New York Fed
The Fed is now pre-occupied with an unanswerable and fanciful question, according to Jon Hilsenrath’s pre-meeting missive on the Fed’s current monetary policy “debate”. Figuratively estimating the number of angels which can dance on the head of a pin, Fed officials and economists suppose they can specify the the appropriate money market rate down to the decimal place for virtually all time to come... Of course, every one of these three magic numbers are perfectly arbitrary, academic and silly. Due to the structural failures of the US economy owing to decades of destructive Washington policies, the “unemployment rate” today is not remotely comparable to what was being measured in the 1950s and 1960s when today’s Keynesian theology with respect to the Phillips Curve, Okun’s Law and full-employment policy was being formulated.
While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."
Risk is no longer priced into anything. Volatility has gone to sleep. Uniformity of thought has taken over the stock market. Complacency has reached a point where even central banks have begun to worry about it: the idea that markets can only go up – once entrenched, which it is – leads to financial instability because no one is prepared when that theory suddenly snaps. But all this bullishness, this complacency is only skin deep. Beneath the layer of the largest stocks, volatility has taken over ruthlessly, the market is in turmoil, people are dumping stocks wholesale, and dreams and hopes are drowning in red ink.
- Only 28% of respondents knew that if student loans aren’t repaid, the U.S. government can garnish wages, withhold Social Security payments and tax refunds, and report the debt to credit bureaus.
- Even more people—35%—incorrectly thought the government couldn’t do any of those things or said they didn’t know what the government could do.
- Only 37% of those surveyed knew that students loans are extremely hard to shed in bankruptcy, a reality that differentiates student loans from other debts, such as mortgages and credit cards.
- About half of those with higher-than-average student debt didn’t have high comprehension of the issue.
Timothy Geithner is likely to go down in American history as one of the most dangerous, destructive cronies to have ever wielded government power. The man is so completely and totally full of shit it’s almost impossible not to notice. The last thing we’d ever want to do in our free time is read a lengthy book filled with Geithner lies and propaganda, so we owe a large debt of gratitude to former Congressional staffer Matt Stoller for doing it for us. Stoller simply tears Geither apart limb from limb, detailing obvious lies about the financial crisis, and even more interestingly, Geithner’s bizarre bio, replete with mysterious and inexplicable promotions into positions of power..."Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance..."
With a 9 standard deviation range between the highest and lowest excuse for a forecast from the 81 "qualified" economists on Bloomberg's survey, there is plenty of room for noise to dominate signal with tomorrow's payrolls data. Goldman forecasts a softer-than-consensus 210k increase in non-farm-payrolls as May employment data flow looks more mixed, and they expect that the unemployment rate rose two-tenths to 6.5% in May (vs. consensus 6.4%). Average hourly earnings (AHE) are likely to be in focus again following several months of heightened attention to wage growth and labor market slack; Goldman expects an increase of 0.2% in May (vs. consensus 0.2%).
It would appear the Fed, after being angry at itself for creating the "complacency" evident in the markets globally has reached the pinnacle of critically circular logic in its defense of policies that are aimed at financial stability (i.e. prices flat or rising but absolutely not falling). Fed's Williams, a la Greenspan's "a-ha" moment, appears to have realized that investors are not always 'rational' and "bull markets may cause investors to get ‘carried away’ over time and confuse what is a one-time, perhaps transitory, shift in fundamentals for a new paradigm of rising asset prices."
As the chart below shows, there’s much the Fed doesn’t understand, while at the same time showing that QE may have little purpose beyond providing a massive gift to wealthy traders and investors. With regard the question of where a dollar of QE goes, the answer is “not far.” Outside of pushing up asset prices and encouraging an occasional luxury purchase, it doesn’t seem to escape the financial sector. Liquidity that might otherwise be offered by private institutions is instead provided by the Fed, and – as Phil Collins might put it – that’s all.
You can smell this one coming a mile away... the ECB is now energetically trying to revive the a market for asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) - the very kind of “toxic-waste” that allegedly nearly took down the financial system during the panic of September 2008. The ECB would have you believe that getting more “liquidity” into the bank loan market for such things as credit card advances, auto paper and small business loans will somehow cause Europe’s debt-besotted businesses and consumers to start borrowing again - thereby reversing the mild (and constructive) trend toward debt reduction that has caused euro area bank loans to decline by about 3% over the past year. What they are really up to, however, is money-printing and snookering the German sound money camp.
While dealers are telling their clients to dump the long end due to everyone mispricing economic growth and inflation prospects, and to expect the long awaited curve steepening any minute now, what are they doing? They are the flattest they have been in two and a half years! In other words, buying.
First it was Germany, now another AAA-rated European country is starting to get concerned about its hard assets. Overnight Bloomberg reported that following in Bundesbank's footsteps, Austria will audit its gold reserves located in the UK, which represent 80% of its total gold holdings. This gold reserve reviews held at Bank of England in London will be first conducted by external auditors, Christian Gutleder, a spokesman for the Austrian central bank, says via telephone. Gutleder explained that the Central bank has checked its reserves regularly in the past, adding that gold reserves haven’t changed since 2007. Which begs the question: why check them now then?
Yesterday we provided a detailed breakdown of the cost aspect of a college education, particularly for young people who have no choice but to fund their education with student debt, a key part of the equation that the San Fran Fed in its particular cost-benefit "analysis" of college education avoided. There is much information in the post, but one particular aspect of the Pew analysis that the article was based on bears repeating and highlighting for all those less than "1%" young Americans debating whether a college education is worth the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans: the median net worth of "young" households, those where the head is younger than 40 years old, is $8,700, or 20% less than not college educated households with no student debt.
The Wall Street Journal appears to be saving money by dispensing with journalists and using human drop boxes instead. Thus in the New York markets the “Hilsenramp” signal is already a well-known event which occurs at approximately 3pm on/during/after Fed meeting days, and is posted under the byline of “Jon Hilsenrath”. In simple packaged form it provides fast money speculators with a message from the B-Dud, otherwise known as William Dudley, President of the New York Fed, on why the Fed will back-up another run at still higher record highs. So today comes a drop box message with respect to ECB policy posted under the byline of “Brian Blackstone”.
Bailing out banks is not hard when a nation has a sovereign currency and the banks’ debts are denominated in that currency.