Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
As a frequent contributor to Bloomberg, I would welcome the opportunity to debate this with Barry.
What say you @ritholtz ? : )
Jon Corzine had an illustrious career in investment banking, rising to the very top of Goldman Sachs, until he got pushed out in 1999. He subsequently decided to try his luck in politics, and was eventually elected as a Senator from New Jersey in 2001, then Governor in 2006. After losing to Chris Christie in 2010, Corzine was promptly hired as the CEO of MF Global. He was back in the game of finance - and with something to prove. While the majority of voters in New Jersey breathed a sigh of relief, the clients of MF Global could not imagine the disaster that would unfold.
According to IMF researcher Brad Jones, who wrote "Asset Bubbles: Re-thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management", the "business risk of asset managers acts as strong motivation for institutional herding and "rational bubble-riding." This is a critical observation, and one which suggests that the mere groupthink of massive asset managers is what leads to not only herding, lack of originality and the "hedge fund hotel" phenomenon, but also to recurring and ever greater asset bubbles. As Jones further writes, "subdued leverage is not a sufficient condition for financial stability—if systemic risk, and activity in the wider economy, is shaped importantly by large shifts in risk premia owing to the "rational herding" motivations of asset managers."
Import prices dropped 8.0% YoY (modestly beating expectations of an 8.9% plunge) and 2.8% MoM. The last time import prices started to fall at this pace was a month after Lehman Brothers BK'd. Of course the crash of oil prices is largely responsible as imported fuel costs slumped 16.9% YoY - the most since Dec 2008 (petroleum -17.7%). However, even away from that the price of imported capital goods collapsed the most since March 2009 with the biggest rise in Japanese (foreign central banks) exported deflation since April 2013 (when QE really accelerated).
You know it's bad when... you start blaming speculators. Very reminiscent of the "it's not us, we have a solid balance sheet, it's the short selling speculators" bullshit in the days before and after the stock crashes of American Insurance Group, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch; mere days after his bank's bonds crashed, the CEO of Raiffeissen Bank (Austria's 3rd largest) has stated (unequivocally) that "panic was created artificially," blaming short-sellers for his bank's demise.
Feel like trading FX has become next to impossible, with massive, gaping bid-ask spreads, strange "tractor beams", completely unexpected stop loss runs, and - of course - central banks behind every corner? Don't worry you are not alone. According to Bloomberg, that's precisely the case as "it hasn’t been this difficult to trade currencies since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. shook markets worldwide."As for the reason why, well: take a guess.
Rand Paul Explains What The Dollar Is Backed By: "Used Car Loans, Bad Home Loans, Distressed Assets And Derivatives"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/07/2015 22:05 -0500
Having recently exposed the mainstream media's lack of objectivity in "slanted and distorted" interviews, Rand Paul has turned his focus to another staple of the status quo - his father's arch-nemesis, The Fed. As WSJ reports, Sen. Rand Paul unleashed a blistering attack on the Federal Reserve in Iowa on Fridasy evening, calling for an audit of the institution’s books and blaming it for fueling income inequality. "Once upon a time, your dollar was as good as gold," he explained, adding "then for many decades, they said your dollar was backed by the full faith and credit of government." Do you know what it’s backed by now? "Used car loans, bad home loans, distressed assets and derivatives."
In a stunningly honest reflection on itself (and its peer group of professional prognosticating panderers), The Federal Reserve's San Francisco research group finds that - just as we have pointed out again and again - that since 2007, FOMC participants have been persistently too optimistic about future U.S. economic growth. Real GDP growth forecasts have typically started high, but then are revised down over time as the incoming data continue to disappoint. Possible explanations for this pattern include missed warning signals about the buildup of imbalances before the crisis, overestimation of the efficacy of monetary policy following a balance-sheet recession, and the natural tendency of forecasters to extrapolate from recent data. The persistent bias in the track records of professional forecasters apply not only to forecasts of growth, but also of inflation and unemployment.
The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
Bill Gross Slams Broken Capitalism: "Policymakers Must Promote A Future Which Offers Hope As Opposed To Despair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2015 08:17 -0500
"Officials at the Federal Reserve – the most powerful and strongest of Parker Brothers – seem to now appreciate the hole that they have dug by allowing interest rates to go too low for too long.... While there is no better system than capitalism, it is incumbent upon it and its policymakers to promote a future condition which offers hope as opposed to despair. Capitalism depends on hope – rational hope that an investor gets his or her money back with an attractive return. Without it, capitalism morphs and breaks down at the margin. The global economy in January of 2015 is at just that point with its zero percent interest rates."
When you read about female doctors feeling forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children, about the number of miscarriages doubling, and about the overall sense of helplessness and destitution among the Greek population, especially the young, who see no way of even starting to build a family, then I can only say: Brussels is a bunch of criminals. And Draghi’s QE announcement is a criminal act. It’s a good thing the bond-buying doesn’t start until March, and that it’s on a monthly basis: that means it can still be stopped.
This infographic documents the rise and fall of Bre-X.
From initial private offerings at 30 cents a share, Bre-X stock climbed to more than $250 on the open market. Near the peak of Bre-X share prices, major banks and media were on board:
Since the European sovereign-debt crisis erupted in 2009, everyone has wondered what would happen if a country left the eurozone. The risks created by the SNB’s decision – as transmitted through the financial system – have a fat tail - and the consequences will not be limited to Switzerland. After years of wondering whether the exit of a small, fiscally weak country like Greece could undermine the euro, policymakers will have to deal with an even bigger shock stemming from the exit of a small, fiscally strong country that is not even a member of the European Union.
Last week we focused on potential manipulations of the opaque and self-regulated process by which the conflicted members of ISDA’s Determinations Committee (“DC”) determine whether a triggering event has occurred. This week we will focus on the inherent problems in the External Review process, as set out in the Determinations Committee’s rules.