Posts Tagged ‘Ben Bernanke’

Edward Harrison, Dylan Ratigan & Bill Fleckenstein: Thoughts on FOOD

Courtesy of EDWARD HARRISON, Credit Writedowns

Bill Fleckenstein was back talking to Dylan Ratigan about the source of rising oil prices. (See the last Fleckenstein video here). Clearly, supply constraints and increased demand in emerging markets play the central role in creating a supply demand imbalance for a commodity where demand is price inelastic. I am not just talking about natural disasters and riots, I am also talking about peak oil, of course. That means prices for oil soar until we hit a recession and the resulting demand destruction.

However, at the margin there are other factors at play, one of which is pro-inflationary central bank policy. I have mentioned this a couple of times in the past. For example, regarding food price inflation, I wrote in November:

[Morgan Stanley Chief Economist Richard] Berner sees four forces at play, pushing up food prices: strong global demand, weather, energy costs, low food stock inventories. You can read the full note at the link below.

My take is a bit different. The rise in food and energy prices should be taken into consideration by government officials conducting pro-inflationary policies. What should be of concern regarding commodity price inflation is how it represents a regressive tax on lower income workers and consumers in emerging markets and developing countries. Lower income consumers spend a much greater percentage of income on food and energy. So when commodity prices increase, it has a disproportionate effect on them. One reason we saw food riots in emerging markets in 2008 has much to do with this.

On Food Price Inflation

Read Edward’s full article here >

Bill Fleckenstein gives his take in the video below.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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GRAPES OF WRATH – 2011

Excellent article comparing current situation with lead up to the Great Depression.  Well worth reading. – Ilene 

Courtesy of Jim Quinn at The Burning Platform

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” – John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath

  

John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda.


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Ron Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program; Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

Courtesy of Mish

MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program

Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.

“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.

“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.

Political Pressure on Fed Mounts

WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.

If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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Stock World Weekly

Here’s this week’s Stock World Weekly. Enjoy!  Comments welcome.  

Screen shot 2011-01-30 at 1.34.41 AM


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Surprise, It Was Greenspan and Bernanke’s Fault

Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant 

 

 What, Bernanke worry?

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is about to tell us, in 576 pages, what many of us already know:

The majority report finds fault with two Fed chairmen: Alan Greenspan, who led the central bank as the housing bubble expanded, and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, who did not foresee the crisis but played a crucial role in the response. It criticizes Mr. Greenspan for advocating deregulation and cites a “pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” under his leadership as a “prime example” of negligence.

Anyone else running out tomorrow to get a copy?

Like the 9/11 Commission, we could have saved a whole lot of money and time by simply verifying alternative media claims instead of starting from scratch as if no one knew anything all along.

Oh well. 


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Ambac Accues JP Morgan of Fraud in Ongoing Mortgage Suit

Courtesy of Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism 

One of the big reasons there have been so few fraud charges leveled against what looks like clear and widespread banking industry is that under the law, “fraud” is pretty difficult to prove. Needless to say, that puts commentators in a bit of a bind, because they can be depicted as being hysterical if they use the “f” words, since behavior that is often fraud by any common sense standard may be hard or impossible to prove in court.

The hurdle in litigation and prosecution is proving intent. Basically, the party who is being accused has to not only have done something bad, he has to have been demonstrably aware that he was up to no good. Thus po-faced claims of “I had no idea this was improper, my accountants/lawyers knew about it and didn’t say anything” or “everyone in the industry was doing it, so I had not reason to think this was irregular” is a “get out of jail free” card. Similarly, even if lower level employees knew that their company was up to stuff that stank, if the decision-makers can plausibly claim ignorance, again they can probably get away with it.

So it is gratifying in a perverse way to see a case in which the perp not only looks to have engaged in chicanery, but the facts make it pretty hard for him to say he didn’t know he was pulling a fast one. And even more fun, it involves JP Morgan, which has somehow managed to create the impression that it was better than all the other TARP banks, when on the mortgage front, there is plenty evidence to suggest that all the major banks have been up to their eyeballs in bad practices.

The case involves the bond insurer Ambac and the mortgage company EMC, which was the Bear Stearns conduit for buying mortgages to securitize and now thus part of JP Morgan. In 2010, reports surfaced that EMC had been falsifying mortgage data to keep its pipeline moving as fast as Bear wanted and contain costs.

But a suit by bond insurer Ambac alleges far more serious misbehavior. The discovery process in outstanding putback litigation has unearthed a scheme to defraud investors and Ambac and led the bond insurer to add fraud charges to its complaint. The Atlantic, which broke the 2010 story, gives a
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Stock World Weekly

Here’s the newest: Stock World Weekly Newsletter. Comments welcome! – Ilene 

Jobs Cartoon

Archives here. 


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Food Inflation Comes To America: General Mills, Kraft And Kellogg Hike Prices On Selected Food Products

Courtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

After denying for months that surging food prices will eventually come to the consumer, hoping that instead food companies could absorb the margin drop, sellside research is finally capitulating to the reality of what is really happening in the retail store. In a note discussing General Mills, Goldman Sachs says the company raised prices on snack bars some 7% last week. Goldman further clarifies that "this reportedly followed a comparable increase taken by K on its snack bars in mid-December. In addition, KFT has reportedly announced a 6% increase on select Planters branded nut products. We expect more price increases to be announced by the food  companies in the coming weeks." Maybe, but the Chairman sure doesn’t. And the Chairman is always 100% correct.

Other observations from Goldman on what are now seen as inevitable price increases across numerous food verticals.

These pricing actions support our Food sector view that price momentum will continue to build as 2011 progresses, driven by easing promotional spending and list price increases (see our 1/5 report, Time to embrace inflation; Upgrade Food to Neutral, GIS to buy). This should drive top-line acceleration and margin stabilization over the course of 2011. Evidence of the progression is already apparent in retail scanner data (see our 1/11 report, Progression to a ‘less bad’ promo environment continues). Scanner data is likely to continue to show a measured pace of price growth. That said, we acknowledge that the growth is likely to build gradually as the pass-through of list price hikes to retail shelves lags and the reduction of promotional spend takes time to execute.

As a reminder, in December, the food component of the CPI increased by 0.1%, the lowest amount since July…

And just to complete the circus, Goldman now views price pass throughs as a good thing. See: it resolves the margin issue. Uh, yeah. But someone should explain to Goldman that when calculating revenue, one multiples Price (P) by Volume (V). And in a stagflationary economy, and increase in P results in a more than commensurate decline in V, offsetting all margin boosts.

GIS (Buy) remains our top Food pick and snack bar price hikes reinforce our conviction. To our knowledge, Mills has now executed price increases in categories that account for roughly half of its US retail portfolio (and we think there may


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Settling Prosecutions For Pennies on the Dollar Is a Type of Bailout

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog 

The following is an excerpt of my much longer roundup of the many covert ways the government is bailing out the giant banks.

Fraud As a Business Model

If you stop and think for a moment, it is obvious that failing to prosecute fraud is a bailout.

Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof demonstrated that if big companies aren’t held responsible for their actions, the government ends up bailing them out. So failure to prosecute directly leads to a bailout.

Moreover, as I noted last month: 

Fraud benefits the wealthy more than the poor, because the big banks and big companies have the inside knowledge and the resources to leverage fraud into profits. Joseph Stiglitz noted in September that giants like Goldman are using their size to manipulate the market. The giants (especially Goldman Sachs) have also used high-frequency program trading (representing up to 70% of all stock trades) and high proportions of other trades as well). This not only distorts the markets, but which also lets the program trading giants take a sneak peak at what the real traders are buying and selling, and then trade on the insider information. See this,thisthisthis and this.

Similarly, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley together hold 80% of the country’s derivatives risk, and 96% of the exposure to credit derivatives. They use their dominance to manipulate the market

Fraud disproportionally benefits the big players (and helps them to become big in the first place), increasing inequality and warping the market.

[And] Professor Black says that fraud is a large part of the mechanism through which bubbles are blown.

***

Finally, failure to prosecute


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“The Fed No Longer Even Denies that the Purpose of Its Latest Blast of Bond Purchases … Is To Drive Up Wall Street”

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

The stated purpose of quantitative easing was to drive down interest rates on U.S. treasury bonds.

But as U.S. News and World Reported noted last month:

By now, you’ve probably heard that the Fed is purchasing $600 billion in treasuries in hopes that it will push interest rates even lower, spur lending, and help jump-start the economy. Two years ago, the Fed set the federal funds rate (the interest rate at which banks lend to each other) to virtually zero, and this second round of quantitative easing--commonly referred to as QE2--is one of the few tools it has left to help boost economic growth. In spite of all this, a funny thing has happened. Treasury yields have actually risen since the Fed’s announcement.

The following charts from Doug Short update this trend:

Click to View

Click to View

Click to View

 
Of course, rather than admit that the Fed is failing at driving down rates, rising rates are now being heralded as a sign of success. As the New York Times reported Monday:

The trouble is [rates] they have risen since it was formally announced in November, leaving many in the markets puzzled about the value of the Fed’s bond-buying program.

***

But the biggest reason for the rise in interest rates was probably that the economy was, at last, growing faster. And that’s good news.

“Rates have risen for the reasons we were hoping for: investors are more optimistic about the recovery,” said Mr. Sack. “It is a good sign.”

Last November, after it started to become apparent that rates were moving in the wrong direction, Bernanke pulled a bait-and-switch, defending quantitative easing on other grounds:


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Zero Hedge

Are Stocks Cheap, Or Just Another Rationalization?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Are stocks “cheap,” or is this just another bullish “rationalization.” Such was the suggestion by the consistently bullish Brian Wesbury of First Trust in a research note entitled ...



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Phil's Favorites

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad - here's how they could change the world

 

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad – here's how they could change the world

Homes fit for zeroes (and ones). Julien Tromeur

Courtesy of James Bowden, University of Strathclyde and Edward Thomas Jones, Bangor University

Sotheby’s has become the latest establishment name in art to dive into NFTs (non-fungible tokens) through its collaboration with anonymous ...



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Digital Currencies

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad - here's how they could change the world

 

NFTs are much bigger than an art fad – here's how they could change the world

Homes fit for zeroes (and ones). Julien Tromeur

Courtesy of James Bowden, University of Strathclyde and Edward Thomas Jones, Bangor University

Sotheby’s has become the latest establishment name in art to dive into NFTs (non-fungible tokens) through its collaboration with anonymous ...



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Biotech/COVID-19

India COVID crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy

 

India COVID crisis: four reasons it will derail the world economy

India is the fifth largest economy in the world. Deepak Choudhary/Unsplash

Courtesy of Uma S Kambhampati, University of Reading

The second wave of the pandemic has struck India with a devastating impact. With over 300,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths across the country each day at present, the total number of deaths has just passed the 200,000 mark – that’s about one in 16 of all COVID deaths across the world....



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Chart School

Yellen can not stop the dollar decline

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Printing money results in a lower currency, so long as the currency does not fall too fast.

Previous Post: US Dollar Forecast - Weakness

Here are the very strong fundamentals for a lower US dollar: 

(a) US inflation exploding.
(b) Massive US twin deficits.
(c) Better conditions in Europe.

However French election worries in 2022 Q1 and Q2 may provide US dollar strength (via European weakness) after Christmas, but this strength may come after a low in the DXY near $84.  

It looks like Yellen knows a down swing in the US dollar is near because ...

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Politics

If China's middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?

 

If China's middle class continues to thrive and grow, what will it mean for the rest of the world?

Over the past few decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have become part of the middle class. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Courtesy of Amitrajeet A. Batabyal, Rochester Institute of Technology

China’s large and impressive accomplishments over the past four decades have spurred scholars and politicians to debate whether the decline of the West – including the ...



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ValueWalk

Managing Investments As A Charity Or Nonprofit

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Maintaining financial viability is a constant challenge for charities and nonprofit organizations.

Q4 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The past year has underscored that challenge. The pandemic has not just affected investment returns – it’s also had serious implications for charitable activities and the ability to fundraise. For some organizations, it’s even raised doubts about whether they can continue to operate.

Finding ways to generate long-term, sustainable returns for ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Will Historic Selloff In Treasury Bonds Turn Into Opportunity?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Long-dated treasury bonds have been crushed over the past year, sending ETFs like TLT (20+ Year US Treasury Bond ETF) spiraling over 20%.

Improving economy? Inflation concerns? Perhaps a combination of both… interest rates have risen sharply and thus bond prices have fallen in historic fashion.

Today’s chart looks at $TLT over the past 20 years. As you can see, the recent decline has truly been historic. $TLT’s price has swung from historically overbought highs to oversold lows.

At present, the long-dated bond ETF ($TLT) is trading 7.8% below its 200-...



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Mapping The Market

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

 

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

Courtesy of Marcus Lu, Visual Capitalist

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 2...



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Promotions

Phil's Stock World's Weekly Webinar - March 10, 2021

Don't miss our latest weekly webinar! 

Join us at PSW for LIVE Webinars every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 PM EST.

Phil's Stock World's Weekly Webinar – March 10, 2021

 

Major Topics:

00:00:01 - EIA Petroleum Status Report
00:04:42 - Crude Oil WTI
00:12:52 - COVID-19 Update
00:22:08 - Bonds and Borrowed Funds | S&P 500
00:45:28 - COVID-19 Vaccination
00:48:32 - Trading Techniques
00:50:34 - PBR
00:50:43 - LYG
00:50:48 - More Trading Techniques
00:52:59 - Chinese Hacks Microsoft's E...



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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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