Tag Archives | Federal Reserve

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

BBBurnMVia the Onion:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

Calling it “basically no more than five rectangular strips of paper,” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke illustrates how much “$200″ is actually worth.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world’s largest economy.

“Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we … if we …” said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this — this so-called ‘money’ — really matters at all.”

“It’s just an illusion,” a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him.

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Gold Posts Biggest One-Day Loss Since 2008

You can almost predict the oft-repeated explanations the pundits offer up every time the precious metals behave irresponsibly.

  • The trouble with being a contrarian is that you can never be quite contrarian enough. We began having doubts about the ‘feds inflate…gold soars’ hypothesis last year. It was too easy…too obvious. And if it were that easy to inflate a nation’s currency, how come the Japanese couldn’t get the hang of it in the ’90s?
  • Inflation, yes…but not for a while. And gold? Well, we are in it for the long run. In the short run, anything could happen.
  • To clarify our view on gold, The Daily Reckoning is not bearish on the metal. It is not bullish on the metal either. It is buggish. We are gold bugs. In the long run, gold will retain its value. Since that’s all we ask of it, we are always satisfied. Even if it is down in the short run – and it went through an 18-year down cycle from 1980 to 1998 – it will come back in the long run.
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Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows

US-FederalReserveSystem-SealDavid Reilly sounds like he’s about to join the anti-New World Order crowd, writing in a surprising venue—bankers’ staple news source Bloomberg News:

The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.

Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.

We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system — apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout — deserves further congressional scrutiny.

The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others.

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Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke Gets 2nd Term in Closest-Ever Senate Vote

Guess being Time’s “Man of the Year” gets you places in life. JEANNINE AVERSA and JIM KUHNHENN write on the AP via Yahoo News:

Embattled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke won confirmation for a second term Thursday, but only by the closest vote ever for the crucial post and after withering criticism from lawmakers for bailing out Wall Street while other Americans suffered in recession.

The Senate confirmed Bernanke for a new four-year term by a 70–30 vote, a seemingly solid majority but 14 votes worse than the closest previous vote for a Fed chairman.

The battle over Bernanke’s confirmation has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular but economically essential policies. Its decisions on interest rates can have immense consequences, from the success or failure of the largest companies to the typical home-buyer’s ability to get an affordable loan to the price of cereal at the grocery or gas at the corner station.

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Revealed: See Who Was Paid Off In The AIG Bailout

Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour write on the Huffington Post:
A key question at the heart of the controversial bailout of AIG is just how much money the government lost. The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have worked to keep that number secret and to conceal who was on the winning end. An unredacted document obtained by the Huffington Post list the damage in detail. Goldman Sachs alone, for instance, got $14 billion in government money for assets worth $6 billion at the time — a de facto $8 billion subsidy, courtesy of taxpayers. The list was produced as part of a congressional investigation led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the federal bailout of AIG...
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Federal Reserve Seeks to Protect U.S. Bailout Secrets

Federal ReserveDavid Glovin and Thom Weidlich writes on Bloomberg:

The Federal Reserve asked a U.S. appeals court to block a ruling that for the first time would force the central bank to reveal secret identities of financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest government bailout in U.S. history.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan will decide whether the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. In August, a federal judge ordered that the information be released, responding to a request by Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

“This case is about the identity of the borrower,” said Matthew Collette, a lawyer for the government, in oral arguments today. “This is the equivalent of saying ‘I want all the loan applications that were submitted.’”

Bloomberg argues that the public has the right to know basic information about the “unprecedented and highly controversial use” of public money.

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Fed Posts Record Profit for 2009

Seal of Federal Reserve SystemReported on the AP via Yahoo News:

The Federal Reserve generated record profits last year, reflecting money made off its extraordinary efforts to rescue the country from the worst economic and financial crisis since the 1930s.

The central bank announced Tuesday it logged a record windfall of $52.1 billion. Of that total, a record of $46.1 billion gets turned over to the Treasury Department.

It marks both the biggest profit and payment to Treasury on records dating back to 1914, when the Fed began operating. The previous record payment turned over to the Treasury — of $34.6 billion — was registered in 2007. In 2008, the Fed reported a payment of $31.7 billion.

The Fed’s efforts to end the crisis are separate from the $700 billion taxpayer-funded financial bailout program authorized by Congress in 2008 and overseen by the Treasury Department.

Originally set up to shore up banks, money from the publicly-derided program also has been doled out to rescue other types of companies, including General Motors, Chrysler and GMAC.

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Federal Reserve Smackdown: Bunning vs Bernanke

I spent a good part of today driving from New York to Philadelphia and back. It was a fantastic opportunity to listen to Ben Bernanke being grilled by the United States Senate and struggling to defend his record as Chairman of the Federal Reserve during a period that has been likened to the Great Depression. The very best part was a blistering attack on Bernanke by Senator Jim Bunning, a man who is definitely not afraid to tell it like it is. Respect Mr. Bunning! Felix Salmon obviously enjoyed it too, writing on his Reuters blog:
I wonder what it was like to be Ben Bernanke today, on the receiving end of an absolute lashing from Senator Jim Bunning. Here’s a taster:
Chairman Greenspan’s attitude toward regulating banks was much like his attitude toward consumer protection. Instead of close supervision of the biggest and most dangerous banks, he ignored the growing balance sheets and increasing risk. You did no better. In fact, under your watch every one of the major banks failed or would have failed if you did not bail them out.
Bunning then quoted Bernanke’s own words from his own confirmation hearing, when he said that “no bank is too big to fail”. No, Bunning wasn’t laughing either:
Rather than making management, shareholders, and debt holders feel the consequences of their risk-taking, you bailed them out. In short, you are the definition of moral hazard.
This is the sort of parliamentary rhetoric which we Brits are quite used to, but which is electrifying in the normally-staid confines of the US Senate. Good for Bunning for taking the gloves off.
Amen.
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