Thursday, September 22, 2022

Less Negative is Positive

"A negative times a negative equals a positive."
--Jaime Escalante (Stand and Deliver)

Negative interest rate policies (NIRP) enacted by central banks across the globe in the middle of last decade spawned a mountain of negative interest-bearing debt. It was hard to imagine who was buying it although, in reality, central banks themselves were hoovering much of it up as part of their quantitative easing (QE) programs.

The worm has turned dramatically as inflation has picked up and CBs are now raising rates. After hitting a peak of about $17 trillion in 2020, negative yielding debt has plummeted to less than $2 trillion. Most of that decline has come since the beginning of 2022.

As NIRP debt declines, it seems likely that broken conventional discounting processes get repaired.

Central banks become extra big losers as NIRP reverses. They bought $trillions of negative yielding bonds that have now been pounded as rates rise and bond prices fall. Many CBs are approaching the broke point on paper.

While these institutions can simply print more money out of thin air to rectify their upside down balance sheets, this would create quite the paradox of creating more money in an inflationary environment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

TINA Turning?

All I want is a little reaction
Just enough to tip the scales

--Tina Turner

During the era of interest rate suppression, people turned to stocks, particularly dividend payers, because it seemed there was no alterative (TINA). With yields presently moving higher, the TINA attitude should dissipate as investors switch out of stock in favor of the relative safety of high yielding bonds.

Today the 2 yr Treasury yields touched 4%. This more than 2x the S&P 500 dividend yield.

The higher this spread goes, the more pressure we should see on stocks as investors flock to 'risk-free' cash yields.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022


I'm a walkin' in the rain
Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
To end this misery

--Del Shannon

Although stocks have come in, Robert Shiller's CAPE index suggests much more downside work must be done before 'normal' valuations return.

Could be, although I wonder how massive market stimulus and, now, structural goods/services inflation factor in.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Trading the Cable

"Cockamamie. That's a word you generation hasn't embraced yet. You ought to use it once in a while to keep it alive."
--Frank Horrigan (In the Line of Fire)

They say you learn something new every day. Saw this headline this am and couldn't figure what 'cable' meant in the context.

Turns out it refers to exchanges between the British pound and the USD. 

When transatlantic cable was stretched across the ocean floor in the mid 1800s to connect telegraph services between the England and the US, transactions between the two currencies became known as 'trading the cable.'

Obviously, this is no longer popular slang as it took me several decades before I heard it.

Interesting nonetheless. And I hope to put my newly discovered lingo to work soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

See the Signs

Life is demanding
Without understanding

--Ace of Base

Article lays out five signs of recession currently flashing red:

1) Declining monetary base. As quantitative tightening proceeds, money supply should drop even more.

2) Inverted yield curve. Inverted yield curves are leading indicators of economic problems, and have preceded every recession for decades.

3) Tighter lending standards. Economic slowdowns increase risk aversion. Banks tighten credit standards to avoid losses during recessions. We're approaching tightness associated with past recessions.

4) Falling housing market prices. Mortgage rates have more than doubled over the past year. As prices and borrowing costs go up, demand for houses has gone down. Inventory is now above 10 months of supply--a threshold that has consistently been associated with past recessions.

5) Declining manufacturing and trade sales. Sales are down over one percent YOY. Declines below zero have coincided with every recession since the 1970s.

These indicators suggest that a recession is not imminent. Rather, it is likely already here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Political Purge

"So, here's to the men who did what was considered WRONG, in order to do what they knew was right...what they KNEW was right."
--Benjamin Franklin Gates (National Treasure)

After Donald Trump and his close circle were hit by DOJ search teams, it appears that this administration is widening its nets. Tucker Carlson reports that subpoenas are in the process of being issued on dozens of Trump allies.

This is what a political purge looks like.

Obviously, this is meant to send a message ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, and to those who are considering involvement in the presidential election two years off.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Railroads Crossing

Seven, that's the time we leave, at seven
I'll be waiting up for heaven
Counting every mile of railroad track
That takes me back

--Doris Day 

Nice map of US railroads. Time stamped 2020 so slightly out of date.

Mergers have left the industry with six major players. US operators include BNSF Railway (owned by Berkshire Hathaway), CSX (CSX), and Norfolk Southern (NSC), and Union Pacific (UNP). Two Canadian operators, Canadian National (CNI) and Canadian Pacific (CP), also have substantial presence.

Although their tracks overlap, you can see where each operator's home turf is.

As might be expected, the majors are now in the process of gobbling up smaller regional and local operators.

position in CSX

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Lost and Found

When my teeth bite down I can see the blood
Of a thousand men who have come and gone
Now we grieve 'cause now it's gone
Things were good when we were young

--Von Bondies

In some ways the holes in my heart still feel as large as those twin holes in the ground.

In other ways, those holes have been filled with knowledge and love.

As terrible as that day was, I am grateful for the positive changes it has brought. 

Like today's gospel (Luke 15:1-32) that tells us of the lost son who has been found.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Climate Gravy Train

Strange voices are saying
What did they say?
Things I can't understand
It's too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand

On the back of yesterday's post, another credentialed 'expert' fades the party line on climate change. He argues that any relationship between man and climate change is a spurious one. It is more likely, he suggests, that cyclical activity on the sun's surface is influencing weather patterns on earth.

Meanwhile, climate alarmists seek to ride a 'gravy train' to make money.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Greenpeace Man

"There is a WALL of water coming toward New York City!"
--Radio announcer (The Day After Tomorrow)

Interesting piece on Greenpeace founder who left the organization when it was 'hijacked by the political left' and morphed it into a 'political fundraising organization.'

Great comments particularly on the 'demonization' of carbon dioxide and its influence on climate. This chart should be particularly telling to any reasoning mind:

Also liked his comments on the dynamics of CO2, plant growth, and robust ecologies--something these pages have discussed.