"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet has seen them. They are the moonbats, the wingnuts, the whackjobs, the Conspiratorialists. They are America’s new Lunatic Fringe, and their numbers are growing. To the uninitiated this all seems rather humorous, albeit slightly unsettling. It would be both wrong and unwise just to slough it off as the ramblings of the insane. The reason such beliefs are gaining favor is because many Americans have lost faith and lost trust in the government and in America’s elected leadership. Given what has happened over the last decade, this is not only understandable, it is even, in an odd way, reasonable. A continual drift to the fringe can be expected because of the many very real things that make the foolish things suddenly more believable. The American people are well aware they have been lied to by the leadership. They know that a lobbyist has an infinitely greater chance of getting his way than an entire nation of voters. When trust is gone, everything becomes an affront, a conspiracy, a power grab by the elite.
In what is the first formal speech of Simon "Harry" Potter since taking over the magic ALL-LIFTvander wand from one Brian Sack, and who is best known for launching the Levitatus spell just when the market is about to plunge and end the insolvent S&P500-supported status quo as we know it, as well as hiring such sturdy understudies as Kevin Henry, the former UCLA economist in charge of the S&P discuss the "role of central bank interactions with financial markets." He describes the fed "Desk" of which he is in charge of as follows: "The Markets Group interacts with financial markets in several important capacities... As most of you probably know, in an OMO the central bank purchases or sells securities in the market in order to influence the level of central bank reserves available to the banking system... The Markets Group also provides important payment, custody and investment services for the dollar holdings of foreign central banks and international institutions." In other words: if the SPX plunging, send trade ticket to Citadel to buy tons of SPOOSs, levered ETFs and ES outright. That the Fed manipulates all markets: equities most certainly included, is well-known, and largely priced in by most, especially by the shorts, who have been all but annihilated by the Fed. But where it gets hilarious, is the section titled "Lessons Learned on Market Interactions through Prism of an Economist" and in which he explains why the Efficient Market Hypothesis is applicable to the market. If anyone wanted to know why the US equity, and overall capital markets, are doomed, now that they have a central planning economist in charge of trading, read only that and weep...
When we wrote Part I of this paper in June 2009, the total U.S. public debt was just north of $10 trillion. Since then, that figure has increased by more than 50% to almost $16 trillion, thanks largely to unprecedented levels of government intervention. Once the exclusive domain of central bankers and policy makers, acronyms such as QE, LTRO, SMP, TWIST, TARP, TALF have found their way into the mainstream. With the aim of providing stimulus to the economy, central planners of all stripes have both increased spending and reduced taxes in most rich countries. But do these fiscal and monetary measures really increase economic activity or do they have other perverse effects?... The politically favoured option of financial repression and negative real interest rates has important implications. Negative real interest rates are basically a thinly disguised tax on savers and a subsidy to profligate borrowers. By definition, taxes distort incentives and, as discussed earlier, discourage savings.... The current misconception that our economic salvation lies with more stimulus is both treacherous and self-defeating. As long as we continue down this path, the “solution” will continue to be the problem. There is no miracle cure to our current woes and recent proposals by central planners risk worsening the economic outlook for decades to come.
The Fed does everything it can to keep LIBOR low. The Fed cannot affect LIBOR directly, but in general LIBOR trades in line with Fed Funds. You can see that historically as Fed Funds was changed, LIBOR responded appropriately. That all started to break down in 2007 and re-ignited in the late summer of 2008 and peaked after Lehman and AIG. The Fed was blatantly clear that it wanted borrowing costs to go down. They had the obvious tool of reducing Fed Funds to virtually zero, but when LIBOR didn't follow, the Fed took further action. The Fed has done a lot and trying to control LIBOR as a key borrowing rate is one of the things they have worked on, both directly and indirectly.
As we look forward to tomorrow's scorched-earth policy-fest from Draghi-et-al., Jefferies' David Zervos, in his typically understated manner, notes "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. We are back in the kill zone - Apocalypse Europe." There will be no more strategizing, no more war games, no more speeches imploring the politicians to act. This is the real deal - a full scale European led global financial crisis that requires immediate and aggressive response from the only entities with the authority to act in the world financial "theatre". We should all keep in mind that the Europeans have not been able to generate an effective response to their debt/deflation crisis as of yet, and of course it is having global consequences. This is why we are here again looking into the deflationary abyss. The ECB was only set up with a price stability mandate, and its leaders are hence much more constrained than Federal Reserve officials. Simply put, the European armies were not set up with effective weapons.
When one has $2.9 trillion in costless AUM (because if the cost is breached, one just doubles down, especially if one prints the money), it is not all that surprising to generate $77 billion in profits in one year (think of the hubris emanating from that particular year end letter), or even $385 billion in profits in the past 10 years. Yet it is still a stunning number considering the rest of the $2 trillion hedge fund industry lost about 10% in 2011. Which is why we all bow down to what is without doubt the world's most lucrative and profitable generator of P&L in history: the Federal Reserve, which for the second year in a row has printed (pun intended) over $70 billion in profits. And who is the lucky LP? Why the US Treasury of course, which for the second year in a row will pocket all the proceeds from PM Ben's immaculate trading perfection. Of course, there is one caveat for this spotless performance sheet: what happens when Fed interest expense surpasses interest income? But why worry - everyone tells us this can never happen, so it obviously can never happen...
The Chairman of the Federal Reserve System is now writing letters to Congress in response to Bob Ivry articles. Someone's scared...
In 2007 and 2008 the Fed instituted all sorts of programs to enhance liquidity. It was the first time they went beyond simple rate cuts (which they also employed). In the end it didn't help much. It ensured that banks could fund the positions they wanted, but it didn't stop the sell-off in assets, because the banks didn't want the risk. No one wanted the risk. Liquidity concerns and even some capital concerns are driving down Italian and Spanish bonds, but behind that, there are real solvency concerns. There are clearly liquidity problems again, but they are directly tied to solvency. The Euro basis swap isn't getting worse because US banks don't have money to lend to European banks, they don't want to lend to European banks. Maybe we should be worried the Fed knows something we don't about how bad it is and are trying this ploy again, because it is one of the few things they can do to help Europe?
The EU is getting closer to having two actual alternatives for EFSF on the table. Partial Protection Certificate (PPC) - the goal of which is to reduce coupons on bond issues - and Co-Investment Funds (CIF) which create a levered vehicle for purchasing/supporting secondary bonds. CIF’s seem to have a better chance of working, though they will require not only cheap EFSF money at the first loss part of the capital structure, but also some “dumb” money at the senior part of the capital structure. If they get enough of that, they can create some compelling value for “mezz” investors. This is not TALF. TALF was a much better deal for outside investors. The range of assets the investor could choose from was broad. Most fund managers believed they were “cheap” but couldn’t come up with the capital to invest, or handle the downside. TALF was a great opportunity. CIF’s may create some interesting opportunities, and are at the very least flexible enough, that investors could have a discussion, but they are nowhere near as appealing as TALF was.
The Fed Bails Out Gaddafi’s Libyan Bank, Arab Banking Corp. of Bahrain, Banks of Bavaria, Korea and Mexico … But Shafts AmericaSubmitted by George Washington on 10/25/2011 00:58 -0400
- ECB said to debate new 12-month loans at the October 6th policy meeting where they may discuss a rate cut
- EU may speed up ESM enactment to stem the crisis with Euro aides discussing setting up the fund in 2012 a year early.
- German IFO data higher than expected on all three readings
- CME raises margin requirements for longest dated T-Bond futures by 20%
Bottom line this market is very dangerous right now . As witnessed in August when the SPX appeared "oversold" it still managed to sell off another 200 points and take out support levels as if they never existed. The most recent short covering rally has taken away buying pressure and flushed out weak shorts. With leverage still at multi year highs it appears selling pressure remains the bigger risk to equities. Most important though is the diminished threat of the Bernanke put which is analogous to a pick up game between a group of guys on the weekend. The "bears" begin to show an ability to outscore the "bulls" only to see Michael Jordan (the most famous Bull) come in from the sidelines and reverse everything. Perhaps Michael Jordan is sidelined for a while finally or at least limited in his ability to score at will.
In the latest installment of what is rapidly becoming Obama's Keynesian Solargate, we learn that the Treasury Department's Inspector General has opened an investigation of the now defunct $528 million government loan to Solyndra which has no chance of getting repaid, following what will be a pennies on the dollar liquidation of the company, especially since it is primed by a $75 million term loan to George Kaiser, a documented Obama "bundler" as was documented previously. Per the AP, "A spokesman said Thursday that the inspector general is reviewing the role and actions of the Federal Financing Bank, a government corporation supervised by the Treasury Department. The bank provided the low-interest loan to the Fremont, Calif.-based company." The "concern" is that Obama has pushed levers to get the investment in a venture controlled by a "friend" on a fasttrack, with the White House Office Of Management Supervision urging the DOE to release the funds without proper diligence. "The House energy committee released documents Wednesday that appeared to show senior staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget chafing about having to conduct "rushed approvals" of a loan guarantee for Solyndra. Republican members of the committee said the emails raised questions about whether the loan was rushed to accommodate a Solyndra groundbreaking ceremony in September 2009 that featured Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu." And while there is more, we will spare the Treasury IG some time (assuming he is at least a little less corrupt than everyone else in the administration and actually plan on conducting a legitimate investigation) and advise him to simply look at campaign and other contributions by Solyndra's equity backers which features the George Kaiser Family Foundation, U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Virgin Green Fund, Madrone Capital Partners, RockPort Capital Partners, Argonaut Private Equity, Masdar and Artis Capital Management. When in doubt, always follow the buck... especially when it is looking for a very fast turnaround courtesy of taxpayer capital IRR padding.
Compare and contrast. This from Marketwatch yesterday: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is not going to Poland to push European finance ministers to boost the size of the euro-zone bailout fund, a U.S. official said Tuesday" to this just released from Reuters: "U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is likely to suggest to European finance ministers on Friday that they leverage their bailout fund along the lines of the U.S. TALF programme, EU officials said." And this: "Geithner will probably insist on the importance of leverage to have more funds to ringfence the big Europeans, Italy and Spain, and to find a solution for Greece," one EU official said. "The leveraging of the EFSF -- I think this is something that he will put on the table," the official said. "There could be some openness to the proposal." Read more here. All in all, just another day for the world's biggest pathological liar, tax evader, and overall economic disaster since, well, ever.