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The euro’s death wish

Last week’s Goldmoney article explained the Fed’s increasing commitment to dollar hyperinflation. This week’s article examines the additional issues…

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Last week’s Goldmoney article explained the Fed’s increasing commitment to dollar hyperinflation. This week’s article examines the additional issues facing the euro and the Eurozone.

More nakedly than is evidenced by other major central banks, the ECB through its system of satellite national central banks is now almost solely committed to financing national government debts and smothering over the consequences. The result is a commercial banking system both highly leveraged and burdened with overvalued government debt secured only by an implied ECB guarantee.

The failings of this statist control system have been covered up by a pass-the-parcel any collateral goes €10 trillion plus repo market, which with the TARGET2 settlement system has concealed the progressive accumulation of private sector bad debts ever since the first Eurozone crisis hit Spain in 2012.

These distortions can only continue so long as interest rates are suppressed beneath the zero bound. But rising interest rates globally are now a certainty — only officially unrecognised by central bankers — so there can only be two major consequences. First, the inevitable Eurozone economic recession (now being given an extra push through renewed covid restrictions) will send debt-burdened government deficits which are already high soaring, requiring an accelerated pace of inflationary financing by the ECB. And second, the collapse of the bloated repo market, which is to be avoided at all costs, will almost certainly be triggered.

This article attempts to clarify these issues. It is hardly surprising that for the ECB raising interest rates is not an option. Therefore, the recent weakness of the euro on the foreign exchanges marks only the start of a threat to the euro system, the outcome of which will be decided by the markets, not the ECB.

Introduction

The euro, as it is said of the camel, was designed by a committee. Unlike the ship of the desert the euro and its institutions will not survive — we can say that with increasing certainty considering current developments. Instead of evolving as demanded by its users, the euro has become even more of a state control mechanism than the other major currencies, with the exception, perhaps, of China’s renminbi. But for all its faults, the Chinese state at least pays attention to the economic demands of its citizens to guide it in its management of the currency. The commissars in Brussels along with national politicians seem to be blind to the social and economic consequences of drifting into totalitarianism, where people are forced into new lockdowns and in some cases are being forced into mandatory covid vaccinations.

The ECB in Frankfurt has also ignored the economic consequences of its actions and has just two priorities intact from its inception: to finance member governments by inflationary means and to suppress or ignore all evidence of the consequences.

The ECB’s founding was not auspicious. Before monetary union socialistic France relied on inflationary financing of government spending while Germany did not. The French state was interventionist while Germany fostered its mittelstand with sound money. The compromise was that the ECB would be in Frankfurt (the locational credibility argument won the day) while its first true president, after Wim Duisenberg oversaw its establishment and cut short his presidency, would be French: Jean-Claude Trichet. Membership qualifications for the Eurozone were set out in the Maastricht treaty, and then promptly ignored to let in Italy. They were ignored again to let in Greece, which in terms of ease of doing business ranked lower than both Jamaica and Columbia at the time. And now the Maastricht rules are ignored by everyone.

Following the establishment of the ECB the EU made no attempt to tackle the divergence between fiscally responsible Germany with similarly conservative northern states, and the spendthrift southern PIGS. Indeed, many claimed a virtue in that Germany’s savings could be deployed for the benefit of investment in less advanced member nations, a belief insufficiently addressed by the Germans at the time. The ECB presided over the rapidly expanding balance sheets of the major banks which in the early days of the euro made them fortunes arbitraging between Germany’s and the PIGs’ converging bond yields. The ECB was seemingly oblivious to the rapid balance sheet expansion with which came risks spiralling out of control. To be fair, the ECB was not the only major central bank unaware of what was happening on the banking scene ahead of the great financial crisis, but that does not absolve it from responsibility.

The ECB and its banking regulator (the European Banking Authority — EBA) has done nothing since the Lehman failure to reduce banking risk. Figure 1 shows current leverages for the Eurozone’s global systemically important banks, the G-SIBs. Doubtless, there are other lesser Eurozone banks with even higher balance sheet ratios, the failure of any of which threatens the Eurosystem itself.

Even these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Most of the credit expansion has been into government debt aided and abetted by Basel regulations, which rank government debt as the least risky balance sheet asset, irrespective whether it is German or Italian. Throughout the PIGS, private sector bad debts have been rated as “performing” by national regulators so that they can be used as collateral against loans and repurchase agreements, depositing them into the amorphous TARGET2 settlement system and upon other unwary counterparties.

Figure 2 shows the growth of M1 narrow money, which has admittedly not been as dramatic as in the US dollar’s M1. But the translation of bank lending into circulating currency in the Eurozone is by way of government borrowing without stimulation cheques. It is still progressing, Cantillon-like, through the monetary statistics. And they will almost certainly increase substantially further on the back of the ongoing covid pandemic, as state spending rises, tax revenues fall, and budget deficits soar. Bear in mind that the new covid lockdowns currently being implemented will knock the recent anaemic recovery firmly on the head and drive the Eurozone into a new slump. There can be no doubt that M1 for the euro area is set to increase significantly from here, particularly since the ECB is now nakedly a machine for inflationary financing.


In the US’s case, rising interest rates, which the Fed is keen to avoid, will undermine the US stock market with knock-on economic effects. In the Eurozone, rising interest rates will undermine spendthrift governments and the entire commercial banking system.

Government debt creation out of control

The table below shows government spending for leading Eurozone states as a proportion of their GDP last year, ranked from highest government spending to GDP to lowest (column 1). The US is included for comparison.

Country

Gvt spending to GDP (2020) %

Debt to GDP %

Gov. debt to PS GDP %

France

62.1

116.0

310

Greece

60.7

206.0

524

Belgium

60.0

114.0

285

Austria

57.9

83.9

199

Italy

57.3

156.0

365

Euro Area

54.1

98.0

214

Germany

51.1

69.8

143

US

44.0

128.0

229

Source: Trading Economics

   

Some of the increase in government spending relative to their economies was due to significant falls in GDP, and some of it due to increased spending. The current year has seen a recovery in GDP, which will have not yet led to a general improvement in tax revenues, beyond sales taxes. And now, much of Europe faces new covid restrictions and lockdowns which are emasculating any hopes of stabilising government debt levels.

The final column in the table adjusts government debt to show it relative to the tax base, which is the productive private sector upon which all government spending, including borrowing costs and much of inflationary financing, depends. This is a more important measure than the commonly quoted debt to GDP ratios in the second column. The sensitivity to and importance of maintaining tax income becomes readily apparent and informs us that government debt to private sector GDP is potentially catastrophic. As well as the private sectors’ own tax burden, through their taxes and currency debasement they are having to support far larger obligations than generally realised. Productive citizens who don’t feel they are on a treadmill going ever faster for no purpose are lacking awareness.

These are the dynamics of national debt traps which only miss one element to trigger them: rising interest rates. Instead, they are being heavily suppressed by the ECB’s deposit rate of minus 0.5%. The market is so distorted that the nominal yield on France’s 5-year bond is minus 0.45%. In other words, a nation with a national debt that is so high as to be impossible to stabilise without the necessary political will to do so is being paid to borrow. Greece’s 5-year bond yields a paltry 0.48% and Italy’s 0.25%.[i] Welcome to the mad, mad world of Eurozone government finances.

The ECB’s policy failure

It is therefore unsurprising that the ECB is resisting interest rate increases despite producer and consumer price inflation taking off. Consumer price inflation across the Eurozone is most recently recorded at 4.1%, making the real yield on Germany’s 5-year bond minus 4.67%. But Germany’s producer prices for October rose 18.4% compared with a year ago. There can be no doubt that producer prices will feed into consumer prices, and that rising consumer prices have much further to go, fuelled by the acceleration of currency debasement in recent years.

Therefore, in real terms, not only are negative rates already increasing, but they will go even further into record territory due to rising producer and consumer prices. It is also the consequence of all major central banks’ accelerated expansion of their base currencies, particularly since March 2020. Unless it abandons the euro to its fate on the foreign exchanges altogether, the ECB will be forced to raise its deposit rate very soon, to offset the euro’s depreciation. And given the sheer scale of previous monetary expansion, which is driving its loss of purchasing power, euro interest rates will have to rise considerably to have any stabilising effect.

But even if they increased only into modestly positive territory, the ECB would have to quicken the pace of its monetary creation just to keep Eurozone member governments afloat. The foreign exchanges will quickly recognise the situation, punishing the euro if the ECB fails to raise rates and punishing it if it does. But it won’t be limited to cross rates against other currencies, which to varying degrees face similar dilemmas, but measured against prices for commodities and essential products. Arguably, the euro’s rerating on the foreign exchanges has already commenced.

The ECB is being forced into an impossible situation of its own making. Bond yields have started to rise or become less negative, threatening to bankrupt the whole Eurozone network as the trend continues, and inflicting mark-to-market losses on highly leveraged commercial banks invested in government bonds. Furthermore, the Euro system’s network of national central banks is like a basket of rotten apples. It is the consequence not just of a flawed system, but of policies first introduced to rescue Spain from soaring bond yields in 2012. That was when Mario Draghi, the ECB’s President at the time said he was ready to do whatever it takes to save the euro, adding, “Believe me, it will be enough”.

It was then and its demise was deferred. The threat of intervention was enough to drive Spanish bond yields down (currently minus 0.24% on the 5-year bond!) and is probably behind the complacent thinking in the ECB to this day. But as the other bookend to Draghi’s promise to deploy bond purchasing programmes, Lagarde’s current intervention policy is of necessity far larger and more destabilising. And then there is the market problem: the ECB now acts as if it can ignore it for ever.

It wasn’t always like this. The euro started with the promise of being a far more stable currency replacement for national currencies, particularly the Italian lira, the Spanish peseta, the French franc, and the Greek drachma. But the first president of the ECB, Wim Duisenberg, resigned halfway during his term to make way for Jean-Claude Trichet, who was a French statist from the École Nationale d’Administration and a career civil servant. His was a political appointment, promoted by the French on a mixture of nationalism and a determination to neutralise the sound money advocates in Germany. To be fair to Trichet, he resisted some of the more overt pressures for inflationism. But then things had not yet started to go wrong on his watch.

Following Trichet, the ECB has pursued increasingly inflationist policies. Unlike the Bundesbank which closely monitored the money supply and paid attention to little else, the ECB adopted a wide range of economic indicators, allowing it to shift its focus from money to employment, confidence polls, long-term interest rates, output measures and others, allowing a fully flexible attitude to money.[ii] The ECB is now intensely political, masquerading as an independent monetary institution. But there is no question that it is subservient to Brussels and whose primary purpose is to ensure Eurozone governments’ profligate spending is always financed; “whatever it takes”. The private sector is now a distant irrelevance, only an alternative source of government revenue to inflation, the delegated responsibility of compliant national central banks, who take their orders from the economically remote ECB.

It is an arrangement that will eventually collapse through currency debasement and economic breakdown. Prices rising to multiples of the official CPI target and the necessary abandonment by the ECB of the euro in the foreign exchanges in favour of interest rate suppression now threaten the ability of the ECB to finance in perpetuity increasing government deficits.

The ECB, TARGET2 and the repo market

Figure 3 shows how the Eurozone’s central bank balance sheets have grown since the great financial crisis. The growth has virtually matched that of the Fed, increasing to $9.7 trillion equivalent against the Fed’s $8.5 trillion, but from a base about $700bn higher.


While they are reflected in central bank assets, TARGET2 imbalances are an additional complication, which are shown in the Osnabrück University chart reproduced in Figure 4. Points to note are that Germany is owed €1,067bn. The ECB collectively owes the national central banks (NCBs) €364bn. Italy owes €519bn, Spain €487bn and Portugal €82bn.


The effect of the ECB deficit, which arises from bond purchases conducted on its behalf by the national central banks, is to artificially reduce the TARGET2 balances of debtors in the system to the extent the ECB has bought their government bonds and not paid the relevant national central bank for them.

The combined debts of Italy and Spain to the other national central banks is about €1 trillion. In theory, these imbalances should not exist. The fact that they do and that from 2015 they have been increasing is due partly to accumulating bad debts, particularly in Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Local regulators are incentivised to declare non-performing bank loans as performing, so that they can be used as collateral for repurchase agreements with the local central bank and other counterparties. This has the effect of reducing non-performing loans at the national level, encouraging the view that there is no bad debt problem. But much of it has merely been removed from national banking systems and lost in both the euro system and the wider repo market.

Demand for collateral against which to obtain liquidity has led to significant monetary expansion, with the repo market acting not as a marginal liquidity management tool as is the case in other banking systems, but as an accumulating supply of raw money. This is shown in Figure 4, which is the result of an ICMA survey of 58 leading institutions in the euro system.[iii]

The total for this form of short-term financing grew to €8.31 trillion in outstanding contracts by December 2019. The collateral includes everything from government bonds and bills to pre-packaged commercial bank debt. According to the ICMA survey, double counting, whereby repos are offset by reverse repos, is minimal. This is important when one considers that a reverse repo is the other side of a repo, so that with repos being additional to the reverse repos recorded, the sum of the two is a valid measure of the size of the market outstanding. The value of repos transacted with central banks as part of official monetary policy operations were not included in the survey and continue to be “very substantial”. But repos with central banks in the ordinary course of financing are included.[iv]

Today, even excluding central bank repos connected with monetary policy operations, this figure probably exceeds €10 trillion, allowing for the underlying growth in this market and when one includes participants beyond the 58 dealers in the survey. An interesting driver of this market is negative interest rates, which means that the repayment of the cash side of a repo (and of a reverse repo) can be less than its initial payment. By tapping into central bank cash through a repo it gives a commercial bank a guaranteed return. This must be one reason that the repo market in euros has grown to be considerably larger than it is in the US.

This consideration raises the question as to the consequences of the ECB’s deposit rate being forced back into positive territory. It is likely to substantially reduce a source of balance sheet funding for commercial banks as repos from national central banks no longer offer negative rate funding. They would then be forced to sell balance sheet assets, which would drive all negative bond yields into positive territory, and higher. Furthermore, the contraction of bank credit implied by the withdrawal of repo finance will almost certainly have the knock-on effect of triggering a widespread banking liquidity crisis in a banking cohort with such high balance sheet gearing.

There is a further issue over collateral quality. While the US Fed only accepts very high-quality securities as repo collateral, with the Eurozone’s national banks and the ECB almost anything is accepted — it had to be when Greece and other PIGS were bailed out. High quality debt represents most of the repo collateral and commercial banks can take it back onto their balance sheets. But the hidden bailouts of Italian banks by taking dodgy loans off their books could not continue to this day without them being posted as repo collateral rolled into the TARGET2 system and into the wider commercial repo network.

The result is that the repos that will not be renewed by commercial counterparties are those whose collateral is bad or doubtful. We have no knowledge how much is involved. But given the incentive for national regulators to have deemed them creditworthy so that they could act as repo collateral, the amounts will be considerable. Having accepted this dodgy collateral, national central banks will be unable to reject them for fear of triggering a banking crisis in their own jurisdictions. Furthermore, they are likely to be forced to accept additional repo collateral rejected by commercial counterparties.

In short, in the bloated repo market there are the makings of the next Eurozone banking crisis. The numbers are far larger than the central banking system’s capital. And the tide will rapidly ebb on them with rising interest rates.

Inflation and interest rate outlook


Starting with input prices, the commodity tracker in Figure 6 illustrates the rise in commodity and energy prices in euros, ever since the US Fed went “all in” in early 2020. To these inputs we can add soaring shipping costs, logistical disruption, and labour shortages — in effect all the problems seen in other jurisdictions. Additionally, this article demonstrates that not only is the ECB determined not to raise interest rates, but it simply cannot afford to. Being on the edge of a combined government funding crisis and with a possible collapse in the repo market taking out the banking system, the ECB is paralyzed with fear.

That being so, we can expect further weakness in the euro exchange rate. And the commodity tracker in Figure 6 shows that when commodity prices break out above their current consolidation phase, they will likely push alarmingly higher in euros at least. The ECB’s dilemma over choosing inflationary financing or saving the currency is about to get considerably worse. And for probable confirmation of mounting fear over the situation in Frankfurt, look no further than the resignation of the President of the Bundesbank, who has asked the Federal President to dismiss him early for personal reasons. It was all very polite, but a high-flying, sound money man such as Jens Weidmann is unlikely to just want to spend more time with his family. That he can no longer act as a restraint on the ECB’s inflationism is clear, and more than any outsider he will be acutely aware of the coming crisis.

Let us hope that Weidmann will be available to pick up the pieces and reintroduce a gold-backed mark.

[i] All bond yields as at 24 November.

[ii] See The Tragedy of the Euro, Phillip Bagus, page 35. Published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010. Eleven years later, Bagus’s analysis and predictions are proving to be correct.

[iii] ICMA European repo market survey No. 38.

[iv] The Euro system’s combined central banking balance sheet shows “Securities held for monetary policy purposes” totalling €3.694 trillion, and “Liabilities to euro area credit institutions related to monetary policy operations..” totalling €3.489 trillion at end-2020. Repo and reverse repo transactions are included in these numbers, and on the liability side represent an increase of 93% over 2019. It is evidence of escalating liquidity support for commercial banks, much of which is through repo markets, evidence that outstanding repos are considerably higher than at the time of the ICMA survey referenced above.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of Goldmoney, unless expressly stated. The article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute either Goldmoney or the author(s) providing you with legal, financial, tax, investment, or accounting advice. You should not act or rely on any information contained in the article without first seeking independent professional advice. Care has been taken to ensure that the information in the article is reliable; however, Goldmoney does not represent that it is accurate, complete, up-to-date and/or to be taken as an indication of future results and it should not be relied upon as such. Goldmoney will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage, or inconvenience caused as a result of any information or opinion contained in this article and any action taken as a result of the opinions and information contained in this article is at your own risk.




















Economics

Weekly Market Pulse: This Again??!!

Here we go again. Or maybe, more accurately here we go still. COVID has reared its ugly head again, this time in the form of a new variant called Omicron….

Here we go again. Or maybe, more accurately here we go still. COVID has reared its ugly head again, this time in the form of a new variant called Omicron. The name surprised some folks because the next letter in the Greek alphabet was Nu but the WHO thought that sounded too much like “new” so they skipped that one as Greek speakers are generally confined to Greece these days. And the next letter was “Xi” which the WHO said was a common last name and that their policy required “avoiding causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups.” Well, goodness no, wouldn’t want to offend anyone, certainly not the most famous man with the last name of Xi. What I’m trying to figure out is if I actually slept through epsilon, zeta, eta, iota, kappa, lambda and mu or if WHO thought those might offend someone too, like maybe some fraternity or sorority. They sure didn’t seem to mind offending Animal House fans by naming the last one Delta. Maybe they were worried about offending nerds (Lamda, Lamda, Lamda). Ah, WHO cares?

About the only thing we know for sure is that last Friday’s selloff didn’t have anything to do with the name because that happened while the WHO was deep into research on the Greek alphabet and who it might offend. We were having a nice pleasant Thanksgiving week, eating turkey and ham and yams, watching football – if that’s what you call what the Lions play – and just generally enjoying a couple of days away from the market when WHAM! Here comes Mu or Nu or Xi or Omega or whatever and the market tanks like it hasn’t done since all the way back in February. Worst week since, um, well, last month. The S&P 500 was down 2.2% last week which, in normal times, would be barely worth a mention. But in today’s speculative market, that qualifies as a correction and Twitter is all atwitter this evening about the rebound everyone expects tomorrow.

We don’t know anything about this new variant yet and so there is no way to judge the impact. Yes, some countries are closing borders but they can be opened just as quickly. I have said since the onset of this pandemic that we better learn how to live with this thing because it isn’t going away. And unless Omicron turns out to be an extremely deadly version of COVID, my guess is that people are just going to go on with their lives; COVID exhaustion has set in. So, whatever the state of the economy was prior to the arrival of the big O, that’s what it is now too no matter the WHO’s permanent state of panic.

The global economy is still recovering from the COVID shock – the shutdowns and the response. The first two quarters of this year were a big rebound as the vaccines were rolled out. Last quarter was a bummer with the emergence of the delta variant (or at least that was the accepted wisdom). And this quarter so far is looking like a pretty good rebound from that slowdown. The Chicago Fed National Activity index rebounded in October to 0.76, a big improvement from -0.18 in September. The 3 month average is now 0.21, showing growth as just a bit above trend. Until the new variant news hit Friday, markets were starting to confirm the improvement in the economy. Both nominal and real rates were up on the week – for a change – and the economic data was almost uniformly positive. But rates were down hard on Friday and finished the week in the red. We’ll see if that lasts this week.

When it comes to economic and market data I try not to react too much to any one report. I learned a long time ago that the first pass on economic data is really just a guess and revisions can change your entire view of the economy. And this week we got reason number bajillion why that is true. Last month we got a report on goods trade that showed a large drop in exports. A lot of pixels were expended in explaining why that was a big warning sign about the global economy. But the drop was confined to one category of goods called “industrial supplies” and I warned that we didn’t know what caused it. Well, since then we discovered that the biggest drop was in “non-monetary gold” which means essentially nothing to the global economy. I don’t know why it dropped that month but it rebounded this month and the entire drop has now been wiped away. There were some other weak items in that category as well – crude oil and petroleum products – but none of it was that surprising or important to the global economy. The point is that one shouldn’t make any rash judgments about the markets or the economy based on one report.

And the same applies to the latest virus news, whatever it might be. The emergence of the Omicron variant could be negative – or not. It may evade the vaccines – or not. It may be deadly – or have mild symptoms with low hospitalization and death rates. We just don’t know. I do believe, based on my own reading about coronaviruses, that COVID-19 will eventually mutate into something our immune systems can handle. It could become like the flu or even better like the common cold (which is actually a bunch of viruses). That is, after all, what coronaviruses do (not all viruses obviously). They evolve and mutate to a form that allows it and its host to survive. How long that takes is anyone’s guess but if history is a guide it doesn’t happen quickly. You could be talking years before we reach that point. In the meantime, we need to do the best we can and live with it. Because it isn’t going away. Still.


 

As I said above, the economic data released last week was almost uniformly positive. New and existing home sales rebounded although both are still down year over year. Durable goods were lower for the second straight month but ex-transportation orders were up a solid 0.5%, the eight consecutive monthly gain. Core capital goods were also higher again, up 0.6% for the sixth consecutive gain.

Personal income and consumption were both up in October as wages and salaries continue to move up. Incomes fell off some after the end of the extended unemployment benefits but that is rapidly fading in the rear view mirror. Consumption remains well above the pre-COVID trend and shows little sign of abating. And by the way, that is true of real, inflation adjusted consumption too. Incomes are still struggling a bit after inflation and taxes are taken into account; real disposable income was down 0.3% last month and 0.9% year over year.

Despite that we continue to classify the current environment as one of falling growth. That is primarily due to real rates which are still near their lows of this cycle at -1.07% for the 10 year TIPS. The nominal 10 year at 1.48% is still quite a bit below the peak last spring of about 1.75%. Lastly, the yield curve continues to flatten although it is still a long way from flat or inverted. The dollar is also still in an uptrend, hitting its highest level since June 2020 last week before pulling back on Friday. While we might see some near term weakness the short term trend is obviously up.

 

We get more housing data this week in the form of pending home sales which will give us a better idea of how the market is right now.

Jobless claims should be interesting this week. Last week’s report dropped under 200k. The last time initial weekly claims were that low the summer of love was just ending (September 1969 for all you youngsters out there). It seems like a possible seasonal adjustment mistake but maybe not. The trend should put this week’s number up around 250k.

We get payrolls this week and that is often a market moving event. It is backward looking and subject to huge revisions but for some reason people still pay attention so we will too, at least for this week.

Finally, we get the ISM reports this week.

Stocks were down across the board last week while bonds were mostly higher (in the chart below is shows the 3-7 Year Treasury index as down for the week but that is wrong for some reason; the ETF for the index was up on the week.) Corporate bonds, high grade and junk, were down last week as spreads have widened every so slightly. Junk spreads are still very tight historically so just something to keep an eye on at this point.

Commodities also took a beating last week as crude oil dropped below $70. Blame it on omicron I guess but it was due for a pullback in any case. The commodity line below is the GSCI index which we sold months ago. Our preferred index right now is the BCOM which was down about half as much as the GSCI last week. In any case, commodities are still the best performing asset of the ones we track and own in our portfolios.

In a strong dollar year it isn’t surprising to see foreign markets lagging. Global ex-US stocks are up just about 5% this year while EM, Asia ex-Japan and China are all down YTD. Japan is clinging to a small gain. It is hard to fathom the gap in performance between US and international markets over the last decade. Just truly stunning and the reversal, when it comes, will likely be just as spectacular. But we aren’t there yet.

Value outperformed last week but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

With everyone expecting the market to rebound tomorrow I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see us take another leg down. A lot of Friday may have been nothing more than a convenient excuse to take profits in a wildly overvalued market. A 2% down day hasn’t changed that. About the only thing that would is a certified bear market but with the economy at least okay for now, that doesn’t seem likely. So, what do we do to our portfolios? Nothing is the usually the best answer to that and this is no exception. Our portfolios continue to be defensive with a larger than normal allocation to cash. That’s what the current environment of falling growth and rising dollar calls for. Maybe omicron will be the catalyst for the long overdue correction of at least 10%. With margin debt as high as it is, it probably wouldn’t take much more to really accelerate the selling, forced or otherwise. And 10% is nothing, a normal market fluctuation that comes, on average, about every 19 months. This is the 20th month since the bottom of the COVID bear. Just sayin’.

Joe Calhoun









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Economics

Inflation Never Mattered Much For Crypto… Until About A Year Ago

Inflation Never Mattered Much For Crypto… Until About A Year Ago

Inflation never mattered much for crypto… until about a year ago.

As…

Inflation Never Mattered Much For Crypto… Until About A Year Ago

Inflation never mattered much for crypto… until about a year ago.

As UBS notes in its latest Crypto Keys note last week, forward-looking measures of US consumer prices today rank among the most prominent correlations for digital assets…

…. something we first pointed out a month ago.

Sensitivity to actual data prints is also mounting accordingly…

… and as UBS notes, BTC, ETH and a range of more established tokens screen statistically on par with traditional instruments that are considered classic inflation winners or losers.

Co-movement is weaker for newer coins like BNB as well as ADA, SOL, DOT and AVAX, which have strongly outperformed in 2021, along with meme plays like DOGE. But to UBS that seems encouraging rather than surprising when idiosyncratic factors have clearly been driving their price action.

But while inflation clearly has be driving the top cryptocurrencies in the past year, the risk now according to UBS is that more powerful drivers will emerge to dislodge the status quo. Potential candidates could be things like stablecoin regulation, tighter exchange and account registration requirements reducing activity in CeFi and DeFi, and new restrictions on bank participation, all of which could be near-term negatives affecting market liquidity and activity but longer-term positives paving the way for institutional participation. While such things may sound crypto-specific, they mirror conditions that govern how conventional inflation hedging instruments behave. 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 11/28/2021 – 19:00

Author: Tyler Durden

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Economics

Hillary: “Americans Just Don’t Appreciate What Joe Has Done For Them”

Hillary: "Americans Just Don’t Appreciate What Joe Has Done For Them"

Via 21stCenturyWire.com,

This might be the longest-ever Thanksgiving…

Hillary: “Americans Just Don’t Appreciate What Joe Has Done For Them”

Via 21stCenturyWire.com,

This might be the longest-ever Thanksgiving weekend for Joe Biden. While he’s been enjoying a warm blanket and a hot cup of Ovaltine with his family in Nantucket, the President’s poll numbers have been in virtual free-fall. It seems that the nation is fast losing confidence in his ability to handle important issues like the economy, the border, foreign policy and crime running wild on America’s streets. In short, the majority of Americans, both Democrat and Republican, do not believe Joe is capable of fulfilling his duties as the chief executive of the world’s premier superpower.

At present, Biden’s average job approval rating stands at around 40%, a steep drop from the 55% percent average approval rating he enjoyed last May.

No one really knows just how low Joe will go.

Still, this hasn’t stopped his ardent allies from rushing to his defense, and blaming his flagging numbers on social media trolls (see deplorables).

Carlos Garcia from The Blaze writes…

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tried to explain away President Joe Biden’s poor polling by accusing Americans of not appreciating what Biden has done for them, and blamed social media.

Clinton made the comments while a guest on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show Tuesday evening.

“You know, democracy is messy. You know, a lot of people got, oh I think, kind of frustrated looking at the messy process of legislation,” said Clinton.

“And they didn’t really appreciate that, within a year, the Biden administration has passed two major pieces of legislation through both the House and the Senate, they passed another major piece through the House that will be soon be in the Senate,” she continued.

“By any measure those are extraordinary accomplishments and they really will help many millions of Americans with healthcare and prescription drug prices, as well as climate change and so much else,” said Clinton.

“But because of the way we are getting our information today,” she concluded, “and because of the lack of gatekeepers and people who have a historic perspective who can help us understand what we are seeing, there is a real vulnerability in the electorate to the kind of demagoguery and disinformation that, unfortunately, the other side is really good at exploiting.”

Both Maddow and Clinton accused Republicans of undermining the results of fair elections and calling for violence as a political solution in the interview.

Biden’s poll numbers have suffered greatly after a cascade of damaging incidents plaguing his administration. Among the worst were the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, the painful cost of high inflation, and the crisis of illegal immigration at the border.

One poll from October found that only 38% of Americans thought Biden deserved a positive job rating.

Watch Hillary’s clip here: 

Tyler Durden
Sun, 11/28/2021 – 17:30

Author: Tyler Durden

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