Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke

Guest Post: The Real Reverse Robin Hood: Ben Bernanke And His Merry Band Of Thieves

Listen up, debt-serfs, you have it good here on the manor estate. You get three squares of greasy fast-food or heavily processed faux-food a day, and if Reverse Robin Hood and his Merry Band of Thieves is ripping you off it's for a good reason: the predatory Neofeudalist Financial Lords need the money more than you do, as they have a lot of political bribes to pay: it's an election year, and the bribes are getting increasingly costly. Poor things, we're sure you understand. Now go back to work or watching entertainment (or "news," heh) and leave the Lords alone - but answer these 11 questions first, before hailing the new hero.

When One Hilsenrath Is Just Not Enough, Here's Another: "Bernanke Signals Readiness To Do More"

In the immortal words of the Jackson 5: "I'll Be There" seems to be the meme du jour - which appears to us to be the same message that Bernanke (and his proxy Hilsenrath) have been on for a few years now. However, in case you hadn't had enough sycophantic central-bank-fellating 'hope', the WSJ's front-man just reiterated for one and all that Ben's our man. In our subtle opinion, it seems however that perhaps Bernanke was a little disingenuous with his talk of 'policy tool effectiveness' - as clearly his efforts have not had the desired economic effect so far (or he would not need to reiterate the ability to do more of the same).

What To Expect From Bernanke At J-Hole

Expectations for tomorrow's J-Hole speech by the venerable Ben Bernanke vary from the mundane "things-we-can-still-do; monitoring-situation" to the exuberant "we'll-print-our-way-out-of-this-mess-no-matter-what-and-I've-got-your-back-for-anything-more-than-a-1%-drop-in-the-Russell". We suspect, like Morgan Stanley's Vince Reinhart that a lot of people are going to be grossly disappointed  as the FOMC (C for Committee) meeting is so close and the election being just around the corner means playing-down any miracle-making. Instead we suspect it will be more of the same - disappointment in economic performance, could do better, closely monitoring, Fed-has-tools; i.e. a replay of most of his recent speeches in tone. Reinhart does see some room for surprise though - especially on conditional policy rules (and the potential problems with over-reaching their mandate).

Gold Option Traders Most Bullish Since Bottom In October 2008

A new and important bullish indicator for the gold market is that gold calls are at highs not seen since the October 2008 low as option traders go long gold in the belief that it will go higher. It suggests that option traders believe that U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will hint at or announce additional money printing and monetary easing at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, symposium. Alternatively, it suggests that they are bullish on gold due to the risks posed to the dollar and the risk of inflation taking off. The ratio of outstanding calls to buy the SPDR Gold Trust versus puts to sell jumped to 2.69 to 1 on August 24th and reached 2.76 earlier this month, the highest level since October 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ownership of calls is up 26% since the July 20th options expiry. Ten of the most owned actively owned ETF option contracts are bullish. Option traders are regarded as savvier and tend to be more sophisticated then the more speculative futures traders.


Guest Post: Currency Competition

Monopolies contribute to many problems - the record of evidence illustrates the potential inefficiency, waste and price fixing. Yet the greatest trouble with monopolies is what they take away - competition. Competition is a beautiful mechanism; in exercising their purchasing power and demand preferences, individuals run the economy. If we are for competition in goods and services, why should we disclude competition in the money industry? Would competition in the money industry not benefit the consumer in the manner that competition in other industries does? Why should the form and nature of the medium of exchange be monopolised? Shouldn’t the people - as individuals - be able to make up their own mind about the kind of money that they want to use to engage in transactions? Earlier, this year Ben Bernanke and Ron Paul had an exchange on this subject. It is often said in Keynesian circles that Bernanke is too tame a money printer, and that the people need a greater money supply. Well, set the wider society free to determine their own money supply based on the demand for money.

Is This The Fed's Secret Weapon?

As the world anticipates Bernanke's speech on Friday - which most do not expect to explicitly say "NEW-QE-is-on-bitches" - we started thinking just what it is that he can suggest that would provide more jawboning potential. His speech is likely to lay out 'lessons learned' and outline the various conventional, unconventional, and unconventional unconventional policy options available (as we noted here). While open-ended QE, cutting the IOER, and 'credit-easing' are often discussed, none would be a surprise; this reminded us of an article from Morgan Stanley two years ago - after QE2 - that raised the possibility of Price-Level Targeting (PT), which is quite different from Inflation-Targeting. While its cumulative effect could be anti-debtflationary, it is however tough to communicate, reduces the Fed's inflation-credibility, and could be seen as inconsistent with the Fed's dual mandate. Our hope is that by understanding this possibility, the mistaken shock-and-awe is dampened.

Euro Gold Technicals Look Near Perfect

The technical picture for Euro gold looks near perfect now. Gold has been trending higher since May. The long term charts show a series of higher lows and higher highs and even in the correction of recent months there have been a series of higher lows and gold gradually consolidated between €1,200 and €1,400/oz. Gold is now comfortably above the 50, 100 and 200 day moving averages. In the last four years, there have been 3 periods of correction and consolidation which have lasted 12 to 13 months (see boxes in first chart) and we appear to be coming to the end of another such period. Break outs from such consolidations often lead to sharp moves higher and thus new record highs above €1,359/oz and possibly over €1,600/oz should be seen before the end of 2012. The fundamental back drop of the unresolved Eurozone debt crisis , deep divisions in the ECB and a high degree of uncertainty regarding the euros long term future strongly suggest that the euro will continue to fall against gold in the coming months. Further confirmation of robust demand for gold is seen in figures showing that exchange-traded products backed by the gold expanded to a record. Smart money from Paulson to Soros to PIMCO continues to diversify into gold. Gold ETFs holdings have now surpassed Italy to become the world’s third-largest gold holdings when compared with national gold reserves.

Guest Post: QE3 Mechanism Is Broken

When Ben Bernanke launched QE 2 in 2010 he outlined a third mandate for the Federal Reserve - the boosting of consumer confidence. He stated that the goal of QE 2 was to boost asset prices in order to spur consumer confidence through the "wealth effect" which should translate into economic growth. In 2010 he was right, and QE 2 not only boosted asset prices sharply, but kept the economy from slipping into a recessionary spat. As Friday's speech from the economic summit in "Jackson Hole" draws near - Bernanke should be taking a clue from today's release of consumer confidence in considering his next move

Bernanke At J-Hole: What He Will Say And What He Won't

With Draghi stepping aside, the headliner can shine and while Goldman does not expect Chairman Bernanke's speech on Friday morning, entitled "Monetary Policy Since the Crisis", to shed much additional light on the near-term tactics of monetary policy beyond last week's FOMC minutes; their main question is whether he breaks new ground regarding the Fed's longer-term strategy. An aggressive approach would be to signal that the committee is moving closer to the "unconventional unconventional" easing options that Goldman has been ever-so-generously advocating for months, although even they have to admit that expectations are that any moves in this direction will be gingerly.

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The biggest even this week is Ben Bernanke’s Jackson Hole Speech which will take place on Friday August 31. It was at Jackson Hole in 2010 that Bernanke hinted at QE 2. With that in mind, many investors believe that the Fed is about to unveil or at least hint at a similar large-scale monetary program this Friday. We, at Phoenix Capital Research, disagree for three reasons. Number one, stocks are at or near four-year highs. With stocks at these levels, there is little reason for the Fed to use up any of its remaining ammunition.


What To Expect From Bernanke At Jackson Hole

With the world's suckers investors (CEOs, politicians, and peons alike) all hanging on every word the man-behind-the-curtain has to say on Friday, Stone & McCarthy has crafted an excellent 'what-if' of key takeaways and interpretations ahead of Friday's Jackson Hole Symposium speech by Bernanke. Will Draghi toe the line? Will China be pissed? and what rhymes with J-Hole? On balance, we think Bernanke will save the policy directives for the FOMC meeting (potentially disappointing the market) while highlighting that the Committee is vigilant and flexible, and ready to act.