Notes From Underground: Though I Walk Through the Valley of Debt, I Fear No Evil

February 18, 2019

On Friday, U.S. 30-YEAR BONDS were the best performer as the 5/30 yield curve flattened in the face of several divergent asset movements. The GOLD rallied even as the stock markets rose around the world, so no need for haven status. The DOLLAR had actually been strong in the morning but as global stock markets rallied the DOLLAR was actually lower by late afternoon. So why was the 30-YEAR BOND the premier asset? I have no idea. Over the weekend there was a Yahoo Finance story in which Jeffrey Gundlach is quoted as speculating that long-end U.S. Treasuries will see 4 percent yields later this year.

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Notes From Underground: Why So Much Weight on Italy and Its Gold?

February 14, 2019

There has been much discussion this week about how the current Italian government wants the nation’s GOLD to be the “property of the state” instead of on the Bank of Italy’s balance sheet. The coalition of Five Star and League have thought to gain control over the gold and some pundits have raised the idea of Italy selling its gold holdings, the world’s third largest, in an effort to plug holes in the budget. (NOTE: The Italian government is actually the fourth largest when the IMF is included.) Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini maintains that the government has no plans to sell any of the people’s GOLD. Maybe the Salvini Government is deciding to take the advice offered for the last eight years here at NOTES and monetize the GOLD by issuing GOLD-BACKED BONDS. (Securitizing the gold by selling bonds backed by one-fifth of an ounce of gold.)

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Notes From Underground: Happy Anniversary Twentieth ZIRPiversary, BOJ!

February 12, 2019

This is the perfect time to discuss the effects of zero interest rates as it has been 20 years since the Bank of Japan embarked upon the path of crushing interest rates in an effort to jump-start inflation in Japan. This is very important as we enter into the discussions about the potential for negative interest rates in the U.S. while also entertaining the idea that the U.S.’s growing debt pile and deficit have no consequence as long as the government borrows in its own currency and optimizes its printing press.

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Notes From Underground: A Hard Brexit Is Going To Fall?

February 10, 2019

The economic fallout from a “hard” Brexit has been debated in the media for the last few months. When I say “hard Brexit,” I mean that the U.K. leaves the European Union without any deal about trade rules, movement of people or any other binding treaty rules concerning the contemporary EU/U.K. relationship. I have refrained from forecasting outcomes because they are beyond the scope of economic analysis since it requires using models built of questionable assumptions. The British have a long history of economic intercourse intertwined with the lines of commerce from its empire.

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Notes From Underground: Things Are On the Boil

February 7, 2019

There are so many things causing angst in the global markets. There was news out of France on Thursday that the government was recalling its envoy to Rome because Italian politicians met with the yellow vest movement. To President Macron I offer this history lesson: In 2011-12 French President Nicolas Sarkozy–with the cooperation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel–crushed the Italian bond market in an effort to remove Prime Minister Berlusconi. The Eurocrats in Brussels parachuted in a preferred bureaucrat, Mario Monti, in an effort to get Italian politicians to halt the fiscal bleeding. The French have a great deal of audacity in complaining about Italian meddling, especially as Salvini/Maio have a legitimate reason: the upcoming European Parliamentary elections.

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Notes From Underground: Chatting With Bill Laggner of Bearing Asset Management

February 4, 2019

On Jan. 30, I had the pleasure of sitting in with Bill Laggner and Richard Bonugli for another Financial Repression Authority podcast. These discussions provide a forum to discuss pertinent issues regarding the efforts of policy makers that impact the creation of wealth, as well as its distribution. I refer to this as POLITICAL ECONOMY. The podcast was recorded four hours before the release of the FOMC statement and Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference. The FED chairman provided further insight into the walk-back of “automatic pilot” as he addressed concerns about the headwinds building in the global economy.

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Notes From Underground: Mario Draghi’s Circus

January 24, 2019

The ECB did exactly as expected, which was less than its deposit rate (if that’s even possible). President Draghi answered questions for an hour and said absolutely nothing except that risks were now weighted to the downside. The structural theme of his composed narrative was the concept of persistence and assessment. Draghi laid the need for continued ECB monetary ease on many factors inhibiting growth:

  1. German auto production slowing;
  2. U.S.trade actions are creating greater uncertainty due to tariff threats;
  3. China slowdown; and
  4. Brexit

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Notes From Underground: Mario the Magician Has Lost His Assistant

January 23, 2019

The Bank of Japan did not surprise the markets as they remained committed to the lunacy of QQE, even with positive growth for many years. In an effort to make the central bank’s policy ever more relevant the BOJ lowered their inflation expectations, which the markets interpreted as lower for longer, resulting in a flurry of YEN selling of against all of the major traded currencies. There was even movement in the Swiss/yen cross as both central banks battle to keep their currencies in check by keeping interest rates negative.

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Notes From Underground: Germany and France Codify the Premise of Europe

January 22, 2019

In a desperate attempt to deflect from the damage to his presidency, Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday codified what Bernard Connolly has written about for 25 years. As Charles de Gaulle supposedly said to Konrad Adenauer: “Europe is France and Germany, the rest trimmings.” In a resurrection of European history, Angela Merkel and Macron signed a new Treaty of Aachen. While the treaty language is vapid, the symbolism cannot be minimized. Germany and France promise to come to each other’s defense if attacked while also promising to work for a more unified financial and fiscal system.

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Notes From Underground: Let’s Not Mince Words, Pepper Spray Davos

January 20, 2019

Let me begin by reiterating that this is NOT a political blog but a place for the exchange of ideas dedicated to those who desire to improve trading and investing in order to increase profits. My STRENGTH is bringing an in-depth knowledge of political economy and 40-plus years of trading my own funds (while also managing other people’s money via hedge funds).

My personal political views OUGHT not to be relevant for when it comes to generating ideas. I adhere to the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping: “I don’t care if the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.” While I might criticize certain persons in any political administration it is merely to criticize actions as a way of comprehending policy outcomes. (For example, my disdain for Steven Mnuchin is solely based on what I deem to be his incompetence, a similar contempt that I held for Tim Geithner.)

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