There was a time before the Fed announced it would commence sterilizing its Large Scale Asset Purchases when every day in which there was a Permanent Open Market Operation, or POMO (remember those?) was a gift from Bernanke, virtually assuring the market would ramp higher. This phenomenon had been documented extensively in Zero Hedge and elsewhere (a comprehensive analysis can be found in "POMO and Market Intervention: A Primer"). The pronounced market effect of POMO was diminished somewhat once the Fed sterilized the daily flow injection by selling short-term bonds to Primary Dealers, even though the Fed continues to buy $45 billion in long-term bonds to this day, effectively mopping up all 10 Year+ gross Treasury issuance, and keeping the stock of long bonds in the private market flat at ~$650 billion as we observed before. All of this is well known. What was not known is who were the Fed's POMO counterparties. Now we know. Yesterday, the Fed for the first time ever released Transaction level data for all of its Open Market Operations. The new data focuses on discount window transactions (completely irrelevant now that there are $1.7 trillion in excess reserves and the last thing banks need is overnight emergency lending from the Fed when there is already a liquidity tsunami floating, yet this is precisely what the WSJ focused on), on FX operations, and, our favorite, Open Market Operations, chief among them POMOs. What today's release reveals is that once again a conspiracy theory becomes fact, because we now know just which infamous bank was by fat the biggest monopolist of POMO operations in a period in which banks reported quarter after quarter of zero trading day losses. We leave it up to readers to discover just which bank we are referring to.
With $1.6 Trillion In FDIC Deposit Insurance Expiring, Are Negative Bill Rates Set To Become The New Normal?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/24/2012 13:46 -0400
As we noted on several occasions in the past ten days, as a result of QE3 and its imminent transformation to QE4, which will merely be the current monetization configuration but without the sterilization of new long-term bond purchases, the Fed's balance sheet is expected to grow by over $2 trillion in the next two years. This also means that the matched liability on the Fed's balance sheet, reserves and deposits, will grow by a like amount. So far so good. However, as Bank of America points out today, there may be a small glitch: as a reminder on December 31, 2012 expires the FDIC's unlimited insurance on noninterest-bearing transaction accounts at which point it will revert back to $250,000. Currently there is about $1.6 trillion in deposits that fall under this umbrella, or essentially the entire amount in new deposit liabilities that will have to be created as a result of QEternity. The question is what those account holders will do, and how will the exit of deposits, once those holding them realize they no longer are government credit risk and instead are unsecured bank credit risk, impact the need to ramp up deposit building. One very possible consequence: negative bill rates as far as the eye can see.
It is always amazing to observe how people become less risk averse after risk has markedly increased and more risk averse after it has markedly decreased. The stock market is held to be 'safe' after it has risen for many weeks or months, while it is considered 'risky' after it has declined. The bigger the rally, the safer the waters are deemed to be, and the opposite holds for declines. One term that is associated in peoples' minds with rising prices is 'certainty'. For some reason, rising prices are held to indicate a more 'certain' future, which one can look forward to with more 'confidence'. 'Uncertainty' by contrast is associated with downside volatility in stocks. In reality, the future is always uncertain. Most people seem to regard accidental participation in a bull market cycle with as a kind of guarantee of a bright future, when all that really happened is that they got temporarily lucky. Perma-bullish analysts like Laszlo Birinyi or Abby Joseph Cohen can be sure that they will be right 66% of the time by simply staying bullish no matter what happens. This utter disregard of the risk-reward equation can occasionally lead to costly experiences for their followers when the markets decline.
Mark Twain once wrote that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." While this is a statement that is often thrown around by the media, economists and analysts - few of them actually heed the warning. It has been even worse for investors. Over the past 800 years of history we have watched one bubble after the next develop, and bust, devastating lives, savings and, in some cases, entire countries. Whether it has been a bubble created in emerging market debt, rail roads or tulip bulbs - the end result has always been the inevitable collapse as excesses are drained from the system.
GLD & TLT: Exploring the Dark Side of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) With Lauren Lyster at Capital AccountSubmitted by EB on 09/20/2012 12:14 -0400
What might happen to your favorite ETF in a crisis? As the the half life for the next Fed-induced bubble happily converges with the six month mark on Mr. Bernanke's QE3, these things never matter...until they do
Pump it up, until you can feel it, Pump it up, when you don't really need it...
Against what seemed logical (given the assumption that Bernanke would save his limited ammo for a weaker market/economic environment), Bernanke launched an open ended mortgage backed securities bond buying program for $40 billion a month "until employment begins to show recovery." That key statement is what this entire program hinges on. The focus of the Fed has now shifted away from a concern on inflation to an all out war on employment and ultimately the economy. However, will buying mortgage backed bonds promote real employment, and ultimately economic, growth. Furthermore, will this program continue to support the nascent housing recovery? Clearly, the Fed's actions, and statement, signify that the economy is substantially weaker than previously thought. While Bernanke's latest program of bond buying was done under the guise of providing an additional support to the "recovery," the question now is becoming whether he has any ammo left to offset the next recession when it comes.
With 20 minutes to go, we thought it timely to see the script (perhaps) for the frivolity to come. It seems like the fate of the known world is predicated on the words of a bearded academic this afternoon and whether you believe he must or must not LSAP us to Dow 20,000 (and Gold $2,000) in the next few weeks - even as the economy and jobs tail-spin - there are many questions, which Goldman provides a platform for understanding, that remain unanswered (and more than likely will remain vague even after he has finished his statement). Their expectations are for a return to QE and an extension of rate guidance into mid-2015 (and everyone gets a pony) but no cut in IOER.
Now that the German high court ruling is out of the way and the Dutch elections results produced no real surprises the European equity markets are essentially flat with position squaring evident ahead of the keenly awaited FOMC rate announcement and accompanying press conference. Bund futures have followed a similar trend having ticked higher through the morning with some modest re-widening of the Spanish and Italian 10yr government bond yield spreads, wider by 9bps and 5bps respectively, also in Euribor will did see a decent bid after comments from ECB member Hansson who said the ECB council must now start debating a negative deposit rate. Today’s supply from Italy and Ireland had little impact on the general sentiment, that’s in spite of the fact that demand for debt issued by the Italian Treasury was less than impressive to say the least. Also of note, Catalan President Mas said that Spain should debate staying in the euro, which unsettled the market somewhat. Overnight it was reported that the US Navy have stepped up their security presence in Libya by ordering two warships to the country's coast, according to US officials. This is after the US ambassador to Libya and three American members of his staff were killed in the attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters earlier in the week. Today, there were more reports of demonstrations in the region, however supplies remain unaffected.
By now everyone knows that the WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath is spoon-Fed information directly by the Fed. Even the Fed. Which is why everyone expected the Fed to ease last time around per yet another Hilsenrath leak, only to be largely disappointed, invoking the term Hilsen-wrath. Sure enough, it took the market only a few hours to convince itself that "no easing now only means more easing tomorrow", and sure enough everyone looked to the August, then September FOMC meetings as the inevitable moment when something will finally come out. So far nothing has, as the Fed, like the ECB, have merely jawboned, since both know the second the "news" is out there, it will be sold in stocks, if not so much in gold as Citi explained earlier. Regardless, the conventional wisdom expectation now is that tomorrow the Fed will do a piecemeal, open-ended QE program, with set economic thresholds that if unmet will force Bernanke to keep hitting CTRL-P until such time as Goldman is finally satisfied with their bonuses or unemployment drops for real, not BS participation rate reasons, whichever comes first. As expected, this is what Hilsenrath advises to expect tomorrow, less than two months from the election, in a move that will be roundly interpreted as highly political, and one which as Paul Ryan noted earlier, will seek to redirect from Obama's economic failures, and also potentially to save Bernanke's seat as Romney has hinted on several occasions he would fire Bernanke if elected. Here is what else the Hilsenrumor says.
Problem: this marginal utility of debt has trended lower and lower over the years, and actually reached zero in 2009. Meaning: you can add as much debt as you want, and it still won’t give you any additional GDP. To repeat: no amount of additional debt seems to be able to get economic growth going again. That is a dramatic revelation. We might have reached the maximum debt-bearing capability of the economy. If true, no growth is possible unless debt-to-GDP levels fell back to sustainable levels (in order to restart the debt cycle). This could take years. At this point, the only way to reset the debt cycle is to get rid of debt.... The amounts needed for the Fed to be able to create inflation are much, much higher than what we have seen so far. And it is not guaranteed to work. Destroying the trust in the value of a fiat currency is a dangerous experiment with mostly adverse consequences.
Draghi floods the Eurozone with new money. The Bundesbank says it's like printing banknotes and won't solve the problem. Who is getting sterilized?
It is amazing how big an effect a rambling, sleep-inducing speech by a chief central planner can have on financial markets in the short term. Nonetheless, the speech contained a few interesting passages which show us both how Bernanke thinks and that people to some extent often tend to hear whatever they want to hear. Bernanke noted that although he cannot prove it, econometricians employed by the Fed have constructed a plethora of models that show that 'LSAP's (large scale asset purchases, which is to say 'QE' or more colloquially, money printing) have helped the economy. In other words, although no-one actually knows what would have happened in the absence of the inflationary policy since we can't go back in time and try it out, the 'models' tell us it was the right thing to do. However, some indications would suggest that mal-investment is higher than ever - and accelerating - as the production structure ties up more consumer goods than it releases, an inherently unsustainable condition; additional expansion of money and credit will only serve to exacerbate the imbalance.
With Draghi stepping aside, the headliner can shine and while Goldman does not expect Chairman Bernanke's speech on Friday morning, entitled "Monetary Policy Since the Crisis", to shed much additional light on the near-term tactics of monetary policy beyond last week's FOMC minutes; their main question is whether he breaks new ground regarding the Fed's longer-term strategy. An aggressive approach would be to signal that the committee is moving closer to the "unconventional unconventional" easing options that Goldman has been ever-so-generously advocating for months, although even they have to admit that expectations are that any moves in this direction will be gingerly.