This week has been loaded with FED OFFICIALS filling the airwaves with thoughts about ending QE or just tapering, with the markets left to discern how, when and how much. Today, the NY FED President presented a speech at the Japan Society in New York City, titled, “Lessons at the Zero Bound: The Japanese and U.S. Experience.” President Dudley compared and contrasted the mistakes made by the Japanese and U.S. monetary authorities and what they had been able to learn from each other. The speech was not critical about recent Japanese monetary moves, which infers that the FED is very comfortable with current BOJ policy. The NYFRB president does tell seem to support Chairman Bernanke in being a ’37er, meaning the FED cannot allow the mistakes made in 1937 by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board to recur. This belief emphasizes that deflation is the most powerful variable that can disrupt the political economy.
Posts Tagged ‘FOMC’
Notes From Underground: Everybody Is Talking At Me, Can’t Hear a Word They’re Saying (Only the Echoes of the Bonds)May 21, 2013
Now that the FED has provided the U.S. and world financial system with a suit of liquidity, it is trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of material. The word “TAPER” is not my favorite for it fails to define what I believe is the goal of the FOMC. Who cares if the FED reduces it security purchases? That is not the problem. If the economy has any real traction the current balance sheet of more than $3 TRILLION should be quite sufficient to keep interest low. The dilemma is how to remove the LIQUIDITY without causing a collapse in Bernanke’s beloved PORTFOLIO BALANCE CHANNEL.
The last two days has seen two of the world’s key central banks deliver fresh interest rate decisions and there was very little in way of surprises. In a salute to the philosopher Isiah Berlin, I have noted that Chairman Bernanke is a HEDGEHOG and President Draghi a FOX. A hedgehog is one who “views the world through a single defining idea.” The economy is slowing, unemployment is high, inflation is low, so it is appropriate for the FED to buy and continue buying Treasury debt. You say it is not having the desired effect? Buy more. In yesterday’s FOMC statement, the FED noted that ”… FISCAL POLICY IS RESTRAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH.” The meaning of this is that Washington is acting irresponsibly, thus the FED needs to possibly INCREASE its bond and mortgage-backed securities purchases. Whatever it is, QE IS THE ANSWER.
The international distress call is going out from Europe as the overall eurozone unemployment rate reached 12.1%. Germany had a low rate of 5.4% while Spain was more than 27%. So how is the ECB to do deal with the huge discrepancy between the economic performance of its 17 members? If the austerians are being relegated to economic purgatory then the pressure on the ECB to act will be diminished. Cutting rates for the sake of a show of action will be a detraction from the bigger political issue. Why irritate the Bundesbank and Chancellor Merkel by moving the ECB lending rate by a measly 25 basis points?
I make a distinct reference to the CASH HIGH S&Ps versus the S&P FUTURES has made an all-time high. According to the CQG charts, the all-time high in the S&P futures front month is 1586.75 and the high daily close is 1576.25. The CASH high is 1576.09 and the previous high CASH daily close was 1565.15, which was surpassed on Friday’s close. Here is a significant chart that shows the important difference between Friday’s close and the last record high close of October 9, 2007.
Notes From Underground: #Irony … Carmen Reinhart Says “Do Not Take Size As An Indicator of Importance”; Harry Rheems DiesMarch 21, 2013
Okay, you must have some fun amongst the idiocy of the Eurocrats. It seems that the best intentions of last Friday night’s decision to sacrifice the pawns in the game have done exactly what I thought the ill-conceived plans would accomplish. For 10 billion euros of bailout capital the fallout has been large drops in equity values. The capital losses are small compared to embarrassment facing the European policy makers. In a Bloomberg article by James Neuger, “Europe Plays I-Didn’t-Do-It Blame Game on Cypriot Deposit Levy,” it seems that German FM Schaeuble, France’s FM Moscovici, Spain’s FM Guidnos and even Finland’s FM Urpilainen all claim that they were opposed to taxing the guaranteed deposits of under a 100,000 euros. They all seem to point to the ECB and IMF as wanting the “bail-in.” This is a classic example of what my friend Andy Schreiber used to say: “Success Has Many Fathers, Failure Is But An Orphan.” The Cypriot situation is a situation that punches way above its weight. Carmen Reinhart, an economist I cite regularly on financial repression, silenced the talking heads on CNBC when she claimed that, “Do not take size as an indicator of importance.”
Yes, another day and the markets had to try to understand the significance of Cyprus. The newswires were filled with analysts claiming this was a “tempest in a teapot” and that the doomsayers were blowing the Cypriot problem into a pseudo crisis. Again, a world that is highly leveraged is subject to a “single spark starting a prairie fire” and the fear of contagion and an electronic bank run are very real if the major policy makers don’t invoke the trust of the electorate and investors. The perceived actions by IMF Director Lagarde (the joker) and the liquidationist mentality being thrust from Berlin and Chancellor Merkel (the thief) have created a situation where European bank depositors are nervous, especially so in the peripheral banks. THE MAIN COMPONENT OF THIS UNCERTAINTY WAS THE MOVE IN THE FRONT MONTH EURIBOR CONTRACTS,AS THE JUNE 2013 FELL 10 TICKS ON A DAY WHEN OTHER INTEREST RATES WERE LOWER. NOTHING SAYS BANK FEARS THEN A COUNTER MOVE IN THE EURIBOR AND LIBOR MARKETS. An increase in bank yields with equity markets falling is a sign about the fear in the bank deposits market. It seems that the policy makers that are leading the previously “revered” TROIKA (IMF,European Commission and ECB) have initiated fear for a mere pittance.
Friday night Chairman Bernanke delivered a speech on long-term interest rates at the Annual Monetary/Macroeconomics Conference sponsored by the San Francisco Federal Reserve. The basis of his remarks was that the Fed would continue to maintain its robust monetary accommodation because any early extraction may result in the economy slowing and thus the Fed would have to move to extend the period of aggressive Fed action. It is always important to remember that Ben Bernanke is the main ’37er in the realm of preventing an economic relapse to the deflationary impact of deleveraging. When I say that Chairman Bernanke is a ’37, it refers to the pledge the chairman made to Professor Milton Friedman at the esteemed economist’s 90th birthday party. Bernanke said the Fed made a huge mistake by tightening rates and reserve requirements in 1937 while the U.S. Treasury was instituting an austerity budget at the behest of Secretary Andrew Mellon. It has been Bernanke’s belief that the Fed’s actions coupled with a badly flawed fiscal policy sent the U.S. back into a very severe recession.
The recent Italian elections wound up in a very inconclusive result. In a political lineup of the three Bs–(no Chuck, not Biggio, Berkman and Bagwell)–Bersani, Berlusconi and Beppe, the Italian populace dealt a massive defeat to Brussel-appointed technocrat Mario Monti. The vox populi raised its voice against continuing austerity and will look to whatever government is formed to be one of a pro-growth economic agenda. The biggest loser from the Italian election may in fact be another Italian, ECB President Mario Draghi. If European nations say no to more austerity then Draghi’s program of doing anything to stem the Euro crisis comes to an end. WHY? The Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) are based upon ECB intervention and the quid pro quo of conditionality of acceptance of austerity budgets. If you accept that the basis of OMT is a form of quantitative easing and the recipients of the QE won’t accept the severity of conditionality that is demanded by the ECB, then emperor Draghi is truly naked and not dressed in a fine Italian suit.
In reading through the FOMC minutes I ponder the headlines that screamed about the hawkish tone in the minds of the FOMC members. You have to be looking for “negative waves” to find an overly cautious FED. The most striking effort of ending the LSAP (large-scale asset purchase) program is the work of Governor Jeremy Stein who delivered a powerful speech last week about the mal-effects that the FED‘s QE program was having on other financial markets (especially the corporate debt markets where the search for yield was causing the possible removal of risk pricing into the high yield corporate bonds.) The minutes noted: “Several participants discussed the possible complications that additional purchases could cause for the eventual withdrawal of policy accommodation, a few mentioned the prospect of inflationary risks, and some noted that further asset purchases could foster market behavior that could undermine financial stability.” Again, no surprise here as it was detailed out in Jeremy Stein’s speech.