August 16, 2017

Its worse! To central banks’ holdings of public debt we must add that of normal banks holding it against zero capital

Sir, Kate Allen and Keith Fray with respect to the QEs write that “The Fed’s balance sheet has expanded significantly several times in the past, including during the second world war when it soaked up debt sales in a bid to improve market conditions. But the current era is the first time in history that such a large group of central banks has undertaken such a substantial volume of co-ordinated buying over the space of nearly a decade.” “Decade of QE leaves big central banks owning fifth of public debt” August 16.

That’s not the only “first time in history” event. Thomas Hale and Kate Allen, in “Europe weighs potential ‘doom loop’ solution” write “A critical factor in deciding demand for sovereign bonds is risk weightings, which determine how much capital a bank needs against its investments in different kinds of asset. Sovereign bonds in Europe have benefited from a zero risk weighting, making them highly attractive to banks, many of which borrowed cheaply from the European Central Bank to buy sovereign debt after the crisis.”

That should make clear for anyone not interested in hiding it that, to whatever public debts the central banks hold, we must add those that all banks hold only because they are allowed to do so against zero capital. Q. What is a 0.1% return worth if you can leverage it 1000 times? A. 100%

Sir, as I have told you umpteenth times before, in 1988, one year before the Berlin wall fell, that which was taken to be a big blow to statism, bank regulators, through the back door, introduced a zero risk weighting of sovereign debt. The statists have been playing us for fools ever since.

And now, when reality is catching up, they want to package and hide all this public debt in some securities they have the gall to name these European Safe Bonds “ESBies”, issued in order to “make the continent’s financial system safer”. Or, as Gianluca Salford, a strategist at JPMorgan disguises it, to “transport sovereign risk to a place where it’s more manageable”.

Sir, try to sell all central banks’ and banks zero weighted held public debt into a free market and see what rate you get. Taking current artificial public debts for real, or for being revenue neutral rates, or for being risk free rates, or for justifying public investment in infrastructure, is either stupidity or a shameful manipulation of truth. 

Sir, the day our citizens discover what is being done by these statist they will flee all sovereign debts and governments will be left, like Maduro in Venezuela, with central banks that can only print money to keep the can rolling and rolling until…

PS. Mr Salford argues: “Securitisation is not an innately bad thing — it can be used well as a stabilising source” No! If securities are sold at their correct securitized risks they do not provide remotely as much profits as those sold incorrectly offering securitized safety. In other words, suffering from innately bad incentives damns these.