Foreign Central Banks
"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.
In the great fiscal scheme of things, October 22, 1981 seems like only yesterday. That’s the day the US public debt crossed the $1 trillion mark for the first time. It had taken the nation 74,984 days to get there (205 years). What prompts this reflection is that just a few days ago the national debt breached the $18 trillion mark; and the last trillion was added in hardly 365 days.
With the Swiss gold stored at the Bank of Canada, now having been transferred out of the Bank of Canada’s Ottawa vault to an unknown location, the Swiss public would be wise to question the SNB on this move. The Swiss gold stored at the Bank of England in London seemingly being ‘actively managed’ one of the world’s largest centres for unallocated gold trading, the Swiss public would also be wise to enquire on this issue. And with significant historical quantities of Swiss gold that were stored with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York no longer there after the SNB seemingly brought their US vaulted gold holdings to zero, the Swiss public need to question why these particular holdings were targeted for sales from 2000-2005 and not domestically held gold.
This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as one starts to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, it is clear Keynes wad right in his call for a hybrid currency when he recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold convertibility, the world needed an alternative way to prevent destabilizing imbalances from developing. On the heels of Treasury Economist Kenneth Austin and former-Obama chief economist Jared Bernstein discussing the end of the USD as a reserve currency, Michael Pettis summarizes 10 reasons the USD's reserve status has become an 'exorbitant burden'.
"The Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York manages the size and composition of the Federal Reserve System’s balance sheet consistent with the directives and the authorization of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), supports debt issuance and debt management on behalf of the U.S. Treasury, provides foreign exchange services to the U.S. Treasury and provides account services to foreign central banks, international agencies and U.S. government agencies. Markets Group is establishing a presence at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and has openings for both experienced professionals and recent graduates.
"Washington is absolutely correct, in my opinion, to want to boost American consumption, but the Fed seems to be trying to boost consumption by igniting another asset bubble in the hopes that, like before 2007, Americans will feel “richer” and so will consume more. This isn't sustainable, however, and will leave us, as Paul and Druckenmiller fear, even more heavily indebted and more dangerously exposed to the underlying weakness in demand."
HIGHLIGHTS > Gold reserves destination unknown after moved from Ottawa vault as part of Bank of Canada HQ renovation > Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden say they hold gold in Ottawa > Upcoming Swiss vote on gold repatriation could lead to gold repatriation from Bank of Canada > Bank of Canada only acts as gold custodian to four foreign central banks > Bank of Canada no longer a major gold custodian; Canada has virtually no gold reserves
While the Federal Reserve presents itself as free to do whatever it pleases whenever it pleases, the reality is the Fed's own policies are constraining its choices. The Fed is being forced to end its bond-buying, cutting off the "free money for financiers" that has sustained a frothy stock market.
The global monetary system is diverging and fraying. Central bank post-crisis quasi-coordination has broken down. Initially, foreign central banks unhappily followed the Fed in cutting rates toward zero; or else risked an appreciating currency affecting competitiveness. As domestic challenges developed and the Fed initiated ‘tapering’, many central banks pushed rates back up. Developed world economies have grown from around 30% of global GDP 20 years ago to 50% today. This improvement has helped motivate the unfolding of a new international economic order between developed and developing world economies.
Empires are not the result of conscious thought; they happen when a group is large enough and powerful enough to impose itself on others. But empires are expensive. They are typically financed by theft and forced tribute. The imperial power conquers... steals... and then requires that its subjects pay “taxes” so that it can protect them. The US never got the hang of it. It conquers. But it loses money on each conquest. How does it sustain itself? With debt.
An overview of the major events next week within the context of the capital markets, which could be at inflection points.
One of the most intellectually disingenuous statements made by western policymakers is that inflation is tame… nonexistent. However the actions of the World Bank this beggars belief as 'poverty' is re-defined (just like GDP) to ensure the planners can conjure hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air without any consequences whatsoever. Zero risk.
News that China is soon to surpass the United States as the largest economy in the world is a stark reminder of how the American people are harmed by the welfare-warfare state, crony capitalism, and fiat currency. The only way to avoid continuing collapse is to finally reject an interventionist foreign policy, stop bailing out and subsidizing politically powerful industries, and restore a free market in money.
With 23 foreign central banks diversifying from US Dollars to Renminbi and the PBOC actively aiding numerous major financial hubs around the world with bilateral currency swap agreements, it seems yet another nail in the coffin of US dollar hegemony just got hit...
*PBOC AIMS TO SET UP GLOBAL PAYMENT SYSTEM FOR YUAN: SEC. NEWS
*PBOC TO MAKE GOLD, OIL FUTURES YUAN DENOMINATED: SEC. NEWS
Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much you believe...