by Brandon Smith, Alt Market:
Many people do not realize that America is not only entering a new year, but within the next month we will also be entering a new economic era. In early February, Janet Yellen is set to leave the Federal Reserve and be replaced by the new Fed chair nominee, Jerome Powell. Now, to be clear, the Fed chair along with the bank governors do not set central bank policy. Policy for most central banks around the world is dictated in Switzerland by the Bank for International Settlements. Fed chairmen like Janet Yellen are mere mascots implementing policy initiatives as ordered. This is why we are now seeing supposedly separate central banking institutions around the world acting in unison, first with stimulus, then with fiscal tightening.
However, it is important to note that each new Fed chair does tend to signal a new shift in action for the central bank. For example, Alan Greenspan oversaw the low interest rate easy money phase of the Fed, which created the conditions for the derivatives and credit bubble and subsequent crash in 2008. Ben Bernanke oversaw the stimulus and bailout phase, flooding the markets with massive amounts of fiat and engineering an even larger bubble in stocks, bonds and just about every other asset except perhaps some select commodities. Janet Yellen managed the tapering phase, in which stimulus has been carefully and systematically diminished while still maintaining delusional stock market euphoria.
Now comes the era of Jerome Powell, who will oversee the last stages of fiscal tightening, the reduction of the Fed balance sheet, faster rate increases and the final implosion of the ‘everything’ bubble.
As I warned before Trump won the election in 2016, a Trump presidency would inevitably be followed by economic crisis, and this would be facilitated by the Federal Reserve pulling the plug on fiat life support measures which kept the illusion of recovery going for the past several years. It is important to note that the mainstream media is consistently referring to Jerome Powell as “Trump’s candidate” for the Fed, or “Trump’s pick” (as if the president really has much of a choice in the roster of candidates for the Fed chair). The public is being subtly conditioned to view Powell as if he is an extension of the Trump administration.
This could not be further from the truth. Powell and the Fed are autonomous from government. As Alan Greenspan openly admitted years ago, the Fed does not answer to the government and can act independently without oversight. So, why is the media insisting on misrepresenting Powell as some kind of Trump agent? Because Trump, and by extension all the conservatives that support him, are meant to take the blame when the ‘everything’ bubble vaporizes our financial structure. Jerome Powell is “Trump’s guy” at the Fed; so any actions Powell takes to crush the recovery narrative will also be blamed on the Trump administration.
But, is it a certainty that Powell will put the final nail in the coffin of “economic recovery?” Yes. Last Friday the Fed finally released the transcripts of its monetary policy meetings in 2012, and in those transcripts are some interesting admissions from Powell himself. After reading these transcripts I am fully convinced that Powell is the man who will stand as the figurehead of the central bank during the final phase of U.S. decline.
Here are some of the most astonishing quotes by Powell from those transcripts along with my commentary. These quotes are yet another piece of evidence that vindicates my position on the Fed as an economic saboteur and my position on the historic market bubble the bank has created:
Powell: “I have concerns about more purchases. As others have pointed out, the dealer community is now assuming close to a $4 trillion balance sheet and purchases through the first quarter of 2014. I admit that is a much stronger reaction than I anticipated, and I am uncomfortable with it for a couple of reasons.
First, the question, why stop at $4 trillion? The market in most cases will cheer us for doing more. It will never be enough for the market. Our models will always tell us that we are helping the economy, and I will probably always feel that those benefits are overestimated. And we will be able to tell ourselves that market function is not impaired and that inflation expectations are under control. What is to stop us, other than much faster economic growth, which it is probably not in our power to produce?”
Assessment: By all indications the Fed did do more, MUCH more. Including QE3, various stimulus packages and incessantly low interest rates for years, the Fed has essentially stepped in every time stock markets in particular were about to crash back to their natural state of decline. Powell is being rather honest in his estimation here that these stopgaps are in fact temporary and that the Fed cannot produce true economic growth to support the market optimism they have created through their interventions. He is stating openly that markets will only remain optimistic so long as they are assured that the Fed will continue to intervene.
This is probably why it took almost six years before these transcripts were released.
Powell: “When it is time for us to sell, or even to stop buying, the response could be quite strong; there is every reason to expect a strong response. So there are a couple of ways to look at it. It is about $1.2 trillion in sales; you take 60 months, you get about $20 billion a month. That is a very doable thing, it sounds like, in a market where the norm by the middle of next year is $80 billion a month. Another way to look at it, though, is that it’s not so much the sale, the duration; it’s also unloading our short volatility position.”
Assessment: And here we have Powell’s shocking admission, clarifying his previous point — the “strong response” that Powell is referring to is a market reversal, or bubble implosion. He even admits the existence of the Fed’s “short position on volatility.” This explains the strange behavior of the VIX index, which has plunged to record lows as “someone” continually shorts VIX stocks in order to interfere with any decline in markets.
This interference in the VIX has conjured an aberration, a market calm and investor confidence that is artificial. Such overconfidence, when optimism turns into mania, has happened before. In fact, the end of the Greenspan era was awash in such exuberance. And this delusion always ends the same way — with crisis.
I would also like to mention here that I have seen some disinformation being planted on Powell’s statements in 2012, asserting that he was “not talking about stock markets” specifically. Obviously he is, as you will see in other parts of his statement, but to reinforce the point, here is a quote from another Fed member who spilled the beans, Richard Fisher:
“What the Fed did — and I was part of that group — is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally, starting in 2009.
It’s sort of what I call the “reverse
Whimpy factor” — give me two hamburgers today for one tomorrow.”
Fisher went on to hint at his very reserved view of the impending danger:
“I was warning my colleagues, Don’t go wobbly if we have a 10 to 20 percent correction at some point… Everybody you talk to… has been warning that these markets are heavily priced.” [In reference to interest rate hikes]
So, what happens when the Fed stops shorting volatility and ends the easy money being pumped into markets? Well, again, I think Powell and Fisher have just told you what will happen, but let’s continue.
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