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Actually it was Jim Richter who "clarified" the mechanics of "Strong Dollar":

Do you remember the "Strong Dollar Policy," as enunciated by President Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin? It turns out that this was nothing more than a scheme by which to have the best of all possible worlds: Stock market? UP! Interest rates? DOWN! Bond prices? UP! Dollar? UP! Gold? DOWN! How was this accomplished?

Greenspan took care of keeping interest rates low. This bred a series of asset bubbles, culminating in the real estate bubble which began deflating in 2007, leaving a giant unpayable debt bubble in its wake. Gold was, allegedly, kept down first by leasing gold reserves to bullion banks who then sold it to the public and then, increasingly, by the bullion banks selling naked shorts and puts on gold, with their losses, recently at least, likely made good by QE money. This worked quite well -- except for the periodic bursting of asset bubbles -- which, of course, no one could see coming -- until The Masters of The Universe lost control of too many variables. The chief among these was loosing control of the real estate bubble, especially the MBSs, CDOs etc. It was not until 2009 that the precious metals markets took off -- after too many people caught on to the manipulation of precious metal prices and the vulnerabilities this created, especially in the silver market, where, allegedly, many times the world total availability of silver bullion has been sold short, setting the stage for a short squeeze.

Time will tell.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 11:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greenspan took care of keeping interest rates low. This bred a series of asset bubbles, culminating in the real estate bubble which began deflating in 2007

No, no, no, no.

Relaxation of lending standards and margin requirements make bubbles. Low interest rates have nothing to do with it. You get bubbles at 7 % rates. You get bubbles at 3 % rates. You get bubbles at 0 % rates. Hell, the broker's rate touched 12 % for a while during the spring of 1929. When you have that sort of short-term returns to speculative activity, fiddling with the rediscount rate barely amounts to a rounding error.

Yes, you can kill a debt bubble by jacking up interest rates, in the same way that you can kill inflation by jacking up interest rates: By killing your economy so dead that nobody has the confidence required for price increases or borrowing. That is the stupid way to do it.

The smart way to do it is by jacking up margin requirements, because that leaves interest rates unchanged for viable borrowers and sends them through the roof for Ponzi scams.

The "low interest rates lead to bubbles" narrative is a right-wing narrative. You do not want to push that. The reality-based narrative is "low margin requirements lead to bubbles."

Greenspan fueled the bubble by cheerleading on the bubble, by lobbying against all meaningful regulatory reform, by failing to police the Fed's member banks. He did not fuel the bubble by not killing the American economy completely dead in 2003, any more than convenience store clerks encourage robberies by not having capsules of sarin gas under the counter.

It was not until 2009 that the precious metals markets took off -- after too many people caught on to the manipulation of precious metal prices and the vulnerabilities this created, especially in the silver market, where, allegedly, many times the world total availability of silver bullion has been sold short, setting the stage for a short squeeze.

What is it with the goldbuggery? Who cares about the precious metal market? Precious metals don't have nearly enough industrial applications to be critical to the actual production of goods and services.

Everybody who's been paying attention knows the stock markets and the precious metal markets are being played. But of all the places the compulsive gamblers who missed the Vegas exit and drove on to New York can get their fix, let it be the precious metal markets. They do far less damage there than when they're gambling with ForEx or rice futures.

Just please don't base public policy on their antics.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 11:54:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Make this a diary. I was going to reply along the lines of
No, no, no, no.

Relaxation of lending standards and margin requirements make bubbles. Low interest rates have nothing to do with it. You get bubbles at 7 % rates. You get bubbles at 3 % rates. You get bubbles at 0 % rates. Hell, the broker's rate touched 12 % for a while during the spring of 1929. When you have that sort of short-term returns to speculative activity, fiddling with the rediscount rate barely amounts to a rounding error.

but you beat me to it.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 12:06:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clicky.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 02:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is it with the goldbuggery?

Think it comes down to:

  1.  Humans have a decided preference, like magpies, for finding and hording bright shiny objects.

  2.  People who think too much and too long about money and monetary policy go insane.

:-)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 12:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But it needs to be rare, shiny objects.

Aluminium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although aluminium is the most abundant metallic element in the Earth's crust, it is never found in free, metallic form, and it was once considered a precious metal more valuable than gold. Napoleon III, Emperor of France, is reputed to have given a banquet where the most honoured guests were given aluminium utensils, while the others made do with gold.[19][20] The Washington Monument was completed, with the 100 ounce (2.8 kg) aluminium capstone being put in place on December 6, 1884, in an elaborate dedication ceremony. It was the largest single piece of aluminium cast at the time, when aluminium was as expensive as silver.[21] Aluminium has been produced in commercial quantities for just over 100 years.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 27th, 2011 at 03:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, --but to the magpie, it doesn't matter whether the gum wrapper is Wrigley's or Juicy Fruit. :-)

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Apr 30th, 2011 at 01:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, at least during the first five years of this century Greenspan actively encouraged a relaxation of lending standards in real estate. What US actions, other than the relatively low interest rates, contributed to the Asian and Russian debt crises? I thought that the US banks got to play in a carry trade financed by cheap US money. The Y2K bubble was certainly also encouraged by direct spending on infrastructure and rationalized as a prophylactic against Y2K bugs. But thanks for the comments about the feasibility of bubbles even with high interest rates. At this point that is an historical curiosity, living as we do at the lower bound of interest rate policy.

As to goldbuggery, I certainly do not recommend return to a gold standard. That would be a disaster. But I do strongly suspect that the price of precious metals has been strongly manipulated downwards for psychological impact on market participants and that, especially in the silver market, this has gotten out of control. It IS a very small market but, if some of the PM analysts are right about the size of the naked shorts, an unwind could do major damage to JP Morgan.

I missed most of the bull markets in stocks due to believing, not without reason, that the basics were bullshit. I think I have finally found a way to play bullshit to my advantage, especially in silver, where I am approaching a 200% gain since Aug. '09, so indulge me that, ok? There are risks, but doing nothing seems even riskier. After all, "Strong Dollar" doesn't buy much gas these days.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 12:17:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
What US actions, other than the relatively low interest rates, contributed to the Asian and Russian debt crises?
I thought the Assian and Russian debt crises of 1997-8 were due to liberalization and deregulation of the respective economies, with "hot capital" coming from the US playing the role of the trigger, not the primer.

The important US actions were through policy influence on the IMF, the close ties between the latter and the US Treasury, and propaganda bombardment about the superiority of deregulated capitalism as an economic model.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 12:33:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right. A look at the St. Louis Fed's site shows that rates ranged from 8.2% in January 1009 down to 2.96% in April and December of 1993 and then back up to 6.05 in April of 1995 and back down into the mid 5s by Jan. 1996, where it remained until 1Q 2000, when it began its climb back to above 6.5% by Sept. 2000, (happy election, W), to drop back down to mid 5s in Feb 2001, from where it dropped to 1.01% by Sept. 2003.

And that was surely an improvement over the drastic rates that prevailed in the early 90s and in the 80s. A case could be made that Greenspan didn't really turn malignant until "W" took office. But with the Clinton Administration running a budget surplus in 2000 a significant tightening by the Fed could reasonably be expected to burst the tech bubble, which may have been the intent. So Greenspan could more likely be accused of keeping policy too tight under Clinton.

Of course there was the ongoing deregulation of the financial sector and the policy direction of supporting sending manufacturing offshore that had been explicit in NAFTA but which showed up more strikingly with China. Perhaps, as you suggest, diplomatic pressure on various financial agreements was more important to the various '90s bubbles. On the home front refusing Brooksly Born  the authority to regulate derivatives, for which she had been advocating for some time, which came to a head in May, 1998 and which was strenuously opposed by Greenspan, Rubin and Summers, who were joined by in early May by Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the SEC.

Had she gotten the authority in early 1998 that would certainly have been blamed as THE cause of the LTCM collapse later that year and attempts likely would have been made to hang the Russian and Asian crises around her neck as well. Had she gotten the authority earlier, say in 1995, some of these crises may have been averted or mitigated, but we will never know.

Thanks for forcing me to look at the record regarding interest rates. Somewhere I had gotten a false impression of Greenspan's activities in the '90s.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 03:08:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A case could be made that Greenspan didn't really turn malignant until "W" took office.

Oh no, 'Bubbles' Greenspan has always been a malignant little toad. Under Ronnie Raygun he pushed for higher payroll taxes and lower marginal taxes. Under Clinton he simultaneously helped block regulation of derivatives and did his best to strangle the recovery with his austerity nonsense. And under Bush the Lesser, he was cheerleading on bubbles and pushing for more deregulation.

He is, bar none, the worst chairman the Fed has ever had. And yes, that includes the Volker chairmanship that killed off half the US manufacturing base.

Which is why it's a little depressing to see him slimed for the one single sound policy decision he has ever made. It's such a target rich environment that there really should be no need for friendly fire.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 03:48:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, at least during the first five years of this century Greenspan actively encouraged a relaxation of lending standards in real estate.

Yes. Precisely. Go after him for that, not for his interest rate policy. There is nothing wrong with low interest rates. There is everything wrong with adjustable-rate mortgages and NINJA loans.

What US actions, other than the relatively low interest rates, contributed to the Asian and Russian debt crises?

The Asian crisis didn't have much of anything to do with US policy - that was driven by the end of the Yen carry trade, a carry trade that had gotten started in the deflationary environment in the early '90s, which was caused by the bursting of the 1980s Japanese bubble, caused in turn by aggressive offshoring hollowing out the real value added by the Japanese economy.

The Russian crisis was caused by Timmy Geithner and the rape-and-run "transition" policies foisted on Russia during the '90s.

The Y2K bubble was certainly also encouraged by direct spending on infrastructure and rationalized as a prophylactic against Y2K bugs.

And the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the deregulation of the futures markets, and the (further) deregulation of mergers and acquisitions, and the lowering of the corporate tax rate.

But thanks for the comments about the feasibility of bubbles even with high interest rates. At this point that is an historical curiosity, living as we do at the lower bound of interest rate policy.

No, it's not, because unless you remember that bubble formation is independent of interest rates, you risk concluding that bubbles require low interest rates, and that high interest rates can kill bubbles before they kill the rest of the economy.

But I do strongly suspect that the price of precious metals has been strongly manipulated

Well, duh. The price of precious metals is nothing but manipulation. The principal commercial use of precious metals is as a component of Veblen goods - goods that are valuable (almost) exclusively because they are expensive. And even that is dwarfed by the transactions that are purely speculative in nature.

The gold bugs are just bitching that central banks are muscling in on their turf and manipulating the price down instead of up. Because that prevents said gold bugs from fleecing the suckers who go "ooh shiny" quite as hard as they could otherwise. Oh, central banks have no proper business playing that game. But of all the things central banks do that they have no business doing, that strikes me as by far the least harmful.

I think I have finally found a way to play bullshit to my advantage, especially in silver, where I am approaching a 200% gain since Aug. '09, so indulge me that, ok?

By all means, if you've found a way to make money in the precious metal markets, then don't let the fact that it's disconnected from any economic fundamentals discourage you. I like you better than the other croupiers at that particular casino, so I don't begrudge you the money or anything. I just don't see what it has to do with macroeconomics or currency policy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 26th, 2011 at 02:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
what it has to do with macroeconomics

I think since it is a market where central and big banks play it is important to keep an eye on it. Like CDOs, it is not important in itself but if it gets out of hand you get banks losses, losses transfered to public debt, austerity, etc. By keeping an eye on it now, mounting the argument goes faster if/when it goes down the drain. So while not a gambler I appreciate ARGeezer's reporting.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 27th, 2011 at 03:34:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Precious metals don't have nearly enough industrial applications to be critical to the actual production of goods and services.

I suspect that it is so mainly because they are precious which means that they have only been used where it is cost-effective despite the preciousness. So in another timeline they could have had much more applications.

Gold - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gold produces a deep, intense red color when used as a coloring agent in cranberry glass.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 27th, 2011 at 03:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes. But it hurts way less to continue to not use a substance that your economy has not become dependent on than it does to stop using a substance that it has become dependent on.

(Another of those little details left out of the orthodox liturgy by the initial assumptions in that box on page 3 that nobody reads.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 27th, 2011 at 04:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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