As Mark Grant so poignantly reminded us yesterday, the Fed is printing $188 million per hour. That is the cost of Dow 14,000 -- that is the price we pay to see Jim Cramer and company consecrate the new bull market via impromptu CNBC specials. This hourly rate is of course implied by the $85 billion of assets the Fed now buys each and every month.
At Deutsche Bank, the job title “risk manager” might be more appropriately characterized as “campaign manager.” That is, Deutsche Bank is no more concerned with the active mitigation of risk than the unscrupulous politician is with actively avoiding extra marital affairs. Like campaign mangers then, risk managers at Deutsche Bank must accept the fact that occasionally (or perhaps quite often) messes will be made and spin campaigns will need to be devised and deployed in order to keep public opinion from turning sour and in order to keep the few regulators who aren’t on the payroll
Unfortunately, the spectacular rise of Wall Street’s securitization machine will likely forever frustrate attempts to ascertain the extent to which the Fed is responsible for what happened to the U.S. housing market and financial system in 2008. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to short sell (no pun intended) all the Special Purpose Vehicle sponsors, CDO asset managers, investors, and ratings agencies who, for at least five years, worked so hard to collapse the system.
As I noted in an article published Thursday morning, the government bought three quarters of a percentage point worth of growth in the third quarter leading several hapless commentators to opine on national television that the U.S. economy was not only on solid footing but was in fact experiencing "above trend" growth. Of course if you're the mainstream financial media what is good for the Q3 goose is not necessarily good for the Q4 gander and so when fourth quarter GDP printed in contraction territory Wednesday, viewers were encouraged (much to the chagrin of a predictably irate Rick Santelli) to discount "volatile" government consumption expenditures and focus only on the components that made a positive contribution.
On December 7, I published an article entitled “Deutsche Bank: Explaining The $12 Billion Loss That Never Was.” The piece outlined a series of complaints filed by former Deutsche Bank employees. One of those employees, Matthew Simpson, claimed to have discovered “substantial anomalies” in the firm’s credit default swap book while working at Deutsche’s credit correlation desk. Deutsche -- of course -- denied the allegations but did fire a top derivatives trader after an internal investigation into the matter and ultimately paid $900,000 to settle a related SEC whistleblower case filed by Simpson. Reuters broke Simpson’s story in the summer of 2011.
Over the course of the last two weeks, I attempted to explain to the general investing public how, thanks to the virtual impossibility of distinguising between 'legitimate' market making and 'illegitimate' prop trading, some of America's systemically important financial institutions are able to trade for their own accounts with the fungible cash so generously bestowed upon them by an unwitting multitude of depositors and an enabling Fed.
I used to like DealBreaker, I really did. Alas that was in my younger years before I made a (very) small name for myself and before I took the red pill offered to me by ZeroHedge's Tyler Durden. Now I realize that sarcastically apologizing for the nefarious character of the financial world is pretty much the same as just plain-old apologizing for it... except funnier. Case in point, here is an excerpt from an article published on DealBreaker a few hours ago entitled "Regulators Close Aquarium Door Behind Escaped Whale":
Over the past few months, the perception has been that the risk of a meltdown in Europe (characterized by the loss of market access for Spain and Italy) has grown increasingly remote. The relative calm comes courtesy of the ECB which conventional wisdom has it, began acting "like a real central bank" in September when it announced it was willing to throw eurozone taxpayers' wallets behind theoretically unlimited purchases of Spanish and/or Italian bonds. This promise of course, was meant to discourage so-called "bond vigilantes" (otherwise known as investors who know a bad deal when they see it) from "speculating" on rising periphery bond yields. As it turns out, the effect of the as yet untested Draghi put has been dramatic. Spanish and Italian 10s have tightened by a ridiculous 240 basis points since late July.