David Stockman: "A Gang Of Unelected PhDs Have Staged An Economics Coup D'Etat"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

America is being run by an unelected gang of essentially self-perpetuating PhDs. The notion of an economics coup d’ etat is not so far-fetched. After all, the Eccles Building controls the levers of the nation’s fiscal policy; is the pied piper of the entire financial system; intentionally inflates financial bubbles which powerfully impact the distribution of wealth and income; and is the master builder of the nation’s towering edifice of $59 trillion in credit market debt that flattens growth, jobs and incomes on Main Street.

To take one case in point, consider further the matter of fiscal policy and the Washington machinery by which $4 trillion of economic resources are allocated directly, and countless trillions more indirectly owing to tax policy and Federal matching grants.

This entire apparatus is now frozen in place because the Fed’s QE policy amounts to a giant fiscal fraud. Even if it sticks to the taper, the Fed’s balance sheet will have expanded by 5X—from $900 billion to $4.5 trillion—in 70 months. Yet it has no intention whatsoever of unwinding this stupendous emission of fiat credit. Indeed, selling-down its massive piles of treasuries and MBS would ignite the mother of all melt-downs in the fixed income markets, which have gorged on over-valued paper that was priced by the Fed’s huge, artificial bid in the debt markets.

So if this $4.5 trillion balance sheet is permanent, then the Fed’s post-crisis money printing spree amounts to a massive monetization of the public debt. Too be sure, all of this was done in the name of rubbery abstractions like “accommodating” recovery, supporting the “labor market” and “stimulating” consumption and investment spending, but the real world effect was quite different and far more tangible: It allowed Washington to treat the financing cost of our $17.5 trillion national debt as a free good.

In a world in which even the official inflation rate (CPI) has averaged 2.4% during the last 14-years, there is no other way to describe a policy that actually drove the 5-year Treasury note yield to a low of 75 bps, and pulled the weighted average cost of the total Federal debt down to about 2.5%—which is to say, zero, nichts, nada or nothing in real terms.

And part of this fiscal scam is even more egregious than the Fed’s own acknowledgement that is artificially suppressing  the treasury coupons. What the Fed is also doing is issuing second-hand “greenbacks”— those notorious non-interest bearing IOU’s that financed the Civil War. Since the crisis the Fed has returned $400 billion of “profits”, including $80 billion each in the last two years, to the US treasury, thereby off-setting upwards of 25% of the interest cost on the Federal debt.

But then again, how is it that the Fed is more profitable than the  wholesale, retail, entertainment, food service and hospitality industries of America combined? Self-evidently, its the magic of printing press money: The Fed buys treasuries and MBS with a coupon; pays for them by issuing new liabilities without a coupon; collects the spread which gets recorded as a “profit”; and then returns this ‘profit” to Uncle Sam at year-end. Had the Treasury Department dusted off Lincoln’s playbook, instead, it could have simply issued “greenbacks”, and dispensed with the round trip. In less polite company it might be called a fiscal circle jerk.

Based on its historic rate of expansion the Fed’s balance sheet would be about $1 trillion today. So during the past 70 months, the monetary politburo has issued about $3.5 trillion worth of Abe Lincoln’s “greenbacks”.

But here’s the thing: Even as Lincoln took many matters in his own hands like suspending habeas corpus, closing newspapers and imprisoning dissenters, he did bother to get an act of Congress to print his paper money. And as much as the beltway bandits of today’s Washington have enjoyed the quasi-free financing of $9 trillion in new public debt since the crisis—even they would have never passed something called the “Greenback Authorization Act of 2009?.  We do indeed have a rogue central bank operating in the deep waters of extra-constitutionality.

Then consider the orgy of debt issuance in the business sector. During the last year, every single record from the 2007 blow-off top has been exceeded. This encompasses $1.1 trillion of investment grade corporate debt, including a staggering $49 billion issue by Verizon to fund what was essentially an LBO of its own subsidiary. Next in line is about $600 billion in leveraged loans—-more than 60% of which have been “cov-lite” style spit and prayer loans. And then there are $400 billion of new junk bonds proper, along with the return of that bell-ringer for speculative tops called leveraged recaps, wherein the LBO barons freight down their debt mules with even more debt in order to pay themselves a dividend.

In all, business sector debt stood at about $11 trillion on the eve of the 2008 crisis, and has now vaulted upward to $13.5 trillion. Yet nearly the entire gain has gone into the preferred financial engineering games of bubble finance—namely, LBOs, cash M&A deals and stock buybacks. Indeed, in the latter case the big corporates are now borrowing hand-over-fist to fund buybacks at nearly a $1 trillion annual rate. Compare that to investment in productive plant and equipment where real outlays are still running $100 billion or 8% below its late 2007 level.

Needless to say, this massive leveraging and stripping mining of cash from the business economy is not the unseen hand of the free market at work. It is the consequence of the Fed’s very visible pegging and rigging of the financial markets.

Fast money speculators are subsidized by the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen put, which drastically compresses the cost of market risk insurance and artificially fattens the margins on carry trades.  So enabled, the hedge funds then bray incessantly for M&A deals and stock buybacks, which option-gorged corporate executives are eager to undertake—especially with more borrowed money.

And then yield-chasing money managers scoop up the resulting junk bonds, cov-lite leveraged loans and investment grade issues alike because the Fed has bought out the belly of the treasury curve, meaning there is nothing else to buy that will keep the fixed income PMs employed.

Likewise, also comes the $5k Wall Street suits—streaming into America’s busted sub-prime neighborhoods fixing to become single family landlords. Yet without the Fed’s gift of cheap financing, there is not a snowballs chance that these clueless spread-sheet jockeys would own a single, single-family home— let alone upwards of 500,000 at last count.

In short, the Fed has interposed itself throughout the very warp and woof of the nation’s business economy. It does this in a manner that makes a mockery of our purported mechanism of economic governance—that is to say, the spontaneous actions and decisions by millions of producers, consumers, investors and savers on the free market in response to honest price signals arising from the vineyards of commerce and industry. Instead, in a manner like the “caribou” soccer of 6-years olds, today’s economic actors have no choice except to ceaselessly chase the Fed around the economic fields.

So where did the Fed get this mind-boggling grant of plenary power?  Fed Chair Yellen explained it succinctly in a recent speech:

The U.S. economy is still considerably short of the two goals assigned to the Federal Reserve by the Congress of low and stable inflation and maximum sustainable employment.

Yellen was obviously referring to the Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1977—-one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation ever enacted, and one I am proud to say I voted against as a freshman Congressman. Yet even in those halcyon days of Keynesianism, few in Congress believed that they had mandated the Fed to pursue rigid quantitative targets for inflation and unemployment—let alone precisely a 2% annual gain in the PCE less food and energy or 6.5% on the U-3 measure of unemployment, which didn’t even exist then. By contrast even the voluble Senator from Minnesota saw the law as essentially an expression of congressional sentiment that it would be swell to have more jobs and less inflation.

And most certainly, the Congressional majority that passed the act did not in its wildest imagination foresee that the route to the quantitative inflation and unemployment targets it didn’t mandate would be through the canyons of Wall Street and the made-up monetary doctrine of “wealth effects” as the surest route to their achievement.

So the last 35 years have brought the greatest exercise in mission creep ever undertaken by an agency of the state. That explains why the monetary politburo persists in its absurd quest to force more debt into an economy which is already saturated with $59 trillion of the same. To pretend, as does Yellen and most of the monetary politburo that they must plow ahead printing money at lunatic rates because Congress so mandated it, is the height of mendacity.

The Fed has seized power and is not about to let go—-common sense be damned, and the constitution, too.

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LetThemEatRand's picture

The coup d'etat was staged in 1913.   The PhD's are merely the latest in a long line of propagandists selling the New World Order.

weburke's picture

"this stupendous emission of fiat credit"    is there a spot to collect good lines from ZH? There should be, there are so many good ones.

max2205's picture

Well at least we know the truth

Deacon Frost's picture

The Structure of the World State via the rule of the PhDs.

Socrates’ question to Glaucon in Plato’s ‘Republic’: “Have we any greater evil for a city than what splits it and makes it many instead of one? Or a greater good than what binds it together and makes it one?” Socrates and Glaucon agreed “that the city is best governed which is most like a single human being.” The individual in the World State is “just a ‘cell’ in the social body.”

The necessity of eugenics is driven by a principle, that each cell in the social body has its specific work to do.

pods's picture

I have still yet to see the amendment that allowed Congress to give away its responsibility to coin money.

Why do people act like the FED just started screwing us sideways?

It has always been to protect the banks by publicly insuring the banks (FDIC insures deposits, which are bank liabilities) while allowing private profits to be kept.


The Gooch's picture



Unfounded: ? 


FinalCollapse's picture

Another great article by David Stockman. The problem is that these idiots and goat abusers at the Fed do not care. They don't understand logical thinking. They are patting themselves on shoulders.

pods's picture

They know exactly what they are doing. Old Will had it spot on:

"And thus I clothe my naked villainy

With odd old ends stol'n out of holy writ;

And seem a saint, when most I play the devil."

FinalCollapse's picture

Pods: I haven't downvoted you. 

May be you are right - who knows. I tend to think that these idiot economists are being played by the TBTF banks. They probably cannot grasp the real economic impact of their failed policies. They destroy the economy while thinking they saved it by blowing multiple asset bubbles.

However, your position is plausible too: they are evil, evil people conspiring to suck us dry before the sheeple will understand the real game..

They are either evil or complete idiots. 

Canoe Driver's picture

When caught, such people always claim they did it to provide for their families in the best possible way. We, as a society, are therefore in the position of asking whether it is permissible to conscion any act, so long as the actor did it to improve the lot of his children. Even on this site, most people would and do openly state that they would commit any murder or theft whatsoever to provide for their families. Thus, a fundamental moral issue is presented, for if this is justified, then by simple logic, there is no way to prevent the eventual destruction of all.

detached.amusement's picture

I dunno man, if everyday schmoes like us can look at data and see this shit clear as day...it just makes it seem well beyond any doubt that their salaraies depend on their ignorance of such.

putaipan's picture

i'm pretty sure he just slipped in there a 5K an ounce true price of gold ....

Colonel Klink's picture

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winnar!  But the people pulling the strings are still the many of the same parasite families since before 1913, just new ones have been added.

TeraByte's picture

And already Henry Ford told it so. The situation is even more severe now, when these greedies are rapidly choking the host they are parasiting from.

Tapeworm's picture


 I find the address that he made to be amazingly well written and should be a printout for yourself and your family. I have seen nothing as concise as this for a history of what the FED started out as and why it has been such a disaster.

How World War I Paved the Way for the Warfare State By Mises Updates Saturday, March 15th, 2014

by David Stockman

Remarks To The Committee For The Republic, Washington DC, February 2014 (Part 1 of 6 Parts)

[From David Stockman's Contra Corner.]


(I was writing code so I didn't bother to fix the caps until I saw it, so cram it.)

Radical Marijuana's picture

Indeed, LetThemEatRand, that is now the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I read Stockman's articles, which are good enough, but in a superficial kind of way.

The original American money was supposed to be bimetallic, with the value of that gold and sliver set by Congress. The destruction of that system by the international banksters began the moment it was established. I regard the demonetization of silver in the 1870s as having been a significant episode in the history of Congress being effectively bribed by the international banksters. However, it was not until 1970s, after the last links to gold were abolished, that the almost perfectly exponential growth of American debt became possible.

The overwhelming vast majority of people deliberately do not want to understand that money is measurement backed by murder. The banksters' bullshit has become so totally dominant that almost everyone takes for granted the ways that the public "money" supply is being created out of nothing as debts by private banks. The deeper reasons for that were the ways that the banksters were able to apply the methods of organized crime to dominate the political processes. The covert murder systems backed up the money system so much, for so long, that it gradually became more and more overt, but still without most people noticing, nor thinking about that.

Without the miraculous way that President Andrew Jackson was able to survive the efforts of the banksters to assassinate him back in the 1830s, before he could kill the 2nd banksters' central bank, then American finance would have already been destroyed a long time ago. However, there is no doubt that when the Federal Reserve Board was enacted in 1913, along with the income tax to back that up, then American democratic republic was already destroyed, albeit that took time to manifest, on an exponentially accelerating rate, as the powers of government, which were supposed to be controlled by "We the People" became more and more privatized, so that now the most important powers of government are about 99% privatized, and take the form of runaway systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence.

Guys like Stockman focus on the more recent history of the exponentially accelerating rate at which debt slavery systems are destroying American society. However, since he fails to penetrate any deeper into that dilemma, he provides a relatively superficial analysis, as well as shallow "solutions." The basic problems are that the vast majority of people do not want to understand that money is measurement backed by murder, and must necessarily be. Instead, they want magical solutions, through which that will no longer continue to be human reality.

My view is that the basic human systems developed to have the following four metaphorical groups: the ruling classes, the Vicious Wolves, and their Domesticated Dogs, vs. the masses of Zombie Sheeple, amongst whom are the Black Sheeple. More of those kinds of Black Sheeple, which are reactionary revolutionaries, are promoting the same old-fashioned false fundamental dichotomies and related impossible ideals, as the ruling classes operate behind, because, ironically the Vicious Wolves taught the Zombie Sheeple to bleat their morality. Metaphorically, the only good solutions would be for more people to become better Wolves, rather than for everyone to become better Sheeple. However, the controlled opposition groups are always promoting the latter, rather than the former.

The globalized ruling classes are able to advance their "New World Order" because they tend to only have to deal with controlled opposition groups who never provide better death controls, to back up better debt controls, but rather only propose the impossible ideals that there should not be any such controls at all. Tragically, therefore, we are most likely going to see the debt slavery systems generating debt insanity numbers provoking death insanities as their real result, since the realities are that governments are the biggest forms of organized crime, controlled by the best organized gangs of criminals, because they must necessarily be, due to the inherent ways that human civilization operate as general energy systems. In that context, those best organized gangs of criminals have become way too successful at brainwashing the vast majority of people to believe in bullshit.

In fact, citizens are members of an organized crime gang. However, they were taught to perceive in the world through systems of false fundamental dichotomies, and to believe in sets of impossible ideals, which always cause the opposite to actually happen in the real world. In that context, the Federal Reserve Board is manifesting how the top predators have become too successful, for too long, so that their prey has become too incompetent, which has gradually allowed those top predators to degenerate into become parasites, which are killing their host.

That is what is being described in this article by David Stockman: "A Gang Of Unelected PhDs Have Staged An Economics Coup D'Etat". However, his understanding of the human ecology that surrounds the current political economy is not enough to get that bigger picture ... But, then, after all, since the overwhelming vast majority of people (including even the relatively rare, more informed readers of Zero Hedge,) do not get that either, as well as that most do not want to get it. Indeed, the vast majority of people probably do not have the slightest clue about how they understand energy systems backwards, because the concept of entropy was inverted, by the biggest bullies' bullshit dominating the history of the philosophy of science, the same as it was able to dominate all other social enterprises.

The vast majority of Americans do not understand, because they do not want to understand, what it means that the public "money" supply is made out of nothing as debts, in ways where that "money" violates the basic laws of nature, such as the conservation of energy, and therefore, matter, as a form of energy. Money based on gold and silver was originally a way that the natural laws regarding the conservation of matter were supposed to prevent fraud. Many people still promote the nostalgic nonsense that we could and should go back to that sort of system again, as a "solution" to the problems that we now have a globalized electronic fiat fraud, backed by the force of governments with weapons of mass destruction.

However, the truth is that our problems have been amplified trillions of times by progress in science and technology, to enable there to actually exist electronic frauds, backed by the force of atomic bombs. That is now the reality of our globalized combined money/murder systems. By and large, practically nobody will face those facts, but rather, both the established systems, and their controlled opposition, get by with mostly being able to deliberate ignore those facts, which works all too well, since the overwhelming vast majority of people also manage to operate through their attitudes of even greater, and more collectively evil, deliberate ignorance.

Hence, the educated economists operating the Federal Reserve Board today have degenerated into being mostly morons, rather than the relative evil geniuses that they once were, a Century or so ago. They have degenerated into parasites that are killing off their host. However, there continues to actually be no better solutions to that runaway debt insanity situation than those which would depend upon better systems of death control sanity. Obviously, the kinds of intellectual scientific revolutions required to do that would require enough people understanding enough of that, which right now appears to be practically impossible.

Coping with science and technology amplifying our political problems trillions of times requires that we should go through paradigm shifts in the ways that we understand general energy systems, which includes enough recognition of the ways that we currently understand the concept of entropy backwards. That would be the minimum theoretical basis required to understand evil and ponerology better, so that we could operate better murder systems, to back up better monetary systems. Unfortunately, nothing less than that very tall order could be sufficient ...

wisefool's picture

He is getting closer. There is only one (non-medical) degree that outranks a PhD. That is an LLM tax. I am not very smart, but even PhD math/C.S. is easy for me.

That 80,000 page tax code .. however ..

khakuda's picture

Unless something breaks soon, like oil prices skyrocketing, the show will continue. They are still dumping in an annualized amount of money that's greater than QE1 and employment has improved since then, markets have soared to record levels and house prices are booming again. Every goal and excuse they had for QE and ZIRP has been achieved. Yet they continue.

As the market continues higher, inflation continues to rise and employment continues to improve they will keep changing the benchmarks to keep money free to keep the governments cost of funds near zero so the debt can keep increasing.

Drive it into the wall Janet, drive it into the wall.

Comte d&#039;herblay's picture

"..... employment has improved since then."

Sez who?

I'm from Missouri.  Act accordingly.

Gringo Viejo's picture

Even Mr. Wu in "Deadwood" knew, though he spoke no English..


Squid Viscous's picture

why his sudden "I see the light" moment, he was part of the same fraud/theft/lies under Reagan... something smells gvelte-fishy

rubiconsolutions's picture

"why his sudden "I see the light" moment, he was part of the same fraud/theft/lies under Reagan... something smells gvelte-fishy"

I couldn't agree more. Just another in a long line of bureaucrats who when in a position to actually affect change are part of the problem. Then when they leave the District of Corruption they have a sort of religious epiphany and begin to criticize. They write their books, make the rounds on the lecture circuit and make a lot of money. Ya gotta love that kind of capitalism.

artless's picture

"why his sudden "I see the light" moment, he was part of the same fraud/theft/lies under Reagan... something smells gvelte-fishy"

@vicious and rubicon

Yes Stockman was Reagan's budget wiz kid (and I say kid purposesly) cause that was over 30 years ago. If you remember (and I do) he was unceremoniously fired (he "resigned" cough) when it became apparent that he was a true believer and wasn't down for playing the game. I believe he was gone in under two years but I'd have to look that one up. From there he went back to the private sector (albeit with some questionable players) but perhaps-and I believe this-that's where he began to see the true damage of the ways of the system.

I'm thinking that Stockman like a great many other folks has completed or is nearing completion of an intellectual journey.  Tell me. Were you both down with Austrian Economics right outta high school? I doubt it. Admit it. Most of us writing here are newbies. MAYBE with five-ten years under our belts. ANd the ones that continue to work in finance and profit from the criminal edifice? Is their sincerity to be questioned in regard to similar views as Stockman as the continue to participate in the folly and farce?

Several current public figures have transitioned over the last couple decades. If a guy like Stockman with his resume can defect to the side of economic liberty, anarcho-capitalism, libertarianism, or whatever, I'll take it.

Unlike many he is actually attacking the power center rather than just blaming political enemies. Read the book. The Great Deformation spends the nest part of 300 PAGES laying the groundwork of the argument. No one is sparred. It is politically athiest in that matter.

At some point each and every one of the people who continue to take part in this corrpy system MUST be convinced to abandon it. From the top CEO of TBTF banks to the VERY LAST SOCIAL SECURITY RECEIVER have to "see the light" or nothing will change for the better. What are we just gonna put everyone in prisons? Sorry the traditional way of killing all your enemies is repunant to me.

It has to be one Stockman at a time. Then you, then your neighbor and so on.

Were you all ssntimonious whe Ron Paul put out End The Fed as well? 

TN Jed's picture

All we have to do is vote for the right one this time right?  What's a pleeb to do?

RafterManFMJ's picture

To be fair, the garbage that gets properly elected isn't any better...

Colonel Klink's picture

The garbage you refer to are just the maggots doing the flies bidding.

NickVegas's picture

We pick em, you elect them.

Abaco's picture

How can anyone be "properly elected" if there are no actual proper elections?

francis.sawyer001's picture

3 Letter Alien Mneumonics Invade AmeriKKKa

Yesterday they told us that HFT was the cause of ameriKKKan decline,

Today we're told that the PHD is the fault of ameriKKKan demise,

We know the CIA stole the MH-370

We know the NSA listens to our every word, and analyzes our shit after we flush it down the toilet.

But one 3 letter word that shall never be spoken is ZIO-


To know who RUN's our lives, you must only know that Mneumonic that cannot  be mentioned.

Colonel Klink's picture

Daily quiz, how many words can you make from: cheesepope?

francis.sawyer001's picture

We know the CIA stole the MH-370, eyewitnesses at KLM saw known CIA(MOSSAD) agents board the airplane.

The revision in the 'good night' message was because the earlier released 'good night' was not from the pilot in command.

Malay security is now requiring 3 men in the cockpit two at all times and one armed to prevent another CIA(MOSSAD) takeover of a Malaysian flight.


Pope Francis Sawyer says "CHEESE".


LetThemEatRand's picture

Not clear if he's banned, though some of his posts were wiped.  The post above survives.  I'd still rather his posts be scrutinized in the sunlight.   He's saying what a lot of people think, sadly. 

Pure Evil's picture

And, apparently reincarnated like a Phoenix.

Anyone want to start a pool to see how long this version lasts?

fonzannoon's picture

I'm not saying I agree with everything FS says. Buit I find it amazing that FS keeps getting banned and yet I see this on TV all the time.


Pure Evil's picture

That was hilarious and sounded exactly like Francis.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Francis is the diabolical baby.

pods's picture

Francis was still kicking around, and it wasnt that guy.


LetThemEatRand's picture

I meant the diabolical baby on Family Guy.  Stewie.

pods's picture

Understood.  Humor seems to be the only way things get out nowadays.

The old days people understood the evils and power associated with bankers be they jew, gentile, or martian.

Now, bankers rule the world and are exalted as saviors, and those who say anything about them are ridiculed and stomped out.


VD's picture

fonz that's brilliant!

pods's picture

And you're an asshole snitch VD.

You know what they say about snitches don't you?


VD's picture

you're myopic and have no clue. think about why Tylerz ban that bigot, then revise ur limited viewz, if you can....

Pure Evil's picture

How could VD be a snitch. Everything FS said was out there for everyone including God to see and read.

The Gods of ZH decided they had enough of his impertinence and sent a lightening bolt to zap his ass.

Its not as if he wasn't warned, many times in online comments and probably a few times in emails.

ZH is pretty tolerant of most of the comments on their website, but when you keep poking the bear, you better believe you're gonna get mauled.

Maybe there's a lesson in their somewhere for Obama and Kerry.

VD's picture

correct Pure Evil. but pods is quite limited in his basic comprehension of this here community. but alas, f_s has been DEADED and for good reason.

pods's picture

Oh please enlighten me oh exalted one. Nevermind.  

And f_s can never be "deaded" because you cannot kill an idea, thought, or argument by merely saying you cannot say it.

He was acerbic, sure, but your ragged ass fun police attitude and walking around all BMOC because TYLERS banned him is just plain smarmy.

I can understand that Tylers do what Tylers want. Their house.

And if the Irish Anti Defamation League were all over my ass like Caucasian on rice I would be clamping down too.

That is what happens when you speak about things that people don't want you to speak about.

So, pat your pompous ass on the back there VD, some of us ARE smart enough to know that users come and go, but ideas remain.


ThroxxOfVron's picture

"...users come and go, but ideas remain."

Exactly.  Sometimes the whole point is to goad the bear into showing that it is in fact a mean old carnivore bear and not a fucking candy christmas unicorn.

Getting thrown out of some places is validation of why you ventured therein to begin with.  

Two types of uninvited guests.  I'd rather be ejected like Satan's flaming vomit than cover under the table until the waitstaff gather the stained napkins.

fonzannoon's picture

I think you are missing the lesson. Obama and Kerry have the NSA watching everyone's ass like a hawk. you see they are pretty tolerant, but push the envelope with your constitutional bullshit and free speech agenda and they won't hesitate to maul your ass.

now back to your usual fonestar bitcoin hijack.