Tag Archives: bonds

>Mongolia plans to issue first sovereign bonds


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The money has not yet come in, but the debt has already started…

Mineral-rich Mongolia plans to issue first sovereign bonds – FT.com

Mongolia plans to issue its first sovereign bonds this month, marking a milestone for capital markets in this resource-rich democracy.


The newly created Development Bank of Mongolia will issue $700m in sovereign bonds to fund lending programmesin areas that include infrastructure, industry, energy and roads. 

the issuance would take place in tranches beginning this month, with the first slice likely to be $100m.

The bond will be in tugrik, the Mongolian currency, which has appreciated by 1.6 per cent against the dollar since January.
investment in the mining sector has soared in the past two years along with global commodities prices.

Government revenues from the mining sector are set to jump next year as the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine comes online, and politicians in Ulan Bator are looking for ways to manage the coming influx into state coffers.

The Development Bank is being set up with training from the Korean Development Bank and the Development Bank of Japan. 
yields on the bonds could be quite low, perhaps 6-8 per cent.


Mongolian sovereign debt has a B1 non-investment grade rating from Moody’s


Read the full article here: FT.com / Capital Markets – Mineral-rich Mongolia plans to issue first sovereign bonds

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>Higher Rates Likely to Keep Euro Rising – WSJ.com


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Higher Rates Likely to Keep Euro Rising – WSJ.com 
NEW YORK—Currency investors’ scramble for yield is likely to lift the euro against the dollar this week, but rising concerns about the euro-zone’s sovereign-debt crisis could curb the common currency’s gains.

Zuma Press

The European Central Bank, headed by President Jean-Claude Trichet, right, is expected to keep raising interest rates in the months ahead as the Federal Reserve leaves rates near zero.
The European Central Bank is expected to continue raising rates in the months ahead while the Federal Reserve leaves U.S. rates near zero for the rest of this year, a prospect that is boosting the euro.
The euro hurdled $1.45 for the first time since January 2010 last week, before pulling back slightly, while some big foreign-exchange banks have raised their forecasts for the common currency. Deutsche Bank and Citigroup now both expect the euro to rise toward $1.50 in coming months.
“The biggest driver for two months now has really been interest rates, interest rates and, of course the third thing being, interest rates,” said Jonathan Wetreich, a currency strategist with Brown Brothers Harriman.
As worries grew last week that Greece will eventually need to restructure its debt, and as Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Ireland’s credit rating on Friday, the euro retreated against the dollar, but only to the $1.44 area, still among the strongest levels it has seen this year.
Late Friday, the euro was at $1.4427 from $1.4494 late Thursday. The dollar was at ¥83.08 from ¥83.45.
Interest-rate differentials will likely push the euro even higher in the week ahead, analysts said.
“It’s really a question of whether the euro is getting to a valuation where it’s harder to keep going, but I think it will keep going,” said Adnan Akant, head of foreign exchange and managing director at money manager Fischer Francis Trees & Watts, a New York unit of BNP Paribas. The money manager is still betting on the euro to rise, though it’s not an “overemphasized” position, he said.
“If you clear your head and think about what’s going on, it’s still an interest-rates story,” he said.
The spread between the euro and dollar two-year swap rate touched its highest level since 2008 on Friday, and if it continues to widen, it will be euro-supportive, said Ron Leven, a strategist with Morgan Stanley.
Deutsche Bank raised its euro forecast Friday, projecting the euro will rise to near $1.50 in the next three to six months. The bank had previously expected the euro to trade within a $1.25 to $1.40 range against the dollar throughout 2011. Citigroup now expects the common currency at $1.50 over six to 12 months, up from a previous forecast of $1.45.
Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, one of the world’s biggest asset-management firms, has abandoned its bet on a decline in the euro against the dollar, said Robert Michele, global chief investment officer for the New York, London and Asia investment teams of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Global Fixed Income Group, in a phone interview Friday.
However, the euro-zone debt crisis still poses a risk for the euro, analysts said.
If Greece is forced to restructure its debt, it “is likely to send a shockwave” through the euro zone and its currency, said Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist at Forex.com.
In addition, Finland, which is the only euro-zone country that requires bailouts to be approved by parliament, held parliamentary elections Sunday. The anti-bailout True Finns Party appeared to make a strong showing, according to exit polls, and that could raise fears about whether the results will undermine a planned rescue for Portugal.
Investors continue to view Spain as the real tipping point, though it seems to be on solid ground for now because of headway on reforms and fiscal austerity measures. But market analysts are keeping a close eye on the shaky Spanish housing market, the country’s high jobless rate and its vulnerable savings banks.
If such sovereign-debt jitters still weigh on the currency this week, it could mean a mild rebound for the U.S. dollar, Mr. Dolan said.

—Min Zeng contributed to this article

>Bolivarian Arbitrage The Devil’s Excrement


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 Bolivarian Arbitrage The Devil’s Excrement

I- The Question

I have been getting some emails asking about why it is that the PDVSA bond issued last week, the so called PDVSA 2022, has a price that is so much below the identical Global 2022 Venezuela bond issued by the Republic last summer.

II.-Bonds in general

But to understand why this is relevant, let me start at the beginning: Typically, when a country or a company issues a bond, it has a price and a yield to maturity which depends on the perceived “risk” associated with the issuer. Such a bond is simply a promise that I will pay the annual payments, the coupon, and at maturity, the day the bond ends, you will get 100% of the nominal or face value of the bond.

III.- Venezuela’s bonds and risk

Venezuela currently is perceived as being high risk, in fact, very high risk. There are two reasons for that, one is simply political, the feeling that one day Hugo may wake up and decide not to pay the country’s debt. The second one is that Venezuela has been issuing more and more debt and at some point this can’t go on, the country has to pay at maturity, as well as the increasing annual or coupon payments to the bond holders, which are already near US$ 5 billion per year.

As this risk has increased over the last few years, this coupon has gotten higher, meaning that the country or PDVSA has to pay more to convince someone to buy your bond. As an example, in 2009, PDVSA issued bonds maturing in 2014,2015 and 2016 with coupons around 5%. That means that if you hold $100,000 of the bond PDVSA has to pay you $5,000 per year and then at maturity give you back your money.

IV.- How Venezuela issues bonds

This is where things get complicated. Because of exchange controls, these bonds are not issued internationally, where they would trade very close to each other, but instead are sold to Venezuelan individuals or companies for Bs. That is, you pay so many Bolivars for each dollar face value of the bond at Bs. 4.3 per US$, but you know based of the coupon, that the bond will not trade at 100%, but at a lower value.

Why?

Because Venezuela would have to pay coupons of 14-16% for the bond to trade near 100% if issued in US$ directly. Instead, what the Government or PDVSA do, is to set a lower coupon, knowing that the bond will trade below 100%. Thus, if you are a Venezuelan and you pay say Bs. 4,300 per $1,000 of a bond that should trade around 70%, you buy it, sell the bond for 70% of its face value (You get $700) and then you are simply buying dollars at Bs. (4,300/700) or Bs. 6.14 per US$.

Since exchange controls are so strict now, people love these bond issues, because other than what the foreign exchange control office sells you at Bs. 4.3, there is no way for an individual to buy dollars as it is completely illegal to do so since last May. The same applies to companies. If the Government does not give them dollars for imports, they have to either use their own money or simply stop importing, it is illegal to buy foreign currency other than from the Government.

V.- The Venezuela Global 2022 bond

Last summer, Venezuela issued a bond maturing in 2022 (It actually matures in three parts, one third in each of 2020, 2021 and 2022) with a coupon of 12.75%. This is a very high coupon, very few companies or countries in the world issue at such high coupons. Even worse, these bonds trade at a discount in order to equilibrate with what investors expect from Venezuela. Last week, for example, this Global 2022 bond, as it is called, was trading at 88% of its face value just before PDVSA announced its bond. At that price it was yielding around 15.3%. The difference between coupon and yield is that coupon is what you get paid every year over the face value, yield to maturity is what your annual return will be if you keep the bond until it matures.

VI.- The PDVSA 2022 bond

And here is where the Bolivarian arbitrage and the topic of this post begins. You see, this week PDVSA announced an issue of a bond also maturing in 2022, also having a coupon of 12.75% and also having maturity in three parts in 2020,2021, 2022. That means the two bonds are identical. Given that PDVSA and Venezuela are so inter twinned, you would think they should have very similar prices and very similar yields. Right? Well, yes and no, because of all of the artificialities in the Venezuelan economy due to the controls, at the beginning of the trading of a bonds this does not happen. In time they will be very close, but it will take time.

In fact, last Thursday when the PDVSA 2022 began trading, it was being sold at 74% of its face value, while the Global 2022, essentially the same risk, same yield, same coupon, was trading at 86.4%, a full 12.4 points above the new PDVSA 2022 issue. Illogical. right?

VII.- The Bolivarian Arbitrage

You would think these two prices would become the same immediately, but they don’t. This is the Bolivarian Arbitrage, the subject of this post and the question I have been getting from readers: Why are they different, why doesn’t the gap close immediately? How can it make sense for Venezuela to be yielding 15.7% (same coupon, higher price of 86.4%), while an identical bond from PDVSA yields almost 19% (same coupon, lower price of 74%)? Aren’t markets “efficient”?

The answer is that this exists because of the dynamics of the bond sales by the Government and the banks. Eventually, the difference will close, but it will take time. Here is why:

Companies don’t want to buy the bonds, they want to get the dollars when they get the bonds and sell them. So, they go to a local bank and say: I will place an order with you, of say US$ 50 million, if you can guarantee a price for each dollar such that no matter what amount I get, the price will not change.

For the bank this is not easy. The client could be assigned zero of the bonds or it could be assigned the 50 million, the rules are never clear and vary from bond to bond. So, suppose that the bank expects the new bond to have a fair value of 82%, that means that each dollar costs (Bs. 4.3/0.82)=Bs. 5.24, but the company wants a guaranteed price, so you say I will pay you 70% for the bond, no matter how much you are assigned. This means, for the company, that the dollars will cost Bs. 6.14. This is a great deal in a country where there are no dollars to be had, so if your objective is to get dollars cheap, you are not very sensitive to the price, between not having access to any dollars or paying Bs 6.14 per US$, it is still a bargain. In fact, I bet most companies would pay even higher values, if they could get all they wanted.

VII.-Why the Government wants to sell cheap dollars

And here is another distortion. The Government knows that people would pay more, but it does not want to sell the dollars at a more expensive price (offering a lower coupon) because it wants to keep inflation down. Thus, it prefers to give away the dollars cheap, than to have the political risk of higher inflation. (Although in the end it is not as important for inflation as the Government thinks, it is mostly financing capital flight)

VII.- How local banks affect the international markets

But now, the bank has a problem. If six customers show up, each asking for a US$ 50 million guarantee of purchase, then the bank has undertaken US$ 300 million of risk, which could be dangerous. So, the bank measures how much risk it can take and starts selling these bonds in the international markets at say 74%, like the first day of the PDVSA 2022. It guarantees it will make a four point profit and lowers the size of its risk.

What is the risk? Well, the bank could have the opposite problem, that all customers are given nothing and then it has to go buy the bonds that it promised to deliver. Or that prices will go down because oil goes down or too many bonds hitting the market.

The problem is that these are huge issues for the markets, US$ 3 billion. To give you an idea, two weeks ago Petrobras issued the largest corporate bond in Brazilian history, a US$ 6 billion issue. PDVSA has issued US$ 9.15 billionsince last November! Thus, there is an over supply of PDVSA bonds and when the bank tries to sell US$ 100 million, there are only buyers at a low price, if there is no bargain, there are no big buyers.In time, prices will go up as the bonds leaving Venezuela are absorbed by the international markets.

This is the Bolivarian Arbitrage, another artifact of the distortions and complicated schemes the Government has built in around the exchange controls and the large and frequent issuance of bonds. These type of arbitrage has allowed many people in the past few years to make a lot of money, it was just not as obvious to the average person because the bonds were never identical like this time.

VIII.- Making money with the Bolivarian Arbitrage

Let me give you an example. Suppose you had a Venezuela 2010 bond in 2009 which you bought at 70-75% in the middle of the world financial crisis. In August of 2009, that bond was back up at 94% when PDVSA announced a Petrobono 2011 with no coupon. This 2011 bond came out at around 64%, you could have sold the 2010 and bought the Petrobono 2011. Then, PDVSA issued the PDVSA 2014, which was sold at around 56% when the Petrobono was already at 82%. Then, you could have sold the PDVSA 2014 at around 63% to buy the Global 2022 at 76%. In that sequence, ignoring interest, you would have made over 100% profit in less than two years and now you are ready to make some more money again, switching to the PDVSA 2022.

IX.- The risk of playing this game.

The risk, obviously is that one day you will not get paid if Venezuela decides not to pay and the bond will drop to around 30-35% of its face value, the so called recovery value. (That is why some people buy the long dated bond, which trade around 45%) You will lose a lot of money, in fact, you will lose all your gains. Of course, everyone assumes they are so smart that if that ever happens or comes close to happening, they will have no Venezuelan bonds in their portfolio by then. They did not expect Russia to default in the 90′s or Argentina in the new century. They both did.

Of course, that is what markets are about. Some think oil is going to soar. Others that the Government will change. Many that Venezuela can do this for a few years without defaulting. Everyone has a different opinion on it.

In the meantime, they will continue riding the Bolivarian Arbitrage.

X.- Why this is so crazy.

But this whole thing is absolutely crazy and it should not be this way. Venezuela’s risk premium is high because of the constant supply of bonds to the market and the non-transparent way in which things are done. If the Government set up a road map every year telling markets exactly how much it will issue and in roughly which part of the year, the risk premium would go down, the debt would not be as costly. Instead, after telling investors for weeks there would be no issuance in the first few months of the year, PDVSA surprised them with this bond. A road show abroad by the Government once in a while to explain its finances, would also not hurt either.

Additionally, there is no justification for the overvaluation of the currency in these sales. Venezuela has high inflation because monetary liquidity keeps going up and up while productivity goes down and down. It is the classic inflationary set up. But instead of attacking the real causes of inflation, the Government decides to sell these dollars cheap to those that have access to them. It is in the end a subsidy to the well to do and to foreign investors, who are as happy as can be investing in yields that are impossible to find anywhere else in the world.

But it is a crazy scam that will one day come back and get us. It is the Bolivarian Arbitrage.

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Debt Factoids on Our National Debt Are Puzzling – And Scary – Seeking Alpha


If you’re interested in the subject of our national debt, there is a new must read report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the topic. It includes some odds and ends that I found interesting.
We know that there is a law called the debt ceiling. We also know that we will (again) hit that limit early in 2011. Many think that this will be a line in the sand fight with the new Congress. Phooey. According to the CBO report, suspending issuance of maturing cash management bills in the supplementary financing program will cost $200 billion; suspending flows and redeeming securities in government accounts, $124 billion; from the civil service retirement fund, “at least” $200 billion; from the exchange stabilization fund, $20 billion; and swapping debt with the federal financing bank, $15 billion. Total: $560 billion.

Conclusion: If there is to be a fight over the debt limit, it could be a long one.
The CBO is speaking with forked tongue in this report. A critical issue: How do we define what debt is at the federal level?

There are so many components to the puzzle. I give the CBO an A+ for this position:

CBO believes it is appropriate and useful to policymakers to include Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s financial transactions with other federal activities in the budget. The two entities do not represent a net asset to the government but a net liability — that is, their impact on the government’s financial position is a negative one.

So how does CBO actually account for F/F? It gets a D- for this:

Neither CBO nor the Administration currently incorporates debt or MBSs issued by Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB).

That’s interesting. They say they “should” do it, but they don’t. Who makes that decision?

The Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes the ultimate decision about whether the activities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be included in the federal budget.

The White House decides which categories of debt are included when determining what constitutes debt? That is convenient. When did that happen? We are not talking chicken scratch here. The good folks over at the Fannie and Freddie have piled up $6 trillion in debt. We would blow out the debt ceiling set by Congress by over 40% if that came on the books. So it stays off the books. But the debt is staring us in the face. Funny system.
This also caught my eye:

Payments of interest from the FFB to the Treasury have been less than $1 billion annually in recent years but are projected to increase (to as much as $6 billion) because of higher loan activity (particularly by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program and the Rural Utilities Service). As of September 30, 2010, the FFB portfolio totaled $60 billion.

Hello, what is this? For interest to rise at the FFB from $1 billion to $6 billion, it would have to imply that there is at least a four- or five-fold increase in the balance sheet. This means that there is a plan to grow the FFB by $250 billion. Who is going to be the beneficiary of that? That is a hell of a lot of money. Is the FFB going to fund a solar build-out? The existing portfolio of Department of Energy loans:

Another (minor) data point of interest: The federal government has a number of trust funds that are used as accounting vehicles to store up IOUs from the government. The principal accounts and current holdings:

Social Security Trust Fund…….2.6t
Civil Service Retirement Fund…0.8t
Military Retirement Fund………0.3t
Medicare……………………….0.3t
All others…….…………………0.6t

Total:…………………………..4.6 trillion

These funds are all anticipated to grow over the next decade. One has a growth rate that is way out of whack with the others:

The Military Retirement Fund is growing at three times the rate of the others. The raw numbers are $282 billion for 2010 and $1.012 trillion for 2020. That’s a 10-year increase of $730 billion (a 350% increase). What is that about? Are we planning on a new war, or have we just not accounted for the retirement costs of the military properly over the past decade or two? I suspect (hope) it is the latter.
We have all seen a form of this chart elsewhere. It is nothing to be proud of. Yes, there are a few countries in worse shape than us. But Italy, Greece and Belgium are now making front-page news with their debt. And the U.S. will have a different outcome than Japan.

This chart of trust fund assets is central to our problem. Notice that these funds are scheduled to grow by more than $2 trillion. It sounds nice that the nation has trust funds where money is squirreled away someplace safe — money that can be used to pay bills (Social Security) when they come due over the next 20 years.

But there is no money in the trust funds. They have IOUs that obligate future taxpayers to come up with the cash when needed. The trust funds have nothing to do with “savings” in the traditional sense.
This has been going on since 1983, when Greenspan created the accounting gimmick and the huge surpluses that followed. The fact is we do have future liabilities, and there have been some savings set aside for that. But the money has been spent on funding past deficits. So, really, there are no savings.
I am not sure there is a fix to this problem. I do know that the bills on this are coming due in the next five years or so. I don’t think we will make it another 10 years without having to confront this problem.

Debt Factoids on Our National Debt Are Puzzling – And Scary – Seeking Alpha

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FW: Frontrunning: December 7


Frontrunning: December 7

Tyler Durden's picture

  • Draconian Budget Set to Pass After Lowry Gives His Backing (Irish Times)
  • Euro Collapse ‘Possible’ Amid Deepening Divisions Over Bail-out (Telegraph)
  • China Outstrips Fed With Liquidity Risking 2011 Inflation Spike (Bloomberg)
  • Deal Struck on Tax Package (WSJ)
  • Dublin Woos MPs Ahead of Budget Vote (FT)
  • China Buys Most Korean Bonds in 6 Months as Won Falls (Bloomberg)
  • EU Rules Out Immediate Aid Boost, Banks on ECB to Fight Crisis (Bloomberg)
  • The theatrical farce continues: Obama Summons CEOs to White House for Talks Amid Change (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. Ends Citigroup Investment With $10.5 Billion Stake Sale (Bloomberg)
  • RBA Keeps Rate Unchanged, Sees Inflation Contained (Bloomberg)
  • China Hits Back at Criticism over North Korea (Reuters)
  • I Opt-out of California (New Geography)
  • Obamanomics: Only fat cats prosper (NYP)
  • Folding the Fed: Central bank isn’t equipped to save the economy (Washington Times)

Economic Highlights

  • Norway Consumer Confidence for Q4 26.5-higher than expected. Consensus 23.6. Previous 22.7.
  • Switzerland Unemployment Rate 3.6%-in line with expectation. Consensus 3.6%. Previous 3.5%.
  • Australia Wholesale Price Index 0.8% m/m 7.7% y/y. Previous -0.2% m/m 7.0% y/y.
  • Denmark Industrial Production -4.8%m/m. Previous 2.4% m/m.
  • Denmark Industrial Orders 3.3% m/m.Previous -27.3% m/m.
  • Sweden Budget Balance SEK 13.7B. Previous -16.6B.
  • Norway Industrial Production 8.6% m/m -2.4% y/y. Previous 1.8% m/m -10.9% y/y.
  • Norway Industrial Production Manufacturing -0.3% m/m 4.0% y/y-lower than expected. Consensus 0.4% m/m 4.7% y/y. Previous 1.6% m/m 3.3% y/y.
  • UK Industrial Production -0.2% m/m 3.3% y/y-lower than expected. Consensus 0.3% m/m 3.9% y/y. Previous 0.4% m/m 3.8% y/y.
  • UK Manufacturing Production 0.6% m/m 5.8% y/y-higher than expected. Consensus 0.3% m/m 5.4% y/y. Previous 0.1% m/m 4.8% y/y.
  • Germany Manufacturing Orders 1.6% m/m 17.9% y/y-lower than expected. Consensus 1.9% m/m 18.6% y/y. Previous -4.0% m/m 14.0% y/y.
  • Irish parliament votes on 2011 budget.

Bernanke on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ – Real Time Economics – WSJ


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Bernanke on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the state of the economy, the central bank’s controversial $600 billion bond-buying plan and the financial crisis. Following are excerpts from the interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley, as released by the network:
Q: The major banks are racking up profits in the billions. Wall Street bonuses are climbing back up to where they were. And yet, lending to small businesses actually declined in the third quarter. Why is that?

A: A lot of small businesses are not seeking credit, because, you know, because their business is not doing well, because the economy is slow. Others are not qualifying for credit, maybe because the value of their property has gone down. But some also can’t meet the terms and conditions that banks are setting.
Q: Is this a case of banks that were eager to take risks that ruin the economy being now unwilling to take risks to support the recovery?

A: We want them to take risks, but not excessive risks. we want to go for a happy medium. And I think banks are back in the business of lending. But they have not yet come back to the level of confidence that –or overconfidence –that they had prior to the crisis. We want to have an appropriate balance.
Q: What did you see that caused you to pull the trigger on the $600 billion, at this point?

A: It has to do with two aspects. the first is unemployment The other concern I should mention is that inflation is very, very low, which you think is a good thing and normally is a good thing. But we’re getting awfully close to the range where prices would actually start falling.
Q: Falling prices lead to falling wages. It lets the steam out of the economy. And you start spiraling downward. … How great a danger is that now?

A: I would say, at this point, because the Fed is acting, I would say the risk is pretty low. But if the Fed did not act, then given how much inflation has come down since the beginning of the recession, I think it would be a more serious concern.
Q: Some people think the $600 billion is a terrible idea.
A: Well. I know some people think that but what they are doing is they’re looking at some of the risks and uncertainties with doing this policy action but what I think they’re not doing is looking at the risk of not acting.
Q: Many people believe that could be highly inflationary. That it’s a dangerous thing to try

A: Well, this fear of inflation, I think is way overstated. we’ve looked at it very, very carefully. We’ve analyzed it every which way. One myth that’s out there is that what we’re doing is printing money. We’re not printing money. The amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way. What we’re doing is lowering interest rates by buying treasury securities. And by lowering interest rates, we hope to stimulate the economy to grow faster. So, the trick is to find the appropriate moment when to begin to unwind this policy. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Q: Is keeping inflation in check less of a priority for the Federal Reserve now?

A: No, absolutely not. What we’re trying to do is achieve a balance. We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above two percent or less.
Q: Can you act quickly enough to prevent inflation from getting out of control?

A: We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time. Now, that time is not now.
Q: You have what degree of confidence in your ability to control this?

A: One hundred percent.
Q: Do you anticipate a scenario in which you would commit to more than 600 billion?

A: Oh, it’s certainly possible. And again, it depends on the efficacy of the program. It depends, on inflation. And finally it depends on how the economy looks.
Q: How would you rate the likelihood of dipping into recession again?

A: It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll have a double dip recession. And that’s because, among other things, some of the most cyclical parts of the economy, like housing, for example, are already very weak. And they can’t get much weaker. And so another decline is relatively unlikely. Now, that being said, I think a very high unemployment rate for a protracted period of time, which makes consumers, households less confident, more worried about the future, I think that’s the primary source of risk that we might have another slowdown in the economy.
Q: You seem to be saying that the recovery that we’re experiencing now is not self-sustaining.

A: It may not be. It’s very close to the border. — it takes about two and a half percent growth just to keep unemployment stable. And that’s about what we’re getting. We’re not very far from the level where the economy is not self-sustaining.
Q: [On calls to cut the deficit]

A: We need to play close attention to the fact that we are recovering now. We don’t want to take actions this year that will affect this year’s spending and this year’s taxes in a way that will hurt the recovery. That’s important. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking now about the long term structural budget deficit. We’re looking at ten, 15, 20 years from now, a situation where almost the entire federal budget will be spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the debt. There won’t be any money left for the military or for any other services the government provides. We can only address those issues if we think about them now.
Q: How concerned are you about the calls that you’re beginning to hear on Capitol Hill that would curb the Fed’s independence?
A: Well, the Fed’s independence is critical. The central bank needs to be able to make policy without short term political concerns. In order to do what’s best for the economy. We do all of our analysis, we do all of our policy decisions based on what we think the economy needs. Not based on when the election is or what political conditions are.
Q: Is there anything that you wish you’d done differently over these last two and a half years or so?

A: Well, I wish I’d been omniscient and seen the crisis coming, the way you asked me about, I didn’t, But it was a very, very difficult situation. And– the Federal Reserve responded very aggressively, very proactively
Q: How did the Fed miss the looming financial crisis?
A: there were large portions of the financial system that were not adequately covered by the regulatory oversight. So, for example, AIG was not overseen by the Fed. … The insurance company that required the bailout, was not overseen by the Fed. It didn’t really have any real oversight at that time. Neither did Lehman Brothers the company that failed Now, I’m not saying the Fed should not have seen some of these things. One of things that I most regret is that we weren’t strong enough in in putting in consumer protections to try to cut down on the subprime lending problem. That was an area where I think we could have done more.
Q: The gap between rich and poor in this country has never been greater. In fact, we have the biggest income disparity gap of any industrialized country in the world. And I wonder where you think that’s taking America.

A: Well, it’s a very bad development. It’s creating two societies. And it’s based very much, I think, on– on educational differences The unemployment rate we’ve been talking about. If you’re a college graduate, unemployment is five percent. If you’re a high school graduate, it’s ten percent or more. It’s a very big difference. It leads to an unequal society and a society– which doesn’t have the cohesion that– that we’d like to see.
Q: We have talked about how the next several years are going be tough years in this country. But I wonder what you think about the ten year time horizon. Fifteen years. How do things look to you long term?

A: Long term, I have a lot of confidence in the United States. We have an excellent record in terms of innovation. We have great universities that are involved in technological change and progress. We have an entrepreneurial culture, much more than almost any other country. So, I think that in the longer term the United States will retain its leading position in the world. But again, we gotta get there. And we have some very difficult challenges over the next few years.
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Bernanke on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ – Real Time Economics – WSJ

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The MasterFeeds

MasterFeeds: Weekly Recap, And Upcoming Calendar


Weekly Recap, And Upcoming Calendar
– All Eyes On December 7 And The Irish Budget/European Bank Run – zerohedge.com
From Goldman Sachs
Week in Review

The European / IMF bail-out package for Ireland – announced one week ago – was somewhat smaller than expected at €85 bn and failed to calm market jitters spreading to other Euro zone periphery countries early in the week, most alarmingly to Spain and Italy. It was only with the ECB’s announcement that full allotment liquidity operations would continue through Q1 2011 and with a jump in ECB purchases of Portuguese government bonds on Thursday that stress in the Euro zone periphery abated somewhat.

United States labor market data were weaker than expected, with the unemployment rate jumping to 9.8%, even as the participation rate failed to rise from its very low level of 64.5%. The broadest measure of underemployment (U-6) remains stuck close to its peak level at 17.0%. After much market criticism of QE2, the weak state of the labor market in Friday’s data was seen as validating the Fed’s resumption of large scale asset purchases.

We published our global forecasts last week, as well as an initial batch of our top trades for 2011. The key feature of our forecast revisions is an upgrade to US growth to 2.7% in 2011 from 2.0% previously. This puts us slightly above consensus. On the back of this forecast revision, and with a view that the Fed will likely stay on hold through end-2012, our top trades have a decidedly pro-cyclical flavor. In FX, our top trade is short $/CNY via 2yr NDF.

Week Ahead

Central bank meetings Central banks will be meeting this week in Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the UK. We expect all of these meetings to keep policy rates on hold. Perhaps the most interesting meeting will be Brazil, where the central bank last week announced several measures to tighten domestic liquidity, perhaps indicating a shift to a more hawkish stance. We will be watching carefully for the minutes of the meeting, which will be published next week. In addition, it is also worth noting that this will be Governor Henrique Meirelles’ last Copom meeting, before his successor Alexandre Tombini takes over in January.

Euro zone crisis Following last week’s turbulence on the periphery, this week’s key event will be the Irish parliament vote on the 2011 budget, which is scheduled for Dec 7. A failure to pass the budget could quickly exacerbate tensions across the Euro zone periphery, by highlighting the political costs of needed budget cuts.

Monday 6th

Chile monthly indicator of economic activity (Oct) We expect this indicator to register growth of 6.0% yoy, above consensus of 5.8% yoy but down from 6.5% yoy in September.

Also interesting Taiwan CPI inflation for Nov, given our focus on food price inflation in EM

Tuesday 7th

Australia central bank meeting We expect the RBA to stay on hold at 4.75%, in line with consensus. Bank bill futures are pricing essentially a zero probability of a rate hike as well. We think the RBA will be confident about tightening monetary policy again from March next year, as the data flow should improve from what we see as a mid-cycle slowdown going into 2011.

UK industrial production (Oct) We expect IP to expand 0.3% mom, in line with consensus, after an expansion of 0.4% mom in September.

Irish parliament votes on 2011 budget

Chile CPI (Nov) We expect CPI inflation of 2.5% yoy, in line with consensus and up from 2.0% yoy in October. Consensus expects CPI excluding perishables and fuel to be flat mom, after a -0.1% mom drop in October.

Chile trade balance (Nov) We expect a trade surplus of $980 mn, below consensus which is looking for a surplus of $1,311 mn. Either way, there will be a big jump from October’s surplus of $215 mn.

Canada central bank meeting In line with consensus we think the Bank of Canada will remain on hold. Indeed, even though we upgraded our Canada growth forecast this week, we continue to believe that the Bank of Canada will remain on hold throughout 2011, as it looks over its shoulder at the Fed’s QE2.

Also interesting Philippines CPI for Nov, given our focus on food price inflation in EM

Wednesday 8th

Germany industrial production (Oct) We expect a strong print of 1.2% mom, slightly above consensus of 1.0% mom after a relatively weak reading of -0.8% mom in September.

Turkey industrial production (Oct) We expect a reading of 7.0% yoy, above consensus of 6.4% yoy, but down from 10.4% yoy in September.

Brazil IPCA inflation (Nov) Following the elevated reading for the IPCA-15, we expect IPCA inflation in November to be 0.92% mom, which is above consensus of 0.86% mom.

Brazil central bank meeting We expect the Copom to remain on hold at this meeting, in line with consensus. Last week’s reserve requirement hike and other measures could be seen as a shift to a more hawkish stance by the central bank, but whether or not this raises the probability of a hike this week depends on whether one sees this as a substitute or complement to a hike. Our economists think the latter and believe the probability of a rate hike has gone from something like 25% before last week’s measures to 45% now.

Thursday 9th

Australia employment report (Nov) We expect the unemployment rate to drop to 5.2% from 5.4% in October, in line with consensus, as we think the participation rate drops back from its higher level after last month’s jump. We think the strong trend of employment growth will continue. We are looking for +25k employment change, above consensus of +20k.

New Zealand central bank meeting In line with consensus, we expect the RBNZ to remain on hold this week.

South Korea central bank meeting We maintain our view of no rate hikes in the December and January Monetary Policy Committee meetings. We expect the next rate hike, 25 bps, to be in February 2011.

UK central bank meeting We expect the Bank of England to keep rates unchanged.

Brazil GDP (Q3) We are looking for growth of 0.5% qoq, above consensus of 0.4% qoq but below the strong pace of 1.2% qoq in Q2.

United States initial claims (Dec 4) Consensus expects initial claims of 425k, following 436k last week.

Friday 10th

China trade balance (Nov) We expect November export growth to accelerate to 27.0% on a yoy basis, from 22.9% yoy in October. Meanwhile, we believe import growth will rise to 26.0% yoy, from 25.3% yoy in October. This implies net exports will likely stay at a high level of around US$25.0 bn, slightly lower than US$27.1 bn in October. Our estimate for the trade balance is thus above consensus ($21 bn).

Turkey GDP (Q3) Consensus expects growth of 6.5% yoy, down from 10.3% yoy in Q2.

United States trade balance (Oct) We expect the trade deficit to narrow to -$40.5 bn, against consensus which expects the trade deficit to remain unchanged from the September reading at -$44.0 bn.

United States U. of Michigan consumer confidence (Dec) Consensus expects this preliminary reading to be 72.5, up from 71.6 for the November reading.


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