Links: 2008-12-19 – ZIRP, Pain, and Fraud
Today, I want to talk a little about ZIRP, economic pain and the Madoff fraud.
First, ZIRP — that’s Zero Interest Rate Policy if you didn’t know. Japan tried it. Didn’t work. They are still suffering and they too have cut rates to 0.1%, effectively nil. So, think again if you think ZIRP is the magic bullet. Below are afew articles discussing both Japan’s experiment with zero and what’s going on today. Just for the record, my personal view is ZIRP is useless. Willem Buiter on the other hand says, it may be useless, but it can’t hurt. I’m not so sure.
US needs exit strategy to avoid Japanese disease – this one is from Bloomberg’s William Pesek. He has some good thoughts on how to avoid the Japanese disease.
Economist’s View: Fed Watch: Zero, But Not Quite Quantitative Easing – this one is interesting because Tim Duy says some Fed officials claim they are NOT easing quantitatively, they are easing qualitatively. See the next article from Willem Buiter to see what I mean.
Then, there is economic pain. It is definitely picking up. One can see it in tax revenues from states and municipalities (I hope they don’t cut garbage collection to once every two weeks). One can see it in credit rating downgrades (it’s about time the ratings agencies started doing heir job). One can see it in bankruptcies. And one can definitely see it in oil prices.
(By the way, does anyone know why Brent Crude is trading $10 more than WTI? That’s an enormous premium. I have NEVER seen this before. Often, Brent trades at a discount. Sources tell me its associated with Glencore, who is long WTI and getting hammered. This might be one reason their CDS spreads are through the roof.)
Then, you’ve got fraud. There’s Madoff and then their is other kinds of alleged deceit. I have a great post from NPR, where we find out Eliot Spitzer was a Madoff investor! Sorry, I should NOT be laughing. Maybe that’s why his wife went back to work at a hedge fund. There are all sorts of jokes one could tell but I’ll refrain.
Yves Smith has a great post on how Fox News is suing the Treasury under the Freedom of Information Act. It reminds me of Bloomberg’s suit against the Fed. But, then there’s Paul Krugman who claims the Madoff story is a symbol of the culture of the entire finance industry of late. It’s an interesting take. But, on the other side of it we have Credit Suisse giving their executives bonuses in that crappy illiquid toxic paper that’s clogging their balance sheet. Nice! Great way to reduce moral Hazard and to get this stuff OFF the balance sheet. Whichever HR person thought this up needs to be promoted. Oh, and Jamie Dimon and Bob Rubin won’t be getting paid tens of millions in bonus this year. The optics would be very bad.
I will be in transit today so posting ay be light. Check back just in case, though. Have a great weekend.