The asset bubbles the Fed’s money-printing and bond-buying binge has created are spectacular, the risk-taking on Wall Street with other people’s money a sight to behold. Big winners were mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts – and those who got fat on extracting fees. But now the pendulum is swinging back, and the bloodletting has started.
Tapering bond purchases gets real. New York Fed President William Dudley has spoken. He represents Goldman, where he was a managing director. Goldman owns part of the NY Fed and is one of its 21 “primary dealers.” But it doesn’t want the financial system to blow up. On the theory that you can milk a cow many times, but you can bleed it only once.
“One of the great ironies of the Greenspan bubbles” was that his free market convictions enabled the Fed to drift “irreversibly into its eventual submission to the Cramerite intimidation,” wrote David Stockman. It turned “a blind eye to lunatic speculations in the stock market, dismissing them as the exuberances of capitalist boys and girls playing too hard.
A technology that surreptitiously captures data of people out on the street, combines it with other data, and mines it ad infinitum? Local and federal government agencies love it. It’s increasingly sophisticated and cheap. It’s spreading. And it led a professor at West Point to warn: “We don’t have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.”
Terry Gou, founder and president of the Taiwanese multinational, Foxconn Technology Group, one of world’s largest electronics manufacturing companies, debunks the hype.
It was the day when Private Equity firms – the smart money, the great beneficiaries of the Fed’s bond-buying binge – announced their intentions to the rest of the world. The heavy hitters were there, and they let fly some pungent words. In short, they were “selling everything that’s not nailed down.” Turns out, they weren’t kidding.
Keyhole Inc., a venture-capital funded startup, was acquired by Google in 2004. Its product became Google Earth. Its technology filtered into Google Maps and Google Mobile. One of the venture-capital investors? The CIA. It didn’t ruffle any feathers at the time. But now we have NSA leaker Edward Snowden and his media blitz.
Junk bonds had a phenomenal run. With each truckload of money that the Fed delivered to the markets, valuations soared and yields plunged. Desperate investors, mauled by the Fed’s zero-interest-rate policy, took on risks no questions asked. But suddenly the feeding frenzy turned into a brutal rout – a harbinger of things to come in other markets.
Investors are fuming. But traders, the lucky ones who got the timing right, love it. So do Wall Street firms that shuffle companies around. For decades, Hewlett-Packard did what they wanted it to do: swallow other companies, whole or in pieces, spit out some mangled limbs, and dump tens of thousands of employees. But someone ended up holding the bag.