Geopolitics experts Albert Marko and Nick Glinsman are back on QuickHit for a discussion on the Federal Reserve, the ECB, and central banks. What are they thinking right now?
Albert Marko advises financial firms and some high net worth individuals on how politics works in D.C.. He worked with congressional members and their staff for the past 15 to 20 years. In his words, Albert basically is a tour guide for them to figure out how to invest their money.
Nick Glinsman is the co-founder and CIO of EVO Capital LLC. He does a lot of writing and some portfolio management. He was a macro portfolio manager in one of the big micro funds in London for quite a few years. Prior to that, Nick was with Salomon Brothers. Now, he concentrates on providing key intel, both economics and politics on a global level to finance managers and politicos.
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This QuickHit episode was recorded on July 29, 2021.
The views and opinions expressed in this The Fed & ECB Playbooks: What are they thinking right now? (Part 1) QuickHit episode are those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Complete Intelligence. Any contents provided by our guest are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any political party, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
TN: Today we’re talking about central banks and given where we are in “the cycle”, whatever that means at this point, post or late Covid, we’ve had waves of support coming from finance ministries and treasuries and central banks around the world. Central banks seem to be in a very weird position right now. So I’d really love to understand your point of view particularly what the Fed and the ECB thinking about right now and what are some of the biggest dilemmas they have? Nick, if you want to go first and frame that out a little bit and then Albert, will obviously go to you.
NG: Well, given how long I’ve been doing this, I’m more of a traditional, black coated central bank watcher. And I would say a couple of key comments to make right now is I think they’ve lost their independence to a large extent. Harder for the ECB to lose its independence. But with the commission, you have that loss.
I also think that we are, defective monetary financing. And again, I’ll go back to the ECB, who literally for the last month, for everything that was issued in Europe and this reluctance by the Fed to, even they admit talking about talking about tapering, but this reluctance to even consider a pullback on the mortgage-backed securities. The jest, pretty much the same, and it’s very clear with a lot of the actions that I’m in, my interpretation is, one, they’re working in cahoots with the political arm.
So treasury in the US, commission in Europe. Bank of England is a slight exception about to happen, but we can cover that later. So that’s clearly going on. And I think now Albert might do a lot of work together and I think this Albert came out with a comment a while back saying Yellen wants six trillion dollars fiscal. And the excuse that was given, aside from the political bias, was the Treasury market needs it.
And interesting enough, we saw the change to the Repos yesterday. This was after criticism by a committee that was published in the F.T. yesterday. And even Bill Dudley’s commented on Today suggesting that a lot more work needs to be done to ensure that the normal functioning of the plumbing behind the form of safe assets.
So it’s clear to me that things are being worked on in a politically coordinated way that impacts monetary policy. Now, I think they’ve got themselves into an economic or policy black hole. I think the mind set, and it’s been like this since probably ’08, which is they’re not prepared to accept the economic cycle anymore.
So back to one of my previous appearances on on your pod, the Fed not doing anything? Yeah, it seems to me that that’s an acceptable process, regardless of inflation is way above their forecast. And forecasting that’s a whole ‘nother bad area for the… Fed’s forecasts are terribly wrong. The ECB’s forecasts have been wrong for, you know, since time immemorial.
The ECB is more dangerous because they have a bias that keeps them on their policy’s wreck.
TN: So first on forecasts, if any central bankers are watching, I can help you with that. Second, when you say they don’t believe in the business cycle anymore, do you mean the central banks or do you mean the political folks?
NG: The central banks and government. I mean, funnily enough, I’m reading a biography on Jim Baker right now. And when you look at Reagan, when he came in and Volcker, economic data was pretty bad back at the beginning of the 80s. That. No way, no politician is prepared to accept that anymore. To be honest, I think the central bankers are prepared to accept that anymore. Any of the people leading the central banks being political appointees, of course.
TN: So this is kind of beyond a Keynesian point of view, because even Keynesians believed in a business cycle, right?
NG: It’s a traditional Keynesian point of view. The modern day, neo Keynesian, yes, you’re right. Way beyond what they’re thinking.
TN: There’s a lot of detail in that, and I think we could spend an hour talking about every third thing you said there. So I really do appreciate that. Albert. Can you tell us both Fed and ECB, what are they thinking about right now? What are the trade offs? What are the fears they have?
AM: We’ll start with the ECB. The ECB is not even a junior player right now in the central bank world. I know people want to look at the EU and say, oh, it’s a massive trading bloc, so and so. But the fact is, that it’s completely insolvent. Besides the Germans and maybe the French in some sectors, there’s nothing else in Europe that’s even worth looking at at the moment.
As for the ECB’s standpoint, you know, they’re still powerless. I mean, the Federal Reserve makes all the policy. They first will talk to the Anglosphere banks that are on the dollar standard basically. I mean, the Pound and the Australian dollar and whatnot. They’re just Euro Dollar tentacles. But, for the ECB, they’re frustrated right now because they see that the Euro keeps going up and their export driving market is just taking a battering at the moment. But they can’t do anything because the Fed goes and buys Euros on the open market to drop the price of the Dollar to promote the equities in the United States. And that’s just happening right now.
When it comes to the Fed, we have to look at what is the Fed, right? Normally what everyone is taught in school is that they are an independent entity that looks over the market and so on and so forth. Right. But these guys are political appointees. These guys have money and donors. They play with both political parties. Right now, the Democrats have complete control of the Federal Reserve. And everyone wants to look at Jerome Powell as the Fed chair, but I’ve said this multiple times on Twitter, the real Fed chair is Larry Fink. He’s got Powell’s portfolio under management of BlackRock. He’s the one making all the moves on the market, with the market makers and coordinating things behind the scenes. He’s the guy to look at, not Jerome Powell.
I mean, have anyone even watched Jerome Powell’s speech yesterday? It was appalling. He was overly dovish. That’s the script that he was written. He’s not the smart guy in this playing field, in this battleground.
TN: He needs a media training, actually. I think.
AM: He’s being set up to be scapegoated for a crash. He’s just no one to show. He’s a Trump appointee. So next time there’s a crash, whether it’s one week from now or one month from now, it’s going to be pointed on him that, you know, he’s the Fed chair. Look at the Fed chair. Don’t look at everything else that the political guys have made and policies in the past four or five years that have absolutely just decimated the real economy.
TN: This time reminds me, and I’m not a huge historian of the Fed, but it really reminds me of the of the Nixon era Fed where Nixon and his Fed chair had differences and they were known, and then the Fed chair ended up capitulating to do whatever Nixon wanted to get back in his good graces. Does that sound about right?
AM: No, that’s a perfect example. I mean, this idea that’s floated around by economists that economics and politics are separate entities is absolute fantasy. And it just it doesn’t exist in the real world.
NG: Just to pop in on this one because actually there is a new book out which I started three days at Camp David. Because it’s coming up to 50 years since that decision of the gold standard. Now, it’s just interesting you brought it up, because if you think of one of the rationales for coming off the gold standard, there’s several, but one that struck me as I was reading actually the review, the back cover show Percy.
This enables the government to stop printing in terms of fiscal, fiscal, fiscal. That’s what it did in effect. First of all, that’s one of the biggest arguments against people who argue for a return to the gold standard because that would decimate things or cryptos being in a limited supply of crypto as the new reserve currency because the gain that would be pulling against the elastic and you wouldn’t get, the economy would just boom. Right.
So that’s where I think it’s just huge, you know. I’ve always said that actually what we have is what we’re going to ultimately see is exactly the same cost that came with Lyndon Johnson paying for the Vietnam War, Covid. And then the Great Society, which is Joe Biden’s what I call social infrastructure and green ghost plan. So. Going back to that, Nixon was paying part of the price for all of that. With Volcke right. So I actually sit there thinking, well. There are similarities right now, and we’re seeing effectively a central bank and the Treasury, wherever you want to look, untethered from what used to be, well before I started in this business, to be part of the discipline. But even when they came off the gold standard, there was discipline. As you referred earlier, to, traditional Keynesians believed in the economic cycle of boom, bust. You know, boom, you tap the brakes a little bit, take the punch all the way. That’s gone.
That is to me what’s gone on recently, I don’t know whether you would say since the 08 or more recently is the equivalent of that ’73 meeting where they came off the gold standard. People just said no more cycles. Tapping the brakes and now the central banks are in a hole and politicized, they’re not independent because there are no.
AM: Yeah, yeah, that that’s real quick, Tony. That’s exactly right. I mean, even like, you know, I was on Twitter saying we’re going to go to 4400. We’re going to go to 4400 and people are like “No way. We’re in a bear market. This thing’s going back down 37, whatever charts and whatever Bollinger bands they want to look at. But the fact is because of the politics has a necessity to pump the market and then crash it to pass more stimulus packages. The only way was to go up to 4400 plus, right.
TN: Right. OK, now, with all of that in mind, Nick, you did a piece recently about the Fed and housing and some of the trade offs that they’re looking out looking at with regard to the housing market. Now, housing is an issue in Australia. It’s an issue in the UK. It’s an issue in the US and other places. Can you walk us through a little bit of your kind of reasoning and what you were thinking about with regard to the Fed and housing?