Why Are Investors Pulling Money Out Of Global Stock Funds At The Fastest Pace Since The Last Financial Crisis?

We haven’t seen anything like this since the financial crisis of 2008.  Investors are taking money out of global stock funds at a pace that we haven’t seen in 10 years, and many believe that this is a harbinger of tough times ahead.  Global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value during the first half of 2018, and an even worse performance during the second half of the year will almost certainly push the global financial system into panic mode.  U.S. stocks have been relatively stable, and so most Americans are not too alarmed about what is happening just yet.  But if you look back throughout history, emerging market chaos is often an early warning signal that a major global crisis is on the horizon, and that is precisely what is happening right now.  Financial markets in emerging markets all over the planet are in the process of melting down, and the losses are becoming quite dramatic.

As stock prices around the planet start to plummet, investors are pulling money out of global stock funds very, very rapidly.  The following comes from CNBC

Investor money is hemorrhaging out of global stock funds at a pace not seen since just after the financial crisis exploded.

Global equity funds have seen outflows of $12.4 billion in June, a level not seen since October 2008, according to market research firm TrimTabs. Lehman Brothers collapsed in September of that year, triggering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and helping fuel a bear market that would see major indexes lose more than 60 percent of their value.

Does this automatically mean that another major financial crisis is on the way in the United States?

No, but it is definitely not a good sign.

As CNBC also noted, investors have been taking tremendous amounts of money out of one emerging market ETF in particular…

The iShares emerging market ETF has seen $5.4 billion in outflows in June, the most of any fund, according to ETF.com.

“U.S. dollar strength and persistent underperformance seem to be driving fund investors away from non-U.S. equities,” TrimTabs said in a note.

The list of emerging market economies that are in crisis mode is beginning to get really long.  Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa are some of the more prominent examples.

If the chaos in emerging markets continues to intensify, the rush for the exits is going to become a stampede.  Not too long ago, I discussed the fact that the “smart money” was getting out of stocks at a pace that we haven’t seen since just before the last financial crisis, and it isn’t going to take too much to set off a full-blown financial avalanche.

In the general population, most people still seem to think that the financial system is in good shape.  But in many ways, the first half of 2018 was the worst half of a year for the global financial system since the financial crisis of 2008.  The following summary of the carnage that we have witnessed over the last 6 months comes from Zero Hedge

  • Bitcoin Worst Start To A Year Ever
  • German Banks At Lowest Since 1988
  • Onshore Yuan Worst Quarter Since 1994
  • Argentine Peso Worst Start To A Year Since 2002
  • US Financial Conditions Tightened The Most To Start A Year Since 2002
  • Global Systemically Important Banks Worst Start To A Year Since 2008
  • Global Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • China Stocks Worst Start To A Year Since 2010
  • German Stocks Worst Start (In USD Terms) Since 2010
  • Global Economic Data Disappointments Worst Since 2012
  • Emerging Markets, Gold, Silver Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • High Yield Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2013
  • Offshore Yuan Worst Month Since Aug 2015
  • Global Bonds Worst Start To A Year Since 2015
  • Treasury Yield Curve Down Record 16 Of Last 18 Quarters

And as I mentioned above, global stocks lost about 10 trillion dollars in value over the last 6 months.

When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, it puts a lot of financial stress on emerging markets.  It becomes much more expensive to take out dollar-denominated loans, and it also becomes much more expensive to pay back existing dollar-denominated debts.

But the Fed has not listened to appeals from the rest of the world, and has decided to accelerate the pace of rate hikes instead.

Meanwhile, the trade wars that the United States has started with other nations continue to escalate.  Here are the latest developments

U.S. farmers and food producers are in the cross-hairs of a global trade conflict that shows no signs of abating anytime soon — and things are about to escalate in a big way on Sunday.

New tariffs will be imposed by Canada on beef, and more retaliation will come this week when China and Mexico take aim at pork. China’s also planning a 25 percent tariff on soybeans on July 6 in addition to hikes on pork duties, and Mexico’s 20 percent levy on “the other white meat” is set to begin July 5.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s initial duties worth $3.2 billion took effect June 22. Most of the duties amount to 25 percent, and include a variety of U.S. products, including motorcycles, boats, whiskey and peanut butter.

If nobody gives in, economic activity will start to slow down substantially.  This is what CNN says that we should expect…

Here’s how the dominoes could fall: First, businesses would be hit with higher costs triggered by tariffs. Then, companies won’t be able to figure out how to get the materials they need. Eventually, confidence among executives and households would drop. Businesses would respond by drastically scaling back spending.

A perfect storm is starting to emerge, and investors are getting spooked.

If financial problems continue to get worse in emerging markets, and if the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and if these trade wars continue to grow, it is only a matter of time before we have a major market catastrophe in the United States.

The storm clouds on the horizon have just kept getting darker and darker, and many analysts all over the nation agree that this is the gloomiest that things have looked since 2008.

Hopefully a way can be found to turn things around, but I wouldn’t count on it…

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.

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.

European Implosion Sends Panic Through Global Markets As George Soros Warns ‘We May Be Heading For Another Major Financial Crisis’

I told you to keep your eyes on Europe.  On Tuesday, widespread panic shot through European financial markets and this deeply affected U.S. markets as well.  The Dow Jones industrial average fell 391 points, and at this point the Dow and the S&P 500 have been down for three trading sessions in a row.  But the big news is what is happening over in Europe.  Tuesday’s crash represented the largest one day move for 2 year Italian bonds ever, and Italian bank stocks are now down a whopping 24 percent from their April highs.  Overall, European banks have fallen a total of 11 percent over the last four days, and it isn’t just banks in troubled countries such as Italy and Spain that are hurting.  The biggest bank in Europe, Deutsche Bank, just keeps on tumbling and is now just barely above all-time lows.  A few days ago when I wrote that the next global economic crisis “could be just around the corner”, there were some people that criticized me for making such a statement.  Well, as you will see below, now this fact has become so obvious that even George Soros is saying it.

Those that are ignoring what is going on in Italy are making a tragic mistake.  Italy is the third largest economy in the eurozone, and even the Wall Street Journal is admitting that its bond market is “in meltdown”…

Risk aversion is back. Italy is the focal point, with its bond market in meltdown, its politics in crisis after President Sergio Mattarella blocked the formation of an antiestablishment government, and its credit rating under threat.

That is all now making bigger waves: Europe’s deepening troubles and disappointing global growth signals are sparking a sudden rally in haven bonds like U.S. Treasurys.

The next financial crisis has already arrived in Europe, and the primary reason for this crisis has to do with the giant mess that Italy’s government has become.  The following summary of the current situation comes from CNBC

Italy has been without a government since an inconclusive vote in early March, with anti-establishment political groups abandoning their efforts to form a coalition over the weekend amid a dispute with the country’s head of state.

President Sergio Mattarella, who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination of euroskeptic candidate Paolo Savona for economy minister on Sunday.

Instead, he set the country on a path to another snap vote by appointing former International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister.

Of course the Italian parliament will never accept Cottarelli, and it looks like we are heading for snap elections in either July or August.

What is at stake in these elections is of the utmost importance to all of Europe.  As Politico recently discussed, if the Italian people continue to move toward anti-establishment parties we could actually see Italy leave the euro or even leave the EU altogether…

Italy, the third-largest EU power once Britain leaves, may sooner or later be run by two parties who agree on little other than their apparent eagerness to break stuff. It could be Italy’s debt — a default in the trillions of euros. It could be the euro, if they follow through on past promises to hold a referendum on membership in the single currency. And what’s ultimately broken could be the EU as we know it, if any such referendum goes against Brussels, as most that have been held have done.

The EU survived Brexit, but there is a lot of doubt as to whether it could also survive a defection by Italy.

During a speech on Tuesday, George Soros soberly assessed the current state of affairs in Europe.  According to Bloomberg, at one point he stated that “we may be heading for another major financial crisis.”

It is unusual for Soros to have such a gloomy tone.  He really seemed to quite pessimistic about Europe’s future, and he even went as far to say that “everything that could go wrong has gone wrong”

The stark warning from the billionaire money manager comes as Italian bond yields have jumped to multi-year highs and major emerging economies including Turkey and Argentina are struggling to contain the fallout from runaway inflation. Soros, who has been the object of ire by the government of his native Hungary, saved his gloomiest outlook for the EU.

“Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” he said, citing the refugee crisis and austerity policies that catapulted populists into power, as well as “territorial disintegration” exemplified by Brexit. “It is no longer a figure of speech to say that Europe is in existential danger; it is the harsh reality,” he said.

I must admit that I agree with his assessment of the situation in Europe.  The EU most definitely is in “existential danger”, and I believe that we are in the beginning stages of the worst financial crisis in modern European history.

So what should be expect to see in the weeks ahead?

Well, here are three things to keep an eye on…

#1 The chaos is likely to continue for Italian financial markets.

#2 The euro is likely to continue to fall relative to the U.S. dollar.

#3 Trouble signs are likely to continue to erupt at European banking giants such as Deutsche Bank.

I have been warning about Italy, the euro and Deutsche Bank for a very long time, but because things didn’t fall apart right away a lot of people thought that the problems had been solved.

But just because something doesn’t happen in the short-term doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen.  The long-term trends that are destroying Europe’s financial system took a long time to mature, and we could all see what was happening, but now we have finally reached a major crisis point.

Of course the European elite could try to “extend and pretend” by pulling a few more tricks out of their sleeves, but at some point even they will lose control.  There is only so much that can be done, and those holding the reigns of power in Europe are almost out of ammunition.

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 Indications That The Next Major Global Economic Crisis Could Be Just Around The Corner

There have not been so many trouble signs for the global economy in a very long time.  Analysts are sounding the alarm about junk bond defaults, the smart money is getting out of stocks at an astounding rate, mortgage rates are absolutely skyrocketing, and Europe is already facing a full blown financial meltdown.  Of course expectations that another global economic crisis will happen among the general population are probably at an all-time low right now, but the reality of the matter is that we are probably closer to a new one erupting than at any point since the last one in 2008.  Since the last financial crisis our long-term debt problems have just continued to grow, and there are many that believe that the next crisis will actually be far worse than what we experienced ten years ago.

So how bad are things at this moment?

The following are 12 indications that the next major global economic crisis could be just around the corner…

#1 The “smart money” is getting out of stocks at a rate that we haven’t seen since just before the financial crisis of 2008.

#2 Moody’s is warning that a “particularly large wave” of junk bond defaults is coming.  And as I have written about so many times before, junk bonds are often an early warning indicator for a major financial crisis.

#3 According to the FDIC, a closely watched category known as “assets of problem banks” more than tripled during the first quarter of 2018.  What that means is that some really big banks are now officially in “problem” territory.

#4 U.S. Treasury bonds are having the worst start to a year since the Great Depression.

#5 Mortgage interest rates just hit a 7 year high, and they have been rising at the fastest pace in nearly 50 years.  This is going to be absolutely crippling for the real estate and housing industries.

#6 Retail industry debt defaults have hit a record high in 2018.

#7 We are on pace for the worst year for retail store closings ever.

#8 The two largest economies on the entire globe are on the verge of starting an international trade war.

#9 The 9th largest economy in the world, Italy, is in the midst of yet another financial meltdown.  In fact, this one appears to be the worst yet, and there are fears that it could spread to other areas of the eurozone.

#10 Italian banking stocks crashed really hard this week.

#11 Italian two year bond yields are the highest that they have been since the crisis of 2014.

#12 German banking giant Deutsche Bank just announced that it will be cutting another 7,000 jobs as it “seeks to turn the page on years of losses”.  Those of you that have followed my work for a long time know that I have written extensively about Deutsche Bank, and it really is amazing that it has survived for this long.  If Deutsche Bank fails in 2018, it will essentially be a “Lehman Brothers moment” for the entire planet.

The mainstream media in the United States almost entirely ignores Europe, but I believe that what is going on over there is the key right now.

Italy is a financial basket case, and Europe isn’t going to be able to handle a complete and total Italian financial collapse.  If you will remember, Europe could barely handle what happened in Greece, and the Italian economy is many times the size of Greece.

The can has been kicked down the road several times before on the Italian crisis, but now we are getting to the point where it simply won’t be able to be kicked down the road any further.

And once things start unraveling over in Europe, we will be deeply affected in the United States as well.  The global financial system is more interconnected than ever before, and at this point we are even more vulnerable than we were just prior to the crisis of 2008.

When this thing breaks loose, it won’t matter who is in the White House, who is in Congress or who is running the Federal Reserve.

When this bubble bursts there is nothing that anyone will be able to do to stop it.

Global central banks have been able to buy a few extra years of time by engaging in unprecedented levels of intervention, but now they are almost out of ammunition and events are beginning to escalate at a very frightening pace.

We shall see if they can pull another rabbit out of a hat in 2018, but I wouldn’t count on it…

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…

How The Federal Reserve Is Setting Up Trump For A Recession, A Housing Crisis And A Stock Market Crash

Janet Yellen - Public DomainMost Americans do not understand this, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy than anyone else does, and that includes Donald Trump.  Politicians tend to get the credit or the blame for how the economy is performing, but in reality it is an unelected, unaccountable panel of central bankers that is running the show, and until something is done about the Fed our long-term economic problems will never be fixed.  For an extended analysis of this point, please see this article.  In this piece, I am going to explain why the Federal Reserve is currently setting the stage for a recession, a new housing crisis and a stock market crash, and if those things happen unfortunately it will be Donald Trump that will primarily get the blame.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates, and there is even the possibility that they will call for an acceleration of future rate hikes

Economists generally believe the central bank’s median estimate will continue to call for three quarter-point rate increases both this year and in 2018. But there’s some risk that gets pushed to four as inflation nears the Fed’s annual 2% target and business confidence keeps juicing markets in anticipation of President Trump’s plan to cut taxes and regulations.

During the Obama years, the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor, and this artificially boosted the economy.  In a recent article, Gail Tverberg explained how this works…

With falling interest rates, monthly payments can be lower, even if prices of homes and cars rise. Thus, more people can afford homes and cars, and factories are less expensive to build. The whole economy is boosted by increased “demand” (really increased affordability) for high-priced goods, thanks to the lower monthly payments.

Asset prices, such as home prices and farm prices, can rise because the reduced interest rate for debt makes them more affordable to more buyers. Assets that people already own tend to inflate, making them feel richer. In fact, owners of assets such as homes can borrow part of the increased equity, giving them more spendable income for other things. This is part of what happened leading up to the financial crash of 2008.

But the opposite is also true.

When interest rates rise, borrowing money becomes more expensive and economic activity slows down.

For the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates right now is absolutely insane.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s most recent projection, GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 is supposed to be an anemic 1.2 percent.  Personally, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we actually ended up with a negative number for the first quarter.

As Donald Trump has explained in detail, the U.S. economy is a complete mess right now, and we are teetering on the brink of a new recession.

So why in the world would the Fed raise rates unless they wanted to hurt Donald Trump?

Raising rates also threatens to bring on a new housing crisis.  Interest rates were raised prior to the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2007 and 2008, and now we could see history repeat itself.  When rates go higher, it becomes significantly more difficult for families to afford mortgage payments

The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage reached its all-time low in November 2012, at just 3.31%. As of this week, it was 4.21%, and by the end of 2018, it could go as high as 5.5%, forecasts Matthew Pointon, a property economist for Capital Economics.

He points out that for a homeowner with a $250,000 mortgage fixed at 3.8%, annual payments are $14,000. If that homeowner moved to a similarly-priced home but had a 5.5% rate, their annual payments would rise by $3,000 a year, to $17,000.

Of course stock investors do not like rising rates at all either.  Stocks tend to rise in low rate environments such as we have had for the past several years, and they tend to fall in high rate environments.

And according to CNBC, a “coming stock market correction” could be just around the corner…

Investors are in for a rude awakening about a coming stock market correction — most just don’t know it yet. No one knows when the crash will come or what will cause it — and no one can. But what’s worse for most investors is they have no clue how much they stand to lose when it inevitably happens.

“If you look at the market historically, we have had, on average, a crash about every eight to 10 years, and essentially the average loss is about 42 percent,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CEO of financial technology and investment analytics firm FinMason.

If stocks start to fall, how low could they ultimately go?

One technical analyst that has a stunning record of predicting short-term stock market declines in recent years is saying that the Dow could potentially drop “by more than 6,000 points to 14,800”

But if the technical stars collide, as one chartist predicts, the blue-chip gauge could soon plunge by more than 6,000 points to 14,800. That’s nearly 30% lower, based on Friday’s close.

Sandy Jadeja, chief market strategist at Master Trading Strategies, claims several predicted stock market crashes to his name — all of them called days, or even weeks, in advance. (He told CNBC viewers, for example, that the August 2015 “Flash Crash” was coming 18 days before it hit.) He’s also made prescient calls on gold and crude oil.

And he’s extremely concerned about what this year could bring for investors. “The timeline is rapidly approaching” for the next potential Dow meltdown, said Jadeja, who shares his techniques via workshops and seminars.

Most big stock market crashes tend to happen in the fall, and that is what I portray in my novel, but the truth is that they can literally happen at any time.  If you have not seen my recent rant about how ridiculously overvalued stocks are at this moment in history, you can find it right here.  Whether you want to call it a “crash”, a “correction”, or something else, the truth is that a major downturn is coming for stocks and the only question is when it will strike.

And when things start to get bad, most of the blame will be dumped on Trump, but it won’t primarily be his fault.

It was the Federal Reserve that created this massive financial bubble, and they will also be responsible for popping it.  Hopefully we can get the American people to understand how these things really work so that accountability for what is coming can be placed where it belongs.

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.

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