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.

If The Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates Now, It Will Be An Admission That A Recession Is Coming

So there is a lot of buzz that the Federal Reserve is about to cut interest rates – and it might actually happen.  We’ll see.  But if it does happen, it will directly contradict the carefully crafted narrative about the economy that the Federal Reserve has been perpetuating all this time.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. economy is in great shape even when there has been a tremendous amount of evidence indicating otherwise.  And of course President Trump has been repeatedly telling us that this is “the greatest economy in the history of our country”, but now he is loudly calling for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates as well.  Something doesn’t seem to add up here.  If the U.S. economy really was “booming”, there is no way that the Fed should cut interest rates.  Right now interest rates are already low by historical standards, and theoretically it is during the “boom” times that interest rates should be normalized.  But if the U.S. economy is actually slowing down and heading into a recession, then a rate cut would make perfect sense.  And if that is the reality of what we are facing, then the economic optimists have been proven dead wrong, and people like me that have been warning of an economic slowdown have been proven right.

If the talking heads on television are correct, we’ll probably see a rate cut.  In fact, apparently there are some people that are even pushing “for a 50 basis point cut”

Most Fed watchers believe that the central bank will cut its funds rate, now hovering between 2.25% and 2.5%, by a quarter point, also known as 25 basis points. A small group — including President Donald Trump’s latest nominee for Fed governor — are pounding the table for a 50 basis point cut, which would take the rate below 2%. A rate cut of any size would be the first since the 2008 financial crisis.

A 50 basis point cut is something that would normally only be done during an economic emergency.

Have we already reached such a point?

That wouldn’t seem to be the case.  Stock prices are still at record highs, and at least according to the government’s highly manipulated figures, U.S. GDP is still growing

The nation’s gross domestic product – the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. – increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.1% in the April-June period, following a 3.1% gain in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists expected a 1.8% increase in output.

The report comes amid mounting worries that the sluggish global economy and President Trump’s trade war with China could lead to a recession by next year.

Yes, there are tons of other indicators that are clearly telling us that an economic slowdown has already begun, and I am not going to repeat everything that I have been saying for the past 6 months in this article.

But even though things are definitely moving in the wrong direction, I would definitely not call what we are currently experiencing “an economic emergency” just yet.

After all, things can’t be too bad if a 16-year-old kid just won 3 million dollars playing video games

A teenager from Pennsylvania won $3 million and took home the top prize at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup on Sunday. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf scored 26 more points than runner-up “psalm” to win the eSports tournament held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens.

“Words can’t even explain it. I’m just so happy,” the 16-year-old said in an interview posted to Twitter by organizers. “Everything I’ve done, the grind, it’s all paid off. It’s just insane.”

Good for that kid.  I wish that I was talented enough to be a world champion at something.

Unfortunately, when things get really bad in this country money is going to start getting really tight, and we simply are not there yet.

So could it be possible that there is another reason for the sudden push to get the Fed to reduce rates?

Well, CNBC’s Steve Liesman seems to think that there could be a political motivation

“Think about what happens when a person gets up at a rally and starts railing against The Federal Reserve, and starts to create what could lead to Congressional pressure on The Fed, then you could imagine that their could be support for a different system.”

“I think they think there’s a lot of political downside risk to getting this wrong.”

If the Federal Reserve doesn’t cut rates and the U.S. economy really starts going off the rails, they will be President Trump’s number one economic target during the 2020 campaign.

And it has already gotten to the point where Trump is regularly attacking them on social media.  For example, he posted the following just a little while ago

The Fed “raised” way too early and way too much. Their quantitative tightening was another big mistake. While our Country is doing very well, the potential wealth creation that was missed, especially when measured against our debt, is staggering.

If a wave of anti-Fed sentiment helps get Trump re-elected, that could potentially be a nightmare scenario for the folks over at the Federal Reserve.  With a full second term and a Republican majority in Congress, President Trump could decide to dramatically reform or completely get rid of the Federal Reserve system altogether.  Of course those that follow my work regularly know that I would be thrilled by this, because I have been advocating for the elimination of the Federal Reserve system for many years.

The sort of political scenario that I just outlined probably won’t happen, but even if there is a small chance that it could happen the people running the Federal Reserve have got to account for that possibility.

So cutting rates would be a way to “play it safe” by appeasing President Trump and his supporters.  If President Trump senses that the Fed is on his team, then he probably won’t be inclined to make a big move against them.

In any event, a small rate cut is definitely not going to do much to alter our overall economic trajectory.

Because the truth is that an economic slowdown has already begun, and many experts are anticipating that it will greatly accelerate during the second half of this year.

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.

Helicopter Money: Global Central Banks Consider Distributing Money Directly To The People

Helicopters 2 - Public DomainShould central banks create money out of thin air and give it directly to governments and average citizens?  If you can believe it, this is now under serious consideration.  Since 2008, global central banks have cut interest rates 637 times, they have injected 12.3 trillion dollars into the global financial system through various quantitative easing programs, and we have seen an explosion of government debt unlike anything we have ever witnessed before.  But despite these unprecedented measures, the global economy is still deeply struggling.  This is particularly true in Japan, in South America, and in Europe.  In fact, there are 16 countries in Europe that are experiencing deflation right now.  In a desperate attempt to spur economic activity, central banks in Europe and in Japan are playing around with negative interest rates, and so far they seem to only have had a limited effect.

So as they rapidly run out of ammunition, global central bankers are now openly discussing something that might sound kind of crazy.  According to the Telegraph, central banks are becoming increasingly open to employing a tactic known as “helicopter money”…

Faced with political intransigence, central bankers are openly talking about the previously unthinkable: “helicopter money”.

A catch-all term, helicopter drops describe the process by which central banks can create money to transfer to the public or private sector to stimulate economic activity and spending.

Long considered one of the last policymaking taboos, debate around the merits of helicopter money has gained traction in recent weeks.

Do you understand what is being said there?

The idea is basically this – central banks would create money out of thin air and would just give it to national governments or ordinary citizens.

So who would decide who gets the money?

Well, they would.

If you are anything like me, this sounds very much like Pandora’s Box being opened.

But this just shows how much of a panic there is among central bankers right now.  They know that we are plunging into a new global economic crisis, and they are desperate to find something that will stop it.  And if that means printing giant gobs of money and dropping it from helicopters over the countryside, well then that is precisely what they are going to do.

In fact, the chief economist at the European Central Bank is quite adamant about the fact that the ECB can print money out of thin air and “distribute it to people” when the situation calls for it…

ECB chief Mario Draghi has refused to rule out the prospect, saying only that the bank had not yet “discussed” such matters due to their legal and accounting complexity. This week, his chief economist Peter Praet went further in hinting that helicopter drops were part of the ECB’s toolbox.

All central banks can do it“, said Praet. “You can issue currency and you distribute it to people. The question is, if and when is it opportune to make recourse to that sort of instrument“.

Apparently memories of the Weimar Republic must have faded over in Europe, because this sounds very much like what they tried to do.  I don’t know why anyone would ever want to risk going down that road again.

Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve is not openly talking about “helicopter money” just yet, but that is only because the stock market is doing okay for the moment.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but the primary reason why stocks are doing better in the U.S. than in the rest of the world is because of stock buybacks.  According to Wolf Richter, corporations spent more than half a trillion dollars buying back their own stocks over the past 12 months…

During the November-January period, 378 of the S&P 500 companies bought back their own shares, according to FactSet. Total buybacks in the quarter rose 5.2% from a year ago, to $136.6 billion. Over the trailing 12 months (TTM), buybacks totaled $568.9 billion.

When corporations buy back their own stocks, that means that they are slowly liquidating themselves.  Instead of pouring money into new good ideas, they are just returning money to investors.  This is not how a healthy economy should work.

But corporate executives love stock buybacks, because it increases the value of their stock options.  And big investors love them too, because they love to see the value of their stock holdings rise.

So we will continue to see big corporations cannibalize themselves, but there are a couple of reasons why this is starting to slow down.

Number one, corporate profits are starting to fall steadily as the economy slows down, so there will be less income to plow into these stock buybacks.

Number two, many corporations have used debt to fund buybacks, but now it is getting tougher for corporations to get new funding as corporate defaults rise.

As stock buybacks slow, this is going to put downward pressure on the market, and we will eventually catch up with the rest of the planet.  At this point, many experts are still calling for stocks to fall by another 40, 50 or 60 percent from current levels.  For example, the following comes from John Hussman

From a long-term investment standpoint, the stock market remains obscenely overvalued, with the most historically-reliable measures we identify presently consistent with zero 10-12 year S&P 500 nominal total returns, and negative expected real returns on both horizons.

From a cyclical standpoint, I continue to expect that the completion of the current market cycle will likely take the S&P 500 down by about 40-55% from present levels; an outcome that would not be an outlier or worst-case scenario, but instead a rather run-of-the-mill cycle completion from present valuations. If you are a historically-informed investor who is optimistic enough to reject the idea that the financial markets are forever doomed to extreme valuations and dismal long-term returns, you should be rooting for this cycle to be completed. If you are a passive investor, you should at least align your current exposure with your investment horizon and your tolerance for cyclical risk, which we expect to be similar to what we anticipated in 2000-2002 and 2007-2009.

When the S&P 500 does fall that much eventually, the Federal Reserve will respond with emergency measures.

So yes, we may see “helicopter money” employed in Japan and in Europe first, but we will see it here someday too.

I know that a lot of people out there are feeling pretty good about things for the moment because U.S. stocks have rebounded quite a bit lately.  But remember, the fundamental economic numbers just continue to get even worse.  Just today we learned that existing home sales in the United States had fallen by the most in six years.  That is definitely not a sign that things are “getting better”, and I keep trying to warn people that tumultuous times are dead ahead.

And if global central bankers did not agree with me, they would not be talking about the need for “helicopter money” and other emergency measures.

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