What In The World Is The Federal Reserve Thinking???

You don’t use up all of your ammunition before the battle even begins.  The U.S. economy has not even officially entered recession territory yet, although many experts are definitely anticipating one in 2020.  When that recession arrives, the Federal Reserve is going to want as much ammunition to fight it as possible.  So I was horrified to learn that the Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday that interest rates are being slashed once again.  We have now had three interest rate cuts in 2019 as the Federal Reserve desperately attempts to revive the stalling U.S. economy.  But what are they going to do during the next recession when they have already pushed interest rates all the way to the floor and they can’t push them any lower?  In addition, in recent days the Federal Reserve has decided to absolutely flood the financial system with new money in a desperate attempt to stabilize the repo market.  In essence, the Federal Reserve has launched a massive new round of quantitative easing even before a major crisis has erupted on Wall Street.  I can understand trying to be proactive, but in reality quantitative easing is an extreme emergency measure that should only be used in the most desperate of situations.  If the Fed is creating this much new money now, what are they going to do once things really get bad?  Are we destined to become the next Venezuela?

For a long time, the Federal Reserve has insisted that the U.S. economy is in good shape.  If that is true, there is no way in the world that the Fed should be cutting interest rates.  But that is exactly what happened on Wednesday

In a vote widely anticipated by financial markets, the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee lowered its benchmark funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. The rate sets what banks charge each other for overnight lending but is also tied to most forms of revolving consumer debt.

It was the third cut this year as part of what Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has characterized as a “midcycle adjustment” in a maturing economic expansion.

With rates now so close to zero, there isn’t going to be much that the Fed can do in that regard once the next recession strikes.

According to Fed Chair Jerome Powell, this latest rate cut was done for “insurance” purposes

Powell said lowering the rate again was ‘insurance’, or protection needed because ‘weakness in global growth and trade developments have weighed on the economy and posed ongoing risks’.

If the U.S. economy doesn’t plunge into a deep recession next year, Powell and the other bureaucrats at the Fed will probably be applauded for these moves.

But if we do experience a significant economic downturn, they will be caught with their pants down.

Yes, the U.S. economy is definitely slowing down, but this week we learned that it still grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent last quarter.

1.9 percent is not good at all, and if honest numbers were being used it would show that our economy is actually contracting.  But at least things are relatively stable for the moment, and as long as things are relatively stable the Federal Reserve should not be resorting to emergency measures.

Of course Wall Street was absolutely thrilled that the Fed cut rates again, and news of the rate cut pushed the S&P 500 to yet another all-time record high

Stocks advanced Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the third time this year, propelling the Standard & Poor’s 500 to a fresh record.

The S&P 500 index added 9.88 points, or 0.3%, to close at 3046.77. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 115.27 points, or 0.4%, to end at 27,186.69. The Nasdaq added 27.12 points, or 0.3%, at 8,303.98.

And without a doubt, this rate cut is good for consumers.  Rates on mortgages, auto loans and credit cards will go down, and that will save average Americans a lot of money

These Fed interest rate cuts are starting to add up, lowering costs for many Americans who use credit cards or take out loans while squeezing savers.

The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate Wednesday by a quarter percentage point for the third time in the past three months. The move is likely to further trim borrowing costs on credit cards, home equity lines, adjustable-rate mortgages and auto loans.

But this is yet another example of the short-term thinking that is plaguing our society.

When the next recession arrives, the Fed will be able to cut rates a handful of times, and then that will be the end of it.

The Fed should have also held off on buying more bonds until we really needed it as well.  Even though a new financial crisis has not even started yet, the Fed has been creating money like crazy and their balance sheet has ballooned “by about $100 billion over the past month”

The Fed has been buying bonds again, but officials insist it is an effort to stabilize the funds rate within the target range rather than a resurrection of QE. Still, the central bank balance sheet has expanded by about $100 billion over the past month and is back above the $4 trillion mark, $3.6 trillion of which is in Treasurys and mortage-backed securities.

So if the Fed is being this crazy now, what are they going to do when a real financial crisis erupts?

Perhaps they should just get it over with and create trillions of dollars right now and turn us into the Weimar Republic already.

Because that is where all of this craziness is eventually going to take us.  Our dollar is eventually going to be absolutely worthless and we will become the next Venezuela.

I have always been highly critical of the Federal Reserve, but at least in other eras those running the Fed were at least mildly competent.

But now it appears that incompetence is running wild over at the Federal Reserve, and we will all pay a great price for their mistakes in the not too distant future.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep.  My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe.  I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters.  (#CommissionsEarned)  By purchasing those books you help to support my work.  I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I can only allow this to happen if this “About the Author” section is included with each article.  In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished.  This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate.  The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions.  Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished.  I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Why Does The Federal Reserve Keep Slamming The Panic Button Over And Over If Everything Is Okay?

What in the world is the Federal Reserve doing?  For months the Fed has been trying to publicly convince us that the U.S. economy is “strong”, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently unequivocally stated that “the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession”, but the Fed’s actions tell a completely different story.  If the U.S. economy really is performing well, any economics textbook will tell you that the Fed should not be reducing interest rates.  Interest rate cuts should be saved for times when the economy is in serious trouble, and using up all of your ammunition before a downturn has begun is simply foolish.  And the Federal Reserve continues to insist that the financial system is functioning normally, but meanwhile things are spinning so wildly out of control that they felt forced to announce overnight repurchase agreement operations for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  We haven’t seen this sort of emergency intervention since the last financial crisis, but the Fed’s message to the general public is that “all is well”.

Unfortunately, the truth is that all is not well, and we continue to get more troubling economic news with each passing day.

In a desperate attempt to inject some vigor back into the U.S. economy, the Fed cut interest rates for the second month in a row on Wednesday

For the second time in two months, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday agreed to press down on the economy’s accelerator to keep the 10-year-old expansion chugging along.

A divided Fed lowered its benchmark interest rate by another quarter percentage point to a range of 1.75% to 2% in an effort to stave off a possible recession triggered by a global economic slowdown and the U.S. trade war with China.

Of course this wasn’t enough to please President Trump, and shortly after the rate cut was announced he posted the following on Twitter

Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No “guts,” no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!

Apparently Trump wanted an even larger rate cut with the promise of more rate cuts in the future, but if the U.S. economy really is in good shape we shouldn’t be having any rate cuts at all.  This was a panic move by the Fed, and they are going to find themselves very short on ammunition when things really start to get crazy.

And conducting overnight repurchase agreement operations for three days in a row also reeks of desperation.  If you are not familiar with the repo market, the following is how Yahoo News described the key role it plays for our financial system…

Financial institutions use money markets to borrow for very short periods, from one day to a year, a crucial function to keep the gears of the economy running.

In so-called repurchase or “repo” agreements, banks borrow by putting up assets like Treasury notes as collateral and then repay the loans with interest the following day.

In a fit of panic, the Fed injected $53,000,000,000 into the system on Tuesday and another $75,000,000,000 on Wednesday.

But it turns out that Wednesday’s injection wasn’t nearly large enough.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

20 minutes after today’s repo operation began, it concluded and there was some bad news in it: as we feared, yesterday’s take up of the Fed’s repo operation which peaked at $53.2 billion has expanded substantially, and according to the Fed, today there was a whopping $80.05BN in bids submitted, an increase of $27 billion, or 50% more than yesterday.

It also meant that since the operation – which is capped at $75BN – was oversubscribed by over $5BN, that there was one or more participants who did not get up to €5 billion in the critical liquidity they needed, and that the Fed will see a chorus of demands by everyone (because like with the discount window, nobody will dare to be singled out) to either expand the size of its operations, implement a fixed operation and/or – most likely as per the ICAP note yesterday –  transition to permanent open market operations, i.e. QE

And then we learned that the Fed had announced that they were going to inject another $75,000,000,000 on Thursday.

This is utter insanity, and to many it is clear evidence that the Fed is losing control

“This just doesn’t look good. You set your target. You’re the all-powerful Fed. You’re supposed to control it and you can’t on Fed day. It looks bad. This has been a tough run for Powell,” said Michael Schumacher, director, rate strategy, at Wells Fargo.

We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008, and many are deeply concerned about what will happen as liquidity demands reach a peak as we approach the end of the month.

As our financial system continues to become increasingly unstable, is this sort of Fed intervention going to become a regular thing?

Of course there are some analysts that are already projecting that a massive new round of quantitative easing is inevitable at this point, and there is a very good chance that they are right.

Meanwhile, the “real economy” continues to deteriorate as well, and one new survey has found that a majority of U.S. CFOs now expect our economy to tumble into a new recession by the end of next year

Chief financial officers in the United States have started to prepare themselves and their finances for a recession. For the first time in several years, economic uncertainty is now their lead concern, replacing worries about the difficulty of hiring and retaining talented workers.

According to CNN, 53 percent of chief financial officers expect the United States to enter a recession prior to the 2020 presidential election. That information was sourced from the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey released on Wednesday. And two-thirds predict a downturn by the end of next year.

Unfortunately, we may not have to wait that long, and according to John Williams of shadowstats.com if honest numbers were being used they would show that the U.S. economy is already in a recession right now.

For the moment, most Americans are still buying the narrative that everything is going to be just fine, but that will soon change.

The pace at which things are deteriorating is beginning to accelerate, and the Fed is going to have to hit the panic button many more times in the months ahead.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Major Red Flag: The Fed Shocks Everyone With An Emergency Intervention In The Repo Market For The First Time Since 2008

For the very first time since the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has been forced to conduct an emergency intervention in the repo market.  I know that a lot of people out there don’t know what the repo market is or how it works, and so let me start out with a very basic analogy that may help people understand what we are facing.  It doesn’t really matter how shiny your toilet is – if the pipes underneath don’t work, you are in a whole lot of trouble.  The repo market plays a critical role in our financial system, because it allows our banks to rapidly borrow money to fund their short-term needs.  But this week interest rates in the repo market started to shoot up to frightening levels, and the Federal Reserve was forced to intervene for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following comes from Yahoo News

The New York Federal Reserve Bank on Tuesday stepped into financial markets for the first time in more than a decade to keep interest rates in line with the Fed’s target.

Analysts say the operation appears to have been successful but it caused some jitters, coming as the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee opens a two-day meeting expected to produce a second cut in the benchmark lending rate.

This is essentially a form of “quantitative easing”, and many are concerned that this temporary intervention will not fix the larger problems that have resulted in this crisis.

And of course officials at the Fed probably never imagined that they would be intervening so soon, but they were compelled to make a move when interest rates started to spiral wildly out of control on Monday and Tuesday

The rate on overnight repurchase agreements hit 5% on Monday, according to Refinitiv data. That’s up from 2.29% late last week and well above the target range set in July by the Federal Reserve, which is 2% to 2.25%. The surge continued Tuesday, with the overnight rate hitting a high of 10% before the NY Fed stepped in.

An “overnight repo operation” was hastily put together as interest rates soared, and it ultimately resulted in 53 billion dollars being injected into our financial system…

On Tuesday morning, the NY Fed launched what’s called an “overnight repo operation,” during which the central bank attempts to ease pressure in markets by purchasing Treasurys and other securities. The goal is to pump money into the system to keep borrowing costs from creeping above the Fed’s target range .

The first attempt by the NY Fed was canceled because of “technical difficulties.” Minutes later, the NY Fed successfully injected $53 billion into the system.

And guess what?

The Fed has already announced that they are going to do it again on Wednesday, and this time the goal will be to inject approximately 75 billion dollars into the system.

If that sounds absurd to you, that is because it is absurd.

Sadly, the truth is that our financial system is starting to show signs of serious distress for the first time in more than a decade, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.

But everyone agrees that the Fed being forced to intervene in the marketplace is not a good sign.  In fact, one industry veteran said that it “is without a doubt one of the worst things that can happen”…

If the plumbing doesn’t work, then it’s going to dramatically affect secondary trading of Treasuries. Which is the last thing they need when there’s massive issuance going on.

This is without a doubt one of the worst things that can happen. In many respects it overshadows the Fed moving tomorrow, because if the plumbing doesn’t work everything starts to break down. Everything is predicated upon your getting a reasonable funding rate. Otherwise why would you buy this paper to begin with. If you’re funding your overnight position at 6 why would you buy a 10-year at 2?

And now that the Fed has begun to intervene, when will they be able to stop?

Will they have to keep doing it for the rest of the week?

And what happens if interest rates begin to go wild again next week or next month?

In essence, Pandora’s Box has now been opened, and things could get really crazy moving forward.  According to Zero Hedge, if this currently repo operation is not sufficient to calm things down, the Fed could soon formally launch a new quantitative easing program…

While the Fed did not disclose how many banks participated in the operation, it is safe to say it was a sizable number. Worse, the result from today’s unexpected repo operation, we can now conclude that in addition to $1.3 trillion in ‘excess reserves’, a Fed which is now cutting rates and will cut rates by 25bps tomorrow, the US financial system somehow found itself with a liquidity shortfall of $53 billion that almost paralyzed the interbank funding market.

Oh, and for those wondering why the Fed did a repo, the answer is simple: it did not want to launch QE just yet. But make no mistake, once repo is insufficient, the Fed will have no choice but to escalate to the next step which is open market purchases.

Which brings us to the bigger question of how long such overnight repos will satisfy the market, and how long before the next repo rate spike prompts the Fed to do the inevitable, and restart QE.

Of course quantitative easing is something that should never be done unless we have a major crisis on our hands, and with each passing day it is becoming clearer that the global economy is headed for enormous trouble.  In fact, we just received some more alarming news about global manufacturing

The gloom of the world is centered around auto manufacturing, which is dragging on the global economy, fuelling fears that a worldwide trade recession has already begun.

The first domino to fall has been auto manufacturing, already hitting a near-record low in August, reported the Financial Times.

New data from IHS Markit global car industry purchasing managers’ index shows some of the sharpest declines across all sectors, not seen since 2009.

It is time to “batten down the hatches”, because rough weather is ahead.

Over and over again we keep seeing trouble signs that we haven’t seen since the last financial crisis, but most Americans still seem convinced that everything is going to be okay.

This move by the Fed is one of the biggest red flags yet, but I have a feeling that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The Federal Reserve Is Increasing The Pace Of Interest Rate Hikes Just In Time For The 2018 Mid-Term Elections

If the Federal Reserve really wanted to hurt the U.S. economy, the quickest way that it could do that would be by aggressively raising interest rates.  Lower interest rates make it less expensive to borrow money, and therefore economic activity tends to expand in a low interest rate environment.  Alternatively, higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, and economic activity tends to slow down in a high interest rate environment.  Since 1913, the Federal Reserve has engaged in 18 previous rate hiking cycles, and every single one of them resulted in a huge stock market decline and/or a recession.  It will be the same this time around as well, and the “experts” at the Federal Reserve know exactly what they are doing.  Interest rates are being aggressively jacked up just in time for the 2018 mid-term elections, and that is very bad news for the Republican Party and the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced an interest rate hike for the 2nd time this year

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

Wednesday’s action, which was widely expected, was the second Fed rate hike this year — and the seventh since it began boosting them in 2015. The latest increase puts the federal funds rate in a range between 1.75 and 2 percent. The Fed previously nudged rates up in March.

Because so much is based on what the Federal Reserve does, now interest rates will be going up throughout our economy.

For example, we should expect the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage to surpass the 4.66 percent mark that we witnessed earlier this year

Mortgage rates have been climbing. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage climbed to 4.66% this year in May, the highest in seven years, before falling slightly in recent weeks.

Home mortgage rates tend to move with the bond market, but rates can also rise because of a higher federal funds rate. A higher rate makes it more expensive for banks to borrow money, which can translate into higher borrowing rates for consumers.

Needless to say, this is going to have a huge impact on the housing market.

Interest rates will also be going up on credit cards, auto loans and just about every other kind of debt that you can imagine.

This will inevitably slow down economic activity, and it will make the party that is in power in Washington (the Republicans) look bad.

Originally, it was anticipated that the Federal Reserve would raise rates only three times in 2018, but now they are indicating that rates will be raised a total of four times this year.  The following comes from NPR

The Fed also signaled that it will raise rates more this year than previously expected — four times rather than three.

This is economic sabotage, but nobody in the mainstream media will ever admit this.

Most people do not understand that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does.  It was the Fed’s ultra-low interest rates and easy money policies that fueled the relative economic improvement that we have witnessed early in Trump’s presidency, and it will be the Fed’s policy of aggressively raising rates that will inevitably cause huge economic turmoil in the coming months.

So why would the Federal Reserve do this?

According to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, the Fed decided to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating

The decision reflected an economy that’s getting even stronger. Unemployment is 3.8%, the lowest since 2000, and inflation is creeping higher. The Fed is raising rates gradually to keep the economy from overheating.

“The main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low.”

Of course that is a load of nonsense.

As I discussed yesterday, if honest numbers were being used our unemployment rate would be at 21.5 percent, inflation would be at about 10 percent, and GDP growth would be negative.

The U.S. economy is definitely not “overheating”.  In fact, it needs as much help as possible to pull out of the deep slump that it has been in for many, many years.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is supposed to be a Republican, and I suppose that it is possible that he actually believes that he is doing the right thing for the country by aggressively raising interest rates.

But any sort of an economic slowdown will be extremely favorable for the Democrats.  American voters are notorious for “voting their pocketbooks”, and when things get bad they always blame whoever is in power at the time.

In this case, it will be Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress that get the blame for what the Federal Reserve has done.

We know that some among the elite are already discussing the possibility of “a crashing economy” as a way to “get rid of Trump”.  In the short-term, however, the best way to neuter Trump politically would be to have Democrats do extremely well in the 2018 mid-term elections.

If the Democrats take back control of either the House or the Senate in November, Trump’s agenda will come to a crashing halt, and thanks to the Federal Reserve that scenario has just become much more likely.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

12 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve May Have Just Made The Biggest Economic Mistake Since The Last Financial Crisis

Wrong Way Signs - Public DomainHas the Federal Reserve gone completely insane?  On Wednesday, the Fed raised interest rates for the second time in three months, and it signaled that more rate hikes are coming in the months ahead.  When the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates, it becomes less expensive to borrow money and that tends to stimulate more economic activity.  But when the Federal Reserve raises rates , that makes it more expensive to borrow money and that tends to slow down economic activity.  So why in the world is the Fed raising rates when the U.S. economy is already showing signs of slowing down dramatically?  The following are 12 reasons why the Federal Reserve may have just made the biggest economic mistake since the last financial crisis…

#1 Just hours before the Fed announced this rate hike, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s projection for U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter fell to just 0.9 percent.  If that projection turns out to be accurate, this will be the weakest quarter of economic growth during which rates were hiked in 37 years.

#2 The flow of credit is more critical to our economy than ever before, and higher rates will mean higher interest payments on adjustable rate mortgages, auto loans and credit card debt.  Needless to say, this is going to slow the economy down substantially

The Federal Reserve decision Wednesday to lift its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point is likely to have a domino effect across the economy as it gradually pushes up rates for everything from mortgages and credit card rates to small business loans.

Consumers with credit card debt, adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit are the most likely to be affected by a rate hike, says Greg McBride, chief analyst at Bankrate.com. He says it’s the cumulative effect that’s important, especially since the Fed already raised rates in December 2015 and December 2016.

#3 Speaking of auto loans, the number of people that are defaulting on them had already been rising even before this rate hike by the Fed…

The number of Americans who have stopped paying their car loans appears to be increasing — a development that has the potential to send ripple effects through the US economy.

Losses on subprime auto loans have spiked in the last few months, according to Steven Ricchiuto, Mizuho’s chief US economist. They jumped to 9.1% in January, up from 7.9% in January 2016.

“Recoveries on subprime auto loans also fell to just 34.8%, the worst performance in over seven years,” he said in a note.

#4 Higher rates will likely accelerate the ongoing “retail apocalypse“, and we just recently learned that department store sales are crashing “by the most on record“.

#5 We also recently learned that the number of “distressed retailers” in the United States is now at the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.

#6 We have just been through “the worst financial recovery in 65 years“, and now the Fed’s actions threaten to plunge us into a brand new crisis.

#7 U.S. consumers certainly aren’t thriving, and so an economic slowdown will hit many of them extremely hard.  In fact, about half of all Americans could not even write a $500 check for an unexpected emergency expense if they had to do so right now.

#8 The bond market is already crashing.  Most casual observers only watch stocks, but the truth is that a bond crash almost always comes before a stock market crash.  Bonds have been falling like a rock since Donald Trump’s election victory, and we are not too far away from a full-blown crisis.  If you follow my work on a regular basis you know this is a hot button issue for me, and if bonds continue to plummet I will be writing quite a bit about this in the weeks ahead.

#9 On top of everything else, we could soon be facing a new debt ceiling crisis.  The suspension of the debt ceiling has ended, and Donald Trump could have a very hard time finding the votes that he needs to raise it.  The following comes from Bloomberg

In particular, the markets seem to be ignoring two vital numbers, which together could have profound consequences for global markets: 218 and $189 billion. In order to raise or suspend the debt ceiling (which will technically be reinstated on March 16), 218 votes are needed in the House of Representatives. The Treasury’s cash balance will need to last until this happens, or the U.S. will default.

The opening cash balance this month was $189 billion, and Treasury is burning an average of $2 billion per day – with the ability to issue new debt. Net redemptions of existing debt not held by the government are running north of $100 billion a month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has acknowledged the coming deadline, encouraging Congress last week to raise the limit immediately.

If something is not done soon, the federal government could be out of cash around the beginning of the summer, and this could create a political crisis of unprecedented proportions.

#10 And even if the debt ceiling is raised, that does not mean that everything is okay.  It is being reported that U.S. government revenues just experienced their largest decline since the last financial crisis.

#11 What do corporate insiders know that the rest of us do not?  Stock purchases by corporate insiders are at the lowest level that we have seen in three decades

It’s usually a good sign when the CEO of a major company is buying shares; s/he is an insider and knows what’s going on, so their confidence is a positive sign.

Well, according to public data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, insider buying is at its LOWEST level in THREE DECADES.

In other words, the people at the top of the corporate food chain who have privileged information about their businesses are NOT buying.

#12 A survey that was just released found that corporate executives are extremely concerned that Donald Trump’s policies could trigger a trade war

As business leaders are nearly split over the effectiveness of Washington’s new leadership, they are in unison when it comes to fears over trade and immigration. Nearly all CFOs surveyed are concerned that the Trump administration’s policies could trigger a trade war between the United States and China.

A decline in global trade could deepen the economic downturns that are already going on all over the planet.  For example, Brazil is already experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history“, and right next door people are literally starving in Venezuela.

After everything that you just read, would you say that the economy is “doing well”?

Of course not.

But after raising rates on Wednesday, that is precisely what Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the press

“The simple message is — the economy is doing well.” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said at a news conference. “The unemployment rate has moved way down and many more people are feeling more optimistic about their labor prospects.”

However, after she was challenged with some hard economic data by a reporter, Yellen seemed to change her tune somewhat

Well, look, our policy is not set in stone. It is data- dependent and we’re — we’re not locked into any particular policy path. Our — you know, as you said, the data have not notably strengthened. I — there’s noise always in the data from quarter to quarter. But we haven’t changed our view of the outlook. We think we’re on the same path, not — we haven’t boosted the outlook, projected faster growth. We think we’re moving along the same course we’ve been on, but it is one that involves gradual tightening in the labor market.

Just like in 2008, the Federal Reserve really doesn’t understand the economic environment.  At that time, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke assured everyone that there was not going to be a recession, but when he made that statement a recession was actually already underway.

And as I have said before, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it is ultimately announced that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 was negative.

Whether it happens now or a bit later, the truth is that the U.S. economy is heading for a new recession, and the Federal Reserve has just given us a major shove in that direction.

Is the Fed really so clueless about the true state of the economy, or could it be possible that they are raising rates just to hurt Donald Trump?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but clearly something very strange is going on…

We Are Being Set Up For Higher Interest Rates, A Major Recession And A Giant Stock Market Crash

bear-market-bull-market-public-domainSince Donald Trump’s victory on election night we have seen the worst bond crash in 15 years.  Global bond investors have seen trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out since November 8th, and analysts are warning of another tough week ahead.  The general consensus in the investing community is that a Trump administration will mean much higher inflation, and as a result investors are already starting to demand higher interest rates.  Unfortunately for all of us, history has shown that higher interest rates always cause an economic slowdown.  And this makes perfect sense, because economic activity naturally slows down when it becomes more expensive to borrow money.  The Obama administration had already set up the next president for a major recession anyway, but now this bond crash threatens to bring it on sooner rather than later.

For those that are not familiar with the bond market, when yields go up bond prices go down.  And when bond prices go down, that is bad news for economic growth.

So we generally don’t want yields to go up.

Unfortunately, yields have been absolutely soaring over the past couple of weeks, and the yield on 10 year Treasury notes has now jumped “one full percentage point since July”

The 10-year Treasury yield jumped to 2.36% in late trading on Friday, the highest since December 2015, up 66 basis point since the election, and up one full percentage point since July!

The 10-year yield is at a critical juncture. In terms of reality, the first thing that might happen is a rate increase by the Fed in December, after a year of flip-flopping. A slew of post-election pronouncements by Fed heads – including Yellen’s “relatively soon” – have pushed the odds of a rate hike to 98%.

As I noted the other day, so many things in our financial system are tied to yields on U.S. Treasury notes.  Just look at what is happening to mortgages.  As Wolf Richter has noted, the average rate on 30 year mortgages is shooting into the stratosphere…

The carnage in bonds has consequences. The average interest rate of the a conforming 30-year fixed mortgage as of Friday was quoted at 4.125% for top credit scores. That’s up about 0.5 percentage point from just before the election, according to Mortgage News Daily. It put the month “on a short list of 4 worst months in more than a decade.”

If mortgage rates continue to shoot higher, there will be another housing crash.

Rates on auto loans, credit cards and student loans will also be affected.  Throughout our economic system it will become much more costly to borrow money, and that will inevitably slow the overall economy down.

Why bond investors are so on edge these days is because of statements such as this one from Steve Bannon

In a nascent administration that seems, at best, random in its beliefs, Bannon can seem to be not just a focused voice, but almost a messianic one:

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” he says. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

Steve Bannon is going to be one of the most influential voices in the new Trump administration, and he is absolutely determined to get this “trillion dollar infrastructure plan” through Congress.

And that is going to mean a lot more borrowing and a lot more spending for a government that is already on pace to add 2.4 trillion dollars to the national debt this fiscal year.

Sadly, all of this comes at a time when the U.S. economy is already starting to show significant signs of slowing down.  It is being projected that we will see a sixth straight decline in year-over-year earnings for the S&P 500, and industrial production has now contracted for 14 months in a row.

The truth is that the economy has been barely treading water for quite some time now, and it isn’t going to take much to push us over the edge.  The following comes from Lance Roberts

With an economy running at below 2%, consumers already heavily indebted, wage growth weak for the bulk of American’s, there is not a lot of wiggle room for policy mistakes.

Combine weak economics with higher interest rates, which negatively impacts consumption, and a stronger dollar, which weighs on exports, and you have a real potential of a recession occurring sooner rather than later.

Yes, the stock market soared immediately following Trump’s election, but it wasn’t because economic conditions actually improved.

If you look at history, a stock market crash almost always follows a major bond crash.  So if bond prices keep declining rapidly that is going to be a very ominous sign for stock traders.

And history has also shown us that no bull market can survive a major recession.  If the economy suffers a major downturn early in the Trump administration, it is inevitable that stock prices will follow.

The waning days of the Obama administration have set us up perfectly for higher interest rates, a major recession and a giant stock market crash.

Of course any problems that occur after January 20th, 2017 will be blamed on Trump, but the truth is that Obama will be far more responsible for what happens than Trump will be.

Right now so many people have been lulled into a sense of complacency because Donald Trump won the election.

That is an enormous mistake.

A shaking has already begun in the financial world, and this shaking could easily become an avalanche.

Now is not a time to party.  Rather, it is time to batten down the hatches and to prepare for very rough seas ahead.

All of the things that so many experts warned were coming may have been delayed slightly, but without a doubt they are still on the way.

So get prepared while you still can, because time is running out.

The Almighty Dollar Is In Peril As The Global ‘De-Dollarization’ Trend Accelerates

50 Dollars - Public DomainAs the Obama administration continues to alienate almost everyone else around the entire planet, an increasing number of prominent international voices are starting to question why the U.S. dollar should be so overwhelmingly dominant in global trade.  In previous articles, I have discussed Russia’s “de-dollarization strategy” and the fact that Gazprom is now asking their large customers to start paying in currencies other than the dollar.  But this is not just a story about Russia any longer.  As you will read about below, China and South Korea have just signed a major agreement to facilitate trade with one another using their own national currencies, and even prominent French officials are now talking about the need to use the dollar less and the euro more.  John Williams of shadowstats.com recently said that things have never “been more negative” for the U.S. dollar, and he was right on the mark.  The power of the almighty dollar has allowed all of us living in the United States to enjoy an extremely high standard of living for decades, but as that power now fades it is going to have profound implications for the U.S. economy.  In future years the value of the dollar will go down substantially, all of the imported goods filling our stores will become much more expensive, and it is going to cost the federal government a lot more to borrow money.  Unfortunately, with the stock market hitting all-time record highs and with the mainstream media endlessly touting an “economic recovery”, most Americans are not paying any attention to these things.

French oil giant Total is one of the largest energy companies in the entire world.  On Saturday, Total’s CEO made an absolutely stunning statement.  According to Reuters, he told reporters that there “is no reason to pay for oil in dollars”…

“Doing without the (U.S.) dollar, that wouldn’t be realistic, but it would be good if the euro was used more,” he told reporters.

There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars,” he said. He said the fact that oil prices are quoted in dollars per barrel did not mean that payments actually had to be made in that currency.

If Gazprom’s CEO had made such a statement, it would not have really surprised anyone.  But this came from a high profile French CEO.  A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for him to say such a thing.  Wars have been started over less.  Virtually all oil and natural gas around the planet has been bought and sold for U.S. dollars since the 1970s, and this is an arrangement that the U.S. government has traditionally guarded very zealously.  But now that Russia has broken the petrodollar monopoly, the fear of questioning the almighty dollar appears to be dissipating.

And at this point even French government officials are not afraid to publicly discuss moving away from the U.S. dollar.  Just check out what French finance minister Michel Sapin said to the press this weekend

French finance minister Michel Sapin says “now is the right time to bolster the use of the euro” adding, more ominously for the dollar, “we sell ourselves aircraft in dollars. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so.” Careful to avoid upsetting his ‘allies’ across the pond, Sapin followed up with the slam-dunk diplomacy, “This is not a fight against dollar imperialism,” except, of course – that’s exactly what it is… just as it was over 40 years ago when the French challenged Nixon.

So why are the French suddenly so upset?

Could it be the fact that we just slapped the largest bank in France with a nearly 9 billion dollar fine?

The remarks come a week after Paris-based bank BNP Paribas (BNP) SA was slapped with a $8.97 billion fine by U.S. authorities for transactions carried out in dollars in countries facing American sanctions. The fine spurred debate in France about the right of the U.S. in extending its regulatory reach beyond its borders.

This is yet another example of how the Obama administration is alienating friends all over the globe.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anyone that the Obama administration is afraid of crossing.  Just a couple of days ago, the German press exploded in outrage when Germany arrested a U.S. spy.  Why we feel the need to spy on our friends is something that I will never figure out.

And of course our relations with Russia are probably the worst that they have been since the end of the Cold War at this point.  And as the Russians now rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar, they seem intent on bringing the rest of “the BRICS” with them.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Voice of Russia article entitled “BRICS morphing into anti-dollar alliance“…

However, in her discussion with Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian central bank unveiled an elegant technical solution for this problem and left a clear hint regarding the members of the anti-dollar alliance that is being created by the efforts of Moscow and Beijing:

“We’ve done a lot of work on the ruble-yuan swap deal in order to facilitate trade financing. I have a meeting next week in Beijing,” she said casually and then dropped the bomb: We are discussing with China and our BRICS parters the establishment of a system of multilateral swaps that will allow to transfer resources to one or another country, if needed. A part of the currency reserves can be directed to [the new system].” (source of the quote: Prime news agency)

It seems that the Kremlin chose the all-in-one approach for establishing its anti-dollar alliance. Currency swaps between the BRICS central banks will facilitate trade financing while completely bypassing the dollar. At the same time, the new system will also act as a de facto replacement of the IMF, because it will allow the members of the alliance to direct resources to finance the weaker countries. As an important bonus, derived from this “quasi-IMF” system, the BRICS will use a part (most likely the “dollar part”) of their currency reserves to support it, thus drastically reducing the amount of dollar-based instruments bought by some of the biggest foreign creditors of the US.

Of course the key economic player in the BRICS alliance is China.

So will China actually go along with a “de-dollarization” strategy?

Well, the truth is that China has been making moves to become more independent of the dollar for a long time, and it has just been announced that China and South Korea have signed an agreement which will mean more direct trade between the two nations using their own national currencies

China’s central bank has authorized the Bank of Communications, the country’s fifth largest lender, to undertake yuan clearing business in the South Korean capital, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) said in a statement.

The announcement came as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to South Korea on Friday. China is seeking to make the yuan – also known as the renminbi – used more internationally in keeping with the country’s status as the world’s second biggest economy behind the United States.

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t care about any of this at all.

They don’t understand that more U.S. dollars are actually used outside the United States than are used inside the United States.  Because most of the rest of the world uses U.S. dollars to trade with one another, this has created a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency.  In other words, the value of the U.S. dollar is much higher than it otherwise would be, and this has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of products at ridiculously low prices.  The standard of living that we enjoy today is highly dependent on this arrangement continuing.

And our ability to fund the federal government and our state and local governments is heavily dependent on the rest of the planet loaning our dollars back to us for next to nothing.  If we actually had to pay realistic market rates to borrow money, the finances of the federal government would have already collapsed long ago.

So it is absolutely imperative for our own economic well-being that this “de-dollarization” trend not accelerate any further.  The rest of the world could actually severely hurt us by deciding to stop using the almighty dollar, and the more that the Obama administration antagonizes both our friends and our foes around the globe the more likely that is to happen.

We live in very perilous times, and the almighty dollar is more vulnerable now than it has been in decades.

If it starts collapsing, it will take down the entire U.S. financial system with it.

Let us hope that we still have a bit more time before that happens, because once the U.S. dollar collapses it will be exceedingly painful for all of us.

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