There has been an avalanche of information and numerous theories circulating the past few days about the fate of a bank in California know as SVB (Silicon Valley Bank). SVB was the 16th largest bank in the US until it abruptly failed and went into insolvency on March 10th. The impetus for the collapse of the bank is tied to a $2 billion liquidity loss on bond sales which caused the institution’s stock value to plummet over 60%, triggering a bank run by customers fearful of losing some or most of their deposits.
There are many fine articles out there covering the details of the SVB situation, but what I want to talk about more is the root of it all. The bank’s shortfalls are not really the cause of the crisis, they are a symptom of a wider liquidity drought that I predicted here at Alt-Market months ago, including the timing of the event.
First, though, let’s discuss the core issue, which is fiscal tightening and the Federal Reserve. In my article ‘The Fed’s Catch-22 Taper Is A Weapon, Not A Policy Error’, published in December of 2021, I noted that the Fed was on a clear path towards tightening into economic weakness, very similar to what they did in the early 1980s during the stagflation era and also somewhat similar to what they did at the onset of the Great Depression. Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke even openly admitted that the Fed caused the depression to spiral out of control due to their tightening policies.
In that same article I discussed the “yield curve” being a red flag for an incoming crisis:
…The central bank is the largest investor in US bonds. If the Fed raises interest rates into weakness and tapers asset purchases, then we may see a repeat of 2018 when the yield curve started to flatten. This means that short-term treasury bonds will end up with the same yield as long-term bonds and investment in long-term bonds will fall.
As of this past week the yield curve has been inverted, signaling a potential liquidity crunch. Both Jerome Powell (Fed Charman) and Janet Yellen (Treasury Secretary) have indicated that tightening policies will continue and that reducing inflation to 2% is the goal. Given the many trillions of dollars the Fed has pumped into the financial system in the past decade, as well as the overall weakness of general economy, it would not take much QT to crush credit markets and, by extension, stock markets.
As I also noted in 2021:
We are now at that stage again where price inflation tied to money printing is clashing with the stock market’s complete reliance on stimulus to stay afloat. There are some that continue to claim the Fed will never sacrifice the markets by tapering. I say the Fed does not actually care, it is only waiting for the right time to pull the plug on the US economy.
But is that time now? I expanded on this analysis in my article ‘Major Economic Contraction Coming In 2023 – Followed By Even More Inflation’, published in December of 2022. I noted that:
This is the situation we are currently in today as 2022 comes to a close. The Fed is in the midst of a rather aggressive rate-hike program in a “fight” against the stagflationary crisis that they created through years of fiat stimulus measures. The problem is that the higher interest rates are not bringing prices down, nor are they really slowing stock market speculation. Easy money has been too entrenched for far too long, which means a hard landing is the most likely scenario.
In the early 2000s the Fed had been engaged in artificially low interest rates which inflated the housing and derivatives bubble. In 2004, they shifted into a tightening process. Rates in 2004 were at 1% and by 2006 they rose to over 5%. This is when cracks began to appear in the credit structure, with 4.5% – 5.5% being the magic cutoff point before debt became too expensive for the system to continue the charade. By 2007/2008 the nation witnessed an exponential implosion of credit…
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