ole'!!! the fed silently falters (pain!!!)

dave_donhoffMay 27, 2009

OLE'!!! the Fed silently falters (PAIN!!!)

For over 5 months the Fed had hired 3 prime brokers to run a "buy program" in the mortgage backed securities bond markets. These firms had instructions to buy, with increasing aggressiveness, whenever bonds dropped to certain price levels.

6 months Mortgage Backed Security daily action

The effects were glaringly obvious (especially when compared to the non-programmed competitive volatility of the 10-year treasuries... a fairly closely-related market.)

3 months 10-year Treasury daily action

Last week on Thursday the bond markets (pressured ongoingly by all who want yields to rise... from China on down the foodchain) tested the support levels. The Fed's buyers stood silent. On Friday the trader's cautiously taunted the Fed's buyers again, toying with the previously established "maginot line" below which any seller would be slaughtered... no response.

Yesterday the bond traders girded their loins and challenged the beast ready to rapidly retreat... and the beast simply collapsed to the side with no resistance whatsoever!

Today the seller's raged...

3 months Mortgage Backed Security daily action

The 4.25% 30 year coupon leapt up over 200 basis points in cost.

The 30 yr is now about where standard yield curves suggest it normally OUGHT to be in the current markets...

Remaining questions;

A) Will Obama instruct the Fed to "get back in the ring" with a heavier set of gloves (much much more money?)

B) If they try... will it even matter?

C) If it does, how long can they hold back the inevitable?

D) If they don't... how much heavier will the economy bleed due to the interference, and how quickly?

Dave Donhoff

Leverage Planner

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    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:28PM
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"Remaining questions;
A) Will Obama instruct the Fed to "get back in the ring" with a heavier set of gloves (much much more money?)
B) If they try... will it even matter?
C) If it does, how long can they hold back the inevitable?
D) If they don't... how much heavier will the economy bleed due to the interference, and how quickly?"

I don't have the answers to any of these questions but I can tell you I will not be putting my money/cash back into the market until the TARP money is repaid.

Never bet against the 'house'. They always win!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 11:18AM
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In that case, dreamgarden, did you miss the rally in the markets for July and August? Even if you firmly believe it's only a "dead cat bounce", it went a good ways towards recouping the November and March losses. There was a 25% gain in less than 6 weeks.

As I mentioned in another thread, I do believe there will be a pullback, so I took some profits (and they ARE profits - this is mostly all employer-contributed $$) and put them in cash. Next time there's a big dip in the market (which there will be; like death and taxes, market highs and lows are inevitably linked) we'll buy back in. As we're long-term investors, we look at down markets as mutual fund sales. We don't often make big moves, preferring to just diversify and rebalance annually. But this period has been an opportunity too good to miss.

I just can't get excited about short-term financial news. It's far more important, I think, to look at trends over time, taking into account the changing political/regulatory air. In the real world, the fed's moves (or lack thereof) in May 2009 is just one more tiny piece of overall data that has to be considered thoughtfully by investors. Individually I can't see how it would have much meaning on a day-to-day basis for the majority of people.

In the end, the Chinese did not stop buying US debt, although they have slowed down their purchases. Their currency is artifically low and their much-vaunted surpluses will be used up rapidly in the decades ahead. China has not really changed much in their nationalistic psyche over the centuries: they are a great nation because of sheer size and the culture of personal sacrifice/hard work. But that glory covers a multitude of internal issues ranging from political corruption to economic instability and deliberate ecological catastrophe. It's hard for Americans to understand the mindset of a culture that values law and order above freedom and fairness. My DH and I have had many interesting discussions on Asian culture, as he's mixed-blood but raised in Asia, whereas I'm full-blooded Asian but third-generation American.

The emotional mindset that dreamgarden has is mirrored by many people, but that in itself creates an opportunity for others with contrarian views.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 2:43PM
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Have you checked the rates that the payday loan people charge???

When you're deep in debt - you'll soon pay high rates of interest.

You may avoid the hammer for a while, but not for a long time.

The U.S. has been in a money-sucking morass called Iraq for years. Not to mention Afghanistan.

And spending further billions to try to keep the homeland secure (whatever that means). Many feel that this current war has more in common with the earlier war on the mafia (and other gangs carrying on illegal business) and the war on drugs than one where one has an identifiable national enemy occupying a specific area elsewhere in the world. And neither the war on the mafia and the one on drugs have been prosecuted markedly successfully (not helpful to try to battle them with bombers).

The government has bailed out the corporate (especially financial) guys ... who are ... "... too big to fail" ... so their practitioners can continue to enjoy their huge (claimed to be entitled) bonuses, after having darn near pitched their company into the garbage can.

Much high-level employment at home has been drying up, the manufacturers shifting offshore.

Which means that the corporate guys will be paying fewer taxes (though many had found means to reduce the ones to which they were liasble in these countries, earlier).

And the workers who've been permanently laid off recently will be paying far lower taxes on the Mcjobs that are available.

Many will be needing welfare.

With less coming in ... and more going out ...

... plus inevitably higher interest rates on all of that debt (most of it owed abroad) ...

... the federal budget is in trouble.

And I think that I read the other day that many of the states would be near bankruptcy, were they a business or an individual.

The U.S. Dollar is ... still ... the world's reserve currency.

For several years, various agencies have been angling toward developing an alternative.

Can you feature a day when folks in many countries will refuse to accept a U.S. Dollar in payment for goods or services?

I don't like this message any more than you do.

But - before you shoot the messenger - please show me where I'm wrong ... or overconcerned: I'd like to hear it. I too am a resident of North America ... and we Canadians have said for long enough that when the U.S. gets a sneeze ... we get at least a cold, sometimes pneumonia.

We (mainly the U.S. folks) have been smart, innovative, ready to take risks and with a desire to get ahead, but in recent years many have become a bit fat and lazy, and felt that they were entitled to this and that privilege ... without the earlier understanding that it was necessary to work for it.

Currently, if we are to work ourselves out of this mess, we need to take off the rose-tinted glasses, to be realistic about the situation and evaluate the present complex problems without being willing to fool ourselves.

ole joyful

P.S. I'm an old fart of 80, so soon to be out of the game ...

... but I weep as I consider the probable future of our countries in this area.

And ... in the light of this situation, I'm rather glad not to have grandkids.

o j

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:17PM
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A logical conclusion resulting in a less than desirable outcome is never welcomed warmly, Ed. But then, you knew that. Too bad mankind doesn't learn from it's mistakes. History seems doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 8:21PM
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(Dave, I apologize for going so far off your OT! But I hope you find this interesting, nonetheless.)

Many countries, both friends and not-so-friendly, would like to see another currency become the de facto standard. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your domicile) it's not likely to happen any time soon. The Euro was intended to eventually compete with the dollar. But the inability of the EC countries to work together towards common goals, let alone create an ECB (their Bank) with real teeth, has pretty much torpedoed that. The EU is barely holding together politically - stressful times have created a lot of friction between the haves (France, Germany) and the have-nots (Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, et. al.).

Many US states flirt on and off with bankruptcy because very few of them are required to have a "rainy day reserve" fund in their state constitutions. Those that do tend to weather bad economic times better, as one would expect. Bankruptcy isnt a descent into chaos, no matter the leftover emotional negatives from the past of that word. ItÂs merely a legal option to re-organize.

The US has increased its debt. But remember that as it pulls out of the recession, tax revenues will go up as well. Even without increased revenues, we lack the debt burden of Japan, for instance, who now owes twice their annual GDP due to 20 yrs of deflation. Many people don't realize how weak Japan's government actually is, due to its unique parliamentary structure. Corporations and the Japanese mafia actually hold the most power in Japan. Did you know it's standard practice to hire the yakuza to police corporate meetings? Once out of Tokyo it's a whole different world.

I doubt most Americans know that for all Japan has been a democracy for decades, you have to be a full-blooded Japanese to vote. No mixed bloods need apply; they can't even become citizens - unless they're willing, as the second richest man in Japan was, to bribe dozens of people with lots of yen (he's half-Korean).

China's government and its citizens need to stash away money in savings. They have no socialized network as a backstop. No Medicare, no Social Security, no unemployment benefits, no food stamps. Sorry  you end up starving in the street? Too bad, your family should have taken care of you. Oops, I forgot  the government wouldnÂt let you have more than 1 kid, right? Oh well, too bad...for you. Nobody else cares, certainly not the government, which is as corrupt as anything seen in the Ching dynasty or Republic days.

And those Chinese kids are SPOILED  my (half-)brother was flabbergasted by the Âprima donna treatment these kids get. He worked with a Shanghai contractor on a consulting project for two years and was fascinated by what he saw there (heÂs half-Chinese and half-Japanese himself). Their population is aging faster than the US and the one-child policy is turning out to be a very sharp double-edged sword.

I remember back in the late '70's, a famous "doomsday is coming to the US" author visited Hong Kong and then raved endlessly about it. "Unfettered capitalism has created true economic growth, unlike the US," he proclaimed. "People are living prosperous lives without the interference of well-meaning but misguided government regulations."

I asked my DH about this. He read the article, then said that obviously the guy's hosts hadn't bothered to take him around to the poorer slums, where the bodies of those who've died in the streets overnight are picked up daily and carted away by those very same authorities. Nor, it seems, had the author been introduced to any mixed-blood middle-class, who (because they're neither Chinese nor English) were restricted, subtly but firmly, to certain occupations where they're 'welcome.'

I absolutely believe the US is a declining country. But that decline takes a very long time, historically - look at Great Britain, whose pound is still worth more than the dollar, even though there is absolutely no logical reason why this should be so, now that everyone's off the gold standard.

Despite the current pains, there is still a stable and large US middle-class. Most kids can still go to college if they want. You can sneer at McDonaldÂs, but their managers come up from the ranks of those burger-flippers. Yes, they/we have lost wealth, but so have millions of others, all over the world.

Most of us still have a roof over our heads and a car (or two) in the garage. My DH and I may not be worth a million dollars right now, but weÂre still worth half a million and live very comfortably (and thatÂs not counting DHÂs pension). Like most Boomers, weÂre in the process of making regular trips to charity to clear out decades of accumulated possessions  we all have way too much stuff stashed around!

ThereÂs a lot of what I consider whining about "gee, we canÂt retire early the way we wanted." Some people were in the right place at the right time, could and did. But yes, most of us will have to continue to work. With a life expectancy of almost 87 years, working until 67 or 70 isnÂt the "drop dead in the traces" example it used to be.

I believe the US will stagger onwards, if only through sheer momentum. If we can straighten out our educational system that decline will slow to a century or more, at least.

Other countries like India and Brazil (and who knows, maybe even China if they can straighten themselves out) will also establish themselves eventually in the global arena. But no country outside of a dictatorship becomes "great" without the majority of citizens living a stable middle-class lifestyle. No matter how brilliant or enthusiastic its people, hitting that percentage level takes physical time that cannot be rushed. People have to have jobs, they have to buy houses, they have to have kids that go to college and have good prospects. You canÂt invent that quickly, no matter how many oil deposits you find or gold you dig up.

A big army  and China has a VERY big army, which is what makes it considered Âgreat  can only take you so far. Why do you think China invaded Tibet to begin with? Their missiles at the time werenÂt powerful enough to reach the US  but when fired from Tibet, they had the potential to do so.

Still, dictatorships, historically, donÂt last. WeÂve seen that, too. In a truly global economy, dictatorships operate with a certain efficiency but are heavily handicapped by the fact that repressing creativity has real economic costs. Putin can wield all the power he wants, but will his creation survive him? ItÂs doubtful, based on history. China has rearranged its dictatorship to fit an awkward capitalist economics/proletarian politics hybrid, but this has put a real strain on the Communist party.

Like they say, democracy stinks but itÂs way ahead of everything else. No other system is so obsessed with picking its warts and pimples in public, which is why it has an inherent strength even as it behaves with apparent weakness.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 12:44AM
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Hi jkom,

Your crazy meandering 'racist' rant was indeed fascinating... thanks! I'm grinning like crazy... let me tell you why!

I *JUST* got back from my wife's ultrasound appointment... and we have officially discovered we're having our own mixed-race little BOY! (WOOOT!) My wife's pretty much a purebred han Chinese (as far as anyone in her family can remember,) and I'm a viking-mutt 3rd generation Yank (with theoretically high-brow german background, so the geneologists surmise... but the hillbillyness of many of our name on the stateside belies any such dreams.) Add to that the fact that she's far higher educated than me (not to mention "always right" (yes dear!)) and its clear that if *anybody* has the right to have elitist discriminative prejudice, it is her ;~)

Our 20 year-old nephew was with us at the appointment (we've brought him over from Beijing to master English, and then proceed to finish his college education here.) He was amazed at the warm architectural style of the medical offices, and how quickly everyone was served & taken care of. We asked him what it was like if you got sick in Beijing and he said "you don't get doctor's offices, you have to go to the hospital... maybe wait many hours... very different looking offices, not comfortable, no padding on the chairs."

You are right about China... and I get quite a giggle at how the old-line Communists have painted themselves into a corner... geographically, virtually literally. The country is THROBBING in laissez-faire free market Capitalism, and it throbs moreso as you radiate OUT, physically, from the Beijing capital itself.

The old Communist elite were raised and educated mostly in the Soviet bloc... while new generation of administration are almost entirely U.S., Western European, British and Canadian college educated. China is (and will always be) its own cultural core, unique and powerful globally in that aspect... but the "will of the people" is rapidly evolving to the idea of self-reliance and independence in an interesting mix of authoritarian taoism and submissive confuscism.

YES... I also agree that our American "salad days" are behind us as a nation... but I don't believe the 'American culture' will ever be subsumed nor dominated. Rather, globally, we'll all keep dabbling with each other's strengths & weaknesses, gradually mutually adopting/borrowing/stealing each other's strengths, and squeezing out the weaknesses.

ANYWAY.... a bit of a ramble... sorry... just feeling particularly good at the moment!


    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 8:23PM
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"I *JUST* got back from my wife's ultrasound appointment... and we have officially discovered we're having our own mixed-race little BOY! (WOOOT!) "


    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 9:32AM
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Congratulations, Dave! It is truly a much happier time for you, and well deserved!

Did my posting sound racist to you or anyone else? My apologies as that certainly wasn't intended. As I'm full-blooded JapAm and my husband is Chinese-Portugese (for 17 generations, as documented by his father when they wanted to emigrate to America; US immigration was closed to Asians at the time) I find that an interesting interpretation of what I posted. I've always thought it's one of the great weaknesses of Americans, that we often fail to understand the historical differences between cultures. The point I was trying to make is that democracy is not the exact same thing for other countries that it is to us; and neither is capitalism. Differing cultures inevitably shade political and economic actions.

Love is a wonderful thing, but it does not and never has, conquered all. You can love your neighbor Biblically, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to understand his way of thinking when it can be very different.

My in-laws were not happy when we got married; they intensely disliked Japanese (most Asians do) because they had very personal memories of Japanese atrocities during WWII. But then, they didn't like Jews and despised African-Americans, so I was in a lot of company, LOL.

Interestingly enough, the Japanese Americans are the one US ethnic group which is truly disappearing into the melting pot. The Sansei, third-generation, of which I'm part, have intermarried in the extraordinary percentage of 70%. As a result the fourth-generation are almost all mixed-blood. It's an interesting corollary to having been put in relocation camps; the attitude of mixed-blood Japanese on the mainland west coast is distinctly different than that of mixed-blood Japanese in Hawaii, for instance.

Please keep us posted on the progress of your wife's pregnancy, and may all go well for your family. You've had some rough times in the past so I hope this new joy helps balance out your past sadness.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 5:38PM
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Hi jkom,

Did my posting sound racist to you or anyone else?

HAH... no worries... I failed in sufficiently <_sneering_> or <_winking_> when I typed "racist."

Having grown up as a factual "minority" in East Los Angeles... yet culturally "dominant" in our greater country as a white male... I learned to safely walk the very fine line by being extremely tolerant & respectful, yet completely avoiding (and privately despising) those who insist on the "victim/perpetrator" game of 'declaring racism.'

Rodney King's oft-quoted "Can't we all just get along" rings in my head constantly (too bad King himself doggedly held-tight to his victimist stance regardless.)

When hanging out & dropping all pretense with my youth-hood 'gang' of many cultures & colors, and the topic of racism came up, we would frequently note that the MOST intense racial discrimination in the U.S. anymore doesn't involve 'whitey' at all... it's the cross-cultural ignorance & hatred BETWEEN various Asians, or Mexicans versus Blacks (or versus Puerto Ricans, or versus Cubans... or PR vs Cubanos on the East Coast.) Then there's they greatly bemoaned "black-on-black" warfare...

Racism is about economic "turf" and cultural domination, and has truly nothing at all to do with "race" (just as "rape" is domination and has nothing to do with sex.) Once was a time when the most brutal "racism" in some part of the U.S. was between whitey eyetalians, and whitey micks... or (not really stopped yet) whitey catholic micks versus whitey protestant micks! Its *NEVER* really about color, or whether you cook with oregano, soy sauce or curry!

Almost all animal species tend to "herd"... and studies have found that within species many "same color" or "same size" grouping characteristics have been observed.

Humans are merely advanced* animals (*at least arguably by some standards.) I think its lunacy to hope that we'll wash away the survival tactic of "seeking sameness" at the lower, gut-feeling level.

Trying to force it by santioning it (such as "caucasion=bad" reverse discrimination, aka "affirmative action") merely perpetuates the problem... but naturally most proponents (and beneficiaries) of such racial discrimination would simply say that I deserve it for my ancestors' actions (or, if not actually MY ancestors... the fact that I look something like those who MIGHT have been my ancestors.)

If the so-called "affirmative action" DID in fact have any benefit, we'd have to refuse Jews working in medicine, law & finance. We'd have to prohibit souther U.S. latinos from working in the landscaping, construciton, food-service or hospitality industries. We'd have to screen OUT Asians from medicine, math & engineering fields (let alone advance studies in universities!)

I was *really* hoping Barack Obama would STAND UP AS AN EXAMPLE in this regard as well... but I've been disappointed to see him allow the loose-cannons & fanatics all around him (fromt he right AND MORE DISAPPOINTEDLY THE LEFT) fan the flames of racial extremism by SUPPORTING anti-white discrimination... rather than FINALLY CRUSHING OUTRIGHT the pointless self-incriminating victimist/perpetrator falsehood of "racism" as an evil. So many wussy wonderbread-guilty whites are equally (or MORE) at fault for ACCEPTING and WINNOWING in self-effacing guilt to the implied accusations of racism (which they accept as their albatross, despite having never done any such thing.)

I'm hoping to "break the chain" by joining the movement in cross-breeding!!! If I had the ability to come back & do it again, I happen to find so many cultures to be wonderful, and their women to be gorgeous!!! If I had my way (and enough living years to enjoy the raising of many families,) we'd quickly be one big "getting along" morass of crossbred mutt! LOL!

If I have any regret... it is that I have but only one limited lifetime to create a multi-cultural family in! ;~)

(Politically Incorrect, with Multi-cultural Integrity! ;~)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Dave & Jkom as always I enjoy reading posts from both of you. I grew up with an English mother and an Egyptian step-father in the US - it made for an interesting upbringing and multi-faceted viewpoints on many things such as humor, politics, family dynamics & religion.

Dave - congratulations of on the soon to be arrival of your son!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:44PM
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Having grown up as a factual "minority" in East Los Angeles... yet culturally "dominant" in our greater country as a white male... I learned to safely walk the very fine line by being extremely tolerant & respectful, yet completely avoiding (and privately despising) those who insist on the "victim/perpetrator" game of 'declaring racism.'

I feel bad for you Dave, you are included in the now acceptable group for discrimination. It is a tough thing to be born a "white male" in the USA at this time, glad to see you are bringing into the world a more acceptable form of male.
Good news, BTW!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 11:49AM
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Don't cry for me Cmarlin (la-la-la... ;~)
And thanks for the congrats!

In all seriousness though... the institutionalized government-blessed discrimination is insidious because it perpetuates the very behaviour we *ALL* seek to suppress... and therein lies the evil irony. Retribution will never bring peace.

ON THE OTHER HAND... as a (at least minimally, semi-)aware white male... I can *also* see where society may give me an easier time at some things (like offering a fairly easy pass at gaining trust as a financial advisor) where other cultures are immediately given a pretty high hurdle of distrust to overcome (even, and ESPECIALLY from WITHIN their own culture.)

TRUTH IS... as a society, we all still have a lot of waking up and growing up to do...

But trying to right the historical past (or even current) wrongs with more retributive and abusive wrongs will simply lead to deeper troubles.

Getting everyone to simply stop seeking "revenge" and "counter-discrimination"... just for NOW... for TODAY... is the challenge at hand.

The sooner we simply learn to "all get along" the more joyful all of our lives will be.

(Wow... am I sounding wildly looseygoosey 'out there' or what!?! ;~)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 6:56PM
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