August 23, 2008
Elaine Meinel Supkis
Time for the annual Teddy Bear Federal Reserve Picnic at Jackson Hole. Last year, Bernanke was yelled at a lot. I guess the new window blasted into the Fed Reserve was too small? Well, the Fed continues to struggle to save the very wealthy from their own weaknesses which is easy money, easy women and easy riding. Zroom! Off they go. Detroit wants a $50 billion bail out. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Iraq all get multi-hundreds of billions, what is another $50 billion? And the dollar is strong! Got that? HAHAHA.
First, we must look at a year ago to see if anything has changed at all:
As even the dimmest bulbs in the tulip trade finally can see, we are ending a wonderful and utterly fake bull run here and bad things are accumulating as fast as snow here on my mounatain in January or March or even in April when we can get heroic blizzards. Now they are trying desperately to undo this mess and the wand waving is most magical and utterly funny, I fear my Watchers will die laughing and I will be bereft of their amusing fixation on messed up things that end badly. All eyes were on the Federal Reserve Ranch and Picnic Panic and so far, people seem satisfied but all is not going to plan and this is due to the fact that the US may run the world's reserve currency but we don't have any RESERVES as I keep pointing out, our Federal Reserve is rotten to the core! Where are our RESERVES????From Bloomberg:The tide turned in 1972. This isn't a tide, this is the worm turning. Oroboros is eating his tail. This is the tale of two currencies: the Dying Dollar and the Yeti Yen. The US has allowed Japan to ravage our import markets. This was to balance the power of Russia and China. Only both also are trading with the Western Empires and thus, both run huge surpluses just like Japan! And Russia has Europe in its bear hug and Europe has a trade surplus with the US.... So we have THREE major empires running huge trade surpluses with the US and how are they balancing each other? Indeed. This is never, ever mentioned by anyone in charge of this mess.
Federal Reserve officials, wrestling with a housing recession that jeopardizes U.S. growth, got an earful from critics at a weekend retreat arguing they should use regulation and interest rates to prevent asset-price bubbles.
Otmar Issing, former chief economist at the European Central Bank, and Stanley Fischer, head of the Bank of Israel, were among guests at the Fed's summer symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to challenge the hands-off approach. Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin reiterated his view in a paper at the conference: Officials should only respond to the effects of asset prices on the outlook for economic growth and inflation.
``The position that `this isn't an issue for central banks' has lost some support,'' Issing said in an interview at the gathering, which ran from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. ``The tide is turning.''
Back to our Federal Reserve that has chosen to keep only $60 billion in reserve and of that, if they need any reserves, they print up a few extra trillion and peddle this to the three major trade surplus nations that used to buy these up without flinching only none of them are doing this anymore so we are in the middle of one honking, huge bank crisis. The solution so far is to run deeper into debt. So the Fed just keeps manufacturing money by waving its little wand with a pink ribbon bow tied on the shaft. Santa Claus likes this. We hope.
I expect even more yelling at this picnic. It will be like going on a picnic with an elderly auntie and ten teenagers who were told to leave the Wii and the iPods home. Snarling, sneering, sarcastic spoiled brats all trying to put salt in Auntie Bernanke's cup of tea or kicking at squirrels or throwing rocks at that Russian grizzly bear ripping up trees....oh my. Then there is the angry dragon circling overhead with the flock of vultures. Yes, this is one fun picnic.
Of course, we are not invited. Not even as ants. We can only hear rumors of what is going on in this vast outdoor food-fight. Well, one thing happened: Joe Biden was chosen to escort the youthful Obama. From the land of credit cards and the first openly piratical state of Delaware! The state that is a tax haven right onshore! The one that pioneered the concept of destroying America while leeching off of it. A wonderful state. When New York had strong anti-usury laws, Delaware worked hard to change this. Now, all of America gets outrageous and out of control usury. Isn't that dandy?
(Bloomberg) -- Treasury 10-year notes posted the biggest weekly drop in more than a month as the haven appeal of government debt faded as investors grew more confident that the U.S. will support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Yields on two-year notes rose the most in almost four weeks yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled that the central bank is relying on slowing growth to contain inflation. Concern that the fallout from credit market losses will spread also eased after the Korea Development Bank said it's ``considering'' an investment in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
``There's a little less anxiety in the financial markets,'' said Mark MacQueen, a money manager in Austin, Texas, at Sage Advisory Services, which oversees $6.5 billion. At the same time, ``Bernanke remains highly concerned about inflation but has little willingness to do anything about it.''
Rubbish. Pure rubbish. Bernanke is pretending he controls things. He doesn't. He throws money around like a maniac but it does whatever it wants to do. I remember when he revved up his helicopter. He said he was doing this so America can 'grow' no matter what! Now, he is saying, a recession will fix inflation! By having millions of Americans lose jobs and compete with each other for jobs, thus killing wages further, this will fix inflation! WOW. Hey, I hear hints of the Japanese system here! Japan has utterly crushed its own workers to the point, they struggle to even have families. These families are vanishing. Along with any hope of any decent paying, secure work. Japan crushed inflation for YEARS this way.
But inflation rages there! It worked only for a while. Now, it isn't working. If we have a bad recession here and don't buy a flood of Japanese goods, maybe there will be a crushing recession in Japan and workers there can lose even more purchasing power and this will kill inflation. See? So if we all have our own wages fall through the floor, inflation will die. Due to Americans being unable to buy food, fuel or live in houses.
And why is there little anxiety in the markets? I find it horrifying how everyone is happy if outsiders come to America to take over here. Hey, the Saudis will buy our banks! The Koreans will buy our banks! The Chinese will buy our banks! Oh, my god! Russia is buying our banks! All is well. HAHAHA.
Bernanke called dollar stability and price declines in oil and other commodities ``encouraging.'' Still, the inflation outlook remains ``highly uncertain'' and the Fed ``is committed to achieving medium-term price stability and will act as necessary to obtain that objective,'' he said at the Fed Bank of Kansas City's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
``It's status quo as far as the Fed's concerned,'' said Kevin Flanagan, a Purchase, New York-based fixed-income strategist for Morgan Stanley's individual-investor clients. ``He's still trying to walk that tightrope between economic and market risk.''
He is hanging onto the tightrope with his fingertips. Everyone is very anxious to assume the status quo is safe and we can walk this tightrope forever. But the truth is, the vultures are circling and the Dragon of China is eyeing us as we hang over the Abyss. Every few weeks, like the little figures in a German clock, pundits and big shots appear in the news, all telling us that the worst is over and prosperity is around the corner. They did this during the Great Depression. Endlessly. When anyone tried fixing the mess back then, they all lined up to howl about the changes in the laws. Now, there is no party that dares suggest even the slightest reforms like the simple one of re-instating all those laws from the Great Depression.
Here is another story from one year ago:
Cerberus is my icon for all evil hedge funds. Today, we learn they are truly evil and want to kill their employees rather than follow the law. This deadly organization of para-pirates let go of most of the Aegis employees but first cut their health insurance in the hopes that then, the employees could not use COBRA which allows them to continue to be covered while they look for work! I say, all these hedge funds should be regulated by law and the laws protecting workers should be strengthened. Another large group joins the 50 million uninsured!
Back to today's news, surprise, surprise! GM and Ford want huge hand-outs.
(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and U.S. auto-parts makers are seeking $50 billion in government-backed loans, double their initial request, to develop and build more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The U.S. automakers and the suppliers want Congress to appropriate $3.75 billion needed to back $25 billion in U.S. loans approved in last year's energy bill and add $25 billion in new loans over subsequent years, according to people familiar with the strategy. The industry is also seeking fewer restrictions on how the funding is used, the people said today.
GM and Ford lost $24.1 billion in the second quarter as consumers, battered by record gasoline prices, abandoned the trucks that provide most of U.S. companies' profit and embraced cars that benefit overseas competitors such as Honda Motor Co. U.S. auto sales may drop to a 15-year low this year and fall even more in 2009, analysts have said.
Let's be honest here: each year in Iraq and Afghanistan costs us $180 billion. This has been on top of half a trillion spent on our luxurious and inept military. To do one of the worst jobs of dominating the planet as an empire, it costs us an arm and a leg. We could save Ford and GM more than three times over, every year, for years and years and still not catch up with what we are wasting on Iraq and Afghanistan!
Maybe we can move all our truck factories to Iraq and Afghanistan and have them get blown up. Then we can have GM and Ford collect insurance and open a Tata plant here. Make mini-cars. End of story.
(Bloomberg) -- Subprime mortgage-backed bonds lead credit products rendered ``extinct'' by the collapse of the U.S. housing market, according to Moody's Investors Service.
Collateralized debt obligations packaging loans and structured investment vehicles will also disappear as investors refuse to buy debt linked to U.S. housing market losses, Jennifer Elliott, Moody's group managing director in the Asia- Pacific, said today at conference in Melbourne.
``These are products that have just disappeared and we certainly don't expect to be coming back,'' Hong-Kong-based Elliott said. ``There is an overwhelming level of investor concern about what will happen in credit markets, as opposed to what has happened, that is impacting issuance.''
Are CDOs and SIVs old instruments with a long history? HAHAHA. NO. They are all recent inventions of geniuses like the criminal mastermind who first hatched the idea of selling Collateralized Debt Obligations. Which were peddled as part of the Dread Derivatives Beast. Because these things were, in their inception, a fraud and a Ponzi scheme, they have collapsed exactly like any old Ponzi pyramid.
are an unregulated type of asset-backed security and structured credit product. CDOs are constructed from a portfolio of fixed-income assets. These assets are divided by the ratings firms that assess their value into different tranches: senior tranches (rated AAA), mezzanine tranches (AA to BB), and equity tranches (unrated). Losses are applied in reverse order of seniority and so junior tranches offer higher coupons (interest rates) to compensate for the added default risk. CDOs serve as an important funding vehicle for fixed-income assets.
The first CDO was issued in 1987 by bankers at now-defunct Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. for Imperial Savings Association, a savings institution that later became insolvent and was taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation on June 22, 1990. A decade later, CDOs emerged as the fastest growing sector of the asset-backed synthetic securities market.
A major factor in the growth of CDOs was the 2001 introduction by David X. Li of Gaussian copula models, which allowed for the rapid pricing of CDOs.
According to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, aggregate global CDO issuance totaled US$ 157 billion in 2004, US$ 272 billion in 2005, US$ 552 billion in 2006 and US$ 503 billion in 2007. Research firm Celent estimates the size of the CDO global market to close to $2 trillion by the end of 2006.
Protecting these creepy pieces of paper required bloating the Derivatives Beast. So when these Pyramid CDOs shot up from $150 billion just a mere 4 years ago to $2 trillion, the Beast swelled from $100 trillion to $600 trillion in 2007. So here we are, watching this mega-monster die. Since the CDOs have died and the SIVs shriveled up, the Beast is not far behind.
A structured investment vehicle (SIV) is a fixed income maturity transformation fund, similar to a CDO.
Unlike CDOs, which are terminating structures that typically wind-down or refinance at the end of their financing term, Structured Investment Vehicles are permanently capitalized variants of CDOs, with an active management team and infrastructure. Structured Investment Vehicles plan to stay in business indefinitely by buying new assets as the old ones mature.
An SIV may be thought of as a virtual bank. It borrows money using commercial paper (CP), which it traditionally issues close to the interest rate of LIBOR. It then uses the money to purchase bonds - effectively lending it out much as a bank would provide loans. The bonds usually selected by an SIV are predominantly Aaa/AAA rated Asset-Backed Securities and Mortgage-Backed Securities and hence the SIV is effectively providing the funds for mortgages, credit cards, student loans and similar products.
As of May 2007 there were estimated to be about 30 SIVs in existence, with total assets of more than 300 billion dollars. Most SIVs are run or sponsored by banks, however a number are managed independently.
SIVs are a viral bank. Like the anthrax assassin's methods. It is much smaller than the epic CDO mess. Anyone who thinks that making trillions of dollars vanish is an easy trick is someone who should never be allowed to handle even $300 dollars. Much less three trillion! The money we are hemorrhaging in our failed wars is just numbers to the Pentagon and Congress. Both are content with this: these numbers mean a percentage goes into their own bank accounts! So they are happy to add more zeros to whatever numbers they are adding up.
As the consumer/domestic economy collapses, Congress simply adds more numbers to our ballooning budget deficits. They can save all our corporations, all our banks, all the consumers simply by grandly waving a wand and yelling, 'Money, appear!' And then this debt has to be sold to someone. The news that people are still buying this debt is interesting. For I cannot see how any of this will ever be repaid. But then, the people buying this debt are simply making money out of thin air. Then they buy our debts. Isn't that encouraging?
And the latest, latest news is, inflation is dead! See? It is dying because workers across the world have lost their jobs or are seeing their pay decline. So they can't buy! This means, more money for everyone else. I guess.
Then we have to worry about irritated workers who want more money. History is full of escapades of such disgruntled masses.