The Self-Rehypothecation of Ben Bernanke

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Published : August 26th, 2013
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     How then did Ben Bernanke finally summon the fortitude to entertain tapering Federal Reserve bond purchases from $85 billion a month to, say, $84.7 billion a month come September 18th, the world may never know, but now the deed appears to be done, in his absence, by remote paranormal transmission, while the other Fed board members, with their attendant economist factotums, servelings, and catamites all beamed the message out of horsey Jackson Hole that they expected — even pined for — the vaunted return to “a normal economy.” Which left many bystanders wondering if that meant a Dow Jones industrial average at, say 3,847 around Columbus Day, the 10-year bond at 5 percent, and every pension fund in world bleeding out from a sucking chest wound — not to mention a Hindenberg-like conflagration of the US Treasury as debt payments went beyond critical.

     Pardon me for saying that I don’t think these mooks of finance know what they’ve been paying for with the QE series of monkeyshines. They’ve been creating “money” for five years to offset the collapse of a no-longer-cheap-oil economy. It’s really that simple. If any of these poobahs thinks they can run a “normal economy” at $106-a-barrel then they should run out and get a realtor’s license and buy as many Arizona REO’s as the foundering banks will admit to holding on their books, and then become landlord to renters working 29 hours a week on the WalMart loading dock.

     Actually, I don’t think they will have to wait that long to see the consequences of their loose, silly talk. America’s major export is now working its hoodoo in many other parts of the world as currencies become unglued and economies look down at the flimsy bamboo scaffolding that holds them up so high. America’s major export these days is economic uncertainty, specifically the question of what, exactly, will maintain the pretense that the hopelessly intertwined financial affairs of China, India, Brazil, Japan, Euroland, Russia, and everybody else, really, including ourselves, are not unraveling like some kind of cosmic sweater knitted with one needle by a cross-eyed god with the jim-jams.

     A lot of people begin to suspect that there is something called “an economy” quite apart from the shenanigans and dumb shows put on by the banks and their imitators, the hedge funds. That actual economy is a very earthy thing, in so far as it is pegged to the biophysical realities of the planet — such as, can you harvest a turnip and therefore make turnip soup for dinner? After all, you won’t be making a soup out of interest rate swaps. Of course, dining on turnip soup is not as sexy as driving to work in a Tesla to a hedge fund boiler room where you get to cream off millions every week by playing Where’s Waldo with the rehypothecated accounts of the muppets who foolishly entrusted you with their own ill-gotten savings.

     The nervousness out there is palpable and epochal. Not only is everyone waiting for some other shoe to drop after Labor Day; they’re waiting for it to drop on their own heads. The most visible result, I think, will be a shocking flight into precious metals, of which there is precious little to meet the kind of demand soon to overwhelm that teeny-weeny market corner of the financial universe. What else is there now? The Fed taper talk is pretty much a case of holding a gun to a puppy’s head — the puppy being the equities markets. The bond sector is a hall of mirrors. Cash is a lot less than king in several countries now, with the contagion running hot. Everything is mispriced to the upside except Gold and Silver, which are mispriced the other way, especially after the chicaneries of April and June when, depending on which story you believe, the banks ran a naked short campaign to knock the stuffing out of the metals so they could then go back in and hoover some of it up cheap in an attempt to conceal the multiple out-leasings (that is sale, or perhaps theft) of metal left by fools in their custodial charge. Or, some other sages might say, the knock-down was done to defend the honor of the evaporating US dollar (a dollar with the vapors), making it appear sturdier than it actually is. Yes, well that worked, sort of, for a few months, while Wall Street repaired to the annual East Hampton endorphin splash. I was not invited to Diddy’s party, where the pineal glands of the gathered .01 percent were audibly ringing with celestial euphoria as they swapped the reassuring pulsations of their own specialness. Those people, you can be sure, were not pining for a “normal economy.”

     Long story short: we’re in for some interesting weeks ahead. Keep your hat on.

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James Howard Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. His nonfiction book, "The Long Emergency," describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.
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James, you teach me something new every week ! ! Factotums was easy, but I got a real laugh when I found the definition of catamite. I then had a visual of The Fed Group ~ followed around by their entourage of ass-kissers. Everything didn't turn out as funny though. While I was laughing I spilled a small bowl of my home-made salsa on my cell phone. It stopped working. Oh well ~ guess NSA won't be able to find me after Labor Day ! !
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Well, Kunstler is correct in criticizing Bernanke's QE and warning of the dire circumstances ahead. The continuing of QE won't help and tapering will be just as bad -- like withdrawing food from a domesticated tiger, and the tiger now mentally unable to fend for itself. Dire circumstances are ahead and the recent upsurge in gold and silver prices may just be a beginning.

Normally, after this usual damning of the FED Kunstler will extrapolate to his usual return to nature screed -- but he has refrained this week and has my rare kudos for doing so.

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James, you teach me something new every week ! ! Factotums was easy, but I got a real laugh when I found the definition of catamite. I then had a visual of The Fed Group ~ followed around by their entourage of ass-kissers. Everything didn't turn out as  Read more
Gypsy - 8/26/2013 at 11:23 PM GMT
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