Goldman "Hannibal Lecter" Sachs used to be the visible ringleader of The Gold Cartel. They have since disappeared from the gold price suppression scheme totally, at least as far as this eye can see.
With equities sat the edge of an ugly-looking cliff and precious metals leaking lower, FX markets remain somewhat less shell-shocked (for now). Citi's Steve Englander provides a quick-and-dirty view of the five key issues FX investors are focusing on.
A mere three weeks ago we noted that Tim Geithner is preparing to transition to a Blackrock cubicle...
Geithner Reiterates Refusal to Talk About Monetary Policy. Or which floor of Blackrock his cubicle will be on
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 25, 2012
Today, it seems, the FT has finally got the memo as they note that Mr. Fink (Geithner's new boss?) trumped Mr. Rubin (Geithner's old boss?) as the most frequent 'can-I-phone-a-friend' call - speaking 49 times over 18 months (once every 11 days). We wonder if this is simply a 'rotation' discussion/interview process as Fink transitions to Geithner's little seat at Treasury and Geithner slides into his capacity as official guard of the Blackrock Stapler in the 3rd sub-basement.
One-year "money" is offered at .9750. The .9700 bid is vulnerable. I don't get it.
Economists, market analysts, journalists and investors alike are all talking about it quite openly, generally in a calm and reserved tone that suggests that - to borrow a phrase from Bill Gross – it represents the 'new normal'. Something that simply needs to be acknowledged and analyzed in the same way we e.g. analyze the supply/demand balance of the copper market. It is the new buzzword du jour: 'Financial Repression'. The term certainly sounds ominous, but it is always mentioned in an off-hand manner that seems to say: 'yes, it is bad, but what can you do? We've got to live with it.' But what does it actually mean? The simplest, most encompassing explanation is this: it describes various insidious and underhanded methods by which the State intends to rob its citizens of their wealth and income over the coming years (and perhaps even decades) above and beyond the already onerous burden of taxation and regulatory costs that is crushing them at present. One cannot possibly "print one's way to prosperity". The exact opposite is in fact true: the policy diminishes the economy's ability to generate true wealth. If anything, “we” are printing ourselves into the poorhouse.
It seems our recent re-introduction of the world to Robert Triffin has struck a note among a number of market participants. The gold-convertible U.S. dollar became the global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods monetary system, which lasted from 1944-1971. This arrangement ended because foreign central banks accumulated unsustainably large reserves of U.S. Treasuries, threatening price stability and the purchasing power of the dollar. Today, central banks are once again stockpiling massive Treasury reserves in an attempt to manage their currency values and gain advantages in export markets. We have, effectively, returned to Bretton Woods. The trouble is, as Guggenheim's Scott Minerd notes, that the arrangement is as unsustainable today as it was during the middle of the last century. None of this should come as a surprise given the unorthodox growth of central bank balance sheets around the world. The collapse of Bretton Woods in 1971 caused a decade of economic malaise and negative real returns for financial assets. Can anyone afford to wait to find out whether this time will be different?
Some prefer to see the 'employment' glass half-full, some half-empty, and others see the glass smashed into a million shards on the keynesian kitchen floor. The zealousness with which the 'number' has been dismissed and praised has generated more questions than answers. Goldman's Jan Hatzius addresses the question of the pace of progress in the labor market, the reasons for the contrast between GDP and employment, the amount of slack left, and the implications for Fed policy.
There should be three objectives for a well-functioning monetary system: i) internal balance, ii) allocative efficiency and iii) financial stability. The international financial and monetary system (IFMS) has functioned under a number of different regimes over the past 150 years and each has placed different weights on these three objectives. Overall, this recent Bank of England paper finds that today’s 'fiat' system has performed poorly against each of its three objectives, at least compared with the Bretton Woods System, with the key failure being the system’s inability to maintain financial stability and minimize the incidence of disruptive sudden changes in global capital flows. There is little consensus in the academic literature, or among policymakers, on what are the underlying problems in the global economy which allow excessive imbalances to build in today’s IMFS and/or which impede the IMFS from adjusting smoothly to counteract these imbalances. Critically though, while the fiat money system we are currently does indeed exhibit lower GDP growth volatility (by design), it has dramatically more incidents of banking and currency crises than under a Gold Standard.
The other day the Huffington Post ran an article by a Bonnie Kavoussi called “11 Lies About the Federal Reserve.” And you’ll never guess: these aren’t lies or myths spread in the financial press by Fed apologists. These are “lies” being told by you and me, opponents of the Fed. Bonnie Kavoussi calls us “Fed-haters.” So she, a Fed-lover, is at pains to correct these alleged misconceptions. She must stop us stupid ingrates from poisoning our countrymen’s minds against this benevolent array of experts innocently pursuing economic stability. Here are the 11 so-called lies (she calls them “myths” in the actual rendering), and Tom Woods and Bob Murphy's responses.
Many times what "should" happen does not happen. For example, global stock markets "should" decline as the global economy free-falls into recession, as global recession is not exactly an ideal scenario for rising corporate sales and profits or demand for commodities. Yet global markets are by and large rising significantly. Sometimes what "should" happen is simply being delayed. In other cases, some other dynamic is at work. Stock market bulls, for example, say the "other dynamic" is global money-printing by central banks, and this "easing" will power stocks higher even as sales and profits sag. Analysts who believe fundamentals eventually over-ride monetary manipulation believe the stock market decline has only been delayed, not banished. A similar tug-of-war is playing out between those who feel the U.S. dollar "should" decline in the years ahead and those who see the dollar strengthening significantly.
For those who still wonder why China has given up on Europe, and is solely focusing on Africa (where none other than Goldman Sachs is opening more offices than any other bank), the IMF explains why the Berlin Beijing Conference 2.0 is now in its peak, if entirely behind the scenes. And yes, the "developed" world wishes it was one big banana republic. Amazing what not having 100%+ debt/GDP will do for one's economic prospects...
IMF Cuts Global Growth, Warns Central Banks, Whose Capital Is An "Arbitrary Number", Is Only Game In TownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/08/2012 18:05 -0400
"The recovery continues but it has weakened" is how the IMF sums up their 250-page compendium of rather sullen reading for most hope-and-dreamers. The esteemed establishment led by the tall, dark, and handsome know-nothing Lagarde (as evidenced by her stroppiness after being asked a question she didn't like in the Eurogroup PR) has cut global growth expectations for advanced economics from 2.0% to only 1.5%. Quite sadly, they see two forces pulling growth down in advanced economies: fiscal consolidation and a still-weak financial system; and only one main force pulling growth up is accommodative monetary policy. Central banks continue not only to maintain very low policy rates, but also to experiment with programs aimed at decreasing rates in particular markets, at helping particular categories of borrowers, or at helping financial intermediation in general. A general feeling of uncertainty weighs on global sentiment. Of note: the IMF finds that "Risks for a Serious Global Slowdown Are Alarmingly High...The probability of global growth falling below 2 percent in 2013––which would be consistent with recession in advanced economies and a serious slowdown in emerging market and developing economies––has risen to about 17 percent, up from about 4 percent in April 2012 and 10 percent (for the one-year-ahead forecast) during the very uncertain setting of the September 2011 WEO. For 2013, the GPM estimates suggest that recession probabilities are about 15 percent in the United States, above 25 percent in Japan, and above 80 percent in the euro area." And yet probably the most defining line of the entire report (that we have found so far) is the following: "Central bank capital is, in many ways, an arbitrary number." And there you have it, straight from the IMF.
If interest income as a percentage of total personal income had remained at its 2008 level, the total would now be over $1.5 trillion. It is this $550 billion annual delta that the Fed has directly, though its policies, taken away from US consumers in terms of purchasing power. So while the Fed has taken away the bond market as a venue in which to generate current income, it is the structural failures of equities in a post-HFT world (stories of mini, amd maxi, Flash Crashes are now a daily occurrence) that prevent investors from having the same confidence about current income in a market in which terminal and fatal capital loss are all too real fears. And there are those who still wonder why the US consumer is withering away, and absent such crutches as soaring Federal non-revolving debt, used for anything but its designated purposes, would have less purchasing power now than before the crisis as a result of the Fed's failed policies. As George Magnus so peotically summarizes it "What the left hand giveth, the right hand taketh away."
It will, or should, come as no surprise that as a result of the Great Financial Crisis, just as in real life, so in D.C., the wealthiest politicians have gotten wealthier: in fact at least 72 politicos have doubled their wealth in the past 5 years. It will, or should, also come as no surprise, that as a result of the GFC, the average wealth of Republicans (which declined) and Democrats (which rose) has converged, confirming that at least when it comes to the economic disparity between America's two big parties, there is no longer any difference. At least these are the findings of a recent WaPo study looking at how America's lawmakers have benefited from the laws they themselves institute. In other words, while America's laws may be designed for its people, those who actually benefit from this country's fiscal (and of course monetary) policy is just one group: those who continue to transfer wealth from what little is left of the middle class and into their own, mostly offshore, bank accounts. From the WaPo: "You would find that, contrary to many popular perceptions, lawmakers don’t get rich by merely being in Congress. Rich people who go to Congress, though, keep getting richer while they’re there." We are fairly confident that there were no "popular perceptions" that anyone goes to Congress to get wealthy. Congress, and certainly the Senate, are merely vehicles to allow those with power and money to simply perpetuate a status quo that benefits the 1% and takes, what little is left, from everyone else. And sadly, this theft transcends political lines and ideological colors. In short: everyone is doing it, even as America continues to delude itself there is an option. There is none.