Beginning Of The End Of The Dollar

By Rick Mills – Re-Blogged From Gold Eagle

Donald Trump will go down in history for many things, including a justice department investigation into US-Russian collusion in the 2016 election, a guilty verdict for his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and a guilty plea by his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, in relation to hush-money payments to women in violation of campaign finance laws. Then there was the Access Hollywood tape, the ban on Muslims, the implicit condoning of neo-Nazis, the plans to build a border wall to keep out illegal Mexicans, the separation of immigrant children from their parents (though some say that law was drafted under Obama), and Trump’s ban on global abortion funding to please the pro-life portion of his base. Could Trump’s legacy though be something few had ever predicted: The beginning of the end of the dollar?

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How Stupid Do You Have To Be

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

“Of course, there are true copper-bottomed mistakes, like spelling the word “rabbit” with three m’s, or wearing a black bra under a white blouse, or, to make a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia.” — John Cleese

We all make mistakes, but some are bigger than others. An example of a serious one that’s both potentially catastrophic and easily avoided is to lend money for long periods during a time of rising debt and financial instability. Who, for instance, would commit capital for 30 years to Italy by buying that country’s long-dated government bonds? “No one” is the sane answer, yet those bonds do find buyers.

Even higher on the crazy scale is the following:

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The Fed’s Nightmare Scenario

By Peter Schiff – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

Operating under the mistaken belief that a modest dose of inflation is either a prerequisite for, or a by-product of, economic growth, the nation’s top economists have been assuring us for quite some time that inflation will stay very low until the currently mediocre economy finally catches fire. As a result, they believe that the low inflation of the past few months has frustrated Federal Reserve policy makers, who have been supposedly chomping at the bit to keep hiking rates in order to restore confidence in the present and to build the ability to cut rates in the future if the nation were to ever, god forbid, enter another recession.

In the weeks leading up to the Fed’s December 16 decision to raise rates by 25 basis points (their first increase in nearly a decade) the consensus expectations on Wall Street was that the Fed would deliver three or four additional interest rate hikes in 2016. But with the global markets now in turmoil, GDP slowing, and the stock market off to one of its worst starts in memory, a consensus began to emerge that the Fed is reluctantly out of the rate hiking business for the rest of the year.

With such thoughts firmly entrenched, many were largely caught off guard by the arrival last Friday (February 19th) of new inflation data from the Labor Department that showed that the core consumer price index (CPI) rose in January at a 2.2 % annualized rate, the highest in more than 4 years, well past the 2.0% benchmark that the Fed has supposedly been so desperately trying to reach. It was received as welcome news.

A Reuter’s story that provided immediate reaction to the inflation data summed up the good feeling with a quote by Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, “It is a policymaker’s dream come true. They wanted more inflation and they got it.” The widely respected Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Management said that the stronger inflation, combined with upticks in consumer spending and jobs data would force the Fed to get on with more rate hikes.

But higher inflation is not “a dream come true”. In reality it is the Fed’s worst possible nightmare. It will expose the error of their eight-year stimulus experiment and the Fed’s impotence in restoring health to an economy that it has turned into a walking zombie addicted to cheap money.

While most economists still want to believe that the recent slowdown in economic growth (.7% annualized in the 4th quarter of 2015, which could be revised lower on Friday) was either caused by the weather, confined to manufacturing, oil related, or just some kind of statistical fluke that will likely reverse in the current quarter, and that the stock market declines of 2016 have resulted from distress imported from abroad, a much more likely trigger for all these developments can be found in the Fed’s own policy.

The Chinese economic deceleration and market turmoil made little impact on U.S markets prior to the Fed’s rate hike. And although U.S. markets rallied slightly in the days around the historic December rate hike, they began falling hard just a few days later. Stocks remained on the downward path until a recent rally inspired by dovish comments from various Fed officials which led many to conclude that future rate hikes may be fewer and farther between then was originally believed.

In truth, the markets and the economy have been walloped not just by December’s quarter point increase, but from the hangover from the withdrawal of QE3, and the anticipation of higher rates in 2016, all of which contributed to a general tightening of monetary policy.

The correlation between monetary tightening and economic deceleration is not accidental. As it had been in Japan before us, the unprecedented stimulus that has been delivered by central banks, in the form of zero percent interest and trillions of dollars in quantitative easing bond purchases, failed to create a robust and healthy economy that could survive in its absence. Our stimulus, which was launched in the wake of the 2008 crash, may have prevented a deeper contraction in the short term, but it also prevented the economy from purging the excesses of artificial boom that preceded the crash. As a result, we are now carrying far more debt, and the nation is far more levered than it was prior to the Crisis of 2008. We have been able to muddle through with all this extra debt only because interest rates remained at zero and the Fed purchased so much of the longer-term debt.

In the past I argued that even a tiny, symbolic, quarter point increase would be sufficient to prick the enormous bubble that eight years of stimulus had inflated. Early results show that I was likely right on that point. The truth is that the economy may be entering a period of “stagflation” in which very low (or even negative) growth is accompanied by rising prices. This creates terrible conditions for consumers whereby prices rise but incomes don’t. This leads to diminished living standards.

The recent uptick in inflation does not somehow invalidate all the other signs that have pointed to a rapidly decelerating economy. Just because inflation picks up does not mean that things are getting better. It actually means they are about to get a whole lot worse. Stagflation is in fact THE nightmare scenario for the Fed. If inflation catches fire now, the Fed will be completely incapable of controlling it. If a measly 25 basis point increase could inflict the kind of damage already experienced, imagine what would happen if the Fed made a real attempt to raise rates to get out in front of rising inflation? With growth already close to zero, a monetary shock of 1% or 2% rates could send us into a recession that could end up putting Donald Trump into the White House. The Fed would prefer that fantasy never become reality.

But the real nightmare for the Fed is not the extra body blow higher prices will deliver to already bruised consumer, but the knockout punch that will be delivered to its own credibility. The markets believe the Fed has a duel mandate, to promote employment and to maintain price stability. But it is currently operating like it has just a single unspoken mandate: to continue to shower markets with easy money until asset prices and incomes rise high enough to reduce the real value of our debts to the point where they can actually be serviced with higher rates, regardless of what happens to employment or consumer prices along the way.

If you recall back in 2009 and 2010, when unemployment was in the 8% to 10% range, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke initially indicated that the fed would raise rates from zero once unemployment fell to 6.5%. At the time I wrote that it was a bluff, and that if those goalposts were ever reached, they would be moved. That is exactly what happened. But when 5% unemployment finally backed the Fed into a credibility corner it had to do something symbolic. This resulted in the 25 basis points we got in December. Yet even as official unemployment is now 4.9%, the Fed can postpone future, more damaging rate hikes, so long as low-inflation provides the cover.

But can the Fed get away with moving its inflation goal post as easily as it had for unemployment? In fact, the Fed has already done so, with little backlash at all. When created by Congress the Federal Reserve was tasked with maintaining “price stability”. The meaning of “stability” should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language: it means not moving. In economic terms, this should mean a state where prices neither rise nor fall. Yet the Fed has been able to redefine price stability to mean prices that rise at a minimum of 2% per year. Nowhere does such a target appear in the founding documents of the Federal Reserve. But it seems as if Janet Yellen has borrowed a page from activist Supreme Court justices (unlike the late Antonin Scalia) who do not look to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, but their own “interpretation” based on the changing political zeitgeist.

The Fed’s new Orwellian mandate is to prevent price stability by forcing price to rise 2% per year. What has historically been seen as a ceiling on price stability, that would have forced tighter policy, is now generally accepted as being a floor to perpetuate ultra-loose monetary policy. The Fed has accomplished this self-serving goal with the help of naïve economists who have convinced most that 2% inflation is a necessary component of economic growth.

But as officially measured consumer prices surpass the 2% threshold by an ever-wider margin, (which could occur in earnest once oil prices find a bottom) how far up will the Fed be able to move that goal post before the markets question their resolve? Will the Fed allow 3% or 4% inflation to go unchallenged? President Nixon imposed wage and price controls when inflation reached 4%. It’s amazing that 2% inflation is now considered perfection, yet 4% was so horrific that such a draconian approach was politically acceptable to rein it in.

Once markets figure out that the Fed is all hat and no cattle when it comes to fighting inflation, the bottom should drop out of the dollar, consumer price increases could accelerate even faster, and the biggest bubble of them all, the one in U.S. Treasuries may finally be pricked. That is when the Fed’s nightmare scenario finally becomes everyone’s reality.

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Common Stocks Crash Through The Ice

By Dr Richard S Appel – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

United States equities have long been skating on thin ice. It appears they have finally collapsed through it, and are now treading water before sinking deeper. From an historical standpoint they have arguably been overpriced for most if not all of the past twenty years. Their dividend yields, price-earnings ratios, price to book values and other meaningful measures have long ago gone beyond all safe valuation parameters. For over hundred years, similar conditions have always signaled caution, if not danger. Why is it now that stocks appear to be finally breaking down, and sounding the alarm of an impending Bear Market?

There are two major guides that have endured the test of time. For at least a few generations they indicated the limits that people were willing to pay for ownership of common stocks. First, whenever the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s price-earnings ratio approached or exceeded 20:1, equities normally experienced sharp Bear Market declines. Similarly, periods when its dividend yield plunged to 3% or less usually spelled impending disaster for the fate of stock prices. A bit of history might be useful at this juncture.

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Double Barrelled Hidden Q.E. To Infinity

By Jim Willie – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

We were just treated to a fake official rate hike, and it was cleverly executed. The recent supposed USFed rate hike was a gigantic fraud, a misdirection, a clever ploy, and an act of extreme desperation. We were told of an official 25 basis point interest rate hike. But a hike of 0.25% is nowhere to be seen.

The reality is that the USFed is so strapped, so deeply under siege, so overwhelmed, that it requires urgent help from the USDept Treasury. So they have expanded QE to become Double Barreled Hidden QE to Infinity. It has an important feature now, with national security stamped on it. This is truly the end game for the USDollar. Big thanks to Rob Kirby and EuroRaj on my colleague team for leading the way and shining the spotlight. Their abilities to see through the maze, smoke, mirrors, and din is impressive.

Consider the many points, which can be connected. As they say, connecting the dots can lead to conclusions more clearly, when the dots display a recognized picture. The deception was well organized, well planned, well delivered, and well done generally. Most financial analysts only read the headline, then gobble the false message. Most traders only read the headline, and look for quick profit while anticipating the moves by the dullard masses. Best to look for the reality, and plan for the long run survival. Take a closer look at the developments within the USTreasury market where private accounts have emerged in recent months to purchase the referenced inventory of USTreasurys that China and others are dumping.

NO RATE MOVEMENT & INVERSION SUDDENLY

The effective Fed Funds rate has not risen by 25 basis points. More like 10 to 15 bpts, depending upon the day. In fact, the Fed suddenly finds itself in an awkward position, with an

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In Your Face “Black Swan!”

By bill Holter – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com

What happened last Wednesday deserves another look because I believe it marked a huge pivot point and very few are even talking about it.  Last Wednesday the Fed raised rates one quarter of a point but that was not the big story.  The big story was the about face the U.S. did geopolitically!

We saw markets around the world convulse on Thursday and Friday.  All attention has focused on the Fed rate hike which no doubt was a contributor.  How wise was it for the Fed to tighten credit conditions on a system already struggling and burdened with debt?  There is no arguing we have systemically moved from the 2008 crisis which is now widely understood as a “credit event”, into an even more highly levered situation.  The recovery that never was is now met with a central bank’s policy error.

I believe the “tell” on Friday was a weak dollar.  Much of what happened in the markets could have been expected as reaction to the Fed tightening credit conditions …but not a weak dollar.  The meeting between Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Putin and John Kerry far overrides anything the Fed could have done or said in my opinion.  The foreign policy about face where Mr. Assad no longer “needs to go” and Turkey being ordered to withdraw troops from northern Iraq was astonishing!  These statements were followed by Mr. Putin establishing a no fly zone over northern Syria.  In another twist, Turkey still maintains Mr. Assad must go and they are refusing to withdraw troops from Iraq http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-19/turkey-blasts-breakthrough-un-resolution-syria-it-lacks-perspective-assad-must-go .  When in your lifetime have you ever seen anything like this?  An “ally”, ANY ALLY publicly denying U.S. will?  We all saw an IN YOUR FACE BLACK SWAN but few have recognized it yet!

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“All In”…Did We Back Down?

By Bill Holter – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

Wednesday morning before the Fed announcement, a reader sent me this: “It is Janet Yellen’s turn to stoke the fire and evidently her news today of a rate increase has stoked the stock market fire to the tune of the Dow rising 138 points 10 minutes in.  It has the feeling of being on the Texas coast holding a hurricane party waiting for a hurricane to hit.  There are hundreds of people drinking and partying.”  SO TRUE …and party they did!  The rate hike was not even the biggest news of the day as you’ll see…and maybe they were all connected, we’ll get to that shortly.

Where do we go from here after a rate hike?  First and foremost we need to see several things.  First, can the Fed actually get rates to rise?  The longer end of the Treasury curve actually went down so there was some flattening.  Next, can they make the rate hike stick?  We also need to watch to see the mechanics of the rate hike.  The Fed will necessarily need to withdraw some (maybe up to $1 trillion) collateral from the system …a system already short of collateral.  This will tighten liquidity in an already illiquid credit market.

No doubt the world as a whole is treading water at best and most probably contracting economically.  The rate hike will only serve to put more pressure on the emerging markets in the form of a margin call.  This margin call will also be issued across the board.  I believe we now wait patiently to see where the stress is evidenced.  It may take only a couple of days or a couple of weeks but stress and weakness is coming.  Trade, growth and corporate profits and importantly “velocity” are all weak and declining, now the financial sector will need to deal with a withdrawal of liquidity equal to approximately what QE2 added.

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