Edward Quince was arguably the most powerful person in the world in the fall of 2008, with the fate of financial markets resting on his high-stakes decisions.
It turns out he didn’t actually exist.
Mr. Quince was the pseudonym then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke used on emails when he was conferring with colleagues during the financial crisis. The false name was revealed as evidence as part of a class-action lawsuit against the government by shareholders of American International Group Inc., which received a giant Fed-backed bailout as it teetered toward collapse. Continue reading »
Flash back to those days in September 2008 when the financial system was on the verge of collapse and when first Lehman failed and then AIG was knocking on heaven’s door. While the story of the former has been written, it is the still incomplete history of the latter that is the reason why Hank Greenberg, the largest shareholder of AIG at the time, is suing the US government for bailing out AIG, alleging the US exorted shareholders when it provided a $182 billion bailout to the insurance company whose Joseph Cassano had seemingly sold insurance on every insolvent mortgage-related security: a strategy which worked in a rising market and led to a near systemic catastrophe when the market crashed.
We won’t debate the merits of Greenberg’s lawsuit, which is currently raging in court under STARR INTERNATIONAL COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, U.S. Court of Federal Claims 11-cv-00779 (it should be painfully clear by now that neither AIG nor crony capitalism as it exists now would have survived had Goldman and its NY Fed branch not extended several trillion in taxpayer funds to preserve the status quo), however we will note one thing: recall that when the terms of the AIG bailout first made waves in 2010 courtesy of Darrell Issa we found out something pecliar: none of the members of the Fed had any intentions on making their procedure public. Continue reading »
“Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly…. Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers — as well as their counterparts in other developed countries — to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy… The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them”…
… A broad-based tax cut, for example, accommodated by a program of open-market purchases to alleviate any tendency for interest rates to increase, would almost certainly be an effective stimulant to consumption and hence to prices. Even if households decided not to increase consumption but instead re-balanced their portfolios by using their extra cash to acquire real and financial assets, the resulting increase in asset values would lower the cost of capital and improve the balance sheet positions of potential borrowers. A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous “helicopter drop” of money
A year ago, when it became abundantly clear that all of the Fed’s attempts to boost the economy have failed, leading instead to a record divergence between the “1%” who were benefiting from the Fed’s aritficial inflation of financial assets, and everyone else (a topic that would become one of the most discussed issues of 2014) and with no help coming from a hopelessly broken Congress (who can forget the infamous plea by a desperate Wall Street lobby-funding recipient “Get to work Mr. Chariman”), we wrote that “Bernanke’s Helicopter Is Warming Up.” Continue reading »
Earlier this week Bloomberg published a devastating chart showing real hourly wage growth for the first 60 months of every cycle going back to 1949. The 11 cycle average gain was 9% and the largest was 19% a half century back.
Fast forward to the 60 months of ZIRP and QE since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, however, and you get a drastically different picture: Real hourly wages have risen by just 0.5%, and in the great scheme of things that’s a rounding error.
Surely the above chart is also flat-out proof that massive money printing doesn’t work. After all, reflating wages, jobs and incomes is what the monetary politburo claims it’s all about. Indeed, the Fed has insouciantly cast a blind eye to the massive bubbles building everywhere in the financial system, and has kept money market rates relentlessly at zero for six years running on the grounds that it is not yet done “stimulating” the labor market.
So why does this abysmally failed and dangerous experiment continue unabated—as Yellen will undoubtedly confirm at Jackson Hole? Self-evidently, it is irresistibly convenient to both Wall Street and Washington. The former gorges on a massive diet of carry trade gambling windfalls thanks to ZIRP and the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen “put”; and the latter gets a fiscal get-out-of-jail-free card owing to the Fed’s massive repression of interest rates. Indeed, with the public debt now topping $17.7 trillion, the implicit (and fraudulent) debt service relief from current ultra-low interest rates amounts to upwards of $500 billion per year. Continue reading »
Forget all talk about “dots“, “6 months”, or any other prognostication from the Fed’s new leadership about what will happen in the near and not so near future. For the real answer prepare to shelve out the usual fee of $250,000 for an hour with the Chairsatan, or read Reuters’ account of what others who have done so, have learned. The answer is a stunner.
“At least one guest left a New York restaurant with the impression Bernanke, 60, does not expect the federal funds rate, the Fed’s main benchmark interest rate, to rise back to its long-term average of around 4 percent in Bernanke’s lifetime. “Shocking when he said this,” the guest scribbled in his notes. “Is that really true?” he scribbled at another point, according to the notes reviewed by Reuters.”
To think one could have read Zero Hedge for free for the past 5 years and gotten the same answer (time for a pop quiz: pumping liquidity into a closed system in perpetuity is i) inflationary or ii) deflationary?). But no, one would rather pay Bernanke’s former annual salary in less than an hour to get the answer from the same person who infamously stated that “subprime was contained”, that “there is no housing bubble”, and that he doesn’t buy the premise of house price declines as there has never been a “decline of house prices on a nationwide basis.“
Still, one can’t blame Bernanke for providing a service that the market (one market the former chairman didn’t manage to break with his central planning spree, unlike all other markets) demands. Alan Greenspan waited only a week after his departure before addressing a private dinner hosted by Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse in 2008 sent the financial crisis into high gear.
Bernanke’s private dinners, all of which cost around $250,000 began near the end of March, roughly two months after his retirement. Continue reading »
Ben Bernanke may be gone from the helm of the world’s most centrally planned economy, but his ample cluelessness remains. David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital, better known for comparing QE to jelly donuts and who recently confirmed what we have been saying for a long time that the second dotcom bubble is here, spoke with Bloomberg TV covering a wide range of topics, but what caught our attention was his synopsis of a private dinner he had with Chairsatan-emeritus Ben Bernanke, on March 26.
Ben Bernanke isn’t wasting any time cashing in on what might be the greatest transfer of wealth in history from 99.9% of the world’s population to a handful of connected oligarchs and their political minions. Cronyism does indeed pay well, even if bureaucrats have to wait until they leave office to collect.
The Bernank isn’t wasting any time ringing the register.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country’s financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets.
“We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis,” Bernanke, 60, said on Tuesday in his first public speaking engagement since he stepped down in January after eight years heading the Fed.
Now that Ben Bernanke is no longer the head of the Fed, he can finally tell the truth about what caused the financial crash. At least that’s what a packed auditorium of over 1000 people as part of the financial conference staged by National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest bank, was hoping for earlier today when they paid an exorbitant amount of money to hear the former chairman talk.Bernanke confirmed as much when he said he could now speak more freely about the crisis than he could while at the Fed – “I can say whatever I want.”
So what was the reason, according to the man who was easily the most powerful person in the world for nearly a decade?
“Overconfidence.” (no, not “weather”)
Yup. That’s it.
The United States became “overconfident”, he said of the period before the September 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. That triggered a crash from which parts of the world, including the U.S. economy, have not fully recovered.
“This is going to sound very obvious but the first thing we learned is that the U.S. is not invulnerable to financial crises,” Bernanke said.
Actually what is going to sound even more obvious, is that subprime was not contained.
“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”
– Ben Bernanke – July 2005
“House prices have risen by nearly 25 percent over the past two years. Although speculative activity has increased in some areas, at a national level these price increases largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”
– Ben Bernanke – October 2005
Just in case you had any lingering doubt about how hopelessly screwed the world’s monetary and financial system really is, all you have to do is learn that in a series of ceremonies (because that is so appropriate with a record number Americans on food stamps) celebrating Ben Bernanke in recent days incoming Fed head Janet Yellen likened Bernanke to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the wise, experienced Jedi Knight mentor to his protégé Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” movies.
There’s nothing that makes you feel more warm and fuzzy inside than the recognition that the soon to be most powerful person in the world thinks that printing trillions of dollars and giving it to criminals at zero interest qualifies as attributes of a intergalactic Jedi Master.
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…
Since the magical moment of its inception on Dec. 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve System has been a source of controversy and even contempt for a growing number of Americans, many of whom are still feeling the sting of the latest financial crisis.
A large part of the discomfort with the Federal Reserve System can be traced back to a dusty document known as the US Constitution, a historic manuscript that predates “The Fed” by 125 years, in which it clearly states (Section 8, Article 5): “Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof.”
Yet, despite its officious-sounding title, the Federal Reserve System is not an actual branch of the US government, nor does the US government have any control over its monetary monkeying, which involves the printing of money as well as setting interest rates.
These awesome powers were admitted by no less a respectable figure than Alan Greenspan, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006.
December 23rd, 1913 is a date which will live in infamy. That was the day when the Federal Reserve Act was pushed through Congress. Many members of Congress were absent that day, and the general public was distracted with holiday preparations. Now we have reached the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, and most Americans still don’t know what it actually is or how it functions. But understanding the Federal Reserve is absolutely critical, because the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.
Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 recessions or depressions, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by 98 percent, and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. This insidious debt-based financial system has literally made debt slaves out of all of us, and it is systematically destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.
If nothing is done, we are inevitably heading for a massive amount of economic pain as a nation. So please share this article with as many people as you can.
The following are 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down forever: Continue reading »
“The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.” – Carroll Quigley, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
If one wishes to truly understand the actions behind private Federal Reserve policy, one must come to terms with a fundamental reality – everything the Fed does it does for a reason, and the most apparent reasons are not always the primary reasons. If you think that the Fed simply acts on impulsive stupidity or hubris, then you haven’t a clue what is going on. If you think the Fed only does what it does in order to hide the numerous negative aspects of our current economy, then you only know half the story. If you think the Fed does not have a plan, then you are sorely mistaken…
If policymakers were gunfighters, they’d be out of bullets: They have run out of effective policy tools to improve the economy.
So the question is simple: If there is a recession in 2014, and policymakers are out of bullets, how will it play out across the American economy?
Recently, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid very astutely pointed out that the current “expansion” of the U.S. economy is on its fifth year—the seventh longest in history.
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), “we’ve got to stop this, this is going to be bad.” He adds, on the incoming QEeen, “she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn’t believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good.” However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, “eventually the markets will just say, “We’re not going to play this game anymore”, and we’ll have a serious collapse.” The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes “if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window…” Rogers concludes, “everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy,” because as he ominously warns, when ‘it’ collapses, “there will be big change.
Rachel Mills, Birch Gold Group (BGG): This is Rachel Mills for Birch Gold, and I am very pleased to be joined today by Jim Rogers, legendary investor. Thank you so much Jim for joining me.
Jim Rogers: I am delighted to be here Rachel.
BGG: So today I wanted to talk a little about stock market highs and Quantitative Easing and inflation and a little bit of Federal Reserve and when is the taper is going to happen and currency wars. But there is one question that I don’t have to ask you, which you get asked a lot, I know, and that is what your secret to being so prescient in the marketplace?
“…if everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge you to go and look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window…”
JR: As far as I know, I’m not quite sure. I do know that I have learned over the years, always, when nearly everybody is thinking the same way that means somebody’s not thinking that means we got to start thinking about it and see if there’s not another way, another approach. Because if everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge you to go and look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window. If they see on the television or in the newspaper or something that everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge them to look out the window. I find that most people don’t want to do their homework, that’s the first problem that many people have, is just doing simple homework.
“…no matter what we all know today, it’s not going to be true in 10 or 15 years…”
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are seeing the disconnect between financial markets and the real economy grow. It is also increasingly obvious (to Citi’s FX Technicals team) that not only is QE not helping this dynamic, it is making things worse. It encourages misallocation of capital out of the real economy, it encourages poor risk management, it increases the danger of financial asset inflation/bubbles, and it emboldens fiscal irresponsibility etc.etc. If the Fed was prepared to draw a line under this experiment now rather than continuing to “kick the can down the road” it would not be painless but it would likely be less painful than what we might see later. Failure to do so will likely see us at the “end of the road” at some time in the future and the ‘can’ being “kicked over the edge of a cliff.” Enough is enough. It is time to recognize reality. It is time to take monetary and fiscal responsibility – “America is exhausted…..it is time.”
#10 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis. The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…
Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion
Following his inconvenient truthiness yesterday, Andrew Huszar appeared on Bloomberg TV today (having dismissed the comic-book-written discussion he faced in CNBC’s Fast Money yesterday). As usual Bloomberg gave him more time to speak, listened, and challenged some of what he said, but we were struck by the man-who-ran-the-Fed’s-mortgage-book’s points that “we are eerily similar to 2008.” Simply out, he implores, “the structure of our economy has not changed,” and his apology (on behalf of the Fed), is because the Fed “helped squander an opportunity to see change in America.” The fact of the matter, this was folly, “The Fed does not have the ttols to help the economy.”