UPDATE: Congress has added a new mandate to the Fed’s responsibilities. Every Sunday during the NFL season the FED will have control of the official balls for all NFL games because the central bank has proved it will never let anything deflate.
Posts Tagged ‘portfolio balance channel’
Last Thursday, former Fed Chairman ” surprised” the investing public and announced he was adding a second quiver to his “bagged trophies” and taking on a consultancy with PIMCO to complement his other consultancy with Citadel. Mr. Bernanke claims he can work for investment funds because it does not conflict with his previous role as the key supervisor of too big to fail banks. The former chairman is an active blogger but I assume his blogging will cease when he becomes active with his new employers. Yet on April 30, Ben wrote a post on the WSJ’s Editorial Page Watch. The BLOG was criticizing the WSJ for its editorial, “The Slow-Growth Fed.” In the BLOG Bernanke takes the WSJ editorial board to task for criticizing the Bernanke Fed for overdoing QE and its failure to stimulate GDP. Bernanke takes cover by arguing that the WSJ has been wrong in its forecasting because it has argued on its op-ed pages that the FED’s QE policies were going to cause a “… breakout in inflation and a collapse in the dollar since 2006….”
The question for global macro: Why did the Japanese decide to become more aggressive on quantitative easing at this moment? The YEN had been stable for most of the year, trading between 101 and 106 YEN to the DOLLAR and between 135 and 140 on the EUR/YEN for the previous four months. The Japanese seem to exert pressure after international meetings. The IMF and G7 and G20 ended in mid-October so either the Japanese wanted to avoid criticism about depreciating its currency or it received the GREEN LIGHT from the G7 members to get more aggressive on its QE efforts. Readers of NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND can revisit a blog post from October 15, 2012 when I noted that the G7 communique seemed to give the Japanese authorities a “wink” in its efforts to weaken an overvalued YEN. Let’s examine some other possibilities for renewed efforts by the BOJ to weaken the YEN and, of course, lift equity prices in a simultaneous move:
Last Friday, Chair Yellen delivered a speech at the Boston Fed’s Conference on Opportunity and Inequality. The present Fed Chair has frequently opined on the social and economic problems of income equality and I have been very critical of her wading into the waters of social and fiscal policy for many of the previous 80 years issues of wealth inequality have been dealt with through fiscal and social action. I don’t have a moral issue with Yellen’s outlook on wage inequality but I do not think it is the purview of the Federal Reserve Board to use its financial authority in placing the issue into the public domain. The FOMC has enough on its list of responsibilities without taking on the role of advocate for workers of America. Yellen’s dinner table and social engagements is a fine arena for her moral views but she dreads into very dangerous waters when using the political power of her office.
Well, NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND gets an A+ for analysis and an F or incomplete for EXECUTION. Caught off guard by Draghi’s timing, the market never provided a rally for the more cautious trader. The euro currency began its break 55 minutes before the official ECB rate announcement as Reuters ran a story revealing the governing board’s discussion of a supposed EU500 BILLION ABS program. A leak during the meeting should provide reason for the ECB to investigate its security breaches and find out who is making money from revealing important information ahead of the governing officials. It must be like Congress, where elected representatives are allowed to be insider traders.
At Jackson Hole there was no Ben Bernanke so therefore no policy announcements as in August 2010 when the famous PORTFOLIO BALANCE CHANNEL (PBC) speech signalled a major shift in Fed policy. Last year was similar as the Fed Chairman used Jackson Hole to alert the market to another round of QE. The most senior Fed official was Janet Yellen and she served more as a panel moderator. This was no place to stake out Vice Chairman Yellen’s claim to the chairmanship. So the discussions of the week were as always, esoteric and academic. But the key take away: There were several papers delivered by acclaimed academics who disagreed with the FED‘s policy of large-scale asset purchases and quantitative easing. Therefore, the conclusion is that the FED‘s present policy is highly theoretical and not based on a SCIENTIFIC proof and the entire basis of QE is open to critical analysis. The talking heads want to believe that TAPERING has a certain outcome. By definition, theoretical outcomes are theoretical and based on probabilities.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.