Federal Reserve Bank
- Obama Says Bernanke Fed Term Lasting ‘Longer Than He Wanted’ (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Critical Of Japan's Credit Policy In Meeting With Abe (Nikkei)
- China Wrestles With Banks' Pleas for Cash (WSJ)
- Biggest protests in 20 years sweep Brazil (Brazil)
- Pena Nieto Confident 75-Year Pemex Oil Monopoly to End This Year (Bloomberg)
- G8 leaders seek common ground on tax (FT)
- Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure (Reuters)
- Former Trader Is Charged in U.K. Libor Probe (WSJ) - yup: it was all one 33 year old trader's fault
- Draghi Says ECB Has ‘Open Mind’ on Non-Standard Measures (BBG)
- Loeb Raises His Sony Stake, Drive for Entertainment IPO (WSJ)
Not so long ago, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it expected the U.S. government to register a budget deficit in the current fiscal year of $642 billion. But hold on a minute... The budget deficit so far (as of May 31, 2013) has already hit $626.3 billion, and we still have four more months to go in the government’s current fiscal year! The U.S. has been the family that spends more than it earns for many years now. In the short term, spending more than one takes in can work (especially if the Fed just prints new money and gives it to the government to pay its bills). But in the long term, if fundamental changes are not made to the government’s spending habits, financial chaos just starts all over again. Posting a budget deficit year after year is not sustainable. The debt-infested eurozone nations did very much the same; they borrowed to spend. Look where they are now.
We first discussed the possibility of state and local governments using eminent domain to 'save us' from further housing issues a year ago but now the NY Fed has gone one step further with an academic-based justification for why this process is not a "zero-sum-game" and will render all stakeholders better off. We can hear echoes of "trust us" in this commentary as the authors explain how multiple valuation methods will be used to ascertain "fair-value" - which has always worked so well in the past - and that we have "little to fear" from the resultant long-term contraction in liquidity or credit as bubbles can only inflate during times of easy credit availability (and that will never happen!) Paying for all this? Don't worry - resources to fund purchases of loans/liens can be raised from public, private sources or a combination of the two. It seems to us that MBS holders will not be happy, consumers hurt as mortgage costs would rise (this 'risk' has to be priced in), and taxpayers unhappy as this is yet another transfer payment scheme to bailout underwater loans.
Ever feel like you can't put that math PhD to good use anymore and make money scalping ahead of order flow, sub-pennying and frontrunning retail in normal and dark pool markets because volumes are just off 1929 levels? Then the Chicago Fed has an offer you just can't refuse. And since money printers can't be choosers, the Fed may also have a spot for those who tried their hand at the New Media (i.e., churning slideshows): "Develop presentations and clarify complex issues for broad audiences." Yet what is most interesting is the following requirement: "Interact with highly informed and technically skilled outside stakeholders while preserving the reputation and credibility of the Reserve Bank." We'll just let that one slide...
For all the attention paid to the 1.9% drop in PIMCO's $293 billion Total Return Fund in the month of May following one of the worst months for bonds in a long while, perhaps a far more important question is what happens when one mixes the world's largest actively managed, fixed income portfolio, that of the $3.4 trillion hedge fund located at 33 Liberty Street, and its DV01 of over $2.5 billion, with the 46 bps move in the 10 year in the month of May, and gets a P&L of ($115) billion, or double the said hedge fund's total capital.
In the 1940s, the Fed adopted pegging operations to protect the financial system against rising interest rates and to ensure the smooth financing of the war effort. In effect, the Fed became part of the Treasury’s debt management team; as the budget deficit hit 25% of GDP in WW2, it capped 1Y notes at 87.5bps and 30Y bonds at 2.5%. From the massive bond holdings of its domestic banks to its exploding public debt, Japan today faces a situation very similar to the US in the 1940s. When the long-term rate climbs above 2%, the BoJ will probably adopt outright measures to underpin JGB prices to prevent turmoil in the financial system and a fiscal crisis - and just as Kyle Bass noted yesterday, they are going to need a bigger boat as direct financial repression in Japan is unavoidable.
Spain has already gone bankrupt. It is not spoken of in this fashion, no one mentions it in public but that is the truth of it. The money, some $172 billion, was funneled to the banks and not to the sovereign in one more European ruse to distract everyone but the results are the same. Now it is becoming apparent that even this amount of money was not enough so more will have to be given. The money will go to the Spanish banks, the debt will be guaranteed by Spain, the contingent liability will not be counted as part of Spain's debt to GDP ratio but we will know the truth of it. Whatever direct money from Spain that goes into their banks will be called an "investment" and put on the left side of their balance sheet as an asset and the mockery will continue but I can still read a ledger; thank you very much.
The theory of Petrodollar Warfare can be attributed to US analyst and author William R Clarke, and his 2005 book of that title which interpreted the US-UK decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He called this an "oil currency war", but the concept of the petrodollar system and petrodollar recyling dates back to the eve of the first Oil Shock in 1973-1974. The role of the petrodollar system as a driving force of US foreign policy is explained by analysts and historians as basic to maintaining the dollar's status as the world's dominant reserve currency - and the currency in which oil is priced. Today however, with the major and massive changes of oil resource availability revealed by the shale energy revolution, rising global oil production capabilities, stagnating oil demand, and rising renewable energy supplies in all major developed countries, and the constantly declining role of oil in the economy, the Petrodollar System's days are surely numbered
Evans Quote #1: "Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans on Monday reiterated his belief that the US economy will begin to turn around in the second half of this year. "We think conditions will improve in the second half of this year,"
Evans Quote #2: "The sovereign debt crisis that has enveloped three European nations and threatens to spread to others will slow U.S. economic growth, but the impact will be “minimal to modest," the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said Friday.
Evans Quote #3: Chicago Fed’s Evans comments in speech in Chicago: "economy improving quite a lot; companies seem to be in pretty good shape. Optimistic [XXXX] Will Be Year of Turnaround; US growth will be self-sustaining in [XXXX+1]"
European Union Launches Investigation Into Manipulation of Oil Prices Since 2002
We feel that now there is a Bermuda Triangle of economics - a space where everything tends to disappear without radar contact, a black hole in which rationality and science is replaced by hope, superstition and nonsense pundits pretending to understand the real drivers of the economy. The Bermuda Triangle in real life runs from Bermuda to Puerto Rico to Miami. The Economic Bermuda Triangle (EBT) one runs from high stock market valuations to high unemployment to low growth/productivity. There is a myth that the sunken Atlantis could be in the middle of this triangle. It has been renamed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to make it suit the black hole's main premise of ensuring there is a fancy name for what is essentially the same economic recipe: print and spend money, then wait and pray for better weather. The EBT is getting harder and harder to justify - if for nothing else because the constant reminders of crisis keep us all defensive and non-committed to investing beyond the next quarter. We all naively think we can exit the "risk-on" trade before anyone else. We are due for a new crisis. We have governments and central banks proactively pursuing bubbles. A long time ago, policymakers entered a one-way street where reversing is, if not illegal, then impossible.
Read 'Em and Weep
Thanks to the handy Bloomberg surveillance tools, we know that there are 287 current members of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with access to a terminal. As of this moment an unimpressive 10% of them (29 to be exact) are signaling green (or active) with Kevin Henry still 'grey' (or untracked), although somewhat expectedly, the bulk of the active NY Fed employees are traders in some capacity. While some in the media would suggest this is somehow critical insights that the Bloomberg reporters can use to completely understand what is going on in the world, we question the usefulness of knowing whether Bill Dudley is logged in. With only 10% online - is that a buy, sell, or hold signal for Goldman or JPM? More importantly, perhaps, we would lose the ability to track the whereabouts of such 'real' Bloomberg users as Fukky Tantang, Diane Beaver, and Ludger Poos.
In a weekend dominated by discussion of the "Taper Tantrum", i.e., interpretations of what Hilsenrath "said" after the close on Friday, what the Fed wanted him to say, what the market's response to what he said or did not say would be, and what the next steps may be, we present this convenient annotation of Hilsenrath's complete recital courtesy of Mike O'Rourke from Jones Trading.
For those following Bitcoin, this interview with Gavin Andresen, the 46-year-old lead software developer for the Bitcoin project in today’s Wall Street Journal should be of interest. The chief scientist for the digital currency talks about its appeal - and pitfalls - in a world of fiat money. Politicians and their appointees are entirely cut out of Bitcoin’s monetary loop, Andresen explains, adding that "Bitcoin or a similar technology could threaten the power of not just central banks, but banks, period." It is perhaps the coder's parting words that are most insightful, "I tell people it’s still an experiment and only invest time or money you could afford to lose. If only investors could as easily follow that advice with fiat currencies."