“China’s stocks rose in volatile trade as state-backed funds were said to intervene after a plunge on Monday wiped out $590 billion of market value. Trading was halted on Monday after the gauge plunged 7 percent, triggering new market circuit breakers that some analysts said exacerbated the sell-off. State-controlled funds bought equities and the securities regulator signaled a selling ban on major investors will remain beyond this week’s expiration date, according to people familiar with the matter. The China Securities Regulatory Commission also suggested it’s open to tweaking the circuit breakers, while the central bank conducted the biggest reverse-repurchase operations since September.” Continue reading

“Many American investors bought Puerto Rican bonds over the past five years as we all searched desperately for yield in the face of the Federal Reserve pushing interest rates down to historic lows. Normally, investors understand that higher yields come with greater risks. However, during the past six years of extraordinary interventions by the Fed into all sorts of financial markets, many investors may have decided that those higher yield investments weren’t really all that risky. Puerto Rico’s problems may serve as a much-needed wake up call to investors. As rates rise, capital will move back toward safety and the risk premium demanded of higher risk projects is likely to increase.” Continue reading

“‘Going under the innocuous name of Sesame Credit, China has created a score for how good a citizen you are,’ explains Extra Credits’ video about the program. ‘The owners of China’s largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score — but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.’ In the works for years, China’s ‘social credit system’ aims to create a docile, compliant citizenry who are fiscally and morally responsible by employing a game-like format to create self-imposed, group social control. In other words, China gamified peer pressure to control its citizenry.” Continue reading

“The state-owned Bank of China has been ordered by an American court to hand over customer information to the US. The bank has refused to comply, as to do so would violate China’s privacy law. The US court has subsequently ordered the Bank of China to pay a fine of $50,000 per day. China is a sovereign nation, halfway around the globe from the US, yet the US seems to feel that it’s somehow entitled to set the rules for China. All over the world, those who live outside the US are increasingly observing that the US has become so drunk with power that they’re threatening both friend and foe with fines, trade restrictions, monetary sanctions, warfare, and invasions.” Continue reading

“Last week, without taking any care to reduce the size of its balance sheet, the Federal Reserve instantly changed the monetary environment to one that is observationally equivalent to the one that prevailed in 2009. By raising interest rates artificially (through interest payments on reserves and reverse repurchases) and applying those payments to everything but currency in circulation, the Fed has neutralized the misguided speculative prop it created through 6 years of policy distortion, and it did so in one fell swoop. From the standpoint of investors, the overall effect is just as if the Fed had suddenly reversed every dollar of quantitative easing since 2009 ($1.7 trillion).” Continue reading

“The IMF will add the yuan to its basket of reserve currencies, an international stamp of approval of the strides China has made integrating into a global economic system dominated for decades by the U.S., Europe and Japan. It’s the first change in the SDR’s currency composition since 1999, when the euro replaced the deutsche mark and French franc. It’s also a milestone in a decades-long ascent toward international credibility for the yuan, which was created after World War II and for years could be used only domestically in the Communist-controlled nation. The IMF reviews the composition of the basket every five years and rejected the yuan during the last review, in 2010.” Continue reading

“Investors should cut risk heading into 2016 as central banks trying to pump up their respective economies make losing bets, bond guru Bill Gross says. Institutions like the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are like ‘casinos’ that create money instead of chips ‘they’ll never have to redeem,’ said Gross, founder of bond giant Pimco who now runs the $1.4 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Fund. Furthering the gambling analogy, he said central bankers are using a familiar ploy — doubling down on losing bets until they break even. ‘How long can this keep going on? Well, theoretically as long as there are financial assets (including stocks) to buy,’ Gross said.” Continue reading

“We now have the diametrical opposite of the famous ‘Peter Schiff Was Right’ video (a compilation of 2006 and 2007 clips in which Schiff, a financial expert who subscribes to Austrian economics, predicted the deep recession that would follow the bursting of the housing bubble). The new, opposite video is a compilation of the 2005–2007 prognostications of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. In it, Bernanke is shown to have been just as embarrassingly wrong as Schiff was uncannily right. Could their differences in economic understanding have anything to do with this remarkable dichotomy?” Continue reading

“The largest U.S. banks would face a $120 billion total shortfall of long-term debt under a Federal Reserve proposal aimed at ensuring their failure wouldn’t hurt the broader financial system. Banks such as Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. will be required to hold enough debt that could be converted into equity if they were to falter, according to a Fed rule that was approved by a unanimous vote on Friday. The Fed’s proposal, which applies to eight of the biggest U.S. banks, requires debt and a capital cushion equal to at least 16 percent of risk-weighted assets by 2019 and 18 percent by 2022.” Continue reading

“If you want to buy a put to protect against losses in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, often you’ll pay twice as much as you would for a bullish call betting on gains. New research suggests the divergence is a consequence of financial institutions hoarding insurance against declines in stocks. Deutsche Bank AG says in a Dec. 6 research report that the likeliest explanation may be that demand is being created for downside protection among banks that are subject to stress test evaluations by federal regulators. In short, financial institutions are either hoarding puts or leaving places for them in their models should markets turn turbulent.” Continue reading

“With Citi’s chief economist proclaiming ‘only helicopter money can save the world now,’ and the Bank of England pre-empting paradropping money concerns, it appears that Australia’s largest investment bank’s forecast that money-drops were 12-18 months away was too conservative. Over the last few months, in a prime example of currency failure and euro-defenders’ narratives, Finland has been sliding deeper into depression. As The Telegraph reports, this is a deeper and more protracted slump than the post-Soviet crash of the early 1990s, or the Great Depression of the 1930s. And so, having tried it all, Finnish authorities are giving every citizen a tax-free payout of around $900 each month!” Continue reading

“The Alternative Bank Schweiz (ABS) caused shockwaves with a letter sent to all clients informing them that it would begin imposing interest charges on deposits in 2016. For current accounts, the bank said it would impose a -0.125-percent rate, while slapping a -0.75-percent rate on client deposits higher than 100,000 Swiss francs. ABS, which grew out of the ideals the 1960’s protest movement, justified the unprecedented development by saying it would provide manoeuvering room for financing ‘meaningful projects’. The Swiss central bank introduced a negative deposit rate in January after it abruptly abandoned its three-year effort to hold down the franc’s exchange rate to protect exports.” Continue reading