In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, hosts Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner sat down with Dylan LeClair from Bitcoin Magazine.
LeClair is the writer of “The Conclusion Of The Long-Term Debt Cycle And The Rise Of Bitcoin,” an article on Bitcoin Magazine using Ray Dalio’s long-term debt cycle to look at the current system and how bitcoin fits in. LeClair is a great example of the growing Bitcoin Magazine community; spreading valuable content to beginners, who in turn become the valuable content producers.
After some introductions, LeClair begun by walking through short-term versus long-term debt cycles. Most people will be familiar with the idea of business cycles. These are periods of seven to ten years, where the economy expands and contracts, recovery and recession. Those are the short-term cycles. We all live through several of them in our lifetimes.
However, the long-term debt cycles can be anywhere between 75 to 100 years in length. These cycles are due to each individual short-term cycle not completely clearing the bad debts and misallocations of capital out of the system. Every 75 to 100 years, a larger bust finally resets the economy more deeply. It happens so infrequently, no one personally remembers the last cycle, so no one other than economic historians are around to warn everyone.
LeClair and the co-hosts then discussed the tools at the disposal of the government and the Federal Reserve to delay or deal with short- and long-term debt cycles. These tools are typically used in order, because they vary in how politically difficult they are to get enacted. First is to adjust interest rates, next is quantitative easing (QE), lastly the government starts spending to boost the recovery. Whether or not these tools work as designed was the topic of conversation on this podcast. Do they or can they accomplish their goal? We tried to answer that.
Toward the end of the show, talk turned to bitcoin. For bitcoin, as an asset with no counterparty risk, in other words, there’s no direct risk to bitcoin from these long-term debt cycles. It could happen fast, over the next couple of years, or slowly, taking another decade or two. The question they ended the episode on was, “Where does the dam break?” Which central bank will fall first, or which one will adopt bitcoin first? It’s quite possible that the Federal Reserve is the first major central bank to have bitcoin reserves.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, hosts Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner listened and reacted to several clips from the Jerome Powell “60 Minutes” interview. All audio is used under fair use and they added their commentary to it. You can get the full interview here and the YouTube playlist of clips here.
Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, appeared on “60 Minutes” this week. The interview seemed to be a public relations attempt by the Fed. It fell one year after the Corona Crash of 2020.
Lindner and Keroles took three clips and broke them down in unapologetic fashion. The first clip is amazing because Powell said that the Fed sees the same persistent issues today which were present back during the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), and if they keep coming up they might as well fix them. This comment got the hosts’ blood boiling. It was not as if they did not try their best to fix it back after the GFC. What makes them think they’ll be able to fix it this time?
The second clip they tackled is one where Powell addressed the U.S.’s unsustainable debt. He drew a distinction between an unsustainable “path” and an unsustainable “level” by saying the U.S. is on an unsustainable path, but is currently not at an unsustainable level of debt. He’s really splitting hairs because the path has not changed for 40 years. There’s one way out of the debt and that is default.
The last clip they looked at was about the digital dollar. They feel this was a topic they must cover on “Fed Watch” because it is a very large topic when people discuss the future direction of central banking in regards to central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Powell’s comments here are no surprise, pouring cold water on the idea of digital dollar. The Fed has no intention of being first in the CBDC race and Powell offered a skeptical approach that is missing from many other central banks.
The last few minutes of this episode consisted of a discussion on the Coinbase direct offering happening today and a whirlwind macro summary. Overall, this was a very fun and informative episode once again from “Fed Watch.”
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, hosts Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner reminisce about the year on the podcast so far and cover recent developments from the major central banks of the world.
There have been so many great guests on “Fed Watch” this year so far that span a unique swath of bitcoin and macro economics. If you haven’t listened to these past episodes, subscribe and check out the back catalog. This year’s list of guests has included Max Keiser, Nik Bhatia, Michael Lebowitz, Elliot Johnson, Mark Moss, Greg Foss and Daniel Prince.
“Fed Watch” has established itself as the bitcoin podcast that goes past the surface arguments about the monetary system, uncovering uncomfortable topics and diving deeply into how bitcoin will reshape that system. The main part of this episode is summarizing central bank-related news for the last month, particularly from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Federal Reserve.
The PBOC has responded to some criticism about its own digital yuan central bank digital currency (CBDC) efforts. As of now, it says it will try to preserve privacy and it will not be a replacement for Alipay or WeChat pay. On the monetary policy front, China is attempting to slow stimulus for the rest of 2021. It perceives a growing risk of a bubble and is addressing it in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fashion with targeted intervention. Lindner and Keroles discussed the complexity of the global economy and how despite China slowing stimulus, other countries’ stimulus can leak into China and pump up the bubble anyway.
In Europe, there are some major political problems arising. The vaccine rollout has forced a further divide, as countries defect from European plans to get the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia. It is a very interesting development considering the growing tensions in Crimea and Ukraine involving Russia. Things in Europe are changing rapidly.
As for the ECB and central banking news out of Europe, it too is struggling to explain and justify its CBDC efforts. ECB board member Fabio Panetta attempted to allay fears that a digital euro will abolish cash and be a conduit for more tyrannical monetary policy. He also tried to minimize the effect that a digital euro will have on the existing banking and financial system.
Comments from ECB President Christine Lagarde show an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the market. She has dared the bond vigilantes to bring it on, saying the ECB has extraordinary tools to deal with extraordinary circumstances.
Next, the podcast turned to the U.S. and the Federal Reserve. Lindner spent some time talking about the supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) exemption that just ended in the US. This is a ratio of assets to liabilities that was temporarily waived for one year, expiring on March 31. For central bank pundits, much of March was spent worrying about this situation. People were worried that banks had taken advantage of the exemption to boost their leverage in the markets, and would be forced to deleverage and crash the market. However, it ended with a whimper. It turns out that people overestimated bank activity.
Next, the podcast tackled the U.S. Treasury general account. It ballooned to $1.8 trillion in 2020 and as soon as Janet Yellen stepped in as Treasury Secretary, she promised to draw that balance down quickly. To do that, the Treasury has to spend the money raising fears of higher inflation. There are a myriad of other ill effects from this policy, which the hosts went through.
Lastly, the podcast ended with a discussion of the nature of money printing and why the global economy is stuck in a deflationary environment. This is not a popular opinion in bitcoin or sound money circles, but it has to be part of any comprehensive discussion of macro and especially central bank monetary policy.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner sat down with Daniel Prince, host of the “Once Bitten” podcast. Prince offered a perspective from his unique experience, starting from a successful career in global forex and trading, to traveling the world for years with four kids and now as the host of a bitcoin maximalist podcast interviewing many great bitcoiners.
This episode covered a wide range of macroeconomic topics at a high level using bitcoin as the central force. Prince represents the demographic of people entering bitcoin, professionals with experience with money markets and a concern about the current system and its effects.
Fifteen years of living in Singapore enabled Prince to meet influential macro experts and become exposed to a sound money culture, being that gold is more respected in the Far East. He related his experience of getting red pilled about fiat money, fiat education and fiat food. It seems that fiat delusions are infecting all aspects of society and culture. The conversation took a dark turn when discussing what a collapse of the fiat Ponzi looks like when the topic of depopulation came up, but the hosts quickly turned this back to the positive by discussing how bitcoin will help the world.
Prince brought up central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the latter half of the episode and that brought them back to “Fed Watch’s” bread and butter. They all agreed that CBDCs are a central bank attack on banks, and in that event, banks will win. They have the opportunity to wield the new weapon of bitcoin against the central banks. This is a much different way to answer the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) spread by nocoiners about bitcoin being attacked by governments.
“Fed Watch” has established itself as the bitcoin podcast which goes past the surface arguments about the monetary system, uncovering uncomfortable topics and diving deeply into how bitcoin will reshape that system. It brings on exciting guests from all corners of macro to discuss the most important topic in finance today.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner spoke with Greg Foss, who “has a 30-year history in banks, bonds and the credit markets as a whole. His insights around Bitcoin and the state of the banking industry and the global economy are amazing,” according to an online biography.
Foss is the second Canadian guest in the last three episodes, and “Fed Watch” is bringing great North American bitcoiners with unique perspectives on to discuss all aspects of how bitcoin is meeting the challenges of entering the central-bank-dominated financial world.
In this conversation, the hosts learned a little bit about Foss’ background in banking. He began his career in 1988 working for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) where he quickly realized it was insolvent due to its exposure to the Latin American financial crisis. He went on to work for and found many influential financial firms in Canada over the next 30 years, until he found bitcoin in 2016.
The reason “Fed Watch” wanted to host Foss is due to his interesting valuation thesis for bitcoin, which you can find on the website linked above. It centers around bitcoin as portfolio insurance for fixed income investors. From this episode, the listener will get a master class on credit default swap (CDS) spreads and pricing.
Today, the CDS market is the way that the financial industry prices risk in the credit market in the attempt to make homogeneous investable products for fixed-income investors. The problem is when financial conditions change, which they very often do, these prices move, forcing investors to react and kicking off a downward spiral in prices. It is a very unstable framework. Foss highlighted that bitcoin is a perfect fit in this market to reduce risk and act as a hedge during the inevitable periods of market instability.
Another aspect Foss concentrated on was the unworkable mathematics of global debt. He used an example that the global economy, which has stayed under 5 percent per year since 1976, must get to levels approaching growth of 12 percent simply to service the current debt. In this world, there will be defaults, the system will have to readjust and that readjustment will be painful.
In the second half of this episode, they touched on central bank digital currencies (CBDC), the global nature of the credit markets and what the central banks are doing to fight this deflationary environment before moving onto Foss’ current business venture. Validus Power Corp is involved with converting stranded energy from oil field flares into usable energy to mine bitcoin. This is a booming business all over North America. Naturally, the conversation turned to a North American renaissance powered by on-shoring industrial bases, global capital and the booming energy sector.
“Fed Watch” has established itself as the bitcoin podcast which goes past the surface arguments about the monetary system, diving deeply into how bitcoin will reshape that system. It brings on exciting guests from all corners of macro to discuss the most important topic in finance today.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner spoke with Mark Moss who is a serial entrepreneur with a specialty in real estate and investing. They picked his brain about bitcoin as an asset class, monetary and fiscal policy in the U.S. and what the future in 12 to 24 months has in store.
“Fed Watch” has established itself as the bitcoin podcast that goes past the surface arguments about the monetary system and always dives deeply into how bitcoin integrates into that system. Moss is the perfect guest to give a cohesive view and back it up. His videos on YouTube are full of detailed analysis of relevant concepts and the history to go along with them. Here, Moss showed his displeasure of the current system. He thinks there is a coming great wealth transfer that will benefit bitcoin dramatically.
Moss said that he sees high inflation and a systemic breakdown coming soon due to several factors. Lindner and Keroles pressed him for more clarity. Is there a tipping point we will unmistakably notice in the future? What if velocity never picks up and inflation in most of the economy is muted for an extended period?
Lindner, Keroles and Moss spent the next 15 minutes going back and forth, trying to get to a more concrete view of just how the next 12 to 24 months will proceed.
Of course, it wouldn’t be “Fed Watch” if they didn’t talk about central banks and their plans for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). “Fed Watch” has been outspoken that these schemes do not offer the benefits that central bankers think they do, but Moss is not so sure. Surveillance and stripping of monetary rights is too tempting of a target for central banks in his mind.
Overall, this is an interesting bitcoin podcast with high-level macro conversation.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch” podcast, hosts Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner spoke with Elliot Johnson of Evolve ETFs.
Johnson and Evolve launched a bitcoin ETF in Canada in February and the episode covered that experience. Evolve has many ETF products centered around disruptive technologies and Johnson has a lot of experience launching products like these and working with regulators on financial products, so the hosts took the opportunity to dive deeply into this area of his expertise and get his view on bitcoin and the macroeconomic climate in general. As you can tell, it ended up being a pretty broad conversation.
It was nice for Keroles and Lindner to interview an industry professional who is, perhaps we can say, tangential to bitcoin. While Evolve is not technically a bitcoin-only company, it has several ETF products in the space. Johnson explained how its bitcoin ETF was the first product it tried to launch back in 2017, but regulators weren’t ready for it back then. Evolve kept trying and now has introduced one of the three bitcoin ETFs that were launched in Canada in the last month.
Johnson said that, though the process took several years, Canada is emerging as a forward-thinking financial jurisdiction. They are very comfortable with disruptive new products, and he hopes to maintain the good working relationship with the Ontario Securities Commission in the future.
Next, the hosts brought the conversation back to the U.S. and dove deeply into Johnson’s view on Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and its current discount. He chalked it up to the opening up of competition in the space. This is a convincing argument, because the month prior to Canada’s three major bitcoin ETFs launching, the premium on GBTC was 40 percent. Today, it sits at -10 percent. Johnson also, obviously, leans toward the ETF structure as being superior to the trust-based structure of GBTC. Open-ended ETFs will remain closer to net asset value (NAV) of the underlying asset than a close-ended trust can.
The hosts also got into Johnson’s macro vision of what’s going on right now and where bitcoin fits. He is quite keen on bitcoin as digital gold, fulfilling a large need for an alternate storage asset. When asked about where he sees the industry going in the next five to ten years, Johnson focused on the growing respect of the asset class. He also made an interesting point, that in his daily interactions with interested investors of this bitcoin ETF, they tend to be those who do not own bitcoin in any other capacity already. It is not current holders looking to diversify, but it is all new investor demand.
Lastly, the hosts asked for his advice to new investors and his opinion on a healthy bitcoin allocation in a portfolio. Of course, he was very professional and suggested talking to your financial advisor, and he ended on the need for continued work on education in the space.
In this episode of Bitcoin Magazine’s “Fed Watch,” Christian Keroles and Ansel Lindner look back at the events of the last few weeks and put them into a macro perspective. They also give us an optimistic vision of the next year that only the Bitcoin space can offer. This show always delivers macro insights you cannot find anywhere else!
The episode began with a quick discussion of censorship and the Bitcoin Twitter exodus. It is very appropriate that, in the era of the modern internet, our idea of censorship has changed to mainly include internet speech and digital transactions. Bitcoin, of course, will play a pivotal role in giving the power back to the people and helping mold the debates going forward.
Lindner attempted to put these events into context with other similar events from the not-so-distant past. The main difference today is that society is in a populist, revolutionary mood. Where a similar event in the 1980s or late 1990s was not treated as “insurrection” or the “end of America,” today, the world is at a different point in the grand cycle, ready to interpret things in that way. Whether it is a 100-year debt cycle or the 100-year generational Fourth Turning, these events, at this time, are causing specific reactions.
Next, our hosts summed up the situation for several assets like gold, the dollar and commodities. Gold is expected to struggle over the next six months, while the dollar rebounds, and the build up of inventories for commodities will create pressure on the recent rally.
Lastly, the show wrapped up with summaries of what they expect in 2021. It is a very optimistic vision of the future. Bitcoin is a steady guiding light in this troubled time, and though things might get slightly worse from a political perspective over the next year, history and Bitcoin show us that the future is still very bright.
2020 was unforgettable, especially for Bitcoin. To help memorialize this year for our readers, we asked our network of contributors to reflect on Bitcoin’s price action, technological development, community growth and more in 2020, and to reflect on what all of this might mean for 2021. These writers responded with a collection of thoughtful and thought-provoking articles. Click here to read all of the stories from our End Of Year 2020 Series.
A “biblical flood of liquidity” was released onto the world this year by its largest central banks, raising fears for the longevity of several of the world’s currencies. In reviewing the major monetary policy changes from the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan, it’s clear that 2020 was an unprecedented year for the legacy economy and that there is strong need for an alternative that is free of inflation and middlemen.
The Federal Reserve
Decreased its funds target rate by 150 basis points (bps) to 0 percent
Started open-ended quantitative easing (QE) of $80 billion per month
Provided a potential $1.95 trillion in lending in many different programs
Extended $400 billion at the peak in currency swap lines with foreign central banks
While the Federal Reserve’s monetary response was the largest in absolute terms and most comprehensive of the major central banks, it was not the largest in relative terms.
Cracks started appearing in the global financial system in 2018 with a slowdown in China, and the slowdown came to a head in September 2019 when repo rates spiked from near zero to 10 percent in the matter of one morning. This series of events set the Fed on a path toward “easier” monetary policy in 2019, with its balance sheet bottoming in Q3 and rising when entering 2020.
When the COVID-19 virus made the leap to Europe and then the U.S. in March 2020, it took the PhD economists by surprise. All major central banks responded between Sunday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 18 when it became obvious that the financial system was on the verge of collapse.
The response from the Fed was unique at first, since its baseline policy rate was above zero at 1.5 percent. In addition to that, it added what had become the typical monetary weapon by this point, large scale asset purchases (QE), followed by a new policy from Japan of buying corporate debt. Finally, it introduced several dizzying acronym programs in coordination with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to extend loans more broadly in the economy.
Though these new programs received a lot of attention in the press, they never got close to the maximum allowed levels and today stand almost unused. By April, all of the major pieces of the Fed’s response were in place and didn’t change much of anything, other than some reporting requirements in the second half of the year.
Federal Reserve Facility Balances
Federal Reserve 2020 Balance Sheet Changes
European Central Bank
Started 2020 already engaged in QE
Gradually increased its one asset purchase program, the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), to €1.85 trillion
The European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy this year was much more straightforward than the Fed’s. It has suffered from multiple financial crises since 2009 and was still in the midst of a QE program called the Asset Purchase Programme (APP), weighing in at €20 billion per month. That program did not change throughout 2020, but the PEPP was added to it. The PEPP eventually was extended to a total of €1.85 trillion in asset purchases to run through March 2022.
The ECB’s balance sheet soared to 55 percent of GDP in November, making the U.S. look tame in comparison at 34 percent and Japan look like the monetary basket case it is at 126 percent. Unless central bank monetary policy has nothing to do with inflation/deflation, if any country is going to experience inflation, one would assume it would be Japan, followed by the eurozone.
The European Central Bank managed to have the most simple policy on paper and it was implemented quickly, but it came back and increased it twice, with the most recent just this month.
The ECB has extended its intervention until March 2022, but it’s unlikely Europe can ever stop QE. At this rate, its balance-sheet-to-GDP ratio will reach 100 percent by the end of 2021.
The Bank of Japan
World’s longest running QE program
Started the year already engaged in quantitative and qualitative monetary easing (QQE), consisting of broad spectrum purchases
Took limits off government bond purchases and increased its already heavy market intervention
Lastly, the Japanese monetary policy is far in advance of anything the Fed or the ECB are doing, and 2020 was no exception. In 2013, Japan embarked on QQE, where it not only purchased government and agency bonds, but also directly bought other securities like ETFs and Japanese REITs.
The Japanese began this modern era of QE almost 20 years ago, and in 2020, with all of the central banks uniformly walking down the same path it did with asset purchases, Japan says, “hold my beer.” It is in a truly scary monetary and demographic crisis with no obvious escape.
Its interventions for 2020 are well over $1 trillion dollar equivalent for a GDP of less than $5 trillion (more than 20 percent). Compare this to the eurozone rate of nearly $2 trillion in stimulus for a $18 trillion economy (11 percent), or the U.S. with $3 trillion for a $20 trillion economy (15 percent).
Central Bank Balance Sheets Relative To GDP
This is a guest post by Ansel Lindner. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
The dynamic duo of “Fed Watch” is back in another episode. This time, Christian Keroles and I walk through policy updates from the three major central banks of the world, the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).
This year has been full of central bank action and it can be hard to stay on top of everything happening, even for those who try to follow monetary matters. The global recession is by no means over, and while the Federal Reserve and Jerome Powell might be holding policy constant, the ECB and PBOC are actively fighting slowing economic numbers.
Policy from the ECB is the most exciting because it is the most active, with the most colorful rhetoric. Last week, its expanded its stimulus program by €500 billion. Their Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) is now a whooping €1.85 trillion. In the ECB’s statements, it admits to fighting deflation and a strong euro, despite the unprecedented central bank action this year. It seems the more it does, the worse its situation gets.
The Federal Reserve meets on December 16, 2020, for its final meeting of the year. Chairman Powell is expected to keep policy unchanged. Relative to the euro and renminbi strength, the U.S. dollar has been weakening, with the dollar index (DXY) extending yearly lows and approaching two-year lows. This presents a dichotomy, the least active central bank has the relatively weaker currency, which is contrary to the accepted wisdom that central bank activity devalues a currency.
The next central bank of interest in this episode of Fed Watch is the PBOC. After an update on the Digital Yuan project, we discussed the wave of defaults faced by the PBOC in recent weeks. To address the deflationary pressures in the Chinese economy it has rolled over previous bailout loans and expanded on them by $145 billion.
The episode ended with a discussion about a possible speculative attack against the dollar. MicroStrategy has given people an outline in how to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and buy bitcoin with it. If this is done in high enough quantities, it can force the price of bitcoin up and the relative value of the debt down. MassMutual was also another large story, but as I said on the show, “Bitcoiners have been expecting this for a very long time.”
This is another great episode to keep you current on central bank issues. Do not forget to subscribe to Fed Watch’s new RSS feed, so you don’t miss any of our great guest insights in the future.