by John Hussman, The Burning Platform:
Janet Yellen will increase interest rates for the first time in nine years on Wednesday. She isn’t raising them because the economy is strengthening. The economy just happens to be weakening rapidly, as global recession takes hold. The stock market is 3% lower than it was in December 2014, and has basically done nothing since the end of QE3. Wall Street is throwing a hissy fit to try and stop Janet from boosting rates by an inconsequential .25%. Janet would prefer not to raise rates, but the credibility and reputation of her bubble blowing machine is at stake. The Fed has enriched their Wall Street benefactors over the last six years, while destroying the real economy and the middle class.
The quarter point increase will be reversed in short order as soon as we experience market collapse part two.
It will be followed with negative interest rates and QE4, as these academics have only one play in their playbook – print money. They created the last financial crisis and have set the stage for the next – even bigger collapse. John Hussman explains how their zero interest rate policy has driven speculators into junk bonds as the only place to get any yield.
Over the past several years, yield-seeking investors, starved for any “pickup” in yield over Treasury securities, have piled into the junk debt and leveraged loan markets. Just as equity valuations have been driven to the second most extreme point in history (and the single most extreme point in history for the median stock, where valuations are well-beyond 2000 levels), risk premiums on speculative debt were compressed to razor-thin levels. By 2014, the spread between junk bond yields and Treasury yields had fallen to less than 2.4%. Since then, years of expected “risk-premiums” have been erased by capital losses, and defaults haven’t even spiked yet (they do so with a lag).
Years of excessive risk taking, spurred by the reckless Fed policy convinced Wall Street to issue billions in junk bonds, just as ridiculously low rates from 2001 through 2005 spurred billions of subprime mortgage issuance. Wall Street has no care about clients, investors, or the impact on the economy. They care about fee generation and dumping their toxic sludge on someone else. The junk bond market is imploding and any muppet who has been lured in during the last two years is getting slaughtered.
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