by ilene - February 23rd, 2011 9:54 pm
by ilene - January 18th, 2011 10:34 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
That’s not omnipotent, that’s impotent as in the f**kers are shooting blanks and don’t even know it. Well Chuck Plosser knows it but if he keeps this up they’re going to drag him off and sequester him in the bunker they reserve for bad central bankers who can’t keep their mouths shut.
See The Scope and Responsibilities of Monetary Policy from Santiago, Chile yesterday:
Most economists now understand that in the long run, monetary policy determines only the level of prices and not the unemployment rate or other real variables.2 In this sense, it is monetary policy that has ultimate responsibility for the purchasing power of a nation’s fiat currency. Employment depends on many other more important factors, such as demographics, productivity, tax policy, and labor laws. Nevertheless, monetary policy can sometimes temporarily stimulate real economic activity in the short run, albeit with considerable uncertainty as to the timing and magnitude, what economists call the “long and variable lag.” Any boost to the real economy from stimulative monetary policy will eventually fade away as prices rise and the purchasing power of money erodes in response to the policy. Even the temporary benefit can be mitigated, or completely negated, if inflation expectations rise in reaction to the monetary accommodation.
Nonetheless, the notion persists that activist monetary policy can help stabilize the macroeconomy against a wide array of shocks, such as a sharp rise in the price of oil or a sharp drop in the price of housing. In my view, monetary policy’s ability to neutralize the real economic consequences of such shocks is actually quite limited. Successfully implementing such an economic stabilization policy requires predicting the state of the economy more than a year in advance and anticipating the nature, timing, and likely impact of future shocks. The truth is that economists simply do not possess the knowledge to make such forecasts with the degree of precision that would be needed to offset the economic shocks. Attempts to stabilize the economy will, more likely than not, end up providing stimulus when none is needed, or vice versa. It also risks distorting price signals and thus resource allocations, adding to instability. So asking monetary policy to do what it cannot do with aggressive attempts at stabilization can actually increase economic instability rather than reduce it.
by ilene - December 14th, 2010 8:00 pm
Courtesy of Robert Reich
America’s two economies are getting wider apart.
The Big Money economy is booming. According to a new Commerce Department report, third-quarter profits of American businesses rose at an annual record-breaking $1.659 trillion – besting even the boom year of 2006 (in nominal dollars). Profits have soared for seven consecutive quarters now, matching or beating their fastest pace in history.
Executive pay is linked to profits, so top pay is soaring as well.
Higher profits are also translating into the nice gains in the stock market, which is a boon to everyone with lots of financial assets.
And Wall Street is back. Bonuses on the Street are expected to rise about 5 percent this year, according to a survey by compensation consultants Johnson Associates Inc.
But nothing is trickling down to the Average Worker economy. Job growth is still anemic. At October’s rate of only 50,000 new private-sector jobs, unemployment won’t get down to pre-recession levels for twenty years. And almost half of October’s new jobs were in temporary help.
Meanwhile, the median wage is barely rising, adjusted for inflation. And the value of the major asset of most Americans – their homes – continues to drop.
Why are America’s two economies going in opposite directions? Two reasons.
First, big profits are coming from overseas sales of goods and services made abroad, not here. The world’s fastest-growing markets are China and India, whose inhabitants are eager to buy “American” products, and just as eager to work for the American companies that sell them. The U.S. market is barely moving.
Increasingly, American corporations are able to extract healthy gains from their global operations without adding much in the United States except executive talent.
Second, American businesses are boosting productivity by having U.S. employees do more work for less pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between the third quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2010, productivity rose 2.5 percent, output increased 4.1 percent, the number of hours worked was up 1.6 percent, and unit labor costs dropped by 1.9 percent.
In other words, American workers are losing even more bargaining power as a sizeable chunk of corporate profit goes into software and digital equipment that can do what people used to do – but more cheaply.
So what is Washington doing about all this?
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens “Namatized”
by ilene - November 19th, 2010 6:49 am
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens "Namatized"
Courtesy of Mish
Market participants are giddy today on the great news that Ireland will go deeper in debt in a foolish attempt to bail out the German and UK bondholders who were in turn foolish enough to lend ridiculous amounts of money to Irish banks in various real estate schemes.
The Irish government was of course foolish enough to guarantee all of this foolishness which means that Irish citizens many of whom were sucked into buying property at foolish prices are now on the hook to bail out the bondholders, rubbing salt into the wounds of Irish taxpayers, not all of whom were foolish enough to freely participate in the general foolishness.
Here is a short video from the Wall Street Journal that explains why the bailout will not work.
Ireland Nears Bailout
Now let’s consider details of this foolishness in greater detail, starting with Crude Oil Rises From Four-Week Low as Ireland Nears Bailout
Crude oil increased from a four-week low as Ireland moved closer to a European Union-led financial bailout, strengthening the euro and boosting commodities.
Irish Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said in an interview with state broadcaster RTE today he expects the country to ask the EU and the International Monetary Fund for “tens of billions” of euros to rescue its banks.
“If these talks were to result in a substantial contingency capital funding” pool that didn’t need to be drawn down, that “would be a very desirable outcome,” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in the Irish parliament in Dublin today. He said no agreement has yet been reached.
Fairy Tale Nonsense
Check out that fairy tale silliness from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, then answer this question: What are the odds that a "substantial contingency capital funding” would not be drawn down?
If you answered zero percent you are a winner, which makes the Irish taxpayer a loser.
Allied Irish Bonds Have Face Value Bid of 45 Percent
Bloomberg reports Allied Irish Bonds Fall on Concern IMF ‘Bad Guy’ to Impose Loss.
Allied Irish Banks Plc’s 12.5 percent subordinated bonds due 2019 were quoted at a bid price of about 45 percent of face value, according to Jefferies International in London, down
by ilene - October 26th, 2010 2:41 am
Courtesy of James Howard Kunstler
The latest version of Pretend – going on a couple of weeks now – is the nation whistling past the graveyard of mortgage documentation fraud while skeletons dance around everything connected with the money system. Halloween came early this year. The USA is getting to look like one big Masque of the Red Death, so I suppose it’s convenient that our pop culture has been saturated with vampires, zombies, and werewolves for a decade, coincident with the self-cannibalizing of our economy. Something in the zeitgeist told us to get with the program of a twilight existence. We’re well-schooled now in the ways of the undead, operating under cover of darkness, going for the neck at every opportunity, even eating our young – if you consider the debt orgy, both private and public, as a way to party like it’s 1999 by consuming your children’s’ future.
The big banks leading the charge of the anthropophagi are making like it’s no big deal that notes representing money lent have become mysteriously dissociated from the mortgages that secure them. In the good old days, these things traveled in pairs, like boy-and-girl, Laurel and Hardy, a horse and carriage. It made for straight-forward property transfers, where Person A could be confident he was buying something free and clear from Person B. What a quaint concept, free and clear!
Nowadays, these documents can hardly be located at all – not such a surprise, really, since they were ground out like e-coli infested bratwursts in strip-mall boiler rooms run by former used car salesmen, and pawned off wholesale (literally) on banks who served them up sliced-and-diced, sloppy Joe style, on CDO buns to credulous pension funds, cretinous insurance company yobs, double-digit IQ college endowment managers, and other such nitwits bethinking themselves the reincarnation of Bernard Baruch, not to mention foreign sovereign nations who bought this smallpox-blanket-grade investment paper by the container-ship-load and, finally, the innovative geniuses at the very banks who engineered the stuff and got stuck with tons of it themselves when, as they say, the music stopped.
The Big Picture looks even worse when you figure in the mischief of so-called synthetic CDOs that represent the multiple securitizations of single underlying mortgages – God knows how many times each – which mean,…
by ilene - October 22nd, 2010 4:29 pm
Courtesy of Tim at The Mess That Greenspan Made
Again, this is one of those times when, though quite funny, the cartoon below would be much more so if it wasn’t so close to being the truth.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 2:05 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Positive feedback loops soon reach the runaway/self-destruction stage. Concentrations of wealth and gaming-the-system are reaching just such levels.
Positive feedback loops lead to runaway scenarios. The classic example is global warming and the Arctic ice cap. As temperatures rise, the the ice melts, exposing more land or seawater. Ice reflects solar radiation, and so as it shrinks then more solar radiation is absorbed, raising temperatures more, which melts the ice faster, which then leads to more solar radiation being absorbed, and so on.
The runaway feedback loop leads to the disappearance of the Arctic ice and a much warmer planet.
Nature has multiple feedback loops, and so the solar radiation flux may be acting to reduce temperatures as the positive feedback of melting ice raises temperatures. But the point is that positive feedback is self-reinforcing and it speeds up processes as it gathers momentum.
We can see runaway feedback loops in the economy and society, not just in Nature. One of the key runaway feedbacks in the U.S. is the concentration of wealth and political power.
As wealth has become concentrated in the top 1/10th of 1%, then the political power that can be purchased with that wealth also rises, which then enables the wealthy to increase their wealth via "Federal entrepreneurship" and other means.
The political process--once potentially a force resisting or moderating wealth--has been completely captured by an ever-expanding army of lobbyists, the fast-spinning revolving door between the Central State and corporations and unprecedented levels of corporate/Elites campaign contributions.
The judiciary, theoretically a force which could have resisted this concentration of wealth and political power, has also been co-opted by a marriage of ideology and wealth/power. Thus the courts have gutted every attempt at limiting corporate/insider influence over the processes of governance; the courts have enabled corporations to have the "right to free (paid) speech" unburdened by the obligations that go with such rights.
The wealth/power feedback has reached runaway levels. "Reforms" are gutted in backroom deals, votes to benefit the banking/mortgage/foreclosure industry are done on voice calls to evade public scrutiny, and a thousand other games and tricks are played daily to subvert the common good for the benefit of the few and their armies of technocrat toadies.
by ilene - October 16th, 2010 2:02 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
The moral rot at the center of American life results from a normalization of pathologies--sociopathic and psychopathic states and behaviors are now "normal" or incentivized. Moral behavior is institutionally punished.
My entry on the moral rot which has taken hold in all socio-economic levels of America drew a number of insightful responses: Runaway Feedback Loops, Wealth Concentration and Gaming-The-System (October 13, 2010).
While the American/Western worldview holds that we are autonomous individuals exercising free will at every moment, in reality we are all heavily programmed by our socio-economic class conditions. What is so striking about present-day America is the way in which the narcissistic, no-moral-compass social pathologies of entitlement, denial and fabrication of "truth"/reality has been "normalized" (accepted as normal behavior and thinking) in all social classes.
Before we analyze that further, let’s get some direct experiences from three observant readers.
First up in Freeacre, one of the proprietors of the excellent Trout Clan Campfire blog:
Here are my examples (of the feedback loops you described):
Thirty-one years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, a friend in San Francisco explained to me that I should go down and apply for welfare. He told me the the social workers basically tell you the right answers to give when applying. They ask the question and you just say agree with whatever it is. That’s the game. (I didn’t do it, choosing to marry the father of our child and live a life of penury instead…)
2) We finally were able to buy a house in Portland. Our next door neighbor lived in one exactly like ours. But, she was divorced and had two kids. Her kids went to church school for free, got free clothing and medical care, her mom collected her rent from the state, she got food stamps, and on and on. Her ex even got a penile implant due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident! We ended up losing our home and car and having to declare bankruptcy due to our son’s medical bills for cancer.
3) Years later, when my husband got cancer and I had to pay his COBRA payments up front, I had hardly any money for food or the house payment from my job at the Tahoe Daily Tribune. When I inquired what we could do to qualify for some assistance, the social
by ilene - October 12th, 2010 2:58 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Now that the Fed is officially targeting a path for the level of nominal gross domestic product, which is essentially the politburo’s chief central planning task, and is just one step away removed what China does constantly by starting with a GDP assumption and trickling it down through the economy, it is only fitting that America, now on the verge of being a fully-blown communist country, is also abrogating property rights, courtesy of the much discussed foreclosure scandal. Dylan Ratigan provides a concise explanation of just how our bankers have managed to bring us to this last descent into central planning hell.
From Dylan Ratigan
Property Rights Gone Wrong
1. The borrowers must be verified by the banks and their agents as qualified.
2. Lenders must fill out paperwork accurately and make sure that when the home’s title changes hands, so does the documentation.
But in the past two decades, a whole lot of the time, that never happened.
For banks and servicers, the motive was money. Banks profited by packaging and selling those toxic home loans. Then they profited again by betting against those same securities. A bet, in essence, that a fraudulent loan wouldn’t be paid back.
But why would politicians allow this?
The simple answer is to stay in office.
Giving people huge government incentives to buy houses made them happier and thus made their politicians more likely to keep their jobs. And at the same time, the financial services sector — the banks making all the money — were donating to their political campaigns.
In 2008, the financial sector was the top donor to both the Democratic and Republican candidates.
So where are all these toxic loans now? We own them! At the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
And the banks and politicians will do whatever it takes to prevent a legitimate foreclosure proceeding…one which would easily reveal the lack of qualifications and bad documentation in the loans sold to the government.
FDIC Authorizes $1 Billion Lawsuits Against Failed-Bank Executives; Token Search for Low-Profile Scapegoats
by ilene - October 10th, 2010 4:41 pm
FDIC Authorizes $1 Billion Lawsuits Against Failed-Bank Executives; Token Search for Low-Profile Scapegoats
Courtesy of Mish
The FDIC has only brought one case to date against executives of failed banks. Supposedly more charges are coming.
Bloomberg reports FDIC May Seek $1 Billion From Failed-Bank Executives
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has authorized lawsuits against more than 50 officers and directors of failed banks as the agency aims to recoup more than $1 billion in losses stemming from the credit crisis.
The lawsuits were authorized during closed sessions of the FDIC board and haven’t been made public. The agency, which has shuttered 294 lenders since the start of 2008, has held off court action while conducting settlement talks with executives whose actions may have led to bank collapses, Richard Osterman, the FDIC’s acting general counsel, said in an interview.
“We’re ready to go,” Osterman said. “We could walk into court tomorrow and file the lawsuits.”
The FDIC, which reviews losses for every bank failure, has brought only one case against officers or directors tied to recent collapses — a suit filed in July seeking $300 million in damages from four executives of IndyMac Bancorp Inc.
The FDIC “brings suits only where they are believed to be sound on the merits and likely to be cost-effective,” according to an agency policy statement that dates from the savings-and- loan crisis of the 1980s. That requires considerations of whether an individual, if sued, has the means to pay or an insurance policy to cover all or part of the claim.
“It doesn’t make sense to file a lawsuit if at the end of the day you have a low chance of recovery,” Osterman said.
“It’s in both our interest and theirs to try and settle this matter before it gets into the court and we get into expensive litigation,” he said.
Political Stunt to Placate the Public
I see this as little more than a political stunt to placate the public. These cases are unlikely to go to trial, on purpose, and not for the reason the FDIC says.
The FDIC does not want to rattle the banking system, so they won’t. Instead they will settle most if not all of these cases for peanuts.
To make it look legit, the FDIC might pursue a couple of scapegoat cases, IndyMac being one of them, but don’t expect anything more.