Well maybe a few more than two. But first off, did you all see Biden promising 31 more tanks to Ukraine? I watched his 20 minute word salad speech and I was speechless. They want this war to go on and on and on. They want all the spending they can squeeze out of this, and boy the money is flowing.
It took me a long time…over two hours. But I wanted to look up the first time I said that when the economy is in the toilet, they will spark a war, open the debt gates and spend their way out of the hole. Well it was all the way back during the NASDAQ meltdown, and sure enough, we went into Iraq over the BS of weapons of mass destruction. 20 years ago. I probably said it sometime in the 90’s also, but got tired of searching.
Once the war time spending hits, they can spend their way out of most recessions. Well, they’ve done it again. They set up the Ukraine since 2013 to be the area ( patsy) for the next multi billion dollar war spending spree. So it worked. They pushed and pushed Russia to the point where Putin did what any world leader would do…he snapped and pushed back.
That was and is the plan and the reason all these politicians are saying things like “what ever it takes” concerning helping Ukraine win. Listen folks, these people don’t give a rats ass about the Ukrainian people. They do like the Ukrainian chemicals, rare earths, and oil and gas…but the people? To the politicians they’re just as expendable as the people in Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, and a hundred other places. Cannon fodder, nothing more. Oh and a good place to launder their millions of dollars…they do like that too.
But they’re playing a very dangerous game this time around. Russia isn’t Iraq or Libya. Russia isn’t Vietnam or Afghanistan. Russia is a very formidable opponent. So, while they’re all in on this war because of the debt that the Central banks can create and the money that gets spent on more armaments…if it gets out of control, we are in WWIII, with the death and destruction that brings. War is a racket, as quoted by Gen. Smedly Butler so long ago. Well this is one of their biggest rackets ever.
Okay, so lets me get back to market land. This coming week is yet another two day FOMC meeting, where they will determine what they’re going to do with interest rates. Then, on the second day of the meeting, Powell himself will give a Q&A press conference, where he’ll get asked 25 times “when are you going to pause and when are you going to cut rates.” Both of which he will dance around in Fed speak. He’s not as good as Mumbles Greenspan, but he’s pretty deft at it.
When you’ve been writing articles for as long as I have, and in some (many) of them you make predictions, you know you will win some and lose some. You simply hope to win more than you lose.
My thesis on inflation and the Fed has been right unfortunately. Some of the catchy little phrases I’ve used is “it’s different this time” and I’ve gone to great lengths to suggest that this current fed, is NOT going to be bullied by the market.
In fact, one of the more comical things I’ve seen in the last 3 months has been the so called “experts” on the market, explaining how the Fed MUST pivot towards cutting rates, and how they most certainly will. Yet time after time, whether it’s Powell, or Mester, or Bullard or whomever…they simply say “higher for longer.” And then the experts go off in a huff and a puff.
The world we live in right now, is crazier than at any time in my life. We, (Humanity) is being attacked as never before. I mention the WEF ( World Economic Forum) a lot, because in years past the globalist scumbags tried to keep their plans secret. From the Club of Rome, the Builderbergers, the CFR, etc, all kept their dirty little agenda’s hidden from the public. But not Satan-Klaus and his band. They tell you right to your face how much they hate you and want you dead.
Hey at LEAST they’re telling you the truth. They are all in on population reduction, eliminating your choice of food, what kind of travel you can or can’t do, taking over your healthcare, setting up 15 minute cities, eliminating dairy farms, cattle ranches and on and on. Right in your face.
But other than them, 99.9% of everything else you’re told is pure BS. Safe and effective comes to mind. Or Trump was a Russian plant, or we didn’t blow up the Nordstream pipeline, or Iraq having WMD’s, or Russia had no incentive to invade Ukraine, or Russia is paving the way to conquer Europe, or there’s 89 genders, or ivermectin is dangerous and doesn’t work, or, or, or, or etc ad-infinitum. You get it. Everything’s a lie.
So, if everything is a lie ( amazingly except what the WEF says they want to do to you) it’s awful hard to figure out fact from fiction. The gift of discernment is very important in trying to understand the ultimate goals of the various agenda’s.
When it comes to the Fed and hiking rates, I am on the record in these pages back in March of last year, as saying that inflation would be more than people expected, and last longer than people expected and that the fed was going to use rate hikes to fight this inflation. Oh, and just so you understand, my theory is that they’re using inflation as the cover for rate hikes.
Investors have itchy fingers these days – or perhaps it’s just the way they have their high frequency computer algorithms programmed.
Either way, it’s why analysts like Felix Salmon see markets “trembl[ing] at the Fed's every twitch.” And yet, he points out, it doesn't seem to be having much effect on the economy.
Salmon adds that the Fed's main policy tool — even more important than setting interest rates or printing money — is the trust that Americans have in it to do the right thing.
According to recent surveys, a majority of Americans believes the U.S. is in an ongoing recession that the Fed has not only failed to prevent but is seen as having caused it (or is on the verge of causing it).
Analysts say the economy is running hotter than it should be, that the job market remains tight with headline unemployment at historic lows, and that mixed signals abound about the scope of the coming downturn.
Pull up a chair folks, we need to chat a bit. As I expected when news of 3 different banks went belly up, I got a lot of Emails from people in a bit of a panic. “What do I do?”” was a common theme.
The most common question was about gold. “Should I take my money out of the bank and buy gold?” Then there were the ones asking about “should I move my money to smaller local banks, or stay with the big one’s?” The list of questions is pretty long folks.
But to be honest with you and I try and be as much as I can, the questions sort of “bothered” me. If you’ve been reading what I write for any length of time, you should know the basic answers to these types of questions. Now I don’t want to sound snarky here at all, I’m just being serious. We’ve put out two articles a week for over 25 years. Every one of those type questions has been answered in the past.
Which means I either don’t get the message across properly, or some folks don’t “get” what I mean, and others simply don’t/didn’t believe that big trouble could come. But trouble will come. Remember the series I wrote about Dark Winter? I didn’t write that to show you that I know how to grow vegetables, or shoot guns. I did it because trouble is indeed in our future.
So let me see how much of this I can pack into a single article. We are in a debt based system. As completely bizarro as that sounds, our economy is based on the idea of ever rising debt levels. Let me ask you a question, how many times since say 1970 have you heard people in Congress say that they have to get spending under control and our National debt reduced? A hundred? Five hundred? And how has that worked out?
Here's the little secret that they don’t want you to know. They NEVER plan on paying back the debt. The system was designed to be milked for all they can get out of it. Very bright people many decades ago knew exactly how to create a stable vibrant economy, one backed by “something.” But they shelved that idea for a fiat, unbacked, unlimited debt deal. Why? Because if you can print so called money out of thin air, why not print the hell out of it, use it to build roads, and bridges, and military toys, and rockets and “stuff” you want? Then when the debts are at the most unimaginable levels, when it’s impossible to keep playing the whack-a-mole game, you simply default on it all, and then “restart” with a stable currency backed by something. Gold comes to mind.
Amid a near-$100 billion run on smaller and medium-sized banks, gold prices appear heading toward all-time highs.
More and more analysts agree that there’s a lot more room for gold – and silver – to climb as global banks struggle and the Fed ponders further interest rate and quantitative tightening decisions.
Fed data show that bank customers collectively pulled over $98 billion from their accounts for the week ending March 15th, as Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed.
Friday, after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and over a dozen other officials convened a special closed meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, they insisted the nation’s banking system “remains sound and resilient.”
The run on bank deposits after the SVB and Signature Bank collapses is noteworthy. Yet, customers have been gradually withdrawing cash from banks for close to a year.
Since April 13, 2022, total deposits have fallen $655 billion or 3.6% – from a peak of $18.16 trillion to $17.50 trillion last Wednesday.
Volatility Good for Gold
Courtenay Brown and Neil Irwin open their Friday column with these startling headline-like declarations:
Brown and Irwin say the last 10 days have felt similar to the 2008 Great Recession.
But there are crucial differences, they point out, that lower the risk that recent events will have “the same seismic impact on the world economy” as back then.
Undoubtedly, the still-unfolding run on bank deposits has raised the odds of a recession, especially with a Fed’s hellbent focus on bringing down inflation at virtually whatever cost.
Crisis? What Crisis?
A lot of news competing for our attention – financial, political and otherwise – as a new week unfolds:
But here’s the story I want to highlight today:
David Hollerith reports today that depositors pulled another $126 billion out of U.S. banks in the week ending March 22nd – primarily from the nation's largest institutions.
The largest 25 banks in the U.S. by asset size lost $90 billion (on a seasonally adjusted basis), according to the Fed.
Smaller banks, which suffered a huge run the previous week as regional lenders Silicon Valley and Signature Banks were going bust, were able to stabilize their assets, gaining back $6 billion.
Total industry deposits fell to $17.3 trillion, down 4.4% from the same week a year ago – the lowest level since July 2021.
Hollerith says the new numbers reinforce some trends that were already in place.
For example, deposits had been falling at all banks before the Silicon Valley failure in the first two months of 2023. Deposits for all banks were also down 5% annually in last year’s 4th quarter.
Many observers attribute this systemic shift to pressure being applied by the Fed’s aggressive (obsessive?) campaign to bring down inflation closer to its 2% target.
During the early part of the pandemic, when interest rates were virtually zero, banks were drenched in deposits.
When the Fed started raising those rates last March to cool the economy, customers who had deposits began seeking out places with higher yields.
The first year-over-year deposit decline for all banks came in the 2nd quarter of 2022.
As we’ve pointed out, some of this money has been flowing to money market funds, which are offering investors a rate of return in the range of 4-5%.
Since January 1st, investors have poured over $500 billion into those funds, according to too big to fail Bank of America.
That’s the highest quarterly inflow since a peak earlier in the pandemic, and another $60 billion was added to these funds in the past week.
Government and banking officials have been working to prevent massive deposit outflows in the aftermath of last month’s bank failures.
Federal regulators pledged to cover all depositors at both banks they seized, hoping that would calm any panic, and also promised to help other regional banks if needed.
Eleven megabanks also decided to provide another troubled regional lender, First Republic, with $30 billion in uninsured deposits to stabilize its dire situation.
The challenge that outflowing deposits create for all banks is that if they raise rates on their deposits to keep or attract customers, their profits fall, making shareholders wary.
But if they lose too many customers, as SVB did, they lose critical assets and may have to sell assets, like long-term Treasuries, at a loss to cover withdrawals.
SVB customers withdrew $42 billion in one day, leaving the bank with a negative cash balance of $958 million, forcing regulators to seize the bank, which was the 16th largest in the U.S.
Over the last several months, consumers’ expectations of future inflation have been steadily falling – a sign perhaps that Americans had confidence in the Fed's war on prices.
Courtenay Brown and Neil Irwin, who say that changed last month, pointed out today that for the first time in six months, median inflation expectations of everyday households in the year ahead rose.
They increased, in fact, by a half-percentage point to 4.7%, according to the New York Fed's latest Survey of Consumer Expectations.
The report comes as expectations for the level of price increases for everyday goods and services — like food, gas, rent and medical care — decreased in March.
After 2023's hotter-than-expected inflation reports, the March data suggest that the public now believes inflation won’t fall quite as much as they have been anticipating.
Brown and Irwin caution, however, that one month of new numbers doesn’t necessarily mean that “inflation expectations are becoming unanchored. But,” they add, “more readings of this kind could worry officials.
Median inflation expectations at the three-year-ahead horizon ticked up by 0.1%, to 2.8%, but they fell slightly (by 0.1 percentage point) to 2.5% at the five-year-look-ahead timeframe.
Consumers also pushed up expectations for household income growth and, for the first time since last fall, how much they plan to spend.
Mean unemployment expectations — or the mean probability that the unemployment rate will be higher one year from now — increased by 1.3 percentage point to 40.7%.
The average perceived probability of losing one’s job in the next 12 months decreased by 0.4 percentage point to 11.4%. But the average probability of voluntarily leaving one’s job declines by 1.5 percentage points to 19.3%.
They warned, too, that it was getting harder to get a loan – a point Brown and Irwin say is worth watching in the wake of the recent bank failures and bailouts.
The share of households reporting that it was more difficult to access credit compared to one year ago rose to the highest level in the survey's 10-year history.
Notably, year-ahead expectations about households’ financial situations also improved – with fewer expecting to be worse off and more respondents expecting to be better off a year from now.
I’ve been trying to climb out of crisis mode lately.
Soulful Bob Marley keeps replaying in my head: “Don’t worry ‘bout a ‘ting. Cause every little ‘ting gonna be alright…”
But as we get ready to head into another spring weekend, I’ve been finding it hard to find a meaningful and timely topic to write about that doesn’t entail some impending disaster, tragedy or danger.
There’s the Inflation Crisis…
Fed governor Michelle Bowman traveled all the way to Germany to tell a crowd attending an ECB symposium that the Fed will likely have to continue raising interest rates if price growth and the jobs market don’t further cool down.
She's clearly an outlier right now. Over 83% of Fed Funds Rate futures traders on the CME believe the Fed will (although not necessarily should) pause rate hikes at the Fed's next meeting in mid-June.
I think they should have paused a few months ago -- mainly to avoid the coming recession -- but that's another story for another time.
(FYI...inflation, as measured by the CPI – All Urban Index, increased 4.9% year-over-year in April. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 5.5% annually – despite a 12.6% fall in oil and other energy commodities.)
And the Debt Crisis…
The government is another day closer to X Day when it runs out of extraordinary measures to continuing paying its bills – and when global financial markets start to implode.
But with President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy delaying until next week their next “negotiating” pow wow that had been scheduled for today – while their staffs presumably get closer to a blueprint for compromise, I’m waiting to write about that, too.
So, the Banking Crisis…
You know what “they” say: past performance does not guarantee future results.
What we can say, however, is that some statistical measures are better at predicting the future than others that make investors’ lives easier.
And one such metric that's been capturing the attention of economists and investors for over 60 years is the New York Fed's recession probability tool.
Writer Sean Williams explains this indicator as the difference in yields between the 3-month and 10-year Treasury bonds (the “spread”) to forecast how likely it is that a recession will come to pass in the coming year.
A normal yield curve is sloped upward and to the right, showing bonds with longer maturities (10-20-30 years) with higher yields than bonds scheduled to mature sooner – kind of what we typically see in a healthy economy.
When troubles in the economy stir up, though, the yield curve tends to become inverted – that is, shorter-term bonds have higher yields than longer-term bonds.
A yield-curve inversion doesn't guarantee a forthcoming recession. But Williams (and others before him) note that every recession after World War II has been preceded by a yield-curve inversion.
According to the latest NY Fed's recession-probability indicator, there's a 68.22% chance the country will enter a recession over the next 12 months.
Williams notes that's the highest probability of a recession occurring in the next 12 months in over 40 years.
“Not coincidentally,” he says, “we're also witnessing the largest yield-curve inversion between the 3-month and 10-year note in more than four decades.
Since 1959, there have been eight instances when the NY Fed's recession-forecasting tool has exceeded a 40% probability of an economic downturn.
With the exception of October 1966, every other previous time a reading has been above 40% the economy has dipped into recession – that's 57 years without a miss.
One of the reason recessions matter is because no bear market has bottomed since World War II before the National Bureau of Economic Research has officially declared a recession.
Tuesday the yield on the ten year hit 4.757%. Just three weeks ago the market would have a hissy fit plunge when it came close to just 4.3%
For months on end I’ve been suggesting that some form of credit market/debt market “event” was going to happen and if/when it does, all hell will break out. But, what could it be? The Japan carry trade collapse? A major bank has to “bail in” it’s depositors to save itself? A massive commercial real estate default? I don’t know which one, but something’s lurking out there.