February 6

The PPT in action (Plunge Protection Team)…

In January, the US equity markets generated four Hindenburg Omen signals. These signals have always preceded market crashes usually rated in severity as 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% or more declines from a recent peak. At today’s low (YM 23,088), the market has declined 13.5% from the peak on January 29, a significant “crash.”

The PPT (“plunge protection team”), was formed in response to the 1987 “Black Monday” stock market crash which took out 25% of market equity in one trading session. The PPT was created to make financial and economic recommendations to various sectors of the economy in times of economic turbulence. They were also authorized to do what was necessary to prevent any major crash, such as the 1987 crash. The team consists of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the SEC and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They report only to the President and no records of any kind are kept of what they do. They work only with the largest banks and through these entities can order buying in futures, derivatives, and other forms of potential market lifting mechanisms.

President Reagan formed the PPT in 1987 with the idea of “preventing” severe market crashes widely feared as potential triggers for collapsing the general economy. The dot.com crash illustrated the first time that the PPT was powerless in the face of overwhelming selling world-wide. Moreover, the dot.com crash was the first market crash featuring unrelenting selling by computer-controlled algorithms. The 2008 crash, not only involved even greater computer trading, but also a massive overhead of derivatives in degrees that could not be controlled by the PPT. Only the Fed’s insertion of four trillion dollars of buying stemmed the tide and turned the markets positive again. While the markets recovered, it took many years for the economy to recover from the crash, not only in markets, but even more so in real estate.

After the 2008 crash, many new safeguards and controls were put in place. With the election of Donald Trump, almost all these protections have been removed or rendered useless. In addition, banks and other entities have taken on massive degrees of risk. If the markets rise, there is no problem. But when the markets break, the potential for financial and economic crisis becomes extreme. The new Fed chairman is aware of this and I’m sure that yesterday’s market plunge of 1,750 at the low was a kind of baptism of fire. The “cover” story will be that the markets are concerned by the potential of rising interest rates. Many other “cover” stories were “recruited” during the day—a standard technique when panic comes visiting. You will see stories about how the quants and others “predicted” this crash, lots of stories about “do not panic,” lots of stories about “just the usual ups and downs.”

Most of this is total nonsense.