Too Big To Fail
Would printing the cash to fund pensions for low-income retirees trigger inflation? It's more of an open question than we might imagine at first glance.
Just as the market was expecting, and may have been leaked once again, Janet didn't let anyone down. Today's exuberance in stocks matched only by confirmation that Janet Yellen has gained her helicopter pilot's license and is ready to take over the reigns of printer-in-chief from Bernanke. Key extracts: "Unemployment is down from a peak of 10 percent, but at 7.3 percent in October, it is still too high, reflecting a labor market and economy performing far short of their potential... I believe the Federal Reserve has made significant progress toward its goals but has more work to do." In short: Get to work Mr. Chairwoman, and allow Congress to keep doing more of what they have been doing under the Fed's central planning: nothing.
"I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing.... We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing... The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.... Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets. As for the rest of America, good luck..... The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington's dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street's new "too big to fail" policy."
The death of the dollar is coming, and it will probably be China that pulls the trigger. What you are about to read is understood by only a very small fraction of all Americans. Right now, the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the planet. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and almost all oil is sold for U.S. dollars. More than 60 percent of all global foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars, and far more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than inside of it. As will be described below, this has given the United States some tremendous economic advantages, and most Americans have no idea how much their current standard of living depends on the dollar remaining the reserve currency of the world. Unfortunately, thanks to reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve and the reckless accumulation of debt by the federal government, the status of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world is now in great jeopardy.
Goldman's (and NY Fed's) Bill Dudley: "I am not yet convinced that breaking up large, complex firms is the right approach. In particular, these firms presumably exist, in large part, because there are scale or network effects that allow these firms to offer certain types of services that have value to their global clients. These benefits might be lost or diminished if such firms were broken up. In addition, the costs incurred in breaking up such firms need to be considered. Finally, the breakup of such firms would not necessarily result in a significant reduction in overall systemic risk if the resulting component firms were still, collectively, systemic. "
"We see upside surprise risks on gold and silver in the years ahead," is how UBS commodity strategy team begins a deep dive into a multi-factor valuation perspective of the precious metals. The key to their expectation, intriguingly, that new regulation will put substantial pressure on banks to deleverage – raising the onus on the Fed to reflate much harder in 2014 than markets are pricing in. In this view UBS commodity team is also more cautious on US macro...
JPMorgan Chase has had a bad year. Not only has the bank just reported its first quarterly loss in more than a decade; it has also agreed to a tentative deal to pay $4 billion to settle claims that it misled the government-sponsored mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about the quality of billions of dollars of low-grade mortgages that it sold to them. Other big legal and regulatory costs loom. JPMorgan will bounce back, of course, but its travails have reopened the debate about what to do with banks that are “too big to fail.” We now have a global plan, of sorts, supplemented by various home-grown solutions in the US, the UK, and France, with the possibility of a European plan that would also differ from the others. In testimony to the UK Parliament, Volcker gently observed that “Internationalizing some of the basic regulations [would make] a level playing field. It is obviously not ideal that the US has the Volcker rule and [the UK has] Vickers…” He was surely right, but “too big to fail” is another area in which the initial post-crisis enthusiasm for global solutions has failed. The unfortunate result is an uneven playing field, with incentives for banks to relocate operations, whether geographically or in terms of legal entities. That is not the outcome that the G-20 – or anyone else – sought back in 2009.
Stunning Facts that Your History, Economics and Business Teachers Never Learned ...
TedBits - Newsletter
The irresponsibility of Congress and the rest of the political class cannot be understated. Underwriting this behavior is equivalent to the Fed providing a teenager with a bottle of whiskey and the keys to an automobile. In a context where the Fed could have done no harm by tapering, they instead created a huge moral hazard that will be exploited by politicians of all stripes.
The financial crisis of 2008 killed a lot of things. It killed the line of credit, it killed the finances of millions of people around the world, it ousted governments and relegated leaders to the back offices and it was the kiss of death to a failed system and brought down entire states.
Don't Blame Free Market Capitalism ... We Haven't Had It for a While
Fingers of Instability
Now that "bail-ins" have become accepted practice all over the planet, no bank account and no pension fund will ever be 100% safe again. In fact, Cyprus-style wealth confiscation is already starting to happen all around the world. As we warned two years ago, "the muddle through has failed... and there may only be painful ways out of this."
When skimming and speculation are more profitable than actually increasing the production of goods and services, the discipline and incentives of a market economy are distorted to the point of no return. The only way to restore natural market discipline is to let the cost of credit rise to a market-discovered price, force all speculators to absorb the losses resulting from their bad bets, and let the risk of losses discipline lenders to adjust loan portfolios and interest rates to reflect the risks of rising rates and defaults. "Growth" that depends on manipulated interest rates and easy credit is a sand castle awaiting the rising tide; its destruction is assured.