As Day 2 of Carl Levin's Senate hearing on the fact that banks did indeed corner and rig the physical commodity markets - with the erosion of the line separating banking from commercial activities leading to the detriment of consumers and the financial system - we thought the world needed a 'dummy's guide' to why the biggest banks should not be allowed to do this... or in legalese, here are the four most negative effects of allowing FHCs to engage in Complementary Commodity Activities.
The only discernible difference we see from the Wall Street version of a casino it’s now so prominently become, and the one we find on some island or strip is this: At the least, when we have a great winning bet placed on Red or Black... The odds that someone from the house bank coming down to floor and yelling 'Fire' as the wheel is about to stop right on my stop is far, far less than a Central Banker coming out touting 'Well maybe we should or shouldn’t do...' the moment the true free hand of market is about to expose itself. At least at a true casino – they do have some level of integrity.
Last Wednesday the markets plunged on a vague recognition that the central bank promoted recovery story might not be on the level. But that tremor didn’t last long. Right on cue the next day, one of the very dimmest Fed heads - James Dullard of St Louis - mumbled incoherently about a possible QE extension, causing the robo-traders to erupt with buy orders. And its no different anywhere else in the central bank besotted financial markets around the world. Everywhere state action, not business enterprise, is believed to be the source of wealth creation - at least the stock market’s paper wealth version and even if for just a few more hours or days. The job of the monetary politburo is apparently to sift noise out of the in-coming data noise - even when it is a feedback loop from the Fed’s own manipulation and interventions.
The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different. The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building. But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.
Practically since the day Lehman went down in September 2008 Washington has been conducting a monumental farce. It has been pretending to up-root the causes of the thundering financial crisis which struck that month and to enact measures insuring that it would never happen again. In fact, however, official policy has done just the opposite. The Fed’s massive money printing campaign has perpetuated and drastically enlarged the Wall Street casino, making the pre-crisis gamblers in CDOs, CDS and other derivatives appear like pikers compared to the present momentum chasing madness. In a nutshell, the Fed’s prolonged regime of ZIRP and wealth effects based “puts” under risk assets has destroyed two-way markets.
Well, if you take the US Supreme Court and representatives of the Federal Reserve System at their own words, the case is pretty clear: the member banks of the Federal Reserve System are private corporations / banks.
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
The Fed’s 5-year campaign to drive the 30-year mortgage rate from 6.5% to 3.3% has accomplished nothing except to touch off another of those pointless “refi” booms which enable homeowners to swap an existing mortgage for a new one carrying a significantly lower interest rate and monthly service cost. Such debt churning exercises have been sponsored repeatedly by the Fed since the S&L debacle of the late 1980s. The overwhelming evidence, however, is that America’s shop-till-they-drop consumers have finally dropped. But while peak debt means that the Fed’s entire 5-year money printing spree was destined to fail, it nevertheless has produced massive impacts - all of them bad or stupid. One of the most crucial is that it generated an artificial refi windfall to the Big Banks which now dominate the home mortgage business. And the profit windfall was a doozy. Now that financial results for Q1 2014 have been posted, the impact on Big Four financial results can actually be quantified. The four charts below on mortgage originations per quarter during the course of the Fed’s balance sheet expansion binge are the smoking gun.
During the course of its massive money printing campaign after the financial crisis of 2008, the Fed drove the 30-year mortgage financing rate down from 6.5% to 3.3% at its mid-2012 low. The ostensible purpose was revive the shattered housing market which had resulted from the crash of its previous exercise in bubble finance. But what it really did was touch off another of those pointless “refi” booms which enable homeowners to swap an existing mortgage for a new one carrying a significantly lower interest rate and monthly service cost. Such debt churning exercises have been sponsored repeatedly by the Fed since the S&L debacle of the late 1980s.
"The global financial landscape was evolving. Ever since World War II, US bankers hadn’t worried too much about their supremacy being challenged by other international banks, which were still playing catch-up in terms of deposits, loans, and global customers. But by now the international banks had moved beyond postwar reconstructive pain and gained significant ground by trading with Cold War enemies of the United States. They were, in short, cutting into the global market that the US bankers had dominated by extending themselves into areas in which the US bankers were absent for US policy reasons. There was no such thing as “enough” of a market share in this game. As a result, US bankers had to take a longer, harder look at the “shackles” hampering their growth. To remain globally competitive, among other things, bankers sought to shatter post-Depression legislative barriers like Glass-Steagall. They wielded fear coated in shades of nationalism as a weapon: if US bankers became less competitive, then by extension the United States would become less powerful. The competition argument would remain dominant on Wall Street and in Washington for nearly three decades, until the separation of speculative and commercial banking that had been invoked by the Glass-Steagall Act would be no more."
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized. What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.
We at the Fed are the platonic guardians of the global financial system. And our logic is undeniable….
Just as in the 1930s the Fed fueled deflation by not making credit available, today the opposite seems to be the case – low rates are fueling deflation and preventing markets from clearing.
Busy, Lackluster Overnight Session Means More Delayed Taper Talk, More "Getting To Work" For Mr YellenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/25/2013 06:00 -0500
It has been a busy overnight session starting off with stronger than expected food and energy inflation in Japan even though the trend is now one of decline while non-food, non-energy and certainly wage inflation is nowhere to be found (leading to a nearly 3% drop in the Nikkei225), another SHIBOR spike in China (leading to a 1.5% drop in the SHCOMP) coupled with the announcement of a new prime lending rate (a form a Chinese LIBOR equivalent which one knows will have a happy ending), even more weaker than expected corporate earnings out of Europe (leading to red markets across Europe), together with a German IFO Business Confidence miss and drop for the first time in 6 months, as well as the latest M3 and loan creation data out of the ECB which showed that Europe remains stuck in a lending vacuum in which banks refuse to give out loans, a UK GDP print which came in line with expectations of 0.8%, where however news that Goldman tentacle Mark Carney is finally starting to flex and is preparing to unleash a loan roll out collateralized by "assets" worse than Gree Feta and oilve oil. Of course, none of the above matters: only thing that drives markets is if AMZN burned enough cash in the quarter to send its stock up by another 10%, and, naturally, if today's Durable Goods data will be horrible enough to guarantee not only a delay of the taper through mid-2014, but potentially lend credence to the SocGen idea that the Yellen-Fed may even announce an increase in QE as recently as next week.
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".