Foreign Central Banks
Overview of the major events in the week ahead.
If there was any debate whether Yellen's testimony today was hawkish or dovish, the bond market certainly made it clear what it thinks, when first the 10 Year yield tumbled back under 2.00%, and then moments ago, the Treasury auction of $26 billion in 2 Year paper continued to trend of strong demand for government paper, when 3.45 bidders lined up for every dollar for sale, at a closing yield of 0.603%, 0.5 bps through the When Issued.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland earlier this week tweeted out a notice of a working paper titled: U.S. Intervention during the Bretton Woods Era:1962-1973... a detailed report on the massive interventions in currency markets that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve conducted and is exceptionally critical of the market manipulations that took place during that period. It is probably no surprise then that the paper is no longer featured at the Cleveland Fed, and the tweet was quickly deleted.
Import prices dropped 8.0% YoY (modestly beating expectations of an 8.9% plunge) and 2.8% MoM. The last time import prices started to fall at this pace was a month after Lehman Brothers BK'd. Of course the crash of oil prices is largely responsible as imported fuel costs slumped 16.9% YoY - the most since Dec 2008 (petroleum -17.7%). However, even away from that the price of imported capital goods collapsed the most since March 2009 with the biggest rise in Japanese (foreign central banks) exported deflation since April 2013 (when QE really accelerated).
‘Coin bars’ is a bullion industry term referring to bars that were made by melting gold coins in a process that did not refine the gold nor remove the other metals or metal alloys that were in the coins. The molten metal was just recast directly into bar form. Because it’s a concept critical to the FRBNY stored gold, the concept of US Assay Office / Mint gold bar ‘Melts’ is also highlighted below. Melts are batches of gold bars, usually between 18 and 22 bars, that when produced, were stamped with a melt number and a fineness, but were weight-listed as one unit. The US Assay Office produced both 0.995 fine gold bars and coin bars as Melts. The gold bars in a Melt are usually stored together unless that melt has been ‘broken’.
While not quite as brisk as last month's 3 Year auction, today's just concluded sale of $24 billion in 3 Year paper was very solid for one more month, with the High Yield pricing at 1.05%, an impressive 1.1 bps through the When Issued, even as the yield jumped from January's 0.926%. The Bid to Cover, perhaps reflecting the extra pick of 12 bps in yield, rose ever so little, increasing from 3.330 to 3.345. But it was the internals where as usual the action was, with the recent trend of collapsing Direct demand not disappointing, and in January only 7.2% of the final takedown when to Directs: the lowest since April 2012. The offset: a surge in the Indirects, typically foreign central banks, which ended up with 48.9% of the paper - the most since May of 2010!
Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost over 97 percent of its purchasing power, the US economy has been subjected to a series of painful Federal Reserve-created recessions and depressions, and government has grown to dangerous levels thanks to the Fed’s policy of monetizing the debt. Yet the Federal Reserve still operates under a congressionally-created shroud of secrecy. No wonder almost 75 percent of the American public supports legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.
After years of being blocked by Democratic leader Harry Reid, The Washington Times reports, the Senate will finally get a chance next year to vote on legislation to force a broad audit of the Federal Reserve's decision-making. Ron Paul's flagship legislative efforts have been picked up by his son and now has the backing of the leader of the new Republican majority, Sen. Mitch McConnell, whose office says the legislation will earn a floor vote. While the bill is not a sure thing, it appears to have The Fed worried as Reuters reports, Yellen and other Fed officials are lobbying Capitol Hill to drop the audit push.
Before we first exposed proof of the conspiracy fact that global Central Banks are indeed trading US equity futures, it was dismissed as tin-foil-hat-wearing, pajama-wearing, basement-living conspiracy theory. So it is, perhaps, quite notable that Congress itself has now admitted that Central Banks are trading futures and that it is good for liquidity (and thus, we pre-suppose, it's for your own good, average citizen).
"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.