Archive for the ‘Currency’ Category

Notes From Underground: Whistling Past the Tombstones

December 29, 2019

As we approach 2020, it seems as though the financial world is unconcerned about the dramatic increase in DEBT. Yes, the airwaves are alive with news of the extremely low level of mortgage delinquencies but fail to discuss the growing delinquency of 90-day auto loans and the $1.5 trillion pile of student loan debt, an albatross for college graduates over the 20 years. Corporate debt has increased by the magic of financial engineering in which share buybacks and dividend increases are greased with the benevolence of central banks caught in a trap of their design.

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Notes From Underground: “It’s Good News Week”

December 10, 2019

What an appropriate song for the band Hedgehoppers Anonymous. This week is loaded with potential market-moving outcomes. On Wednesday we have the final FOMC statement of the year followed by Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference. The CONSENSUS is for no change in the current fed funds target range of 1.5% to 1.75%. The real key will hopefully be Powell’s press conference as market participants are hoping for any sort of dialogue about the Fed’s role in the repo market.

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Notes From Underground: The Jobs Picture Is Robust, But Where Is the Wage Increase?

December 8, 2019

This is a rhetorical question of course, for the lack of wage growth is to be found in the vast amount of money chasing a global labor pool.

It is capital that had benefited from the last 30 years of the unleashing workers after the fall of the Soviet Empire and the black/white cat policies of Deng in pursuing growth in China. Now that other emerging economies are attracting capital in an effort to create jobs, there still remains a great deal of downward pressure on wages. Even the movement of supply chains out of China will act as a drag on global earnings as manufacturers will act to hold down wages as way of remaining attractive to foreign direct investment. The world has been watching as Chinese earnings growth has accelerated over the last 10 years but one of the outcomes from the Trump tariffs will be to force a slowdown in China’s wage inflation.

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Notes From Underground: Was Trump Addressing Mnuchin or Powell?

November 19, 2019

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Muchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell met with President Trump at the White House where the duo “advised” and “forecasted” the economy to the president as 2020 election posturing is in full swing. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND has maintained that Trump used the tariff threat to cajole Jerome Powell into lowering interest rates, weaken the DOLLAR and end the balance sheet runoff that the administration believed has held back the U.S. economy. What was Powell buying insurance against?

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Notes From Underground: I Am Not Your Beast of Burden

October 29, 2019

In the global financial system, the central banks are indeed the are system’s beasts of burden. With the November FED FUNDS contract pricing in 93% chance of a rate cut, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will attach himself to the plow and till the soil, spreading more fertilizer for equity purchases and further financial repression of creditors. As we discussed Monday, the week is filled with central bank meetings of importance and further impacted by unemployment and GDP data. But there is so much more in the political realm that we haven’t even entertained:

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Notes From Underground: The Sounds Of Silence, as Sung by Hyman Minsky

October 28, 2019

Equity markets on Monday sustained their global rally as markets across Asia, Europe and the United States powered higher, even as the political backdrop continues to foment greater uncertainty. This week brings three key central bank meetings: The Bank of Canada, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan. (more…)

Notes From Underground: Beware the ECB’s New Weapons

September 24, 2019

As promised, here is the clip of me and Rick Santelli talking about myriad issues in the market, from the state of U.S. dollar funding to Europe’s issues.

This is a highly relevant discussion about the tasks confronting incoming ECB President Christine Lagarde. On Tuesday, Project Syndicate published a piece by Yanis  Varoufakis titled, “New Weapons for the ECB,” offering a plan that will result in  ECB CONVERSION BONDS. It is a surprisingly TAME essay as the firebrand of the EU is offering resolution to the problem that President Lagarde has been delegated to attempt to resolve. Varoufakis is resigned to the idea that there will no coordinated “sensible fiscal policy.”

The failure of politics necessitates the need for a EUROBOND is paramount to prevent the peripheral nations from embarking on deflationary policies in an effort to avoid insolvency. Varoufakis saw Greece subjected to the terror of INTERNAL DEVALUATION as wages dropped dramatically in an effort to make the country competitive with its fellow EU nations. Primary budget surpluses for a nation struggling to create an environment for GDP growth is a recipe for political instability. A eurobond/conversion ECB bond from its existing asset pool would eliminate the fear of insolvency and allow for a more coordinated fiscal response to an EU recession.

While Varoufakis is too complimentary of Mario Draghi, his piece lays out what it is that President Lagarde must overcome to be deemed a success in her new job. It seems that “agent provocateur is bidding for a position in the Lagarde regime. The coming Lagarde program will result in increased volatility in the EURO ZONE debt markets as politics takes on the opponents from Europe’s heartland who have been financially repressed by negative interest rates. He said, “Technically speaking, ECB conversion bonds are the obvious replacement for the failing quantitative easing program. Only the misplaced fear of debt mutualization stands in their way.”

***Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. CDT, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announces its newest interest rate decision. On August 7, we at NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND anticipated the 50 basis CUT because of the strength of the KIWI versus the Aussie dollar. The low made that night on the cross was 1.0361. Now, the cross is at 1.0752 after touching 1.0835 last week. The recent KIWI weakness OUGHT to keep the RBNZ‘s overnight cash rate on HOLD at 1%.

If the RBNZ were to actually cut rates citing global concerns it would involve an outright battle with the Aussies. They would be fighting a currency skirmish, which would force the AUSSIES to lower their rates at the next meeting — and likely generate some response from President Trump. Let’s hope the RBNZ is content with the recent weakness in the KIWI. Keep an eye on the 200-week moving average of 1.0708, which is a critical support level.

***In my analysis of the Middle East, I advise paying attention to the role of Vladimir Putin. His stature is enhanced every day as the tensions build throughout the region. It is Russia that has become the critical variable to any lessening of tensions. It is time to negotiate the SANCTIONS away for the loss of Crimea will remain an issue for the Europeans to resolve, as well as an overall lessening of violence in the Ukraine.

The sanctions have been an irritant to the Russians as Germany and others still rely on Russian energy imports. And the issue of Saudi Arabia continues to  be a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” leaving me to wonder what all the actors have as their self-interest. Watch all things Russian for a clue.

Notes From Underground: “Where Did I Find This Guy Jerome?”

September 8, 2019

Of all the U.S. president’s tweets (and believe he has a lot), Friday’s tweet about Federal Reserve Chairman was one of the best. Unfortunately, there probably should’ve been a comma between “guy” and “Jerome” since one could ask the question about any member of Trump’s economic team. President Trump could be asking the Fed chairman about Secretary Steven Mnuchin, or Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and certainly of Larry Kudlow or Peter Navarro. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND has been asking that for many months. In my opinion, the only Trump pick that inspires confidence is Robert Lighthizer.

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Notes From Underground: Dudley Do Right Gives the Markets Snidely Whiplash

August 29, 2019

Ok, I couldn’t resist the obvious joke. It seems that former New York Fed President Bill Dudley penned an op-ed for Bloomberg in which he elevated the Fed into an actor in the U.S. political process. The message that Dudley initially tried to convey is one that NOTES has actually expressed concerns: That President Trump has trapped Chair Powell by using TARIFFS as a mechanism to bludgeon the FOMC into lowering rates to counter any of the negative impact from trade frictions unleashed on the global economy. Dudley admonished Powell to play the role of Bartleby the Scrivner in Melville’s short story, that when it comes to cutting rates in response to financial implications of the China/U.S. trade war, simply say “I choose not to.”

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Notes From Underground: The August of Our Discontent

August 7, 2019

When August rolls in the markets thin as Europe heads to the beaches and New Yorkers head to the Hamptons before Labor Day. This means every tweet President Trump is amplified by the LACK of market liquidity. On Wednesday, the president was back in full confrontation with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell because three central banks CUT interest rates last night: India,Thailand, and, most importantly, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which surprised most market analysts by cutting 50 basis points instead of 25.

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