The Fed

You may have heard that the Fed announced a new round of quantitative easing yesterday. I hope you’ve been able to get your fill of QE3 elsewhere; I suspect you have but if not I recommend Cardiff Garcia and Greg Ip, though also a million other people, and maybe stay away from Marc Faber. It’s not my area of expertise; what little I know about economic matters comes from working in the financial industry, whose concern is less with how humans turn their efforts into money than with taking a bit of it from them in the process of moving it from one place or time to another. But of course central bank policy involves quite a bit of moving money between times and places, with many stops along the way where some of that money can fall off the truck, so this piqued my QE3 interest:

That’s from an interesting Credit Suisse note on the latest quantitative easing, which of course consists of the Fed buying agency securities, and shows unsurprisingly that banks are uniquely well positioned to make money on it.1 Here’s another chart from Bloomberg: Read more »

I guess there’s some competition but this to me is clearly the chart of the day:

Ha, no, not really. But actually it is pretty neat:

The Federal Reserve on Friday released blank templates showing the format of the two charts it will use on January 25 to report Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) participants’ projections of the appropriate target federal funds rate. It also released a draft of an explanatory note that will accompany the projections.

The first chart, which will have shaded bars when released on January 25, will show FOMC participants’ projections for the timing of the initial increase in the target federal funds rate. The second chart, which will have dots representing policymakers’ individual projections when released on January 25, will show participants’ views of the appropriate path of the federal funds rate over the next several years and in the longer run.

Bars and dots! What’s not to like? The actual form, in its forlorn blankness, has the look of an exam you’re supposed to fill out,* and there’s this: Read more »

You may remember that, earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that in June 2008, with the world’s financial system in the balance, then-Treasury Secretary (and Goldman Sachs alum) Hank Paulson (1) rode in an elevator and (2) upon disembarking from said elevator told a bunch of his friends who had WORKED AT GOLDMAN WITH HIM about how he was going to nationalize Fannie and Freddie (which he did about two months later) so his friends should short the hell out of the GSEs, which they then proceeded to do, or not do, since “The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information. There’s no evidence that they did so after the meeting; tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn’t possible using public documents.”

So that happened. Fast forward to September 2011, when, with the world’s financial system in the balance, New York Fed president (and COINCIDENTALLY ALSO a Goldman Sachs alum) William Dudley met with some other hedge fund friends to ask them about what to do about Europe. And again about two months later, the Fed did some stuff about Europe. Very suspicious.

The Wall Street Journal reported on this meeting today and, while the article loses some points for not describing whether Dudley stepped off an elevator, jogged up a flight of stairs, or clambered in a window to arrive at the meeting, it’s actually remarkably fair in explaining how much you should freak out about this (not that much), as well as in foreshadowing how much people will freak out about it (quite a bit):
Read more »

  • 01 Feb 2010 at 1:08 PM
  • Banks

Getting Back To Basics: What’s A Bank?

fedwhatsabank.JPGThe Fed has a Web site that provides online training for bank directors, because “the only thing that may be missing is a basic knowledge of banking and what to consider in overseeing a bank.” Really. And, while a director’s job is “important and carries responsibility, it may not be as daunting as it first appears.” So here’s an outline of what you will learn, based on the thinking of “The legendary Green Bay Packers football coach, Vince Lombardi, who recognized the importance of teaching basics to his players.”
So, here we go. Lesson 1: What Is a Bank?

“The word “bank” evokes different mental pictures for different individuals. Some will think of the quintessential bank building with big stone columns and a large vault. Others will envision a balance sheet showing a bank’s assets, liabilities, and capital. Still others will fall back on the regulatory definition of a bank: generally, an organization that is chartered by either a state or the federal government for the purpose of accepting deposits.”

Read more »

November 25, 2008, 8:21 am
Fed Announcements on Household Credit, GSEs
TALF Announcement
For release at 8:15 a.m. EST
The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), a facility that will help market participants meet the credit needs of households and small businesses by supporting the issuance of asset-backed securities (ABS) collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Under the TALF, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) will lend up to $200 billion on a non-recourse basis to holders of certain AAA-rated ABS backed by newly and recently originated consumer and small business loans. The FRBNY will lend an amount equal to the market value of the ABS less a haircut and will be secured at all times by the ABS. The U.S. Treasury Department-under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008-will provide $20 billion of credit protection to the FRBNY in connection with the TALF. The attached terms and conditions document describes the basic terms and operational details of the facility. The terms and conditions are subject to change based on discussions with market participants in the coming weeks.
New issuance of ABS declined precipitously in September and came to a halt in October. At the same time, interest rate spreads on AAA-rated tranches of ABS soared to levels well outside the range of historical experience, reflecting unusually high risk premiums. The ABS markets historically have funded a substantial share of consumer credit and SBA-guaranteed small business loans. Continued disruption of these markets could significantly limit the availability of credit to households and small businesses and thereby contribute to further weakening of U.S. economic activity. The TALF is designed to increase credit availability and support economic activity by facilitating renewed issuance of consumer and small business ABS at more normal interest rate spreads.
TALF Terms and conditions (72 KB PDF)
GSE Announcement
The Federal Reserve announced on Tuesday that it will initiate a program to purchase the direct obligations of housing-related government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)-Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks-and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Spreads of rates on GSE debt and on GSE-guaranteed mortgages have widened appreciably of late. This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally.
Purchases of up to $100 billion in GSE direct obligations under the program will be conducted with the Federal Reserve’s primary dealers through a series of competitive auctions and will begin next week. Purchases of up to $500 billion in MBS will be conducted by asset managers selected via a competitive process with a goal of beginning these purchases before year-end. Purchases of both direct obligations and MBS are expected to take place over several quarters. Further information regarding the operational details of this program will be provided after consultation with market participants.

The fifth shoe drops. Now credit card, student loan and auto debt plus SBA loans. Just makes you want to be a debtor, doesn’t it?
Fed Announcements on Household Credit, GSEs [The Wall Street Journal]