Trapped in a Web of Debt and a Derivatives Time-Bomb
September 5, 2013
Here’s what’s in your Prime Interest today:
Bernanke’s patting himself on the back right now — at least with respect to Consumer Price Inflation, which came in at precisely the two percent official Fed target. For those of us who don’t eat food or drive a car, the number was a bit smaller: one point seven percent. Previously, Bernanke touted himself in front of the Senate as having one of the best inflation record of any Fed Chairman in the modern era.
Unfortunately, some other economic data was released — specifically regarding manufacturing — that has sent the stock market tumbling. Two Fed surveys — one by the New York Fed, the other in Philadelphia — disappointed greatly. Seems, producers of “stuff” are shipping less of it, orders are going unfulfilled, and inventories are being drawn down — meaning less “stuff” production. In other words, the markets are not going to like a September tapering by the Fed.
And, yesterday marked a new development in the debit card interchage fee fight. Remember free checking? Well, that’s a perk most banks can’t afford since the Fed capped retail swipe fees. But two weeks ago a federal judge threw out the rule saying they’re still too high. Now the courts are saying not only do they have to lower the debit fees further, but banks may also have to reimburse merchants for the difference. So you can expect further unintended consequences to your checking accounts.
And circling the economic news wagon, it turns out China and Japan aren’t “liking” Uncle Sam’s debt. That’s right, according to the US Treasury itself, its two largest creditor nations just dumped $42 billion of US debt — the most in years. Thank goodness for the Fed QE backstop — unless we take the tapering comments to heart. Don’t worry, Bernanke is bluffing.