What Won’t Be Included In Bernanke’s New Book Is More Interesting

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As former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke confirmed he is writing a book about his time at the central bank, and an unofficial game of titling the book on Twitter has begun, the key issue might be what the book won’t address.

Among the more humorous book titles include “How I Quantitatively Eased My Way to Retirement and You Can Too!,” from @cullenroche; “I’m Tired Of Cleaning Up Your Sh*t,” playing on the recent Bill Gross comments, from @Fullcarry; “Don’t Print for Me Argentina,” a reference to the historic expansion of the monetary supply under Bernanke’s Fed from @nyinvesting; and, Apocalypse Later from @EquityNYC, referring to the potential market bubble that is expected to burst from excessive stimulus.

Bernanke joins a growing list of government officials seeking to spin the financial crisis to their favor, including former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s upcoming book, Stress Test, which is expected to gloss over the same serious issues the Bernanke book will likely avoid.

Bernanke expected not to assign blame to major banks for toxic derivatives

At the top of the list is assigning responsibility to the major banks for packaging opaque derivatives structures that were at the center of the 2008 market crash.  In the recent release of Federal Reserve transcripts from meetings in 2008, the central bank barely discussed the issue of what is considered by some fraudulent labeling of “highly rated” bond products that in fact carried the toxic waste of subprime loans that ultimately imploded the economy when the borrower’s true creditworthiness was discovered.

Fed ownership likely never addressed in public forum

Also near the top list of what is likely not addressed:  ownership of the “U.S.” Federal Reserve system, which has been described as no more federal than Federal Express.  The Fed is a private ownership structure and the largest banks are said to control the majority of shares in the firm.  The Fed’s quantitative easing has been described as “bank welfare” that did not benefit the economy to the same degree as the Fed simply giving each person in the US $20,000 to spend would have achieved, is one simplistic criticism.

How will lack of exit strategy be addressed?

It is in regards to the Federal Reserve’s historic stimulus program that expanded the Fed’s balance sheet that might be most interesting to see how Bernanke spins the issue. Now topping $4 trillion, which consists mostly of a long bond position in an economic environment described as one of falling bond prices, speculation is rampant that the Fed never had a plan to exit the trade and was winging it as it engaged in this activity.  The 2008 release of Fed meeting transcripts indicated little consideration was given to how the Fed might exit the stimulus program or the negative impact it might have on the bond and currency markets.

Other items not expected to be included in Bernanke’s book is reference to the the rise in power, profits and assets the largest banks garnered after 2008 crash nor mention of the Fed withholding information from CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton as he requested data on the largest bank’s commodity positions and was stonewalled.

Who will garner the bigger advance, Greenspan or Bernanke?

According to a report in the Associated Press, Bernanke will be meeting with publishers in the coming week and speculation as to his advance is being closely watched.  Penguin Press paid former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan more than $8 million for his 2007 book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.

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About the Author

Mark Melin
Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)valuewalk.com

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