Thursday, October 18, 2012

David Blanchflower’s Terrible Tips

Whenever Gordon Brown’s favourite former appointee to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, David Blanchflower, makes a prediction, it’s probably a safe bet to expect the exact opposite to come true. Back in 2009 the out-of-luck economist looked into his evidently faulty crystal ball and predicted that unemployment would top 5 million if the Tories came into power. As of yesterday it stands at 2.53 million and falling. David is very nearly 100% wrong – quite a wide margin of error.

He forecast that unemployment would surge past 3 million to 3.4 million in 2010. It peaked at 2.5 million in 2010.

On Tuesday Blanchflower was at it again, wagering that the new set of unemployment figures would bring bad news:

Lo and behold once again the opposite happened, with unemployment dropping by 50,000 to below 8%. Keep trying David, you might get one right eventually…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mugabenomics: Inflation in UK Higher than in Zimbabwe

Remember when Vince Cable warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics”? Vince flip-flopped on that even before he joined the coalition. Guido remembers when George Osborne said “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.” In government Osborne has overseen the printing of more money than any other Chancellor in British history. A quarter of the national debt – all this government’s overspending – has been bought by the Bank of England via QE. Guido warned against this madness in 2008…

So it is not a shock that inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is now lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012). Gold is good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

He’s Still Jonah Brown

As we predicted beforehand, the Jonah effect wiped over 100 points off the value of the Dow and saw the NASDAQ experience its worst day since June. If you watch the video closely you’ll see that he even screwed up “ringing the bell” to open Wall Street.

He’s still the accursed one-eyed son of the manse…

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chuka Takes Cash From Casino Capitalist Tycoons to Party

Two-faced Chuka Umunna is forever banging on about the need for “responsible capitalism”. Chuka might be keen to bash the bankers in public, yet the latest update to the Register of Members’ Interests shows that the Streatham MP pocketed a generous donation of £6,030 from a financial services company to sponsor his summer party in July:

Realtime Analysis and News are better known to day traders and other running dogs of casino capitalism as RANsquawk, an extremely profitable online service set-up by City whizz-kids providing tips and rumours to traders. They promise to provide “rumours that may move the market”. Responsible capitalism in action.

As impressive a service as this sounds to Guido, it does seem like the sort of thing Chuka had in mind when he was attacking the City’s “casino culture”. With Chuka he has the trick of saying one thing to one audience and something very different to another when their backs are turned…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ECB President Draghi Goes Comical Ali

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, told a press conference following the meeting of the ECB Governing Council in Frankfurt this afternoon that “the euro is irreversible”. Asked by the media what he meant by that he exclaimed to much laughter “It stays, it stays, it stays. It’s pointless to bet against the euro, it’s pointless to go short on the euro.” From the beginning of the press conference to the end the € fell 200 pips against the $, so he was proved factually incorrect before he even finished speaking.

At the end of the press conference Spanish yields were back over 7%, capital flowed into German bunds as a safe haven, trading in Italian bank stocks was halted, the euro had pointedly rewarded those who were short and bet against it, costing the ECB a lot of credibility. Spain has now been told it will, like Greece, have to formally ask for a bailout on austere German terms. The can has been kicked down the road again, the end of the road however is in sight…

Friday, July 27, 2012

Debt Bomb: Deficits and Dancing Girls [VIDEO]

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bank of England Still Artificially Lowballing Interest Rates

This morning the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet and in all likelihood order another £50 billion of Quantitative Easing, or money printing. This will again be used to buy government bonds, artifically holding down long term interest rates. This deliberate policy is approved by George Osborne and allows the Treasury to finance government over-spending via sales of government gilts to the Bank of England. It robs the old of the value of their savings and the young who will have to finance the future taxation which the government has effectively deferred.

This monetary experiment will have totalled some £375 billion, it is unprecedented in scale and there is no clear exit strategy to unwind QE. The Bank of England’s balance sheet is now loaded up with gilts that were not sold in the open market, holding down interest rates and allowing George Osborne to point to the bond market and claim the UK is a safe haven. In reality we have an artificial bubble in the bond markets that could pop disastrously if confidence was lost. If it goes wrong, we will look back on QE as the biggest rate-fixing scandal of all time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Shriti Hiti the Fan

Downing Street are drawing attention to this email in Barclay’s evidence to tomorrow’s Treasury Select Committee:

Click to Enlarge

“Mr Tucker stated the levels of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were ‘senior’ and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.”

As Guido said this morning, you have to distinguish between the nickle and dime LIBOR fixing scandal of traders trying to massage their end of day mark-to-market and the Treasury / FSA / Bank of England policy of fixing LIBOR. Tomorrow Bob Diamond is likely to point out that manipulation of LIBOR rates was in the national interest and sanctioned by Downing Street and the regulators.

Gordon Brown’s Downing Street economic adviser Shriti Vadera was driving the policy…

LIBORgate: Diamond v Tucker at Treasury Select Committee

After resigning as CEO of Barclays this morning, Bob Diamond may yet exact some revenge on the government when he testifies tomorrow in front of the Treasury Select Committee.

There are two LIBOR fixing scandals – the first involves traders massaging the settling of LIBOR rates a few basis points, mere hundreths of a percent, off market reality to flatter their trading books. It appears to have been going on for years and not just at Barclays. This was not so petty corruption.

The second LIBOR fixing scandal is of a different order altogether – it involves the wholesale systematic substantial misrepresentation of true LIBOR, with the encouragement of the Treasury, the FSA and in particular the Bank of England. The policy was to under-report LIBOR rates at much lower levels than were actually trading in the market. This deliberate policy was to cover-up the increased risks to the UK banking system revealed by higher LIBOR rates.

It is emerging that Gordon Brown’s economic adviser in Downing Street, Shriti Vadera, an ex-UBS investment banker, circulated a paper on “Reducing Libor” at the height of the banking crisis, which she argued would be “a major contribution to the stability of the banking system and to the health of the economy”.

That message will have gone out to the Treasury in Whitehall, the regulators and the Bank of England. They in turn will have given a nod and a wink to the investment banks. Bob Diamond is reportedly furious that the “lowballing” of LIBOR rates by Barclays – which was explicitly encouraged by the authorities  to stabilise already panicked markets – is being used against Barclays. Bob Diamond is expected to testify tomorrow that the Bank of England’s deputy governor Paul Tucker encouraged the “lowballing”.

The politicisation and manipulation of interest rates is ongoing even after Gordon Brown and Shriti Vadera are long gone. The £275 billion Quantitative Easing (QE) programme implemented by Mervyn King with George Osborne’s blessing is designed to artificially lower interest rates. We currently have a false market in Gilts, it is arguably the biggest bubble since the South Sea Bubble. It is cheating pensioners and savers of income on an unprecedented scale. This is a robbery organised from within the Bank of England …


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