Righteous Wrath of an Analyst Who Got It Right
I have brought my writing to bear on this subject before, but I really do need to hit the point right on the head, dispensing with formalistic niceties. I am just plain weary of the "journalists," important media-approved "analysts," and mainstream politicians who spend their time looking around for this or that mendacious bad person, evil firm, or other greedy entity for the root cause of the fiasco that has befallen our financial institutions. It seems that everyone who is respectable avoids like the Plague looking at the failure of the institution in plain sight, the Federal Reserve, where an appalling, systematic, multi-year malfeasance lay at the heart of the whole disaster.
The Federal Reserve failed to control the money supply aggregate M3, and when its failure began to pulse like a flashing red beacon, the Federal Reserve had the unbelievable gall to simply stop publishing the information about the out-of-control aggregate. By not maintaining control of M3, a highly illiquid form of money, it gave banks and other financial institutions all the incentive in the world to construct derivative instruments by which that illiquid form of money could be used to generate more liquid capital.
It's like owning a house when you're cash-strapped. The house is "money," but you can't use it to buy groceries; but what you can do is use that house as collateral to borrow cash-money so you can make bets and engage in other risky behaviors that do generate cash.
It was, is, and always will be the Federal Reserve's principal duty to maintain a stable growth of the money supply, and part of the reason for this is so that distorted incentives do not arise in the financial system where market power is sufficient to both seek and discover prices for financial instruments.
To some extent, the Federal Reserve's custodial role is very similar to the job of parents in ensuring that distorted incentives do not overwhelm decision-making processes of their children. The world has all kinds of bad things to offer, and it has all kinds of ways by which those bad things can infect the thinking of rational entities who want what's best for themselves without regard to larger, longer-term consequences for either themselves or the bigger world that will have to pay the price for their errors.
Yes, of course Goldman-Sachs is a greedy entity. That's what motivates business enterprise, and no amount of shaming, "ethics" training, or preaching from the Bible is going to change either the nature of the firm or the nature of the people who comprise an enterprise. It is our public institutions (in a secular society) that have the responsibility to circumscribe our worst and to foster an environment in which our worst does not become our best choice.
The Federal Reserve failed, and it failed massively, both during the tenure of Ben Bernanke and before him during the last years of Alan Greenspan, who became a spiteful manipulator of monetary policy against Bill Clinton and then a shill for lies about the need for massive tax cuts under George W. Bush.
And now, let me go on the attack against President Barack Obama.
I have written time and time again against this man. He is, at best, a center-right authoritarian, and his judgment regarding appointments to high offices is nothing short of outrageous. He is not choosing the best; he is, instead, choosing institutional hacks and people of otherwise less-than-stellar minds and strengths. I could name his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, as one of his worst-of-the-worst choices were it not for others who rank in the same league of outlandish incompetence, mendacity, and sheer inadequacy of qualifications and prior performance; but I shall for the purposes of this brief article focus upon Timothy Geithner, whom Obama appointed under no pressure whatsoever to do so as the Secretary of the Treasury.
This is the Timothy Geithner who was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the so-called "Empire Bank," which has a permanent voting seat on the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which decides upon and then directs the execution of monetary policy, with the principal means of carrying out that monetary policy being via what are called "open market operations" carried out by the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve District Bank in New York.
Beyond Geithner's intimate involvement in the utterly irresponsible monetary policy regime that allowed M3 to grow out of control, because the Reserve Banks are in charge of supervising all member banks of the Federal Reserve system in their respective districts, the Empire Bank was the regulatory point where control of the banks in New York was supposed to take place, and yet New York was the virtual epicenter of the "financial meltdown." This happened when Geithner was the President of the Reserve Bank that was supposed to have had an iron fist of regulatory control over those very banks. And the claim that the Reserve Banks do not have regulatory authority over some of the financial institutions that got in trouble is sheer nonsense: after Glass-Steagall was all but thrown in the trash a decade ago, the financial sector dispensed with all pretense that there was a wall separating banking from all manner of other financial services, yet the Fed could do nothing to regulate this integrated financial services industry? Sure. Right.
Did Geithner get fired?
Did Geithner go to prison?
Did Geithner get publicly humiliated and driven into the wilderness?
No, President Barack Obama appointed him Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America.
And finally, a brief mention of Ben Bernanke.
For allowing M3 to roar out of control, thereby allowing the creation of the vast overhang of illiquid monetary assets that were used to back ridiculously risky bets by banks, did Ben Bernanke get charged with crimes of any kind?
Was Ben Bernanke fired from his job for staggering malfeasance that will ultimately cost the American economy and its taxpayers more than $60 trillion? (You read that right: $60 trillion. Do a search using the keyword term "notional value.")
Has Ben Bernanke even been called before a grand jury?
Has President Barack Obama made any signal whatsoever that he will not tolerate this kind of stunning malfeasance in the government of which he is now the undisputed chief executive officer?
The answer to every single one of the above questions is a resounding, "No."
I am not interested in hearing about Goldman-Sachs or Bank of America or Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch or any other bad, greedy firm, not until someone tells me why it is that the greed of private enterprise is to be condemned when the incompetence of duly authorized public enforcers of proper behavior was so profound that greed in its destructive form could go as far as it did, for as long as it did, to the extraordinary detriment of the macroeconomy as it did.
Do not talk to me about how bad the kids are when no one wants to give me anything but blank looks about the trailer trash parents who were singularly, unambiguously responsible for seeing to it that their little snots didn't tear up the town.
I do apologize for being so blunt; but life is short, and no one else seems to have the guts to lay it out.
"No one could possibly have imagined..."?
I did. So did a few other analysts. We were marginalized; we were ignored; and the disaster happened.
Ignore us now, and the aftermath will be no better.
Wrote Missouri Mule:
Wrote Dark Wraith:
Wrote kelley b:
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