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Minneapolis Fed President Kocherlakota Warns Massive Debt Load Can Only Be Paid By Tax Collections Or Debt Monetization

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Minneapolis Fed's recently appointed president Narayana Kocherlakota had his first public speech before the Minnesota Bankers Association. His remarks on the economy were significantly much more cautious than some of the other Bernanke sycophants. While the Fed President espouses the need for bank regulation by the Fed (to be expected, the inverse would be equivalent to mutiny), Kocherlakota is much less sanguine than his Fed colleagues about the prospects for the $1+ trillion in excess reserves and how these may lead to (hyper)inflation in the future. His remarks that the only way to fix the debt excesses: increased taxes and debt monetization (even more so than to date), should let many readers reconsider just how appropriate the Fed is to regulate a system which never changes but keeps on keeping on, changing absolutely nothing in its policy approach, and merely hoping that a rising stock market (with or without its invisible hand) is sufficient to fix everything.

The Economy and Why the Federal Reserve Needs to Supervise Banks
Narayana R. Kocherlakota - President
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Minnesota Bankers Association
St. Paul, Minnesota

February 16, 2010


My
talk today is about the recent performance of the U.S. economy, about
the prospects for recovery, and about the role of the Federal Reserve
in bank supervision. Those may seem like disconnected topics. But my
main point today is that they are not. My goal is to convince you that
a healthy U.S. economy requires a Federal Reserve that is actively
engaged in bank supervision. Before I continue, I would like to remind
you that the following views are my own, and not necessarily those of
others in the Federal Reserve.

So let’s begin with the status of the economy and its future
prospects. Of course, we can’t talk about the future without a brief
review of the past. We have just experienced an unprecedented
recession, unlike anything we’ve encountered since World War II. From
the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009, the
United States experienced four consecutive quarters of negative growth
in real gross domestic product. There is no other such sequence in the
postwar period. Not only was the length of this recession unparalleled;
it was also largely unanticipated. Most economists did not see this
coming. I mention this, in part, as a means of handicapping the
forecast you are about to hear.
The Romans used to cut up birds to make
their economic forecasts. Our methods have improved—somewhat—but just
like in Roman times, it’s very much caveat emptor with economic
forecasting.

Having said that, even very bad recessions do come to an end. There
is a nascent recovery under way. As I will describe, I expect it to
continue. However, my own forecast is that the recovery in GDP and
especially unemployment will be slow because of uncertainties relating
to various legislative initiatives and problems in the banking sector.
I do think the news is mostly good on the inflation front, although the
need for careful policy choices is even more critical than usual.

Why do I say that a recovery is under way? Real GDP began to grow
again in the third quarter of 2009. In fact, that growth rate
accelerated to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.7 percent in
the fourth quarter. My own prediction is that the National Bureau of
Economic Research will declare this recession to have ended sometime in
the second half of last year. However, GDP is not the whole story. It
is true that, as measured by unemployment, the economy is still stuck
in a trough. I will have more to say about that in a few minutes.

Will this turnaround in GDP continue in the coming months and years?
In November, the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee included
summary measures of the forecasts of the presidents of the 12 Federal
Reserve banks and the governors of the Federal Reserve System for real
GDP for 2010 and 2011. Their predictions are roughly around 3 percent
growth for 2010 and around 4 percent growth in 2011. These predictions
seem to be in step with many private sector forecasts.

My own forecast is closer to 3 percent per year over the next two
years, not 3.5 percent.
This pessimism derives from two sources. First,
our statistical forecasting model at the Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis is predicting that GDP growth over this period will be
around 2.5 percent per year. The model is a simple one in many ways,
but its forecasting track record is surprisingly good. And, unlike the
Romans, our forecasting model leaves the surrounding eagle population
intact.

However, my relative pessimism is grounded in more than the
statistical model’s forecast. I see two areas of concern. First, there
is a great deal of uncertainty related to major policy initiatives
under consideration in Washington. Congress is considering proposals
for enormous changes in health care and in the structure of financial
regulation. These proposals have generated a great deal of uncertainty,
for the capricious winds of politics seem to change them on a
near-daily basis. As bankers, you know that too much uncertainty in a
business plan makes for a risky loan. The same is true for the economy
as a whole. I see this kind of political uncertainty as problematic for
the prospects of rapid recovery.

Second, financial markets have largely healed from the traumas of
2007-09. But the banking sector faces ongoing problems. I do not need
to tell this group that banks with large amounts of commercial real
estate risk-exposure face a correspondingly elevated risk of failure.
This threat could well lead to continued declines in bank lending,
which would curtail the recovery. Even worse, as we saw in the thrift
crisis of the 1980s, in the presence of deposit insurance, banks that
are near failure have strong incentives to make poor loans. This
outcome would be even worse for the economy.

To this point in my talk, I have been discussing broad factors that
can affect GDP growth and that have influenced my economic forecast.
But as I indicated earlier and as we all well know, GDP does not tell
the full story of the impact of recessions. I’m speaking, of course,
about unemployment. Over the past 15 years, more and more
macroeconomists have begun studying household-level data on variables
like earnings and consumption. (Much of this work, by the way, was done
by researchers and consultants at the Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis.) These data have given us a greater appreciation for the
unequal impacts of recessions. Over the fourth quarter of 2008 and the
first quarter of 2009, GDP fell by about 3 percent per person. If this
fall had been spread uniformly across all people in the United States,
it would have been equivalent to everyone’s losing between three and
four days worth of income. This would be difficult, but probably not a
cost that would have led Congress to contemplate the redesign of the
entire financial regulatory system.

The point, though, is that the fall is not spread uniformly across
all people. Some workers—those who lose their jobs—suffer much bigger
falls in income. For this reason, many macroeconomists now believe that
the true cost of a recession is not the fall in GDP per se, but the
associated increase in the risk of people becoming, and staying,
unemployed.

Unemployment is currently 9.7 percent. It has been higher in the
post-World War II period—it reached 10.8 percent in the bleak fall of
1982. However, in the 25-year span between January 1984 and January
2009, unemployment never topped 8 percent. It is safe to say that those
born after 1968 have never experienced an economic episode of this kind
in their working lives.

The outlook for unemployment is not comforting. Though unemployment
has fallen somewhat, forecasts remain uniformly troubling. Unemployment
is notoriously slow to recover, and it has been especially slow to
decline after the last two milder recessions of 1990-91 and 2000-01. I
would be highly surprised if unemployment were below 9 percent by the
end of 2010 or below 8 percent by the end of 2011.

Looking at data on job flows is even more disturbing. Much has been
made in the media about how employment losses are stabilizing, as if
this portends inevitable job growth. However, the source of this
stabilization is problematic.
Beginning in the fall of 2007,
unemployment started to rise. This increase in unemployment came about
because firms started to cut back on hiring, and so workers could not
find jobs. Firm hiring rates continued to fall and hit their low point
in early 2009, where they have remained. Why then have employment
losses slowed? The reason is that the rate of layoffs and quits—what
economists call the separation rate—has slowed. But declines in the
separation rate cannot be viewed as a robust source of employment
growth. To get a true expansion in employment and in the economy, the
hiring rate has to pick up—and we have yet to see evidence that it will
do so in the immediate future.

Let me end this portion of my talk on a more positive note, with a
caveat to follow, of course. The positive news in this economy is that
inflation has been relatively tame. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to
the fourth quarter of 2009, PCE inflation has averaged slightly less
than 1.5 percent per year. Over that same period, core PCE inflation
(subtracting food and energy) averaged around 1.7 percent per year. The
Fed is keeping inflation at levels consistent with good long-run
economic performance.

Here’s the caveat: Deposit institutions are holding over a trillion
dollars of excess reserves (that is, over 15 times what they are
required to hold given their deposits). These excess reserves create
the potential for high inflation.
Suppose that households
believe that prices will rise. They would then demand more deposits to
use for transactions. Banks can readily accommodate this extra demand,
because they are holding so many excess reserves. These extra deposits
become extra money chasing the same amount of goods and so generate
upward pressure on prices. The households’ inflationary expectations
would, in fact, become self-fulfilling.

Why might households expect an increase in inflation? The amount of
federal government debt held by the private sector has gone up by over
30 percent since the beginning of 2008. This debt can only be paid by
tax collections or by the Federal Reserve’s debt monetization (that is,
by printing dollars to pay off the obligations incurred by Congress).
If households begin to expect that the latter will be true—even if it
is not—their inflationary expectations will rise as well.

I hasten to say—and I want to stress—that I view this scenario as
unlikely. For it to transpire, we would need a combination of bad
monetary policy and poor fiscal management. I do not foresee this
combination as likely to occur. Nonetheless, good policy requires good
choices, and policymakers at the Federal Reserve and in Congress need
to keep this scenario in mind when making their decisions. I can assure
you that we in the Federal Reserve have every intention of keeping our
end of the bargain.

So, to summarize my economic forecast, I do think that the economy
is on the mend and should continue to recover over the next two
years—in terms of both GDP and unemployment—but at slower rates than we
would like. The outlook for inflation is basically promising, as long
as the Federal Reserve and Congress work together appropriately.

My discussion leaves out the main way that the economy has improved
in the past 18 months: We face much less uncertainty. Let me take you
back to September 2008. At that time, almost all believed that a
horrific economic collapse—already named Depression 2.0—was possible.
(Indeed, many believed that it was inevitable.) Real GDP did fall by
over 3.5 percent from December 2007 through June 2009. Unemployment did
double from 5 percent in December 2007 to 10 percent in December 2009.
Those numbers are shocking. But it cannot be emphasized enough how they
pale in comparison to their analogs from the Great Depression. From
1929 through 1933, real GDP in the United States fell by 27 percent.
Unemployment rose from 3.2 percent to 25 percent. Today, unlike in
September 2008, this type of catastrophic economic collapse is no
longer on the menu of likely or even plausible events.

How did this improvement in the level of economic uncertainty come
about? The answer to this question brings me to the second part of my
talk. My theme here is that this improvement in our economic situation
is attributable in large part to actions taken by the Federal Reserve.
I will emphasize that the Federal Reserve was only able to undertake
these actions because of expertise and information that it had acquired
as a supervisor of the nation’s banks. My conclusion is that stripping
the Federal Reserve of its supervisory role would needlessly put a
Great Depression on the menu of possibilities for our country.

Let’s begin by recollecting the state of the financial world in
September 2008. The problem was that the world was in the midst of a
financial panic that had started a year earlier. Financial panics are
events that blur the line between liquidity and solvency. And here I
should take a moment to define these terms. A firm is solvent if its
revenues (in a discounted present value sense) exceed its expenditures.
A firm is liquid if it is able to raise enough funds—either by
borrowing or by selling assets—to pay its current costs. In a
well-functioning financial market, solvent firms are typically liquid,
because they can borrow against their future revenues. In contrast, in
a financial panic, lenders feel unable to assess the resources or the
collateral of borrowers. Borrowing becomes highly constrained, and even
highly solvent firms may become illiquid. In severe financial panics,
like the one that took place in the Great Depression, the shortages of
liquidity can eliminate large amounts of GDP and large numbers of jobs.
It was exactly this possibility that we faced in the fall of 2008.

The actions of the Federal Reserve System were instrumental in
ensuring that this eventuality did not occur. Beginning in the fall of
2007, the Federal Reserve undertook a number of critical interventions
designed to enhance the functioning of financial markets. In the
remainder of this speech, I will go through two of them in some detail.
I will pay particular attention to the role that our experience as a
bank supervisor played in the success of these interventions.

The first intervention is a traditional one. In any economy, one of
the main jobs of the central bank is to make sure that both the
quantity and allocation of liquidity are appropriate. In terms of the
quantity of liquidity, the central bank’s tool is a targeted short-term
interest rate, like the federal funds rate. In terms of the allocation
of liquidity, the central bank’s tool is the discount window.

During the recent financial crisis, the Federal Reserve used the
discount window in a truly massive way. On July 25, 2007, the Federal
Reserve had 246 million dollars of discount window loans outstanding to depository institutions. At the end of 2008, the Federal Reserve had nearly 90 billion dollars of such loans outstanding—a 36,000 percent increase.

But even this enormous increase is really a vast underestimate. In
late 2007, the Federal Reserve became concerned that the traditional
discount window was being underutilized. It opened what was known as
the term auction facility—the TAF—which allowed depository institutions
to bid on loans from the Federal Reserve. Through this facility, at the
end of 2008, the Federal Reserve had 450 billion dollars of loans
outstanding to depository institutions. The combined total of 540
billion dollars of loans to financial institutions from the TAF and the
discount window represented a 200,000 percent increase over July 2007.

We do not know the impact of this lending on the financial sector
with certainty. However, it seems reasonable to presume that it was
essential in keeping solvent financial institutions afloat during the
height of the financial crisis. There is compelling supporting evidence
for this view in aggregate loan data. Total liabilities for
U.S.-chartered commercial banks grew by 1.2 trillion dollars from the
third quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. Loans from the
Federal Reserve account for nearly half of this increase.

Now, it is important to emphasize that the Federal Reserve did not
use these facilities to simply hand out money to banks. In a financial
panic, public policy has two goals. One is to make sure that illiquid
but solvent firms survive. The other is to make sure that truly
insolvent firms do in fact fail. For this reason, the Federal Reserve
only made loans to sufficiently high-quality financial institutions.
This kind of selective intervention requires the Federal Reserve to
have good information about any financial institution that is a
prospective borrower.

Under our existing regulatory system, the Federal Reserve could turn
to its own supervisors for this information and the ability to evaluate
that information. But suppose instead that, as has been proposed by
Senator Christopher Dodd and others, the Federal Reserve had no
supervisory authority. How would the discount window or TAF have
worked? Given any financial institution that wanted to borrow, the
Federal Reserve would have had to call that financial institution’s
regulator and ask for information about the financial institution’s
quality. I see two distinct problems with such an arrangement. The
first is purely logistical. During a crisis like 2007-09, this other
regulator would necessarily face huge resource demands in terms of
obtaining and sharing information about a financial institution’s
quality. Getting the phone answered in a timely fashion about a given
financial institution might well be extremely challenging.

But the bigger problem is one of incentives. Under the current
system, if the Federal Reserve makes a bad loan through the TAF or
through the discount window, that loss appears on its balance sheet. It
has every incentive to do a good job in assessing the borrower quality.

Now suppose instead that some other agency were responsible for
providing this information to the Federal Reserve. What exactly are
this other agency’s incentives to provide the Federal Reserve with the
best possible information? This other agency is not going to suffer a
loss for making a bad loan—the Federal Reserve is. Indeed, one can
readily imagine that in the politically charged circumstances of a
financial panic, this other agency’s objective might be to keep as many
banks alive as possible. In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve
would have no way to obtain reliable information from this other
regulatory body and would have no way to make appropriately targeted
loans. As it is, the Federal Reserve has not lost any money on either
TAF or discount window loans made during this period.

Let me talk next about a less traditional intervention: the
Supervisory Capital Assessment Program—that is, the bank stress test.
Through March and April of 2009, the Federal Reserve and other federal
bank supervisors conducted an assessment of the capital needs of 19
large bank holding companies under a benchmark macroeconomic scenario
and a hopefully unrealistically adverse scenario. The study released
bank-level information about risk exposure of various kinds. It was
extremely valuable in restoring market confidence in the viability of
the large American banks.

The Federal Reserve played the leading role in the implementation of
the stress test. In part, this leading role arose because, from a legal
perspective, the Federal Reserve was the primary regulator of the
various bank holding companies. But there is also a more fundamental
reason for its taking the lead. By its very nature, a good central bank
needs expertise in a wide range of areas: supervision, monetary
economics, financial markets, and macroeconomics. The stress test
required this same range of expertise. Playing the leading role in the
stress test was an intrinsic outgrowth of the Federal Reserve’s
multitasking role in the economy.

Now suppose that the Federal Reserve did not have
supervisory authority over banks. Then, no institution in the
government would have the kind of collective expertise to orchestrate a
stress test for the large banks. My guess is that the stress test would
never have taken place. Along these lines, it is worth noting that
countries with divisions between supervision and monetary policy did not undertake exercises similar to the stress test.

Indeed, one could go further. Suppose that the Federal Reserve had
had responsibilities for systemic risk regulation, as has been proposed
in the House financial regulation bill. My belief is that under this
proposed regulatory structure, the stress test would have been better
in terms of both its form and its timing. In terms of form, the May
stress test studied the 19 target institutions in a parallel but
entirely separate fashion. The test did not gauge the institutions’
interactions with each other or with other financial entities. A stress
test done by a systemic regulator would have included those critical
elements.

In terms of timing, the stress test took over two months from
inception to finish. In late 2008, the speed of events was such that
two months seemed like an eternity. If the Federal Reserve had been a
systemic regulator, the stress test would have been much less
resource-intensive, because it would have been a natural outgrowth of
the Federal Reserve’s obligations. It is not difficult to imagine that
this cheaper stress test would have taken place in October or November
of 2008. At that point in time, interbank lending markets were still
significantly dislocated. At least some of these stresses were
attributable to lenders’ lacking good information about the portfolios
of potential borrowers and their financial connections. My own view is
that a November stress test, with its associated release of
bank-specific information, would have been enormously helpful.

Discount window lending and the stress test are but two of the
interventions that the Federal Reserve undertook in response to the
financial crisis. I hope that I have convinced you that these
interventions would have been significantly more difficult, if not
actually impossible, in a world in which the Federal Reserve did not
have a supervisory role. The Federal Reserve undertook a number of
other broad-based market interventions to provide liquidity to solvent
firms. Here, I should emphasize that I am not talking about
the targeted injections of funds into Bear Stearns or AIG. These
injections were designed to achieve objectives other than the provision
of liquidity. Rather, I am talking about interventions like the Term
Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, under which the Federal Reserve
purchased a broad range of asset-backed securities from a large number
of sellers. I won’t go into detail about these other lending
facilities, except to note that all of these interventions were highly
complex. The Federal Reserve’s expertise in banking supervision was
essential in their design and implementation.

Would we have had Depression 2.0 without the Federal Reserve’s using
this range of policies? We will never know for sure. However, it is
clear to me that these policies worked as intended: They kept illiquid
but solvent firms alive during the course of the financial crisis,
while letting truly insolvent firms fail. In so doing, these policies
eliminated the possibility of Depression 2.0.

My remarks have focused on the Federal Reserve’s ability to stop a
financial crisis from creating a Great Depression. I’ve done so because
I believe that this ability is critical. Don’t get me wrong—we can and
should do a better job of financial regulation so that we minimize the
likelihood of a financial crisis ever taking place. In the 2000s, the
Federal Reserve made some significant mistakes along these lines—as did
the FDIC, the OCC, the OTS, and regulators in many other countries. As
the Minneapolis Federal Reserve has been urging for over 30 years,
politicians and regulators need to create incentives that will lead
financial firms to avoid risks that end up costing taxpayers.

However, no financial regulatory scheme will ever be perfect.
Whatever we do about financial regulation, at some point in the future,
investors and regulators will again confuse the unlikely and the
impossible. Their mistake will create the next financial crisis. Right
now, our regulatory system has the ability to prevent those crises from
generating 30 percent falls in output and unemployment rates of 25
percent
. When changing the system, we have to make sure that it doesn’t
lose that ability. Stripping the Federal Reserve of its role in
supervision is a step in the wrong direction. Making it the systemic
risk regulator is a step in the right direction.

Thank you once again for this opportunity, and I welcome your questions.

 

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Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:20 | 232654 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

So coupled with the Kansas Fed Head announcement, is this a mutiny, or Kabuki?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:28 | 232671 Divided States ...
Divided States of America's picture

I wouldnt be surprised if the Alaska Fed Head would be the next in line to criticize Bald Eagle Bernanke's policies.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:23 | 232662 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

Gee Whiz! There is some news!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 18:58 | 233201 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Passing the peak of a monumental pulled-forward-future-demand wave, we are entering the plummet from the precipice of the wave back.

Margins are being compressed everywhere by falling wages, falling demand, debt destruction just as inflationary monetization and weak-tea rule of law confuse business planners. Even if taxes could be raised, they will enter into diminishing returns.

Monetization has some, yet undefined point, where all currency users will begin forms of repudiation and main-street hedging. Eventually that can lead to complete currency crisis and refusal of the legal tender.

Since it is too painful and too laborious to bring all economic actors to an agreeable equilibrium which ensures the survival of the system, the system with patch-piece short-term solutions with rampant wealth transference for favourites and slow default through devaluation.

A threshold exists, which when exceeded will lead to systemic collapse--inevitably. It will probably lead too to a new form of gov't.

Debt must be repaid, forgiven, or defaulted. All paths lead to destabilizing austerity. This is austerity no living generation will quietly, patiently endure.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:24 | 232664 Selah
Selah's picture

Suppose that households believe that prices will rise. They would then demand more deposits to use for transactions. Banks can readily accommodate this extra demand, because they are holding so many excess reserves. These extra deposits become extra money chasing the same amount of goods and so generate upward pressure on prices. The households’ inflationary expectations would, in fact, become self-fulfilling.

So, if a perceived increase in future prices will carry demand forward, leading to self-fullfilling inflation, how is this different from what the present regime wants? Aren't we supposed to spend our way out of the mess that the government has created? Isn 't hyper-inflation the ONLY way out... and they damn-well KNOW this?

 

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:19 | 232774 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

The governor is trotting out absolute - but conventional - garbage.

Firstly, 90% of households do not have deposits to withdraw and spend: they have debts to repay, and on the other side of these debts are the 10% who DO have deposits -and they are not going to trickle them down any time soon.

Secondly, 'inflationary expectations' were certainly true of Joe Six Pack when it came to buying his house - everyone knew house prices only ever went up - but IMHO absolute bollocks in respect of retail prices.

In the world people outside Federal Reserve Banks inhabit Joe Sixpack does not think:

"Prices are going to rise, therefore I need a pay increase."

...which is what informs Voodoo economic theory.

He thinks:

"Prices HAVE risen, therefore I need a pay increase".

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:05 | 232908 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

+1

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:24 | 232942 seventree
seventree's picture

Either way his boss says "I can find six guys to take your job, therefore bugger your pay increase."

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:28 | 232667 Going Down
Going Down's picture

 

Deep Capture

 

Narayana Kocherlakota was born Oct. 12, 1963, in Baltimore, Maryland. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1987 and an A.B. in mathematics from Princeton in 1983.

 

'nuff said.

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:09 | 232751 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture

Outstanding point, Good Citizen!

 

And as Gerald Celente says, six words describes it all: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, bullets, bombs and banks.

Although I'd add, that from the original financing of the University of Chicago, it should be renamed: John D. Rockefeller U.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:57 | 232879 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Yep. Bet he didn't see it coming either. Talk about hiding the obvious in plain sight:

I hasten to say—and I want to stress—that I view this scenario as unlikely. For it to transpire, we would need a combination of [1] bad monetary policy and [2] poor fiscal management. I do not fore"see" this combination as likely to occur.

These mouthpieces state what is on everyone's mind - and then refute it. Brilliant. Stated more plainly: [1] print a bunch of money and [2] maximize bonuses.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:28 | 232669 lsbumblebee
lsbumblebee's picture

Now that the Fed's policies have created this mess, I'd just like to say that if you don't want to be taxed by inflation then we'll have to tax you. Thank you. Please don't abolish us. Thank you.

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:26 | 232736 thomasstreet
thomasstreet's picture

Bet he never met mr. Bernanke. infintie spending & ho tax hikes. Free moeny for all.

/sarcasm/
A major barrier to the success of stimulus programs is the high debt levels of Americans. The banks are being criticized for a failure to lend, but much of the problem is that there are no consumers to whom to lend. Most Americans already have more debt than they can handle.

Hapless Americans, unrepresented and betrayed, are in store for a greater crisis to come. President Bush’s war deficits were financed by America’s trade deficit. China, Japan, and OPEC, with whom the U.S. runs trade deficits, used their trade surpluses to purchase U.S. Treasury debt, thus financing the U.S. government budget deficit.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:59 | 232888 knukles
knukles's picture

Never met?  Wasn't Bennie the Red on faculty in 1983?  Doctural Student? 

And monetize the debt?  That injects reserves into the system, not take 'em out!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:28 | 232670 Wynn
Wynn's picture

Having just flayed open a few birds ...

If I'm reading the gizzards right,
looks like a deflationary death spiral to me

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 19:48 | 233239 Boop
Boop's picture

Thank you. +1

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:31 | 232675 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

Doin' a heckuva job!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:32 | 232676 suteibu
suteibu's picture

 

and merely hoping that a rising stock market (with or without its invisible hand) is sufficient to fix everything.

 

To be fair, it seems the only people paying attention to things like this are those who are active in the market. Those who view the market as the economy (and haven't lost their house or job) are sold on this strategy. I have a friend who is VP of a major aerospace firm. When I try to talk to him about this, I get a blank stare. He actually admitted, finally, that he "can't allow (him)self to think that the economy will get worse." I sold my stock in his company the next day.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:07 | 232743 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture

Great point, suteibu!

Many have a difficult time comprehending that with 78% of the economy simply financial engineering and financialization (i.e., Ponzi sheme layers), there is no REAL economy!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:22 | 232783 crosey
crosey's picture

+10.  Hope is NOT a strategy.

When I was a kid and we watched scary movies, we often watched through our fingers, covering our eyes.  The majority of those I know are either oblivious, or in denial.  But, they're still working.

Mostly I'm a bore at cocktail parties.  Maybe this is why Noah drank alone.

Hoard Spam and single malt!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:44 | 232843 suteibu
suteibu's picture

I'm mostly a bore, too.  I only hope it's the subject matter.

 

Most of my friends are the type who let their brokers "re-balance" their portfolio once a quarter so they have no idea about these things.  That said, the number of people who have had to drop out from our club here is telling.  These guys had planned to live out their lives here and now they are looking for jobs again.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:58 | 232883 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

You guys get to go to cocktail parties? Lucky.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:52 | 232708 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

"Now suppose that the Federal Reserve did not have supervisory authority over banks. Then, no institution in the government would have the kind of collective expertise to orchestrate ..."

 

exactly

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:51 | 232997 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Maybe it was code for "stop me before I monetize again!"

The world is full of sickos crying out for help.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:55 | 232715 orca
orca's picture

"Making it the systemic risk regulator is a step in the right direction."
Right on bro, all for it, a.f.t.e.r. we have audited and abolished your institution.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 14:58 | 232720 DavosSherman
DavosSherman's picture

With respect for the Fed figuring this out. Duh!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:00 | 232725 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Is this NEWS? I mean, doesn't everyone already know this?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:00 | 232727 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Just another Fed head trying to talk up inflation. It's all part of setting the stage for the eventual monetization of a bunch of debt.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:25 | 232728 thomasstreet
thomasstreet's picture

warning fall on deaf ears we are in deep yogurt:
A major barrier to the success of stimulus programs is the high debt levels of Americans. The banks are being criticized for a failure to lend, but much of the problem is that there are no consumers to whom to lend. Most Americans already have more debt than they can handle.

Hapless Americans, unrepresented and betrayed, are in store for a greater crisis to come. President Bush’s war deficits were financed by America’s trade deficit. China, Japan, and OPEC, with whom the U.S. runs trade deficits, used their trade surpluses to purchase U.S. Treasury debt, thus financing the U.S. government budget deficit.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:07 | 232742 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Tyler:

Using the phrase "keeps on keeping on," leads me to believe that you are a fan or at least aware of Curtis Mayfield.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-l91O9VxN0
Curtis Mayfield - Keep On Keeping On

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:09 | 232919 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

1. Everyone is, or should be, aware of Curtis Mayfield.

2. "Keep on keepin' on" is an ubiquitous idomatic expression and at this point in its evolution does not necessarily refer directly to Mayfield. In fact one could just as easily see a reference to the Steve Miller Band's "Big Old Jet Airliner".

3. I am obviously a dork.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:32 | 232964 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

...but not as big a dork as me.

'Jet Airliner' was written (and much better recorded by) Paul Pena, a blind Cape Veridan-American from Hyannis, MA

'New Train' is a fantastic album. Buy it used here before it's unavailable

http://www.amazon.com/New-Train-Paul-Pena/dp/B00004Y6R1

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:44 | 232985 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

sweet, i need to check this out. thanks for the info.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:09 | 232746 truont
truont's picture

Hmmm...Dire warnings from the Kansas FED and now the Minnesota FED.

It seems the Regional FED branches are not perfectly aligned with the corrupted, beholden FED in the Eccles Building in DC.

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:09 | 232748 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I think that the story diary falls under the rubric of "Thanks, Captain Obvious."

Clearly, the only way that government can repay its debt is to either get money (tax) or make money (monetize).

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:16 | 232930 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

I guess they could also start selling off national parks and other assets.

Naaaahh. That'd be crazy.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:54 | 233008 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

You forgot to mention "invade Canada"

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:13 | 232763 sgt_doom
sgt_doom's picture

So, if I understand this correctly, all those bozos who made billions by peddling their debt, should keep said assets (The Game: acquiring assets by peddling debt.  Then socializing said debt.), while the majority pick up the tab?

Why is it, over the past year, whenever I hear or read from a present or former Federal Reserve governor, they always sound like either complete idiots or professional liars?

And why is it, in testimony before congress, the Inspector General of the entire Federal Reserve System, while sitting on her hands, stated she still couldn't find her butt?

'Nuff said.....

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:56 | 233015 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

[Why is it]

Door number two; professional liars.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:17 | 232770 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

News Flash, the Fed has already lost its ability to avoid another crash with interests rates at zero NOW. This guy ignores the elephant in the room that they can inflate away the debts....the favorite tax of these banksters, crushing the poorest among us the most with their not so hidden tax. But alas, with the ongoing destruction of private debt it will be quite some time before they can implement the inflation tool, tho they are getting antsy.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:02 | 232902 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Monetization is the tool of choice in this situation.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:21 | 232781 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Freshwater opinion - expected. Not saying he's not right, just sayin' predictable.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:31 | 232807 percolator
percolator's picture

Here's the money shot by comrade Kocherlakota:

  "I hasten to say—and I want to stress—that I view this scenario as unlikely. For it to transpire, we would need a combination of bad monetary policy and poor fiscal management. I do not foresee this combination as likely to occur."

I'm betting that's a lock!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:32 | 232817 crosey
crosey's picture

Amazing, isn't it.  Are we not in the middle of both?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:58 | 232886 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Haha! +1

I hadn't scrolled down this far yet - same thing on my mind.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:02 | 233036 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

He's pre-writing the history books on this crisis. In 20 years he'll point back to that speech and say "I was right about the trigger, I just didn't think it could happen. I thought they were smarter than that."

This speech is high heresy. It is CYA on a Biblical scale. He knows already what's coming and cannot allow himself to say it in the clear.

Semiotics and semaphores. Signs in the sand. Anyone with a knot of morality left is signaling faintly, but only to save their souls from damnation. The message will not get through. It will not have mattered.

cougar

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:39 | 232834 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

It's not my fuckup. I don't care what you do. Touch my gold I'll kill ya. As long as the fed understands that. This will all turn out fine.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:54 | 232872 suteibu
suteibu's picture

And that is the point, isn't it.  Most people can honestly say it wasn't their fuckup.  Planned economies suck and will suck even worse when the Fed and Treas. start looking at retirement accounts, moneymarkets and......gold holdings to continue to fund this Utopian experiment.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:45 | 232842 MarketTruth
MarketTruth's picture

"The Romans used to cut up birds to make their economic forecasts. Our methods have improved—somewhat—but just like in Roman times, it’s very much caveat emptor with economic forecasting."

Maybe we can cut up Fed presidents and chairmen to forecast the future of the economy? Who is with me on making this a new law, as it sounds about right and far more accurate than Ben Shalom Bernanke's ability to forecast the future?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QpD64GUoXw

NOTE: Gold is $642 @ 2:07 in this video. Oh yeah, time to cut up Ben Shalom Bernanke to see the future...

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:12 | 232925 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Liesman and Bernanke. They did the same thing to russia they are doing to us. That video just lays down the same bullshit scam they pulled only they did the revolving credit end game different this time. Liesman's obsequious manner makes me disgusted.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:12 | 232926 lsbumblebee
lsbumblebee's picture

Gold made an all-time high today when priced in Euros.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:23 | 232941 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

O,o

that's pretty interesting.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 19:54 | 233240 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I doubt this video was viewed by anyone in the Senate during Bernanke's confirmation hearings. Regardless, it's a nicely arranged retrospective of the Chairman's qualifications.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:44 | 232845 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"Now, it is important to emphasize that the Federal Reserve did not use these facilities to simply hand out money to banks. In a financial panic, public policy has two goals. One is to make sure that illiquid but solvent firms survive. The other is to make sure that truly insolvent firms do in fact fail. For this reason, the Federal Reserve only made loans to sufficiently high-quality financial institutions. This kind of selective intervention requires the Federal Reserve to have good information about any financial institution that is a prospective borrower."

What a load of merde this is. Goldman was insolvent. WFC was insolvent. JPM was insolvent. High quality institutions my azz. This fudgepacker is justifying the picking of favorites. End the Fed.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:45 | 232850 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

If he can't see it as head of the MinnieFed, then our future fiscal situation is indeed baked in. These will indeed be the times that try men's souls.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:25 | 232947 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

You can bet he does actually see it. I'm not sure what's worse, idiocy or evilness.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:08 | 233044 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

He sees it, and he's telling you he sees it, then he says "Come on guys, you know it's not going to happen like that. This is the US of A fer-cri-sake. It's all under control."

Intellectual. Coward.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:52 | 232866 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Taxes can not be increased enough to materially change total government revenues.

But since it is settled science that the Bush tax cuts were bad (despite government revenues increasing after such), ALL of the Bush tax cuts need to expire (not just some). Let's see how the economy and the voters like that.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 18:21 | 233151 merehuman
merehuman's picture

is it merely coincidental that during the tax cut years we lost jobs and failed to create jobs. The rich did well , but all us regular folks were running in place and using our houses and credit cards to make up the difference.

I was so hoping Obama would turn this around. When i saw he was letting George off the hook, and in fact continiou the policies of Bush i figure we lost the country. Since then i found we lost it long ago (1913).

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 15:53 | 232870 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Actually you can ALSO cut debt excesses by slashing entitlements, useless government agencies, "services" and employees with gold-plated benefits for life.

Just throwing that out there Mr. Fed.

Some of us producers are actually falling out of love with forking over more and more of our property and seeing nothing in return.

Aside from maybe a nice cop who might have recently given you directions. When's the last time, dear ZH readers that you had a positive experience with local, state or federal government or their representatives?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:12 | 233053 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

You're talking peanuts.

We spent $1T puttering around in Iraqistan. Will spend another $1T propping up the EU by this time next year. Nothing on the domestic front comes even close to that level of insane over commitment and waste.

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:17 | 232933 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Can the Fed pay for its MBS/Treasury purchases by trading in and out of equities ?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:39 | 232977 trav7777
trav7777's picture

Private credit creation has collapsed.  That is because the real economy sucks.

So, government must borrow - that is what QE is, the gov owes the Fed that money plus interest.

At some point, they have to do completely unsterilized injections if they want inflation.  If they just want credit inflation, that is NOT going to happen.  The world is not going more in debt to bankers in the aggregate.

Expect a devaluation of the dollar against things bankers have lots of

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:50 | 232996 Assetman
Assetman's picture

Would we have had Depression 2.0 without the Federal Reserve’s using this range of policies? We will never know for sure. However, it is clear to me that these policies worked as intended: They kept illiquid but solvent firms alive during the course of the financial crisis, while letting truly insolvent firms fail. In so doing, these policies eliminated the possibility of Depression 2.0.

Uh... no.

Let's cut the bull here.  Allowing firms to mark their assets to fantasy has allowed many truly insolvent financial firms survive, not fail.  These firms will illiquid AND insolvent at the time the Fed provided the stick save.

Current Fed policy endorses fantasy accounting, and the so-called solution calls for these insolvent companies to "earn" their way out of it through an artifically constructed - and wide- duration spreads.

If you think this is sound policy, then the nation needs to follow California along the path of legalizing marijuana.

 

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:02 | 233031 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

It's mindboggling how someone can hope to maintain credibility while saying something as absurd as "these policies eliminated the possibility of Depression 2.0."

I just don't understand it. To whom does he think he is talking?

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:18 | 233062 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

He is talking to the historians of 20 years from now. "We did it to stop GD2. So we screwed up anyway. But that's what we were doing."

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:52 | 233108 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

+!

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 16:53 | 233006 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Blabber for a dime....

The solution is simple....

Reduce the hell out of govt....

Totally restructure the tax base so that
businesses can deliver....

All the rest of the tale is nonsense.....

This means a small well distributed consumption tax....

And absolutely no other taxes....

These academics are on a one way street ....and

cannot think outside of the box....

I think that the public has has enough crap from academs....

It is time to start down sizing the role of the US Govt....and in a very big way......

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:13 | 233055 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

As if Citigroup was illiquid rather than insolvent!

And what about the propping up of FNM/FRE/AIG etc by the Bobbsey twins Hank and Ben?

MsCreant: neither mutiny nor Kabuki. Any Fedhead who bothers boasting that the Fed can prevent another Great Depression while we are 26 months into a Great Recession (or technically barely out of one) is obviously a loyal member of the team.

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:44 | 233095 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"Suppose that households believe that prices will rise. They would then demand more deposits to use for transactions"
Why do those elites still hang on to such antiquated ideas(from the pre hedge fund economics),that has come obsolete in the current enviroment?. Those who reads something like this,believe that household has any control over finances. No more. Most households are ladenned with debt and have no choice but to pay the prevailing prices. They can't chase "few goods"as they have less and less disposable income. It is rather speculators now who are creating the new inflationary pressure. And that is done irrelevant of the demand(demand pull inflation anybody?). And those speculators are able to do that exactly because of the FED,which is enabling them through providiing liquidity. Just notice how commodities behave. They all rise with the s&p,and fall with s&p,with absolutely no fundemental reason for either movement:up or down. It is not like the housewife telling her husband"please run and buy us a couple of oil barrels before it goes through the roof".They avoid to mentioning any thing about how interrelated all asset classes have become through the NYSE,because they don't want to draw attention to their buddies in Wall st. That interconnection could be broken easily by,say banning every and all ETFs on the basis that they don't have companie's caractaristics for example(plenty of reasons are available for such an action if the goverment decide ot institute such a ban).So no my friend,it is not the household. Rather the Andrews of the Cs GSs and JPMs who caused,and will cause more inflation. And ironically,not just with investors money(which obviously is not enough to manipulate huge markets),but with access to customers deposits. Those same customers who end up paying for the higher prices...

Tue, 02/16/2010 - 17:57 | 233115 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Question off Topic... How much credit/debit/paper is circulating in US Dollars? How much credit/debit/paper is circulating in Euros How much credit/debit/paper is circulating in all currencies? If one was going to convert all fiat currency into one currency, say dollars, how much currency do we have flowing around?

If you were going to divide that number by total ounces of gold or better yet total ounces divided dollar amount what would you have? Anyone wants to guestimate this? Even 1% of the total number. I'm just curious.

Mon, 04/19/2010 - 08:57 | 307646 Tom123456
Tom123456's picture

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