Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Bank of England’s Great Inflation Swindle

Before finishing his term on the Monetary Policy Committee Andrew Sentance warned that the Bank of England is in danger of losing its credibility on inflation. Guido has been warning since 2008 that inflation is not a blip and that it was baked in to the economy. Letter after letter from Mervyn King to the Chancellor has excused missing the inflation target as temporary and promised it would decline in the months ahead. Promises now shown to be demonstrably false.

Ladies and gentlemen, Guido presents the Great Inflation Swindle, we have just seen the second-biggest one-month increase on record and a record high in core CPI yet the Governor of the Bank of England has told us for 3 years inflation was a blip and that the real danger was deflation. It was a deliberate lie to excuse the most reckless monetary loosening since… well, actually monetary policy has been too loose globally since back to 1998 when Greenspan “saved the world” after Long Term Capital’s financial theory geeks had a close encounter of the reality kind. The loosening up of monetary policy to smooth the aftermath of that hedge fund collapse told financial risk takers to rack up the risk because central banks would step in if you got in to trouble. Everyone was “too big to fail”. Central bankers turned capitalism from a system of profit and loss into a system of private profits and socialised losses. Taxpayers had their chips put on the gambling table without even being asked. 

From 1998 to 2008 central bankers failed in their primary task of taking the punch-bowl away when the financial party gets too swinging, drunk on cheap credit and easy profits. In 2008 the solution when the excrement hit the air-conditioning, with interest rates already at rock bottom, was Quantitative Easing (QE). The excuses given for printing money on such a massive-scale were two-fold, to ward off  an imaginary “deflation” bogeyman and to provide an economic stimulus. Those of us who said this would inevitably result in inflation were shouted down. We now have inflation at almost double target and rising, the huge cost of the monetary stimulus has provided very little growth and undermined Cameron’s stated aim of “sound money“.

“Sound money” is not something that the Bank of England seems to be aiming for or even expecting. Guido has remarked on the Bank of England Pension trustees prescience before, their success is a little short of scandalous. If there was evidence of insider trading at a normal fund the investors would be in jail. Whilst Mervyn King’s Bank of England scaremongers about a deflation bogeyman his pension bets on the exact opposite – buying inflation protected securities on an amazing scale. Guido has discovered that Mervyn King’s pension is 94.7%* invested in index-linked, inflation protected securities, up from an already remarkably high 88.2% the year before.

This is the exact opposite of what you would do if you really feared deflation, in a deflationary environment fixed income securities rocket, out-performing index-linked securities. Mervyn King’s Bank of England pension pot profits from doing the exact opposite of what it should if the trustees believed the Governor’s pronouncements were credible.  This is no accident, Guido believes it is the deliberate policy of the Fed and the Bank of England, with the complicity of their political masters in the US Treasury and HM Treasury, to inflate their government debts away. Inflation is a pernicious form of taxation, it punishes the old and those who save and leads to a worse reckoning in the end. We are being deliberately swindled by the political elite.

*Just 22% of UK gilts are inflation-protected, the Bank of England pension fund’s skew towards expecting inflation is that pronounced.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guardian Invested Millions in Hedge Funds During Banking Crisis
Editor Rusbridger on Board Which Approved Strategy

Earlier this month the Guardian front paged a story revealing that the City of London accounted for £11.4 million of the Conservative Party’s funding in 2009 – 10, in lurid terms we learned of the millions passed to Tory coffers by rich hedge fund managers. Guido can reveal that during that same period the Guardian Media Group’s coffers gained £39.3 million from investments in hedge funds. More than three times as much as they castigated the Tories for taking from hedgies…

GMG owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers, where journalists and columnists rail against the City, hedge funds and the short-termism of pin-striped financial traders. Documents obtained by Guido reveal that the GMG board approved investments now totalling £223.8 million in speculative funds in a range of assets. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, sat on the board which approved the hedge fund investment plan, the board was at the time chaired by Paul Myners who also sat on the board of GLG partners, a hedge fund which is widely reported to have made big profits shorting UK banks.

The funds are traded by a number of specialist fund managers, overseen by the giant U.S. based asset manager Cambridge Associates. Cambridge Associates is a secretive, privately held firm with a client list which includes billionaires and government sovereign wealth funds. Guido has discovered that the £223.8 million is invested in emerging markets, bonds and hedge funds. The investments are principally in US Dollars and offshore from the UK.

In the small print of GMG’s 2009 Accounts

These short-term funds are in addition to the GMG assets held in Cayman Islands domiciled corporations where the rate of corporation tax is zero. Sources suggest that GMG has between £300 million and £500 million held offshore in these opaque special purpose vehicles. Such tax haven domiciled corporate vehicles are used to shield assets from tax. Guido has discovered that one GMG controlled Caymans corporation was incorporated as recently as March 2008, a mere 5 months before the banking crisis wreaked havoc on the global economy.

So far GMG has ignored embarrassing questions posed since the winding up of the old Scott Trust. What Guido and many confused Guardian readers would like to know is how the use of these opaque investment vehicles is compatible with the public positions taken by the newspapers and even members of the board. Will Hutton for example is a former editor of the Observer who sits alongside Alan Rusbridger on the board of the Scott Trust Foundation. Is Hutton, a noted campaigner against hedge funds, comfortable with GMG having hundreds of millions in assets both offshore and invested in hedge funds? Are the perennially loss making Guardian newspaper’s columnists like Polly Toynbee happy to have their six-figure salaries paid out of the profits of hedge fund raids on the currencies of emerging market countries? Isn’t it about time the Guardian’s senior executives explained openly and honestly to its readers how it really survives despite losing money every year?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

+ + + CPI 4% Inflation – Double Bank of England Target + + +
+ + + RPI 5.1% Shoppers Feel the Squeeze + + +

So have you stocked up on beans or gold yet?  Have you taken Guido’s advice?

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, if we don’t figure out a way to exit QE we will inevitably suffer double digit inflation. This is not an accident, it is, as the Chinese have pointed out, the deliberate intention of policymakers in Washington and London to inflate away their debts. The cost of that policy will fall hardest on savers and pensioners who will be the collateral damage of this policy. It is entirely cynical of Mervyn King and Ben Bernanke to scaremonger by talking of a bogus threat of deflation…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Government Official Loses Bet on the Economy

This time last year an economist wonk at the liberal-leaning CentreForum took a dislike to Guido’s economic foresight. Deficit denying Liberal Conspiracy made a predictably over the top attempt at playing up the difference of opinion calling Guido innumerate, an allegation later quietly withdrawn.

Subsequently a wager was drawn up with the Freethinking Economist Giles Wilkes: a book of the loser’s choice would be sent to the winner. After a year of month-after-month of above target inflation announcements by the Bank of England, Giles, a good sport and former bookie, has decided to admit early that deflation just isn’t going to happen. In fact the realisation is becoming mainstream that the danger is quite the opposite, as Guido has long pointed out, of runaway inflation resulting from QE. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Guido doesn’t want to worry anyone, but Mr Wilkes is now Vince Cable’s Special Advisor…

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Double Dip Fears Grow

The half-point fall in GDP has serious political ramifications. If we get a second quarter of what Gordon Brown would call “negative growth” we will be in recession. Ed Balls will have been proved right and George Osborne’s credibility will be shattered. One policy change could prevent that happening. Suspend the VAT hike.

The short-term political hit of executing a u-turn versus the wrecking of the long-term mission to cut the deficit is a calculation that George Osborne won’t like to make. He is touring the studios saying that he “won’t be blown off course by bad weather”. The trouble is he is making the bad weather with this VAT hike.

The VAT hike depresses GDP growth, adds to already rampant inflation and hits the poorest hardest. If GDP in this forthcoming quarter is slightly negative, he’ll have only himself to blame. Why maintain a tax hike that suppresses the very consumer spending necessary for growth?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iceland Shows the Way Forward for Ireland:
Decouple, Default, Devalue and Develop

Iceland’s President, Olafur R. Grimsson, told Bloomberg TV on Friday that his country is better off than Ireland because they allowed the banks to fail two years ago and devalued the krona:

“The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail. These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.”

The Irish bank bail-out is being foisted on them by the EU and the IMF whereas sovereign Iceland let the banks go bust and restructured the financial sector to keep the commercial sector serviced. As a consequence, “Iceland is faring much better than anybody expected” says Grimsson:

“How far can we ask ordinary people – farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses – to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks… That question, which has been at the core of the Icesave issue, will now be the burning issue in many European countries.”

Under this plan 20 cents of every euro of Irish taxes will go to pay the interest on the bank bail-out debts. The Irish bail-out plan will cost €54,800 per Irish household. Ireland’s future thus looks a lot more bleak than Iceland’s path of debt default and a devaluation of 60% two years ago which has the country rebounding: exports and manufacturing are growing by 20%, tourism is back near all-time highs, real wages are rising, unemployment is declining sharply, interest rates fell from 18% to 5.5% and the stock market has rebounded 50% from its lows. In contrast this euro-banker’s bail-out will only burden the next generation of Irish who don’t flee with crushing debts not of their making…

Britain and europe should keep their bail-out billions rather than foist them on Irish taxpayers to cover the responsibility for bad investments made by their own private banks. They can use the billions to bail-out their own banks directly if they want, without involving the Irish taxpayers…

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story

Guido is watching a preview of film maker Martin Durkin’s very accessible look at the economic situation we are in. As Ireland’s political class mortgages future generations to keep the ECB and bondholders happy it explains the full extent of the financial mess the UK is in. Not quite at Irish levels, but if Gordon had won the election…

Durkin’s film is polemical, but he is right, inflation and debt are going to impoverish us for generations. Worth watching tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm. Though it may give you nightmares…

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Nassim Nicholas Taleb said…

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done… He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse… Total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

+++ CPI Still High Above Bank of England Target +++

Every month consensus economists* and the Bank of England predict inflation will fall, Mervyn King even talks about the threat from deflation – Guido sees that merely as an excuse to justify printing even more money via quantitative easing (QE). QE means inflation is inevitable.

Get your wheelbarrows out, stock up on gold and baked beans. If you can, buy a productive asset, like farm land – it is an inflation hedge and you won’t go hungry. Here comes inflation – as it always does when governments turn on the printing presses…

See also : Coming Soon : Double Digit Inflation, Double Digit Inflation is a Black Swan, Bank of England Pension Fund Surges Betting on Inflation, Yo Dude, Where’s the Deflation?, UK Dec CPI Posts Largest Jump On Record to 2.9%, Growing Unease About Old Lady’s Secrecy, Something Odd in the Banking Bill

*Liam Halligan and Andrew Lilico being honourable exceptions

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

Nouriel Roubini writes that…

“The reopening of the fire hoses of credit and capital that occurred during the bubble years will happen again and intensify the boom-and-bust cycles. Driven by ever-more- desperate policymakers in the U.S., Europe and Japan, these cycles will both shorten and magnify. Political, policy and regulatory uncertainty will increase, and as a result, financial crises will become more frequent and costly, while risk aversion, volatility and uncertainty will rise.”


Seen Elsewhere

Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian
Drug Laws Don’t Work | Times
Our Moral Duty to Cut Taxes | David Cameron
Greens Ahead of LibDems | Guardian
Channel 4 to Spoof UKIP Election Win | Guardian


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David Cameron drug policy reformer and leadership contender in 2005…

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”



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Is it just me, or is Nigel Farage just a top hat and a monocle away from being a Batman villain?


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