There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized. What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.
“Guidance” is the new organizing credo of US financial life with Janet Yellen officially installed as the new Wizard of Oz at the Federal Reserve. Guidance refers to periodic cryptic utterances made by the Wizard in staged appearances before congress or in the “minutes” (i.e. transcribed notes) from meetings of the Fed’s Open Market Committee. The cryptic utterances don’t necessarily have any bearing on reality, but are issued with the hope that they will be mistaken for it, especially by managers in the financial markets where assets are priced and traded.
TARP Recipient BNP Paribas got $4.9bn of bailouts from the U.S. Taxpayer - Today, as the WSJ reports we learn BNP Paribas has been funding transactions in Iran, Syria and other countries subject to U.S. Sanctions since 2002. The bank set aside $1.1 billion to settle investigations by the Department of Justice and the Federal Reserve but as the NY Times reports, investigations are playing out on multiple fronts - centering on whether the firm did "a significant amount" of business in "blacklisted" countires (and routed the deals through the US financial system).
- Goldman to Fidelity Call for Calm After Global Stock Wipeout (BBG)
- Turnabout on Global Outlook Darkens Investor Mood (Hilsenrath)
- EU Said to Weigh Extending Greek Loans to 50 Years (BBG)
- Second Storm Hitting Northeast Halts Planes, Schools (BBG)
- Small Banks Face TARP Hit (WSJ)
- As Sony prepares PCs exit, pressure mounts for reboot on TVs (Reuters)
- IBM Uses Dutch Tax Haven to Boost Profits as Sales Slide (BBG)
- ECB faces dilemma with inflation drop (FT)
- London Subway Strike Snarls Traffic as Union Opposes Cuts (BBG)
A classicial economist... and Harvard professor... preaching to the world that one's money is not safe in the US banking system due to Ben Bernanke's actions? And putting his withdrawal slip where his mouth is and pulling $1 million out of Bank America? Say it isn't so...
Just because it wasn't enough of a vote of confidence in Jamie "Dear Congress: oath I vouch under oath that it was nothing but a tempest in a teapot" Dimon that his pay rose 74% to $20 million in 2013 despite JPM's Net Income crashing as the bank had to provision for tens of billions in legal expenses (conveniently excluded from Non-GAAP earnings) - but that's ok because the Fed's pumping of $1 trillion in fake buying power meant the stock soared - here comes folksy Crony Capitalist #1, aka cuddly Uncle Warren seemingly desperate for close encounters of the rectal kind with the JPM CEO, telling the world just how underappreciated poor, poor (we use the term loosely) Jamie is and said that if he owned J.P. Morgan, "he would keep Chief Executive James Dimon at the helm and would pay him even more than he’s making now."
It was the biggest robbery in the US until TARP.
After five years of aggressive Federal Reserve and government intervention in our monetary and financial systems, it's time to ask: Where are we? The "plan," such as it has been, is to let future growth sweep everything under the rug. To print some money, close their eyes, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. On that, we give them an "A" for wishful thinking – and an "F" for actual results. If we take a closer look at the projections, the idea that we're going to grow – even remotely – into a gigantic future that will consume all entitlement shortfalls within its cornucopian maw becomes all but laughable. Of course, the purpose of this exercise is not to make fun of anyone, nor to mock any particular beliefs, but to create an actionable understanding of the true nature of where we really are and what you should be doing about it.
A glimpse at the wordcloud of Bernanke's farewell speech this morning tells you all you need to know about the Fed's extraordinary policies - the two most-used words are "think" and "know". From "hoping" the Fed did the right thing to explaining how Main Street "needs to understand what they did was necessary," Bernanke admits that they still have no idea how QE works "QE is at least somewhat effective... works in practice but not in theory," and almost admitted that the Fed's new plan 'forward guidance' worked in theory but not in practice. The "populist reactions" around the world to central bank interventions are "probably not avoidable," he adds, also noting in his awkward 'don't pin me down' manner that stocks are not in a bubble, but "in historical ranges."
People often ask today: if the Fed has created so much new money, why hasn’t it produced more inflation?
The Empire will protect itself from itself, from its own greed, corruption, malfeasance, incompetence and especially from its oppressed and enslaved citizens.
If party politics are weak, muddled, and contradictory, the divisions between Americans are starkly clear: wealth in America has never been so unevenly distributed — the fabled one percent versus everyone else. Despite the election of a mixed-race president, and the wish-fulfillment fantasies of Hollywood, race relations in the USA remain tense. Divisions between men and women are tragically compounded by the dangerous dynamics of work in America that leave many men (especially men) in a vacuum of purpose, meaning, and potency. It is almost impossible these days for low-skilled men to support a family. The indignity of this thunders through broken communities and the penitentiary cellblocks. The ongoing national culture war pits the “traditional values” faction against the sexual libertarians; the red states against the blue states; urban against the conflated suburban and rural; the Christian fundamentalists against an array of other positions and belief groups; the entitlement “socialists” against the “free market” conservatives. Perhaps most divisive of all will be the schism between the young and the old over the table scraps of the dying industrial economy.
Risk is an ever-present characteristic of life; it cannot be eliminated, it can only be masked or hedged. We know this intuitively, yet we blithely accept official assurances that risk can be eliminated by the monetary machinations of the Federal Reserve, the Central Bank of China, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. To confuse masking risk with the elimination of risk is the acme of hubris and the perfect setup for disaster.
"The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank... sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world." - Carroll Quigley, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
If policymakers were gunfighters, they’d be out of bullets: They have run out of effective policy tools to improve the economy.
So the question is simple: If there is a recession in 2014, and policymakers are out of bullets, how will it play out across the American economy?