Posts filed under “BP Cafe”

Person of the Year, My Foot! Bernanke “Failed Miserably”

Below is my video on TechTicker today. Get on the phone and call your Senator.


Category: BP Cafe

Leen’s Photos: Driza, Ritholtz, Rosner, Kotok, Tobey, King et al.

I thought the residents of The Big Picture would like to see some of the photos I took on this year’s fishing junket and economic debate session at Leen’s Lodge in Grand Lake Stream Maine. Our host Charles Driza did a tremendous job of taking care of our various wants and needs.  If you ever…Read More

Category: BP Cafe

Here is an excerpt from our latest issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst comment and some additional thoughts since we’ve published.  Got some very good responses/retorts that we’ll share with with la famiglia ritholtz as with previous comments.

“Kabuki is classical ancient Japanese folk theater performed broadly and loudly for the general public. I became familiar with it when I lived in Tokyo years ago. Kabuki on the Potomac this week fit Kabuki’s theatrical definition with lawmakers wailing loudly, uttering angry threats, and rhythmically pounding podiums in a performance of mangled metaphors and fantasy.”

The Rag Blog
March 22, 2009

We gratefully acknowledge contributions for today’s comment from members of the Herbert Gold Society, an informal group of current and former employees of the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve System.

Despite bringing the world economy to its knees and costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts for events such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and American International Group (NYSE:AIG), the Masters of the Universe who run the largest Wall Street firms of have learned not a thing when it comes to credit default swaps (“CDS”) and other types of high-risk financial engineering. Indeed, not only are the largest derivative dealers fighting efforts to reform the CDS and other derivative instruments that caused the AIG fiasco, but regulators like the Federal Reserve Board and US Treasury are working with the banks to ensure that a small group of dealers increase their monopoly over the business of over-the-counter (“OTC”) derivatives.

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Category: BP Cafe, Think Tank

Banks and Economic Data Wrestle to a Draw

Good Evening: Multiple crosscurrents prevented stocks from making much headway in either direction today, with the major averages finishing appropriately mixed on light volume. Negative stories about the banks and their impending need to raise capital clashed with positive surprises from today’s economic data releases. Given that the banks have been the leaders in both…Read More

Category: BP Cafe, Markets, Think Tank

The Real Swine Flu

Good Evening: The major U.S. stock market averages declined on light volume today, and an outbreak of a new strain of swine flu was deemed the primary culprit. Upon closer inspection, however, it seems as if the sloppy — even hoggish — bank lending practices of the previous up cycle are as much to blame…Read More

Category: BP Cafe, Markets, Think Tank

This AM I was on CNBC discussing the banks with Paul Miller of FBR.  Paul is a first rate analysts, IMHO. I suggested that the big banks should not be allowed to repay TARP equity to long as the government is guaranteeing their debt. That is, if a bank wants to repay TARP capital, they must…Read More

Category: BP Cafe, Think Tank

Swine Flu Comments

As if the global economy, let alone the world itself, needed another thing to worry about, swine flu comes along. Having lived through the experience of SARS 6 years ago, the Hang Seng and Shanghai stock markets were hard hit. Economically sensitive commodities such as crude and copper are also weak. The Mexican peso is…Read More

Category: BP Cafe, MacroNotes, Markets, Think Tank

The King Report

> Today – SPMs are down 14.60 in Sunday night trading because Obama’s chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, asserted while appearing on Fox News Sunday, that the economic freefall is over but, “I expect the economy will continue to decline… [with] sharp declines in employment for quite some time this year.” (Reuters) • “The anticipation…Read More

Category: Bailouts, BP Cafe, Financial Press, Markets, Think Tank

Words from the (investment) wise 4.26.09

Words from the (investment) wise for the week that was (April 20 – 26, 2009)

“Words from the Wise” this week comes to you in a shortened format as my traveling in the US precludes me from doing my customary commentary. However, a full dose of excerpts from interesting news items and quotes from market commentators is provided.

On Friday, Federal Reserve regulators have released a white paper outlining the criteria they used to assess the financial health of the nation’s 19 biggest banks. On the same day they also briefed the banks about how their companies had fared in the examination. The banks will have until Tuesday to dispute any of the results before they are made public on May 4.

According to the Financial Times, senior Fed officials said US authorities will ask some of the country’s biggest banks to raise more capital following the completion of bank stress tests. The officials also indicated that a second, larger, group of banks will be asked to improve the quality of their capital by increasing their amount of common equity.


Last week investors’ mood was also influenced by tentative signs of economic stabilization in a number of countries and a barrage of earnings report – generally better than feared. As the equity rally ground to a halt on some bourses, the US dollar and government bonds offered little safety appeal and edged weaker. Gold, on the other hand, advanced after China revealed it has almost doubled its gold reserves since 2003. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) also improved on the week.

The performance of the major asset classes is summarized by the chart below, courtesy of


After rising for six consecutive weeks, global stock markets experienced a volatile week, including the worst losses since early March on Monday. In the end, the MSCI World Index gained 0.1% (YTD -4.1%) on the week and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index 0.7% (YTD +14.2%), but the S&P 500 Index shaved off -0.4% (YTD -4.1).

Click on the table below for a larger image.


As far as the earnings season is concerned, Bespoke indicated that 156 S&P 500 companies had reported earnings by Thursday, beating estimates in 67% of the cases. Also, so far earnings are down 16.6% versus the first quarter of 2008. While down, this is much better than the -37.3% expected at the start of the earnings season. “The earnings season still has a long way to go, but the current trend has investors optimistic,” said Bespoke.

In an attempt to cast light on the debate of whether we are dealing with a bull market or a bear market rally, William Hester (Hussman Funds) highlighted the following: “Contracting volume is not enough evidence to qualify that this is a bear-market rally with certainty. There are other measures that are showing more strength – such as various indicators of market breadth. But new bull markets, whether at their inception or soon after, have a history of recruiting noticeable improvements in volume. So far this rally lacks that important quality. Over the next few weeks stock market volume will be a metric to watch closely.”

The stock market will show its hand in due course, but it is crucial that the lows of March 9 hold in order for base formation development to remain intact. Should these levels – 677 for the S&P 500 and 6,547 for the Dow Jones – be breached, further downside movements may be in store.

For more discussion on the direction of stock markets, see my recent posts “Video-o-rama: Economy – Recovery or relapse?” and “Has stock market rally run its course?” (And do make a point of listening to Donald Coxe’s webcast of April 24, which can be accessed from the sidebar of the Investment Postcards site.)

Next, a quick textual analysis of my week’s reading. No surprises here, with key words such as “banks”, “market”, “economy”, “economic”, “government” and “prices” featuring prominently.


“Global business sentiment remains very poor, but it has taken on a slightly better hue in recent weeks. Broad assessments of current and prospective conditions have also moved up measurably since the beginning of the year,” said the latest Survey of Business Confidence of the World conducted by Moody’s “It is premature to conclude that businesses are turning measurably more upbeat, but recent survey results are somewhat encouraging.”


For a further perspective on the outlook for the global economy, also read my posts “Economic rate of decline slowing down?“, “Goldman raises China’s growth forecasts” and “Chinese economy on the rebound“.

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Category: BP Cafe, Think Tank

Back to the Future Recession

Back to the Future Recession

April 24, 2009
By John Mauldin

Financial Innovation: The Round Trip

Back to the Future Recession

The Fed at the Crossroads

How Did We Get It So Wrong?

The Trend Is Not Your Friend When It Ends

Orlando, Naples, Cleveland, and Grandkids

This week we look at the second half of my speech from a few weeks ago at my annual Strategic Investment Conference in La Jolla. If you have not read the first part, you can review it here.

The first few paragraphs are a repeat from last week, to give us some context. Please note that this is somewhat edited from the original, and I have added a few ideas. You can also go there to sign up to get this letter sent to you free each week.


Okay, when you become a central banker, you are taken into a back room and they do a DNA change on you. You are henceforth and forever genetically incapable of allowing deflation on your watch. It becomes the first and foremost thought on your mind: deflation, we can’t have it.

MV=PQ. This is an important equation, right up there with E=MC2. M (money or the supply of money)
times V (velocity — which is how fast the money goes through the system — if you have seven kids it goes faster than if you have one) is equal to P (the price of money in terms of inflation or deflation) times Q (roughly standing for the Quantity of production, or GDP)

So what happens is, if we increase the supply of money and velocity stays the same, and if GDP does not grow, that means we’ll have inflation, because this equation always balances. But if you reduce velocity (which is happening today) and if you don’t increase the supply of money, you are going to see deflation. We are watching, for reasons we’ll get into in a minute, the velocity of money slow. People are getting nervous, they are not borrowing as much, either because they can’t or the animal spirits that Keynes talked about are not quite there.

To fight this deflation (which we saw in this week’s Producer and Consumer Price Indexes) the Fed is going to print money. A few thoughts on that. The Fed has announced they intend to print $300 billion (quantitative easing, they call it). That is different than buying mortgages and securitized credit card debt — that money (credit) already exists.

When they just print the money and buy Treasuries, as with the $300 billion announced, they can sop that up pretty easily if they find themselves facing inflation down the road. But that problem is a long way off.

Sports fans, $300 billion is just a down payment on the “quantitative easing” they will eventually need to do. They can’t announce what they are really going to do or the market would throw up. But we are going to get quarterly or semi-annual announcements, saying, we are going to do another $300 billion here, another $500 billion there. Pretty soon it will be a really large total number.

When we first started out with TALF and everything, it was a couple hundred billion, and now we just throw the word trillions around and it just drips off of our tongues and we don’t even think about it. A trillion is a lot. It’s a big number. And the total guarantees and backups and all this stuff we are into — I saw an estimate of $10-12 trillion. That’s a lot of money.

Understand, the Fed is going to keep pumping money until we get inflation. You can count on it. I don’t know what that number is; I’m guessing maybe as much as $2 trillion. I’ve seen various studies. Ray Dalio of Bridgewater thinks it’s about $1.5 trillion. It’s some very big number way beyond $300 billion, and they are going to keep at it until we get inflation.

Side point: what happens if the $300 billion they put in the system comes back to the Fed’s books because banks don’t put it into the Libor market because they are worried about credit risks? It does absolutely nothing for the money supply. Okay? It’s like, goes here, goes back there — it doesn’t help us. The Fed has somehow got to get it into the financial system. They’ve got to figure out how to create some movement.

Will it create an asset bubble in stocks again? I don’t know, it could. Dennis [Gartman] talked about being nervous yesterday. I would be nervous about stock markets both on the long side, as I think we are in a bear market rally, but also there is real risk in being short. Bill Fleckenstein will be here tonight. He is a very famous short trader. He closed a short fund a couple of months ago. He says he doesn’t have as many good opportunities, and basically he’s scared of being short with so much stimulus coming in. So it’s going to work, at least in terms of reflation, but the question is, when? A year? Two years?

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Category: BP Cafe, Think Tank