5 days ago saw the 150th year anniversary of an event so historic that a very select few even noticed: the birth of US fiat. Bloomberg was one of the few who commemorated the birth of modern US currency: "On April 2, 1862, the first greenback left the U.S. Treasury, marking the start of a new era in the American monetary system.... The greenbacks were originally intended to be a temporary emergency-financing measure. Almost bankrupt, the Treasury needed money to pay suppliers and troops. The plan was to print a limited supply of United States notes to meet the crisis and then have people convert the currency into Treasury bonds. But United States notes grew in popularity and continued to circulate." The rest, as they say is history. In the intervening 150 years, the greenback saw major transformations: from being issued by the Treasury and backed by gold, it is now printed, mostly in electronic form, by an entity that in its own words, is "set up similarly to private corporations, but operated in the public interest." Of course, when said public interest is not the primary driver of operation, the entity, also known as the Federal Reserve is accountable to precisely nobody. Oh, and the fiat money, which is now just a balance sheet liability of a private corporation, and thus just a plug to the Fed's deficit monetization efforts, is no longer backed by anything besides the "full faith and credit" of a country that is forced to fund more than half of its spending through debt issuance than tax revenues.
Before even taking into account the aftermath of the “unexpected” NFP result, it has been amazing to see over these past few months the number of experts, especially those that reside solely within the “science” of economics, proclaiming a successful engineering of the long sought-after recovery. That this has been the third such claim in as many years is lost in the noise of confusing “headwinds” that are somehow beyond the control of those that now control most everything within the financial arena. Stock speculators are beneficial components to the healthy financial transmission mechanism into the real economy (even when all they are supposed to do is provide liquidity 20,000 times per second), but anybody that dares speculate in the far more vital energy sector (or any real commodity) is the pure incarnation of evil. That these two apparently disconnected speculative classes are really one and the same shows just how obtuse (not always intentionally) economists and the pandering classes really are.
Blythe Masters On The Blogosphere, Silver Manipulation, Gold-Axed Clients And Doing The "Wrong" ThingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/05/2012 14:53 -0400
For all those who have long been curious what the precious metals "queen" thinks about allegations involving her and her fimr in gold and silver manipulation, how JPMorgan is positioned in the precious metals market, and how she views the fringe elements of media, as well as JPMorgan's ethical limitations to engaging in 'wrong' behavior, the answers are all here.
Last week Mario Monti, like a good (ex) Goldmanite, did his best to buy what Goldman is selling, namely telling anyone gullible enough to believe that the "European crisis is almost over." Funny then that we learn that just as this was happening, Ben Bernanke held a secret meeting with the entire banker caretel, in which discussed was not American jobs (seasonally adjusted or otherwise), nor $5 gas, but... helping European with its debt crisis. But, but... Mario said. In the meantime, European spreads are back to late 2011 levels.
More pain in Spain has been the theme so far in the European morning as poor auction results across three lines has resulted in significant widening in the 10-yr government bond yield spreads over benchmark bunds with the Spanish 10yr yield up some 24bps on the day. In combination with this the latest Germany Factory orders also fell short of analysts’ expectations and as such the lower open in bund futures following yesterday’s less than dovish FOMC minutes has been completed retracted and we now sit above last Friday’s high at 138.58.
No surprise in today's ECB announcement. The Press conference in 45 minutes is also expected to be largely a non-event, although we will be delighted to hear Mario's response to the quality of Europe's collateral backing the trillions in fresh discount window borrowings spent on buying up Spanish and Italian bonds, which are gradually going underwater.
Having been an onlooker of the recent tiff between Paul Krugman and Steve Keen, I was very eager to see what Mr. Keen had to say in tonight's LSE public lecture on "Banks Versus the Economy." Observing how Keen had quarreled with Krugman and effectively ate his lunch, I thought he would bring a lot to the table. I was wrong. Keen had raised the (very interesting) issue about how neoclassical economists and their models fail to recognize the role of banks in the economy.
Folks, QE 3 is not coming. Not without a Crisis first. End of story. The last time the Fed hit “print” with QE 2 put food prices at all time records and kicked off revolutions and riots around the globe. Today, gas is already at $4, food prices aren’t too far off their highs… do you REALLY think the Fed will kick off more QE in this environment… during an election year? At a time when the Fed is becoming a hot topic in the election?
Jan Hatzius was on TV earlier, stating he expects a whisper of Twist extension in today's minutes, as per Hilsenrath. He did not get what he wanted. His take: it is now just deferred to June. To wit: "March FOMC minutes make easing at April meeting unlikely without substantial deterioration in the outlook. However, an announcement of additional asset purchases remains our baseline, with June the most likely timing at this point."
So much for the Hatzius and Hilsenrath prognostications. Headlines coming in:
- FOMC SAW NO NEED TO EASE ANEW UNLESS GROWTH SLOWS, MINUTES SHOW
- MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `LITTLE EVIDENCE OF COST PRESSURES
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAID LABOR MARKET CONDITIONS HAD IMPROVED
- MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS EXPECTED INFLATION RATE AT 2% OR LESS
- MANY FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `EASED' STRAINS IN GLOBAL MARKETS
- MOST ON FOMC SAW TEMPORARY IMPACT FROM RISING OIL, GAS PRICES
- FOMC SAID SIGNIFICANT OUTLOOK CHANGE COULD ALTER 2014 RATE PLAN
Apparently $4 gas has an impact.
In simple terms, this time around, when Europe goes down (and it will) it’s going to be bigger than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And this time around, the world Central Banks are already leveraged to the hilt having spent virtually all of their dry powder propping up the markets for the last four years. Again, this time it is different. I realize most people believe the Fed can just hit “print” and solve everything, but they’re wrong. The last time the Fed hit “print” food prices hit records and revolutions began spreading in emerging markets. If the Fed does it again, especially in a more aggressive manner as it would have to, we would indeed enter a dark period in the world and the capital markets.
As Europe's exuberance from the LTROs fades (with Italian banks now negative YTD, Sovereigns wider than LTRO2 levels, and financials desparately divided by the LTRO Stigma) Jefferies David Zervos uncovers the sad reality that faces peripheral creditors and Northern Europeans - as we noted a month ago here. The 'success' of the LTRO monetization scheme (as opposed to EFSF/ESM transfer dabacles) is what enabled the Greek restructuring, and as Zervos notes, the losses that the big boys (Spain and Italy) need to take will not be taken via a haircut but a monetization as the number 1 rule is we must always assume that losses will be taken in a way that protects the large northern banks, northern jobs and most importantly Northern politicians. If the loss realization is not managed correctly (and losses there will be), then the ugly truth will escape but the North's large-scale vendor-financing scheme with the periphery will have to continue - even in the knoweldge that the debt will never get paid back.
The income and savings of Northern workers must be ploughed (directly or indirectly) into the rest-of-Europe or the entire structure becomes insolvent and the breaking of that social contract (that they will be looked after when they are old) will inevitably lead to revolt and nasty nationalist political forces being unleashed. The hope to avoid this is the 'wealth illusion' as the workers of the north can never be allowed to realize they have only 50% of their worth in reality. Ireland will be next on the loss-realization-monetization path but as we move from relatively small and containable sovereigns to the big-boys, the idea that Spain and Italy will roll over and accept a decade of austerity in exchange for a haircut is pure folly. These countries hold too much clout in the Eurozone and their threat of exit is a material threat to the northern jobs and hence northern politicians. The only way the northern politicians will be able to save face when it comes to Spain and Italy is through massive monetary policy accommodation. Inflation will rebalance Europe; but let's hope that the process of restating northern wealth and wage rates does not lead to revolt in the northern streets. The politicians will need to carefully execute this trade.
Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev, a non Executive member of the GoldCore Investment Committee, has again analysed the data of US Mint coin sales in Q1 2012 and has looked at the data in their important historical context going back to 1987. He finds that the data regarding gold coin sales in Q1 2012 confirms that there is “no hysteria and no bubble here”. Dr Gurdgiev finds that while volume of sales in Q1 2012 fell from the quite high levels seen Q1 2009, 2010 and 2011, demand was much stronger than “in the pre-crisis average for 2000-2007.” Also of note is the fact that despite the worst financial and economic crisis the modern world has ever seen being experienced since 2008 demand has remained below the record levels seen in the aftermath of the Asian debt crisis and unfounded Y2K concerns. Interestingly, Dr Gurdgiev finds that the historic data (since 1987) shows that the "gold price has virtually nothing to do with demand for US Mint coins - in terms of volume of gold sold via coins." He finds that the demand for gold coins has little to do with the price in general and that “something other than price movements drives demand for coins”.
You have publicly gone on record with some off-the-wall assertions about the gold standard. What made you think you could get away with it? Your best strategy would have been to ignore gold. Although I concede that with the endgame of the regime of irredeemable paper money near, you might not be able to pretend that people aren’t talking and thinking about gold. You can’t win, Ben. In this letter I will address your claims and explain your errors so that the whole world can see them, even if you cannot.
The week ahead will offer significant inputs to our views. ISM and payrolls will likely set the market tone for the next few weeks. Despite the softer signals from regional surveys, Goldman expects the ISM to improve at the margin relative to last month’s print. In contrast, it expects payrolls to grow by 175k, down from last month’s 227k jobs gain. FOMC minutes will likely show that Fed officials had a discussion on further easing but are unlikely to offer strong hints about the likelihood and possible timing of a third round of Quantitative Easing.