by ilene - September 29th, 2010 3:45 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
On September 6th, A E-P made Bernanke’s way to more easy money extremely clear (after bashing America’s awful economic performance lately, as if he’d actually bought into the idea that we recovered from the last round and was genuinely disappointed by us) and gave him a treasure map to blowing up the bond market and pumping fresh "not money" into the system.
Get a grip, the lot of you. While there is no easy way out for the US after stealing so much prosperity from the future through debt, there is no excuse for this dead-end defeatism. Clearly, the ‘canonical New Keynesian’ model that holds such sway on America’s elites is intellectually exhausted.
The Fed has an arsenal of neutron bombs if it wants to use them, and uses them correctly. It can engage in "monetary policy a l’outrance" as Maynard Keynes propsed in his Treatise on Money in 1930, before he lost his way with the General Theory.
Blitz the market with bond purchases, but do so outside the banking system by buying from insurers, pension funds, and the public. This would gain traction on the broad M3 money instead of letting it collapse (yes, the "monetary base" has exploded, but that is a red herring), working through the classic Fisher/Friedman mechanisms of the quantity of money theory.
This is quite different from the Fed’s QE which buys bonds from the banks and works by trying to drive down borrowing costs. While Bernanke’s ‘creditism’ is certainly better than nothing, it is not gaining full traction.
By the 27th, he was calling to pull the plug on the Fed and begging for forgiveness, having seen the error of his easy money-pushing ways.
That’s a pretty incredible turnaround in a matter of weeks for a guy who has pretty much been squealing for more easy money this entire time. When the European Central Bank finally dropped the monetary WMDs I’m sure he had to clean his screen after he wrote the fansite review of the ECB’s QE measures. Please.
by ilene - September 29th, 2010 3:11 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Yesterday the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard poured out his guilty heart and soul begging for forgiveness for endorsing the Fed’s unique QE measures of late. He very clearly denounces the monetary crackheads at 20th and Constitution and calls out Bernanke for what he is: an old school psychopath in a new school world.
I apologise to readers around the world for having defended the emergency stimulus policies of the US Federal Reserve, and for arguing like an imbecile naif that the Fed would not succumb to drug addiction, political abuse, and mad intoxicated debauchery, once it began taking its first shots of quantitative easing.
My pathetic assumption was that Ben Bernanke would deploy further QE only to stave off DEFLATION, not to create INFLATION. If the Federal Open Market Committee cannot see the difference, God help America.
We now learn from last week’s minutes that the Fed is willing “to provide additional accommodation if needed to … return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.”
NO, NO, NO, this cannot possibly be true.
Ben Bernanke has not only refused to abandon his idee fixe of an “inflation target”, a key cause of the global central banking catastrophe of the last twenty years (because it can and did allow asset booms to run amok, and let credit levels reach dangerous extremes).
Worse still, he seems determined to print trillions of emergency stimulus without commensurate emergency justification to test his Princeton theories, which by the way are as old as the hills. Keynes ridiculed the “tyranny of the general price level” in the early 1930s, and quite rightly so. Bernanke is reviving a doctrine that was already shown to be bunk eighty years ago.
So all those hillsmen in Idaho, with their Colt 45s and boxes of krugerrands, who sent furious emails to the Telegraph accusing me of defending a hyperinflating establishment cabal were right all along. The Fed is indeed out of control.
Good, he should apologize for that sort of disrespectful display. Didn’t we all know he was wrong all along? Didn’t we all know that the Fed never had a plan to get out? Even if they have a plan we all know they’re unlikely to use it until it’s far too late but that point…
by ilene - July 8th, 2010 6:13 pm
Itinerant worker looking for work during the Great Depression
Reading William Manchester’s Glory And The Dream over the weekend, I came across this remark from President Herbert Hoover, blurted out famously in the cruellest year of 1932.
“Nobody is actually starving. The hobos, for example, are better fed than they have ever been. Hobos are eating well, in fact one had ten meals in a single day.”
Mr Heller probably regrets his words already, but such damage cannot easily be undone. Republicans on Capitol Hill who backed the mobilization of $3 trillion of fiscal and monetary support to bail out the financial system are now going to great efforts to prevent the roll-over of temporary benefits to 1.2m jobless facing an imminent cut-off. I don’t wish to enter deeply into an internal US dispute between Republicans and Democrats, but I do think think that the American political class will have to face up to the new reality of a semi-permanent slump for a decade or more that will blight a great number of lives. The cyclical recovery that normally makes it possible for most Americans to find a job if they want one is not going to happen this time because the overhang of debt, fiscal tightening, and a liquidity trap have combined to jam the mechanism.
by ilene - July 5th, 2010 8:49 pm
Micheal Snyder is editor of "The Economic Collapse Blog"
Could the world economy be headed for a depression in 2011?
As inconceivable as that may seem to a lot of people, the truth is that top economists and governmental authorities all over the globe say that the economic warning signs are there and that we need to start paying attention to them. The two primary ingredients for a depression are debt and fear, and the reality is that we have both of them in abundance in the financial world today.
In response to the global financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008, governments around the world spent unprecedented amounts of money and got into a ton of debt. All of that spending did help bail out the global banking system, but now that an increasing number of governments around the world are in need of bailouts themselves, what is going to happen? We have already seen the fear that is generated when one small little nation like Greece even hints at defaulting. When it becomes apparent that quite a few governments around the globe cannot handle their debt burdens, what kind of shockwave is that going to send through financial markets?
The truth is that we are facing the greatest sovereign debt crisis in modern history. There is no way out of this financial mess that does not include a significant amount of economic pain.
When you add mountains of debt to paralyzing fear to strict austerity measures, what do you get?
by ilene - May 10th, 2010 2:44 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
"It is an absolute general mobilization: we have decided to give the eurozone a veritable economic government," said French president Nicolas Sarkozy, once again basking as Europe’s action man. "Today we have an attack on the whole of the eurozone. This is a systemic crisis: the response must be systemic. When the markets open on Monday morning we will be ready to defend the euro."
But if the early reports are near true, the accord profoundly alters the character of the European Union. The walls of fiscal and economic sovereignty are being breached. The creation of an EU rescue mechanism with powers to issue bonds with Europe’s AAA rating to help eurozone states in trouble — apparently €60bn, with a separate facility that may be able to lever up to €600bn — is to go far beyond the Lisbon Treaty. This new agency is an EU Treasury in all but name, managing an EU fiscal union where liabilities become shared. A European state is being created before our eyes.
No EMU country will be allowed to default, whatever the moral hazard. Mrs Merkel seems to have bowed to extreme pressure as contagion spread to Portugal, Ireland, and — the two clinchers — Spain and Italy. "We have a serious situation, not just in one country but in several," she said.
You wonder how bad the weekend looked for them to take this move – a paper promise the European Union can’t deliver on (but Zimbabwe Ben is ready to help anyway) that leaves no way out except through a truly united Euro. Likethey will blast the shit out of anyone who comes near them with $1 trillion in made up fucking money God damnit, this is serious (and "systemic," a word that worked quite well on America not that long ago).
Britain had rats running in the streets way before easy money whore psychopaths went chasing the March 2009 market all the way up so to say this problem in Europe is in any way new would be false. It’s just that now it’s started to fester while we’ve been busy remarking how much better things are.
Rep. Suzie Bassi: “Illinois in Utter Crisis, Next to Bankruptcy, $13bn Hole in a $28bn Budget”; Ambrose Evans Pritchard Inflicted with FIV
by ilene - March 1st, 2010 8:59 pm
Rep. Suzie Bassi: "Illinois in Utter Crisis, Next to Bankruptcy, $13bn Hole in a $28bn Budget"; Ambrose Evans Pritchard Inflicted with FIV
Courtesy of Mish
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has the right facts but the wrong cure in Don’t go wobbly on us now, Ben Bernanke, an article detailing the problems in many US states, notably Illinois.
Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois is near the point of fiscal disintegration. "The state is in utter crisis," said Representative Suzie Bassi. "We are next to bankruptcy. We have a $13bn hole in a $28bn budget."
The state has been paying bills with unfunded vouchers since October. A fifth of buses have stopped. Libraries, owed $400m (£263m), are closing one day a week. Schools are owed $725m. Unable to pay teachers, they are preparing mass lay-offs. "It’s a catastrophe", said the Schools Superintedent.
In Alexander County, the sheriff’s patrol cars have been repossessed; three-quarters of his officers are laid off; the local prison has refused to take county inmates until debts are paid.
Florida, Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York are all facing crises. California has cut teachers salaries by 5pc, and imposed a 5pc levy on pension fees.
This is not to pick on America. Belt-tightening is the oppressive fact of 2010-2012 for half the world. Hungary, Ukraine, the Baltics and the Balkans are already under the knife. Latvia’s economy may contract by 30pc from peak to trough as it carries out an "internal devaluation", ie wage cuts, to hold its euro peg.
The eurozone’s fiscal squeeze is well advanced in Ireland. Brussels has told Greece to cut by 10pc of GDP in three years, Spain by 8pc, Portugal by 6pc. Britain must slash soon, or face a gilts strike.
The Bank for International Settlements says Britain needs a primary surplus of 5.8pc of GDP for a decade to stabilise debt at pre-crisis levels, given the ageing crunch as well. The figure is 6.4pc for Japan, 4.3pc for the US and France. It warns of "unstable dynamics", posh talk for a debt spiral. "Action is needed now."
The West risks a slow grind into debt-deflation unless central banks offset fiscal tightening with monetary stimulus – QE, of course – to keep demand alive. Yet the Fed and the European Central Bank are letting credit contract.
by ilene - January 11th, 2010 11:47 am
Bill argues that the Geithner/Obama economic stimulus plan to co-opt the equity markets, while effective so far, is neither sustainable nor healthy. – Ilene
Courtesy of Bill Cara
Trading in the Gold market Friday and again this weekend was bizarre. We need to look into this situation closely.
With the release of the US December Jobs Report on Friday, the spin was that there was a negative surprise, which would lead to more Quantitative Easing, which in turn would lead to higher Gold prices. Gold popped for just a few minutes, and then sidetracked the rest of the day. So who made any money? Just as important, the November Jobs Report was revised stronger, which balanced out the reported December weakness. So it looked to me that the economic data was merely a cover for traders who wanted to distribute Gold.
Then on Saturday, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor of the UK Telegraph in London, continued his hard hitting bearish reporting in an article entitled: America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels: (sub-head) December was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began.
Immediately, the spin was that more Quantitative Easing would be needed, and when the Gold futures market opened on the weekend the opening tick was 1139 and the next at 1163, which was a greater than +2% move in a couple minutes. From that point forward through this morning, the Gold price has side-tracked, presently at about 1156.
At current prices, all the gold ever produced in the world, which Gold Bugs claim still exists, amounts to a valuation of $5 trillion, so that +2% move in less than 15 minutes has supposedly added about $200 billion. Wow. Not even the spending in D.C. can grow that fast.
Some time in the past year, I realized that capital markets had become something other than what they are designed for, which is a price discovery mechanism for assets based on economics. Regrettably, since the central banks of the world have caused their balance sheets to balloon during 2009, which is well illustrated in the graph I show in this weekend’s Week In Review, the global financial system is now based on hot air, not real assets in the economic sense.
by ilene - January 3rd, 2010 3:52 am
Courtesy of Mike Whitney writing at Global Research
Is the Fed manipulating the stock market? TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman seems to think so, and he makes a strong case for his theory in an article at zerohedge.com.
Biderman focuses his attention on the mystery surrounding the stock market’s 9-month rally and asks, "Where is the money coming from?" After all, the market cap has increased by more than $6 trillion since March 9. That amount of money should be fairly easy to trace; right?
Biderman: "The most positive economic development in 2009 was the stock market rally. (But) We cannot identify the source of the new money that pushed stock prices up so far so fast. For the most part, the money did not from the traditional players that provided money in the past."
Huh? So, this vast infusion of liquidity--which helped the banks to avoid painful deleveraging--did not come from the usual suspects?
That’s right. According to Biderman, the money did not come from (a) companies ("which were a huge net seller") (b) retail investor funds, (c) retail investors, (d) foreign investors, or (e) pension funds.
What about the hedge funds?
Biderman: "We have no way to track in real time what hedge funds do, and they may well have shifted some assets into U.S. equities. But we doubt their buying power was enormous because they posted an outflow of $12 billion from April through November."
Okay; so we’re back to Square One. Where did the money come from?
Biderman again: "As far as we know, it is not illegal for the Federal Reserve or the U.S. Treasury to buy S&P 500 futures. Moreover, several officials have suggested the government should support stock prices. For example, former Fed board member Robert Heller opined in the Wall Street Journal in 1989, “Instead of flooding the entire economy with liquidity, and thereby increasing the danger of inflation, the Fed could support the stock market directly by buying market averages in the futures market, thereby stabilizing the market as a whole.” In a Financial Times article in 2002, an unidentified Fed official was quoted as acknowledging that policymakers had considered buying U.S. equities directly, not just futures. The official mentioned that the Fed could “theoretically buy anything to pump money into the system.”
by ilene - November 21st, 2009 12:25 pm
This is a post I just wrote over at Yves Smith’s site Naked Capitalism in response to a reader request. Marshall Auerback has already written a reply as well and I will post this later today.
A reader at Naked Capitalism asked us to respond to a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor asking Does US need a second stimulus to create jobs?
Marshall Auerback has already done some heavy lifting. He says emphatically yes. Now I want to take a crack at this. My short answer is no. But before I go into this, as an aside, I wanted to mention Marshall’s new smiling, happy picture up at the great blog New Deal 2.0 where he now writes. Earlier, when Credit Writedowns was hosted at Blogger, he used a picture best described as a mug shot in his profile, but he has changed that one too (although he smiles there a little less). He thinks we haven’t noticed this sleight of hand. Well I have! Once upon a time, Marshall wrote with a man I called all bearish, all the time this summer. Take a look at that post; you don’t see him smiling now do you? We have Lynn Parramore, New Deal 2.0’s editor to thank for making Marshall Auerback into an optimist.
Different policy choices
But all teasing aside, I do want to take the opposite side of this trade. You see I too was a deficit hawk. And while I may have been backing fiscal stimulus, I have felt conflicted for doing so. Here’s how I see it.
You have four options:
- No stimulus. Let the chips fall where they may. Yves Smith calls this the ‘Mellonite liquidationist mode.’ The thinking here is that trying to avoid the inevitable bust only makes it that much larger. And the economic policies during recessions in 1991 and 2001 seem to bear that out. The Harding Recession of 1921 is commonly seen as gold standard response.
- Monetary stimulus only. Quantitative easing mania. My understanding is this is what Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has been advocating. The thinking here is that the flood of money and the