Last week, Bernanke's first (of four) lecture at George Washington University was entirely dedicated to attempting to discredit gold and all that sound money stands for. The propaganda machine was so transparent that it hardly merited a response: those away from the MSM know the truth (which, simply said, is the "creation" of over $100 trillion in derivatives in just the first six months of 2011 to a record $707 trillion - how does one spell stability?), while those who rely on mainstream media for the news would never see an alternative perspective - financial firms are not among the top three sources of advertising dollars for legacy media for nothing. Still, for those who feel like the Chairman's word need to be challenged, the following extensive and annotated reply by QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky makes a mockery of the Fed's full on assault on gold, and any attempts by the subservient media to defend it. To wit: "Has anyone asked why so many powerful people are going out of their way to discredit an inert rock? We think it comes down to maintaining power and control over commercial economies. After professionally watching Fed chairmen cajole, threaten, persuade and manage sentiment in the markets since 1982, we argue this latest permutation is understandable, predictable and, for those willing to bet on the Fed’s ultimate success in saving the banking system (as we are), quite exciting.... Gold is no longer being ignored and gold holders are no longer being laughed at. “The Powers That Be” seem to have begun a campaign to discredit gold."
In the last few months we have presented various analyses, both ours and those of Goldman and even Jon Hilsenrath, on why one of the core economic empirical relationships: Okun's law, is now broken. Subsequently we presented another parallel line of inquiry - namely that in order to preserve the illusion of a recovery, the Obama administration (with help from the Fed) has engaged in a quality-for-quantity job transfer, where America is creating increasingly more jobs of lower quality (the bulk of which are part-time), which in turn is leading to less proportional personal income tax revenues, and thus to a secular shift in an indicator which is even more important for US economic growth than simply the number of jobs "gained" each month - labor productivity. Today, JPM's Michael Feroli ties these two perspectives together in an analysis that has extremely damning implications for the US, and global, economic growth prospects. In a nutshell, Feroli finds that "Productivity, which used to be procyclical, has now turned countercyclical" which in turn means that "if labor is no longer a quasi-fixed factor of production this may eliminate one type of non-convexity in production, thereby reducing the likelihood that the economy has multiple equilibria and is subject to self-fulfilling prophecies" or said somewhat simpler: "the conditions for self-fulfilling prophesies in the macroeconomy may no longer exist." Still confused: central planning, and the Obama vote grab has killed the "virtuous cycle"... Which in turn means that everything America is trying to accomplish is now a lost cause, as every incremental dollar spent, whether by fiscal and monetary policy, is pursuing an outcome that is now theoretically and practically impossible to achieve!
Dallas Fed Confirms that Big, Insolvent Banks Are Killing Our Economy ... and Democracy
All you need to read and some more.
European cash equity markets were seen on a slight upward trend in the early hours of the session amid some rumours that the Chinese PBOC were considering a cut to their RRR. However, this failed to materialise and markets have now retreated into negative territory with flows seen moving into fixed income securities. This follows some market talk of selling in Greek PSI bonds due to the absence of CDSs. This sparked some renewed concern regarding the emergence of Greece from their recovery. Elsewhere, we saw the publication of the BoE’s financial stability review recommending that UK banks raise external capital as soon as possible. This saw risk-averse flows into the gilt, with futures now trading up around 40 ticks.
- More HFT Posturing: SEC Probes Rapid Trading (WSJ)
- Fed’s Bullard Says Monetary Policy May Be at Turning Point (Bloomberg)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Hosts Global Gathering on Easy Money (WSJ)
- Dublin ‘hopeful’ ECB will approve bond deal (FT)
- EU Proposes a Beefed-Up Permanent Bailout Fund (WSJ)
- Portugal Town Halls Face Default Amid $12 Billion Debt (Bloomberg)
- Hidden Fund Fees Means U.K. Investors Pay Double US Rates (Bloomberg)
- Europe Weighs Trade Probes Amid Beijing Threats (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan Stimulus Row Fueled by Kono’s Nomination (Bloomberg)
FX traders of the world have been forlorn for a week or two as the lack of directional guidance from the anti-guru-du-jour Thomas Stolper of Goldman has been sorely lacking. Worry no more. He is back with with his latest 'Fadance' (/fey-dyns, verb/ - "Advice" which Goldman Sachs provides to "muppets") in that he prefers to be short USDJPY from 82.8 (suggesting JPY strength on the back of seasonal patterns and the recent deterioration in the trade balance as being transitory temporary). Given his recent track record, being long the USD against the JPY would seem appropriate and his stop (and therefore the target) at around 84.5.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is covered in a long profile by Roger Lowenstein in the Atlantic. The sympathetic account takes the reader blow-by-blow through the criticism that he has received from virtually all quarters during his tenure as Fed chair. What Lowenstein hones in on are the reviews and criticisms of Bernanke’s performance in “resurrecting the economy” — the interest rate policy, his interpretation of the dual mandate, quantitative easing, Operation Twist, etc. But for a piece that clocks in at 8,287 words, Lowenstein pays scant attention to the emergency actions taken to save the financial system itself.
Moments ago the Chinese PMI as tracked by HSBC/Market (not to be confused with the other PMI, tracked by China itself, which will likely show expansion, like last month), came and printed at 48.1, down from 49.6, and representing a 5th consecutive monthly contraction for the Chinese economy. Whether this means that China will promptly unleash more easing, or will simply wait to import some of Bernanke's own QEasy cooking, remains to be seen. What is far more shocking is that futures are indicating some very odd, ungreen color. It is on the tip of our tongue, but we can't quite place it... We are trying to think back to the last time futures were bathed in this particular shade of non-green, and can't - after all it was banned by the Chairsatan himself. We can only assume that the algos responsible for ramping the futures up are currently on their oil change break.
While beset with foreclosures, short sales and ongoing distress housing soldiers on and builds momentum. Prices are now rising. Do not take lightly the impact of rising prices on the housing market.
Yesterday, Ben Bernanke dedicated his entire first propaganda lecture to college student to the bashing of the gold standard. Of course, he has his prerogatives: he has to validate a crumbling monetary system and the legitimacy of the Fed, first to schoolchildrden and then to soon to be college grads encumbered in massive amounts of non-dischargeable student loans. While it is decidedly arguable that the gold standard may or may not have led to the first Great Depression, there is no debate at all that it was sheer modern monetary insanity and bubble blowing (by the very same professor!) that brought us to the verge of collapse in the Second Great Depression in 2008, which had nothing to do with the gold standard. And as usual there is always an other side to the story. Presenting that here today, is Antal Fekete with "The Gold Problem Revisited."
What is more amusing than the pathological liars that are Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke testifying to congress? Both of them testifying at the same time. Such as now. From C-Span: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke go before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday to discuss lessons learned from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. In a hearing titled, “Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crisis: Causes, Consequences for the United States and Lessons Learned,” both financial chiefs will share their personal experiences. Since the crisis, the Federal Reserve has assisted foreign counterparts by provide monetary support. In November, the Fed and it's worldwide counterparts announced a cut in the interest rate premium charged to over seas banks which borrow in dollars. The monetary policy targeted struggling European banks. In a Senate hearing earlier this year, leading economists also testified on the European debt crisis and the outlook for the eurozone. They said that the U.S. should treat the crisis as a wake-up call and urged lawmakers to bring down debt and spending to sustainable levels.
Earlier today, Goldman's Peter Oppenheimer made the news following publication of his report "The Long Good Buy" posted here. In itself, that would be nothing spectacular - just one man's opinion. However, when taken in the entirety of Goldman's views on the world, it bears some criticism, because while on one hand we have a key Goldman strategist telling the world it is all clear in stocks, virtually at the same time Goldman's chief economic strategist, Jan Hatzius, who is German, gave the following interview to Handelsblatt, in which he lays out his "doubts about an early recovery of the U.S. economy. In this interview he explains why positive unemployment figures are deceptive, and why the real estate crisis will have lasting effect." Perhaps his most important observation, when asked if Americans have learned anything from the crisis: "I do not think there has been a big change in behavior. During the crisis, Americans simply responded to the realities. They could no longer borrow as much money. Now again a little more credit is available, and you can borrow some more money again. But I do not think there has been a fundamental change." Alas he is correct, and incidentally the reason why Goldman has such a massive credibility problem is that while on one hand one part of the firm goes ahead and pitches equities, on the other, a respected economist says that the economy is so sluggish that he gives a greater than 50% chance of more QE. Perhaps at this point it is bear reminding what a third Goldman strategist said back in October 2010: "Goldman Sachs Admits The Truth: "The Economy Is Not The Market And QE2 Is Not A Panacea." Then again, with career risk once again paramount for every money manager out there, as the bulk of hedge funds once again underperform the market, perhaps not.