Notes From Underground: Discussing Europe With Dr. Barbara Kolm

May 10, 2022

Last week the FOMC raised rates by 50 basis points, which seemed like the most likely outcome (although interest rate markets had assigned a slight probability of 75 basis point increase). The statement was nothing if not vague about the FED‘s plans, yet the last sentence left the central bank room for flexibility: “The Committee’s assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on public health, labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.”

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Notes From Underground: A European Discussion With Professor Polleit

May 3, 2022

Yes, Wednesday is FED day and the markets are expecting a 50 basis point increase in the FED FUNDS RATE to a range of 0.75% to 1%. The most important issue will be the size of the balance sheet unwind and whether Chair Jerome Powell is good to his heightened concerns about headline inflation means a full throttle on balance sheet shrinkage, reaching the full $95 billion a month at a quick pace. So Jerome, let’s have at it and let the markets decide the impact on myriad asset classes. In 2018, this double shotgun of QT and interest rate hikes proved too much for the highly leveraged global markets. Now that the Fed’s balance sheet is twice as large let’s see how it will affect the leverage in the global system.

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Notes From Underground: Into the Weeds on Yen/Yuan

April 28, 2022

In the first post about the YEN/YUAN, we discussed the current significance of the cross, and with it a rising dollar. Now we will provide CONTEXT and NUANCE as to the backdrop of this cross’s significance. It is easy to forget that the Chinese economic miracle is only 40 years old as it began under the direction of DENG in 1978-79 and his rise as China’s leader. By 1994 China is beginning to feel the positive effects of Deng’s policies of white cat/black cat in pursuing modernity and western-style economic growth.

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Notes From Underground: The Meaning of the Yen/YUAN Cross

April 26, 2022

In the past three weeks I have had the pleasure of doing two major podcasts with two of the most highly regarded global macro thinkers and traders: Zoltan Pozsar and Louis Gave. Our discussions led to an attempt to explain the importance of the Chinese yuan during the current period of CAPITAL ANXIETY. During the past two years the Chinese YUAN has rallied from 7.13/dollar to 6.35, where it has sat for the last six months (a gain of 12%). And, as I have argued for the last 18 months, the strengthening YUAN during the pandemic was a signal that the Chinese were shifting to a more domestic-oriented economy using a stronger currency to enrich its nascent middle class.

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Notes From Underground: Time to Escalate and Deescalate the Fed and Putin?

April 10, 2022

There was an article in Foreign Affairs this week by Graham Allison, the dean of American political scientists, titled, “Putin’s Doomsday Threat: How to Prevent a Repeat of the Cuban Missile Crisis in Ukraine.” The piece raises an important tactical question about escalating the violence in an effort to prevent a greater catastrophe similar to what President Kennedy was threatening in 1962. It’s worth a read as it was Allison’s book, “The Essence of Decision,” that provided the understanding of the bureaucratic mindset during the nuclear age. It provoked me to think that the escalate to de-escalate seems to be the paradigm of the FOMC as complacency over zero interest and transitory inflation has given rise to policy makers’ more hawkish jawboning. Uber-doves Charlie Evans, Mary Daly, Jerome Powell, Lael Brainard have been on a mission to find their INNER VOLCKER (at least rhetorically).

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Notes From Underground: Are Central Banks the Grand Illusion?

April 1, 2022

This week I had the extreme pleasure of recording a Financial Repression Authority podcast with Zoltan Poszar (moderated by Richard Bonugli, of course). We covered the entire global scene from yield curves, petro dollars and the underlying basis to all fiat money transactions. It is worth a listen to learn that the fabricated, algo-driven headlines are not the contextual basis of major shifting sands in the global financial system. There is far more nuance locked underlying the moves by policy makers around the world.

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Notes From Underground: Is Globalization Dead?

March 27, 2022

In the past week there were three pieces published by highly respected investors and analysts about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will portend the end of globalization. Adam Posen, Larry Fink and Howard Markets all outlined the rollback of globalization as the use of sanctions could lead to┬áthe need to shrink supply lines and repatriate capital in an effort to shift foreign production back onshore.

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Notes From Underground: Traversing the Global Macro Landscape With Danielle DiMartino Booth

March 23, 2022

On Tuesday, I sat down with Richard Bonugli and Danielle DiMartino Booth. We traversed Ukraine, Europe, the U.S. and Danielle delved deep into the her expertise of the Federal Reserve. We discussed the recent work of Zoltan Pozsar as it has had such a great impact on the current state of global financial markets. This sets the table for Richard’s next FRA Roundtable, which will feature Mr. Pozsar, who is one of the more knowledgeable financial “plumbers.” Pour your favorite WHISKEY as the financial system is explored for potential profits involving commodities, currencies, yield curves and tangentially precious metals.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Notes From Underground: Get Smart

March 13, 2022

There are so many things to consider when trading in the current climate. First and foremost, CAUTION is the key word, not FEAR. As Billy Joel would say, “We didn’t start the fire,” but as traders and investors we have to dance on the embers. The trading environment is dangerous because the algo-driven trading shops are being bombarded with an endless flow of headlines and outlets fighting to be the first to report any news story. Let the speed merchants draw markets to levels where risk can be measured rather than trading just to trade.

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Notes From Underground: A Quick Hit On the State of Chaos

March 6, 2022

First, our hearts go out to all suffering in the world of insanity brought on by senseless wars that diplomacy OUGHT to have been able to prevent. The world always returns to the insanity that brought us to World War I when nobody could stop the trains once set in motion. As Phil Ochs sang, “It’s always the old who lead us off to war, it’s always to fall, look at all we won with the saber and the gun, tell me is it worth it all?” But here we are and as always the world continues to focus on the minutiae of life, including the financial outcomes responding to the high-speed headlines driven by algorithmic speed machines. There is no context to any news just manufactured volatility fabricators of the latest musings of some “news” outlets’ favorite expert. But as Hyman Roth said so clearly: “Michael this is the profession we have chosen.”

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