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« Max Keiser: Silver Manipulation Runs Wild At The LBMA! | Main | Peter Schiff Interviews Rand Paul: 'Boehner Is Killing Us' »
Friday
Dec072012

How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession

Source - Ryan Grim - Huffington Post

Reprinted with permission.

How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession

  • The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found.
  • This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too.

One critical way the Fed exerts control on academic economists is through its relationships with the field's gatekeepers. For instance, at the Journal of Monetary Economics, a must-publish venue for rising economists, more than half of the editorial board members are currently on the Fed payroll -- and the rest have been in the past.

The Fed failed to see the housing bubble as it happened, insisting that the rise in housing prices was normal. In 2004, after "flipping" had become a term cops and janitors were using to describe the way to get rich in real estate, then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that "a national severe price distortion [is] most unlikely." A year later, current Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the boom "largely reflect strong economic fundamentals."

The Fed also failed to sufficiently regulate major financial institutions, with Greenspan -- and the dominant economists -- believing that the banks would regulate themselves in their own self-interest.

Despite all this, Bernanke has been nominated for a second term by President Obama.

In the field of economics, the chairman remains a much-heralded figure, lauded for reaction to a crisis generated, in the first place, by the Fed itself. Congress is even considering legislation to greatly expand the powers of the Fed to systemically regulate the financial industry.

Paul Krugman, in Sunday's New York Times magazine, did his own autopsy of economics, asking "How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?" Krugman concludes that "[e]conomics, as a field, got in trouble because economists were seduced by the vision of a perfect, frictionless market system."

So who seduced them?

The Fed did it.

Three Decades of Domination

The Fed has been dominating the profession for about three decades. "For the economics profession that came out of the [second world] war, the Federal Reserve was not a very important place as far as they were concerned, and their views on monetary policy were not framed by a working relationship with the Federal Reserve. So I would date it to maybe the mid-1970s," says University of Texas economics professor -- and Fed critic -- James Galbraith. "The generation that I grew up under, which included both Milton Friedman on the right and Jim Tobin on the left, were independent of the Fed. They sent students to the Fed and they influenced the Fed, but there wasn't a culture of consulting, and it wasn't the same vast network of professional economists working there."

But by 1993, when former Fed Chairman Greenspan provided the House banking committee with a breakdown of the number of economists on contract or employed by the Fed, he reported that 189 worked for the board itself and another 171 for the various regional banks. Adding in statisticians, support staff and "officers" -- who are generally also economists -- the total number came to 730. And then there were the contracts. Over a three-year period ending in October 1994, the Fed awarded 305 contracts to 209 professors worth a total of $3 million.

Just how dominant is the Fed today?

The Federal Reserve's Board of Governors employs 220 PhD economists and a host of researchers and support staff, according to a Fed spokeswoman. The 12 regional banks employ scores more. (HuffPost placed calls to them but was unable to get exact numbers.) The Fed also doles out millions of dollars in contracts to economists for consulting assignments, papers, presentations, workshops, and that plum gig known as a "visiting scholarship." A Fed spokeswoman says that exact figures for the number of economists contracted with weren't available. But, she says, the Federal Reserve spent $389.2 million in 2008 on "monetary and economic policy," money spent on analysis, research, data gathering, and studies on market structure; $433 million is budgeted for 2009.

That's a lot of money for a relatively small number of economists. According to the American Economic Association, a total of only 487 economists list "monetary policy, central banking, and the supply of money and credit," as either their primary or secondary specialty; 310 list "money and interest rates"; and 244 list "macroeconomic policy formation [and] aspects of public finance and general policy." The National Association of Business Economists tells HuffPost that 611 of its roughly 2,400 members are part of their "Financial Roundtable," the closest way they can approximate a focus on monetary policy and central banking.

Robert Auerbach, a former investigator with the House banking committee, spent years looking into the workings of the Fed and published much of what he found in the 2008 book, Deception
and Abuse at the Fed
.  A chapter in that book, excerpted here, provided the impetus for this investigation.

Auerbach found that in 1992, roughly 968 members of the AEA designated "domestic monetary and financial theory and institutions" as their primary field, and 717 designated it as their secondary field. Combining his numbers with the current ones from the AEA and NABE, it's fair to conclude that there are something like 1,000 to 1,500 monetary economists working across the country. Add up the 220 economist jobs at the Board of Governors along with regional bank hires and contracted economists, and the Fed employs or contracts with easily 500 economists at any given time. Add in those who have previously worked for the Fed -- or who hope to one day soon -- and you've accounted for a very significant majority of the field.

Auerbach concludes that the "problems associated with the Fed's employing or contracting with large numbers of economists" arise "when these economists testify as witnesses at legislative hearings or as experts at judicial proceedings, and when they publish their research and views on Fed policies, including in Fed publications."

Gatekeepers On The Payroll

The Fed keeps many of the influential editors of prominent academic journals on its payroll. It is common for a journal editor to review submissions dealing with Fed policy while also taking the bank's money. A HuffPost review of seven top journals found that 84 of the 190 editorial board members were affiliated with the Federal Reserve in one way or another.

"Try to publish an article critical of the Fed with an editor who works for the Fed," says Galbraith. And the journals, in turn, determine which economists get tenure and what ideas are considered respectable.

The pharmaceutical industry has similarly worked to control key medical journals, but that involves several companies. In the field of economics, it's just the Fed.

Being on the Fed payroll isn't just about the money, either. A relationship with the Fed carries prestige; invitations to Fed conferences and offers of visiting scholarships with the bank signal a rising star or an economist who has arrived.

Affiliations with the Fed have become the oxygen of academic life for monetary economists. "It's very important, if you are tenure track and don't have tenure, to show that you are valued by the Federal Reserve," says Jane D'Arista, a Fed critic and an economist with the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Robert King, editor in chief of the Journal of Monetary Economics and a visiting scholar at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, dismisses the notion that his journal was influenced by its Fed connections. "I think that the suggestion is a silly one, based on my own experience at least," he wrote in an e-mail. (His full response is at the bottom.)

Galbraith, a Fed critic, has seen the Fed's influence on academia first hand. He and co-authors Olivier Giovannoni and Ann Russo found that in the year before a presidential election, there is a significantly tighter monetary policy coming from the Fed if a Democrat is in office and a significantly looser policy if a Republican is in office. The effects are both statistically significant, allowing for controls, and economically important.

They submitted a paper with their findings to the Review of Economics and Statistics in 2008, but the paper was rejected. "The editor assigned to it turned out to be a fellow at the Fed and that was after I requested that it not be assigned to someone affiliated with the Fed," Galbraith says.

Publishing in top journals is, like in any discipline, the key to getting tenure. Indeed, pursuing tenure ironically requires a kind of fealty to the dominant economic ideology that is the precise opposite of the purpose of tenure, which is to protect academics who present oppositional perspectives.

And while most academic disciplines and top-tier journals are controlled by some defining paradigm, in an academic field like poetry, that situation can do no harm other than to, perhaps, a forest of trees. Economics, unfortunately, collides with reality -- as it did with the Fed's incorrect reading of the housing bubble and failure to regulate financial institutions. Neither was a matter of incompetence, but both resulted from the Fed's unchallenged assumptions about the way the market worked.

Even the late Milton Friedman, whose monetary economic theories heavily influenced Greenspan, was concerned about the stifled nature of the debate. Friedman, in a 1993 letter to Auerbach that the author quotes in his book, argued that the Fed practice was harming objectivity: "I cannot disagree with you that having something like 500 economists is extremely unhealthy. As you say, it is not conducive to independent, objective research. You and I know there has been censorship of the material published. Equally important, the location of the economists in the Federal Reserve has had a significant influence on the kind of research they do, biasing that research toward noncontroversial technical papers on method as opposed to substantive papers on policy and results," Friedman wrote.

Greenspan told Congress in October 2008 that he was in a state of "shocked disbelief" and that the "whole intellectual edifice" had "collapsed." House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) followed up: "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working."

"Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan replied. "You know, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well."

But, if the intellectual edifice has collapsed, the intellectual infrastructure remains in place. The same economists who provided Greenspan his "very considerable evidence" are still running the journals and still analyzing the world using the same models that were incapable of seeing the credit boom and the coming collapse.

Rosner, the Wall Street analyst who foresaw the crash, says that the Fed's ideological dominance of the journals hampered his attempt to warn his colleagues about what was to come. Rosner wrote a strikingly prescient paper in 2001 arguing that relaxed lending standards and other factors would lead to a boom in housing prices over the next several years, but that the growth would be highly susceptible to an economic disruption because it was fundamentally unsound.

He expanded on those ideas over the next few years, connecting the dots and concluding that the coming housing collapse would wreak havoc on the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and mortgage backed securities (MBS) markets, which would have a ripple effect on the rest of the economy. That, of course, is exactly what happened and it took the Fed and the economics field completely by surprise.

"What you're doing is, actually, in order to get published, having to whittle down or narrow what might otherwise be oppositional or expansionary views," says Rosner. "The only way you can actually get in a journal is by subscribing to the views of one of the journals."

When Rosner was casting his paper on CDOs and MBSs about, he knew he needed an academic economist to co-author the paper for a journal to consider it. Seven economists turned him down.

"You don't believe that markets are efficient?" he says they asked, telling him the paper was "outside the bounds" of what could be published. "I would say 'Markets are efficient when there's equal access to information, but that doesn't exist,'" he recalls.

The CDO and MBS markets froze because, as the housing market crashed, buyers didn't trust that they had reliable information about them -- precisely the case Rosner had been making.

He eventually found a co-author, Joseph Mason, an associate Professor of Finance at Drexel University LeBow College of Business, a senior fellow at the Wharton School, and a visiting scholar at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. But the pair could only land their papers with the conservative Hudson Institute. In February 2007, they published a paper called "How Resilient Are Mortgage Backed Securities to Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions?" and in May posted another, "How Misapplied Bond Ratings Cause Mortgage Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligation Market Disruptions."

Together, the two papers offer a better analysis of what led to the crash than the economic journals have managed to put together - and they were published by a non-PhD before the crisis.

Not As Simple As A Pay-Off

Economist Rob Johnson serves on the UN Commission of Experts on Finance and International Monetary Reform and was a top economist on the Senate banking committee under both a Democratic and Republican chairman. He says that the consulting gigs shouldn't be looked at "like it's a payoff, like money. I think it's more being one of, part of, a club -- being respected, invited to the conferences, have a hearing with the chairman, having all the prestige dimensions, as much as a paycheck."

The Fed's hiring of so many economists can be looked at in several ways, Johnson says, because the institution does, of course, need talented analysts. "You can look at it from a telescope, either direction. One, you can say well they're reaching out, they've got a big budget and what they're doing, I'd say, is canvassing as broad a range of talent," he says. "You might call that the 'healthy hypothesis.'"

The other hypothesis, he says, "is that they're essentially using taxpayer money to wrap their arms around everybody that's a critic and therefore muffle or silence the debate. And I would say that probably both dimensions are operative, in reality."

To get a mainstream take, HuffPost called monetary economists at random from the list as members of the AEA. "I think there is a pretty good number of professors of economics who want a very limited use of monetary policy and I don't think that that necessarily has a negative impact on their careers," said Ahmed Ehsan, reached at the economics department at James Madison University. "It's quite possible that if they have some new ideas, that might be attractive to the Federal Reserve."

Ehsan, reflecting on his own career and those of his students, allowed that there is, in fact, something to what the Fed critics are saying. "I don't think [the Fed has too much influence], but then my area is monetary economics and I know my own professors, who were really well known when I was at Michigan State, my adviser, he ended up at the St. Louis Fed," he recalls. "He did lots of work. He was a product of the time...so there is some evidence, but it's not an overwhelming thing."

There's definitely prestige in spending a few years at the Fed that can give a boost to an academic career, he added. "It's one of the better career moves for lots of undergraduate students. It's very competitive."

Press officers for the Federal Reserve's board of governors provided some background information for this article, but declined to make anyone available to comment on its substance.

The Fed's Intolerance For Dissent

When dissent has arisen, the Fed has dealt with it like any other institution that cherishes homogeneity.

Take the case of Alan Blinder. Though he's squarely within the mainstream and considered one of the great economic minds of his generation, he lasted a mere year and a half as vice chairman of the Fed, leaving in January 1996.

Rob Johnson, who watched the Blinder ordeal, says Blinder made the mistake of behaving as if the Fed was a place where competing ideas and assumptions were debated. "Sociologically, what was happening was the Fed staff was really afraid of Blinder. At some level, as an applied empirical economist, Alan Blinder is really brilliant," says Johnson.

In closed-door meetings, Blinder did what so few do: challenged assumptions. "The Fed staff would come out and their ritual is: Greenspan has kind of told them what to conclude and they produce studies in which they conclude this. And Blinder treated it more like an open academic debate when he first got there and he'd come out and say, 'Well, that's not true. If you change this assumption and change this assumption and use this kind of assumption you get a completely different result.' And it just created a stir inside--it was sort of like the whole pipeline of Greenspan-arriving-at-decisions was
disrupted."

It didn't sit well with Greenspan or his staff. "A lot of senior staff...were pissed off about Blinder -- how should we say? -- not playing by the customs that they were accustomed to," Johnson says.

And celebrity is no shield against Fed excommunication. Paul Krugman, in fact, has gotten rough treatment. "I've been blackballed from the Fed summer conference at Jackson Hole, which I used to be a regular at, ever since I criticized him," Krugman said of Greenspan in a 2007 interview withPacifica Radio's Democracy Now! "Nobody really wants to cross him."

An invitation to the annual conference, or some other blessing from the Fed, is a signal to the economic profession that you're a certified member of the club. Even Krugman seems a bit burned by the slight. "And two years ago," he said in 2007, "the conference was devoted to a field, new economic geography, that I invented, and I wasn't invited."

Three years after the conference, Krugman won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for his work in economic geography.

One Journal, In Detail

The Huffington Post reviewed the mastheads of the American Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Economic Literature, the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Monetary Economics.

HuffPost interns Googled around looking for resumes and otherwise searched for Fed connections for the 190 people on those mastheads. Of the 84 that were affiliated with the Federal Reserve at one point in their careers, 21 were on the Fed payroll even as they served as gatekeepers at prominent journals.

At the Journal of Monetary Economics, every single member of the editorial board is or has been affiliated with the Fed and 14 of the 26 board members are presently on the Fed payroll.

After the top editor, King, comes senior associate editor Marianne Baxter, who has written papers for the Chicago and Minneapolis banks and was a visiting scholar at the Minneapolis bank in '84, '85, at the Richmond bank in '97, and at the board itself in '87. She was an advisor to the president of the New York bank from '02-'05. Tim Geithner, now the Treasury Secretary, became president of the New York bank in '03.

The senior associate editors: Janice C Eberly was a Fed visiting-scholar at Philadelphia ('94), Minneapolis ('97) and the board ('97). Martin Eichenbaum has written several papers for the Fed and is a consultant to the Chicago and Atlanta banks. Sergio Rebelo has written for and was previously a consultant to the board. Stephen Williamson has written for the Cleveland, Minneapolis and Richmond banks, he worked in the Minneapolis bank's research department from '85-'87, he's on the editorial board of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, is the co-organizer of the '09 St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank annual economic policy conference and the co-organizer of the same bank's '08 conference on Money, Credit, and Policy, and has been a visiting scholar at the Richmond bank ever since '98.

And then there are the associate editors. Klaus Adam is a visiting scholar at the San Francisco bank. Yongsung Chang is a research associate at the Cleveland bank and has been working with the Fed in one position or another since '01. Mario Crucini was a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in '08 and has been a senior fellow at the Dallas bank since that year. Huberto Ennis is a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, a position he's held since '00. Jonathan Heathcote is a senior economist at the Minneapolis bank and has been a visiting scholar three times dating back to '01.

Ricardo Lagos is a visiting scholar at the New York bank, a former senior economist for the Minneapolis bank and a visiting scholar at that bank and Cleveland's. In fact, he was a visiting scholar at both the Cleveland and New York banks in '07 and '08. Edward Nelson was the assistant vice president of the St Louis bank from '03-'09.

Esteban Rossi-Hansberg was a visiting scholar at the Philadelphia bank from '05-'09 and similarly served at the Richmond, Minneapolis and New York banks.

Pierre-Daniel Sarte is a senior economist at the Richmond bank, a position he's held since '96. Frank Schorfheide has been a visiting scholar at the Philadelphia bank since '03 and at the New York bank since '07. He's done four such stints at the Atlanta bank and scholared for the board in '03. Alexander Wolman has been a senior economist at the Richmond bank since 1989.

Here is the complete response from King, the journal's editor in chief: "I think that the suggestion is a silly one, based on my own experience at least. In a 1988 article for AEI later republished in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Review, Marvin Goodfriend (then at FRB Richmond and now at Carnegie Mellon) and I argued that it was very important for the Fed to separate monetary policy decisions (setting of interest rates) and banking policy decisions (loans to banks, via the discount window and otherwise). We argued further that there was little positive case for the Fed to be involved in the latter: broadbased liquidity could always be provided by the former. We also argued that moral hazard was a cost of banking intervention. 

"Ben Bernanke understands this distinction well: he and other members of the FOMC have read my perspective and sometimes use exactly this distinction between monetary and banking policies. In difficult times, Bernanke and his fellow FOMC members have chosen to involve the Fed in major financial market interventions, well beyond the traditional banking area, a position that attracts plenty of criticism and support. JME and other economics major journals would certainly publish exciting articles that fell between these two distinct perspectives: no intervention and extensive intervention. An upcoming Carnegie-Rochester conference, with its proceeding published in JME, will host a debate on 'The Future of Central Banking'. 

"You may use only the entire quotation above or no quotation at all."

Auerbach, shown King's e-mail, says it's just this simple: "If you're on the Fed payroll there's a conflict of interest."

UPDATE: Economists have written in weighing in on both sides of the debate. Here are two of them.

Stephen Williamson, the Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis:

Since you mentioned me in your piece on the Federal Reserve System, I thought I would drop you a note, as you clearly don't understand the relationship between the Fed and some of the economists on its payroll. I have had a long relationship with the Fed, and with other central banks in the world, including the Bank of Canada. Currently I have an academic position at Washington University in St. Louis, but I am also paid as a consultant to the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and St. Louis. In the past, I was a full-time economist at the Bank of Canada and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

As has perhaps become clearer in the last year, economics and the science of monetary policy is a complicated business, and the Fed needs all the help it can get. The Fed is perhaps surprisingly open to new ideas, and ideas that are sometimes in conflict with the views of its top people. One of the strengths of the Federal Reserve System is that the regional Federal Reserve Banks have a good deal of independence from the Board of Governors in Washington, and this creates a healthy competition in economic ideas within the system. Indeed, some very revolutionary ideas in macroeconomics came out of the intellectual environment at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in the 1970s and 1980s. That intellectual environment included economists who worked full-time for the Fed, and others who were paid consultants to the Fed, but with full-time academic positions. Those economists were often sharply critical of accepted Fed policy, and they certainly never seemed to suffer for it; indeed they were rewarded.

I have never felt constrained in my interactions with Fed economists (including some Presidents of Federal Reserve Banks). They are curious, and willing to think about new ideas. I am quite willing to bite the hand that feeds me, and have often chewed away quite happily. They keep paying me, so they must be happy about the interaction too.

A former Fed economist disagreed. "I was an economist at the Fed for more than ten years and kept getting in trouble for things I'm proud of. I hear you, loud and clear," he said, asking not to be quoted by name for, well, the reasons laid out above.

Elyse Siegel, Julian Hattem, Jeff Muskus and Jenna Staul contributed to this report.

***

 

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Reader Comments (25)

A Movement By The People To Prevent The Reappointment Of The Fed Chairman (Bernanke's Failed CNBC Predictions From 2005-07)
http://dailybail.com/home/a-movement-by-the-people-to-prevent-the-reappointment-of-the.html


The Top 10 Failures Of Federal Reserve Chairman Helicopter Ben Bernanke
http://dailybail.com/home/the-top-10-failures-of-federal-reserve-chairman-helicopter-b.html
Sep 10, 2009 at 5:15 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Dr. James Galbraith, Professional Fed Killer
http://dailybail.com/home/dr-james-galbraith-professional-fed-killer.html


James Galbraith Says Geithner Bank Rescue Plan 'Is Extremely Dangerous' (Video)
http://dailybail.com/home/must-see-bank-bailout-news-james-galbraith-says-geithner-ban.html
Sep 10, 2009 at 5:16 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Teach em right from wrong, buy em books, get em educated,send them out in the "real" world, and let someone wave money in their face, and they put on their underwear backwards from then on.
Sep 10, 2009 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterS. Gompers
Why is it that we tax payers have to account for all our income and expenses every year at tax time and the people we give this money to do not. The Federal Gov should account to the people in a simple form....where's the money.
Sep 10, 2009 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRM
Great article! Combine it with this one on how our political system attracts less than the best, and we have a good picture of what went wrong: http://mises.org/story/3686

{clip} "Because democracy is open to any and all who can get elected — either through connections, personality, or personal wealth — it is a social system where leadership positions become a hotbed for sociopaths. Maslow's self-actualizing man won't have an interest in politics. But those stuck on the need for esteem are drawn to it like flies to dung."

If only the main stream media were able to critically analyze like this, maybe we would get somewhere.
Sep 11, 2009 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSonic Ninja Kitty
That's a killer quote SNK....nice find...
Sep 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
China warns banks on OTC hedge defaults

BEIJING, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) may unilaterally terminate derivative contracts with six foreign banks that provide over-the-counter commodity hedging services, a leading financial magazine said.

China's SOE regulator, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), had told the financial institutions that SOEs reserved the right to default on contracts, Caijing magazine quoted an unnamed industry source as saying.

It did not name the banks or the firms in question, but said Keith Noyes, an official with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, had confirmed he was aware of the letter to the banks. He declined to comment further to Caijing.

It also cited a SASAC official as saying that almost every SOE involved in foreign exchange or trade had some exposure to derivatives such as crude oil, non-ferrous metals, agricultural commodities, iron ore and coal, although only 31 SOEs were licensed to do so.

Nobody at SASAC was immediately available to comment on Saturday.

SASAC took over the job of overseeing SOEs' derivatives trading from the securities regulator in February after several Chinese firms reported huge losses from derivatives, and quickly tightened the rules, ordering firms to quit risky contracts and report their positions on a quarterly basis.

Beijing's derivative default stance rattles banks

BEIJING, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A report that Chinese state-owned companies will be allowed to walk away from loss-making commodity derivative trades provoked anger and dismay among investment bankers on Monday as they feared it may set a damaging precedent.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the regulator and nominal shareholder for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), told six foreign banks that SOEs reserved the right to default on contracts, Caijing magazine quoted an unnamed industry source as saying in an article published on Saturday.

While the details of the report could not be confirmed, it was Monday's hot topic in financial circles from Shanghai to Singapore as commodity marketers feared that companies holding underwater price hedges could simply renege on the deals, costing banks millions of dollars in profit.

The warning from SASAC follows a series of measures from Beijing this year to crack down on the sale of derivative products by foreign banks to Chinese enterprises, principally big consumers, who bought protection against higher prices last year only to watch the market collapse -- leaving them with losses.

While many companies including top airlines have come clean on the losses, some analysts fear another wave may follow.
Sep 13, 2009 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterKen
All three in video sound worried. Good stuff.
Dec 28, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Matthewz
Jct: They didn't have to buy economists, they only had to teach them a whole bunch of half-truths. In the mort-gage musical chairs death-gamble, everyone borrowed P, everyone owes P+I, only P/(P+I) survive, at least I/(P+I) are knocked into foreclosure resulting in not Shift A inflation, stack of 10 coins went up on the left chasing 10 DVDs on the right, it's Shift B inflation, same stack of coins on the left chasing less DVDs on the right http://johnturmel.com/biglie.htm I'd bet you've heard of Shift A up on the coins on the left but have never heard of Shift B, down on the goods on the right. So there are two possible shifts, up on the left and down on the right and Economics only teaches up on the left and because it's really down on the right is why economists are always wrong.
Dec 28, 2010 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKingofthePaupers
Good economic "navigation" is essential, if the captains and crews of American commerce choose to avoid "pilot error". Today's economists, for the most part, are not navigating effectively: their tools still work, but their charts are out of date.
All forms of Malthusian, or controlled growth economics (Mercantilism) are dangerously obsolete - since July 20, 1969, Earth's expanding population has had potential access to a "second world.”
Jan 23, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerry Bain
Steve--

Thank you for the excellent work you present on this blog. It's immediately evident that you spend 16 hours a day on it.

DB is the 1st blog I read in the morning and the last at night. I read 7 other blogs religiously as well, and probably 20 more occasionally on top of that, but this one's my first selection day in and day out.
Jan 23, 2011 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
I have a master's degree in Economics, and worked at the Fed for several years. During my graduate studies I was taught that every economic theory has an equal and opposite theory. I am now embarrassed to have worked at the Fed, (which I at one point was so proud of) and have removed it from my resume. I feel my degree is utterly worthless other than the fact that it has provided a means to an income.
Jan 24, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterdismalscientist
As a high school graduate, taking a course in economixs was disapointing, I was 40tysomething, in a college cum university, with a first year instructor who did not foster debate.... and students were no more interested.....
Jun 8, 2011 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJPAucoin
"He who pays the piper calls the tune"
Most academic science in the USA is government supported. It is not surprising that the government gets the results it wants. Of course it is a stretch to call economics a "science" so it is even easier for economists to give the government the desired "results." The Fed is nothing but an unelected, unaccountable government that prints its own money and spends it. Of course the Fed can afford all the economists it wants. Who else would hire an economist? Why? To make money in the private sector? Very funny!
Jun 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard
RPT-COLUMN-The jobs crisis: Lawrence Summers

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/13/column-usjobs-summers-idUSN1227995720110613

(Repeats June 12 story with no changes to text) (The views expressed here are Lawrence Summers' own)

[snip]

Even with the massive 2008-2009 policy effort that successfully prevented financial collapse and depression, the United States is now halfway to a lost economic decade.

Note: I was hacked and am still having technical difficulties........................
Jun 13, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
I was following a financial story about a scotch boycott and found a reference to it on 'Commentary Magazine'.... Clicked on it and verizon supposedly stopped a trojan.... Then a fake google redirect showed up and somehow opened a back door. The gates of computer hell opened up and raised merry old hell with everything. Back up and running now......
Jun 14, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
good to hear john...i have found that 'system restore' works well when first infected with something...just set your computer back to a date before the infection...you probably know about this feature already, and it doesn't always work, especially when registry files get infected...
Jun 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
That didn't even help.... nothing worked, trust me.... chainsaw finally did the trick (grin).....
Jun 14, 2011 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Congressional Testimony From Dr. James K. Galbraith: The Role Of Fraud In The Financial Crisis

http://dailybail.com/home/congressional-testimony-from-dr-james-k-galbraith-the-role-o.html
Aug 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Economists are ponzi-scheme promoters for the courts of the elite. Worse than the proverbial used car salesman.
Aug 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKen Brodeur
Yes, I know this is "antisemitic" to even ask - but how many of these economists are Jewish?

You see, most of the members of the Fed reserve board, and the OMC are... and at least half of the regional bank presidents are.

Also, the chair of the SEc, FDIC, CFTC, GAO, Council of Economic Advisors, Office of Budget and Management.... and on and on... are Jews, and they're only 2.5% of the population [which is why I ask].

Now, maybe Jews are especially interested in economics. This doesn't really explain why they hold so many of these positions of power - surely, there are a number of non-Jewish candidates for each of these jobs so... I ask... do the "antisemitic conspiracy theories" have some basis?
Aug 14, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Connor
The 99% VS the 1% - A battle to be fought and won with truth and unity! The people have finally started to come together. You cannot convince me that tiny Iceland can handle the “Cabal” and WE cannot!
Now is the time to join forces with those you would not normally consider. This is all starting to leak out to the main stream media... finally. We just need to KEEP THE HEAT on them. We will soon be posting new petition and email campaign info as well as protest ideas. We just need more people following this group and we can use resources from the Tea Party, Occupy and other groups. THEY win as long as they can keep us arguing with each other.
WE need to come together with people we wouldn't normally work with to bring these criminals DOWN! Spread the word, others have carried the load of exposing this activity. Now we the people NEED to come out and make it a major issue in the news and in this political cycle.
JOIN US, this is YOUR cause too (Click the “LIKE” button and spread the word): www.facebook.com/BankAndPoliticianFinancialCorruption
Aug 18, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterCoreyG/Texas
EVERYTHING on the planet, has become a 'commodity', everything on the planet has become FINANCIALIZED. The U.S. Dollar, which really belongs, not to the American people, but to International Central Bankers, primarily in the 'City' of London, is the primary vehicle of the Central Bankers, to bring about a situation, where they control everything on the planet. Put another way: IF you have the ability to print as many U.S. dollars, as you wish, because, for whatever reason, you OWN the printing presses that print the $$, and you have the ability, through ownership of the U.S. Congress, to print as much of it as you like (Timmy Geithner is talking about UNLIMITED PRINTING - that's right - NO DEBT 'CEILING', at all!) - when you can print UNLIMITED U.S. Dollars, for yourself, and your crony corporatist 'globalists' - you can then turn around with all those tens, and hundreds of TRILLIONS of $$ (can you say LIBOR SCANDAL, anyone?) - AND BUY REAL ASSETS, like REAL ESTATE, properties, mansions, yachts, islands, entire COUNTRIES, politicians, governments, main stream media, ARMIES, etc. See how it works?

In a world where EVERYTHING has become a 'commodity', and the U.S. Dollar is the world's sole reserve currency - and you OWN the U.S. Dollar, as do the people who own the TBTF Banks that comprise the so-called 'Federal' Reserve - you OWN EVERYTHING!
Dec 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon
"The Fed failed to see the housing bubble as it happened,"

Absolute rubbish. I and many thousands of others saw it coming. Not only that but we knew it was coming because Alan Greenspan said he would make sure it did. How anyone can still discuss the economic smoke and mirrors 'disaster' as if it is not a deliberately manufactured crises is beyond me.
Dec 7, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterReginald

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