Never in a million years did we think we’d ever use an article by Andrew Ross Sorkin as the basis of a blog post, but here we are. While probably entirely unintentional, his article serves to further solidify as accurate the prevailing notion across America that former head of the New York Federal Reserve and Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is nothing more than an addled, crony, bureaucratic banker cabin boy. Simply put, "Geithner is so bad, he actually makes Larry Summers look good."
Wall Street is back in the business of lending money at the Fed’s gifted rate of zero plus a modest 80 basis point spread - so that the fast money can buy CLO paper on 9 to 1 leverage. There is your triple shuffle. It didn’t work out last time, but that doesn’t matter because the game is obvious. After enough buying on Wall Street’s triple leverage, junk loan prices might temporarily rebound. Then the brokers will put out the call to retail: The junk loan asset class is rebounding - its time to come back. For the final shearing, that is!
Reflecting on the divergence between equities at all time-highs and drastically sliding bond yields, CNBC's Rick Santelli reminds that it seems bonds recognize that business cycles work in "fits and starts" and not in straight-lines as some (equity bulls) would believe and reminds (as we noted previously) that with revisions, Q1 GDP could be negative. His discussion moves from US Treasury 'cheapness' relative to global bonds and the 'weather' effect's over-exuberant expectations; but it is his final topic that raised an eyebrow or two. Santelli doesn't buy into the meme that "the reason the Fed is doing all this is because Congress does nothing;" in fact, he exhorts, it's the opposite, if the Fed wasn't hunkered down supporting the stock market - and stocks started throwing little hissy fits (a la TARP), it would send signals... and things would get done!"
"...policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened...
...even when 80% of the population favored a particular public policy change, it was only instituted 43% of the time."
Public Service Annoucement: The Most Likely Armageddon Threat … Preventable for a Small Amount of Money
Just buy the book Damnit, it’s all in there.
As the cost of living increases around the globe, wage protests and strikes have become commonplace, particularly in the emerging market space:
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.