As the fallout of Liborgate escalates, the next big bank to be impacted in the fallout started by Barclays civil settlement "revelation" is set to be troubled UBS, already some 10,000 bankers lighter, where as many as three dozen bankers are reported by the implicated in the fixing of the rate that until 2009 was the most important for hundreds of trillions in variable rate fixed income products. Only instead of attacking the US or even European jurisdiction, where the next big settlement is set to hit is Japan: a country whose regulators as recently as half a year ago promised there were no major issues with Libor, or Tibor as it is locally known, rate fixings. And while this most recent development will have little material impact on UBS' ongoing business model, the one difference from previous settlements is that it will likely include criminal charges lobbed against some of the 36 bankers. From the FT: "UBS is close to finalising a deal with UK, US and Swiss authorities in which the bank will pay close to $1.5bn and its Japanese securities subsidiary will plead guilty to a US criminal offence. Terms of the guilty plea were still being negotiated, one person familiar with the matter said on Monday, adding that the bank will not lose its ability to conduct business in Japan. The pact between the bank and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, US Department of Justice, UK’s Financial Services Authority and UBS’s main Swiss supervisor Finma is expected to be announced on Wednesday, although last minute negotiations continue."
There was a time when it was nothing short of economic blasphemy and statist apostasy to suggest three things: i) that the Fed's canonic approach to monetary policy, in which Stock not Flow was dominant, is wrong (as we alleged, among many other places, here); ii) that the Fed is monetizing the deficit, thus enabling politicians to conceive any idiotic fiscal policy: the Fed will always fund it no matter how ludicrous, converting the Fed effectively into a political power and destroying any myth of its "independence" (as we alleged, among many other places, most recently here in direct refutation of Bernanke's sworn testimony); and iii) that by overfunding bank reserves, the same banks are left with one simple trade - to frontrum the Fed in its monetization of the long-end, in the process destroying the bond curve's relevance as an inflationary discounting signal, with more QE, leading to tighter 10s, flatter 10s30s, even as the propensity for runaway inflation down the road soars, in the process eliminating any need for the massively overhyped, and much needed to rekindle animal spirits "rotation out of bonds and into stocks" trade (as we explained, first, here). Well, that time is now officially over, with that stalwart of statist thinking, JPMorgan, adopting all of the above contrarian views as its own, and admitting that once again, the Fed and conventional wisdom was wrong, and fringe bloggers were right all along.
Global Central Banks agree to another year of access to FRBNY FX Swap Lines
Assuming that Ben Bernanke unveils the transition from 'sterilized' Twist to 'unsterilized' QE4 today (which if he doesn't will upset more than a few long-only managers looking to make their year), then the chart below shows the incredible and insatiable demand for money printing (and the central banks' acquiescence). Looking at just outright incremental injections of excess reserves (money-printing), since the whole 'experiment' began, the Fed and ECB have embarked on more and more frequent attempts to prop up this 'fundamentally' sinking ship. Perhaps this is what the Hong Kong Monetary Authority warned of? At the current average decay period of around 40% per action, we should see the ECB or Fed enact something new by around February 4th (just as the debt-ceiling comes to a head).
At the top of the agenda for today’s FOMC meeting is deciding what to do about the Maturity Extension Program (MEP). SocGen agrees with consensus (as we noted the day QE3 was announced means a ~$4tn Fed balance sheet is on its way) that the MEP (Twist) will be converted into outright QE. The size is more uncertain, but we see several reasons why the current pace of $45bn/month should be maintained (which combining with the $40bn MBS means the Fed’s balance sheet is expected to increase by $85bn/month from January onwards). There has been no “significant” improvement in the outlook for employment (recent data is likely to be played down by Bernanke). Scaling back monetary accommodation also seems at odds with the looming fiscal contraction which could dampen growth in early 2013, which SocGen suggests will lead to the FOMC’s economic forecasts being updated (and downgraded we suspect) as the 2013 GDP forecast of 2.5%-3.0% looks too high in the context of contractionary fiscal policy and is at risk of being revised down. As for the “Evans Rule,” we believe that it will be adopted eventually, but don’t expect an announcement for now.
Back in June, we wrote an article titled "On The Verge Of A Historic Inversion In Shadow Banking" in which we showed that for the first time since December 1995, the total "shadow liabilities" in the United States - the deposit-free funding instruments that serve as credit to those unregulated institutions that are financial banks in all but name (i.e., they perform maturity, credit and liquidity transformations) - were on the verge of being once more eclipsed by traditional bank funding liabilities. As of Thursday, this inversion is now a fact, with Shadow Bank liabilities representing less in notional than traditional liabilities.
For the third time in a row, a speaker from the Fed has opened their mouth and the market has fallen in. This time, unlike Yellen's silliness, Bernanke admitted a few ugly truths by removing hopes for an IOER cut and bluntly explaining that the Fed 'will not go back to work' to help Schumer and his fiscal cliff buddies:
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED ABILITY TO OFFSET HEADWINDS `NOT INFINITE'
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED DOESN'T HAVE TOOLS TO PREVENT GOING OFF CLIFF
- *BERNANKE SAYS HIS FISCAL ADVICE IS `DO NO HARM'
- *BERNANKE: WRONG TO THINK INTEREST ON EXCESS RESERVES MAJOR TOOL
S&P futures fell around 8 points as he uttered these words but was rescued by some anxious BIS scrambling in EURUSD, before falling back to reality (along with AAPL).
We already know that Ben Bernanke is a gold bug's best friend (here, here and here). And while technically Ben Bernanke is a republican, and was appointed to his post by a republican president, it is safe to say that when it comes to printing money political affiliation is irrelevant, especially since it was paradoxically a democrat Obama who was Bernanke's biggest backer during the last year for very obvious reasons - after all it was merely Bernanke's $2 trillion in excess reserves that pushed the stock market higher and gave the false impression that the economy is improving (even if a potential Romney administration would have hardly budged the status quo and likely replaced Bernanke with an even more pro-printing figurehead in the face of Bill Dudley). So a different question is: should gold bugs be more excited by a democrat or a republican president. The answer is self-evident: of the $4000 inflation-adjusted increase in gold price since gold was floated by Nixon, a solid $3000, or 75% of this rise, has taken place under Democratic administrations. So dear gold bugs: stock pile that physical and cheer on Obama and hopefully his democratic successors. At this rate, gold (and ostensibly all other precious metals) will outperform every single asset class known to man (sorry Buffett).
You've probably noticed the cookie-cutter format of most financial media "news": a few key "buzz words" (fiscal cliff, Bush tax cuts, etc.) are inserted into conventional contexts, and this is passed off as either "reporting" or "commentary" depending on the number of pundits sourced. Correspondent Frank M. kindly passed along a template that is "officially deny its existence" secret within the mainstream media. With this template, you could launch your own financial media channel, ready to compete with the big boys. Heck, you could hire some cheap overseas labor to make a few Skype calls to "the usual suspects," for-hire academics, hedge fund gurus, etc. and actually attribute the fluff to a real person.
Anyone who may have been concerned by the slowdown in Chinese gold imports in August, when the country imported "only" 53.5 tons of gold from Hong Kong (down from 75.8 in July), can breathe a sigh of relief. According to the Hong Kong Census Bureau, in September Chinese gross imports soared by 30% reverting to the long-term trendline of 65 tons in gross imports per month, and rising to a total of 69.7 tons. Net imports were 40% less, although that excludes organic Chinese gold mining and recirculation, which is why for all intents and purposes the gross number is the apples to apples one. And using that, Year-To-Date China has now imported a whopping 582 tons of gold, more than the official holdings of India at 558 tons, and which through November has certainly surpassed the holdings of the Netherlands, and make China's gross imports in just 2012 nominally the equivalent of Top 10 largest sovereign holder of gold.
John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, yet another noted dove, thinks nothing can go wrong by printing gobs of money. There is no inflation, and there never will be. They have the 'tools' to avert it. Never mind the explosion of the money supply over the past four years – it is all good. Have no fear though, as Williams notes: "Once it comes time to exit its super-easy monetary policy, the Fed will target a 'soft landing,'" The hubris of these guys is jaw-dropping. We are struck by the continued refusal by Fed officials to even think for a second about the long range effects of their policies. In the meantime, money printing continues to undermine the economy. Wealth cannot be generated by increasing the money supply – all that can be achieved by this is an ephemeral improvement in the 'data' even while scarce capital continues to be malinvested and consumed.
Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside. Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.
Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind: it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."
The other day the Huffington Post ran an article by a Bonnie Kavoussi called “11 Lies About the Federal Reserve.” And you’ll never guess: these aren’t lies or myths spread in the financial press by Fed apologists. These are “lies” being told by you and me, opponents of the Fed. Bonnie Kavoussi calls us “Fed-haters.” So she, a Fed-lover, is at pains to correct these alleged misconceptions. She must stop us stupid ingrates from poisoning our countrymen’s minds against this benevolent array of experts innocently pursuing economic stability. Here are the 11 so-called lies (she calls them “myths” in the actual rendering), and Tom Woods and Bob Murphy's responses.