Deflationists Take Note: Bernanke Succeeds In Offsetting Shadow Banking Collapse
The biggest piece of news in Thursday's Z1 statement was not that consumers continue to deleverage, that corporate cash levels are at $1.9 trillion (of which $1 trillion is financial and half of the rest is held offshore: maybe instead of copying Zero Hedge charts, the WSJ could have actually focused on the story behind the headlines) or that the stock market continues to be the only manipulated delta in household net worth (even as wealth in real terms is dropping). A far more relevant and important data highlight has to do with the only thing that actually matters for the reflation of the monetary bubble: namely the fact that the contraction in the shadow banking system is continuing. Or so was the conventional wisdom. As of September 30, Bernanke has successfully stopped the net decline of monetary aggregates even when including the massive shadow banking system.
As we have long claimed, every action by the Fed, every attempt at reflation, every bond purchase directly, and ES purchase indirectly courtesy of Citadel, have had the sole goal of counteracting the impact of the the collapsing shadow banking liabilities. Compared to shadow liabilities, which topped out at $21 trillion in March of 2008, all other monetary aggregates are irrelevant: this includes both their representation in bank balance sheets, such as traditional banking liabilities and the broadest representation of money stock tracked by the Fed, M2 (since as of 2006 M3 is no longer tracked due to the egregious costs of keeping track of this data). And the biggest, and so far most credible, argument that deflationists have had, is that the shadow banking system, and its reconstructed M3 proxy is plunging far faster than Bernanke is reflating other parallel aggregates. Well, that is now over. As of Q3 2009, the sequential change in shadow and traditional bank liabilities was net positive by $3.8 billion: this is the first time this number has posted an increase since December 2008! This fact should send a wedge of terror into the hearts of all those, both deflationists and inflationsts, who realize the significance of this inflection point: it appears that Bernanke has finally succeeded at offsetting the drop in the shadow banking system.
Up until now the one and only defense that those who anticipate continued asset price declines was that on a net basis, the monetary system was still contracting. That is now no longer the case. And now, ironically, all that remains is for a very much cornered Ben Bernanke to convince people that the economy is getting better, resulting in a surge in net borrowings, and a spike in monetary velocity, and... hello Weimar.
But don't shoot the messneger: here are the facts.
Evidence A: total shadow banking system liabilities:
Evidence B: sequential change in actual components to shadow liabilities:
Evidence C: comparison in levels of traditional and shadow bank liabilities.
Evidence D: Overlay of M2 and Shadow Liabilities
Evidence E: most importantly, the sequential change in the combined liabilites represented by both the shadow and traditional banking system. As the arrow indicates, it is now positive to the tune of $3.8 billion: this is probably the most important fact for monetary policy in the past two years.
Of course, all of this is possible only because the state is now the ultimate backstopper of all risk. And now that the monetary inflection point has been reached, and the negative convexity event has passed, we expect that the debasement of the US currency will now start in earnest.
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