...the pushback from Wall Street was intense and multi-pronged. The Blob oozed through the halls of government, seeking, through its glutinous embrace, to immobilize the legislative and regulatory apparatus, thereby preserving the status quo. The executive jets of the Wall Street air force flew sortie after sortie, transporting high-ranking emissaries from new York to Washington to meet with the SEC, [Senator Chris] Dodd and [Senator Richard] Shelby staff, and the staff of other senators on the Banking Committee. Some of the executives, no doubt less enthusiastically, even met with Josh and me. The research companies and market experts Wall Street employs also raised their voices against us. At times it got ugly. Ted was called a crackpot and dangerously uninformed. He was accused of “politicizing” market regulation (a strange notion considering he wasn’t running for election). It seemed as if Wall Street, which wasn’t used to someone on Capitol Hill asking in-depth questions about arcane issues, wished to silence or marginalize its critics. Industry people would always ask me, “What got Kaufman so interested in this stuff?” Used to politicians whose top priorities were to please their home-state business interests and raise money, they had trouble fathoming that Ted was so interested because it was the right thing to do. He believed in fair markets. And because he was genuinely concerned about emerging issues that threatened the stock market, where half of all Americans keep a sizable portion of their retirement savings.
We will explore how QE and the new Fed plan might work- might work...So far what the Fed is putting in front of us and what Paul Krugman has written about are two wholly differnt things. It makes me wonder if there is any stucture behind QE besdies prayer...
The unleashing of QE3--unlimited money-printing in support of the financial Status Quo-- is proof the Fed has failed, failed, failed. If anything the Fed has done in the past four years had actually had a positive consequence in the real economy, Bernanke would have identifed that policy and expanded it in a measured response. Instead he went all-in, emptying the Fed's toolbox in one big dump: unlimited money-printing, unlimited propping of the mortgage market, unlimited support of low Treasury rates and three more years of zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP). Here is the translation of the Fed Chairman's public comments: whatever. Did you see any of his testimony? It was painfully obvious that either 1) he was sky-high on Ibogaine or 2) he was just going through the motions, duly enunciating PR "cover" that he finds tiresome to repeat and impossible to say with any sincerity or conviction. His body language and delivery said: "You think I believe this canned shuck and jive? Get real, chumps."
Here are some common-sense rules for such a "new market":
- Every offer and bid will be left up for 15 minutes and cannot be withdrawn until 15 minutes has passed.
- Every security--stock or option--must be held for a minimum of one hour.
- Every trade must be placed by a human being.
- No equivalent of the ES/E-Mini contract--the futures contract for the S&P 500--will be allowed. The E-Mini contract is the favorite tool of the Federal Reserve's proxies, the Plunge Protection Team and other offically sanctioned manipulators, as a relatively modest sum of money can buy a boatload of contracts that ramp up the market.
- All bids, offers and trades will be transparently displayed in a form and media freely available to all traders with a standard PC and Internet connection.
- Any violation of #3 will cause the trader and the firm he/she works for to be banned from trading on the exchange for life--one strike, you're out.
Is such a retail-trader friendly exchange possible? There would certainly be a nice profit in it, for everyone who is tired of providing liquidity for HFT firms would flee the existing exchanges in a New York minute.
You could be forgiven for believing that the ECB's talk/plans have indeed solved the European problems. The market's reaction appears to confirm all anchoring bias and thanks to overly bearish positioning (and thin summer markets) has sent all but the long-term-est bears scurrying for their rabbit-holes - as once again 'tail-risk has been removed' - just like LTRO, the SGP, and The Grand Plan before it. However, as BofAML notes in this must read note, we do not believe the ECB move will necessarily lead to a permanent stable equilibrium for the euro area for two reasons: 1) a stable equilibrium would require certainty about the ability of countries to restore debt sustainability, i.e. that they will respect an agenda of economic policy reforms and/or; 2) certainty about the ECB course of action, i.e. that the ECB will purchase bonds in such a way that we will not observe renewed financial market stress as we did this summer. Such certainty would require both Spain and Italy to put their faith in the Troika’s hands and the ECB to pre-commit in return, which seems to us very unlikey at this time. The ECB’s conditional backstop is some way from the “bazooka” that many were expecting
The chart below from UBS' George Magnus captures perhaps better than anything, not only the reason why the global economy grew with the speed it did over the past 40 years, not only why "globalization" (a/k/a finding news places to issue debt in exchange for secured assets and unsecured cash flows all the while under the umbrella of globalist organizations: see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) was the primary urgency for the status quo, not only why the developed world managed to delay the inevitable day of reckoning for as long as it did, but most importantly, why the global day of debt-saturated reckoning is coming.
Two signs that fear and instability have reached critical mass are capital flight and capital controls. Capital flight is people and enterprises moving their capital (cash and liquid assets) to an overseas "safe haven" to avoid devaluation of the currency or confiscation of their capital/assets. (Devaluation can be seen as one method of confiscation; high taxes are another.) Capital controls are the Central State's way of stemming the flood of cash leaving the country. Why do they want to stop money leaving? If we think of each Central State as a neofeudal fiefdom, we understand the motivation: citizens are in effect serfs who serve the State and its financial nobility. If the serfs move their capital out of the fiefdom, it is no longer available as collateral for the banks and a source of revenue for the State. Once capital has drained away, borrowing and lending shrink, cutting off the revenue source of the banks (financial nobility). Since financial activity also declines as cash is withdrawn from the system, the State's "skim"--transaction fees, sales taxes, VAT taxes, income taxes, wealth taxes, etc.--also declines. Both the State and its financial nobility are at increasing risk of decline and eventual implosion as capital flees the fiefdom. The Central State imposes capital controls as a means of Elite self-preservation.
"Spain Requests Bailout On September 14" - Goldman's Definitive Post-Mortem On Europe's Third Bond Buying AttemptSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/06/2012 15:04 -0500
Yesterday, when Bloomberg leaked every single detail of today's ECB announcement, which thus means today's conference was not a surprise at all, yet the market sure would like to make itself believe it was, we noted that everything that was leaked, and today confirmed, came from a Goldman memorandum issued hours before. Simply said everything that happens at the ECB gets its marching orders somewhere within the tentacular empire headquartered at 200 West. Which is why when it comes to the definitive summary of what "happened" today, we go to the firm that pre-ordained today's events weeks ago. Goldman Sachs.Perhaps the most important part is this: "September 13-14: Spain to make formal request for EFSF support at the Eurogroup meeting. With a large (and uncovered) redemption looming at the end of October (and under pressure from other Euro area governments), we expect Spain to move towards seeking support." In other words, Rajoy has one more week before he is sacked and the Spanish festivities begin.
So, ok, yes, there’s a huge conditional bazooka out there, but who wants to really use it?
Seems like a huge defibrillator. Good to have, but beware of not shocking the patient too much.
The ECB has released the details of its SMP 2.0 program, aka the OMT program, which will be pari passu, unlike the SMP 1.0. The full details are a whopping 472 words. Furthermore, we hope that it is quite clear to Greece that if the ECB has bought Greek bonds under the new SMP 2.0 program instead of SMP 1.0, its debt would now be about €100 billion less.
The Status Quo depends on the professional/managerial class to maintain order and keep the machine running. Since this class has more options in life than less educated lower-income workers, their belief in the fairness and stability of the Status Quo is essential: should their belief in the Status Quo weaken, so would their commitment to positions that require long work days and abundant stress....At every juncture where a decision to opt out (quit) or continue serving the Status Quo arises, the believer is co-opted by their desire to "stay in the game" for the promised slice of wealth and security. The risk-return calculus is heavily skewed to complicity, because the options for wealth and security outside the machine are meager and loaded with risk. It is my contention that the wealth and security promised by the machine in exchange for subservience are phantom, and the risk of the promises not being kept is much higher than generally assumed. ironically, those who opt out and accept the risk and lower compensation are actually more secure and much wealthier (in terms of well-being and autonomy) than those who submit to voluntary capture.
The first shot in the fingerboning wars (a key step up from mere jawboning) has barely been fired following Draghi's earlier OpEd in Zeit (posted here in its entirety), when the Bundesbank already had its response ready for print in the form of yet another interview with its head, Jens Weidmann, who says nothing new or unexpected, but merely emphasizes that no matter how loud the chatter, how empty the promises, or how hollow the bluffing, Germany's response continues to be, especially after today's higher than expected inflation across the country, 9, 9 and once again, 9. Perhaps the most notable part of the interview is Weidmann's comparison between the ECB and the Fed, and why one is allowed to monetize bonds, while the other shouldn't be: "The Fed is not bailing out a cash-strapped country. It's also not distributing risks among the taxpayers of individual countries. It's purchasing bonds issued by a central government with an excellent credit rating. It doesn't touch Californian bonds or bonds from other US states. That's completely different from what we have in Europe....When the central banks of the euro zone purchase the sovereign bonds of individual countries, these bonds end up on the Eurosystem's balance sheet. Ultimately the taxpayers of all other countries have to take responsibility for this. In democracies, it's the parliaments that should decide on such a far-reaching collectivization of risks, and not the central banks." Of course, when the wealth of the status quo is at risk, such trivialities as democracies are promptly brushed by the sideline...
By now everyone is well aware that the payback for the absolute zero that was August in terms of newsflow and events, the first quiet August in three years, will be September, which as we and others dubbed, will be "Crunchtime" for Europe. And with September now just days away, and with the transitionary Jackson Hole forum virtually assured to be the latest dud, with Draghi surprisingly bowing out at the last minute (even as Buba's Jens Weidmann is still set to attend), and with Bernanke guaranteed to do nothing more than just jawbone some more without real action, the time to refresh on what to expect over the next 30 days has come, courtesy of this annotated calendar from SocGen.
Another thesis regarding the housing market’s future path is that of a bounce and slog market. The theory focuses on the negative equity home owners and also the low inventory on the current market. This view point actually holds some solid ground. As of last count, there are over 11 million negative equity home owners in the US. This data is usually put out quarterly but with the stronger home price movement this summer, many will move out of the negative equity position. The theory proposes that many are not selling today simply because they cannot without bringing cash to the table. Out of the 11 million underwater home owners, how many would like to sell but simply do not because they would actually lose money on their sale? This is an interesting perspective on the underwater segment of the market. Yet the outcome is probably not as clean cut as one would expect.
Why One SEC Commissioner Spoiled The Fed And Treasury's Plan For Money Market Capital Controls: In His WordsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2012 19:04 -0500
Beginning in January of 2010, and continuing into July of this year, we explained how one of the most insidious attempts at capital controls undertaken by the authorities, namely to replace the $1.00 NAV method that money markets have employed since inception, forcing money markets to imposed capital buffers, and most importantly, to enact mandatory gating if and when the time comes for investors to withdraw their money when they so desired, was taking shape. In other words, to institute capital controls when it comes to money market funds. We already explained that the idea to kill money markets is not new, and originated at the Group of 30 many years ago (its members explain its interests vividly enough) , as an attempt to have investors voluntarily shift their capital allocation out of a liquid but very much inert from the fractional reserve banking system $2.7 trillion market into other liquid, but fractional banking levered markets such as stocks and bonds. In essence, this would generate an up to $2.7 trillion incremental demand as those invested in money markets would find it more "appealing" to keep their cash equivalents in the "security" of 150x P/E stocks like Amazon, or in the worst case, Treasury Bills. After all faced with the option of being "gated" or investing their money in other "non capital controlled" markets, one would be an idiot to pick the former. This is precisely what Mary Schapiro hoped would be the case when she put the vote to the SEC, only to find that she couldn't even get a majority to support her own proposal (which as a reminder was supported by two Fed presidents: uber doves Eric Rosengren of Boston and William Dudley of New York, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner) in her own co-opted house. It is also the reason one person decided to vote against Schapiro's proposal - Luis Aguilar. His explanation why he voted against money market fund capital controls is attached.