German Finance Minister calls Fed “Clueless”; G20 Showdown with China; Why Geithner’s “Non-Plan” is Nothing but Hot Air
by ilene - November 7th, 2010 5:32 pm
German Finance Minister calls Fed "Clueless"; G20 Showdown with China; Why Geithner’s "Non-Plan" is Nothing but Hot Air
Courtesy of Mish
Outside the blogosphere and into realm of high ranking government officials, it is rare to hear words like "clueless" to describe the Fed. That such talk is now occurring shows just how upset the rest of the world is at Bernanke’s policies.
Reuters reports US Policy ‘Clueless’: German Finance Minister.
Europe needs to strengthen economic governance and agree on a permanent crisis resolution mechanism, all the more so given current U.S. economic weakness, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday.
France and Germany should maintain their leadership role in Europe, Schaeuble said, especially in order to harmonise its economic policy and bolster stability given current economic uncertainties.
These are being worsened by reckless policy in part from the the United States, Schaeuble said, sharpening his criticism of the Federal Reserve’s program to buy an additional $600 billion worth of U.S. government bonds. Pumping more money into the economy will not solve the country’s problems, he said, adding that the world needed U.S. leadership that was currently lacking.
"With all due respect, U.S. policy is clueless," Schaeuble said. "(The problem) is not a shortage of liquidity. Late on Thursday, Schaeuble said Germany would take up this point critically with the United States both bilaterally and at next week’s G20 summit of industrialised and emerging nations.
The Financial Times reports China tees up G20 showdown with US
China has curtly dismissed a US proposal to address global economic imbalances, setting the stage for a potential showdown at next week’s G20 meeting in Seoul.
Cui Tiankai, a deputy foreign minister and one of China’s lead negotiators at the G20, said on Friday that the US plan for limiting current account surpluses and deficits to 4 per cent of gross domestic product harked back “to the days of planned economies”.
“We believe a discussion about a current account target misses the whole point,” he added, in the first official comment by a senior Chinese official on the subject. “If you look at the global economy, there are many issues that merit more attention – for example, the question of quantitative easing.”
China’s opposition to the proposal, which had made some progress at a G20 finance ministers’ meeting last month, came amid a continuing rumble of protest
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 4:20 pm
Courtesy of Eric Falkenstein of FALKENBLOG
- expected real interest rates
- expected inflation
- risk premium
As current interest rates are around 2.5%, and current inflation expectations are around 3%, even with a slight convexity adjustment there’s a negative real expected return here. To guys like Campbell, that means, bonds are some kind of insurance, because the only reason investors would accept this is if they pay off in a very bad state of nature, just as you pay for car insurance. Specifically, everyone is supposedly afraid of a recession that would also bring with it deflation.
While the CAPM betas of bonds have historically been positive, they have been negative lately. If you believed in the CAPM, that would mean the expected negative return makes sense, it is a negative ‘risk premium’. Of course, the positive beta previously did not explain why bonds cratered from 1960 to 1980, and the CAPM does not work at all within equities, the arena it was designed for. It also does not work in corporate bonds, REITs, options, etc. But looked at in isolation it is a plausible explanation, and hope springs eternal.
I think a better explanation of the current interest rates is that the Federal Reserve has been buying hundreds of billions of dollars in US Treasuries. Considering, they have an infinite supply of capital to do this (they create the money when they write the check), the market is not going to offset this via expectations of future inflation. So, the expectations are there, but US Treasuries are a rigged market, with one huge buyer debasing the world’s most powerful currency because it’s in the standard Keynesian manual for how to treat excess unemployment when inflation is currently low. Once the evidence of this short-sighted policy becomes clear, the inflation toothpaste will be out of the tube, and on to the next bubble-crash.
That is, the expected return on bonds is negative, because bonds are in a Fed-supported bubble. Just look at gold to see what an
by ilene - September 13th, 2010 9:09 pm
One of my favorite analysts is Albert Edwards of Societe Generale in London. Acerbic, witty and brilliant. Emphasis on brilliant. The fact that he is a Doppelganger for James Montier (who long time readers are well acquainted with) is a coincidence (or he would say vice versa). I only kind of have permission to forward this note to you, but better to ask forgiveness… So, this week he is our Outside the Box. And a short but good one he is.
I am in Amsterdam and it is late, but deadlines have no time line. Tomorrow more work on the book. It is getting close to the end. Most books are finished when the authors quit in disgust. How many edits can you do? I am close.
I wonder late at night, with maybe a few too many glasses of wine, why I feel like a book is so much more than an e-letter. Really? The last ten years of what I have written are on the archives. Good (ok, sometimes really good) is there. But some are an embarrassment. What was I thinking?
But somehow in my Old World brain, a book is more than a weekly letter. It is somehow more permanent than an “online” letter. Which may be archived forever. The book is “paper” and may be around for a few years. But the online version is here for a long time.
I know that is stupid. Really I do. But what is a 61 year old mind to do? A strange world we live in.
It is really time to hit the send button. More than you know! The conversation tonight has been too deep!
Your trying to figure out the purpose of life analyst,
Market still deluding itself that it can escape the inevitable dénouement
By Albert Edwards
The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar…
by ilene - September 7th, 2010 11:36 am
Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon
Since I started publishing Financial Armageddon in late-2006, I’ve often railed against the incompetence and tomfoolery of highly-paid Wall Street "strategists" (note the double quotes). Many of these so-called experts are clueless data-regurgitators or ivory tower economists with above average communications skills. Indeed, it seems to me that most of the "stars" of the forecasting game are simply being rewarded for having the gift of gab, rather than their ability to look past the trees and size up the layout of the forest.
But as with most generalizations, there are exceptions. Surprisingly — yes, I am cynical — a very small number of those who know what they are talking about, have something intelligent to say, and know how to translate their insights into clear and interesting prose have been recognized as such. I am referring in particular to Albert Edwards, the number-one ranked global strategist for I-don’t-know-how-many-years running, and his sidekick Dylan Grice, who placed second overall in the 2010 Thomson Reuters Extel Survey, both of whom are members of the strategy team at Societe Generale.
In his most recent Global Strategy Weekly, Mr. Edwards touches upon two topics near-and-dear to my heart: the real state of the economy and the utter cluelessness of most equity investors [italics mind]:
The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar deluded state of mind. Yet again, equity investors refuse to accept they are now locked in a Vulcan death grip and are about to fall unconscious.
The notion that the equity market predicts anything has always struck me as ludicrous. In the
by ilene - August 28th, 2010 3:56 am
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
Don’t worry everybody. Federal Reserve Chairman "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke says that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine, and that if it does slip up somehow the Federal Reserve is ready to rush in to the rescue. That was essentially Bernanke’s message to an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday. Bernanke insisted that even though the Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to historic lows it still has plenty of tools that could be used to stimulate the U.S. economy if necessary.
Well, considering Bernanke’s track record, the "don’t worry, be happy" mantra is just not going to cut it this time. After all, if Bernanke and his team were such intellectual powerhouses the "surprise" financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 would not have caught them with their pants down. The truth is that just before the "greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression" Bernanke was telling everyone that the economy was just fine. So are we going to let him fool us again?
But Bernanke insists that this time is different. This time the Federal Reserve really has got a handle on things. During his remarks at Jackson Hole, Bernanke said that the Fed will adopt "unconventional measures if it proves necessary, especially if the outlook were to deteriorate significantly."
Could that be a thinly veiled way of saying that Helicopter Ben and his pals will do as much "quantitative easing" as they feel is necessary to keep the economy moving forward?…
by ilene - August 11th, 2010 2:33 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Nassim Taleb is out making waves once again, this time at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg today, where he said he was “betting on the collapse of government bonds” and that investors should avoid stocks. To be sure this is not a new position for Nassim, who in February had the same message, when he said that "every single human being" should be short U.S. treasuries. Indeed since then bonds have gone up in a straight line as the bond bubble has grown to record levels, and with the ongoing help of the Fed, is it any wonder. The only question is when will this last bubble also pop.
More from Bloomberg:
“I’m very pessimistic,” he said at the . “By staying in cash or hedging against inflation, you won’t regret it in two years.”
Treasuries have rallied amid speculation the global economic recovery is faltering, driving yields on two-year notes to a record low of 0.4892 percent today. The Federal Reserve yesterday reversed plans to exit from monetary stimulus and decided to keep its bond holdings level to support an economic recovery it described as weaker than anticipated. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 16 percent between April 23 and July 2, the biggest slump during the bull market.
The financial system is riskier that it was than before the 2008 crisis that led the U.S. economy to the worst contraction since the Great Depression, Taleb said.
Will the Black Swan author be correct? Perhaps (and given enough time, certainly), although as virtually everyone is expecting a dire outcome in both the public and private sector, courtesy of the untenable balance sheet, the surprise will most certainly have to come from some other place. And with even The Atlantic now posting cover stories on the Iran war spark, it is increasingly less likely that geopolitics will be the issue. Is every possible dire outcome priced in? If so, Taleb should focus his formidable intellect on answering just what the market is missing.
by ilene - June 13th, 2010 1:14 am
Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY writing at CounterPunch
On Thursday, European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet announced that he would continue the ECB’s low interest rates (1 per cent) and easy lending policies for the foreseeable future. Wall Street rallied on the news, sending shares rocketing up 273 points on the day. Trichet also said that he would continue his controversial bond-purchasing program which has drawn fire from wary German leaders who fear the onset of inflation. The bank chief dodged questions on the program suggesting that he will operate secretively like the Fed, buying up downgraded assets and concealing their original owner. By appointing himself the de facto Fiscal Czar of the European Union, Trichet has stopped the fall of the euro, scattered the short-sellers, and zapped the markets upward. Not bad for a day’s work.
Up until yesterday, credit conditions in the EU had been steadily deteriorating. Hoarding by banks had intensified while the rates that banks charge each other for short-term loans was on the rise. Lenders were afraid that the $2.4 trillion in loans to countries in the south (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal) and East Europe would not be repaid and that that would push more banks into default. Euribor (the rate at which euro interbank term deposits within the euro zone are offered by one prime bank to another ) had been creeping upwards while overnight deposits at the ECB were setting new records every day. Jittery banks have parked over $390 billion at the ECB’s deposit facility since the crisis began. Banks would rather get low interest on their deposits then lend in the money markets where they might not be repaid at all.
From Bloomberg News:
“Jean-Claude Trichet said the European Central Bank will extend its offerings of unlimited cash and keep buying government bonds for now as it tries to ease tensions in money markets and fight the European debt crisis.
“ ‘It’s appropriate to continue to do what we’ve decided’ on sovereign bonds, ECB President Trichet said at a press conference in Frankfurt today. ‘We have a money market which is not functioning perfectly.’
Trichet’s ECB is buying debt and pumping unlimited funds into the banking system as part of a European Union strategy to stop the euro region from breaking apart. While Trichet refused to bow to some investors’ demands for more details
by ilene - June 11th, 2010 10:49 am
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
A week ago Hungary had the unfortunate mishap of telling the truth when it compared itself to Greece, resulting in a massive selloff of the Forint and leading to fresh lows for the euro. Today, it is Japan which is using the very same strategy in an attempt to devalue its own currency. So far it’s working.
The BBC reports that Naoto Kan has been a little truthier than the G-20 plenary sessions generally allow. We now look for the PM’s reign of truth to be even shorter than that of his thousands of predecessors during the past couple of years: "Naoto Kan, in his first major speech since taking over, said Japan needed a financial restructuring to avert a Greece-style crisis."Our country’s outstanding public debt is huge… our public finances have become the worst of any developed country," he said." Obviously, none of this is news. However, the market certainly does not appreciate when it is told that what it sees day after day in the non-mainstream media is actually the truth and nothing but the truth. What next – Tim Geithner coming out to say that a downgrade of the US is actually long overdue?
More from BBC:
After years of borrowing, Japan’s debt is twice its gross domestic product.
"It is difficult to continue our fiscal policies by heavily relying on the issuance of government bonds," said Mr Kan, Japan’s former finance minister.
"Like the confusion in the eurozone triggered by Greece, there is a risk of collapse if we leave the increase of the public debt untouched and then lose the trust of the bond markets," he said.
Yet, just like with the SNB’s CHF intervention, the market did not respond at all to this, at least so far. Do the HFT algos need a realism translator when they are not focusing on ephemeral data such as consumer confidence (the US consumer is confident that after once again cutting spending, they may eventually buy that 5th iPad at some point in the future). Or does nobody even care about any fundamentals anymore? Is the entire market a bubble chamber where one bout of buying or selling is all that’s needed to set off the appropriate algo engines?…