OK, so Greece is messed up. We know that. It’s not a surprise. The call for a referendum from Athens was a surprise but not the end of the world.
The reason we had the Crash in 2008 was because the Fed kept rates too low for too long. In response to the tech implosion and then the 9-11 attacks Allan Greenspan and the FOMC panicked and ended up inflating a worldwide housing boom which morphed into the disaster (to put it mildly) which is the Great Recession. There’s more to it than that but that’s basically what happened.
Consider now that Ben Bernanke (and Janet Yellen) have kept interest rates much lower for even longer than Greenspan did.
The principal author of our current economic ills doesn’t seem to know history any better than monetary policy.
When the Obama administration announced that it was planning to replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill with an unspecified woman, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke leapt into the fray. He said he was “appalled” by the decision since Hamilton “was without doubt the best and most foresighted economic policy maker in US history.” He proposed that Andrew Jackson be removed from the twenty dollar bill instead.
A New York Sun editorial on June 23 dryly noted that Hamilton was the author of the Coinage Act of 1792, which represents the very sound money that Bernanke has done everything in his power to destroy. The Sun, however, tempered its criticism with the following comment: “We understand that there are serious persons who reckon Hamilton, who was notoriously partial to federal power, would not have opposed the idea of fiat paper money. This point has been marked for us by no less a scholar than the journalist and historian Myron Magnet…. Let us stipulate Mr. Magnet’s point.”
Let us not stipulate Magnet’s point, because it is incorrect. Hamilton condemned paper money not backed by gold or silver as an evil. Here is what Hamilton actually said: “The emitting of paper money by the authority of Government is wisely prohibited….Though paper emissions, under a general authority, might have some advantage…, yet they are of a nature so liable to abuse—and it may even be affirmed, so certain of being abused—that the wisdom of the Government will be shown in never trusting itself with the use of so seducing and dangerous an expedient…. The stamping of paper is an operation so much easier than the laying of taxes, that a government, in the practice of paper emissions, would rarely fail…to indulge itself too far in the employment of that resource…even to [ the point of creating]…an absolute bubble.” [ Report to the House of Representatives, Dec 13, 1790]
Congressman Hensarling deserves some praise. He has spearheaded the effort to kill the Export-Import Bank (let’s hope that thing gets put in the grave) in the face of massive lobbyist firepower and now he’s putting the Fed squarely in his sights.
Hensarling’s area of interest with regard to the Fed is the 2012 leak of Fed Minutes to prominent insiders 19 hours before the the public got to see the information. This is important, market moving information which if gotten early could have been very “helpful” to traders. (We’d love to know if any of the banks involved moved on the early information.) This is what Bloomberg had to say about the incident in 2013.
The Fed initially said recipients were primarily congressional staffers and trade organizations. A list of 154 recipients released later by the Fed show that banks also were among them. The list included Barclays Plc, BB&T Corp., BNP Paribas SA, Capital One Financial Corp., Citigroup Inc. (C), Fifth Third Bancorp, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nomura Holdings Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Regions Financial Corp., U.S. Bancorp, UBS AG and Wells Fargo & Co.
Other financial firms included IntercontinentalExchange Inc., the Atlanta-based owner of the world’s largest credit- default swap clearinghouse that has agreed to buy NYSE Euronext for $8.2 billion; buyout firm Carlyle Group LP (CG), and financial- market data provider Standard & Poor’s.
You can read the entire article HERE.
This supposedly was an accident. Boy, what an accident. I sure think the American people deserve to know the details of this accident. So does Congressman Hensarling. But the Federal Reserve is fighting to keep things secret. Why?
The key drivers for the increased inequality (as we have said many times before) are the financialization of the economy and the emergence of a truly crony capitalist system. The two are of course entwined. The cronies enjoy bailouts and bonuses from banks which get bailed out. The unconnected get to do the bailing. (In various ways.) That’s basically the gist.
Ole’ Helicopter Ben put this long emerging trend into overdrive. But don’t blame him for inflating the assets of the already wealthy while the rest of the country was left behind. And don’t blame him for waging a war on savers. (Basically the prudent middle class.) Nope, he’s not to blame at all for the gulf in the economy. That just happened. Ben explains that over the long term monetary policy is neutral.
Man, if only.
Stan Humphries – the author of the attached article – and I agree that home ownership often is not such a good deal. For many it is a downright terrible investment. More people are awakening to this fact, and that is a good thing.
But we differ on why it is such a bad deal for some.
I remember sitting in my car in college listening to Howard Stern on the radio before class sometime in 2000. Howard and his crew were talking about the stock market which was roaring. The Tech Bubble was in full effect. The sky was the limit. If you weren’t in the market you were losing out. It was a similar vibe to the Housing Bubble which would emerge only a few years later.
Stern took a call from a listener.
The caller, who sounded like he might have been on the tail end of a serious bender explained in candid terms that he was affiliated with some unsavory characters and that he and his unsavory friends were manipulating the market up. He said there was little under the prices of many of the stocks which were rising at breakneck speed.
In a few months we would see how right that caller was.
Has this guy not done enough damage? Is he bored? Yes, let’s let the president declare economic martial law. I don’t see how that could be a disaster at all. No way that would be abused. Why bother with even involving Congress at all? It only has the power of the purse after all. (The president by design does not have this power.)
Shoot, why don’t we declare presidents to be kings and just get it all over with. Enough of this Constitution thing.
“Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution’s culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual.” -Eric Holder on why he “could not” prosecute anyone in the top echelons of the big banks. What a guy.
Bill Black is no ideologue. He is someone who is committed as far as I can tell to legitimate justice in massive system of financial fraud we know today as “banking.” No doubt he and I would disagree about the size and power of government generally and probably about the fundamental nature of money itself. However, he helped prosecute the case against bankers during the S&L crisis and he is extremely knowledgeable, not to say was also effective.
Scalise discusses a number of things in the attached interview, including the Keystone Pipeline, the minimum wage, and “bipartisanship” (fear bipartisanship). But the most important nugget is that it looks like Congress will force a Fed audit onto Obama’s desk and he will have to sign it or veto it.*
The bankers are all sighing with relief. It looks like they weathered yet another fit in the markets.
Is there a “Yellen put” in place? Yes. But more accurately it is a “Federal Reserve put.” It’s been around for quite a while. We don’t have real prices. We don’t have a real market.
Also one thing which is not really discussed often in depth is the degree to which the petrodollar plays into all of this. Oil goes down in price, the dollar typically goes higher (and vice versa, also oil is priced in dollars on the world market) and lower fuel prices juice the American economy. It may be that fracking, and the oil supply it has created (along with a Saudi Arabia which has turned on the spigots, likely to hammer the economies of Russia and Iran who are both hurt by a Saudi created glut) is actually the most important “monetary” tool right now.
Most Keynesian economists do not want to admit that we are in another depression. They find the word painful.