An overview of recent developments, include the political developments in the US Senate, that may weigh on the dollar in the days ahead.
For anyone who still suggests, incorrectly, that Larry Summers was the "wrong" choice for Fed Chairman just because he would promptly end QE the second he was elected as the erroneous popular meme goes, we have one soundbite from his recent Bloomberg TV interview refuting all such speculation: "if you had to say, should we have used this tool or should we not have, I think the answer is overwhelming that we should have." He had some other amusing logical fallacies (including discussing whether the market is in a bubble) all of which are transcribed below, but the best one is the following: "I think it does bear emphasis that the people who were most appalled by it are the people who have been predicting hyperinflation around the corner for four years now and they have been wrong at every turn." And let's not forget that "subprime is contained" - until it isn't. Then again, the last time we checked, the history on the biggest monetary experiment in history - one in which both the Fed and the BOJ are now openly monetizing 70% of gross bond issuance - has certainly not been written. Finally, in the off chance Summers is indeed correct, what history will instead say, is why instead of monetizing all the debt from day 1 of the Fed's inception in 1913, and thus pushing the stock market into scientific notation territory, did the Fed leave so many trillions of "wealth effect" on the table?
- When it fails, do more of it - Bank of Japan hints at extending ultra-loose monetary policy (FT)
- PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves (BBG)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (Hilsenrath)
- Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era (Reuters)
- Debt Limit Rise May Not Be Needed Until June, CBO Says (BBG)
- Some Insurance Regulators Turn Down White House Invitation (WSJ)
- Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman (WSJ)
- U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary (Reuters)
- French business sector contracts sharply (FT)
- How Germany's taxman used stolen data to squeeze Switzerland (Reuters)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (WSJ)
- France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief (Reuters)
A decision by the FHFA requiring the GSEs to finally release detailed information on loans they acquired and guaranteed uncovers an ugly truth about the GSEs that many should be aware of (as we noted the exuberance here). The release was only required on 35 million fully-amortizing, full documentation, 30-year fixed rate mortgages, which means as JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes the underwriting histories on another 20-30 million loans (e.g., the riskier ones) remain a mystery (and likely will forever). As Cembalest concludes, some people made up their minds on all the factors causing the housing crisis in 2009, and others in 2011. As long as new information keeps coming out, it seems premature to close the book on it, he adds, first, the private sector descent into underwriting hell took place well after the multi-trillion dollar GSE balance sheets had gone there first; and second, there are many reasons to wonder how bad the former would have been had the latter not preceded it.
To the DOJ, a $13 billion receipt is the "largest ever settlement with a single entity." To #AskJPM, a $13 billion outlay is a 100%+ IRR. And perhaps more relevant, let's recall that JPM holds $550 billion in Fed excess reserves, on which it is paid 0.25% interest, or $1.4 billion annually. In other words, out of the Fed's pocket, through JPM, and back into the government. Luckily, this is not considered outright government financing.
The stock below is up 1200% year-to-date. The company in question is insolvent by any and all measures and has a "parent" under great pressure to take whatever gains it can get (as opposed to leave anything for shareholders). The company is exposed to the worst of the worst in the housing market. The smart money (as they are called) is piling in. The company is, of course, Fannie Mae (or Freddie Mac - same discussion). This chart, like none other, reflects the "investment" thesis in America today, as Grenwood's Walter Todd notes, “Either you’re going to make a lot of money or you’re going to lose everything you put into it."
- China to Ease One-Child Policy (WSJ), China announces major economic and social reforms (Reuters)
- Consumers line up for launch of PlayStation 4 (USAToday)
- Trust frays between Obama, Democrats (Politico)
- Yellen Stands by Fed Strategy (Hilsenrath)
- Hero to zero? Philippine president feels typhoon backlash (Reuters)
- Brussels warns Spain and Italy on budgets (FT)
- Moody’s Downgrades Four U.S. Banks on Federal Support Review (BBG)
- CIA's Financial Spying Bags Data on Americans (WSJ)
- Germany Digs In Against Risk Sharing in EU Bank-Failure Plan (BBG)
- Bill Gates wants Norway's $800 billion fund to spend more in Africa, Asia (RTRS)
On December 23, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) will celebrate its 100th birthday, so we thought it was time to take a look at the Fed’s real accomplishment, and the practices and policies it has employed during this time to rob the public of its wealth. The criticism is directed not only at the world’s most powerful central bank - the Fed - but also at the concept of central banks in general, because they are the antithesis of fiscal responsibility and financial constraint as represented by gold and a gold standard. The Fed was sold to the public in much the same way as the Patriot Act was sold after 9/11 - as a sacrifice of personal freedom for the promise of greater government protection. Instead of providing protection, the Fed has robbed the public through the hidden tax of inflation brought about by currency devaluation.
- Yellen to defend Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy (Reuters)
- Japan growth slows on global weakness (WSJ)
- Eurozone third-quarter growth falters (FT)
- Fed Debates Its Low-Rate Peg (Hilsenrath)
- Yellen: Economy Still Needs Fed Aid (WSJ)
- ‘Obamacare’ launch fiasco rouses sceptics (FT)
- DoubleLine's Gundlach says U.S. equities 'only game in town' (Reuters)
- Indian Inflation Exceeding Estimates Adds Rate-Rise Pressure (BBG)
- HUD Said to Fail in Bid to Sell $450 Million of Mortgages (BBG)
- Boeing machinists reject labor deal on 777X by 67 percent (Reuters)
Japan growth cut in half, Europe growth cut by more than half, but none of that matters: today it will be all about the coronation of QEeen Yellen, who testifies before the Senate Banking Committee at 10am. Not even Japanese finance minister Aso's return to outright currency intervention warnings (in addition to the BOJ's QE monetary base dilution), when he said that Japan must always be ready to send signal to markets to curb excessive and one sided FX moves and it is important that Japan has intervention as FX policy option, which sent the USDJPY back up to 100 for the first time since September 11 made much of an impact on futures trading which after surging early in the session following the release of Yellen's prepared remarks, have now "tapered" virtually all gains. Certainly, the follow up from Europe doing the same and also warning it too may engage in QE, has been lost. Which is odd considering the entire developed world is now on the verge of engaging in the most furious open monetization of virtually everything in history.
Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope. Who was to blame?
"The government, writ large, had a hand in creating the conditions that encouraged the approval of dubious mortgages. It was the government, in the form of Congress, that repealed Glass-Steagall, thus allowing certain banks that had previously viewed mortgages as a source of interest income to become instead deeply involved in securitizing pools of mortgages in order to obtain the much greater profits available from trading. It was the government, in the form of both the executive and the legislature, that encouraged deregulation..."
- Judge Jed Rakoff
- China Pledges Greater Role for Market in Economy (WSJ), China vows 'decisive' role for markets, results by 2020 (Reuters)
- China expected to cut growth target to 7% (FT)
- World Trade Center Tower Debuts in Manhattan Leasing Test (BBG)
- Job Gap Widens in Uneven Recovery (WSJ)
- Khamenei’s conglomerate thrived as sanctions squeezed Iran (Reuters)
- Swiss referendum on wages of high earners stirs debate (FT)
- Obama to Nominate Massad to Head CFTC (WSJ)
- Japan readies additional $30 billion for Fukushima clean-up (Reuters)
- Target Fills Its Cart With Amazon Ideas (WSJ)
- Shadow banks reap Fed rate reward (FT)
After a blistering October for stocks, drunk on yet another month of record liquidity by the cental planners, November's first overnight trading session has been quiet so far, with the highlight being the release of both official and HSBC China PMI data. The official manufacturing PMI rose to 51.4 in October from 51.1 in September. It managed to beat expectations of 51.2 and was also the highest reading in 18 months - since April 2012. October’s PMIs are historically lower than those for September, so the MoM uptick is considered a bit more impressive. The uptrend in October was also confirmed by the final HSBC manufacturing PMI which printed at 50.9 which is higher than the preliminary reading of 50.7 and September’s reading of 50.9. The Chinese data has helped put a floor on Asian equities overnight and S&P 500 futures are nudging higher (+0.15%). The key laggard are Japanese equities where the TOPIX (-1.1%) is weaker pressured by a number of industrials, ahead of a three day weekend. Electronics-maker Sony is down 12% after surprising the market with a profit downgrade with this impacting sentiment in Japanese equities.
In what is merely the latest humiliating blow to Obama, moments ago, in a 42 to 56 vote, Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to oversee the FHFA - the administration in charge of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which in turn are so instrumental to restoring housing as the primary source of "High Quality Collateral" (and its securitization), which in turn is critical to allow the Fed to eventually step away from QE. The defeat on a procedural vote for the nominee, Democratic Representative Mel Watt of North Carolina, came despite an aggressive White House push in the past few days to round up support. The vote against limiting debate on Watt's nomination was 56-42, four short of the needed 60 votes to move ahead in the Senate. Whether this means that Moody's ADP's Mark Zandi is back on the table as a potential nominee is unclear as of this writing.
It is a common view that the shutdown, the debt-limit debacle and the repeated failure to enact entitlement and pro-growth tax reform reflect increased political polarization. John Taylor believes this gets the causality backward. Today's governance failures are closely connected to economic policy changes, particularly those growing out of the 2008 financial crisis. Despite a massive onslaught of legislation and regulation designed to foster prosperity, economic growth remains low and unemployment remains high. Claiming that one political party has been hijacked by extremists misses this key point, and prevents a serious discussion of the fundamental changes in economic policies in recent years, and their effects.