Posts filed under “Think Tank”

Wise Words from Economists ?

Mike Panzner just got back from The Economist’s “Buttonwood Gathering” in New York and thought I’d share a few of the more interesting (and, in some cases, quite enlightening) quotes (in no particular order) from the movers-and-shakers at the (well attended) conference:

Secretary Tim Geithner, United States Department of the Treasury:

“Generally, we did not do enough.” (Referring to the failure to address growing concerns over excessive risk-taking in the period leading up to the financial crisis.) [Editor's note: understatement of the year?]

Stephen Roach, Chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia:

Those who are looking for a “V”-shaped recovery are in for “a rude awakening.”

“The imbalances going into the crisis were large to begin with. Now, they are bigger than ever.”

George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management:

“Bankers have too much power.” (Referring to the hold that Wall Street has over Washington.)

The “globalization of financial markets is built on false premises: namely, that markets can be left to their own devices.”

Sheila C. Bair, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation:

“Insured deposits are being used in ways that I don’t like to see.”

Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, WL Ross & Co.:

People were focused on “risk-ignoring rates of return.” (Describing one of the things that went helped bring about the financial crisis.)

If regulators had taken the time to visit a Countrywide Lending office, they would have seen something akin to “a Wall Street boiler room,” rather than a bank branch. (Referring to regulator’s unwillingness to go out into the field and see what was really going on during the housing boom.)

“Government is its own systemic risk in the mortgage market.”

Lawrence H. Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, The White House:

The root of most financial errors is “when you try to do today what you wished you had done yesterday.”

“I can assure you that on Main Street, it is a very different conversation.” (Referring to the contrast between the optimism on Wall Street and the more pessimistic mood of those struggling to get by in other parts of the country.)

“It is not the administrations’s view to bribe those who have been part of the problems we have experienced to do what is in the national interest.” (Referring to the suggestion that banks and other financial institutions need financial incentives to support proposed regulatory changes.)

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University:

“It was grotesque.” (Referring to fact that, despite its extraordinary size, the $62 trillion credit default swap market was essentially unregulated.)

“This was a crisis made in the U.S.” (Referring to the suggestion that China’s export policies played a key role in creating the credit bubble.)

Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University, William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School:

“We are living though a gradual shift away from a dollar-centric system.”

“Is China the Germany of our time?” (Referring to the combination of economic dynamism and growing nationalism that stoked the aggressive ambitions of Nazi Germany.)

“The problem of being a declining empire doesn’t have a solution.” (Referring to the suggestion that a great many, if not all, of America’s problems are fixable.)

Robert J. Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University:

“Look up ‘bubble’ in an economic textbook and it’s not there.” (Referring to the shortcomings of the traditional economic curriculum.).

People “are living in a ‘pretend-and-extend’ environment, waiting for the economy to recover.” (Referring to the precarious state of the commercial real estate market and the wave of resets coming due between 2011 and 2013.)

Elizabeth Warren, Chair, TARP Congressional Oversight Panel:

“The reason banks lost confidence in each other is because they looked at their own books.” (Referring to the loss of confidence that roiled markets during the darkest days of the crisis.)

Thanks, Mike!

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Think Tank

Get your gold, now at Harrods

In case it was missed yesterday, a new sign of the times is apparent in a world of paper currencies with some being badly debased. Harrods, the huge department store in London, announced that they will be selling gold.

Category: MacroNotes

Economic data of the day

Following the 3 pt drop in the weekly ABC poll on Wednesday, the preliminary Oct UoM confidence figure also fell and was below expectations. At 69.4, it’s down 4.1 pts from Sept (which was the highest since Jan) and was 3.9 pts below forecasts. Most of the drop was in the Outlook as it fell…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

The King Report: Goldie’s Revenue Contributions

> Once again, just like in July, August & September, Benito juiced the system during expiry week. The previous three weeks, the Fed balance sheet contracted modestly. But for the week ended on Wednesday, Benito poured $54.747B into the system via the monetization of $70.699B of MBS… Term auction credit declined 22.937B. (See Table 9)…Read More

Category: Think Tank

Operation 1100

The following is the morning research note from a  major trading desk in NY ~~~ During options expiration week, the dealer community’s desire to “pin” the market to certain key levels renders all other thoughtful analysis moot. Options traders, like all traders, seek liquidity, and liquidity is in the big round number strikes – SPX…Read More

Category: Think Tank

US Foreclosure Activity

FST: > > Source: US foreclosures’ flurry of activity Charlie Carter USFST, 10/15/09

Category: Real Estate, Think Tank

Andy Xie: For Economic Stimuli, a Revolving Exit Door

Can interest rate adjustments, currency devaluation and zigzag policymaking help unwind economic stimuli? It depends.

Australia recently raised its policy interest rate 25 bps, becoming the first major economy to do so since the financial crisis a year ago prompted all major economies to rapidly cut interest rates to historical lows.

Financial markets had been chattering about economic stimuli exits for about a month before Canberra’s move. The consensus was that central banks would keep rates extremely low through 2010, and possibly beyond, on grounds that the economic recovery is still shaky.

Central banks also have been discussing the subject. Their messages are, first, that they know how to exit and will exit before inflation becomes a problem and, second, that they don’t see the need to exit anytime soon. They try to assure bond inventors not to worry about their holdings, despite low bond yields, while trying to persuade stock investors they need not worry about high stock prices, as liquidity will remain strong for the foreseeable future. So far, central banks have made both groups happy. But Australia’s action is likely to raise concern among financial investors who hold expensive stocks and bonds.

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Category: Think Tank

Trichet steps up the US$ rhetoric

In likely the most pointed, direct message given to the US government in a while on the direction of the US$, ECB Pres Trichet said yesterday, “It is extremely important that the US authorities, including the Treasury, the Secretary of the Treasury and the chairman of the Fed would pursue policies that take into account…Read More

Category: MacroNotes

The China Files (Special Project): Real Estate

Today I offer you an insightful look at China’s real estate market – a “burgeoning bubble” that deserves a close eye as the possibility for breaking increases. Remember the chaos in Japan after their own housing dreamscape got violently yanked back to earth? As investors, we have to recognize opportunities – and know what to avoid. With a global economic crisis – and now surging housing prices in China – investors in any global market need to keep watch on political and economic developments around the world.

Today’s analysis comes courtesy my friends at STRATFOR, a global intelligence company. They provide unique and on-the-money analysis and forecasts on all things global, essential for any alternative investment strategy. They’ve got a free newsletter as well, for which I encourage you to sign up by clicking here – so you’re not limited to my caprice.

John Mauldin
Editor, Outside the Box

The China Files (Special Project): Real Estate

October 13, 2009 | 1149 GMT


The real estate market in China, particularly the residential side, is a burgeoning bubble that is growing bigger and more breakable by the day. Land and housing prices were already rising steadily when Beijing’s stimulus package hit the sector in early 2009. Now prices are surging, with developers, bureaucrats and investors cashing in while urban Chinese – once encouraged to invest in home ownership by the central government – become less and less able to buy.

Editor’s Note: This analysis is part of a series that explores China’s industry, finance and statistics.


Related Special Topic Page

The China Files (Special Project)

PDF Version: Click here to download a PDF of this report

On Sept. 10, China Overseas Land and Investment, a Hong Kong-listed company and a subsidiary of state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corp., purchased a prime piece of real estate in the Putuo district in downtown Shanghai. The company paid 7.006 billion yuan ($1.026 billion) for the undeveloped property, which will amount to an average of 22,409.3 yuan ($3,283.9) per square meter of floor space (just in land costs) once the designed residential building is constructed.

The purchase created China’s newest “land king,” a term for the real estate developer who pays the highest price for a piece of real estate during a land auction. And 7.006 billion yuan was the highest price ever paid for a piece of Chinese real estate for any purpose – residential or commercial. The milestone is a result of an increasingly intense competition for land in major cities that began early in the year, when Beijing began distributing stimulus money to various industries – including the real estate sector – to sustain the economy. As a result, land prices have soared throughout China. And with increasing speculative investment in residential real estate, the market faces a surging bubble that jeopardizes the country’s long-term economic development.


Since 1998, real estate investment in China has accounted for more than 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared to only 3 percent to 5 percent in the United States. Such investment is also closely associated with many other industries, such as construction and finance, and it provides an abundance of jobs. Therefore, it is seen as a critical pillar of China’s economy and enjoys favorable policies from the government and state-owned banks (more than 70 percent of real estate investment in China comes from bank loans). At the same time, real estate developers, local government officials and investors have escalated housing prices across the country by acquiring massive land holdings, limiting the supply and inflating prices, creating a real estate bubble that is not sustainable in the long run.

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Category: Think Tank

Fed funds futures believe the doves but the consequences are

Following dovish comments on Tuesday from the Fed’s Vice Chairman Kohn and further confirmed in yesterday’s FOMC minutes from the Sept meeting, the Fed’s easy for longer policy is reflected in today’s fed funds futures where the odds for a 25 bps hike by the April meeting are now at the lowest level in this…Read More

Category: MacroNotes