I think I am with Rufus, somewhat bewildered by what happened in Washington in the last two days. Boiled down we have a new stimulus plan that will add at least another $1 trillion to the deficit, the same deficit that was ending the world two weeks ago.
The stock market loved it till about lunch time and then took another look at Europe and lost its courage. Obama gave one of his bizarre talks and may have helped the downturn. Oil keeps going up as Obama keeps shutting oil wells down. No surprise there. What is also no surprise is the depth of their stupidity. Let me see if I have this straight.
WE have added another trillion to the deficit in a coordinated effort to create employment. At the same time we are shutting down high paying energy jobs in the gulf area by restricting oil drilling. The restriction is driving up the cost of imported oil which adds to the trade deficit. The higher price of oil is in fact a foreign tax on the American consumer and is another net job killer. This is being done for environmental reasons but foreign drilling in the same waters off Cuba continues.
Well, the votes are in. It's Overwhelming. A Landslide. I'm an idiot. The dumbest asshole in America. The Dumbest Asshole in the world!
I haven't a clue what's going on in DC. This is like a trip to "The Twilight Zone."
I'm not "sad." I'm not "glad." I'm bemused. I feel like I've gone to sleep, and awoke in the middle of a "Chinese Metaphysics" class.
Either I'm having a nervous breakdown, or the rest of the world is.
I feel like I'm watching that goofy Kenny Rodgers flick where the guy folds a Royal Flush (and, the rest of the world is standing around going, "that's all he could do." Huh?
Maybe I'll think about it in the morning. And, maybe not.
Mensa Ain't Us.
Dummer'n Doornails is Us.
Tue Dec 07, 10:05:00 PM EST
Meanwhile the fight between international financiers and the European Central Bank continues. The Euro goes down, the dollar goes up and the market gets depressed. Where this leads is very clear to someone, I hope.
Central Bank and Financiers Fight Over Fate of the Euro
By GRAHAM BOWLEY and JACK EWING
Published: December 7, 2010
On one side is the European Central Bank, which is spending billions to prop up Europe’s weak-kneed bond markets and safeguard the common currency.
On the other side are hedge funds and big financial institutions that are betting against those same bonds and, by extension, against the central bank, that mighty symbol of Europe’s monetary union.
The war keeps escalating as traders position themselves for what some believe is inevitable: a default by Greece, Ireland or perhaps even Portugal.
The strains grew Tuesday, when European finance ministers made no pledge to increase the emergency fund that the European Union has put in place to help protect the euro. The head of the International Monetary Fund, meantime, urged Europe to take broader action to fend off speculators.
“The game now is one now of cat and mouse,” said Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief executive of the bond giant Pimco.
Since May, when the Greek debt crisis exploded, the European Central Bank has bought an estimated $69 billion of Greek and other government bonds. It has also indirectly injected hundreds of billions dollars into weak banking systems in Greece and Ireland.
But the speculators keep coming back. After the bond purchases fell to zero in October, the central bank waded back into the market aggressively last week, buying about $2 billion of debt securities, mostly Irish and Portuguese securities, traders said. The bank, based in Frankfurt, has yet to disclose the size and scope of the purchases late last week, when its intervention was the most intense.
While the bank appears to have backed off this week, traders are waiting for the official accounting of its latest purchases. The data are due Monday — and will provide some idea of just how aggressive the central bank has been.
Already, the central bank owns about 17 percent of the combined debt of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, Goldman Sachs estimates. Yet in the bank’s mano a mano with the bond market, psychology could be more important than money. No single hedge fund, after all, can hope to outgun the central bank.
The bank also has the element of surprise. By emphasizing that the central bank is “permanently alert,” Jean-Claude Trichet, its president, has raised the risk for speculators who might try to profit by selling short Greek, Portuguese or Irish bonds.
But the amount of intervention so far is far smaller than many investors and economists think is necessary to calm markets. These people assert that the central bank, its assurances aide, is concerned about taking on so many bonds of peripheral European countries — and being forced into what would be a de facto bailout of overextended government borrowers and the banks that bought their bonds.
And the markets continue to probe that discomfort. Pimco, for example, sold the vast majority of its holdings of Greek, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish government bonds late last year and early this year, although it continues to hold German bonds, considered Europe’s safest.
Pavan Wadhwa, head of European rates strategy at JPMorgan Chase, one of the main dealers in European government debt, said many clients had been eager to sell bonds of peripheral European nations to the central bank and would do more if the bank continued to buy, reflecting a belief that one or more countries were headed for insolvency.
“If the E.C.B. wants to buy, I would still be recommending to sell into the demand,” he said.
Mr. Wadhwa said in its latest operations the central bank had hoped investors would hold onto their bonds, encouraged by its presence in the markets. Instead, many had taken the opportunity to sell.
The chief investment officer of a large New York-based hedge fund, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said his fund and others had shorted Portuguese and Irish government bonds during the summer. They had done so by selling bonds in the cash market directly but mainly by buying protection against default in the market for credit-default swaps, a type of derivative.
“That trade was profitable,” this money manager said. But he said the fund had closed its position because the trade had no further to run — the market was now discounting a strong likelihood that Ireland would be forced to restructure its debt in four or five years.
Even after the central bank’s intervention last week, speculators have been maintaining large positions in credit-default swaps on Spanish bonds and on the debt of Spanish banks.
According to JPMorgan’s calculations, the credit-default swaps market implies around a 15 percent probability in any year of a Spanish default for the next five years.
Still, traders and analysts say the central bank is a sophisticated market actor. It conducts many trades via the Bundesbank and other national central banks, which in turn act through a circle of commercial dealer banks.
Mr. Trichet is known to keep a data terminal on his desk and speak frequently with the bank’s 20 in-house bond traders. He also occasionally visits them on a lower floor of the bank’s headquarters.
For the central bank, the timing of the latest flare-up was, in a way, convenient. Bond trading typically tapers off at the end of the year as fund managers close out their positions. So trading was thin and the bank was able to move the market with relatively small sums, traders said.
“It may be that the E.C.B. could have moved spreads a long way without buying that many bonds,” said Steven J. Major, global head of fixed income research at HSBC in London.
By placing a lot of orders with numerous banks, the central bank also created buzz in the market, which helped exaggerate the effect of its bond buying.
But according to many traders, the bank has so far not intervened in the markets for Spanish or Italian debt, which would be harder to influence because of their relatively large size.
Stephen Castle contributed reporting.