Monday, December 24, 2012

ZIRP and the bursting bond bubble

By Donald Sensing

Andy Kessler on what happened when his young son opened his first savings account:

His first bank statement showed interest income of $0.01​—​and a series of $35 fees for insufficient funds, wiping out all his money. I got a “You’re a financial genius, Dad,” dripping with sarcasm. 
My son got ZIRPed. Senior citizens living on fixed incomes are getting ZIRPed. We all are. Since December 2008, when Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve started buying mortgage backed securities in order to “solve” the financial crisis, we have all been subject to a zero interest rate policy. 
Banks were (and still are) sitting on piles of underwater mortgages. They can’t sell them at depressed prices, else they trigger losses and writedowns to their leveraged balance sheets and maybe​—​yikes​—​go bankrupt. The stock market knows this, which is why Bank of America shows $20 in book value (assets minus liabilities) on their balance sheet, but the stock is selling for under $11. Citigroup’s book value is $64, and the stock is $37. Better that banks had been stripped of these mortgages back in 2009 via temporary nationalization or good bank/bad bank splits. But no one had the courage, so instead we are subject to ZIRP, at least through mid-2015.

Kessler says to ditch the ZIRP policy and raise rates. Now consider this:

So here we are, financially and economically:

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