizon, while the Mxn and Rub also initially derived some support from oil with the latter also taking on board latest hawkish talk from the CBR. However, the Cny and Cnh are outpacing their rivals again with some assistance from a firmer PBoC midpoint fix to hit multi-year peaks vs the Usd and probe 6.3500 ahead of option expiry interest at 6.3000 and a Fib retracement at 6.2946, in stark contrast to the Try that is unwinding recent recovery gains with no help from the latest blast from Turkish President Erdogan - see 10.00GMT post in the Headline Feed for more. Conversely, the Czk has taken heed of CNB’s Holub underscoring tightening signals and expectations for the next rate convene and the Pln and Brl are anticipating hikes from the NBP and BCB. In commodities, crude futures have been hit on the prospect of imminent COVID-related measures in the UK, albeit the measures do not involve lockdowns. Brent and WTI front month futures slipped from European highs to breach APAC lows. The former dipped below USD 74.50/bbl from a USD 76.00/bbl European peak while its WTI counterpart tested USD 71.00/bbl from USD 72.50/bbl at best. Overnight the benchmarks traded on either side the USD 75/bbl mark and just under USD 72/bbl after the weekly Private Inventories printed a larger-than-expected draw (-3.6mln vs exp. -3.1mln), albeit the internals were less bullish. Yesterday also saw the release of the EIA STEO, cut its 2021 world oil demand growth forecast by an insignificant 10k BPD but raised the 2022 metric by 200k BPD – with the IEA and OPEC monthly reports poised to be released next week. On the vaccine front, a small preliminary study of 12 people showed a 40x reduction in neutralization capacity of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron, but early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID. BioNTech CEO said they have data coming in on Wednesday or Thursday related to the new Omicron variant. The geopolitical space is also worth keeping on the radar, with US President Biden yesterday warning Russian President Putin that gas exports via Nord Stream 2 will be targeted and more troops will be deployed if he orders an invasion of Ukraine. Further, reports suggested, an Indian army helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence staff reportedly on board, according to Sputnik. Note, Tamil Nadu is located towards the south of the country and away from conflict zones. Elsewhere spot gold was supported by the overnight pullback in the Dollar, but the recent risk aversion took the yellow metal above the 100 DMA around USD 1,790/oz, with nearby upside levels including the 200 DMA (1,792/oz) and the 50 DMA (1,794/oz). Copper prices meanwhile consolidated within a tight range, with LME copper holding onto a USD 9,500/t handle (just about). Dalian iron ore extended on gains in a continuation of the upside seen in recent trade. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 10.5m, prior 10.4m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that we are currently conducting our special 2022 survey. We ask about rates, equities, bond yields and the path of covid in 2022, amongst other things, and also return to a festive question we asked in 2019, namely your favourite ever Christmas songs. The link is here and it’ll be open until tomorrow. All help filling in very much appreciated. My optimism for life has been shattered this morning. Not from the markets or the virus but just as I woke this morning England cricketers finally surrendered and collapsed in a heap on the first day of the Ashes - one the oldest international rivalries in sport. It was all I could do not to turn round and go back to bed. However out of duty I’m soldering on. After the twins nativity play went without incident yesterday, this morning it’s Maisie’s turn. Given she’s in a wheelchair at the moment she can’t get on stage so they’ve given her a solo singing spot at the start. I’m going so I can bring a bucket for all my wife’s tears as she sings!! If I shed a tear I’ll pretend it’s because of the cricket. The global market rebound continued to gather strength yesterday as investors became increasingly optimistic that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. To be honest, it was more the absence of bad news rather than any concrete good news helping to drive sentiment. Late in the US session we did see some headlines suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine may provide some defence against Omicron but also that the new variant does evade some of the immunity produced by this vaccine. This report of the small study (12 people!!) from South Africa lacked substance but you could take positives and negatives from it. More information is clearly needed. For the markets though, every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won’t be the curveball to throw the recovery off course. Indeed, to get a sense of the scale of the market rebound, both the S&P 500 and the STOXX 600 in Europe have now clocked in their strongest 2-day performances of 2021 so far, with the indices up by +3.27% and +3.76% respectively since the start of the week. Meanwhile, the VIX fell below 25 for the first time in a week. On the day, the S&P 500 (+2.07%) put in its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the STOXX 600 (+2.45%) saw its strongest daily performance since the news that the Pfizer vaccine was successful in trials back in November 2020. Once again the gains were incredibly broad-based, albeit with cyclical sectors leading the way. The Nasdaq (+3.03%) outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in a week as tech shares led the rally. Small cap stocks also had a strong day, with the Russell 2000 up +2.28%, on the back of Omicron optimism. This recovery in risk assets was also seen in the bounceback in oil prices, with Brent crude (+3.23%) and WTI (+3.68%) now both up by more than $5.5/bbl since the start of the week, which puts them well on the way to ending a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines. For further evidence of this increased optimism, we can also look at the way that investors have been dialling back up their estimates of future rate hikes from the Fed, with yesterday seeing another push in this direction. Before the Omicron news hit, Fed fund futures were fully pricing in an initial hike by the June meeting, but by the close on the Monday after Thanksgiving they’d moved down those odds to just 61% in June, with an initial hike not fully priced until September. Fast forward just over a week however, and we’re now not only back to pricing in a June hike, but the odds of a May hike are standing at +78.8%, which is actually higher than the +66.1% chance priced before the Omicron news hit. A reminder that we’re just a week away now from the Fed’s next decision, where it’s hotly anticipated they could accelerate the pace at which they’ll taper their asset purchases. With investors bringing forward their bets on monetary tightening, front-end US Treasury yields were hitting post-pandemic highs yesterday, with the 2yr Treasury yield up +5.8bps to 0.69%, a level we haven’t seen since March 2020. Longer-dated yield increases weren’t as large, with the 10yr yield up +3.9bps to 1.47%, and the 5s30s curve flattened another -1.8bps to 54.4bps, just above the post-pandemic low of 53.7bps. Over in Europe there was similarly a rise in most countries’ bond yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.4bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+4.4bps) all moving higher, though incidentally, the 5s30s curve in Germany was also down -2.2bps to its own post-pandemic low of 50.0bps. One pretty big news story that markets have been relatively unperturbed by so far is the rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. Yesterday saw a video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The US readout from the call did not offer much in the way of concrete details, but if you’re looking for any optimistic news, it said that both sides tasked their teams with following up. Setting the background for the call, there were reports immediately beforehand that the US was considering evacuating their citizens and posturing to stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ruble appreciated +0.42% against the dollar, and is now only slightly weaker versus the dollar on the week. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.49%), CSI (+1.11%), Shanghai Composite (+0.86%) and the KOSPI (+0.78%) as markets respond positively to the Pfizer study mentioned at the top. The Hang Seng (-0.12%) is lagging though. In Japan, the final Q3 GDP contracted -3.6% quarter on quarter annualised against consensus expectations of -3.1% on lower consumer spending than initially estimated. In India, the RBI left the key policy rate unchanged for the ninth consecutive meeting today while underscoring increasing headwinds from the Omicron variant. Futures markets indicate a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.41%) and DAX (+0.12%) futures trading in the green. Back on the pandemic, despite the relative benign news on Omicron, rising global case counts mean that the direction of travel is still towards tougher restrictions across a range of countries. In fact here in the UK, we saw the 7-day average of reported cases move above 48,000 for the first time since January. In terms of fresh restrictions, yesterday saw Canada announce that they’d be extending their vaccine mandate, which will now require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated, including road transportation, telecommunications and banking. In Sweden, the government is preparing a bill that would see Covid passes introduced for gyms and restaurants, while Poland put further measures in place, including remote schooling from December 20 until January 9, while vaccines would become mandatory for health workers, teachers and uniformed services from March 1. One move to ease restrictions came in Austria, where it was confirmed shops would be reopening on Monday, albeit only for those vaccinated, while restaurants and hotels would reopen the following week. If you see our daily charts you’ll see that cases in Austria have dropped sharply since the peaks a couple of weeks ago, albeit still high internationally. In DC, Congressional leaders apparently agreed to a deal that would ultimately lead to the debt ceiling being increased, after some procedural chicanery. Senate Majority Leader McConnell voiced support for the measure, which is a good sign for its ultimate prospects of passing, but it still needs at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass. McConnell indicated the votes would be there when the Senate ultimately takes it up, which is reportedly set to happen this week. The House passed the measure last night. Yields on Treasury bills maturing in December fell following the headlines. Looking ahead, today will mark the end of an era in Germany, as Olaf Scholz is set to become Chancellor in a Bundestag vote later on, marking an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. That vote will simply be a formality given the three parties of the incoming coalition (the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP) have a comfortable majority between them, and the new cabinet will feature 7 SPD ministers, 5 Green ministers, and 4 from the FDP. Among the positions will include Green co-leader Robert Habeck as Vice Chancellor, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as finance minister. Running through yesterday’s data, the US trade deficit narrowed to $67.1bn in October (vs. $66.8bn expected), marking its smallest level since April. Meanwhile in the Euro Area, the latest Q3 growth estimate was left unchanged at +2.2%, but both Q1 and Q2’s growth was revised up a tenth. Over in Germany, industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected +2.8% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), with the previous month’s contraction also revised to show a smaller -0.5% decline. In addition, the expectations component of the December ZEW survey fell by less than expected to 29.9 (vs. 25.4 expected), but the current situation measure fell to a 6-month low of -7.4 (vs. 5.7 expected). To the day ahead now, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:58.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

Futures Rebound From Friday Rout As Omicron Fears Ease

Futures Rebound From Friday Rout As Omicron Fears Ease S&P futures and European stocks rebounded from Friday’s selloff while Asian shares fell, as investors took comfort in reports from South Africa which said initial data doesn’t show a surge of hospitalizations as a result of the omicron variant, a view repeated by Anthony Fauci on Sunday. Meanwhile, fears about a tighter Fed were put on the backburner. Also overnight, China’s central bank announced it will cut the RRR by 50bps releasing 1.2tn CNY in liquidity, a move that had been widely expected. The cut comes as insolvent Chinese property developer Evergrande was said to be planning to include all its offshore public bonds and private debt obligations in a restructuring plan. US equity futures rose 0.3%, fading earlier gains, and were last trading at 4,550. Nasdaq futures pared losses early in the U.S. morning, trading down 0.4%. Oil rose after Saudi Arabia boosted the prices of its crude, signaling confidence in the demand outlook, which helped lift European energy shares. The 10-year Treasury yield advanced to 1.40%, while the dollar was little changed and the yen weakened. “A wind of relief may blow the current risk-off trading stance away this week,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at U.K. brokerage ActivTrades. “Concerns related to the omicron variant may ease after South African experts didn’t register any surge in deaths or hospitalization.” As Bloromberg notes, the mood across markets was calmer on Monday after last week’s big swings in technology companies and a crash in Bitcoin over the weekend. Investors pointed to good news from South Africa that showed hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed by the latest wave of Covid cases. Initial data from South Africa are “a bit encouraging regarding the severity,” Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Sunday. At the same time, he cautioned that it’s too early to be definitive. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Alibaba’s (BABA US) U.S.-listed shares rise 1.9% in premarket after a 8.2% drop Friday prompted by the delisting plans of Didi Global. Alibaba said earlier it is replacing its CFO and reshuffling the heads of its commerce businesses Rivian (RIVN US) has the capabilities to compete with Tesla and take a considerable share of the electric vehicle market, Wall Street analysts said as they started coverage with overwhelmingly positive ratings. Shares rose 2.2% initially in U.S. premarket trading, but later wiped out gains to drop 0.9% Stocks tied to former President Donald Trump jump in U.S. premarket trading after his media company agreed to a $1 billion investment from a SPAC Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks tumble amid volatile trading in Bitcoin, another indication of the risk aversion sweeping across financial markets Laureate Education (LAUR US) approved the payment of a special cash distribution of $0.58 per share. Shares rose 2.8% in postmarket Friday AbCellera Biologics (ABCL US) gained 6.2% postmarket Friday after the company confirmed that its Lilly-partnered monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab, together with etesevimab, received an expanded emergency use authorization from the FDA as the first antibody therapy in Covid-19 patients under 12 European equities drifted lower after a firm open. Euro Stoxx 50 faded initial gains of as much as 0.9% to trade up 0.3%. Other cash indexes follow suit, but nonetheless remain in the green. FTSE MIB sees the largest drop from session highs. Oil & gas is the strongest sector, underpinned after Saudi Arabia raised the prices of its crude. Tech, autos and financial services lag. Companies that benefited from increased demand during pandemic-related lockdowns are underperforming in Europe on Monday as investors assess whether the omicron Covid variant will force governments into further social restrictions. Firms in focus include meal-kit firm HelloFresh (-2.3%) and online food delivery platforms Delivery Hero (-5.4%), Just Eat Takeaway (-5.6%) and Deliveroo (-8.5%). Remote access software firm TeamViewer (-3.7%) and Swedish mobile messaging company Sinch (-3.0%), gaming firm Evolution (-4.2%). Online pharmacies Zur Rose (-5.1%), Shop Apotheke (-3.5%). Online grocer Ocado (-2.2%), online apparel retailer Zalando (-1.5%). In Asia, the losses were more severe as investors remained wary over the outlook for U.S. monetary policy and the spread of the omicron variant.  The Hang Seng Tech Index closed at the lowest level since its inception. SoftBank Group Corp. fell as much as 9% in Tokyo trading as the value of its portfolio came under more pressure. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 0.9%, hovering above its lowest finish in about a year. Consumer discretionary firms and software technology names contributed the most to the decline, while the financial sector outperformed.  Hong Kong’s equity benchmark was among the region’s worst performers amid the selloff in tech shares. The market also slumped after the omicron variant spread among two fully vaccinated travelers across the hallway of a quarantine hotel in the city, unnerving health authorities. “People are waiting for new information on the omicron variant,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management in Tokyo. “We’re at a point where it’s difficult to buy stocks.” Separately, China’s central bank announced after the country’s stock markets closed that it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost to economic growth.  Futures on the Nasdaq 100 gained further in Asia late trading. The underlying gauge slumped 1.7% on Friday, after data showed U.S. job growth had its smallest gain this year and the unemployment rate fell more than forecast. Investors seem to be focusing more on the improved jobless rate, as it could back the case for an acceleration in tapering, Ichikawa said.  Asian equities have been trending lower since mid-November amid a selloff in Chinese technology giants, concern over U.S. monetary policy and the spread of omicron. The risk-off sentiment pushed shares to a one-year low last week.  Overnight, the PBoC cut the RRR by 50bps (as expected) effective 15th Dec; will release CNY 1.2tln in liquidity; RRR cut to guide banks for SMEs and will use part of funds from RRR cut to repay MLF. Will not resort to flood-like stimulus; will reduce capital costs for financial institutions by around CNY 15bln per annum. The news follows earlier reports via China Securities Daily which noted that China could reduce RRR as soon as this month, citing a brokerage firm. However, a separate Chinese press report noted that recent remarks by Chinese Premier Li on the reverse repo rate doesn't mean that there will be a policy change and an Economics Daily commentary piece suggested that views of monetary policy moves are too simplistic and could lead to misunderstandings after speculation was stoked for a RRR cut from last week's comments by Premier Li. Elsewhere, Indian stocks plunged in line with peers across Asia as investors remained uncertain about the emerging risks from the omicron variant in a busy week of monetary policy meetings.   The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 1.7% to 56,747.14, in Mumbai, dropping to its lowest level in over three months, with all 30 shares ending lower. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also declined by a similar magnitude. Infosys Ltd. was the biggest drag on both indexes and declined 2.3%.  All 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined, led by a measure of software exporters.  “If not for the new omicron variant, economic recovery was on a very strong footing,” Mohit Nigam, head of portfolio management services at Hem Securities Ltd. said in a note. “But if this virus quickly spreads in India, then we might experience some volatility for the coming few weeks unless development is seen on the vaccine side.” Major countries worldwide have detected omicron cases, even as the severity of the variant still remains unclear. Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to announce its rate decision on Tuesday, while the Indian central bank will release it on Dec. 8. the hawkish comments by U.S. Fed chair Jerome Powell on tackling rising inflation also weighed on the market Japanese equities declined, following U.S. peers lower, as investors considered prospects for inflation, the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tilt and the omicron virus strain. Telecommunications and services providers were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 0.5%. SoftBank Group and Daiichi Sankyo were the largest contributors to a 0.4% loss in the Nikkei 225. The Mothers index slid 3.8% amid the broader decline in growth stocks. A sharp selloff in large technology names dragged U.S. stocks lower Friday. U.S. job growth registered its smallest gain this year in November while the unemployment rate fell by more than forecast to 4.2%. There were some good aspects in the U.S. jobs data, said Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. “We’re in this contradictory situation where there’s concern over an early rate hike given the economic recovery, while at the same time there’s worry over how the omicron variant may slow the current recovery.” Australian stocks ended flat as staples jumped. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed little changed at 7,245.10, swinging between gains and losses during the session as consumer staples rose and tech stocks fell. Metcash was the top performer after saying its 1H underlying profit grew 13% y/y. Nearmap was among the worst performers after S&P Dow Jones Indices said the stock will be removed from the benchmark as a result of its quarterly review. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6% to 12,597.81. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gave up a modest advance as the European session got underway; the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers with commodity currencies among the leaders and havens among the laggards. JPY and CHF are the weakest in G-10, SEK outperforms after hawkish comments in the Riksbank’s minutes. USD/CNH drifts back to flat after a fairly well telegraphed RRR cut materialized early in the London session.  The euro fell to a day low of $1.1275 before paring. The pound strengthened against the euro and dollar, following stocks higher. Bank of England deputy governor Ben Broadbent due to speak. Market participants will be watching for his take on the impact of the omicron variant following the cautious tone of Michael Saunders’ speech on Friday. Treasury yields gapped higher at the start of the day and futures remain near lows into early U.S. session, leaving yields cheaper by 4bp to 5bp across the curve. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.395%, cheaper by 5bp vs. Friday’s close while the 2s10s curve steepens almost 2bps with front-end slightly outperforming; bunds trade 4bp richer vs. Treasuries in 10-year sector. November's mixed U.S. jobs report did little to shake market expectations of more aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve. Italian bonds outperformed euro-area peers after Fitch upgraded the sovereign by one notch to BBB, maintaining a stable outlook. In commodities, crude futures drift around best levels during London hours. WTI rises over 1.5%, trading either side of $68; Brent stalls near $72. Spot gold trends lower in quiet trade, near $1,780/oz. Base metals are mixed: LME copper outperforms, holding in the green with lead; nickel and aluminum drop more than 1%. There is nothing on today's economic calendar. Focus this week includes U.S. auctions and CPI data, while Fed speakers enter blackout ahead of next week’s FOMC. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 4,567.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.8% to 466.39 MXAP down 0.9% to 189.95 MXAPJ down 1.0% to 617.01 Nikkei down 0.4% to 27,927.37 Topix down 0.5% to 1,947.54 Hang Seng Index down 1.8% to 23,349.38 Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,589.31 Sensex down 1.5% to 56,835.37 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,245.07 Kospi up 0.2% to 2,973.25 Brent Futures up 2.9% to $71.89/bbl Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,780.09 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.15% to 96.26 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.37% Euro down 0.2% to $1.1290 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Speculators were caught offside in both bonds and stocks last week, increasing their bets against U.S. Treasuries and buying more equity exposure right before a bout of volatility caused the exact opposite moves Inflation pressure in Europe is still likely to be temporary, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe said Monday, even if it is taking longer than expected for it to slow China Evergrande Group’s stock tumbled close to a record low amid signs a long-awaited debt restructuring may be at hand, while Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. faces a potential default this week in major tests of China’s ability to limit fallout from the embattled property sector China Evergrande Group is planning to include all its offshore public bonds and private debt obligations in a restructuring that may rank among the nation’s biggest ever, people familiar with the matter said China tech shares tumbled on Monday, with a key gauge closing at its lowest level since launch last year as concerns mount over how much more pain Beijing is willing to inflict on the sector The U.S. is poised to announce a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, CNN reported, a move that would create a new point of contention between the world’s two largest economies SNB Vice President Fritz Zurbruegg to retire at the end of July 2022, according to statement Bitcoin has markedly underperformed rivals like Ether with its weekend drop, which may underscore its increased connection with macro developments Austrians who reject mandatory coronavirus vaccinations face 600-euro ($677) fines, according to a draft law seen by the Kurier newspaper Some Riksbank board members expressed different nuances regarding the asset holdings and considered that it might become appropriate for the purchases to be tapered further next year,  the Swedish central bank says in minutes from its Nov. 24 meeting A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equities began the week cautiously following last Friday's negative performance stateside whereby the Russell 2000 and Nasdaq closed lower by around 2% apiece, whilst the S&P 500 and Dow Jones saw shallower losses. The Asia-Pac region was also kept tentative amid China developer default concerns and conflicting views regarding speculation of a looming RRR cut by China's PBoC. The ASX 200 (+0.1%) was initially dragged lower by a resumption of the underperformance in the tech sector, and with several stocks pressured by the announcement of their removal from the local benchmark, although losses for the index were later reversed amid optimism after Queensland brought forward the easing of state border restrictions, alongside the resilience in the defensive sectors. The Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) suffered from the currency inflows late last week but finished off worse levels. The Hang Seng (-1.8%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) were mixed with Hong Kong weighed by heavy tech selling and as default concerns added to the headwinds after Sunshine 100 Holdings defaulted on a USD 170mln bond payment, whilst Evergrande shares slumped in early trade after it received a demand for payments but noted there was no guarantee it will have the sufficient funds and with the grace period for two offshore bond payments set to expire today. Conversely, mainland China was kept afloat by hopes of a looming RRR cut after comments from Chinese Premier Li that China will cut RRR in a timely manner and a brokerage suggested this could occur before year-end. However, other reports noted the recent remarks by Chinese Premier Li on the reverse repo rate doesn't mean a policy change and that views of monetary policy moves are too simplistic which could lead to misunderstandings. Finally, 10yr JGBs were steady after having marginally extended above 152.00 and with prices helped by the lacklustre mood in Japanese stocks, while price action was tame amid the absence of BoJ purchases in the market today and attention was also on the Chinese 10yr yield which declined by more than 5bps amid speculation of a potentially looming RRR cut. Top Asian News SoftBank Slumps 9% Monday After Week of Bad Portfolio News Alibaba Shares Rise Premarket After Rout, Leadership Changes China PBOC Repeats Prudent Policy Stance With RRR Cut China Cuts Reserve Requirement Ratio as Economy Slows Bourses in Europe kicked off the new trading week higher across the board but have since drifted lower (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.1%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%) following a somewhat mixed lead from APAC. Sentiment across markets saw a fleeting boost after the Asia close as China’s central bank opted to cut the RRR by 50bps, as touted overnight and in turn releasing some CNY 1.2tln in liquidity. This saw US equity futures ticking to marginal fresh session highs, whilst the breakdown sees the RTY (+0.6%) outpacing vs the ES (Unch), YM (+0.3%) and NQ (-0.6%), with the US benchmarks eyeing this week’s US CPI as Fed speakers observe the blackout period ahead of next week’s FOMC policy decision – where policymakers are expected to discuss a quickening of the pace of QE taper. From a technical standpoint, the ESz1 and NQz1 see their 50 DMAs around 4,540 and 16,626 respectively. Back to trade, Euro-indices are off best levels with a broad-based performance. UK’s FTSE 100 (+0.8%) received a boost from base metals gaining impetus on the PBoC RRR cut, with the UK index now the outperformer, whilst gains in Oil & Gas and Banks provide further tailwinds. Sectors initially started with a clear cyclical bias but have since seen a reconfiguration whereby the defensives have made their way up the ranks. The aforementioned Oil & Gas, Banks and Basic Resources are currently the winners amid upward action in crude, yields and base metals respectively. Food & Beverages and Telecoms kicked off the session at the bottom of the bunch but now reside closer to the middle of the table. The downside meanwhile sees Travel & Tech – two sectors which were at the top of the leaderboard at the cash open – with the latter seeing more noise surrounding valuations and the former initially unreactive to UK tightening measures for those travelling into the UK. In terms of individual movers, AstraZeneca (+0.7%) is reportedly studying the listing of its new vaccine division. BT (+1.2%) holds onto gains as Discovery is reportedly in discussions regarding a partnership with BT Sport and is offering to create a JV, according to sources. Taylor Wimpey (Unch) gave up opening gains seen in wake of speculation regarding Elliott Management purchasing a small stake. Top European News Johnson Says U.K. Awaiting Advice on Omicron Risks Before Review Scholz Names Harvard Medical Expert to Oversee Pandemic Policy EU Inflation Still Seen as Temporary, Eurogroup’s Donohoe Says Saudi Crown Prince Starts Gulf Tour as Rivalries Melt Away In FX, the Buck has settled down somewhat after Friday’s relatively frenetic session when price action and market moves were hectic on the back of a rather mixed BLS report and stream of Omicron headlines, with the index holding a tight line above 96.000 ahead of a blank US agenda. The Greenback is gleaning some traction from the firmer tone in yields, especially at the front end of the curve, while also outperforming safer havens and funding currencies amidst a broad upturn in risk sentiment due to perceivably less worrying pandemic assessments of late and underpinned by the PBoC cutting 50 bp off its RRR, as widely touted and flagged by Chinese Premier Li, with effect from December 15 - see 9.00GMT post on the Headline Feed for details, analysis and the initial reaction. Back to the Dollar and index, high betas and cyclicals within the basket are doing better as the latter meanders between 96.137-379 and well inside its wide 95.944-96.451 pre-weekend extremes. AUD/GBP/CAD/NZD - A technical correction and better news on the home front regarding COVID-19 after Queensland announced an earlier date to ease border restrictions, combined to give the Aussie a lift, but Aud/Usd is tightening its grip on the 0.7000 handle with the aid of the PBoC’s timely and targeted easing in the run up to the RBA policy meeting tomorrow. Similarly, the Pound appears to have gleaned encouragement from retaining 1.3200+ status and fending off offers into 0.8550 vs the Euro rather than deriving impetus via a rise in the UK construction PMI, while the Loonie is retesting resistance around 1.2800 against the backdrop of recovering crude prices and eyeing the BoC on Wednesday to see if guidance turns more hawkish following a stellar Canadian LFS. Back down under, the Kiwi is straddling 0.6750 and 1.0400 against its Antipodean peer in wake of a pick up in ANZ’s commodity price index. CHF/JPY/EUR - Still no sign of SNB action, but the Franc has fallen anyway back below 0.9200 vs the Buck and under 1.0400 against the Euro, while the Yen is under 113.00 again and approaching 128.00 respectively, as the single currency continues to show resilience either side of 1.1300 vs its US counterpart and a Fib retracement level at 1.1290 irrespective of more poor data from Germany and a deterioration in the Eurozone Sentix index, but increases in the construction PMIs. SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned revival in risk appetite, albeit fading, rather than Riksbank minutes highlighting diverse opinion, is boosting the Sek, and the Nok is also drawing some comfort from Brent arresting its decline ahead of Usd 70/brl, but the Cnh and Cny have been capped just over 6.3700 by the PBoC’s RRR reduction and ongoing default risk in China’s property sector. Elsewhere, the Try remains under pressure irrespective of Turkey’s Foreign Minister noting that domestic exports are rising and the economy is growing significantly, via Al Jazeera or claiming that the Lira is exposed to high inflation to a degree, but this is a temporary problem, while the Rub is treading cautiously before Russian President Putin and US President Biden make a video call on Tuesday at 15.00GMT. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are firmer on the day with the complex underpinned by Saudi Aramco upping its official selling prices (OSPs) to Asian and US customers, coupled with the lack of progress on the Iranian nuclear front. To elaborate on the former; Saudi Arabia set January Arab light crude oil OSP to Asia at Oman/Dubai average +USD 3.30/bbl which is an increase from this month’s premium of USD 2.70/bbl, while it set light crude OSP to North-West Europe at ICE Brent USD -1.30/bbl vs. this month’s discount of USD 0.30/bbl and set light crude OSP to the US at ASCI +USD 2.15/bbl vs this month’s premium of USD 1.75/bbl. Iranian nuclear talks meanwhile are reportedly set to resume over the coming weekend following deliberations, although the likelihood of a swift deal at this point in time seems minuscule. A modest and fleeting boost was offered to the complex by the PBoC cutting RRR in a bid to spur the economy. WTI Jan resides on either side of USD 68/bbl (vs low USD 66.72/bbl) whilst Brent Feb trades around USD 71.50/bbl (vs low 70.24/bbl). Over to metals, spot gold trades sideways with the cluster of DMAs capping gains – the 50, 200 and 100 DMAs for spot reside at USD 1,792/oz, USD 1,791.50/oz and USD 1,790/oz respectively. Base metals also saw a mild boost from the PBoC announcement – LME copper tested USD 9,500/t to the upside before waning off best levels. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap We’re really at a fascinating crossroads in markets at the moment. The market sentiment on the virus and the policymakers at the Fed are moving in opposite directions. The greatest impact of this last week was a dramatic 21.1bps flattening of the US 2s10s curve, split almost evenly between 2yr yields rising and 10yrs yields falling. As it stands, the Fed are increasingly likely to accelerate their taper next week with a market that is worried that it’s a policy error. I don’t think it is as I think the Fed is way behind the curve. However I appreciate that until we have more certainly on Omicron then it’s going to be tough to disprove the policy error thesis. The data so far on Omicron can be fitted to either a pessimistic or optimistic view. On the former, it seems to be capable of spreading fast and reinfecting numerous people who have already had covid. Younger people are also seeing a higher proportion of admissions which could be worrying around the world given lower vaccinations levels in this cohort. On the other hand, there is some evidence in South Africa that ICU usage is lower relative to previous waves at the same stage and that those in hospital are largely unvaccinated and again with some evidence that they are requiring less oxygen than in previous waves. It really does feel like Omicron could still go both ways. It seems that it could be both more transmittable but also less severe. How that impacts the world depends on the degree of both. It could be bad news but it could also actually accelerate the end of the pandemic which would be very good news. Lots of people more qualified than me to opine on this aren’t sure yet so we will have to wait for more news and data. I lean on the optimistic side here but that’s an armchair epidemiologist’s view. Anthony Fauci (chief medical advisor to Mr Biden) said to CNN last night that, “We really gotta be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn’t clause any severe illness comparable to Delta, but this far the signals are a bit encouraging….. It does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.” Anyway, the new variant has taken a hold of the back end of the curve these past 10 days. Meanwhile the front end is taking its guidance from inflation and the Fed. On cue, could this Friday see the first 7% US CPI print since 1982? With DB’s forecasts at 6.9% for the headline (+5.1% for core) we could get close to breaking such a landmark level. With the Fed on their media blackout period now, this is and Omicron are the last hurdles to cross before the FOMC conclusion on the 15th December where DB expect them to accelerate the taper and head for a March end. While higher energy prices are going to be a big issue this month, the recent falls in the price of oil may provide some hope on the inflation side for later in 2022. However primary rents and owners’ equivalent rents (OER), which is 40% of core CPI, is starting to turn and our models have long suggested a move above 4.5% in H1 2022. In fact if we shift-F9 the model for the most recent points we’re looking like heading towards a contribution of 5.5% now given the signals from the lead indicators. So even as YoY energy prices ease and maybe covid supply issues slowly fade, we still think inflation will stay elevated for some time. As such it was a long overdue move to retire the word transitory last week from the Fed’s lexicon. Another of our favourite measures to show that the Fed is way behind the curve at the moment is the quits rate that will be contained within Wednesday’s October JOLTS report. We think the labour market is very strong in the US at the moment with the monthly employment report lagging that strength. Having said that the latest report on Friday was reasonably strong behind the headline payroll disappointment. We’ll review that later. The rest of the week ahead is published in the day by day calendar at the end but the other key events are the RBA (Tuesday) and BoC (Wednesday) after the big market disruptions post their previous meetings, Chinese CPI and PPI (Thursday), final German CPI (Friday) and the US UoM consumer confidence (Friday). Also look out for Congressional newsflow on how the year-end debt ceiling issue will get resolved and also on any progress in the Senate on the “build back better” bill which they want to get through before year-end. Mr Manchin remains the main powerbroker. In terms of Asia as we start the week, stocks are trading mixed with the CSI (+0.62%), Shanghai Composite (+0.37%) and KOSPI (+0.11%) trading higher while the Nikkei (-0.50%) and Hang Seng (-0.91%) are lower. Chinese stock indices are climbing after optimism over a RRR rate cut after Premier Li Kequiang's comments last week that it could be cut in a timely manner to support the economy. In Japan SoftBank shares fell -9% and for a sixth straight day amid the Didi delisting and after the US FTC moved to block a key sale of a company in its portfolio. Elsewhere futures are pointing a positive opening in US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.46%) and DAX (+1.00%) futures both trading well in the green. 10yr US Treasury yields are back up c.+4.2bps with 2yrs +2.6bps. Oil is also up c.2.2% Over the weekend Bitcoin fell around 20% from Friday night into Saturday. It’s rallied back a reasonable amount since (from $42,296 at the lows) and now stands at $48,981, all after being nearly $68,000 a month ago. Turning back to last week now, and the virus and hawkish Fed communications were the major themes. Despite so many unknowns (or perhaps because of it) markets were very responsive to each incremental Omicron headline last week, which drove equity volatility to around the highest levels of the year. The VIX closed the week at 30.7, shy of the year-to-date high of 37.21 reached in January and closed above 25 for 5 of the last 6 days. The S&P 500 declined -1.22% over the week (-0.84% Friday). The Stoxx 600 fell a more modest -0.28% last week, -0.57% on Friday. To be honest both felt like they fell more but we had some powerful rallies in between. The Nasdaq had a poorer week though, falling -c.2.6%, after a -1.9% decline on Friday. The other main theme was the pivot in Fed communications toward tighter policy. Testifying to Congress, Fed Chair Powell made a forceful case for accelerating the central bank’s asset purchase taper program, citing persistent elevated inflation and an improving labour market, amid otherwise strong demand in the economy, clearing the way for rate hikes thereafter. Investors priced in higher probability of earlier rate hikes, but still have the first full Fed hike in July 2022. 2yr treasury yields were sharply higher (+9.1bps on week, -2.3bps Friday) while 10yr yields declined (-12.0bps on week, -9.1bps Friday) on the prospect of a hard landing incurred from quick Fed tightening as well as the gloomy Covid outlook. The yield curve flattened -21.1bps (-6.8bps Friday) to 75.6bps, the flattest it has been since December 2020, or three stimulus bills ago if you like (four if you think build back better is priced in). German and UK debt replicated the flattening, with 2yr yields increasing +1.3bps (-0.7bps Friday) in Germany, and +0.3bps (-6.7bps) in UK this week, with respective 10yr yields declining -5.3bps (-1.9bps Friday) and -7.8bps (-6.4bps Friday). On the bright side, Congress passed a stopgap measure to keep the government funded through February, buying lawmakers time to agree to appropriations for the full fiscal year, avoiding a disruptive shutdown. Positive momentum out of DC prompted investors to increase the odds the debt ceiling will be resolved without issue, as well, with yields on Treasury bills maturing in December declining a few basis points following the news. US data Friday was strong. Despite the headline payroll increase missing the mark (+210k v expectations of +550k), the underlying data painted a healthy labour market picture, with the unemployment rate decreasing to 4.2%, and participation increasing to 61.8%. Meanwhile, the ISM services index set another record high. Oil prices initially fell after OPEC unexpectedly announced they would proceed with planned production increases at their January meeting. They rose agin though before succumbing to the Omicron risk off. Futures prices ended the week down again, with Brent futures -3.67% lower (+0.55% Friday) and WTI futures -2.57% on the week (-0.15% Friday). Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 07:51.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 6th, 2021

The labor market kept rebounding in November with the US adding 534,000 private payrolls

ADP's monthly employment report showed November hiring beating the average economist forecast of 525,000 new jobs. Prospective employers and job seekers interact during a job fair Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in the West Hollywood section of Los Angeles.Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo US private-sector firms created 534,000 jobs in November, ADP said in its monthly hiring report. That beat the 534,000-payroll estimate but marked a small slowdown from October's gain. The print is likely the last to show the hiring recovery's pace before the Omicron variant's impact. The hiring recovery continued to shine in November, a hopeful signal as the Omicron variant presents a new economic risk.Private payrolls gained by 534,000 last month, ADP said in its monthly hiring report. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected an increase of 525,000 private-sector jobs. The reading also marks a small deceleration from October's revised count of 570,000 new jobs.The labor market charged closer to full recovery through November. The month saw daily COVID cases continue to decline from September's highs, albeit at a slower pace. Holiday season spending ramped up amid Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While consumer sentiment held at dismal levels, Wall Street boosted its forecasts for fourth-quarter growth on hopes for a stronger rebound.Recent reports on the labor market also point to resilient progress. Filings for unemployment insurance fell to 199,000 in the week that ended November 20, marking the lowest level since 1969 and a full recovery for jobless claims. Continuing claims — which track Americans receiving UI benefits — also dropped, suggesting fewer workers are being laid off and more are finding work.Economists expect the government's jobs report to show similarly strong growth when it's released on Friday. The country is expected to have added 550,000 nonfarm payrolls through November, a slight improvement from the 531,000 jobs gained the month prior. The unemployment rate is forecasted to slide to 4.5% from 4.6%, continuing the slow but steady return to pre-crisis levels.ADP's latest data suggests such robust job creation is likely. And as the Omicron variant clouds the recovery's path, strong readings on the labor market's recovery are more important than ever.Services continue to dominate the hiring recoveryJob creation remained uneven as service-sector businesses rushed to recoup massive losses from earlier in the COVID crisis. Services counted for 424,000 of November's added payrolls, according to ADP. Such businesses have counted for the bulk of new jobs through 2021 since they were the businesses hit hardest by pandemic lockdowns.The leisure and hospitality sector posted the largest gain, adding 136,000 jobs through the month. Professional and business services followed with an increase of 110,000 jobs.Goods-producing firms added 110,000 payrolls last month. Construction and manufacturing businesses counted for most of the increase, taking on 52,000 and 50,000 new jobs, respectively.The ADP print also brings total job gains during the recovery to 15 million. That leaves roughly 5 million payrolls left to be recouped. Should job creation continue at the pace seen over the last three months, a complete hiring recovery could arrive in mid-2022.The path to creating those last 5 million jobs will be anything but easy. While job creation picked up in the fall, labor force participation remains flat, signaling there are many Americans waiting on the sidelines and not yet looking for work.The Omicron variant could also weigh on the recovery. The recent uptick in COVID cases and reports of the new variant "pose downside risks to employment and economic activity," Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. Even if vaccines protect against Omicron, fears of the virus can derail the recovery, particularly at service businesses, he added."Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people's willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions," Powell said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 1st, 2021