Open Market Operations
Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind: it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."
There was a time before the Fed announced it would commence sterilizing its Large Scale Asset Purchases when every day in which there was a Permanent Open Market Operation, or POMO (remember those?) was a gift from Bernanke, virtually assuring the market would ramp higher. This phenomenon had been documented extensively in Zero Hedge and elsewhere (a comprehensive analysis can be found in "POMO and Market Intervention: A Primer"). The pronounced market effect of POMO was diminished somewhat once the Fed sterilized the daily flow injection by selling short-term bonds to Primary Dealers, even though the Fed continues to buy $45 billion in long-term bonds to this day, effectively mopping up all 10 Year+ gross Treasury issuance, and keeping the stock of long bonds in the private market flat at ~$650 billion as we observed before. All of this is well known. What was not known is who were the Fed's POMO counterparties. Now we know. Yesterday, the Fed for the first time ever released Transaction level data for all of its Open Market Operations. The new data focuses on discount window transactions (completely irrelevant now that there are $1.7 trillion in excess reserves and the last thing banks need is overnight emergency lending from the Fed when there is already a liquidity tsunami floating, yet this is precisely what the WSJ focused on), on FX operations, and, our favorite, Open Market Operations, chief among them POMOs. What today's release reveals is that once again a conspiracy theory becomes fact, because we now know just which infamous bank was by fat the biggest monopolist of POMO operations in a period in which banks reported quarter after quarter of zero trading day losses. We leave it up to readers to discover just which bank we are referring to.
After seeing its stock market tumbling to fresh 2009 lows, the PBOC decided it couldn't take it any more, and joined the Fed's QE3 and the BOJ's QE8 (RIP) in easing. Sort of. Because while the PBOC is prevented from outright easing as we have been saying for months now (even as "experts" screamed an RRR or outright rate cut is imminent every day while we warned that Chinese inflation has proven quite sticky especially in home prices and food and China's central bank will not attempt to push its stocks up as long as the situation persists, so for quite a while) it can inject liquidity on a ultra-short term basis using reverse repos (or what are called repos here in the US). And shortly after it was found that Chinese companies industrial profits fell 6.2% in August after tumbling 5.4% in July, we learned that the PBOC added a record 365 billion Yuan to the financial system in order to prevent a creeping lockup in the banking system. While this managed to push the Shanghai Composite by nearly 3% overnight, this injection will prove meaningless in even the medium-term as the liquidity is now internalized and the PBOC has no choice but to add ever more liquidity or face fresh post-2009 lows every single day. Which it won't as very soon it will seep over into the broader market. And as long as the threat of surging pork prices next year is there, and with a global bacon shortage already appearing, and food prices set to surge in a few short months on the delayed effects of the US drought, one thing is certain: China will need a rumor that someone- even Spain- is coming to its rescue.
Just a few hours before someone (cough Draghi cough) leaked the details of the sterilized - though unlimited, peripheral spread-reducing - though not capped or fundamentally-based, SMP 2.0, Goldman Sachs released their 'view' of what Super-Mario will do. Rather unsurprisingly, almost verbatim, the rumors fit that 'guess' rather well as the chaps at Goldman fully expected demanded this 'compromise' solution. They also expect no rate cut - since economic data is not a broadly dismal and falling as it was - but do expect further non-standard measures including collateral-easing (which has been pre-announced to some extent in the 'credit-easing' camp).
There has been much confusion over last week's remarks by Mario Draghi, with the prevailing narrative being that the market first got what Draghi meant wrong (when it plunged), then right (when it soared). The confusion is further granulated by attempts to explain what was merely a desperate attempt at delaying a decision for action, which was inevitable considering the now open opposition by Buba's Weidmann, into a formal and planned plotline: "Inverse Twist" or other such technical jargon is what we have seen floating around. The reality is that, just like all other central bankers, Draghi did what he does best: use big words and threats of action in hope it will buy him a few extra days of time. The reality is also that, just like when the LTRO was announced, the market did get it right initially, when peripheral bonds plunged, and got it wrong over the subsequent 3 months when bond prices rose, only to collapse to new lows (and in the case of Spain - record high yields as of two weeks ago). Back then, the ECB merely bought a few months time with its transitory intervention. This time it has at best bought a few days with the lack of any actual action. And yet, Draghi did leave a way out, for at least another brief respite (where unless Europe expands the available bailout machinery yet again, the respite will have an even briefer half life than that from the LTROs). The way out is simple, and in order to avoid any confusion, we will use an allegory from the movie Batman: Spain and Italy can be saved. But first they must be destroyed.
Ken Wattret who is chief Euroarea economist for BNP is quite furious with Draghi: the reason? Precisely what we warned last week: that Draghi is posturing and attempting to bluff the Bundesbank into accepting his "conditions." End result, Buba called the bluff and the ECB blew it in a fashion so spectacular that Draghi actually had to defend himself from reporters who were mocking him and the ECB with questions if the ECB won't get its inflation call wrong "again." It also prompted the head of the Central Bank to spin off Mario Draghi FX trading advisory, of which he is the sole employee, and issue the following Series 7 and 63 unauthorized advice: not to short the EUR, which incidentally was the dumbest thing he could say, because the one thing that can save Europe is if its currency keeps sliding (much to the benefit of Germany) in the process boosting Europe's manufacturing sector. That he openly warned against this is perhaps precisely why the EUR tumbled just after he said it. Trust us: the Chairsatan would love if investors were shorting the USD. Anyway, back to Draghi and the biggest French bank which realizes all too well one simple thing: Draghi no longer has credibility, and all those European banks which rely on the ECB for their day to day operations (like BNP) are suddenly far more exposed than ever before.
Summary of what has been said so far: Nothing, just as we said last week. Draghi basically repeated the June 29 summit bottom line that the EFSF should buy PIIGS bonds, the ECB "May" act, which means Germany is still not on board, and that after talking markets up by 5%, he has delivered nothing but a delay. This is a huge blow to his and the ECB's credibility.
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With speculation ripe out of everyone from Reuters to the FT about what Draghi may or may not say, with or without Germany's blessing, the best at this point is just to hand over the microphone to the former Goldmanite. Here is the live webcast of Draghi's press conference. Pay attention as a word out of place will send the EURUSD plunging by 200 pips. Or soaring.
Earlier we heard Goldman's talk down of Draghi's comments, which we will not tire of saying, were absolutely nothing new. Now here is Citi's Jurgen Michel throwing cold water in the face of all those who believe that the ECB (which can't really do more LTROs unless it is willing to accept Zynga's virtual farms as collateral) will save the day with more direct intervention. To wit: "in our view, such action is only likely to be taken after governments have taken action first, i.e. by activating the bond market support facility for Spain and Italy." In other words, nobody believes Draghi, despite his stern warning to "believe" him - everyone wants action out of the ECB head, not talk.
Who Are the Biggest Manipulators of All?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that major commercial banks manipulate Libor submissions for their own benefit. As Jefferies David Zervos writes this weekend, money-center commercial banks did not want the “truth” of market prices to determine their loan rates. Rather, they wanted an oligopolistically controlled subjective survey rate to be the basis for their lending businesses. When there are only 16 players – a “gentlemen’s agreement” is relatively easy to formulate. That is the way business has been transacted in the broader OTC lending markets for nearly 30 years. The most bizarre thing to come out of the Barclays scandal, Zervos goes on to say, is the attack on the Bank of England and Paul Tucker. Is it really a scandal that central bank officials tried to affect interest rates? Absolutely NOT! That’s what they do for a living. Central bankers try to influence rates directly and indirectly EVERY day. That is their job. Congresses and Parliaments have given central banks monopoly power in the printing of money and the management of interest rate policy. These same law makers did not endow 16 commercial banks with oligopoly power to collude on the rate setting process in their privately created, over the counter, publicly backstopped marketplaces.
Head Of Fed's Plunge Protection Team Withdraws Resignation, Will Stay As Advisor To Goldman's Bill DudleySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/29/2012 09:12 -0500
A week ago we noted that the departure of the Fed's PPT head, Brian Sack, whose tenure was set to end today, which we casually reminded the market about hours earlier, and his replacement with an academic, would likely be the greatest undiscussed S&P catalyst as the head of the entire US equity market, not to mention the Fed's POMO and various other known and unknown open market operations, would be none other than a B-Grade UCLA academic. Well, this has now changed, because as Dow Jones reports Brian Sack has withdrawn his resignation from the New York Fed, and will stay on as advisor to Goldman FRBNY plan Bill Dudley.
- BRIAN SACK WITHDRAWS RESIGNATION FROM NEW YORK FED
- BRIAN SACK TO STEP DOWN AS HEAD OF NEW YORK FED MARKETS GROUP
- BRIAN SACK TO STAY AT NEW YORK FED AS ADVISOR TO DUDLEY
The status quo must continue at all costs. And for those wondering why Sack must stay on at all costs, we bring your attention to the following post from December 2010: "Why Does Brian Sack Interact With Goldman's "FX Committee"?"
The word “privatization” is a loaded term these days. Unions and big government worshippers scoff at the idea of any public services being in the hands of ruthless, greedy capitalists. The left has the distorted view that people in the private sector are driven primarily by their desire to cut costs and throw workers out on the street. To them, government workers are angels sent from heaven to do God’s work. In our world of unceasing centralization of power, lawmakers are finding more deceptive ways to mask their lust for dominance. Public-private partnerships are the embodiment of what Mussolini dubbed “corporatism;” that is the “merger of state and corporate power.” Under corporatism, the ruling class is able to expand unbeknownst to the Boobus Americanus and its equivalent in other countries. The Average Joe still has his wallet forcefully stripped of its contents but now the state’s cronies get to partake in the plunder. Meanwhile the same big businessmen who benefit from government privilege still maintain their praise for free markets while working with politicians to forcefully subdue their competition. There is actually another, more accurate term for public-private partnerships. It’s called fascism; plain and simple.
As Many Have Predicted for Years
Back on the 11th of May something very curious happened: the ECB's line item 5.2 from its "Consolidated financial statement of the Eurosystem", or in other words, the LTRO money handed out to various European banks, dropped by €10.8 billion. There is one problem with this: this number is not allowed to decline. Or technically, if it does, it means something is wrong.
All you need to read and some more.