Bankers get $4 trillion gift from Barney Frank (Reilly, Bloomberg) David pours over HR 4173, all 1,279 pages of it. He finds some interesting nuggets. One of the bigger problems I see is the proposed insurance fund that would pay for resolving systemically dangerous banks. Talk about moral hazard!
Was the global financial crisis a mathematical error? (Steve Keen, Business Spectator) Keen’s latest. Another great piece explaining the flaws of neoclassical economics. (ht Yves)
Morgan Stanely sees 5.5% yield on 10-year (Biggadike/Kruger, Bloomberg) A continued flood of supply coupled with fewer buyers should drive rates higher. Mortgage rates vary closely with the 10-year. If the latter goes to 5.5%, MS notes that 30-year mortgages could get back to 7.5%-8.0%. House prices will suffer another steep decline if mortgage rates climb that much.
In his latest missive to investors (pdf link here), Eric Sprott asks if our Ponzi economy is at risk of collapse. In fiscal 2009, foreigners scooped up $698 billion of Treasuries while the Fed upped its holdings by $286 billion. But the public debt increased $1.9 trillion. So who bought all the rest? According to Treasury, “other investors” bought $510 billion, up from just $90 billion in 2008. With the Fed’s printing press turned off, the question for next year is whether “other investors” can buy more Treasuries than they did this year…
How overhauling derivatives died (Smith/Lynch, WSJ)
Debt ceiling raised $290 billion (Rogers, Politico) Another Xmas Eve vote. Dems had wanted to raise the ceiling at least $1.8 trillion to avoid having to raise it again before midterm elections, but they didn’t have the votes. Congress has bought itself about 4-6 weeks of breathing room. Senate Repubs made a showing of not voting for the measure, but had they been in the majority, you can bet they’d have done the same to avert default.
No better time than Xmas Eve to announce the expansion of the administration’s housing slush fund. Previously, Fan and Fred each had a $200 billion credit line from Treasury. Though they’ve drawn only $111 billion so far, the administration thought it prudent to offer unlimited support … to give the markets “confidence.” Personally, I think the markets could do with a bit less confidence. Confidence leads to complacency, to chasing risk, to progressively easier credit terms that inflate bubbles.
The tax code has a particularly odd quirk next year. The estate tax, which has decreased steadily from 50% to 45 % over the past few years, will drop to zero in 2010. To get the repeal passed, however, Bush 43 agreed to a sunset provision that brings the tax right back in 2011.
Hedgie Tepper on pace to make $2.5 billion this year (WSJ) The moral hazard trade has a new face. Tepper bet big that government would rescue bank shareholders and creditors. He was right. Can we blame him? He didn’t make the rules; he just played the game better than the rest once they were made.