Friday, July 20, 2018

The Trade War, Central Bank Contraction, and Stock Market Volatility

Two useful emails today came from Liberty Investor’s Brandon Smith and Daily Proof’s Jim Rickards. 

Based on the correlation between G3 central bank balance sheets and stock prices, Smith  writes that the rising stock market has had had little to do with free markets but rather is the product of central bank asset purchases.  When the central bank sells assets, stock prices will reverse. 

The G3 are the US, Japan, and Europe. 

Smith claims that currently fashionable stock buybacks are the last gasp of paper money stimulus.  The trade war, in Smith’s view, is a mere distraction. 

                                     Source: Brandon Smith, Liberty Investor

Central bank monetary expansion, the result of expansion of central bank balance sheets, underlies the rising stock market that we have witnessed for the past century.  What have been remarkable about the post-2008 period are the enormous quantity of bank credit created, the enormous quantity of assets purchased, and the enormous stock market bubble. 

Central bankers and their shills in the media and academia claim that reducing asset holdings will not matter because so much assets have been purchased.  It is kind of like Bill Gates giving to charity: He is still very rich even after giving away a lot.  The Establishment claims that contraction can be done gradually and in the Goldilocks manner--just right. 

At the same time, additional regulation, including tariffs, can reduce the potency of the narcotic of flexible money by making firms less profitable, i.e., reducing efficiency.   Once a given regulatory system is in place, monetary policy will drive the stock market, but if there is disruption, then there can be sharp change. If the disruption occurs in tandem with monetary contraction, then it seems likely that it can contribute to declines.   

Smith is right that monetary contraction will threaten the stock market; adding tariffs to the mix can contribute, but it is not the underlying factor.  

Jim Rickards has been writing about central bank policy for a long time, but he puts greater emphasis on the tariffs.  He cites Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs of Bloomberg news, who have written a piece about a warning by German chancellor Angela Merkel of a potential global financial crisis because of the tariffs.  

The Establishment is always careful not to question  central banks, for the state depends on wealth extraction from the productive population using paper money.  In this way both the financial sector and the state are aligned with the central banks. The general population believes the claims of the media and universities that big government is necessary to its well being and low wages are necessary to their happiness--except when the subject of income inequality is raised; then,low wages are a problem that requires bigger government.

Hence, Rickards's comments are compatible with Smith’s claim.  Smith's claim that news about tariffs is coordinated with central bank policy is impossible to substantiate, but the underlying elements are present. 

While stock markets decline because of monetary contraction, tapering, or deleveraging (choose your mumbo jumbo) and contraction saddens Wall Street, the average American has been hurt financially by the long-term, century-long monetary monetary expansion. It has led to declines in innovation rates and the real hourly wage. It also has led to expanding income inequality.

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