Bank of New York

10 Clues About 2013 Holiday Spending

From consumer and retailer surveys to quantitative data such as household spending and private jet bookings, ConvergEx's Nick Colas has amassed a collection of 10 clues about this year's holiday shopping season. On the plus side, disposable personal income and consumer spending on discretionary items are rising, and travel to Palm Beach via private jet is quite popular this Christmas season. However, consumer confidence surveys are particularly weak, and consumer debt has ballooned to a 5-year high. Roughly equal parts good and bad, Colas' collection of holiday spending indicators points to a mediocre (at best) 2013 shopping season (as we noted earlier).

Quote Of The Day: Bill Dudley's Schrodinger Forecast

Somehow, Fed head Bill Dudley has managed to encompass the entire "we must keep the foot to the floor" premise of the Fed in one mind-bending sentence:

  • *DUDLEY SEES 'POSSIBILITY OF SOME UNFORESEEN SHOCK'

So - based on an "unforeseen" shock - which he "sees", and while there are "nascent signs the economy may be doing better", the Fed should remain as exceptionally easy just in case... (asteroid? alien invasion? West Coast quake?)

S&P 1800 Or Bust As Futures Ramp Continues

The overnight global scramble to buy stocks, any stocks, anywhere, continued, with the Nikkei soaring higher by 2% as the USDJPY rose firmly over 100, to levels not seen since May as the previously reported speculation that more QE from the BOJ is just around the corner takes a firm hold. Sentiment that the liquidity bonanza would accelerate around the world (with possibly more QE from the ECB) was undented by news of a surge in Chinese short-term money market rates or the Moody's one-notch downgrade of four TBTF banks on Federal support review. The release of more market-friendly promises from China only added fuel to the fire and as a result S&P futures are now just shy of 1800, a level which will almost certainly be taken out today as the multiple expansion ramp continues unabated. At this point absolutely nobody is even remotely considering standing in front of the centrally-planned liquidity juggernaut that has made "market" down days a thing of the past.

The Fed's 100-Year War Against Gold (And Economic Common Sense)

On December 23, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) will celebrate its 100th birthday, so we thought it was time to take a look at the Fed’s real accomplishment, and the practices and policies it has employed during this time to rob the public of its wealth. The criticism is directed not only at the world’s most powerful central bank - the Fed - but also at the concept of central banks in general, because they are the antithesis of fiscal responsibility and financial constraint as represented by gold and a gold standard. The Fed was sold to the public in much the same way as the Patriot Act was sold after 9/11 - as a sacrifice of personal freedom for the promise of greater government protection. Instead of providing protection, the Fed has robbed the public through the hidden tax of inflation brought about by currency devaluation.

"Beggar Thy Neighbor" Is Back: Goldman's Five Things To Watch As Currency Wars Return

"We’re seeing a new era of currency wars," Neil Mellor, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London. This is what Bloomberg reported today in a piece titled "Race to Bottom Resumes as Central Bankers Ease Anew." For the most part Bloomberg's account is accurate, although it has one fundamental flaw: currency wars never left, but were merely put on hiatus as the liquidity tsunami resulting from the BOJ's mega easing lifted all boats for a few months. And now that the world has habituated to nearly $200 billion in new flow every month (and much more when adding China's monthly new loan creation), the time to extract marginal gains from a world in which global trade continues to contract despite the ongoing surge in global liquidity, central banks are back to doing the one thing they can - printing more. So what should one watch for now that even the MSM admits the currency wars are "back"? Goldman lists the 5 key areas to watch as central banks resume beggar thy neighbor policies with never before seen vigor.

With Less Than A Day Until The X-Date, Hope And Optimism Remain If Not Much Else

It's gotten beyond silly: with less than a day to go until the first X-Date, beyond which if Jack Lew is correct (he isn't) all hell will break loose if the US doesn't have a debt deal in place, stocks couldn't care less, Bills continue to sell off, carry traders only care how big the central banks' balance sheets are, all news are generally shunned and yet stocks have soared 600 DJIA points on Harry Reid's relentless optimism a deal will get done, even though so far none has. Today, as we observed on Monday, we expect more of the same: stocks and futures will ignore the reality that the midnight hour will come and go with no deal in place, but will continue to explode higher as Harry Reid's latest set of "optimism" headlines hits the tape in low volume trading. We expect the first big hope rally around POMO time, then shortly after Senate comes back in Session, around noon. Then for good measure, another one just before market close. Why not: it's not like the "market" even pretend to be one anymore. Keep an eye on today's 4-Week bill auction before noon. It should be a far bigger doozy than yesterday's longer-dated bills.

Goldman "Whistleblower" Sues NY Fed For Wrongful Termination

After seven months of investigating Goldman Sachs' legal and compliance divisions, former NYFed examiner Carmen Segarra found numerous conflicts of interest and breach of client ethics (specifically related to three transactions - Solyndra, Capmark, and the El Paso / Kinder Morgan deal) that she believed warranted a downgrade of Goldman's regulatory rating. Her bosses were not happy, concerned that this action would hurt Goldman's ability to do business, and, she alleges, they urged her to change her position. She refused, and as Reuters reports, she was fired and escorted from the building. “I was just documenting what Goldman was doing,” she said. “If I was not able to push through something that obvious, the [NY Fed] certainly won’t be capable of supervising banks when even more serious issues arise.”

Guest Post: The Rise And Fall Of Monetary Policy Coordination

The US Federal Reserve’s recent surprise announcement that it would maintain the current pace of its monetary stimulus reflects the ongoing debate about the desirability of cooperation among central banks. Discussion of central-bank cooperation has often centered on a single historical case, in which cooperation initially seemed promising, but turned out to be catastrophic. We are thus left with a paradox: While crises increase demand for central-bank cooperation to deliver the global public good of financial stability, they also dramatically increase the costs of cooperation, especially the fiscal costs associated with stability-enhancing interventions. As a result, in the wake of a crisis, the world often becomes disenchanted with the role of central banks – and central-bank cooperation is, yet again, associated with disaster.

On This Day 15 Years Ago The LTCM Bailout Ushered In "Too Big To Fail"

While the commemoration of the 5 year anniversary of the start of the Great Financial Crisis is slowing but surely fading, another just as important anniversary is revealed when one goes back not 5 but 15 years into the past, specifically to September 23, 1998. On that day, the policy that came to define the New Normal more than any other, namely the bailout of those deemed Too Big To Fail, a/k/a throwing good (private or taxpayer) money after bad was enshrined by Wall Street as the official canon when faced with a situation where capitalism, namely failure, is seen as Too Dangerous To Succeed. This was first known as the Greenspan Put, subsequently the Bernanke Put, and its current iteration is best known as the Global Central Banker All-In Systemic Put. We sow the seeds of bailing out insolvent financial corporations to this day, when instead of making them smaller and breaking them up, they are rewarded by becoming even bigger, even more systemics, and even Too Bigger To Fail, and their employees are paid ever greater record bonuses.

Jim Grant Defines Deflation

Deflation - A derangement of money or credit, a symptom of which is falling prices. Not to be confused with a benign, i.e., downward shift in the composite supply curve, a symptom of which is also falling prices. In a genuine deflation, banks stop lending. Prices tumble because overextended businesses and consumers confront the necessity of selling assets in order to raise cash. When prices fall because efficient producers are competing to deliver lower-priced goods and services to the marketplace, that is called “progress.”  In 2013, central bankers the world over define deflation as a fall in prices, no matter what the cause. Nowadays, to forestall what is popularly called deflation, the world’s monetary authorities are seemingly prepared to pull out every radical policy stop. Where it all ends is one of the great questions of contemporary finance.