Optimism about the future of the U.S. economy has not been this strong since Barack Obama’s first presidential election victory in 2008. Donald Trump promised us an economic resurgence, and what is not to like so far? As I discussed earlier this week, stocks are soaring, businesses are already announcing that they are bringing jobs back to the United States, and the U.S. dollar has been lifted to levels that we haven’t seen in many years. Many are referring to this post-election surge as “Trumphoria”, and I think that is quite appropriate. Personally, I couldn’t imagine financial markets behaving this way if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Right now tens of millions of Americans are feeling deeply optimistic about the future for the first time in a very long time, and this is clearly reflected in the results of the most recent CNBC All-America Economic Survey…
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey for the fourth quarter found that the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get better in the next year jumped an unprecedented 17 points to 42 percent, compared with before the election. It’s the highest level since President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.
The surge was powered by Republicans and independents reversing their outlooks. Republicans swung from deeply pessimistic, with just 15 percent saying the economy would improve in the next year, to strongly optimistic, with 74 percent believing in an economic upswing. Optimism among independents doubled but it fell by more than half for Democrats. Just 16 percent think the economy will improve.
It is funny how our political perspectives so greatly shape our view of the future. Because Trump won, Democrats now have an extremely dismal opinion of where the economy is heading, while Republicans suddenly believe that happy days are here again.
Of course the truth is that the president has far less power to influence the economy than the Federal Reserve does, and so most Americans greatly overestimate what a president can do to alter our economic trajectory.
But for now most Americans (excluding Democrats) are feeling really good about where things are headed. In fact, we just learned that the University of Michigan consumer confidence survey has soared to the highest level that we have seen since 2005.
And of course the financial markets continued to roll onward and upward on Friday. The Dow was up another 142 points, and it is now less than 250 points away from the magic number of 20,000.
I never thought that we would actually get to 20,000, but thanks to “Trumphoria” we may actually get there before the wheels start coming off.
This post-election run has really been unprecedented. The following comes from CNBC…
All major indexes have been hitting record highs since the election. In fact, the Dow has notched 14 record closes since then and gains in 20 of the past 24 sessions.
The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq also did something they haven’t done in more than five years: all three rose each day of this trading week. The last time all three rose every day during the same trading week was September 2011.
Wouldn’t it be great if every month during Trump’s presidency was like the last 30 days?
Trump promised that we would start winning so much that we would actually start getting tired of winning, and so far we are off to a tremendous start.
The shares of Wells Fargo, the most hated bank in America these days, soared 28% over the past 30 days, Citigroup 25%, JP Morgan 26%, Goldman Sachs, which is successfully placing its people inside the Trump administration, 37%.
But is this momentum in the financial markets sustainable?
Of course not.
There are signs of emerging economic trouble all around us. For instance, Sears just announced that it lost 748 million dollars last quarter and that it plans to liquidate even more stores.
How in the world do you lose three-quarters of a billion dollars in a single quarter? If you had employees in every store literally flushing dollar bills down the toilet all day I don’t think you could lose money that quickly.
And the moment that Trump takes office, he may immediately be faced with a major financial crisis in Europe which has been sparked by the meltdown of large Italian banks. The following comes from a Forbes article entitled “Italy’s Banking Crisis Is Nearly Upon Us“…
There is a high degree of probability (approaching 90%, I’d say) that Italy will experience a severe banking crisis in the next few quarters. Perhaps they can stave off the problem for a year, but something will have to be done about the banks.
Unfortunately, it looks like things are about to get very real for Italian banking giant Monte dei Paschi di Siena. According to Reuters, the European Central Bank has turned down their request for more time to raise needed capital…
The European Central Bank has rejected a request by Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI) for more time to raise capital, a source said on Friday, a decision that piles pressure on the Rome government to bail out the lender.
Italy’s third-largest bank, and the world’s oldest, had asked for a three-week extension until January 20 to try to wrap up a privately funded, 5 billion euro ($5.3 billion) rescue plan in the face of fresh political uncertainty.
The ECB’s supervisory board turned down the request at a meeting on Friday on the grounds that a delay would be of little use and that it was time for Rome to step in, the source said.
But most Americans have no idea what is unfolding in Europe right now.
As Americans, we tend to be largely oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the world, and at this moment “Trumphoria” has gripped our nation.
It is certainly not wrong to celebrate the fact that we are getting Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, but let us also not lose sight of the fact that we are likely to be facing some tremendous challenges very early in 2017.
Will the financial bubble that has been rapidly growing ever since Donald Trump won the election suddenly be popped once he takes office? Could it be possible that we are being set up for a horrible financial crash that he will ultimately be blamed for? Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on the incredible euphoria that we have seen since Donald Trump’s surprise victory on November 8th. The U.S. dollar has been surging, companies are announcing that they are bringing jobs back to the U.S., and we are witnessing perhaps the greatest post-election stock market rally in Wall Street history. In fact, the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all set new all-time record highs again on Thursday. What we are seeing is absolutely unprecedented, and many believe that the good times will continue to roll as we head into 2017.
What has been most surprising to me is how well the stocks of the big Wall Street banks have been doing. It is no secret that those banks poured a tremendous amount of money into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and Donald Trump had some tough things to say about them leading up to election day.
So you wouldn’t think that it would be particularly good news for those banks that Trump won the election. However, we seem to be living in “Bizarro World” at the moment, and in so many ways things are happening exactly the opposite of what we would expect. Since Trump’s victory, all of the big banking stocks have been skyrocketing…
Financial stocks in particular have been on fire. Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are up about 20% since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton — and that makes them laggards!
Morgan Stanley (MS) has gained more than 25%. So has troubled Wells Fargo (WFC), despite the lingering fallout from its fake account scandal. Bank of America (BAC) is up more than 30%.
And so is Goldman Sachs (GS) — the former employer of both Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.
But are these stock prices justified by the fundamentals?
Of course not, but during times of euphoria the fundamentals never seem to matter much. Stocks were incredibly overvalued before the election, and now they are ridiculously overvalued.
Earlier today, a CNBC article pointed out that the cyclically-adjusted price to earnings ratio has only been higher than it is today at three points in our history…
“The cyclically adjusted P/E (CAPE), a valuation measure created by economist Robert Shiller now stands over 27 and has been exceeded only in the 1929 mania, the 2000 tech mania and the 2007 housing and stock bubble,” Alan Newman wrote in his Stock Market Crosscurrents letter at the end of November.
Newman said even if the market’s earnings increase by 10 percent under Trump’s policies “we’re still dealing with the same picture, overvaluation on a very grand scale.”
And of course a historic stock market crash immediately followed each of those three bubbles.
So are we being set up for a huge crash in early 2017?
Right now, the U.S. stock market is surging, with the Dow leaping toward 20,000, a number rooted in fiscal insanity and delusional expectations. There are no fundamentals that support a 20,000 Dow, but fundamentals have long since ceased to matter in a financial world hyperventilating on debt fumes while hallucinating about utopian economic models that will soon prove to generate fools instead of real wealth.
Today I’m going on the record with a prediction that I’ll offer with near absolute certainty: The rigged markets that now seem to defy gravity will be deliberately and destructively imploded under President Trump for all the obvious reasons. There will be financial chaos like we’ve never seen before: Investors leaping off tall buildings, banks declaring extended “holidays” that freeze transactions, and California pensioners slitting their wrists after they discover their promised pension funds were just vaporized by incompetent bureaucrats.
On the other hand, there are others that believe that Trump is just walking into a very bad situation and that a crash would be inevitable no matter who was president.
History tells us that there is no possible way that stock prices can stay at this irrational level indefinitely. But for now a wave of optimism is sweeping the nation, and many of those that are caught up in it will get seriously angry with you if you try to inject a dose of reality into the conversation.
But like I said yesterday, let’s hope that the optimists are correct. A survey that was just taken of 600 business executives found that 62 percent of them were optimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months.
Incredibly, that number was sitting at just 38 percent the previous quarter.
For the moment, business leaders seem to be quite thrilled that we have a business executive in the White House.
Hopefully Donald Trump’s business experience will translate well to his new position. And it is certainly my hope that he is as successful as possible.
But even during the campaign Trump talked about how stocks were in a giant bubble, and the euphoria that we have seen since his election victory has just made that bubble even larger.
Throughout U.S. history, every giant financial bubble has always ended very badly, and this time around will not be any exception.
Trump may get the blame for it when it bursts, but the truth is that the conditions for the coming crisis have been building for a very, very long time.
Italian voters have embraced the global trend of rejecting the established world order, but the “no” vote on Sunday has plunged global financial markets into a state of utter chaos. The euro has already fallen to a 20 month low, Italian government bonds are poised for a tremendous crash, and futures markets are indicating that both U.S. and European stock markets will be way down when they open on Monday. It is being projected that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s referendum on constitutional reforms will be defeated by about 20 percentage points when all the votes have been counted, and Renzi has already announced that he plans to resign as a result. When new elections are held it looks like comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star movement will come to power, and the European establishment is extremely alarmed at that prospect because Grillo wants to take Italy out of the eurozone. In the long run Italy would be much better off without the euro, but in the short-term the only thing propping up Italy’s failing banking system is support from Europe. Without that support, the 8th largest economy on the entire planet would already be in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis.
I know that I said a lot in that first paragraph, but it is imperative that people understand how serious this crisis could quickly become.
This “no” vote virtually guarantees a major banking crisis for Italy, and many analysts fear that it could trigger a broader financial crisis all across the rest of the continent as well.
Just look at what has already happened. All of the votes haven’t even been counted yet, and the euro is absolutely plummeting…
The euro dropped 1.3 percent to $1.0505, falling below its 1 1/2-year low of $1.0518 touched late last month, and testing its key support levels where the currency has managed to rebound in the past couple of years.
A break below its 2015 March low of $1.0457 would send the currency to its lowest level since early 2003, opening a way for a test of $1, or parity against the dollar, a scenario which many market players now see as a real possibility.
In early 2014, there were times when one euro was trading for almost $1.40. For a very long time I have been warning that the euro was eventually heading for parity with the U.S. dollar, and now we are almost there.
Meanwhile, Italian government bonds are going to continue to crash following this election result. This is going to make it even more difficult for the Italian government to borrow money, and that will only aggravate their ongoing financial troubles.
But the big problem in Italy is the banks. At this moment there are eight banks in imminent danger of collapsing, and virtually all of the rest of them are in some stage of trouble. The following comes from a Bloomberg article about the crisis that Italian banks are facing right at this moment…
They’re burdened with a mountain of bad loans. Their stocks have cratered. And they have to operate in an economy prone to recession and political upheaval.
Signs have been mounting for months that Italy’s weakest lenders, and in particular Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, were sliding toward the precipice, threatening to reignite a broader crisis.
And we may get some news regarding the fate of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena as early as Monday morning if what the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting is correct…
A last-gasp rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest surviving bank, has been thrown into doubt after reformist prime minister Matteo Renzi decisively lost a referendum on constitutional reform on Sunday.
MPS and advisers JPMorgan and Mediobanca will meet as early as Monday morning to decide whether to pull a plan to go ahead with a €5bn recapitalisation, the FT reports, citing people informed of the plan.
Senior bankers will decide whether to pursue their underwriting commitments or exercise their right to drop the transaction due to adverse market conditions, these people said. In the event the banks drop the capital plan, the Italian state is expected to nationalise the bank, say senior bankers.
If Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena fails, major banks all over Italy (and all over the rest of Europe) could start going down like dominoes.
So what were Italians voting on anyway?
Well, the truth is that the constitutional reforms that were proposed actually sound quite boring…
“The changes involve sharply reducing the size of one of the chambers of Parliament — the Senate — shifting its powers to the executive, and eliminating the Senate’s power to bring down government coalitions.
“The amendments also shift some powers now held by the regions to the central government, thereby reducing frequent and lengthy court battles between Rome and the regional governments.”
The reason why this vote was ultimately so important is because it became a referendum on Renzi’s administration. The fact that he announced in advance that he would resign if it did not get approved gave a tremendous amount of fuel to the opposition.
So now Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement stands poised to come to power, and that could be very bad news for those that are hoping to hold the common currency together.
The following is how NPR recently summarized the main goals of the Five-Star Movement…
“It calls for a government-guaranteed, universal income, abolishing Italy’s fiscal commitments to the European Union and a referendum on Italy’s membership in the Euro — a prospect that could unravel the entire single currency Eurozone.”
If Italy chooses to leave the euro, it will probably mean the end of the common currency, and the continued existence of the entire European Union would be called into question.
So this vote on Sunday was huge. The Brexit had already done a tremendous amount of damage to the long-term prospects for the European Union, and now the crisis in Italy is sending political and financial shockwaves throughout the entire continent.
Over the next few weeks, keep a close eye on the euro and on Italian government bonds.
If they both continue to crash, that will be a sign that a major European financial crisis is now upon us.
And what happens in Europe definitely does not stay in Europe.
If Europe goes down, we are going to go down too.
At this point we still have almost a month left in 2016, but 2017 is already shaping up to be a very troubling year. As always, let us hope for the best, but let us also keep preparing for the worst.
If Donald Trump truly wants to fix the economy, he must shut down the Federal Reserve. If he just tries to patch up our current system, he will fail, because it has been fundamentally flawed from the very beginning. A little over a century ago, very powerful forces on Wall Street convinced Congress to completely restructure our financial system. An immensely powerful central bank known as the Federal Reserve was created, and the goal was to transform the U.S. dollar into a debt-based currency that would continuously be inflated and to create an endless debt spiral from which the federal government could never possibly escape. Sadly, they were successful on both counts. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by approximately 98 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.
Americans tend to give most of the credit or most of the blame for the performance of the U.S. economy to our presidents, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central bankers has far more power over our economy than anyone else does. The Federal Reserve has become known as “the fourth branch of government“, but unlike the other branches of government we are told that the Fed’s decisions are “above politics” because they are “too important”. Fed officials fiercely guard their “independence”, and they fiercely resist any “interference” from Congress, the President, or the American people.
Donald Trump can try to lower taxes and reduce regulations, but what he will be able to do to influence the economy pales in comparison to the immensely powerful tools that the Fed wields. The Fed controls interest rates, the Fed controls the money supply, and the Fed regulates the banks.
To give you an idea of how enormously powerful the Fed is, I want you to pull out a dollar bill.
As you look at that dollar bill, I want you to notice that it says “Federal Reserve Note” right at the top.
In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt, and the truth is that our system was designed to create as much debt as possible.
So why are we using debt-based “Federal Reserve Notes” in the first place? Shouldn’t Congress have control over our currency?
Well, it is a very long and convoluted story, and if you are interested in the history behind it I would commend to you an excellent book by C. Edward Griffin entitled “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve“. Basically, big money interests on Wall Street got their hooks into the White House and Congress, and they rushed through legislation right before Christmas in 1913 that created this insidious central banking system that was designed to slowly but surely take wealth from the American people and put it into their hands.
Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize that we have a debt-based currency, nor do they understand where our money comes from. In a previous article, I discussed how money is normally created by the Federal Reserve under our current system…
When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.
Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.
The Federal Reserve takes the U.S. Treasury bonds that it receives in exchange for the “Federal Reserve Notes” that it gave to the government and it auctions off those bonds to the highest bidder. But of course this process always creates more debt than it does money…
The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.
There is a problem.
Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.
So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?
Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.
But that never actually happens, does it?
And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well. They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt. They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.
So our debt just keeps going up and up and up. While Barack Obama has been in the White House our national debt has risen by more than 9 trillion dollars, and at this moment it is sitting just under the 20 trillion dollar mark.
But we shouldn’t be surprised by this, because this is precisely what the Federal Reserve system was designed to do to us.
Many conservatives still hold to the mistaken illusion that we could somehow pay all of this debt back someday, but as I have shown in a previous article, this is mathematically impossible to do.
If the government went out today and grabbed every single dollar in existence we could not pay back the national debt, and of course we have trillions of dollars of household debt, trillions of dollars of corporate debt and trillions of dollars of state and local government debt that we need to pay back as well.
Under the current system our only hope is to keep the wheel spinning by continuing to devalue the dollar and by continuing to go into even greater amounts of debt.
And of course it isn’t just the United States that is in this predicament. At this point, almost every single nation on the entire planet has a central bank.
Even though there are extremely sharp disagreements among nations on virtually everything else, somehow central banking has achieved nearly universal adoption.
As you read this article, well over 99.9% of the population of the globe lives in a country that has a central bank.
Do you think that is just a coincidence?
Of course there are still a few very small countries such as the Federated States of Micronesia that do not have a central bank, but the only big nation not to have one is North Korea.
And you would literally have to be insane to want to live in North Korea.
But now we have an opportunity to get free from this insidious system. The truth is that we don’t have to have a central bank. In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.
We don’t need central planners to set our interest rates and to manipulate our money supply. They will never admit this, but the reality of the matter is that their interference in the economy often creates tremendous economic busts.
Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
Considering their track record, isn’t it time for a change?
And we don’t have to have a debt-based currency. In fact, not too long ago we had a president that decided to start issuing debt-free “United States Notes”.
Back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue debt-free “United States Notes” which were directly created by the U.S. government.
He was assassinated shortly thereafter.
Most Americans don’t realize this, but many of the debt-free United States Notes that were issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today, and President Trump could do something similar.
But will he?
It has been said that the borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve system has turned all of us into debt slaves.
Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate the planet. The total amount of debt in the world just hit a brand new record high of 152 trillion dollars, and the longer we allow the central banks to control the system the bigger this debt bubble will become.
There is a way out, and here in the United States that starts with shutting down the Federal Reserve and issuing debt-free currency. It would take someone very bold to make a move like this, and so let us hope that the man that we just elected is up to the task.
The election of Donald Trump has sent shockwaves through the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system. Since November 8th, the Dow has hit a brand new all-time record high, the U.S. dollar has strengthened greatly, and bank stocks are way up. But not all of the economic news is good news. Unlike stocks, bonds have reacted very negatively to Trump’s election victory. The past week has been an absolute bloodbath for bond traders, and as you will see below this is going to have dramatic implications for all U.S. consumers moving forward.
Over just a two day period, more than a trillion dollars was wiped out as bond yields spiked all over the globe. As CNN has noted, this type of “violent reaction” in the bond market has only happened three other times within the past ten years…
The rate on 10-year Treasury notes has surged to 2.3%, from 1.77% before the election. Last week’s spike in Treasury rates was so big, that it had only happened three times before in the last decade.
BlackRock’s Russ Koesterich called it a “violent reaction.”
The move stands to have broad repercussions for all Americans. Not only will the U.S. government have to pay more to borrow money, but mortgage rates and car loan costs should also rise. That’s because Treasuries are used as the benchmark for many other forms of credit.
As interest rates rise, virtually everyone in our society is going to feel the pain.
Those that need an auto loan in order to purchase a vehicle are going to find that loan payments are significantly higher than they were before.
Credit card rates will also go up, and those just getting out of school will discover that their student loan payments are even more suffocating.
The average contract rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage hit 4 percent, according to Mortgage News Daily, a level most didn’t expect to see until the middle of next year. Rates have now moved nearly a half a percentage point higher since Donald Trump was elected president.
“The situation on the ground is panicked. Damage control,” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily. “People were trying to lock loans quickly last week and are now facing a tough choice to lock today or hope for a bounce. Many hoped for a bounce last week heading into the long weekend and we obviously didn’t get it.”
Rising interest rates was one of the key factors that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008, and many fear that it could happen again.
“If you’re going to buy a house and your mortgage payment went up by $200 or $300, you may buy a smaller house. There’s impact on interest rate sensitive sectors, like autos and housing, and also corporate bonds themselves, where financial engineering has helped juice up the equity market,” said George Goncalves, head of rate strategy at Nomura.
In addition, rising rates will make it more difficult for those with adjustable rate mortgages to keep their homes. Foreclosure activity was already up 27 percent during the month of October, and many are projecting that we could see another giant spike in foreclosures during the months ahead that is similar to what we saw during the last financial crisis.
Many Trump supporters don’t really care what the rest of the world thinks of our new president, but this is an area where what the rest of the world thinks really, really matters.
The truth is that the rest of the planet is not all too fond of Trump, and if that makes them a lot less eager to lend us money that is a major problem.
The only way that we can maintain our massively inflated debt-fueled standard of living is to continue to borrow gigantic mountains of money from the rest of the world at ultra-low interest rates.
If the rest of the world starts demanding higher rates of return now that Trump is president, we are going to experience economic pain on a scale that most Americans don’t believe is possible.
One of our big lenders has been China, and right now they are deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency might mean. Trump has talked very tough about trade with China, and the Chinese are gearing up for a major trade war. The following comes from CNBC…
During his election campaign this year, Trump spoke of a 45 percent import tariff on all Chinese goods while failing to outline how it would work. Should any such policy come into effect, China will take a “tit-for-tat approach”, according to an opinion piece in the Global Times, a newspaper backed by the Communist party.
“A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S.,” the Global Times article read.
Most Trump supporters assume that since Trump has been a very successful businessman that he will be able to strengthen the U.S. economy.
But it isn’t that simple.
The only reason we are able to live the way that we live today is because we have been able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars at irrationally low interest rates.
The moment the rest of the world decides that they are not going to loan us money at irrationally low interest rates any longer the game is over, and it won’t really matter who is in the White House at that point.
So watch interest rates very carefully. If they keep going up, it is inevitable that a major economic slowdown will follow no matter what economic policies the new Trump administration implements.
The largest and most important bank in the largest and most important economy in Europe is imploding right in front of our eyes. Deutsche Bank is the 11th biggest bank on the entire planet, and due to the enormous exposure to derivatives that it has, it has been called “the world’s most dangerous bank“. Over the past year, I have repeatedly warned that Deutsche Bank is heading for disaster and is a likely candidate to be “the next Lehman Brothers”. If you would like to review, you can do so here, here and here. On September 16th, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Justice wanted 14 billion dollars from Deutsche Bank to settle a case related to the mis-handling of mortgage-backed securities during the last financial crisis. As a result of that announcement, confidence in the bank has been greatly shaken, the stock price has fallen to record lows, and analysts are warning that Deutsche Bank may be facing a “liquidity event” unlike anything that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2008.
At one point on Friday, Deutsche Bank stock fell below the 10 euro mark for the first time ever before bouncing back a bit. A completely unverified rumor that was spreading on Twitter that claimed that Deutsche Bank would settle with the Department of Justice for only 5.4 billion dollars was the reason for the bounce.
But the size of the fine is not really the issue now. Shares of Deutsche Bank have fallen by more than half so far in 2016, and this latest episode seems to have been the final straw for the deeply troubled financial institution. Old sources of liquidity are being cut off, and nobody wants to be the idiot that offers Deutsche Bank a new source of liquidity at this point.
As a result, Deutsche Bank is potentially facing a “liquidity event” on a scale that we have not seen since the financial crisis of 2008. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
It is not solvency, or the lack of capital – a vague, synthetic, and usually quite arbitrary concept, determined by regulators – that kills a bank; it is – as Dick Fuld will tell anyone who bothers to listen – the loss of (access to) liquidity: cold, hard, fungible (something Jon Corzine knew all too well when he commingled and was caught) cash, that pushes a bank into its grave, usually quite rapidly: recall that it took Lehman just a few days for its stock to plunge from the high double digits to zero.
It is also liquidity, or rather concerns about it, that sent Deutsche Bank stock crashing to new all time lows earlier today: after all, the investing world already knew for nearly two weeks that its capitalization is insufficient. As we reported earlier this week, it was a report by Citigroup, among many other, that found how badly undercapitalized the German lender is, noting that DB’s “leverage ratio, at 3.4%, looks even worse relative to the 4.5% company target by 2018″ and calculated that while he only models €2.9bn in litigation charges over 2H16-2017 – far less than the $14 billion settlement figure proposed by the DOJ – and includes a successful disposal of a 70% stake in Postbank at end-2017 for 0.4x book he still only reaches a CET 1 ratio of 11.6% by end-2018, meaning the bank would have a Tier 1 capital €3bn shortfall to the company target of 12.5%, and a leverage ratio of 3.9%, resulting in an €8bn shortfall to the target of 4.5%.
The more the stock price drops, the faster other financial institutions, investors and regular banking clients are going to want to pull their money out of Deutsche Bank. And every time there is news about people pulling money out of the bank, that is just going to drive the stock price even lower.
In other words, Deutsche Bank may be entering a death spiral that may be impossible to stop without a government bailout, and the German government has already stated that there will be no bailout for Deutsche Bank.
Banking customers have a total of approximately 566 billion euros deposited with the bank, and even if a small fraction of those clients start demanding their money back it is going to cause a major, major crunch.
Instead of doing what many have correctly suggested he should be doing, namely focusing on ways to raise more capital for the undercapitalized Deutsche Bank in order to stem the slow (at first) liquidity leak, first thing this morning CEO John Cryan issued another morale-boosting note to employees of Deustche Bank who have been watching their stock price crash to another record low, dipping under €10 in early trading for the first time ever. In the memo the embattled CEO worryingly did what Dick Fuld and other chief executives did when they felt the situation slipping out of control, namely blaming evil “rumor-spreading” shorts, saying “our bank has become subject to speculation. Ongoing rumours are causing significant swings in our stock price. … Trust is the foundation of banking. Some forces in the markets are currently trying to damage this trust.”
Just as important, Cryan confirms the Bloomberg report that “a few of our hedge fund clients have reduced some activities with us. That is causing unjustified concerns.” As we explained last night, the concerns are very much justified if they spread to the biggest risk-factor for the German bank: its depositors, which collectively hold over €550 billion in liquidity-providing instruments.
If you would like to ready the full memo, you can do so right here.
One of the reasons why Deutsche Bank is considered to be so systemically “dangerous” is because it has 42 trillion euros worth of exposure to derivatives. That is an amount of money that is 14 times larger than the GDP of the entire nation of Germany.
Some firms that were derivatives clients of the bank have already gotten spooked and have moved their business to other institutions. It was this report from Bloomberg that really helped drive down the stock price of Deutsche Bank earlier this week…
The funds, a small subset of the more than 800 clients in the bank’s hedge fund business, have shifted part of their listed derivatives holdings to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document seen by Bloomberg News. Among them are Izzy Englander’s $34 billion Millennium Partners, Chris Rokos’s $4 billion Rokos Capital Management, and the $14 billion Capula Investment Management, said a person with knowledge of the situation who declined to be identified talking about confidential client matters.
“The issue here is now one of confidence,” said Chris Wheeler, a financial analyst with Atlantic Equities LLP in London.
So what comes next?
Monday is a banking holiday for Germany, so we may not see anything major happen until Tuesday.
An announcement of a major reduction in the Department of Justice fine may buy Deutsche Bank some time, but any reprieve would likely only be temporary.
What appears to be more likely is the scenario that Jeffrey Gundlach is suggesting…
But Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said investors betting that Berlin would not rescue Deutsche could find themselves nursing big losses.
‘The market is going to push down Deutsche Bank until there is some recognition of support. They will get assistance, if need be,’ said Gundlach, who oversees more than $100 billion at Los Angeles-based DoubleLine.
It will be very interesting to see how desperate things become before the German government finally gives in to the pressure.
The complete and total collapse of Deutsche Bank would be an event many times more significant for the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers was. Global leaders simply cannot afford for such a thing to happen, but without serious intervention it appears that is precisely where we are heading.
Personally, I don’t know exactly what will happen next, but it will be fascinating to watch.
Things have not been this bad for the Canadian economy since the last global recession. During the second quarter of 2016, Canada’s GDP contracted at a 1.6 percent annualized rate. That was the worst number in seven years, and it was even worse than most analysts were projecting. This comes at a time when bad news is pouring in from all corners of the global economy. While things in the United States are still relatively stable for the moment, the same cannot be said for much of the rest of the planet. Canada in particular has been hit very hard by the collapse in oil prices, and the massive wildfire in northern Alberta back in May certainly did not help things. The following comes from the BBC…
The recent drop in GDP was larger than analysts had projected, but not far off the predicted 1.5% loss.
“[The figure] could have been worse, given the hit from the wildfire, and clearly confirms the disappointing downward trend in exports over the last few months,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
In May, wildfires devastated the parts of northern Alberta where much of Canada’s oil and natural gas is produced.
For many years, high oil prices and booming exports enabled the Canadian economy to significantly outperform the U.S. economy. But now conditions have changed dramatically, and all of the economic bubbles up in Canada are starting to burst. This includes the housing bubble, as we have seen home sales in the hottest markets such as Vancouver drop through the floor late in the summer. In fact, it is being reported that home sales during the first two weeks of August in British Columbia were down a whopping 51 percent on a year over year basis.
Do you remember the housing bubble in the U.S. that helped fuel the last financial crisis? Well, a very similar bubble is now bursting up in Canada, and some investors have positioned themselves to make a tremendous amount of money when the whole thing comes violently crashing down. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
This summer, famed short seller Marc Cohodes came out of retirement (he now raises chickens on a farm in Sonoma County, CA, and sells the eggs for a fortune in San Francisco) and jumped into ring with a number of interviews on TV and in the print media, and this too rattled some nerves – largely because it hit home.
“I think it’s a money laundering-induced market,” he said as we reported at the time. “Where the local politicians, or the BC Liberals, are kept or in cahoots with the real estate brokers, developers, lawyers, that angle. And they have sought Chinese money to keep the market propped up and it won’t last,” he said. “China has capital controls on, and Vancouver has become the money laundering mecca of either the world or North America, and something is going to change and change drastically.”
If the price of oil does not rebound in a major way, the Canadian economy is going to continue to deeply struggle.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest economies in Africa is also shrinking. Nigeria is yet another oil-dependent economy that has fallen on really hard times, and during the latest quarter their GDP shrunk by 2.06 percent on an annualized basis…
Nigeria has slipped into recession, with the latest growth figures showing the economy contracted 2.06% between April and June.
The country has now seen two consecutive quarters of declining growth, the usual definition of recession.
Its vital oil industry has been hit by weaker global prices, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
There are so many signs that indicate that the global economy has entered a new major downturn. Yes, the U.S. is doing better than almost everyone else for the moment, but this will not last indefinitely. Our planet is more interconnected than ever before, and just as we saw in 2008, big trouble on one side of the globe quickly affects the other side.
Today we also learned that the 7th largest container shipping company in the entire world has completely imploded. Total global trade has been declining for quite some time now, and it was inevitable that this sort of thing would start happening…
After years of relentless decline in the Baltic Dry index…
… today the largest casualty finally emerged on Wednesday when South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the country’s largest shipping firm and the world’s seventh-biggest container carrier, filed for court receivership after losing the support of its banks, leaving its assets frozen as ports from China to Spain denied access to its vessels.
Over in Europe, an emerging banking crisis continues to simmer just under the surface.
Most Americans are completely oblivious to the fact that major global financial problems could be just around the corner, but CNBC is reporting that banks over in Europe are “preparing for an economic nuclear winter situation”…
European banks, in particular, have had a very tough six months as the shock and volatility around Brexit sent banking stocks south. Major European banks like Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse saw their shares in free-fall after the referendum’s results were announced. In the U.K., RBS was the worst-hit, with its shares plunging by more than 30 percent since June 24.
The current uncertainty over when the U.K. will start the process of quitting the EU has banks on tenterhooks. But a source told CNBC that banks are “preparing for an economic nuclear winter situation.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic, a source from a major investment bank told CNBC that financial services firms have put together a strategy in place that takes into account the worst-case scenario that could happen by the end of this year.
So precisely what would an “economic nuclear winter” look like?
I don’t know, but it certainly does not sound good.
We should be thankful that things have been as calm and stable as they have been so far in 2016, but nobody should be fooled into thinking that our problems have been fixed.
The truth is that the global debt bubble is at an all-time high, the banks are being more reckless and are more vulnerable than ever before, and troubling economic numbers continue to pour in from all over the planet.
The stage is certainly set for the next major global economic crisis, and it isn’t going to take much to push the world over the edge.
On the surface, things seem pretty quiet in mid-July 2016. The biggest news stories are about the speculation surrounding Donald Trump’s choice of running mate, the stock market in the U.S. keeps setting new all-time record highs, and the media seems completely obsessed with Taylor Swift’s love life. But underneath the surface, it is a very different story. As you will see below, the conditions for a “perfect storm” are coming together very rapidly, and the rest of 2016 promises to be much more chaotic than what we have seen so far.
Let’s start with China. On Tuesday, an international tribunal in the Hague ruled against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Chinese government announced ahead of time that they do not recognize the jurisdiction of the tribunal, and they have absolutely no intention of abiding by the ruling. In fact, China is becoming even more defiant in the aftermath of this ruling. We aren’t hearing much about it in the U.S. media, but according to international news reports Chinese president Xi Jinping has ordered the People’s Liberation Army “to prepare for combat” with the United States if the Obama administration presses China to abandon the islands that they are currently occupying in the South China Sea…
“Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly ordered the People’s Liberation Army to prepare for combat,” reports Arirang.com. “U.S.-based Boxun News said Tuesday that the instruction was given in case the United States takes provocative action in the waters once the ruling is made.”
A U.S. aircraft carrier and fighter jets were already sent to the region in anticipation of the ruling, with the Chinese Navy also carrying out exercises near the disputed Paracel islands.
Last October, China said it was “not frightened” to fight a war with the U.S. following an incident where the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen violated the 12-nautical mile zone China claims around Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago.
Meanwhile, the relationship between the United States and Russia continues to go from bad to worse. The installation of a missile defense system in Romania is just the latest incident that has the Russians absolutely steaming, and during a public appearance on June 17th Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to get western reporters to understand that the world is being pulled toward war…
“We know year by year what’s going to happen, and they know that we know. It’s only you that they tell tall tales to, and you buy it, and spread it to the citizens of your countries. You people in turn do not feel a sense of the impending danger – this is what worries me. How do you not understand that the world is being pulled in an irreversible direction? While they pretend that nothing is going on. I don’t know how to get through to you anymore.”
And of course the Russians have been feverishly updating and modernizing their military in preparation for a potential future conflict with the United States. Just today we learned that the Russians are working to develop a hypersonic strategic bomber that is going to have the capability of striking targets with nuclear warheads from outer space.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration does not feel a similar sense of urgency. The size of our strategic nuclear arsenal has declined by about 95 percent since the peak of the Cold War, and many of our installations are still actually using rotary phones and the kind of 8 inch floppy disks for computers that were widely used back in the 1970s.
But I don’t expect war with China or Russia to erupt by the end of 2016. Of much more immediate concern is what is going on in the Middle East. The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, but it is Israel that could soon be the center of attention.
Back in March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration wanted to revive the peace process in the Middle East before Obama left office, and that a UN Security Council resolution that would divide the land of Israel and set the parameters for a Palestinian state was still definitely on the table…
The White House is working on plans for reviving long-stalled Middle East negotiations before President Barack Obama leaves office, including a possible United Nations Security Council resolution that would outline steps toward a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to senior U.S. officials.
And just this week, the Washington Post reported that there were renewed “rumblings” about just such a resolution…
Israel is facing a restive European Union, which is backing a French initiative that seeks to outline a future peace deal by year’s end that would probably include a call for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the creation of a Palestinian state. There are also rumblings that the U.N. Security Council might again hear resolutions about the conflict.
For years, Barack Obama has stressed the need for a Palestinian state, and now that his second term is drawing to a close he certainly realizes that this is his last chance to take action at the United Nations. If he is going to pull the trigger and support a UN resolution formally establishing a Palestinian state, it will almost certainly happen before the election in November. So over the coming months we will be watching these developments very carefully.
And it is interesting to note that there is an organization called “Americans For Peace Now” that is collecting signatures and strongly urging Obama to support a UN resolution of this nature. The following comes from their official website…
Now is the time for real leadership that can revive and re-accredit the two-state solution as President Obama enters his final months in office. And he can do this – he can lay the groundwork for a two-state agreement in the future by supporting an Israeli-Palestinian two-state resolution in the United Nations Security Council.
Such a resolution would restore U.S. leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. It would preserve the now-foundering two-state outcome. And it would be a gift to the next president, leaving her or him constructive options for consequential actions in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, in place of the ever-worsening, politically stalemated status quo there is today.
Sadly, a UN resolution that divides the land of Israel and that formally establishes a Palestinian state would not bring lasting peace. Instead, it would be the biggest mistake of the Obama era, and it would set the stage for a major war between Israel and her neighbors. This is something that I discussed during a recent televised appearance down at Morningside that you can watch right here…
At the same time all of this is going on, the global economic crisis continues to escalate. Even though U.S. financial markets are in great shape at the moment, the same cannot be said for much of the rest of the world.
Just look at the country that is hosting the Olympics this summer. Brazil is mired in the worst economic downturn that it has seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Rio de Janeiro’s governor has declared “a state of financial emergency“.
Elsewhere, China is experiencing the worst economic downturn that they have seen in decades, the Japanese are still trying to find the end of their “lost decade”, and the banking crisis in Europe is getting worse with each passing month.
In quite a few articles recently, I have discussed the ongoing implosion of the biggest and most important bank in Germany. But I am certainly not the only one warning about this. In one of his recent articles, Simon Black also commented on the turmoil at “the most dangerous bank in Europe”…
Well-capitalized banks are supposed to have double-digit capital levels while making low risk investments.
Deutsche Bank, on the other hand, has a capital level of less that 3% (just like Lehman), and an incredibly risky asset base that boasts notional derivatives exposure of more than $70 trillion, roughly the size of world GDP.
But of course Deutsche Bank isn’t getting a lot of attention from the mainstream media right now because of the stunning meltdown of banks in Italy, Spain and Greece. Here is more from Simon Black…
Italian banks are sitting on over 360 billion euros in bad loans right now and are in desperate need of a massive bailout.
IMF calculations show that Italian banks’ capital levels are among the lowest in the world, just ahead of Bangladesh.
And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of problems in other banking jurisdictions.
Spanish banks have been scrambling to raise billions in capital to cover persistent losses that still haven’t healed from the last crisis.
In Greece, over 35% of all loans in the banking system are classified as “non-performing”.
Even though U.S. stocks are doing well for the moment, the truth is that trillions of dollars of stock market wealth has been lost globally since this time last year. If you are not familiar with what has been going on around the rest of the planet, this may come as a surprise to you. During my recent appearance at Morningside, I shared some very startling charts which show how dramatically global markets have shifted over the past 12 months. You can view the segment in which I shared these charts right here…
I would really like it if the rest of 2016 was as quiet and peaceful as the past couple of days have been.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe that is going to be the case at all.
The storm clouds are rising and the conditions for a “perfect storm” are brewing. Sadly, most people are not going to understand what is happening until it is far too late.
Over the last two trading days, European banks have lost 23 percent of their value. Let that number sink it for a bit. In just a two day stretch, nearly a quarter of the value of all European banks has been wiped out. I warned you that the Brexit vote “could change everything“, and that is precisely what has happened. Meanwhile, the Dow was down another 260 points on Monday as U.S. markets continue to be shaken as well. Overall, approximately three trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has been lost over the last two trading days. That is an all-time record, and any doubt that we have entered a new global financial crisis has now been completely eliminated.
But of course the biggest news on Monday was what happened to European banks. The Brexit vote has caused financial carnage for those institutions unlike anything that we have ever seen before. Just check out this chart from Zero Hedge…
I knew that things would be bad if the UK voted to leave the European Union, but I didn’t know that they would be this bad.
Prior to all of this, a whole bunch of “too big to fail” banks all over Europe were already in the process of imploding, and now this chaotic financial environment may push several of them into full-blown collapse mode simultaneously. Just consider the following commentary from Wolf Richter…
Healthy big banks would get over Brexit and the political turmoil it is spawning, particularly non-UK banks. But there are no healthy big banks in Europe. And non-UK banks are crashing just as hard, and some harder. This is about a banking crisis morphing into a financial crisis.
These bank stocks got crushed on Friday. And they got crushed again today. Italian banks have been reduced to penny stocks. Spanish banks are getting closer. Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest bank, and still partially owned by the German government as a consequence of the last bailout, is well on the way.
One institution that I have been warning about for months is German banking giant Deutsche Bank. On Monday, their stock fell another 5.77 percent to a fresh all-time closing low of 13.87. I have been convinced that Deutsche Bank is going to zero for a long time, but these days it seems in quite a hurry to get there.
Of course Deutsche Bank is far from alone. The following are other “too big to fail” European banks that have lost at least one-fifth of their value over the past two trading days…
-Royal Bank of Scotland
-Lloyds Banking Group
-Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
The Brexit contagion is spreading as USD liquidity and counterparty risk in the interconnected global financial system has reached US banks with Goldman at 3 year lows and BofA and Citi plunging over 12%. This happens just two days after the Fed released its latest stress test results finding that none of the 33 banks tested would need additional capital in case of a “severe” financial crisis. That conclusion may be tested soon.
Meanwhile, the British pound continues to get absolutely pummeled. As I write this, the GBP/USD is down to 1.32, and some are now warning that the British pound may hit parity with the U.S. dollar by the end of the year.
One of the reasons why I expect the British pound to continue to tumble is because the global elite have to show the British people that they made the wrong decision, and they need to scare off any other countries that would consider holding similar votes.
Two major rating agencies downgraded the United Kingdom’s credit rating on Monday.
S&P Global Ratings lowered the UK to AA from AAA, with a “negative” outlook. And, Fitch cut its rating to AA from AA+, with a negative outlook as well.
And as I mentioned yesterday, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have already projected that the UK economy is heading into recession.
As much economic and financial pain as possible will be inflicted upon the British people, and meanwhile they will be bombarded by mainstream news stories telling them that they made a stupid decision.
Hopefully the British people will stand strong and will not give in to the pressure.
But of course it isn’t just the British people that will be feeling the pain. The Brexit vote has sent shockwaves all over the planet, and global investors are losing tremendous amounts of money. For instance, here in the United States approximately 1.3 trillion dollars of stock market wealth has been wiped out so far…
Brexit isn’t just a European problem after all. The United Kingdom’s decision to quit the European Union is costing U.S. investors a pretty penny.
U.S.-based companies in the broad Russell 3000, including online advertising company Alphabet (GOOGL), software maker Microsoft (MSFT) and global bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM), have suffered a collective loss of $1.3 trillion since Friday’s shocker from the United Kingdom, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Hopefully tomorrow will be better. It is very rare for global financial markets to crash for three days in a row, but it could happen. More likely, however, is that we will see some kind of temporary bounce as long as some really negative event doesn’t hit the news.
But let there be no doubt about what has just happened. The collapse of Lehman Brothers was the “trigger event” that really accelerated the crisis of 2008, and now it appears as though the Brexit vote will be the “trigger event” that greatly accelerates the crisis of 2016.
Global investors had already lost trillions over the past 12 months, and a full-blown financial implosion was going to happen no matter how the vote turned out, but thanks to British voters the fun and games have arrived early.
Unfortunately, only a very small fraction of the population understands just how bad things are going to get in the months ahead…