Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke

Eric Sprott On America's Great Endangered Species: "The 99%"

Other than some obligatory arrests for disorderly conduct, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one year anniversary this past September with little fanfare. While the movement seems to have lost momentum, at least temporarily, it did succeed in showcasing the growing sense of unease felt among a large segment of the US population – a group the Occupy movement shrewdly referred to as “the 99%”. The 99% means different things to different people, but to us, the 99% represents the US consumer. It represents the majority of Americans who are neither wealthy nor impoverished and whose spending power makes up approximately 71% of the US economy. It is the purchasing power of this massive, amorphous group that drives the US economy forward. The problem, however, is that four years into a so-called recovery, this group is still being financially squeezed from every possible angle, making it very difficult for them to maintain their standard of living, let alone increase their levels of consumption.

David Einhorn Explains How Ben Bernanke Is Destroying America

"We have just spent 15 years learning that a policy of creating asset bubbles is a bad idea, so it is hard to imagine why the Fed wants to create another one. But perhaps the more basic question is: How fruitful is the wealth effect? Is the additional spending that these volatile paper profits are intended to induce overwhelmed by the lost consumption of the many savers who are deprived of steady, recurring interest income? We have asked several well-known economists who publicly support the Fed’s policy and found that they don’t have good answers. If Chairman Bernanke is setting distant and hard-to-achieve benchmarks for when he would reverse course, it is possibly because he understands that it may never come to that. Sooner or later, we will enter another recession. It could come from normal cyclicality, or it could come from an exogenous shock. Either way, when it comes, it is very likely we will enter it prior to the Fed having ‘normalized’ monetary policy, and we’ll have a large fiscal deficit to boot. What tools will the Fed and the Congress have at that point? If the Fed is willing to deploy this new set of desperate measures in these frustrating, but non-desperate times, what will it do then? We don’t know, but a large allocation to gold still seems like a very good idea."

Guest Post: Ben Bernanke's Secret Philanthropy

Legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens famously calls America’s oil imports ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.’ Pickens is referring to the money that is paid each year to oil exporting nations, particularly those in the Persian Gulf which raked in around $100 billion last year. No doubt, this is an enormous transfer of wealth. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the TRILLIONS that Ben Bernanke gives the world’s elite. It constitutes, by far, the greatest transfer of wealth in history, vastly exceeding America’s energy imports. It’s an unconscionable, immoral, ridiculous game. But there’s good news– we can stop playing whenever we want. We don’t HAVE to hold their worthless currency. We don’t HAVE to keep transferring our purchasing power to an elite group. We can “opt-out”. Trade as much of their paper as you can for something REAL, especially physical precious metals.

Overnight Sentiment: A Tale Of Chinese And European PMIs... And Greece

There were two major datapoints overnight: the first one came out early in the session, when the Chinese Flash HSBC PMI (not the official one), printed in contraction territory for a 12th consecutive month but jumped sufficiently to 3 month highs to give the algobots hope that China may be turning (it isn't: China, like the US has a major political event early November and all its data is more manipulated than ever). Regardless, this sent future rising to session highs until virtually yesterday's entire gap down was eliminated. The euphoria continued until several hours later we got composite European (as well as the most important German PMI data, and to far less relevant extent France, which always has been the dynamo in European economic growth), manufacturing and services PMI, both of which missed expectations or declined substantially, reaffirming that the German economy is getting dragged down more and more into recession even as continues funding the rescue of the periphery. As the chart from Markit below shows, German PMI is hinting at a solidly negative German GDP print, further confirmed by the German IFO business print which came at 100, a drop from 101.4 and below expectations of 101.6. Other secondary macroeconomic data was just as bad, which explains why futures are now well on their way to dropping back to their lows. Finally, today we get the FOMC statement, which will be much ado about nothing, and will merely serve as an appetizer to the December FOMC meeting, when Goldman (and Zero Hedge) now expected the Fed to expand unsterilized monthly monetization to increase from $40 billion to $85 billion (more on the shortly). Yet perhaps the biggest shift in mood has been coming out of our old friend Greece, where Troika negotiations, largely under the radar, are progressing from bad to worse, where the bond buyback plan was scuttled last night (as ZH reported sending Greek bonds 70 bps wider on the day and rising), and where the probability of another flash election, which can crash the precarious European balance in an instant, is rising with each passing day.

Record Direct Bidder Scramble For Safety Of Today's 2 Year Bond Auction

They may yield nothing (technically 0.295% nominal yield), and they may be still sold by the Fed, but today's 2 Year bond auction had a blistering metric that showed that something is very much unwell with the market. Coming at a Bid to Cover of 4.02, broad demand for today's $35 billion in 2 years was the second highest only below November 2011's 4.07. What happened on November 21, 2011? Well, the world was ending for one, or if not the entire world, then certainly Europe which for those who remember, had to be rescued one short week later courtesy of a coordinated global central bank intervention when the Fed and Europe not only renewed their FX swaps, but lowered the rate paid to OIS+50. So do the bondholders know something about today's market plunge that is not being said? We will find out soon.

No Third Term For The Chairman

While the theater of the presidential election hits peak season, and InTrade odds for this candidate or that are approaching flash crash territory, the one person who truly runs not only the US, but the entire "developed" world, Ben Bernanke, is going nowhere. At least not until January 2014. At which point he may be going somewhere - retirement. Reuters cites the NYT: "U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has told close friends he probably will not stand for a third term at the central bank even if President Barack Obama wins the November 6 election, the New York Times reported." In other words: the republican Fed Chairman who mysteriously became a Democrat president's bestest friend (and has been publicly threatened by every other GOP candidate, including Romney, although that would be merely to replace him with Bill Dudley, not Glenn Hubbard)  that $4 trillion that the Fed will have in assets at the time of Ben's departure, and $5 trillion at December 31, 2014, just became someone else's problem. Good luck to that someone else unwinding a Fed balance sheet which as we explained previously, will at one point in the next 2 years hold well over half of the marketable US Treasury debt inventory. How the sale of this inventory will happen in a time of spiking rates (because that's what the Fed wants - inflation) is literally anyone's guess, because in practice it will never happen.

R(osenberg) & B(ernstein): Two Ex-Merrill Colleagues, Two Opposing Outlooks, One Permabull Rebuttal

Earlier this week two former Merrill colleagues, since separated, were reunited on several media occasions, and allowed to spar over their conflicting views of the world. The two people in question, of course, are Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, best known during the past 3 years for not drinking the propaganda Kool-Aid, and systematically deconstructing every "bullish" macroeconomic datapoint into its far more downbeat constituent parts, and his ebullient ex-coworker, Richard Bernstein, formerly head of equity strategy at a firm that had to be rescued by none other than Bank of America and currently head of RBA advisors, who just happens to be bullish on, well, everything. And since any attempt at holding an intelligent conversation on CNBC is ultimately futile (as can be seen here) and is constantly broken up by both ads, and interjecting anchors and show producers who care far less about facts than keeping the presentation 'engaging' (and going to such lengths to even allow Jim Cramer to have his own TV show), Rosenberg decided to dedicate his entire letter to clients today to "providing a rebuttal" of the slate of reasons why according to Bernstein the "we are on the precipice of a 1982-2000 style of secular market." What follows is one of the most comprehensive "white papers" debunking the bullish view we have seen in a while. Read on.

How Ben Bernanke Became A Hedge Fund's Worst Enemy

Whether it is hope, greed, fear, repression, systemic correlation, volatility suppression, or sheer unadulterated idiocy; the smart money has been desperately underperforming the 'index' in US equity markets since Ben Bernanke unwrapped a can of QE2 on us all. Are the smart-money 'realists' playing the long-term game and the dumb-money index-trackers herding into whatever worked yesterday? Who knows? One thing is for sure, Bernanke is no friend of the hedge fund community - anymore.

Pass The Salt; Pass The Government

How many European nations does it take to screw in a light bulb? Twenty-seven. One from Brussels to identify that the object in question is, in fact, a light bulb. Someone from Northern Europe to hold the bulb. A group from Southern Europe to turn the guy holding the bulb around and around until the thing is screwed in. A person from Germany or France to flick the switch and then the rest of the group, after tea, strudel and champagne to stand in front of the microphones and laud the effort. The end-result from the latest EU Summit is clear: More fluff, more stuff and more "pass the risotto if you please" as no one in America or Europe wants to own up to the very serious problems facing both continents

Guest Post: Should Central Banks Cancel Government Debt?

Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind:  it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."

Head Of Zimbabwe Central Bank Explains QE3

Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who destroyed the Zim dollar by creating hyperinflation, weighs in on the parallels between QE3 and the policy he followed last decade, in the RBZ’s mid-term 2012 monetary policy statement. Even though Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi and all other central bankers will try to convince you that what they are doing are really different to what Gideon Gono did, you should really be taking Gideon Gono more seriously, who is basically admitting that the money printing strategy does not work to ‘stimulate’ growth. All it can stimulate are high- and hyperinflation risks.