Thank you, UBS. As a member of the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking, under Sir John Vickers, I could not have asked for a better illustration of the unregulatable risks to which investment banks are exposed than Thursday’s announcement of a loss of $2bn in “unauthorised trading”. No sane country can allow taxpayers to stand behind such risks.
That is the kernel of the case for ringfencing of retail banking from investment banking, recommended in the ICB’s final report.
10-Year Treasury yields fell to their lowest level in more than 50 years on Friday, responding to heightened uncertainty in Europe. The flight to safety warns of further stock market weakness in the week ahead.
10-Year Treasury yields fell to a new low on Friday, warning of further falls in the stock market as investors seek save havens in Treasurys and precious metals.
Job market paralysis in August increases the chance the Federal Reserve will do something new to help the economy……. The current environment is pushing the Fed towards action. A week ago, Chairman Ben Bernanke told a gathering of the world’s top economic officials he was expanding the length of the upcoming September Federal Open Market Committee to give policy makers additional time to talk about what the Fed can do, which by itself increased the odds something was going to happen.
…The only practical way to shorten the coming period of painful deleveraging and slow growth would be a sustained burst of moderate inflation, say, 4-6% for several years. Of course, inflation is an unfair and arbitrary transfer of income from savers to debtors. But, at the end of the day, such a transfer is the most direct approach to faster recovery. Eventually, it will take place one way or another, anyway, as Europe is painfully learning.
Some observers regard any suggestion of even modestly elevated inflation as a form of heresy. But Great Contractions, as opposed to recessions, are very infrequent events, occurring perhaps once every 70 or 80 years. These are times when central banks need to spend some of the credibility that they accumulate in normal times.
The fact that buying tapered off after Wednesday’s and Tuesday’s [Treasury auction] sales underscores the attention that traders are placing on the Jackson Hole, Wyo., summit at which Bernanke will speak, betting against the prospect of some form of new bond-buying initiative…..
Troves of tepid economic data in the past few weeks had worked up hopes that the Fed would step in with some sort of disclosure at this weekend’s conference. But those expectations have died down since the start of the week as new data show the global economic recovery might not have slowed down as much as some investors thought.
10-Year Treasury yields are testing support at 2.00 percent — a 50-year low. One thing is clear: Fed monetary policy has failed. Suppressing short-term interest rates has, in most cases, lifted the economy out of recession, but also set us up for an even bigger crash the next time round — requiring even more severe interest rate cuts. Long-term yields have been falling for 30 years. We are now clipping the tree tops — with short-term rates near zero and no gas in the tank to lift us over the next obstacle. A bond market revolt cannot be far off.
A “bond market revolt” is a general sell-off of Treasurys when bond-holders decide that rewards (yield) are not commesurate with the risk. We have already witnessed several bond-holder revolts in European markets. A rise in yields would raise the cost of rolling-over existing Treasury debt, ratcheting up the budget deficit even further. This is a threat that should not be ignored.
I am wary of Bernanke’s sudden change of heart on headline inflation. It confirms my suspicion shared by many readers that the Fed is deliberately bringing about inflation and currency debasement to cushion the effects of debt-deleveraging. This amounts to a soft default on America’s debts.
Posted August 3, 2011 8:00 p.m. ET (10:00 a.m. AET) on Trading Diary.
Markets are approaching the tipping point at which they will confirm a primary down-trend. The probability of a bear market is around 75 percent, with 80 about as high as you can get at a turning point. As highlighted in May, every significant spike in crude oil prices in the last 50 years has been followed by a recession — and the current spike is likely to prove no different. Ben Bernanke will modestly decline to take the credit, but the initial groundwork for higher oil prices was laid by QEII. Prices had started to rise well before the conflict in Libya.
Investor flight to safety is clearly signaled by the sharp fall in 10-year treasury yields.