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Posts Tagged ‘central bankers’

Central Bankers Are Gaslighting Us about the “Strong Dollar”

Posted by M. C. on September 21, 2022

A perfect example of how this rhetoric works comes from the Bank of Japan’s Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in July. As the yen was really starting to slide against the dollar, he opined that “This is not so much a yen weakness as a dollar strength.” Kuroda said these words after years of negative rates, and right after the BOJ had doubled down on buying up “vast quantities of bonds” to force down interest rates and borrowing costs. Kuroda’s words also came weeks after the Swiss National Bank raised interest rates for the first time in 15 years.

https://mises.org/wire/central-bankers-are-gaslighting-us-about-strong-dollar

Ryan McMaken

On February 8, the Japanese yen fell to a 24-year low against the dollar, dropping to 143 yen per dollar. Not much has changed since then with the yen hovering between 142 and 144 per dollar. In September of 2021, one only needed 109 yen to buy a dollar. 

Overall, the yen has dropped 21 percent against the dollar over the past year, yet Japan’s central bank apparently has no plans to change course. Nor should we expect it to do so.  Japan’s debt load has become so immense that any attempt to raise interest rates or otherwise tighten monetary conditions would prove extraordinarily painful.  So, it’s no surprise the BOJ is now positioned to become the world’s last central bank clinging to negative interest rates

It’s Not Just Japan

The yen is sliding the most among the world’s major currencies, but it’s not alone. Over the past year, the euro has fallen 14 percent against the dollar while the pound has fallen 13 percent. Even the Chinese yuan, which is subject to even more currency manipulation than the West’s central banks, has fallen against the dollar. 

All of this means is we’re hearing a lot about the supposedly “strong dollar,” but not in a good way. Rather, the reputedly strong dollar is being discussed in a context of how harmful it is, and how we must explore ways to make the dollar weaker as soon as politically feasible. 

Such talk must be heartily opposed, of course, as the dollar is not “too strong,” Rather, talk of the dollar’s “strength” is not really about the dollar at all. It’s about the weakness of other currencies and it’s about how other central banks have embraced monetary policy that’s even worse than that of the US’s Fed. If, say, other national governments and central banks are concerned about the dollar being too strong, those institutions are welcome to embrace policies that will strengthen their own currencies. 

Instead, we’ll hear about how the Fed must “do something” to weaken the dollar through more easy money and thus stick it to Americans who hold dollars by lessening their purchasing power.

“We Didn’t Inflate Currency X Too Much, it’s All the Dollar’s Fault”

A perfect example of how this rhetoric works comes from the Bank of Japan’s Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in July. As the yen was really starting to slide against the dollar, he opined that “This is not so much a yen weakness as a dollar strength.” Kuroda said these words after years of negative rates, and right after the BOJ had doubled down on buying up “vast quantities of bonds” to force down interest rates and borrowing costs. Kuroda’s words also came weeks after the Swiss National Bank raised interest rates for the first time in 15 years. That was just one more example of how dovish the ECB was compared to other banks, and yet, Kuroda then manages to say with a straight face that this is all about the dollar. 

This is the sort of talk we should learn to expect on the “strong dollar.” The central banks who are devaluing their currency, aren’t to blame, you see. It’s the dollar’s fault. 

Other critiques of the strong are less explicit on this last point and are more just in the business of priming the pump to convince us all that a relatively less-weak dollar is a bad thing. 

Blaming a “Strong” Dollar Rather than Weak, Inflated Currencies 

See the rest here

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Don’t Be Fooled: The World’s Central Bankers Still Love Inflation

Posted by M. C. on June 4, 2022

  • lagarde

Ryan McMaken

The Bank of Canada on Wednesday increased its policy interest rate (known as the overnight target rate) from 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent. This was the second fifty–basis point increase since April and is the third target rate increase since March of this year. Canada’s target rate had been flat at 0.25 percent for twenty-three months following the bank’s slashing of the target rate beginning in March 2020.

As in the United States and in Europe, price inflation rates in Canada are at multidecade highs, and political pressure on the central bank to be seen as “doing something about inflation” is mounting.

The bank is following much the same playbook as the Federal Reserve when it comes to allowing the target rate to inch upward in response to price inflation. The bank’s official position is that it could resort to very aggressive rate increases in the future in order to hit the 2 percent inflation target.

As in the US, it’s important for central bankers to sound hawkish, even if their actual policy moves are extremely tame.

The World’s Central Banks Are Still Committed to Monetary Inflation

In spite of their lack of any real action, however, Canada’s central bankers are comparatively hawkish when we look at the world’s major central banks. At a still very low target rate of 1.5 percent, Canada’s central bank has set a higher rate than the central banks in the US, the UK, the eurozone, and Japan. Indeed, in the case of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan, rising inflation has still not led to an increase in the target rate above zero.

  • Federal Reserve: 1.0 percent
  • European Central Bank: –0.5 percent
  • Bank of England: 1.0 percent
  • Bank of Japan: –0.1 percent

Moreover, the ECB and the BOJ haven’t budged on their subzero target rates in many years. Japan’s rate has been negative since 2016, and the EU’s has been negative since 2014.

banks

The Bank of England recently increased its target rate to 1 percent, which is the highest rate for the BOE since 2009.

In the US, the Federal Reserve has increased the target rate to 1 percent, the highest rate since March 2020.

However, it’s clear that none of these central banks are prepared to depart from the policies of the past twelve years or so, during which ultralow interest rate policy and quantitative easing became perennial policy.

The Federal Reserve has talked tough on inflation but has so far only dared to hike the target rate to 1 percent while inflation is near a forty-year high.

The Bank of England apparently suffers from the same problem, as Andrew Sentence of the UK’s The Times pointed out this week:

There is a serious mismatch between inflation and the level of interest rates in Britain. The rate of consumer prices inflation measured by the CPI is now 9 per cent—four-and-a-half times the official target rate of 2 per cent. The Bank of England is forecasting that CPI inflation will reach double-digit levels by the end of the year…. The older measure—the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which is still widely used—is already showing a double-digit inflation rate (over 11 per cent).

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Corruption at the Fed: Are America’s Money Masters Engaged in Self-Dealing? | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 29, 2021

Documents revealed that Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren made several trades of individual stocks, in some cases worth $1 million or more, in markets where Fed actions have impacted financial performance.

Additionally, several Fed officials personally held the same type of assets the Fed itself was buying.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/corruption-at-the-fed-are-americas-money-masters-engaged-in-self-dealing/

by Jp Cortez

America’s central bankers are tasked with impartial oversight over aspects of the American economy. But could these individuals be making decisions on interest rates and bailout operations based on what is best for their own personal investment portfolios?

After some embarrassing revelations regarding the trading activities of two senior officials, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell abruptly ordered a comprehensive examination last week into internal compliance with an ethics rule directing Fed employees to avoid “actual and apparent conflicts of interest.”

According to the Fed’s official code of conduct, Fed officials are “prohibited from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter in which, to the employee’s knowledge, the employee has a financial interest if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest.”

Documents revealed that Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren made several trades of individual stocks, in some cases worth $1 million or more, in markets where Fed actions have impacted financial performance.

Additionally, several Fed officials personally held the same type of assets the Fed itself was buying.

According to CNBC, Chairman Powell held between $1.25 and $2.5 million of municipal bonds. The bonds were purchased in 2019 but they were in Chairman Powell’s control while the Fed bought more than $5 billion in municipal bonds to support that market.

Fed President Rosengren held between $151,000 and $800,000 worth of real-estate investment trusts that owned mortgage-backed securities – all while the Fed was active in that market.

More specifically, Rosengren made as many as 37 separate trades in four investment trusts contemporaneous to the Fed’s own purchase of almost $700 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve announced last year that it would open a corporate bond-buying facility and purchased almost $47 billion of corporate bonds.

Rosengren wasn’t the only Fed official making money on corporate bonds. CNBC noted that Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin held $1.35 million to $3 million in individual corporate bonds of Pepsi, Home Depot, and Eli Lilly purchased before 2020.

And according to Reuters, Fed President Kaplan’s financial disclosure included several sales or purchases of at least $1 million in individual company shares or investment funds, including Apple Inc. (a stock that’s almost doubled since COVID-relief efforts began in March 2020). In July 2020, the Federal Reserve bought $25.5 million in Apple’s corporate bonds.

So far it’s undetermined whether the above trades violated Fed ethics rules. But to outside observers, it certainly stinks.

America’s central bank exists, ostensibly, to foster price stability and maximum sustainable employment.

In their often misguided and even harmful attempts to monkey with financial asset prices, Fed officials constantly pull different levers of monetary policy and wield an inordinate amount of power over markets and financial institutions.

The potential for conflicts of interest when concentrating such financial power in the hands of a few individuals has always been obvious. Indeed, central bank senior officials may have exercised their power, in part, to increase their personal wealth.

Following disclosures of their trading and the subsequent public backlash, Fed Presidents Kaplan and Rosengren both agreed to divest any holdings of individual stocks by Sept. 30.

However, this half measure hasn’t assuaged the critics, who point out the ongoing market interventions by the Federal Reserve have disproportionately benefited owners of assets while the Fed’s resulting price inflation in foodhousing, and medicine have especially hurt savers, wage earners, and pensioners.

Far from achieving their supposed goal of creating price stability, Fed officials seem to have deliberately engineered widespread price increases and inflated potentially dangerous bubbles in asset markets.

Turning to sound money would ensure the purchasing power of Americans isn’t sapped away by bureaucrat bankers with ulterior motives.

Unlike the central bankers’ depreciating fiat currencies, physical gold and silver are incorruptible, free-market forms of money that retain their purchasing power over time.

This article was originally featured at Money Metals

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While Household Income Falls, Central Bankers Are Pushing for Higher Prices | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 17, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/while-household-income-falls-central-bankers-are-pushing-higher-prices?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=e5248bddcd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-e5248bddcd-228343965

Daniel Lacalle

Central banks continue to be obsessed with inflation. Current monetary policy is like the behavior of a reckless driver running at two hundred miles per hour, looking at the rearview mirror and thinking, “We have not crashed yet, let’s accelerate.”

Central banks believe that there is no risk in current monetary policy based on two wrong ideas: 1) that there is no inflation, according to them, and 2) that benefits outstrip risks.

The idea that there is no inflation is untrue. There is plenty inflation in the goods and services that consumers really demand and use. Official CPI (consumer price index) is artificially kept low by oil, tourism, and technology, disguising rises in healthcare, rent and housing, education, insurance, and fresh food that are significantly higher than nominal wages and the official CPI indicate. Furthermore, in countries with aggressive taxation of energy, the negative impact on CPI of oil and gas prices is not seen at all in consumers’ real electricity and gas bills.

A recent study by Alberto Cavallo shows how official inflation is not reflecting the changes in consumption patterns and concludes that real inflation is more than double the official level in the covid-19-era average basket and also, according to an article by James Mackintosh in the Wall Street Journal, prices are rising to up to three times the rate of official CPI for things people need in the pandemic, even if the overall inflation number remains subdued. Official statistics assume a basket that comes down due to replicable goods and services that we purchase from time to time. As such, technology, hospitality, and leisure prices fall, but things we acquire on a daily basis and that we cannot simply stop buying are rising much faster than nominal and real wages.

Central banks will often say that these price increases are not due to monetary policy but market forces. However, it is precisely monetary policy that strains market forces by pushing rates lower and money supply higher. Monetary policy makes it harder for the least privileged to live day by day and increasingly difficult for the middle class to save and purchase assets that rise due to expansionary monetary policies, such as houses and bonds.

Inflation may not show up on news headlines, but consumers feel it. The general public has seen a constant increase in the price of education, healthcare, insurance, and utility services in a period where central banks felt obliged to “combat deflation”…a deflationary risk that no consumer has seen, least of all the lower and middle classes.

It is not a coincidence that the European Central Bank constantly worries about low inflation while protests on the rising cost of living spread all around the eurozone. Official inflation measures are simply not reflecting the difficulties and loss of purchasing power of salaries and savings of the middle class.

Therefore inflationary policies do create a double risk. First, a dramatic increase in inequality as the poor are left behind by the asset price increases and wealth effect but feel the rise in core goods and services more than anyone. Second, because it is untrue that salaries will increase alongside inflation. We have seen real wages stagnate due to poor productivity growth and overcapacity while unemployment rates were low, keeping wages significantly below the rise of essential services.

Central banks should also be concerned about the rising dependence of bond and equity markets on the next liquidity injection and rate cut. If I were the chairperson of a central bank I would be truly concerned if markets reacted aggressively on my announcements. It would be a worrying signal of codependence and risk of bubbles. When sovereign states with massive deficits and weakening finances have the lowest bond yields in history it is not a success of the central bank, it is a failure.

Inflation is not a social policy. It disproportionately benefits the first recipient of newly created money, government and asset-heavy sectors, and harms the purchasing power of salaries and savings of the low and middle class. “Expansionary” monetary policy is a massive transfer of wealth from savers to borrowers. Furthermore, these evident negative side effects are not solved by the so-called quantitative easing for the people. A bad monetary policy is not solved by a worse one. Injecting liquidity directly to finance government entitlement programs and spending is the recipe for stagnation and poverty. It is not a coincidence that those that have implemented the recommendations of modern monetary policy wholeheartedly, Argentina, Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, and others, have seen increases in poverty, weaker growth, worse real wages and destruction of the currency.

Believing that prices must rise at any cost because, if not, consumers may postpone their purchasing decisions is generally ridiculous in the vast majority of purchasing decisions. It is blatantly false in a pandemic crisis. The fact that prices are rising in a pandemic crisis is not a success, it is a miserable failure and hurts every consumer who has seen revenues collapse by 10 or 20 percent.

Central banks need to start thinking about the negative consequences of the massive bond bubble they have created and the rising cost of living for the low and middle classes before it is too late. Many will say that it will never happen, but acting on that belief is exactly the same as the example I gave at the beginning of the article: “We haven´t crashed yet, let´s accelerate.” Reckless and dangerous.

Inflation is not a social policy. It is daylight robbery. Author:

Daniel Lacalle

Daniel Lacalle, PhD, economist and fund manager, is the author of the bestselling books Freedom or Equality (2020),Escape from the Central Bank Trap (2017), The Energy World Is Flat (2015), and Life in the Financial Markets (2014).

He is a professor of global economy at IE Business School in Madrid.

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A New World Monetary Order Is Coming – Activist Post

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2020

Making your life an open book.

Shutting you and access to your assets off with the flick of a switch.

https://www.activistpost.com/2020/10/a-new-world-monetary-order-is-coming.html

By Stefan Gleason

The global coronavirus pandemic has accelerated several troubling trends already in force. Among them are exponential debt growth, rising dependency on government, and scaled-up central bank interventions into markets and the economy.

Central bankers now appear poised to embark on their biggest power play ever.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in coordination with the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), is preparing to roll out central bank digital currencies.

The globalist IMF recently called for a new “Bretton Woods Moment” to address the loss of trillions of dollars in global economic output due to the coronavirus….

Under a central bank digital currency, direct credits and debits could replace stimulus checks and taxes. It would be the vehicle through which modern monetary theory could be fully implemented – with the central bank becoming tax collector and funder of all government operations.

If depreciating the value of the currency through the inflation tax wasn’t enough, the Fed could also stick dollar-holders with a direct tax in the form of negative interest rates. Once paper notes are phased out, holding cash itself would no longer be a way for individuals to escape negative rates.

The only escape hatches would be volatile alternative digital currencies (such as Bitcoin) or hard money (gold and silver).

Under a monetary order where electronic digits representing currency can be created out of thin air in unlimited quantities, the best hedge is the opposite – tangible, scarce, untraceable wealth held off the financial grid.

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The Importance of “Fedspeak” | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on May 30, 2020

At the conclusion of the Fed meeting,

Members agreed that the Federal Reserve was committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals.

Fed speak for “We don’t have a clue”

https://mises.org/power-market/importance-fedspeak?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=ea7dac162c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-ea7dac162c-228343965

Robert Aro

The Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “Fedspeak” as:

(informal) Impenetrable economic jargon used by the US Federal Reserve.

It’s not a condition that affects the chair of the Federal Reserve only; the wave of Fedspeak has been exhibited by members of its inner circle as well. Just last week, in a speech made to the New York Association for Business Economics, Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida said:

On March 16, we launched a program to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in whatever amounts needed to support smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions.

More than $2 trillion were spent on these two asset purchases alone—a figure so large on a subject known to so few. Most will be unable to grasp what this implies for their own lives and future. When the vice chair says that the purchases help “support smooth market function,” who can stand up and ask him to succinctly define this? And further, who will challenge the assertion? How “smoothly” should a market function, and when will they know when it’s smooth enough?

The problem is that this tinkering with the money supply affects the majority of society, i.e., those who are not financially well-to-do central bankers. Ultimately, it’s those on Main Street who will pay for this intervention while buried in an avalanche of debt and stuck at home under government quarantine. Who has time to decode the reflections of a central banker? Thus, it continues. Main Street remains in the dark, guided by those who are equally blind to the principles of economics.

Fedspeak knows no bounds, as its reach has even infiltrated the European Central Bank (ECB), whose latest meeting minutes show a similar use of nebulous ideas when looking at the various risks to economic activity that the virus caused. They noted:

Attention was drawn to the fact that precautionary saving was already increasing and, if consumers did not regain confidence quickly after containment measures were lifted, there was a risk that demand would remain depressed.

The comment alludes to an ideal equilibrium that the virus has thrown off and that therefore requires intervention. Naturally, the central banker sees a problem with savings and demand, he just cannot articulate what the problem is in any discernible way. It is implied that an increase in savings and a decrease in demand, which may be partly due to a lack of confidence, pose a risk to the economy. But how much savings is too much? And how much demand is too little? This remains unknown to all except the central banker.

The Fed’s meeting minutes, also released last week, were no different. Almost as if the Fed and the ECB had had the same meeting, the Fed similarly observed that:

household spending would likely be held down by a decrease in confidence and an increase in precautionary saving.

They use these types of subjective observations, combined with data points, in order to plan the economy. Nearly imperceptibly, they justify their actions with sentences making subjective claims. The importance of Fedspeak cannot be understated. If the general public, academia, and elected officials demanded that the Fed prove how much stimulus, demand, savings, and money supply are needed to save the economy, the very existence of the Fed could be thrown into question. This would be a great thing for society, but very bad for the Fed and the economists it employs.

At the conclusion of the Fed meeting,

Members agreed that the Federal Reserve was committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals.

With nine credit facilities already running or soon to be in place, the Fed will print as much money as possible to make sure any crisis will be contained. At that point we can only hope that the public will not be looking to the Fed for answers, partly because the Fed is the cause of the problem, but also because any explanation would amount to nothing more than “impenetrable economic jargon.”

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Russia Just Told the World, “No.”

Posted by M. C. on March 9, 2020

All of this adds up to Russia holding the whip hand over the global market for oil. 

The ability to say, “No.”

And they will have it for years to come as U.S. production implodes.  Because they can and do produce the marginal barrel of oil.  

https://tomluongo.me/2020/03/06/russia-just-told-the-world-no/

There is real power in the word “No.”

In fact, I’d argue that it is the single most powerful word in any language.

In the midst of the worst market meltdown in a dozen years which has at its source problems within global dollar-funding markets, Russia found itself in the position to exercise the Power of No.

Multiple overlapping crises are happening worldwide right now and they all interlock into a fabric of chaos.

Between political instability in Europe, presidential primary shenanigans in the U.S., coronavirus creating mass hysteria and Turkey’s military adventurism in Syria, the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, markets are finally calling the bluff of central bankers who have been propping up asset prices for years.

But, at its core, the current crisis stems from the simple truth that those prices around the world are vastly overvalued.

Western government and central bank policies have used the power of the dollar to push the world to this state.

And that state is, at best, meta-stable.

But when this number of shits get this freaking real, well… meeting the fan was inevitable.

And all it took to push a correction into a full-scale panic was the Russians saying, “No.”

The reality has been evident in the commodity markets for months.  Copper and other industrial metals have all been in slumps while equity markets zoomed higher.

But it was oil that was the most confounding of all.

Most of 2019 we saw oil prices behaving oddly as events occurred with regularity to push prices higher but ultimately see them fall.

Since peaking after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani oil prices have been a one-way trade. Down.

Our inept leaders are trying to blame coronavirus as the proximate cause for all of the market’s jitters.

But that masks the truth. The problems have been there for months, pushed to the back burner by incessant Fed intervention in the dollar-funding markets.

The 2008 financial crisis was never dealt with, just papered over.

The repo crisis of last September never ended, it’s still there.

And it reappeared with ferocity this week as people sold dollars and bought U.S. treasuries pushing U.S. yields on the long end of the curve to absurd levels.

Credit markets are melting down. Stock markets are the tail, credit markets are the dog. And this dog was run over by a bus.

The Fed intervenes to keep short term interest rates from rising to preserve the fiction it is still in control.

The market wants higher rates for short-term access to dollars.

The Fed tried to help by cutting rates by 0.5% but all that did was tell people the Fed was as scared as they were.  The selling resumed and gold bounced back to it’s recent high near $1690, only to be swatted down on the New York open this morning.

That didn’t work either.

OOPS!

And into this mess OPEC tried to save itself by asking for a historic production cut.

OPEC needs this cut to remain relevant. The cartel is dying. It’s been dying for years, kept on life support by Russia’s willingness to trade favors to achieve other geostrategic goals.

I’ve said before that OPEC production cuts are not bullish for oil just like rate cuts are not inflationary during crisis periods.

But finally Russia said No. And they didn’t equivocate. They told everyone they are prepared for lower oil prices.

The panic was palpable in the reporting on the meeting.

“Regarding cuts in production, given today’s decision, from April 1, no one — neither OPEC countries nor OPEC+ countries — are obliged to lower production,” he told reporters after the meeting.

OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said the meeting had been adjourned, although consultations would continue.

“At the end of the day, it was the general, painful decision of the joint conference to adjourn the meeting,” he told reporters.

Earlier, Oanda analyst Edward Moya had suggested that a failure to reach an agreement could spell the end of OPEC+.

“No-deal OPEC+ means the three-year experiment is over. OPEC+ is dead. The Saudis are all-in on stabling oil prices and they may need to do something extraordinary,” he said.

There comes a point where negotiating with your adversaries ends, where someone finally says, “Enough.” Russia has been attacked mercilessly by the West for the crime of being Russia.

And I’ve documented nearly every twist and turn of how they have skillfully buttressed their position waiting for the right moment to get maximum return to reverse the tables on their tormentors.

And, to me, this was that perfect moment for them to finally say “No,” to get maximum effect.

When dealing with a more-powerful enemy you have to target where they are most vulnerable to inflict the most damage.

For the West that place is in the financial markets.

Remember, the first basic fact of economics.  Prices are set at the margin. The only price that matters is the last one recorded.

That price sets the cost for the next unit of that good, in this case a barrel of oil, up for sale.

In a world of cartelized markets the world over, where prices are set by external actors, it is easy to forget that in the real economy (regardless of your political persuasion) the world is an auction and everything is up for bid.

High bid wins.

So, the most important geostrategic question is, “Who produces the marginal barrel of oil?”

For more than three years now, President Trump has supported his policy of Energy Dominance in a Quixotic quest for the U.S. to become that supplier.  Trillions of dollars have been spent on building up domestic production to their current, unsustainable levels.

This policy pre-dates Trump, certainly, but he has been its most ardent pursuer of it, sanctioning and embargoing everyone he can to keep them off the bid.

What he could never do, however, was push Russia off that bid.

The reason U.S. production rates are unsustainable is because their costs are higher per barrel than the marginal price especially when all other prices are deflating.  Simple, straightforward economics.

If they were, on balance, profitable then the industry as a whole would not have burned through a few hundred billion in free cash flow over the past decade.

That’s where the Russians’ power comes from.  Russia is one of the lowest cost producers in the world.  Even after paying their taxes to the government their costs are far lower, close to $20 per barrel break-even point, than anyone else in the world when one factors in external costs.

When you don’t owe anyone anything you are free to tell them, “No.”

Sure, the Saudis produce at similar cash costs to the Russians but once you factor in its budgetary needs, the numbers aren’t even close as they need something closer to $85 per barrel.

They can’t tell their people, “No,” you have to do without. Because the populace will revolt.

Russia can ride out, if not thrive, in this low price regime because :

  1. the ruble floats to absorb price shocks in dollars.
  2. A majority of their oil is now sold in non-dollar currencies – rubles, yuan, euros, etc. – to lessen their exposure to capital outflows
  3. the major oil firms have little dollar-denominated debt
  4. low extraction costs.
  5. its primary governmental budget ebbs and flows with oil prices.

All of this adds up to Russia holding the whip hand over the global market for oil.

The ability to say, “No.”

And they will have it for years to come as U.S. production implodes.  Because they can and do produce the marginal barrel of oil.

That is why oil prices plunged as much as 10% into today’s close on the news they would not cut production.

There is a cascade lurking beneath this market. There is a lot of bank and pension fund exposure in the U.S. to what is now soon-to-be non-performing fracking debt.

Liquidations will begin in earnest later this year.

But the market is handicapping this now.

I cannot overstate how important and far-reaching this move by Russia is.  If they don’t make a deal here they can break OPEC. If they do make a deal it will come with strings that ensure pressure is lifted in other areas of stress for them.

The knock-on effects of oil plunging from $70 per barrel to $45 over two months will be felt for months, if not years.

And it is no shock to me that Russia held their water here. If they didn’t, I would have been surprised.

This was Putin’s opportunity to finally strike back at Russia’s tormentors and inflict real pain for their unscrupulous behavior in places like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Venezuela and Afghanistan.

He is now in a position to extract maximum concessions from the U.S. and the OPEC nations who are supporting U.S. belligerence against Russia’s allies in China, Iran and Syria.

We saw the beginnings of this in his dealings with Turkish President Erdogan in Moscow, extracting a ceasefire agreement that was nothing short of a Turkish surrender.

Erdogan asked to be saved from his own stupidity and Russia said, “No.”

This condition of producing the marginal barrel of oil in a deflationary world places Russia in the driver’s seat to drive U.S. foreign policy behavior in an election year.

Talk about meddling in our elections!

The Achilles’ heel of the U.S. empire is the debt.  The dollar has been its greatest weapon and it is still king.  And it is a weapon with a great deal of power but wielded only against the U.S.’s allies, not Russia.

Markets will adjust and calm down in a few days. The panic will subside. But it will come back soon enough in a more virulent form. Today is a replay of 2007-08 but this time Russia is far better prepared to fight back.

And when that happens, I suspect it won’t be the Saudis or the Turks that come running to Russia to save them, but the U.S. and Europe.

At which point, I have to wonder if Putin will channel his inner Rorschach.


 

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Central Bankers Have Declared War on Your Savings | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on December 2, 2019

Recently, European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde bemoaned their surpluses, complaining that they would be better off spending the money on infrastructure and education. Desperate for a modicum of growth, Lagarde is of the philosophy that the only way to grow an economy is through government intervention.

https://mises.org/wire/central-bankers-have-declared-war-your-savings?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=adfd4f6c6d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-adfd4f6c6d-228343965

…Lagarde is a proponent of the NIRPs , championing the unconventional mechanism to achieve growth. Since the eurozone has barely cracked 2% GDP, many are anticipating that Lagarde will deepen negative rates during her term as president. Anytime she has mused on the subject, Lagarde has usually dismissed concerns about the saver, noting that they are also consumers, borrowers, and workers.

Unfortunately, this contempt for savers is commonplace because it is antithetical to the Keynesian approach of spending. Disciples of John Maynard Keynes will contend that consumption over saving should only happen during the bust phase of the business cycle, but if you peruse any opinion pieces by individuals subscribing to this ideology, you will only come across spending prescriptions for every type of economy – boom or bust. They dismiss the fact that capital accumulation, not consumption, creates wealth.

This myth originates from Keynes’ The General Theory and Treatise on Money, in which he posits that a saver is reducing the income of another person because he or she is not consuming the goods or services extended by somebody else. Put simply, he considered saving a self-defeating act.

“Saving is the act of the individual consumer and consists in the negative act of refraining from spending the whole of his current income on consumption,” he wrote.

The crusade against savers has been prevalent in the Democratic primary. The likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have grieved about hoarders , particularly those who are the top 0.1% (no longer just the 1% anymore; likely because these two people are the 1%, too). The presidential candidates are perturbed that the supposed capital hoarders are not putting their fortunes into the economy. This is nonsense talk to justify their wealth confiscation policies, since the affluent are saving and investing, not just stuffing their money under mattresses.

Negative rates, higher taxes, and inflation – the statists are employing every measure to gain access to the fruits of your labor…

If you don’t like it, then you are out of luck. You have nowhere to go. The globalists have declared war on mom and pop savers, pillaging bank accounts and conquering our lives. Is there a chance for victory? As long as the omnipotent and iniquitous institutions remain in charge, optimism over sound economics can only fade to black.

Originally published by Liberty Nation.

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Younger Generation Will Probably End Up Poorer Than Their ...

 

 

 

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Federal Reserve: Enemy of Liberty and Prosperity

Posted by M. C. on November 19, 2019

Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the US dollar has lost over 96 percent of its value. The Federal Reserve-caused decline in purchasing power is a stealth tax.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/november/18/federal-reserve-enemy-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Written by Ron Paul

Lost in the media’s obsession with the impeachment circus last week was Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony on the state of the economy before the Joint Economic Committee. In his testimony, Chairman Powell warned that when the next recession inevitably occurs, the US Government’s over $23 trillion debt would prevent Congress from increasing spending to revive the economy.

Powell also said that the Fed’s current low interest rate policies would prevent the Fed from using its traditional methods of increasing the money supply and further lowering interest rates to jump-start economic growth in a recession. Hopefully, Powell is correct that when the next recession hits the Federal Reserve and Congress will be unable to “stimulate” the economy with cheap money and new spending.

Interest rates are the price of money and, as with all prices, government manipulation of interest rates distorts the signals regarding market conditions. Artificially low interest rates lead to malinvestment and the creation of bubbles. Recessions are a painful but necessary correction that allows the economy to cleanse itself of these distortions. When the Federal Reserve and Congress try to stimulate the economy, they introduce new distortions, making it impossible for the economy to heal itself. Fiscal and monetary stimulus may temporally create the illusions of prosperity, but in reality they merely create another bubble that will eventually burst starting the boom-and-bust cycle all over again. So, the best thing Congress and the Federal Reserve can do to help the economy recover from a recession is nothing.

Powell is the latest Federal Reserve Chair to warn of the dangers of government debt, which is ironic since the Federal Reserve is the great enabler of deficit spending. Government manipulation of the value of money allows politicians to hide the true costs of their warfare and welfare. This is why throughout history governments have sought the power to dictate what is and is not money and determine the value of the monetary unit. Today’s central bankers are the heirs of the medieval kings who shaved off the edges of gold coins, then ordered the people to pretend that shaved coins were just as valuable as unshaved coins.

Instead of shaving gold coins, today’s central bankers facilitate the growth of government by purchasing government securities in order to keep interest rates—and thus the government’s borrowing costs— low. The Federal Reserve’s interventions enable the expansion of government well beyond what would be politically palatable if politicians had to finance the entire welfare-warfare state through direct taxation or borrowing at market interest rates, which would increase interest rates for private sector borrowers, lower growth, and increase unemployment.

Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the US dollar has lost over 96 percent of its value. The Federal Reserve-caused decline in purchasing power is a stealth tax. This inflation tax does not affect the financial elites—who receive new money created by the Federal Reserve before the Fed’s actions have diminished the dollar’s purchasing power—but has hurt middle-and-working class Americans whose purchasing power is continuously reduced by the Federal Reserve. The inflation tax is not just the most hidden, but the most regressive of taxes.

The Federal Reserve is responsible for the growth of government, the loss of liberty, the rise in income inequality, and the boom-and-bust economic cycle. All those who support liberty, peace, and prosperity should join the effort to audit and end the Fed.


Copyright © 2019 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

 

 

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