Silver and gold are lower today after the record nominal highs seen yesterday (gold marginally and silver significantly). Gold reached $1,518.30 per troy ounce, a nominal record, while silver climbed to $49.79 per ounce, its highest nominal level since the short term parabolic spike in 1980. A period of correction and consolidation has been expected for some time and it may ensue as gold and particularly silver are overbought in the short term. However, absolutely nothing has changed with regard the primary fundamentals driving the gold and silver markets.
A game of 20 questions with the Fed Chairman...
Maybe it’s all the rain lately but my funny bone is tingling. This week the FOMC conducts a two day meeting whereby Fed officials will clarify intentions regarding the perceived closure (or not) of QE2 and the policy body will also address growing concerns (or not) about inflation. To mark a new era in Fed communications, Chairman Bernanke will hold a press conference at the conclusion of the FOMC on Wednesday. This conference has all the makings of its predecessor, historically volatile semi-annual Humphrey Hawkins testimonies on monetary policy in front of Congress. It’s a good thing since in the past month alone sixteen different Fed policymakers (did you know there were that many?) have given more than forty formal addresses, in addition to television, newspaper and newswire interviews. And Congress isn’t in this week.
About 50% of what’s going in from the Fed now is rollover money... (The Fed) is buying 85% of the Treasury notes. They can’t stop. How could they stop? Who’s going to buy?
Today, the world has replaced Messrs.. Cleese, Chapman, Palin, Gilliam, Idle and Jones with a new ‘Flying Circus’. Their names are, for the most part, equally well-known and, sadly, becoming ever-more identified with high comedy as they try to convince the world that the dollar is, actually, in rude health. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ‘Ben Bernanke’s Flying Circus’ - starring Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Janet Yellen, Bill Dudley, Charles Plosser, Richard Fisher & featuring Barack Obama.
The Federal Reserve has lost all credibility on Wall Street, and most of the American public with the absolute refusal to recognize the dire effects on asset prices that QE2 has created. But the refusal is part of the problem.
Don't blame the specs. Blame the reasoning why the specs are acting.
In this podcast, Axel explains:
- Why Ben Bernanke is hell-bent on debasing the US dollar to spur economic growth
- How the politics of the Fed work, where the power lies and which arguments and actions are likely to carry the day
- Why inflation expectations actually matter more than actualy inflation, and why the Fed will not rest until it is satisfied the market expectations for inflation are higher
- That the US is on its way to a fiscal trainwreck - a reality our political leadership continues to lack to backbone to address honestly
- The Fed's powers are prodigious, but not as great as the market. If and when the market moves against policymakers, nothing will stop it. The growing risk is we quickly tip into the inflation the Fed wants, which then quickly leads to runaway prices
- His outlook for gold and why he thinks this "ultimate currency" can go much higher from current levels
- How the US is caught in a Catch-22: our loose monetary policy continues to encourages credit consumption that makes us increasingly vulnerable; but we're so indebted already that if the Fed tightens rates, the economy could easily fall into a full-blown depression
Taking over the private sector also occurred in the US monetary system with the US Federal Reserve allowing Wall Street to dish their junk debts onto its balance sheet in a kind of “cash for trash” program where Wall Street sells crap no one wanted for 100 cents on the Dollar to the Fed… and then the Fed doesn’t try to get its money back… EVER. Doing this had a profound psychological impact on the financial world. By swapping US Dollars for trash assets, the Fed sent a clear signal to all of us that cash was in fact becoming trash.
If rising oil pushes the real economy over the cliff, voters will not be re-electing incumbents in 2012. Welcome to reality, Ben. Your "let's pretend the recovery is real" game is nearing an end. If you push the dollar down any more, then oil will go up and tip the real economy into a recession that QE3 will only make worse as you send the dollar into freefall. If the dollar rises, then your beloved "wealth effect" dies a horrible death on the rocks below. Take your pick, but choose wisely.
PBoC Governor Says Chinese Foreign Reserve Stockpile Is Excessive, As SAFE Issues Another Warning At US Treatment Of Creditors... And DollarsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/20/2011 08:32 -0400
One of the key news from the past week was that Chinese FX reserves passed a record $3 trillion for the first time, a surge of $200 billion in the first quarter alone. And with the bulk of that in dollar, it is not surprising that the recently collapse in the dollar has forced more posturing out of both the PBoC and SAFE (the State Administration of Foreign Exchange). In comments published Tuesday, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China said that China's huge stockpile of foreign exchange
reserves have become excessive and the government
must diversify investments using the reserves. "Foreign exchange reserves have exceeded our
country's rational demand, and too much accumulation has caused
excessive liquidity in our markets, adding to the pressure of the
central bank's sterilization." That this is a not so subtle hint aimed at the dollar was confirmed earlier today by SAFE which said that the US government should take responsible measures
to protect the interests of investor. "U.S. Treasuries reflect the credit of the US government and are an important investment product for domestic and international institutional investors," the ministry said in a statement carried today on SAFE's website. "We hope the U.S. government takes responsible measures to protect investor interests." Alas, with the US administration solely focused on making confetti out of the US currency, we hope that China is not holding its breath too long. On the other hand, should the DXY take out its 2009 lows, all bets will surely be off and only another market collapse will be able to generate a potential flight to safety in the dollar. In the meantime, both gold and silver continue to benefit, and the only thing that appears to be able to drag down precious metals at this point is a wholesale margin call invoking cross asset liquidation.
The reason that the 2008 debacle happened was very simple. The derivatives market, the largest, most leveraged market in the world. Today, the notional value of the derivatives sitting on US banks’s balance sheets is in the ballpark of $234 TRILLION. That's 16 times US GDP and more than four times WORLD GDP. Of this $234 trillion, 95% is controlled by just four banks. And they are... the TBTFs.
The flashing fuchsia elephant at the core of our economic, and thus budget problems – remains the response to the financial homicide imparted by the big-banks and abetted by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. There was a choice to be made in Washington in the fall of 2008 - smack Wall Street into place, do a good-ole free-market – you fail if you deserve to fail, we’ll protect consumer assets and that’s it maneuver - and deal with possibly intense, but definable fall-out for a short period. Or - lavish bailout upon guarantee upon subsidy upon asset purchase upon the lowest rates in our nation’s history on Wall Street, and wring the very possibility of a recovery out of the general economy from the get-go. Of course, the brilliant minds of our exceedingly-privileged, out-of-touch, economic leadership decided on the former, and are acting their asses off to pretend that that decision, in itself, wasn’t the cause of the economic problems that followed, from Main Street anemia, to commodity inflation to international disdain and a weak currency that has no right to even have the purchasing capacity it still does. And, yet Tim Geithner had the audacity of job-security to take his debt ceiling ‘plea’, on the Sunday Morning talk show circuit – really, we will be in crisis and other countries will think poorly of our ability to pay our debts if we don’t raise the ceiling and increase our debt. In truth, it is Tim Geithner’s ego on the line, while his boss, through staggering absence of mention, is fine with assuaging it. Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke remained silent about the topic, not least because between the Fed and the Treasury department, more debt has been racked up and issued in the past two years than ever before. Of course, the debt cap will get raised, just as it got raised under Treasury Secretaries Paul O’Neil, John Snow and Hank Paulson.
Doubling Down To (DXY) Zero: Has The Fed, In Its Stealthy Synthetic Bet To Keep Long-Term Yields Low, Become The Next AIG?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/16/2011 16:41 -0400
The Fed, in bailing out the world (a meme that has only now received popular acceptance following the release of formerly classified Fed documents, despite our claims precisely to that end from back in October 2009) has become the world's largest hedge fund and with a DV01 of over $1.5 billion by now, has taken on virtually unlimited interest rate risk (a topic discussed back in April 2010). As such controlling inflation expectations, or more specifically, Long-Term rates (the part on the curve that Quantitative Easing is powerless to control) is the most critical aspect of the viability of the monetary system. Stunningly, today we learn that to keep long rates low, the Fed may have resorted to nothing short of the same suicidal trade that destroyed AIG FP and brought the entire system to its knees. Namely, Ben Bernanke is now quite possibly the second coming of Joe Cassano, since in order to keep rates low, Bernanke is forced to a last resort action of selling billions upon billions of Treasury puts to "pin" rates low contrary to natural supply-demand mechanics. If so, the Fed is now basically AIG Financial Products, although instead of being synthetically long mortgages (and thus betting on a rate decline) and selling hundreds of billions in CDS to amplify its bet, Bernanke has done the same thing, only this time with Treasurys. Of course, Ben has the printing press on his side apologists will claim. Alas, that will have no impact whatsoever, if indeed the Fed has been reduced to finding ever fewer counterparties to a synthetic bet to keep long-term rates low, as very soon, with inflation ticking up, all hell may break loose in an identical replay of what happened to AIG once the Fed's put is called against it. Only this time there will be nobody to bail out the ultimate backstopper, resulting in the long overdue end of the current failed monetary system experiment.
Goldman: Forget (Plunging) GDP As A Tracker Of US Growth, Meet Goldman's Current Activity Indicator (TM)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2011 13:17 -0400
When data don't go your way, just change the rules, move the limits, or, best of all, introduce brand new data that will validate your assumptions. This has been demonstrated very well in Fukushima over the past month. Now it is coming out from Goldman's economic team, which is finding GDP to not be quite as amenable to "presenting" for client indoctrination purposes, due to its recent plunge from expectations (especially those of young master Hatzius, discussed here). As a result the Hatzius et al team have decided to launch an experiment in scrapping GDP as the key indicator of economic growth (or lack thereof) for those periods in which it is dropping, and instead will focus on the CAI, or the Current Activity Indicator: a synthetic Made In Goldman bogus indicator, which ignores the weak data, and emphasizes the good stuff. Brilliant. Goldman's recent addition to its economic team Zach Pandl explains. Elsewhere, Zero Hedge is launching a contest for the best abuse of the CAI acronym to explain what it really means...