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: hubris

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.”

Maduro’s Socialist Revolution in Venezuela is Now Complete

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 7, 2017: 

Now that protesters have left the scene and Maduro has removed the primary thorn in his side, the socialist revolution begun by Marxist Hugo Chavez two decades ago now appears to be complete.

Before the new illegally elected National Constituent Assembly (NCA) took over on Friday, Maduro’s Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega Diaz (shown), had become a thorn in his side. A hard-core Chavista, Diaz was appointed in 2007 and helped Hugo Chavez cement his position in place as Venezuela’s Marxist dictator. When her term ran out in 2014 she was appointed for another six-year term.

Things went sideways earlier this year when Maduro declared that

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At Least Papa John’s Pizza Arrives Fresh, Warm, and Tasty

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, July 26, 2017:

Democrats are so upset over the Democrat Party’s new slogan that some demanded that its originator be fired immediately. The slogan, unveiled by Democrat Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer in the New York Times on Monday, is: “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” This was birthed after months of intense mental analysis of last November’s loss to Donald Trump, and it was, according to many, stillborn. The Gateway Pundit massaged Papa John’s Pizza logo on its website, showing Nancy Pelosi beneath the banner, and below, instead of “Papa John’s” was “Dems: Still Pelosi.” It’s worth clicking on it. (See Sources below).

Other Democrats were less charitable.

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Democrats’ New Slogan Channels Papa John’s Pizza

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 24, 2017:

English: Charles Schumer, United States Senato...

Charles Schumer

The Democrat Party’s new slogan, rolled out on Monday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (shown, D-N.Y.) in the New York Times, sounds an awful lot like the slogan of Papa John’s Pizza (“Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa John’s.”) The new official slogan of the party, according to Schumer, is “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”

A closer look reveals old, tired, stale, and tasteless ideas of a party that not only has lost its way, but has lost a majority of Americans along the way. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that

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From Hero to Zero: $2-Billion Private Equity Fund Goes Broke in Oil

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 18, 2017:

J. Paul Getty Trust

EnerVest Ltd., a Houston-based private equity firm run by John Walker, is being taken over by one of its largest lenders to satisfy its unpaid debts. The firm raised capital from large investors, foundations, and pension plans and bought existing oil wells, improved them, and sent the dividends back to the investors.

In 2011, it had come off a very successful year. It owned 19,000 onshore oil wells on four million acres of land in 12 states. Its previous investments delivered a compounded annual return of 36 percent, a track record that made it relatively easy for Walker to raise additional capital. In a classic understatement, Walker said, “We had an outstanding year.” He explained just how he and his company did it; he bought cheap and sold dear, without using borrowed funds:

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From Hero to Zero: $2-Billion Private Equity Fund Goes Broke in Oil

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 17, 2017:  

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

EnerVest Ltd., a Houston-based private equity firm run by John Walker, is being taken over by Wells Fargo, one of its largest lenders, to satisfy its unpaid debts. The firm raised capital from large investors, foundations, and pension plans and bought existing oil wells, improved them, and sent the dividends back to the investors.

In 2011, it had come off a very successful year. It owned 19,000 onshore oil wells on four million acres of land in 12 states. Its previous investments delivered a compounded annual return of 36 percent, a track record that made it relatively easy for Walker to raise additional capital. In a classic understatement, Walker said, “We had an outstanding year.” He explained just how he and his company did it; he bought cheap and sold dear, without using borrowed funds:

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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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Moody’s Revelation: “Managed” Economies fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 26, 2017:  

Perhaps without knowing it, Moody’s downgrade of China one full notch on Wednesday exposed the fallacy of managed economies: that government bureaucrats with fancy degrees from the University of Chicago, Harvard, or Yale know what they’re doing. One of those fallacies that have been promoted for years came from Yale grad Arthur Laffer as far back as the Reagan administration. On the surface it sounds eminently logical: cut taxes and the economy will grow. The fallacy is knowing just how much to cut, whose to cut, when to cut, and how long to cut.

The Laffer Curve undergirds the whole idea of “supply side economics” –

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Disgruntled Professor Quits, Using Concealed Carry in His Classroom as His Excuse

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 12, 2017:

English: Holster for Glock pistol Svenska: Höl...

In a fit of pique, KU associate professor Jacob Dorman decided to burn his bridges behind him when he left the faculty last week. Instead of packing up in the middle of the night, he chose instead to have his resignation letter published in the Topeka Capital-Journal. It was an infantile move that he is likely to regret for years to come.

He used Kansas’ new constitutional carry freedom as cover:

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OPEC: A Lesson in Why Cartels Fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 15, 2017:

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

Every cartel comes together when individual members think they can obtain a greater economic benefit working together than they can alone. Every cartel breaks apart when members think they can do better alone. If a cartel is sanctioned by a government, it becomes a monopoly.

Since 1960, OPEC has largely stayed together with the collusion of governments and Big Oil interests around the world. But the fracking revolution, operating in the free market, is blowing up the model. Specifically,

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Venezuela’s Dictator Fires Head of Central Bank; Inflation at 1,600 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 23, 2017:

Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela’s Marxist dictator, Nicolas Maduro (shown), fired the head of his country’s central bank on Friday. Without fanfare or any public statement from either Maduro or his banker, Nelson Merentes, the firing is the latest move by the president to place the blame for the collapse of his country anywhere but where it belongs: on his socialist policies.

For months The New American has tracked the retrogression of a country which was once one of the leading economies in South America to a banana republic where people are starving, sick people are dying for lack of care, and a black market has replaced a once-thriving free economy. Last June, the New York Times was finally forced to admit the cause:

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Venezuela: Some Lessons Must be Learned Over and Over Again

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 23, 2017:

George Santayana most famously said: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But he wasn’t the only one. Aldous Huxley put it this way: “That men do not learn very much the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Said Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.”

There’s a lesson being taught to the hapless and now helpless citizens (shown above) of Venezuela. It’s a lesson so often taught but not learned that one may, with great confidence, predict the final outcome.

On Friday Venezuela’s Marxist dictator, Nicolas Maduro, fired his banker,

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Obama’s Rush to Leave a Legacy Leaves a Mess Instead

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 17, 2017:

English: Barack Obama delivers a speech at the...

Goodbye

In Greek mythology Augeas is best known for his stables, which housed 3,000 head of cattle. The stables hadn’t been cleaned for 30 years, and Heracles’ job — to keep working until he had cleaned the stables entirely — was deemed impossible, as the cattle were immortal.

Happily President-elect Donald Trump’s challenge to undo egregious Obama administration actions isn’t as overwhelming as Heracles’. Consider Obama’s parting gift of

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Trump Meets With Former Banker Who Wants to End the Fed

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, November 29, 2016: 

John Allison BB&T

John Allison

Donald Trump met with former banker John Allison on Monday in a meeting that was largely ignored by the mainstream media. It remains unclear whether Allison was being interviewed for the job of secretary of the Treasury or was just giving Trump some advice from a free market perspective.

Either way, it’s a breath of fresh air in an era where statism and excessive hubris (the idea that mere politicians and economists can guide, even stimulate a $20-trillion-dollar economy with monetary policy) has reigned for decades.

Right after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina in 1971,

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Ethanol Mandates Mean Big Profits for Big Oil

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 28, 2016:  

When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush, it was well-intended: It would increase America’s oil independence and reduce dependence on foreign oil, it would produce cleaner air, and it would help farmers.

The Act required refiners to add ethanol to every gallon of gasoline they produced. If a refiner decided it couldn’t (too costly) or wouldn’t (internal decision) do so, it would be required to

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John B. Taylor: Perfect Example of Hubris-Lathered Economist Who Thinks He Can Steer the Economy

This was article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 16, 2015:  

John B. Taylor, economics professor at Stanford University (where he got his PhD), thinks the massive, highly complex U.S. economy, generating nearly $20 trillion of goods and services every year, can be fine-tuned with rules and policies. Further, if those rules can be implemented clearly, the economy will do even better. He thinks of the economy as one gigantic organism with a mind and purpose of its own. That’s why he likes Fed Chair Janet Yellen:

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“Kafkaesque” Ruling from FCC Fines AT&T $100 Million

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 19, 2015: 

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, author of the chilling novel, The Trial, in 1926

 

In The Trial, Franz Kafka told the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. Left unfinished at his death, a ghostwriter completed the novel, which became one of Kafka’s best known and most frightening novels.

In it, Kafka described perfectly the ruling announced on Wednesday by the hidden anonymous commissars of the Federal Communications Commission:

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“He Who Lives in a Glass House, Shouldn’t”

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 13, 2015:

English: U.S. Congressman

George Nethercutt

 

According to his own Wikipedia page, George Nethercutt touts himself as a “conservative.” After all, in the 1994 Republican landslide that gave the Republican Party control of the House for the first time in 40 years, Nethercutt replaced Speaker of the House Tom Foley. It was close: just 4,000 votes out of more than 215,000 cast. But that was enough.

In truth that meant that Nethercutt won by 2,000 votes, as that was the number of votes to be changed to allow Foley to keep his seat. Nethercutt’s promise that he would leave after three terms likely made the difference. After all, Foley had been representing Washington for 30 years as a hard left liberal Democrat, and voters had finally had a bellyful of him.

Unfortunately Nethercutt was in Washington, DC, long enough to drink the Kool-Aid of excessive hubris and self-importance, and when it came time for him to honor his promise,

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Will this be OPEC’s Final Failed Gamble?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015: 

Cover of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for O...

Six years ago historian Daniel Yergin wrote in The Prize about OPEC’s failed gamble in 1986. The cartel tried to secure its preeminent place among the world’s oil producers by forcing crude oil prices down:

Was the price now poised for a great fall? Most of the exporters [primarily OPEC] thought so, but they expected no more than a drop [from more than $30 a barrel] to $18 or $20 a barrel, below which, they thought, production … would not be economical….

 

Actually, operating costs – the cash costs to extract oil – were only $6 per barrel [at the time], so there would be no reason to shut down production at any price above that.

The cartel was hoping to squeeze out marginal producers, which would result in cuts in supply, allowing it to raise prices at will. It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now. The Saudis apparently suffer from an appalling lack of understanding about how the free market works.

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Food Police Targeting Sugar Just in Time for Halloween

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 31, 2014:

Joe Helm’s exposé on the food police’s next target — candy — enraged Fred Smith, a self-admitted sugarholic who saw immediately what the food police are after: control. Helms, for his article in the October 24 Washington Post, tracked down the chief of the food police, Margo Wootan (pictured above), director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who told him:

Governments are deciding that it really doesn’t make sense for them to have obesity campaigns, which are often high-profile and a big priority, and then you walk into the health department or any public building and they have these vending machines that are chock-full of candy and soda and chips.

Being fully persuaded that government has the right, and the power, to do something about this awful contradiction — people ignoring government’s plea to do the right thing and stay away from fatty foods — Wootan believes government should use force to get its way, rather than persuasion: 

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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.