Monday, October 6, 2008

The Wall Street Bust

By Doug Noland at Prudent Bear:
...It is today impossible to comprehend the full ramifications from The Bust in Wall Street Finance. Yet we can be rather certain that for the foreseeable future much less Credit and liquidity will be directed to the asset markets. And, at the same time, there will be significantly less Credit Availability for riskier loans of all varieties – for the household, business, financial and the government sectors. Few appreciate that these dynamics are extremely problematic for the U.S. Bubble Economy – an economic system that had come to a large extent to be governed by asset-based and high-risk lending. These dynamics are at the heart of today’s Acute Financial and Economic Fragility and the resulting imploding markets.

The leveraged speculating community played such an integral role in the overall Credit Bubble and, more specifically, to the Bubble in Wall Street Finance. They were instrumental in both spurring financial sector Credit creation/leveraging, while directing this Flood of Finance to the asset markets. And the more the leverage and the greater the Flow to inflating markets, the higher the returns generated by this expanding pool of speculative finance. And the greater the returns, the more robust the “investment” flows into the hedge fund community – spurring more leverage and more potent fuel for additional self-reinforcing asset inflation. Well, this historic speculative Bubble is now in the process of blowing up. One of the greatest manias ever – surely The World's Greatest Episode of “Ponzi Finance” – is absolutely coming apart. And the wreckage is accumulating in all markets – everywhere.

Here at home, our maladjusted economic system will only be sustained by somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.0 TN of new Credit. It’s simply not going to happen. The $700bn from Washington would seem like an enormous amount of support. In reality, it’s nowhere even close to the amount necessary for systemic stabilization. To the $2.0 TN or so of new Credit required this year (and next) add perhaps as much as several Trillion more necessary to accommodate speculative de-leveraging (liquidations forced by huge losses). Importantly, the Bust in Wall Street Finance has ensured that insufficient liquidity will be forthcoming to maintain inflated asset prices and sustain the Bubble economy – creating catastrophe for the leveraged speculating community.

The “Freidmanites” thought they understood the (post-crash) policy mistakes that led to The Great Depression. They believed the “Roaring Twenties” was the “Golden Age of Capitalism.” The great bust could have been avoided with a simple ($5bn or so) banking system recapitalization. As we are witnessing today, the issue is not some manageable amount of new “capital” to replenish banking system losses. Instead, the predicament is the massive and unmanageable amount of new Credit necessary to, on the one hand, sustain a mal-adjusted Bubble Economy and, on the other, the Trillions more required to accommodate a gigantic speculative de-leveraging. I have a very difficult time seeing a way out of this terrible mess.

Here's his Credit Bubble Bulletin, scroll down for this piece.
Mr. Noland had posted this piece as a comment at MarketBeat on their Friday post "
Same as it Ever Was"