Moroccan Pottery Classes, Shrimp On Treadmills And Obamaphones - Bernanke's Biggest Bloopers Tie It All TogetherSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/27/2013 20:54 -0500
Those who listened to Bernanke's three hour oratory before the House Committee today noticed something different: the Chairman's tone was far more resigned, and as noted previously, on occasion devolved into incoherent, illogical ramblings that may be satisfactory for an introductory economics class at Clown College (aka Princeton), but certainly are inappropriate for the man who runs the world's most important printer. And while as expected the bulk of the Q&A session focused on the sequester, there were enough pearls one could shake a GDP hockeystick at. We have extracted the best of these exchanges below. However, the definitive five minutes comes from this fiery confrontation between Sean Duffy and the Chairman, in which the republican has obviously had enough with the monetary policy chief coming in Congress and telling Congress how to conduct fiscal policy, when it is Bernanke's deficit-monetizing actions that allow zero-cost borrowing and thus profligate, indiscriminate spending to result in such lunacy as total US debt just hitting a record 16,618,701,810,927.77. From the negative jobs impact resulting from cutting Moroccan Pottery Classes, no longer handing out Obamaphones, stopping the payment of travel expenses for the watermelon queen in Alabama, and most importantly preventing shrimp from running on a treadmill, to Bernanke explaining how a 2% cut in the budget would result in mass mayhem, in the context of a 1% interest rise resulting in $100 billion in additional interest expense, and much, much more, the Chairman ties it all together.
Bernanke gave more testimony on Wednesday emphasizing and defending all Fed policies. He successfully parried all questions about QE and ZIRP risks and made no mention of any policy exit dates. Bulls translation, the printing press will be on “auto” to infinity.
Interesting testimony tidbits were:
“Fed could go some time without sending profits to Treasury,” (Fed is allowed to be a deadbeat).
“Savers will benefit with economic recovery; savers won't get strong returns in a weak economy,” (So not in my lifetime?).
Gold is trading flat today near a one and a half week high hit yesterday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the U.S. ultra loose monetary policy.
The selloff in gold ETFs in February underscores the weakness in gold sentiment among retail investors that has been prominent recently.
Yesterday Bernanke testified before the Senate: today it is the turn of the House to grandstand. The prepared remarks are the same, but the Q&A will certainly be different, and will focus mostly on political talking points surrounding the sequester, with little to no talk of actual monetary policy. After all, the last thing anyone in Congress wants is the man who provides the deficit funding to pull the punch bowl.
Bernanke: "None of the things you said are accurate"
Corker: "Oh yes they are"
Abe's honeymoon is over. Read why.
- Italy sold EUR 6.5bln in 5y and 10y BTPs this morning, solid b/c and competitive yields, especially when considering the uncertain political situation in Italy.
- Moody's also said that Italian election is indirectly credit negative for other pressured EU sovereigns.
- Fears rise that ECB plan has a weakness as the strings in the Eurozone bond buying programme may be its frailty.
With little on the event calendar in the overnight session, the main news many were looking forward to was Italy's auction of €2.5 billion in 5 and €4 billion in 10 year paper, to see just how big the fallout from the Hung Parliament election was in the primary market. As SocGen explained ahead of the auction: "The target of Italy's 2017 and 2023 BTP auction today is a maximum EUR6.5bn, but in order to get to that tidy amount the Tesoro may be forced to offer a hefty mark-up in yield to compensate investors for the extra risk. Note that Italian 6-month bills were marked up at yesterday's sale from 0.731% to 1.237%. Who knows what premium investors will be asking for today for paper with the kind of duration that is not covered by the ECB OMT (should that be activated)? Will Italian institutions, already long BTPs relative to overall asset size, be forced to hoover up most of the supply?" The outcome was a successful auction which, however, as expected saw yields spike with the 4 year paper pricing at 3.59% compared to 2.95% before, while the 10 Year paper priced some 60 bps wider to the 4.17% in January, yielding 4.83%. The result was a brief dip in Italian OTR BTP yield, which have since retraced all gains and are once again trading in the 4.90% range on their way to 5%+ as JPM forecast yesterday. And as expected, talk promptly emerged that the auction was carried by "two large domestic buyers" in other words, the two big local banks merely levered up on Italian paper hoping furiously that they are not the next MF Global.
Bernanke's Tools: "Belts, Suspenders... Two Pairs Of Suspenders" And Other Senate Testimony HighlightsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/26/2013 20:20 -0500
Ben Bernanke: "In terms of exiting from our balance sheet, we have put out -- a couple of years ago we put out a plan; we have a set of tools. I think we have belts, suspenders -- two pairs of suspenders. We have different ways that we can do it."
In many Western industrialized nations, debt has overwhelmed or is about to overwhelm the economy's debt-servicing capacity. In the run-up to a debt crisis, bad debt tends to move to the next higher level and may ultimately accumulate in the central bank's balance sheet, provided the economy has its own currency. Many observers assume that, once bad debt is purchased by the central bank, the debt crisis is solved for good; that central banks have unlimited wealth at their disposal, or can print unlimited wealth into existence.
However, central banks can only create liquidity, not wealth. If printing money were equivalent to creating wealth, then mankind would not have to get up early on Monday morning. Only a solvent central bank can halt hyperinflation. The longer governments run large deficits, the longer central banks continue to monetize them, and the longer their balance sheets grow, the higher the potential for enormous losses and thus hyperinflation.
Necessary preconditions for hyperinflation are a quasi-bankrupt government whose debt is monetized by a central bank with insufficient assets. One way or another, owning physical gold is the safest and most effective way of insuring against hyperinflation.
Fed officials are well aware that stocks have become totally disconnected from reality. However, they cannot simply come out and discuss ending stimulus efforts outright because it would cause a market collapse. Remember, the single most important role for the Fed post-2008 is to maintain confidence in the system. So they cannot risk any explicit statement that they will be pulling the punchbowl.
Here's Bernanke's list of the costs/risks associated with further asset purchases, and his assessment about the severity of those risks:
At 10 am Eastern the Chairman will go before Senate to deliver his agency's semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to lawmakers. Tomorrow he will do the same before the House. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke will face questions about the nation's current economic situation. He is also likely to field lawmaker's comments on how the nation's economy will be impacted by sequestration. Perhaps someone will inquire about the Fed's exit plans, but that is unlikely as there are none. Perhaps someone else will inquire what Bernanke's closing print target for the S&P and the EURUSD are. We, and numerous GETCO synthetic momentum algos, are looking forward to both.
- Italy Political Vacuum to Extend for Weeks as Bargaining Begins (BBG)
- Italian impasse rekindles eurozone jitters (FT)
- On Spending Cuts, the Focus Shifts to How, Not If (WSJ)
- Obama spending cuts strategy focused on waiting game (Reuters)
- BOE’s Tucker Says He’s Open to Expanding Asset-Purchase Program (BBG)
- Fed Faces Explaining Billion-Dollar Losses in Stress of QE3 Exit (BBG)
- Carney warns over lack of trust in banks (FT) - here's a solution: moar bank bailouts!
- Bundesbank tells France to stick to budget (FT)
- China to tighten shadow banking rules (FT)
- Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms (NYT)
- After election win, Anastasiades faces Cyprus bailout quagmire (Reuters)
- Just for the headline: Singapore’s Darwinian Budget Sparks Employer Ire (BBG)
While the market will do everything in its power to forget yesterday's Hung Parliament outcome ever happened, and merrily look forward to today's Bernanke testimony (first of two) before the Senate, Europe is not quite so forgiving. Because moments after today's Italian Bill auction in which the now government-less country sold €8.75 billion in 6 month bills at a yield of 1.237% nearly double the 0.731% yield for the same issue previously, things went bump in the night, leading Italian 2Y yields to surge +38bps to 2.086%, vs 2.063% earlier, while the benchmark Italian 10Y yields soared +28bps to 4.766%, vs 4.739% earlier, and just shy of JPM's 5% target. Spain is not immune from the Italian developments, and while it will take the market some time to realize that the next political scandal may be dropping this time in Spain (as reported yesterday), the Spanish 10 Year is already up 7% to 5.23%. Suddenly talk of parity between Italy and Spain may be on the table all over again. And while unlike yesterday there is US macro data, in the form of US consumer confidence, new homes sales and house price data, all the market will care about is soothing Wall Street sellside spin that Italy is not really as bad as everyone said it would be if precisely what happened, happened. With the EURUSD on the verge of breaking down the 1.3000 support, it is very unclear if they will succeed.