Central Banks Buying Stocks Have Rigged US Stock Market Beyond Recovery

History of central banks buying stocks

Twenty years ago central banks didn’t even think of buying stocks. It may have happened in odd instances, but it was an anomaly if it did as a way to save a specific bank or credit union. During our first plunge into the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury bought up large amounts of stock in order to save companies that were either vital to US employment or to financial markets that were dying from their own mistakes. Those were efforts to save specific key corporations.

In subsequent years, the Bank of Japan and the Peoples Bank of China soaked up stocks in massive amounts more or less across the board, not to save specific vital companies but to save their stock markets. The Chinese seized total central control of their market, even mandating that certain speculators stay out of the market, mandating that various proxies buy large volumes of stocks and locking the stocks that were falling worst out of trading.

As a result, they created a perfectly healthy and real stock market, right? No, they created a centrally controlled illusion that is not a free market at all; it is merely a fatalistically predetermined game in which the government has decided “the market,” a term that now requires air quotes, will do well. To achieve that end, the government or its central bank does whatever it needs to in order to keep stocks up. We all know China’s market became completely rigged. We are just now seeing in the mainstream media that the US stock market is also increasingly rigged by central banks buying stocks.

What about the official reason banks give for central banks buying stocks?

The main reason presented for central banks buying stocks is that all of their economic stimulus has resulted in hugely bloated balance sheets, and they need to invest that money somewhere. To which, I ask, “Why? When did making a profit become an operating objective of central banks, which like to claim they are not about profit making?

Since central banks are the first to claim they are not about making profits, that is a completely illegitimate reason for buying stocks; but that’s the CYA reason banksters give: According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nearly $11 trillion in global assets yielded negative interest last year. Thus, central banks are forced to reach for yield in riskier assets like everyone else. Really? That was all their doing. Central banks created that situation intentionally, and the Federal Reserve has been saying it wants to unwind its balance sheet. If so, why does it want to make bigger profits on the money it supposedly wants to unwind? It’s a completely self-contradictory argument. Yet, the experts are readily buying into it.

If you buy their argument, then you have to admit that central-bank policies are hurting the central banks just like they are hurting retirees and everyone else who needs yield in order to survive But why does the bank, which has the power to print money at will, care about earning it the hard way? No, I think it is really entirely about propping up their own stock markets. We know that is why Japan and China have been doing it. Why would the US be any different, even if the Fed hides behind proxies?

In the National Bank of Switzerland’s case, a different reason altogether is presented, which has some truth to it: The Swiss franc is hugely popular when times are bad. When everyone wants to buy francs, the value of the franc is driven up relative to other currencies, which makes it hard for Swiss companies to compete for international trade. To offset this, the Swiss National Bank tries to buy up other currencies. They have to put the foreign money somewhere, so they are investing it in top US companies. In proportion to the size of its national economy, the Swiss National Bank’s balance sheet is the most bloated of any major central bank … and still growing with no end in sight.

A convenient alignment of Fed interests with francish interests.

The problems with central banks investing in stocks

With central banks having the capacity to create money by decree anytime they want to, investment risk means little to nothing. Lose your money, it ceases to exist. In that case, just create more of it.

With their ability to create unlimited amounts at zero cost (just add some ones and zeros to an account somewhere), their capacity to move markets they choose to invest in is almost unlimited. Essentially, the only limit on how much they can do is inflation, which throughout the Great Recession has never posed as a limiting factor.

As Zero Hedge wrote at the beginning of this year,

For those few who are still unfamiliar, this is how central banks who create fiat money out of thin air and for whom “acquisition cost” is a meaningless term, are increasingly nationalizing the equity capital markets. As the WSJ puts it “these central banks care relatively little about whether such investments make profits or losses—though they can matter politically—because they can always print more of their currency. So risk is less important, analysts say.” And since risk was no longer part of the equation, leaving only return, central banks started buying stocks….

So between central banks outbidding each other to buy “risky” assets with “money” that is constantly created at no cost, very soon all other private investors will be crowded out but not before every stock is trading at valuations that even CNBC guests won’t be able to justify….

The bad news, is that as more people realize that a free “market” now only exists in textbooks, and that Soviet-style central planning is the only game in town, confident in price formation will evaporate, in turn pushing even more market participants out of the quote-unquote market, until only central banks are left bidding on each other’s otherwise worthless stock certificates.

At the same time, efforts to invest reserve funds more broadly mean that more markets will be subject to what some critics describe as central-bank distortion, as large and often price-insensitive buyers run the risk of driving up prices and reducing prospective returns for other market participants.

For virtually all central banks, however, the grotesque central planning shift of the past decade means that instead of engaging in monetary policy, the world’s central banks are now activist hedge funds, who are focused first and foremost on “investment management.”

… and at the current rate of expansion, within a few years the world’s monetary authorities who are tasked with “financial stability”, will have acquired a majority of the world’s equity tranche, effectively nationalizing it.

Even the Wall Street Journal denies the argument that central banks have to care at all about making a profit. As Russia became more of a free-market economy, the United States has started to look more like the centrally-planned economy of the former Soviet Union. Markets have been centrally manipulated beyond the repair.

Central banks buying stocks applaud their own recovery efforts

As always, the central planners have the arrogance of the elite that causes them to think they have the brilliance to guide and control the markets of entire nations and even the entire world. How can anyone believe that such hubris will not end in total financial collapse?

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