Here is the ratio of the S&P 500 index against the Bloomberg Commodity Price Index. This ratio is plotted against The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet of assets. Notice the decline in the Commodity Ratio in 2022, even ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Global currencies, on the other hand, have been really crushed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Japanese Yen, China’s Renminbi and Europe’s Euro relative to the US Dollar are falling due to a variety of reasons. Covid lockdown in China, Japan’s insistence on monetary easing while other Central Banks are tightening and the Euro with Russia threatening nuclear war.
WTI Crude is back to $100 a barrel. Critical metals are down today related to a slowing global economy and wheat is up 2.75%.
Could it be that US Dollar hegemony is nearly over and commodity-backed currencies are the way of the future?
Now the basis of this system, which has operated for the past 50 years, is being called into question. The sanctions on Russia, which showed that reserves accumulated by central banks can simply be taken away, raised the question of “what is money?”
That question may explain why Pozsar believes a huge shift in the way the world organizes money and reserves is now underway, “creating a “Bretton Woods III backed by outside money,” (gold and other commodities). Including crude oil and bitcoin.
At least crude oil has fallen below $100 as Biden merrily drains the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Gasoline prices have fallen slightly as this is being done before the midterm elections with political, not economic, intent. Once the midterms pass, will Biden continue draining the SPR until there is little left forcing the US to convert to “green energy”?
The purchasing power of the consumer dollar took a plunge under Biden as other commodities such as Bitcoin and crude oil soared.
An alternative asset, gold, have generally risen under Biden’s Reign of Error, but particularly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The news just keeps getting worse and worse. Russia is still assaulting Ukraine, WTI Crude prices are above $100 a barrel and climbing, the Cleveland Browns signed Deshaun Watson to replace Baker Mayfield at quarterback, etc.
But back to energy prices. Since Biden was sworn-in as President, WTI Crude Oil futures are up 125%, regular gasoline prices are up 89%, and diesel fuel prices are up 155%. Diesel is important since America uses diesel-powered trucks to transport goods to market.
Globally? The world inflation rate has grown from 2% in January 2021 to 6.82%. Global food prices are up 24%.
Yes, WTI Crude and Brent Crude are above $100 per barrel.
And coal prices are up 256% under Shoeless Brainless Joe.
Mortgage rates? Bankrate’s 30-year mortgage rate is now above 4.50%.
Let’s see if Dr. StrangeFedpolicy raises rates as aggressively as signaled.
Russia is still engaged in its invasion of Ukraine. And the US continues to import crude oil from Russia. In fact, US crude oil imports from Russia soared under Biden only to decline again in December 2021.
On the sovereign bond and currency front, the 5.25% coupon Russian international sovereign bond has crashed to 22.494. And the Ruble/USD cross has crashed as well.
Sberbank Bank 5 1/8% corporate bond has crashed to 25.
The Russian blue-chip stock market (OTOB Russian Traded Index CRTX) has crashed by over 50% since the invasion of Ukraine.
Fortunately, I like Cheerios for breakfast made from oats, since wheat futures are soaring.
Russia’s Credit Default Swap (CDS) 5Y has dropped to a still-elevated 554.
The US really needs to ban Russian crude oil imports, since Biden’s failed in game theory by cutting US energy exploration on Federal lands and offshore drilling.
War is hell, as Vlad “The Ukrainian Impaler” Putin has demonstrated.
This has been a brutal week for consumers. With the Russia/Ukraine conflict raging and Congress seems determined to not allow for additional oil and gas production, and Biden’s anti-fossil fuel edicts still in place, we are seeing dramatic price increases in wheat (UP 89.5% since January 1, 2021), WTI Crude (UP 143% since January 1, 2021), and food stuffs (UP 55% since January 1, 2021).
Bankrate’s 30-year mortgage rate has actually been falling the last several days, which is good for prospective home buyers as the 10-year US Treasury Note yield has been declining.
The USD/Russian Ruble cross is skyrocketing and the USD/Euro is doing likewise. Russians visiting the US will find that their trip is suddenly unaffordable (as do many American citizens will its rampant inflation). As Bruce Willis said in “Die Hard,” “Welcome to the party, pal.”
On Friday, the US Treasury 10-year yield declined 11 bps.
And energy prices continue to soar, particularly UK Natural Gas Futures that rose 19.85% overnight.
The US inflation data will be released on March 10th and the consensus is that February CPI inflation will rise to 7.9% YoY.
But even the latest unemployment rate report (3.8%) is signalling that The Fed should be raising interest rates since it is lower than the Natural Rate of Unemployment or NAIRU (4.44%).
And we have the next Fed policy error on March 16th. The Fed dots plot looks like the glide slope for an aircraft, but the message is that rates will be going up at future meetings.
And just for amusement, I present to you the infamous Hindenburg Omen chart that forecast the 2008/2009 stock market correction. Since that correction, the Hindenburg Omen has been flashing “danger” but the only correction was the COVID-linked correction of early 2020. While the Hindenburg Omen is flashing red right now, The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet (green line) has protected against market corrections. Let’s see what happens if and when The Fed decides to remove the epic monetary stimulus.
Its anyone’s guess as to whether The Fed will actually tighten monetary policy.
As someone who needs to move to Ohio, I would really appreciate it if mortgage rates would more closely follow the 10-year Treasury yield. But alas, Bankrate’s 30-year mortgage rate just rose to 4.30% as the US Treasury 10-year yield dropped -8.2 basis points.
Europe. Middle East and Africa (EMEA) sovereign yields are all down over 10 basis points averaging around -15 bps.
Ukraine’s 10-year yield has plummeted by -48.3 bps this morning.
The anticipated meeting between Russia and Ukraine on Belarus soil was a failure. Likely due to Belarus showing-off their modern air force capabilities.
We now know that Russia has invaded Ukraine and President Biden really threw the booklet at Putin in a speech today. Rather than removing Russia from the SWIFT banking system which would have really hurt Russia’s trade with Europe, he gave a surprisingly cogent speech about the US and NATO agreeing to do … not much. He did warn us that energy prices would rise (which he helped do when he took office) and told energy companies not to gauge consumers.
The reaction in Russia? Their stock market tanked over 30% (not because of Biden’s speech, but because of negative costs of war).
Russia’s 10-year sovereign yield rose to 15.23%.
The Russian Ruble crashed and burned.
UK natural gas prices rose 51% today.
And while 17 Euro nations have negative 2 year sovereign yields, Russia has 2-year sovereign yield of 28.65% which is nothing compared to Ukraine’s 75% 2-year yield (in US Dollars).
The SWIFT system, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, facilitates financial transactions and money transfers for banks located around the world. The system is overseen by the National Bank of Belgium and enables transactions between more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries around the world. Removing Russia from the SWIFT system would really hurt Russian trade with Europe. I assume that Europe is scared of soaring energy costs, so probably doesn’t want Russia removed from SWIFT.
It has been almost 14 years since The Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke unleashed zero interest rate policies (ZIRP) and quantitative easing (QE) in late 2008. And Fed monetary stimulypto is still running strong after almost 14 year of monetary mismanagement and asset bubble stimulation.
The Federal Reserve under Bernanke and Yellen raised their target rate exactly once under President Obama before the election of Donald Trump. After Trump was elected, The Fed raised their target rate 8 times, lowered it 5 times. There have been no rate hikes under Biden.
There seemingly never-ending Fed monetary stimulus has resulted in the top 1% seeing their share of total net worth soar relative to the share of net worth of the bottom 50%. But note that starting in 2014 just as The Fed was engaged in QE 3. But the real divergence occurred after The Federal government heaped trillions in fiscal stimulus on top of the skyrocketing monetary stimulus.
In terms of income inequality (as measured by the GINI coefficient), it just keeps getting worse and worse.
Let’s see if The Fed actually delivers by reducing their monetary stimulypto.