The End Of Stimulus? (And The Start Of The Crash?)

What the most important chart in the world is predicting

By Chris Martenson and cross-posted from Peak Prosperity

Back in January of 2016 we saw what appeared to be, and in my opinion should have been, the end of the Everything Bubble blown by the word’s central banking cartel.

The carnage started in the emerging markets. Highly-leveraged positions and carry trades began to unwind. That’s a fancy way of saying that all the big, sophisticated investors — who were busy borrowing heavily in countries with cheap money (the US, Japan, and Europe) and using that debt to speculate in markets offering higher yields (junk debt, emerging markets, stocks, etc.) — began to reverse their trades.

It quickly devolved into a “Sell everything!” scramble. We saw the dollar spike and stocks fall — with emerging markets taking the full brunt of the carnage as their stock markets rapidly fell into bear territory, their currencies fell, and their bonds were destroyed.

Until…

Very early one morning in February of 2016 everything U-turned and rocketed higher. Suddenly and magically, the panic was over. This wasn’t the invisible hand of the market at work; it was the very-visible hand of central bank intervention.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now have a clear picture of what happened. The central banks huddled together, a bold (desperate?) plan was hatched, and key printing presses around the world were sent into overdrive.  In the months to follow, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BoJ) went on a record-breaking money printing spree:

(Source)

The red arrows in the charts above mark this moment when the “markets” were saved.

Or, more specifically, when the portfolios of the ultra-wealthy were “saved”, as the assets within were boosted higher (yet again) by the central banks printing money from thin air:

(Source)

Addicted To Money Printing

So what caused the weakness in early 2016 that spooked the system so much? The central banks themselves.

After many years of force-feeding stimulus into the global economy to create a “recovery”, the central banks have become increasingly concerned that asset prices have become too dependent on said stimulus. So in late 2015, the banks took their feet off of their monetary gas pedals for a bit to see what might happen.

They were hoping that the markets could be gradually weaned off of their stimulus dependence with few ill effects. They wanted to engineer a “soft landing”, where if priced declined, they’d come down gradually and not too much.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, the cheap-money-addicted markets instantly started expressing massive withdrawal complications

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