Many people see national finances as an impenetrable fog of numbers and acronyms, which they feel is best left up to financial specialists to interpret for them. But try to see national finances as a henhouse, yourself as a hen, and financial specialists as foxes. Perhaps you should pay a little bit of attention - perhaps a bit more than one would expect from a chicken?
Greece, Europe and the world are being crucified on a cross of Keynesian central banking. The latter’s two-decade long deluge of money printing and ZIRP has generated a fantastic worldwide financial bubble, and one which has accrued to just a tiny slice of mankind. That much is blindingly evident, but there’s more and it’s worse. The present replay of high noon on Greece’s impossible mountain of debt clarifies an even greater evil. Namely, that the central bank printing presses have also utterly destroyed the fundamental requisite of fiscal democracy. To wit, in the modern world of massive, interventionist welfare states, fiscal governance desperately needs an honest bond market.
Ronald Reagan is surely rolling in his grave. He is credited for much that he didn’t actually accomplish on the economic front, but his most singular real victory - decisive repudiation of the Keynesian macro-economic policy model that had produced stagflationary havoc for more than a decade - overshadows all his fiscal failures and the urban legend that he actually tamed Big Government. Needless to say, however, that 35-years ago repudiation has now been itself completely repudiated by the keynesian apparatchiks who presently rule the Eccles Building. This week Janet Yellen was at it again, displaying outright contempt for the Gipper’s crowning achievement.
After the carnage of the 2008 crash, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker proposed a rule that would prevent banks from making short-term proprietary trades with financial instruments. In other words, no gambling allowed. This rule would become known as The Volcker Rule, and it went into partial effect on April 1, 2014. Full compliance is required by July 21, 2015. Of course, the bank lobbyists were hard at work, and numerous exceptions and loopholes were created.
As we noted in Part 1, this central bank fueled boom will ultimately be paid for in the form of a prolonged deflationary contraction. On the morning after, of course, it will be asked why the central banks were permitted to engineer this fantastic financial and economic bubble. The short answer is that it was done so that monetary central planners could smooth and optimize the business cycle and save world capitalism from its purported tendency toward instability, underperformance and depressionary collapse. In Part 2, the whole case for this sweeping and unprecedented Keynesian demand management by the monetary authorities was a crock. Accordingly, the days of the Warren Buffet economy are indeed numbered.
The highly regarded former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, has severely criticized the State Governments in the U.S. over “faulty practices” used to devise budgets which mask the true financial position of those states.
Our current money system began in 1971. It survived consumer price inflation of almost 14% a year in 1980. But Paul Volcker was already on the job, raising interest rates to bring inflation under control. And it survived the “credit crunch” of 2008-09. Ben Bernanke dropped the price of credit to almost zero, by slashing short-term interest rates and buying trillions of dollars of government bonds. But the next crisis could be very different…
U.S. companies announced $141 billion of new stock buyback programs last month and $243 billion of new M&A deals. Both figures are all-time records, and according to bubblevision are further evidence that CEOs are bullish on their companies and the economic outlook. You might say that. Then, again, it might put you in mind of swarming moths heading for a light bulb. The baleful truth is this. In its arrogant and misbegotten seizure of all financial power, the nation’s central bank has turned the C-suite of corporate America into a destructive agent of bubble finance. That’s ‘dumb money’ with a vengeance.
During “normal times” – an economic growth phase accompanied or generated by rising systemic leverage – central banks have incentive to promote nominal growth and inflation, which make banking systems profitable and their free-spending political overseers happy. In such times, commercial banks have fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders to constantly increase their market values, which they do by expanding their balance sheets. Now that economies are highly leveraged, extinguishing debt would require banks to reduce the sizes of their loan books, which would shrink their market values. Thus, it seems economic policy makers never have incentive to promote debt extinguishment in the banking system, regardless of economic conditions or prospects.
"Too Big To Fail Is A License For Recklessness" America's Banking System Is A "Fragile House Of Cards"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/01/2015 17:45 -0400
"Too Big to Fail is a license for recklessness. These institutions defy notions of fairness, accountability, and responsibility... They benefit from the upside and expose the rest of us to the downside of their decisions. These banks are too powerful politically as well... Effectively we're hostages because their failure would be so harmful. They're likely to be bailed out if their risks don't turn out well and the largest financial firms in America can hide an enormous amount of risk in derivatives which creates a house of cards — a very fragile system."
"One day while Sarao is busy trying to trick the U.S. stock market into falling, the market collapses, more sensationally than it has ever collapsed. And instead of digging some hole in Hounslow in which he might hide for a decade or so, or fleeing to Anguilla, where he has squirreled away his profits, he stays in his parents’ home and keeps right on spoofing the U.S. stock market -- and then is shocked when people turn up to accuse him of wrongdoing. He’s not some kind of exception to the standard operating procedure in finance. He’s a parody of it."
My advice to Ben Bernanke is simple. If you consider yourself a public servant, spend less time trying to concoct ways to defend your legacy, and spend more time on what you did that didn’t work, what can be learned from it, and what current policy makers can change and do better. Here is a theoretical title to a Bernanke blog post that I would like to read, but don’t think will ever get wrriten “Things I was wrong about, what I learned, and what the Fed should do differently going forward.”
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.
It matters not who is in charge of the Fed or what rules Congress may insist that it adopts. Once money printing, via fiat or fractional reserve credit creation, is seen to be both feasible, justified, and legal nothing and no one can stop it. The political pressure to fund government programs will be irresistible. Everyone knows that the Fed seemingly has the ability to solve their problem by monetizing the federal debt. Should it refuse to do so, we would see riots in the streets similar to what is happening in Europe as protesters target the European Central Bank. The only solution is to destroy the monster that makes it all possible, the Fed.