Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Gold vs Cash in a Financial Crisis - Richard_Mills
2.Current Stock Market Rally Similarities To 1999 - Chris_Vermeulen
3.America See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon - Part2 - James_Quinn
4.Stock Market Trend Forecast Outlook for 2020 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Who Said Stock Market Traders and Investor are Emotional Right Now? - Chris_Vermeulen
6.Gold Upswing and Lessons from Gold Tops - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Economic Tribulation is Coming, and Here is Why - Michael_Pento
8.What to Expect in Our Next Recession/Depression? - Raymond_Matison
9.The Fed Celebrates While Americans Drown in Financial Despair - John_Mauldin
10.Hi-yo Silver Away! - Richard_Mills
Last 7 days
APPLE (AAPL) AI Tech Stocks Investing 2020 - 20th Jan 20
FOMO or FOPA or Au? - 20th Jan 20
Stock Market SP500 Kitchin Cycle Review - 20th Jan 20
Why Intel i7-4790k Devils Canyon CPU is STILL GOOD in 2020! - 20th Jan 20
Stock Market Final Thrust Review - 19th Jan 20
Gold Trade Usage & Price Effect - 19th Jan 20
Stock Market Trend Forecast 2020 - Trend Analysis - Video - 19th Jan 20
Stock Trade-of-the-Week: Dorchester Minerals (DMLP) - 19th Jan 20
INTEL (INTC) Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 18th Jan 20
Gold Stocks Wavering - 18th Jan 20
Best Amazon iPhone Case Fits 6s, 7, 8 by Toovren Review - 18th Jan 20
1. GOOGLE (Alphabet) - Primary AI Tech Stock For Investing 2020 - 17th Jan 20
ERY Energy Bear Continues Basing Setup – Breakout Expected Near January 24th - 17th Jan 20
What Expiring Stock and Commodity Market Bubbles Look Like - 17th Jan 20
Platinum Breaks $1000 On Big Rally - What's Next Forecast - 17th Jan 20
Precious Metals Set to Keep Powering Ahead - 17th Jan 20
Stock Market and the US Presidential Election Cycle  - 16th Jan 20
Shifting Undercurrents In The US Stock Market - 16th Jan 20
America 2020 – YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (PART TWO) - 16th Jan 20
Yes, China Is a Currency Manipulator – And the U.S. Banking System Is a Metals Manipulator - 16th Jan 20
MICROSOFT Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 15th Jan 20
Silver Traders Big Trend Analysis – Part II - 15th Jan 20
Silver Short-Term Pullback Before Acceleration Higher - 15th Jan 20
Gold Overall Outlook Is 'Strongly Bullish' - 15th Jan 20
AMD is Killing Intel - Best CPU's For 2020! Ryzen 3900x, 3950x, 3960x Budget, to High End Systems - 15th Jan 20
The Importance Of Keeping Invoices Up To Date - 15th Jan 20
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis 2020 - 14th Jan 20
Walmart Has Made a Genius Move to Beat Amazon - 14th Jan 20
Deep State 2020 – A Year Of Living Dangerously! - 14th Jan 20
The End of College Is Near - 14th Jan 20
AI Stocks Investing 2020 to Profit from the Machine Intelligence Mega-trend - Video - 14th Jan 20
Stock Market Final Thrust - 14th Jan 20
British Pound GBP Trend Forecast Review - 13th Jan 20
Trumpism Stock Market and the crisis in American social equality - 13th Jan 20
Silver Investors Big Trend Analysis for – Part I - 13th Jan 20
Craig Hemke Gold & Silver 2020 Prediction, Slams Biased Gold Naysayers - 13th Jan 20
AMAZON Stock Investing in AI Machine Intelligence Mega-trend 2020 and Beyond - 11th Jan 20
Gold Price Reacting to Global Flash Points - 11th Jan 20
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2020 - What You Need to Know Before Buying - 11th Jan 20
Gold Buying Precarious - 11th Jan 20
The Crazy Stock Market Train to Bull Eternity - 11th Jan 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Nadeem Walayat Financial Markets Analysiis and Trend Forecasts

Dangerous Government Meddling in Free Markets to Stoke Inflation

Politics / Credit Crisis Bailouts Sep 26, 2008 - 03:48 PM GMT

By: Adrian_Ash


Best Financial Markets Analysis Article"...The dangerous market has been and gone. Only the danger of government meddling remains..."

WE LOVE THIS NUGGET of irony, idiocy or just plain cant so much, we have to repeat it – clutching our sides and doubling-up in laughter, tears streaming down our disbelieving faces:

"The reality of the situation is that an open, competitive, and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental intervention..."

So said Henry Paulson, US Treasury secretary and ex-Goldman Sachs chief, in Shanghai on 7th March 2007. Hank was lecturing Chinese officials (who this week allowed short-selling on their domestic equity markets for the first time) at the so-called China-US Strategic Dialogue summit.

Of course, Paulson bent their ear before Bear Stearns "Enhanced Leverage" mortgage-bond hedge funds blew up in June '07. The following month, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, made his first guess-timate of total bank losses – "in the order of between $50bn and $100bn" – to come from the subprime collapse.

Now the terrified trio of Bush, Bernanke and Hank want $700bn just to re-finance the US investment banks and their foreign landfill sites, let alone home-buyers, mortgage lenders and house builders.

Yet five UK banks alone hold $175bn of qualifying junk – fully one quarter of the sum requested. So no wonder Bill Gross – boss of Pimco, the world's biggest bond fund, and a cheerleader for governmental intervention ever since Bear Stearns' hedge funds went "hiccup!" – says the "troubled auction recovery program" will need another $500bn on top, just for starters.

( Wherever did they get that name – "troubled auction recovery program" – by the way? Maybe "someone" in the as changed from their former self as George Bush is forgetful of his role in creating this mess...was reminded of a drying-out clinic from long, long ago... )

Paulson's ideological grand-standing in Shanghai last year preceded a few other events that may have forced his Damascene conversion. With $700 billion...if not $1.2 trillion or the end of civilization itself at stake...these events are worth recalling:

  • The first of five "big freeze" spikes in world money market interest rates (Aug. 9th, '07);
  • Collapse of UK mortgage bank Northern Rock – last visited by UK regulators two years before (Sept. '07);
  • Stan O'Neal's resignation from Merrill Lynch (Oct. '07);
  • Bush administration launches of Hope Now to help "one million [US] home-owners stay in their homes", plus the downgrade of "monoline" bond insurance credit ratings (both Dec. 07);
  • Biggest one-day fall in major world stock markets since 9/11 (Jan. 21st '08);
  • G7 leading nations forecast $400bn credit losses in total (Feb. '08);
  • Final collapse of Bear Stearns into the welcoming – and Fed-assisted – arms of J.P.Morgan for 10¢ in the dollar (March '08);
  • Last gasp of 100% loan-to-value mortgages here in the UK (Apr. '08);
  • Swiss giant UBS raises $15bn after suffering $37bn in losses (May '08);
  • FBI arrests more than 400 people, including bankers and brokers, for mortgage fraud (June '08);
  • Collapse of IndyMac – not even on the US watchdog's list of "at risk" banks 10 days earlier (July '08);
  • First 10% twelve-month drop in average US home prices since the 1930s' Depression (Aug. '08); and then
  • The nationalization of Fannie & Freddie , the collapse of Lehmans, the seizure of AIG, the fire-sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, the fire-sale of London's HBOS to Lloyds TSB, and now the collapse of Washington Mutual into – surprise! – the welcoming arms of J.P.Morgan (Sept. '08).

All this while, of course, the developed world's central banks were pouring cash into the credit market, trying to fix Problem No.1 at the top of our list above.

It just keeps coming back, however. Because the people who know best the liquidity and solvency of major banks – the other banks – refuse to lend whatever money they get, hoarding it instead for fear of a run at their own branches.

"British banks have squirreled away nearly £6bn [$11bn] with the Bank of England rather than lend it to each other for more than a few days," reports the Financial Times, "using its safe but low-interest deposit standing facility in a sign of the fear gripping money markets."

Little surprise that inter-bank lending rates are holding near an eight-month high for US Dollars – despite the Fed now offering more than $290bn to foreign authorities for their own domestic money markets – while the banks' price for borrowing Euros has reached a record high for the single currency, launched in 1999.

And all this while as well, of course, the Federal Reserve has been busy slashing US interest rates...finally joined by the UK, Aussie and New Zealand authorities in making debt cheaper even as the free market – both the interbank market and the commercial market of home-loans, overdrafts and corporate lending – pushed in the other direction.

This privilege, allowing central banks to set the price of money whenever it thinks the economy needs tweaking, might seem to jar with Paulson's tidbit from Shanghai.

But shepherding the free market is why central banks, regulators and government itself exists today. And as they've proven so adept at this task, guiding the lambs of Wall Street to the slaughter of Florida and California condo's, it would surely make sense to extend their powers – and shepherd the free market a little more closely – from here.


"We thought Resolution was just suspended, not delisted," said a spokeswoman for City watchdog the Financial Services Authority last Friday.

You'd think they might know. But no; Resolution, a UK insurer, was delisted in London after being bought out in May. Yet it still found its name on the banned list of 29 "no shorting" stocks proscribed by the FSA.

"It will be removed," said the all-powerful watchdog. "A revised list will be up on our website later today."

Meantime in New York – where Hank Paulson's "open, competitive, and liberalized financial market" is also taking a break – the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has banning short-selling of GLG, the giant London-based hedge fund, along with 798 other financial stocks and 100 or more stray sheep like GE, GM and Ford.

Funny, but GLG itself paid a $3.2 million fine in June '07 for "multiple violations" of the SEC code, after shorting some 14 public offerings in the US and making $2.2m over two years in "illegal" profits.

Still, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one lost sheep found, eh?

"Markets are usually right," says Anatole Kaletsky in the London Times , "but sometimes they are dangerously wrong – and they need to be managed with decisive and competent government intervention."

Ignore Polly-Ana's morality if you can; fact is, markets often get dangerous. Whether they're right or wrong doesn't matter much if you're buying high and then forced to sell cheaper.

Danger came in Tokyo real estate priced so highly, the Emperor's Palace was worth more than all of California in 1989. It returned to the markets when the Nasdaq got so high, it was discounting tech-stock earnings until A.D. 2146 back in early 2000. Markets got dangerous once again when the average house here in the United Kingdom was valued at 8.5 average earnings in the summer of '07, just as WaMu teetered above $45 per share, AIG bounced back towards $80, and Lehman Bros. announced record quarterly earnings for the last ever time.

Here and now, the market – right or wrong – is pricing toxic debt and derivatives at zero or worse. US subprime mortgage bonds, if marked-to-market – rather than against the apparent "final redemption value" used to help pay $66 billion to Wall Street staff in 2007 – are also worth zilch. That's why there's no danger of anyone buying them, no one outside Washington, that is. And there's the true danger today.

The dangerous market has been and gone. It popped when Florida condos stopped selling to buy-and-flip wannabees without a red cent of cash but one million in debt. Only government meddling – just like Hank Paulson said – risks further danger; the danger that US taxpayers will pay through the nose (and through inflation) for $700bn of utterly worthless "investments".

Hell, he did run Goldman Sachs, after all. What did you expect! But is there any danger of letting the free market do what needs doing?

By Adrian Ash

Gold price chart, no delay | Free Report: 5 Myths of the Gold Market
City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning in London and a regular contributor to MoneyWeek magazine, Adrian Ash is the editor of Gold News and head of research at , giving you direct access to investment gold, vaulted in Zurich , on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

(c) BullionVault 2008

Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.

Adrian Ash Archive

© 2005-2019 - 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