Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Ben Bernanke

Impact of Fed’s Plan to Do a “QE Unwind”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 19, 2017: 

English: Official picture of Janet Yellen from...

Janet Yellen

What makes tomorrow’s [today’s – Wednesday, September 20] meeting at the Federal Reserve so interesting to market watchers and bond investors is the likelihood that Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide more details on her plans to begin unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet: how much, how fast, how soon, and what does it all mean? In addition, she is hoping to placate conservatives in Congress who remain unhappy over the Fed’s intervention in the markets in the aftermath of the real estate collapse that triggered the Great Recession.

In June, Yellen outlined some possible scenarios, which included letting some of the bonds on the central bank’s enormous $4.2 trillion balance sheet simply mature without reinvesting the funds in new issues. She suggested the Fed would also start selling off some $10 billion a month of existing securities, and then raise that amount every quarter until it reaches $50 billion a month. This way, by expanding on her plans, and by slowly — very slowly — shrinking the Fed massive balance sheet, she hopes to avoid another “taper tantrum” that bond investors experienced back in 2013 when then-chairman Ben Bernanke first said the Fed should start reducing some of its holdings of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

If she provides sufficient clarity, and sufficient caution, Yellen might not only start the process without disrupting the market, but also avoid further criticism from congressional critics who think the Fed stepped way out of bounds in starting the whole “quantitative easing” (QE) program in the first place. In that way — again, if she is successful — she will not only cement into place the Fed as a necessary element in the American economy, but show that further “QE” expansions to meet future recessions are a legitimate tool.

Whether she can pull it off is an open question. Keynesian economist Austan Goolsbee, who headed Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2010 and 2011, said, “The final exam, with the grade yet to be determined, is: can the Fed actually get out of this stuff?”

The Fed has been essentially flying blind for years, moving outside not only its mandate (to maximize labor force participation while keeping inflation under control) but its past experience. Said David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth College economist (read: Keynesian) who was on the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England from 2006 to 2009, expressed it perfectly: “We had no idea what we should buy, how much, for how long … [and] there is no idea on the way going out.”

It was all a grand experiment: expand the money supply to keep interest rates so far below market rates that people seeking income would take higher risks — i.e., dividend-paying stocks, real estate ventures, etc. — and home owners would find it easier to buy houses. This was the Keynesian antidote to the economic collapse. Rather than let the economy right itself by itself (see America’s recession and recovery in 1920-1921), Keynesians suffer the hubris to think they know better than the market, and intervened, resulting in the longest, slowest recovery from a recession in American history.

Once the Fed began to embark on its plan to bail out banks and other financial institutions in the wake of the real estate collapse, there was no going back. When the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — mortgage insurers that were approaching bankruptcy — it found that it needed to buy up billions of their failing mortgages. That explains why $1.7 billion of the Fed’s balance sheet consists of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

But when that didn’t work the Fed adopted the strategy of “quantitative easing” (QE) — creating money to spur spending across the economy — which some observers thought would never end.

But it did end, in 2014, and the Fed has been sitting on its massive pile of government and mortgage debt, waiting for the economy to revive enough so it could be offloaded without major economic disruptions.

The Fed won’t be unwinding its entire portfolio. Instead it expects to reduce it by between $800 billion and $1 trillion over the next few years, leaving in place a balance sheet of between $2.5 and $3.2 trillion. This means that the Fed will never again see days when its balance sheet shrinks all the way back to the $900 billion it had prior to the Great Recession.

Its plan should have little impact on short-term rates. Using the 10-year Treasury as the standard, when Yellen’s plan (assuming it begins in October) kicks in, it might boost its yield by perhaps a quarter of a percentage point. This would be the natural result of increasing supply in a market with a fixed demand. When more is supplied, prices will go down. In the bond market that translates into a mini-interest rate hike.

But demand from abroad for U.S. bonds continues to be strong. Yields on 10-year bonds issued by foreign governments such as Japan’s and Germany’s remain far below U.S. 10-year bonds and so any increase in rates here will only make them more attractive to foreign buyers.

In fact, once Yellen has filled in the details, as she is expected to do on Wednesday, investors and market watchers are likely to express a sigh of relief, and continue the Fed-fueled rally in stocks that began in 2009 and that shows little sign of stopping. Diane Swonk, chief economist at DS Economics, agrees: “The start to reducing the Fed’s balance sheet is an action the markets are ready for. The Fed has laid out a roadmap and there is really a sense of relief to finally get it started.”

Has Janet Yellen Tripped the Bernanke Indicator?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 14, 2017:

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...

Official portrait of former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

During a question and answer period following her talk at the British Academy in London on June 27, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was asked if there could possibly be a repeat of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. She answered:

I think the system is much safer and much sounder [today]. We are doing a lot more to try to look for financial stability risks that may not be immediately apparent, but to look in corners of the financial system that are not subject to regulation, outside those areas in order to try to detect threats to financial stability that may be emerging….

 

Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we’re much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be.

Historians will remember similar assurances from then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke just before the real estate crash that led to the financial crisis back in 2007:

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Goldilocks Stock Market Making Forecasters Nervous

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 13, 2017:  

At the moment, Wall Street investors are enjoying a “Goldilocks” economy: not so hot that it pushes prices up and not so cold that it causes a recession. Translation: Unemployment is low, wages are rising, interest rates are still near record lows, the gross domestic product (GDP) continues to grow (although not as fast as President Trump would like), and inflation is under control.

It isn’t a perfect world, but to Wall Street investors it’s close.

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Congress Votes to Raid Fed’s Slush Fund to Pay for Highways

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 23, 2015:  

In its never-ending quest to spend money it doesn’t have, but not wanting to raise taxes, especially during the current election cycle, on Thursday, November 5 Congress passed a $325-billion, six-year transportation bill that is to be financed by selling off some of the country’s strategic petroleum reserves and raiding the Federal Reserve.

In its editorial complaint about the bill, the Washington Post said

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Foreign Affairs: Give Away Free Money!

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 29, 2014:

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

What happens when a college professor meets up with a graduate student from Oxford University, intending to solve the world’s economic problems? What happens when they consider that the previous attempts to revive the economy have failed and their recommendation is to do more of the same?

The title of their resultant article in Foreign Affairs – the premier publication of the Council on Foreign Relations – explains it all:

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Article in CFR Magazine: Give Away Money to Stimulate Economy

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, August 28, 2014:

 

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Bell 206 ...

Mark Blythe, a professor at Brown University, and Eric Lonergan, a hedge fund manager living in London, have conjured the ultimate solution to a stagnant economy: Central banks should give away free money.

These two authors of a lengthy and allegedly erudite article in the September/October 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), appear to be living in an alternate universe, as their suggestion, if it were fully implemented, would push the world’s economy back to the Dark Ages.

The article, entitled “Print Less but Transfer More: Why Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People,” rests on the false assumption that

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Fed Transcripts from 2008 Reveal Experts to be Clueless and Confused

English: President Barack Obama confers with F...

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Followers of the Fed have carefully analyzed the 1,865 pages of transcripts it released in February of its eight regularly scheduled meetings and six emergency meetings in 2008 and have concluded that these experts were clueless and unaware of the opening economic abyss yawning before them. Even the New York Times was forced to admit, following its review of the documents, that

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Treasury Refuses to Sell Its Gold Even in the Event of Default

It took more than six months for the Department of the Treasury to answer Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s questions about how the Treasury would respond to a government shutdown or the failure of the Congress to raise the debt limit. But its response is revealing:

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CNBC says Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed

Citing an unnamed source from “Team Obama”, CNBC announced that Larry Summers will be named head of the Federal Reserve by President Obama to replace outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke whose term expires on December 31st.

Despite much media conversation about other potential candidates for the position, chief among them Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, Summers always had the inside track. Summers served as

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Central Banks’ bubble is bursting, sending markets down worldwide

When the Japanese stock market lost more than 6 percent of its value on Wednesday in a massive selloff, pundits jumped on the move to try to explain what happened, and what it all means. Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets, wrote:

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More brain damage from Maxine

This girl’s in serious trouble. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)  just attended a meeting with Fed chairman Ben Bernanke who gave her the inside scoop on the impact of the sequester and she was only too happy to tell us all about it:

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Fed’s announcement changes its words, not its actions

It’s hard for me to keep a civil tongue when chief alchemist Ben Bernanke makes an announcement like this. He’s going to buy more government securities in order to lower the unemployment rate, but this won’t affect the inflation rate. If it does, he’ll stop.

For the first time, the Fed has announced a goal for the unemployment rate. By saying that it anticipates that it will keep interest rates extremely low until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5% (as long as inflation doesn’t get out of control), the Fed has become more aggressive about turning the economy around.

It bears repeating:

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SEC Exposes Largest Insider Trading Scheme Ever

Preet Bharara

Preet Bharara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mathew Martoma, age 38, was arrested at his home in Boca Raton, Florida, early Tuesday morning by the FBI and charged with insider trading. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose face appeared on the cover of Time magazine last February as the “man who is busting Wall Street,” was positively joyful in announcing the bust:

The charges unsealed today describe cheating coming and going — specifically, insider trading first on the long side, and then on the short side, on a scale that has no historical precedent.

As a result of the blatant corruption of both the drug research and securities markets alleged, the hedge fund [for whom Martoma worked at the time] made profits and avoided losses of a staggering $276 million, and Martoma himself walked away with a $9 million bonus for his efforts.

At a press conference, Bharara continued:

Mathew Martoma and his hedge fund benefitted from what might be the most lucrative inside tip of all time. This is certainly the most lucrative insider-trading scheme ever charged.

It certainly exceeded the amounts involved in the cases of Raj Rajaratnam and Rajat Gupta, both of whom are serving serious jail time for their convictions in insider-trading schemes. Gupta was sentenced in October to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $5 million fine, while Rajaratnam was sentenced to

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Quick! Who is the Most Powerful Person on the Planet?

English: EPP Congress Bonn: Podium discussion ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mario Draghi. Who? According to Matthew Lynn, writing at MarketWatch.com, “measured by what [he] can actually do, the most powerful person will soon be the president of the European Central Bank, the Italian banker Mario Draghi.” He explains:

In the last few weeks, we have seen an extraordinary expansion of the European Central Bank’s powers. It can now set interest rates, control financial markets, and effectively dictate tax and spending policies across what remains — despite its current difficulties — the world’s largest single economic bloc.

To explain how this former Goldman Sachs executive  ascended to such a high perch in the world of international finance would take far more room than we have here. Suffice to say, the path to power has been under construction for decades, and deliberately planned, going all the way back to

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Is QE3 a Myth?

English: President Barack Obama confers with F...

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Graham Summers, writing for ZeroHedge, has pointed out that Fed head Ben Bernanke hasn’t done any new buying of securities despite his promise to do so back in September. The Fed publishes its balance sheet. You can see it here, in graphical form. As Summers said, if Bernanke was buying, how come the measure of money – the adjusted monetary base – is declining?

Would Bernanke lie? Oh, no!

The stock market jumped up nicely at the news, but has retraced most of those paper gains. Maybe the market has figured it out: it was

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Bernanke Defends the Indefensible

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke attempted Monday to answer some of the fierce criticism and public unease facing the Fed’s third round of bond purchases, known as quantitative easing or QE3.

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: osipovva)

This article from MarketWatch is one of the more incredible expositories on the Fed’s negligence and back-pedaling that I’ve seen. Bernanke is, to put it simply, in panic mode. The crowd is seeing that the king is naked and he has to cover his nakedness with words and reassurances. Which makes the crowd more nervous and more skeptical and noisy. It’s an amazing show.

What is his strategy? To do more of the same – do more of what hasn’t worked! That’s the ticket! If he can just get interest rates lower, people will start to

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The Fed is Playing With Fire

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Paul RA)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s promise not only to expand the money supply by buying more mortgage-backed securities but to continue doing so until he sees “ongoing sustained improvement in the labor market” has sparked numerous warnings of unintended consequences as a result. The Federal Open Market Committee said on September 13:

If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability.

One of the people who is most nervous about the Fed’s plan to continue to print until the recovery begins in earnest is Martin Feldstein, former chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors. Writing in The Financial Times newspaper, Feldstein called Bernanke’s idea a “dangerous” strategy which could lead to

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Impact of QE3 is Doubtful

Robert J. Samuelson – Bernanke on the Brink

Even before [last week’s announcement by the Fed that it would initiate Quantitative Easing Strategy Number Three, or QE3], there was skepticism that it would do much to lower the unemployment rate, which has exceeded 8 percent for 43 months. The average response of 47 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal was that a similar program might cut the jobless rate 0.1 percentage point over a year.

Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger (Photo credit: cucchiaio)

Oh, boy! One tenth of one percent! Over an entire year! That’s worth debauching the currency over, isn’t it?

Samuelson has captured the entire fraudulent Keynesian insanity in one pithy paragraph:

At a news conference, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke explained what the Fed hopes will happen:

By buying mortgages, the Fed would push interest rates down. They’re already low (3.6 percent in August for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage) and would fall further. Lower rates would stimulate more home buying and construction. Greater housing demand would raise home prices. Fewer homeowners would be “underwater” (homes worth less than mortgages). Banks would refinance more existing mortgages at lower rates because the collateral — the homes — would be worth more.

Feeling wealthier, homeowners would spend more and cause businesses to hire more.

This is the mantra of Keynesianism. It’s also provably false. But that doesn’t matter. Part of the mantra is: If something doesn’t work, do more of it. That proves that it’s insane.

Samuelson is a Keynesian, Harvard-trained, with years of writing for establishment outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post. So he isn’t allowed, by training, education or experience, to stray too far off the reservation. But he comes close to heresy here:

Explanations [as to why these Keynesian strategies aren’t working] abound. One is that the stimulus programs were still too timid…

Another…is that the trauma of the financial crisis and recession made households and businesses deeply cautious…

To these might be added a perverse possibility: the stimulus programs themselves. Intended to inspire optimism by demonstrating government’s commitment to recovery, they could do the opposite. If consumers and companies interpret them as signaling that the economy is in worse shape than they thought, they might retrench even more…

Close, Mr. Samuelson, but no cigar! I think people have figured out that the Fed is a toothless, paper tiger, all bluster and no power. Or my favorite: All hat and no cattle.

As Samuelson said, “There is a desperate air to Bernanke’s latest move…the Fed is on the brink of moving beyond what it understands and can control.”

The Fed’s Credibility Continues to Fade

Reuters – At Jackson Hole, a growing fear for Fed independence

Increasing political encroachment on the Federal Reserve, particularly from the Republican Party, could threaten the central bank’s hard-won independence and undermine confidence in the nearly 100-year old institution.

End The Fed San Francisco

End The Fed San Francisco (Photo credit: aarontait)

Reuters is the British equivalent of The New York Times – thoroughly establishment and its voice in England. When they see that the Fed’s credibility is beginning to suffer, you know that the end is near.

The article said that this was “the pervasive sentiment” at the recent Jackson Hole conference (where, as you remember, Bernanke spoke and said nothing).

Alan Blinder was there. He is the quintessential establishment economist: degrees from Princeton, the London School of Economics, and MIT. Served on Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and on the Board of Governors of the Fed. He dreamed up the “cash for clunkers” fiasco that was designed, according to Blinder, to stimulate the economy. We know how well that worked.

Oh yes, he’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations – in fact a member of the board of that gaggle of internationalists.

And he didn’t like what he saw:

I do fear for it a bit if the election comes out that way, especially if some of the more radical voices, that happen to be Republican voices nowadays, get reelected. There’s a lot of hostility.

We know who he is referring to: Ron Paul. And what he’s referring to: the bill that recently passed the House to do a full and complete audit of the Fed.

Buried in the article from Reuters was something amazing: that “radical” influence is already beginning to impact the Fed’s behavior! Part of that was reflected in Bernanke’s heavy emphasis on something he couldn’t prove: that the Fed kept things from getting worse. This is not an argument from substance but from conjecture. It was his way of defending the indefensible.

In all, the Jackson Hole conference did accomplish something: an admission by an establishment mouthpiece that the trust and credibility of the Fed continues to decline, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Romney’s Impossible Mission: Create More Jobs

The Real Romney

The Real Romney (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised August 30 to create millions of jobs — 12 million of them, in fact — if he is elected president in November. He said:

What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.…

I am running for president to help create a better future … a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job.…

His five-point plan consists of attaining energy independence by the year 2020, strengthening the educational system, forging new trade agreements with foreign countries, cutting the deficit with the ultimate goal of balancing the budget, helping small businesses, and repealing ObamaCare. With the possible exception of “helping small businesses” — whatever that means — nothing in his plan addresses the issue of job creation.

The key issue isn’t job creation but wealth creation. Nothing in his platform talks about making it easier for employers to create more value by making it easier for them to make profits. As Dwight Lee, business school professor at Southern Methodist University,wrote:

The purpose of all economic activity is to produce as much value as possible with the scarce resources (including human effort) available.…

There will always be jobs to do far more than can ever be done. So creating jobs is not the problem. The problem is creating jobs in which people produce the most value.

Lee tells the apocryphal story of an engineer traveling in China who observed a large crew of men building a dam using just picks and shovels. When he asked why they weren’t allowed to use heavy earth-moving equipment which would have completed the project in just a few weeks rather than the months the project was taking, he was told that using that equipment would cost many of the men their jobs. The engineer responded, “Oh! I thought you were interested in building a dam. If it’s more jobs you want, why don’t you have your men use spoons instead of shovels?”

Jobs are merely the end result of an economy becoming more productive and more profitable and are not an end in and of themselves. More jobs will be created only after the economy is allowed to

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.