Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
The Connection Between Stocks and the Economy is not What Most Investors Think - 19th Sep 20
A Virus So Deadly, The Government Has to Test You to See If You Have It - 19th Sep 20
Will Lagarde and Mnuchin Push Gold Higher? - 19th Sep 20
RTX 3080 Mania, Ebay Scalpers Crazy Prices £62,000 Trollers Insane Bids for a £649 GPU! - 19th Sep 20
A Greater Economic Depression For The 21st Century - 19th Sep 20
The United Floor in Stocks - 19th Sep 20
Mobile Gaming Market Trends And The Expected Future Developments - 19th Sep 20
The S&P 500 appears ready to correct, and that is a good thing - 18th Sep 20
It’s Go Time for Gold Price! Next Stop $2,250 - 18th Sep 20
Forget AMD RDNA2 and Buy Nvidia RTX 3080 FE GPU's NOW Before Price - 18th Sep 20
Best Back to School / University Black Face Masks Quick and Easy from Amazon - 18th Sep 20
3 Types of Loans to Buy an Existing Business - 18th Sep 20
How to tell Budgie Gender, Male or Female Sex for Young and Mature Parakeets - 18th Sep 20
Fasten Your Seatbelts Stock Market Make Or Break – Big Trends Ahead - 17th Sep 20
Peak Financialism And Post-Capitalist Economics - 17th Sep 20
Challenges of Working from Home - 17th Sep 20
Sheffield Heading for Coronavirus Lockdown as Covid Deaths Pass 432 - 17th Sep 20
What Does this Valuable Gold Miners Indicator Say Now? - 16th Sep 20
President Trump and Crimes Against Humanity - 16th Sep 20
Slow Economic Recovery from CoronaVirus Unlikely to Impede Strong Demand for Metals - 16th Sep 20
Why the Knives Are Out for Trump’s Fed Critic Judy Shelton - 16th Sep 20
Operation Moonshot: Get Ready for Millions of New COVAIDS Positives in the UK! - 16th Sep 20
Stock Market Approaching Correction Objective - 15th Sep 20
Look at This Big Reminder of Dot.com Stock Market Mania - 15th Sep 20
Three Key Principles for Successful Disruption Investors - 15th Sep 20
Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Warns of 10% Inflation - 15th Sep 20
Gold Price Reaches $2,000 Amid Dollar Depreciation - 15th Sep 20
GLD, IAU Big Gold ETF Buying MIA - 14th Sep 20
Why Bill Gates Is Betting Millions on Synthetic Biology - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market SPY Expectations For The Rest Of September - 14th Sep 20
Gold Price Gann Angle Update - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market Recovery from the Sharp Correction Goes On - 14th Sep 20
Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
The Silver Big Prize - 13th Sep 20
U.S. Shares Plunged. Is Gold Next? - 13th Sep 20
Why Are 7,500 Oil Barrels Floating on this London Lake? - 13th Sep 20
Sheffield 432 Covid-19 Deaths, Last City Centre Shop Before Next Lockdown - 13th Sep 20
Biden or Trump Will Keep The Money Spigots Open - 13th Sep 20
Gold And Silver Up, Down, Sideways, Up - 13th Sep 20
Does the Stock Market Really "See" the Future? - 12th Sept 20
Basel III and Gold, Silver and Platinum - 12th Sept 20
Tech Stocks FANG Index Nearing Critical Support – Could Breakout At Any Moment - 12th Sept 20
The Tech Stocks Quantum AI EXPLOSION is Coming! - 12th Sept 20
AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 Questions Answered on Cores, Prices, Benchmarks and Threadripper Launch - 12th Sept 20
The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
Gold / Silver Ratio: Slowly I Toined… - 11th Sep 20
Stock Market Correction or Reversal? The Jury Isn't Out! - 11th Sep 20
Crude Oil – The Bearish Outlook Remains - 11th Sep 20
Crude Oil Breaks Lower – Sparking Fears Of Another Sub $30 Price Collapse - 11th Sep 20
Inflation by Fiat - 10th Sep 20
Unemployment Rate Drops. Will It Drag Gold Down? - 10th Sep 20
How Does The Global Economy Recover After This Global Pandemic? - 10th Sep 20
The Best Mobile Casino - 10th Sep 20
QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
AMD Ryzen Zen 3 4800x 10 Core 5ghz CPU, Cinebench Benchmark Scores (Est.) - 9th Sep 20
Stock Traders’ Dreams Come True – Big Technical Price Swings Pending on SP500 - 9th Sep 20
Should You Be Concerned About The Stock Market Big Downside Rotation? - 9th Sep 20
Options Traders Keep "Opting" for Even Higher Stock Market Prices - 8th Sep 20
Gold Stocks in Correction Mode - 8th Sep 20
The law of long-term time preference and Gold ownership - 8th Sep 20
Gold Bull Markets: History and Prospects Ahead - 8th Sep 20
Sheffield City Centre Coronavirus Shopping Opera Ahead of Second Covid-19 Peak - 8th Sep 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Greenspan Came Not to Save Consumers but to Bury Them

Politics / Central Banks Apr 08, 2010 - 06:57 PM GMT

By: Fred_Sheehan

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleApril 7 (Bloomberg) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan defended the central bank's record on consumer protection in the years before the financial crisis.... "The Federal Reserve, often in partnership with the other federal banking agencies, was quite active in pursuing consumer protections for mortgage borrowers," Greenspan said in testimony for a hearing today of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington.


April 7 (Bloomberg) -- "There's a lot of amnesia that's emerging," Greenspan said.

The attention Alan Greenspan devoted to consumer protection on April 7, 2010, was a strange diversion, which is what it was. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission had penetrated, to an uncomfortable degree, the shallow defenses Greenspan has dreamt up to justify his indefensible behavior. For instance, he offered a ridiculous response when asked if monetary policy was one failure during his tenure. Greenspan changed the subject, only - one suspects to Greenspan's surprise - to be asked the same question again. He again ran off on a tangent. Maybe even Greenspan understood the emperor who wore no clothes had been exposed.

To those not suffering a bout of amnesia, his fidelity to the consumer was a surprise. That is, to those who have read the Greenspan Papers. We need only review transcripts of Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings in 2002. The man who built his reputation as a disciple of Ayn Rand (to be sure, a false claim) dearly wanted to drain the consumer of economic self-sufficiency. He succeeded.

The economy was emerging from recession, though imperceptibly. The mean household income declined in the United States every year from 2000 through 2004. To the Fed, consumer spending leads the economy. Since income from jobs was not boosting the GDP, innovative consumer finance was an FOMC obsession.

The Federal Reserve chairman spent the year not trying to protect consumers, but to bury them. At the March 2002 meeting, he stated: "[I]f the mortgage rate goes up, we will get some restraining effects on personal consumption expenditures because a goodly part of PCE has been financed by equity extraction from the appreciation in housing values."

At 2002 meetings, Greenspan spent a good deal of time talking about consumers cashing out home equity from their houses and - it would only boost the GDP with the and - spending it. At the September FOMC meeting, Greenspan reported on the rising level of consumer cash from home sales and from cash-out refinancing.

First, from home sales: "We know, for example, that the current level of existing home turnover is quite brisk and that the average extraction of an existing home is well over $50,000. A substantial part of the equity extraction related to home sales, which is running at an annual rate close to $200 billion, is expended on personal consumption and home modernization, two components, of course, of GDP." GDP growth, of course, is the Federal Reserve chairman's popularity barometer.

Second, from refinancing extractions: "[A]pplications reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association [are showing] a very large increase in cash-outs. We estimate that they, too, are running in the $200 billion range at an annual rate, up very significantly from where they were a year or eighteen months ago."

This was good news: "I think it's fairly evident the unprecedented levels of equity extractions from homes have exerted a strong impetus on household spending."

Also at the September meeting: "[T]here is no question that a goodly part of the robustness of household expenditures stems from [home equity cash outs]. Cars and light trucks which have been quite strong, are examples of large ticket items that are disproportionately purchased when equity is extracted from the sale of a home...."

In November, he thought "it's hard to escape the conclusion that at some point our extraordinary housing boom and its carryover into very large extractions of equity, financed by very large increases in mortgage debt, cannot continue indefinitely into the future." [Author's italics.]

All to the good, as Edward Gramlich was told at the August meeting:

GRAMLICH: "I am just uncomfortable that the refinancing of housing should be the source of so much of the support for our recovery."

GREENSPAN: "You sound like a true conservative." So said the head banking regulator, responsible for the solvency of the banking system.

At the August 2002 meeting, Greenspan unrolled a theory, one that may actually work in the real world: the decline of interest rates plays an important role in trading, extracting and spending. (The Federal Reserve staff believed only the level of interest rates matter.) The chairman declared the "decline [in the 10-year Treasury yield] has had a major impact on thirty-year mortgage rates.... [W]e are seeing very significant churning in the mortgage markets, and as I have indicated previously, the increase in home equity is cumulative over a period of years because the prices of houses very rarely turn negative. What we are observing at this point is a very high rate of house turnover. Existing home sales are very high...."

This churning was as important as rising prices. A faster rate of house trading, multiplied by profits from house sales, prompted greater cash-out consumer spending.

At the November meeting, Greenspan once again pushed his decline-in-interest-rate theory: "In sum it strikes me that we are looking at an economy that potentially has significant upside momentum if it can get through the current soft spot. [M]y suggestion would be to lower the funds rate by 50 basis points - it is possible that such a move may be a mistake. But it's a mistake that does not have very significant consequences." The FOMC voted to cut the funds rate.

It might seem extraordinary, if we were not discussing Alan Greenspan, that the Federal Reserve chairman actively engaged in financial shenanigans with the specific intention of encumbering Americans with more debt at a time their incomes were falling.

The consequences today are most visible in Las Vegas, California's Inland Empire and in southern Florida. As for Greenspan, the Fed had cut the funds rate 12 times in 2001 and 2002, from 6.5% to 1.25%. His theory was running out of ammunition. Greenspan's manipulation of thirty-year fixed mortgage rates was nearly spent. (How does his 2002 theory square with his 2010 theory that short-term interest rates set by the Fed had no influence on the mortgage bubble?) By 2004 and 2005, he gave speeches exhorting Americans to buy adjustable-rate, interest-only and negative-amortizing mortgages.

The man never stops trying.

By Frederick Sheehan

See his blog at www.aucontrarian.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