The vote on the Trump health care plan is important only from the perspective of what the Freedom Caucus was promised in return for acquiescing to the desires of the White House. President Trump is desirous of a win, any win and the Freedom Caucus seems to know they have great leverage in the current political scrum. Whatever the House passes the Senate will have home field advantage and last bat so the initial Trump victory will Pyrrhic at best. What was compromised to assuage the conservative wing of the Republican party? How far will Trump have bent to bring this deal to fruition? The strident nature of the Freedom Caucus has been elevated and what value was extracted?
In an inane study of the world’s countries by the U.N. and released on World Happiness Day (what an absurd concept) the land locked nation with its active printing press was heralded as ranking FOURTH while the U.S. fell to 14th. To paraphrase Tolstoy: Happy countries are all alike; every unhappy country is unhappy in its own way. On March 17 Bloomberg ran a story, “Swiss National Bank (SNB) Foreign Reserves Soar, Signaling Interventions.” In February the SNB’s reserves increased by 3.8% to 668.2 billion francs, “the biggest increase since December 2014.”
In reviewing the March 9 ECB and March 15 FOMC meetings, the press conferences emceed by President Mario Draghi and Chair Yellen revealed little but raised questions about serious issues confronting the world’s two key central banks. The ECB maintained its current policy and will scale pack monthly QE activity to 60 billion euros starting April 1 while keeping its deposit rate at NEGATIVE 40 basis points. Draghi bowed deep and heaped praise upon himself and his fellow board members by proclaiming that they saved the EU and the euro. Draghi said “without a single currency there could not be a single market.” It was Draghi’s July 2012 speech of “we will do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, which saved the currency and logically means the ECB saved the EU.
It has been a month since I last wrote. My hiatus was inadvertently extended as Ecclesiastes certainly entered my personal life. My sister Joyce suddenly passed away, which caused me to slow my mind and reflect on many things. Losing your baby sister will cause one to ponder, or as it was said in Cool Hand Luke: “When a man’s mother dies and he gets to thinking rabbit and running, a night in the box.” So I have put myself in a mental box. However, I have also experienced the birth of my second grandson, thus to every season a time and purpose.
During the seven-plus years I have been writing Notes From Underground I have shared many life-changing moments with my extended family of readers. So it is with a renewed spirit and laser focus thoughts that I embark on analyzing the global-macro world in search of profitable trades and investments. The FRA podcast I posted January 29 (click the highlighted text) is a renewal of this year’s focus on crafting the NOTES narrative. There has been much in the way of global political events during my hiatus but I will refer to some as significant in various aspects as we proceed.
During my hiatus, I spoke with Rick Santelli (click on the image below) to discuss some of the new issues presenting investment opportunities, in addition to concerns surrounding potential negative fallout from ill-conceived models, such as the effect of the border adjustment tax on the global financial system.
We had to get back home
And when we opened up the door
It is a great honor to feature another podcast with Peter Boockvar for The Financial Repression Authority. Peter is certainly one of the regular commentators that I watch with great interest whenever he is on Bloomberg, Fox Business or CNBC. I think we cover much of the global financial landscape. While it may run long, it is a lot easier than reading a 20,000-word blog post. Pour the scotch and give it a listen.
The main story for the next two days will be Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the U.S. to meet with President Trump. Abe is coming to mend relations after Trump officially ended the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before Congress could even debate the trade treaty. The Japanese prime minister had expended a great deal of political capital in Japan to get various parties to accept a massive Pacific-based trade agreement. In an effort to forestall any discussion of Japan as a currency manipulator, the Japanese are offering all sorts of investment ideas in the context of getting Trump the negotiator to soften his stance on tariffs for Japanese goods, or sourced material from Asia for assembly in the U.S. Japan is a paramount promoter of the global supply chain paradigm.
Please Donald, will the POTUS STFU, PLEASE. This is not a political statement. It is free advice because the more you communicate the less impact you will have. You may be trying to use the bully pulpit to jawbone the DOLLAR lower but every tweet diminishes your influence. Peter Navarro tried to create a weaker dollar but you have lessened the impact of his misinformed missives. Historically, jawboning has had a short-term market effect, but your late-night 140 character references are losing the power to persuade. You must learn that words are like your campaign sexual references, less is more. SO PLEASE, STFU.
One of the most important indicators for financial markets is yield curves. They are predictive as they have historically shown coming economic turmoil, or, more importantly, the end of a business cycle. The severity of any recession depends on the amount of debt that has preceded the onset of an economic slowdown. I will remind readers that before the 2007-08 financial crisis, the U.S. 2/10 curve actually INVERTED to NEGATIVE SIX BASIS POINTS. Some financial pundits like to cynically advise consumers that the STOCK markets have predicted 10 of the last 5 recessions, but that is not so with yield curves. The difficulty with the signalling mechanism of yield curves is predicting the time for even during the GREAT RECESSION equity markets continued to rally even as the curve flattened.