Real Interest Rates

Rebutting Bernanke’s Defense Of Himself

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.”

This Is Why The US Just Lost Its Superpower Status According To Larry Summers

"This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system... With US commitments unhonoured and US-backed policies blocking the kinds of finance other countries want to provide or receive through the existing institutions, the way was clear for China to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," the former Treasury Secretary says, in a sharp rebuke of US foreign policy.

Why From China's Biggest Bear, Hugh Hendry Became One Of Its Biggest Bulls

Considering that Chinese equities are the best performing market in USD terms (second only, oddly enough, to Russia) in 2015, one can see why after a disappointing 2012 and 2013, and modest 2014, Hendry has hit 2015 out of the park with a bang, generating a 10.6% return in the first two monthes of the year. So is Hendry still bullish on China's stock market prospects?  Why yes, and then some. But is he is contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian? Does he see something in China that nobody else does? Or is he simply right... or wrong, as the case may be? We will let readers decide.

Guest Post: The "Person In The Street" Is Correct: The Fed Keeps Interest Rates Low

In the case of the U.S., which thanks to its pool of capital, political and military power, enjoys the exorbitant privilege of having the world's reserve currency, an expansive Fed will not even necessarily "throw seniors under the bus", as one of Bernanke's critics once mentioned, suggesting that monetary expansion erodes life savings of senior citizens. A lot of the monetary expansion results in investment bubbles all over the planet. Some even have "credited" Bernanke with triggering the Arab "Spring", as food prices in the Middle East rose from mid-2010 to an unsustainable level after quantitative easing was re-started. It looks like Bernanke, or at least the institution he presided, is more powerful than he seems to think.

Ben Bernanke Pens First Blog Post, Defends Fed, Says He "Was Concerned About Seniors"

"When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low. The legislators were concerned about retirees living off their savings and able to obtain only very low rates of return on those savings. I was concerned about those seniors as well."

- Ben Bernanke first blog post

Gold Prices Will Hit Record On Surging Asian Demand, ANZ Says

"Under our central case, gold prices are likely to rise gradually, eventually breaking through the USD2,000/oz level within the next decade. This is the most likely outcome, to which we assign a 45% probability," ANZ analysts say, in a note explaining how a number of factors are converging to make the outlook for gold particularly bullish.

Bob Shiller Asks "How Scary Is The Bond Market?" (Spoiler Alert: Not Very)

With the bond market appearing ripe for a dramatic correction, many are wondering whether a crash could drag down markets for other long-term assets, such as housing and equities. Bond-market crashes have actually been relatively rare and mild. According to our model, long-term rates in the US should be even lower than they are now, because both inflation and short-term real interest rates are practically zero or negative. Even taking into account the impact of quantitative easing since 2008, long-term rates are higher than expected. Regarding the stock market and the housing market, there may well be a major downward correction someday. But it probably will have little to do with a bond-market crash.

"Monetarism Hasn't Worked Anywhere" - Reality On China, Finally

China remains an export economy no matter how hard they try to convince the world they are moving otherwise. The idea of creating internal “demand” as a means to extricate marginal changes from everybody else is undoubtedly a good idea, even a noble one, but the reality of China as it exists top-down isn’t conducive for such a transformation. Further, that just isn’t realistic under the global conditions that have persisted since the Great Recession was declared over. In that respect, there isn’t much to separate what is occurring now from the Great Recession itself.

Deutsche Bank Asks "Is The S&P Ready For Rate Hikes?" (Spoiler Alert: No)

"...this hiking cycle is nothing like any experienced before and the key to PEs will be how LT yields react. But in the meantime, EPS risk remains to the downside on FX, whereas the debate on magnitude of Fed hikes and how bond yields and PEs react will last all year... We see risk of a near-term 9% dip."

China Cuts Interest Rates, Takes Number Of Central Banks Easing In 2015 To 21

And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.

Greenspan: "The Stock Market Is Great", But The Economy Feels Like In "The Late Stages Of The Great Depression"

While conflicting economic data leaves hope for both buills and bears, Alan Greenspan warns that, unlike Yellen, "US economic growth is not strong." The maestro then breaks the golden rule of central bankers and explains how The Fed was, in fact, the main driver of the P/E multiple expansion in stocks; and when asked if this ends as badly as last time? He concludes "It depends...When real interest rates start to move up, that's when the crisis could hit," concluding with a warning that global "effective demand is extraordinarily weak - tantamount to the late stages of the great depression."

Why ZIRP/NIRP Is Killing Fractional Reserve Banking & Forcing Deposits Into Gold

With historically low long-term interest rates, the opportunity cost of holding gold and silver are close to zero or even negative, in other words you would “lose” money if you buy bonds (the benchmark) instead of gold and silver. When people realize that their money is not “safe” with the banks they will start withdrawing cash from their accounts and buy physical gold and silver instead. Depending on circumstances this could possibly bring down the (fractional) banking system. Why keep money in an account that gives you a negative return? Swiss banks are already witnessing stronger than normal interest for physical gold.

If Greece Exits, Here Is What Happens (Redux)

Now that the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro is back to being topic #1 of discussion, just as it was back in the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2011, and investors are propagandized by groundless speculation posited by journalists who have never used excel in their lives and are merely paid mouthpieces of bigger bank interests, it is time to rewind to a step by step analysis of precisely what will happen in the moments before Greece announces the EMU exit, how the transition from pre- to post- occurs, and the aftermath of what said transition would entail, courtesy of one of the smarter minds out there at the time (before his transition to a more status quo supportive tone), Citi's Willem Buiter, who pontificated precisely on this topic previously. Three words: "not unequivocally good."