Last weekend Zero Hedge once again broke the news that just like back in June 2011, when as part of the launch of QE2 we demonstrated that all the incremental cash resulting form the $600 billion surge in the Fed’s excess reserves, had gone not to domestically-chartered US banks, but to subsidiaries of foreign banks operating on US soil. To be sure, various other secondary outlets picked up on the story without proper attribution, most notably the WSJ, which cited a Stone McCarthy report adding the caveat that “interpreting the data released by the Federal Reserve is a bit challenging” and also adding the usual incorrect attempts at interpretation for why this is happening. To the contrary: interpreting the data is quite simple, which is why we made an explicit prediction: ‘We urge readers to check the weekly status of the H.8 when it comes out every Friday night, and specifically line item 25 on page 18, as we have a sinking feeling that as the Fed creates $85 billion in reserves every month… it will do just one thing: hand the cash right over straight to still hopelessly insolvent European banks.” So with Friday having come and gone, we did just the check we suggested. As the chart below shows, we were right.
Another way of showing what has happened: in the past 4 weeks, the Fed has injected a record $237 billion of cash into foreign banks with access to the Fed’s excess reserves: a number greater than both the cash influx surge seen after the Lehman collapse, and faster and more acute than the massive build up of cash during the spring and summer of 2011 when all the Fed’s brand new QE2 cash was once again, solely used to overfund European bank cash.
Another way of showing precisely what we said would happen, and what is happening: in the past month, as $237 billion in cash was being handed over by Ben Bernanke to foreign banks, cash to both small and large domestically-chartered banks declined.
The result is that of the record $1.8 trillion in cash sloshing within the US financial system (consisting of US and foreign banks), a record $955 billion, or 52.6% of total is now allocated to foreign banks.
Do we know that the cash in the US financial system is purely a result of the latest open-ended QE? Yes we do, because as the chart below shows, every dollar change in excess reserves created by the Fed is tracked tick by tick by the total amount of cash held by US and foreign banks. And as the yellow area – foreign bank cash – in chart further shows, all the cash generated by QEternity has gone straight to foreign banks.
Another way of showing this correlation: the change in excess reserves vs just the change in cash assets held by foreign banks. There is no doubt on which banks’ balance sheets the Fed’s “excess reserves” are appearing as cash.
Finally, as a reminder there was a second part in our forecast as to what these European banks will do with this fresh prop-trade funding cash courtesy of Bernanke – they will “push the EURUSD higher, until, as in the summer of 2011 it goes far too high, crushes German, and any other net European exports, and precipitates yet another wholesale bailout of Europe by the global central bankers. Just as the Fed did in 2011.”
Sure enough, it required the intervention of none other than Mario Draghi last Thursday to stop the massive, sharp ascent in the EUR in the past two months, which as we showed in the morning before the ECB’s announcement on Thursday, had resulted the EUR surge by over 10% on trade-weighted terms. The reason for this intervention: to prevent the collapse of what little is left of Europe’s export economy. However, unlike previously, now that Japan is also actively crushing its own currency to promote its exports over those from Germany and France, things will be just a little bit more acute as everyone scramble to be the exporter of only resort to what little import demand remains in a world where everyone is desperate to grow their trade balance through currency manipulation.
So whether European banks will continue buying the EURUSD, or redirect their Fed-cash into purchasing the ES outright, or invest in other even riskier assets, remains unknown.
What is, however, known beyond a reasonable doubt is that at least through this point, the sole beneficiary of the Fed’s open-ended quantitative easing which launched in September of 2012, and which was supposed to help lower US unemployment and raise inflation (it will certainly succeed in that eventually, and what a smashing success it will be), are once again solely foreign – read almost exclusively European – banks.