There's A Problem With Kicking The Can Down The Road

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics blog,

There’s a problem with kicking the can down the road


Ben Bernanke, (December 12 2012)



I’ve taken this quote out of context — Bernanke was actually talking about the fiscal cliff, and not monetary policy. But kicking the can down the road is exactly what Bernanke is doing in his domain.

Instead of letting the shadow banking bubble burst and liquidate in 2008, Bernanke has allowed it to slowly deflate, all the while pumping up the traditional banking sector with heavy, heavy liquidity:

Shadow vs Traditional Cumulative Q3

It’s been one long, slow brutal grind:

The Fed continues to fight a losing battle, in which it has no choice but to offset any ongoing deleveraging – be it through maturities, prepays, or counterparty failure, or just simple lack of demand for shadow funding conduits – in the shadow banking system.

Trillions and trillions of liquidity later, Bernanke is barely keeping the system afloat:

Shadow vs Traditional Combined Q3_0


The reduction in shadow liabilities remains a massive deflationary and depressionary force (and probably the main reason why a tripling of the monetary base has not resulted in very severe inflation). We could have taken the pain in one go back in 2008 — let the failed banks and failed sectors fail, let the junk be written down, and let all efforts go toward rebuilding a more robust system less sensitive to counterparty risk. But we chose to kick the can down the road, and try to reinflate the biggest bubble in history through helicopter drops to the financial sector, the outcome of which has been booming incomes for the rich, and a total lack of growth and opportunity for the poor (except, perhaps for the dubious “opportunity” to join the masses of the long-term unemployment and claim a slice of the increasingly unsustainable welfare pie).

We chose the path of Japan (which has spent the last twenty years depressed) not the path of Iceland (which is emerging from its depression). We chose to kick the can down the road. Like Bernanke said, there is a problem with that. No amount of buying financial sector assets up to an unemployment or inflation or NGDP target — which empirically seems to do more to enrich the financial sector and the big banks than to create jobs  — will fix that. The system is rotten, and the debt load is unsustainable.

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AlaricBalth's picture

There are no solutions to that which is unsolvable.

The They's picture

Feel the force of the broken ones

Blindly lashing at the branches

Afraid to strike the root and see

The end to their negative solidarity


Streets seethe under daylight’s pressure:

The negative solidarity movement marches forth.

But I remember as I stand here watching on,

That they say the night is always darkest before the dawn.


In fear the masses converge

Under banners devoid of vision,


And love.

No light of freedom glints in eyes

That look for solutions from above:


“The state will cure the sickness of self-centeredness,


And Lust,

It will bring the order to our lives

Our cities,

Our nation,

Our trust.”


But the state can protect us only

From the violence we cause each other

Its touch never brings the love we crave From every man as our brother.


It cements its rule with force’s power

That in love’s absence, projects a veneer

Of a nation’s people bound together

Though, in fact, they’re bound by fear.

The state’s hand touches where we’ve succumbed

To the blind hatred that keeps us enchained

To our selfishness that preys on others

And acts on lies we’ve entertained.


The state lets us live with the sad folly

Of not looking our fellow man in the eyes

And knowing his pain, troubles and joy

While living with him every day of our lives.


I dream one day we’ll realize the truth

That our nation was not of fiat born

But birthed by freedom’s present light

From which the state has had us torn.


I dream one day we’ll see the truth

That love and freedom must lead the fight

Against state slavery and its chains

But ’till then we march:

Left, right,

Left, right,

Left, right....

HermesHiccups's picture

Bailout Haiku


Your mom was worried

So I gave her stimulas

Her lips my package

The They's picture

I laughed.  I cried.  You're a genius.

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Fed sets thermostat to ?273.15 degC.

Jump in everyone, they water's beautiful.

jeff montanye's picture

as the post notes, the problem is not insoluble.  iceland offers one scenario.  a more orderly and native one is the reorganization of bankrupt entities routinely carried out by the fdic with no harm to depositors or counterparites.  the successful example of the orderly reorganizations of nordic banking firms in the late 90's also offers a better way than that of the u.s., japan and the e.u.

cross border complexities make this harder, yes, but not impossible.  we've taken years and spent trillions.  justice is yet to be served, toxic loans are still on books at fallacious values, the economy is turning down (again) and unserviceable debt is grinding workers into the mud worldwide.  it is a matter of turning from corruption and finding the political will.  

elizabeth warren on the banking committee is a tiny step back from the years' long journey into darkness that the governments of the "advanced" world have made.  may another be taken. 

trav777's picture

the previous guy was tl;dr..jfc people, keep it vaguely concise especially when it ain't even your own gd'd words.

during my sabbatical from ZH, I would occasionally read stupid fucking articles like the one here by idiot authors.  I would read the SAME OLD SHIT about how Japan had a "DEPRESSION" for 20 fucking years merely because they e DIDN'T GROW MUCH (if at all).

The statement is not just regular, but motherFUCKING absurd.  This idiot has clearly never been to Japan, never seen Japan, knows fuckall about Japan to say something so incredibly STUPID.  Japan is of the highest stds of living on the planet.  Orderly, advanced society.  Yeah, SO WHAT, they didn't GROW.  GROWTH cannot go on forever!

The US has reached a point where it cannot grow, due to resource constraints.  And we should HOPE we can do HALF as well as the japs have done when they hit that wall.  Japan hasn't spiraled down anywhere into a pit of anything.  it's fine.  The trains run, the lights come on, the factories produce.  Yeah, they are not GROWING like they once were, but if we as a planet don't fuckin figure out what to do when growth ends, we're FUCKED.

And idiot after idiot keeps blathering about this or that and saying we need to get back to growing, oh don't do what Japan did and suffer the misery of not growing.  Grow grow grow like fuckin CANCER.  Like somehow it will be the end of the world when growth inevitably ends???  These paper pushing idiots with their leechfuckery "capitalism."

nobodyimportant's picture

To those of you who cannot get their point across in a couple of sentences please post elsewhere.  Thanks

And vulgarity does not enhance your IQ!


Aziz's picture

400% total debt to GDP is not fine.

Also, economic growth doesn't necessarily have to use more resources.

jeff montanye's picture

no, but it often does.  as yogi berra said, in theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  in practice, there is.

for all that i disagree with japan's banking and monetary policies since 1989, trav has a point.  at least two: japan hasn't become argentina (yet) and transitioning to a world of slower growth and more limited and limiting resources is highly likely to occur.  as with banking reorganizations, it can be disorderly or less so.


klockwerks's picture

Trav, PLEASE, take another sabbatical

BruceBanger's picture

And they're reaching a heavy demographics crisis because their older generation is aging and beginning to retire with an insufficient number of young people to support them.  The real scarcity always occurs when the savers cash their savings in with no production to back it up and no plan on how to transition.

Everything works until it doesn't.  Even a very polite society is bound by certain natural laws, demographics being one of them.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

The US is going to hit the demographics wall when the Boomers retire, become disabled or simply die at work. Big corps refuse to hire and train replacements. It is only a matter of time.

BullionBoy's picture


might want to buy some physical silver now while it's still available

that's what I think


ball-and-chain's picture

The problem with kicking the can is that the foot is gonna end up in our balls.

Nevertheless, Gentle Ben Bernanke is a handsome man.

His ever-flowing man-tits make the bankers happy.

The Ivy League Mafia rules the world.

Keep the milk coming.

The Shootist's picture

As the dwarves would say, "may your beard never go thin." But he stole all their gold, so they will instead say, "May your head roll off our keen axe blades."

Dareconomics's picture

Each round of QE is bringing diminishing returns. The foot shall be landing shortly:

AldoHux_IV's picture

What's the big deal? We're the better, smarter, and more tech advanced Japan (read crony capitalists). Banks will issue loans in 2013 which is what all the "optimism" is about, interest rates will be even more predatory now that LIBOR is over and done with (think algos and online info), much of the predation will be specific hence the general populace will not care, and we'll repeat the same mistakes until we get it right in masking up the fraud that is our socioeconomic system and sweep the "not in labor force" under the rug-- talk about rising above!

Edit: this article talks about the brilliant minds that ivy leagues have to offer in keeping the rich richer during times of depression they help orchestrate-- leverage buyout that only phd's and nobel laureates understand.

inevitablecollapse's picture

quite the neckbeard the bernank is sporting there - momma always told me, 'never trust a man with a neckbeard or a dumb-fuck MIT educated stooge stand-in from a bullshit made up fiat printhouse'

bugs_'s picture

wait....there is someone IN the can?????

hey!! wait a minute!!! there is someone IN the can!!!

Just Ice's picture

Throw it over the cliff!

knukles's picture

Then kick it again.

Then charge the fucker for kicking the can for himself which he can't do alone.

Then establish the Federal Can Regulatory Agency Program ("FedCRAP") to make sure cans are kicked properly.

Levy a tax on all cans to ensure funding for the "uncanny" as it is deemed socially desirable that everybody has a can.

Politicians begin running on slogans such as "A Can in Every Kick"

Washington devolves into Brutish Argumentation, Bi Polasrship Unagreements as to funding of can distribution and redistribution.

Crazed CanNotarians begin underground movements to stop can kicking threatening the viability of all the Can Regulatory Agency Programs ("All the CRAP")

Congress and the Administration to great fanfare declare the "War on Cannots"  ("Wac") 

Laws are passed mandating every can have a lid.

Those who lose their jobs due to regulatory burdens associated with the programs are said to have been "canned"

People accused of being in violation of the law are said to be WACked

Can and lid subsidies grow to 17% of the Federal Budget not including Federal Can and Lid Loan Guarantee and Standby Programs administered by the Federal Can and Lid Collateralization and Funding Bank which in spite of charging a fee for its guarantees runs a deficit within 3 years mandating a multi-trillion dollar bailout funded by the US taxpayers.

A new president is elected as the Nation Proceeds to the Brink of Civil War with the motto "Yes, we can."

Everything goes to shit shortly thereafter.



Just Ice's picture

Wacked, uncanny cans of crap are to be thrown over the cliff!  (dumpsite fees may apply)

klockwerks's picture

Knuckles, outstanding, plus 1000. Wish I would have come up with all that. Good writing

Silver Garbage Man's picture

This is a TAKE DOWN. It makes a lot more sense if you understand that we are being robbed. Get OUT of the system now and get precious metals NOW. At some point it will be too late!

Godisanhftbot's picture

 You know, if you really think a block of metal will save you, you've already done drunk the k00l aid.

Ballin D's picture

We're all stuck in a bus thats already headed off a cliff.  You can do nothing if you want but some people are going to want to buckle their seatbelts.  It may not save them but they have higher odds than the people who are denying that there is going to be an abrupt stop at the end of the freefall.

Godisanhftbot's picture

 How about we kick the Congress and the Fed Chief down the road.


 For starters.

Just Ice's picture

Throw them over the cliff!

Caviar Emptor's picture

We chose the path of Japan (which has spent the last twenty years depressed) not the path ofIceland (which is emerging from its depression). 

Yes. There came a fork in the road. We took the low road. 


The reduction in shadow liabilities remains a massive deflationary and depressionary force (and probably the main reason why a tripling of the monetary base has not resulted in very severe inflation)

Yes, but there are other more sinister, less readily "fixable" problems causing the deflation side of the biflation equation. And yes, pumping massive liquidity on a daily basis in order to "treat the illness" is causing inflation where it hurts the most: input costs for business and consumers. Net result is total decomation of buying power as everything you need goes up, while everything you own or earn goes down

There are deeper layers to the biflation equation all of which are coming home to roost in a perfect storm scenario. 

trav777's picture

This turd has never been to Iceland either.

There's no happy resumnption of the fucking previous status quo waiting for us out there.

Oil peaked; get the fuck over it already. 

max2205's picture

The JPM whale blowup was a pre planned event to let the pressure off some.....more to follow

old naughty's picture

And there will be another, another...

until there is no more.

Just Ice's picture

Throw the whale over the cliff!

knukles's picture

And we'll all sing "Whale to the victors valiant, whale to the conquering heroes.."

Dr. Sandi's picture

This talk reminded me of what NOT to do when you no longer need the whale:


Oh God, the mammality.

klockwerks's picture

Hey Max, if you have any info on that I would like the link.

JustObserving's picture

With US debt of $16.37 trillion and unfunded liabilities of $121.85 trillion, and debt and liabilities growing at $8.37 trillion a year, what can you do but kick the can down the road?  Unless you declare bankruptcy.

Today Bernanke announces $1.02 trillion a year printing for several years.  Japan, Europe and UK will print at least that much. That is enough to buy all the gold bullion in the world 2 times over.  And gold is now down. These are insane, ponzi markets powered by confetti currencies and corrupt central banks.


rzero's picture

Deleveraging? Total credit market debt is at an all time high:

Caviar Emptor's picture

The hair of the dog theory: treat one popped bubble by blowing another. Which in time will also deflate. Only this time the economic toll will run deeper since some will default. 

rzero's picture

This credit market data includes the shadow banking system.

PianoRacer's picture

You keep using that word "We".


I do not think it means what you think it means.

ZeroAvatar's picture

"What you mean by 'We', Kemo Sabe?"


I am so fucked.