from Reuters Investigates:

Club Fed: the ties that bind at the Fed

USA-FED/BERNANKE We're getting a lot of good feedback on our special report on cozy ties between Wall Street and the Fed. As one Wall Street economist put it: "I've never seen the 'Fed Alumni Association' used more extensively for back-channel communications with the Street than has been the case since June."

The story pulls back the veil on the privileged access that Federal Reserve officials give to big investors, former Fed officials, money market advisers and hedge funds.

Another economist from a European bank thanked us for the report, saying: "I hate the idea that monetary policy is communicated through non-official channels, be it old friends or newsprint."

Personally, I'd argue that if it comes via the press, at least the information is available to everybody in the market at the same time, but then a journalist would say that.

For a printable version in PDF format, click here.

Are Americans really saving?

The Dutch investment bank ING reckons talk of Americans rediscovering savings is misleading.

Households are slashing their purchases of financial assets. The savings ratio is rising because borrowing is falling even more rapidly.   The household savings ratio climbed to 6.9 percent in May, up from a low point of 0.4 percent in 2005. But their purchases of financial assets plunged to -0.5 percent of income in the first quarter (the most recent data), down from a recent peak of 21.6 percent in 2004.

Given this, it will be more than interesting to see the second quarter figures, which should reflect most of the March to June global equity rally. But until then, what do you think? Is the “Americans are saving” mantra misleading?

from Photographers' Blog:

Tim Geithner : What’s In Your Wallet?

What's in U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's wallet? Not much.

While testifying in front of a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill Thursday Geithner was shown a $50 Billion Zimbabwean bank note (rendered worthless by Zimbabwe's hyperinflation) by U.S. Representative John Culberson (R- TX) and asked if he had ever seen one himself. Geithner immediately pulled a piece of Zimbabwean currency out of his own pocket and showed it off to the committee. At the next break in the hearing I approached Geithner and asked how he happened to have a piece of foreign currency in his pocket. His response was "I often have some foreign currency in my wallet. Want to see?" He pulled a very thin and mostly empty wallet from his pocket.

Amongst many empty slots in the thin weathered leather wallet there could be seen three credit or debit cards with Visa and Mastercard logos (all inserted into the wallet upside down so that the card issuers could not be seen) and an old and yellowed looking identification card of indeterminate origin.

From inside the wallet Geithner extracted a small pile of receipts and paper including a New York City MTA farecard, pointing out that there were European Euros tucked amongst the paper.