New York Fed
With the Associated Press report appended here, the German gold audit story has just exploded into the English-language press with some important revelations.
German Federal auditors handed in a report slamming the Bundesbank for not inspecting their foreign held gold reserves to verify their book value. The report says the gold bars "have never been physically checked by the Bundesbank itself or other independent auditors regarding their authenticity or weight." Instead, it relies on "written confirmations by the storage sites." The lion’s share of Germany's gold reserves (nearly 3,400 tons estimated at $190 billion) are housed in vaults of the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Bank of France since the post-war days, when they were worried about a Cold War Soviet invasion. The Bundesbank stated, “There is no doubt about the integrity of the foreign storage sites in this regard". In contrast with best industry practices Germany’s gold reserves do not seem to be independently verified by a third party. Philipp Missfelder, a politician from Merkel’s own party, has asked the Bundesbank for the right to view the gold bars in Paris and London, but the central bank has denied the request, citing the lack of visitor rooms in those facilities, German’s daily Bild reported. The Bundesbank won't let German parliament members inspect the German gold vaulted abroad because the central bank vaulting facilities supposedly lack "visiting rooms." And yet one of those vaults, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, offers the public tours that include "an exclusive visit to the gold vault".
On this day (+1) in 1987 (that's 25 years ago, if you are burdened with a graduate degree), the NYSE had one of its most dramatic trading days in its 220 year history. It suffered its largest single day percentage loss (22%) and its largest one day point loss up until that day (508 points). No one who was on the floor that day will ever forget it. While it was an unforgettable single day, there were months of events that went intoits making. The first two-thirds of 1987 were nothing other than spectacular on Wall Street. From New Year to shortly before Labor Day, the Dow rallied a rather stunning 43%. Fear seemed to disappear. Junior traders laughed at their cautious elders and told each other to "buy strength" rather than sell it, as each rally leg was soon followed by another. One thing that also helped banish fear was a new process called "portfolio insurance". It involved use of the newly expanded S&P futures. Somewhat counterintuitively, it involved selling when prices turned down.
Update: we now have the suspect's name: Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who in addition to Plan A had Plan B: "If Nafis felt his attack was about to be thwarted by cops, he would invoke the back-up plan, which involved a suicide bombing operation"
NBC 4 New York has learned that federal authorities have arrested a man they say was plotting to attack the Federal Reserve in New York City. The man is in custody in New York. Sources tell NBC 4 New York that he lives on Long Island. Law enforcement officials stress that the plot was a sting operation monitored by the FBI and NYPD and the public was never at risk. "According to the report, the suspect drove a van he believed to be loaded with explosives from Long Island to Lower Manhattan. He then placed the van near the Federal Reserve and was then arrested by the FBI and NYPD. The suspect, whom sources said is from the Jamaica Queens section of New York City, is currently in custody in New York. Sources say he was acting alone." And "New York terror suspect is a 21-year-old Bangladeshi citizen who traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out terror attack." At least all that tungsten gold lying on the Manhattan bedrock is safe and sound and John McClane will not be called out of retirement just yet.
Even though we have presented comparable scenarios looking at the coverage of the US money base in gold terms previously, aka "gold coverage" ratio, including once from Dylan Grice, and once from David Rosenberg, now that we have drifted into a new, previously unchartered and very much open-ended liquidity tsunami, it is time to revisit the topic. Luckily, Guggenheim's Scott Minerd has done just that. Not only that, but he presents three distinct gold pricing scenario, attempting to forecast a low, medium and high price range for the yellow metal. To wit: "The U.S. gold coverage ratio, which measures the amount of gold on deposit at the Federal Reserve against the total money supply, is currently at an all-time low of 17%. This ratio tends to move dramatically and falls during periods of disinflation or relative price stability. The historical average for the gold coverage ratio is roughly 40%, meaning that the current price of gold would have to more than double to reach the average. The gold coverage ratio has risen above 100% twice during the twentieth century. Were this to happen today, the value of an ounce of gold would exceed $12,000.”
Dimon: "So, we were asked to buy Bear Stearns. Some said the Fed did us a favor...No, no, we did them a favor. Let's get this one exactly right. We were asked to do it."
So, Jamie, you still think that Bear Stearns is not material to JPM investors?
Market indexes and recessions are two very different data series...
~ Doug Short
So who will be buying Spanish bonds? Apparently no one but the ECB. And the ECB will only do this if Spain agrees to austerity measures… which Spain doesn’t want. Talk about a mess.
Spain’s ten-year bond yield has broken back above 6%. To see Spain’s sovereign bond yields rising like this after the ECB announced it would essentially provide “unlimited” buying as support is simply stunning. And it indicates in plain terms that the ECB’s program was in fact a dud.
There is one big problem with the Fed's announcement of Open-Ended QE moments ago: it effectively removes all future suspense from FOMC announcements. Why? Because the Fed has as of this moment exposed its cards for all to see from here until the moment it has to start tightening the money supply (which may or may not happen; frankly we don't think the Fed tightens until hyperinflation sets in at which point what the Fed does is meaningless). It means easing is now effectively priced into infinity. Now rewind back to that one certain paper by the New York Fed, which laid it out clear for all to see, that if it wasn't for the expectation of easing in the 24 hour period ahead of the FOMC meeting, the market would be 50% or lower than where it is now, and would have been effectively in negative territory in the aftermath of the Lehman collapse. What Bernanke did is take away this key drive to stock upside over the past 18 years, because going forward there is no surprise factor to any and all future FOMC decisions, as easing the default assumption. It also means that Bernanke may have well fired his last bullet, and it, sadly, is all downhill from here, as soaring input costs crush margins, regardless of what revenues do, and send corporate cash flow to zero. Unfortunately, not even in the New Normal can companies operate without cash flow.
The NFP number was released at 8:30 am. At 8:40 am Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius hit "send" on a 356-word email to clients which was checked, vetted, and given the sign off by compliance, in which the Goldman head economist read through the NFP data, and concluded that "Probability of QE3 Next Week Now Above 50%." Curious why the risk assets first dropped then soared as if stung? Because today, once again, good is great, but worse is greater. Let the global liquidity tsunami continue!
As the world anticipates Bernanke's speech on Friday - which most do not expect to explicitly say "NEW-QE-is-on-bitches" - we started thinking just what it is that he can suggest that would provide more jawboning potential. His speech is likely to lay out 'lessons learned' and outline the various conventional, unconventional, and unconventional unconventional policy options available (as we noted here). While open-ended QE, cutting the IOER, and 'credit-easing' are often discussed, none would be a surprise; this reminded us of an article from Morgan Stanley two years ago - after QE2 - that raised the possibility of Price-Level Targeting (PT), which is quite different from Inflation-Targeting. While its cumulative effect could be anti-debtflationary, it is however tough to communicate, reduces the Fed's inflation-credibility, and could be seen as inconsistent with the Fed's dual mandate. Our hope is that by understanding this possibility, the mistaken shock-and-awe is dampened.
While there are many answers to this rhetorical question, a key one is the schism that exists between the two media behemoths when it comes to the topic of the NEW QE, elsewhere incorrectly called QE3. While the now virtually daily missives from Fed mouthpiece Jon Hilsenrath, whom once has to wonder whether he is more of a part time worker at the WSJ or the New York Fed, are there to force markets ever higher each day, with promises that Bernanke will not sit idly by if the S&P were to ever close red (the S&P being a multi-year highs notwithstanding), and that as he stick saved the European close on Friday, the Fed has lots of additional capacity for more QE, Bloomberg actually has the temerity to ask: why do we need any more QE: after all so far all previous iterations have been a disaster. Sure enough, a few hours after Hilsenrath did his latest Fed planted piece in which he amusingly pretended to be objective about more QE and "sized up" costs of more QE, here comes Bloomberg in its daily Brief newsletter, with a far simpler question: why the hell do we keep doing the same idiocy over and over, hoping and praying to generate inflation, knowing full well if we do get inflation, with global central banks soon to hold half of the world's GDP on their books, it will promptly deteriorate to the "hyper" kind.