Friday, March 23, 2012

Ben's lectures II

Moral: Wherein we continue with Ben's explanation for himself (which, we hope, is more than fairy dusting upon a gab'd standard).

---                       Lecture 1, Lecture 2, Lecture 3, Lecture 4

Foreword: The first of four lectures was on 3/20 (video - also available at The second was on 3/22 (video). There will be two more. These are being hosted by the George Washington University School of Business. The following are notes and comments that were taken while watching the video today. The intent is to watch all four of these and to summarize at the end.

Today, I watched real-time. I'll delay and watch the video after the fact, henceforth. It was a little different; as one could watch Ben work his thoughts into words. However, after the fact, there can be a pause to see the slides (in real-time, they're only flashed momentarily).

Too, the first four posts will be re-capping only and will provide a means to link into work already done on this and the related blogs. Summarizing, and analysis, will occur after the last video. While listening, it was too easy to turn Ben's comments around and put them into a context for a question. That is, he is being driven by his abstract'd background which is great (don't get me wrong). And, he's lifting out to that realm where it's more fuzzy, by nature. The trouble is that when one then goes back to the technical space, things don't match up (it's partly topography, in a sense).


Notes (italics, my aside, sometimes with links - times are clock - CDT):

Ben restated the need to take a historical view to set the context.

~11:46 Today, he will go over early challenges (post WWII), then cover the great moderation, and finally get into the current crisis. Reminder: macroeconomic and financial stability are goals.

~11:49 During WWII, the Government kept interest low, post the war, keeping them low was seen to risk heating up the economy, and leading to inflation
          1951 – FED got okay to be independent in setting interest rate

          William McChesneyMartin, 51-70 (the longest term), the idea was to lean against
              the wind, whichever way it blew, even so, there were 2 recessions,
                   plus the expense of Korean effort.

          By the 60s, the policy was too easy, hence a surge in inflation, until 79, peaked at 13%
~11:54  Why? Ben used 'optimistic' on his slides
                  (but the idea was to think about parameters),
                         implying an ability to control, however response was mostly too slow
              Too, theory started to say: permanent tradeoff between inflation and employment

          70s: oil (Israel & Middle East) and food shocks, costs of Vietnam war, rising inflation
              Nixon’s wage-price controls tried to dampen inflation, didn't (as we know)

           Arthur Burns' comment: change supplies opportunities for mistakes
                      (Ben, you listening?)

           About 'optimism' and its association, fine tuning (if only)

~12:01  1979, Paul Volcker, came in, facing double-digit inflation, during Carter's time,
                         PV raised interest rates, established a disciplined approach, also allowed
                                big change, that is, other than small deltas

                  80s, there was a drop, to 3 to 4 % from the 13%    (so, FED was successful)
                              collateral damage (isn't there always, as we're seeing with Greece)
                             unemployment went up, peaked at 11%, 1982
                   Reagan and congress continued to support Volcker

~12:06  1987, King Alan's time, he held it for almost 19 years (see WMcM, above)
                   his time was of the 'great moderation' and growth
                                (not the stagflation of the 70s)
                   GDP growth rate (chart) shows a dampening into a smaller span, less variability
                           Recessions, 73, 81; the band was stdev 
                    was same for inflation, smaller band
                               (one could think control, almost)

                  Why?  …, monetary policy was a focus, therefore economic stability,
                       …, but, structural changes, too (inventory management, for example)
                                 and luck?
                  Downturns during the period, 1987, 2001 (dot com)
                               87's influence short-lived, the dot com? see below

~12:15   Housing bubble (late 90s to 2006 - remember, a retrospective, 
                               he did not see this in 2007, see note yesterday)
                   turned out to be a 130% rise in prices
                   too, lending standards deteriorated
                          the thought: couldn't lose?, house prices would keep rising,
                   as well, underwriting became bad
                   in short, poor mortgage quality
                        before 2000, down payments, documentation of finances,

                   then nonprime came to fore (more than subprime)
                   peak of nonprime, middle 2000s, 1/3 were non-prime
                          also rise in those with no documentation, 60% little or no docs
                                          (sell at any cost, was the slogan)

                   but, with prices up, payments up, so, how to pay?
                          eventual dampening, 2007, hit the limit
                  then, declining demand, 2006, prices dropped, 30% drop across the country

~12:22   Aftermath, …, some felt rich, then were underwater
                               negative equity (to say the least)
                      12 million, out of 55 million, were underwater
                  too, delinquencies and foreclosures up signicantly                            

~12:24    (Ah)  securities based upon these mortgages, had losses
                          (understatement, I want to hear about the toxic)
                 says that we need to consider triggers vs vulnerabilities    
                         housing losses were like
                                 but, had a smaller effect
                decline in prices and loss of mortgages were triggers
                        vulnerabilities enhanced the effect of the triggers of the housing bust
                what were these??        
                           = too much leverage (debt)
                           = lack of sufficient monitoring of risks (complexity of the securities)                       
                           = confidence from the great moderation?

                           = in 2006, they wouldn’t have been able to say what the impact of
                                   a house price drop would be  (lessons learned?)
                           = short-term funding, and exotic instruments (toxic, to boot)
                                     CDS, as an example used to sell insurance,
                                          if you lose money, we’ll cover you,
                                               (hah) or so they said
~12:31  Where was the government --- AIG was without supervision
                   = regulations lagged and supervision, such as consumer protection
                   = no one looking at systemic issues working against stability
                         no real oversight,
                   = then, there were fannie and Freddie
                   = even if laws were there, not implemented  (FED, too)
                           FED didn’t measure risk as it ought to have and banks couldn’t
                                banks could monitor themselves?
                   = no cooperation, FED, FDIC, SEC (turf issues)    
                   = nobody was looking at things in the whole (but, then, who can?)

~1236    Monetary policy, too low interest rates in early 2000s?, in 2003, 1%,
                                   it increased the demand for housing,                             
                  but, UK had a housing boom/bust even with tight money
                       …, too, housing bubble was beyond scope of mortgage rate changes
                                     …, size of bubble was huge (so, other factors)
                  Germany and spain as example, germany housing flat, spain boomed
                  and, timing, started 1998, even rose after 2004 tightening

                  Asian crisis, reserves built, needed investments
                         capital inflow heats up markets
                          so what was the monetary influence?
                                 (these were quick asides as he has two more hours)

~12:41    References on the topic
                             stress went up, stocks declined,
                             home construction went way down, unemployment 

~12:46  Questions (several of these were of the same vein, plus Ben punted some
                                       to the later lectures):  
                tighten: too early, too late --- how to know?,
                          challenging, forecasting is difficult,
                 plus expectations change, prices up,
                          so wage demands increase, etc.
                                 (I hope that he touches on the issues of
                                    unwinding from his hugely inflated 
                                         balance sheet -- anyone even talk
                                            moral hazard any more? 
                                               ought we look at why?)

               2000, low rate, didn’t spark the mortgage bubble?--- in 2002, paper
                             bubbles and  monetary policy, …,
                          need to use tools correctly, …, plus, regulations and monitoring
                                       …, ought to have been done better, …,

               Global imbalances, borrowing increase plus greater consumption? --- says low
                                   rates increase capital (yes, one thing he can re-look at)
                             capital increases (ah, yes – the markets),
                             too, trade imbalance is down

               2000, interest not cause of the mortgage, but what about forcing riskier
                           investment (or as we can say, sacking the savers)? ---
                                 says balance needed,

               2000, did he see recession coming? --- he was Economic advisor for Bush,
                                   they looked at house price declining, possible effects thereof,
                                       didn’t see that the decline would have such a big effect,
                                                     he’ll be going over the chain of events and causes

               government lending for more mortgages? --- the American dream,
                        home ownership goal, but, Ben says, the worse loans were private
                           sector, not Fannie/Freddie,
                                (who seemed to have gotten greedy later)

               transparency, can it be too much? --- it’s important for accountability,
                              can make it work, …, 'tis better,
                                as market then know how to respond
                                       (remember when Ben blinked?)

              price stability, liquidity? --- his actions are trying to bolster confidence
                             with easy money (see Lecture 1


12/13/2012 -- Don't know how long this page will be there, Daily Ticker. But, when I looked, 69% had said 'no' (hurt rather than helped) as to whether Ben has helped.

04/03/2012 -- Response 1.

03/28/2012 -- New page covering the series and its material.

03/26/2012 -- From the Fed's media center (Lecture 2 PDFs - Transcript, Slides). As an aside, see Slide 35. It references unpublished material that would suggest that low interest rates do not cause housing bubbles (no smoking gun, yet). Looking forward to the next two. As well, see that I'll have to go back to his Jan 3 talk dealing with this subject. Ben realizes, no doubt, that housing is not the only issue. We can easily find companies (probably even banks) who went bankrupt from over-leveraging (related to cheap money and more). Do we know what shenanigans have come from too-easy rolling out of securitization schemes (are they not, too, related to (actually implicated in) this mess?)? And as far as a smoking gun (their metaphor, not mine) goes, is not the current policy standing savers up against the wall and knocking them down one by one (well, at least, picking their pockets to the point of depletion)?

03/23/2012 -- Minor updates. Links added.

Modified: 12/13/2012

No comments:

Post a Comment