Federal Reserve

Frontrunning: July 3

  • Obama Decries Big Bonuses at Bank Trading Desks as Risky  (BBG)
  • India central bank seeks to swap gold to improve reserves quality (Reuters)
  • There goes Q3 GDP: Arthur Strengthens to Become First Atlantic Hurricane (BBG)
  • Airports Serving U.S. Tighten Checks on Stealth-Bomb Threat (BBG)
  • Fear, cash shortages hinder fight against Ebola outbreak (Reuters)
  • Brent Declines as Libya Rebels Say Ports Are Open (BBG)
  • Shiites Train for Battle in Iraqi Holy City (WSJ)
  • Dimon’s Cancer Has 90% Cure Rate With Demanding Therapy (BBG)
  • Goldman says client data leaked, wants Google to delete email (Reuters)
  • ECB Watchers in the Dark Look to Draghi for Illumination (BBG)

Bubble Finance At Work: How Buyback-Mania Is Gutting Growth & Leaving Financial Wrecks In Its Wake

Janet Yellen is a chatterbox of numbers, but most of them are “noise”. And that’s her term. Yet here is a profoundly important set of numbers that you haven’t heard boo about from Yellen and her mad money printers. To wit, during the “difficult” economic times since the financial crisis began gathering force in Q1 2008, the S&P 500 companies have distributed $3.8 trillion in stock buybacks and dividends out of just $4 trillion in cumulative net income. That’s right, 95 cents of every dollar they earned - including the huge gains from restructurings, downsizings and job terminations - was flushed right back into the Wall Street casino.

The Fed's Inflation Survey That The Fed Would Rather Not Hear

U.S. consumers think one-year domestic price inflation will run 50-100% higher than the current headline Consumer Price Index that Wall Street uses to value financial assets. That surprising finding doesn’t come from the fringe "Inflation is nigh, repent!" camp; as ConvergEx's NBick Colas points out, it is the central observation of the New York Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. This relatively new but rigorously designed monthly dataset polls 1,200 American households on a range of financial questions, from inflation expectations to household finances and labor market conditions. The news The Fed is hearing from the survey must be a bit tough to hear. Inflation expectations are significantly higher than their "Target" of 2% already, meaning any acceleration in prices will "Feel" higher than the central bank’s notional goals.

Why The Mainstream Fails To Understand Recessions

The boom is unsustainable. Investment and consumption are higher than they would have been in the absence of monetary intervention. As asset bubbles inflate, yields increase, but so do inflation expectations. To dampen inflation expectations, the Fed withdraws stimulus. As soon as asset prices start to fall, yields on heavily leveraged assets are negative. As asset prices decline, increasingly more investors are underwater. Loan defaults rise as mortgage payments adjust up with rising interest rates. When asset bubbles pop, the boom becomes the bust.

The US Government Tells The Whole World To Go FATCA Themselves

If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive. This was how Dale Carnegie titled the first chapter of his 1936 personal development masterpiece—How to Win Friends and Influence People. But based on the way the US is acting, you’d think they were test-driving an entirely different manuscript - How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Between FATCA and the BNP debacle, it appears politicians fail to realize how important the US banking system is to holding together the US economy. With all of its debt and all of its money printing, the US banking system was one of America’s last economic competitive advantages; but now we are going to see more and more foreigners curtailing their use of the US banking system... and by extension... the dollar. Without that mass of people to export dollars to, inflation will really kick in back home.

The Inevitable Stock Market Reversal: The New Normal Is Just Another Bubble Awaiting A Pop

Is the New Normal of ever-higher stock valuations sustainable, or will low volatility lead to higher volatility, and intervention to instability? Though we're constantly reassured by financial pundits and the Federal Reserve that the stock market is not a bubble and that valuations are fair, there is substantial evidence that suggests the contrary.

The Sham Boom

What last week’s figures tell us is there is no real recovery. Just a sham boom created by easy money. We’ve now got two months of figures for the second quarter. They tell us the same thing the first quarter’s numbers told us. Consumers aren’t spending like it was 2007. They’re spending like it was 2009... or 2010... or 2011. In other words, they’re spending as though they were reasonable people who have realized how the system works. The Fed creates a world where its friends and cronies can borrow at below the rate of consumer price inflation. The 1% gets richer. The other 99% struggles to keep up with the bills. Six years of “stimulating” the economy by giving it more of what it least needed has produced no real recovery... just more debt. It has also produced a corrupt money system in which almost every race is fixed. The 1% wins every time. The consumer is barely able to limp around the track.

Forget 'Shrugged'; Atlas Just May Throw Up His Hands

Financial markets do the one thing better than nearly any other form of protest or lauding of government policies. When the financial markets are falling that’s a tell-tale sign something somewhere is wrong. Same for the lifting, where the rise lifts all giving policy makers as well as the general public at large explicit feedback of what is, as well as, what’s not working. Yet, once those indicators become an adulterated vehicle with the ability to mask true economic information, everything is lost. Just how pungent does today’s economic corpse need to stink before everyone understands it hasn’t been resting, or recovering, but has been dead for who knows how long? With a print of nearly 3% negative GDP, sustaining, or plodding along, or any other descriptor stating “recovering” is ludicrous.

WTF Chart Of The Day: "Holy $340 Billion In Quarter-End Window Dressing, Batman"

Behold: a record $340 billion in reverse repos submitted by the world's financial institutions with the Federal Reserve, an increase of $200 billion overnight, and amounting to a record $3.5 billion on average among the 97 operations participants. Considering this is a clear quarterly event, it goes without saying that all the reverse repo is, is a quarter-end window dressing mechanism underwritten by Mr. Chairmanwoman itself.

BIS Slams "Market Euphoria", Finds "Puzzling Disconnect" Between Economy And Market

"... it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally....  Never before have central banks tried to push so hard... Few are ready to curb financial booms that make everyone feel illusively richer.  Or to hold back on quick fixes for output slowdowns, even if such measures threaten to add fuel to unsustainable financial booms.... The temptation to go for shortcuts is simply too strong, even if these shortcuts lead nowhere in the end."