by ilene - April 4th, 2011 5:55 pm
Why was William Bergman, analyst with the Chicago Fed for 14 years, fired? Was it because he asked too many questions on a sensitive issue? We don’t know, but Jr. Deputy Accountant is investigating and will keep us posted. Unless she disappears (oh no!), in which case we’ll have to draw our own conclusions. - Ilene
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Ed. note: the following might a bit long and F-bomb lite for regular JDA readers. I ask you to overlook that, grab a beer, get comfy and read anyway.
Before we get into the story of William Bergman, an analyst with the Chicago Fed for 14 years of his life, we need to get the background on the story he was sniffing out.
Some of his work at the Chicago Fed includes The New Midwest in Recession and Recovery, The Revival of the Rust Belt: Fleeting Fancy or Durable Good? and 1995 Economic Outlook: 1994 Will Be a Tough Act to Follow. Without calling him bland (we’d never be so rude), let’s just say he was good at his job, which as a Fed analyst is to pump out quality droll nonsense that appeals only to central bankers and economy nerds. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.
On August 2, 2001, a non-routine letter went out from the Fed Board of Governors to the 12 regional banks. The letter reminded them that "among other things, the review of SARs assists in the identification of potential supervisory issues at banking organizations, provides information for determining compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and provides useful information on suspicious activity being identified by the reporting institutions."
Suspicious Activity Reports (here’s what one looks like), while not specific to terrorism, can be useful for tracking terrorism activity and financing based on reports the regional Fed banks receive from banks they supervise. The August 2011 letter went deeper:
Reserve Banks must continue to conduct a thorough and timely review of all material SARs filed by supervised financial institutions in their districts. This review is an integral component of the supervisory function. A periodic, comprehensive review of SARs will assist Reserve Banks in identifying suspicious or suspected criminal activity occurring at or through supervised financial institutions; provide the information necessary to
by ilene - February 3rd, 2011 9:45 pm
H/t Barry Ritholtz, Did the Fed Cause Unrest in the Arab World?
by ilene - December 13th, 2010 8:25 pm
In March of 2009 when Ben Bernanke first appeared on 60 Minutes, he was bold enough to admit that the Fed was effectively printing money. Those balls are long gone (maybe they got caught in the printing press) and he’s back to lying through his beard in the hopes that we’re all too stupid to notice.
"One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowing interest rates by buying Treasury securities. And by lowering interest rates, we hope to stimulate the economy to grow faster. So, the trick is to find the appropriate moment when to begin to unwind this policy. And that’s what we’re gonna do."
Oh yeah? Is that your final answer?
I beg to differ, Mr Chairman. Please consult the Fed’s latest balance sheet for more details:
Perhaps ole JDA is losing it and has lost the ability to add zeroes correctly but if I’m reading that right, our friends at the Fed printed $3,738,000,000 in a week and has printed $55,134,000,000 in new money since December 2, 2009.
I remind dear reader that footnote 16 which follows "Currency in circulation" disclaims that number as "estimated". So it could be more, it could be less. Knowing those lying rat b*st**ds at the Fed, that number is way undershot but hey, what do I know?
Is that right? Maybe we should go back a few more balance sheets just to make sure. Let’s see how much they’ve been printing, shall we?
November 18th, 2010: $2,575,000,000
November 12, 2010: $6,209,000,000 (wow, busy week for Zimbabwe Ben!)
November 4, 2010: $3,385,000,000
Oh look! Finally! A week with fewer dollars! Good for them!
October 28, 2010: -$378,000,000
If that’s not printing money, I don’t know what is. Go, Zimbabwe Ben, go!!
by ilene - November 9th, 2010 11:52 am
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
The nonsense regarding the world’s greatest monetary non-event just continues to spiral out of control. Last week it was Glenn Beck pretending to know something about the monetary system and economics. This week it is Sarah Palin. In a talk today Mrs. Palin went on a politically motivated rant about government intervention and “money printing”:
“I’m deeply concerned about the Federal Reserve’s plans to buy up anywhere from $600 billion to as much as $1 trillion of government securities. The technical term for it is “quantitative easing.” It means our government is pumping money into the banking system by buying up treasury bonds. And where, you may ask, are we getting the money to pay for all this? We’re printing it out of thin air.
The Fed hopes doing this may buy us a little temporary economic growth by supplying banks with extra cash which they could then lend out to businesses. But it’s far from certain this will even work. After all, the problem isn’t that banks don’t have enough cash on hand – it’s that they don’t want to lend it out, because they don’t trust the current economic climate.
And if it doesn’t work, what do we do then? Print even more money? What’s the end game here? Where will all this money printing on an unprecedented scale take us? Do we have any guarantees that QE2 won’t be followed by QE3, 4, and 5, until eventually – inevitably – no one will want to buy our debt anymore? What happens if the Fed becomes not just the buyer of last resort, but the buyer of only resort?”
Glenn Beck made equally irresponsible comments last week. Why these people feel as though they are qualified to discuss monetary operations is beyond me. It would be like me walking into the Kennedy Center and telling the National Symphony Orchestra that they are playing the music all wrong (and I have not one ounce of musical talent in my entire body).
I won’t repeat the entire argument I have consistently made in recent weeks because I fear readers might bludgeon me with my keyboard, but let’s reiterate a few things:
- QE is NOT money printing. They are adding reserves to the banking sector and removing government bonds. Mr. Bernanke has explicitly stated this:
by ilene - November 7th, 2010 2:00 pm
By Andy Xie, China International Business
The world seems full of smoke ahead of a world currency war. The weapon of choice is quantitative easing (QE). If you print a trillion, I’ll print a trillion. No change in exchange rate after a trillion? Let’s do it again, QE2. If you listen to people like Geithner, the end of the world is quite near. Rich people everywhere, not just the Chinese, are buying gold for peace of mind. When the currency values vanish in a QE melee, the rich at least have the gold to stay rich.
If you listen to American pundits, politicians or government officials, it’s all China’s fault. China is far from perfect – its currency policy certainly isn’t – but it is not the cause for the world’s ills. The US is by far the biggest source of uncertainty and the initiator of the QE war. Its elite created the biggest financial bubble since 1929, even removing regulations designed to prevent it, and left the US economy in a shambles after it burst. The same people want to find a quick cure to hold onto their power. Unfortunately, there isn’t one.
The US has cut interest rates to zero and run up budget deficits to 10% of GDP. It’s shock-and-awe Kenyesian policy. But, after a few quarters of strong growth, the economy is turning down again. Unemployment remains close to 10% (and would be much higher, close to Spain’s 20%, if the data included the underemployed and those who have stopped looking for work). The stimulus has failed.
How should one interpret the result? If you were Paul Krugman, you would say it wasn’t enough. Of course, if 20% of GDP in budget deficit and another round of QE still doesn’t work, he would say again it’s not enough. You can never prove Krugman wrong.
Continue here To Hell Through QE | China International Business.
by ilene - September 27th, 2010 1:57 am
Courtesy of Mish
Patience of US legislators regarding the value of the Yuan has finally given out. Last Friday, Congress jumped into the fray after exceptionally harsh statements from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who up until now had always preached diplomacy. Here is a brief sequence of events.
Patience Runs Out
MarketWatch reports Patience runs out on quiet diplomacy on China currency.
Sept. 15, 2010
Patience appears to have run out in Washington for the standard White House approach that favors quiet diplomacy for dealing with China over the dispute over the value of its currency.
In testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, a wide array of experts said that quiet diplomacy has essentially been a failure. The only debate at the hearing was what new approach should be tried.
Geithner Enters the Battle
One day later Geithner calls for faster yuan appreciation
Sept. 16, 2010
“China needs to allow significant, sustained appreciation over time to correct this undervaluation and allow the exchange rate to fully reflect market forces,” Geithner said in testimony prepared for the Senate Banking Committee. Geithner will also talk about the yuan with the House Ways and Means Committee this afternoon.
“It is past time for China to move,” Geithner said.
An undervalued yuan has helped China to boost exports and encouraged U.S. companies to outsource manufacturing to China from the U.S., Geithner said. He added that the yuan is held at a undervalued level by “heavy intervention” even as Chinese officials have pledged to allow the yuan’s value to be guided more by market forces.
China Rebuffs Geithner
Responding to Geithner China says it won’t repeat Japan’s mistake
Sept. 20, 2010
China pledged not to repeat Japan’s mistake and allow its currency to rise in response to foreign pressure, countering criticism from U.S. lawmakers that the yuan is undervalued amid a growing cross-Pacific row over Beijing’s currency regime.
“China will not go down the path that Japan did and give in to foreign pressure on the yuan’s exchange rate,” Li Daokui, an economist and member of the monetary policy committee of the People’s Bank of China, was cited as saying in a report by the state-run China Daily.
Li’s comments appeared to reference to the 1985 Plaza Accord that resulted in coordinated government
by ilene - September 18th, 2010 10:19 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
Are you ready for a currency war? Well, buckle up, because things are about to get interesting. This week Japan fired what is perhaps the opening salvo in a new round of currency wars by publicly intervening in the foreign exchange market for the first time since 2004. Japan’s bold 12 billion dollar move to push down the value of the yen made headlines all over the world. Japan’s economy is highly dependent on exports and the Japanese government was becoming increasingly alarmed by the recent surge in the value of the yen. A stronger yen makes Japanese exports more expensive for other nations and thus would harm Japanese industry. But Japan is not the only nation that is ready to go to battle over currency rates. The governments of the U.S. and China continue to exchange increasingly heated rhetoric regarding currency policy. In Europe, there is growing sentiment that the euro needs to be devalued in order to help European exports become more competitive. In addition, exporters all over the world are already loudly complaining about the possibility that the Federal Reserve is about to unleash another round of quantitative easing.
Virtually all major exporting nations want the value of the U.S. dollar to remain high so that they can keep flooding us with lots of cheap goods. The sad reality is that our current system of globalized trade rewards exporting nations that have weak currencies, and many nations have now shown that they are willing to take the gloves off to make certain that their national currencies do not appreciate in value by too much.
Some nations have been involved in open currency manipulation for some time now. For example, Singapore is well known for intervening in the foreign exchange market in order to benefit exporters. Also, the Swiss National Bank experienced losses equivalent to about 15 billion dollars trying to stop the rapid rise of the Swiss franc earlier this year.…
by ilene - September 13th, 2010 10:45 pm
Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
"The consequences of this policy are also stark and simple: in effect, China is taxing imports while subsidizing exports, feeding a huge trade surplus. You may see claims that China’s trade surplus has nothing to do with its currency policy; if so, that would be a first in world economic history. An undervalued currency always promotes trade surpluses, and China is no different." Paul Krugman
And he is exactly right. As regular readers know this matter of Chinese mercantilism and its toleration and acceptance by the West has been a key observation and objection here since 2000. Any economist who does not understand that devaluing and then maintaining an artificially low currency peg with a trading partner distorts the nature of that trade should review their knowledge of algebra.
And yet it was in 1994 during the Clinton Administration that China was permitted to obtain full trading partner "Most Favored Nation" status, while vaguely promising to float their recently devalued currency some day, and address the human rights issues that were endogenous to their non-democratic, totalitarian government.
"From 1981 to 1993 there were six major devaluations in China. Their amounts ranged from 9.6 percent to 44.9 percent, and the official exchange rate went from 2.8 yuan per U.S. dollar to 5.32 yuan per U.S. dollar. On January 1, 1994, China unified the two-tier exchange rates by devaluing the official rate to the prevailing swap rate of 8.7 yuan per U.S. dollar." Sonia Wong, China’s Export Growth
This served Mr. Clinton’s constituents in Bentonville quite well, and has some interesting implications for the Chinese campaign contributions scandals. It supported the Rubin doctrine of a ‘strong dollar’ while facilitating the financialization of the US economy and the continuing decline of the middle class wage earners, under pressue to surrender a standard of living achieved at great cost. "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Currency Collapse." and China’s Mercantilism: Selling Them the Rope
by ilene - August 14th, 2010 3:11 am
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
Back in June we wondered out loud, “What is a dollar?” That exercise—as well as the recent schizophrenic behavior of the currency market and the lamentations regarding the Fed’s “printing press”—has led us to wax philosophical on this Friday in August, and ask the question that is the title of our post today.
We tend to give the concept of money very little thought. For example, how many transactions does the average person engage in every day, and in how many forms? Our first transaction of the day is handing $1.25 in cash to a guy in a cart on 47th Street for our morning coffee. Throughout the day we buy lunch with a debit card, buy a book online with a credit card, transfer
The typical complaint about the dollar is that it is a fiat currency, one that is backed by nothing but the faith in America and its institutions. Some feel more comfortable knowing that their paper money can be exchanged at any time for a set amount of gold; it seems more grounded somehow, less faith-based. But a quick look at gold, despite it having a limited quantity (it can’t be printed at will), reveals that the major drawback of fiat money also applies to gold, meaning it only has value because we have always ascribed it value. Essentially, it is a malleable and ductile metal with a limited range of inherent utility. At the end of the day, you can’t eat it, or live in it (but you can wear it). As Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup and a gold bear, said, gold has benefitted from “the longest-lasting bubble in human history.”
by ilene - June 21st, 2010 5:30 am
After months of debate, denial and conflict, China finally announced a new policy on its controversial currency, the yuan (also known as the renminbi, or RMB). For the past two years, the yuan has (unofficially) been pegged to the U.S. dollar, sparking criticism from politicians in Washington, high-profile economists and China’s fellow developing nations that Beijing was pursuing a “beggar-thy-neighbor” agenda to keep Chinese exports artificially cheap to expand their market presence at the expense of competitors. China had stubbornly resisted the pressure to change its exchange rate policy, insisting that the yuan was valued exactly how it should be.
But over the weekend, in a surprise announcement, the People’s Bank of China signaled the peg would come to an end. Here’s what the central bank said in a statement:
In view of the recent economic situation and financial market developments at home and abroad, and the balance of payments (BOP) situation in China, the People´s Bank of China has decided to proceed further with reform of the RMB exchange rate regime and to enhance the RMB exchange rate flexibility.
What does that mean? Unfortunately, at least in the short run, probably not much.
While announcing the so-called reform, the People’s Bank also made it very clear that any change in the yuan’s value would come gradually at best. Its statement stated plainly that its priorities remained generally unchanged – to “maintain the RMB exchange rate basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level, and achieve the macroeconomic and financial stability in China.” The People’s Bank further signaled a return to the currency valuation system that existed before the peg was resumed in 2008 – a managed float in which the yuan traded in a narrow band against an unnamed basket of currencies. That process was put in place in 2005, and though it did result in yuan appreciation – by some 21% versus the dollar over three years – it also allows Chinese policymakers a degree of control over the exchange rate to prevent rapid movements.
In other words, we’re looking at a back-to-the-future scenario, with Beijing returning to an old policy that, though better than its peg, won’t produce the drastic overhaul of China’s currency regime that many critics would like to see. In fact, on Monday morning, the…