Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke

Guest Post: Bitcoin: Money Of The Future Or Old-Fashioned Bubble?

Bitcoin has been all the rage lately. The stuff, or lack thereof, runs on peer-to-peer technology, is fully decentralized, has no patents, and is open source. Currently, there are almost 11 million bitcoin units in existence and the maximum amount of bitcoin units that will ever be created by the logic of its design are 21 million. While bitcoins are designed so that they cannot be hyperinflated in name, they certainly can be hyperinflated in substance. There is no doubt that bitcoin is a spontaneous answer to the monetary instability that we see all around us today. On one side of the pond people are worried about the glorified currency peg known as the Euro and on the other about the amount of damage that Bernanke is willing to inflict upon the world’s reserve currency. However, let us not become so enamored of an innovative stateless solution that we forget Austrian economics and hitch libertarianism’s wagon to something heading for a crash.

Frontrunning: April 9

  • JPMorgan Leads Job Cuts as Banks Seek to Bolster Profit (BBG)
  • North Koreans don't show for work at Kaesong factory park (Reuters), as NK urges foreigners to leave South Korea (FT)
  • Lisbon Struggles to Close New Budget Gap (WSJ)
  • Portugal may face delay to bailout funds (FT)
  • Putin Squeezing Out UBS to Deutsche Bank Using Oligarchs (BBG)
  • China's Xi Says Fast Growth Over (WSJ)
  • Spain’s PM wants more powers for ECB (FT)
  • Bernanke Says Interest on Reserves Would Be Main Tightening Tool (BBG)
  • Bird Flu Claims 7th Victim in China (WSJ)
  • Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Helicopter Crash (BBG)... No, Bernanke wasn't the pilot

As Confidence In Dollar Wanes, Over A Dozen States Push For Gold As Legal Tender

In more than a dozen states, legislators are pushing for a movement back to a world where gold is considered money. As Bloomberg reports, lawmakers in Arizona are poised to follow Utah, which authorized bullion for currency in 2011. Similar bills are advancing in Kansas, South Carolina and other states to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender. "The legislation is about signaling discontent with monetary policy and about what Ben Bernanke is doing," which seems confirmed by the recent shift in Texas to bring its gold back from the New York bank warehouse. The new measures would give "people the option of using money that won’t lose any purchasing power to inflation," one supporter of the bill explained, with another adding, "there is a fear that the government, or Bernanke in particular and the Federal Reserve, is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the dollar." The U.S. Constitution bars states from coining money and also forbids them from making anything except gold and silver coin tender for paying debts. Advocates say that opens the door for the states to allow bullion as legal tender.

Japan's Debt Crisis Visualized

In just a few short minutes, inspired by Kyle Bass, Addogram presents a short visual explanation of Japan's debt problem. In the time it takes Ben Bernanke to print $13.7 million you'll have a deep understanding of Aso, Abe, and Kuroda's impending debt crisis.

"Greater Fools", "Story Stocks", And Bernanke "The Hero"

The term “Story stock” used to mean a company with little more than a sheaf of press releases and a glitzy narrative about its future prospects.  Now, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes that pretty much any stock with a fighting chance of outperforming needs to have a “Story” to cut through the clutter of a noisy macro-driven market.  Story-less equities where the valuation is cheap simply dawdle, while theoretically expensive story stocks sizzle loudly.  So what makes a good story?  The answer is not only “Blowin’ in the wind,” it is as old as the hills.  CEOs matter intensely – they tell the story, and in the best cases they are the “Hero” at the center of it.  Other types of narratives: “New Blood”, “Resurrection”, and “Conan the Barbarian.”  And even with all these categories, Colas reminds us that we can’t forget that the U.S. equity market is essentially one large story stock, driven by a “Hero” figure – even if you don’t consider Chairman Bernanke is the same league as Moses or Ironman. Of course, we don’t know how this particular “Story” will end.  We don’t call someone a “Hero” until they finish the cycle and return with their gifts and teachings. After all, if creating +$2 trillion out of thin air isn’t some powerful magic to fight off the forces of evil, we don’t know what is.

Thanks Ben Bernanke: Using A Shotgun As Down Payment For A Car

Thanks to the Fed's ZIRP, the investing world is on a constant reach for yield; and due to the fact that the last bubble of investor largesse (ignoring leverage and reality) was not 'punished' but in fact 'bailed-out', participants in the financial markets learned nothing. Just as the last crisis was formed on the back of an insatiable mortgage-backed security market desperate for new loans (any loans) of increasingly dubious quality to securitize, so this time it is subprime auto loans that have taken over. As a Reuters review of court records shows, subprime auto lenders are showing up in a lot of personal bankruptcy filings. At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers are surging - up 18% in 2012 YoY, to 6.6 million borrowers. Subprime auto lending is just one of several mini-bubbles the bond-buying program has created across a range of assets; "it's the same sort of thing we saw in 2007, people get driven to do riskier and riskier things." Of course, with auto production having been the backbone of so many macro data points that are used to 'show' the real economy recovering (despite the channel-stuffing), now that the growth in auto-sales are stalling, it is for the subprime originators "under extreme pressure to hit goals" in their boiler-room-like dealings to extend loans (at ever higher rates) and securitize while the Fed 'music' is still playing. It seems we truly never learn.

Guest Post: Ben Bernanke Must Be Hoping Rational Expectations Doesn’t Hold...

In the theory of rational expectations, human predictions are not systematically wrong. This means that in a rational expectations model, people’s subjective beliefs about the probability of future events are equal to the actual probabilities of those future events. Now, we think that rational expectations is one of the worst ideas in economic theory. It’s based on a germ of a good idea - that self-fulfilling prophesies are possible. Mainstream economic models often assume rational expectations, however. And if rational expectations holds, we could be in for a rough ride in the near future. Because an awful lot of Americans believe that a new financial crisis is coming soon - 75 percent of respondents said that it’s either very or somewhat likely that the country could have another financial crisis in the near future.

Guest Post: What Every Libertarian Should Know About Bitcoin

"Soon, whether via Bitcoin or whatever comes next, it will be possible to strip banking away from bankers, and money away from governments." From a recent article in the Spectator titled “How Bitcoin Could Destroy the State”. Support for Bitcoin amongst Austrian economists is growing by they day and in this interview, the highly admired and respected Tom Woods, discusses Bitcoin with Erik Voorhees of Bitinstant (a popular, rapid way of converting fiat into BTC).  This interview very poignantly addresses many of the layperson’s concerns about it that I have heard over the past several months.  Remember, despite the price rise, Ben Bernanke is still creating the equivalent of 75 Bitcoin markets every month with his money printing.

Guest Post: Bizarre Updates From 'The New Normal' School Of Economics

Last week saw a full court press in defense of the current money printing exercise. As we have frequently pointed out, modern-day economic policy is evidently in the hands of utter quacks. It matters little to them that their prescriptions have failed time and again for hundreds of years – they do the same thing over and over again, as though they were escapees from an insane asylum.

Guest Post: Bernanke Breaks Down: "This Whole Thing Is A Kleptocracy"

Our April Fool's wish: someone in the inner circle of power would finally tell the truth. In an unprecedented abandonment of his carefully scripted responses to Congressional questions, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke unleashed what appeared to be a heart-felt and spontaneous disavowal of the financial and political systems of the United States.