The Fed’s taper “may not be smooth,” explained Bank of England deputy governor Charles Bean at the central-banker shindig in Jackson Hole. He was referring to the currencies, bonds, and stocks of emerging-market economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India that have gotten massacred.
In this installment from Chapter 25, “DEALS GONE WILD: Rise of the Debt Zombies,” of his bestseller, David Stockman vivisects the LBO craze before the financial crisis, including the insane and largest ever buyout, Texas mega-utility TXU Corporation – now in bankruptcy. And then there is Goldman….
Refinancing mortgages is phenomenally profitable for banks – one of the few growth sectors actually spawned by the Fed’s herculean efforts to force down long-term interest rates through waves of quantitative easing. Banks went on a hiring binge to shuffle all this paper around and extract fees. But now, with rising rates, that business is getting decimated.
Printing money and forcing interest rates to near zero, that’s how the Fed and other central banks papered over the Financial Crisis, duct-taped the bursting credit bubble back together, inflated new asset bubbles, and propped up TBTF banks. It accomplished a huge feat: a worldwide tsunami of hot money. Which is now receding.
Home prices have jumped around the country, in some cities over 20% on an annual basis. “Recovery of the housing market,” is what this phenomenon is called. Everyone from President Obama on down has taken credit for it, particularly the Fed, whose handiwork this is. But there is a very ugly fly in this illusory ointment.
What rabble-rousers, economists (those banished from the mainstream media), and bloggers have hammered on for years, a study by the San Francisco Fed finally confesses: Quantitative Easing didn’t do a heck of a lot of good for the real economy. The timing of the study is impeccable: the nearing end of QE – and the market mayhem it might cause.
During the 14 years since the LTCM crisis, the Fed’s interest rate repression policies have resulted in an inflation-adjusted return on six-month CDs of exactly 0%, David Stockman writes. It revolutionized the saving and investment habits of the wealthiest households. Unlike hapless savers among the middle class, the rich had an escape route.
Private Equity firms have seen this coming for months. They’re positioning themselves for it. In April, Leon Black, CEO of Apollo Global Management, explained it this way to an incredulous world: “We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down.” Now they’re setting records – but someone will end up holding the bag.
John Paulson’s hedge funds that broke the sub-prime mortgage market “demonstrate the manner in which momentum-chasing hot money had come to dominate the Wall Street casino,” writes David Stockman as he mercilessly dissects the hedge fund industry. “But then the hot hands went stone cold.”
By Lee Adler, of The Wall Street Examiner: By now it’s clear to everybody, even the Fed, that QE does absolutely nothing to stimulate economic growth while fomenting bubbles in housing and stock prices. The Fed will disingenuously use steady job growth as an excuse to begin cutting back on QE soon. But its real reason lies elsewhere.