Alumni Career Talks: SUNY Stony Brook

I find this terribly amusing: I am keynote speaker at Stony Brook University homecoming this coming weekend.

Its billed as a “free lunch” but we know from Milton Friedman . . . besides, listening to me drone for an hour is hardly free . . .

Join us for the Alumni to Student Career Talks
Free Lunch and Discussions

Sunday, October 4th, 2009 * SAC – 1 PM

KEYNOTE SPEAKER Barry Ritholtz

One of the most respected independent analysts on Wall Street – regular and special guest on ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC, CNN, C/SPAN, MSNBC, Nightline, NPR, and PBS – interviews and regularly quoted in Barron’s, Forbes, Fortune, Kiplingers, NY Times, Wall Street Journal and many more!

The 8/2/09 NY Times Sunday Business Section review of Bailout Nation, wrote “Mr. Ritholtz has written an important book about a complicated subject… yet you could still read it at the beach. Here’s hoping that some policy makers in Washington take it with them on vacation this month.”

The Wall Street Journal noted “If you want to know how we got into
this mess and what might still be coming, this is the book for you.”

Bloomberg praised it as “A valuable new contribution to
our understanding of how we arrived at this sorry juncture.”

It has become the best reviewed book on the bailouts to date.

What makes this so terribly amusing is that as an undergraduate — well, let’s just say (grades aside) that I wasn’t exactly a model student.

Aside from the minor pranks I got caught for, there was a laundry list of other activities abd unsolved crimes my crew & I got away with.  And nowI am (heh heh) a keynote speaker at a homecoming weekend.

Blows the mind.

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Check website for all Talks, room numbers, and more info on speakers
www.aasquared.org/SBUAlumni/PolitySCOOPReunion09/careerlunch.html

Wolfstock 2009 is sponsored by

alumni logo
athletics
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Central Bank Exit Policies

Complete text of Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn’s speech:

Central Bank Exit Policies
At the Cato Institute’s Shadow Open Market Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C.
September 30, 2009

I am pleased to be on this panel on exiting from the unusual policies the Federal Reserve and other central banks have put in place to ameliorate the effects of the financial turmoil of the past two years. Chairman Bernanke has made a concerted effort to explain the thinking of the Federal Reserve in this regard, because it is so important that the public understand we have the means to meet our objectives of fostering stable prices and high employment. I will briefly underline some aspects of the Federal Reserve’s framework for exiting that I believe to be especially critical to that understanding.1

Conditions for Exit
In its most important aspects, the decision about when to begin exiting from the unusual policies is not materially different from any decision to start tightening monetary policy. We will need to begin to remove the extraordinary degree of accommodation in its various dimensions when we judge that exiting from the current stance of policy will be necessary to preserve price stability as the economy returns to higher levels of resource utilization. Because it takes people time to adjust their spending and pricing decisions in response to a change in interest rates or other aspects of financial conditions, like other monetary policy decisions, that judgment will need to be based on a forecast of economic developments, not on current conditions. So we must begin to withdraw accommodation well before aggregate spending threatens to press against potential supply, and well before inflation as well as inflation expectations rise above levels consistent with price stability.

I cannot give you a small list of variables that will trigger an exit; as always, our forecasts will use all available sources of information. And I can’t predict how rapidly we will have to raise short-term interest rates from around zero or remove other forms of accommodation; that too depends on how the economy seems to be recovering and the outlook for inflation. Clearly, the present degree of accommodation–as gauged by nominal and real short-term interest rates and the size of our balance sheet–is extraordinary, and we will have to take account of how that is influencing spending and inflation expectations when deciding when and how fast to tighten.

Tools for Exit
We have the framework to exit from these policies when we need to do so. And the tools at our disposal will allow us to do so at the pace and in the sequence we judge will best meet our objectives.

Most importantly, our ability to pay interest on reserves will enable us to raise short-term interest rates even while the quantity of assets we hold is still quite elevated and while the reserve base of the banking system is extraordinarily high. The opportunity for banks to earn interest on a highly liquid risk-free deposit at the Federal Reserve should put a reasonably firm floor under short-term rates, including the federal funds rate. To date, that floor has been somewhat soft, perhaps because not all participants in the federal funds market can hold deposits at the Federal Reserve, and because banks have been reluctant to allocate the needed capital to arbitrage a few basis points. But I am confident that when we begin to raise our deposit rate, it will put upward pressure on the rates on competing assets, increasing actual and expected short-term interest rates with the usual types of effects on other interest rates and asset prices. As banks become more comfortable with their capital levels, they will be more willing to undertake the arbitrage to tighten the link between the rate on deposits and short-term market interest rates.

Still, draining reserves at some point also will be an aspect of exiting. The large volume of reserves is contributing to the loose relationship of our deposit rate and market rates. In addition, although to date the high volume of reserves evidently has not increased bank lending or reduced spreads of rates on bank loans or other assets relative to, say, Treasury rates, it could begin to do so if banks start to perceive the risk-adjusted returns on loans as superior to our deposit rate. An increase in lending and narrowing of spreads on bank loans is a necessary and desirable aspect of the return to better-functioning markets and intermediation to promote economic growth. But spreads eventually could become narrower than what would be consistent with underlying risk, and lending could grow more quickly than appropriate for price stability if very high levels of reserves remain in place. We are developing new techniques for draining reserves, including reverse repurchase agreements against mortgage-backed securities and time deposits for banks at the Federal Reserve. And, of course, we retain the option to sell securities from our portfolio on an outright basis. The range of tools will permit us to drain large volumes of reserves if necessary to achieve the policy stance that fosters our macroeconomic objectives.

Our lending programs were designed to wind themselves down as market conditions improve, and they are doing so. When conditions are no longer unusual and exigent, those programs not focused on depository institutions will be terminated, and, with a few exceptions such as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, they will leave no residual on our balance sheet.2

The long-term securities we are buying will not run off so rapidly. But the effects of our holdings of mortgage-backed and agency securities on spreads nonetheless should decline even if they remain on our balance sheet. For one, some of the spread compression may result from the flow of our purchases, as well as our stock of holdings, and as we already announced, we will be tapering down our purchases. Moreover, the stock of assets we own will become an ever smaller share of a growing market. Finally, as confidence returns, asset demands will become less focused on particular classes of highly safe and liquid assets and more sensitive to relative interest rates, and private participants will arbitrage away at least some of any remaining spread distortions. Nonetheless, if, in the course of removing accommodation, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) perceives spreads to be distorted or longer-term interest rates to be not responding appropriately, it could consider sales of these assets.

Communication about Exit
The unusual nature of our actions and the uncertainty about when and how they will be unwound suggest an even greater payoff than usual from being as clear as possible in our communications with the public. I already noted the importance of the public’s understanding that we can and will exit from these policies when that is necessary to achieve our objectives for stable prices and maximum employment. In addition, we will need to explain especially carefully–in our policy announcements, the minutes of our meetings, and our quarterly forecasts–the evolution of our assessment of the economic situation and the risks associated with achieving our goals. Finally, we will need to be sure our rate guidance evolves along with our assessment of the probability that the exit is drawing closer.

Conclusion
Although economic conditions have apparently begun to improve–partly in response to the extraordinary steps the Federal Reserve and other authorities have taken–resource utilization is quite low, inflation is subdued, and continuing restraints on credit are likely to constrain the speed of recovery. For that reason, as the FOMC stated last week, exceptionally low interest rates are likely to be warranted for an extended period. Given the highly unusual economic and financial circumstances, judging when the time is appropriate to remove policy accommodation, and then calibrating that removal, will be challenging. Still, we need to be ready to take the necessary actions when the time comes, and we will be.


Footnotes

1. The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee. Return to text

2. Lending in support of the orderly resolution of individual systemically important institutions will run down more slowly. The Administration has agreed to seek to remove the so-


The Fed’s Kohn on exit strategies/Does Vegas have odds?

Vice Chairman of the Fed Kohn in a speech titled ‘Central Bank Exit Policies,’ is laying out the ‘conditions for exit,’ ‘the tools for exit,’ and the ‘communication about exit.’ In contrast to comments from Warsh and Plosser about having to raise rates as quickly as they cut, Kohn is saying “I can’t predict how rapidly we will have to raise short term interest rates…that depends on how the economy seems to be recovering and the outlook for inflation.” He laid out the different options they have to reverse their easy policies and said they “will need to explain especially carefully…the evolution of our assessment of the economic situation.” He summed up by saying that due to a large output gap, subdued inflation and continued credit constraints, “exceptionally low rates are likely warranted for an extended period” and removal of policy accommodation “will be challenging.”

Bottom line, the vagueness in the comments are apparent in terms of WHEN as the Fed truly has no idea and is in ‘play it by ear’ mode which means reliance on their forecasts and judgment. Threading the needle is the easy cliché to describe what the Fed will need to do and I wish Vegas had odds to measure expectations of the possible outcomes. I’m a seller of any scenario that turns out to be smooth.


Chicago PMI

The Sept Chicago PMI was much weaker than expected and back below 50 at 46.1. Expectations were 52 vs 50 in Aug. Maybe call it the Clunker hangover as New Orders fell 6 points to 46.3, a 3 month low and Order Backlogs fell 9 points to 36.7. Employment was little changed at 38.8. Inventories got a lift, rising 11.4 points to 38.9 and it’s the highest since Nov ‘08 likely following an increase in auto production where plants went back online in July. Bottom line, manufacturing will be a key contributor to the Q3 GDP rebound with the question always being sustainability but with final demand still sluggish, there is only so much of an improvement that we will see and today’s number highlights that risk. The national ISM is out tomorrow which will reconcile all the regional surveys and will include an Export component which today’s Chicago figure did not have and has been a source of stability.


Giving the SEC Teeth

The problems at the SEC were decades in the making.

The agency is supposed to be an investor’s advocate, the cheif law enforcement agency for the markets. But that has hardly been how they have been managed, funded and operated run in recent years.

Essentially the largest prosecutor’s office in the country, the SEC has been undercut at every turn: Their staffing was far too small to handle their jurisdiction — Wall Street and public Corporations. Their budgets have been sliced, and they were unable to keep up with the explosion in corporate criminality. Many key positions were left unfilled, and morale was severely damaged. A series of disastrous SEC chairs were appointed — to be “kindler and gentler.” Not only did they fail to maintain SEC funding (via fines), but they allowed the worst corporate offenders to go unpunished.

Gee, go figure that under those circumstances, they sucked at their jobs.

How hard was it for the Inspector General of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), H. David Kotz to find items to critique? I am sure the two reports outlining 58 steps to improve the agency’s enforcement and inspections units are perfectly adequate. But the question I want to pose is this: Do they address a decade of neglect? Let’s start with looking at adequate levels of funding and staffing . . .

Yes, we need to overhaul how investigators scrutinize tips, plan probes, tap expertise, verify information and train employees, etc. None of these various recommendations are groundbreaking (giving examiners access to industry publications and databases? Establishing protocol for how to analyze this outside information?)

The bottom line of the SEC is this: If we are serious about corporate fraud, about violations of the SEC laws, about a level playing field, then we fund the agency adequately, hire enough lawyers to prosecute the crimes, and prevent Congress critters from interfering with the SEC doing its job.

To be blunt: So far, there is no evidence we are sincere about making the SEC a serious watchdog with teeth.

Congress sure hasn’t been. Staffing levels have been ignored, budgeting has been cut over the years. And its the sort of administrative issue that does not lend itself to bumper sticker aphorisms or tea party slogans.

The SEC doing its job correctly is about good government — like picking up the trash, haivng the trains run on time, or hiring quality teachers. Its not sexy, its not fun, its administrative policy wonk junk. This is something we have become increasingly lousy at doing as a society as we have become ideologically polarized. And as the government has gotten demonized, it becomes even less likely for departments to get proper funding, or to accomplish their basic goals.

Give me a good pragmatic technocrat any day . . .

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Fee Collections and Spending Authority

Fees SEC

graphic via SEC

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Sources:
Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
by H. David Kotz
Inspector General
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
September 10, 2009
http://www.sec.gov/news/testimony/2009/ts091009hdk.htm

Written Testimony of
H. David Kotz Inspector General of the SEC
PDF

Other Coverage:


SEC’s Watchdog Proposes 58 Improvements After Madoff
David Scheer
Bloomberg, Sept. 29 2009
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=afWAC3PfVIhc

SEC Investigators Say Regulator Is ‘Dog Chasing Its Own Tail
Jesse Westbrook
Bloomberg, Sept. 30 2009
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=agopC8.GGugM

SEC Watchdog Releases Post-Madoff Recommendations
Sarah N. Lynch
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, September 29, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090929-711537.html

In Harsh Reports on S.E.C.’s Fraud Failures, a Watchdog Urges Sweeping Changes
ZACHERY KOUWE
NYT, September 29, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/30sec.html

SEC Inspector General Tells Agency What It Must Do To Catch Next Madoff
Frank Ahrens
WaPo/The Ticker, September 29, 2009
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/economy-watch/2009/09/inspector_general_tells_sec_ho.html


Lakshman Achuthan (ECRI) on CNBC


Airtime: Wed. Sept. 30 2009 | 6:10 AM ET

Jeff Ivory, of Stonebridge Financial Partners, and Lakshman Achuthan, of Economic Cycle Research, share their market insight.


The Secret to Goldman’s Success?

The NY Post’s John Crudele looks at a simple question:

So, is this how Goldman Sachs does it?

“It,” of course, is making gobs of money even when nobody else on Wall Street can.

And those profits then go into outrageous bonuses to employees, which cause rancor on Capitol Hill and on Main Street.

You’ve heard the old saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Goldman Sachs knows lots of important people. That fact is indisputable, mainly because former Goldman employees are scattered around the country, and the globe, in important, decision-making financial positions.

But I’d like to make an addendum to that old saying, which I’ll explore for you today: Who you know is only important if you can get them on the phone anytime you want. It’s also about the unparalleled access that Goldman Sachs had to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.”

I am not sure I buy into the full conspiracy theory, but it sure as hell seems like the CEO of Goldman Sach’s had pretty much unfettered acces to the Treasury Secretary — a former CEO of Goldman Sach . . .

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See also:
An Inside Look at How Goldman Sachs Lobbies the Senate
Matt Taibbi
True Slant, Sep. 29 2009 – 9:50 am
http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2009/09/29/sec-weighs-new-rules-for-lending-of-securities-wsj-com/

Source:
The secret to Goldman Sachs’ good fortune
John Crudele
NY Post, September 29, 2009
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/the_secret_to_goldman_sachs_good_WBlKYEyLfH7GP4zT0vNrEP


Wall Street’s Digital Underground

By now, you have seen (or heard of) the huge spread on Zero Hedge in New York Magazine.  They also had some nice things to say about yours truly.

From the article, here are the other members of Wall Street’s Digital Underground:

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Illustrations by Matthew Woodson

The Amiable Skeptic

Barry Ritholtz was a pioneer when he launched the Big Picture in 2003 using the beta version of blogging software, Word Press. He’s a levelheaded bear with a knack for seeing through the statistical fog of economic data, and wrote a well-received book, Bailout Nation.

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The Cranky Bull

John Hempton of Bronte Capital covers the ins and outs of Wall Street and Washington—from Australia. A professional money manager, he started out bearish but went bullish last spring, prompting the ridicule of his blogging cousins, whom he dismisses as “perma-bears.”

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The Crisis Queen

Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith had worked at Goldman Sachs before she started blogging in 2006, distinguishing herself with a facility for deconstructing complicated economics. She is writing a book called Econned, about the flawed ideas that led to the crash.

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The Equal-Opportunity Debunker

Felix Salmon had a stint blogging for famously bearish NYU economist Nouriel Roubini before he moved to Reuters. A serial skeptic of skeptics, he famously launched an assult on Ben Stein’s conflicts of interest as a columnist for the Times, which led to Stein’s departure.

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The Money Gossip

Bess Levin’s posts at Dealbreaker, the de facto “Page Six” of Wall Street, are as much about snark as finance, but her devoted following inside mainstream Wall Street firms has enabled her to beat The Wall Street Journal on a story or two.

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Source:
The Dow Zero Insurgency
Joe Hagan
New York Magazine, Sep 27, 2009
http://nymag.com/guides/money/2009/59457/


Tuesday Links

Some interesting reading on a Tuesday afternoon:

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As Subprime Lending Crisis Unfolded, Watchdog Fed Didn’t Bother Barking (WaPo)

How Bank of America Used Merrill Losses to Bully the Government (Law.com)

FDIC Proposes Banks Prepay Deposit Fees Through 2012 (Bloomberg)

A risky revival (FT)

Earnings Revisions at a Two Year High (Bespoke)

• Dylan Ratigan: Why Would We Let Them Rig the Game?

We’re Speaking Japanese Without Knowing It (John P. Hussman)

When the Sirens Sing, How to Avoid Giving in (Aleph Blog)

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Anything else worth perusing?


Sculpture: What You see Might Not Be Real

Via the WSJ:

The sculpture “What You see Might Not Be Real,” by Chen Wenling, was displayed at a Beijing gallery Sunday. The artwork is a critique of the global financial crisis, with the bull representing Wall Street and the man pinned to the wall representing Bernard Madoff.

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click for bigger photo
China Financial Crisis Art
(Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

Three odd things about this Chinese sculpture: 1) It appears that Madoff has horns (wonder what THAT means) and 2) The bull appears to be badly flatulent.

Worst of all, it somehow implies that it was Wall Street captured or uncovered Madoff’s crimes — when in fact it was the Bear market that revealed his sins.


Bugatti 16 C Galibier

Now this is a badass looking 4 door saloon:
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16 C Galibier frt 34

check out the split rear window, circa ‘63 vette
16 C Galibier profile abv

Interior:
16 C Galibier profile INT

Check out the tail: 8 Pipes!
bugatti tush

The 4 door gives it an odd profile:
16 C Galibier profile

Especially when compared to the Veyron:
bugatti-veyron-fbg

photos via Classic Driver

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Video

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video hat tip: via World Car Fans


More jawboning on the US$

Add the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick to the calls over the past few days of a desire for a strong dollar as he is saying the US “can and should have a strong dollar.” The dollar has been benefiting for the past two days from the vocal support given to the US dollar following its recent leg lower. It will ultimately be action from the Fed and the US government that will ultimately determine the direction of the dollar rather than the hollow words of support. Jawboning though is always the easiest technique in the FX world to try to influence the direction of currencies.


Visualizing Industry Job Losses

Sunday, we discussed the ratio of unemployed to job openings hitting a record level. As noted in the NYT, the carnage has been widespread across many industries:

“Shrinking job opportunities have assailed virtually every industry this year. Since the end of 2008, job openings have diminished 47 percent in manufacturing, 37 percent in construction and 22 percent in retail. Even in education and health services — faster-growing areas in which many unemployed people have trained for new careers — job openings have dropped 21 percent this year. Despite the passage of a stimulus spending package aimed at shoring up state and local coffers, government job openings have diminished 17 percent this year.”

Today, I wanted to direct your attention to a visualization of that, showing where those unemployed persons came from, via Many Eyes. Perhaps this helps to explain why the number of openings remains relatively low: Firms are still reducing headcount (nice euphemism), and not yet hiring.

Many Eyes allows you to upload a data set, and create your own visualization. It is a very cool tool, from IBM’s Collaborative User Experience, part of the Watson Research Center.

You can change this to sector, company, etc. Scroll over the bubbles to see the exact numbers laid off in each firm:

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click for interactive chart
laid off visualization


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Sources:
Layoffs in the United States and more
Many eyes, 3/6/09
http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/visualizations/layoffs-in-the-united-states-and-m

U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio
PETER S. GOODMAN
NYT, September 26, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/business/economy/27jobs.html


Consumer Confidence – The future looks bright, but…

Consumer Confidence at 53.1 is below the estimate of 57 and down from 54.5 in Aug. It is well off the low of 25.3 in Feb ‘09 but the improvement seen is almost all in Expectations. Present Situations (how people feel today as opposed to their belief about the future) fell almost 3 pts to 22.7 and is less than 1 pt from the low in March which was the lowest since ‘83. Expectations fell .5 point to 73.3 and but is well off the low of 27.3 seen in Feb. Those that said jobs were Plentiful fell to 3.4 from 4.3 and its the lowest since ‘83. Those that said jobs were Hard to Get rose almost 3 pts to 47, just shy of the highest since ‘92. Thus, the jobs picture is still tough. With the tax credit about to expire (maybe), those that plan to buy a home within 6 mo’s fell .7 to 2.3, just shy of its lowest level since ‘82. Post Clunker’s, those than plan to buy a car within 6 mo’s fell almost 1 pt to the lowest since Mar ‘09.


S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index

The July S&P/Case-Shiller 20 city Home Price Index said prices fell 13.3% y/o/y, less than the expected decline of 14.2%. It is the smallest decline since Feb ‘08 and it takes the index to the highest since Jan ‘09 as it rose 1.61% m/o/m. At 144.23, it is down 30% from the all time high in July ‘06. Seattle and Las Vegas are the only two cities of the 20 that saw a m/o/m drop. Every city still has y/o/y declines led by Las Vegas and Phoenix. This data is not seasonally adjusted and combining the seasonal strong time of the year with the $8,000 first time home tax credit and a moderation in the pace of foreclosures and we have continued stabilization in the home price data. With an expected pick up in foreclosures, continued compression in higher end home prices and the uncertain fate of the tax credit, we’ll see if the improvements in pricing can continue in the face of this. The worst of the financial crisis will end when home prices stop going down and I don’t believe we’ve seen the worst of the price declines in this cycle notwithstanding the recent government induced bounce.


How Well Has The Federal Reserve Performed for America?

Washington’s Blog strives to provide real-time, well-researched and actionable information. George – the head writer at Washington’s Blog – is a busy professional and a former adjunct professor.

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How well has the Federal Reserve performed for America? Mainstream pundits, of course, say that Bernanke has saved the world . . . . but they said the same thing about Greenspan. So let’s look at the actual historical record to determine how well the Fed has done.

Initially, Milton Friedman and Ben Bernanke have both said that the Federal Reserve caused (or at least failed to cure) the Great Depression through its poor monetary policy.

Many also blame the Fed for blowing an unsustainable bubble between 2001-2007 through artificially low interest rates. If this sounds too much like an Austrian economics perspective, that may be true. But remember that Hayek won the Nobel prize in 1974 partly for arguing that artificially low interest rates lead to the misallocation of capital and to bubbles, which in turn lead to busts.

Moreover, one of the Fed’s main justification has been that it can provide a “counter-cyclical” balance. In other words, during boom times it can put on the brakes (”take the punch bowl away right as the party gets started”), and during busts it can get things moving again. But as economist Jane D’Arista has shown, the Fed has failed miserably at that task:

Jane D’Arista, a reform-minded economist and retired professor with a deep conceptual understanding of money and credit [has a] devastating critique of the central bank. The Federal Reserve, she explains, has failed in its most essential function: to serve as the balance wheel that keeps economic cycles from going too far. It is supposed to be a moderating force in American capitalism on the upside and on the downside, the role popularly described as “leaning against the wind.” By applying its leverage on the available supply of credit, the Fed can slow down a boom that is dangerously overwrought or, likewise, stimulate the economy if it is sinking into recession. The Fed’s job, a former chairman once joked, is “to take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going.” Economists know this function as “counter-cyclical policy.”

The Fed not only lost control, D’Arista asserts, but its policy actions have unintentionally become “pro-cyclical”–encouraging financial excesses instead of countering the extremes. “The pattern that has developed over the last two decades,” she wrote in 2008, “suggests that relying on changes in interest rates as the primary tool of monetary policy can set off pro-cyclical foreign capital flows that tend to reverse the intended result of the action taken. As a result, monetary policy can no longer reliably perform its counter-cyclical function–its raison d’être–and its attempts to do so may exacerbate instability.”…

The Fed is also supposed to act as a regulator for banks and their affiliates, but failed miserably in that role as well.

Indeed, the central bankers’ central banker – BIS – has itself slammed the Fed:

In a pointed attack on the US Federal Reserve, [BIS and its chief economist William White] said central banks would not find it easy to “clean up” once property bubbles have burst…

Nor does it exonerate the watchdogs. “How could such a huge shadow banking system emerge without provoking clear statements of official concern?”

“The fundamental cause of today’s emerging problems was excessive and imprudent credit growth over a long period. Policy interest rates in the advanced industrial countries have been unusually low,” [White] said.

The Fed and fellow central banks instinctively cut rates lower with each cycle to avoid facing the pain. The effect has been to put off the day of reckoning…

“Should governments feel it necessary to take direct actions to alleviate debt burdens, it is crucial that they understand one thing beforehand. If asset prices are unrealistically high, they must fall. If savings rates are unrealistically low, they must rise. If debts cannot be serviced, they must be written off.

“To deny this through the use of gimmicks and palliatives will only make things worse in the end,” he said.

As PhD economist Steve Keen has pointed out, the Fed (along with Treasury) has also given money to the wrong people to kick-start the economy.

Remember also that Greenspan acted as one of the main supporters of derivatives (including credit default swaps) between the late 1990’s and the present (and see this).

Greenspan was also one of the main cheerleaders for subprime loans (and see this).

The above list is only partial. And it ignores:

(1) allegations that the Fed has manipulated the markets; and

(2) claims that the Federal Reserve System saddles the U.S. government and American people with trillions of dollars in unnecessary debt (that would not be incurred if the government took back the “power to coin money” granted to the government itself in the Constitution).

Even so, it shows that the Federal Reserve has performed very poorly indeed.