Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Geithner's appointment to Treasury - a Golden Opportunity

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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The market turnaround last Friday afternoon was reported by the financial media as resulting from the announcement that the head of the New York Fed, Timothy Geithner, would be appointed by President elect Obama as his Treasury Secretary. It would indeed be reasonable for Wall Street to cheer Geithner's appointment and the future team of takover Timothy and bailout Benny. It sent a very clear message that the new administration's policies will be to rescue any and every company needing it. While stocks rallied sharply on this news, the inflation hedges gold and silver rallied even more - and for good reason.

Geithner was the mastermind behind the AIG and Bear Stearns deals. In the case of AIG the company was nationalized by paying 10 times the market price for the U.S. taxpayer's share (if this had been a private deal he would have been sued for malfeasance). Bear Stearns was valued well below market value as a gift to JP Morgan Chase (which has a seat on the New York Fed Board of Directors by the way). Taxpayers just got to guarantee Bear's toxic loans and were left holding the bag. While most news media reported that Geithner was in favor of bailing out Lehman Brothers, this was apparently not the case. People who were on the scene at the negotiations claim otherwise. It is now widely acknowledged that allowing Lehman to fail is what has led to the market turmoil in the last two months. The PR campaign to build up Geithner obviously felt it important to rewrite history and in doing so made it clear that a universal U.S. government bailout policy was in our future.

Despite the momentary trouble that the automakers are having in Washington on getting in on the government gravy train and the failure to bail out Lehman (somewhat similar to the failure of the Fed to bail out the Bank of the United States in 1930, which had disastrous consequences), short of complete nationalization, the U.S. government couldn't do much more to support financial firms other than pump even more money into them (this will indeed be happening). Over the weekend the government guaranteed the most worthless one-sixth of Citigroup's assets. Today, the Fed announced a $600 billion program to support the mortgage market, $100 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two other financial black holes for government money) and $500 billion to purchase mortgage backed securities. Additionally, the Fed will lend up to $200 billion to the holders of securities backed by various types of consumer loans. So that's another $800 billion just for today. The total in the last year is way into the many trillions and you many assume most if not all of that is freshly printed money.

The implications of these moves have not gone unnoticed in the markets. Inflation sensitive silver rallied more than any stock index on both Friday and Monday. Gold, which has not been terribly damaged in the sell off during the last two months, and beaten down oil also had good rallies. The charts for gold and silver are much healthier looking than those for the major stock indices. Sustainable rallies are possible for both, while stocks look like they will need to do more work to get to that point.

NEXT: A Black (Plague) Friday for Retail

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.


Anonymous said...

At a time when the world is buying dollars to flee their own misfit economies, the Ponzi masters in the US government smell opportunity to print dollars by the trillion; to soak up every last drop of that equity like dipping bread in a bowl of soup. Mmmmmm good!

Ray Ames said...

Geithner is a BILDERBERGER !!