Open Market Operations

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Shhh... Don't Tell Anyone; Central Banks Manipulate Rates





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.

 
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Head Of Fed's Plunge Protection Team Withdraws Resignation, Will Stay As Advisor To Goldman's Bill Dudley





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 Well, this has now changed, because as Dow Jones reports Brian Sack has withdrawn his resignation from the New York Fed, and will stay on as advisor to Goldman FRBNY plan Bill Dudley.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"?"

 
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Guest Post: Public-Private Partnership - Another Phrase for Fascism





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.

 
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Did Another European Bank Just Lose LTRO Eligibility?





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.

 
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Eric Sprott: "When Fundamentals No Longer Apply, Review the Fundamentals"





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It must be difficult for the BRICS countries today. On one hand, they continue to jockey for respect among the Western powers, insisting on participating in quasi-European bailout funds like the IMF. On the other hand, they are also clearly aware of the Western nations' continuing efforts to surreptitiously devalue their domestic currencies, and the pernicious effect that has had on them as exporters and as lenders of capital. In that vein, it was interesting to note that during the latest BRICS Summit held this past March in New Delhi, the main topic of discussion centered on the creation of the group's first official institution, a so-called "BRICS Bank" that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations. Although not openly discussed, reports suggest what they were really talking about was creating a type of BRICS central bank - an institution that could facilitate their ability to "do more business with each other in their local currencies, to help insulate from U.S. dollar fluctuations…" Given the incredible scale of western central bank intervention over the past six months, the BRICS' increasing frustration with their printing efforts should be a given by now. The real question is what they're doing about it, and what assets they're accumulating to protect themselves from the inevitable, which brings us to gold.

 
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Robert Wenzel's 'David' Speech Crushes Federal Reserve's 'Goliath' Dream





In perhaps the most courageous (and now must-read) speech ever given inside the New York Fed's shallowed hallowed walls, Economic Policy Journal's Robert Wenzel delivered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to the monetary priesthood. Gracious from the start, Wenzel takes the Keynesian clap-trappers to task on almost every nonsensical and oblivious decision they have made in recent years. "My views, I suspect, differ from beginning to end... I stand here confused as to how you see the world so differently than I do. I simply do not understand most of the thinking that goes on here at the Fed and I do not understand how this thinking can go on when in my view it smacks up against reality." And further..."I scratch my head that somehow your conclusions about unemployment are so different than mine and that you call for the printing of money to boost 'demand'. A call, I add, that since the founding of the Federal Reserve has resulted in an increase of the money supply by 12,230%." But his closing was tremendous: "Let’s have one good meal here. Let’s make it a feast. Then I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you all, walk out of here with me, never to come back. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do. Nothing good goes on in this place. Let’s lock the doors and leave the building to the spiders, moths and four-legged rats."

 
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Robert Wenzel Addresses The New York Fed, Lots Of Head-Scratching Ensues





In the science of physics, we know that ice freezes at 32 degrees. We can predict with immense accuracy exactly how far a rocket ship will travel filled with 500 gallons of fuel. There is preciseness because there are constants, which do not change and upon which equations can be constructed.. There are no such constants in the field of economics since the science of economics deals with human action, which can change at any time. If potato prices remain the same for 10 weeks, it does not mean they will be the same the following day. I defy anyone in this room to provide me with a constant in the field of economics that has the same unchanging constancy that exists in the fields of physics or chemistry. And yet, in paper after paper here at the Federal Reserve, I see equations built as though constants do exist. It is as if one were to assume a constant relationship existed between interest rates here and in Russia and throughout the world, and create equations based on this belief and then attempt to trade based on these equations. That was tried and the result was the blow up of the fund Long Term Capital Management, a blow up that resulted in high level meetings in this very building. It is as if traders assumed a given default rate was constant for subprime mortgage paper and traded on that belief. Only to see it blow up in their faces, as it did, again, with intense meetings being held in this very building. Yet, the equations, assuming constants, continue to be published in papers throughout the Fed system. I scratch my head.

 
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Ben Bernanke Full Unredacted Frontal





Yesterday the Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath was kind enough to present to the general public some 515 pages of massively redacted Fed transcripts from the oh so very interesting period of 2007-2010, ahead of schedule. Unfortunately those curious to find out the details of just what was going on in that critical period between March 2008 and March 2009 will have to wait another 3 years for the full declassification to take place. That said, digging among the unredacted data, one does find the occasional pearl. Such as the following exchange between CHAIRMAN BERNANKE and the Fed staff, from the October 28-29, 2008 meeting, in the days when AIG was dying, when Lehman had failed, when money markets had frozen and when the end of the world was nigh. Ironically, it is this one unredacted piece of data that pretty much says it all.

  • I’d like first to do the open market operations, which I hope are not too controversial. [Laughter] (source: page 231 of 513)

And that, as they say, is that.

 
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Live Webcast Of Obama Demonizing Oil "Speculators"





After Obama's "fairness doctrine" was roundly rejected by the Senate last night as the doomed from the beginning Buffett Rule was voted down, Obama needs to find some more evil villains for society to demonize, and whom to blame for the failure of central planning, or rather its success in pushing gas prices to all time highs. Today - it is that mysterious, amorphous blob of vile, conspiratorial henchmen known as "oil speculators." Forget that these "speculators" are merely conduits for the Fed to conduct its open market operations, forget that the same free liquidity that drives stocks up relentlessly in nominal terms (what? no demonization of evil stock pumping speculators?), even as it produces ever increasing inflation in all those items not tracked by the Fed, forget that Obama's speech is about to be replica of Jimmy Carter's Crisis of Confidence platitude in 1979. Finally forget that the biggest speculator is none other than the White House with its periodic release of SPR release rumors any time WTI approaches $110. Forget all that, and merely focus on the hypnotic, undulating intonation of the engrossing, populist sermon: that is all that is demanded of you. Everything else is to be ignored. And now since the time of "fairness" is over, it is time to do a shot every time "speculator" is uttered. And get ready for many, many CL margin hikes.

 
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Blythe Masters On The Blogosphere, Silver Manipulation, Gold-Axed Clients And Doing The "Wrong" Thing





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.

 
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Tail Risk Hedging 101: Credit





With volatility so low and risk seemingly removed from any- and every-one's vernacular, perhaps it is time to refresh our perspective on downside and tail-risk concerns. While most think only in terms of equity derivatives as serving to create a tail-wagging-the-dog type of reflexive move, there is a growing and increasingly liquid (just like the old days with CDOs, so be warned) market for options on CDS. Concentrated in the major and most liquid indices, swaption volumes have risen notably as have gross and net notional outstandings. Puts and Calls on credit risk - known as Payers and Receivers (Payers being the equivalent of a put option on a bond, or call option on its spread) have been actively quoted since 2006 but the last 2-3 years has seen their popularity increase as a 'cheap' way to protect (or take on) credit risk - most specifically tail risk scenarios. Morgan Stanley recently published another useful primer on these instruments - as the sell-side's new favorite wide-margin offering to wistful buy-siders and wannabe quants - noting the three main uses for swaptions as Hedging, Upside, and Yield Enhancement. These all have their own nuances but as spreads compress and managers look for ever more inventive ways to add yield so the specter of negative gamma appears - chasing markets up into rallies and down into sell-offs - and the inevitable rips and gaps this causes can wreak havoc in markets that have momentum anyway. Given the leverage and average notionals involved, understanding this seemingly niche space may become very important if we see another tail risk flare and as the Fed knows only too well (as it suggested here) like selling Treasury Putsderivatives on credit are for more effective at establishing directional moves in the the underlying than simple open market operations.

 
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