Posts Tagged ‘Finance


Printing…just a figure of speech

With Obama’s looming titanic fiscal disaster which path will the Fed decide to take? Central banking or central planning?  The Fed has announced that it will continue to print notes in order to trim its funds rate, if need be, all the way to zero. All bodies in Washington seem to think the wholesale printing of money is the answer to the nation’s economic woes.

Yes, today’s policy makers allow, there are risks to “creating” a trillion or so of new currency every few months, but that is tomorrow’s worry. On today’s agenda is a deflationary abyss. Frostbite victims tend not to dwell on the summertime perils of heatstroke.

Our troubles, over which we will certainly prevail, stem from a basic contradiction. The dollar is the world’s currency, yet the Fed is America’s central bank. In the boom, a superabundance of mispriced debt led countless people down innumerable blind investment alleys. E-Z credit financed bubbles in real estate, commodities, mortgage-backed securities and a myriad of other assets. It punished saving and encouraged speculation. Imagine a man at the top of a stepladder. He is up on his toes reaching for something. Call that something “yield.” Call the stepladder “leverage.” Now kick the ladder away. The man falls, pieces of debt crashing to the floor around him.

One final question for which Mr. Bernanke will have to put himself into the shoes of a foreign depositer:

“Tell us, Mr. Bernanke, if you had the choice, would you hold dollars? And may I remind you, Mr. Chairman, that you are under oath?”

Sink your chops in here, via WSJ.


The Icelandic meltdown and dilettantism of finacial markets

So how can we calculate the absolute risk aversion in the Icelandic banking industry?—As the curvature of u(c) increases, so does one’s aversion to risk..Outside of those parameters I’m lost.


It’s funny because if you don’t study history you get the great opportunity of repeating it..1,000 years ago Icelanders left Scandinavia in search of freedom and a better life far away from Medieval feudal establishment. Combine this cultural risk-seeking behavior with a desire to be modern, and a neo-culture of inflation and debt, and we begin to see the very underpinnings of a financial meltdown.

The people are industrious and dynamic, and they have a tendency to take on tasks that are beyond them. The current prime minister used to be the foreign minister and he also happened to be the minister of finance – at the time when the head of the central bank, who also did a stint as foreign minster, was the prime minister, and the current finance minister was serving office as minister of fisheries.

Now things are almost back to the way they were in the 80s: the inflation rate is almost double-digit; the state controls the banks and rations currency exchange. All we need now is to re-introduce the beer-ban, and it will look as if the Icelanders want to start the process of globalisation all over again.

Read the entire article via Financial Times Deutschland.


Should we be scared?

The government is looking for an agreement that would not involve public money.

Recent discussions amongst Lehman Brothers, the Federal Reserve, and Treasury Department in regards to actively selling the financial giant.

And I don’t see where anything has really changed in the last few days to make Lehman a $4 stock versus a $20 stock. So what we’re dealing with, I think, is less fundamentals than fear,” Paulsen said. “It’s spooky because I’m not sure anyone has an answer as to how you’d end it.”


Rising asset prices as a substitute for personal savings

Tyler Cowen’s article: “Finding the Mess Behind the Mess.”

The thinking went something like this: As long as your home’s value rose every year, you didn’t have to set aside so much from your paycheck. If your stocks went up, too, so much the better; don’t forget that the Dow Jones industrial average stood in the 800 range in 1982 and seemed to rise almost nonstop for many years.

Counterproductive measures include: a) further attempts with a fiscal stimulus package–i.e. tax-rebates b) excessive banking regulation–as not to offset the delicate balance of bank lending, savings, and investment. c) Overreaction of past banking mistakes.

January 2020
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