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In A World Of Artificial Liquidity – Cash Is King

And you'd better have some stashed out of the system
Friday, July 3, 2015, 12:19 PM

Global central banks are afraid. Before Greece tried to stand up to the Troika, they were merely worried. Now it’s clear that no matter what they tell themselves and the world about the necessity or even righteousness of their monetary policies, liquidity can still disappear in an instant. Or at least, that’s what they should be thinking.

The Federal Reserve and US government led policy of injecting liquidity into the US and then into the worldwide financial system has resulted in the issuance of trillions of dollars of debt, recycling it through the largest private banks, and driving rates to 0% -- or below. The combined book of debt that the Fed and European Central Bank (ECB) hold is $7 trillion. None of that has gone remotely into fixing the real global economy. Nor have the banks that have been aided by this cheap money increased lending to the real economy. Instead, they have hoarded their bounty of cash. It’s not so much whether this game can continue for the near future on an international scale. It can. It is. The bigger problem is that central banks have no plan B in the event of a massive liquidity event.  

Some central bank entity leaders have admitted this. IMF chief, Christine Lagarde for instance, warned Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen that potential US rate hikes implemented too soon, would incite greater systemic calamity. She’s not wrong. That’s what we’ve come to: a financial system reliant on external stimulus to survive.

These “emergency” measures were supposed to have healed the problems that caused the financial crisis of 2008 -- the excessive leverage, the toxic assets wrapped in complex derivatives, the resultant credit and liquidity crunch that occurred when banks lost faith in each other. Meanwhile, the infusion of cheap money and liquidity into banks gave a select few of them more power over a greater pool of capital than ever. Stock and bond markets skyrocketed as a result of this unprecedented central bank support.

QE-infinity isn’t a solution -- it’s a deflection. It’s a form of financial subterfuge that causes extra problems. These range from asset bubbles to the inability of pension and life insurance funds to source longer term less risky long-term assets like government bonds, that pay enough interest for them to meet liabilities. They are thus at risk of rapid future deterioration and more shortfalls precisely because they have nothing to invest in besides more risky stock and lower-rated bond markets.

Even the latest Bank of International Settlement (BIS) 85th Annual Report revealed the extent to which global entities supervising the banking system are worried. They harbor growing fears about greater repercussions from this illusion of market health (echoing concerns I and others have been writing about for the past seven years.)

The BIS, or bank for the central banks was established during the global Great Depression in 1930 in Basel, Switzerland, when bank runs on people’s deposits were the norm. The body no longer buys into zero-interest rate policy as an economic cure-all. In their words, “Globally, interest rates have been extraordinarily low for an exceptionally long time, in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms, against any benchmark. Such low rates are the remarkable symptom of a broader malaise in the global economy.”

They go on to note the obvious, “The economic expansion is unbalanced, debt burdens and financial risks are still too high, productive growth too low, and the room for maneuvering in macroeconomic policy too limited. The unthinkable risks becoming routine and being perceived as the new normal.”

These are troubling words coming from an organization that would have much preferred to deem central bank policies a success. Yet the BIS also states, “Global financial markets remain dependent on central banks.” Dependent is a strong word. How quickly the idea of free markets has been turned on its head.

Further, the BIS says, “Central bank balance sheets remain at unprecedented high levels; and they grew even larger in several jurisdictions where the ultra low policy rate environments were reinforced with large purchases of domestic and foreign assets.”

Central banks are not yet there, but rising volatility is indicative of the accelerating approach to the nowhere left to go mark from a monetary policy perspective. This, after seven years of a reckless Anti-Main Street, inequality and instability inducing, policy.

Not only have the major banks been the main recipient of manufactured liquidity, they have also received consolidated access to our deposits, which they can use like hostages to negotiate future bailout situations. Elite bankers moan about the extra regulations they have had to endure in the wake of the financial crisis, while scooping up cash dispersed under the guise of stimulating the general economy.

Central banks seek fresh ways to keep the party going as countries like Greece shut down banks to contain capital flight, and places like Puerto Rico and multiple states and municipalities face economic ruin. But they are clueless as to what to do.

In this cauldron of instability and lack of leadership, cash is the one remaining financial possession that Main Street can translate into goods, services and security. That’s why private banks want more control over it.

Banks Want Your Cash For Their Latent Emergencies

One of the most inane reasons cited for restricting cash withdrawals for normal people is that they all might turn out to be drug dealers or terrorists. Meanwhile, drug-dealing-money-laundering terrorists tend to get away with it anyway, by sheer ability to use a plethora of banks and off shore havens to diffuse cash around the globe.

Every so often, years after the fact, some bank perpetrators receive money-laundering fines.  For average depositors though, these are excuses for a bureaucracy built upon limiting access to cash whether from an ATM (many have $500 per day limits, some have less) or an account (withdrawals above a certain level get reported to the IRS).

As Charles Hugh Smith wrote at Peak Prosperity recently, there’s a difference between physical cash (the kind you can touch and use immediately) and the electronic kind, associated with your bank balance or credit card cash advance limit.  If you hold it, you have it – even if keeping it in a bank means it’s probably slammed with various fees.

Banks, on the other hand, can leverage your deposits or cash, even while complying with various capital reserve requirements. That’s not new. But the expanding debates about how much of your cash you get to withdraw at any given moment, is.

The notion of a bail-in, or recourse to people’s deposits, is related to the idea of restricting the movement, or existence, of physical cash. Bail-ins, like any cash limitations, imply that if a bank needs emergency liquidity, your deposits are the place to find it, which has negative repercussion on your own solvency. This is exactly what the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, coupled with the creation of the FDIC sought to avoid – banks confiscating your money at the worst possible times.

The ‘war on cash’ is thus really a war on the difference between the money you can hold on to and the money the banks can take away from you. The existence of this cash debate underscores the need for a personal policy of cash extraction from the big banks. Do you have one?

In Part 2: They're Coming For Your Cash we detail out the growing threats to the liquidity that sustains the modern global banking system, and why it's more crucial than ever for people to consider extracting a portion of cash from their bank accounts. As existing liquidity streams dry up (as they are beginning to around the world), increasingly desperate banks will turn to the largest and most convenient source they know of: the collective cash savings we have on deposit with them.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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2 Comments

pat the rat's picture
pat the rat
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 1 2011
Posts: 116
tracking

I was at M&T bank the other day and could not get $20.00 bill exchange for two $10.00 with out my bank card. The banks are keeping track of every transaction we make now, can you think of what this be like in a cash less world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kaimu's picture
kaimu
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2013
Posts: 160
OUT WITH THE NEW IN WITH THE OLD?

Aloha! The complete hubris and absurdity of our current global leaders is without doubt reflective of the downfall of the human race in the past, mostly due to that ever present flaw all humans possess known as human nature. We may all one day wear an Apple iWatch but we are still the same corrupt humans that lived in the time of Caesars. To me it is very sad to see what is going on in Greece and Europe and Asia and the USA as it's all been repetitive scripts for thousands of years. 

Many lawyers control what is left of our Freedoms. When you have a lawyer in politics you have a mentality of corruption and false realities. Lawyers operate in a privileged world whereby even failure is rewarded financially. They bring that skewed reality to politics whereby they get paid to fail only they believe they have gone to Nirvana since once they enter Congress(Legal Nirvana) they have millions of US taxpayers as their clients not just one client. Now they have trillions of dollars to squander not just hundred thousands.

If you think just because we have the most technological advances ever known to man that somehow that equates to guaranteed success by government and its begotten society then I would advise you to read some of what Cicero wrote in the days of the Roman Empire.

Lets go with this Cicero quote ... "The credit of the Roman money market is intimately bound up with the prosperity of Asia; a disaster cannot occur there without shaking our credit to its foundations." Now who here could say that this Cicero quote would not be relevant today in the Halls of Congress or in the board rooms of the largest US banks propped up by the US Fed?

"On a more modest scale Augustus adopted an easy-money policy. The results were identical with those under Coolidge. The policy promoted an inflationary boom followed by deflationary hard times and the Panic of AD 33." - HJ Haskell, The New Deal in Old Rome, 1939

Of course 1939 was the start of Nazi Germany's march toward World Domination and WW2. Not to mention the poor economic embargo policies against Japan and of course we all know how the Japanese were forced to react. Last week I flew right by Pearl Harbor. Who says any of this global easy money debt ridden economic policies rhymes???

 

 

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