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2022-06-15 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Monetary , 1505 references
[Comments enabled]  

..... we "celebrate" The Fed decision on rates.

Well, yeah, ok.

The 13 week bill says the FFR should be 1.5% now.  As has almost-always been the case historically (go look at FRED if you don't believe me) the market leads and The Fed is not actually in charge of rates. Of course this runs counter to the "all-powerful Fed" which suits everyone on all sides.  The politicians and conspiracy nuts get to blame someone else for an agency that follows what the market demands because if it doesn't it is proved impotent and takes a huge loss on top of it.

Unfortunately 50 bips will do nothing to cool inflation; to do that short-term rates must be higher than the inflation rate so that the real cost of borrowing is positive.  That would mean putting about 700bips on the FFR right here and now -- which we know won't happen.

Then again this has been the problem for the last 30ish years.  The slope of the interest rate curve has gone from the upper left to the lower right and thus serial refinancing at the corporate and government level, say much less at the personal level, has looked "free."  That's the sneaky part of inflation which I explained back when I wrote Leverage with a nice graph.  When you run a deliberate inflationary policy over decades the first years look like a free lunch because the apparent "wealth" initially goes up faster than the debt service (which is on a smaller base) and thus produces a "belly" (an area of expansion of the space between the two lines of available spending power and debt service.)

This is a chimera and to intentionally run such a policy as a business or government is fraud because all exponential expansions eventually go vertical, and the debt service will eventually cross available funds at which point you're screwed since you cannot spend 110% of what you have -- ever -- no matter what you do.

It's happening now.

At the core what The Fed does is not the question.  It's what Congress does.  The Fed is constrained to use only Federal Government backed securities for its monetary operations and policy.  Yes, it has shaved that repeatedly, most-egregiously with Fannie and Freddie paper during the housing crash which at the time was wildly illegal yet not one person in Congress called them on it nor did anyone from the Executive (e.g. DOJ) stop it despite its blatant illegality.  Then Congress went even further and, for all intents and purposes, explicitly backstopped said paper on a retroactive basis which is also illegal, but heh, nobody cared because it was "too big to fail."

Of course that's a fraud too; "too big to fail" is another word for monopoly when you get down to it.  Which, I remind you, is also illegal and has been for over 100 years -- go read 15 USC Chapter 1.

What The Fed is trying to do right now is reverse the last ten years, more or less, of wildly-inflationary policy which was put into place to paper over the frauds in the housing and credit markets back in 2008.  The so-called "prosperity" that resulted from the wild expansion in asset prices led people to spend because they "felt good."  That's ok such as it is, provided it doesn't put into the system distortions that screw the common man.  Unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch and screwed you were -- and are.

The Fed does not know and neither does anyone else where the balance point is; by wildly expanding their balance sheet in the name of "QE" they've emitted trillions of credit into the economy, and exactly how much of it has to be withdrawn through running off said balance sheet along with rate increases before the inflationary ardor cools is not known -- nor can it be known.  This was a "grand experiment" that should have led The Fed to being kneecapped more than ten years ago but of course nobody in Congress (which has the power to do so any time it would like) was interested in doing it -- including people like Ron Paul -- because doing so meant the asset price inflation they were all loving would immediately reverse back to where it was and that would have been "bad."

So now we have a much worse situation.  Asset prices, especially those of nothing more than hot air, always go up first and most in an inflationary spiral because there is no base against which to value them.  The "promise" of another stock buyback or blowing billons of dollars worth of electricity solving math problems to "mine" something that has less value than piss (you can at least turn urine into fertilizer) has levitated such assets, and the "feelz" from same has driven things like Real Estate to ridiculous levels.

That's all going to come back out folks -- it is simply a matter of whenThe recent PPI report makes clear that irrespective of what The Fed does it will be 12 months or more before inflation subsides and for every month they fail to get the excess liquidity out of the system that's another month of the insanity we will have to endure.  Note that PPI table showing nearly fifty percent unprocessed goods inflation.  Not five, not ten, fifty and its been right around there for the last year.


All things considered I expect 50bips later today.  It should be about 200bips right here and now, which is safely less than what needs to be done but would allow a calibration to be taken over the next month, to be followed by another 200 in July.  We might, with those plus the actual runoff being allowed to go unimpeded at the announced point, find at least the first indications of an inflection point.

Oh, and about a halving, roughly, of real estate prices too.

You didn't buy anything in the last two years in that sector (never mind financial assets) -- did you?

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2022-06-11 09:15 by Karl Denninger
in Monetary , 2859 references
[Comments enabled]  

I hope you like bad things and bad times; they're coming.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.0 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.3 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 8.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The increase was broad-based, with the indexes for shelter, gasoline, and food being the largest contributors. After declining in April, the energy index rose 3.9 percent over the month with the gasoline index rising 4.1 percent and the other major component indexes also increasing. The food index rose 1.2 percent in May as the food at home index increased 1.4 percent.

As Chief noted on Stocks-n-Jocks yesterday the monetary aggregates have stopped skyrocketing.  What's not being said is why they skyrocketed in the first place -- which is that all spending bills originate in the House and all Fed Action when it comes to monetary aggregates are based there, and only there, because without deficit spending The Fed has nothing to operate against.

It is also known that it takes time for inflation to go through the economy.  And much depends on where government spending goes.  If government spends money in deficit to build a highway, for example, and that construction causes efficiency in business to increase by more than the highway cost then there is no inflationary impact.  But if the spending is direct to consumption, which all of the pandemic "relief" spending was then it is all inflationary impact.

Spending collapses are thought of as "bad."  They're not; they are often good.  If you as a business owner get out over your skis and go bust that means I can come in and buy up your assets for pennies on the dollar.  This means where someone else has 10% of their operating capital tied up in a building for their employees I only have 5% of mine, which means I now have a 5% cost advantage against my competitors.  That, in turn, means I get to take your customers and the consumer benefits with lower prices, better goods and services -- or both.

Allegedly "protecting" the economy from this is, on the other hand, often through of as "good."  But protecting bloated business cost structures is bad in the intermediate and longer term because while it may look "good" it protects pricing and that, in turn, is bad for the consumer.

Unfortunately what Biden has done since being in office is add another monstrous inflationary impulse which has not yet shown up in the general price level.  It will.  That M2 has stopped wildly expanding is good over time but that's 12-18 months out into the future and it presumes that Congress will stop the wildly-excessive deficit spending.

May I remind you that there's an election coming up and Congress has to pass spending bills for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1st, before said election?

What do you think the odds are that they won't add yet another spike to M2 before November?

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2019-08-10 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Monetary , 199 references
[Comments enabled]  

If you wanted to accelerate the collapse of America and bring on a Civil War you could hardly do it better than by advocating for and managing to enact this nonsense.

A key figure in the “Modern Monetary Theory” economic camp, her assertions that the federal government could spend freely for things like a jobs guarantee or Green New Deal without risking runaway inflation, a debt default or a clubbing by global creditors have been Twitter-bombed by mainstream economists as left-wing free lunchism.

Well that's because it is -- but not really much different than the free lunchism that has been going on for the last 20 years.

Let me remind you that in real terms there has been no economic growth of substance since 2000 and only one positive year -- under 2% at that -- since 2007!


This is in a world where interest rates (since 2008) were indistinguishable, on government debt, from zero in real terms.

Therefore we've already had our experiment and it has failed.  We can fail it harder and more-seriously, and walk right down the road into a literal destruction of our nation, by continuing this crap.

The basic argument made by the MMT "theorists" is that since "inflation is low and contained" we can simply "print" the money we want, spend it, and that's constrained only by inflation, of which there is none of seriousness at present.

The problem isn't the claim of where the constraint comes from -- it's that the claim of "low and and constrained inflation" over the last two decades is a lie.

The cost of medical care has skyrocketed over the last 20 years.  So has post-secondary education.  So has actual housing expense; witness the housing market meltdown in 2008 and the resulting re-inflation of said bubble, which has done exactly nothing in terms of price compared with salaries.

Ditto for a whole host of other mandatory spending.  Property taxes in many jurisdictions have more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Your salary hasn't doubled over that period of time.  In fact quite to the contrary.

The number of households that pay more than half of their income in rent has skyrocketed in the last decade -- it is up by about 50%.  Clearly, they don't think inflation is "low and controlled."

Indeed that's the problem and it's not just rent; it's total cost of basic needs.

It's extraordinarily misleading to cite numbers like "GDP per-capita" as justification for this sort of nonsense, since there's not even a passing shot at reasonably-even distribution of same.  Believing that one can somehow "print" one's way to prosperity is a complete crock; all that emitting more money into the system does is raise the price level, and since you cannot and will not make sure that everyone gets the same amount (not a percentage of their income but in gross dollars) from federal deficit spending the accrual simply screws those on the left side of the curve.

Of course there have always been poor people -- here and everywhere else.  But what's happened over the last 30 or so years in this country is outrageous.  Technological advancement means you can do more with less; that is, it takes fewer hours of labor to produce the minimum requirements for living in a reasonable manner.  Rather than have that outcome on a continuing basis, however, we've seen the opposite over the last 20 or so years in America.


It's not because there is an insufficient amount of money around.

It's because people collude and either screw you, forcing you to pay more for less, or just flat-out steal it.

At its core MMT is simply a means to steal more and faster.  It's entirely possible for the United States to run a budget surplus, as I've pointed out, simply by taking on the medical monopolists.  In addition were Congress to demand that The Fed stop running interest rates below the federal deficit level as a percentage of GDP then Congress couldn't spend in deficit at large scale without rates going up dramatically and immediately.  This in turn would force the fraud out of the system and it is that fraud and unpunished felony that has hosed everyone in America on the left side of the bell curve and is now reaching well into those on the right side!

A restive population eventually revolts -- one way or another.  It does so at the ballot box if it can effectively do so but if prevented from doing so, say, if every candidate that can be and is elected makes the problem worse for those on the left side then eventually you wind up with the destruction of that government and often destruction of the society itself.

MMT, in short, is a fraud.  It is simply an attempt at extending the frauds that allow "professors" to sit in their ivory towers while their students are buttfucked within an inch of their lives with $100,000 student debts.

The correct answer to people running crap like this, no matter who they are, is to force them into said refrigerator box as their best and highest place of residence -- complete with rats and drug-abusing homeless individuals, many of the latter who are there precisely because of the policies they promoted.

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Oh my.

My last article, as expected, was indeed a stick in the hornet's nest.

The idea of shooting the bastards isn't popular, you know.  But in point of fact the thought of doing it should be very popular, as should be the implied threat.  After all that we threatened exactly that, then did it when the implied threat was not taken seriously is why this nation exists.

And I remind you: We did it because the British came for the people's ammunition.  Not the guns, the ball and powder.  That was enough; we shot them.

Concord wasn't the first insult; it was simply the last in a long line of them.  The British were warned, repeatedly, and ignored those warnings.  There were little skirmishes here and there, and occasionally someone got shot -- including colonists.  Indeed, the Boston Massacre in 1770 could have conceivably led to an immediate shooting war -- but didn't.  In a particular note of irony John Adams -- yes, that John Adams, future President of the United States -- defended the British at their trial for murdering Crispus Attucks.

But let's look at more-modern times.

Specifically, this ridiculous act of incitement that came out yesterday:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks moved higher on Thursday after a slow start as comments from New York Fed President John Williams helped cement expectations for an interest rate cut from the U.S. central bank at the end of the month.

Williams actually said that the "neutral" rate was, in his opinion,. 0.5%.

This sort of garbage should result in an immediate firing of said Fed Governor, and if it's not forthcoming the people should rise and demand he leave his seat under whatever penalty is necessary to make that happen.


Simple: There can never be a rate of interest anywhere on the curve that is less than the federal deficit as a percentage of the economy or you are stealing from the publicOver the last 12 months the deficit has been $781 billion.  GDP as of Q1 2019 according to the BEA was $21,060 billion.  This means the federal deficit was 3.7% of the economy.

Therefore there can be no interest rate in the curve that is less than 3.7%.  In fact it has to be higher -- even if only by a little bit, because time has value and therefore to borrow money, even for a day, must have a cost in real terms.

This understates the reality of credit creation (by quite a lot) but this particular metric is irrefutable.  We can have a lively debate about credit card and student loan debt, for example; the latter is part of the public debt now since the federal government backs it all but the former is not; commercial banks literally create it with zero collateral behind it.

Nonetheless there's no argument on the federal deficit; every bit of it is inflation.

If the rate of interest is below the rate of inflation then you are losing real value.  Period, end of discussion, full stop.

To do this on purpose is to steal the rest of the value from the American people -- each and every year.  Specifically, right now Fed Funds is trading at 2.41%.  Since the deficit is 3.7% the fact is that 1.29% of $21 trillion dollars is stolen from every person in this country on an annual basis at present rates.

This is $271 billion dollars a year or about $821 per person, per year in the United States.

If Williams got his way (and the Fed Funds rate was 0.5%) then it would not be $821 it would be $672 billion or about $2,036 per person, per year.

There is this trope that when it comes to war it's all about energy.

Well, no.  Yes, it is true that borrowing below the Federal Deficit rate means you're paid to borrow.  This means you can frack, drill, etc -- and get paid to borrow the money to do it.  However, if you think the $1/gal gasoline price difference is "free" it most-certainly is not; where do you think the $821 per person goes?  Right into the oil company's pocket, in part.

It is true that war ends up -- most of the time -- being about resources.  But energy is available in nearly all cases in some form or fashion; the Germans, for example, figured out Fischer-Tropsch and thus were able to turn carbon (coal) into synfuel. Indeed, you can do that from CO2 in the atmosphere if you want to; it is therefore about money, that is, the cost-per-unit of energy and when you abuse monetary and fiscal policy you're not only setting up for war you virtually guarantee it.

The problem with this sort of monetary policy is that it is never enough once you start.  Once the market gets "used" to this idea -- that borrowing should be something you're paid to do instead of something you pay to do then people, companies and governments will do much more of it.  The result is buybacks, stock prices skyrocket and similar all over the economy.

But none of this actually helps you; it in fact screws you because that $821 is real, it's extracted every year and it falls on everyone, whether they do anything or not.  You cannot outrun this by buying stocks or anything else for that matter -- not gold, not property, nothing.  The reason is simple -- your entire personal economy is impacted by the inflation but you can only invest your surplus, that is, whatever you make minus what you need to consume.  Therefore you are always behind unless you either can take risk or use leverage that isn't yours if the bet turns out badly, much as the banks did before 2008.

Therefore if you can invest even 50% of what you make you can only "get back" half of the destruction served upon you since the other half has to be consumed for you to live.  The only way to evade that is to play with other people's money and skim off the top of it (which is theft) or con the government into covering the losses when the bets go bad.

If this was always just $821 and never got worse it would be bad, but tolerable.  The sad reality is that it never is, because once you start down this road you are no longer acting to make a profit; they're acting to steal from others.  But that theft is a fixed amount, which means your EPS -- that is, your alleged "profit" -- never goes up.

What's a company worth that can't increase it's profit?  Nearly nothing, ultimately -- it is incapable of getting any bigger, better, or making more money.  It therefore has no stock price that matters.

Therefore this path once it begins requires the government always increase its deficits as a percentage of GDP and The Fed, or whichever Central Bank is involved in whatever nation, always must increase the "spread" between said deficit and rates in the negative direction.

In other words the theft must always get larger, every year, or the scheme collapses and so does the market.

But trees do not grow to the sky and ever-increasing exponential scams cannot be continually maintained.  This is mathematics, not politics.  These schemes will always eventually collapse under their own weight and when they do huge numbers of people are ruined.  If it goes on long enough not just individual people but entire nations are ruined.

That's the problem and why such an event as policy must never be permitted.  It is why the people must rise and tell the government this must stop, now, and if it doesn't we will do whatever we have to in order to make it stop, up to and including reprising 1776.

Contemplate this folks: There has never been a nation that has entertained a below deficit interest rate policy in other than emergency circumstances such as an actual shooting war and managed to exit that policy successfully.  In most cases the result has been either civil and monetary collapse or war. People cite the US post-WWII; the Fed during that time did repress interest rates but we had just blown up everyone else's capability to produce things all over the world!  The instances in which disaster did not happen were all a consequence of similar circumstances.

Japan is the notable exception to that thus far but despite their repeated claims that they could exit said policy over the last two decades they have failed to do so and there is exactly zero evidence they ever will be able to do so.  At the same time their economy has been decimated; they were once the pre-eminent source of high-tech goods.  Not any more.  Their much-vaunted car manufacturing has been moved in no small part to the US and other nations.  Yes, the firms are centered in Japan but most of the cars are not built there anymore nor do they employ Japanese labor.  Why?  Because the theft there consumed all of the saved capital of the nation and that is always the source of innovation and, ultimately, business formation.

Let's take Germany.  After WWI the Treaty of Versailles not only demanded reparations it also demanded the confiscation of guns from the civilian population.  The German Government did so.  They then tried to run fiscal deficits in order to maintain the appearance of everything being ok.  Exponents are a BITCH, however, and the problem quickly spiraled out of control.  The people did not shoot the government, which they should have done immediately.


Because not doing so ultimately led to the collapse of the Deutsche Mark, the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler along with the death of somewhere between 70-85 million people in WWII.

Had the people of Germany risen and shot the government, as we did in 1776, some of them would have died.  Maybe quite a few of them.  But there would have been 100 times less death than what happened instead.

For sitting on their hands and burning Marks -- literally burning currency for heat -- the people of Germany tolerated the fiscal and monetary authorities undertaking an action that was mathematically certain to ruin them and the only way out that the government ultimately saw from this policy was war.

America is not blameless in this.  In fact we're one of the worst offenders in this sordid episode.  By what right did we try to impose the disarmament of the civilian population in Germany?  Do we not have a Second Amendment?  Is the Second Amendment not there for the explicit purpose of an ultimate check and balance against a government and monetary authority that undertakes a policy which is mathematically certain to ruin the nation?

It sure as hell is; in fact that's the entire point of the Second Amendment!  Should the government undertake a set of policies that the people determine are destined to ruin the nation the people have the right and the ability to put a stop to it by whatever means are necessary, including, if it comes to it, shooting the tyrants.  We denied the German people that unalienable human right, we arrogated to ourselves the ability to deny that right to them and the result was EIGHTY FIVE MILLION DEAD PEOPLE including six million Jews.


Not some magical fairy, America.

Yeah, that was stupid and we paid for it with a half-million of our citizen's lives in the ensuing war.

By the way, the Soviets paid for our arrogance with some twenty four million of their citizens.  You think Putin ought to be impressed with us when we screwed his nation with a casualty rate fifty times ours?

Now granted, basically all of the people who did that are dead.  Fine.  No reparations for you sir!

But if we don't learn from that grievous mistake we're going to repeat it.  We are in fact doing it right now.  Japan has a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 250%.  China has a 300% debt-to-GDP ratio.  We're running fiscal policy and pressuring The Fed to run rates below our fiscal deficit instead of the opposite.  We should put into place a demand for the opposite and that law ought to be enforceable, by hanging if necessary as it was formerly in America under The Coinage Act of 1792 which proscribed a penalty of death for the debasement of the nation's money, an act that is taking place right now and both The Fed and Congress are equally guilty.  We The People in fact must demand restoration of that clause and penalty and then enforce it -- today.

I remind you that within the next six years at present rates we will hit one of the many walls via this policy, and it's a big one.  Specifically, Medicare will go broke and be forced to either not pay or to steal the required additional funds.  This is not small-ball; Medicare and Medicaid in fact consume over a trillion dollars a year at the present time.

Trump, our President, is in fact cheering this on.  "The Squad" wants even more deficit spending than does Trump, as do the rest of the crazies on the left.

This path leads to social collapse or war.

It is cheaper to stop it now by demand, backed up with the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if that demand has to be enforced the hard way, by a factor of hundreds, than to let this garbage continue.  Many of the nations that are engaged with us in this path have nuclear weapons.  We will not kill people one at a time, or 100 at a time.  One bomb or missile will kill a million at a time.  85 million dead from WWII will be a tenth or less of the body count if it comes to that -- and it will if we do not stop walking the path we're on.



You choose America -- but choose wisely and soon, because as I pointed out in my Lily Pad essay, by the time you see the pond 50% covered -- and you think you've still got plenty of time you are literally one day away from being dead -- every single one of you.

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2018-10-07 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Monetary , 482 references
[Comments enabled]  

Oh Bill Still!  Oh former Libertarian candidate for President who proclaimed this on stage:

"Crashes are caused by just one thing, and that's bubbles.  Bubbles are caused by just one thing and that's banks being in complete and total control of the quantity of the american monetary system in complete and total contradiction of the American Constitution."

But now, Mr. Still has found his #MAGA hat and his wife is worse, shilling his videos all over the Internet supporting outright monetary fraud and, in addition, shilling for herself with MLM "dietary supplements"!

Principles?  What are those?  Gee, did you forget what you actually said Mr. Still?

Well, let me remind you what the facts are from the US Treasury's own web site:

DatePublic DebtSoc. Sec./MedicareTotal



Now the GDP of the nation stands, as of last read, at $20,411,900,000,000.

Four quarters ago it stood at $19,588,100,000,000, a difference over the last year of $823,800,000,000.

In other words GDP is actually negative because the expansion of federal debt is greater than the expansion in GDP in dollars.

This is a matter of arithmetic -- not politics.

The problem is that in real terms you need to earn at least 6.23% to break even on a government (or any other) bond.  At any rate of return under 6.23% you are losing money in real terms if you buy such a security.  Of course right now Treasuries are all earning less than this (a lot less!) yet the above is a mathematical fact.

That is, in actual monetary terms the real inflation rate is 6.23%, not 2%.  The Fed can lie and the BLS and BEA can lie with their CPI tables but arithmetic does not lie and each dollar of monetary expansion by the federal government is a dollar of inflation -- period.

This sort of misdirection can be gotten away with for a while.  It was in the 2000s, and in the 1990s.  But it cannot be gotten away with forever because the damage in purchasing power done to everyone by this behavior is both real and immediate and it is this very behavior by governments and private banks that cause both bubbles and the resulting crashes.

Trump knows this and does not care.  He believes he will be out of office before it all blows up in his face.  Bush believed that too, and he was wrong.  Obama ran the same crap after the 2008 crash and got away with it for the eight years he was in office.

Trump will not get away with it.  We are running a 6.23% fiscal deficit during an expansion in the economy.  That's outrageously large and in fact belies the truth -- there is no expansion at all; the economy is in fact contracting and yet the false signals being sent to employers and others leads them to do uneconomic things like borrow money to buy back stock.

It is this very uneconomic behavior that in fact leads to crashes because it causes the valuation of assets to be falsely priced far above their actual value due to the perception that this insanity can and will go on forever, and thus whenever you wish to sell you will be able to at a higher price.

When reality comes calling prices do not "correct" they crash because there is utterly no underpinning for the valuation metric that you have been using and due to the effects of compounding actual valuations are half or less of where prices are trending!

It is stupid to continue to prance around and call this sort of economic distortion "good", but that's what I expect from our lying, fake-news media and serial liars and bubble blowers such as Larry Kudlow.

But the true test of whether someone is actually nothing more than 2-bit whore or believes what they say comes when someone who has made public speeches on the insanity of such behavior and in fact ran a campaign for the highest office in America on this very basis turns on a dime and supports the people doing it now.

Fuck you Mr. President and Congress both -- you're setting up the worst collapse and crash since the 1930s.  Double-fuck you, however, to those who have claimed in the past to be supporters of monetary and fiscal truth but have discarded same due to a putrid and fraudulent infestation in Washington DC that happens to be buttering one's bread via Youslob horsecrap and MLM schemes.

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