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The European Central Bank (ECB) left its stimulus programs and record low interest rates unchanged. Pundits were seeing some cyclical signs of what they hoped was a spreading recovery in the 19 countries that use the euro currency rather than just a bounce in anticipation of tourist season. The ECB dropped any wording that it could lower interest rates further, which is a claimed sign of greater confidence in the economy, but in reality, is more of a reflection of it being trapped in desperate nightmarish measures.
Central banks have bought a record $1.5 trillion of financial assets in just the first five months of 2017, which amounts to $3.6 trillion annualized, “the largest CB buying on record.”
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Bundesbank: It’s a war on personal freedom and choice.
Relations between Germany, and the ECB have curdled in recent times over a key issue: the role of cash. Germans have a soft spot for physical lucre while the ECB and Europe’s executive branch, the European Commission, have openly expressed their desire to suppress, or even punish, its use.
Less than 4 years ago, and shortly after his infamous “whatever it takes” threat to speculators, Mario Draghi responded to a question from Zero Hedge readers, saying “there is no Plan B” when it comes to contingency plans for a Eurozone nation leaving the monetary union. The reasoning was simple: the mere contemplation of such a scenario assigned a probability to its occurrence, which is why the ECB was desperate to give the impression that no matter what, Europe’s cohesion is unbreakable.
Fast forward four years later, when not only has this particular strategy been thoroughly rejected, but for the first time ever the head of the ECB provided a framework, vague as it may be, laying out what a Eurozone exit would look like.
In a letter to two Italian lawmakers in the European Parliament released on Friday, and first reported by Reuters, Mario Draghi implied that a country could leave the euro zone – so much for “No Plan B” – but first it would need to settle or debts with the bloc’s TARGET2 payments system before severing ties.
Remember when bashing central banks and predicting financial collapse as a result of monetary manipulation and intervention was considered “fake news” within the “serious” financial community, disseminated by fringe blogs?
In an interview with Swiss Sonntags Blick titled appropriately enough “A Recession Is Sometimes Necessary“, the former CEO of UBS and Credit Suisse, Oswald Grübel, lashed out by criticizing the growing strength of central banks and their ‘supremacy over the markets and other banks’. The former chief executive officer claimed that the use of negative interest rates and huge positive balance sheets represent ‘weapons of mass destruction’. He calls for an end to the use of negative interest rates.
The first time the ECB officially warned about the dangers of virtual currencies in general, and in particular, bitcoin – what was then a mostly unknown currency trading in the single digits (in USD terms) – was in November 2012 when in a report called “Virtual Currency Schemes” it warned that “in an extreme case, virtual currencies could have a substitution effect on central bank money if they become widely accepted. The increase in the use of virtual money might lead to a decrease in the use of “real” money, thereby also reducing the cash needed to conduct the transactions generated by nominal income. In this regard, a widespread substitution of central bank money by privately issued virtual currency could significantly reduce the size of central banks’ balance sheets, and thus also their ability to influence the short-term interest rates. Central banks would need to look at their existing tools to deal with this risk (for instance, trying to impose minimum reserve requirements on virtual currency schemes).”
Ironically, since then the ECB has moved significantly down the narrative of currency substitution, and in fact, following a recent push to eliminate paper currency (now that the €500 bill is no longer produced) the central bank has been urging for a shift away from real, paper money and into electronic variants.
However, overnight in a surprising reminder how the European central bank feels about bitcoin and other virtual money, the ECB urged EU lawmakers to tighten proposed new rules on digital currencies such as bitcoin, fearing they might one day weaken its own control over money supply in the euro zone.
None of the following about the EU will come as a surprise to most of you, but the language used by Otmar Issing is nevertheless pretty remarkable.
The Telegraph reports:
The European Central Bank is becoming dangerously over-extended and the whole euro project is unworkable in its current form, the founding architect of the monetary union has warned.
“One day, the house of cards will collapse,” said Professor Otmar Issing, the ECB’s first chief economist and a towering figure in the construction of the single currency.
H/t reader squodgy:
“Just wondering how much longer the Rothschilds can keep it afloat.”
The Euro “will collapse” as it is a”house of cards” warned Otmar Issing, the founder and creator of the euro in an extraordinary interview on Monday.
In the explosive interview with the journal Central Banking, Professor Issing, said “one day, the house of cards will collapse” as the European Central Bank (ECB) is becoming dangerously over-extended and the whole euro project is unworkable in its current form.
The founding architect of the monetary union has warned that Brussels’ dream of a European superstate will finally be buried amongst the rubble of the crumbling single currency he designed.
Time to toss yet another “conspiracy theory” on the composite heap of “theories that became fact.” A recurring theme we have pounded the table on over the past nearly 8 years is that central bank policy has been the primary driver leading to not only a record wealth and income divide, but to such manifestations of populist (and nationalist) fury as Brexit, the gradual collapse of the Eurozone and, of course, Trump.
Moments ago, ECB board member Benoit Coeure, speaking in Rome, said that “low forever” rates would risk tearing up the social fabric. Translated: if extended indefinitely, the ECB’s monetary policy risks the collapse of not only the Eurozone, but also could lead to social unrest, violence and even civil war.
Quoted by Bloomberg, Coeure said that “moving from interest rates being ‘low for long’ to being ‘low forever’ would severely limit the room for maneuver for conventional monetary policy tools, but even more worryingly, it would threaten the contract between generations as well as risk tearing up our social fabric.” Which is a more polite phrasing of what we have said all along: that it is central banks themselves, and their idiotic policies that have led the world to the current unstable state, when mass shootings and/or terrorist activity has become an almost daily event.