Posts filed under “Think Tank”

Ben the Bartender

Ben the Bartender is working the after hours party as the Fed will keep rates at “exceptionally low levels…for an extended period.” Also with respect to inflation, the commentary is identical to the Sept 23rd meeting which is highly dovish, this even as gold is at a record high, the CRB index is up 8% and the implied inflation rate in the 10 yr TIPS is up almost 30 bps. The 1st paragraph on the economy is very similar to the Sept 23rd meeting but they referred to household spending as “expanding” from “stabilizing” in Sept. The FOMC said they will buy $175b of agency paper in total from $200b previously. Bottom line, the Fed seems solely focused on keeping the yield curve as steep as possible in order to further recapitalize the banking system and also to boost the housing market by trying to keep mortgage rates low. They don’t care about the US$ and thus don’t care about inflation. DOVISH is the word of the day!

Looking out to the April 2010 FOMC meeting, the very dovish Fed statement has reduced the odds of a 25 bps rate hike to 40% from 54% priced in just prior.

Category: MacroNotes

Bianco on Fed Action

Today’s FOMC Meeting – Fed Likely to Signal Economy Improving, Keep Interest Rates Low Federal Reserve officials may today indicate their $1 trillion injection into the economy is helping to revive growth without requiring an increase in interest rates from near zero, economists said. Policy makers will probably maintain their commitment to keeping rates…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Think Tank

Inflation expectations rising to the highest since Sept ’08

Ahead of the 2:15pm FOMC statement, the implied inflation rate today in the 10 yr TIPS is rising to 2.08%, matching the highest level since Sept 1st ’08 when the fed funds rate was at 2%. Of course much has changed since with the economy but it highlights the dilemma the Fed faces with their…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

ISM services

The ISM services index was a touch below expectations at 50.6 vs forecasts of 51.5 and it’s down from 50.9 in Sept. Business Activity did rise a hair to 55.2, the highest since Oct ’07. Unlike the rise in the employment component in the ISM manufacturing report, services employment fell 3.2 pts to 41.1, the…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

ADP jobs report

ADP said the private sector shed a net 203k jobs in Oct, a touch more than expectations of a drop of 198k. It is though the smallest amount of job losses since July ’08 but is now running 21 straight months. Sept was revised up by 27k to a loss of 227k. The goods producing…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

When does Ben say no?

As a parent, the easiest thing to do is say yes to the kids and give them what they want. What’s harder is to say no and instill some discipline. The Fed faces a similar issue today in deciding when to say no to extraordinarily easy money. Ben’s in a no win situation for now…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

King Report: Political Bombshells

> A political bombshell exploded in the US last night. While the largest impact is on Democrats, there were clear warning shots fired at GOP nabobs. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent over $100 million to retain his office; but he only procured 51% of the votes. Polls gave Mike a 12 to 16pt lead…RINOs…Read More

Category: Politics, Think Tank

Just Desserts and Markets Being Silly Again

My long time readers are familiar with Jeremy Grantham of GMO as I quote him a lot. He is one of the more brilliant and talented value managers (and I should mention very successful on behalf of his clients). He writes a quarterly letter which I regard as a must read. I have excerpted parts of his recent letter, where the chief investment strategist really takes the current financial system follies to task. Typical of his great writing and thinking is the quote from this week’s Outside the Box selection:

“I can imagine the company representatives on the Titanic II design committee repeatedly pointing out that the Titanic I tragedy was a black swan event: utterly unpredictable and completely, emphatically, not caused by any failures of the ship’s construction, of the company’s policy, or of the captain’s competence. “No one could have seen this coming,” would have been their constant refrain. Their response would have been to spend their time pushing for more and improved lifeboats. In itself this is a good idea, and that is the trap: by working to mitigate the pain of the next catastrophe, we allow ourselves to downplay the real causes of the disaster and thereby invite another one. And so it is today with our efforts to redesign the financial system in order to reduce the number and severity of future crises.”

You can get the full letter at (You will have to register).

Your glad to be back home at least for a week,

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box

Just Desserts and Markets Being Silly Again

by Jeremy Grantham

Just Desserts

I can’t tell you how surprised, even embarrassed I was to get the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Yes, I had passed the dreaded chemistry A-level for 18-year-olds back in England in 1958. But did they realize it was my third attempt? And, yes, I will take this honor as encouragement to do some serious thinking on the topic. I will also invest the award to help save the planet. Perhaps that was really the Nobel Committee’s sneaky motive, since there are regrettably no green awards yet. Still, all in all, it didn’t seem deserved. And then it occurred to me. Isn’t that the point these days: that rewards do not at all reflect our just desserts? Let’s review some of the more obvious examples.

1. For Missing the Unmissable

Bernanke, the most passionate cheerleader of Greenspan’s follies, is picked as his replacement, partly, it seems, for his belief that U.S. house prices would never decline and that at their peak in late 2005 they largely just reflected the unusual strength of the U.S. economy. As well as missing on his very own this 3-sigma (100-year) event in housing, he was completely clueless as to the potential disastrous interactions among lower house prices, new opaque financial instruments, heroically increased mortgages, lower lending standards, and internationally networked distribution. For these accumulated benefits to society, he was reappointed! So, yes, after the fashion of his mentor, he was lavish with help as the bubble burst. And how can we so quickly forget the very painful consequences of the previous lavishing after the 2000 bubble? Rewarding Bernanke is like reappointing the Titanic’s captain for facilitating an orderly disembarkation of the sinking ship (let’s pretend that happened) while ignoring the fact that he had charged recklessly through dark and dangerous waters.

2. The Other Teflon Men

Larry Summers, with a Financial Times bully pulpit, had done little bullying and blown no warning whistles of impending doom back in 2006 and 2007. And, famously, in earlier years as Treasury Secretary he had encouraged (I hope inadvertently) wild and reckless financial behavior by helping to beat back attempts to regulate some of the new and most dangerous instruments. Timothy Geithner, in turn, sat in the very engine room of the USS Disaster and helped steer her onto the rocks. And there are several others (discussed in the 4Q 2008 Letter). You know who you are. All promoted!

3. Misguided, Sometimes Idiotic Mortgage Borrowers

The more misguided or reckless the borrowers, the more determined the efforts to help them out, it appears, although it must be admitted these efforts had limited effect. In comparison, those who showed restraint and either underhoused themselves or rented received not even a hint of help. Quite the reverse: the money the more prudent potential buyers held back from housing received an artificially low rate. In effect, the prudent are subsidizing the very same banks that insisted on dancing off the cliff into Uncle Sam’s arms or, rather, the arms of the taxpayers – many of whom rent.

4. Reckless Homebuilders

Having magnificently overbuilt for several years by any normal relationship to the population, we have decided to encourage even more homebuilding by giving new house buyers $8,000 each. This cash comes partly from the pockets of prudent renters once again. This gift is soon, perhaps, to be extended beyond first-time buyers (for whom everyone with a heart has a slight sympathy) to any buyers, which would be blatant vote-buying by Congress. So what else is new?

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Category: Think Tank

Two Different Conversations In The Marketplace

James Bianco has run Bianco Research out of Chicago since November 1990. He has been producing fixed income commentaries with a circulation of hundreds of portfolio managers and traders. Jim’s commentaries have a special emphasis on: money flow characteristics of primary dealers, mutual funds, hedge funds, futures traders, banks, and institutional investors. Prior to founding…Read More

Category: Think Tank

The S&P 500 in gold terms ahead of tomorrow’s FOMC statement

With gold rallying to a fresh all time high today, let’s again put the performance this year in the S&P 500 in gold (real money, non fiat) terms ahead of tomorrow’s FOMC statement where we’ll hear whether they hint at any change in the level of their extraordinary accommodation. In gold, the S&P 500 is…Read More

Category: MacroNotes