"My hope is that as policy makers of the world continue to prescribe their remedies for the ailing economic patient, that they do not render it worse off... As with their predecessors, I suspect there is no doubt in the minds of our central bankers that they are the smartest they’ve ever been. Yet, I fear they are not the smartest they will ever be."
S&P Settles DOJ Lawsuit For $1.5 Billion; Agrees Not To Accuse Government Of Retaliation For US DowngradeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2015 08:26 -0500
As had been widely rumored in the past two weeks, and as the WSJ reported overnight, moments ago McGraw Hill, parent of disgraced rating agency S&P, entered into a $1.5 billion settlement to fully resolve the DOJ lawsuit regarding S&P ratings on RMBS and CDOs. As the WSJ reported overnight, In the "span of about 30 hours, the Justice Department lowered its asking price and backed off demands that S&P admit to violating laws when it issued rosy grades on risky mortgage deals, the people said." But the bottom line: 'S&P agreed to ... withdraw its assertion that the Justice Department lawsuit was political retaliation for the ratings firm’s 2011 downgrade."
Funding Markets just called The FOMC's bluff. Policymakers are acting out rational expectations theory or at least how they see it. In other words, their job is not to analyze actual economic conditions, but to condition economic thought toward the end goal. If they convince you that they believe the economy is on track they further believe you will act accordingly (“you” being both investor and economic agent). The more the economy diverges from the “preferred” projection, the more emphatic the cries of “recovery” become. At some point, desperation becomes palpable.
Remember when S&P forgot for a second that it lives in a world of pretend free speech, and where telling the truth would promptly result in a lawsuit by the US government after it downgraded the US from AAA to AA+ in the summer of 2011? A downgrade which as Bloomberg previously reported led to this exchange with then Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: "S&P’s conduct would be looked at very carefully," Geithner told McGraw according to the filing. "Such behavior would not occur, he said, without a response from the government." Well, S&P will never make the same mistake again, because according to Reuters, it will cost it $1.5 billion to settle with the government and put the whole "downgrade" episode in the past.
Goldman head Lloyd Blankfein was completely wrong when he declared his firm was doing “god’s work”. That couldn’t be. In fact, Goldman and its principal competitors have become nothing less than the devils workshop during the modern era of Keynesian central banking instigated by Alan Greenspan. Greenspan’s “committee to save the world” did no such thing. What it did was bury the American middle class in debt, while massively outsourcing US goods production capacity to China and elsewhere in the EM.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
For those, who are leery of seasonally-adjusted government data (showing soaring low-wage jobs offset by crashing employment in the energy sector and M&A synergies which mysteriously are never captured), or sentiment surveys and confidence polls (of Wall Street executives and government workers), here is the latest data from McDonalds. Showing the worst US comp store sales in nearly 12 years at -4.6%, one does wonder if following America's inability to even pay for sub-$1 meals, mass starvation will follow?
1. Heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals and containing debt
2. Economic growth policy uncertainties and challenges in ending deflation
3. Erosion of policy effectiveness and credibility could undermine debt affordability
"Geithner: I remember coming to the dinner and I’m looking at my Blackberry. It was a fucking disaster in Europe. French bank stocks were down 7 or 8 per cent. That was a big deal. For me it was like, you know, you were having a classic complete carnage because of people [who] were saying: crisis in Greece, who’s exposed to Greece?"
Meet the next piece of work...
The sickening transformation of these United States into an authoritarian police state with an incarceration rate that would make Joseph Stalin blush, has been a common theme here. But now, as a result of our insane societal obsession with authority and disproportionate punishment, the WSJ reports that “nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.”
Here come the revisionists with new malarkey about the 2008 financial crisis. No less august a forum than the New York Times today carries a front page piece by journeyman financial reporter James Stewart suggesting that Lehman Brothers was solvent; could and should have been bailed out; and that the entire trauma of the financial crisis and Great Recession might have been avoided or substantially mitigated. That is not just meretricious nonsense; its a measure of how thoroughly corrupted public discourse about the fundamental financial and economic realities of the present era has become owing to the cult of central banking. The great error of September 2008 was not in failing to bailout Lehman. It was in providing a $100 billion liquidity hose to Morgan Stanley and an even larger one to Goldman. They too were insolvent. That was the essence of their business model. Fed policies inherently generate runs, and then it stands ready with limitless free money to rescue the gamblers. You can call that pragmatism, if you like. But don’t call it capitalism.
Outspoken Union Theological Seminary professor Cornel West goes where very few 'thinkers-of-color' have had the courage to go in this interview with Salon's Thomas Frank: "The thing is, [Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free... we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist... So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama... Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends... I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression."
"One reason we know voters will embrace populism is that they already have. It’s what they thought they were getting with Obama...He turned out to be something else altogether. Not long ago optimism was in vogue. Obama’s slogan then was “Yes we can.” Today it could be “It turns out we can’t.”"
While the news was reported earlier this week, it is perhaps notable that what was once considered the leading US tech company has also succumbed to the great "jobless" US recovery (in which the US economy is somehow adding 200K+ jobs every month even as it is firing millions). Furthermore, what was supposed to be 6,000 layoffs has just tripled to 18,000, which also happens to be the largest round of layoffs in MSFT history, surpassing the previous record of 5,800 set back in 2009.