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Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff

Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff It was exactly a year ago, when Deutsche Bank strategist Luke Templeman said that amid the panicked scramble by US wholesalers to stock up on scarce inventory as a result of snarled supply chains, it was only a matter of time before the US economy was roiled by a "bullwhip" (or whiplash) effect. Some details for those unfamiliar with this concept: the bullwhip effect occurs when a drop in customer demand causes retailers to under stock. In turn, wholesalers respond to a lack of retail orders by understocking themselves. That then causes manufacturers to slow production. Eventually the reverse occurs. As customer demand comes back, retailers quickly order more goods, often too much, and wholesalers and factories are caught short. Shortages occur, prices increase. Eventually production ramps up at levels that are far beyond equilibrium levels and this cascades down the chain. These violent swings in availability of goods then continue back and forth until an equilibrium is eventually established. Last May, the beginning of the bullwhip effect was seen in the way retailers and wholesalers managed their inventory levels since the outbreak of covid. Specifically, retailers kept a supply of inventory at a relatively constant level, above that of wholesalers. As covid hit, supply chains from Asia were cut which caused a fright amongst retailers in the West who immediately began to put in orders for more inventory. A whole lot more of it. Subsequent lockdowns saw demand plummet and inventories along with it. In both cases, the actions of wholesalers followed those of retailers by a month or so. In the context of a starting bullwhip effect, Templeman's conclusion was accurate: "As inventory levels have fallen to multi-decade lows at retailers, there are likely many businesses that will not have enough inventory to satisfy customers as economies recover and pent-up demand is unleashed. This is particularly the case as retailers are far more reliant on just-in-time supply chains than they were in decades past." Among other things, this is also why last May is when a historic bout of inflation was unleashed (one which not a single career economist or Fed official predicted correctly) as collapsing inventories and lack of restocking by jammed up supply chains meant that prices for goods would keep rising and rising and rising. And they did. Of course, for much of the past year, the big story was the congestion at west coast ports due to both external (China covid breakouts, port closures, changing legislation) and internal factors (lack of port workers, downstream supply jams including trucking and trains, etc) but that has now changed and as the latest Supply Chain Congestion Monitor report from JPMorgan (available to pro subscribers in the usual place) shows, the number of ships at anchor and on approach to L.A. and Long Beach has collapsed since the January high mark, and is back to levels first seen at the start of the covid pandemic. Why does this matter? Well, for a simple but critical reason: if one year ago we saw the hyperinflationary start of the bullwhip effect, we have entered the terminal phase of the "bullwhip effect", where plunging inventory-to-sales ratios reverse violently higher, where supply chains unclog suddenly and rapidly amid a sudden chill in the economy, and where prices for so-called "core" goods collapse almost overnight, even as non-core prices (food and energy) explode even higher. This is how Freight Waves discussed this effect on Friday when commenting on the recent dire earnings (and outlook) from the largest US retailers such as Walmart and Target, which saw their prices crater as management warned that inflation is now crippling demand and snuffing profit margins: "furniture, home furnishings and appliances, building materials and garden equipment, and a category known as “other general merchandise,” which includes Walmart and Target, among others, reported higher inventory-to-sales ratios, according to government data analyzed by Michigan State." How much higher? A quick look at the latest data reveals the following stunning chart of the Inventory to Sales ratio at the Walmarts of the world at the highest level since just before the deflationary flashbang that was the Global Financial Crisis: Think: widespread inventory liquidations. As Freight Waves continues, "the change has happened fast, according to Jason Miller, logistics professor at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business. As of November, inventory-to-sales ratios were at pre-COVID levels, Miller said. They have since exploded upward. Miller said he expects a “cooldown” in retailer order volumes, even if inflation-adjusted sales stay constant, as retailers look to reduce their existing stock." And here is the punchline: Miller "also expects retailers to launch major discounting programs to expedite the inventory burn." In short: we are about to see the mother of all liquidations as retailers scramble to unload inventory in a time off rampant demand destruction. The immediate result is the freight recession that was first (correctly) forecast by FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller at the end of March and which is now coming true as the crashing stock price of countless trucker and other freight stocks has demonstrated. Some more on this: high inventory levels are an expected occurrence and should be welcomed. In a Tuesday note, Amit Mehrotra, transport analyst at Deutsche Bank, said rising buffer stock is part of retailers’ desire to have goods available when consumers scan the shelves. Mehrotra added, however, that the data points translate into a likely slowdown in freight flows in the coming months and quarters. He said that a recession is already priced into most transportation equities, noting that the shares of most trucking companies are higher over the past 30 days while the broader market is about 7% lower. The latest data also confirms what FreightWaves' Fuller said in a subsequent post when he wondered if "Deflation Was Next" as "the Bullwhip was about do the Fed's job on inflation." To be sure, not every product will see its price cut: commodities, whose bullwhip effect take much longer to manifest itself, usually lasting several years in either direction, are only just starting to see their price cycle higher. However, other products - like those carried by the Walmarts and Targets of the world - are about to see a deflationary plunge the likes of which we have not seen since the global financial crisis as retailers commence a voluntary destocking wave the likes of which have not been seen in over a decade. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 21:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 22nd, 2022

Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: A "Tidal Wave" Of Discounts And Crashing Prices

Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: A "Tidal Wave" Of Discounts And Crashing Prices Three weeks ago, we showed readers what happens when the infamous "Bullwhip effect" reversal takes place by presenting the unprecedented surge in the "Inventory to Sales" ratio for a broad range of US retailers covering the furniture, home furnishings and appliances, building materials and garden equipment, and a category known as “other general merchandise,” which includes Walmart and Target. Since then, this ratio has only gotten even more extended, and as shown below it is now at the highest level since the bursting of the dot com bubble! What does this mean for retailers and the price of goods? Three weeks ago we said "Think: widespread inventory liquidations" and added... To be sure, not every product will see its price cut: commodities, whose bullwhip effect take much longer to manifest itself, usually lasting several years in either direction, are only just starting to see their price cycle higher. However, other products - like those carried by the Walmarts and Targets of the world - are about to see a deflationary plunge the likes of which we have not seen since the global financial crisis as retailers commence a voluntary destocking wave the likes of which have not been seen in over a decade. Today both Wall Street and the mainstream media have caught up, with both predicting unprecedented deflationary price cuts in the coming weeks. We start with Morgan Stanley's bearish strategist Michael Wilson, who in his latest bearish weekly note (available to pro subs) focused on shrinking margins in general, and on retailer discounting in particular, and wrote that while there is a modest pick up in over sales, the far more concerning issue is that "inventory across the sector is up about 30% YOY and sales growth is up about 0% YOY translating to approximately 30% YOY of excess inventory" and while mark down/margin pressure did not hit in 1Q it should hit June/July. Indeed, "store checks show that aggressive discounting has already started as of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Discounting pressure could accelerate through July."  And since more retailers are now discounting, "companies are having to offer even bigger discounts to compel consumers to buy, and it is a race to the bottom in margins in order to clear through inventory." It gets much worse, however, because courtesy of the delayed nature of the bullwhip effect, Morgan Stanley thinks it will be some time before retailers can cut back on forward inventory orders! Companies are no longer in a position to order 6 months in advance because of delays in the supply chain, and are currently working with about an 8 month lead time. Shockingly, this means decisions today to cut forward orders could begin to eliminate the inventory problem in 1Q23, but not likely before then. As a result, Wilson concludes, "we are likely to see a tidal wave of discounts that carry us through December because 2022 inventory orders have already been placed." It's not just Wall Street finally catching up, however: overnight the WSJ also writes that "Big discounts are coming." Echoing everything we have written in the past two months, the Journal writes that Target, Walmart and Macy’s announced recently that they are starting to receive large shipments of outdoor furniture, loungewear and electronics (and if Morgan Stanley is correct and lead times are indeed 8 months they will keep receiving these into 2023!) everyone wanted, but couldn’t find, during the pandemic. The problem for retailers is a windfall for those in the market for sweatpants or couches. Look for prices to start dropping around July 4, analysts say when the deflationary retail tsunami is unleashed in full force. “There are going to be discounts like you’ve never seen before,” says Mickey Chadha, a Moody’s Investors Service analyst who tracks the retail industry. Retailer discounts are part of an effort to get shoppers interested in buying things again as Americans shift their spending to services such as concerts, eating out, and travel they missed out on during the pandemic. Deep discounts are expected on oversize couches, appliances and patio furniture that are more expensive for companies to store in their warehouses, analysts say. In fact, in everything this has some component of consumer goods demand to it. Look to e-retailers that specialize in larger goods like furniture to lower their prices, says Chirag Modi, who oversees supply chain execution and warehousing at consulting firm Blue Yonder. And if your drawers aren’t already bursting with work-from-home loungewear, stores will try hard to get you to take it off their shelves. “It might be a good time to buy sweatpants. They’re certainly going to be on sale this summer,” says Dan Wallace-Brewster, who directs marketing at e-commerce software company Scalefast. Office wear might not be discounted, he says. Some retailers, like Target, have already announced they’re planning big discounts. Others with robust warehouse capacity, like Walmart, may be more likely to hold on to their excess inventory, analysts say. Chadha said that retailers who sell their own lines of clothing and décor, like Gap, could be especially inclined to mark down their inventory, because they can’t pass the cost onto anyone else. Companies that carry other brands, like Macy’s, can potentially pass some of the surplus back to the producers. Consumer electronics are another category ripe for overstock discounts, Mr. Wallace-Brewster says, because the chip shortage is showing signs of abating. Items such as TVs and laptops are about to see major price cuts. Gwen Baer says she now wishes she had waited before splurging on a $3,000 couch for her new home that took six months to arrive in 2020. The 30-year-old Atlanta digital-media strategist plans to watch for sales at Target, West Elm and other retailers to finish outfitting her house, which she and her fiancé purchased in August 2020.      Her fiancé, Thomas Li, hopes to buy a new TV to replace the 10-year-old one in their bedroom. He’s hoping the sales mean lower prices on OLED screens. “The stores are really making lemonade out of some lemons,” Ms. Baer says. If you miss the wave of sales coming in a few weeks fear not: sales will likely continue well into back-to-school season and beyond. Modi says he is waiting until Thanksgiving to buy furniture for his own home renovation, and regrets already preordering kitchen cabinets. “I’m hedging my bets I’ll be able to get better deals in the fall,” Modi says adding that inventory surpluses are unlikely to affect the price of home staples and food. Discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross that specialize in surplus goods may not have great sales. Bigger metro areas may be poised for higher discounts than their rural counterparts, according to Modi, since they ordered based on demand at the height of the pandemic—which was higher in areas that are more population-dense. Not everything is set for a deflationary crash: don't expect luxury items to see price cuts. If anything, luxury prices for things like handbags and shoes are poised to keep climbing, said Oliver Chen, a retail analyst for Cowen: “Demand is so strong, and it’s a supply-constrained industry, generally, so quite the opposite rebalancing is happening." And while inflation is likely to persist in the ultra high, the implication for broader inflation is clear: most prices that make up the core CPI basket are about to fall off a cliff in weeks if not days, with upcoming core CPI prints set to plunge, which means that the only thing that will remain red hot is headline inflation, i.e., food and energy prices, the same prices which the Fed has traditionally ignored. It remains to be seen if it will do so this time around, or if - realizing that the US is entering a recession - it will resume easing even in the face of $5 gas prices... Tyler Durden Fri, 06/17/2022 - 12:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 17th, 2022

Biden & G-7 Push World Into "Nightmare Scenario"

Biden & G-7 Push World Into "Nightmare Scenario" Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, The West's Malthusian neoliberal political order is rapidly collapsing... Led by U.S. President Joe Biden, the Group of Seven (G-7) economic powers announced plans to ban the transport of Russian oil sold above a certain price with the goal of hurting Russia enough so that it ends its war against Ukraine. "There is only one way out: for Putin to accept that his plans in Ukraine will not succeed," said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The G-7’s plan is to impose a price cap on Russian oil through the regulation of petroleum shipping, banking, and insurance. The proposal is, in a word, ludicrous. Russian President Vladimir Putin would never agree to a price cap. He would likely withhold oil from the market in the same way he has been withholding natural gas from Europe, driving up prices. Putin would then sell oil to countries including China and India at a 30-40% discount, as he has been doing, or larger. Russia produces oil at a price of just $3-$4 per barrel and Russian firms can profit with oil prices at $25-$30 per barrel. And while it’s true that there is a near-monopoly in shipping insurance, Russia has been creating alternatives to it. Neither China nor India are likely to agree to the cap unless G-7 nations imposed severe “secondary sanctions” against them, which could escalate into a mutually destructive trade war. But even if they did formally comply, the two nations could easily cheat, as several analysts quickly noted on Twitter. “A price cap will never work,” said one. “Every refiner will bid price cap…. India and China… will cheat and pay above the cap and win all they want as [the] other option is twice the price. Nobody will know they paid it, either. Russia ends with more revenue.” Defenders of the oil price cap proposal point to a similar oil price cap mechanism that President Bill Clinton led the United Nations Security Council to impose on Iraq in 1995, as part of the U.N.’s “oil-for-food programme,” which allowed Iraq to sell its oil in exchange for food and medicine. It was meant to serve the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people while preventing Iraq’s then-president, Saddam Hussein, from increasing military capabilities. Oil buyers put money into an escrow account run by a private bank. Some of the money was then distributed to Iraq, some was for war reparations to Kuwait, and some was for U.N. operations. But the Iraq oil-for-food scheme became famously corrupt and had to be shut down. And while the U.N. Security Council was united on Iraq, it is today divided over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. China, India and 33 other nations refuse to condemn Russia’s invasion, and China and India are, as noted, the largest buyers of heavily-discounted Russian oil. Russia’s response to Western financial sanctions are further proof that an oil price cap can’t work. Biden in March said sanctions were “crushing the Russian economy” and that “the ruble is reduced to rubble.” But high energy prices have meant that Russia is making more money than ever, the ruble is at a seven-year high against the dollar, and China’s benefiting from discounted Russian oil. As such, the attempted bans on Russian oil are proof that the G-7’s latest price cap idea would backfire. Putin would simply reduce oil and gas exports to punish participating nations and further drive up prices. "It is a nightmare scenario,” noted an oil trader. The response to the G-7 Russian oil price cap proposal has been near-uniformly negative, even from economists sympathetic to the Biden administration and some G-7 leaders. “This is going to fail,” tweeted the head of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “The G7 won't enforce it on India, and China will retaliate until a workaround is reached.” Italy’s Prime Minister urged the oil price cap to include a natural gas price cap, and French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a price cap on all oil, not just Russian oil. “The U.S.,” noted Politico, “which originally proposed the narrower Russian price cap, and is currently the world’s biggest oil producer, was blindsided by the French plan.” In other words, the G-7 is in chaos. Last fall, G-7 leaders claimed climate change was the most important issue in the world, demanded that government subsidies to fossil fuels be phased out, and tried to deny African nations fossil fuels. Now, G-7 nations are subsidizing energy, waiving energy taxes, and burning more coal than they have in years. In the three decades since the Cold War, G-7 leaders have heralded a new global order based on free markets and neoliberal ideology. Now, they are proposing price-fixing and the creation of a Western energy cartel. The bottom line is that there will be no Western energy cartel, nor even a price cap on Russian oil or gas. Global energy markets are far too globalized for an oil price cap to work. Russia, China, India and at least 33 other nations would circumvent it, and as soon as they did, the West would be forced to abandon it, too, given the crippling effect it would have on Western economies. Indeed, simply attempting to impose a global oil price cap would wreak havoc. Noted Bloomberg, “politicians are likely to quietly abandon the concept after agreeing to explore it.” What, then, is going on? Why are President Biden and the G-7 pushing the West ever closer to a “nightmare scenario” of energy shortages and recession? The Great Reset looms... Subscribe to Michael Shellenberger to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives... Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 17:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 30th, 2022

These 46 pitch decks helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 30th, 2022

The Fed is not as behind the curve on inflation as investors think, and that sets the stock market up for more gains ahead, Fundstrat says

"Increasingly looks like markets mistook 'bullwhip' effect on supply chain (including food) for secular inflation," Fundstrat's Tom Lee said. Friday's inflation print shocked investors.Xinhua News Agency/Getty ImagesThe stock market could see further gains ahead as inflation cools down, according to Fundstrat.The research firm believes the Federal Reserve is less behind the inflation curve than investors think."Increasingly looks like markets mistook 'bullwhip' effect on supply chain for secular inflation," Fundstrat's Tom Lee said. There are growing signs that the Federal Reserve is less behind the inflation curve than investors think, and that could set the stock market up for more gains ahead, Fundstrat's Tom Lee said in a Monday note."Increasingly looks like markets mistook 'bullwhip' effect on supply chain (including food) for secular inflation," Lee said. The "bullwhip" effect references the fact that supply chains are incredibly fragile and typically have long lead times, which means any small change in consumer demand for a single item could lead to big swings in factory orders.Those big changes in factory orders can then drive short-term price movements in the end product if supply and demand are not matched, and the COVID-19 pandemic did this for supply chains across many industries.But this effect is typically short-lived as orders catch up (or fall) with demand, and there are signs that the price swings are finally easing after inflation surged to 40-year highs last month.Commodity prices for industrial metals and agricultural commodities have plunged in recent weeks, with copper entering a bear market last week.Retailers are holding onto record inventories that will need to be sold at discount prices, and housing prices are starting to be lowered as inventory hits multiyear highs.And the auto industry is starting to see supply chain logjams ease as global shipments of automotive microchips return to 95% of pre-China lockdowns, Fundstrat said, citing data from Goldman Sachs."These are not congruent with 'inflation out of control,'" Lee said.And with the Fed having already aggressively raised interest rates this year, any slowdown in inflation could spark a dovish pivot by the Fed and a pause in rate hikes, which would be supportive of risk assets, he said."If 'upside risk' to inflation is diminishing, Fed is less behind = positive for risk assets if the 'bullwhip' effect is indeed underway, we could see many of the inflationary pressures ease in the second half of 2022," Lee said.He believes that would translate into big stock market gains because as investors remain fixated on lagging inflation readings, they are also exhibiting signs of extreme risk-off positioning in their portfolios.Open interest among asset managers is near a record low, and retail equity flows saw the biggest outflows since 2008 last week, Lee observed."If retail and institutional are sellers, but inflation is softer, and Fed has done aggressive tightening already, doesn't it sound like risks are skewed to the upside?" he asked. Fundstrat has a year-end price target of 5,100 for the S&P 500, representing potential upside of about 31% from current levels. Lee told investors that the first half of 2022 would be "treacherous" while a strong recovery rally would unfold in the second half of the year. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJun 27th, 2022

Three Ways Fed Rate Hikes Will Impact Your Wallet

Three Ways Fed Rate Hikes Will Impact Your Wallet Via SchiffGold.com, The Federal Reserve recently delivered the largest interest rate hike since 1994 in an effort to combat inflation that turned out to be not so transitory. Economists and policy wonks continue to debate the effectiveness of these rate hikes in the face of historically high inflation, but what do they mean for you? Should you care about rising interest rates? Here are three ways Fed rate hikes will impact your wallet. Your Credit Card Bill Will Go Up When the Federal Reserve raises its rates, credit card interest rates rise right along with them. That’s not good news for American consumers who are turning to credit cards to make ends meet. Revolving credit, primarily reflecting credit card debt, rose by $17.8 billion in April. That was up a sizzling 19.6%. This follows on the heels of a record 29% gain in March. Revolving debt now stands at $1.103 trillion, just slightly above the pre-pandemic record. Average annual percentage rates (APR) currently stand at 16.8, with many companies already charging in the 20% range. Analysts say the average interest rate may well rise above 18% by the end of the year, breaking the record high of 17.87% set in April 2019. With every Federal Reserve interest rate increase, the cost of borrowing goes up, putting a further squeeze on American consumers. According to one financial consultant, if you budgeted $397 a month to pay off $15,000 over 60 months on a credit card with a 19.9% APR, you would need to up your payments to $423 a month to clear the balance in the same amount of time. Adding to the pain, credit card companies may up minimum payments as interest rates rise. It Will Cost You More to Buy a House Like credit card rates, mortgage rates will follow Fed interest rates higher. Mortgage rates are extremely sensitive to Federal Reserve manipulation and we’ve already seen a hefty increase in the cost of borrowing to buy a house. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has spiked to 6.1%. It’s the first time we’ve seen mortgage rates over 6% since the crash of 2008. Until mid-April mortgage rates were in the 4% to 5% range. Just one month ago, rates were 5.49%. At the peak of the pandemic, rates were in the 2.6% range. We’re seeing the impact of rising mortgage rates on the housing market. Existing home sales tumbled to a two-year low in May. Rising mortgage rates also close the door to a potential source of cash for American homeowners. Refinancing become a less viable option as borrowing costs rise. Refinancing not only provides a lump sum of cash to spend but also lowers mortgage payments, taking some strain off the monthly budget. There was a wave of refinancing in 2019 after the Fed’s monetary U-turn started pushing mortgage rates lower. But over the last several months, the refi market has collapsed. Finally, as higher mortgage rates depress the housing market, home values will begin to fall. This unwinds the wealth effect of loose monetary policy. And don’t think you’ll be unaffected if you rent. Rising home prices also drive rents higher. As the cost of buying a house rises, more people are priced out of the market. That increases the demand for rentals, driving up prices. On top of that, owners paying more for rental property will ultimately pass those costs on to their tenants. The Recession Risk Will Rise   The Federal Reserve created a massive economic bubble with its extraordinarily loose monetary policy. As it tries to tighten that policy, it will begin to pop those bubbles. That means the likelihood of a recession is on the rise. In simple terms, this economy was built on easy money and debt. Taking away the easy money will pop the bubble and collapse the house of cards economy. Nevertheless, after last week’s FOMC meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell claimed that a “soft landing” was still possible. In other words, he thinks the central bank can slay red-hot inflation without tipping the economy into a recession. Economist Daniel Lacalle said this is “impossible.” After more than a decade of chained stimulus packages and extremely low rates, with trillions of dollars of monetary stimulus fueling elevated asset valuations and incentivizing an enormous leveraged bet on risk, the idea of a controlled explosion or a ‘soft landing” is impossible.” In fact, the modest rate increases delivered by the Fed so far may have already tipped the US economy into a recession. The Atlanta Fed has revised its Q2 GDP growth projection to — zero. That follows on the heels of a -1.5 GDP print in the first quarter. For the last several months, sanguine pundits pointed to “strong” retail sales as proof the consumer remained healthy. But retail sales unexpectedly tanked in May. Consumer sentiment is at historic lows. Stocks have plunged into a bear market. Powell and other pundits point to a strong labor market as a sign the economy is strong enough to handle rate hikes. But employment is a lagging indicator and it is starting to look shaky as well. Hiring slowed in five out of eight sectors in May. Federal Reserve monetary policy may seem wonkish and irrelevant to your daily life, but it impacts your wallet in many ways. You would be wise to prepare accordingly. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/23/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 23rd, 2022

These 44 pitch decks helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 22nd, 2022

Politicized Money & The Death Of Capitalism

Politicized Money & The Death Of Capitalism Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, As far as we are concerned, it is no great secret nor any great surprise that our faith in fiat money (in general) and the central bankers who have debased it (in particular) and precipitated the death of capitalism is anything but robust. To the contrary, our astonishment with the open mismanagement of global currencies as a whole, and the world reserve currency (i.e., the USD in particular), grows daily. In fact, to fully un-pack the long series of comical errors and the failed experiment of politicized central bankers seeking to solve a debt crisis ($300T and rising) with more debt, which is then monetized by mouse-click money, would take an entire book rather than single article to address. Hence our recent release of Gold Matters. But just because central bankers are desperate, political, fork-tongued, and directly responsible for pushing global currencies, markets and rigged banking systems toward (and eventually over) an historically unprecedented debt-cliff, this does not mean central bankers aren’t otherwise “clever.” That is, they’ll do “whatever it takes” in the near-term to postpone the fatal fall which they alone have pre-determined for the global financial system. As per usual, the central bank playbook is about artificial and centralized controls rather than natural supply and demand forces or honest, free-market price discovery. After all, who needs honest capitalism when we have heralded its death with rigged banking systems and mouse-click money? As far as I’m concerned, the death of genuine capitalism occurred long ago, with folks like Greenspan and Draghi standing over its grave. Everything Politicized –Including the USD The comical politicization of science which we saw in relation to the COVID hysteria (debacle), is no different than the inexcusable politicization (i.e., “weaponization”) of finance which we’ve recently seen in the post-Ukraine sanction debacle. It will thus come as no further surprise that central banks are anything but “independent” and are themselves nothing more than political petri dishes spreading increased “command-control” contamination into global markets as well as global politics and lives. The road from/between central banking to centralized politics is short and rotten, as confirmed by Mario Draghi’s short skip from heading the ECB to becoming Italy’s Prime Minister, or Janet Yellen’s equally small step from Fed Chair to U.S. Treasury Secretary. Here in France, it’s equally no coincidence that Christine Lagarde has moved from directing the IMF to presiding over the ECB. In short: Everything, including money, is politically-self-serving rather than economically free-market. Capitalism is dead. The folks in office to “save you” are mostly interested in saving their positions and guarding their power. No shocker there. Yellen: Bold or Just Demented? And as for Yellen, well…she is certainly a political beast and a fearless devotee of Keynesians gone wild, but she’s also a clever fox guarding the henhouse of that once trusted currency known as the USD and that once respected IOU known as the UST. Unfortunately, even foxes get trapped. Inviting Foreign Capital into a Burning Market As extreme over-valuation in risk assets (i.e., stocks, bonds and property) have become so openly undeniable, and as faith in an increasingly expanded (i.e., debased/discredited) USD has become openly weaker, the folks behind the USD (i.e., Janet Yellen) are trapped. They will now use all their political tricks and centralized powers to buy more time and postpone the debt, currency, social and political crisis which they alone spawned many years before COVID or Putin became the scapegoats de jour for their own monetary and fiscal exigence. Toward this rigged end, Yellen’s latest (and desperate) trick is now a deliberate attempt (via rate hikes) to force the USD index (DXY) up to 110 (or above) in a centralized attempt to bring more foreign (i.e., debased) money into the dangerous arms of an already grotesquely bloated, over-valued, volatile and risk-saturated US stock bubble. In short, in order to “avoid” a U.S. stock market crash (triggered by a Fed tapering into a debt-soaked/crippled market), this former Fed Chair’s solution is to coax more foreign money into a burning U.S. theater with fewer and fewer exit doors (i.e., liquidity). How’s that for clever? How’s that for desperate? Yellen is effectively politicizing the USD in order to force/cajole/entice foreign capital into crappy US securities (and out of safer global commodities) in order to provisionally save Uncle Sam’s market bubble from an inevitable implosion at the expense of other people’s money. When will central bankers realize that they can’t keep a market bubble alive forever to save their political rear-ends? And folks, compared to the dot.com disaster of 2000 or the sub-prime GFC of 2008, does this current market not look like a bit of a (Fed-engineered) bubble to you? Desperate Not Stupid? But again, politicized central bankers may be corrupt, dishonest, and desperate, but that doesn’t make them stupid. In a world or self-interest, Yellen, who likely smiled as the Yen tanked in recent weeks, knows that an artificially strong USD can still be perceived as the best horse in the global glue factory. That is, the Greenback can still attract foreign money into US markets with no better place left to hide, right? Well, not really. Yellen’s History of Getting It Wrong In fact, Yellen has a long history of getting the macros dead wrong in an effort to look momentarily and politically effective. Throughout 2017, for example, as the Fed was announcing QT for 2018, I was warning investors of a $1.8T bond wave and a late 2018 tantrum in risk assets, which hit the shores right on cue by Christmas. Yellen, however, said QT in 2018 would be like “watching paint dry.” By Christmas, however, the paint was as wet as the tears on investor portfolios suffering daily swings of 10%. In June of 2017, Yellen was also bold (blind?) enough to publicly declare that “we may never see another financial crisis in our lifetimes.” But by March of 2020, the markets lost greater than 30% and would have fallen twice as much had not the Fed printed more money in 1 year than in the past decade+ combined. How’s that for QE steroids? But as of 2022, Yellen is now running out of intellectual, monetary and policy bullets. If she thinks she can bribe foreign money into the S&P by manipulating the USD or DXY (temporarily bad for gold), she might be suffering from a disease which is apparently now common in DC, namely: open dementia. Back to (Debt) Reality Yellen, it seems, still thinks the old world and old ways can save Uncle Sam. But that world (see Japan below) is gone. The hard reality boils down to this: Uncle Sam is not trusted anymore, for so many reasons, including a debt to GDP ratio of 125%, a federal deficit at 10% of GDP and a new world in which foreign central banks are now buying only 5% of Uncle Sam’s unloved IOU’s (as opposed to 50% when Yellen was at the Fed in 2013). Thus, we can applaud Yellen’s bold statements and efforts to bring the DXY to 110+, but an increasingly tapped out and disenchanted world is tiring of bold statements followed by weakening economies, rising inflation and distrusted currencies. Expect a Pivot As I see it, the classic hawk-to-dove pivot seen in 2018 to 2019 will be repeated in 2022-23 as the current Fed makes minor (yet painful) rate hike and Treasury sales (i.e., QT) which will send debt-soaked markets south. This QT effort (and subsequently tanking market) will likely be followed abruptly by more QE and hence more inflationary tailwinds, which despite central bankers publicly claiming to “combat” inflation, is privately desired to inflate away portions of Uncle Sam’s debt while clobbering his nieces and nephews on Main Street with an invisible CPI tax. Of course, once the QE spigots re-open and DXY numbers fall, gold will continue its climb North. Meanwhile, More Warning Signs from a Stressed-Out Bond Market If the dementia exhibited by Yellen and the USD weren’t sad enough, we now turn to the most important indicator in the global markets: The crippled and toxic U.S. bond market. As we’ve been warning for years, Uncle Sam’s bar tab is too embarrassing to hide and hence his IOUs are too unloved to buy or trust, a distrust made all the worse by the recent freezing of Russian FX Reserves. And in case you haven’t noticed, there has been a bit of a media-ignored “problem” in the UST market. In May, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported over $500B in April Treasury “fails,” which is fancy-lad speak for counterparties failing to meat their security purchase and sale obligations. It is particularly alarming to see broad sell-offs in stocks at the same time that US Treasuries are not being bid at auction or successfully/contractually delivered to counterparties. Why these UST fails in the world’s largest and most liquid bond market were not front-page news at the WSJ or FT frankly astounds me. Who runs their editorial boards??? Turning Japanese In my separate reports, I reminded investors of the parallel fates of Japanese and US central bank policies and government bonds. To be clear, there are real differences between JGB’s and UST’s, just as there are clear differences between the Japanese and US markets and economies. Too much to unpack here. What is similar, however, is the corner in which US and Japanese central banks have placed their respectively broken bond and rate markets—markets which have immense implications for (and impact on) economic conditions, stock markets and inflation. Like the U.S., Japan is terrified of falling bonds, rising bond yields and hence peaking interest rates. To keep these yields repressed, Japan is forced to print Yen to buy its own JGB’s (sovereign debt), as bond prices move inversely to bond yields. This printing in Tokyo has devalued the Yen in ways similar policies out of DC will devalue the USD. The level of inflationary, currency-destroying money creation (QE) out of Japan is becoming, well: Insane. Japan may have to spend (i.e., print) as much as $100B/month to keep yields in control. The U.S. Fed faces a similar and inevitable corner, and hence a similar trajectory toward Yield Curve Control (YCC) and debased currency strength, as I’ve warned previously. But of even more immediate concern to Uncle Sam is not Japan’s thinning Yen, fattening bar tabs or a QE addiction akin to his own, but the fact that Japan, a key buyer of Uncle Sam’s IOU’s, is now too tapped out to cover two bar tabs at the same time. In short, Japan can’t afford Uncle Sam’s UST’s, despite Uncle Sam having previously relied on Japan to help keep $1.3T of his bonds (and bond market) afloat: The U.S. Bond Market: Stressed Out But a Yen-strapped Japan will soon be buying less U.S. Treasuries. The recent sell-off in long-dated U.S. Treasuries is evidence that Uncle Sam’s bond market is even less loved and hence in deeper trouble. Looking down the long and winding road ahead, this means Uncle Sam will need Uncle Fed to “fill the bond gap” by printing more money (hence the QT to QE pivot ahead) to buy his own debt, which just creates massive inflationary (and hence gold) tailwinds. Such signals from the US Treasury market, combined with my recent reports on the deteriorating investment grade (IG) bond market are extremely alarming. If we also add the distress signals coming from high-yield (HY) bonds to the pains now open and clear in the UST and IG markets, what we see is a collective U.S. bond market teetering toward a macro disaster whose current setting is the worst I’ve seen in my own career. HY bond issuance in the US has effectively slowed to a trickle in recent weeks. As a class, US bonds (UST, IG and HY) are falling, which, to repeat, means I see no realistic, longer-term option at the Fed other than more QE, more liquidity, more inflation and more currency debasement, despite even Yellen’s short-term efforts (above) to temporality send the DXY to 110+ this summer. Keep It Simple: History & Math In the end, of course, all bubbles pop, and the current “everything bubble” is an open insult to natural markets, real capitalism, real money and the necessary constructive destruction of mis-managed debt levels, all of which resulted from years of capitalism’s death and central bank drunk driving the likes of which history has never witnessed. Ultimately, even more QE or “liquidity” can’t save topping asset bubbles from both popping and mean-reverting, which mathematically looks like this: …as well as currency destruction, which historically looks like this: That’s why tracking bond markets, central banks, yield spreads and stock valuations can be helpful and interesting, but understanding history (and debt) is even more so: All rigged, debt-soaked, currency-debased systems fail. All of them. Every one of them. Timing market tipping points and speculating upon central bank policies has its imperfect role and place, but in the end, history (and gold) always gets the last say (and laugh) at politicized financial systems and a “capitalist” economy as openly broke (and broken) as the one empirically described above. Tyler Durden Sun, 06/19/2022 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 19th, 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

Stocks & Bonds Spike As Growth/Stagflation Scares Soar

Stocks & Bonds Spike As Growth/Stagflation Scares Soar Target was trounced on its inventory "glut" debacle as the bullwhip effect is in full effect... but dip-buyers stepped in (or share-buyback-ers) and put some lipstick on that pig (a pig that is the canary in the coalmine - to mix metaphors - for the rest of the US economy, over-stuffed and under-consumed) 0930ET - the US equity market cash open - was once again an incredibly bullish event as the slow drip of overnight weakness was immediately flipped into a buying-panic that paused briefly around the European close and then re-acclerated to drag the S&P and Nasdaq up 1%, Small Caps +1.5%... Today's ramp dragged the S&P and Dow back to unchanged from the pre-payrolls level right before Friday's plunge The correlation regime between stocks and bonds has flipped once again with bond and stock prices rising together today as the impact of rate-locks (due to a heavy IG calendar) are shrugged off)... Source: Bloomberg Treasuries were bid across the curve today (except the short-end), erasing much of yesterday's rate-lock surge in yields (2Y +1.5bps, 30Y -7bps)... Source: Bloomberg 10Y rallied back below 3.00% today, finding support (in yields) at th epeak of the post-payrolls spike from Friday... Source: Bloomberg Today's moves in bond-land flattened the yield curve dramatically... Source: Bloomberg Rate-hike expectations were very modestly lower today Source: Bloomberg The dollar reversed overnight gains as the US equity market opened and ended the day lower against its fiat peers... Source: Bloomberg It's been a wild ride from crypto this week. Bitcoin ended the day only modestly lower but managed to scramble back from its death-free-fall overnight in Asia trading, back up near $31,500... Source: Bloomberg Gold rallied back above $1850 today... Oil prices surged again with WTI topping $120 ahead of tonight's API inventory data... Are we near the end of this epic rally? With a blow-off-top sparking real demand destruction next? CHART OF THE DAY: Play long enough with a left-and-right y-axis double scale, and one can fit two charts and show a strong correlation. In this case, however, there's a single scale (right), and the correlation is scary: Brent market in 2007-to-2009, and in 2021-to-date | #OOTT pic.twitter.com/IgjEe3Exy8 — Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) June 7, 2022 Finally, today was a great day for buying stocks - The World Bank downgraded global economic growth and warned of staglfationary pressures building.. (ya think!)... Source: Bloomberg And The Atlanta Fed downgraded US economic growth to 0.9% and stagflationary threats are screaming... Source: Bloomberg As US financial conditions have eased in the last two weeks, we wonder - like Nomura's Charlie McElligott - if The Fed will once again jawbone the aggressive inflation-fighting hawkishness and tighten conditions once again... Get back to work Mr.Powell (though we are not exactly sure wtf you're gonna do now!) Tyler Durden Tue, 06/07/2022 - 16:01.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 7th, 2022

Futures Slide As Sell-The-Rippers Emerge, Encouraged By Target"s Dismal Update

Futures Slide As Sell-The-Rippers Emerge, Encouraged By Target's Dismal Update It was a relatively quiet session for stocks with futures trading modestly lower overnight as yields eased their Monday surge and when the biggest news was Australia's unexpected 50bps rate hike (double consensus) before all hell broke loose at 7am, when Target cut guidance for the second time in two weeks due to the infamous bullwhip effect we had warned about just a few weeks ago, sending TGT stock crashing more than 9% and encouraging the cold risk-off wind that pushed S&P futures 0.8% lower to session lows around 4,080... ... while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1% as Treasury yields hovered around 3.05%, their highest in nearly a month. Europe's Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped as telecom and technology stocks weighed. In the premarket, shares of Target tumbled as much as 10% after the retailer cut its profit outlook for the second time in three weeks amid an inventory surplus. The news sent retailers such as Walmart and Costco also sliding premarket; WMT was down as much as 4.3% ahead of the bell, COST -2.9%, Kroger -1.3%, Macy’s -3%. Among other notable movers, cryptocurrency-exposed stocks tumbled in premarket trading as Bitcoin slid back below $30,000. Meanwhile Kohl’s shares rose 12% in premarket trading as the company holds exclusive talks with Franchise Group regarding a deal that would value the retail chain at about $8 billion. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks decline in premarket trading as Bitcoin slides back below $30,000, with another attempt at upward momentum losing traction amid risk-off markets. Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -5%, Marathon Digital (MARA US) -3.7%. Kohl’s (KSS US) shares jump 12% in US premarket trading as the company holds exclusive talks with Franchise Group regarding a deal that would value the retail chain at about $8 billion. Peloton’s (PTON US) shares rose 1.4% in US after-hours trading on Monday. Former vice president of Amazon Web Services Liz Coddingtonis “well-positioned” to help Peloton in its next stage of growing subscribers, Citi says, after the exercise machine maker appointed Coddington CFO. Gitlab (GTLB US) shares rose 9.8% in postmarket trading on Monday after the software company’s first-quarter report. HealthEquity (HQY US) shares climbed 5.8% in postmarket Monday. It boosted its revenue guidance for the full year as its results beat the average analyst estimate in what RBC analyst Sean Dodgesaid could be the start of a years-long upside driven by rising interest rates. ProFrac (PFHC US) shares could be active after analysts initiated coverage of oil services firm with three overweight ratings and one buy, with both Piper Sandler and Morgan Stanley positive on the company’s valuation and vertical business model. Veru Inc. (VERU US) gained 2.8% in postmarket trading after Tang Capital Partners LPdisclosed a 5.2% passive stake in the firm. On Monday, investors once again sold the rip, showing their reluctance to take on risk amid fears policy to subdue inflation will go overboard and kill off economic recoveries, rather than cooling off price pressures in a so-called soft landing. “This debate around ‘are we going to see a recession, are we going to see a soft landing?’ -- that’s really keeping markets relatively range bound,” Laura Cooper, a senior investment strategist at BlackRock Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We likely need to see a dovish pivot from policymakers to really have conviction that we’re going to a sustained rally in equities." Rising bond yields are adding to worries about risks to economic growth as central banks ratchet up policy tightening. US benchmark Treasury yields stabilized near 3%, a psychological threshold that may burden new supply due this week before crucial inflation data. “The combo of declining growth, rising rates and falling liquidity is pretty ugly for equities,” said James Athey, investment director at abrdn. “Reluctant as investors in those market are to admit, the outlook for multiples and earnings isn’t great and is probably getting worse.” Meanwhile, Friday's CPI reading for May will be crucial for clues on the Federal Reserve’s pace of monetary tightening, especially the clothing and apparel component where we expect prices to plunge amid the inventory liquidation. Strong hiring data last week already cleared the way for the central bank to remain aggressive in its fight against inflation by raising interest rates. Higher rates particularly hurt growth sectors that are valued on future profits, like tech.  In Europe, the benchmark Stoxx 600 Index also resumed losses on Tuesday led by drops of more than 1% in technology and travel shares. European equities traded poorly with several indexes giving back over half of Monday’s gains. Euro Stoxx 50 drops as much as 0.8%, cash DAX underperforming at the margin. Tech, retail and telecoms are the weakest Stoxx 600 sectors. FTSE 100 trades flat.  The European Central Bank on Thursday is set to end trillions of euros of asset purchases and cement a path to exiting eight years of negative interest rates. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined with chipmakers coming under pressure as traders reassessed the outlook for demand, offsetting Japan’s boost from a weak yen. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 1.2%, with TSMC and Samsung Electronics the biggest drags. Most sectors traded lower, while some Chinese internet giants and Japanese automakers were among the notable gainers. Tech hardware stocks fell as worries about demand for handsets and other gadgets outweighed hopes for a recovery in China on the easing of Covid lockdowns. South Korean equities dropped as the market reopened after a holiday, while shares in Australia slumped after the Reserve Bank of Australia blindsided the market with an outsized hike to combat rising costs. The RBA responded to price pressures with its biggest rate increase in 22 years -- predicted by just three of 29 economists -- and indicated it remained committed to “doing what is necessary” to rein in inflationary pressures. There are persistent worries about demand for semiconductors as the market consensus is that a demand slowdown for handsets and other consumer electronics is highly likely,” said Lee Jinwoo, chief strategist at Meritz Securities in Seoul. Most Chinese tech stocks finished lower in volatile trading after climbing Monday following a report that regulators are concluding their investigation of transport firm Didi. Japanese shares rose as the yen weakened to its lowest level in two decades, boosting exporters such as Toyota and Honda. Read: Yen Slides to Two-Decade Low, Reigniting Focus on Intervention Asian stocks are down in June after posting their first monthly gain in five months in May. Traders will be assessing the inflation and growth outlook ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week while monitoring the state of Covid restrictions in China.  “Stock market valuations have de-rated quite significantly and from our perspective, there is a lot of the bad news largely in the price. Possibly there’s more to go,” Chetan Seth, Asia Pacific equity strategist at Nomura Holdings said at a conference in Singapore In FX, Bloomberg dollar spot rises as much as 0.4% and the dollar was steady or higher against all of its Group-of-10 peers; NOK is the weakest G-10 performer. JPY softness extends, briefly trading at 133/USD. The yen extended its slump to a fresh 20- year low near 132.60/USD as BOJ’s Kuroda continued to emphasize persistent easing commitment. Senior Japanese government officials said they were closely watching currency markets with a sense of urgency Tuesday as they returned to a heightened state of alert following a renewed slide in the yen to fresh two-decade lows. The dollar’s steep rally to the 133 handle versus the yen and the Australian central bank’s biggest rate hike in 22 years make the case for long-volatility exposure in the major currencies and traders follow suit. The pound fell to an almost three-week low versus the greenback before paring losses to trade around $1.25. The gilt yield curve bull flattened. The euro was little changed, trading around $1.07. Bunds and European bonds reversed opening losses even as wagers earlier crossed half the way toward calling a historic half-point. In rates, treasuries swung from losses to gains, sending yields as much as 3bps lower as the yield curve flattened. Treasury futures rose led led by the long-end amid weakness in European stocks and S&P 500 futures.Bloomberg notes that gains were helped by block trade in 10-year note futures as cash yield eases back toward 3%. US yields were richer by nearly 3bp across long-end of the curve, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s by ~1bp; 10-year, down ~2bp to 3.02%, outperforms bunds slightly, while gilt is little changed. German bunds outperform, richening ~3bps from the 5y point out, gilts are relatively quiet. Peripheral spreads are slightly tighter to core, semi-core widens a touch. Australian bond yields soared and the Aussie briefly reversed a loss after the central bank surprised investors by raising its cash rate by 50 basis points -- the biggest increase in 22 years -- to 0.85%, a result predicted by just three of 29 economists. It also committed itself to “doing what is necessary” to rein in inflationary pressures. In commodities, crude futures drift higher with WTI near $120 and Brent back around $122. Spot gold adds ~$6 to near $1,847/oz. Base metals are in the red with LME nickel down over 3%. Bitcoin is pressured and back below the USD 30k mark and incrementally below last week's trough of USD 29.04k. Looking to the day ahead now, and data releases include German factory orders for April, the final UK services and composite PMI for May, as well as the US trade balance and consumer credit for April. Otherwise central bank speakers include the ECB’s Wunsch. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 4,106.00 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.4% to 442.31 MXAP down 0.9% to 167.50 MXAPJ down 1.1% to 552.94 Nikkei up 0.1% to 27,943.95 Topix up 0.4% to 1,947.03 Hang Seng Index down 0.6% to 21,531.67 Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3,241.76 Sensex down 1.2% to 55,018.56 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.5% to 7,095.74 Kospi down 1.7% to 2,626.34 Brent Futures up 0.3% to $119.88/bbl Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,843.79 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.10% to 102.54 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.30% Euro little changed at $1.0694 Top Overnight News The ECB will begin a new era of monetary policy this week as officials complete their pivot to confront the threat of inflation running out of control. Armed with new forecasts and with prices rising at a record pace, President Christine Lagarde and her colleagues will end trillions of euros of asset purchases and cement a path to exiting eight years of negative interest rates The yen has tumbled to a two-decade low against the dollar, caught in the crossfire between the two wildly different monetary policy regimes in Japan and the US. The Bank of Japan is pinning interest rates to zero in a bid to boost a sputtering economy and spur price growth, while the Federal Reserve is hiking furiously to beat back raging inflation Investors from Tokyo to New York are betting on further weakness in Japan’s currency, which is already wallowing at a two-decade low against the greenback Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda walked back some of his comments that consumers are now more willing to accept higher prices after criticism on social media and a grilling in parliament A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously amid recent upside in yields and ahead of upcoming risk events. ASX 200 declined with losses exacerbated after the RBA delivered a larger-than-expected rate hike. Nikkei 225 swung between gains and losses although a weak JPY boosted the index above 28k. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were varied as the mainland was kept afloat by reopening optimism and with Hong Kong subdued by property names, although tech benefitted from hopes Beijing may be easing its crackdown on the sector with China reportedly to conclude the cybersecurity probe into certain companies. Top Asian News China's Tianjin city reopened all subway stations that were closed due to COVID, while Shanghai Port's daily volume rose to 95% of the normal level, according to local press. Labor Advisory Committee urged US President Biden to extend China tariffs, according to Axios. Japan set up a team to monitor land sales near bases and nuclear plants or on strategically located islands under a new law designed to prevent hostile foreigners from affecting national security, according to Nikkei. RBA hiked rates by 50bps to 0.85% (exp. 25bps increase) and said inflation in Australia has increased significantly, while it is committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that inflation in Australia returns to the target over time. RBA added that inflation is likely to be higher than was expected a month ago and the Board expects to take further steps in normalising monetary conditions over the months ahead with the size and timing of future interest rate increases to be guided by the incoming data and the assessment of the outlook for inflation and the labour market. Furthermore, it noted the Australian Economy is resilient although one source of uncertainty about the economic outlook is how household spending evolves, given the increasing pressure on Australian households' budgets from higher inflation. Japan's Economy Minister Yamagiwa says they are closely watching any impact of FX movements on the economy, wants to refrain from commenting on FX levels, via Reuters. European bourses are modestly pressured, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.9% , with newsflow relatively limited once more and participants looking ahead to the week's risks events. Stateside, performance is in-fitting with this directionally, though marginally more contained in terms of magnitudes, with a limited US docket ahead; ES -0.5%. EU lawmakers have come to an agreement on a single mobile charging point, via Reuters; will be USB-C by fall-2024. Top European News UK PM Johnson won the confidence vote, as expected, with total votes at 211 vs 148, according to Reuters. However, the Telegraph highlights that Johnson is not "out of the woods yet" given that he has lost the support of so many backbenchers. UK PM Johnson said he is grateful for colleagues' support and that they need to come together as a party now. PM Johnson added that they can now focus on what they are doing to help people in the country and have a chance to continue strengthening the economy, while he responded that is certainly not interested when asked about a snap election, according to Reuters. Subsequently, the 1922 Committee is, according to the understanding of UK MP Ellwood, looking at altering party rules to allow another no-confidence vote within a one-year period, via Sky's Degenhardt. Barclaycard UK May consumer spending rose 9.3% Y/Y, which reflected the rising cost of living and base effects, according to Reuters. FX Dollar takes time out after rallying further on yield factors and frailty of others, DXY midway between 102.830-450 range. Yen continues to underperform on rate and relative BoJ policy dynamics, with Franc also feeling the heat from SNB vs Fed, ECB etc policy divergence; USD/JPY touches 133.00 before easing back, USD/CHF tops 0.9675 and EUR/CHF crosses 1.0400. Kiwi hit by abrupt turnaround in AUD/NZD tide after RBA exceeded market expectations with a 50bp hike compounded by hawkish guidance; NZD/USD sub-0.6500 around 0.6450, AUD/NZD above 1.1100 and AUD/USD within sight of 0.7200. Sterling volatile after PM Johnson wins confidence vote, but significant minority of Conservative Party want him out; Cable choppy either side of 1.2500 and EUR/GBP whipsaws around 0.8550. Loonie softer with oil ahead of Canadian trade data and Ivey PMIs, USD/CAD near 1.2600 after probe beyond round number. Lira continues to slide after Turkish President Erdogan repeats intention to keep cutting rates irrespective of ongoing rise in inflation, USD/TRY tests 14.7500. Fixed Income Firm bounce in bonds following extension of bear run to new cycle lows. Bunds lead the way in core debt circles with a near full point recovery to 149.80, while BTPs remain to the fore at the margins between 121.27-122.86 bounds. Gilts flat after falling short of 115.00 before solid 2025 DMO auction, T-note a tad firmer and curve flatter for choice ahead of 3 year sale. Commodities Crude benchmarks have waned from initial upside stemming from bullish bank commentary amid a broader easing in risk sentiment. Thus far, WTI and Brent have been as low as USD 117.76/bbl and USD 118.62/bbl respectively, circa. USD 2.00/bbl from initial highs. Goldman Sachs hiked its Q3 Brent oil forecast to USD 140/bbl from USD 125/bbl and increased its Q4 forecast to USD 130/bbl from USD 125/bbl. Morgan Stanley's base case view is for Brent to reach USD 130/bbl during Q3 with an upside to the bull case estimate of USD 150/bbl. Spot gold languished near the prior day's lows amid a firmer greenback. JPMorgan continues to see gold trading softer towards USD 1,800/oz in Q3 2022 on an expected rebound in investor risk sentiment and continued push higher in US yields. Spot gold is firmer but capped by USD 1850/oz, which now coincides with its 10-DMA, after losing the level late on Monday; base metals are generally pressured, amid risk aversion and following yesterday's price action. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Revisions: Trade Balance 8:30am: April Trade Balance, est. -$89.5b, prior -$109.8b 3pm: April Consumer Credit, est. $35b, prior $52.4b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Yesterday I published the 24th Annual Default Study. While nothing much will change for the remainder of 2022, we think we might be coming to the end of the ultra-low default world we’ve discussed so much in previous editions. First, we will likely have a cyclical US recession to address in 2023, and after that, a risk of the reversal of trends that have made the last 20 years so subdued for defaults. We see US HY defaults peaking at just over 10% in 2024 with Europe just under 7% helped by a higher BB weighting. After that we see many of the trends of the last couple of decades reversing, helping to leave the ultra-low default era behind. You can read all about this in the note but these factors include: higher structural inflation, less ability for central banks to be as aggressive across all fixed income - they will be forced to pick their battles (eg Peripherals), less global FX reserve accumulation, a turn up in the free float of global government bonds, higher term premium, a structural fall from peak corporate profits, and shorter gaps between recessions. None of this need be a disaster just a change in the long-term trend. Clearly our view relies a lot on inflation being sticky and helping set off a 2023 recession and then remaining sticky after this, and thus changing the landscape of the last 20 years. If we’re wrong on both, the ultra-low default world will survive. See the report here. The biggest story yesterday was a surge in yields but before we get there, a big curiousity to those of us in the UK, albeit with very limited implications for global markets, was the confidence vote last night for Prime Minister Boris Johnson from within his own party. That came after the threshold of 15% of his own MPs called for a vote, and the final result saw him win by just 211-148, meaning that 41% of his own party’s MPs voted against him. For reference, that’s more than the 37% of MPs who voted against his predecessor Theresa May in a similar vote in December 2018, and it was only 5 months later that she announced her resignation after failing to deliver Brexit and witnessing a dramatic turn in the Conservatives’ poll ratings. The next big hurdle for Johnson will likely be two by-elections on June 23rd, one of which is in a “Red Wall” seat that the Conservatives gained off Labour for the first time in decades to win their majority at the last election, whilst the other is in a traditionally safe Devon seat for the Conservatives but where the bookmakers have the Liberal Democrats as the favourite to win. So bad showings in those two would keep questions about Johnson’s leadership in the headlines and further intensify the pressure on him. In theory the Conservative leadership rules give him another year before a repeat confidence vote can happen, but history tells us that once this process gets set in motion it is incredibly difficult to reverse the negative momentum, and both Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher resigned well within a year even though they also won a majority of their own MPs at the confidence vote. Sterling actually climbed around +0.5% in the morning as the vote was officially triggered before giving back half these gains as the day progressed. However even after the surprise result at 9pm last night Sterling didn't move, and this morning it’s just -0.09% lower, trading at 1.252 against the US dollar. Back to the main event, which was the global rates sell-off, where 10yr Treasury yields poked back up above 3% for the first time in nearly a month, whilst European yields hit fresh multi-year highs of their own ahead of this Thursday’s ECB meeting. There’ve been a couple of catalysts behind those moves higher, but a key one over the last week and a half has been the perception that near-term recession risks (at least in 2022) are fading back again, which in turn is set to give central banks the space to continue hiking rates and thus take bond yields higher. On top of that, the fact that recent inflation data has proven stickier than expected has also pushed yields higher, and investors are eagerly awaiting to see if we get another upside surprise from the US CPI reading out on Friday. All-in-all, those moves sent the 10yr Treasury yield up by +10.3bps yesterday to 3.04%, with a rise in real yields of +8.3bps behind the bulk of the move. That came as investors dialled back up their bets on Fed tightening over the rest of the year, with the implied rate by the December FOMC meeting at a 1-month high of 2.85%, whilst the rate priced in by the Feb-2023 meeting went back above 3% for the first time in a month as well. But it was in Europe where there were even more significant milestones, with the amount of ECB rate hikes priced in by December exceeding 125bps for the first time, meaning that markets are fully pricing in at least one 50bp hike by year-end, assuming the ECB begins liftoff at the July meeting. That prospect of a 50bp hike from the ECB sent yields on 10yr bunds up +4.9bps to 1.32%, which is their highest level since mid-2014, whilst the German 2yr yield (+3.0bps) hit its highest level since 2011. It was a similar picture elsewhere on the continent, with yields on 10yr OATs (+4.1bps) at a post-2014 high, and those on 10yr BTPs (+1.3bps) at a post-2018 high. Gilts underperformed however, with 10yr yields up +9.2bps as investors moved to price in at least one 50bp hike from the BoE by year-end. Those moves have gained further momentum overnight after the Reserve Bank of Australia hiked rates by a larger-than-expected 50bps, helping 10yr Treasury yields to rise a further +1.9bps this morning to hit 3.06%. Their statement also pointed to further tightening ahead, and said that they expect “to take further steps in the process of normalizing monetary conditions in Australia over the months ahead”, and that they were “committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that inflation in Australia returns to target over time.” Unsurprisingly, the Australian dollar is also the top-performing G10 currency this morning, up +0.50% against the US Dollar. The strong rise in bond yields wasn’t enough to stop equities from posting a decent start to the week, although they did pare back their initial gains following the US open. By the close, the S&P 500 (+0.31%) had held onto a broad-based advance, with 8 of 11 sectors advancing, even after paring back gains as high as +1.5% in the morning. Tech stocks fared slightly better than the broader index, with the NASDAQ gaining +0.40%. The clearest split was between mega- and small-cap shares, as mega-cap shares were clear outperformers as the FANG+ Index ended the day +1.68% higher while the small-cap Russell 2000 (+0.36%) lagged behind. It was much the same story in Europe too, where the STOXX 600 (+0.92%), the DAX (+1.34%) and the CAC 40 (+0.98%) all moved higher as well. Whilst equities were making further gains, there wasn’t much respite on the inflation side since commodities continued their advance, with Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (+1.86%) hitting a fresh record on the back of the latest moves. Admittedly, Brent Crude (-0.18%) and WTI (-0.31%) oil prices fell back slightly, and we also saw European natural gas prices (-1.75%) fall to their lowest levels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. But US natural gas prices surged another +8.37% to a fresh post-2008 high, whilst agricultural goods also saw some serious movements, with futures on corn (+2.13%), wheat (+5.10%) and sugar (+1.40%) all rising on the day. This morning we’ve seen even further momentum behind commodity prices, with Brent crude moving back above the $120/bbl mark thanks to a +0.69% gain. Overnight in Asia, equity markets have put in a pretty mixed performance as they grappled with that monetary tightening mentioned above. The Nikkei (+0.51%), the CSI 300 (+0.65%) and the Shanghai Comp (+0.48%) have all moved higher, but the Hang Seng (-0.12%) has posted a marginal decline and the Kospi (-1.37%) has lost significant ground. Meanwhile in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 has deepened its loses since the RBA’s hawkish decision, and is currently down -1.63%, whilst futures in the US are also pointing lower, with those on the S&P 500 down -0.59% this morning. On the FX side, we’ve also seen the Japanese Yen fall to a 20-year low against the US Dollar of 131.88 by the close yesterday, and this morning it’s lost further ground to hit 132.86. That comes as the BoJ stands out among its global peers in not tightening policy, which is leading to a widening interest rate differential as other central banks continue hiking. Finally we started on credit so let's end there too before the day ahead preview. Our colleagues in the European Leveraged Finance Research team have just published their quarterly top trade ideas. You can find the report here. To the day ahead now, and data releases include German factory orders for April, the final UK services and composite PMI for May, as well as the US trade balance and consumer credit for April. Otherwise central bank speakers include the ECB’s Wunsch. Tyler Durden Tue, 06/07/2022 - 08:03.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 7th, 2022

Too Soon To Buy The Dip, Unless It"s Commodities...

Too Soon To Buy The Dip, Unless It's Commodities... Authored by Kevin Smith and Tavi Costa via Crescat Capital, The valuation of the Wilshire 5000 US Total Stock Market Index reached a historic high of 207% of GDP in 2021 in the wake of the Covid-19 stimulus and record corporate earnings. We are now entering what in Crescat’s analysis is an inflationary recession. The index is off 15% from its all-time highs but still trading at 187% of GDP. During comparable stagflations of the early 1970s and 1980s, the associated equity bear markets did not end until the total stock market capitalization traded down to an average of 35% of GDP. Even if nominal GDP were to grow a full 20% over the next two years, not out of reason in today’s historically high inflationary environment, there is the potential for a further 78% decline in stock prices from current levels to settle at the low multiples of the last stagflationary era. While the market could bottom at higher multiples this time around, we must acknowledge the downside risk if we are indeed in just the early stages of new stagflationary regime. Similarly, the popular NASDAQ 100 Index is already 23% off its highs, but it is still trading at lofty valuation multiples with price to book and enterprise value to sales multiples of 6.7 and 4.2 respectively. If we look at comparable bear market regimes, there is still substantial downside risk for this large cap tech index. For instance, after the tech bust in October 2002, the NASDAQ 100 bottomed with a price to book value of 2.7 and an enterprise value to sales ratio of 2.1. And, during the Global Financial Crisis, in March 2009, the index bottomed with multiples of 2.5 and 1.3 respectively. Conservatively, if we assume flat sales and earnings over the next one to two years during a probable recession, there is another 50% to 69% downside risk. Sure, the market may bottom at higher valuations, but this is the eyes-wide-open risk based on math and history. The Great Rotation Despite the downside risk in the market at large, it is extremely important to note that there is tremendous value, medium-term growth, and upside appreciation potential in a narrow segment of the stock market today: commodity producers. It is still very early, in our analysis, in the rotation cycle out of overvalued growth equites and low yielding fixed income securities and into commodities. It is just like early 1973 and early 2001 in our view the three charts below help make evident: It is important to emphasize that we remain short a variety of industries and individually picked equities driven by Crescat’s Equity Quant Model in our Global Macro and Long/Short hedge funds at the same time as we are long a variety of commodity related explorers and producers. It is All About the CAPEX Cycle The macro case for inflation being around at a higher rate for longer and contributing to a further bear market in financial assets is based first and foremost on structural commodity supply shortages today. There has been a multi-year declining investment trend in capital expenditures of commodity producers necessary to boost output. This is in large part the result of a policy error based on an aggressive green agenda that has lacked the foresight and coordination with industry for a viable clean energy transition. Instead of cooperating with companies that produce critical commodities necessary for food, energy, and basic materials, environmental, social and government policy makers have attacked these industries. The onslaught has translated into a multi-year declining trend of investment in these critical sectors of the economy despite ongoing global population growth and inelastic demand for the resources they produce. These industries have long lead times, so output cannot be ramped up without years of increased investment. As a result, the world now faces a commodity supply cliff and likely parabolic increase in energy and food prices. As the three charts below illustrate, the underinvestment in commodities has been a slow-motion train wreck. In our view, it will lead to crippling stagflation over the medium term, and it is only the beginning. The value and fundamental medium-term growth opportunity in commodity stocks in contrast to the market at large is illustrated in the following three charts: The Fed is Trapped The Fed’s main policy tool for fighting inflation is to hike interest rates. This reduces the demand side of the economy by tightening credit conditions and causing financial asset prices to decline which crimps investor savings and consumer demand and increases unemployment. But raising interest rates does not stimulate commodity supplies, the core inflationary problem today. In fact, raising interest rates could have the opposite effect because it makes the cost of capital for investment in new commodity production higher. After years of money printing and interest rate suppression, policy makers have created a historic speculative environment in financial assets. But now, the inflation genie is out of the bottle, and to restore its credibility, the Fed has no choice but to burst the bubble. At the same time, it is powerless to stop commodity inflation. To illustrate just how trapped the Fed is, it has never ended a hiking cycle with the Fed Funds Rate below CPI. But the implied terminal rate in the Fed Funds Futures market is now just 2.9% in early 2023 while CPI is still at 8.3%. If the efficient market hypothesis holds, which it rarely does, CPI must drop precipitously over the next three quarters. Such is highly unlikely based on our commodity supply analysis shown above. There is a much bigger risk based on our work that inflation stays elevated, and the Fed ends up having to hike more and for longer than is currently priced in, as in all past tightening cycles. Alternatively, there is the risk that the stock market correction continues under the existing planned increases and the Fed panics and ends its hiking cycle for the first time with real rates still in negative territory. In all cases, the market still seems to be in state of delusion today with the average participant still buying the dip in overvalued tech, crypto, and fixed income assets, hoping for a return to those manias, while underestimating the risk of continued high inflation in valuable, scarce, tangible resources. In our analysis, the overwhelming best deep value, high medium-term growth, and high appreciation potential macro investment opportunities in the market today are in commodity exploration and production equities. As a result, we believe smart money investors will increasingly seek both inflation protection and outsized real returns in fundamentally sound businesses that produce valuable scarce resources. Along with energy, base metals, agriculture, and forest products, precious metals miners are where some of the deepest value and appreciation potential lies in the market today. Look at the appreciation potential in junior gold and silver miners relative to gold based on the historical relationship below. Gold and silver miners have had one of the longest declining CAPEX cycles ever setting up a huge macro supply imbalance. Note, the long-term trend has only just begun to turn back up. Crescat’s exploration heavy activist precious metals portfolio has appreciation potential of 27 times in our model compared to where the market is pricing it today, at current metals prices. Our macro call is for substantially higher metals prices. We have been buying gold in the ground for 1 to 2 pennies on the dollar relative to our probability-adjusted discovery target resource estimates. We believe our investments can appreciate multiples based on the average historic returns of companies in the industry that have delivered exploration success. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/02/2022 - 13:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 2nd, 2022

Survey – Only 3 Out Of 10 Retirees Not Worrid About Inflation On Their Savings. 70% Running Out

How worried are you about inflation? ‌You probably have a positive outlook about retiring comfortably if you’re in the majority of Americans. Those are the results of the 32nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research in January, polling 2,677 workers and retirees. Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, […] How worried are you about inflation? ‌You probably have a positive outlook about retiring comfortably if you’re in the majority of Americans. Those are the results of the 32nd annual Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research in January, polling 2,677 workers and retirees. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Even with the concerns of the pandemic and rising prices, overall, American workers and retirees still feel positive about their retirements,” said Craig Copeland, director of wealth benefits research at EBRI. Results of the 2022 survey are nearly unchanged from the 2021 survey, with nearly 7 out of 10 workers reporting they are “somewhat confident” about retirement savings — ‌with nearly one-third reporting they are “very confident.” According to the survey, about 8 out of 10 retirees believe they can survive their golden years comfortably. ‌However, the pandemic ‌dampened optimism for a third of workers and a quarter‌ ‌of‌ ‌retirees. “The Americans who are more likely to feel that their futures appear grim since the pandemic are those who were already pessimistic about their futures, due to lower incomes, problems with debt or lower health status,” said Copeland. It’s not surprising that inflation and rising expenses are workers’ and retirees’ top concerns when it comes to retiring. ‌In‌ ‌fact, according to recent Fidelity data, 71% of Americans are concerned about inflation impacting their retirement readiness. And, for good reason. Why Inflation Has You Worried About Retirement From food to housing, everything is becoming more expensive. ‌A measure of price increases, the Consumer Price Index, rose 8.3% from a year earlier in April 2022. In addition to the findings from Fidelity, Pew Research reports that 70% of Americans ‌see inflation as “a very big problem” for the country. “Meanwhile, some older adults are choosing to put off retiring,” writes Michelle Fox for CNBC. “Thirteen percent of Gen Xers and baby boomers said they’ve postponed or considered delaying plans to leave the workforce because of rising costs, a survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute found.” An unstable stock market could also make those saving for retirement rethink their investment strategies. ‌In addition, higher inflation could erode the value of Social Security checks, pension payments,‌ ‌and‌ ‌401(k)‌ ‌savings. It’s no secret that even in normal times, retirees who are preparing for retirement or who have already retired are concerned‌ ‌about‌ ‌running‌ ‌out‌ ‌of‌ ‌money. Inflation only amplifies those concerns. ‌Regardless of how well people plan, inflation is an uncontrollable variable that makes retirement planning difficult. Quite simply, inflation is the nemesis of fixed incomes. But, there are ways to protect your retirement savings from inflations. How to Fight Back Against Inflation and Make Your Money Last in Retirement Adjust for inflation. Those with steady wages might not feel the effect of inflation when they’re working, notes Cameron Huddleston for GoBanking Rates. ‌As such, inflation might not affect your retirement savings plan. “On average in the USA, we see that the prices of goods and services rise by 3% per year,” said Michael Hardy, a certified financial planner and vice president at Mollot & Hardy in Amherst, New York. “This means that over a 20-year time period, your $100,000 of retirement savings will likely be worth 60% less in terms of buying power 60% less.” For those who failed to factor inflation into their retirement calculations, they may need to spend more than they‌ ‌‌‌estimated “I find that most people fail to account for this change and it ends up costing them dearly years later,” Harday said. Along with saving more to prepare for inflation, delaying your Social Security benefits may also be an option. ‌ When you wait until 70 to claim Social Security, you can maximize your benefits. ‌The Social Security Administration’s cost-of-living adjustment, which is an inflation-adjustment for benefits, will also be applied to your bigger monthly check. “Now a greater proportion of your income will be inflation-adjusted,” said Dave Littell, professor emeritus of taxation at The American College. Keep calm and invest on. The level of inflation is the highest ‌ since the 1980s. ‌Higher inflation rates could quickly drop or be a longer term problem.‌Higher inflation rates could quickly drop or be a longer term problem. “Retirees are in a tough spot,” Darrell Pacheco, a certified financial planner in Charlottesville, Va., who runs a business helping employees make better financial decisions, told NPR. ‌According to him, people are scared by all the attention paid to inflation. “And when it comes to folks and their money, we know that high anxiety usually tends to lead us to make bad decisions,” he says. ‌ For example, panicking and dumping stocks. “Your best hedge against inflation is to remain invested,” Pacheco says. “Period.” Why? ‌Compared to bonds, stocks have a much higher rate of return over time. ‌Although U.S. stocks have fallen some lately, they’re still up over 10% from a year ago and a lot more since then. When it comes to retirement savings and investments, Pacheco says, “stick with your plan.” Are you unsure of whether you‌ ‌invested‌ ‌properly? ‌Investing should consist of a broad mix of investments appropriate for each individual’s age, says Pacheco. ‌Investing in target date funds is one way to make that happen.‌ Investing in target date funds is one way to make that happen. As you age, these may become less risky and can have low fees. “Target date funds are incredible vehicles … one of the best vehicles ever created,” Pacheco explains. “For many investors, that actually is a great all-in-one option.” Other investment options? Treasury inflation-protected securities. They’ll keep up‌ ‌with‌ ‌inflation. ‌ You can also hedge against inflation with real estate, commodities, and precious metals. Adopt a sustainable withdrawal rate mentality. In retirement, the sustainable withdrawal rate reflects the estimated percent of savings that you can withdraw annually‌ ‌without‌ ‌running‌ ‌out‌ ‌of‌ ‌money, explains Fidelity. By looking at history and simulating multiple outcomes, the experts at Fidelity came to the following conclusion. ‌Ideally, you should withdraw no more than 4% to 5% of your savings in the first year of retirement, and then adjust the amount every year for inflation. This should help to ensure that you are able to cover a consistent amount of expenses in retirement (i.e., it should work 90% of the time). It’s possible for your situation to differ. ‌ If you plan to travel extensively in retirement, you might withdraw more when you are young, and less when you are older. ‌In addition, there are factors outside of your control, such as how long you live, inflation, and the long-term return on ‌ ‌markets. However, this 4%-to-5% range can serve as a handy guideline when‌ ‌planning. Here’s‌ ‌a‌ ‌hypothetical‌ ‌example. ‌A 67-year-old man retires with $500,000 in retirement funds. ‌Each year, he withdraws 4%, or $20,000. ‌As he plans to withdraw an equivalent amount of inflation-adjusted savings over the remainder of his retirement, this $20,000 sets his baseline. His annual increase is based on inflation–regardless of how the market performs or what his investments are worth. Don’t keep too much cash on hand. For everyday expenses, emergencies, and large purchases, we all need cash on hand. ‌Cash, however, might not be the best long-term investment, especially when inflation is skyhigh. ‌With each passing year, inflation reduces the amount of goods and services you can buy with your money. Consider investing some of the extra cash you have in long-term investments that will ensure your buying power over the long run. ‌A good rule of thumb is to keep 3 to 6 months’‌ ‌worth‌ ‌of‌ ‌expenses‌ ‌in‌ ‌an emergency‌ ‌fund. ‌However, if you have more saved up, you’re probably better off investing‌ ‌it in something like Series I savings bonds. The U.S. government sells and backs I bonds, which have never defaulted. ‌It is impossible to lose money on I bonds unless the government collapses. In addition, Series I bonds keep up with inflation. For example, in November 2021, the Treasury announced an astounding 7.12% interest rate through April 2022. ‌These investments have never shown such high rates for this period. ‌To put that in perspective, almost all high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit pay less than 1.5% annual interest. ‌ The problem? We don’t know if I bonds will continue to pay‌ ‌7%‌ ‌after‌ ‌April. ‌After all, every six months, interest rates are adjusted for inflation. ‌As a result, they may rise or fall. Aim to get out‌ ‌of‌ ‌debt. Inflation in real estate taxes is a major concern for many investors. ‌However, it should actually ‌be‌ ‌‌‌rising debt loads. ‌An unprecedented number of older Americans still owe money on their mortgages, credit cards, and even ‌student‌ ‌loans. ‌The ‌Government Accountability Office found that the proportion of older households with debt increased from 58 percent in 1989 to 71 percent in 2016. There was also a substantial increase in the median amount of debt for older households with debt in 2016 ($55,300 in real 2016 dollars) compared with 1989 ($18,900). As a result, the share of older households with credit card, mortgage, and student loan debt was significantly higher in 2016 compared with ‌1989. When inflation rises, this debt will become even more of a financial burden. ‌Also, if it’s adjustable rate debt, such as a mortgage, that isn’t on a fixed rate-any inflation could be devastating. As such, anyone who is worried about late-life inflation should pay off their debt as soon as possible. Some suggestions include; You can pay off your loan faster if you make extra payments consistently. For instance, paying more than the minimum payment due or making multiple payments a month. Paying off your most expensive debt first. ‌If you do so, you reduce the amount of interest you pay and your total debt decreases. Alternatively, consider the snowball method. If you start with the smallest balance, you’re going to pay that off first, then roll the payment onto your next smallest balance, etc. You may be able to pay off your debt more quickly by refinancing to a shorter term. You may be able to repay debt faster if you consolidate high-interest rate loans or credit card balances into one loan with lower interest rates. Consider healthcare costs. “Medical care is one of those things that doesn’t really seem to go on sale – ever see a 2-for-1 offer on X-rays?,” asks the Marcus by Goldman Sachs team. ‌As we age, health care costs become a more important expense to consider when it comes to retirement, since the more money we spend on health care, the more we cost. Aside from taking up more of our budgets, medical costs generally tend to increase. ‌According to Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed health policy journal, health costs will increase by 4.1% on average between 2021 and 2023, not just for ‌older‌ ‌Americans. ‌This doesn’t even account for‌ ‌inflation. It may be possible to mitigate the impact health care has on your retirement funds with a little planning. Contrary to investing, where you aim to maximize returns, health care strategies are more about finding ways to save money outright (for example, by opening a health savings account) or get help with paying for health care, like ‌Medicare. The following are some considerations: If you have an HSA, maximize your contributions. You can use a Health Savings Account to set aside money for health care expenses in retirement, though it is not an inflation hedge. ‌Withdrawals from HSAs are tax-free as long as they’re used for approved medical‌ ‌expenses. ‌For singles with a high-deductible health plan in 2021, you can contribute $3,600 ($3,650 in 2022); for families, $7,200 ($7,300 in 2022). Stay on top of Medicare. You can enroll in Medicare after you‌ ‌turn‌ ‌65. ‌The plan can be combined with other medical insurance. ‌If you wait to enroll, you may have to pay higher premiums. Before you retire, consider long-term care insurance (or an alternative). There’s no direct way to stop inflation. However, it can help stretch your hard-earned dollars. A long-term health insurance policy covers care for the elderly, like adult daycare or assisted living facilities. Take advantage of‌ ‌annuity-based‌ ‌products. “One of the biggest misconceptions many people have is that retirement simply means living off of their pension, Social Security, or retirement savings,” states Pierre Raymond, a 25-year veteran of the Financial Services industry . “While this may be the case for a minority of people, the latter reveals that some Americans have still not placed any stress on their financial future when they reach the age of retirement.” In order to make things easier, some retirees may invest in various stocks and portfolios or consider taking out annuities that will provide them with monthly payments throughout their entire ‌lives. It isn’t as farfetched as it was a few years ago to find investment and savings products. “Companies and platforms such as Due have changed the game completely, making it easier, and more secure for any person to invest in their retirement,” adds Raymond. With Due, individuals can decide how much money they’re willing to invest (as it requires a lump sum and monthly payments), what their monthly installment will be, and the better you plan, the higher your monthly payout will be. “While annuities may have not been very popular over the last few years, baby boomers, and now millennials are understanding how they can grow their wealth with the help of annuity products,” he says. Put off major purchases. Jay Zigmont, a CFP and founder of Mississippi-based financial firm Live, Learn, Plan, says to put off major purchases now, especially on a new car. “If your car works and gets you to” point A to B,” then stick with it,” he says. Consumer price index data shows that new car prices inched upward 11.1% last year, even though auto loan rates are low. ‌Over the past year, used cars have seen their inflation rate rise by 31.4%. ‌Zigmont‌ ‌suggests that car prices are getting out of touch with reality, and consumers ought to ask themselves if they truly need a new car. “Try paying for a complete detailing of your car and it will feel new to you without the sticker shock,” he suggests. Rather than shopping around for another lease when a car lease is about to expire, financial planner Chris Diodato suggests purchasing the car. ‌According to Diodato, a CFP and founder of Florida-based WELLth Financial Planning, the initial lease contracts indicate purchase prices far below current resale values. Keep bringing home the bacon. How can you conserve‌ ‌your‌ ‌capital? ‌Continue to earn money. ‌In the end, every dollar you earn in retirement is a dollar you won’t need‌ ‌to‌ ‌withdraw. However, that does not mean you have to stay in your 9-to-5 job you’ve been hoping to quit as soon as possible. Maybe you could get back on your hours and work part-time. If you’re already retired, you could make money as a consultant, freelancer, or join the gig economy. If you have grandkids, you could offer to babysit. Speak with a professional‌ ‌financial‌ ‌planner. Having a financial professional by your side can help you prepare a good strategy and test out possible‌ ‌scenarios. They can also help you update your plan on a regular basis to reflect changes to the market and your goals. Lastly, there isn’t enough serious discussion about changing inflation expectations among financial planners. Take retirement seriously and don’t let complacency creep in.‌ ‌If you want to have a successful retirement, revise your assumptions and get the right guidance. Frequently Asked Questions What is inflation? When our money loses its purchasing power, we’re experiencing inflation. ‌Inflation occurs when product and service prices increase. For‌ ‌example,‌ ‌a‌ ‌gallon‌ ‌of‌ ‌gas‌ ‌now tops $4; last year it cost around $3. In other words, filling your gas tank has been more expensive. Economies refer to the “inflation rate.” ‌This is the rate at which the cost of various consumer goods increases. ‌We have had an inflation rate of about 3% for the last 20 years. Inflation in the United States was 8.3% for the 12 months ended April 2022, down from 8.5% the previous year, based on Labor Department data published May 11. What causes inflation? It’s easy to divide inflation into two types: demand-pull inflation ‌and cost-push‌ ‌inflation. ‌These phrases may sound strange to you. But, they reflect experiences that many of us have experienced. In a cost-push, prices rise when costs go up, like wages or materials. ‌As a result of these higher costs, prices go up, which adds to‌ ‌the‌ ‌cost‌ ‌of‌ ‌living. Consumers have resilient interest in a particular service or good, which generates demand-pull inflation. Various factors may contribute to such a demand, such as a low unemployment rate, a high savings rate, or a high level of consumer‌ ‌confidence. ‌As demand for products increases, companies produce more to keep up, which, in turn, could result in price increases and product shortages. How much money can inflation cost retirees? It is astonishing how much inflation can cost retirees in terms of actual dollars. Over a period of 20 years, LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute calculated the effect of inflation on the average Social Security benefit. ‌One percent inflation could wipe out $34,406 in retirees’ benefits, according to the research. ‌In the event of a 3% increase in inflation, the shortfall would amount to‌ ‌more‌ ‌than $117,000 What can retirees do to mitigate inflation’s impact? There are ways to minimize the impact of inflation on your retirement, despite the fact that you can’t directly alter it. A logical start would be to cut costs on housing, for example. ‌The cost of property taxes, utilities, homeowners insurance, and maintenance gets cheaper when you move from a large to a smaller house. And, that’s true even if you’ve paid off your mortgage. Additionally, you should add investments to your portfolio that are likely to rise in value over time. ‌For instance, a real estate investment trust (REIT). Or, stock in the energy sector. These will likely increase in value along with inflation. And, it’s better to balance stocks with bonds. The reason is that they tend to have better returns. How worried should I be about inflation? “First, keep in mind that inflation is why we invest,” writes Doug Ewing for Nationwide. “While you may feel caught off guard by the recent price surge, by investing in the stock market you’ve already been preparing for this very moment.” ‌The annual US inflation rate was 3.25% from 1914 to 2022. ‌From 1926 to 2021, the S&P 500® Index has averaged 10.49% annual returns. “By staying invested over the long term, you haven’t just been keeping up with inflation, you’ve been building wealth.” You should also know that economists have studied the relationship between inflation and stock market returns for a long time. “While many have concluded that inflation has a net negative impact on the markets, there does not appear to be a clear correlation between inflation and market returns,” adds Ewing. “Historically, periods of high inflation have seen both positive and negative stock market returns.” ‌Many‌ ‌factors‌ ‌affect stock market performance, including inflation. On top of that, retirement spending often decreases. The fall in spending is so steep that even with inflation people spend less. As such, if you’ve taken the steps listed above, inflation should not deplete your savings. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 27, 2022, 3:04 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: valuewalkMay 27th, 2022

S&P Futures Jump Above 4,000 As Fed Fears Fade

S&P Futures Jump Above 4,000 As Fed Fears Fade After yesterday's post-FOMC ramp which sent stocks higher after the Fed's Minutes were less hawkish than feared and also hinted at a timeline for the Fed's upcoming pause (and easing), US index futures initially swung between gains and losses on Thursday as investors weighed the "good news" from the Fed against downbeat remarks on the Chinese economy from premier Li who warned that China would struggle to post a positive GDP print this quarter coupled with Apple’s conservative outlook. Eventually, however, bullish sentiment prevailed and even with Tech stocks underperforming following yesterday's disappointing earnings from Nvidia, e-mini futures rose to session highs as of 715am, and traded up 0.6% above 4,000 for the first time since May 18, while Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.2% after earlier dropping as much as 0.8%. The tech-heavy index is down 27% this year. Treasury yields and the dollar slipped. Fed policy makers indicated their aggressive set of moves could leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed. Investors took some comfort from the Fed minutes that didn’t show an even more aggressive path being mapped to tackle elevated prices, though central banks remain steadfast in their resolve to douse inflation. Still, volatility has spiked as the risk of a US recession, the impact from China’s lockdowns and the war in Ukraine simmer. While the Fed minutes “provided investors with a temporary relief, today’s mixed price action on stocks mostly shows that major bearish leverages linger,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades in London. “The war in eastern Europe and concerns about the Chinese economy still add stress to market sentiment,” he wrote in a report. “Investors will want to see evidence of improvements regarding the pressure coming from rising prices.” “We expect key market drivers to continue to be centered around inflation and how central banks react; global growth concerns and how China gets to grip with its zero-Covid policy; and the geopolitical conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said Fraser Lundie, head of fixed income for public markets at Federated Hermes Limited. “Positive news flow on any of these market drivers could sharply improve risk sentiment; however, there is a broad range of scenarios that could play out in the meantime.” In premarket trading, shares in Apple dropped 1.4% after a report said that the tech giant is planning to keep iPhone production flat in 2022, disappointing expectations for a ~10% increase. The company also said it was raising salaries in the US by 10% or more as it faces a tight labor market and unionization efforts. In other premarket moves, Nvidia dropped 5.3% as the biggest US chipmaker by market value gave a disappointing sales forecast. Software company Snowflake slumped 14%, while meme stock GameStop Corp. fell 2.9%. Among gainers, Twitter Inc. jumped 5.2% after billionaire Elon Musk dropped plans to partially fund his purchase of the company with a margin loan tied to his Tesla stake and increased the size of the deal’s equity component to $33.5 billion. Other notable premarket movers include: Shares of Alibaba and Baidu rise following results, sending other US-listed Chinese stocks higher in US premarket trading. Alibaba shares shot up as much as 4.5% after reporting fourth- quarter revenue and earnings that beat analyst expectations. Lululemon’s (LULU US) stock gains 2.4% in premarket trading as Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation to overweight, suggesting that the business can be more resilient through headwinds than what the market is expecting. Macy’s (M US) shares gain 15% in premarket trading after Co. increases its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the full fiscal year Williams-Sonoma (WSM US) shares jumped as much as 9.6% in premarket trading after 1Q sales beat estimates. The retailer was helped by its exposure to more affluent customers, but analysts cautioned that it may be difficult to maintain the sales momentum amid macroeconomic challenges. Nutanix (NTNX US) shares shed about a third of their value in US premarket trading as analysts slashed their price targets on the cloud platform provider after its forecast disappointed. US airline stocks rise in premarket trading on Thursday, after Southwest and JetBlue provided upbeat outlooks for the second-quarter. LUV up 1.5% premarket, after raising its second-quarter operating revenue growth forecast. JBLU up 2% after saying it expects second-quarter revenue at or above high end of previous guidance. Cryptocurrency-tied stocks fall in premarket trading as Bitcoin snaps two days of gains. Coinbase -2.6%; Marathon Digital -2.3%; Riot Blockchain -1.2%. Bitcoin drops 1.9% at 6:11 am in New York, trading at $29,209.88. It’s time to buy the dip in stocks after a steep global selloff in equity markets, according to Citi strategists. Meanwhile, Fidelity International Chief Executive Officer Anne Richards said the risk of a recession has increased and markets are likely to remain volatile, the latest dire warning on the outlook at the World Economic Forum. “If inflation gets tame enough over summer, there may not be continued raising of rates,” Carol Pepper, Pepper International chief executive officer, said on Bloomberg TV, adding that investors should look to buy tech stocks after the selloff. “Stagflation, I just don’t think that’s going to happen anymore. I think we are going to be in a situation where inflation will start tapering down and then we will start going into a more normalized market.” In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3%, pare some of their earlier gains but remain in the green, led by gains for retail, consumer and energy stocks. IBEX outperforms, adding 0.6%, FTSE MIB is flat but underperforms peers. Retailers, energy and consumer products are the strongest-performing sectors, with energy shares outperforming for the second day as oil climbed amid data that showed a further decrease in US crude and gasoline stockpiles. Here are the most notable European movers: Auto Trader rises as much as 3.5% after its full-year results beat consensus expectations on both top- and bottom-lines. Galp climbs as much as 4.1% as RBC upgrades to outperform, saying the stock might catch up with the rest of the sector after “materially” underperforming peers in recent years. Rightmove rises as much as 1.5% after Shore upgrades to hold from sell, saying the stock has reached an “appropriate” level following a 27% decline this year. FirstGroup soars as much as 16% after the bus and train operator said it received a takeover approach from I Squared Capital Advisors and is currently evaluating the offer. United Utilities declines as much as 8.9% as company reports a fall in adjusted pretax profit. Jefferies says full-year guidance implies a materially-below consensus adjusted net income view. Johnson Matthey falls as much as 7.5% after the company reported results and said it expects operating performance in the current fiscal year to be in the lower half of the consensus range. BT drops as much as 5.7% after the telecom operator said the UK will review French telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi’s increased stake in the company under the National Security and Investment Act. JD Sports drops as much as 12% as the departure of Peter Cowgill as executive chairman is disappointing, according to Shore Capital. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were mixed as traders assessed China’s emergency meeting on the economy and Federal Reserve minutes that struck a less hawkish note than markets had expected.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed after fluctuating between gains and losses of about 0.6% as technology stocks slid. South Korean stocks dipped after the central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points as expected. Chinese shares eked out a small advance after a nationwide emergency meeting on Wednesday offered little in terms of additional stimulus. The benchmark CSI 300 Index headed for a weekly drop of more than 2%, despite authorities’ vows to support an economy hit by Covid-19 lockdowns. Investors took some comfort from Fed minutes in which policy makers indicated their aggressive set of moves could leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed. Still, Asia’s benchmark headed for a weekly loss amid concerns over China’s lockdowns and the possibility of a US recession. “The coming months are ripe for a re-pricing of assets across the board with a further shake-down in risk assets as term and credit premia start to feature prominently,” Vishnu Varathan, the head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a research note.  Japanese stocks closed mixed after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting reassured investors while Premier Li Keqiang made downbeat comments on China’s economy. The Topix rose 0.1% to close at 1,877.58, while the Nikkei declined 0.3% to 26,604.84. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 1.9%. Out of 2,171 shares in the index, 1,171 rose and 898 fell, while 102 were unchanged. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7% to close at 7,105.90 as all sectors tumbled except for technology. Miners contributed the most to the benchmark’s decline. Whitehaven slumped after peer New Hope cut its coal output targets. Appen soared after confirming a takeover approach from Telus and said it’s in talks to improve the terms of the proposal. Appen shares were placed in a trading halt later in the session. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.6% to 11,102.84. India’s key stock indexes snapped three sessions of decline to post their first advance this week on recovery in banking and metals shares. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.9% to 54,252.53 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced by a similar measure. Both benchmarks posted their biggest single-day gain since May 20 as monthly derivative contracts expired today. All but one of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained.  HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank provided the biggest boosts to the two indexes, rising 3% and 2.2%, respectively. Of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 24 rose and 6 fell. As the quarterly earnings season winds up, among the 45 Nifty companies that have so far reported results, 18 have trailed estimates and 27 met or exceeded expectations. Aluminum firm Hindalco Industries is scheduled to post its numbers later today. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar fell 0.3%, edging back toward the lowest level since April 26 touched Tuesday. The yen jumped to an intraday high after the head of the Bank of Japan said policymakers could manage an exit from their decades-long monetary policy, and that U.S. rate rises would not necessarily keep the yen weak. Commodity currencies including the Australian dollar fell as China’s Premier Li Keqiang offered a bleak outlook on domestic growth. The Chinese economy is in some respects faring worse than in 2020 when the pandemic started, he said. Central banks were busy overnight: Russia’s central bank delivered its third interest-rate reduction in just over a month and said borrowing costs can fall further still, as it looks to stem a rally in the ruble and unwinds the financial defenses in place since the invasion of Ukraine. The Bank of Korea raised its key interest rate on Thursday as newly installed Governor Rhee Chang-yong demonstrated his intention to tackle inflation at his first policy meeting since taking the helm. New Zealand’s central bank has also shown its commitment this week to combat surging prices. In rates, Treasuries bull-steepen amid similar price action in bunds and many other European markets and gains for US equity index futures. Yields richer by ~3bp across front-end of the curve, steepening 2s10 by ~2bp, 5s30s by ~3bp; 10-year yields rose 2bps to 2.76%, keeps pace with bund while outperforming gilts. 2- and 5-year yields reached lowest levels in more than a month, remain below 50-DMAs. US auction cycle concludes with 7-year note sale, while economic data includes 1Q GDP revision. Bund, Treasury and gilt curves all bull-steepen. Peripheral spreads tighten to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund narrowing 5.1bps to 194.6bps. The US weekly auction calendar ends with a $42BN 7-year auction today which follows 2- and 5-year sales that produced mixed demand metrics, however both have richened from auction levels. WI 7-year yield at ~2.735% is ~17bp richer than April’s, which tailed by 1.7bp. IG dollar issuance slate includes Bank of Nova Scotia 3Y covered SOFR; issuance so far this week remains short of $20b forecast, is expected to remain subdued until after US Memorial Day. In commodities,  WTI trades within Wednesday’s range, adding 0.6% to around $111. Spot gold falls roughly $7 to trade around $1,846/oz. Cryptocurrencies decline, Bitcoin drops 2.5% to below $29,000.  Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the second estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Meanwhile in Italy, there’s the consumer confidence index for May. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Brainard, the ECB’s Centeno and de Cos, and also get decisions from the Central Bank of Russia and the Central Bank of Turkey. Finally, earnings releases include Costco and Royal Bank of Canada. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,974.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 435.16 MXAP little changed at 163.17 MXAPJ down 0.3% to 529.83 Nikkei down 0.3% to 26,604.84 Topix little changed at 1,877.58 Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 20,116.20 Shanghai Composite up 0.5% to 3,123.11 Sensex up 0.4% to 53,975.57 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.7% to 7,105.88 Kospi down 0.2% to 2,612.45 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.90% Euro little changed at $1.0679 Brent Futures up 0.5% to $114.55/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,847.94 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 102.11 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Federal Reserve officials agreed at their gathering this month that they need to raise interest rates in half-point steps at their next two meetings, continuing an aggressive set of moves that would leave them with flexibility to shift gears later if needed. Russia’s central bank delivered its third interest-rate reduction in just over a month and said borrowing costs can fall further still, halting a rally in the ruble as it unwinds the financial defenses in place since the invasion of Ukraine. China’s trade-weighted yuan fell below 100 for the first time in seven months as Premier Li Keqiang’s bearish comments added to concerns that the economy may miss its growth target by a wide margin this year. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve won’t necessarily cause the yen to weaken, saying various factors affect the currency market. A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were indecisive as risk appetite waned despite the positive handover from Wall St where the major indices extended on gains post-FOMC minutes after the risk event passed and contained no hawkish surprises. ASX 200 failed to hold on to opening gains as weakness in mining names, consumer stocks and defensives overshadowed the advances in tech and financials, while capex data was mixed with the headline private capital expenditure at a surprise contraction for Q1. Nikkei 225 faded early gains but downside was stemmed with Japan set to reopen to tourists on June 6th. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were mixed with early pressure after Premier Li warned the economy was worse in some aspects than in 2020 when the pandemic began, although he stated that China will unveil detailed implementation rules for a pro-growth policy package before the end of the month, while the PBoC issued a notice to promote credit lending to small firms and the MoF announced cash subsidies to Chinese airlines. Top Asian News PBoC issued a notice to promote credit lending to small firms and is to boost financial institutions' confidence to lend to small firms, according to Reuters. BoK raised its base rate by 25bps to 1.75%, as expected, via unanimous decision. BoK raised its 2022 inflation forecast to 4.5% from 3.1% and raised its 2023 forecast to 2.9% from 2.0%, while it sees GDP growth of 2.7% this year and 2.4% next year. BoK said consumer price inflation is to remain high in the 5% range for some time and sees it as warranted to conduct monetary policy with more focus on inflation, according to Reuters. Morgan Stanley has lowered China's 2022 GDP estimate to 3.2% from 4.2%. CSPC Drops After Earnings, Covid Impact to Weigh: Street Wrap China Builder Greenland’s Near-Term Bonds Set for Record Drops Debt Is Top Priority for Diokno as New Philippine Finance Chief European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.7%, but remain within initial ranges in what has been a relatively contained session with much of northern-Europe away. Stateside, US futures are relatively contained, ES +0.2%, with newsflow thin and on familiar themes following yesterday's minutes and before PCE on Friday.  Apple (AAPL) is reportedly planning on having a 220mln (exp. ~240mln) iPhone production target for 2022, via Bloomberg. -1.4% in  the pre-market. Baidu Inc (BIDU) Q1 2022 (CNY): non-GAAP EPS 11.22 (exp. 5.39), Revenue 28.4bln (exp. 27.82bln). +4.5% in the pre-market. UK CMA is assessing whether Google's (GOOG) practises in parts of advertisement technology may distort competition. Top European News UK Chancellor Sunak's package today is likely to top GBP 30bln, according to sources via The Times; Chancellor will confirm that the package will be funded in part by windfall tax on oil & gas firms likely to come into effect in the autumn. Subsequently, UK Gov't sources are downplaying the idea that the overall support package is worth GBP 30bln, via Times' Swinford; told it is a very big intervention. UK car production declined 11.3% Y/Y to 60,554 units in April, according to the SMMT. British Bus Firm FirstGroup Gets Takeover Bid from I Squared Citi Strategists Say Buy the Dip in Stocks on ‘Healthy’ Returns The Reasons to Worry Just Keep Piling Up for Davos Executives UK Unveils Plan to Boost Aviation Industry, Passenger Rights Pakistan Mulls Gas Import Deal With Countries Including Russia FX Dollar drifts post FOMC minutes that reaffirm guidance for 50bp hikes in June and July, but nothing more aggressive, DXY slips into lower range around 102.00 vs 102.450 midweek peak. Yen outperforms after BoJ Governor Kuroda outlines exit strategy via a combination of tightening and balance sheet reduction, when the time comes; USD/JPY closer to 126.50 than 127.50 where 1.13bln option expiries start and end at 127.60. Rest of G10, bar Swedish Crown rangebound ahead of US data, with Loonie looking for independent direction via Canadian retail sales, USD/CAD inside 1.2850-00; Cable surpassing 1.2600 following reports that the cost of living package from UK Chancellor Sunak could top GBP 30bln. Lira hits new YTD low before CBRT and Rouble weaker following top end of range 300bp cut from CBR. Yuan halts retreat from recovery peaks ahead of key technical level, 6.7800 for USD/CNH. Fixed Income Debt wanes after early rebound on Ascension Day lifted Bunds beyond technical resistance levels to 154.74 vs 153.57 low. Gilts fall from grace between 119.17-118.19 parameters amidst concerns that a large UK cost of living support package could leave funding shortfall. US Treasuries remain firm, but off peaks for the 10 year T-note at 120-31 ahead of GDP, IJC, Pending Home Sales and 7 year supply. Commodities Crude benchmarks inch higher in relatively quiet newsflow as familiar themes dominate; though reports that EU officials are considering splitting the oil embargo has drawn attention. Currently WTI and Brent lie in proximity to USD 111/bbl and USD 115/bbl respectively; within USD 1.50/bbl ranges. Russian Deputy PM Novak expects 2022 oil output 480-500mln/T (prev. 524mln/T YY), via Ria. Spot gold is similarly contained around the USD 1850/oz mark, though its parameters are modestly more pronounced at circa. USD 13/oz Central Banks CBR (May, Emergency Meeting): Key Rate 11.00% (exp. ~11.00/12.00%, prev. 14.00%); holds open the prospect of further reductions at upcoming meetings. BoJ's Kuroda says, when exiting easy policy, they will likely combine rate hike and balance sheet reduction through specific means, timing to be dependent on developments at that point; FOMC rate hike may not necessarily result in a weaker JPY or outflows of funds from Japan if it affects US stock prices, via Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: 1Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 5.2%, prior 5.2% 08:30: 1Q Personal Consumption, est. 2.8%, prior 2.7% 08:30: May Continuing Claims, est. 1.31m, prior 1.32m 08:30: 1Q GDP Price Index, est. 8.0%, prior 8.0% 08:30: May Initial Jobless Claims, est. 215,000, prior 218,000 08:30: 1Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. -1.3%, prior -1.4% 10:00: April Pending Home Sales YoY, est. -8.0%, prior -8.9% 10:00: April Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. -2.0%, prior -1.2% 11:00: May Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 18, prior 25 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that our latest monthly survey is now live, where we try to ask questions that aren’t easy to derive from market pricing. This time we ask if you think the Fed would be willing to push the economy into recession in order to get inflation back to target. We also ask whether you think there are still bubbles in markets and whether equities have bottomed out yet. And there’s another on which is the best asset class to hedge against inflation. The more people that fill it in the more useful so all help from readers is very welcome. The link is here. For markets it’s been a relatively quiet session over the last 24 hours compared to the recent bout of cross-asset volatility. The main event was the release of the May FOMC minutes, which had the potential to upend that calm given the amount of policy parameters currently being debated by the Fed. But in reality they came and went without much fanfare, and failed to inject much life into afternoon markets or the debate around the near-term path of policy. As far as what they did say, they confirmed the line from the meeting itself that the FOMC is ready to move the policy to a neutral position to fight the current inflationary scourge, with agreement that 50bp hikes were appropriate at the next couple of meetings. That rapid move to neutral would leave the Fed well-positioned to judge the outlook and appropriate next steps for policy by the end of the year, and markets were relieved by the lack of further hawkishness, with the S&P 500 extending its modest gains following the release to end the day up +0.95%. As the Chair said at the meeting, and has been echoed by other Fed officials since, the minutes noted that the hawkish shift in Fed communications have already had a noticeable effect on financial conditions, with Fed staff pointing out that “conditions had tightened by historically large amounts since the beginning of the year.” Meanwhile on QT, which the Fed outlined their plans for at the May meeting, the minutes expressed some trepidation about market liquidity and potential “unanticipated effects on financial market conditions” as a result, but did not offer potential remedies. With the minutes not living up to hawkish fears alongside growing concerns about a potential recession, investors continued to dial back the likelihood of more aggressive tightening, with Fed funds futures moving the rate priced in by the December meeting to 2.64%, which is the lowest in nearly a month and down from its peak of 2.88% on May 3. So we’ve taken out nearly a full 25bp hike by now, which is the biggest reversal in monetary policy expectations this year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. That decline came ahead of the minutes and also saw markets pare back the chances of two consecutive +50bp hikes, with the amount of hikes priced over the next two meetings falling under 100bps for only the second time since the May FOMC. Yields on 10yr Treasuries held fairly steady, only coming down -0.5bps to 2.745%. Ahead of the Fed minutes, markets had already been on track to record a steady performance, and the S&P 500 (+0.95%) extended its existing gains in the US afternoon. That now brings the index’s gains for the week as a whole to +1.98%, so leaving it on track to end a run of 7 consecutive weekly declines, assuming it can hold onto that over the next 48 hours, and futures this morning are only down -0.13%. That said, we’ve seen plenty of volatility in recent weeks, and after 3 days so far this is the first week in over two months where the S&P hasn’t seen a fall of more than -1% in a single session, so let’s see what today and tomorrow bring. In terms of the specific moves yesterday, it was a fairly broad advance, but consumer discretionary stocks (+2.78%) and other cyclical industries led the way, with defensives instead seeing a much more muted performance. Tech stocks outperformed, and the NASDAQ (+1.51%) came off its 18-month low, as did the FANG+ index (+1.99%). Over in Europe, equities also recorded a decent advance, with the STOXX 600 gaining +0.63%, whilst bonds continued to rally as well, with yields on 10yr bunds (-1.5bps) OATs (-1.5bps) and BTPs (-2.7bps) all moving lower. These gains for sovereign bonds have come as investors have grown increasingly relaxed about inflation in recent weeks, with the 10yr German breakeven falling a further -4.2bps to 2.23% yesterday, its lowest level since early March and down from a peak of 2.98% at the start of May. Bear in mind that the speed of the decline in the German 10yr breakeven over the last 3-4 weeks has been faster than that seen during the initial wave of the Covid pandemic, so a big shift in inflation expectations for the decade ahead in a short space of time that’s reversed the bulk of the move higher following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nor is that simply concentrated over the next few years, since the 5y5y forward inflation swaps for the Euro Area looking at inflation over the five years starting in five years’ time has come down from aa peak of 2.49% earlier this month to 2.07% by the close last night, so almost back to the ECB’s target. To be fair there’s been a similar move lower in US breakevens too, and this morning the 10yr US breakeven is down to a 3-month low of 2.56%. That decline in inflation expectations has come as investors have ratcheted up their expectations about future ECB tightening. Yesterday, the amount of tightening priced in by the July meeting ticked up a further +0.2bps to 32.7bps, its highest to date, and implying some chance that they’ll move by more than just 25bps. We heard from a number of additional speakers too over the last 24 hours, including Vice President de Guindos who said in a Bloomberg interview that the schedule for rate hikes outlined by President Lagarde was “very sensible”, and that the question of larger hikes would “depend on the outlook”. Overnight in Asia, equities are fluctuating this morning after China’s Premier Li Keqiang struck a downbeat note on the economy yesterday. Indeed, he said that the difficulties facing the Chinese economy “to a certain extent are greater than when the epidemic hit us severely in 2020”. As a reminder, our own economist’s forecasts for GDP growth this year are at +3.3%, which if realised would be the slowest in 46 years apart from 2020 when Covid first took off. Against that backdrop, there’s been a fairly muted performance, and whilst the Shanghai Composite (+0.65%) and the CSI 300 (+0.60%) have pared back initial losses to move higher on the day, the Hang Seng (-0.13%) has lost ground and the Nikkei (+0.07%) is only just in positive territory. We’ve also seen the Kospi (-0.08%) give up its initial gains overnight after the Bank of Korea moved to hike interest rates once again, with a 25bp rise in their policy rate to 1.75%, in line with expectations. That came as they raised their inflation forecasts, now expecting CPI this year at 4.5%, up from 3.1% previously. At the same time they also slashed their growth forecast to 2.7%, down from 3.0% previously. There wasn’t much in the way of data yesterday, though we did get the preliminary reading for US durable goods orders in April. They grew by +0.4% (vs. +0.6% expected), although the previous month was revised down to +0.6% (vs. +1.1% previously). Core capital goods orders were also up +0.3% (vs. +0.5% expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the second estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Meanwhile in Italy, there’s the consumer confidence index for May. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Vice Chair Brainard, the ECB’s Centeno and de Cos, and also get decisions from the Central Bank of Russia and the Central Bank of Turkey. Finally, earnings releases include Costco and Royal Bank of Canada. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/26/2022 - 07:50.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 26th, 2022

Economic + Market Scenarios

    It’s a given that no one knows what the future holds. But that does not mean we merely shrug our shoulders and stumble blindly into whatever comes next. We can consider the probabilities, map out higher (and lower) possible outcomes, and wargame various scenarios. We can ponder how recent history led us to the… Read More The post Economic + Market Scenarios appeared first on The Big Picture.     It’s a given that no one knows what the future holds. But that does not mean we merely shrug our shoulders and stumble blindly into whatever comes next. We can consider the probabilities, map out higher (and lower) possible outcomes, and wargame various scenarios. We can ponder how recent history led us to the present circumstances. Let’s consider two possibilities: One where many things go right, and another one where most do not (avoiding unlikely extremes). Our expectations are that reality ends up somewhere in between the two. That’s the higher probability but any point along the spectrum between the extremes is a viable potential outcome. There are endless challenges facing America and the world, but let’s consider the 5 biggest ones: Inflation, War, Recession, Covid, and Market Volatility. There are dozens more, any one of which – Monkeypox! – could spiral into something awful. But for our purposes, let’s stay with those 5. Consider what a reasonably best-case or worst-case scenario might look like: Scenario 1: Everything goes right: The pandemic that shut down the global economy in 2020 finally runs out of steam. In the US, we achieve herd immunity when more than 70% of the population is vaccinated and boosted. Kids under 5 vaccine is approved, and most parents get their kids immunized at the urging of pediatricians and schools (it turns out children were a huge vector for transmission). With so few potential new hosts, the pandemic burns itself out. Life begins to normalize: Economically, the country returns to a more services-oriented and less goods-based economy. The side effect is an untangling of many supply chain snafus. Semiconductors see a ramp-up in production, which increases the supply of new automobiles. Price increases have already peaked, and across a range of goods, they head lower. Home prices stabilize and begin to drift modestly lower, as more single-family homes are built and multifamily apartment buildings are completed. The Fed recognizes that the worst of price spikes is already behind us, and so they change their tone from fighting inflation to getting off of zero and normalizing monetary policy. After a 50 bps increase in June, they go 25bps for the rest of the year. Fed Funds finish 2022 at 2% and stay there for years to come. Russia begins to recognize the futility of their war – either Putin declares victory and withdraws, or is forcibly removed by insiders. Within three months, Oil prices fall 30-40%. Hungary is kicked out of NATO, paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join. The market finishes the year nearly flat (e.g., up 5% to down 9%), a huge victory considering how much fear there was. The VIX volatility index drops to the low to mid-20s. The NASDAQ fares less well, but still makes up more than half of its peak to trough losses. With many of the excess squeezed out, the tech index ain’t cheap, but it’s much less pricey than it was pre-correction. Scenario 2: Everything goes wrong: Delta to Omincron to BA2: Covid keeps mutating, including more dangerous and deadly variants. Rolling lockdowns fail to contain the outbreaks. Florida refuses to cooperate with the CDC/NIH and remains the nation’s superspreader feeder region. Hospitals fill up, the U.S. suffers another million deaths. The pandemic runs amuck and prevents the supply chain from untangling. Making matters worse is China’s Zero Covid policy. The manufacturing capital of the world suffers a recession, contracting for the rest of the year. Unable to supply key goods, shortages of nearly everything become acute. Including food and energy: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has become a slog, an endless war of attrition: Ukrainians fight against the invaders, funded and supplied by western proxies. Ukrainian food production plummets, as do Russian energy exports. China buys all of the Russian output, keeping prices high and Russia solvent enough to continue prosecuting the war. Oil goes to $200 a barrel, and gasoline rises to $9/gallon in the US. The Fed continues to raise rates, despite the lack of impact the prior increases have had. At 5% Fed fund rates, the US is already deep in a recession, but prices remain elevated. Stagflation dominates the headlines. The combination of lockdowns, inflation, and recession sends the markets into a nosedive. The S&P500 falls another 35% bottoming around 2500, and the Nasdaq gets cut in half from here to under 6000. The VIX spikes to 50 then 60, eventually kissing 70 Probabilities: Given all of these potential variables, it’s impossible to confidently predict what happens by year-end.1 My wishful thinking is that we finish 2022 closer to Scenario 1, which requires a few things to go right while avoiding a few potential disasters. A lot has to go wrong for Scenario 2 to occur – it’s improbable, but not impossible. I would put the odds from best to worst something like this: Great! 20%  Threading the needle as inflation fades, war and pandemic end, market volatility ends, indices recover. A perfect Fed dismount and they stick the landing. Good! 30%  A soft landing and no recession. A few sectors are in retreat, but overall, the economy remains robust. Inflation turns out to be transitory after all. Meh! 20%  A hard landing: The pilot taxis what’s left of the plane to the terminal, and we are thankful things are not worse. Maybe a mild recession or flat GDP makes people nervous, as unemployment moves higher from 3.6% to 5%. Inflation eases, but not as much as hoped for. Bad! 20% Only a handful of issues work out, but most do not. A recession drives unemployment over 6%, but inflation remains mostly stubborn. Terrible! 10%  Everything goes to Hell all at once… About half of my scenarios (percentage-wise) are pretty good, and half are not so good. ~~~ When thinking about the future, we should know what the possible outcomes are, what the outliers might be, and consider which are the more likely result. Approaching the world this way is not only realistic, but it is a healthy way to think about risk and reward.     Previously: Nobody Knows Anything, Kentucky Derby Edition (May 9, 2022) Capitulation Playbook (May 19, 2022) Secular vs. Cyclical Markets (2022) (May 16, 2022) Transitory Is Taking Longer than Expected (February 10, 2022)     __________ 1. If enough forecasters make guesses, one will be right by chance, giving them an opportunity to cash in on random luck.   The post Economic + Market Scenarios appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMay 24th, 2022

Two Scenarios (out of 5 probable ones)

    It’s a given that no one knows what the future holds. But that does not mean we merely shrug our shoulders and stumble blindly into whatever comes next. We can consider the probabilities, map out higher (and lower) possible outcomes, and wargame various scenarios. We can ponder how recent history led us to the… Read More The post Two Scenarios (out of 5 probable ones) appeared first on The Big Picture.     It’s a given that no one knows what the future holds. But that does not mean we merely shrug our shoulders and stumble blindly into whatever comes next. We can consider the probabilities, map out higher (and lower) possible outcomes, and wargame various scenarios. We can ponder how recent history led us to the present circumstances. Let’s consider two possibilities: One where many things go right, and another one where most do not (avoiding unlikely extremes). Our expectations are that reality ends up somewhere in between the two. That’s the higher probability but any point along the spectrum between the extremes is a viable potential outcome. There are endless challenges facing America and the world, but let’s consider the 5 biggest ones: Inflation, War, Recession, Covid, and Market Volatility. There are dozens more, any one of which – Monkeypox! – could spiral into something awful. But for our purposes, let’s stay with those 5. Consider what a reasonably best-case or worst-case scenario might look like: Scenario 1: Everything goes right: The pandemic that shut down the global economy in 2020 finally runs out of steam. In the US, we achieve herd immunity when more than 70% of the population is vaccinated and boosted. Kids under 5 vaccine is approved, and most parents get their kids immunized at the urging of pediatricians and schools (it turns out children were a huge vector for transmission). With so few potential new hosts, the pandemic burns itself out. Life begins to normalize: Economically, the country returns to a more services-oriented and less goods-based economy. The side effect is an untangling of many supply chain snafus. Semiconductors see a ramp-up in production, which increases the supply of new automobiles. Price increases have already peaked, and across a range of goods, they head lower. Home prices stabilize and begin to drift modestly lower, as more single-family homes are built and multifamily apartment buildings are completed. The Fed recognizes that the worst of price spikes is already behind us, and so they change their tone from fighting inflation to getting off of zero and normalizing monetary policy. After a 50 bps increase in June, they go 25bps for the rest of the year. Fed Funds finish 2022 at 2% and stay there for years to come. Russia begins to recognize the futility of their war – either Putin declares victory and withdraws, or is forcibly removed by insiders. Within three months, Oil prices fall 30-40%. Hungary is kicked out of NATO, paving the way for Sweden and Finland to join. The market finishes the year nearly flat (e.g., up 5% to down 9%), a huge victory considering how much fear there was. The VIX volatility index drops to the low to mid-20s. The NASDAQ fares less well, but still makes up more than half of its peak to trough losses. With many of the excess squeezed out, the tech index ain’t cheap, but it’s much less pricey than it was pre-correction. Scenario 2: Everything goes wrong: Delta to Omincron to BA2: Covid keeps mutating, including more dangerous and deadly variants. Rolling lockdowns fail to contain the outbreaks. Florida refuses to cooperate with the CDC/NIH and remains the nation’s superspreader feeder region. Hospitals fill up, the U.S. suffers another million deaths. The pandemic runs amuck and prevents the supply chain from untangling. Making matters worse is China’s Zero Covid policy. The manufacturing capital of the world suffers a recession, contracting for the rest of the year. Unable to supply key goods, shortages of nearly everything become acute. Including food and energy: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has become a slog, an endless war of attrition: Ukrainians fight against the invaders, funded and supplied by western proxies. Ukrainian food production plummets, as do Russian energy exports. China buys all of the Russian output, keeping prices high and Russia solvent enough to continue prosecuting the war. Oil goes to $200 a barrel, and gasoline rises to $9/gallon in the US. The Fed continues to raise rates, despite the lack of impact the prior increases have had. At 5% Fed fund rates, the US is already deep in a recession, but prices remain elevated. Stagflation dominates the headlines. The combination of lockdowns, inflation, and recession sends the markets into a nosedive. The S&P500 falls another 35% bottoming around 2500, and the Nasdaq gets cut in half from here to under 6000. The VIX spikes to 50 then 60, eventually kissing 70 Probabilities: Given all of these potential variables, it’s impossible to confidently predict what happens by year-end.1 My wishful thinking is that we finish 2022 closer to Scenario 1, which requires a few things to go right while avoiding a few potential disasters. A lot has to go wrong for Scenario 2 to occur – it’s improbable, but not impossible. I would put the odds from best to worst something like this: Great! 20%  Threading the needle as inflation fades, war and pandemic end, market volatility ends, indices recover. A perfect Fed dismount and they stick the landing. Good! 30%  A soft landing and no recession. A few sectors are in retreat, but overall, the economy remains robust. Inflation turns out to be transitory after all. Meh! 20%  A hard landing: The pilot taxis what’s left of the plane to the terminal, and we are thankful things are not worse. Maybe a mild recession or flat GDP makes people nervous, as unemployment moves higher from 3.6% to 5%. Inflation eases, but not as much as hoped for. Bad! 20% Only a handful of issues work out, but most do not. A recession drives unemployment over 6%, but inflation remains mostly stubborn. Terrible! 10%  Everything goes to Hell all at once… About half of my scenarios (percentage-wise) are pretty good, and half are not so good. ~~~ When thinking about the future, we should know what the possible outcomes are, what the outliers might be, and consider which are the more likely result. Approaching the world this way is not only realistic, but it is a healthy way to think about risk and reward.     Previously: Nobody Knows Anything, Kentucky Derby Edition (May 9, 2022) Capitulation Playbook (May 19, 2022) Secular vs. Cyclical Markets (2022) (May 16, 2022) Transitory Is Taking Longer than Expected (February 10, 2022)     __________ 1. If enough forecasters make guesses, one will be right by chance, giving them an opportunity to cash in on random luck.   The post Two Scenarios (out of 5 probable ones) appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMay 23rd, 2022

Central Bankers" Narratives Are Falling Apart

Central Bankers' Narratives Are Falling Apart Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Central bankers’ narratives are falling apart. And faced with unpopularity over rising prices, politicians are beginning to question central bank independence. Driven by the groupthink coordinated in the regular meetings at the Bank for International Settlements, they became collectively blind to the policy errors of their own making. On several occasions I have written about the fallacies behind interest rate policies. I have written about the lost link between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the general level of prices. I have written about the effect of changing preferences between money and goods and the effect on prices. This article gets to the heart of why central banks’ monetary policy was originally flawed. The fundamental error is to regard economic cycles as originating in the private sector when they are the consequence of fluctuations in credit, to which we can add the supposed benefits of continual price inflation. Introduction Many investors swear by cycles. Unfortunately, there is little to link these supposed cycles to economic theory, other than the link between the business cycle and the cycle of bank credit. The American economist Irving Fisher got close to it with his debt-deflation theory by attributing the collapse of bank credit to the 1930s’ depression. Fisher’s was a well-argued case by the father of modern monetarism. But any further research by mainstream economists was brushed aside by the Keynesian revolution which simply argued that recessions, depressions, or slumps were evidence of the failings of free markets requiring state intervention. Neither Fisher nor Keynes appeared to be aware of the work being done by economists of the Austrian school, principally that of von Mises and Hayek. Fisher was on the American scene probably too early to have benefited from their findings, and Keynes was, well, Keynes the statist who in common with other statists in general placed little premium on the importance of time and its effects on human behaviour. It makes sense, therefore, to build on the Austrian case, and to make the following points at the outset: It is incorrectly assumed that business cycles arise out of free markets. Instead, they are the consequence of the expansion and contraction of unsound money and credit created by the banks and the banking system. The inflation of bank credit transfers wealth from savers and those on fixed incomes to the banking sector’s favoured customers. It has become a major cause of increasing disparities between the wealthy and the poor. The credit cycle is a repetitive boom-and-bust phenomenon, which historically has been roughly ten years in duration. The bust phase is the market’s way of eliminating unsustainable debt, created through credit expansion. If the bust is not allowed to proceed, trouble accumulates for the next credit cycle. Today, economic distortions from previous credit cycles have accumulated to the point where only a small rise in interest rates will be enough to trigger the next crisis. Consequently, central banks have very little room for manoeuvre in dealing with current and future price inflation. International coordination of monetary policies has increased the potential scale of the next credit crisis, and not contained it as the central banks mistakenly believe. The unwinding of the massive credit expansion in the Eurozone following the creation of the euro is an additional risk to the global economy. Comparable excesses in the Japanese monetary system pose a similar threat. Central banks will always fail in using monetary policy as a management tool for the economy. They act for the state, and not for the productive, non-financial private sector. Modern monetary assumptions The original Keynesian policy behind monetary and fiscal stimulation was to help an economy recover from a recession by encouraging extra consumption through bank credit expansion and government deficits funded by inflationary means. Originally, Keynes did not recommend a policy of continual monetary expansion, because he presumed that a recession was the result of a temporary failure of markets which could be remedied by the application of deficit spending by the state. The error was to fail to understand that the cycle is of credit itself, the consequence being the imposition of boom and bust on what would otherwise be a non-cyclical economy, where the random action by businesses in a sound money environment allowed for an evolutionary process delivering economic progress. It was this environment which Schumpeter described as creative destruction. In a sound money regime, businesses deploy the various forms of capital at their disposal in the most productive, profitable way in a competitive environment. Competition and failure of malinvestment provide the best returns for consumers, delivering on their desires and demands. Any business not understanding that the customer is king deserves to fail. The belief in monetary and fiscal stimulation wrongly assumes, among other things, that there are no intertemporal effects. As long ago as 1730, Richard Cantillon described how the introduction of new money into an economy affected prices. He noted that when new money entered circulation, it raised the prices of the goods first purchased. Subsequent acquirers of the new money raised the prices of the goods they demanded, and so on. In this manner, the new money is gradually distributed, raising prices as it is spent, until it is fully absorbed in the economy. Consequently, maximum benefit of the purchasing power of the new money accrues to the first receivers of it, in his time being the gold and silver imported by Spain from the Americas. But today it is principally the banks that create unbacked credit out of thin air, and their preferred customers who benefit most from the expansion of bank credit. The losers are those last to receive it, typically the low-paid, the retired, the unbanked and the poor, who find that their earnings and savings buy less in consequence. There is, in effect, a wealth transfer from the poorest in society to the banks and their favoured customers. Modern central banks seem totally oblivious of this effect, and the Bank of England has even gone to some trouble to dissuade us of it, by quoting marginal changes in the Gini coefficient, which as an average tells us nothing about how individuals, or groups of individuals are affected by monetary debasement. At the very least, we should question central banking’s monetary policies on grounds of both efficacy and the morality, which by debauching the currency, transfers wealth from savers to profligate borrowers —including the government. By pursuing the same monetary policies, all the major central banks are tarred with this bush of ignorance, and they are all trapped in the firm clutch of groupthink gobbledegook. The workings of a credit cycle To understand the relationship between the cycle of credit and the consequences for economic activity, A description of a typical credit cycle is necessary, though it should be noted that individual cycles can vary significantly in the detail. We shall take the credit crisis as our starting point in this repeating cycle. Typically, a credit crisis occurs after the central bank has raised interest rates and tightened lending conditions to curb price inflation, always the predictable result of earlier monetary expansion. This is graphically illustrated in Figure 1. The severity of the crisis is set by the amount of excessive private sector debt financed by bank credit relative to the overall economy. Furthermore, the severity is increasingly exacerbated by the international integration of monetary policies. While the 2007-2008 crises in the UK, the Eurozone and Japan were to varying degrees home-grown, the excessive speculation in the American residential property market, facilitated additionally by off-balance sheet securitisation invested in by the global banking network led to the crisis in each of the other major jurisdictions being more severe than it might otherwise have been. By acting as lender of last resort to the commercial banks, the central bank tries post-crisis to stabilise the economy. By encouraging a revival in bank lending, it seeks to stimulate the economy into recovery by reducing interest rates. However, it inevitably takes some time before businesses, mindful of the crisis just past, have the confidence to invest in production. They will only respond to signals from consumers when they in turn become less cautious in their spending. Banks, who at this stage will be equally cautious over their lending, will prefer to invest in short-maturity government bonds to minimise balance sheet risk. A period then follows during which interest rates remain suppressed by the central bank below their natural rate. During this period, the central bank will monitor unemployment, surveys of business confidence, and measures of price inflation for signs of economic recovery. In the absence of bank credit expansion, the central bank is trying to stimulate the economy, principally by suppressing interest rates and more recently by quantitative easing. Eventually, suppressed interest rates begin to stimulate corporate activity, as entrepreneurs utilise a low cost of capital to acquire weaker rivals, and redeploy underutilised assets in target companies. They improve their earnings by buying in their own shares, often funded by cheapened bank credit, as well as by undertaking other financial engineering actions. Larger businesses, in which the banks have confidence, are favoured in these activities compared with SMEs, who find it generally difficult to obtain finance in the early stages of the recovery phase. To that extent, the manipulation of money and credit by central banks ends up discriminating against entrepreneurial smaller companies, delaying the recovery in employment. Consumption eventually picks up, fuelled by credit from banks and other lending institutions, which will be gradually regaining their appetite for risk. The interest cost on consumer loans for big-ticket items, such as cars and household goods, is often lowered under competitive pressures, stimulating credit-fuelled consumer demand. The first to benefit from this credit expansion tend to be the better-off creditworthy consumers, and large corporations, which are the early receivers of expanding bank credit. The central bank could be expected to raise interest rates to slow credit growth if it was effectively managing credit. However, the fall in unemployment always lags in the cycle and is likely to be above the desired target level. And price inflation will almost certainly be below target, encouraging the central bank to continue suppressing interest rates. Bear in mind the Cantillon effect: it takes time for expanding bank credit to raise prices throughout the country, time which contributes to the cyclical effect. Even if the central bank has raised interest rates by this stage, it is inevitably by too little. By now, commercial banks will begin competing for loan business from large credit-worthy corporations, cutting their margins to gain market share. So, even if the central bank has increased interest rates modestly, at first the higher cost of borrowing fails to be passed on by commercial banks. With non-financial business confidence spreading outwards from financial centres, bank lending increases further, and more and more businesses start to expand their production, based upon their return-on-equity calculations prevailing at artificially low interest rates and input prices, which are yet to reflect the increase in credit. There’s a gathering momentum to benefit from the new mood. But future price inflation for business inputs is usually underestimated. Business plans based on false information begin to be implemented, growing financial speculation is supported by freely available credit, and the conditions are in place for another crisis to develop. Since tax revenues lag in any economic recovery, government finances have yet to benefit suvstantially from an increase in tax revenues. Budget deficits not wholly financed by bond issues subscribed to by the domestic public and by non-bank corporations represents an additional monetary stimulus, fuelling the credit cycle even more at a time when credit expansion should be at least moderated. For the planners at the central banks, the economy has now stabilised, and closely followed statistics begin to show signs of recovery. At this stage of the credit cycle, the effects of earlier monetary inflation start to be reflected more widely in rising prices. This delay between credit expansion and the effect on prices is due to the Cantillon effect, and only now it is beginning to be reflected in the calculation of the broad-based consumer price indices. Therefore, prices begin to rise persistently at a higher rate than that targeted by monetary policy, and the central bank has no option but to raise interest rates and restrain demand for credit. But with prices still rising from credit expansion still in the pipeline, moderate interest rate increases have little or no effect. Consequently, they continue to be raised to the point where earlier borrowing, encouraged by cheap and easy money, begins to become uneconomic. A rise in unemployment, and potentially falling prices then becomes a growing threat. As financial intermediaries in a developing debt crisis, the banks are suddenly exposed to extensive losses of their own capital. Bankers’ greed turns to a fear of being over-leveraged for the developing business conditions. They are quick to reduce their risk-exposure by liquidating loans where they can, irrespective of their soundness, putting increasing quantities of loan collateral up for sale. Asset inflation quickly reverses, with all marketable securities falling sharply in value. The onset of the financial crisis is always swift and catches the central bank unawares. When the crisis occurs, banks with too little capital for the size of their balance sheets risk collapsing. Businesses with unproductive debt and reliant on further credit go to the wall. The crisis is cathartic and a necessary cleaning of the excesses entirely due to the human desire of bankers and their shareholders to maximise profits through balance sheet leverage. At least, that’s what should happen. Instead, a modern central bank moves to contain the crisis by committing to underwrite the banking system to stem a potential downward spiral of collateral sales, and to ensure an increase in unemployment is contained. Consequently, many earlier malinvestments will survive. Over several cycles, the debt associated with past uncleared malinvestments accumulates, making each successive crisis greater in magnitude. 2007-2008 was worse than the fall-out from the dot-com bubble in 2000, which in turn was worse than previous crises. And for this reason, the current credit crisis promises to be even greater than the last. Credit cycles are increasingly a global affair. Unfortunately, all central banks share the same misconception, that they are managing a business cycle that emanates from private sector business errors and not from their licenced banks and own policy failures. Central banks through the forum of the Bank for International Settlements or G7, G10, and G20 meetings are fully committed to coordinating monetary policies on a global basis. The consequence is credit crises are potentially greater as a result. Remember that G20 was set up after the Lehman crisis to reinforce coordination of monetary and financial policies, promoting destructive groupthink even more. Not only does the onset of a credit crisis in any one country become potentially exogenous to it, but the failure of any one of the major central banks to contain its crisis is certain to undermine everyone else. Systemic risk, the risk that banking systems will fail, is now truly global and has worsened. The introduction of the new euro distorted credit cycles for Eurozone members, and today has become a significant additional financial and systemic threat to the global banking system. After the euro was introduced, the cost of borrowing dropped substantially for many high-risk member states. Unsurprisingly, governments in these states seized the opportunity to increase their debt-financed spending. The most extreme examples were Greece, followed by Italy, Spain, and Portugal —collectively the PIGS. Consequently, the political pressures to suppress euro interest rates are overwhelming, lest these state actors’ finances collapse. Eurozone commercial banks became exceptionally highly geared with asset to equity leverage more than twenty times on average for the global systemically important banks. Credit cycles for these countries have been made considerably more dangerous by bank leverage, non-performing debt, and the TARGET2 settlement system which has become dangerously unbalanced. The task facing the ECB today to stop the banking system from descending into a credit contraction crisis is almost impossible as a result. The unwinding of malinvestments and associated debt has been successfully deferred so far, but the Eurozone remains a major and increasing source of systemic risk and a credible trigger for the next global crisis. The seeds were sown for the next credit crisis in the last When new money is fully absorbed in an economy, prices can be said to have adjusted to accommodate it. The apparent stimulation from the extra money will have reversed itself, wealth having been transferred from the late receivers to the initial beneficiaries, leaving a higher stock of currency and credit and increased prices. This always assumes there has been no change in the public’s general level of preference for holding money relative to holding goods. Changes in this preference level can have a profound effect on prices. At one extreme, a general dislike of holding any money at all will render it valueless, while a strong preference for it will drive down prices of goods and services in what economists lazily call deflation. This is what happened in 1980-81, when Paul Volcker at the Federal Reserve Board raised the Fed’s fund rate to over 19% to put an end to a developing hyperinflation of prices. It is what happened more recently in 2007/08 when the great financial crisis broke, forcing the Fed to flood financial markets with unlimited credit to stop prices falling, and to rescue the financial system from collapse. The state-induced interest rate cycle, which lags the credit cycle for the reasons described above, always results in interest rates being raised high enough to undermine economic activity. The two examples quoted in the previous paragraph were extremes, but every credit cycle ends with rates being raised by the central bank by enough to trigger a crisis. The chart above of America’s Fed funds rate is repeated from earlier in this article for ease of reference. The interest rate peaks joined by the dotted line marked the turns of the US credit cycle in January 1989, mid-2000, early 2007, and mid-2019 respectively. These points also marked the beginning of the recession in the early nineties, the post-dotcom bubble collapse, the US housing market crisis, and the repo crisis in September 2019. The average period between these peaks was exactly ten years, echoing a similar periodicity observed in Britain’s nineteenth century. The threat to the US economy and its banking system has grown with every crisis. Successive interest peaks marked an increase in severity for succeeding credit crises, and it is notable that the level of interest rates required to trigger a crisis has continually declined. Extending this trend suggests that a Fed Funds Rate of no more than 2% today will be the trigger for a new momentum in the current financial crisis. The reason this must be so is the continuing accumulation of dollar-denominated private-sector debt. And this time, prices are fuelled by record increases in the quantity of outstanding currency and credit. Conclusions The driver behind the boom-and-bust cycle of business activity is credit itself. It therefore stands to reason that the greater the level of monetary intervention, the more uncontrollable the outcome becomes. This is confirmed by both reasoned theory and empirical evidence. It is equally clear that by seeking to manage the credit cycle, central banks themselves have become the primary cause of economic instability. They exhibit institutional groupthink in the implementation of their credit policies. Therefore, the underlying attempt to boost consumption by encouraging continual price inflation to alter the allocation of resources from deferred consumption to current consumption, is overly simplistic, and ignores the negative consequences. Any economist who argues in favour of an inflation target, such as that commonly set by central banks at 2%, fails to appreciate that monetary inflation transfers wealth from most people, who are truly the engine of production and spending. By impoverishing society inflationary policies are counterproductive. Neo-Keynesian economists also fail to understand that prices of goods and services in the main do not act like those of speculative investments. People will buy an asset if the price is rising because they see a bandwagon effect. They do not normally buy goods and services because they see a trend of rising prices. Instead, they seek out value, as any observer of the falling prices of electrical and electronic products can testify. We have seen that for policymakers the room for manoeuvre on interest rates has become increasingly limited over successive credit cycles. Furthermore, the continuing accumulation of private sector debt has reduced the height of interest rates that would trigger a financial and systemic crisis. In any event, a renewed global crisis could be triggered by the Fed if it raises the funds rate to as little as 2%. This can be expected with a high degree of confidence; unless, that is, a systemic crisis originates from elsewhere —the euro system and Japan are already seeing the euro and yen respectively in the early stages of a currency collapse. It is bound to lead to increased interest rates in the euro and yen, destabilising their respective banking systems. The likelihood of their failure appears to be increasing by the day, a situation that becomes obvious when one accepts that the problem is wholly financial, the result of irresponsible credit and currency expansion in the past. An economy that works best is one where sound money permits an increase in purchasing power of that money over time, reflecting the full benefits to consumers of improvements in production and technology. In such an economy, Schumpeter’s process of “creative destruction” takes place on a random basis. Instead, consumers and businesses are corralled into acing herd-like, financed by the cyclical ebb and flow of bank credit. The creation of the credit cycle forces us all into a form of destructive behaviour that otherwise would not occur. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 22nd, 2022

Rabobank: When The "Food System" Breaks Down, Everything Will Break Down With It

Rabobank: When The "Food System" Breaks Down, Everything Will Break Down With It By Michael Every of Rabobank Frogs in Boiling Water The headlines today will naturally be all about French President Macron winning re-election over Le Pen. There was such a flood of market commentary before the vote underlining that a Le Pen victory would have been a larger shock than Brexit, etc., and EUR was up in early Asian trading despite the fact that nobody actually thought Le Pen would win: either people secretly feared she might, or it’s ‘buy the rumour, buy the fact’. However, here is an uncomfortable fact: Le Pen scored around 42% of the vote. 5 years ago she got 34%. When her father ran against Chirac in 2002, he got 18%. Think 2027 on that basis. Indeed, if you look at the first round in 2022, Macron only won just over quarter of those who bothered voting, so around 21% of the eligible public, with the populist right and left hoovering up much of the rest, and the two establishment parties collapsing. 91% of those who voted for leftist Melenchon in the first round and Macron in the second say they did so to bloc Le Pen, not because Macron would be a good president. What kind of electoral mandate is that? Eyes will now turn to the French parliamentary elections and traditional promises to ‘heal divisions’: how? The French, like *all* economies, democratic or authoritarian, are Al Gore’s analogy of frogs in a pot of water whose temperature is slowing rising ever-closer to boiling point. The rumor was that if Marcon won there would be an EU oil embargo post-election: will this now occur? If so, markets will be roiled. If not, Europe will be roiled. Indeed, even given a further defeat for right-wing populism in Slovenia overnight, the EU remains deeply divided. In the eyes of many in the east, Germany is part of the problem, not part of the solution over Ukraine, as is Austria, which just rejected Ukrainian EU membership. What about France, given Macron’s predilection for failed Russian diplomacy and his constant harping on about European “strategic autonomy”? One wonders what the EU intellectuals who claim the Ukraine war is the fault of the US, and that the best response would be to accept spheres of influence, would say if the US were to agree and walk away from NATO given Europe is in Russia’s sphere, geographically, and that is what France sometimes seems to want geopolitically. China is very big on that too as part of its new Global Peace Initiative. Yet for now, a Russian commander in Ukraine states the plan is to take the east and south as far as the Russian-speaking breakaway region of Transnistria, implying an attack on Moldova. That’s not possible now. It doesn’t mean it won’t be soon. Indeed, the FT reports three individuals who have spoken to Putin say that he is not interested in a peace deal now, and instead wants a land-grab he can present as a victory. In short, while many in the EU may not be interested in this war, it is interested in them. Meanwhile, as if that were not enough, things are heating up on other fronts. In Covid-struck Shanghai, there are photos of gates being welded over the entrances of residential buildings, and an allegation from Radio Free Asia that authorities in Hunan are demanding passports be handed over in response to a surge in online searches about emigration. The lockdown’s impact on the Chinese economy is huge, including on ports. There is going to be another slump in shipments to the US and Europe, which industry experts call “staggering” in scale. That will create bullwhip effects as supply dries up even as demand fall offs (due to high prices), thus keeping prices high rather than allowing them to adjust down. Then there will be a flood of goods when things re-open, creating US logistical logjams and price-gouging all over again. As Fortune puts it: “‘Companies are beginning to panic’: Experts say China’s lockdowns will make inflation and the supply chain nightmare even worse”. This lockdown will also hit intra-Asia trade heading to the US and Europe. As Freight Waves puts it, “Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Cambodia have factories waiting on crucial raw materials needed to finish goods ranging from apparel and footwear to furniture. This pipeline saw an expansion in the trade as more American importers diversified their manufacturing out of China as a way to work around the China tariffs. But what this pandemic has revealed is even with this “manufacturing diversification,”  the dependency on China has never been fully severed.” So, a pan-Asian slowdown; more shortages; and a stronger argument for total supply-chain separation from China rather than just one degree, or to give up and get used to lock-downs. Friday also saw Indonesia cancel all exports of palm oil from 28 April until further notice. That takes out the world’s largest producer and exporter of this key vegetable oil at the same time as Ukraine’s sunflower oil is also largely off the world market. Naturally, this is going to have a vast knock-on effect across the global agri complex – and we were already seeing rationing in some Western supermarkets. Moreover, this underlines the recent trend of food exporters opting to stop doing so; on top of some countries using food exports as a ‘weapon’; and the US ‘weaponizing’ their currency. Together, this changes the geo-economic equation for net food importers who had been relying on exporting widgets in the assumption the dollars earned could be exchanged for food: and when that system breaks down, everything breaks down with it; complex global supply chains stop working. Yes, we aren’t there yet, but the progression is similar to that of the French elections: 18%; 34%; 42%, etc. However, rather than an instant Mad Max-style return to global barter, or a ‘Bretton Woods 3’, we will likely see the US dollar remain the lesser of all other evils for most of the global economy, if not all of it, alongside national-security protectionism and even greater dollar weaponization: with us or against us; in or out of the global network, and end-consumers in the West. Indeed, compared to most Europeans, many Americans are quite capable of thriving in a Mad Max world, and some seem to crave it. The macro reflects the micro. One way to boost the US dollar and deal with the risks of supply-side inflation becoming entrenched in wages, even if misplaced, is higher US rates, which are coming. Yet that puts ever greater pressure on all kinds of markets. Keep looking at the key cross USD/JPY, trading at 128.60 this morning. Something is going to give there if the Fed sticks to its present path. Is it higher JGB yields, and so an end to de facto MMT, unless Japan can re-establish a trade surplus despite soaring commodity import prices? There is a global (mercantilist) lesson in that which we have been flagging for years, and it’s not a good one for long corporate supply chains. It could also throw a wrench in global capital flows given Japan’s traditional role as capital exporter – might we see another jerk higher in Treasury yields too as a result? Or, if the BOJ ‘holds the door’, is it a lower JPY instead? In which case, how long until others follow? Friday and today both saw USD/CNY and USD/CNH begin to creak significantly, with lower daily fixings for CNY than expected and a large market move lower - CNH was trading at 6.53 this morning vs. 6.32 in mid-February, CNY at 6.55. Yes, on a trade-weighted basis this is merely China trying to slide down the string of a rising US dollar balloon rather than outright depreciation. Yet given USD/CNY is all the market looks at, it’s significant – especially for already-struggling Chinese borrowers. For example, if we were to see the USD up 10% from here, it would suggest USD/CNY well past 7 unless China wants to hold onto that balloon forever. Who is hedged for that? And what about the price of commodities still priced in dollars? Markets are already reeling almost across the board – except for the geopolitical trade described above. The S&P is -10.4% year-to-date (y-t-d); China’s Shanghai index was -16.6% at time of writing, and a market-leading Chinese fund just shifted its equity exposure to zero; Bloomberg’s global aggregate fixed income index is -10.4%; Bitcoin was -15.6%; and yet even given the recent dip in oil, Bloomberg’s commodity index is up 30.1% y-t-d; and the broad US dollar index is up 5.8%. So, savour the Macron victory, Mr Market; but you are not luxuriating in a hot-tub drinking champagne – you are in a very different body of water. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 10:21.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 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

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver

The Failure Of Fiat Currencies & The Implications For Gold & Silver Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, This is the background text of my Keynote Speech given yesterday to European Gold Forum yesterday, 13 April. To explain why fiat currencies are failing I started by defining money. I then described the relationship between fiat money and its purchasing power, the role of bank credit, and the interests of central banks. Undoubtedly, the recent sanctions over Russia will have a catastrophic effect for financialised currencies, possibly leading to the end of fifty-one years of the dollar regime. Russia and China plan to escape this fate for the rouble and yuan by tying their currencies to commodities and production instead of collapsing financial assets. The only way for those of us in the West to protect ourselves is with physical gold, which over time is tied to commodity and energy prices. What is money? To understand why all fiat currency systems fail, we must start by understanding what money is, and how it differs from other forms of currency and credit. These are long-standing relationships which transcend our times and have their origin in Roman law and the practice of medieval merchants who evolved a lex mercatoria, which extended money’s legal status to instruments that evolved out of money, such as bills of exchange, cheques, and other securities for money. And while as circulating media, historically currencies have been almost indistinguishable from money proper, in the last century issuers of currencies split them off from money so that they have become pure fiat. At the end of the day, what constitutes money has always been determined by its users as the means of exchanging their production for consumption in an economy based on the division of labour. Money is the bridge between the two, and while over the millennia different media of exchange have come and gone, only metallic money has survived to be trusted. These are principally gold, silver, and copper. Today the term usually refers to gold, which is still in government reserves, as the only asset with no counterparty risk. Silver, which as a monetary asset declined in importance as money after Germany moved to a gold standard following the Franco-Prussian war, remains a monetary metal, though with a gold to silver ratio currently over 70 times, it is not priced as such. For historical reasons, the world’s monetary system evolved based on English law. Britain, or more accurately England and Wales, still respects Roman, or natural law with respect to money. To this day, gold sovereign coins are legal tender. Strictly speaking, metallic gold and silver are themselves credit, representing yet-to-be-spent production. But uniquely, they are no one’s liability, unlike banknotes and bank deposits. Metallic money therefore has this exceptional status, and that fact alone means that it tends not to circulate, in accordance with Gresham’s Law, so long as lesser forms of credit are available. Money shares with its currency and credit substitutes a unique position in criminal law. If a thief steals money, he can be apprehended and charged with theft along with any accomplices. But if he passes the money on to another party who receives it in good faith and is not aware that it is stolen, the original owner has no recourse against the innocent receiver, or against anyone else who subsequently comes into possession of the money. It is quite unlike any other form of property, which despite passing into innocent hands, remains the property of the original owner. In law, cryptocurrencies and the mooted central bank digital currencies are not money, money-substitutes, or currencies. Given that a previous owner of stolen bitcoin sold on to a buyer unaware it was criminally obtained can subsequently claim it, there is no clear title without full provenance. In accordance with property law, the United States has ruled that cryptocurrencies are property, reclaimable as stolen items, differentiating cryptocurrencies from money and currency proper. And we can expect similar rulings in other jurisdictions to exclude cryptocurrencies from the legal status as money, whereas the position of CBDCs in this regard has yet to be clarified. We can therefore nail to the floor any claims that bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency can possibly have the legal status required of money. Under a proper gold standard, currency in the form of banknotes in public circulation was freely exchangeable for gold coin. So long as they were freely exchangeable, banknotes took on the exchange value of gold, allowing for the credit standing of the issuer. One of the issues Sir Isaac Newton considered as Master of the Royal Mint was to what degree of backing a currency required to retain credibility as a gold substitute. He concluded that that level should be 40%, though Ludwig von Mises, the Austrian economist who was as sound a sound money economist as it was possible to be appeared to be less prescriptive on the subject. The effect of a working gold standard is to ensure that money of the people’s choice is properly represented in the monetary system. Both currency and credit become bound to its virtues. The general level of prices will fluctuate influenced by changes in the quantity of currency and credit in circulation, but the discipline of the limits of credit and currency creation brings prices back to a norm. This discipline is disliked by governments who believe that money is the responsibility of a government acting in the interests of the people, and not of the people themselves. This was expressed in Georg Knapp’s State Theory of Money, published in 1905 and became Germany’s justification for paying for armaments by inflationary means ahead of the First World War, and continuing to use currency debasement as the principal means of government finance until the paper mark collapsed in 1923. Through an evolutionary process, modern governments first eroded then took away from the public for itself the determination of what constitutes money. The removal of all discipline of the gold standard has allowed governments to inflate the quantities of currency and credit as a means of transferring the public wealth to itself. As a broad representation of this dilution, Figure 1 shows the growth of broad dollar currency since the last vestige of a gold standard under the Bretton Woods Agreement was suspended by President Nixon in August 1971. From that date, currency and bank credit have increased from $685 billion to $21.84 trillion, that is thirty-two times. And this excludes an unknown increase in the quantity of dollars not in the US financial system, commonly referred to as Eurodollars, which perhaps account for several trillion more. Gold priced in fiat dollars has risen from $35 when Bretton Woods was suspended, to $1970 currently. A better way of expressing this debasement of the dollar is to say that priced in gold, the dollar has lost 98.3% of its purchasing power (see Figure 4 later in this article). While it is a mistake to think of the relationship between the quantity of currency and credit in circulation and the purchasing power of the dollar as linear (as monetarists claim), not only has the rate of debasement accelerated in recent years, but it has become impossible for the destruction of purchasing power to be stopped. That would require governments reneging on mandated welfare commitments and for them to stand back from economic intervention. It would require them to accept that the economy is not the government’s business, but that of those who produce goods and services for the benefit of others. The state’s economic role would have to be minimised. This is not just a capitalistic plea. It has been confirmed as true countless times through history. Capitalistic nations always do better at creating personal wealth than socialistic ones. This is why the Berlin Wall was demolished by angry crowds, finally driven to do so by the failure of communism relative to capitalism just a stone’s throw away. The relative performance of Hong Kong compared with China when Mao Zedong was starving his masses on some sort of revolutionary whim, also showed how the same ethnicity performed under socialism compared with free markets. The relationship between fiat currency and its purchasing power One can see from the increase in the quantity of US dollar M3 currency and credit and the fall in the purchasing power measured against gold that the government’s monetary statistic does not square with the market. Part of the reason is that government statistics do not capture all the credit in an economy (only bank credit issued by licenced banks is recorded), dollars created outside the system such as Eurodollars are additional, and market prices fluctuate. Monetarists make little or no allowance for these factors, claiming that the purchasing power of a currency is inversely proportional to its quantity. While there is much truth in this statement, it is only suited for a proper gold-backed currency, when one community’s relative valuations between currency and goods are brought into line with the those of its neighbours through arbitrage, neutralising any subjectivity of valuation. The classical representation of the monetary theory of prices does not apply in conditions whereby faith in an unbacked currency is paramount in deciding its utility. A population which loses faith in its government’s currency can reject it entirely despite changes in its circulating quantity. This is what wipes out all fiat currencies eventually, ensuring that if a currency is to survive it must eventually return to a credible gold exchange standard. The weakness of a fiat currency was famously demonstrated in Europe in the 1920s when the Austrian crown and German paper mark were destroyed. Following the Second World War, the Japanese military yen suffered the same fate in Hong Kong, and Germany’s mark for a second time in the mid 1940s. More recently, the Zimbabwean dollar and Venezuelan bolivar have sunk to their value as wastepaper — and they are not the only ones. Ultimately it is the public which always determines the use value of a circulating medium. Figure 2 below, of the oil price measured in goldgrams, dollars, pounds, and euros shows that between 1950 and 1974 a gold standard even in the incomplete form that existed under the Bretton Woods Agreement coincided with price stability. It took just a few years from the ending of Bretton Woods for the consequences of the loss of a gold anchor to materialise. Until then, oil suppliers, principally Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, had faith in the dollar and other currencies. It was only when they realised the implications of being paid in pure fiat that they insisted on compensation for currency debasement. That they were free to raise oil prices was the condition upon which the Saudis and the rest of OPEC accepted payment solely in US dollars. In the post-war years between 1950 and 1970, US broad money grew by 167%, yet the dollar price of oil was unchanged for all that time. Similar price stability was shown in other commodities, clearly demonstrating that the quantity of currency and credit in circulation was not the sole determinant of the dollar’s purchasing power. The role of bank credit While the relationship between bank credit and the sum of the quantity of currency and bank reserves varies, the larger quantity by far is the quantity of bank credit. The behaviour of the banking cohort therefore has the largest impact on the overall quantity of credit in the economy. Under the British gold standard of the nineteenth century, the fluctuations in the willingness of banks to lend resulted in periodic booms and slumps, so it is worthwhile examining this phenomenon, which has become the excuse for state intervention in financial markets and ultimately the abandonment of gold standards entirely. Banks are dealers in credit, lending at a higher rate of interest than they pay to depositors. They do not deploy their own money, except in a general balance sheet sense. A bank’s own capital is the basis upon which a bank can expand its credit. The process of credit creation is widely misunderstood but is essentially simple. If a bank agrees to lend money to a borrowing customer, the loan appears as an asset on the bank’s balance sheet. Through the process of double entry bookkeeping, this loan must immediately have a balancing entry, crediting the borrower’s current account. The customer is informed that the loan is agreed, and he can draw down the funds credited to his current account from that moment. No other bank, nor any other source of funding is involved. With merely two ledger entries the bank’s balance sheet has expanded by the amount of the loan. For a banker, the ability to create bank credit in this way is, so long as the lending is prudent, an extremely profitable business. The amount of credit outstanding can be many multiples of the bank’s own capital. So, if a bank’s ratio of balance sheet assets to equity is eight times, and the gross margin between lending and deposits is 3%, then that becomes a gross return of 24% on the bank’s own equity. The restriction on a bank’s balance sheet leverage comes from two considerations. There is lending risk itself, which will vary with economic conditions, and depositor risk, which is the depositors’ collective faith in the bank’s financial condition. Depositor risk, which can lead to depositors withdrawing their credit in the bank in favour of currency or a deposit with another bank, can in turn originate from a bank offering an interest rate below that of other banks, or alternatively depositors concerned about the soundness of the bank itself. It is the combination of lending and depositor risk that determines a banker’s view on the maximum level of profits that can be safely earned by dealing in credit. An expansion in the quantity of credit in an economy stimulates economic activity because businesses are tricked into thinking that the extra money available is due to improved trading conditions. Furthermore, the apparent improvement in trading conditions encourages bankers to increase lending even further. A virtuous cycle of lending and apparent economic improvement gets under way as the banking cohort takes its average balance sheet assets to equity ratio from, say, five to eight times, to perhaps ten or twelve. Competition for credit business then persuades banks to cut their margins to attract new business customers. Customers end up borrowing for borrowing’s sake, initiating investment projects which would not normally be profitable. Even under a gold standard lending exuberance begins to drive up prices. Businesses find that their costs begin to rise, eating into their profits. Keeping a close eye on lending risk, bankers are acutely aware of deteriorating profit prospects for their borrowers and therefore of an increasing lending risk. They then try to reduce their asset to equity ratios. As a cohort whose members are driven by the same considerations, banks begin to withdraw credit from the economy, reversing the earlier stimulus and the economy enters a slump. This is a simplistic description of a regular cycle of fluctuating bank credit, which historically varied approximately every ten years or so, but could fluctuate between seven and twelve. Figure 3 illustrates how these fluctuations were reflected in the inflation rate in nineteenth century Britain following the introduction of the sovereign gold coin until just before the First World War. Besides illustrating the regularity of the consequences of a cycle of bank credit expansion and contraction marked by the inflationary consequences, Figure 3 shows there is no correlation between the rate of price inflation and wholesale borrowing costs. In other words, modern central bank monetary policies which use interest rates to control inflation are misconstrued. The effect was known and named Gibson’s paradox by Keynes. But because there was no explanation for it in Keynesian economics, it has been ignored ever since. Believing that Gibson’s paradox could be ignored is central to central bank policies aimed at taming the cycle of price inflation. The interests of central banks Notionally, central banks’ primary interest is to intervene in the economy to promote maximum employment consistent with moderate price inflation, targeted at 2% measured by the consumer price index. It is a policy aimed at stimulating the economy but not overstimulating it. We shall return to the fallacies involved in a moment. In the second half of the nineteenth century, central bank intervention started with the Bank of England assuming for itself the role of lender of last resort in the interests of ensuring economically destabilising bank crises were prevented. Intervention in the form of buying commercial bank credit stopped there, with no further interest rate manipulation or economic intervention. The last true slump in America was in 1920-21. As it had always done in the past the government ignored it in the sense that no intervention or economic stimulus were provided, and the recovery was rapid. It was following that slump that the problems started in the form of a new federal banking system led by Benjamin Strong who firmly believed in monetary stimulation. The Roaring Twenties followed on a sea of expanding credit, which led to a stock market boom — a financial bubble. But it was little more than an exaggerated cycle of bank credit expansion, which when it ended collapsed Wall Street with stock prices falling 89% measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Index. Coupled with the boom in agricultural production exaggerated by mechanisation, the depression that followed was particularly hard on the large agricultural sector, undermining agriculture prices worldwide until the Second World War. It is a fact ignored by inflationists that first President Herbert Hoover, and then Franklin Roosevelt extended the depression to the longest on record by trying to stop it. They supported prices, which meant products went unsold. And at the very beginning, by enacting the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act they collapsed not only domestic demand but all domestic production that relied on imported raw materials and semi-manufactured products. These disastrous policies were supported by a new breed of economist epitomised by Keynes, who believed that capitalism was flawed and required government intervention. But proto-Keynesian attempts to stimulate the American economy out of the depression continually failed. As late as 1940, eleven years after the Wall Street Crash, US unemployment was still as high as 15%. What the economists in the Keynesian camp ignored was the true cause of the Wall Street crash and the subsequent depression, rooted in the credit inflation which drove the Roaring Twenties. As we saw in Figure 3, it was no more than the turning of the long-established repeating cycle of bank credit, this time fuelled additionally by Benjamin Strong’s inflationary credit expansion as Chairman of the new Fed. The cause of the depression was not private enterprise, but government intervention. It is still misread by the establishment to this day, with universities pushing Keynesianism to the exclusion of classic economics and common sense. Additionally, the statistics which have become a religion for policymakers and everyone else are corrupted by state interests. Soon after wages and pensions were indexed in 1980, government statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics began working on how to reduce the impact on consumer prices. An independent estimate of US consumer inflation put it at well over 15% recently, when the official rate was 8%. Particularly egregious is the state’s insistence that a target of 2% inflation for consumer prices stimulates demand, when the transfer of wealth suffered by savers, the low paid and pensioners deprived of their inflation compensation at the hands of the BLS is glossed over. So is the benefit to the government, the banks, and their favoured borrowers from this wealth transfer. The problem we now face in this fiat money environment is not only that monetary policy has become corrupted by the state’s self-interest, but that no one in charge of it appears to understand money and credit. Technically, they may be very well qualified. But it is now over fifty years since money was suspended from the monetary system. Not only have policymakers ignored indicators such as Gibson’s paradox. Not only do they believe their own statistics. And not only do they think that debasing the currency is a good thing, but we find that monetary policy committees would have us believe that money has nothing to do with rising prices. All this is facilitated by presenting inflation as rising prices, when in fact it is declining purchasing power. Figure 4 shows how purchasing power of currencies should be read. Only now, it seems, we are aware that inflation of prices is not transient. Referring to Figure 1, the M3 broad money supply measure has almost tripled since Lehman failed, so there’s plenty of fuel driving a lower purchasing power for the dollar yet. And as discussed above, it is not just quantities of currency and credit we should be watching, but changes in consumer behaviour and whether consumers tend to dispose of currency liquidity in favour of goods. The indications are that this is likely to happen, accelerated by sanctions against Russia, and the threat that they will bring in a new currency era, undermining the dollar’s global status. Alerted to higher prices in the coming months, there is no doubt that there is an increased level of consumer stockpiling, which put another way is the disposal of personal liquidity before it buys less. So far, the phases of currency evolution have been marked by the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971. The start of the petrodollar era in 1973 led to a second phase, the financialisation of the global economy. And finally, from now the return to a commodity standard brought about by sanctions against Russia is driving prices in the Western alliance’s currencies higher, which means their purchasing power is falling anew. The faux pas over Russia With respect to the evolution of money and credit, this brings us up to date with current events. Before Russia invaded Ukraine and the Western alliance imposed sanctions on Russia, we were already seeing prices soaring, fuelled by the expansion of currency and credit in recent years. Monetary planners blamed supply chain problems and covid dislocations, both of which they believed would right themselves over time. But the extent of these price rises had already exceeded their expectations, and the sanctions against Russia have made the situation even worse. While America might feel some comfort that the security of its energy supplies is unaffected, that is not the case for Europe. In recent years Europe has been closing its fossil fuel production and Germany’s zeal to go green has even extended to decommissioning nuclear plants. It seems that going fossil-free is only within national borders, increasing reliance on imported oil, gas, and coal. In Europe’s case, the largest source of these imports by far is Russia. Russia has responded by the Russian central bank announcing that it is prepared to buy gold from domestic credit institutions, first at a fixed price or 5,000 roubles per gramme, and then when the rouble unexpectedly strengthened at a price to be agreed on a case-by-case basis. The signal is clear: the Russian central bank understands that gold plays an important role in price stability. At the same time, the Kremlin announced that it would only sell oil and gas to unfriendly nations (i.e. those imposing sanctions) in return for payments in roubles. The latter announcement was targeted primarily at EU nations and amounts to an offer at reasonable prices in roubles, or for them to bid up for supplies in euros or dollars from elsewhere. While the price of oil shot up and has since retreated by a third, natural gas prices are still close to their all-time highs. Despite the northern hemisphere emerging from spring the cost of energy seems set to continue to rise. The effect on the Eurozone economies is little short of catastrophic. While the rouble has now recovered all the fall following the sanctions announcement, the euro is becoming a disaster. The ECB still has a negative deposit rate and enormous losses on its extensive bond portfolio from rapidly rising yields. The national central banks, which are its shareholders also have losses which in nearly all cases wipes out their equity (balance sheet equity being defined as the difference between a bank’s assets and its liabilities — a difference which should always be positive). Furthermore, these central banks as the NCB’s shareholders make a recapitalisation of the whole euro system a complex event, likely to question faith in the euro system. As if that was not enough, the large commercial banks are extremely highly leveraged, averaging over 20 times with Credit Agricole about 30 times. The whole system is riddled with bad and doubtful debts, many of which are concealed within the TARGET2 cross-border settlement system. We cannot believe any banking statistics. Unlike the US, Eurozone banks have used the repo markets as a source of zero cost liquidity, driving the market size to over €10 trillion. The sheer size of this market, plus the reliance on bond investment for a significant proportion of commercial bank assets means that an increase in interest rates into positive territory risks destabilising the whole system. The ECB is sitting on interest rates to stop them rising and stands ready to buy yet more members’ government bonds to stop yields rising even more. But even Germany, which is the most conservative of the member states, faces enormous price pressures, with producer prices of industrial products officially increasing by 25.9% in the year to March, 68% for energy, and 21% for intermediate goods. There can be no doubt that markets will apply increasing pressure for substantial rises in Eurozone bond yields, made significantly worse by US sanctions policies against Russia. As an importer of commodities and raw materials Japan is similarly afflicted. Both currencies are illustrated in Figure 5. The yen appears to be in the most immediate danger with its collapse accelerating in recent weeks, but as both the Bank of Japan and the ECB continue to resist rising bond yields, their currencies will suffer even more. The Bank of Japan has been indulging in quantitative easing since 2000 and has accumulated substantial quantities of government and corporate bonds and even equities in ETFs. Already, the BOJ is in negative equity due to falling bond prices. To prevent its balance sheet from deteriorating even further, it has drawn a line in the sand: the yield on the 10-year JGB will not be permitted to rise above 0.25%. With commodity and energy prices soaring, it appears to be only a matter of time before the BOJ is forced to give way, triggering a banking crisis in its highly leveraged commercial banking sector which like the Eurozone has asset to equity ratios exceeding 20 times. It would appear therefore that the emerging order of events with respect to currency crises is the yen collapses followed in short order by the euro. The shock to the US banking system must be obvious. That the US banks are considerably less geared than their Japanese and euro system counterparts will not save them from global systemic risk contamination. Furthermore, with its large holdings of US Treasuries and agency debt, current plans to run them off simply exposes the Fed to losses, which will almost certainly require its recapitalisation. The yield on the US 10-year Treasury Bond is soaring and given the consequences of sanctions on global commodity prices, it has much further to go. The end of the financial regime for currencies From London’s big bang in the mid-eighties, the major currencies, particularly the US dollar and sterling became increasingly financialised. It occurred at a time when production of consumer goods migrated to Asia, particularly China. The entire focus of bank lending and loan collateral moved towards financial assets and away from production. And as interest rates declined, in general terms these assets improved in value, offering greater security to lenders, and reinforcing the trend. This is now changing, with interest rates set to rise significantly, bursting a financial bubble which has been inflating for decades. While bond yields have started to rise, there is further for them to go, undermining not just the collateral position, but government finances as well. And further rises in bond yields will turn equity markets into bear markets, potentially rivalling the 1929-1932 performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index. That being the case, the collapse already underway in the yen and the euro will begin to undermine the dollar, not on the foreign exchanges, but in terms of its purchasing power. We can be reasonably certain that the Fed’s mandate will give preference to supporting asset prices over stabilising the currency, until it is too late. China and Russia appear to be deliberately isolating themselves from this fate for their own currencies by increasing the importance of commodities. It was noticeable how China began to aggressively accumulate commodities, including grain stocks, almost immediately after the Fed cut its funds rate to zero and instituted QE at $120 billion per month in March 2020. This sent a signal that the Chinese leadership were and still are fully aware of the inflationary implications of US monetary policy. Today China has stockpiled well over half the world’s maize, rice, wheat and soybean stocks, securing basics foodstuffs for 20% of the world’s population. As a subsequent development, the war in Ukraine has ensured that global grain supplies this year will be short, and sanctions against Russia have effectively cut off her exports from the unfriendly nations. Together with fertiliser shortages for the same reasons, not only will the world’s crop yields fall below last year’s, but grain prices are sure to be bid up against the poorer nations. Russia has effectively tied the rouble to energy prices by insisting roubles are used for payment, principally by the EU. Russia’s other two large markets are China and India, from which she is accepting yuan and rupees respectively. Putting sales to India to one side, Russia is not only commoditising the rouble, but her largest trading partner not just for energy but for all her other commodity exports is China. And China is following similar monetary policies. There are good reasons for it. The Western alliance is undermining their own currencies, of that there can be no question. Financial asset values will collapse as interest rates rise. Contrastingly, not only is Russia’s trade surplus increasing, but the central bank has begun to ease interest rates and exchange controls and will continue to liberate her economy against a background of a strong currency. The era of the commodity backed currency is arriving to replace the financialised. And lastly, we should refer to Figure 2, of the price of oil in goldgrams. The link to commodity prices is gold. It is time to abandon financial assets for their supposed investment returns and take a stake in the new commoditised currencies. Gold is the link. Business of all sorts, not just mining enterprises which accumulate cash surpluses, would be well advised to question whether they should retain deposits in the banks, or alternatively, gain the protection of possessing some gold bullion vaulted independently from the banking system. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Wisdom Of Crowds Isn"t Always Wise To Follow

Wisdom Of Crowds Isn't Always Wise To Follow Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, The “wisdom of the crowd” isn’t always wise to follow. A recent article by Scott Nations via MarketWatch made an excellent point. “It’s easy to become anxious as an investor.  It’s particularly easy to become anxious when war is erupting in Europe, stock markets are gyrating, inflation is spiking, and the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to snuff out that inflation.  So what do many investors do in times like this?  While we like to think that we’ll be rugged individualists and go our own way, too often we reflexively look around to see what everyone else, the great lowing herd of investors, is doing.  And then many of us will join that herd.” What is herding? “The term herd instinct refers to a phenomenon where people join groups and follow the actions of others under the assumption that others already did their research. Herd instincts are common in all aspects of society, but particularly within the financial sector. Investors tend to follow what they perceive other investors are doing, rather than relying on their own analysis.” – Investopedia According to a C.F.A. Institute survey of investment practitioners globally, 34% stated that the “wisdom of crowds” or “herding” was the most significant contributor to investment decision-making. The top rank for herding is a reminder of the lemming suicide myth in which lemmings end their lives by following one another off a cliff. However, before they can see the cliff’s edge, they believe the “wisdom of the crowd” in front of them knows where it’s going. Right In The Middle, Wrong On Both Ends Over the last few years, we have seen many examples of crowd wisdom. The rise of the terms such as “F.O.M.O.” (Fear of Missing Out,} to “Y.O.L.O” (You Only Live Once) and even “T.I.N.A” (There Is No Alternative) are clear examples of herding. As others are “seemingly” making money, investors who are not participating follow the crowd because they feel their economic status will fall relative to those participating. That behavior causes even more of the same behavior, and bubbles eventually form. Important Note: In the very short term, political, fundamental, and economic data has very little influence over the market. Such is especially the case in a late-stage bull market advance where “crowd wisdom” exceeds the grasp of the risk undertaken by investors. In other words, “price is the only thing that matters” in the short term. Price measures the current “psychology” of the “herd” and is the clearest representation of the behavioral dynamics of the living organism we call “the market.” But in the long-term, fundamentals are the only thing that matters. As the chart below shows, 10-year forward total real returns from current margin-adjusted valuations are not promising. Source: Dr. Robert Shiller Data Chart by Real Investment Advice We Now Return To Our Message The “herding” effect worked very well for a while as investors chased surging prices supported by government and Federal Reserve interventions. Investors armed with a fresh stimulus check, a “Robinhood” app, and membership to #WallStreetBets piled into many investment options to “get rich quick.” Meme stocks such as Peleton, Zoom, and others. Thematic stocks such as “Space” related stocks. SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) took money HOPING to find an investment. Speculative investments funds such as ARKK Innovation (ARKK). Leveraged funds Record levels of speculative option buying Not surprisingly, it all ended rather poorly. Historically, following the herd always works in the middle of a market rise or fall. However, “crowd wisdom” is ALWAYS wrong at the extremes. Source: FX Street Chart Reconstructed By: Real Investment Advice “The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” – Benjamin Graham. But can we do better as investors? Rothschild’s Elegant Solution While it is easy to get swept up by the herd as prices are rising or falling, we can manage the risk in our portfolio. You can not effectively and repetitively get “in” and “out” of the market in a timely fashion. Such is neither portfolio nor risk management. However, you can manage risk by adjusting market exposure when “risk” outweighs the potential for further “reward.” Every investment strategy has a consequence and will lose money from time to time. The only difference is the amount of the loss, what causes it, and the amount of time lost in reaching your investing goals. Baron Nathan Rothschild had an elegant solution to solve the “herding” problem. If the “herd” is correct in the middle but wrong at the extremes, avoid the extremes. “You can have the top 20% and the bottom 20%, I will take the 80% in the middle.” The following is a graphical example of the 80/20 investment philosophy. Putting It To The Test The 80/20 rule is the basis of our investment management process. Importantly, you will NOT beat the market from one year to the next. However, you will avoid the “time loss” required to “get back to even.” Such gets shown in the example below. ($100,000 investment in the S&P 500 returns a far lower value than the “Rothschild 80/20 Rule” model. Even if I include a 2% management fee.) Here is a chart to illustrate the deviation more effectively. (Capital appreciation only.) Notably, even though the model underperforms MOST years, the reduced levels of volatility allowed investors to emotionally “stick” to their discipline over time. Furthermore, assets can “compound” over the long term by minimizing the drawdowns. An easy way to apply this principle is to use a simple moving average crossover. In the chart below, an investor is long the S&P 500 index when it is above the 12-month moving average. They would then switch to bonds when the index falls below the 12-month average. (You can run this backtest yourself at Portfolio Visualizer) No, it’s not perfect every time. But no measure of risk management is. But having a discipline to manage risk is better than not having one at all.  Tyler Durden Mon, 04/11/2022 - 09:10.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 11th, 2022