Nouriel Roubini Says You Should Preserve Capital

CNN Money

CNN Money

8 really, really scary predictions

Dow 4,000. Food shortages. A bubble in Treasury notes. Fortune spoke to eight of the market’s sharpest thinkers and what they had to say about the future is frightening.

Known as Dr. Doom, the NYU economics professor saw the mortgage-related meltdown coming.

We are in the middle of a very severe recession that’s going to continue through all of 2009 – the worst U.S. recession in the past 50 years. It’s the bursting of a huge leveraged-up credit bubble. There’s no going back, and there is no bottom to it. It was excessive in everything from subprime to prime, from credit cards to student loans, from corporate bonds to muni bonds. You name it. And it’s all reversing right now in a very, very massive way. At this point it’s not just a U.S. recession. All of the advanced economies are at the beginning of a hard landing. And emerging markets, beginning with China, are in a severe slowdown. So we’re having a global recession and it’s becoming worse.

Things are going to be awful for everyday people. U.S. GDP growth is going to be negative through the end of 2009. And the recovery in 2010 and 2011, if there is one, is going to be so weak – with a growth rate of 1% to 1.5% – that it’s going to feel like a recession. I see the unemployment rate peaking at around 9% by 2010. The value of homes has already fallen 25%. In my view, home prices are going to fall by another 15% before bottoming out in 2010.

For the next 12 months I would stay away from risky assets. I would stay away from the stock market. I would stay away from commodities. I would stay away from credit, both high-yield and high-grade. I would stay in cash or cashlike instruments such as short-term or longer-term government bonds. It’s better to stay in things with low returns rather than to lose 50% of your wealth. You should preserve capital. It’ll be hard and challenging enough. I wish I could be more cheerful, but I was right a year ago, and I think I’ll be right this year too.

Can The US Federal Reserve Go Broke?

RGE Monitor

RGE Monitor

Can Central Banks Go Broke? Fed Refuses To Disclose Collateral Composition And Recipients Of $2.8 Trillion Loans

  • The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the U.S. GDP, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago. Bernanke’s Fed is responsible for $4.4 trillion of pledges, or 60% of the total commitment of $7.4 trillion. The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions

  • The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 bn Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)–> Regulators refuse to disclose who is receiving how much while Congress starts pushing for transparency and give authority over taxpayer money back to elected officials.


  • see Cumberland Advisor’s real-time graph of Fed’s balance sheet and the contributions of different lending programs.
  • The bailout includes a Fed program to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes, called commercial paper, that companies use to pay bills, begun Oct. 27, and $1.4 trillion from the FDIC to guarantee bank-to-bank loans, started Oct. 14.
  • Buiter: Can the central bank become insolvent? How and by whom or by what institution should the central bank be recapitalized, if its capital were deemed insufficient? These are relevant questions today wherever central banks have taken on large exposures to private credit risk as in the U.S., the Eurozone, and the UK.
  • Nov 5, RGE: Fed Balance Sheet Expansion: Change in Formula for Interest Paid on Reserves –> banks are providing the reserves for the Fed’s balance sheet expansion themselves.
  • Sep 17: Treasury Announces Supplementary Financing Program to fund the Federal Reserve’s Liquidity Facilities and to manage the balance sheet impact of these efforts.

Go to:  http://www.rgemonitor.com for all the details. (Excellent Financial Site – You will recognize the writer, because he has been all over the TV recently.

Record Drops in Dow

Dow Biggest Point Drops

Dow Jones Biggest Point Drops

Record Drops in Dow and S&P

Monday 09/29/08

Dow      10,365.45    -777.68  (-6.98%)

S&P         1,106.42    -106.85  (-8.81%)

All the major indexes were down more than 6% for the first time since 1998.

Prior to today, the biggest point drops for the Dow and S&P was after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

The VIX (a volatility index closed at 46.72 Up 11.98 or 34.48%) was at levels not seen since 1998.

Dow biggest point drops

  • 9/17/01 down 685
  • 4/14/00 down 618
  • 10/27/97 down 554
  • 8/31/98 down 513
  • 10/19/87 down 508

S&P biggest point drops

  • 4/14/00 down 83
  • 8/31/98 down 70
  • 10/27/97 down 65
  • 9/15/08 down 59
  • 10/19/87 down 57

NASDAQ biggest point drops

  • 4/14/00 down 356
  • 4/3/00 down 349
  • 4/12/00  down 286
  • 4/10/00  down 258
  • 1/4/00  down 230
© 2008 CNBC.com

Going for Broke – By ALAN ABELSON

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2008
UP AND DOWN WALL STREET
Run and Hide

Run and Hide

Going for Broke

Uncle Sam plans to spend like there’s no tomorrow to cure what ails the credit markets and rev up investors. Will it work?

BABY, IT’S COLD OUT THERE. So let’s toss another billion on the fire.

What’s that make it? Well, let’s see: $29 billion for Bear Stearns, somewhere between $1 billion and $100 billion each for Fannie and Freddie (a nice narrow range), $85 billion for AIG, a couple of hundred billion to keep stray banks, brokers and their errant kin from asphyxiating themselves by swallowing toxic paper. And then there’s the proposed reincarnation of the Resolution Trust Corp., which all by itself may mean shelling out $800 billion, perhaps even as much as $1 trillion.

While we’re at it, we might as well include the $400 billion with which the Paulson-Bernanke grand plan envisages endowing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. so it can insure money-market funds.

But, please, understand those mind-boggling sums in no way, shape or form are to be construed as designed to aid and abet a bailout. Instead, they are merely the essential ingredients of an “intervention,” or, if you prefer, a “rescue” — just about anything, in other words, that’s semantically sweeter than bailout, with its ugly connotation of a sinking ship.

Besides, we have it on the best authority that none of this largess will cost the taxpayer a cent over the long run, which, if nothing else, speaks volumes about what constitutes the best authority these days. The reasoning is simple (or perhaps simple-minded is more accurate), namely that deep-pockets Uncle Sam can sell off the assets of the foundering companies on which he has bestowed that bounty and come out whole.

Surely, they jest. For a heap of those so-called assets might easily be confused with liabilities since even those that can be sold will likely fetch a feeble fraction of what their possessors now claim they’re worth.

This is not to say that until the powers-that-be pounded the panic button last week, the billions they had already thrown at the problem as well as taking a big step further and making the wretched companies soaking up those billion de facto vassals of the government were completely in vain. They undeniably had an instant impact. Unfortunately, an instant was about as long as the impact lasted, and it failed miserably to becalm the frantic credit markets or rekindle investor confidence.

The sad truth is that just about every one of Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke’s previous brainstorms — and they seemed to come with increasing frequency as Hank and Ben’s agitation mounted — touched off a brief spasm of exhilaration among investors, only to evaporate in very short order as the credit crisis resolutely morphed into a credit calamity. Or, to change the metaphor, what had been a slow-motion train wreck picked up demonic speed.

That little chart that adorns these gray columns offers an eloquent description of how bad things had gotten until the clouds parted and the sun finally came out as the week wore down. It depicts the yield on three-month Treasury bills going back to 1930. On last Wednesday, investors were so gripped with fear and desperate for a haven that they poured into the bills even though the yield was nonexistent. In effect, they were willing to pay the government for keeping their money safe. As a glance at the chart shows, that hasn’t happened since the Depression.

[chart]

Then, everything changed, at least for now. And the soaring rise in the stock market that began Thursday afternoon and extended through the final bell on Friday had Ben and Hank whooping with joy, exchanging high fives and just venting their pleasure with cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smiles, a welcome change from the funereal faces they had donned for the past few months.

While we’re in a generous mood, we might as well add Christopher Cox to the cheerful circle of celebrants. The SEC chief has been the target of a steady stream of slings and arrows directed his way by John McCain, which rather than nailing Cox’s inadequacies (and they’re bountiful) once again demonstrated that McCain and his advisers haven’t much of a clue how markets work.

Cox, in any case, deserves some of the credit for the smashing rally that boosted the Dow comfortably nearly 800 points in two sessions. For he proudly announced a ban on shorting 799 financial stocks and sparked talk of banning short selling entirely, and that scared the dickens out of the shorts who en masse rushed to cover. The resulting buying burst, we haven’t a scintilla of doubt, played a significant role in the great market lift-off.

Frankly, it seems to us, Cox, in taking out after the shorts — whom nobody loves except their immediate families (and we’re not even sure about them) — was more interested in covering his derrière than in protecting investors. As an early-warning sounder, keeping markets reasonably honest and offering a way to hedge against the inevitable mistakes or bad luck that investors are prey to — short selling serves a valuable function, and messing with it is apt to yield a lot more harm than good.

And we say that fully aware short selling has its quota of bad guys who do wicked things, but also aware that there are rules and regulations aplenty to curb untoward practices, if somebody would only enforce them.

But then, if regulators hadn’t been asleep, banks probably would have had real trouble finding ways to go belly-up, those innovative weapons of mass destruction called derivatives might have been defused long before they blew up, and those speculative bubbles, as in housing, might not have made the Guinness Book of Records for sheer size.

Just think of all the fun we’d have missed.

WILL THE GRAND PLAN WORK? Will piling on all those billions on billions atop a budget deficit that’s already a cinch to shoot up to over half a trillion next fiscal year allow the badly winded economy to start a sustainable recovery?

Ben, remember, vowed to use helicopters to drop money from the sky, but now he seems to be gearing up to use 747s. Can the Fed run its printing machine full-time to churn out all those billions without a substantial infusion from increasingly pinched taxpayers? And won’t priming the pump like mad drive the dollar back into the pits and force interest rates higher?

The plan, in all its extravagance, seems to have been thrown together on the fly, and once Congress gets a whack at it in the waning days before the lawmakers scurry off to the hustings, it may bear only passing resemblance, for better but probably for worse, to Paulson and Bernanke’s handiwork.

Obviously, the unknowns greatly outweigh the knowns, which make those and myriad other questions tough or downright impossible to answer.

We’re willing to concede that some forceful action was necessary, if only so the Fed can pay penance for its critical part in creating the incredible credit-cum-housing disaster.

As Merrill Lynch’s David Rosenberg observes, the fact that the government is suddenly so aggressive in coming to grips with an epic credit collapse is eloquent testimony to how the Fed and the Treasury “have consistently underestimated the severity of that collapse from the get-go.”

He reminds us, moreover, that the original Resolution Trust Corp. was strictly about buying bad mortgages. So he wonders whether the new incarnation will also undertake the purchase of Level 3 assets, whose value is extremely problematic and, in any case, more than a little difficult to gauge, and which are a sizable and not particularly desirable presence in many banks’ portfolios. And will the new RTC also buy credit-card debt, commercial real estate, leveraged loans “or the other mountains of bad debts out there?”

David cautions that the entire credit collapse to date has “reflected the unwind of the largest bubble of all time — residential real estate. Meanwhile, a consumer-led recession is taking hold this very quarter for the first time in 17 years, and every consumer recession in the past was followed by a negative credit cycle of its own.”

As to the euphoric market reaction, he thinks it’s a bit much. In their stampede to buy, investors seem to be ignoring the depressing fact that what prompted such drastic action was the sorry state of the financial system, which isn’t likely to change overnight no matter how vigorous the government exertion.

After the RTC was set up in 1989, he notes, it took two years for the economy to turn around, three years for housing to recover and a year for the stock market to bottom.

So what’s the rush?

Fed will print Money!

A Little Economic History

Why the Fed has no other Alternative but to print Money!

The entire economic expansion of the US in the 19th century was a deflationary boom. Declining prices led to strong real income gains. As time went by, workers could buy with their incomes a larger and larger basket of goods because prices for consumer goods and commodities declined.

I other words, whereas inflation is the equivalent of a loss of purchasing power of money, in deflationary times the purchasing power of money increases. In deflation my 100 dollars today are worth more in a year’s time since they will buy a larger basket of goods and assets, whose prices are declining. In my opinion, there is, therefore, nothing wrong about deflation. So why is the US Fed so concerned about deflation that Mr. Bernanke even suggested dropping US dollar bills from a helicopter in order to combat it?

There is one condition under which deflation is a disaster and this is when total credit market debt is high as a percentage of the economy.carrying_alot_of_debt_md_wht.gif

When debts are as large as there are now, deflating prices and especially deflating asset prices would wreck havoc in the economic system and lead to massive defaults and bankruptcies. I may add that, as can be seen from,between 1950 and 1980 the debt to GDP remained largely constant.

us-debt-as-percentage-of-gdp.jpg

But after 1980, and in particular after Mr. Greenspan became Fed chairman
in 1987, debt to GDP exploded. Therefore, it is not deflation that is the
problem, but the preceding debt inflation for which the Fed’s expansionary
monetary policies are fully responsible. So, having created a monetary and
debt monster, the Fed embarked starting 2001 in a huge money printing
operation in order to avoid deflation.