Is Titlos PLC (Special Purpose Vehicle) The Downgrade Catalyst Trigger Which Will Destroy Greece? (ZeroHedge)
Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis (NYT)
Courtesy of TRNN.com (Greek people resist paying for crisis)
International Economic ConditionsMembers were briefed on developments in the international economy. Overall, the recovery from the global recession was continuing. The IMF had recently upgraded its world growth forecast for 2010 to 3.9 per cent, from 3.1 per cent in October. There had been significant revisions for the United States, China and India, but more modest revisions for the euro area. The Bank’s staff had also revised up their world growth forecasts for 2010, though only modestly as their forecasts had already been significantly higher than those of the IMF.
While growth had resumed in the major advanced economies, there was significant spare capacity and measures of core inflation were gradually falling. Labour markets were very weak, although there were some signs of stabilisation in the United States. US GDP had grown by 1.4 per cent in the December quarter, which was stronger than expected. There was a significant contribution from the inventory cycle. GDP data for the United Kingdom were also available, with the preliminary estimate showing growth of 0.1 per cent in the December quarter, after six straight declines.
Growth in the advanced economies was currently being supported by the inventory cycle and stimulatory policy settings. At the household level, there was growth in spending in the United States and Japan, but spending continued to contract in many European economies. Members discussed this trend, which reflected weak income growth and rising household saving rates in some of the larger European economies. The latter appeared to reflect weak consumer sentiment, broader uncertainty about economic prospects, and – in some economies – concern about high public debt levels. Regarding investment spending, there had been a slight increase in the United States in the December quarter, after a decline of more than 20 per cent over the previous five quarters. As yet, there was limited evidence of a pick-up in investment in the euro area or Japan.
Members noted that one particular challenge facing many of the advanced economies was the growth in public debt. From the point of view of long-run fiscal sustainability, this needed to be checked, but tightening fiscal policy at an early stage could undermine economic recovery. Concerns about fiscal issues had recently focused on Greece, which had entered the crisis with relatively high public debt and had seen its budget deficit rise to 13 per cent of GDP in 2009.
The issues were quite different in Asia (outside of Japan), where growth was.... [read more].
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
Federal Reserve's exit strategy
Before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
February 10, 2010
Statement as prepared for delivery. The hearing was postponed due to inclement weather.
Chairmen Frank and Watt, Ranking Members Bachus and Paul, and other members of the Committee and Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Federal Reserve's strategy for exiting from the extraordinary lending and monetary policies that it implemented to combat the financial crisis and support economic activity.
Broadly speaking, the Federal Reserve's response to the crisis and the recession can be divided into two parts. First, our financial system during the past 2-1/2 years has experienced periods of intense panic and dysfunction, during which private short-term funding became difficult or impossible to obtain for many borrowers. The pulling back of private liquidity at times threatened the stability of major financial institutions and markets and severely disrupted normal channels of credit. In its role as liquidity provider of last resort, the Federal Reserve developed a number of programs to provide well-secured, mostly short-term credit to the financial system. These programs, which imposed no cost on the taxpayer, were a critical part of the government's efforts to stabilize the financial system and restart the flow of credit.1 As financial conditions have improved, the Federal Reserve has substantially phased out these lending programs.
Second, after reducing short-term interest rates nearly to zero, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) provided additional monetary policy stimulus through large-scale purchases of Treasury and agency securities. These asset purchases, which had the additional effect of substantially increasing the reserves that depository institutions hold with the Federal Reserve Banks, have helped lower interest rates and spreads in the mortgage market and other key credit markets, thereby promoting economic growth. Although at present the U.S. economy continues to require the support of highly accommodative monetary policies, at some point the Federal Reserve will need to tighten financial conditions by raising short-term interest rates and reducing the quantity of bank reserves outstanding. We have spent considerable effort in developing the tools we will need to remove policy accommodation, and we are fully confident that at the appropriate time we will be able to do so effectively.
With the onset of the crisis in the late summer and fall of 2007, the Federal Reserve aimed to ensure that sound financial institutions had sufficient access to short-term credit to remain sufficiently liquid and able to lend to creditworthy customers, even as private sources of liquidity began to dry up. To improve the access of banks to backup liquidity, the Federal Reserve reduced the spread over the target federal funds rate of the discount rate--the rate at which the Fed lends to depository institutions through its discount window--from 100 basis points to 25 basis points, and extended the maximum maturity of discount window loans, which had generally been limited to overnight, to 90 days.
Many banks, however, were evidently concerned that if they borrowed from the discount window, and that fact somehow became known to market participants, they would be perceived as weak and, consequently, might come under further pressure from creditors. To address this so-called stigma problem, the Federal Reserve created a new discount window program, the Term Auction Facility (TAF). Under the TAF, the Federal Reserve has regularly auctioned large blocks of credit to depository institutions. For various reasons, including the competitive format of the auctions, the TAF has not suffered the stigma of conventional discount window lending and has proved effective for injecting liquidity into the financial system.2
Liquidity pressures in financial markets were not limited to the United States, and intense strains in the global dollar funding markets began to spill over to U.S. markets. In response, the Federal Reserve entered into temporary currency swap agreements with major foreign central banks. Under these agreements, the Federal Reserve provided dollars to foreign central banks in exchange for an equally valued quantity of foreign currency; the foreign central banks, in turn, lent the dollars to banks in their own jurisdictions. The swaps helped reduce stresses in global dollar funding markets, which in turn helped to stabilize U.S. markets. Importantly, the swaps were structured so that the Federal Reserve bore no foreign exchange risk or credit risk.3
"I now think we have begun the 3rd and final leg of the multi-yr bear mrkt which began in 2007 and which SHOULD, hopefully, finish late this yr, but which COULD (hopefully not) drag on deep into 2011. This new bear leg SHOULD see S&P trade sub-1000 this mth. After which we can bounce a little (back up to 1080/1100) over late Q1/early Q2. However, this I think will then be followed by a move down at least into the low 800s in Q2/H2 10, and depending on how policymakers behave, potentially down towards/to New Lows." (read full text)
"The European Union dropped hints that a summit this week will offer an aid package to financially- stricken Greece as officials seek to prevent its budgetary woes from eroding confidence in the euro.
“We are talking about support in the broad sense,” Olli Rehn, the EU’s new economic affairs commissioner, said in an interview in Strasbourg, France today. Michael Meister, financial affairs spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said in an interview in Berlin that aid would come “under strict conditions and if the Greek government undertakes far-reaching state reforms.” (Full article at Bloomberg)
"Germany is considering loan guarantees for Greece and other troubled euro partners, but a final decision may not come this week."
"The indicator is designed for use on a monthly time scale. It's the sum of a 14-month rate of change and 11-month rate of change, smoothed by a 10-period weighted moving average. "Coppock, the founder of Trendex Research in San Antonio, Texas, was an economist. He had been asked by the Episcopal Church to identify buying opportunities for long-term investors. He thought market downturns were like bereavements and required a period of mourning. He asked the church bishops how long that normally took for people, their answer was 11 to 14 months and so he used those periods in his calculation. A buy signal is generated when the indicator is below zero and turns upwards from a trough. No sell signals are generated (that not being its design)......" (Coppock Curve on Wikipedia)
"Third, I want to note the strong conflicts of interest inherent in the participation of commercial banking organizations in proprietary or private investment activity. That is especially evident for banks conducting substantial investment management activities, in which they are acting explicitly or implicitly in a fiduciary capacity. When the bank itself is a “customer”, i.e., it is trading for its own account, it will almost inevitably find itself, consciously or inadvertently, acting at cross purposes to the interests of an unrelated commercial customer of a bank. “Inside” hedge funds and equity funds with outside partners may generate generous fees for the bank without the test of market pricing, and those same “inside” funds may be favored over outside competition in placing funds for clients. More generally, proprietary trading activity should not be able to profit from knowledge of customer trades.
I am not so naive as to think that all potential conflicts can or should be expunged from banking or other businesses. But neither am I so naïve as to think that, even with the best efforts of boards and management, so-called Chinese Walls can remain impermeable against the pressures to seek maximum profit and personal remuneration." (full testimony)
"A strong dollar is good in the long run for the U.S but it can give the stock market problems in the short run, and that strengthening Dollar does make our exports less competitive, does lower the Dollar value of revenues coming from abroad. The little bit of portfolio re-allocation that comes so.."
"Now the good aspect of that is it's bringing down oil. I'd love to see oil under $70 I was disturbed when it was $83. We get oil under $70, $65, bring those energy prices down I think that will be a base for the stock market."