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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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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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Market Still Deluding Itself That It Can Escape The Inevitable Dénouement


 Until we face up to the reality of the economic landscape before us, we will be on the same path as Japan, 1987-present…

Market Still Deluding Itself That It Can Escape The Inevitable Denouement 
By Albert Edwards, Société Générale, London
 

The current situation reminds me of mid 2007. Investors then were content to stick their heads into very deep sand and ignore the fact that The Great Unwind had clearly begun. But in August and September 2007, even though the wheels were clearly falling off the global economy, the S&P still managed to rally 15%! The recent reaction to data suggests the market is in a similar deluded state of mind. Yet again, equity investors refuse to accept they are now locked in a Vulcan death grip and are about to fall unconscious.
The notion that the equity market predicts anything has always struck me as ludicrous. In the 25 years I have been following the markets it seems clear to me that the equity market reacts to events rather than pre-empting them. We know from the Japanese Ice Age and indeed from the US 1930’s experience, that in a post-bubble world the equity market merely follows the economic cycle. So to steal a march on the market, one should follow the leading indicators closely. These are variously pointing either to a hard landing or, at best, a decisive slowdown. In my view we are poised to slide back into another global recession: the data is slowing sharply but, just like Japan in its Ice Age, most still touchingly believe we are soft-landing. But before driving off a cliff to a hard (crash?) landing we might feel reassured when we pass a sign that reads Soft Landingand we can kid ourselves all is well.
I read an interesting article recently noting the equity market typically does not begin to slump until just AFTER analysts begin to cut their 12m forward EPS estimates (for the life of me I can’t remember where I read this, otherwise I would reference it). We have not quite reached this point. But with margins so high, any cyclical slowdown will crush productivity growth. Already in Q2, US productivity growth fell 1.8% – the steepest fall since Q3 2006.Hence, inevitably, unit labour costs have begun to rise QoQ. This trend will be exacerbated by recent more buoyant average hourly earnings seen in the last employment report. Whole economy profits are set for a 2007-like squeeze. And a sharp slide in analysts’ optimism confirms we are right on the cusp of falling forward earnings (see chart below).
OTBImage01
I love the delusion of the markets at this point in the cycle. It bemuses me why investors cannot see what is clear as the rather large nose on my face. Last Friday saw the equity market rally as August’s 67k rise in private payrolls and an upwardly revised July rise of 107kbeat expectations. But did I miss something? When did we switch from looking at headline payrolls to private jobs? Does the fact that government is shedding jobs not matter? Admittedly temporary census workers do mess up the data, but hey, why not look at nonfarm payroll data ex census? Why not indeed? Because the last 4 months run of data looks notably weaker on payrolls ex census basis than looking only at the private payroll data (ie Aug 60k vs 67k, July 89k vs 107k, June 50k vs 61k and May 21k vs 51k). But these data, on either definition, look dreadful compared to the 265k rise in April and 160k in March (ex census definition). If someone as pathologically lazy as me can find the relevant BLS webpage after a quick call to the BLS (link), why can’t the market? Because it is bad news, that’s why.
OTBImage02
August’s rebound in the US manufacturing ISM was an even bigger surprise. This is a truly nonsensical piece of datum as it was totally at variance with the regional ISMs that come out in the weeks before. The ISM is made up of leading, coincident and lagging indicators. The leading indicators – new orders, unfilled orders and vender deliveries – all fell and point to further severe weakness in the headline measure ahead (see chart above). It was the coincident and lagging indicators such as production, inventories and employment that drove up the headline number. Some of the regional subcomponents (eg Philadelphia Fed workweek) are SCREAMING that recession is imminent (see left hand chart below).
OTBImage03 OTBImage04
The real reason why markets reversed last week was that they got ahead of themselves. Aside from the end of 2008, government bonds were the most over-bought they had been over the last decade. And in equity-land the AAII two weeks ago recorded a historically low 20% of respondents as bullish (see chart above). These technical extremes will now be quickly worked off before the plunge in equity prices and bond yields resumes.
I am often asked by investors with a similar view of the world to my own (yes, there are some),whether the equity market will ever reach my 450 S&P target because of the likelihood that further Quantitative Easing will prevent asset prices from falling back to cheap levels.
Indeed we know that a central plank of the unhinged policies being pursued by the Fed and other central banks is to use QE to deliberately target higher asset prices. Ben Bernanke in a recent Jackson Hole speech dressed this up as a “portfolio balance channel”, but in reality we know from current and previous Fed Governors (most notably Alan Greenspan), that they view boosting equity and property prices as essential for boosting economic activity. Same old Fed with the same old ruinous policies. And by keeping equity and property prices higher, the US and UK Central Banks are still trying to cover up their contribution towards the ruination of American and British middle classes – (see GSW 21 January 2010, Theft! Were the US and UK central banks complicit in robbing the middle classes? – link).
The Fed may indeed prevent equity prices from slumping with any QE2 announcement. But this sounds a familiar refrain at this point in the cycle. For is monetary easing in the form of QE that different from interest rate cuts in its ability to boost equity prices? Indeed announced rate cuts in previous downturns often did generate decent technical rallies. But in the absence of any imminent cyclical recovery, equity prices continue to slide lower (see chart below). The key for me is whether QE2 can revive the economic cycle, not equity prices temporarily.
OTBImage05
In the absence of a cyclical recovery I cannot see how QE is any different in its ability to revive asset prices than lower rates in anything other than a temporary fashion. (Interestingly many of our clients think QE2 might give a temporary fillip to the risk assets but that the subsequent failure to produce any cyclical impact will cause an extremely violent reaction as investors lose faith in QE as a policy tool and Central Banks in general.)
If we plunge back into recession, do not place too much confidence in the Central Banks having control of events. As my colleague, Dylan Grice, said last week “let them keep pressing their buttons.” Ultimately they cannot fool all of the investors, all of the time.

China’s gold investment demand grew by 121% in 2Q- Central Banks buy more gold- World Gold Council Report ( WGC)


World Gold Council Report ( WGC)

WGC-  China’s gold investment demand grew by 121% in 2Q- Central Banks buy more gold-

CONCLUSION: the WGC just reported its 2Q report ( see attached). Three key things:

 

1- ONE OF THE KEY NEW TRENDS IS CHINA WHERE RETAIL INVESTMENT DEMAND JUMPED BY 121% ( SEE PAGE 11). We continue to believe that deregulation of the gold market in China could OPEN a major new market for gold.

 

2- ANOTHER INTERESTING TREND IS THAT INDUSTRIAL DEMAND FOR GOLD CONTINUED TO IMPROVE BY 14% MAINLY DRIVEN BY ELECTRONICS UP 25% ( see page 10).

 

3- CENTRAL BANKS WERE NET PURCHASERS OF 7 TONNES OF GOLD DESPITE THE IMF SALE OF 47 TONNES DURING THE QUARTER. RUSSIA WAS AMONG THE LARGEST BUYERS ( 34 TONNES). The philippines also bought more gold.

 

Gold Demand Trends for Q2 2010 out (see Enclosed file), and WGC press release below>

  

 

INVESTMENT DEMAND WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT ROBUST GOLD MARKET DURING 2010

 

Demand for gold will remain robust during 2010 as a result of accelerating demand from India and China, as well as increasing global investment demand driven by continuing uncertainty over public debt and economic recovery, the World Gold Council ("WGC") said.

According to the WGC’s Gold Demand Trends report for Q2 2010, published today, demand for gold for the rest of 2010 will be underpinned by the following market forces:

* India and China will continue to provide the main thrust of overall growth in demand, particularly for gold jewellery, for the remainder of 2010.

* Retail investment will continue to be a substantial source of gold demand in Europe.

* Over the longer-term, demand for gold in China is expected to grow considerably. A report recently published by The People’s Bank of China and five other organisations to foster the development of the domestic gold market will add impetus to the growth in gold ownership among Chinese consumers.

* Electronics demand is likely to return to higher historic levels after the sector exhibited further signs of recovery, especially in the US and Japan.

 

Marcus Grubb, Managing Director, Investment at the WGC commented:

"Economic uncertainties and the ongoing search for less volatile and more diversified assets such as gold will underpin investment demand for gold in the immediate future. Further, in light of lingering concerns over public debt levels and the euro, European retail investor demand has increased significantly.

"Over the past quarter, demand for gold jewellery in key Asian markets has been challenged by rising local prices. Nevertheless, we are seeing a deceleration in the pace of decline in demand, providing a strong outlook for ongoing recovery in this crucial market segment."

 

 

GLOBAL DEMAND STATISTICS FOR Q2 2010

* Total gold demand1 in Q2 2010 rose by 36% to 1,050 tonnes, largely reflecting strong gold investment demand compared to the second quarter of 2009. In US$ value terms, demand increased 77% to $40.4 billion.

* Investment demand2 was the strongest performing segment during the second quarter, posting a rise of 118% to 534.4 tonnes compared with 245.4 tonnes in Q2 2009.

* The largest contribution to this rise came from the ETF segment of investment demand, which grew by 414% to 291.3 tonnes, the second highest quarter on * Physical gold bar demand, which largely covers the non-western markets, rose 29% from Q2 2009 to 96.3 tonnes.

Blackstone’s Byron Wien Singlehandedly Refutes The Double Dip, Hilarity Abounds


Blackstone’s Byron Wien Singlehandedly Refutes The Double Dip, Hilarity Abounds
To all the bulls out there, we have a Wien-er just for you. In an essay that is basically a sequel to last week’s job application in a second-tier position in the administration by a Moody’s strategist and a Princeton economist (yes, yes, we know… oxymorons), the BlackStone head of something, Byron Wien, says the fututre for the market, the economy, and pretty much everything else is brighter than a nuclear bomb (incidentally one going off today would likely send the market into the greatest melt up in history). Lest there be any confuction what Byron’s view is: “My view is that the economy is going through a temporary lull and business conditions will improve later this year and in 2011.” At least Wien is honest: “In preparing this essay I used research from Goldman Sachs, Lord Abbett, Credit Suisse and International Strategy and Investments for arguments on both sides of the double-dip issue.” Mmhmm – that some serious “both sides” source list. And the piece de resistance: “The factors that argue against a resumption of the recession are the strong liquidity position of corporations which have 6% of their assets in cash, a level not seen since the 1960s, and the fact that both housing and autos are at low levels of production and not likely to drop further.” Over the weekend we will present an extended analysis finally putting to rest the inane argument that corporations are flush with cash: while true on a gross basis, the net level of cash vs debt, and especially vs equity, is at one of the worst levels in history. This ongoing childish avoidances of the liability side of the corporate balance sheet must stop and someone has to finally shut up these so called sophisticated economists and their endless lies.  Feel free to print out two copies of the attached Wien essay: we hear his work “product” is much better in two ply format.
  h/t FMX Connect

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