Correspondent, Washington, DC
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Mar 22, 2013
via MacroScope

Bernanke on Sen. Warren and too big to fail banks: ‘I agree with her 100 percent’

I asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during his quarterly press conference this week if the central bank had its own estimate for the implicit subsidy that banks considered too big to fail receive in the form of cheaper borrowing. Senator Elizabeth Warren had confronted him at a recent hearing with a Bloomberg estimate of $83 billion which itself was derived from an IMF study. At the time, he dismissed her concern: “That’s one study Senator, you don’t know if that’s an accurate number.”

At the press briefing, Bernanke said the Fed does not have its own figures for Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail subsidy, in part because there were too many factors that made it difficult to calculate.

Mar 22, 2013

Fed’s Raskin bemoans low-wage nature of jobs recovery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Too much of the recent growth in employment has been concentrated in low-wage and temporary jobs, leaving the recovery on shaky ground, a top Federal Reserve official said on Friday.

Sarah Raskin, a member of the Fed’s board of governors, said monetary policymakers are doing all they can to promote stronger economic growth and beef up hiring, and cited improving labor market conditions. But she added interest rates are a blunt tool that cannot help direct the types of jobs that are created, noting one quarter of workers are now considered low-wage.

Mar 20, 2013
via MacroScope

For whom the bell will not toll: Fed ditches old-school tech in policy release

It’s had a good run, and will remain in use for the purposes of alerting reporters that “Treasury is in the (press) room.” But when it comes to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions, which are also released out of Treasury, the central bank is ditching the old ringer.

Until the last FOMC decision, reporters would be guided by a 10 second countdown followed by a loud clinging of the bell pictured above. Now, news agencies will report the news at the set time of 2 pm – so there’s no wiggle room in the hyper competitive world of microsecond timings that give robot-traders an edge.

Mar 20, 2013

Fed to stick to stimulus as Cyprus rekindles global risks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve looks set to sustain its $85 billion monthly bond-buying stimulus despite improving U.S. economic data as a new flare-up in the euro zone crisis reminds officials of a risky global environment.

As it wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, the U.S. central bank’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee will continue debating the potential costs of quantitative easing, including the possibility its easy money policies will inflate asset market bubbles.

Mar 19, 2013
via MacroScope

Missing definition in 1982 Fed glossary: quantitative easing

It’s not difficult to see why quantitative easing was not high on the Federal Reserve’s list of priorities in 1982. The term was nowhere to be found in the handy booklet pictured above, which I found while perusing the shelves of Reuters’ two-desk bureau inside the U.S. Treasury. Paul Volcker’s Fed was still battling runaway inflation, so policy options designed for a zero interest rate environment were nowhere near the horizon.

More interesting, perhaps, is what the pamphlet’s brief introduction says about a technology that is now so commonplace it is overlooked — and about the social milieu of central bankers.

Mar 16, 2013

Fed’s Fisher: Too-big-to-fail banks are “crony” capitalists

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (Reuters) – The largest U.S. banks are “practitioners of crony capitalism,” need to be broken up to ensure they are no longer considered too big to fail, and continue to threaten financial stability, a top Federal Reserve official said on Saturday.

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, has been a critic of Wall Street’s disproportionate influence since the financial crisis. But he was now taking his message to an unusual audience for a central banker: a high-profile Republican political action committee.

Mar 15, 2013

Fed to hold course on stimulus despite debate over risks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve officials will spend much of a meeting next week debating the potential risks from the central bank’s stimulus plan, but Chairman Ben Bernanke has already signaled he believes the costs of inaction are even greater.

The U.S. central bank looks set to keep buying $85 billion a month in mortgage and Treasury bonds in an effort to encourage investment and bolster a weak economic recovery.

Mar 13, 2013

Argentines rush to churches, weep as countryman elected pope

BUENOS AIRES, March 13 (Reuters) – Jubilant Argentines
poured into churches on Wednesday to celebrate the surprise
announcement that one of their own – Cardinal Jorge Mario
Bergoglio – was the first Latin American pope, and many hoped
he’d bring change to a Church in crisis.

People throughout the mainly Roman Catholic country rushed
to churches, some crying and praying that the 76-year-old Jesuit
can bolster faith in the Vatican after a series of scandals.

Mar 13, 2013
via MacroScope

Priceless: The unfathomable cost of too big to fail

Just how big is the benefit that too-big-to-fail banks receive from their implicit taxpayer backing? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke debated just that question with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren during a recent hearing of the Senate Banking Committee. Warren cited a Bloomberg study based on estimates from the International Monetary Fund that found the subsidy, in the form of lower borrowing costs, amounts to some $83 billion a year.

Bernanke, who has argued Dodd-Frank financial reforms have made it easier for regulators to shut down troubled institutions, questioned the study’s validity.

Mar 11, 2013
via MacroScope

Is Ben Bernanke becoming a closet Democrat?

 

Watching Ben Bernanke testify before Congress in recent years, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a Fed Chairman who has been largely abandoned by his own party. Hearing after hearing, Bernanke receives steady support and praise Democrats for his efforts to stimulate a fragile economic recovery – and takes constant heat from Republicans for what they perceive as the possible dangers of low interest rates.

Many people forget Bernanke was first nominated to his current role by a conservative Republican president, George W. Bush. Bush, though he was reappointed to a second term by President Barack Obama. Bush first named Bernanke to the Fed’s board in 2002, then brought him to the White House to lead his Council of Economic Advisors.

    • About Pedro

      "Pedro da Costa has been covering economics and financial markets since 2001. He is currently based in Washington and focuses on the Federal Reserve and macroeconomic policy. Da Costa earned a Master's in international relations at the University of California San Diego and studied sociology and political science as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."
      Joined Reuters:
      2001
      Languages:
      English, Portuguese, Spanish, French
      Awards:
      2011 Deadline Club Award from the Society of Professional Journalists' New York Chapter
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