Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
Stock Market DOW Seasonal Trend Analysis - 23rd Mar 19
US Dollar Breakdown on Fed Was Much Worse Than It Looks - 23rd Mar 19
Gold Mid-Tier GDXJ Stocks Fundamentals - 23rd Mar 19
Which Currency Pairs Stand to Benefit from Prevailing Risk Aversion? - 23rd Mar 19
If You Get These 3 Things Right, You’ll Never Have to Worry About Money - 22nd Mar 19
March 2019 Cryptocurrency Technical Analysis - 22nd Mar 19
Turkey Tourist Fakes Market Bargains Haggling Top Tips - 22nd Mar 19
Next Recession: Finding A 48% Yield Amid The Ruins - 22nd Mar 19
Your Future Stock Returns Might Unpleasantly Surprise You - 22nd Mar 19
Fed Acknowledges “Recession Risks”. Run for the Hills! - 22nd Mar 19
Will Bridging Loans Grow in Demand and Usage in 2019? - 22nd Mar 19
Does Fed Know Something Gold Investors Do Not Know? - 21st Mar 19
Gold …Some Confirmations to Watch For - 21st Mar 19
UKIP No Longer About BrExit, Becomes BNP 2.0, Muslim Hate Party - 21st Mar 19
A Message to the Gold Bulls: Relying on the CoT Gives You A False Sense of Security - 20th Mar 19
The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal - 20th Mar 19
Vietnam, Part I: Colonialism and National Liberation - 20th Mar 19
Will the Fed Cut its Interest Rate Forecast, Pushing Gold Higher? - 20th Mar 19
Dow Jones Stock Market Topping Pattern - 20th Mar 19
Gold Stocks Outperform Gold but Not Stocks - 20th Mar 19
Here’s What You’re Not Hearing About the US - China Trade War - 20th Mar 19
US Overdosing on Debt - 19th Mar 19
Looking at the Economic Winter Season Ahead - 19th Mar 19
Will the Stock Market Crash Like 1937? - 19th Mar 19
Stock Market VIX Volaility Analysis - 19th Mar 19
FREE Access to Stock and Finanacial Markets Trading Analysis Worth $1229! - 19th Mar 19
US Stock Markets Price Anomaly Setup Continues - 19th Mar 19
Gold Price Confirmation of the Warning - 18th Mar 19
Split Stock Market Warning - 18th Mar 19
Stock Market Trend Analysis 2019 - Video - 18th Mar 19
Best Precious Metals Investment and Trades for 2019 - 18th Mar 19
Hurdles for Gold Stocks - 18th Mar 19
Pento: Coming QE & Low Rates Will Be ‘Rocket Fuel for Gold’ - 18th Mar 19
"This is for Tommy Robinson" Shouts Knife Wielding White Supremacist Terrorist in London - 18th Mar 19
This Is How You Create the Biggest Credit Bubble in History - 17th Mar 19
Crude Oil Bulls - For Whom the Bell Tolls - 17th Mar 19
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 17th Mar 19
Why Buy a Land Rover - Range Rover vs Huge Tree Branch Falling on its Roof - 17th Mar 19
UKIP Urged to Change Name to BNP 2.0 So BrExit Party Can Fight a 2nd EU Referendum - 17th Mar 19
Tommy Robinson Looks Set to Become New UKIP Leader - 16th Mar 19
Gold Final Warning: Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - 16th Mar 19
Towards the End of a Stocks Bull Market, Short term Timing Becomes Difficult - 16th Mar 19
UKIP Brexit Facebook Groups Reveling in the New Zealand Terror Attacks Blaming Muslim Victims - 16th Mar 19
Gold – US Dollar vs US Dollar Index - 16th Mar 19
Islamophobic Hate Preachers Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins have Killed UKIP and Brexit - 16th Mar 19
Countdown to The Precious Metals Gold and Silver Breakout Rally - 15th Mar 19
Shale Oil Splutters: Brent on Track for $70 Target $100 in 2020 - 15th Mar 19
Setting up a Business Just Got Easier - 15th Mar 19
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis Trend Forercast - Video - 15th Mar 19
Gold Warning - Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - Part 1 - 15th Mar 19
UK Weather SHOCK - Trees Dropping Branches onto Cars in Stormy Winds - Sheffield - 15th Mar 19
Best Time to Trade Forex - 15th Mar 19
Why the Green New Deal Will Send Uranium Price Through the Roof - 14th Mar 19
S&P 500's New Medium-Term High, but Will Stock Market Uptrend Continue? - 14th Mar 19
US Conservatism - 14th Mar 19
Gold in the Age of High-speed Electronic Trading - 14th Mar 19
Britain's Demographic Time Bomb Has Gone Off! - 14th Mar 19
Why Walmart Will Crush Amazon - 14th Mar 19
2019 Economic Predictions - 14th Mar 19
Tax Avoidance Bills Sent to Thousands of Workers - 14th Mar 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast March to September 2019

Ben Bernanke, The Very Model of a Modern Pliant Bureaucrat

Politics / Central Banks Feb 05, 2010 - 10:24 AM GMT

By: Fred_Sheehan

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleFederal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was a safe bet to win the Senate's vote for a second term. "Safe" is what the senators want and Bernanke passed the test. He is not a man inclined to make bold decisions. A former university administrator, his institutional mind will be just as slow to foresee the next financial crisis as it was incapable of forecasting the last.


Despite obvious signs the financial system was about to burst, Congress had no desire to touch Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the banks' expanding mortgage securitization machine (i.e., derivatives), that made Washington and Wall Street so rich.

Having replaced Alan Greenspan as chairman on February 1, 2006, Bernanke performed according to script. He dismissed the worrywarts. In June 2006, Chairman Bernanke told an International Monetary Fund (IMF) gathering: "[O]ur banks are well capitalized and willing to lend." In the same month, he stamped his imprimatur on the most destitute sector of the economy: "U.S. households overall have been managing their personal finances well." In November 2006, he calmed fears about subprime lending. Before an audience promoting community development, Bernanke celebrated the rise of subprime mortgages: from only 5 percent of the market in 1995, 20 percent of new mortgage loans were subprime by 2005. (He did advise "greater financial literacy" for "borrowers with lower incomes and education levels.")

In May 2007, Chairman Bernanke gave an appraisal one expects from a short-sighted bureaucrat: "[W]e believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system."

Bernanke's specialty is organization. Filing subprime mortgages into a manila folder appealed to the chairman's tidy mind. John Cassidy discussed Bernanke's strength in the New Yorker: "In 1996, Bernanke became chairman of the Princeton economics department, a job many professors regard as a dull administrative diversion from their real work. Bernanke, however, embraced the chairmanship.... [Bernanke] bridged a long-standing departmental divide between theorists and applied researchers...." A colleague explained Bernanke's considerable skill: "Ben is very good at... giving people the feeling they have been heard in the debate...."

Bernanke gives senators the same feeling (with some admirable exceptions, who know Bernanke's cordial and vague representations are a variant on his predecessor's, Alan Greenspan). The IMF did not want to hear America's banks were undercapitalized. The community developers did not want to know subprime lending was an odious racket that was bound to topple. The nation's most revered economist assured audiences that all was fine.

On December 3, 2009, the Senate Banking Committee held a reconfirmation hearing (prior to the full Senate voting on Bernanke's second term). The Fed chairman was given great credit for leading the nation through the recent financial crisis. Committee members congratulated Chairman Bernanke for his brilliant restoration of the U.S. financial system.

He was reprimanded, however, for not anticipating the crisis and expressed requisite contrition. Bernanke thought banks should have held more capital and that the banking system had not employed adequate risk management controls. Committee members nodded in solemn agreement.

In truth, the too-big-to-fail banks are bigger, more unstable, and even more undercapitalized than before the bubble burst in 2007. As for risk management tools, Bernanke is full of talk but has done nothing to restrain either the growth of derivatives or to require reserves be held against derivative exposure.

At the December 3 hearing, the Fed chairman stated that he did not see any asset bubbles emerging. This seemed to reassure the senators who ignored the fatuity of even asking his opinion given that he thought banks were well-capitalized in 2006 and did not see the housing bubble.

As night follows day, Bernanke ignores a signal akin to one the derivative markets offered ahead of the 2007 meltdown. Then, there were wide expectations of loan defaults. Investors hedged this risk in the credit-default swap (CDS) market. The CDS market grew from $14 trillion to $42 trillion from January 2006 to June 30, 2007. Any line of business growing at such a rate should alarm bank regulators.

Ben Bernanke, the nation's leading bank regulator, did not understand that banks could not honor trillions of dollars of claims once the defaults occurred. It was the CDS market that left Bear, Stearns; Lehman Brothers; Goldman, Sachs; and AIG either insolvent or close to it.

Today, galloping derivative growth has moved to interest-rate protection. The fear is of a government bond bubble. Ten-year Treasury bonds yield 3.7% during the greatest money-printing experiment in the nation's history. Investment managers are protecting themselves against a higher 10-year Treasury yield. (With interest-rate derivative contracts, banks will have to pay the purchasers if rates rise to a specified level.)

During the first six months of 2009, the volume of contracts offering protection against rising yields of Treasury bonds with maturities of 5 years or longer rose from $109 trillion to $150 trillion. When rates rise, banks may once again default on their commitments.

Bernanke aims to please. He told the senators in December 2009 a reevaluation of his zero-percent fed funds rate "will require careful analysis and judgment." The chairman will raise the rate "in a smooth and timely way." This paralysis to action fits the stereotype of a municipal data-entry clerk. Bernanke certified his tremulous loyalty when he told an audience on November 16: "It is inherently extraordinarily difficult to know whether an asset's price is in line with its fundamental value.... It's not obvious to me in any case that there's any large misalignments currently in the U.S. financial system."

Only an apparatchik could believe an economy with zero-percent interest rates is in balance. The purchasers of interest-rate protection (which is not cheap) believe differently, but Ben Bernanke is the man for the Senate. The chairman's mandate for his second them is to ignore the obvious, deflect attention from the megabanks' inherent instability, and to accept blame for his ignorance after the deluge.

Frederick Sheehan writes a blog at www.aucontrarian.com

Listen to interviews with Frederick Sheehan:

1 - Thursday, February 4, 4:30 - 5 PM EST, on Bloomberg radio with Pimm Fox on his show Taking Stock

2 - Saturday, February 6 with Jim Puplava at Financial Sense. The one hour interview will be posted at 3 PM EST: http://www.financialsense.com/fsn/main.php

3 - Sunday, February 7, 10 -11 AM EST, with Jim Campbell on Yale University radio WYBC - 1340 AM and streaming live at WYBC.com. Simulcast on Yale's Internet channel: WYBCX.com

Frederick Sheehan is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, November 2009).

© 2010 Copyright Frederick Sheehan - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules