Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker speaks in New York about practices leading to the current financial market crisis, the role of the Federal Reserve in preventing and dealing with such crises and the need for changes in market regulation.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul
Volcker questioned the central bank’s decision to rescue Bear
Stearns Cos. with a $29 billion loan, saying it was at "the
very edge” of its legal authority.
"The Federal Reserve has judged it necessary to take
actions that extend to the very edge of its lawful and implied
powers, transcending in the process certain long-embedded
central banking principles and practices,” Volcker said in a
speech to the Economic Club of New York.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last month agreed to lend
against Bear Stearns securities, paving the way for JPMorgan
Chase & Co. to buy its Wall Street rival. Bernanke, who worked
with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to broker the bailout,
last week defended the move as necessary to prevent "severe”
damage to financial markets.
Volcker, the Fed chairman from 1979 to 1987, had implicit
criticism for U.S. regulators and market participants who
allowed "excesses of subprime mortgages” to spread into “the
mother of all crises.” The Fed’s Bear Stearns loan was unusual,
"What appears to be in substance a direct transfer of
mortgage and mortgage-backed securities of questionable pedigree
from an investment bank to the Federal Reserve seems to test the
time-honored central bank mantra in time of crisis: lend freely
at high rates against good collateral; test it to the point of
no return,” he said.
Volcker Says Fed’s Bear Loan Stretches Legal Power
John Brinsley and Anthony Massucci
Bloomberg, April 8 2008
Alan Greenspan seems to be hellbent on destroying what little reputation he has left.
Over the past few years, the man formerly known as The Maestro has been slowly revealed as the grand architect of a Fed era which will forever be known for easy money and non regulation.
Thus, the inflationary spiral we are presently enjoying, with $100+ Oil and $5 milk, is only the first half of his legacy. The second part is the enormous credit crisis/housing debacle directily attributable to his malfeasance. Greenspan’s ideological refusal to allow the Fed to fulfill its role of Banking System Regulator is what is directly the root cause of many of the conflagrations we are dealing with today — from housing to credit to derivatives to the demise of Bear Stearns.
Here comes the fun part: The man that helped bring about the Housing crisis is now saying its almost over. Never mind the historic inventory overhang, accelerating foreclosures, and all of the price metrics that reveal Houses remain way too expensive. According to Easy Al, the end of the problem will soon be here:
"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the drop in U.S. home prices will probably end "well before” early next year as the number of houses on the market diminishes, aiding an economic rebound.
"It will not be until early 2009 that we will get close to having eliminated most of this” home inventory, Greenspan told a conference in Tokyo today sponsored by Deutsche Bank AG and co-hosted by Bloomberg LP. "But it is very likely that home prices will stabilize well before that.”
Greenspan added that the extent of damage stemming from the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market won’t be known for months. He described the credit crisis as the worst in 50 years, echoing the assessment of International Monetary Fund economists."
That’s kinda like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow telling you that the fire is almost over. If he is proven to be wrong about this also — and I think he will be — that should be the final nail in the coffin of his reputation.
UPDATE: April 8, 2008 9:14am
When I wrote this up early this morning, I had not yet seen the front page of the WSJ:
His Legacy Tarnished, Greenspan Goes on Defensive http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120760341392296107.html
Video after the jump.
Free Lunch: Myths of the Greenspan Era (January 2006) http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2006/01/free_lunch_myth.html
Greenspan Says U.S. Home Prices May Stabilize in 2008
Scott Lanman and Lily Nonomiya
Bloomberg, April 8 2008
After Monday’s NYSE close, Alcoa (A) reported a 54% earnings miss, blaming soaring energy costs and the weak dollar, reporting .37 (ex-items .44); .50 to .53 was expected.
For those who believe technology is non-cyclical, i.e., immune from recession, AMD missed Q1 revenue forecasts. The company said sales declined 22%, falling to ~$1.5B (AMD dropped 7% in after-hour trading). In response, the firm is cutting 10% of its workforce (1,600). PALM also issued an earning miss, saying its Q3 loss would increase to .53 vs. a forecast .30.
Which leads directly to this: