The Dirty Business of U.S. ‘Think Tanks’

Crony Capitalism

The Dirty Business of U.S. ‘Think Tanks’:

Many of you have already read this past Sunday’s excellent and deeply disturbing article published by the New York Times regarding the shady and inappropriate activities regularly conducted by U.S. “think tanks.” If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest you take the time to do so.

It’s important to acknowledge that the U.S. economy has morphed into one gigantic lawless crime scene. An environment in which crony insiders who add zero value to society parasitically feast on the country’s treasure. In the case of so-called “think tanks,” we have organizations receiving copious taxpayer subsidies for the privilege of screwing over the American public.

To understand the topic further, I present you with some excerpts from the article titled, Researchers or Corporate Allies? Think Tanks Blur the Line:

Think tanks, which position themselves as “universities without students,” have power in government policy debates because they are seen as researchers independent of moneyed interests. But in the chase for funds, think tanks are pushing agendas important to corporate donors, at times blurring the line between researchers and lobbyists. And they are doing so while reaping the benefits of their tax-exempt status, sometimes without disclosing their connections to corporate interests.

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AND NOW: Ben Bernanke: ‘China Is Contained’ – Sure!!!

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Ben Bernanke: “China Is Contained”; Ray Dalio Agrees:

“I don’t think China’s economic slowdown is that severe to threaten the global economy.”

“China has managed debt restructurings superbly.”

* * *

Sure!!! Let’s look at Bernanke’s track record.

Here are 31 quotes:

1. (October 20, 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.”

2. (On 60 Minutes in response to a question about what would have happened if the Federal Reserve had not “bailed out” the U.S. economy) “Unemployment would be much, much higher. It might be something like it was in the Depression. Twenty-five percent.”

3. (February 15, 2006) “Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

4. (January 10, 2008) “The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

5. (When asked directly during a congressional hearing if the Federal Reserve would monetize U.S. government debt) “The Federal Reserve will not monetize the debt.”

6. “One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money.”

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The Latest Revolving Door Farce: Bernanke, Trichet And Gordon Brown To Form Pimco Advisory Board

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The Latest Revolving Door Farce: Bernanke, Trichet And Gordon Brown To Form Pimco Advisory Board:

The public-to-private sector “revolving door” has crossed into the macabre twilight zone.

Moments ago an announcement by giant bond manager (technically, these days “merely above average height” bond manager, considering the collapse in the TRF’s AUM since Bill Gross’ departure over a year ago) revealed that public service cronyism is not only alive, but has never been better, when in a press release it reported that former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, ex-U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet will form the backbone of a “global advisory board” at Pimco.

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Bernanke Says Economy Needs To Crash Periodically So We Can Be Sure We’re Pushing It Hard Enough

Bernanke Says Economy Needs To Crash Periodically So We Can Be Sure We’re Pushing It Hard Enough:

If you’re a journalist, it’s always exciting to get the chance to interview courageous people – you know, war heroes, revolutionaries, innovators, political dissidents and the like.

Of course when it comes to courage, there’s scarcely a man alive that compares to Ben Bernanke. Indeed, he even had the courage to use the word “courage” in the title of a book about monetary policy knowing very well that doing so would likely lead to all manner of contemptuous ridicule.

FT’s Martin Wolf recently got the opportunity to chat with courageous Ben over “firm, juicy” swordfish and grilled halibut at McCormick & Schmick’s in Chicago. Predictably, the interview is replete with cringe worthy soundbites, some of which we present below. 

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“Bernanke & Greenspan Have Absolutely Destroyed America” Schiff & Maloney Warn “People Don’t Realize What Is Coming” (Video)

“Bernanke & Greenspan Have Destroyed America” Schiff & Maloney Warn “People Don’t Realize What Is Coming” (ZeroHedge, June 3, 2015):

Ali and Frazier, Laurel and Hardy, Mayweather and Pacquiao, Liesman and Santelli, and now Schiff and Maloney. Peter and Mike join clash of the titan-like to discuss their investment strategies and expose the charts the government doesn’t want you to seeas “people like Bernanke are taken seriously still and the people that did predict [the crisis] are dismissed as lunatics half the time.” The wide-reaching conversation covers everything from gold and stocks to The Fed and The Dollar – Bernanke “took the coward’s way out because all he did was exacerbate the problems to postpone the day of reckoning.” The air is coming out of the bubble, they warn, “Bernanke and Greenspan have absolutely destroyed America. People don’t realize what is coming…”

Full interview here:

Full transcript below:

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Bernanke Says “No Large Mispricings In US Securities”; These 5 Charts Say Otherwise

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Bernanke Says “No Large Mispricings In US Securities”; These 5 Charts Say Otherwise (ZeroHedge, May 24, 2015):

Retired central banker, blogger, bond guru and hedge fund consultant Ben Bernanke just uttered the following total rubbish…

*BERNANKE: NO LARGE MISPRICINGS IN U.S. SECURITIES, ASSET PRICES

In an effort to save whoever it is that will pay him $250,000 next for these wise words, we offer five charts.

Ben Bernanke To Join World’s Most Levered Hedge Fund: HFT Powerhouse Citadel

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Ben Bernanke To Join World’s Most Levered Hedge Fund: HFT Powerhouse Citadel (ZeroHedge, April 16, 2015):

Several years ago, Zero Hedge first, and to our knowledge only, reported that when it comes to unofficially executing trades in the equity market the NY Fed – through a slightly more than arms-length arrangement – does so using Chicago HFT powerhouse Citadel. In other words, while Citadel was instrumental in preserving the smooth, diagonal ramp in stocks since 2009 and igniting upward momentum just as everyone else stared to sell when the Markets Group of the NY Fed called, it was also paid handsomely: after all, nobody checks the Fed’s broker commission statement. In fact according to some, indirect Fed compensation to what is the world’s most leveraged hedge fund has been in the billions over the past decade.

Well, now it’s payback time, and as the NYT reported overnight, the Brookings Institution’s favorite blogger, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, has joined none other than Citadel as an advisor.

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Bernanke Has The Courage To Call His Upcoming Memoir The ‘Courage To Act’

Bernanke Has The Courage To Call His Upcoming Memoir The “Courage To Act” (ZeroHedge, April 8, 2015):

Ben Bernanke can now add another headline to his impressive resume… Fed Chair… Blogger… and writer of fiction. As AP reports, Blogger Ben’s memoir will be released in October, and the title will be “The Courage To Act,” apparently inspired by the Fed’s “moral courage” in the face of “bitter criticism and condemnation.”

Bernanke The Courage To Act

*  *  *

“When the economic well-being of their nation demanded a strong and creative response, my colleagues at the Federal Reserve, policymakers and staff alike, mustered the moral courage to do what was necessary, often in the face of bitter criticism and condemnation. I am grateful to all of them.”

Ben S. Bernanke

*  *  *

While we thought perhaps “The Courage To Print” was more appropriate, it appears the book is non-fiction and thus, we suggest, the title needs an additional word of clarification:

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Ben Bernanke Pens First Blog Post, Defends Fed, Says He ‘Was Concerned About Seniors’

From the article:

“When I was chairman, more than one legislator accused me and my colleagues on the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee of “throwing seniors under the bus” (to use the words of one senator) by keeping interest rates low. The legislators were concerned about retirees living off their savings and able to obtain only very low rates of return on those savings.”

And the punchline:

“I was concerned about those seniors as well.”

Yes, deeply concerned on how to wipe them (the middle class and the poor) out best.


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Ben Bernanke Pens First Blog Post, Defends Fed, Says He “Was Concerned About Seniors” (ZeroHedge, March 30, 2015):

It would appear the $250,000/hour speaking opportunities for Ben Bernanke have ground to a halt, and as such, the former Chairsatan has decided to dispense his wisdom for free to anyone who cares, by becoming a blogger at Brookings. And, not surprisingly, in his first post, the person who less than a decade ago said the following, in exactly those words…

Well, I guess I don’t buy your premise. It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. 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.

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Meet Edward Quince, The Most Powerful Person In The World In The Fall Of 2008, With The Fate Of Financial Markets Resting On His High-Stakes Decisions

Former Fed Chairman Edward Quince. Or is it Ben Bernanke
Former Fed Chairman Edward Quince. Or is it Ben Bernanke?

–  Meet Edward Quince, the Secret Federal Reserve Chairman in 2008 (Wall Street Journal, Oct 9, 2014):

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.

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Meet The World’s First ‘Undercover, Super-Secret Central Banker’

Former Fed Chairman Edward Quince. Or is it Ben Bernanke
Former Fed Chairman Edward Quince. Or is it Ben Bernanke?

Meet The World’s First “Undercover, Super-Secret Central Banker” (ZeroHedge, Oct 9, 2014):

First a secret “Doomsday book“, and now this?

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.

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It Begins: Council On Foreign Relations Proposes That ‘Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly’

From the article:

“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”…


It Begins: Council On Foreign Relations Proposes That “Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly”  (ZeroHedge, Aug 26, 2014):

… 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

Ben Bernanke, Deflation: Making Sure “It” Doesn’t Happen Here, November 21, 2002

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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.”

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The Italian Job: How Borrowing And Printing Lead To An Economic Dead End

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The Italian Job: How Borrowing And Printing Lead To An Economic Dead End (David Stockman’s Contra Corner, Aug 21, 2014):

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.

wage growth bbg

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.

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Bernanke Shocker: ‘No Rate Normalization During My Lifetime’

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Bernanke Shocker: “No Rate Normalization During My Lifetime” (ZeroHedege, May 16, 2014):

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.

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David Einhorn ‘I Asked Bernanke Questions, And The Answers Were Frightening’

David Einhorn “I Asked Bernanke Questions, And The Answers Were Frightening” (ZeroHedge, May 6, 2014):

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.

What he found, in his own words, is disturbing.

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