Is it time to offer a human sacrifice to atone for the financial crisis? You don’t give an arsonist a medal for putting out the fire. How the smartest kid from rural Dillon, South Carolina saved the world. When do we find out how smart Bernanke really is? Nothing less than the fate of the free world depends on the answer.
Is The Mysterious "Direct Bidder" Simply China Executing 'Quantitative Easing' On Behalf Of The Federal Reserve?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/14/2010 13:46 -0500
One topic that has caught the mainstream media's attention is the recent surge in Direct Bid take down participation in Treasury auctions, which as we pointed out previously (3 Year auction, 10 Year auction), has jumped from sub 10% average well into the double digit arena. Today the Financial Times dedicates an entire article to questioning just who may be going all out in their purchases of Treasuries as a direct bidder. We suggest that this "bid" is none other than China funding Direct covert purchases of Treasuries as an extension of the Fed's Quantitative Easing policy.
Will 2010 be a year of Black Swans or Black Sloths? You be the judge...
As the 'naughties' come to a somewhat anti-climactic close, it is important for those of us in the investment community to take stock of what new lessons have been learned, what immutable laws have been reinforced, and what changes in policy, strategy and execution need to occur in order to avoid a repeat of the booms and busts of the last decade.
Federal Reserve conducting covert Treasury monetization, John Williams warns of U.S. hyperinflation, UN producing bullion coins as world currency, Pakistani government enters political crisis, Lieberman offers to personally hunt down terrorists in Yemen, massive regional war approaches.
How big a deal is Greece? Potentially real big. This story has all the pieces for something to get out of control. If the potential for chaos exists, the markets tend to gravitate towards it. Every day we seem to get a bit closer.
Nouriel Roubini, my favorite playboy economist, recently trashed gold. He's wrong for a lot of reasons. His arguments weren't that coherent. Spam, indeed. Instead of refuting him point by point, since others have already done that, I will just make my case for what I think will happen to gold. We'll see if my guess is better than his.
And so economists begin their protest against the perpetuation of the farce that is US economics, and the madman in charge of the USS Titanic - Ben Bernanke. Nassim Taleb has decided to go into exile courtesy of the imminent reappointment of the man who not only caused the near destruction of the financial system, but with his actions has sealed the fate of America's middle class. In a post titled "Good Bye! The reappointment of Bernanke is too much to bear" Taleb bid farewell and shares his disgust with the bullshit that the Wall Street - D.C. cabal has become, and the certain destruction that it is leading this once great country to. While we may or may not agree with Taleb's expression of disappointment, it, together with ever more vocal demonstrations of anger at Bernanke's second term by more and more prominent politicians, presents an increasing social problem for Obama, who has now bet the farm as well as taken out a 3rd lien (via CIT) on the success of Bernanke's policies, as well as sacrificed the future of the US middle class so that Wall Street can enjoy another record bonus year.
With everyone and their grandmother screeching that it is about time for China to inflate the renminbi, despite that such an action would be economic and social suicide for the world's most populous country, SocGen's Albert Edwards once again stalks out the Black Swan in left field and posits the contrarian view de jour: China will aggressively devalue the yuan following a deep 2010 downturn coupled with escalating trade wars. As Edwards says: "I think the next 18 months will see major ructions in the financial markets. The consequences of a double-dip back into recession next year require some lateral thinking. If the carry trade unwind results in a turbo-charged dollar, any collapse in the China economic bubble will be doubly destructive to commodity prices. A surging dollar, coupled with China moving into sustained trade deficit through 2010, could prompt the Chinese authorities to acquiesce to US pressure for a more flexible exchange rate. But why does no-one expect a yuan devaluation?"
When we dissected the BIS OTC derivatives numbers two weeks ago, we were expecting the release of the updated semiannual report to be released shortly. Luckily the BIS did not make us wait too long: the latest data indicate that the progression toward wanton expansion of risk continues unabated. Total gross notional increased by 10% from the prior reading to $605 trillion, mostly as a function of an increase in Interest Rate derivatives. Yet courtesy of an artificially "stable" and undervolatile environment based on a unprecedented extra liquidity which drowns all secondary risk indicators, the net notional risk exposure (market values) declined by 21% to $25 trillion.
So many future bailouts to look forward to, so little time. So many cans do kick down the road via accounting adjustments, so few feet do keep doing the kicking. While I read this piece I was struck by my own reaction... not even $30 billion in deficit? This is peanuts! We've become so numb to bailouts that anything less than hundreds of billions seems like a normal part of Bailout Nation. Yet just over a decade ago the world was in a panic over hedge fund Long Term Capital and its gaping hole of $3.6 billion. How quickly we've adjusted to brushing off our shoulders handouts and bailouts 10 times that size. The cost for one of the smallest handouts, Cash for Clunkers was more than the bailout of LTCM in 1998. Need to manipulate housing prices higher? It's worth it! Only costs $16 billion; or with Cash for Cul de Sacs v 2.0 - $30B+. Peanuts.
Perhaps gold investors are suffering the blues of too much good news since breaking out to the upside, north of the magic 1,000$ an ounce. Inflation being the big macroeconomic risk that everyone is looking for, might just be the real disappointment. For most of the last three decades we have been conditioned to drive/manage by looking in the rear view mirror. The last big black swan event of the 70’s related to the interest rate spike never replayed itself out a second time around. In the years ahead the unexpected might just be the norm and an extraordinary event could actually lead us to a hyper-deflationary black swan.
I've been meaning to write a piece on Ludwig von Mises, the greatest economist who ever lived, and, if you will, a hero of mine. This is a piece on Mises from the Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal by Mark Spitznagel. Spitznagel is the head of Universa Investments and is a protege and partner of Nassim Taleb of Black Swan fame. Those of you who have been following my blog know of my admiration of Mr. Taleb. He and Mr. Spitznagel were also "right," and Universa made a lot of money for their investors from our economic crisis.
David Einhorn is angry at CDS. But is that the full story? Hardly. We believe Einhorn's attack on CDS is an implicit attack on the broken core of the fiat monetary system itself.
The attached presentation, from John Taylor of Stanford and John Williams of the SF FRB, prepared in the weekend before the Lehman bankruptcy, and thus in the eye of last year's hurricane, provides some additional insights into money markets, the Fed's TAF program, OIS spreads, and how everything can gospectacularly wrong at mere whiff of that greatest black swan of all, and the one concept all in the financial business take for granted: counterparty risk. With the Fed now actively pursuing the extraction of capital out of money markets instead of primary dealers, the potential liquidity imbalance will be a major threat to the system and will be activelymonitored by Zero Hedge. If the Fed's soothing admonition that it has things in control serves any purpose, it is that sooner rather than later risk flaring and six sigma events will once again be a dailyoccurrence.