Posts tagged Federal Reserve

Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

 

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What is Janet Yellen, new Fed chairman, really worried about?

 

Is it that reported unemployment will stay high, that the economic recovery will never get off the ground, that we will fall back into recession, or that consumer prices will fall, thereby further endangering the huge debts that already zombify the economy? These are big concerns, no doubt, but not her largest worry. Her largest worry has to be that foreigners will stop buying U.S. bonds.

This is far from a needless worry. Recent events, events of just the past few months and weeks, including the Russian invasion of Crimea, make it even more of a threat to the U.S. government. But, first, some background.

Foreign individuals and businesses cut back on their purchases of U.S. bonds years ago. Their place was taken by foreign central banks. The central banks simply created money in their own currency and used it to buy our bonds.

Why did they do this? The Japanese may have done this because they rely on us for defense and want to help support our economy. But most of the central banks did it to keep their own currencies from appreciating against the dollar.

The more dollars they bought, the less their own currencies appreciated against the dollar. In this way, they kept their export prices down and protected their export related jobs.

This was not unlike the trade wars of the 1930’s, conducted with tariffs, but this time the trade wars were conducted with currency manipulations.

The Federal Reserve always knew that we couldn’t rely on foreign central banks to buy our bonds forever. That is probably the main reason it began the program called quantitative easing, in which the Fed created money out of thin air specifically to buy back U.S. debt.

Quantitative easing was a kind of insurance policy. If foreign central bank buying of U.S. bonds collapsed, the Fed would already have a program in place to buy them back itself.

The Fed always said that quantitative easing was meant to create U.S. jobs. But this never made much sense. Even a hard core proponent of QE, Fed official William Dudley ( formerly of Goldman Sachs), admitted that the Fed’s own economic models could not explain how creating money out of thin air and using it to buy U.S. bonds would increase employment. Some link to rising stock prices could be demonstrated, but then rising stock prices could not be shown to create jobs either.

One inference from this was that chairman Ben Bernanke, and now new chairman Janet Yellen, were just taking wild stabs in the dark. A more reasonable inference is that they had another reason for QE, one which they did not want to acknowledge.

Viewed in this way, it becomes clear that the 2008 bail-out was not so much a bail-out of Wall Street as a bail-out of Washington. The Federal Reserve feared that the market for government bonds was about to collapse, which would lead to soaring interest rates, and a complete collapse of our bubble financed government.

The Fed did not have the option of creating money and buying debt directly from the Treasury. That would be illegal. The Treasury must first sell its bonds to Wall Street, after which the Fed can then use its newly created money to buy them back. Hence, in order to rescue the Treasury, the Fed felt it had to rescue Wall Street.

This is a simplification of what happened, and only part of the story, but it is the untold part of the story, and in all likelihood the most important part. The Fed was in a panic in 2008, but not primarily about what might happen to Wall Street, and certainly not about what might happen to Main Street. It was in a panic over what might happen to government finance.

This interpretation is strengthened by new information contained in former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson’s recent book. He revealed that Russia tried in 2008 to persuade China to join in a collaborative effort to dump U.S. bonds in order to bring down the U.S. financial system. Although China refused to do so at the time, it is clear that China regards us as a geo-political foe, would like to end dollar dominance, and has itself been paring U.S. bond purchases.

The end result of the Fed’s panic during the Crash was over $3 trillion worth of Fed purchases of U.S. or what became U.S. backed bonds. In only a few years, the Fed became the largest single owner of U.S. bonds, even larger than Japan or China. The total U.S. debt held by the Fed today equals the entire U.S. debt at the end of the Clinton administration. It is of course completely nonsensical that the U.S. government is borrowing such large sums from itself.

At the moment, Janet Yellen’s worries about finding buyers of government bonds can only be getting worse. For much of last year, foreign central bank purchases of U.S. bonds fell. As of October of 2013, they had been negative for three and six months. Then they turned up a smidge, only to fall again, so that the last three months show a decrease of over 5%.

It is known that Russia has withdrawn its U.S. bonds from custody of the Fed after the Crimea invasion, and has either been selling or could sell at any time. It will no doubt try again to persuade other countries to join in undermining the U.S. bond market and replacing the dollar as the mainstay of world trade.

Under these circumstances, it should not be surprising that the Fed is today taking only baby steps to reduce its program of creating new money to buy U.S. bonds. This program is not just meant to revive the economy, which it has not done and cannot do. It is more likely designed as a desperate and in the long run counterproductive effort to finance the U.S. government and save today’s dollar dominated financial system.

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

Too many ninja-bureaucrats: Why are federal agencies increasingly armed to the teeth?

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Too many ninja-bureaucrats: Why are federal agencies increasingly armed to the teeth?

 

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Even the Federal Reserve and NOAA (that’s right, the weather people) have their own mini-armies of supercops. Why?

 

(From Watchdog.org)
 
It’s been estimated the U.S. has some 25,000 sworn law enforcement officers in departments not traditionally associated with fighting crime. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in a tabulation compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, 3,812 criminal investigators are working in areas other than the U.S.departments of Treasury, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security.
 
Lynch says it’s hard to tell how much money federal agencies spend on their respective law enforcement divisions.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
 

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare

 

One of the primary topics on this website since it was launched has been the extremely destructive and explosive rise of crony capitalism throughout the USA. It is crony capitalism, as opposed to free markets, that has led to the gross inequality in American society we have today. Cronyism for the super wealthy starts at the very top with the Federal Reserve System, which consists of topdown economic central planners who manipulate the money supply and hence interest rates for the benefit of the financial oligarch class. It then trickles down through lobbyist money into the halls of Washington D.C., and ultimately filters down to local governments and then the average person on the street gaming welfare or disability.

As such, we now live in a culture of corruption and theft that is pervasive throughout society. One thing that bothers me to no end is when fake Republicans focus their criticism on struggling people who need welfare or food stamps to survive. They have this absurd notion that the whole welfare system doesn’t start with the multinational corporations and Central Banks at the top. In reality, it is at the top where the cancer starts, and that’s where we should focus in order to achieve real change.

That’s where a new report from Open the Books on corporate welfare comes in. In a preview of the publication, the organization notes:

If Republicans are going to get truly serious about cutting government spending, they are going to have to snip the umbilical cord from the Treasury to corporate America.  You can’t reform welfare programs for the poor until you’ve gotten Daddy Warbucks off the dole. Voters will insist on that — as well they should.

So why hasn’t it happened? Why hasn’t the GOP pledged to end corporate welfare as we know it?

Part of the explanation is that too many have gotten confused about the difference between free-market capitalism and crony capitalism.

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And part of the problem is corporate welfare that is so well hidden from public view in the budget that no one has really measured how big this mountain of giveaway cash to the Fortune 500 really is. Finding out is like trying to break into the CIA.

Until now. Open the Books, an Illinois-based watchdog group, has been scrupulously monitoring all federal grants, loans, direct payments and insurance subsidies flowing to individuals and companies.

It’s an attempt to force federal agencies to release information on where the $4 trillion budget is really spent — and Open the Books will release a new report on corporate welfare payments to the Fortune 100 companies from 2000 to 2012.

Over that period, the 100 received $1.2 trillion in payments from the federal government.

That number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank and auto company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments and where they went are kept mostly invisible in the federal agency books.

As suspected, the biggest welfare queens in the U.S. are the super wealthy themselves, but they’d rather you focus on some single mother on welfare simply trying to survive.

I have been trying to track down the full report with no luck as of yet. If I am able to, I will update this post.

Follow Mike on Twitter.

Debt and Taxes

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Source: http://www.europac.net

By Peter Schiff

Debt and Taxes

 

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital

The red flags contained in the national and global headlines that have come out thus far in 2014 should have spooked investors and economic forecasters. Instead the markets have barely noticed. It seems that the majority opinion on Wall Street and Washington is that we have entered an era of good fortune made possible by the benevolent hand of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen have apparently removed all the economic rough edges that would normally draw blood. As a result of this monetary “baby-proofing,” a strong economy is no longer considered necessary for rising stock and real estate prices.

But unfortunately, everything has a price, even free money. Our current quest to push up asset prices at all costs will come back to bite all Americans squarely in the pocket book. Death and taxes have long been linked by a popular maxim. However, there also exists a similar link between debt and taxes. The debt we are now incurring in order to buttress current stock and real estate will inevitably lead to higher taxes down the road. However, don’t expect the taxes to arrive in their traditional garb. Instead, the stealth tax of inflation will be used to drain Americans of their hard earned purchasing power.

I explore this connection in great length in my latest report Taxed By Debt, available for free download at www.taxedbydebt.com. But diagnosing a problem is just half the battle. I also present investing strategies that I believe can help Americans avoid the traps that are now being laid so carefully.

The last few years have proven that there is no line Washington will not cross in order to keep bubbles from popping. Just 10 years ago many of the analysts now crowing about the perfect conditions would have been appalled by policies that have been implemented to create them. The Fed has held interest rates at zero for five consecutive years, it has purchased trillions of dollars of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, and the Federal government has stimulated the economy through four consecutive trillion-dollar annual deficits. While these moves may once have been looked on as something shocking…now anything goes.

But the new monetary morality has nothing to do with virtue, and everything to do with necessity. It is no accident that the concept of “inflation” has experienced a dramatic makeover during the past few years. Traditionally, mainstream discussion treated inflation as a pestilence best vanquished by a strong economy and prudent bankers. Now it is widely seen as a pre-condition to economic health. Economists are making this bizarre argument not because it makes any sense, but because they have no other choice.

America is trying to borrow its way out of recession. We are creating debt now in order to push up prices and create the illusion of prosperity. To do this you must convince people that inflation is a good thing…even while they instinctively prefer low prices to high. But rising asset prices do little to help the underlying economy. That is why we have been stuck in what some economists are calling a “jobless recovery.” The real reason it’s jobless is because it’s not a real recovery!  So while the current booms in stocks and condominiums have been gifts to financial speculators and the corporate elite, average Americans can only watch from the sidewalks as the parade passes them by. That’s why sales of Mercedes and Maseratis are setting record highs while Fords and Chevrolets sit on showroom floors. Rising prices to do not create jobs, increase savings or expand production. Instead all we get is debt, which at some point in the future must be repaid.

As detailed in my special report, when President Obama took office at the end of 2008, the national debt was about $10 trillion. Just five years later it has surpassed a staggering $17.5 trillion. This raw increase is roughly equivalent to all the Federal debt accumulated from the birth of our republic to 2004! The defenders of this debt explosion tell us that the growth eventually sparked by this stimulus will allow the U.S. to repay comfortably. Talk about waiting for Godot. To actually repay, we will have few options. We can cut government spending, raise taxes, borrow, or print. But as we have seen so often in recent years, neither political party has the will to either increase taxes or decrease spending.

So if cutting and taxing are off the table, we can expect borrowing and printing. That is exactly what has been happening. In recent years, the Fed has bought approximately 60% of the debt issued by the Treasury. This has kept the bond market strong and interest rates extremely low. But a country can’t buy its own debt with impunity indefinitely. In fact the Fed, by winding down its QE program by the end of 2014, has threatened to bring the party to an end.

Although bond yields remain close to record low territory, thanks to continued QE buying, we have seen vividly in recent years how the markets react negatively to any hint of higher rates. That’s why any indication that the Fed will lift rates from zero can be enough to plunge the markets into the red. The biggest market reaction to Yellen’s press conference this week came when the Chairwoman seemed to fix early 2015 as the time in which rates could be lifted from zero. That possibility slapped the markets like a frigid polar wind.

Janet Yellen may talk about tightening someday, but she will continue to move the goalposts to avoid actually having to do so. (Or as she did this week, remove the goalposts altogether). As global investors finally realize that the Fed has no credible exit strategy from its zero interest policy, they will fashion their own exit strategy from U.S. obligations. Should this happen, interest rates will spike, the dollar will plunge, and inflation’s impact on consumer prices will be far more pronounced than it is today. This is when the inflation tax will take a much larger bite out of our savings and paychecks.  The debt that sustains us now will one day be our undoing.

But there are steps investors can take to help mitigate the damage, particularly by moving assets to those areas of the world that are not making the same mistakes that we are. In my new report, I describe many of these markets. Just because the majority of investors seem to be swallowing the snake oil being peddled doesn’t mean it’s wise to join the party. I urge you to download my report and decide for yourself.

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.

Order your copy of Peter Schiff’s latest book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes.

The Federal Reserve Seems Quite Serious About Tapering – So What Comes Next?

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

The Federal Reserve Seems Quite Serious About Tapering – So What Comes Next?

 

Dollars-300x300Will this be the year when the Fed’s quantitative easing program finally ends?  For a long time, many analysts were proclaiming that the Fed would never taper.  But then it started happening.  Then a lot of them started talking about how “the untaper” was right around the corner.  That hasn’t happened either.  It looks like that under Janet Yellen the Fed is quite determined to bring the quantitative easing program to a close by the end of this year.  Up until now, the financial markets have been slow to react because there has been a belief that the Fed would reverse course on tapering the moment that the U.S. economy started to slow down again.  But even though the U.S. middle class is in horrible shape, and even though there are lots of signs that we are heading into another recession, the Fed has continued tapering.

Of course it is important to note that the Fed is still absolutely flooding the financial system with money even after the announcement of more tapering on Wednesday.  When you are talking about $55,000,000,000 a month, you are talking about a massive amount of money.  So the Fed is not exactly being hawkish.

But when Yellen told the press that quantitative easing could end completely this fall and that the Fed could actually start raising interest rates about six months after that, it really spooked the markets.

The Dow was down 114 points on Wednesday, and the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries shot up to 2.77%.  The following is how CNBC described the reaction of the markets on Wednesday…

Despite a seemingly dovish tone, markets recoiled at remarks from Yellen, who said interest rate increases likely would start six months after the monthly bond-buying program ends. If the program winds down in the fall, that would put a rate hike in the spring of 2015, earlier than market expectations for the second half of the year.
 
Stocks tumbled as Yellen spoke at her initial post-meeting news conference, with the Dow industrials at one point sliding more than 200 points before shaving those losses nearly in half. Short-term interest rates rose appreciably, with the five-year note moving up 0.135 percentage points. The seven-year note tumbled more than one point in price.

But this is just the beginning.  When it finally starts sinking in, and investors finally start realizing that the Fed is 100% serious about ending the flow of easy money, that is when things will start getting really interesting.

Can the financial markets stand on their own without massive Fed intervention?

We shall see.  Even now there are lots of signs that a market crash could be coming up in the not too distant future.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Is ‘Dr. Copper’ Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

And what is going to happen to the market for U.S. Treasuries once the Fed stops gobbling them up?

Where is the demand going to come from?

In recent months, foreign demand for U.S. debt has really started to dry up.  Considering recent developments in Ukraine, it is quite certain that Russia will not be accumulating any more U.S. debt, and China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves” and China actually dumped about 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December alone.

Collectively, Russia and China account for about a quarter of all foreign-owned U.S. debt.  If you take them out of the equation, foreign demand for U.S. debt is not nearly as strong.

Will domestic sources be enough to pick up the slack?  Or will we see rates really start to rise once the Fed steps to the sidelines?

And of course rates on U.S. government debt should actually be much higher than they are right now.  It simply does not make sense to loan the U.S. government massive amounts of money at interest rates that are far below the real rate of inflation.

If free market forces are allowed to prevail, it is inevitable that interest rates on U.S. debt will go up substantially, and that will mean higher interest rates on mortgages, cars, and just about everything else.

Of course the central planners at the Federal Reserve could choose to reverse course at any time and start pumping again.  This is the kind of thing that can happen when you don’t have a true free market system.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve is at the very heart of the economic and financial problems of this country.  When the Fed intervenes and purposely distorts the operation of free markets, the Fed creates economic and financial bubbles which inevitably burst later on.  We saw this happen during the great financial crisis of 2008, and now it is happening again.

This is what happens when you allow an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners to have far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

Most people don’t realize this, but the greatest period of economic growth in all of U.S. history was when there was no central bank.

We don’t need a Federal Reserve.  In fact, the performance of the Federal Reserve has been absolutely disastrous.

Since the Fed was created just over 100 years ago, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 96 percent of its value, and the size of the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.  The Fed is at the very center of a debt-based financial system that has trapped us, our children and our grandchildren in an endless spiral of debt slavery.

And now we are on the verge of the greatest financial crisis that the United States has ever seen.  The economic and financial storm that is about to unfold is ultimately going to be even worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Things did not have to turn out this way.

Congress could have shut down the Federal Reserve long ago.

But our “leaders” never seriously considered doing such a thing, and the mainstream media kept telling all of us how much we desperately needed central planners to run our financial system.

Well, now those central planners have brought us to the brink of utter ruin, and yet only a small minority of Americans are calling for change.

Soon, we will all get to pay a great price for this foolishness.  A great financial storm is fast approaching, and it is going to be exceedingly painful.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

 

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Published by Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux speaks with legendary investor Jim Rogers about the future of the world economy, the coming economic shift and how to prepare for the future.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

You can get “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” and other books by Jim Rogers at http://www.fdrurl.com/jimrogers

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts and other info at: http://www.freedomainradio.com

 

More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

 

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It will still be the Obama Fed long after this president has gone.

 

The Obama administration has repeatedly complained about Republican blocking tactics in the Senate. In this context, it is worth remembering that the Democrats blocked President’s Bush’s last three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board. The Democrats calculated that a member of their party might win the White House in 2008 and why not wait in the hopes that a Democrat could shape the Federal Reserve for a generation to come.

This bet paid off, in that the seven member board is now comprised entirely of Obama appointees. Moreover Fed member terms are for 14 years, so a president’s choices may influence monetary policy long after he has left office.

Does any of this matter? Yes, the Federal Reserve has more power over the economy than the president himself. But isn’t monetary policy a non-partisan affair? Surely Fed members don’t operate with R’s or D’s on their backs.

Actually the idea of appointing non-partisan Fed members is even more of a fairy tale than the similar idea of appointing non-partisan judges. No one doubts anymore that the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is about politics. The illusion has persisted a little longer that we just need “good people” at the Fed, regardless of political and economic orientation, but illusion it is. As in the rest of politics, the Fed represents a battle between ideas and special interests.

The pretense of non-partisanship lasted longer at the Fed because until recently both Republicans and Democrats largely agreed about what they wanted from it. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, they were Keynesians who wanted more dollars printed and lower interest rates, because that was seen as the route to getting elected or re-elected, and why worry about the long run consequences, since as Keynes pointed out “in the long run we are all dead.”

This is now changing. Republicans succeeded in blocking Obama’s nomination of radical economist Peter Diamond to the Fed in 2011. After Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” of restricting the filibuster, Republicans could no longer repeat this performance. But 28 of them voted against Obama’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the new Fed chairman. Only 11 of them voted to confirm: Flake (Ariz.); Kirk (Ill.); Corker (Tenn.); Coburn (Okla.); Collins (Maine); Coats (In.); Chambliss (Ga.); Burr (N.C.); Alexander (Tenn.); Ayotte (N.H.); and Murkowski (Alaska).

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) exemplifies the confused Republican of today. He grasps that current monetary policy favors endless expansion of government control over the economy, with huge pay-offs to Wall Street and other special interests along the way, but falls for the circular argument that Fed members are “well qualified” precisely because they come from Keynesian university economics departments, government, or Wall Street.

In retrospect, there was something notable about George W. Bush’s last three appointees to the Fed board—the ones that were blocked by the Democrats. None of them had advanced degrees in economics. This was a throw-back to the old days when Fed appointees were rarely academic economists, but a sharp departure from current practice, when most are.

Respected financial writer Jim Grant jokes that today’s Fed has replaced the gold standard with the “Phd standard.” The problem, of course, is not Phds, but the economics departments they are coming from, and the lack of common sense in those departments. The Phd standard has given us the likes of the last Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, who bet the future of the US and indeed the world on a completely unproven and untested economic theory while literally smirking at those few unintimidated souls who, like Congressman Ron Paul, dared question him.

President Obama has now given us three more nominees to the Fed and the Senate has had a chance to interview them. The first and most important is Stanley Fischer, aged 70, nominee for vice chairman as well as a regular member.

The most curious thing about Fischer’s resume is that, having been born in Zambia, and naturalized as an American in 1976, he accepted Israeli citizenship in 2005 in order to become head of Israel’s central bank. Today he holds dual citizenship. Prior to living in Israel, he worked as a vice chairman of Citigroup from 2002-5, the years leading to the bank’s bail-out, and prior to that was deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, chief economist of the World Bank, and professor at MIT, where he taught Ben Bernanke among others. Somewhere along the way, he acquired a personal fortune of between $14 and $56mm.

We are thus to understand that President Obama, having searched the entire length and breadth of our land, could find nobody better than a 70 year old with Wall St. and International Monetary Fund baggage who had most recently worked for a foreign government.

The second nominee after Fischer is Lael Brainard, who has recently worked at the Treasury as an undersecretary. Ms. Brainard told senators that the Fed should protect “the savings of retirees.” She did not bother to explain how refusing to allow interest to be paid on savings, or seeking to foster inflation higher than interest would do so.

The final nominee, Jerome Powell, would be a reappointment. Although not a Phd economist and nominally a Republican from the George H. W. Bush administration, he fits the Obama mold in other ways, notably by being from Wall Street, and by being willing to keep quiet and go along. His most daring moment came when he called the Fed’s money creation machine under Bernanke and now under Janet Yellen “innovative and unconventional” and added that “likely benefits may be accompanied by costs and risks.” He has been a reliable vote for Bernanke and likely will be for the Yellen/Fischer regime as well.

Senator Corker waxed enthusiastic about this group of three, saying “I’m impressed,” and leading bond manager Mohamed El-Erian describes them as a “dream team” together with Yellen.

This does indeed seem to be a “dream team” for Wall Street, for corporations boosting profits to record levels with the help of government deficits, for other special interests feeding off the stimulus trough, and for government employees. For everyone else, it just promises more and eventually even worse economic misery.

 

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

The average Wall Street bonus is…

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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The average Wall Street bonus is…

 

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$164,000

Remember, this is the average bonus. Some are astronomically higher. (Some of course are also lower.)

We at ACC have absolutely no problem with people making large piles of money, even in banking. Frankly we are all for it. However when these piles of money are underwritten in many ways by the people of the United States, and the world, the piles are less legit.

The Federal Reserve system and the experiment called “quantitative easing” has made these bonuses possible.

While the easy money translates into good times for Wall Street, the vast majority of the population which lacks assets for the most part must contend with higher prices generally and lower interest rates (which are bad for savers, particularly of the middle class kind). Though no one on the Street will admit it, much of the record bonuses of last year came indirectly from the broader public. (Don’t forget the bailout. Your kids get to pay for that one.)

It’s hard to see sometimes. People lose track of where the money goes. They forget that the Fed is still dumping $65 billion in new money into the financial system each month. People don’t see that through inflation and other forms of wealth erosion created by the Federal Reserve their lives are diminished. The Fed counts on this. It counts on the average person being bewildered by central banking.

And the investment banks count on people remaining bewildered by “bond buying” and the Fed Funds rate, and all the rest of the the bluish smoke which wafts out of the Eccles Building too. In this “fog of finance” there is money to be extracted.

(From The New York Post)

Wall Street still remains a very lucrative place to work. According to the Comptroller’s report, for fiscal year 2012 — the most recent data — the average Wall Street salary, including bonuses, was $360,700, more than five times greater than the rest of the private sector.*

Click here for the article.

* In New York City.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

The Top 12 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

The Top 12 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

 

12-Reasons-To-Be-Extremely-Pessimistic-About-The-Direction-That-The-Economy-Is-Headed-300x300Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession?  Will 2014 turn out to be a major “turning point” when we look back on it?  Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession.  For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.  So if anyone out there would like to argue that America is experiencing a recession right now, I certainly would not have a problem with that.  In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment.  But no matter whether we are in a “recession” at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown.  The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession…

#1 We recently learned that the number of new mortgage applications in the United States had fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in nearly 20 years.

#2 Radio Shack has announced that it is going to close more than 1,000 stores.  This is just another sign that we are in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.

#3 The ISM Services index just fell to its lowest level in 4 years, and ISM Services Employment just experienced its largest decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#4 Obamacare is really starting to hammer the U.S. health care industry

“The Affordable Care Act is creating significant financial uncertainty to health care organizations,” said a survey respondent from the health care and social assistance industry.
 
“With little warning, the negative impact on revenue has been unprecedented.”

#5 Trading revenue at the “too big to fail” banks on Wall Street is way down

Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) are bracing investors for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading, a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business.
 
Citigroup finance chief John Gerspach said yesterday his firm expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage, less than a week after JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said revenue from equities and fixed income was down about 15 percent. If trading at the nine largest firms slumps that much, it would extend the slide from 2010’s first quarter to 36 percent.

#6 One of the “too big to fail” banks, JPMorgan, is planning to fire “thousands” more workers.

#7 Moody’s has downgraded the credit rating of the city of Chicago again.  Now it is just three notches above junk status.

#8 The U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs during the month of January according to the unadjusted numbers.  Over the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs during the month of January was in 2009 at the peak of the last recession.

#9 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

#10 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#11 Global retail sales for machinery giant Caterpillar have fallen for 14 months in a row.

#12 The economic data show that virtually all of the largest economies on the planet are slowing down right now.  The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article

The last 3 weeks have seen the macro fundamentals of the G-10 major economies collapse at the fastest pace in almost 4 years and almost the biggest slump since Lehman. Despite a plethora of data showing that ‘weather’ is not to blame, US strategists, ‘economists’, and asset-gatherers are sticking to the meme that this is all because of the cold on the east coast of the US (and that means wondrous pent-up demand to come). However, as the New York Times reports, for the earth, it was the 4th warmest January on record.

For much more on how the rest of the global economy is also slowing down, please see my recent article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.

Meanwhile, things in Ukraine continue to become even more tense, and the Russian government continues to debate how it will respond if the U.S. does end up deciding to hit Russia with economic sanctions.

According to one Russian news source, the Russian parliament is actually considering the confiscation of the property and assets of U.S. businesses in Russia if the U.S. decides to go ahead with economic sanctions against Russia…

The upper house of Russia’s parliament is mulling measures allowing property and assets of European and US companies to be confiscated in the event of sanctions being adopted against Russia over its threatened military intervention in Ukraine.

We are talking about banks, retail chains, mining operations, etc.

U.S. companies have billions invested in Russia, and all of that could be gone in an instant.

So let us certainly hope that economic war between the United States and Russia is averted.  Our economy is hurting enough as it is.

But no matter how things with this crisis in Ukraine play out, it looks like hard times are ahead for the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, most Americans never learned the lessons that they should have learned back in 2008.

They just assume that the federal government and the Federal Reserve have fixed our problems and have everything under control, so they are not preparing for the next great crisis.

In the end, tens of millions of Americans will be absolutely devastated when they get absolutely blindsided by what is coming.

The-Countdown-To-The-Break-Up-Of-The-Euro-Has-Officially-Begun-425x438

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

 

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

 

In the wake of the housing crash, wide swathes of the desert Southwest, Florida, Atlanta, parts of California, and other places were littered with relatively new homes which were empty. The pre-seeded lawn turf often hadn’t even taken root before the foreclosures began.

Each vacant home represented a personal economic disaster for someone. Families moved in with grandparents. Pets were left in shelters which were filled far beyond capacity. It was only a couple of years ago. For many the memory is still very fresh.

But at about the same time parts of Tuscon started to be reclaimed by tumbleweeds a few hedge funds (and banks) figured that there was yield to be made from renting the homes which were now unused back to the people who could no longer afford to own them. If the homes could be pooled along with the rents, perhaps the investments could even be sold as derivatives.

Market solution right?

Wrong.

Why did the Crash of 2008 happen?

The version we hear now is that Wall Street created all these bizarre instruments for investing, got greedy, and then it all toppled on itself. That’s the version one will hear from outlets like The Washington Post or Time.

Then there’s another version which is liked by the more conservative folks which holds that the Community Reinvestment Act  signed by Clinton encouraged home ownership in places where people really had no business taking on a mortgage. Then the poor risks imploded the market.

Both narratives have a lot of truth to them. Yes Wall Street got greedy. Yes it did create overly complex instruments which went haywire. And yes the Community Reinvestment Act, an insane act of social engineering if there ever was one helped to collapse the market.

But these things are only a part, and not the main part of the story.

The Crash of 2008 occurred because Allan Greenspan panicked in the wake of the 2000 recession and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He cut interest rates to low and kept them there for too long.

After folks had gotten hammered in the tech bubble collapse of the late 1990s they looked around for a new way to grow money. Baby boomers were staring right at retirement. Suddenly they discovered residential property which could be financed at next to nothing thanks to the Fed keeping rates lower than they should have. Plus many people rationalized, real estate was tangible, unlike tech stocks. Baby boomers, and then their children, piled in because of all the cheap money from the Fed. Before Greenspan knew it he had ignighted a worldwide fire fueled by easy money. The crash was only a matter of time.

But when the carnage came most of the banks (especially the megabanks) emerged. Some, like Goldman Sachs, stronger than ever.  First they were bailed out by the US taxpayer directly to the tune of probably more than a $trillion (we don’t really know.) Then after the acute phase – you know the time when families across the country were waiting in in humiliation for the banks to kick them out of their homes (remember that?)- the Fed began the quantitative easing infusion of monetary junk into the arm of the financial sector.

With time the banks were recapitalized (even if they were now easy money junkies) and fat bonuses were had by many courtesy of the taxpayer.

The former homeowners were not recapitalized however, and found that they had just rejoined the rental market – if they were lucky enough to have a stream of income. 2010- 2011 were especially hard years for many Americans. They were record years for a few of the megabanks.

Now a few years on the recapitalized banks, the insiders, the friends of the Fed, have picked up the homes which were in distress to rent them back to great unwashed. How nice of them. Especially having been bailed out by the great unwashed.

But that is life in a crony capitalist economy. If one has friends in the government one gets hooked up. If one doesn’t one gets to rent one’s house from a faceless PO Box in downtown Manhattan.

And make sure the rent is on time. You wouldn’t want to have us kick you out of your home again would you?

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

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