Off The Cuff

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Off The Cuff: The End Of The Easy Money Era

Its legacy?: Too many over-leveraged victims
Thursday, August 17, 2017, 6:29 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • Growing Signs Of Recession
    • Autos, retail, restaurants...
  • Dark Times For Commercial Real Estate
    • Bad enough that the Fed is worried
  • The Retail Hosing Market Is Popping
    • Toronto as a case study
  • The End Of The Easy Money Era
    • It's legacy: way too many over-leveraged victims

Suddenly, the tranquil seas long enjoyed by the markets have turned turbulent. Chris and Wolf react to the sudden volatility returning to stocks, the growing flood of recessionary indicators, the recent Fed statement, and the signs that the real estate market may have finally indeed topped out.

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Off The Cuff: The Path Forward

Deep down, we know what to do. Chris goes solo again.
Friday, August 11, 2017, 2:14 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris talks about:

  • Our Ecological Budget Is In The Red
    • Our short-sightedness is dooming us
  • Our Economic Budget Is In Similar Danger
    • Again, we are living way above our means
  • Politically, We're Stumbling Badly, Too
    • North Korea, Russia, Syria, domestically...the list is long
  • We Can Do Better
    • There are plenty of better models out there, if we look for them

Recording from vacation on a small island in Maine with no power, this is different than our standard Off The Cuff. Chris takes time to reflect on the repercussions of our poor policy choices and how those are manifesting in the world. What makes our mistakes so regrettable in his eyes is that there are clear ways to do things better -- we don't need new magical solutions to appear; there are models that work right on the table, ready for use; if only we're bold enough to embrace change.

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Off The Cuff: A Dependable Crash Indicator Is Now Flashing

RV sales are signalling signs of a blow-off top
Thursday, August 3, 2017, 10:36 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • Trade Wars
    • Suddenly arising with Russia and China
  • Modern Monetary Theory
    • A delusion that dates back to the days of John Law
  • A Great Crash Indicator
    • RV sales are sending a warning sign
  • Risky Real Estate
    • Private equity will sell fast when times get bad

Chris and John discuss the looming trade wars with Russia and China, the long-term implications of the worldwide credit binge, and the indicators that will presage a systemic correction. John shares his assessment of one of his most trusted crash indicators, RV sales:

This is a typical cycle for RVs. It’s a big toy and people are cocky now because they’ve been working for a little while. They have extremely easy credit. Interest rates are incredibly low. If you’ve got a decent credit score you can buy an RV for 2 or 3% interest and a lot of people are taking advantage of that, just as they spent the last three or four years taking advantage of incredibly cheap car loan terms, and running, basically, an auto sales bubble. They’ve kind of shifted to RVs now, which is yet another sign that the cycle is nearing an end.

This "recovery" is 8 years old now. The typical recovery is 6 years. So we already have an expansion that’s a couple of years longer than normal. It’s actually the third longest since World War II. Which means that, everything else being equal, we should be pretty close to the end of this cycle and ready for a downturn. And now you’ve got indicators like RV sales going just parabolic, indicating that, at least in that little section of the market, money is incredibly easy and buyers are euphoric. And that’s also a sign that things are nearing the end. There are lots of other signs, but that’s one.

Every time there’s a bubble in an asset class, there’s always a new reason for it that appears to explain it. But historically the explanation never holds. The cycle still reasserts itself at some point. And things go back to normal. And I suspect that’ll be the case with RVs at some point.

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Off The Cuff: The Pin To Pop This Bubble?

Political instability is becoming a top risk
Thursday, July 27, 2017, 1:55 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Dave Fairtex discuss:

  • Whither These Markets Goest From Here?
    • Lots of scary data, but Dr. Copper is feeling lucky
  • Revisiting The Ka-POOM Theory
    • Might we avoid the Ka and go directly to POOM?
  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence
    • It surely a game changer. But how?
  • Gold
    • Are the recent moves just a head-fake?

Dave Fairtex, PeakProsperity.com's precious metals daily analyst from Singapore, joins Chris this week to opine on a wide range of topics from the markets, to AI, to the refugee crisis in Europe. The two spend time talking about where the catalyst for a market correction is most likely to come from. And while there is a plethora of candidates, Dave sees political risk as topping the list:

My sense is that I think the central planners have the monetary thing wired. Let’s take the ECB. They have figured out a way to make it so that strictly monetary issues don’t cause problems anymore.

So what that leaves us with is political problems. That’s why I'm looking at what’s happening here, with the migrants in Europe and all the rest of it.Trump was an indicator that the central banks have the money stuff nailed down, but they don’t have the political movements fully under control.

So the longer-term stuff about screwing the savers and all the rest of it – that stuff they can’t control. I don’t know; maybe money printing works until the political situation changes. That’s where I’m leaning right now. 

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Off The Cuff: The Unsinkable(?) Market

No data is too bad enough to stop its rise
Friday, July 21, 2017, 2:06 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish Shedlock discuss:

  • The Unsinkable Market
    • No data is bad enough to stop its rise
  • The Disappearance Of Volatility
    • Gone, but for how long?
  • Failing Pension Plans
    • A truly massive crisis in the making
  • Cash, Gold & Bitcoin
    • The only places for capital to find safety?

During these doldrum days of summer, where no matter the news, today's "unsinkable" markets continue to march ever upwards, Mish shares his thoughts on what will finally cause asset prices to tank.

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Off The Cuff: The Schizophrenic Fed

Rates are going higher. No they aren't. Yes they are. No...
Friday, July 14, 2017, 12:59 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Axel Merk discuss:

  • No Rate Hike After All?
    • Yellen sings a dovish tune this week
  • Wait, Wasn't The Fed Just Warning It Would Tighten?
    • Yep. It was talking tough up until now
  • Why Can't The Fed Make Up It's Mind?
    • Because it's in a box. Jawboning is all it can do at this point
  • The Next Fed Head
    • A complete transformation may be in store soon

Chris and Axel unpack the latest guidance from the Fed issued this week. For those listening, the Fed's inconsistency is understandably infuriating. One week it's warning about tightening ahead, the next it's telling folks rates are just fine where they are.

Axel, who has more inside access to current & past Fed officials than anyone we know, feels that the Fed is simply trying to walk a tightrope it knows will one day snap. At this point, it's trapped. It needs to normalize rates, but doing so will crash the markets. So it's using the only tool it has -- confusion -- to keep the system fooled that everything is under control. Of course, one day the ruse will be discovered. But until then, the Fed will obfuscate, vacillate, prevaricate -- whatever it can do to keep the status quo in place for one more day...

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Off The Cuff: Colliding Crises

Energy, debt & resource shocks are in our near future
Friday, July 7, 2017, 8:17 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles Hugh Smith discuss:

  • The Approaching Energy Crisis
    • It's not a matter of if, but when
  • The Approaching Debt Crisis
    • There's no escaping it
  • The Unfolding Resource Crisis
    • Scarcity is growing in nearly every system
  • The Inevitability of DeGrowth
    • We're going to have to transition, whether we want to or not

This week's podcast is a particularly sobering one. Chris and Charles discuss the inevitable arrival of several approaching crises: declining net energy, too much debt, and depleting key natural resources.

What this mean is that "DeGrowth" in our near-term future. As a global population, we are simply going to have to learn to do more with less: either on our terms or Mother Nature's. 

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Off The Cuff: No More Financial Crises "In Our Lifetime"

Did Janet Yellen really just say that???
Friday, June 30, 2017, 2:04 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris discusses:

  • Market Jitters
    • What will happen if the central banks turn off the money?
  • No More Financial Crises "In Our Lifetime"
    • Did Janet Yellen really just say that???
  • Our States Are Falling Into Bankruptcy...
    • Illinois, Connecticut, Maine & more
  • While The Banks Get Even Fatter
    • Income from excess reserves to rise to $50 Trillion by 2019

This week, Chris takes a moment to share his thoughts in depth on where we are in the global debt saga. The overhang is getting worse, growth is not riding to the rescue as hoped, and the central banks are running out of both smoke and mirrors to keep the game continuing. Should the $200 billion monthly bonanza of central bank liquidity start decreasing -- as is now being increasingly discussed -- expect markets to go south quickly.

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Off The Cuff: What Today's Rate Hike Means

Another increase, plus a reduction of the balance sheet
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 8:30 PM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • Unpacking Today's Rate Hike
    • What will the impact be?
  • When Is A Rate Hike Not A Rate Hike?
    • The Fed's hikes aren't really pulling liquidity out of the market
  • Every time The Fed Talks Gold Goes Down
    • Manipulation (for optics) is alive & well
  • Can The Fed Engineer A Soft Exit?
    • Hardly likely

Chris and John break down today's Fed announcement of a 0.25% rate hike, plus its presented schedule for starting to reduce it's $4.2 trillion balance sheet. 

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Off The Cuff: Signs Of An Approaching Downturn

We're seeing more & more of them
Thursday, June 8, 2017, 12:00 AM

In this week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris and Wolf Richter discuss:

  • The Late-Stage Housing Bubble
    • From the US, to Canada, to China
  • Signs Of The Approaching Downturn
    • Data everywhere is flat-lining
  • Soaring Debt Levels
    • At levels that make 2008 look tame
  • Canary In The Coal Mine
    • The bullet-proof Bay Area showing weakness?

The diverse data sets that Wolf tracks are showing increasing signs of building weakness across the global economy:

We see weakness all over the place now in the United States. In terms of the corporate credit cycle, we have commercial and industrial loans flat-lining since November, meaning they have grown very strongly from the financial crisis and they peaked in October. Since then, it’s all just flat-lining.

And the only time this ever happened in the past, it’s been affiliated with a recession because these are loans that companies take out to fund equipment purchases and for expansion purposes and for the things that are useful to an economy. These are not loans that are used to buy back stocks. This is not for financial engineering. These are actual productive funds. And when you see companies putting a lid on this, they’re not expanding anymore. They’ve borrowed as much as they’re going to borrow, and at some point, these commercial industrial loans will turn down. And this has happened in every recession before.

Plus, we have now a surge in bankruptcies in the United States in terms of commercial bankruptcies. I just did a report on that earlier in May. The prior peak in bankruptcies was during the financial crisis.

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