Wednesday, June 17, 2015

History Gives Us An Idea Of What Is Coming......

History Gives Us An Idea Of What Is Coming

No episode is more notable than what happened in the US in 1937, smack in the middle of the Great Depression. This is the only time in US history which is analogous to what the Fed will soon attempt to do, and not only because short rates collapsed to zero between 1929-36 but because the Fed's balance sheet jumped from 5% to 20% of GDP to offset the Great Depression.

Just like now.

And then, briefly, the economy started to improve superficially, just like now, and as a result the Fed tightened in a series of three steps between Aug'36 & May'37, doubling reserve requirements from $3bn to $6bn, causing 3-month rates to jump from 0.1% in Dec'36 to 0.7% in April'37.



Here is a detailed narrative of precisely what happened:

The first tightening in August 1936 did not hurt stock prices or the economy, as is typical.

The tightening of monetary policy was intensified by currency devaluations by France and Switzerland, which chose not to move in lock-step with the US tightening. The demand for dollars increased. By late 1936, the President and other policy makers became increasingly concerned by gold inflows (which allowed faster money and credit growth).

The economy remained strong going into early 1937. The stock market was still rising, industrial production remained strong, and inflation had ticked up to around 5%. The second tightening came in March of 1937 and the third one came in May. While neither the Fed nor the Treasury anticipated that the increase in required reserves combined with the sterilization program would push rates higher, the tighter money and reduced liquidity led to a sell-off in bonds, a rise in the short rate, and a sell-off in stocks. Following the second increase in reserves in March 1937, both the short-term rate and the bond yield spiked.

Stocks also fell that month nearly 10%. They bottomed a year later, in March of 1938, declining more than 50%!

Or, as Bank of America summarizes it: "The Fed exit strategy completely failed as the money supply immediately contracted; Fed tightening in H1'37 was followed in H2'37 by a severe recession and a 49% collapse in the Dow Jones."



As can be seen above, in 1938, the stock market began to recover some. However, despite the easing stocks didn't fully regain their 1937 highs until the end of the war nearly a decade later.

So the imminent rate hike guarantees the ghost of 1937 is about to wake up and lead to stock losses which could make the Lehman crash seem like a dress rehearsal.

This is what Ray Dalio says ahead of the upcoming rate hike:

... in our opinion, inadequate attention is being paid to the risks of a downturn in which central bankers' abilities to ease are significantly impaired. We do not want to have any concentrated bets, especially at this time.

If the S&P is cut in half the Fed will launch not just QE4, but 5, 6 and so on, resulting in every other central bank doing the same as global currency war goes nuclear, and the race to the final currency collapse enters its final lap.

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