RECESSION INDICATOR: Inverted Yield Curve?

By Staff Reporters

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When economic trouble and/or uncertainty is brewing, it’s not uncommon for the US Treasury yield curve to flatten or even invert. A yield curve inversion, like we’re experiencing now, involves short-term-maturing bonds sporting higher yields than longer-dated Treasury bonds. It’s an indication that investors are worried about the U.S. economic outlook.

For the past 64 years, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has used the Treasury yield spread between the 10-year bond rate and three-month bond rate to calculate the probability of a U.S. recession occurring within the next 12 months. Over these 64 years, the probability of a recession has topped 25% a dozen times and 40% on eight occasions. 

With the exception of a peak probability of a recession of 41.14% in October 1966, the New York Fed’s recession-forecasting tool hasn’t been wrong if it’s surpassed 40%. In other words, if the New York Fed’s recession probability indicator surpasses 40%, we’ve had a recession within 12 months, without fail, for more than a half-century.

In December 2022, this recession probability tool hit 47.31%. That’s the highest reading since 1981, and a very clear indication that economic activity is expected to slow at some point in 2023.

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SUMMER SPEAKS of “False Dawns”

By Staff Reporters

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Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is worried that investors and economists are becoming overly optimistic after year-over-year inflation cooled to 6.5% in December.

“One has to be careful of false dawns. If you think about it, the good news was inflation running in the 6’s, and that’s still inconceivably high by the standards of two or three years ago,” he told Bloomberg on Friday, adding that his forecast is still that a “recession this year is more likely than not.” 

Since March, Federal Reserve officials have raised interest rates seven times in hopes of taming inflation without sparking a recession, and all the while, economists and Wall Street analysts have debated whether they’ll be successful. Summers has repeatedly found himself in the bears’ camp. In October, he told the Financial Times that it would take “a recession” and “unemployment towards the 6% range” to ensure U.S. inflation is truly gone. 

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

But the economist admitted on Friday that the latest inflation report was “good news”—and it came even though the unemployment rate was just 3.5% in December. He argued that this is evidence that wages aren’t rising too dramatically, which means the Fed may be able to change tactics soon. 

So, what do you think?

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PODCAST: Fractional Reserve Banking

By Staff Reporters

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Fractional reserve banking is a system in which only a fraction of bank deposits are backed by actual cash on hand and available for withdrawal. This is done to theoretically expand the economy by freeing capital for lending. Today, most economies’ financial systems use fractional reserve banking.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/082610254

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LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd8B-zrMSYk

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Two Year Treasury Yields = HIGH!

By Staff Reporters

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U.S. bond yields just rose to new cycle highs as the fallout from the Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate hike and commentary reverberated across markets. The policy-sensitive 2-year rate broke intermittently above 4.7%, shrinking its spread to the 10-year rate to as little as minus 60.9 basis points in a worrisome sign of the economic outlook. The 2-year yield finished the New York session at its highest level in more than 15 years.

What’s happening

  • The yield on the 2-year Treasury rose 13.1 basis points to 4.699% from 4.568% on Wednesday. Thursday’s level is the highest since July 25, 2007, based on 3 p.m. figures from Dow Jones Market Data.
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury advanced 6.4 basis points to 4.123% from 4.059% as of late Wednesday. Thursday’s level is the highest since Oct. 24.
  • The yield on the 30-year Treasury climbed 2.9 basis points to 4.151% from 4.122% Wednesday afternoon.

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BREAKING NEWS: The FOMC Raises Short-Term Interest Rate 0.75%

By Staff Reporters

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The Federal Reserve jut raised its short-term borrowing rate another 0.75% to slow key areas of the economy and tame inflation, which is at a 40-year high. The central bank said its new target range is 3.75%-4%, the highest level since January 2008.

The aggressive move is the latest in a string of borrowing cost increases imposed by the Fed in recent months as it tries to slash price increases by cooling the economy and choking off demand. The approach, however, risks tipping the U.S. into a recession and putting millions out of work.

The fourth rate hike of 2022 also arrives less than a week before the midterm elections.

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FOMC: Treasuries the Next Financial Crisis?

By Staff Reporters

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For months, traders, academics, and other analysts have fretted that the $23.7 trillion Treasury market might be the source of the next financial crisis. Then last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged concerns about a potential breakdown in the trading of government debt and expressed worry about “a loss of adequate liquidity in the market.” Now, strategists at BofA Securities have identified a list of reasons why U.S. government bonds are exposed to the risk of “large scale forced selling or an external surprise” at a time when the bond market is in need of a reliable group of big buyers.

“We believe the UST market is fragile and potentially one shock away from functioning challenges” arising from either “large scale forced selling or an external surprise,” said BofA strategists Mark Cabana, Ralph Axel and Adarsh Sinha. “A UST breakdown is not our base case, but it is a building tail risk.”

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FOMC: Will Raise Interest Rates in November?

By Staff Reporters

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The Fed is poised to raise interest rates just one more time in November before stopping, according to Ed Yardeni. That’s because there is a growing risk that financial markets are on the verge of instability due to a soaring US dollar.

“The soaring dollar has been associated in the past with creating financial crisis on a global basis,” Yardeni just told told Bloomberg.

CITE: https://www.yardeni.com/

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FOMC: May Keep Tightening Until a Recession!

By Staff Reporters

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The FOMC just reiterated calls for aggressive policy to combat stubbornly high inflation—fueling expectations for bigger rate hikes amid a stock-market sell-off that’s seen major indexes hit new lows for the year—and some analysts project the losses could only deepen.

Expectations for rate hikes climbed amid the comments, with markets pricing in an end-of-year rate of 4.5%—above the 4.4% rate Fed officials projected earlier this month, which itself was one percentage point higher than the forecast in June.

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On “Triple” and “Quadruple” Witching Day?

By Staff Reporters

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The final hour of trading on a Friday when stock index futures, stock index options, and stock options all expire. This happens on the third Friday in March, June, September, and December. See Quadruple Witching Hour.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

According to TheStreet, Inc

Triple witching sounds like something from a horror movie, but it’s actually a financial term. Options and derivatives traders know this phenomenon well because it’s the day when three different types of contracts expire. It happens only once a quarter and can cause wild swings in volatility, as large institutional traders roll over futures contracts to free up cash. Doing so creates a ton of increased volume—sometimes 50% higher than average, especially in the last trading hour of the day—but individual investors needn’t feel spooked. In fact, some might even view this volatility as a profit-making opportunity.

Which 3 Types of Derivative Contracts Expire on Triple Witching Day?

  1. Stock Options: These are contracts taken out on the direction of a stock price at a future date. Unlike stocks, they’re not an investment in a company; rather, they’re the right to buy or sell shares of a company at a later time frame. Calls let you buy stock shares at a set price, known as the strike price, on or before the expiration date. Puts give you the right to sell shares.
  2. Index Options: These are futures contracts on a stock index, such as the S&P 500. These options are settled in cash.
  3. Index Futures: These are futures contracts on equity indexes. These contracts are also settled in cash.

A futures contract is also referred to as an “anticipated hedge” because it’s used to lock in prices on future buy or sell transactions. These hedges are a way to protect a portfolio from market setbacks without selling long-term holdings.

It’s worth noting that a few times a year, single stock futures also expire on witching day, adding a fourth asset to the trading cauldron, and that’s why some investors refer to this date as “quadruple witching,” although the terms are interchangeable.

When Is Triple Witching? Triple Witching Calendar 2022

In modern trading, triple witching happens on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December (the last month of each quarter).

Upcoming Triple Witching Dates

  • Friday, March 18, 2022
  • Friday, June 17, 2022
  • Friday, September 16, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

What Is the Witching Hour?

In the U.S. stock market, the last hour of the trading day, before the closing bell, sees the most trading activity, so the witching hour is from 3–4 pm EST. In folklore, the “witching hour” actually happens in the dead of night, from 3–4 am. It was known as a time when spirits reached the height of their powers. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church even banned people from venturing outside during this time, so as not to get caught in the chaos.

Today, such ideas aren’t taken any more seriously than mere superstition, but triple witching can cause chaos among investors, if they are not aware of what is happening.

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What Happens During Triple Witching?

As you might imagine, a lot of trading activity happens in the market when stock options, index options, and index futures contracts all expire. We’re talking a lot of money here: during Triple Witching in September 2021, for example, around $3.4 trillion of equity options expired.

So, what exactly is going on? Should they keep their hedges on? Should they speculate? Should they roll, or close out, their contracts, and if so, by how much? This is what generates the increased trading activity, and the large trades, especially from offsetting trades, can cause temporary price distortions. 

At the same instant that the derivatives contracts expire, the anticipatory hedges that traders have placed become unnecessary, and so traders also seek to close these hedges, and the offsetting trades result in increased volume. These large volume increases can in turn cause price swing (i.e., volatility) in the underlying assets. 

How Does Triple Witching Affect the Stock Market?

Triple witching itself doesn’t move the stock market; it just creates increased volume. In the same way, the expiration of the options and futures contracts don’t necessarily result in volatility—that’s caused by the actions that traders take based on the temporary price fluctuations of their underlying assets which can be moved due to the increased volume.

When this happens, arbitrageurs try to take advantage, often making trades that are completed in mere seconds. An arbitrageur is a trader who looks for price inefficiencies in a security and then seeks to make a profit by buying and selling it simultaneously. This practice involves much risk.

Is Triple Witching Bullish or Bearish?

Historically speaking, triple witching is not always an “up” day, and it’s not always a “down” day for the markets. It does not signify a trend. Typically, it neither moves the market significantly higher nor lower; it simply adds a temporary increase in volume and liquidity.

However, it’s important to note that market volumes also tend to be higher on index re-balancing day as well as during and after broader macroeconomic news events, and so, when taken in tandem with triple witching, these events can cause big moves in the market.

Examples of Triple Witching Volatility in Light of News Events

On June 18, 2021, a record number—$818 billion—of stock options expired, which led to nearly $3 trillion in “open interest,” or open contracts. On this day, the Federal Reserve also announced that it might raise interest rates in 2023 due to inflationary pressures. These news events resulted in increased volatility, and the S&P 500 lost 1.3% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.6%.

On September 17th, 2021, one week ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting, market volatility was growing based on mounting concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant impacting the economy as well as the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would begin to unwind its monetary stimulus. These news events, taken along with the S&P 500’s quarterly index rebalancing, which also happened that day, caused the S&P 500 to lose 1%. 

Is There Such a Thing as “Quadruple” Witching?

Single Stock Futures are the fourth type of derivative contract which can expire on triple witching day. This can cause the phenomenon to be called “quadruple witching,” although one term can replace the other. Single stock futures are futures contracts placed on individual stocks, with one contract controlling 100 shares being typical. They are a hedging tool that was previously banned from trading in the United States. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act lifted the ban in 2000, and single stock futures were traded on the One Chicago Exchange from November, 2002 until September, 2020, although currently they are only available on overseas financial markets.

MORE: https://www.tradestation.com/insights/2022/02/03/quadruple-witching-dates-2022-trading/

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How Did Triple Witching Affect 1987’s “Black Monday?”

On October 19th, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 22.6% in a single trading session. The day became known as “Black Monday,” but triple witching events, which took place the Friday before, on October 16, 1987, had caused the selloff of options and futures contracts to rapidly accelerate, resulting in stocks tanking in pre-day trading. The massive sell orders were left unchecked by any kinds of systematic stop gaps, and so financial markets roiled globally throughout the day. This stock market crash was the greatest one-day decline to occur since the Great Depression in 1929.

Taking lessons from the event, regulators moved the options expiration from the morning to the afternoon and put “circuit breakers” into place that would let the exchanges temporarily halt trading in the event of another massive sell off.

How Can Investors Prepare for Triple Witching Days? 

The triple witching takeaway is that investors should be aware of what happens on these days and understand that there is a lot more volume in the markets. There could be some drastic price swings, but investors shouldn’t be carried away by any short-term emotions (which, really, is great advice any day in the markets).

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UPDATE: The Markets, Crypto and Online Retailers

By Staff Reporters

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  • Markets: After booming stocks had their worst day of the year because of raging inflation, slowing economic growth, and a potential recession.
  • Crypto: Bitcoin and other major cryptos like ethereum also tumbled in the aftermath of the FOMC announcement. They’ve typically tracked the performance of growth stocks, which have gotten hammered on the prospect of higher interest rates.

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Almost every major online retailer reporting earnings with signs of a decline:

  • Wayfair shares cratered nearly 26% yesterday after announcing that its active customer count dropped 23.4% from a year ago.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond reported an 18% nosedive in online sales.
  • Etsy and eBay shares both dropped by double digits yesterday after giving weak guidance for the current quarter.
  • At least five senior executives from Meta’s fledgling e-commerce division have fled in the last six months.
  • Shopify shares plummeted about 15% on Thursday after posting much lower-than-expected earnings.

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UPDATE: The FOMC, Markets and Cinco deMayo

By Staff Reporters

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FOMC: The Federal Reserve approved a rare half-percentage-point interest rate increase and announced plans to shrink its $9 trillion asset portfolio starting next month in an effort to reduce inflation that is running at a four-decade high.

Markets: Stocks boomed after Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke. Still, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon pegged the probability of a recession at 33% and a “soft landing” (lower inflation, no recession) also at 33%.

And Lyft, the ride-hailing company lost nearly 30% of its value after its profit outlook came in below forecast. Uber tried to distance itself from its ailing rival, saying that it does not need to spend money recruiting drivers like Lyft does.

Cinco deMayo commemorates the defeat of French forces by the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but its popularity jumped in the 1980s, when beer companies leveraged it in aggressive marketing campaigns. Now, Cinco de Mayo is a day for celebrating Mexican culture and, interestingly, it’s now more popular in the US than in Mexico.

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UPDATE: The Domestic GDP, Bond Yield Surge and Stock Market Volatility [VIX]

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By Staff Reporters

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The U.S. economy reversed course in this year’s first quarter, when it shrank at an annual rate of 1.4% after posting full-year growth of 5.7% in 2021. While many economists believe the first-quarter setback was temporary, it marked the worst quarterly GDP result since the second quarter of 2020, when the pandemic triggered a brief recession.

And, despite a relatively flat result in the latest week, the yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond jumped in March and April, climbing from 1.83% at the start of that two-month period to around 2.89% on Friday. Rising interest rates have eroded bond prices, pushing yields higher.

Finally, the stock market’s relative calm in the first half of April was fleeting, as the past two weeks produced a 47% jump in an index that measures investors’ expectations of short-term volatility. The CBOE Volatility Indexꟷalso known as the VIXꟷrose to an index level of 33.4 on Friday, up from 22.7 on April 15.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/082610254

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UPDATE: Domestic Stocks Fall Amid FOMC Comments

By Staff Reporters

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US. stocks faltered and were dragged down by losses in tech, as investors weighed remarks by Federal Reserve [FOMC] Governor Lael Brainard that indicated policymakers were ready to act more aggressively to rein in inflation. Investors also monitored reports indicating the U.S. and European Union are expected to unveil more sanctions against Russia on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 280 points after climbing for two straight trading sessions. The NASDAQ Composite plunged 2.3% to log its biggest drop in three weeks and erase gains from a tech rally that helped the index pop on Monday. Meanwhile, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield jumped to 2.56%, its highest level since May 2019.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/082610254

Brainard, who is awaiting a confirmation vote to serve in the central bank’s number two role, said at a conference on Tuesday that the Fed can raise interest rates more aggressively to dampen the high rate of inflation felt by Americans, also noting that officials will likely start shrinking asset holdings in a about a month (a move that could have the effect of further raising long-term interest rates).

“Currently, inflation is much too high and is subject to upside risks,” Brainard said. “The Committee is prepared to take stronger action if indicators of inflation and inflation expectations indicate that such action is warranted.”

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The [HISTORICAL] Trouble with Banks?

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“I don’t trust banks and neither should you”

eric

   By Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

 [intelligent option investor]

More On Banks

I don’t trust banks and neither should you if you care at all about understanding the company in which you are investing.  While financial statements for all companies contain estimates, virtually every line item on a bank’s financial statement are estimates – to the extent that, taken as a whole, the statements become little more than complex, arcane works of fiction.

The Trouble with Banks

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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UPDATE: Markets, Berkshire Hathaway and the Ukraine

By Staff Reporters

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  • Markets: Stocks boomed on a day when, to no one’s surprise, the Federal Reserve [FOMC} said it would hike interest rates.
  • Berkshire Hathaway: Class A shares closed above a half-million dollars for the first time ever—a testament to Warren Buffett’s recent hot streak.
  • Ukraine: After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an impassioned address to Congress asking for more help, the White House acted. President Biden pledged $800 million worth of military aid, including 100 drones, 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, and 2,000 anti-armor missiles, and also called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.”
  • HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY

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UPDATE: IRS Interest Rates Rising, Currency Inflation and Upcoming Earning Reports, etc.

By Staff Reporters

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IRS: The IRS sent out a notice on February 23rd, warning taxpayers about a price hike coming in the next few months. The tax agency said that interest rates will increase for the calendar quarter starting April 1st, 2022. You can accrue interest on two types of payments: over-payment or underpayment. So starting in April, over-payments will have an interest rate of 4 percent, except for corporations which will earn a 3 percent rate and a 1.5 percent rate for the portion of a corporate over-payment that exceeds $10,000. In terms of underpayments, the interest rate will increase to 4 percent overall and 6 percent for large corporate underpayments.

“Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis,” the IRS website explained. The tax agency did not change interest rates in this last quarter, which began Jan. 1, 2022. Before they get changed in April, the rates are currently 3 percent for general over-payments and 2 percent for corporation over-payments, with a 0.5 percent rate for the portion of a corporate over-payment exceeding $10,000. The underpayment interest is 3 percent right now, expect for large corporations which have a 5 percent rate.

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CURRENCY INFLATION: Inflation may occur when the Federal Reserve, or another central bank, adds fiat currency into circulation at a rate that exceeds that of the economy’s growth rate. That creates a situation in which there are more dollars bidding on fewer goods and services. The result is that goods and services cost more. One reason that inflation has been a constant in the US since 1933 is that the FOMC has continually increased the money supply. In response to the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed dropped its lending rate close to zero as a way to inject more liquidity into the economy, which led to increased inflation but not hyperinflation. While those increases have usually moved in step with growth, that hasn’t always been the case.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

And so, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-downs, the Federal Reserve released the equivalent of $3.8 trillion in new liquidity in 2020. That amount was equal to roughly 20% of the dollars previously in circulation. And it is one reason why many investors were watching the CPI closely in 2021.

EARNING REPORTS:

Monday: India GDP data; Earnings from Lordstown Motors, Groupon, HP, SmileDirectClub and Zoom Video

Tuesday: US and China manufacturing data; Earnings from AutoZone, Baidu, Domino’s Pizza, Hostess Brands, J.M. Smucker, Kohl’s, Target, AMC Entertainment and Salesforce

Wednesday: European inflation data; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Dine Brands, Dollar Tree, Snowflake and Victoria’s Secret

Thursday: ISM Non-Manufacturing Index; Earnings from Best Buy, Weibo, Costco and Gap

Friday: US jobs report

10-Year: Treasuries rallied to 1.902%.

Oil: The rise in oil prices is spilling over at the gas pump: The average gas price in the US has jumped 10 cents, to $3.64/gallon, in the past two weeks.

Partial SWIFT ban: Western governments put aside their hesitations and proposed banning some Russian lenders from SWIFT, the global messaging service that facilitates cross-border transactions. It’s a move that could cause turmoil across global financial markets.

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UPDATE: The Markets, Federal Reserve and Omicron

By Staff Reporters

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Markets: Stocks were in the green yesterday until Fed Chair Jerome Powell explained that the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee was planning to start hiking interest rates in March to combat soaring inflation. Then, they tanked and Treasury yields rose sharply higher. Microsoft still had a solid day after its superb earnings report offered bullish signs for the entire software industry. But, stock markets in Asia tumbled to their lowest in nearly 15 months after America’s central bank chief confirmed widely expected plans to tackle higher inflation with an increase in interest rates this year, beginning in March. And finally, Cryptos got crushed, again!

FOMC: “With inflation well above 2 percent and a strong labor market, the Committee expects it will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate,” said Chairman Powell.

Omicron: The Food and Drug Administration pulled its authorization of two of the most-used monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 this week, leaving doctors with fewer options to help their patients avoid the hospital. Related: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html?s_cid=11305:%2BModerna%20%2B%20%2Bcovid%20%2Bvaccine:sem.b:p:RG:GM:gen:PTN:FY21

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What is QUANTITATIVE EASING?

Q.E.

By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP®

CMP logo

SPONSOR: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

QE (Quantitative Easing = compound noun)

Although standard definitions will tell you that it is a ‘monetary policy’ used by central banks to stimulate the national economy, in reality it is more as follows:

– A cleverly disguised word that simply means ‘money printing’.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

Central banks use QE as a disguise for increasing the money supply, as to monetize its increasing debt.

For a more technical analysis of the actual mechanics of QE, I invite you to read the article entitled QE for Dummies.

Examples:

1. The Central Bank embarked on another round of QE in hopes that it can kick-start the economy.

2. Ben Bernanke is set to begin the Fed’s taper of QE as soon as next month.

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On Interest Rates and Economic Growth

Economic Growth and Index Value

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How the FOMC Really Works?

How the Federal Reserve Works

By Jason Dyken MD MBA

Tip: Checks. Due to the onslaught of electronic check collection, the Federal Reserve now processes paper checks at just one location nationwide, down from 45 locations in 2003.

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2016

QUESTION

Have you ever taken a close look at paper money? Each U.S. bill has the words “Federal Reserve Note” imprinted across the top.

But many individuals may not know why the bill is issued by the Federal Reserve and what role the Federal Reserve plays in the economy.

How the FOMC Really works?

Here’s an inside look

The Federal Reserve, often referred to as the Fed, is the country’s central bank. It was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system. Prior to its creation, the U.S. economy was plagued by frequent episodes of panic, bank failures, and limited credit.

The Fed has four main roles in the U.S. economy.

Economy Watch

In addition to its other duties, the Fed has been given three mandates with the economy: maintain maximum employment, maintain stable price levels, and maintain moderate long-term interest rates.

Fast Fact: Unwieldy Patchwork. In the early 1800s, the U.S. had no central bank and no common currency. The monetary system ran through a patchwork of state-chartered banks with no federal regulation. By 1860, there were nearly 8,000 of these banks, each issuing its own banknotes.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 2018

It’s important to remember that “the Fed” cannot directly control employment, inflation, or long-term interest rates. Rather, it uses a number of tools at its disposal to influence the availability and cost of money and credit. This, in turn, influences the willingness of consumers and businesses to spend money on goods and services.

For example, if the Fed maneuvers short-term interest rates lower, borrowing money becomes less expensive and people may be motivated to spend. Consumer spending may stimulate economic growth, which may cause companies to produce more product and potentially increase employment. When short-term rates are low, the Fed closely monitors economic activity to watch for signs of rising prices.

On the other hand, if the Fed pushes short-term rates higher, borrowing money becomes more expensive and people may be less motivated to spend. This may, in turn, slow economic growth and cause companies to decrease employment. When short-term rates are high, the Fed must watch for signs of a decline in overall price levels.

Supervise and Regulate

The Fed establishes and enforces the regulations banks, savings and loans, and credit unions must follow. It works with other federal and state agencies to ensure these financial institutions are financially sound and consumers are receiving fair and equitable treatment. When an organization is found to have problems, the Fed uses its authority to have the organization correct the problems.

Financial System

The Fed maintains the stability of the financial system by providing payment services. In times of financial strain, the Fed is authorized to step in as a lender of last resort, providing liquidity to an individual bank or the entire banking system.

For example, the Fed may step in and offer to buy the government bonds owned by a particular bank. By so doing, the Fed provides the bank with money that it can use for its own purposes.

Banker for Banks, U.S. Government

The Fed provides financial services to banks and other depository institutions and to the U.S. government. For banks, savings and loans, and credit unions, it maintains accounts and provides various payment services, including collecting checks, electronically transferring funds, distributing new money, and receiving and destroying old, worn-out money. For the federal government, the Fed pays Treasury checks; processes electronic payments; and issues, transfers, and redeems U.S. government securities.

Each day, the Fed is behind the scenes supporting the economy and providing services to the U.S. financial system. And while the Fed’s duties are many and varied, its focus is to maintain confidence in banking institutions.

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A De-Centralized Central Bank System

The Federal Reserve System consists of 12 independent banks that operate under the supervision of a federally appointed Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Each of these banks works within a specific district, as shown.

Source: Federal Reserve Board of Governors, 2018

  • U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 2018
  • Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 2018
  • Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2016

Conclusion

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